Archive for November, 2012

Predictions: Jackets, Dogs, Falcons and lust triangles

chalk

In a bizarre turn of affairs — which should not be confused with anything that might be going on in a broom closet at the Pentagon with a CIA director, his smokin’ but psychotic biographer, a general (not that general, the other general), a Florida socialite, Snooki, Ashley Dupre, Donna Rice, Camila Parker (Duchess of Cornwall), Kim Kardashian (Duchess of … never mind), the UnReal Housewives With UnReal Enhancements of Atlanta, Anne Boleyn, King Charles VII, Bacchus (Greek god of Debauchery), probably a few Kennedys, Marilyn (duh), Fabio, the Thomas Crown Affair, An Affair to Remember, Family Affair (never trusted Mr. French) Glenn Close and that poor bunny rabbit, and, sorry, there’s just no room in here for Tiger Woods — Georgia Tech may play in a BCS game.

Just planning the weddings. (Art work via says-it.com/churchsigns.)

I'm just a hopeless romantic. (Art work via says-it.com)

(If you need to take a breath, re-read, digest, grab a snack, that’s OK. I’ll wait here. Still waiting. OK…)

Back to Georgia Tech-Duke, which isn’t nearly as …

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Falcons’ flaws aren’t worse than any other NFL team

Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff will take their team's 8-1 record, flaws and all. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff will take their team's 8-1 record, flaws and all. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH – This is the way the season has gone for the Falcons. They win games, and people find flaws. They finally lose a game, and people scream, “Aha!”

As if the struggles of the running game, or the instability of the run defense, or the fact that Ray Edwards too often seemed more passionate about conquering the art of modeling than the art of a tackle should come as any surprise.

The Falcons have flaws, but so does every team, and they’re not going away. This is the NFL. Rosters don’t morph significantly during the season. The league has a salary cap. There is little roster flexibility. Unlike baseball, there aren’t pyrotechnics at the trade deadline. Once a season starts, the best a team can hope for is that a backup evolves and contributes more than expected, or a player released by another team can fill a void, or that drop-kicking a high-profile veteran …

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College hoops kings provide rare thrills for Atlanta

Keith Appling celebrates with teammates after sinking a late shot for Michigan State. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Keith Appling celebrates with teammates after hitting late shot for Michigan State. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Kansas, Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky. It was sort of like a Final Four, given the teams and the coaches and the blur of McDonalds and Parade All-Americans who for some reason chose not to attend Georgia or Georgia Tech.

Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State, Kansas. (Sounds great in any order, doesn’t it?) It was sort of like a Final Four, except without the deciding third game and the fact that it’s November, not April, and that probably not enough people in Atlanta were really paying attention.

Despite the marquee value of the teams, coaches and players, this “Champions Classic” didn’t create significant buzz on the Atlanta sports landscape in the past few days, smothered by all things Bulldogs, Falcons and … well, did you see that David Ross signed with the Red Sox?

What’s it going to take for college basketball to be picked up on local radar?

“It would …

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Falcons’ startling admission: Ray Edwards was a blunder

Here's Ray Edwards without pads. No reason to show him with pads because he seldom did anything with them. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Here's Ray Edwards without pads. No reason to show him with pads — he seldom used them. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(Updated: 10:15 p.m.)

Say goodbye to one of the few significant personnel mistakes of the Thomas Dimitroff-Mike Smith era.

Defensive end Ray Edwards, the epitome of a free agent bust, was drop-kicked by the Falcons Monday night. How bad does a supposed high-profile player have to be for him to be found useless by two defensive coordinators (Brian VanGorder and Mike Nolan) in two seasons?

The Falcons alibied for Edwards last season, when he managed only 3.5 sacks after recording 16.5 the previous two seasons in Minnesota. They said he wasn’t healthy. There also were suggestions that he wasn’t being used right by the since-departed VanGorder.

Well, excuses apparently weren’t being accepted this season – and Nolan presumably was given a bigger hammer to swing than VanGorder.

Edwards had become a highly paid part-time player. He was brought in to help the pass rush. …

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Will SEC get team to BCS title game? (answer below) (video added)

Nick Saban and/or Mark Richt need some help for BCS title berth. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Nick Saban and/or Mark Richt need some help for BCS title berth. (Jason Getz/AJC)

(Video added below)

Is it time for a rare dirge at SEC headquarters?

Not quite.

Three non-SEC teams — Kansas State, Oregon, Notre Dame — top the BCS rankings. This is the equivalent of a Big Foot sighting – or maybe three of them. But there’s still a possibility that the winner of the SEC championship game in the Georgia Dome between Georgia and Alabama will wind up in the BCS championship game.

Will SEC get a team to the BCS title game?

  • Yes.
  • No.

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SEC schools have won six straight BCS titles. In short, two of the three undefeated teams ahead of Georgia and Alabama have to lose for a chance to make it seven. And that could happen.

Here’s how I see it breaking down:

No. 1 Kansas State (10-0).

Schedule: at Baylor (4-5), vs. BCS No. 15 Texas (8-2)

Recap: The Wildcats will beat Baylor. The Bears can score a ton of points but their defense can’t hold up …

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Short takes: Murray, defense and angry Auburn fans

Aaron Murray has eight touchdowns and no interceptions in last nine quarters. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Aaron Murray has eight touchdowns and no interceptions in last nine quarters. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

If you missed it, here’s a link to my column on Georgia’s SEC East-clinching win over Auburn Saturday night.

And here are my three “short takes” on the game.

Former Georgia and Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder didn't even look happy before the game. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Former Georgia and Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder didn't even look happy before the game. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

1. Aaron Murray is just fine: Murray took a beating from some Georgia fans after horrible games against South Carolina and Florida but he has rebounded nicely. He completed his first 10 passes against Auburn (two for touchdowns) and threw for three scores and 208 yards in three quarters before being lifted. In the last nine quarters, going back to the fourth quarter of the Florida game, Murray is 44 for 60 for 675 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. Offensive coordinator Mime Bobo said Murray had been too “cautious,” adding: “I said, ‘Son, you know what’s going on. You’re one of the …

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Georgia wins SEC East — and looks like threat to Alabama (UPDATED)

It was a night of celebrations for Todd Gurley, Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

It was a night of celebrations for Todd Gurley, Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

(UPDATED: 11 a.m. Sunday)

AUBURN, Ala. – This is the place where few expected Georgia would be after that ugly night in Columbia last month — not only winning games, but winning them impressively, humiliating an opponent on its home field. This is the place where many may have projected the Bulldogs to be before this season began, but certainly not since (because even Buffalo looked like a greater threat in the season opener than Auburn did Saturday night).

This is where Georgia is today: SEC East champions for the second straight season … and, yes, as improbable as it might once have seemed, a legitimate threat to beat Alabama in the Georgia Dome in three weeks.

Doubt it?

Why?

The Bulldogs thoroughly dominated Auburn 38-0. Georgia fans chanted, “SEC, SEC” in the second half. They were easy to hear because because by then most of the Auburrn fans had left.

Maybe body-slamming …

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LIVE: Georgia goes for SEC East clincher against Auburn

Georgia hopes to have something to celebrate on this field when the game ends.

Georgia hopes to have something to celebrate on Auburn's field after tonight's game.

AUBURN, Ala. — Hello, and welcome to something you probably didn’t expect five weeks ago when Georgia got body-slammed at South Carolina: A potential SEC East Division-clinching game against Auburn.

Every trend and statistic says the Bulldogs should win this game. Easily. But if they needed any reminder that anything can happen on a college football Saturday, just check the Florida game.

I stopped at an Auburn tailgating spot to watch a few minutes of Florida’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette, and the Gators were trailing 20-13 with just under four minutes left. I figured, worst-case scenario, Florida ties it and I’ll watch overtime in the press box, so I walked away. But as I walked into the box, the Gators were kicking an extra point following a blocked punt and return for the go-ahead touchdown.

So much for that monumental upset. Nonetheless, it should serve as a monumental warning for the …

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Predictions: This time it’s all red — Dogs, Falcons win

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As we head down the stretch of this football season and attempt to answer the age-old question, “Who whines more: SEC football fans after losing a game or Republicans after losing an election?” — and this is why I always check under my car for suspicious wire before starting it — it’s time to check in on the remains of Gene Chizik.

Two years ago, Auburn won the national championship. Now the Tigers are 2-7 overall and 0-6 in the SEC.

The governors of Colorado and Washington.

The governors of Colorado and Washington.

Or, as Karl Rove would put it, they’re trending upward and on the verge of conquering the SEC West, the conference, the BCS, Ohio (don’t it make my red eyes blue?), Hawaii, Alaska, Manitoba, the dangling chads of Florida, the clogging anchors of Fox, the Western Hemisphere, the Eastern Bloc (Commies! We’ll hunt ‘em all down!), the Peoples Republic of Cheech and Chong (Colorado and Washington just legalized marijuana — so, yes, we have confirmation that Doritos has lobbyists) and even the educated, …

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Richt is coaching through pain as SEC East title nears

Mark Richt has been coaching through pain of a hip that requires surgery. (Bob Andres/AJC)

Mark Richt has been coaching through pain of a hip that requires surgery. (Bob Andres/AJC)

ATHENS – Over the past several weeks, Georgia has lost three senior starters to season-ending injuries, accumulated various ailments that left other players without a full-set of functioning body parts and played four games without its projected starting defense because of four player suspensions.

As it turns out, Mark Richt also has been playing – or coaching – hurt.

Richt, a few days away from coaching his potential second straight SEC East-clinching game at Auburn, likely will have hip-replacement surgery after the season. He is often in excruciating pain, particularly after standing and pacing on the sideline for three-plus hours on game day.

The injury is something Richt has managed to keep quiet for the past year. Even athletic director Greg McGarity wasn’t aware of his coach’s condition until last week, and McGarity only became aware of it because he was trying to schedule …

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