Archive for September, 2010

Georgia is showing problems are deep and widespread

There are more than a few problems with Mark Richt's football team, as evidenced by a 2-6 record in the last eight SEC games.

There are more than a few problems with Mark Richt's football team, as evidenced by a 2-6 record in the last eight SEC games.

ATHENS – It’s not about one player not being here. It’s not about playing a freshman quarterback or having a certain soft spot on the depth chart or the big, bad NCAA being out to get Georgia.

When a program sinks to lows not seen since the Ray Goff administration, it’s not an aberration.

The head coach (Mark Richt) is 2-6 in his past eight SEC games. The vaunted offensive line coach (Stacy Searels) frankly hasn’t done bupkis since his arrival, recent evidence being that his supposed top group of linemen just allowed six sacks to a projected average defense. The new defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, isn’t looking much better than the old one (Willie Martinez).

When all of those things happen, we’ve transitioned from downward trend to potential new identity. Georgia is an average team right now.

The Bulldogs lost to Arkansas 31-24 on Saturday for the …

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LIVE from Georgia: Can Dogs stop Piggies (and Mallett)?

Mark Richt needs a physical effort from his offense and Todd Grantham's defense.

Mark Richt needs a physical effort from his offensive line and Todd Grantham's defense today.

ATHENS –If some perspective is needed after Georgia started the SEC season 0-1 and then learned Friday night that wide receiver A.J. Green won’t  be around for the next two games, here it is:  Ultimately, a football team’s season is not defined by one player. Green will not be a cure-all when he returns, any more than his absence was the reason the Bulldogs lost in Columbia last week.

As you no doubt learned by now from my comrade, Tim Tucker, Georgia’s appeal to have Green’s four-game suspension reduced was rejected by the NCAA. Maybe you believe four games is too harsh of a penalty, or maybe you believe Chris Hawkins is no more of an agent than you are, or maybe you just think the NCAA is out to get Georgia (because we love conspiracy theories, don’t we?).

But here’s the thing: While Green is an amazing player, the Dogs lost to South Carolina last week because their offensive line …

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Down on Al Groh? They fear him at North Carolina

Tech's defense fizzled last week but Al Groh has had success against North Carolina when he coached at Virginia.

Georgia Tech's defense fizzled last week but Al Groh had a lot of success against North Carolina when he coached Virginia. (AP photo)

The “Q Score” for defensive coordinator Al Groh might not be particularly high among the Georgia Tech fan base following last week’s 28-25 loss at Kansas. But here’s some news: They’re fearing Groh up in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates, who threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns in the Tar Heels’ opening game against LSU, was smothered by Groh’s defense in a 16-3 home loss to Virginia last season (20 for 36, 135 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions).

Yates told the Raleigh News & Observer that the game was an “all-around nightmare.”

In a story under the headline, “Heels: Oh no, it’s Groh,” Yates was quoted as saying:  “We couldn’t pass the ball, we couldn’t run the ball, we couldn’t protect. It was bad all over.”

Groh went 7-2 against North Carolina in his nine seasons at Virginia. He was 3-0 against current coach Butch …

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Weekend Predictions: Dogs over Hades in bounceback week

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According to Greek mythology, Hades ruled over cursed spirits in the Underworld, until one day he grew tired of his morbid existence, and the fact everybody realized what a blithering idiot he was. So before soul-collecting season was complete, he headed south of Hell to Fayetteville, Arkansas.

You're going down, puffy.

You're going down, puffy.

We here at Weekend Predictions Inc. realized (belatedly) something was amiss in the spiritual world last week when Georgia, Georgia Tech and the Falcons all lost, corrupting what would have been a solid-gold week of financial projections (8-1 straight up, 6-2-1 against the line, if you don’t count the 0-3 whiff on the locals). But much like when Gozer The Gozerian turned into marshmallow guts in the end, we sense good will overcome evil once again.

To borrow from the noted Gainesville philosopher, Chris Rainey: “Time to Die, Petrino.”

The daubers are down in Dawgland. Georgia got smacked in Columbia. A.J. Green is still in retailing detention. But we sense a …

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Can Dogs afford to lose two SEC games and still win East?

Steve Spurrier and South Carolina have the upper hand on Mark Richt and Georgia in the SEC East race so far.

Steve Spurrier and South Carolina have the upper hand on Mark Richt and Georgia in the SEC East race so far.

I have this general belief that if people are obsessing 24/7 over whether one player is going to be eligible for a football game — even when it’s a player as great as A.J. Green — there’s probably something wrong with the team.

But it’s easy to understand. If Georgia loses to Arkansas Saturday, that puts the Bulldogs at 0-2 in the SEC and it logically eliminates them from winning the East Division.

Or does it? The more you look at the makeup of the teams and the schedules, it’s reasonable to believe the SEC winner will lose at least two games this season, possibly three.

It’s easy to forget, with Florida going 15-1 in the conference in the last two seasons, but three of the previous five SEC East winners had two losses: Georgia, Tennessee and Florida tied at 6-2 in 2003; the Dogs won the division outright at 6-2 in 2005;  Georgia and Tennessee went 6-2 in 2007.

Prior to …

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Meyer shouldn’t hesitate in booting Chris Rainey off Gators

Florida, like other programs, is pointing in the wrong direction off the field, and Urban Meyer needs to kick Chris Rainey off the team.

Florida is among programs pointed in wrong direction off the field, and Urban Meyer needs to kick Chris Rainey out.

(UPDATED: 4 p.m.)

Florida coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday that Chris Rainey is “not with the team,” and when asked to disclose the minimum number of games the wide receiver would miss, he responded: “I can’t do that because I don’t know.”

Question: Does Meyer need to check the Gators’ schedule first to see how long he thinks they can do without one of their starting receivers? Because it seems to me when a football program is accumulating arrests and one player admits to police that he sent a text message to his [ex-]girlfriend with an assumed death threat, reading, “Time to Die Bitch,” the case is fairly cut and dried.

Rainey should be gone.

This is the problem when you put coaches in charge of discipline for matters slightly more serious than being late to practice. They can’t look at one of their players in handcuffs and make an objective decision when a …

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Georgia’s goals should start with knocking somebody down

Neither Mark Richt nor defensive coordinator Todd Grantham (right) can be happy with the Dogs' lack of physical play. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Neither Mark Richt nor defensive coordinator Todd Grantham are happy with lack of physical play.

ATHENS – There’s one important thing to understand about football schemes. They all work on the chalkboard.

Darn if those Os don’t always knock down those Xs in the front seven when they’re drawn up. The running back blasts off for 79 yards. The quarterback is protected long enough to make a sandwich. Every play ends in a first down, a touchdown or something that has a game plan being compared to quantum physics.

Georgia’s problems, like those witnessed in last week’s loss at South Carolina, have far less to do with play-calling, starting a freshman quarterback or A.J. Green’s suspension than they do something far more tangible: not punching the other team in the mouth.

Football is still about blocking and tackling. Players and coaches don’t like to hear words like “soft” or “timid” but the fact remains that the team that wins the collisions usually wins the game. Is it any wonder …

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Richt acknowledging Dogs’ timidness is a step forward

Mark Richt wasn't happy with way his team played in Columbia. (AP photo)

Mark Richt wasn't happy with way his team played in Columbia.

ATHENS – Mark Richt beat me to the punch.

I’m in Athens today to sort through the carnage between Georgia’s loss at South Carolina last week and this week’s visit by the Arkansas Razorbacks and coach Bobby Beelzebub. My plan had been to write later today on what I believe was the Bulldogs’ most glaring deficiency last week – and it’s not play-calling – but Richt sort of beat me to it.

As chronicled by our Tim Tucker, Richt agreed with a caller on his weekly radio show Monday night who said that the Dogs looked “timid” and “afraid to hit somebody” at times in Columbia.

Richt on his show: “Defensively, there were a couple of times when you’re right –I think ‘timid’ is a very kind description of what happened. There were a couple of times when I thought we turned it down, quite frankly.”

(READ UPDATED COLUMN WITH MORE RICHT COMMENTS HERE.)

This is progress, ladies and gentleman. No, it’s not good when a football team …

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Capper to miserable weekend: Now even Hudson is mediocre

Tim Hudson wasn't too pleased with himself after allowing a second home run to Albert Pujols Sunday. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Deja vu all over again: Tim Hudson disgusted and Albert Pujols homering. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Last week I blogged about the three players whom I viewed as being the keys to the Braves’ playoff hopes down the stretch, led by the non-clutch-hitting likes of Derrek Lee.

There didn’t seem to be a reason to list Tim Hudson as one of the keys because, well, I just assumed greatness. Big mistake.

After losses by Georgia, Georgia Tech and the Falcons, Hudson brought the Atlanta Sports Weekend From Hell to an appropriate ending Sunday night. He turned mediocre.

Hudson was slammed for six runs, nine hits, two moonshots by Albert Pujols, two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch in five innings. He also allowed an RBI single to pitcher Kyle Lohse (.192) and a two-run triple to No. 9 hitting Brendan Ryan (.224). The Braves lost to St. Louis, 7-3, to fell one game back of Philadelphia in the National League East.

About those keys to the postseason, let’s start over: If Hudson is not the …

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LIVE: Can Braves end Losersville Weekend?

Somewhere in that pile-up is Alex Gonzalez, whose walk-off homer moved the Braves back into a first-place tie. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Somewhere in pileup is Alex Gonzalez, whose walk-off homer lifted the Braves Saturday.

After seeing both Georgia and Georgia Tech faceplant Saturday, and then watching the Falcons lose to third-string quarterback Dennis Dixon and the  Pittsburgh Steelers today, I figured I should head out to Turner Field for the final opportunity to see a local team actually win a game.

So it’s Braves-Cardinals tonight, as everybody from Atlanta to Athens tries to save face.

Hey look at it this way: Win or lose, the Braves are guaranteed to score no fewer touchdowns than the Falcons or Bulldogs did.

“We’ll see what we can do,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “We’ll score.”

The Braves are coming off a win. That’s a start.

Their 12-inning, 6-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday night lifted them back into a first-place tie with Philadelphia in the National League East. The Phillies already have won today, blanking the New York Mets, 3-0, so the Braves need to win to keep a share of first …

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