Archive for October, 2010

Georgia-Florida was basically even … except for the coaching

When A.J. Green did get the chance in the fourth quarter, he was simply amazing — as usual. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

When A.J. Green did get the chance in the fourth quarter, he was simply amazing — as usual. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Some more thoughts on Georgia’s latest loss to Florida. …

The verdict is still out on defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Until we see at least another season of his work, we won’t be able to gauge whether the lack of progress shown by the Dogs’ defense this season is a result of the level of talent Grantham inherited from Willie Martinez or is an indictment of Grantham’s coaching. But I think it’s safe to say at this point of the season it’s unlikely the light bulb is suddenly going to come on and this defense is going to get markedly better. The problems that have plagued the Dogs all season are still there. Too many times Florida receivers were wide open Saturday, even on plays where the Dogs not only didn’t blitz but didn’t really pressure the QB. How does that happen? And stopping a running quarterback? They don’t appear to have a clue. Still giving up …

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Same old story: Turnovers doom Dogs against Gators

Aaron Murray finally had a game where he looked like a redshirt freshman, but he also led a remarkable comeback by the Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray finally had a game where he looked like a redshirt freshman, but he also led a remarkable comeback by the Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I had a sinking feeling as they broke for the half in the Georgia-Florida game when Urban Meyer told CBS’ Tracy Wolfson, “You look at the history of this series, turnovers win the game. That’s gonna be the key to the second half.”

At the time, his team was leading 21-7 largely because the Dogs had turned the ball over and missed on at least one take-away. As it turned out, Georgia battled back valiantly in the second half to tie the game up twice and send it to overtime. But in the end, Meyer proved to be the seer, as a tipped ball on third down of Georgia’s first OT possession was intercepted by the Gators, giving them the ball and the chance to win it with a field goal by their backup kicker.

I guess you can say that losing a thriller by 3 points in overtime certainly marks some sort of progression over the past two years, when …

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This won’t be your typical Georgia-Florida game, thank goodness

Aaron Murray should be a key playmaker for the Dogs against the Gators. (Associated Press)

Aaron Murray should be a key playmaker for the Dogs against the Gators. (Associated Press)

Predictions of how the 2010 Georgia-Florida game will turn out seem to be falling into two categories.

On the one hand, you have those folks like the Vegas oddsmakers who look at how the teams have performed to date and figure the rebounding Dogs, who’ve been clicking offensively the past three weeks, have an edge over the stumbling Gators.

On the other hand, you have prognostications that basically boil down to this: The Dogs will choke and Florida will win because Florida usually wins. Typical of this school of thought is erstwhile AJC-er Terence Moore, who declared on WSB-TV’s “Sports Zone Sunday” that because of the fallout from the infamous end zone dance of 2007 the Dogs will never ever beat the Gators again as long as Urban Meyer is coach.

While Moore’s stance hardly ranks as reasoned analysis, there’s no question Florida has tended to feed off its dominance in the series over the …

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Dogs’ ‘Florida fixation’ an obstacle to winning

"Beat Florida" has become a mantra in Athens.

"Beat Florida" has become a mantra in Athens.

You can’t look at the past 20 years of the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville without concluding there’s more at work here than simply the Gators outplaying the Dogs on the field.

Too many times we’ve seen the Florida players looking loose and like they were having fun (winning a bunch in a row will do that for you), while Georgia has looked about as tightly wound as a team can get.

Former QB David Greene alluded to this on the radio the other day when he was talking about how badly Georgia players want to beat Florida. Sometimes, he said, they want it so badly that they get too wound up and make mistakes that cost them the game.

Even the coaches have been susceptible to this, as we’ve seen in Mark Richt’s reliance on gimmicks like end zone dances and black helmets to try and get his team emotionally ready for the Gators in recent years. Not to mention some bone-headed calls like a certain onside kick.

It’s one thing for the fans …

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Can favored Dogs overcome so-called ‘Jacksonville Jinx’?

ga flaThe week opened with Georgia rated anywhere from a 1.5 to a 3 point favorite over the Gators in Jacksonville.

Quite a change from the depths of the season when the Dogs came back from Colorado 1-4, but since then Mark Richt’s team has won three in a row while Urban Meyer’s has lost three in a row. Georgia clearly has the better quarterback. The Dogs’ running game finally is clicking, while the Gators have been weak against the run. Georgia with A.J. Green is a different team. So a point spread favoring UGA shouldn’t really be surprising.

Still, this is Georgia-Florida in Jacksonville, so a lot of Dogs fans are hesitant about predicting victory. Losing 17 of the past 20 games will do that to you.

We worry about the Gators having had a bye week to “modify” their offense, as Meyer put it, and, more importantly, possibly get some injured players healthy, particularly running back Jeff Demps. We assume that talented wide receiver turned stalker Chris Rainey — who mostly likely …

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Dogs managed big win despite patchy defensive effort

Maybe Mark Richt should let Sanders Commings have a few plays as a receiver. (Associated Press)

Maybe Mark Richt should let Sanders Commings have a few plays as a receiver. (Associated Press)

A few more thoughts about Saturday night’s win over Kentucky. …

If you’re in a glass-half-full mood, you can take encouragement from the fact that the Dogs managed to notch a big SEC win on the road against a resurgent Wildcats team without really putting it all together and playing a complete game. If you’re of the glass-half-empty mind-set, you’re bothered by such things as the way the defense still had trouble stopping third-and-long conversions, continuing pass coverage problems in the secondary and the minor slump that Blair Walsh seems to be having. …

Walsh might be suffering a sudden lack of confidence or concentration (missing a PAT??!!) but Drew Butler seems to have returned to last-season form. His punting was awesome in Lexington and, along with the take-aways, helped the Dogs win the field-position battle. …

For the most part, you couldn’t really complain about Mike …

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Finally, Dogs run away with a win thanks to take-aways

Washaun Ealey scored a school record five rushing touchdowns Saturday night in Lexington. (Associated Press)

Washaun Ealey scored a school record five rushing touchdowns Saturday night in Lexington. (Associated Press)

The Kentucky Wildcats tried to replay their favorite script Saturday, spotting their opponent several first-half scores and then clawing their way back into the game in the second half on the arm of quarterback Mike Hartline. But Georgia’s Bulldogs departed from the script, relying on a 157-yard, five-touchdown performance by Washaun Ealey and winning the take-away battle for a third consecutive win.

Ealey’s five TDs tied a Georgia record for a back held by Robert Edwards, and Ealey’s were all rushes while one of Edwards’ was a catch, so Washaun claimed his own spot in the record book.

Georgia mostly played it conservative in Lexington, at times looking almost like Dooleyball against a Kentucky defense that ranked next to worst in the conference against the run. Aaron Murray threw only a dozen times, completing nine for 113 yards, and at times in the second half …

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Big Blue fan pulls a reverse in previewing Dogs-Cats

Aaron Murray being a two-way threat for the Dogs will be a big plus. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray being a two-way threat for the Dogs will be a big plus. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I think I’ve mentioned here before that my old friend Herb Steely could give lessons to Vince Dooley when it comes to building up your opponent.

Herb has spent most of his life in Atlanta but hails from the land of the bluegrass and loves the Kentucky Wildcats. Of course, nine times out of 10 his conversations in that regard will relate to basketball, not football.

Just your typical UK fan, as Randall Cobb might say.

I always like to see how the other side thinks, so I checked in with Herb this week to find out what he makes of Saturday night’s pigskin meeting between the Cats and Georgia’s Bulldogs.

“You guys are not gonna lose another game this year,” Herb declared flatly. “In my opinion, you guys have turned the corner. I’m real impressed with your team.”

Now, wait a minute. Kentucky just game off a big win over Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks, who beat the Dogs. The Cats …

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Are Dogs back on track or were Vols and Vandy that bad?

After two big wins at home, the Dogs take their rehab project on the road this week. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

After two big wins at home, the Dogs take their rehab project on the road this week. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I’m getting back into the work routine today after being on the disabled list, and I figure that’s a good time for a quick check on the confidence level in the Bulldog Nation.

I’m trying to decide which Georgia team is likely to show up in Lexington Saturday night, the one that looked dominant against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, or the one that looked so hapless against Mississippi State and Colorado.

As the pendulum has swung back this week with talk about the Dogs being back in the SEC race, the showdown with Kentucky looks bigger and bigger.

Let’s face it, while the wins over UT and Vandy did a lot to get Georgia back on track, neither opponent was a very good team.

Which raises the question of just how good Georgia is. Have the Dogs really turned the corner? I liked what rarely quoted offensive line coach Stacy Searels told the Bulldogs Blog when that question was put …

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Amid SEC East tumult, all that matters for Dogs is Kentucky

Aaron Murray needs to work on his slide move. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray needs to work on his slide move. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

In terms of the SEC, Saturday was pretty much perfect for the Dogs: Georgia won (big-time, in a shutout), and Eastern Division rivals South Carolina and Florida both lost.

So here we sit with the Gators on a three-game losing streak and tied for second place in the SEC East.

With Georgia.

All the Dogs have to do to secure a trip to Atlanta is win out … and have the Gamecocks lose two of their four remaining conference games (against Vandy, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida).

After watching South Carolina self-destruct against Kentucky, you figure the latter part of that equation is not that far-fetched.

But Georgia winning out? I don’t even want to think about it.

I’m like Kevin Butler was on Saturday’s post-game call-in show when Jeff Dantzler wanted to look ahead at Florida.

Butler was having none of it. Kentucky is all that’s important to Georgia right now, he said.

And he’s right.

As thrilled as Georgia …

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