Archive for October, 2012

Which Georgia team will show up against Ole Miss?

Will John Jenkins and the rest of the Dogs defense come out fired up again this week? (Bob Andres/ AJC)

Will John Jenkins and the rest of the Dogs defense come out fired up again this week? (Bob Andres/ AJC)

A lot of Bulldogs fans are worrying that Ole Miss might prove to be a “trap” game for a Georgia team with a disturbing tendency to play down to its opponent’s level.

They wonder whether the defense that came out all fired up against the Gators after being called out as “too soft” will rise to the occasion without provocation. Even Mark Richt has half-joked that maybe someone needs to call them “sissies” in order to get Georgia defenders’ blood boiling.

Nationally, college football watchers wonder, like CBSsports.com asked, “Which Georgia team shows up? The one that beat Florida or the one that was pounded by South Carolina and barely beat Kentucky?”

Then there are others, like the folks at CollegeFootballNews.com, who see Georgia’s play against Florida as a fluke and believe the anemic showing against Kentucky comes closer to telling us what kind of team these Bulldogs …

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Georgia-Florida series: Welcome to the new normal

Ain't it sweet! (Georgiadogs.com)

Ain't it sweet! (Georgiadogs.com)

Old memes die hard.

On “SportsCenter” late Saturday night one of ESPN’s talking heads introduced a recap of the Dogs’ big win over the Gators by noting that “Florida has owned this series” since Steve Spurrier arrived in Gainesville.

That’s just the sort of glib commentary we’ve come to expect from the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports. Yes, we all know the Gators dominated the Georgia Bulldogs during the Spurrier years, with the former Gator QB going 11-1 against the team he hates above all others.

We also know that during that span University of Florida fans developed an interesting amnesia about all the years that went before, acting as if modern football history began in 1990.

It’s understandable that folks in Gainesville like to cite the Gators winning 18 games against Georgia since that time, but it’s also completely arbitrary.

Why start with 1990? Why not start with 1964, when Vince Dooley arrived in Athens? Oh, yeah, he had a …

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Georgia’s ‘missing’ defense finally shows up big-time

Florida's Jeff Driskel is sacked by Jarvis Jones and Jordan Jenkins. (Associated Press)

Florida's Jeff Driskel is sacked by Jarvis Jones and Jordan Jenkins. (Associated Press)

It took eight games for the Georgia defense that everyone expected to see this season to finally show up, but when they did Saturday in Jacksonville it was with a vengeance.

Led by a reasonably healthy Jarvis Jones, who racked up 13 tackles (five for loss), three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, the Dawgs’ D held the No. 2 ranked Gators to just three field goals. That made it possible for Georgia to win the game despite Aaron Murray having a nightmare first half in which he threw three picks.

Just think what the score could have been it hadn’t taken until the fourth quarter for Murray to get on track.

Lots of kudos to go around after what Mark Richt described with a bit of understatement as a “pretty big win.”

First of all, let’s hope someone gave a game ball to Shawn Williams, who provided the spark for a Georgia defense that had been underperforming up to now. Credit …

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Fan talk: Georgia-Florida week brings challenges for both players and coaches

Should Mark Richt have said he was "happy" with the win over Kentucky? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Should Mark Richt have said he was "happy" with the win over Kentucky? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Let’s get right to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail …

Clint Harrison writes: Bill, I enjoy your stuff. Georgia-Florida week, the theme should be: “We have an opportunity … What are you/we going to do with it?” We have what we were hoping for. Did the Gamecocks peak too early? I know [Steve] Spurrier had those guys’ intensity levels up for Georgia. Then their confidence kicked in. The crowd was already kicked in. And they were in our heads (or we were in our own heads) the rest of the way.  But all that is behind us. It’s a new day. (What are we going to do with it?). So my question to Coach Bobo is, Do you think [Will] Muschamp is going to send a blitz right up the middle at Murray on the first series (to send him/us a message) like he did to Connor Shaw and the Gamecocks in their game? You know it’s coming; what are we going to do? A screen, quick slant, quick toss to the outside? …

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‘Georgia needs to make Florida play from behind’

georgia florida 2012The key to Mark Richt’s Bulldogs pulling an upset in Jacksonville Saturday is starkly illustrated by some halftime numbers from last week’s Florida-South Carolina game.

After two quarters of play, the Gators had a grand total of just 29 yards of offense, 13 of those in the running game, and just two first downs. They also had already been flagged by the officials five times for 64 yards.

And yet Florida led the Gamecocks 21-6 thanks to the scores resulting from three turnovers.

As one sage sports observer I know put it this week, anytime a team has more points than yards, there’s something wrong.

But what’s wrong with the 2012 Florida Gators has been more than countered by what’s right: an aggressive, effective defense that likes to take away the ball and, best of all, superb, opportunistic special teams play. As a result, Florida has become the nation’s No. 2 team despite having merely an adequate offense that is most effective grinding it out on the ground to wear opponents …

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Shawn Williams’ comments on Georgia’s ‘too soft’ defense poorly stated but on target

Shawn Williams gets there too late to stop a Tennessee receiver from scoring. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Shawn Williams gets there too late to stop a Tennessee receiver from scoring. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Anyone who’s watched the Dogs this season knows safety Shawn Williams was on point Monday night when he called out the Georgia defense for playing “too soft” and without “the same attitude we played with last year.”

It’s understandable that the senior is frustrated with the way the D has been playing this season, especially after getting shelled in the South Carolina game and then coming out of a bye week looking meek against the lowly Kentucky Wildcats.

The Bulldogs’ defense deserves to be called out and maybe Williams’ rant will have the same sort of galvanizing effect as Mizzou’s “old man football” insult did on the team overall earlier in the season in what was, probably not coincidentally, the best game the Georgia defense has played to date.

But as is frequently the case with the overly aggressive Williams, who’s been flagged for a few unnecessary penalties in his …

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Georgia coaching staff’s fix-it list is a mile long

Georgia's defense had difficulty handling Jonathan George and other Kentucky runners. (Associated Press)

Georgia's defense had difficulty handling Jonathan George and other Kentucky runners. (Associated Press)

Some more thoughts and observations from Georgia’s win over Kentucky and looking ahead to the showdown with Florida …

Mark Richt’s Bulldogs have a lot of problems that need addressing before the game in Jacksonville, but the three biggest ones are a continuing problem defending the run, the deteriorating performance of the offensive line (and its effect on Georgia’s own running game) and the disaster that is UGA’s special teams play most of the time.

I’ve heard a lot of discussion in the past 24 hours over whether it was another faulty Todd Grantham game plan that was responsible for the Georgia defense’s terrible showing right out of the gate against the Wildcats, or whether the blame lies largely with the players, most of whom haven’t yet lived up to their preseason press clippings and have failed to put together a complete half (let alone a game) playing as a team.

I’m …

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Defense falters again, but thank goodness for Aaron Murray

Aaron Murray had a career night against Kentucky. (Garry Jones / AP)

Aaron Murray had a career night against Kentucky. (Garry Jones / AP)

On a night when Georgia seemed unable to stop the conference’s worst running attack for most of the game and had little success running the ball itself, quarterback Aaron Murray carried the team on his back and notched another Bulldogs victory.

Murray  gave a stellar passing display, completing 30 of 38 throws for 427 yards and four touchdowns.

Murray was masterful — he completed 15 of 19 for 243 yards in the first half — and yet the game that saw him take the Bulldogs’ career touchdown record could have been even bigger for him, with at least three passes dropped plus the QB missing a wide-open receiver on another play.

Two Georgia receivers broke the century mark, with Tavarres King catching nine passes for 188 yards and Malcolm Mitchell getting back in the offensive swing of things with nine receptions for 103 yards.

But, boy, was the rest of the game ugly for UGA.

Yes, as Mark Richt likes to point out, …

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What does a Georgia fan want to see against Kentucky?

Tood Gurley should have a big day against a young Kentucky team. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Tood Gurley should have a big day against a young Kentucky team. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

There’ve been a lot of SEC schedule change-ups in recent years (and more are coming) and the Dawgs frequently have played the Kentucky Wildcats late in the season, but this year is a throwback to days of old: It doesn’t get much more traditional than an October Saturday night in Lexington.

After the big letdown in Columbia, Mark Richt’s team is looking to get back on track and, on paper, Kentucky looks like the perfect opponent to help the Dogs do just that. The Wildcats have been hit hard by injuries, play a lot of true freshmen and looked absolutely awful last week against Arkansas.

You’d figure Georgia would have no trouble covering the spread, which is more than 27 points.

But two concerns lurk in the back of Georgia fans’ minds: This is the SEC and as Todd Grantham reminded us this week, “on any given Saturday, anybody can beat you. … Any time you play on the road in this league is …

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Can you call yourself a Florida Gators fan this week?

Dawgs fans find themselves pulling for turncoat Will Muschamp's team this week. (Associated Press)

Dawgs fans find themselves pulling for turncoat Will Muschamp's team this week. (Associated Press)

So, I’m getting on the elevator at work yesterday and a colleague who attended that school in Gainesville, Fla., asks me, “Can you call yourself a Florida Gators fan this week?”

My reply: “No, I wouldn’t go that far. But would I prefer for Florida to beat South Carolina? Yeah.”

He said he thought I finessed that question pretty well.

Let’s be clear about this: It’s strictly self-interest that has UGA players, coaches and fans pulling for that hated team in blue and orange to continue its unlikely 2012 rebound under former Bulldog Will Muschamp this week. Another loss for Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks would pretty much eliminate them from contention to win the SEC East.

And that would put the Dogs’ destiny back under their own control: Win out in the rest of their conference games, including beating Florida, and Georgia would be back in the Dome.

Of course, that would make the annual …

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