Posts Tagged ‘SEC’

Georgia projects well for 2013, even with flaws in win

Mark Richt gets the Gatorade bath after Georgia's Capitol Bowl win over Nebraska. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt gets the Gatorade bath after Georgia's Capitol Bowl win over Nebraska. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ORLANDO – The players wore hats reading “CHAMPIONS” in all cap letters. The fact that “Capital One Bowl” — and not SEC or BCS — also was stitched on the caps in a much smaller script might deflate that declaration a bit, but it doesn’t take away from where Georgia may be headed.

Were the Bulldogs great in their final game of the 2012 season? Hardly. The defense, purported to be loaded with NFL talent, too often played sloppy and undisciplined. The quarterback, Aaron Murray, threw two interceptions in the team’s first three possessions. It is what happens sometimes in bowl games. The Dogs didn’t save their best for last. Their best came in the next-to-last game against Alabama.

But ultimately, what came out of Georgia’s 45-31 win over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl were signs that this program isn’t likely to take a step back next season.

There will be new players. There …

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Short takes: Murray, defense rebound; freshmen shine

Tavarres King goes up for a 75-yard touchdown from Aaron Murray, one of five scores thrown by the Georgia quarterback. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Tavarres King goes up for a 75-yard touchdown from Aaron Murray, one of five TDs from the quarterback. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

I’ll be back with my column on Georgia’s win over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl shortly. Until then, here are my three “short takes” on the game.

1. Defense underperforms but rebounds: When the season began, we were led to believe that Georgia’s defense was stuffed with several potential NFL players. If that’s true, the Bulldogs underperformed in several games. They were missing two linemen Tuesday (nose guard John Jenkins was academically ineligible; end Abry Jones was out with an ankle injury). But even then, Todd Grantham’s defense too often looked undisciplined (leading to breakdowns and penalties) and was shredded for far too many big plays. However, like in some other games, Georgia’s D made some big plays when it mattered most: Alec Olgetree forced a fumble at the Dogs’ 37, and Damian Swann had two interceptions. Nebraska, after scoring 31 …

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LIVE: Georgia tries to forget SEC ending, close with win

Aaron Murray gives a high five to tackle Xzavier Ward before taking on Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. (Brant Sanderlin)

Aaron Murray high-fives Xzavier Ward before the Capital One Bowl. (Brant Sanderlin)

ORLANDO — When asked the other day if he viewed this season as a missed opportunity to win SEC and BCS championships, Georgia coach Mark Richt said, “Every year is a missed opportunity, I think.” And that’s probably the right thing to say, even if it’s not every season the Bulldogs come within one tipped pass of winning the SEC title and going to the BCS championship game.

When Georgia faces Nebraska today in the Capital One Bowl, the question is whether we’ll witness any hangover from the last game. The Dogs (11-2, coming off a 32-28 loss to Alabama, No. 7 BCS) may be a more talented team than the Cornhuskers (10-3, coming off a 70-31 loss to Wisconsin, No. 16 BCS). But that doesn’t always mean anything in bowl games. Witness Georgia Tech vs. USC. Or witness Georgia’s last two bowl efforts — losses to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl two years ago and Michigan State in the Outback last …

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Georgia needs to finish strong to avoid diminishing season

Mark Richt hopes his team can finish the season better than it has the last two years. (AP photo)

Mark Richt hopes his team can finish the season better than it has the last two years. (AP photo)

ORLANDO – The old comedian Steve Allen once said, “I used to be a heavy gambler. But now I just make mental bets. That’s how I lost my mind.”

He easily could have been talking about bowl games. As inexact sciences go, they fit somewhere between the “wheel of fortune” and “pick a number between one and 10.”

A college team’s best players often are upperclassmen who already have one foot and an entire head out the door. Some get lost in the vacation atmosphere of bowl week. Some can’t transition back from holiday break. Others just look, play and act like they would rather not be there. It’s why we are left with results like: Central Florida 10, Georgia Holograms 6 in the Liberty Bowl.

For Georgia’s sake, this next bowl needs to be different.

This isn’t some grand declaration that the Bulldogs’ program will be defined by whether or not they defeat Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. …

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Aaron Murray may be playing his final game for Georgia

Aaron Murray hasn't told Mark Richt or anybody if this is his final game. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Aaron Murray and Mark Richt have been together for three seasons. This may be it. (Brant Sanderlin)

ORLANDO – Before this season began, Aaron Murray set a plan for the next two years — not for football, but for a doctorate program in industrial-organizational psychology. Call it an academic and career game plan.

“It’s a pretty big field nowadays,” Murray said in August. “A lot of companies are hiring I-O psychologists.”

Aaron Murray plays a football game Tuesday. There is a very good chance it will be his final football game for Georgia.

This is pure conjecture on my part. It is based on the fact that Murray, as much as he loves college football, has other things going on in his life. He has other things he wants to try. He’s a different kid.

“You mean mature?” Murray said, smiling.

“No,” I responded. (He laughed. Know your audience.)

I presented my theory to Murray, that Georgia’s game against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl would be the end of this chapter in his life. I …

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Progress pleases McGarity, but he’s still not ‘comfortable’

Greg McGarity is pleased but not content with Georgia's turnaround under Mark Richt. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Greg McGarity is pleased but not content with Georgia's turnaround under Mark Richt. (Curtis Compton)

Greg McGarity is avoiding amusement parks and costumed cartoon characters this week. He found his own “Happiest Place on Earth” in Orlando – roaming the aisles of a Barnes and Noble while clutching a gift card.

“I’m going to spend all of this,” he said by phone.

McGarity loves books, particularly anything on leadership. His favorite is, “Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All,” by Jim Collins.

“There’s a section in there on productive paranoia,” Georgia’s athletic director said. “I think all ADs have a level of that.”

It is why, despite the generally positive feelings that surround the Georgia football program these days, McGarity isn’t nearly satisfied. In fact, when asked if he felt comfortable about the program’s turnaround and direction, he all but chewed up the word and spit it out.

“I don’t think you ever get comfortable,” he …

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Predictions: It’s time for bowls(!), contest (!) and BCS (ugh)

chalk

Welcome to the next-to-last BCS bowl season, or as we like to call it: “The mole in the middle of our forehead that the plastic surgeon said he can’t remove for another two years because the deals are in place, conference commissioners have been bagged, athletic directors already have used the free golf clubs, the booze cruise just left port, it’s too late to cancel the caterers, and, dang it, Mike Slive just took the last shrimp!” So we’re stuck.

After 15 years, it’s almost gone. After 17 years, it will be. (How did the BCS get to vote before it was 18?) We’re left with a palatable title game (Alabama-Notre Dame) but a nonsensical way of getting there and zero postseason drama.

BCS road map looks something like this.

BCS road map looks something like this.

Well, except this: (Promotion coming. I feel so dirty.) There’s still time to enter the “Sack Schultz” Bowl Special. We’re giving away $200 in gift cards to Marlow’s, which should buy a lot of wings. Don’t worry that some of the 36 bowls have been played because …

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SEC’s decision to not suspend Dial sends wrong message

Aaron Murray crumbles after helmet-to-helmet hit by Quinton Dial, who wasn't penalized. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Aaron Murray crumbles after helmet-to-helmet hit by Alabama's Quinton Dial. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If Alabama goes on to defeat Notre Dame in the BCS championship game, there’s a pretty good chance that Quinton Dial will play only a minor role. So the problem with what happened Friday is not that the SEC just gave Alabama some unfair advantage by avoiding suspending one of its players — the problem is that it is sending mixed messages about how much it really cares about head injuries in football.

Or are hits to the head only important when it’s convenient?

After reviewing three plays from the SEC championship game between Georgia and Alabama, most notably Dial’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray, the conference declined to issue any suspensions, releasing a statement that said, “After review, all subsequent action will be handled internally by the two institutions and the conference office is satisfied with their actions.”

To translate: The SEC will …

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Bobby Petrino finds a school willing to sell its soul

Here's a screengrab from WKUsports.com. They forgot a few things.

Here's a screengrab from Western Kentucky's website: WKUsports.com. I think they forgot a few things.

(UPDATED: 6:15 p.m.)

According to Western Kentucky’s mission statement — which I suddenly found reason to Google — the university “prepares students to be productive, engaged, and socially responsible citizen leaders of a global society.”

So we’re left to wonder: Will Western Kentucky ask Bobby Petrino be teach a course in social responsibility, or will he be too busy being productively engaged with an athletic department underling?

Petrino is back in coaching. That was inevitable. On one hand, the man has so much personal and professional baggage that he needs a storage unit. But because he can coach college football, it figured to be a short time before one school’s administration declared, “To hell with morals and scruples! This is college football!”

Western Kentucky stepped up to the soul-selling window. This came after even three schools in the …

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Brian Gregory may have Tech on way to something good

Brian Gregory's Jackets look far closer to be a potential NCAA tournament team than Mark Fox's Bulldogs do. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Early season report: Brian Gregory's Jackets are going up; Mark Fox's Bulldogs are going down. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

There hasn’t been much in the way of emotional real estate for Georgia Tech to lay claim to over Georgia lately.

The somewhat diametric fortunes of the school’s respective football teams and the fact Tech’s former athletic director grew weary of squeezing nickels and bolted for Clemson sums it up nicely.

So consider Tuesday some semblance of a 180. Or at least the beginning of one. Georgia Tech beat Georgia 62-54 in a basketball game at McCamish Pavilion. There is joy in Beeville.

The Yellow Jackets are 5-2 in non-conference play. It’s a bit early to start hyperventilating and tossing out labels like “ACC threat” or “NCAA dark horse.”

But forgive Tech if it milks this just a little bit. It finally has a chance to gloat. The team’s new arena is a jewel. It was sold out Tuesday night. It was loud. The Big Foot rival fell for the second straight year, the first time …

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