Archive for October, 2009

Falcons’ stars are overshadowing team’s toughness

Falcons defensive tackle Trey Lewis lost his helmet on this play but 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill lost his senses.

Trey Lewis lost his helmet on this play but quarterback Shaun Hill lost his senses.

FLOWERY BRANCH — They turned on the tape, and guess what they saw? Players getting punched in the mouth. Bodies going down. Mike Singletary’s head exploding.

This was Monday, the day after the Falcons left San Francisco with a 45-10 win. Somewhere in the Bay Area, a team of scientists was dumping an urn full of ashes onto a table, hoping to revive the 49ers in time for their next game.

“We were aware of all the talk going into the game,” Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson said Wednesday. “We talked about it. And me personally, when I’m going into a game, I don’t look at how I match up with the other team’s offense. I look how I play compared to the other linebackers. All the talk last week  was how good their linebackers were, how good their defense was playing. People were asking me, ‘How do you feel about Patrick Willis?’ I was like, ‘We’ll see what happens Sunday.’”

Harvey Dahl has a simple goal: Beat people up.

Harvey Dahl has a …

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NFC rankings: Elite meet with Falcons-Bears, Giants-Saints

Despite Matt Ryan's attempts to sway the judges, the Falcons held their place as No. 5 in the rankings.

Despite Matt Ryan's attempts to sway the judges, the Falcons held their place as No. 5 in the rankings.

It’s always dangerous to draw conclusions about an NFL season at the five-week mark. But we’re already starting to see separation  between the haves and have-nots in the NFC.

The Falcons somewhat unmasked San Francisco last week. If they really belong among the NFC’s elite, this will be their chance to prove it. They play the Bears, Cowboys and Saints in the next three weeks.

Of the top six ranked teams in the inaugural Schultz NFC Rankings (copyright, 2009), four teams — the New York Giants, New Orleans, Minnesota and the Falcons — all pounded their opponents last week. The other two had byes. I believe it’s completely appropriate at this point to interject: Damn, I’m good.

1. NY Giants (5-0): In the last three games, the Giants have outscored the Raiders, Chiefs and Buccaneers by a combined score of  95-23. Safe to say this week’s opponent can match that 23 in the first …

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Welcome to my Q-and-no-A with Paul Hewitt

hewittIf there is one thing I’ve learned after 28 years of trying to squeeze usable quotes out of disobliging subjects, it’s how important it is to prepare for an interview.

I’m not talking about subject matter. I’m talking about knowing the personality of the person you’re about to talk to: Will he/she be entertaining or dry? Easy or difficult? Friendly or combative?

Paul Hewitt is seldom dry but he’s often combative. Some folks don’t like that. Personally, I find him kind of entertaining. I’m pretty sure you folks will find this exchange between us entertaining. The Georgia Tech basketball coach was made available to the media Tuesday to promote the start of practice. Jackets’ basketball has been down, but expectations are high this season. Almost every significant player returns from last season, and there’s the addition of talented freshmen Derrick Favors, Mfon Udofia and Glen Rice Jr.

I tried to get Hewitt to guarantee this team would make the NCAA tournament. He …

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NFC South Report: Dungy coming back to Bucs?

Could Dungy be headed back to Tampa, either on the sideline or upstairs.

Tony Dungy would be a big help in any capacity in Tampa Bay.

It has been a few off weeks since my last weekly NFC South Report, which probably means I should stop referring to it as a weekly NFC South Report. Oops. But there’s a couple of interesting items floating around, starting in . . .

TAMPA: Is Tony Dungy returning to save the day?

I don’t know how much credence there is to this because it originated with a report from Chris Myers on FOX Sports Radio, and the last time I checked Myers is not a regular news-breaker. But he dropped Dungy’s name as a possible savior for the 0-5 Buccaneers. Dungy got his first head coaching job with Tampa Bay (he was hired and fired by then-general manager Rich McKay, although ownership pressure might’ve played a part in the second decision). Then he went to Indianapolis and won a Super Bowl.

Myers: “I did want to mention Tony Dungy’s name, and I don’t even know if Tony has been approached, has surfaced in Tampa as a possibility. The team is …

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Countdown: It’s Bisher unplugged — everybody, duck!

The Count answers to no blowhard

The Count chuckled at the Rankin lines.

(PLEASE SEE UPDATE BELOW FROM FURMAN)

Here at the Countdown, floating in our own little disturbed sector of the blogosphere, we generally like to bounce around from sport-to-sport, athlete-to-athlete and goofball-to-Limbaugh. But we’re going to do things a little bit different this today. As you may have read in Steve Hummer’s story Sunday, Furman Bisher is retiring just short of the age of 91, because, well, I guess the wimp just couldn’t make it another three weeks. Actually, he’s not really retiring. As he told me on the phone from his escape pad in St. Simons, “I’m going to get up in the morning and think of something to write.” You’ll just have to find it on FurmanBisher.com. Great. More competition. I wasn’t going to blog about Furman. I thought Steve’s splendid piece spoke for all of us. But after several comments, emails and Tweets suggesting that I must have something against Furman since I didn’t write about …

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If Georgia Tech wins this week, the door flies open

Josh+Nesbitt+2

If Paul Johnson and Josh Nesbitt dare to look ahead, they'll see endless possibilities for the Jackets. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Paul Johnson will not look ahead. Why? Because he’s a football coach.

His players will not look ahead. Why? Because they know if they do and Johnson finds out, he will take their scholarship letter, wrap it around a Twinkie, shove it down their throat and drop them from a rooftop — just because that’s Johnson’s idea of tact, and maybe fun.

But I don’t play for Johnson and I’m pretty sure I can outrun him. So here goes: Georgia Tech plays No. 4 Virginia Tech Saturday night. It’s the Yellow Jackets’ biggest conference game since at least 1998 (against then No. 6 Florida State — a loss) and maybe since the national championship season of 1990 (against then No. 1 Virginia — a win).

Should they win, the remainder of their opponents are set up like bowling pins: Virginia (2-3), Vanderbilt (2-4), Wake Forest (4-2), Duke (3-3), Georgia (3-3). I’ll let you try …

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Would Richt be forced to make changes if Dogs struggle?

Here's Mark Richt and Damon Evans looking relatively content, probably because this photo was taken when Georgia was ranked No. 1 before last season. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt and Damon Evans look content, probably because this was taken when Georgia was ranked No. 1 in 2008. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt is facing more doubt about the direction of the Georgia football program than he has since arriving in Athens in 2001. So it follows that he may have to deal with situations he never has encountered before. Two in particular:

1) Deciding whether to fire (or significantly demote) one of his top assistants, specifically defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and/or offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

2) If Richt remains fiercely loyal to Martinez and Bobo, how does he react if athletic director Damon Evans mandates change?

It might seem like this is  getting a little bit ahead of the situation. Evans hasn’t indicated he ever would dictate coaching matters to Richt. And I suppose there’s always the possibility that things suddenly click for the 3-3 Bulldogs and this whole subject goes away. But let’s consider a few things:

♦ There are …

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Georgia’s problem is direction, and that falls on Richt

Here's a common sight: A Tennessee receiver (Gerald Jones) making a catch in front of a Georgia defender (Bryan Evans) Saturday. (AP photo)

Here's a common sight: A Tennessee receiver (Gerald Jones) making a catch in front of a Georgia defender (Bryan Evans) Saturday. (AP photo)

KNOXVILLE — The problems just became big picture.

This isn’t just about the quarterback looking overmatched or the coordinators looking lost. It’s not about the schedule or the injuries or maybe some conspiracy theories about SEC referees having an agenda because the team got too excited with an end-zone celebration in Jacksonville two years ago.

Plug in, folks. Georgia just lost to Tennessee like no team should lose to Tennessee (45-19). The offense didn’t score a touchdown. The defense just made Jonathan Crompton look like Jonathan Unitas. Lane Kiffin just schooled Mark Richt.

Six games and they’re going backward. Six games and they’re 3-3, their worst start in 13 years. And you begin to realize: If not for those late wins over South Carolina and Arizona State and surviving mayhem against Arkansas, we could be talking scorched earth at …

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Live from Tennessee: Can Dogs mute ‘Rocky Top’?

Welcome to Knoxville, home of the favored Tennessee Volunteers. Wait. Favored?

Welcome to Neyland Stadium, home of the favored Tennessee Volunteers. Wait. Favored?

KNOXVILLE  — Remember two years ago? Or have you managed to exorcise that from your memory banks?

Georgia was 4-1 and two weeks removed from an overtime win at Alabama. Tennessee was 2-2 and two games removed from a 39-point loss at Florida. The heat on Phil Fulmer was at an all-time high. It seemed he had been tied to a spit and was being turned like a rotisserie chicken.

Then the Vols jumped to a 28-0 lead and won 35-14. My daughter, Sierra, a Georgia fan, had come up to Knoxville for the game with friends who were Tennessee fans. She was a tiny dot of red seated in a sea of orange behind one of the end zones in Neyland Stadium. Sometime after the third or fourth Tennessee touchdown — and the 38th playing of Rocky Top — she sent me a text message that read, “This really sucks.”

There is good news about today’s game. If Georgia loses, it wouldn’t be a total shock. The directions of these two …

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Weekend Predictions: I see dead people (and a Tech win)

Have something you'd like to see on the chalkboard. The suggestion box is open.

Have something you'd like to see on the chalkboard? The suggestion box is always open.

Because we here at Weekend Predictions Investments and Aeration Services aim to educate you, the degenerate gambler with the half of a Pop Tart sticking out of your shirt pocket, we offer this historical nugget. Tallahassee is old. Like really old. Like Indians built mounds there in the 1200s or something kind of old. Like DeSoto was here and celebrated the first Christmas in the continental U.S. and therefore was the first parent to disappoint his kid with another  pinecone kind of old. Like dinosaur teenagers would walk around and think, “Dude, I hate it here. We need a mall,” kind of old.

Here's the remains of Bobby Bowden on the Seminoles' mascot, Osceola.

Here's what's left of Bobby Bowden, riding the Seminoles' mascot, Renegade

So as a general rule, old rules in Tallahassee. Even if you’re dead. I found several websites detailing actual Tallahassee ghost stories. One was about an empty army uniform striding on a highway through town, even to this day! …

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