Archive for October, 2010

Georgia proves only it also can lose a close game to Florida

Aaron Murray led a comeback but had too many mistakes in his first Florida game. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Aaron Murray led rally but had too many mistakes in his first Florida game. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

JACKSONVILLE — It wasn’t humiliating. Is that better? After two mostly miserable decades in this rivalry and consecutive dismemberings of 49-10 and 41-17, should it feel better to know Georgia walked off the field and could have won?

“No — it’s a loss,” Akeem Dent said.

“An L is an L,” A.J. Green said.

“This kind of hurt more,” Washaun Ealey said.

Georgia came close Saturday. That shouldn’t be the objective.

Maybe comebacks say something about a team’s character. Maybe the Bulldogs grew up a little in the second half. Maybe the quarterback won’t have early-game jitters next time. Maybe one year again, they’ll actually beat Florida.

But this program should not be about gauging the degree of severity of losses.

They lost in overtime 34-31. They showed remarkable resolve by rallying from a 21-7 halftime deficit to tie it twice, the last time at 31-31 with …

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LIVE from Dogs-Gators, and everybody’s feeling the heat

Georgia's Mark Richt and Florida's Urban Meyer greet each other before the game (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Georgia's Mark Richt and Florida's Urban Meyer greet each other before the game (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

JACKSONVILLE — Time to play.

Was thinking last night — while Tim Tucker and I strategically avoided “The Landing” area — about the enormous pressure on certain individuals in today’s Georgia-Florida game. It’s odd only in that both teams are unranked going into this contest for the first time since 1979. So much for national ramifications.

But think about the pressure on . . .

Mark Richt: Georgia has won three straight but you can’t just wipe out a 1-4 start. If the Dogs lose, they are absolutely, positively dead in the SEC East (I think) because they would lose tiebreakers with both Florida and South Carolina. They also would need to win two of their final three games (Idaho State, at Auburn, Georgia Tech) just to become bowl eligible.

Urban Meyer: Think he’s not feeling some heat? Here’s a guy who appeared to have a serious health issue, suddenly retired, then even …

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Weekend Predictions: Dogs go down to Gators again

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According to legend, or sources close to legend, the origins of Halloween date back over 2000 years when the summer harvest ended and the weather turned cold and the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead were so narrow that SEC football coaches figured it was safe to start recruiting and NCAA executives and college presidents lounged inside their palatial suites that were paid for by network executives and texted each other, “Time To Close Our Eyes. Hey, are you going to Urban’s pool party later?”

Hello. It’s that time again.

Where are you going this year? St. Simons? Jekyll? Some dark and secluded place, perhaps near the border of the Netherworld, just in case you feel the need to slip into a neighborhood where they don’t get the Georgia-Florida game but still show Lou Holtz career highlights on an endless loop?

It’s the 30th anniversary of Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott. Now let’s advance to more recent decades. The Gators have won 17 of the last 20 meetings. …

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Hawks ready to open (Hello? Anybody?) (UPDATED: Great debut)

The key for the Hawks is how quickly players buy into Larry Drew's changes.

The key for the Hawks is how quickly players buy into Larry Drew's changes.

(UPDATED at 10:35 p.m. Tremendous effort by the Hawks tonight in Memphis. They buried Memphis 119-104. It was exactly the kind of performance fans and coach Larry Drew had hoped to get in the opener: Great ball distribution and balance on offense and solid effort on defense. The Hawks’ efforts even had Memphis fans booing the home team. The Hawks’ unlikely player of the game: Zaza Pachulia, with 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.)

The Hawks are the only pro sports franchise in Atlanta that’s made the playoffs in the last three years.

Conventional wisdom: Fans are pumped for tonight’s opener.

Reality:  Notsomuch.

I sent out a question on Twitter and Facebook earlier today asking what you thought of this year’s team going into tonight’s season opener in Memphis. (By the way, if you’re not following @JeffSchultzAJC or haven’t friend me on Facebook, there’s pretty good chance that you’re the only …

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Urban Meyer slammed again for Chris Rainey decision

Chris Rainey (with football, not cellphone).

Chris Rainey (with football, not cellphone).

Urban Meyer is still on a losing streak — on and off the field.

Any hopes the Florida coach had that the backlash over his decision to reinstate wide receiver Chris Rainey would fade pretty much imploded again.

The latest slam comes from Carol Wick, who runs a domestic violence shelter in Orlando. Wick told Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: “I think somebody in sports has got to take a stand. Given Urban Meyer’s well-known moral values, I think it would do a lot of good if he were the first coach to step up and say, ‘No, this is unacceptable behavior. I wouldn’t tolerate it in my home. I wouldn’t want it to happen to my daughter and I’m not going to tolerate it on my team. Violence and threats against women are not acceptable.’ ”

Urban Meyer: Not making friends.

Urban Meyer: Not making friends.

The background: Rainey, the Gators’ wide receiver, sent a text message to his estranged girlfriend: “Time to die, [bleep].”

When Wick was informed that Rainey has …

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This is the week Georgia’s defense needs to step up

Georgia defensive players tried to psyche themselves up during pregame warmups last year in Jacksonville.  (Bob Andres/AJC)

Georgia defenders tried to psyche themselves up during warm-ups last year but still got rocked.

ATHENS — This isn’t about losses. This is about humiliation.

Losses come by a field goal or a touchdown. Humiliation comes when an opponent regularly rolls up point totals in the 30s and 40s and is so comfortably ahead so early that the opposing quarterback is waving a towel and leading cheers in the third quarter.

The problem with the Georgia-Florida “rivalry” is that scores like 45-13, 52-17 and 49-10 don’t scream rivalry — they just scream, like the creepy Edvard Munch painting of the same name. That pale-looking creature with his hands on his face and his mouth hanging open resembles the average Bulldogs fan traveling home from Jacksonville.

The Bulldogs have a chance to change that this week. They go into the Florida game with the better quarterback, the better running attack and certainly the better recent results. But Saturday may be less about Aaron Murray, Washaun …

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Dogs’ key to beating Gators: QB, defense or something else?

Urban Meyer was more relaxed before last year's Georgia game than he will be Saturday.

Urban Meyer was more relaxed before last year's Georgia game than he will be Saturday.

ATHENS — Just arrived in Happy Town, where the football team has won three straight, the basketball team is considered a conference dark horse and the outside of Stegeman Coliseum is almost completely encircled by glass panels. (OK. Still looks like an old barn with a new shine. But not bad.)

It’s Mark Richt news conference day and I’m planning on writing something about Georgia-Florida later. The focus will be on what I believe is the key to not only this game but the key to affirming that the Bulldogs really are headed in the right direction this season and beyond.

What is biggest key for Georgia in Florida game?

  • Quarterback.
  • Running game.
  • Defense.
  • Special teams.
  • Turnovers.

View Results

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The answer is . . . well, you’ll just have to wait. I know. I’m such a tease.

If you haven’t heard, the Dogs actually are favored in this game for the first time …

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Early Georgia-Florida primer (and why Meyer is catching heat)

It wasn't that long ago when Urban Meyer had both John Brantley (left) and Cam Newton on the depth chart. (Gatorsports.com)

It wasn't long ago when Urban Meyer had both John Brantley (left) and Cam Newton at Florida. (Gatorsports.com)

(UPDATE II BELOW)

It’s Georgia-Florida week. Here’s a novel idea: How about a Georgia-Florida blog?

Here are five headlines you never could have imagined going into this week:

1. “It’s all Urban Meyer’s Fault!”

Last week we told you about the website that is calling for Urban Meyer’s firing. This is almost that unbelievable. Some fans apparently are now blaming Meyer for Cam Newton transferring following his arrest and suspension for the stolen laptop episode. This is happening, of course, because Newton is now a Heisman Trophy candidate at Auburn, the Tigers are undefeated, the Gators have lost three straight, they rank 89th in the nation in total offense and it turns out John Brantley isn’t better than Tim Tebow after all (go figure). But this whole thing is silly. Newton was buried on the Florida depth chart (behind at least Tebow and Brantley) in 2008, plus he …

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Roddy White’s day shows Falcons the possibilities

This is what elite receivers do. This one-handed catch was one of Roddy White's 11 catches covering 201 yards. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

This one-handed grab was one of Roddy White's 11 catches, two for TDs. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Nothing like a little drama, right? The Falcons turned a 24-3 lead into a 25-24 deficit and suddenly nobody at the Georgia Dome knew whether they were a Super Bowl contender or a genetic mutation from the Marion Campbell era, returning for a haunting.

But they won, and it’s important to remember how they won. They were aggressive. They attacked. They didn’t run an offense like you would throw a dart. They ran an offense like you would fire a bazooka.

Remember this game. Because if the Falcons go on to make something special of this season, it will be partly because of the lessons learned in Sunday’s frenetic 39-32 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Matt Ryan threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns. He even passed on third and short. Roddy White had the kind of game Jerry Rice used to have: 11 catches covering 201 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion — those last …

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LIVE: Falcons seeking a bounce-back (and some offense)

Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey need a better performance from the offense than we've seen lately. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Smith and Mike Mularkey need a better performance from the offense than we've seen lately. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Hello. Drove back from Clemson late last night, fueled by a double Whopper with cheese, large coffee and memories of a complete face plant by Georgia Tech in one of its most important games of the season.

I’m happy to say that everything is fully digested and I fully anticipate the only thing today’s Falcons’ game will have in common with the Tech game is the coffee.

The Falcons face Cincinnati today. They are coming off their worst performance of the season, a 31-17 loss at Philadelphia. Every area of their game constituted an epic fail: offense and defense, physical and mental, coaching and execution.

But the Falcons generally bounce back well from losses. They’re also 15-3 at home (2-0 this year) under coach Mike Smith. Quarterback Matt Ryan is 15-1 as a starter in the Georgia Dome, with 22 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 93.4 efficiency. (Contrast those …

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