Archive for October, 2011

Gators didn’t give the game to Georgia — Dawgs took it

Aaron Murray made some clutch runs. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Aaron Murray made some clutch runs. (Jason Getz / AJC)

A few more thoughts about Saturday’s Georgia victory over Florida. …

My wife and I dropped by a Halloween party late Saturday, and one of my neighbors asked if I thought Georgia deserved to win, pointing to the points the Dawgs got as a result of Florida turnovers in their own territory — as if the Gators giftwrapped the game.

To the contrary, those Florida turnovers were anything but unforced. The first fumble by Chris Rainey, recovered by Bacarri Rambo, was caused by the returning Alec Ogletree (who bounced back nicely from a rusty start early in the game). And Frankie Hammond’s fumble, recovered by Shawn Williams, was forced by Jarvis Jones, who had a career day against the Gators.

Yes, the Dogs most certainly deserved their hard-fought win. …

(Speaking of Jones, he’s one of the nominees in ESPN’s Capitol One Cup Impact Performance of the Week vote. You can vote for him here.)

One of the more impressive aspects of …

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Dogs show what they’re made of in gutsy comeback win

Jarvis Jones gave a big-time performance, with four sacks. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Jarvis Jones gave a big-time performance, with four sacks. (Jason Getz / AJC)

The resiliency that has seen Georgia bounce back from an 0-2 start to challenge for the SEC East was never more evident than Saturday in Jacksonville, scene of so many Bulldog collapses in recent years.

Down by 14 points to Florida, it would have been easy and all too familiar for the Dogs to fold, but they clawed their way back into the game thanks to a stellar second-half effort by the defense that saw the Gators get just 32 yards of offense and one first down after halftime.

Florida converted only two of 13 third-down plays, and the Gators actually wound up with negative yards rushing for the day, the second time this season the Georgia defense has achieved that remarkable feat.

Linebacker Jarvis Jones was pretty much the unanimous choice for player of the game with his five solo tackles and four sacks.

The defense didn’t do it alone, of course. On a day that saw another nearly disastrous …

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Dogs face two opponents: Gators and Jacksonville hang-up

georgia floridaWhen it comes to what John Jenkins has dubbed the “Cocktail Bowl,” it’s not just the likely return of John Brantley or the speed of Chris Rainey that the Dogs have to worry about.

It’s this mental hang-up that’s apparently developed in the players’ heads about the Gators tending to win this thing even when they’re not the better team. As Aron White noted this week, “People get a little tight during Florida week.”

Actually, on that front the most encouraging thing I’ve heard this week is all the talk from Florida players and coaches (even the ones who just arrived) about Georgia’s end zone dance … four years ago. Sounds like a team in need of motivation, which is never a good thing for one of the participants in this annual grudge match. (Hence fans’ dismay at Mark Richt’s “fake juice” attempt with the black helmets and pants a couple of years ago.)

Georgia should win this year against a Gators team that’s lost three in a row. But the Jacksonville factor can’t be ignored. On …

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Fan talk: Can Dawgs ever feel confident going to Jacksonville?

The return of Cornelius Washington should help Georgia's defense. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The return of Cornelius Washington should help Georgia's defense. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The annual migration of Georgia fans down to the coast and greater Jacksonville area has begun. How are you feeling about this game? It’s Jacksonville, so even though on paper Georgia should win, some fans are a bit nervous, as we find out in the latest installment of Junkyard Mail. …

Stewart Smithwick writes: I can’t remember the last time I was this nervous for a game. Especially against UF because I haven’t felt this confident in a win against UF in quite some time. We have a ton of momentum going into this and UF has literally zero momentum. The players seem to be playing with confidence, the D specifically. They seem to have a little bit of that swagger back that they used to have a few years ago. I believe that if we play a complete game on both side of the ball we should come away with a W. The D has been one of our biggest problems when it comes to this game and now I am more …

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UGA’s Jacksonville pinnacle: ‘That was something, wasn’t it?’

Lindsay Scott races to glory against Florida in 1980. (AJC file)

Lindsay Scott races to glory against Florida in 1980. (AJC file)

It’s Georgia-Florida week, which for Dogs fans unfortunately means having to put up with constant reminders that the Gators have dominated the series in recent years.

It wasn’t always that way. During the Vince Dooley era, it was UGA that was dominant in the annual Jacksonville fixture, which yielded many fond memories for Georgia fans — none fonder than the game played on Nov. 8, 1980, that catapulted the Dogs into the No. 1 spot in the polls that they would not relinquish the rest of that football season.

The film clip of the famed Buck Belue-to-Lindsay Scott desperation pass that won the game has been shown so many times over the years that most fans can visualize each second in their minds, complete with the memorable Larry Munson call of the play.

”Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!” indeed.

Now, however, thanks to filmmaker Lenny Daniel, a fellow graduate of UGA’s Grady College, fans can …

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Florida game bigger for Dogs’ SEC hopes than it is for Richt’s job status

Can Mark Richt survive a loss to Florida this year? (Associated Press)

Can Mark Richt survive a loss to Florida this year? (Associated Press)

In a season of “must-win” games, Georgia will make the trip to Jacksonville facing twin imperatives:

First, with South Carolina holding the tie-breaker over the Dogs in the SEC East, a loss to Florida might not finish off UGA’s chances of making it to the championship game in the Georgia Dome (the Gamecocks, after all, are missing Marcus Lattimore), but the odds surely would get a lot longer. Without a win over the Gators, Georgia would need South Carolina to lose at least twice more in the conference while the Dogs won over Auburn and Kentucky.

And secondly, if Mark Richt, who’s won only twice against Florida in his 10 previous seasons at Georgia, can’t get a victory against a first-year coach of a team that’s lost three in a row and is on thin ice when it comes to its quarterbacking corps, the heat under his seat is going to suddenly ramp back up to pretty near the level it was when the Dogs opened …

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Catching up with Bulldogs legend Larry Munson

Larry Munson misses fishing but still loves to talk about the Dogs. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Larry Munson misses fishing but still loves to talk about the Dogs. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Mark Richt and his players have scattered for a rare weekend off. Richt is catching a football game involving one son and a musical performance involving another. Aaron Murray is attending the FSU game to watch some friends play. Most players have gone home for a visit.

Let’s hope that everyone makes it back to Athens safe and sound and without an arrest record.

In the meantime, while we can’t watch the Bulldogs play, we can still read about them, including one of the greatest Dawgs ever, though he never took a snap for UGA: Larry Munson.

Loran Smith checks in with the former voice of the Dogs in his latest column in the Athens Banner-Herald and it’s a sweet, if somewhat poignant, visit.

Munson laments no longer being able to indulge in one of his great loves. “It hurts like hell that I can’t fish anymore,” he says. Notes Smith: “It was sad, knowing that just talking about his deep love …

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Fan talk: Lesson for Mark Richt is beware of live microphones

Mark Richt obviously didn't know his comments to James Franklin were being overheard. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt obviously didn't know his comments to James Franklin were being overheard. (Associated Press)

Time to check some Junkyard Mail. …

Reagan Mabry writes: I have read the various comments/articles and watched all of the videos of the blow-up at the end of the game. I am very disturbed by what Mark Richt said to [Vanderbilt Coach James] Franklin. Do you think this will only continue to hurt the morale down the road by Richt calling one of his players a dumba–? I don’t agree with what Shawn Williams did after the game to another coach and that should not tolerated, but Vandy was throwing cheap shots and we could only guess what was being said on the field. I agree that Grantham went overboard but, come on Richt, vanilla coat that like everything else you do.

Because of the bleeping, it’s difficult to tell exactly what Richt says on the videotape, but assuming the Nashville TV station’s transcript is accurate, it was surprisingly frank talk on the part of the coach, though …

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‘Hotline’ chatter on the shotgun and UGA’s red zone blues

Should Mike Bobo be trying something other than the shotgun in the red zone? (AJC File)

Should Mike Bobo be trying something other than the shotgun in the red zone? (AJC File)

I caught most of Mark Richt’s segment of “Bulldog Hotline” Monday night and some of Hondo and the all stars, and a theme that kept cropping up in comments from callers was concern over Georgia’s ineffectiveness in the red zone and especially when in the shotgun formation.

Richt noted correctly that Georgia uses the shotgun elsewhere on the field, not just in the red zone, and said he’d have to go back and watch some film to see whether the shotgun has really been responsible for the Dogs’ problems down close to the goal line.

I’m hoping that wasn’t just a sop to the caller and that Richt really does plan on taking a look at what’s going wrong for the Dogs in the red zone, where they’ve been more times than any other SEC team (20 trips so far this season in conference games) but have gotten touchdowns only 10 times. With the fallback to attempting a field goal no longer a sure thing with …

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Finding the good amid a lot of sloppy play by Dogs against Vandy

Michael Bennett stepped up big for Georgia against Vanderbilt. (Associated Press)

Michael Bennett stepped up big for Georgia against Vanderbilt. (Associated Press)

A few more observations from Georgia’s win over Vanderbilt in Nashville …

Georgia came out of the game with the Commodores a bit of a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, as Winston Churchill once said.

The Dogs seem incapable of putting away even a mediocre team and yet have won four straight conference games and are tied for first place in the SEC East. Georgia had way too many penalties called Saturday night (11), got gashed at times by a Vandy team ranked 100th in the nation in running, and has turned special teams play into something resembling Russian roulette.

But they still won, and managed to get back into the AP Top 25 on the basis of that very flawed performance.

There were other positives to be gleaned from the Vandy game. Aaron Murray had several career bests despite still being occasionally off-target with his throws. And his one interception was more a case of superb …

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