Archive for September, 2010

Road to championship for UGA doesn’t have to go through Eugene

Seven games a year in Sanford Stadium is part of Greg McGarity's plan for UGA football. (University of Georgia)

Seven games a year in Sanford Stadium is part of Greg McGarity's plan for UGA football. (University of Georgia)

OK, so I’m not going to pretend I can get excited — or even moderately interested — in the Dogs playing Charleston Southern.

Still, I’m fully on board with Greg McGarity’s new Florida-esque scheduling philosophy of making Tech the only BCS-level nonconference opponent regularly appearing on Georgia’s football schedule and trying to have seven home games in Athens most seasons.

I didn’t come to that view easily. I used to be one of those fans who complained about yawn-inducing home games against schools with directional names. I longed to see Georgia give up a diet of cupcakes and upgrade its nonconference schedule to include regular-season games against the likes of Texas or Michigan or that school that doesn’t like to be called Southern Cal.

Damon Evans cured me of that.

In a bid to build a national “brand” for Georgia, Evans scheduled home-and-home series with …

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Richt’s warning to players: ‘It could get worse’

"We are where we are," Mark Richt told the Touchdown Club of Athens. (Associated Press)

"We are where we are," Mark Richt told the Touchdown Club of Athens. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt didn’t hang around long at Tuesday night’s Touchdown Club of Athens meeting, showing up late and leaving immediately after some brief comments and taking a couple of questions from the floor. But he didn’t skip the fan gathering, as some had speculated he would, and when he took the microphone he didn’t duck the issue of Georgia’s 0-3 conference start, either.

“We are where we are,” the coach said to the full-house crowd assembled to hear his mentor, Bobby Bowden. “We’re going to have to get better or it’s gonna get worse. It’s not going to stay the same. I told the players, you think it’s bad now; it could get worse.”

But no matter what, Richt said, “we’re not gonna lose our poise, we’re not gonna lose our integrity. We don’t want to take our frustrations out on anyone, except maybe Colorado. … We just have to keep working hard and keep together. We must stay …

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Can’t quite bring myself to bail on Mark Richt … just yet

Mark Richt is at a turning point in his coaching career. (University of Georgia)

Mark Richt is at a turning point in his coaching career. (University of Georgia)

Some of you are ready to write off the Mark Richt era in Athens.

I’m hearing this from fans who normally are not quick to call for a coaching change. They look at the downward trend in Georgia’s SEC results since the last conference title and figure the die is cast, even though most concede that Richt’s past record has earned him another season after this one, no matter how badly it ends.

And they’re not looking forward to watching that prolonged scenario play out.

Me, I’m not a big fan of change, as my wife frequently notes. I tend to stick with something way past when others would have bailed, whether we’re talking cars, VCRs, old shirts or football coaches.

I’ll admit, the precipitous decline of Georgia’s football program has me teetering when it comes to the Bulldogs’ prospects under Richt. The recruiting obviously has been subpar for several years, the development of talent has been less than …

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Dogs lost this one in the trenches

Tavares King scores, but it was too little, too late. (Associated Press)

Tavares King scores, but it was too little, too late. (Associated Press)

There’s no point in dancing around it. Georgia just doesn’t have a very good football team this year.

I know, some will point to the first half, when UGA moved the ball pretty well between the 20-yard lines and had 100 yards more of offense than Mississippi State and will say Mark Richt’s Dogs beat themselves. And for that half, that’s true. Had Washaun Ealey not committed yet another goal line fumble in his bid to be the Jasper Sanks of this era, and had a terrific catch and run by Kris Durham for a touchdown not been negated by a holding call on Marlon Brown, Georgia would have led 14-7.

But those mistakes were made. And many more, as the game went on.

However, in the second half, it wasn’t a case of Georgia beating itself. It was, unfortunately, the maroon Bulldogs delivering the beating to both of Georgia’s lines.

The UGA defense couldn’t seem to get off the field in that interminable scoreless third …

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Dog vs. Dog: Battling to emerge from SEC’s loser’s bracket

Russ may be the interim mascot, but he's still going to be top dog in Starkville. (University of Georgia)

Russ may be the interim mascot, but he's still going to be top dog in Starkville. (University of Georgia)

A coworker came up to me this week and said, “Mississippi State a favorite over Georgia? Really!!??

OK, so it’s only a 1-point spread, which basically means a toss-up, but yeah, as Georgia prepares to enter Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field in Starkville Saturday night for one of those rare SEC battles of the Bulldogs, there’s no denying it: Things have gotten ugly. It’s a match between the only two teams in the conference to both have two conference losses already, battling to keep from being declared irrelevant in their division race before September is even over.

Still, I’m always up for a little good-natured smack talk, so I asked my friend Harvey, the only Mississippi State grad I know, for his take on this week’s game.

As Harvey noted, since the two schools don’t play all that often, “there isn’t the kind of venom” between the two fan bases that you get with a …

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Time for Dogs fans to shake it off …

Caleb King should give the Dogs a boost both with his feet and his blocking. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Caleb King should give the Dogs a boost both with his feet and his blocking. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Midweek after the Dogs’ second straight SEC loss and with a tough night in the land of the cowbells coming up. Feels like a good time to get out of this funk and focus on ways in which things are looking up for Georgia.

Like, for example …

Caleb King is coming back. Really. Positively. Of course, King said the same thing last week, but he and running backs coach Bryan McClendon swear it’s true this week. And that’s a really good thing, not just because Georgia’s running game is stronger with the one-two punch of King and Washaun Ealey, but because the coaches say King is the strongest pass-protection blocker of their three tailbacks. Aaron Murray should be especially glad to see Caleb in the backfield again.

Murray now has three games under his belt. The kid is getting better each week. After six sacks last Saturday, he’s probably not going to be holding on to the ball too long …

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Do the Dogs have to win for you to stay a fan?

Any time you start out 0-2 in conference play, you can expect unrest in the fan base.

Mark Richt seems to be looking the other way when it comes to Mike Bobo's handling of quarterback Aaron Murray. (Brand Sanderlin / AJC)

Mark Richt seems to be looking the other way when it comes to Mike Bobo's handling of quarterback Aaron Murray. (Brand Sanderlin / AJC)

It’s been a rough couple of seasons in Athens, with a few highs and way too many lows. And the unhappiness with the mediocrity that the Dogs have exhibited of late has been exacerbated by the fact that Mark Richt had gotten off to such a great start in the first half of his tenure in Athens, with two SEC titles.

So it’s not surprising that most of the barking of late in the Bulldog Nation hasn’t been the kind the cheerleaders elicit.

But there are two sorts of college football fans: those who enjoy the ride on the bandwagon when everything’s going great, but are ready to jump off when it gets bumpy, and those die-hards who support their team even when they’re not happy with the way things are going.

A caller to Richt’s Monday night weekly radio show who …

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Saturday’s disappointments for Dogs fans didn’t stop with the final whistle

Sanders Commings has his man covered here, but too often Saturday Razorbacks receivers were wide open. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Sanders Commings has his man covered here, but too often Saturday Razorbacks receivers were wide open. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Some more thoughts on Georgia’s 31-24 loss to Arkansas. …

As frustrated as many of us were with Mike Bobo’s playcalling against the Razorbacks (see Saturday’s entry), I found his postgame performance even more disappointing.

Talking about the six times Arkansas sacked Aaron Murray, Bobo laid the blame for most of them on his redshirt freshman quarterback holding on the ball too long. “I have to look at the tape. I don’t think all of the sacks were on him, but he’s got to get rid of the football,” Bobo said. In particular, he put the third-and-4 sack that ended Georgia’s chances on Murray. “On the last one, he’s got to get the ball out,” Bobo said.

I suppose you could debate whether the blame for that sack lies with the young QB who didn’t get rid of the ball in time or with the offensive coordinator who sent all the receivers 20 yards downfield …

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Mike Bobo’s playcalling didn’t do his young QB any favors

Aaron Murray did get to use his running ability a bit more Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray did get to use his running ability a bit more Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

We talked here earlier this week about Georgia’s game against Arkansas as something of a test for Dogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.

Well, it was.

And he failed.

Yes, there were defensive lapses Saturday that the Razorbacks capitalized on, including biting on that play fake on Arkansas’ first score, but thanks to too many three-and-outs again this week the Georgia D was on the field entirely too long to try and keep a high-powered offense led by a talented QB like Ryan Mallett in check.

And showing a lot of grit the Dogs did battle back from a 24-10 deficit to tie it up 24-24 with 3:55 left in the game.

But after a fine defensive series got the ball back for Georgia and the Dogs had moved to midfield thanks to runs by Washaun Ealey and Carlton Thomas, the bizarre playcalling by Bobo that had plagued them all day reared its ugly head again.

Third and 4 and rather than a quick slant …

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Dog vs. Hog: Picking Saturday’s winner

georgia-vs-hogs-300x118With the Razorbacks coming to Athens for a Saturday game that looms large for both programs, I thought I’d check in with a Hogs fan, my friend Doug, for a pig’s eye view of what we can expect.

Are Arkansas fans super confident that Ryan Mallett can sling it all over the place against the Dogs, or are they anxious that Justin Houston might be in his face all day and he might feel the pressure? Is the Hogs running attack likely to be much of a factor? And what about defense? The Arkansas D has been pretty horrendous the past two seasons, and since they’ve had no real competiton so far this year, it’s hard to tell if they’re really improved.

“I feel it’s a game the Razorbacks should win,” Doug said, “but it’s very conceivable that they won’t. Yes, the expectations of the Razorback fan base is sky high right now. Most people expect a 10-win season, with a Western Division championship and a Heisman trophy for Ryan Mallett (despite the lackluster first half he had against …

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