Archive for September, 2011

Dawgs need to get student body back on board

Backup Hutson Mason got some valuable playing time against Coastal Carolina. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Backup Hutson Mason got some valuable playing time against Coastal Carolina. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

A few more thoughts after the third game of the season. …

Well, we finally got the answer to the question, what does it take for UGA not to sell out a game at Sanford Stadium? The answer: An 0-2 start and an FCS opponent with a name most folks can’t pronounce.

The 10,000 or so empty seats at Saturday’s meeting with the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers were sort of to be expected at a game like this, but Georgia’s 64-game streak of home sell-outs also ended, with about 800 tickets going unsold. That’s a first for the Mark Richt era.

“I don’t think it’s that big a deal,” said the head coach, who apparently was under the impression the unsold tickets were returned by Coastal Carolina too late for Georgia to sell them. But actually late in the week UGA announced that the tickets it was putting on sale at the last minute were “unclaimed UGA student tickets.”

That’s bothersome. In the …

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Dogs show focus, class in easy win

Aaron Murray accounted for four touchdowns Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray accounted for four touchdowns Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The biggest surprise in Georgia’s expected win over Coastal Carolina Saturday was that the Dogs took care of business just like you would have expected.

Too often in the past Georgia teams have tended to play down to the level of their opponent, coming out for gimme victories against overmatched teams with an embarrassing lack of focus.

There was none of that Saturday, as the 59-0 score indicates. The Dogs played with enthusiasm belying the level of competition and mostly shut down the Chanticleers (or “Chandeliers” as some UGA fans took to calling them).

It certainly wasn’t a perfect day for the Dogs. Blair Walsh missed another field goal attempt, though a penalty on the play kept the Georgia drive alive, eventually resulting in a touchdown. Aaron Murray looked fine in the first half, throwing for three touchdowns and sneaking for another, but was off-target on his lone series of the second …

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UGA fans can show support for the team by showing up Saturday

dog LOGONothing is a sure thing in college football, but Georgia shouldn’t have too much trouble picking up its first win of the season against Coastal Carolina. So the biggest uncertainty about Saturday’s game is whether the game will continue UGA’s string of home sell-outs, and even if it does, how many Dogs fans actually will show up to cheer the team on in a one-sided nonconference match-up.

Unsold tickets to this game keep popping up, first when the opponents returned some and now with unclaimed UGA student tickets going on sale to the general public today. The athletic association says tickets can be purchased prior to 3 p.m. Friday online or by calling the ticket office at 1-877-542-1231.

And tickets will also be sold Saturday at the east end will-call windows beginning at 10 am., which reminds me of those Saturdays of my youth when kids could line up on the morning of a game for cheap “high school” tickets. Unfortunately, there won’t be any discount this time; they’ll still …

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Fan talk: UGA’s playcalling, Richt’s future and more

Mark Richt says playcalling is "overrated." (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Mark Richt says playcalling is "overrated." (Curtis Compton / AJC)

A lot of the fan talk going on this week centers on the intertwined futures of Mark Richt and the UGA football program. Seems like a good time to check out some Junkyard Mail …

Bobby Sharp writes: ESPN analyst Todd McShay dismissed Georgia’s offense the other day as “vanilla.” I have to say I agree with him in the sense that Mike Bobo has to be the most predictable playcaller in the SEC, if not all of college football. If the Dawgs stumble again, do you think there’s any chance Mark Richt might take the playcalling duties back?

I’ve certainly had my share of complaints about Bobo, but I think McShay is overstating his case when he calls Georgia’s offense vanilla. The Dogs’ offense isn’t gimmicky but when it’s executed properly it’s capable of covering a lot of territory pretty quickly. Too quickly, sometimes. The Dogs also generally have been pretty prolific points-wise under Bobo and, in fact, statistically …

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Do UGA fans deserve to be called out?

Was fan support lacking Saturday Between the Hedges? (Associated Press)

Was fan support lacking Saturday Between the Hedges? (Associated Press)

ESPN.com senior writer Ivan Maisel was at Saturday’s game in Athens and was impressed by what he saw on the field from the Georgia Bulldogs.

In fact, he was so impressed with Georgia, the only team that has played two ranked opponents so far, that he concluded that down the stretch if Mark Richt’s team “plays the way it played Saturday, it will contend for the Southeastern Conference East Division championship.”

But Maisel wasn’t impressed by the fan support in the stands at Sanford Stadium.

When Richt said after the game that he saw “an awful lot of really great ingredients on this football team,” Maisel noted that “when Georgia fans hear that, the only ingredient they reach for is a grain of salt. They shouldn’t. They should listen.”

Richt said he saw the toughness and resiliency of his team in the losing effort against South Carolina, but Maisel said, “Too bad his team’s fans didn’t. Judging by how long …

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Bulldogs generous to a fault

Isaiah Crowell showed he's the real deal. Now if he can just stay in the game! (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Isaiah Crowell showed he's the real deal. Now if he can just stay in the game! (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The bad news is that Georgia lost another “big” game Saturday, and in fact has only won one really big game in the past three seasons.

The good news: There are no more really “big” games left on their 2011 schedule.

A Bulldogs team that managed to hang 42 points on a South Carolina defense that’s considered the class of the SEC East ought to be favored in the remainder of that schedule.

Of course, a team as generous as Mark Richt’s Dogs were Saturday, giving away 21 points thanks to turnovers plus another 7 resulting from falling asleep on a fake punt, can always find a way to lose, so the 10-2 record that would salvage the season and save Richt’s job is far from certain.

Walking out of Sanford Stadium tonight, the initial impressions I took with me were a mixed bag: Georgia’s defense improved considerably from a week ago and essentially played well enough to …

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Dog and Chicken Show returns Between the Hedges

The play of Stephen Garcia probably will decide Saturday's game. (Associated Press)

The play of Stephen Garcia probably will decide Saturday's game. (Associated Press)

The biggest question in the minds of most Georgia fans as we approach Saturday’s annual SEC grudge match with the Prince of Darkness is whether the Dogs have been able to shake off the loss to the best team on their schedule quickly enough to get ready for the second best team they’ll play this season.

Certain names on the South Carolina roster have the Bulldog Nation viewing this game with some considerable trepidation: Alshon Jeffrey, Marcus Lattimore and Stephen Garcia.

What name on the South Carolina roster gives those of us in Red and Black some hope? Stephen Garcia.

Yes, the Gamecocks’ talented but wildly inconsistent quarterback is probably the key to the game for both teams. If he plays up to his potential and doesn’t make any boneheaded mistakes, Steve Spurrier’s team should win.

But with Garcia that’s always a mighty big “if.”

The other key to this game is whether the old Vince Dooley

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A new generation discovers Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker's legend spreads thanks to ESPN. (University of Georgia)

Herschel Walker's legend spreads thanks to ESPN. (University of Georgia)

My teenage daughter Olivia has probably always known who Herschel Walker is — she could hardly have grown up in our Bulldog household and not been aware of No. 34.

But until she sat down to watch ESPN’s documentary on Herschel Wednesday night, I don’t think she’d ever paid that much attention to the specifics of his story and just how amazing he really was. After all, his playing days at Georgia were over long before she was born.

She really got into watching the game footage from Herschel’s time at UGA and was amazed to learn he was only 6-feet-1. “He looks so big!”

Reliving those glory days was fun, even for someone who wasn’t around back then. She wanted to know where I watched the Sugar Bowl against Notre Dame and whether I was on my feet and yelling. (She pretty much already knew the answer to that latter part.)

And she particularly enjoyed the footage of 49-year-old Herschel putting the current …

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Is Bobo shooting himself in the foot with shotgun?

Aaron Murray was sacked six times by Boise State — all shotgun formation plays. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray was sacked six times by Boise State — all shotgun formation plays. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Remember the old Marvin Gaye single “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”? Seems like it would make a good theme song for Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who says that in this week’s game against South Carolina the Dogs will stick with that new no-huddle offense that failed so spectacularly for most of the opener against Boise State.

Now, I understand Bobo’s reasoning in going to the no-huddle; he wanted to increase the number of offensive plays the Dogs get in a game to counter those quick-hit spread offenses like Auburn’s that Georgia increasingly is seeing. Of course, it didn’t work out that way Saturday against Boise, with the Broncos winding up with 11 more offensive plays than Georgia.

But Bobo and Mark Richt say it wasn’t the no-huddle itself that was the problem; it was poor execution.

No argument there. What I wonder about is whether sticking with the no-huddle also …

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Dogs fans looking for answers find only more question marks

Georgia's third-down choices against Boise State left many fans puzzled. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Georgia's third-down choices against Boise State left many fans puzzled. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The views on Mark Richt’s team (and the UGA head coach’s future) varied widely at a family reunion and 70th birthday celebration for my uncle that I attended Sunday in Oglethorpe County.

Some were ready now to write fini to the Richt era; others took the tack I did in my postgame blog, that losing to the Top 5 team in the country in the first game doesn’t necessarily mean a doomed season.

But even the latter folks (me included) were disappointed with how little improvement the Dogs showed (with the offensive line, in fact, regressing) and how absolutely and shockingly clueless the Georgia offensive game plan proved to be.

Among the many questions raised: Could Todd Grantham not come up with any adjustments to increase pressure on Boise’s Kellen Moore? Did Richt and Mike Bobo really think going to a no-huddle shotgun offense that minimized use of the Dogs’ fullbacks for protection …

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