Fan talk: A Georgia-Auburn game with a difference

georgia auburn helmetsYou know it’s not your typical Georgia-Auburn game when I get a “Go Dawgs” note from a die-hard War Eagle devotee, saying they want to see Georgia wrap up the SEC East on Saturday!

But two years on from the Tigers’ national championship season with their rent-a-QB Cam Newton, it’s not your typical Auburn football season, and I have a sneaking suspicion the Tigers fan who wants the Bulldogs to win the 116th meeting of the two programs is hoping a loss to Georgia will hasten the rumored departure of Gene Chizik.

You think the Georgia fan base is quick to turn on its coaches? We’ve got nothing on the folks in the Plains.

But that’s what happens when an Auburn team enters its annual game with Georgia winless in the SEC.

Jonathan Wallace is Auburn's third starting quarterback this season. (Associated Press)

Jonathan Wallace is Auburn's third starting quarterback this season. (Associated Press)

The Tigers have been a bad football team this season. They’ve lost their six conference games by an average of 17.3 points, with the nadir being a 63-21 drubbing by Texas A&M.

It took a 475-yard showing against the likes of New Mexico State last week to get them out of last place among Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense, and the Tigers will be starting their third quarterback of the season, freshman Jonathan Wallace. With Auburn having allowed 72 tackles for loss so far this season, chances are he’s going to get to know the likes of Jarvis Jones and Garrison Smith pretty well.

Things have only been marginally better for the Auburn defense, which features a pair of former UGA defensive coordinators on staff in Brian VanGorder and Willie Martinez. Opponents are averaging 428.7 yards per game, which puts the Tigers in 85th place nationally. Auburn ranks last in the SEC in rushing defense, ninth in pass defense and 10th in scoring defense. They’re last in the nation in interceptions, with only one.

No wonder Georgia is favored by more than 15 points.

Still, it’s Georgia-Auburn and the Bulldogs can’t afford to come out flat or overconfident. Auburn’s freshman quarterback isn’t much of a passing threat so far, but he can be a dangerous runner, and the Tigers also have a decent pair of tailbacks in Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb. Plus, defensive end Corey Lemonier is highly regarded and could cause problems for Aaron Murray if Georgia’s offensive line gets off to another poor start.

Still, I’ll be surprised if Georgia doesn’t arrive in Auburn ready to take care of business. A trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship awaits if they do, and it’s hard to beat that for motivation.

Now, let’s check some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

Paul Barrett writes: I like the way Collin Barber is coming along as the Dawgs’ punter, but I’m still not sure Marshall Morgan isn’t going to turn out to be another Andy Bailey, the scholarship kicker who eventually was beat out by a walk-on. Bill, what do you think are the chances that Georgia signs another placekicker for next year?

Mark Richt was asked a similar question on this week’s edition of “Bulldog Hotline” and he indicated that’s unlikely. But Richt also said that if any of the kickers on the team showed they could do a better job than Morgan he’d give them a chance. He sounded hopeful that Morgan will improve, though he did say that after that ugly hook on a missed field goal last week he “might need to see the kick doctor” for some work on his fundamentals. Kevin Butler thinks Morgan definitely needs to work on his form, but John Lilly, who oversees Georgia’s kickers (he doesn’t really coach them), seemed to think it was more of an aberration. He said this week that he told Morgan he’d never have one that bad again and “you got your worst one out of the way.” Let’s hope he’s right.

UGA supporters need to ask: "Are we fan enough?" (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

UGA supporters need to ask: "Are we fan enough?" (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

James Smith writes: I agree with you 100% on the poor showing by the fans [at the Ole Miss game]. We should be the motivating factor.  When our Dawgs are down, we can pick them up. The opposing offense should not be able to communicate on the field because of the noise we create and this should be the case for the entire game, not just when we think it matters. Sanford Stadium should be a scary place for opposing teams but it really isn’t anymore. Seeing half the stadium empty with almost a full quarter to go was infuriating to me. I could not believe what I was watching. Yes we were up big and the game was pretty much over at that point but the thing that irks me is that we, as fans, get all over the players when they don’t give a full 60 minutes of effort. You lose the right to talk like that when you leave your team hanging. … Enough of asking “Where’s the motivation?” or “Where is the spark?” No more “Are we man enough?” The fans should be asking “Are we fan enough?”

Indeed. Sanford Stadium isn’t going to be an intimidating venue for opposing teams until the Georgia fans start showing up on time, staying for the whole game and getting loud on more than just big third-down plays.

James McKinney writes: Could you make it real clear on what it would take for us to make it to the BCS (besides beating Bama) and what are your thoughts on our chances of Beating Bama once we clutch the east! Go Dawgs!

And along the same lines JV writes: Bill, does a one loss Georgia team who beats Bama in the Dome play for it all in Miami? I bet the national pundits would cry if we upset Bama … and end the SEC streak if we don’t get in?

If Georgia makes it to the Dome and plays Alabama and somehow beats the Crimson Tide (which I believe is a mighty tall order), you’d think that winning the championship of the nation’s best conference and having knocked off both the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in a season would be enough, wouldn’t you? But most college football observers feel the reality is that even if Georgia wins out, the Dawgs’ chances of making it to the BCS title game basically depend on two of the three unbeaten teams currently ahead of them losing. The loss to South Carolina unfortunately looms large. Of course, if Georgia wins the SEC, they at least become an automatic qualifier for the Sugar Bowl spot if they don’t make it to the title game. However, if Georgia loses the SEC championship game, most BCS handicappers think the Sugar will prefer a one-loss Florida, assuming they beat FSU, or possibly even a two-loss LSU.  The Bulldogs, they say, are more likely to wind up in the Capitol One Bowl. Nobody ever said college football was fair.

Ray Drew has been having a hard time getting playing time. (University of Georgia)

Ray Drew has been having a hard time getting playing time. (University of Georgia)

Rob Mercer writes: Hi Bill, Love your articles. Go Dawgs! I, like so many, am a life long Dawg fan, I still remember that day, at my Grandmother’s house at 8 years old and watching UGA beat Notre Dame. I was a fan before then, my being a Dawg was chosen even before birth and proud of it. I do have a question concerning Ray Drew. He’s from my home town, or county down in Thomasville. But, I’m wondering, I have seldom seen him in games, is it because he just hasn’t progressed enough to have more playing time, or is that he’s just behind on the depth chart due to better players in front of him?

Thanks, Rob. Drew, who was a highly-rated recruit, has been playing but in a backup role as a defensive end. Earlier this season, Richt said that Drew is “still working on becoming a great football player” and that the reason he isn’t earning as many game reps is largely due to the players in front of him. Even after Abry Jones went down hurt, Drew has still had to compete with Garrison Smith and Cornelius Washington for playing time. And he hasn’t been as productive as them so far. Against Ole Miss, Drew had one solo tackle and one assist. That compares with Smith, who had three solo tackles, four assists, a sack and a quarterback hurry. For the season to date, Drew has three solo tackles and four assists in eight games. Smith has 14 solo tackles and 21 assists in nine games and Washington has eight solo and 12 assists in nine games. Still, Drew is just a sophomore and Georgia’s coaches expect him to get better with more experience.

I’ll answer more Junkyard Mail next week. Do you have something you want to discuss concerning the current football season or UGA athletics in general? Got a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? If so, send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

90 comments Add your comment

ATLNative

November 9th, 2012
11:11 am

BLEED SWAG

November 9th, 2012
11:12 am

I hate that a one loss team that doesnt make it to the championship game would get an oppertunity to play in a BCS game over a team that plays in it with the same record and just falls short.
I think LSU and Florida are one dimensional and over rated.
I think the blue print should be available for the tide with last week and this week for the dawgs to make it a lot closer than everyone thinks it will be, and don’t be surprised when it happens!
I’d love to match up with ND in the Sugar…
GATA!!!

Jim Brown

November 9th, 2012
11:16 am

Mr. Smith your are so right ! Who knows why alot of Georgia fans and most student will not come the home games on time ? What is this student tradtion to come to the home games at half time for UGA students ???? When I was a student at UGA getting to the game before kick off was priority ! I hate this new student tradtion of coming late ! Why alot of fans would stay to the last secong ticks off is another question. We have a great stadium and can be a imposing place to play if georgia fans would just do it !

matt

November 9th, 2012
11:17 am

bardawg

November 9th, 2012
11:26 am

The warchickens deserve another horrendous beatdown like we gave them last year. I know that every time I watch a re-run when the gangsta Fairly spears Murray in the back ,I’m reminded of why I can’ stand the East Alabama trailer trash that those people are. Whip that little tiger tail Dawgs, GATA, and Sic’em.

Swami Sez

November 9th, 2012
11:37 am

Ray Drew is bust

Swami Sez

November 9th, 2012
11:39 am

UGA needs that kid who decommitted from Clempson yesterday…..

7576DAWG

November 9th, 2012
12:05 pm

Ray Drew will be okay. He is a big man . When these recruits get to Georgia nobody really knows where they will do the best at the next level because some have a lot more growing to do when they get into college. Drew needs to work on increasing his speed with the extra 30 to 40 pounds that he has put on. I think we will see him a lot more next year. I think he will be one of those who all of a sudden starts being notice and everybody says “Where has he been ” . It just takes longer for some to find which position is best for him. A 4-3 defense would have been better for Drew the first few years if the goal was quick recognition but the 3-4 will benefit him more in the long run.

AltamahaDawg

November 9th, 2012
12:08 pm

As I understanding it, Morgan has a private, personal kicking instructor. Not sure that a TE coach is really going to improve his form more so than a specialist that he already works with. My question is this, if Butler sees something in his “form”, what stops him from offering to help him with it? (not intended as a knock on Butler, but a serious question. What is the rule?)

Phantom

November 9th, 2012
12:11 pm

Micah is the Chief

7576DAWG

November 9th, 2012
12:18 pm

My biggest fear is an undefeated Notre Dame being picked to play an Oregon or Kansas State team over a one lost Alabama or one lost Georgia . Notre Dame doesn’t have to play eight of nine Conference games and no Conference Championship. They could have joined the Big 12 or the ACC and refused. I hope that the ones with the power to pick the BCS teams will make Notre Dame earn getting into the Nation Championship game which at the earliest will be when the playoff’s start in 2014 and should be moved to include 2013.
When you have to compete in a Conference like the SEC and it has 5 of the top ten teams in the BCS ranking after the 9TH game the BCS will never be fair until they have an 8 team playoff with no restrictions as to how many teams from one Conference can get into the playoff’s . Meaning the best 8 go’s.

AltamahaDawg

November 9th, 2012
12:24 pm

War Buzzards Going Down

November 9th, 2012
12:49 pm

The Awbarn kitty cats are going to get beat up tomorrow night. Chizik is having to pay the fiddler after having danced with the thug that they purchased for the QB position. Fitting….quite fitting.

joe jenkins

November 9th, 2012
1:03 pm

If we cant stop john wallace…we might as well hang it up…because he is god awful…i bet though he will rush for 80 yards though…it seems like we always play passive on defense against mobile qb’s….I hope our o-line is ready to play like they did against fla

Whiznot

November 9th, 2012
1:08 pm

The Auburn Tigers have been playing like a Lame Kitten with deflated balls.

dawgfacedboy

November 9th, 2012
1:16 pm

So a our kickers don’t actually have a coach? Someone oversees the position? How do they get help with their mechanics? I wonder how a pitching staff would do if their coach could not help them with mechanics but rather just “oversaw” the positon.

joe jenkins

November 9th, 2012
1:22 pm

The way we play is going to cause me a heart attack…i mean geez…show some life in the first half….we cant wait to the second half to start playing football this sat…if john wallace has more rushing yards than gurley…then we are in damn trouble

NCDawg

November 9th, 2012
1:33 pm

Joe… Driskel is a mobile QB..very good runner and we held him down pretty well. I think the light has come on for the Dawgs D… don’t judge by the first part of the season… they will be ready to stomp some Turkey Buzzard arse tomorrow.
And don’t give up on the season just because Bennett and Brown went down…we still have playmakers. Gurshall will get some running room tomorrow.

NCDawg

November 9th, 2012
1:37 pm

The NCAA only allows X number of coaches and we have 2 LB coaches… inside and outside LB’s. Because of that stupid rule we can’t have a dedicated special teams coach or a non paid person aka Bill Hartman Sr. to coach kickers. I think it is a stupid rule. If a university can afford to hire another coach then let them do it. Heck don’t we need to be employing people in this economy?

joe jenkins

November 9th, 2012
1:40 pm

NCDawg….I sure hope your right. I hope jsw and conley will have a great games sat

NCDawg

November 9th, 2012
1:47 pm

Everybody keeps bringing up the Auburn-LSU score. LSU threw their jocks on the field expecting to win and they did… even after playing like total crap for the whole game. Auburn was encouraged by LSU’s lack of effort. If the Dawgs come out with even a bit more energy than the first quarter of last week, we will win going away.
Auburn will come out pumped up but if we smack them in the mouth from the get go, memories of last year will creep in and their confidence will drain away quickly. The key is the D. If they come out ready to smack around a freshman QB, it will be over quickly. If not… well… who knows what will happen.

Dog4Life

November 9th, 2012
1:52 pm

The isssue here (7576 Dawg) is the media is drooling all over Notre Dame. They have been absent from the national sports talk scene for so long one can sense the giddiness in their voices when speaking of Notre Dame (especially ESPN). Unfortunately for the Dawgs, this may be a repeat of the 13-1 season before the national media understood that a 1 or 2 loss SEC team was better than most ( team or conference)–so alas, we will more than likely be the odd man out once again. BTW 7576, I am a 87 and 92 graduate of Ga–greatest two times of my life was at UGA (other than my children being born).

Jon Fabris

November 9th, 2012
1:56 pm

miss me yet?

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

November 9th, 2012
2:02 pm

Can you imagine where UGA would be IF they could have won over in Columbia, maybe they have learned something from this.

Since Vince

November 9th, 2012
2:05 pm

Since Vince

November 9th, 2012
2:05 pm

bill arp

November 9th, 2012
2:17 pm

A couple things that scare me with Marshall..
1st) he seems to line up his kick with the wrong foot. He’s right footed, but he marks the spot where he wants the ball placed with his left foot. He’s the only kicker I’ve ever seen do this. It just seems backwards. I’m no kicker, but I sure have pretended a time or two, and it just seems wrong to do it that way. and 2nd) he’s number 13! Dang, he’s got to change that! Right?!? A kicker who’s number 13 is just asking for trouble.. :)

LawDawg

November 9th, 2012
2:18 pm

I think the Auburn fans are more reasonable than the Richt haters. Any coach could have won with Newton, Fairley and the rest of the players the boosters paid for that year. In years where he does not have a championship bought for him, Chizik is basically a .333 coach.

He never should have been hired in the first place and, anyway, Malzahn deserves more credit than Chizik for 2010 (to the extent any coach deserves credit for that year).

NCDawg

November 9th, 2012
2:20 pm

Notre Dame are the New York Yankees of College Football. If they are even moderately good they command way more attention than they should. This is why I detest both teams. USC will take down ND and that will be that. The biggest obstacle will be K-State. If TCU can’t take them down then it will impossible to get to the Championship game…even if we beat Bama. Oregon may stumble but I’m pretty sure they won’t. That means they will have the other spot in the BCS Championship… then it is just a matter of who the other team will be. Everybody outside SEC territory will be rooting for the Dawgs to knock off Bama because they don’t want the SEC to even have a shot at winning a 7th straight BCS. They figure the BCS pollsters will screw UGA out of it again. That will happen if 2 unbeatens remain.

The Ballad of Poor Joe Cox

November 9th, 2012
2:21 pm

the reason the students show up late and leave early is there are things to do outside the stadium, parties to go to, bars to drink at. Athens is always in the top rankings of party schools and has more liquor licenses per sq ft downtown than anywhere else in the world. You just don’t get the same thing at Tuscaloosa or Columbia where the only thing you have to do after your game is kiss your sister.

LawDawg

November 9th, 2012
2:27 pm

Thank God a 4-team playoff is just around the corner. It is a shame that if we beat Bama this year, we are likely going to be the last argument for why Div. 1-A needed a playoff. UGA will be the last odd-man out that deserved to be in the title game.

LawDawg

November 9th, 2012
2:29 pm

The Ballad of Poor Joe Cox: That argument is complete BS.

I graduated in 2004 and we had the same options before and after the game, but all four years I was a student, the students were at the game (other than the noon games against 1-AA teams) and loud.

The atmosphere has fallen off drastically in the last 3-5 years or so, and I blame the current students.

joe jenkins

November 9th, 2012
2:32 pm

Also ol zack couldnt throw down the field…but murray can…just hope the line holds up

Bill King

November 9th, 2012
2:35 pm

dawgfacedboy:
No one coaches the kickers currently. So they don’t get anyone on staff helping them with their mechanics, unfortunately.

Bill King

November 9th, 2012
2:38 pm

Altamaha:
The NCAA rule limits how many coaches you can have. Because of it, you can’t have someone, even unpaid, on the field at practice working with them like Georgia did in the old days with Bill Hartman. If Butler wanted to help Morgan, he’d have to do it away from practice and the team.

joe jenkins

November 9th, 2012
2:45 pm

Well i hope we dont have any game come down to a FG……that the story of our history….we always have that missing piece that keeps us from winning the mnc

NCDawg

November 9th, 2012
2:52 pm

Don’t rag on the kid too much..it’ll give him a complex. Look at how it ate Walsh up last year. He is nailing them in the Pros but his miss doomed us against Mich St. Kickers can become a head case really quickly.

Ace

November 9th, 2012
3:00 pm

UGA isn’t the media darling like say a 2 loss LSU team, or a 1 loss Bama team.

Bama & LSU can lose 1-2 games, and still make it.

Not UGA.

Notre Dame, who’s barely won SEVERAL games this year, is better than an SEC Champ with 1 loss and a slate of DOMINANT wins?

Ace

November 9th, 2012
3:00 pm

UGA isn’t the media darling like say a 2 loss LSU team, or a 1 loss Bama team.

Bama & LSU can lose 1-2 games, and still make it.

Not UGA.

Notre Dame, who’s barely won SEVERAL games this year, is better than an SEC Champ with 1 loss and a slate of DOMINANT wins?

Ace

November 9th, 2012
3:03 pm

Blair Walsh only hit 59% last year, Marshall’s at 67%, so that’s a 20%+ improvement.

NCDawg

November 9th, 2012
3:05 pm

See… we can’t mess with the kid’s head. :)

Meh

November 9th, 2012
3:06 pm

UGA isn’t a media darling because they are losers. Whining won’t fix it.

Ace

November 9th, 2012
3:10 pm

5 of Notre Dame’s 9 wins were 7 point or less wins. They’re not even a top 10 ten, much less, a top 5.

LawDawg

November 9th, 2012
3:15 pm

NCDawg – First, I doubt the players read or care about anonymous comments. Second, I think the problem with Walsh was obvious: UGA literally has NO ONE coaching kickers. Walsh + coaching = one of the best kickers in the NFL.

NCDawg

November 9th, 2012
3:24 pm

LawDawg… scroll up and read both Bill’s reply and my explanation of why we don’t have a special teams coach or kicking coach. The rule is stupid.
Also… oh they read alright. They proved the week before the UF game that they were very aware of what was being said about them. People refer them to stuff. Chances are that he won’t read those specific comments but if the grumbling becomes loud enough overall…you can bet he will hear it. It got to Walsh last year.

Ace

November 9th, 2012
3:29 pm

No, they don’t read anonymous blog comments, nor should they, probably a Florida fan acting like a ‘big time UGA fan”. The players read articles written by NON ANONYMOUS CREDIBLE SOURCES like ESPN or Sports Illustrated, downing UGA, and got fired up.

NCDawg

November 9th, 2012
3:35 pm

Credible? Hmmm… sometimes I wonder about that… these are the same folks that genuinely thought Michigan had a chance against Bama. :P

NCDawg

November 9th, 2012
3:35 pm

And keep hyping Notre Dame as a top 5 team…

Ace

November 9th, 2012
3:38 pm

K St has played 1 top 10 team.
Oregon has played 0 top 10 opponents.
Notre Dame has played 1 top 10 opponent.

UGA has played 2, top 5 ranked opponents. And will face a 3rd in Bama.

Ace

November 9th, 2012
3:46 pm

I don’t see any credible writer keeping UGA out if UGA wins the SEC, and is the ONLY TEAM IN THE NATION

To face te #6 team, the #2 team, and the #1 team, and finish 12-1.

It doesn’t get any tougher than that this year for any top 5 team.

One way to shut the media up, is to beat up their media darling Saban.

I’d like to see UGA win 28-0 over Bama, to send a message to the media.

And UGA is good enough on both sides to make that 28-0 happen.