We’re live (from NOLA to Starkville) for Dogs vs. Dogs

starkvillefwy

"I found out long ago. ... It's a long way down the holiday road. ... Holiday ro-o-oa-oad."

"I found out long ago. ... It's a long way down the holiday road. ... Holiday ro-o-oa-oad."

STARKVILLE, Miss. — So when the assignments for this weekend came out and the schedule had me covering two games — Georgia at Mississippi State tonight and the Falcons at New Orleans Sunday, I knew immediately this called for some creativity in travel plans — at least without spending too much of my employer’s travel budget or getting stuck on one of those tiny planes that veers off to dust crops while en route to my primary destination.

So this was the plan: Fly to New Orleans Friday, drive to Starkville Saturday for the Dogs’ game, then drive back to civilization for the Falcons’ game Sunday.  Of course, the problem was . . .

♦♦♦

. . . Anybody who ever has been to New Orleans knows it’s a hard place to leave. Especially when you need to leave to go to Starkville.

nola

cafedumonde

♦♦♦

So I decided to take some of New Orleans with me. This muffuletta will do just fine.

muffelatta

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kilnsignFairly early into my some-four-hour drive from NOLA, I had a decision to make.

But I figured the swamp town of Kiln  might be in mourning, what with Brett Favre being 0-2 and all, and it would have been in poor taste to drive down main street and just mock everybody.

OK, not really.

But Avis couldn’t rent me one of those car-top megaphones and a laugh track, which really is what would’ve made it all worthwhile.

♦♦♦
missvisitorsFor the record,  I didn’t have any major tourist plans.

But what does it say that when you cross into the state of Mississippi, the first visitors center you come to has been closed down?

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OK, I’ve got to be honest.  I was hoping during this drive through Nowhere Land, I would run across some funny stuff. You know, like “The World’s Biggest Biscuit!” Unfortunately that didn’t happen. All I saw was open road, trees, haystacks and the occasional Waffle House. Also saw a guy sitting on the side of the road for no apparent reason with a suitcase. Maybe he was looking for the visitors center.

road1road2

So while this won’t qualify as earth-shattering news to the folks at Fodor’s, I can report that the drive from New Orleans to Starkville is not one that should be on your bucket list.

watertowerI apologize for not coming through for you here. But my intent was to try to lighten the mood a tad, what with the number of folks jumping off buildings in Athens. Which leads to tonight’s game.

In the 21 years that I’ve lived in Atlanta, I can’t recall a Georgia game against Mississippi State falling into that “must-win” category. This one feels like that. The Dogs already are 0-2 in the SEC, significantly damaging East Division title hopes. Starting 0-3 would all but smother their chance to play in a decent bowl game — as if bowls even enter the equation right now.

Maybe you saw my column earlier in the week with Greg McGarity, Georgia’s new athletic director. He has not shifted into panic mode. He also would like to douse any suggestions that he’s concerned about the direction of the program or coach Mark Richt.

Richt also said he didn’t anticipate his players would be in a funk entering tonight, following losses the last two weeks to South Carolina and Arkansas. But that’s a dynamic worth watching out for. The Dogs hadn’t started 0-2 in 17 years, Starkville is not an easy place for opponents to play, and the question is how Georgia players react if they get down early.

There are three areas Georgia must show significant improvement.

♦ 1.) The offensive line must run-block and protect better. It made Arkansas’s defense look like one of the best in the nation, and the Razorbacks are anything but that.

♦ 2.) The defense has been unimpressive in two straight games, getting hurt by the run at South Carolina and by the pass last week. A better pass-rush is needed.

♦ 3.) Minus wide receiver A.J. Green (who will be missing his final game), the Dogs have struggled to find other playmakers. Somebody needs to step up.

That’s it for now. I’m turning this over to you and I’ll check back shortly. How deep are your concerns tonight? Or do you think this is the starting point of the around?

The field is covered with Bulldogs: Georgia and Mississippi State warming up.

The field is covered with Bulldogs: Georgia and Mississippi State warming up.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

2,840 comments Add your comment

Robert

September 25th, 2010
4:30 pm

First? Go Dawgs!

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Eat It St. Simons

September 25th, 2010
4:32 pm

First! Great day for America so far – Braves win and GT loses. Go Dawgs!

45ACP

September 25th, 2010
4:32 pm

What??? The Welcome Center is closed?

Eat It St. Simons

September 25th, 2010
4:33 pm

More like third :(

Frank Lane

September 25th, 2010
4:37 pm

Arkansas is making the Bama defense look pretty bad at the moment at least as bad as they made us look.

Alphare

September 25th, 2010
4:42 pm

TN is horrible. UAB missed 4 field goals to lose to them.

Hoochie Grandma

September 25th, 2010
4:43 pm

Melky is swicth hitter although hhe prefers men.

Hoochie Grandma

September 25th, 2010
4:44 pm

This is Mark Richt’s big game. Can he win ?

[...] News Sources wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt [...]

Hoochie Grandma

September 25th, 2010
4:46 pm

My bad. I thought it was the Braves blog at first. I am old you know. But I can still work my hips…

45ACP

September 25th, 2010
4:46 pm

The guy with the suitcase. Fuller Brush or just divorced.

southern bell

September 25th, 2010
4:47 pm

Arkansas was looking good until they threw an interception in the endzone.

Paul in RDU

September 25th, 2010
4:48 pm

Jeff – Nice story about the trip – Bill Bryson has a great deal to worry about

Dawglasville

September 25th, 2010
4:49 pm

Man Jeff, you have it made. You have all of the money, get to see all of the biggest games, travel to exotic places, and of course you have the unconditional love from both Tech and Georgia fans. Today, you make me proud to manage a chicken company. Who am I kidding? I’d still trade with you.

Maybe we can pull our helmets out of our butt pads and look like a respectable program. Kind of quiet over here. I guess most of the hard core’s are g.t. ing on the Jacket blog…. gloating and trolling. We’ve got our own problems, especially if we blow this one. Go Dawgs.

Dawg House

September 25th, 2010
4:49 pm

AMERICA!!! F-YEAH!!!

Braves win, Jackets KILLED……… GREAT DAY TO BE ALIVE!!!!

Hoochie Grandma

September 25th, 2010
4:50 pm

We will see if Mallett can come back from adversity now.

WonderDawg

September 25th, 2010
4:50 pm

I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.

The bad news. UGA is an underdog to freaking Miss State.

The good news. Lordy, Tech lost to NC State. I really didn’t know they still had a football team, but they do.

I’d say it’s 50/50 Techies get to come on here and razz us later . . .

Jeff Schultz

September 25th, 2010
4:51 pm

45ACP — Indeed. I didn’t feel so welcome.

45ACP

September 25th, 2010
4:51 pm

I dislike Bobby Petrino more than Alabama. Can they both lose?
Looks like Arkansas does have a defense afterall.

Hoochie Grandma

September 25th, 2010
4:51 pm

Arkansas just intercepted McElroy in the end zone. Touche.

Jeff Schultz

September 25th, 2010
4:51 pm

Eat It St. Simons — Don’t get your dauber down, buddy.

Jeff Schultz

September 25th, 2010
4:52 pm

45ACP — Fuller Brush or divorced? Can’t it be both?

southern bell

September 25th, 2010
4:53 pm

haha that was funny. Arkansas just did the same thing Alabama did. Interception in the endzone.

Hoochie Grandma

September 25th, 2010
4:53 pm

Jeff,Will the Dawgs let Murray trow a lot tonight or keep im bottled up ?

Jeff Schultz

September 25th, 2010
4:53 pm

Dawglasville — Thanks, you made me laugh. Especially the “unconditional love” line.

RxDawg

September 25th, 2010
4:54 pm

Dawgs begin to turn things around today.

Gooooooooo Dawgs!

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

September 25th, 2010
4:54 pm

Some of the best dog food made in America is produced right here in Starkville. I am going to get some takeout for the trip back to Athens. This is my coming out party. I refused this morning to have my a$$ painted again. I had to bite two graduate assistants but they came to understand my feeling about having my a$$ painted on another bulldogs home turf. Let’s hope the team will feel the same way when the game starts. It was good to see some familiar faces (mug shots) back with the team. That should help. Not sure if Coach Richt will go with the Raybans considering the late start today. I may go without my bag of ice, too. Not a time to show weakness.

Jeff Schultz

September 25th, 2010
4:54 pm

Hoochie — No bottling, I’m sure.

45ACP

September 25th, 2010
4:55 pm

Jeff, I suppose it could be both. Boy do I feel for him.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gordon Milton and Amy Lauren, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: We’re live (from NOLA to Starkville) for Dogs vs. Dogs http://bit.ly/brDoWj [...]

Hoochie Grandma

September 25th, 2010
4:57 pm

Momentum back with Bama now.

Hairy Potter

September 25th, 2010
4:59 pm

What up Bama ? Another pick !

Yellow Fuzz

September 25th, 2010
4:59 pm

Hurting pretty bad today but not bad enough to put the dog nation in their place. They are NO better than us this year and our hate will make the difference when we 45-42 them again in cow town.

southern bell

September 25th, 2010
4:59 pm

Wow. Another interception. Mcelroy isn’t looking too good today.

45ACP

September 25th, 2010
5:01 pm

Ole Mo is faithful to none.

Hairy Potter

September 25th, 2010
5:01 pm

Jeff, why couldn’t UGA decide which games A.J. Green missed ? Why did it have to be first four games ?

jrmdvm1

September 25th, 2010
5:03 pm

Watching the Arkansas-Alabama game…maybe we aren’t as bad as it seemed last week ( because of losing ).

A Big Dog

September 25th, 2010
5:03 pm

I just hope & pray, that our Defense plays alot better than Tech’s did today, or else this season will be so ugly, we’ll be lucky to win 2 more games.

Hairy Potter

September 25th, 2010
5:04 pm

Or maybe Bama and Arkansas aren’t good ?

Dan Mullen

September 25th, 2010
5:04 pm

You sorry mutts are going down

Robert

September 25th, 2010
5:05 pm

I meant what I said, Jeff. I wanna see a pic of one of those cowbells.

Dan Mullen

September 25th, 2010
5:05 pm

jrmdvm1 you guys really suck

southern bell

September 25th, 2010
5:06 pm

Arkansas Touchdown!!!

Hairy Potter

September 25th, 2010
5:06 pm

17-7 Arakansas !

A Big Dog

September 25th, 2010
5:06 pm

Techies….even UGA can’t suck as bad as Tech did today…..how’s the Heisman Joke passing today.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

September 25th, 2010
5:07 pm

Coach had some UGA coeds bussed to the game so we can have some crowd noise and some pretty faces. I understand they will be wearing cow bells of their own so they don’t run away or wander off without being heard. Not many people know that an adult dog has 42 teeth and an adult human has 32 without the wisdom teeth. Most of these coeds have 20 or more teeth left. It’s a pretty good group.

Dawg Whisperer

September 25th, 2010
5:08 pm

Boy, Alabama sure is crummy!

Dan Mullen

September 25th, 2010
5:09 pm

Robert we will send you a cowbell after we beat those mutts tonight

catlady

September 25th, 2010
5:09 pm

Let’s face it: We aren’t cheering for Arkansas.We aren’t even cheering against Alabama. We are cheering against NICK SABAN.