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 confident in the D than I have been for years. Is the D what wins the game for us this year or is it just me?

I’m not sure it’s possible, considering the trend of recent years, for Dawgs fans to ever feel confident going into Jacksonville, no matter how the two teams look on paper. But I think you’re right about defense being the key to a win for Georgia. I expect the Dogs’ offense to move in fits and starts (probably starting out slowly, as has been Aaron Murray’s unfortunate habit of late). But no matter who is at quarterback for the Gators, Georgia has to control Florida’s running game. So far this season, the Dogs have been pretty stout against the run, though they didn’t do that well in that department against Vandy. I’m hoping that was just an off night caused by a) overconfidence and b) losing a bit of their composure. Having Cornelius Washington and Alec Ogletree back is very big for Georgia.

Allen Kennedy writes: Bill, if you remember, I responded to you last week about our special teams … how we had our 3’s and 4’s out there? Here is a quote from Richt: “Every time guys get healthy, that does give you more depth in your special teams. Not to say [Alec] Ogletree couldn’t run down and cover a kick too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of that. Even Shawn Williams, as that Vanderbilt game was going on and he knew what was at stake every time the ball was being kicked, he was personally taking younger guys off the team and putting himself on the team to help us win, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see that.” It’s hard to stay behind this guy when he says things like this and it’s a prime example of how he just dismisses the importance of our special teams. Special teams is a huge part of the whole game.

You’re preaching to the choir on that here. One thing that I noticed in watching that video about the 1980 team that I wrote about yesterday is that the Dogs had a lot of starters on special teams that year. I’ve never been a big fan of Urban Meyer in most things, but his approach to special teams — making them truly special and an honor to serve on — makes a lot more sense than filling out the special teams with freshmen and walk-ons and only those upperclassmen who feel like jumping in. It’s definitely one of Mark Richt’s blind spots.

Matt McGahee writes: Hey, this isn’t neccessarily Jacksonville-related but it has been a question that has been burning a hole in my brain.  Why has Bobo abandoned the fullbacks? I remember many of great runs by Brown, Lumpkin, Ware, and Moreno that were led by fantastic blocks by Brannan Southerland. Or giving it to [Shaun] Chapas for a solid 4 yard gain when trying to kill the clock. Or being in the red zone and running up the middle on the first two downs and then play action and send the fullback out to catch the TD pass. I mean, someone needs to ask Bobo or Richt why we are not using the fullbacks to assist the run. It has been very successful in the past.

Some fans suspect that the Georgia coaches have been keeping use of the fullbacks in their pocket up to now so they can spring that aspect of the game as a surprise, but I’m not so sure about that. I think it’s more likely that the coaches don’t have confidence in senior Bruce Figgins and sophomore Zander Ogletree as runners, though both have done some stellar work this season as blockers. What’s more puzzling to me is why Mike Bobo hasn’t had Murray throwing to Figgins more out of the backfield. That’s definitely a barely used weapon in the Dogs’ offensive arsenal.

OkieDawg writes: Bill, I hope you know the answer to this very important Bulldog sports-related question. How do they determine when and where alcohol will be sold at a college football game? For example, beer was sold at the Liberty Bowl and in Atlanta for the Boise vs. UGA game. But in Jacksonville, TWLOCP, they close the taps. What gives?

Generally, alcohol isn’t served at most college games, especially the ones held in on-campus stadiums. Exceptions crop up at noncampus sites such as the Georgia Dome. But both schools have been trying to steer the image of the Jacksonville game away from the “Cocktail Party” reputation in recent years, so that probably explains the decision there. Frankly, I don’t see the problem since I go to a football game to watch the game, not to drink. But I know there are many others who feel differently.

Beach Dawg Living Among Gators writes: Bill, help me understand the disciplinary program within the SEC, if understanding anything the SEC does. It is obvious that they intently scrutinize, with some exceptions (Fairley), personal foul penalties and administer punishment. However, it does not appear that the same level of scrutiny is applied to situations of failures in personal behavior, e.g. substance abuse. Cornelius Washington, UGA, was suspended two games for a DUI but the three LSU players were suspended for only one game. Is the SEC again favoring (Auburn 2010) a national contender or is there a lack of consistency in substance abuse cases (and yes I consider DUI to be substance abuse)?

While the conference weighs in on discipline for on-field infractions, it’s up to the schools to decide punishment for substance abuse, arrests and so on. Obviously, Georgia’s idea of punishment for such things is a bit tougher than LSU’s.

Paul Suttles writes: Bill, since it seems that the media has not started talking about this topic in earnest, I figure it’s time Georgia fans begin making their feelings known. On ESPN and in other national sports media outlets, some calls are already being made for a rematch of the Alabama-LSU game for the BCS title. The justification is that these two programs are without a doubt the two best programs in college football this season and one game in the regular season should not prevent the loser from having a shot for the BCS title. Even Tony Barnhart has an article on CBSSportsline.com mentioning this possibility. What they all fail to mention is that the loser of that game on Nov. 5 will have not only failed to win their conference, but will have failed to win their division. Think back to 2007. One of the main reasons given for Georgia being leapfrogged by LSU for a spot in the BCS title game to play Ohio State was that Georgia failed to win their conference and failed to win their division … and no team that finishes third in their own conference deserves the right to play for the BCS title game. This reasoning was put forth by some of the most well-known members of the college football media landscape, including one Mr. Kirk Herbstreit. Coach Richt pleaded his case to the media by claiming that since the #2 and #3 teams ahead of Georgia (who, at the time was ranked #4 in the BCS) lost, then logically speaking and despite not having won the SEC East or playing in the SEC championship game, Georgia should move up to the #2 spot to take on Ohio State for the BCS title. A large majority of the media turned their noses up at Coach Richt and trotted out the “win your own division/conference” talk while they jumped another 2-loss team ahead of Georgia into the BCS #2 spot. Now, some might say that the difference between that year and this year is that both Bama and LSU far outclass any other program in the nation. While I do agree that those two teams are playing the best football of any team right now, at the end of 2007, Georgia and Southern Cal were playing better than any team in the nation. If a team has no business playing for the BCS title if they do not win their own division or conference in 2007, then the same should hold true in 2011.

I agree with you completely, though I think the Bama-LSU rematch scenario is highly unlikely. But if it comes down to poll voters choosing between a one-loss SEC team and an undefeated Boise State, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. I think the TV honchos would do all they could to prevent an all-SEC BCS game from happening, however. And generally TV rules college football these days.

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201 comments Add your comment

Eaassyy

October 27th, 2011
11:03 am

Expect Muschamp to throw the kitchen sink at us in terms of trick plays.

Eaassyy

October 27th, 2011
11:06 am

I have no confidence in Florida’s ability to strike on long passes. The intermediate stuff in the flats and passes to the running backs concern me.

Easy Money

October 27th, 2011
11:06 am

Relax—this will be an easy win for the Dawgs—this fla team may be the worst in 20 years. The Dawgs O should roll and the Dawgs D will shut down that bad florida offense. I can’t even get any fla fans to take my bets, even laying 7-10 points. They are expecting a beatdown. Ga should win by 17+. I’ll be partying all night after the game in St. Simons.

DAWG258

October 27th, 2011
11:06 am

A nightmare is occuring —– How can your best WR not be ready after 2 weeks off

SouthSide Dawg

October 27th, 2011
11:07 am

Yes. Starting this year.

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:07 am

I wonder if we’ll see a fake punt or 2 or 3.

Dean Tate

October 27th, 2011
11:09 am

Confident going into the Florida game? Surely you jest.

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:10 am

I was thinking the same thing DAWG258. 2 weeks and a hammy still got you grounded. Only for the Florida game would this crap happen.

Smokewagon

October 27th, 2011
11:10 am

I would like to see our players approach this game with a pretty high level of confidence. When we score a touchdown let’s act like we have scored one before. No need for dancing and such just flip the ball to the referee and head to the sidelines. Let the action on the field do the talking for you. We played right into Vandy’s plan and now are minus two starters for the 1st half. Go Dawgs and GATA!

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:12 am

This game is undoubtebly on the defence. Aaron will probably throw 2 picks. I hope they are not as poisonous as some of the others he’s thrown this year.

DawginLex

October 27th, 2011
11:15 am

No confidence

Lots of signs pointing to another loss

Our only hope is that the defense stops them

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:15 am

We should be talking about a UGA smack down of the gators with the team they field this tear, but this is Florida and we seem to slip on a pair of red panties in Jacksonville.

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:16 am

I know Tech fans loved my red panties remark.

JaxDawg05

October 27th, 2011
11:17 am

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Coach Muschamp kick an onside kick to open the game knowing they need to swing the momentum early in the WLOCP.

AltamahaDawg

October 27th, 2011
11:18 am

Lots of signs how?

Doesn' matter...

October 27th, 2011
11:19 am

..and Richt knows that the Dawgs have no chance, and that this year is “smoke and mirrors”, so far. Why else would he undermind what they have done by saying this week that had UF had the Dawgs last 5 games they would have won those, too…so what UGA has done so far does not really mean much.

Unfortunately, UF will be at full strength for the fiirst time in 5 weeks, and their D is MUCH better than the predictable UGA offense, so this game should be over by halftime – again. But, if the Dawgs D shows up and plays the corners well, not giving up yardage in 10m -15 yards chunks all day, then all bets are off.

BUT, it is highly doubtful that UGA can cope with the UF speed on offense, or toughness on their defense…

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:20 am

Michael Mitchell is probably fine. We will just hold him out in case we need ANOTHER excuse if we need it.

DawginLex

October 27th, 2011
11:20 am

they get their QB back
They were right with Bama until he was hurt
We lose Mitchell
We don’t have williams or Geathers the 1st half.

old dawg

October 27th, 2011
11:22 am

cmr’s lack of defense of his players during the vandy debate will have its payback on sat. defense will be the worst of the year. murray will panic and press too hard resulting in turnovers. special teams will be consistent (lousy).
uga homers will be lost and confused as to what happened.
cmr will make excuses and talk about how much improved the gators are over the course of the year.
seen it all before.
gators by 10.

Send'em U hauls

October 27th, 2011
11:24 am

Nope because Boo Boo is our OC. We couldnt even put away Vandy. UGA is light years behind Bama and LSU.

DawginLex

October 27th, 2011
11:25 am

old dawg

The only thing I am confident of is that our defense under Grantham will play hard and play well.

Other than that, all I have is hope.

Murray?
Running game?
Receivers?
Kicking game?
special teams?

That’s why I am not confident at all.

Moped cruiser 64

October 27th, 2011
11:26 am

I hope UGA wins, but I highly doubt it.

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:26 am

I love how our coaches and players suck up to the Florida establishment. In the mean time Florida’s coach makes a comment like beating UGA will be know problem. One of their players comments in the Florida paper how he’s not real impressed with Aaron or Crowell. PATHETIC!!!!!!!!!!

Send'em U hauls

October 27th, 2011
11:28 am

This weekend maybe the Koolaid drinkers will finally realize its time for a change.

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:29 am

I’m not so sure our defence is what we want to put our hopes on guys. Did you see the Vanderbuilt game. They did what ever they wanted. How they wanted.

Newman

October 27th, 2011
11:29 am

Our guys put themselves in the games? Good Lord! REALLY???

frannie mae

October 27th, 2011
11:30 am

UGA is in BIG BIG trouble………….

ARdawg

October 27th, 2011
11:31 am

I look forward to the day when we can be confident going to J’ville. It’s been awhile. Just as this week. There is no reason we lose this game but the fear is, we will. I like our match up every where but, we’ve found the one way to lose it so many times and did. Get it done CMR

Lindsey

October 27th, 2011
11:31 am

Got my bags packed and ready for St.Simons after I bolt out of the office today! I completely agree with what Paul said regarding LSU-Bama, although I think they are the 2 best teams in the nation the same rules should apply to them as they did to the 2007 UGA team. I am really hopeful the Bulldogs come out with a win and prove that they deserve to be at the top (of the East). GO DAWGS!!!!

sogadog

October 27th, 2011
11:31 am

If the Dawgs play like they did against Vandy, the Gators will win. Also, if Murray throws more than one interception like he did against Miss State and USC, the Dawgs lose.

PrimeTime#8

October 27th, 2011
11:32 am

We might have a chance to win if Bozo would mix the palys up and keep Florida guessing. I have yet to see that this year…

GTBob

October 27th, 2011
11:32 am

This will be UGA’s toughest game since the South Carolina game and they are coming off of a near loss against Vandy. That combined with recent history in the series and I don’t see how any UGA fan could really be confident. What makes this Florida team so bad that a team who struggled against Vandy will easily beat them?

icedawg

October 27th, 2011
11:33 am

Hopefully the Dawgs will pull this one out. It’s not a foregone conclusion though looking at their past performance this year and the opponents they’ve faced, except BS and SC of course. The defense has definitely improved but the offense and special teams have sputtered. Not much of a running game right now. They should be recruiting hard at that position. We need more depth. RB’s get banged up pretty easily.

ARdawg

October 27th, 2011
11:34 am

“BUT, it is highly doubtful that UGA can cope with the UF speed on offense, or toughness on their defense”

Doesn’t Matter, YOU are delusional

OkieDawg

October 27th, 2011
11:34 am

Not having Geathers and Williams in the first half is a cause for concern but Jenkins and Commings are both more than capable in handling the additional playing time. We are coming off a bye week so they should be rested. It is also mid-season, we are playing Florida and the temp. is expected to be about 70 degrees at game time so playing most of a half is not insurmountable. If the offense performs like they are capable of, we can keep their defense off the field. Also, holding Florida to 3 and out will keep our defense rested. When Brantley left the Alabama game, I think the score was 24-10 and Alabama always turns up the heat in the second half, so Brantley’s going down didn’t impact the final results. I know, wishful thinking, I have to go pack…….Sic’em Dawgs

Send'em U hauls

October 27th, 2011
11:34 am

I wonder who will be our new coach next year. This is the silver linning after this weekend.

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:36 am

UGA: “OH OH Florida is so good and so fast and they are so well coached and and and their fans are the best and orange and gators and and and we just respect those guys and and we just love their helmets and and Florida’s such a wonderful place to live.”

Florida: ” UUUHHHH UGA yeah we’ll probably hand 30 on those punks.”

Buh Bye Mark Richt

October 27th, 2011
11:38 am

This will be Mark Richts waterloo game! Gators 33 Dawgs 24.

Cuz

October 27th, 2011
11:41 am

When we win two in a row, we can feel confident.

Spanky

October 27th, 2011
11:42 am

DawginLex- Yeah, they got him back, but he’s not 100%..not near it either! Also, we’ve had a few weeks to make due minus Mitchell, and we don’t know that he will not go, yet! No Williams or Geathers in half 1..true…but we do have a ‘Tree and C. Washington!…Awesome! What concerns me, is Blair Walsh!

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:44 am

Sorry to be negative put I’m very sarcastic about this game. Any reason I should’nt be?

Spanky

October 27th, 2011
11:44 am

GTBob- Yeah, Vandy is no powerhouse, like Virginia!

Hairy Perry

October 27th, 2011
11:46 am

Any way, Go Dawgs!!!!! OBLITERATE those lizards!

Class of '98

October 27th, 2011
11:47 am

Yes, it is quite curious that no one in the media ever brings up 2007 when they talk about a Bama-LSU rematch. I don’t think LSU can have it both ways. Les Miles did as many interviews as he could in 2007 and repeated ad naseum that “conference champions” should play for the BCS title. It will be interesting to see if his tune changes if they go 11-1.

Had It

October 27th, 2011
11:49 am

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

the magic formula is here

October 27th, 2011
11:49 am

I entered UGA in September of 1967. I wrapped up my degrees by June 1973.

While at UGA and even prior, UGA fans and students and PLAYERS of that era ( 60s-80s) looked forward to playing Florida. Why?

Always, UGA players had the postive attitude. Heck, we were told every year that “Florida had all world QBs and flankers and wide outs and LBs and tackles and safeties and kickers”. We knew that it was a team game however and we knew that to hit and play smart ball, likely UGA would somehow prevail.

Foget all of this history from the ONE 1980 season. It was THAT WAY MOSTof my era, as a high school kid in 60s all the way up until Spurrier in the early 90s. Until UGA men want it and I mean really want it ……………….. they will lose.

This is so easy ………………..UGA kids for the last 15-20 years have been full of self doubt. That is a function of coaching. They are today’s kids …………….coddled and afraid to get out there and make their mark in UGA history. Until UGA men on the field are ready to step out on that field with real swagger, mental toughness and bad ass attitude, they
will continue to lose.

GUTLESS they are if they lose this game and if they do, RICHT NEEDS TO RESIGN.

Go Dogs.
UGA man, class of 71 & 73

Natureboy809

October 27th, 2011
11:49 am

UGA is the better team, but as bad as I hate to say it, I can see Murray playing too tightly and trying to do too much, us turning the ball over, and Florida making some big plays on special teams. I really wouldn’t be surprised if UGA out gains Florida by 150 yards and loses.
God, please let me be wrong and UGA roll.

UGA Insider

October 27th, 2011
11:49 am

If CMR kicks field goals instead of scoring TD’s UGA is in trouble…. simple as that.

AltamahaDawg

October 27th, 2011
11:50 am

Hopefully we aren’t trying many 45+ yd FG in that St. Johns wind.

Lamedawg

October 27th, 2011
11:52 am

When is Rontavious Wooten coming back?