Posts Tagged ‘Mark Richt’

Upsets launch Georgia into BCS title picture (UPDATED)

It took a little while but Aaron Murray and Georgia eventually took charge. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

It took a little while but Aaron Murray and Georgia eventually took charge. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

(LAST UPDATED: 12:18 a.m.)

ATHENS – For as much as Mark Richt prefers his Georgia players focus on opponents (Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech) and not acronyms (SEC, BCS) in these final two weeks of the regular season, it was difficult not to notice what was scrolling on the Sanford Stadium video board before Saturday’s game.

First came the screen shot with large bold letters screaming: “BCS STANDINGS.” Then came the screen shot listing the nation’s top ranked teams, from No. 1 Kansas State to No. 5 Georgia.

The topic is impossible to ignore. It’s why, even in games with seemingly foregone conclusions like Saturday’s against Georgia Southern, some will look at the way things started for the Bulldogs on this day and think, “Uh-oh.”

But don’t overthink this.

Did Georgia come out a little flat, a bit sloppy and probably unfocused against an FCS opponent? Clearly. When a team is …

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Short takes: Slow start but Murray wakes up offense

This late first-half touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell was first of four straight by Aaron Murray. (AP photo)

This touchdown pass to Malcolm Mitchell was first of four straight by Aaron Murray. (AP photo)

(I’ll be back with a column on Georgia’s win over Georgia Southern shortly. Until then, here are my three “short takes” on today’s game.)

1. Georgia’s fortuitous scheduling: The Georgia Southern game was scheduled for Saturday because its option offense mirrors that of next week’s opponent, Georgia Tech. Smart. But the Bulldogs needed this game for another reason: Almost on cue, they come out flat, unfocused and sloppy. It wasn’t surprising, given the emotion of a four-game winning streak that culminated in last week’s SEC East-clinching rout at Auburn. But it’s still something that great teams shouldn’t do. That said, the Dogs woke up, starting with a late first-half touchdown drive, and went on a 31-0 run through the third quarter after Southern tied the game 7-7.

Todd Gurley was held toi 27 rushing yards in first half, an example of Georgia's early struggles. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Todd Gurley was held to 27 rushing yards in first half, an example of Georgia's slow start. (Brant Sanderlin)

2. …

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LIVE: Georgia hopes for easy day against Georgia Southern

Mark Richt wants players to focus on game, but BCS standings on scoreboard.

Mark Richt wants his players to focus on game but BCS standings are on Sanford Stadium scoreboard.

ATHENS — For the first Saturday of the season, Georgia will take the field today as SEC East Division champions. And by the time this game ends, the Bulldogs hope nothing will have happened to dampen that title.

A week after clinching the East title at Auburn, the Dogs play host to Georgia Southern. Nothing against the Eagles, who have an impressive winning tradition at the Division 1-AA/FCS level, but this one shouldn’t be close.

Georgia has three simple goals: 1) Tune up defensively for next week’s game against Georgia Tech, which, like Southern, runs an option offense; 2) Build a big enough lead to get into position to pull starters in the second half; 3) Get out of this game without any significant injuries.

A berth in the SEC championship against Alabama is secure, but Georgia could have more on the line after that. The Dogs’ No. 5 ranking in the BCS creates an outside

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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.

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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 …

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

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 best …

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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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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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Here’s how Georgia can get to BCS game (step by step) (UPDATED)

Will Georgia players and fans have something to celebrate with the BCS standings? (AP photo)

Will Georgia players and fans have something to celebrate with a BCS title berth? (AP photo)

(Video added below)

It wasn’t long after Georgia’s win over Florida when I received a few emails and messages on Twitter asking whether the Bulldogs could make it to the BCS championship game. So while this certainly qualifies as putting the cart before the horse – or the crystal trophy before even the SEC East – here’s an outline of what has to happen for the Dogs to get to this year’s BCS title game in Miami on Jan. 7.

1. No. 6 Georgia needs to win its final four regular season games: Mississippi (home), at Auburn (which potentially clinches the East), Georgia Southern (home) and Georgia Tech (home). The Dogs will be favored in all four. They are 14-to-17½-point favorites over Mississippi. Georgia also can’t afford to look unimpressive in the wins because there is a chance that voters in the two polls used in the BCS equation drop them in the rankings.

2. No. 1 Alabama likely needs …

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Georgia will take an ugly win like this any time

Jarvis Jones had a monster game (three sacks, two forced fumbles) to lead Georgia. (Bob Andres/AJC)

Jarvis Jones had a monster game (three sacks, two forced fumbles) to lead Georgia. (Bob Andres/AJC)

Everybody is going to call it ugly. The quarterback was awful for most of the game. The opponent had six fumbles (four lost) and two interceptions. Two of the supposed best teams in the SEC swapped turnovers, penalties and dropped passes. If the late Sid Gillman was watching, he would’ve covered his eyes and screamed, “No! My eyes! My eyes!”

But does it matter?

Ugly is barely beating Kentucky after a bye week. Ugly is looking flawed against Buffalo and Florida Atlantic. Ugly is giving up 44 points to Tennessee. If beating the No. 2 team in the BCS — especially when it’s Florida — is considered ugly, it’s a canvas of ugly that the Bulldogs would wrap themselves in any day or night.

As Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, he of the three first-half interceptions, said Saturday night, “I know I’m going to get stressed out when I look at the film. But it’s still a great win.”

Georgia, …

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