Archive for November, 2011

Report from a Dawg behind enemy lines: LSU fans ‘feeling cocky’

LSU fans are feeling good about their team and the Mad Hatter. (Associated Press)

LSU fans are feeling good about their team and the Mad Hatter. (Associated Press)

For a view from Tiger land on how our opposing fandom is approaching Saturday’s SEC Championship game against Georgia, I checked in with my old friend Owen Scott, who grew up with me in Athens (where his mom still lives), graduated from UGA and has been a clinical psychologist in Baton Rouge for many years.

Owen’s wife is an LSU prof, his oldest daughter in a huge Tiger fan and his youngest daughter graduated from UGA last December but is “a Tiger first, Dawg second,” he admitted.

However, Owen, who’s been following the Dawgs all his life, has remained true to the red and black and posts comments on the Blawg under the name Dr. Morpheus.

“I’ve attended most of the LSU-UGA games in Baton Rouge and seen some great wins (2008) and tough losses (2003) here,” he said. He just lucked into two tickets to the Georgia Dome game at face value and will be in attendance Saturday.

The buzz in Baton Rouge, …

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BCS quirks mean Georgia has more to gain with SEC win

sec championship logoThis is the time of year when following the BCS is sort of like watching an accident in the making — you know you don’t want to see it happen, but you can’t quite force yourself to look away.

And this year even the so-called truisms that frequently have been applied to the process don’t seem to be holding up.

I keep reading in the national sports press that LSU and Alabama, currently ranked No. 1 and No. 2 with one more week to go, probably will meet in the BCS championship game no matter what, despite already having played each other. The consensus seems to be that LSU will make it to the game even if they lose to Georgia in the SEC championship because of their record, which includes wins over three teams that were ranked in the top three of the coaches poll at the time they played: Oregon, Alabama and Arkansas.

Meanwhile, Alabama, which didn’t even win its own division in the SEC, appears unlikely to be dislodged by No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Stanford or No. 5 Virginia …

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Unfortunately for Tech, Dogs once again caught not looking ahead!

Dogs prove it once again at Grant Field. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Dogs prove it once again at Grant Field. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I wonder what excuse Paul Johnson will use this time for the Dogs walking off Historic Grant Field as the victors for the sixth consecutive time.

Maybe he can take a page from all those folks (including the ESPN “GameDay” gang) who predicted Georgia Tech would prevail in Saturday’s annual Governor’s Cup game because Mark Richt’s Dogs would be looking ahead to the SEC championship game against LSU.

Perhaps Tech was caught looking ahead to the Hyundai Sun Bowl, or wherever they’re going to play next.

Or maybe Johnson’s excuse can be simply to acknowledge what the Georgia players proclaimed again after the game: When it comes to football, “We run this state.”

Actually, Johnson’s best excuse would be to point out that while he may have a little-seen offensive scheme that is tough to defend, he just flat-out doesn’t have the same caliber talent that Richt has in Athens, particularly on defense.

Even playing without …

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Fan talk: Can a true UGA fan ever pull for Tech against anybody?

Ben Jones celebrates Georgia's 2009 win over Tech at Grant Field. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Ben Jones celebrates Georgia's 2009 win over Tech at Grant Field. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

OK, here’s your quickie post-Thanksgiving summation of Georgia vs. Georgia Tech:

In-state rivals. Nation’s No. 2 rushing offense meets No. 2 rushing defense. Uh-oh, triple option. Cut-blocking. Who can play tailback? Which Aaron Murray shows up for this game (the one who tore Auburn apart or the erratic one against Kentucky)? Will the Jackets continue to put it on the ground? What about Harton and Malcome? Will the Dogs be looking ahead to the Dome? Does anyone other than the Tech band still play the Budweiser theme?

Bottom line: If Georgia wins the turnover ratio, Georgia wins the game.

Now, before you tuck into another one of those turkey sandwiches, let’s get to some Junkyard Mail. …

Jackie Grimes writes: I know you’ve made it pretty clear over the years that like most Georgia fans now you can’t stand Georgia Tech. But have you never rooted for the Jackets at any time? Not even against …

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Georgia’s wins over Tech are the sweetest of all

georgia and tech mediumIf it’s Georgia-Georgia Tech week, then you know certain things are happening. Mark Richt and the UGA coaching staff are assuring everyone that Tech really is still Georgia’s chief rival. UGA fans are fretting about whether the Dogs’ defense can suddenly switch gears to stop that quirky triple option. And Paul Johnson is being his usual snarky, sarcastic self.

This year, there are also the added distractions of worrying about what Georgia’s running game will look like against the Jackets and wondering whether the Dogs might get caught looking ahead to the SEC Championship game the following week.

On that last point, I think it’ll help Georgia’s concentration on Tech that we don’t yet know for sure who the Dogs will play in the Dome.

As for the question of whether the Jackets remain Georgia’s main rival, that’s complicated. There’s no doubt that for many Georgia fans (and players) the game against the Gators in Jacksonville means more since it plays a big part in who wins the …

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Jarvis Jones, running backs … and return of the Power Rangers?

This blog was posted Sunday night about an hour before the news of Larry Munson’s death broke, at which point I put up a Munson memorial. For those of you who might have missed this earlier entry, here it is again …

Jarvis Jones: The Beast of the East! (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Jarvis Jones: The Beast of the East! (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Week in, week out I don’t think there’s any doubt who’s been the player of the year for the SEC East champions: Jarvis Jones.

Against the Cats, Jones, who transferred to Georgia from Southern Cal after the staff there decided an injury had made him no longer fit to play, had another 2.5 sacks, giving him a conference-leading 12.5 for the season. The former Trojan also forced the fumble that set up Georgia’s only touchdown.

LSU may have its Honey Badger, but Georgia has the Beast of the East. Thank you, USC! …

Some Georgia fans, including former quarterback Buck Belue, are wondering why Isaiah Crowell didn’t attempt to return to the game Saturday with a taped up ankle if, as Mark Richt said Sunday, he’s …

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Remembering Larry Munson’s favorite Bulldog calls

Nobody called a game like Larry Munson! (University of Georgia)

Nobody called a game like Larry Munson! (University of Georgia)

In honor of Larry Munson, longtime voice of the Georgia Bulldogs who died Sunday at age 89, here’s an excerpt from a piece I wrote in September 2009 …

No offense to Scott Howard or anyone else who ever mans a microphone for UGA football games, but in the hearts and minds of the Bulldog Nation, there’ll never be anyone who approaches the status of Larry Munson.

As coaches and players came and went, the one-of-a-kind broadcast legend was the constant in Georgia football for more than four decades and became one of the most beloved figures ever at UGA. It doesn’t usually take much prompting, either, to get Dog fans to wax nostalgic about their favorite Munson calls.

“From Herschel to a Hobnail Boot,” the memoir Munson wrote with longtime sportswriter Tony Barnhart, features Larry’s picks of his 10 favorite calls from his days in the UGA broadcast booth.

Here are the ones he picked:

1. The 2001 game in …

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Best thing to come out of California in years: Jarvis Jones

Jarvis Jones: The Beast of the East! (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Jarvis Jones: The Beast of the East! (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

A few more random thoughts in the wake of Georgia taking the SEC East title. …

Week in, week out I don’t think there’s any doubt who’s been the player of the year for the SEC East champions: Jarvis Jones.

Against the Cats, Jones, who transferred to Georgia from Southern Cal after the staff there decided an injury had made him no longer fit to play, had another 2.5 sacks, giving him a conference-leading 12.5 for the season. The former Trojan also forced the fumble that set up Georgia’s only touchdown.

LSU may have its Honey Badger, but Georgia has the Beast of the East. Thank you, USC! …

Some Georgia fans, including former quarterback Buck Belue, are wondering why Isaiah Crowell didn’t attempt to return to the game Saturday with a taped up ankle if, as Mark Richt said Sunday, he’s expected to be ready to play against Georgia Tech.

As Buck put it in his blog: “Must have been more than a tweak, right? How could a …

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Dogs’ defense comes through again to clinch SEC East

Losing Isaiah Crowell made life difficult for Mike Bobo Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Losing Isaiah Crowell made life difficult for Mike Bobo Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

You can make a pretty convincing case that Georgia won the 2011 SEC East Championship in large part because of the terrific turnaround in its defense this season.

Certainly, on a day when the Dogs’ offense was again missing its top two running backs, its offensive line regressed and its quarterback at times looked like he was throwing with his eyes closed, the defense was definitely the difference in clinching the division title against Kentucky.

Time after time Saturday against Big Blue Georgia’s sputtering offense put the ball game in the defense’s hands, and that proved to be the difference, as Todd Grantham’s troops held the Wildcats to just 165 yards of offense, almost completely shutting them down in the scoreless third quarter. The Cats didn’t get a second-half first down until late in the fourth quarter.

Georgia may not have gotten many style points, at least …

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Most meaningful Georgia-Kentucky game ever?

Jarvis Jones might have a big day against Kentucky. (Associated Press)

Jarvis Jones might have a big day against Kentucky. (Associated Press)

Back in the day, when Georgia’s conference schedule always ended with Auburn, that meant when the Dogs won the SEC or the division they usually clinched it in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, which always seemed so fitting.

That’s not the way it works any more, though, and with South Carolina winning last week even Georgia’s superlative performance against the Tigers wasn’t enough to make it official. They have to do that this week in the somewhat less celebrated series (you can’t even really call it a rivalry) against the Kentucky Wildcats.

At least the high stakes nature of the game — beat Kentucky, win the SEC East — should keep Mark Richt’s Dogs from letting the whopping 30.5 point spread assigned to the game by the oddsmakers go to their heads in a post-Auburn letdown.

Back in the Top 15 no matter what poll you use, Georgia faces a team that ranks at or near the bottom of the conference in most …

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