Archive for September, 2009

Countdown goofs: Twitter, Clemson, Canada, Herschel

The Count doesn't like to talk about his family.

The Count doesn't like to talk about his family.

The Count hates the rain. Back during all those Dracula movies, it seemed like it was always a dark and stormy night (copyright), and the power went out in the house — again! — and some helpless hottie in a 1930’s-acceptable negligee strolled down a staircase with six inches of dust on it (did that woman ever clean?) to answer the door for, of course: Dracula! The Count’s not about that. He tries to think happy thoughts. He hates being dragged down by family history. And Twitter. He really hates Twitter. We count down . . .

10. How many letters is mea culpa?

Last week, we brought you all the All-Apology version of the Tuesday Countdown. This week, we will continue in that area. Admittedly, we went a little heavy with the video this week. But we felt we needed to the lighten the mood, what with everybody water-logged. But first, about Twitter: You know, the great thing about it is you’re allowed 140 characters, and “moron” only …

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Turns out Urban Meyer also is ranked No. 1 in excuses

If only Urban Meyer had shook hands and kept his mouth shut, he woudn't look like a tool.

If only Urban Meyer had shook hands and kept his mouth shut, he woudn't look like a tool.

Let me be the first to congratulate Florida coach Urban Meyer. He’s already won two national championships and two SEC titles in Gainesville, but he just pulled off something that I never imagined was possible: He turned Lane Kiffin into a sympathetic figure.

Most of us who watched the Florida-Tennessee game were amazed how the Gators were relatively held in check by the Tennessee defense. It made anybody who screamed, “They’ll cover the 29 points!” look like a complete idiot, and I should know, because my throat still hurts. Florida won only, 23-13.

Why did this happen? Three reasons: 1) The Vols were able to run the ball early and used a conservative game plan to limit Florida’s offensive snaps; 2) Monte Kiffin, Lane’s  father, proved again he’s one of the greatest defensive coordinators ever; 3) Florida, which lost Percy Harvin to the NFL, was exposed as not having nearly as much …

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Dimitroff returns to New England (and who has better team now?)

Arthur Blank made the right decision when he hired Thomas Dimitroff away from New England to run his team. (Curtis Compton/AJC.)

Arthur Blank made the right decision when he hired Thomas Dimitroff from New England to run his team. (Curtis Compton/AJC.)

FLOWERY BRANCH — A few months after he left New England to take a job with the Falcons — who were less an NFL franchise at the time than they were a series of spontaneous lab explosions — Thomas Dimitroff received a package in the mail. It seems the Patriots had shipped him a belated going-away present, something Dimitroff embraced even more than a bottle of ibuprofen.

“I went to the Super Bowl that year and I was still kind of carrying the Patriots in my pocket at the time, hoping they would win,” the Falcons’ general manager said. “One day, I get an AFC Championship ring in the mail. They didn’t have to do that. I had left them. But it speaks to the class of that organization.”

Dimitroff has three rings (two Super Bowl, one AFC title) from his days in the Patriots’ personnel department. He’s working on his first with the Falcons but it’s kind of early. …

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NFC South report: Hey, where did everybody go?

Matt Ryan couldn't be stopped by Carolina. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Matt Ryan completed 13 straight passes at one point against Carolina Sunday. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The most remarkable thing about the Falcons starting 2-0 for only the seventh time in franchise history is that they failed to make the playoffs in four of the previous six seasons it happened. (The most recent tumble: Jim Mora’s exit season of 7-9 in 2006.)

But given the way things are shaping up in the NFC South, chances of the team taking a significant dive seem minimal. Tampa Bay has dropped off the face of the earth. Carolina is close behind. New Orleans? Not going anywhere.

Onto this week’ check behind enemy lines in the NFC South.

New Orleans (2-0)

Drew Brees should just start his own league. He has nine touchdown passes in two games. (AP photo)

Drew Brees should just start his own league. He has nine touchdown passes in two games. (AP photo)

The Falcons’ secondary has six weeks before they have to face the Saints. Might as well rest up now.

While it’s true New Orleans’ two wins have come over a 0-16 team from last season (Detroit) and another that was missing its …

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Things back to normal at Georgia: Heat is on Martinez

Joe Cox represents the good news at Georgia.

Joe Cox represents the good news at Georgia.

In the last two games, Georgia quarterback Joe Cox has thrown for 576 yards and seven touchdowns, while opponents have totaled 908 yards and 78 points.

It might not be the most aesthetically pleasing season for Bulldogs’ fans. But I’m assuming some of you find a certain comfort in once against being able to focus blame on defensive coordinator Willie Martinez. I mean, it makes things so much simpler, don’t you think? And now you don’t have to dump all your issues on  a college kid (Cox).

Logic says Georgia can’t possibly maintain the scoring pace it set in the last two wins over South Carolina (41-37) and Arkansas (52-41). Yes, the ability to rally and pull out games in the second half says something about the resilience of this team. It certainly says something about Cox and his ability to handle the job.

But let’s not get too carried away. South Carolina and Arkansas are not SEC powers. Georgia likely will not be able to put up …

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Tech’s plunge screams something about perceptions

Here's Miami's Jacory Harris, stiff-arming Georgia Tech out of the rankings.

Here's Miami's Jacory Harris, stiff-arming Georgia Tech out of the rankings.

Georgia Tech just learned a valuable lesson. One good season doesn’t change national perceptions after all.

The Yellow Jackets, expected to drop several spots in the AP rankings after Thursday’s nationally televised 33-17 loss at Miami, suffered a far worse fate than that: They dropped completely out of the rankings. Ranked 14th going into the game,  Tech dropped out of the top 25. Its point total placed the team 27th overall – representing a dramatic 13-place plunge.

As I wrote in a blog on Friday, a drop of four or five spots seemed likely. The fact the Jackets dropped so far so fast illustrates they haven’t built up much in the way of what I would call “assumption strength” with pollsters. As in: “I know they looked bad Thursday, but I still think they’re pretty good.”

Conversely, Miami jumped 11 spots — from 20th to ninth. Two previously unranked teams also entered the top 25: Florida State …

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Gonzalez knew he had to change priorities — and teams

(Curtis Compton/compton@ajc.com)

After more than 12 seasons, Tony Gonzalez has his eyes on something other than stats.

He is in a profession where success can be defined in different ways. Money buys luxury. Records build legacy. But championships sit at a higher elevation. They don’t come with a platinum card or a pile of numbers.

“I’ve definitely learned,” Tony Gonzalez said the other day. “You evolve as a person. When you first come into the league, you’re thinking, ‘When I’m done with this game, I want people to look back and say I was one of the greatest. But then you start achieving stuff and you’re not winning. The stats move to the back burner the longer you play. You know the end is coming. I feel like I’m on borrowed time right now.”

It’s week two of season 13, and possibly the greatest tight end in NFL history can’t remember the last time he felt this good. In his Falcons’ debut against Miami last Sunday, Gonzalez caught one touchdown pass and set up another score with …

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Georgia Tech’s big loss could result in big slide down poll (UPDATED with video)

pauljohnson

Paul Johnson is quite relaxed about Thursday's loss in Miami. OK. Not really. This is an old photo. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

I realize Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has greater concerns than a set of football rankings in the third week of September. His secondary. His offensive and defensive lines. The jackhammer inside of his head.

But the Jackets may take a significant tumble in the Associated Press poll, based on their dreadful performance at Miami Thursday night and likely results from other games this weekend involving top 25 teams.

Tech entered the week ranked 14th, the highest the school has been in the poll this early in the season since being  No. 10 in the third week of September in 2001. (Those Jackets lost their next game to Clemson, 47-44, and wound up sliding to 24th by the end of the season, which turned out to be coach George O’Leary’s last before he went to Notre Dame.  Briefly.) Now they have to worry about just staying in the top 20.

Here’s …

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Tech gets smacked, and has run out of rationalizations

That's Georgia's Tech's Embry Peeples getting beheaded by Miami's Randy Phillips (left) and Darryl Sharpton. (AP photo)

This beheading of Georgia Tech's Embry Peeples — by Miami's Randy Phillips (left) and Darryl Sharpton — fairly well sums up how the Jackets did Thursday night. (AP photo)

MIAMI — Every rationalization that rolled through your mind since, well, even last New Year’s Eve? This was the moment that made you stop to slap yourself and say, “What were you thinking?”

The meltdown loss to LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was just a bad night. Right. This season’s opener against Jacksonville State was just first-week jitters. Of course. And last week against Clemson when they looked like a new stage production, “The Dancing Sybils”? Come on, they won, didn’t they?

But when Georgia Tech comes to Miami to play one of its most important games of the season and loses, 33-17 — in fact, not just loses but seemingly drifts in and out of consciousness from the opening kickoff, for all the ESPN-watching nation to see — it’s easy to recall what coach Paul Johnson spent the entire off-season …

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Live from Miami (or nearby) and curious about Tech’s direction

stadium2

Here's a look at the very early action. Georgia Tech players looked focus, don't you think?

MIAMI GARDENS — While there probably is some cachet in playing the ESPN Thursday night game two weeks in a row, as Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson lamented the other day, “Like they say, it is a fast turnaround. We are trying to figure out what day it is.”

Take comfort, coach. There shouldn’t be any confusion from here on out. After Thursday night’s game against Miami, the Yellow Jackets  were scheduled to play the remainder of their games on Saturdays, just like common folk, at least until the bowl season.

The only confusion that may still linger centers on Johnson’s team.

I’ve got to be honest: I was pretty high on Georgia Tech coming into the season. But the Clemson game last week threw me a bit, as I’m sure it did Johnson. Pulling out a victory after the relative trauma of seeing a 24-0 potential laugher turn into a 27-24 deficit on national TV definitely showed character. But the …

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