Archive for September, 2012

Georgia needs to avoid playing catch-up in SEC again

Was Todd Gurley's impressive debut foreshadowing for a special year in SEC? (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Was Todd Gurley's impressive debut foreshadowing for a big year in SEC? (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

COLUMBIA, Mo. – There probably remains some disagreement as to exactly what Georgia’s post-0-2 run last season means for the immediate future of the program and its stature in the SEC. But we’re about to find out.

The Bulldogs played in the SEC Championship game in three of Mark Richt’s first five seasons in Athens. They failed to reach the game in any of the next five. Then came last season’s flop out of the gate, including a second consecutive conference-opening loss to South Carolina. The Bulldogs played catch-up for the rest of the season, won 10 straight and ultimately made it back to the Georgia Dome (albeit, losing to LSU).

“We don’t want to have to look at somebody else’s schedule again,” Georgia wide receiver Tavarres King said. “It wasn’t fun at all last year, having to worry about what South Carolina was doing. I want to relax after a game. I don’t …

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Predictions: Dogs, Falcons win, ‘Sack’ video update

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Before getting to this week’s investment advice, we have an important announcement from Weekend Predictions Storm Central: About 16,000 dead rats, and I’m not sure who actually counted, have washed up on the Mississippi coast since Hurricane Isaac. Officials are withholding names of the rodents until next-of-kin can be notified, although it’s believed none yet have been identified as Jackie Sherrill.

Two from UGA's recruiting class.

Two from UGA’s recruiting class.

Mississippi officials assured all that dead, smelly rats on the beach posed no health risk — I am not making this up — but decided to clean them up anyway because they thought the atmosphere at their “Cruisin’ The Coast” event in October might be slightly marred by the carcasses. Now THAT’S thinking ahead! Unlike Sheldon Richardson. (Aspiring writers: This is a transition.)

Richardson did about the dumbest thing a Missouri player could do before the school’s first SEC game. He said he watched some of Georgia’s game on TV last week but turned it …

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Falcons, Smith going to amusing extremes to get an edge

Falcons coach Mike Smith is being tighter than ever with information. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Falcons coach Mike Smith is being tighter than ever with information. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH – If NFL coaches aren’t collectively the most paranoid group of individuals on Earth, it’s only because somebody is counting the building on the other side of the barbed-wire fence, where Cheswick, Martini and R.P. McMurphy are betting cigarettes in a poker game.

I’m not sure when this level of Patton-vs.-Rommel secrecy began. But I can confirm from my days in San Francisco that Bill Walsh’s eyes would morph into fireballs at practice any time a reporter took notes that might be referencing Joe Montana throwing to Jerry Rice (because, well, who knew)?

I bring this up because as the Falcons approach their season opener Sunday in Kansas City, coach Mike Smith is taking secrecy to amusing levels. He was asked the other day about his starting right guard and cornerback. His response: “I’m not going to discuss it because I’m not going to give a competitive …

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Chipper Jones provides Braves with a needed miracle

Chipper Jones is greeted by teammates after his walkoff, three-run homer won it for Braves. (AP photo)

Chipper Jones is greeted by teammates after three-run homer won it for Braves. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 9:45 p.m.)

They have given away bobbleheads of the old man. They have given away posters. I’m not sure what else the Braves can do to commemorate what Chipper Jones has meant to this franchise, except maybe provide a DVD of his ninth inning at-bat to the thousands of fans who weren’t around for the finish Sunday night.

What is it about these situations? Ninth inning. Men on base. Two outs. Not many athletes thrive when given an opportunity to turn desperation into miracle, but Jones is one and he proved it again. As he said earlier Sunday, “That’s just the mentality that I’ve always had. And that’s never going to stop. I don’t care if I’m 40 or 60.”

Staying with the age theme, Jones made 40 look like 20, just when the Braves were looking 60. He slammed a two-out, three-run homer off Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon to cap a five-run ninth inning, giving the …

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Has Georgia duped us again, or was this just a hiccup?

Mark Richt wasn't pleased with his team's first game, and justifiably so. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt wasn't pleased with his team's opener, and justifiably so. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – Teams like Georgia don’t put teams like Buffalo on the schedule to build character. Teams like Buffalo are put on the schedule because they’re perceived as safe, possibly even a punchline. Georgia was willing to pay the opponent $975,000 because that’s how much it takes now to find a school willing to suffer public humiliation and say, “Fine, hit me with that two-by-four. Just make sure our hotel has decent pillows.”

Something went wrong Saturday. Georgia paid for the entertainment, maybe a little exercise, but the expected embarrassment was closer to home. That might seem harsh given the Sanford Stadium scoreboard had a distinct tilt at the end: 45-23. But it shouldn’t be considered nearly satisfying, not for a program that went into the day with a preseason No. 6 ranking and aspires to something greater than just outlasting South Carolina in the SEC East …

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Three observations on Georgia’s win over Buffalo

Todd Gurley was one of the few brights spots in Georgia's win. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Todd Gurley was one of the few brights spots in Georgia's win. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

I’ll post my column on Georgia’s less-than-fulfilling 45-23 win over Buffalo soon. Until then, here’s a new feature will be doing after games this season: My three observations on the team’s performance (usually three things that are not the focus of the main game column):

1. Freshman Todd Gurley is the real deal. All of the talk about how great a player looks in practices and scrimmages doesn’t mean anything if he can’t produce in a game. Todd Gurley more than produced. The freshman had a 10-yard touchdown run on Georgia’s first possession, a 100-yard kickoff return later in the first quarter and a 55-yard touchdown run in the fourth. He finished with 100 yards on only eight carries and would’ve gained even more if he hadn’t left the game for a while with cramps. He ran with power, but also showed elusiveness and speed. If there were questions about whether the Bulldogs could replace the …

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LIVE: Georgia looks to make quick work of Buffalo, move on

Thirty minutes to kickoffs. Fans may want to get here quick before blowout starts.

Thirty minutes to kickoff. Fans may want to get here quick before the blowout starts.

ATHENS — For the first time since November, I can begin a blog with, “Good morning from Sanford Stadium.” The Georgia Bulldogs plan to have the Buffalo Bulls for a light lunch.

Let’s get to the important stuff:

• 1.) It’s humid. I mean, really stupidly humid. My iPhone right now says 81 degrees (projected high in Athens: 93). But it feels more like a sauna on July 1 than the almost-fall cooling temperatures of Sept. 1. Logic suggests this will affect Buffalo more than Georgia, not that we would have attached any trace of suspense to today’s outcome even if it was 72 degrees with a soft ocean breeze. (The point spread is 37½. I say the Dogs cover. See the rest of my picks here).

• 2.) This is the first game for Russ, The Temporary Mascot, as Uga IX. I’m hoping this ascension to full time means the poor dog finally gets insurance benefits. I had to crack up at athletic director Greg …

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