Posts Tagged ‘Athens’

Georgia’s best chance vs. Alabama may be to step on gas

Aaron Murray has 14 touchdowns and no interceptions in last 17 quarters. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Aaron Murray has 14 touchdowns and no interceptions in last 17 quarters. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

ATHENS – When gazing at the nation’s leaders among college football defenses, Alabama doesn’t stand out statistically so much as it leaps off the page, stomps on cars, knocks over skyscrapers, swats away missiles and terrorizes women, children and offensive coordinators.

The Crimson Tide rank No. 1 nationally in total defense. Also No. 2 in rush defense, No. 3 in pass defense, No. 1 in scoring defense, No. 1 in red zone defense. It has shut out four opponents, held seven to 10 points or less and all except one to 17 or less.

Which begs the question: All except one?

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin relatively humbled Nick Saban three weeks ago with his hyperventilating, no-huddle offense. The Aggies upset then No. 1 Alabama 29-24, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions, accumulating the second-most yards (418) and the most red zone possessions (five) of any Tide …

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Upsetting Georgia would give Tech needed boost for future

Roddy Jones (20), Troy Garside (33) and Marcus Wright (3) were among celebrating Jackets in 2008. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

From Tech's 2008 celebration: Roddy Jones, Troy Garside and Marcus Wright. (Brant Sanderlin)

During the course of a five-minute interview, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson referenced Georgia’s No. 3 ranking in the BCS three times, just on the chance that we didn’t know.

“It’s not often you get a chance to play the No. 3-ranked team in the country,” he said.

“We haven’t beaten them in three years — that should be motivation enough. And they’re the No. 3-ranked team in the country,” he said.

“It’s an important game — and we also know that it’s the No. 3 team in the country,” he said.

So, just for clarification, Georgia is ranked No. 3 in the country, correct?

“I think so,” Johnson said, smiling. “That’s what somebody told me.”

Welcome to the view from the other side. Johnson is perceived as the other coach of the other team in the other conference. On Saturday, his Yellow Jackets will face the Bulldogs in their annual feud in Athens. Johnson …

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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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Georgia has chance to alter perceptions with one win

Mark Richt and Georgia hope to take control of SEC East with win over Will Muschamp and Florida.

Mark Richt and Georgia hope to take control of SEC East with win over Will Muschamp and Florida.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are those rare games that can unify a fan base. This is one of them.

Just for a moment, put aside that Georgia’s defense has underachieved and may have a level of dysfunctionality in the locker room. Put aside that the Bulldogs, in a week where they should’ve been focused and in assault mode, made Kentucky look relevant. Put aside whatever it was that happened in Columbia.

One game changes everything.

Georgia isn’t just playing Florida on Saturday in Jacksonville. It’s playing for a chance to change its season and obliterate perceptions about “big game” performances. That doesn’t mean the Bulldogs haven’t won big games under coach Mark Richt, but the results in recent seasons certainly aren’t something that any coach wants slapped on his resume: 3-11 against Top 25 teams since 2009, 1-9 against top 10 teams since 2008.

One win over Florida, the No. 2 …

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Fan revolts out of control, one wanted to fight UGA player

Braves fans littered the field with beer bottles and garbage, endangering others. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Braves fans littered Turner Field with beer bottles after bad call. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines fan as: 1) an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator; 2): an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit).

As with anything, definitions can often be broadened. The boundaries of this definition just seemingly shouldn’t stretch to home fans cheering when their quarterback crumbles to the ground with a concussion. Or throwing bottles and garbage on a baseball field, endangering other fans and players, in protest of an umpire’s call. Or egging and toilet-papering a home known to be rented by five college players out of disgust, merely because the team lost a football game. Or effectively challenging one student-athlete to a fight on Twitter.

Yes. One “fan” actually did that last week to Georgia’s Christian Robinson.

“There were all these people saying stuff about me on Twitter, it …

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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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Georgia ends spring — and needs a quiet summer

Like this photo, Mark Richt will be in the background when Isaiah Crowell and his Georgia teammates head into this summer. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Like this photo, Mark Richt must stand in background when Isaiah Crowell and Georgia teammates head into summer. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

ATHENS — On the day spring football came to a close for Georgia, nobody got arrested, nobody got high, nobody claimed to make the mistake of eating brownies baked by Dolly Madison’s Bohemian, hippie sister and certainly no coach yelled, “Wooo! Pig Sooie!” while exchanging 4,300 text messages with the nation’s best-paid, smokin’ blonde, student-athlete development coordinator.

Relatively speaking, Saturday’s G-Day game was nirvana.

But the annual spring game contrasted the past few months. A reported seven players (at least) were suspended or drop-kicked out of Athens for assorted legal missteps or rules violations. Coach Mark Richt appropriately called Saturday, “good medicine.”

Or a needed cleansing.

To suggest the Georgia program has jumped the rails would be overstatement. But Richt and his players know how this sort of thing plays …

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Georgia’s problems reaffirm NCAA needs uniform drug policy

Bobby Bowden supports Georgia's drug policy but says it might leave team at a disadvantage.

Bobby Bowden supports Georgia's drug policy but says it might leave the team at a competitive disadvantage.

ATHENS – It’s fair to start with this: There is no excuse for doing something wrong.

There is no excuse for stealing money from a teammate’s dorm room, just because you’re short of cash. No excuse for getting into a physical altercation with a girlfriend, just because there was an argument. No excuse for getting high, just because … well, just because. No excuse for exploring the cannabis culinary arts and eating Alice B. Toklas brownies, just because you were on spring break and you were hungry and, really, honest, pinky-swear, you didn’t even know that there was marijuana in them (uh, right.)

These are some of the reasons why Georgia coach Mark Richt has been suspending or dismissing players at an alarming rate lately – eight since January. This is when nobody seems to remember how many stars were by a recruit’s name on national signing day. Funny how …

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Grantham now providing the right highlights at Georgia

Mark Richt and Todd Grantham both received contract extensions. (Brant Sanderlin)

Mark Richt and Todd Grantham both earned contract extensions. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – Once you get past the standard, astronomic, cartoon-like expectations of spring — Will Georgia go 13-1 next season? Maybe 14-0 if the dang, cheatin’ refs ain’t from Bessemer? — it’s worth noting that Todd Grantham has accomplished something pretty significant in Athens.

Something even bigger than evolving from sideline sideshow on YouTube — and who knew that was possible?

The Bulldogs, the team headed by a former offensive coordinator (Mark Richt), the program that recently had produced the likes of A.J. Green and Matthew Stafford — only to too often get punched in the mouth by Alabama, Florida or LSU — has discovered the key to success in the SEC.

Defense.

Who knew?

It’s important to note that college football in general, and the SEC in particular, doesn’t mirror the changing NFL. The pros have become pass-happy on offense. That means nickel defenses are now the rule, not the …

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After Boise State, Murray foresaw Georgia in SEC title game

Aaron Murray brings something to Georgia's offense far more important than statistics. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Aaron Murray brings something to Georgia's offense far more important than statistics. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

ATHENS – Several weeks ago, when Georgia was looking like Liberty Bowl bait and Mark Richt was waiting for that first thrown rock through his office window, Aaron Murray did something rather unexpected. He prophesied an SEC championship game for the Bulldogs.

We can’t be certain if this should be attributed to Murray’s unwavering confidence or the fact that he had just been hit in the head 37 times by Boise State. But the sophomore quarterback walked out of the Georgia locker room after the Bulldogs had just laid a 35-21 egg against Boise State at the Georgia Dome to open the season, met up with his former high school coach and uttered these words: “Coach, we’re going to the SEC championship.”

At that point, Robert Weiner, Murray’s coach at Plant High School resisted temptations to alert medical personnel who might still in the Georgia …

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