Archive for December, 2012

Capital One Bowl preview: For Dogs, it’s ‘where are their heads at?’

Nebraska has a formidable rushing attack led by dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez. (Associated Press)

Nebraska has a formidable rushing attack led by dual-threat quarterback Taylor Martinez. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs face a dual challenge in their Capital One Bowl game with Nebraska.

With the Dogs’ defense having been inconsistent in stopping the run this season — and coming off a performance in which it gave up 350 yards rushing to Alabama in the SEC Championship game — the Cornhuskers’ ground attack (ranked No. 8 in the nation) is worrisome to UGA fans.

And then there’s the whole are-they-over-the-heartbreaking-loss-to-Bama scenario that has dominated much of the coverage of the Bulldogs in the run-up to the bowl game. Throw in the fact that Georgia had disappointing outings in its past couple of bowl appearances, and the question of the Dogs’ mental readiness may loom even larger than their troubles defending Big Red’s spread-based rushing offense.

“The thing you say is, ‘Where are their heads at?’ That’s always the issue with bowl games,” …

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Loss of John Jenkins for bowl game presents rest of Dogs’ defense with a challenge

John Jenkins tips a pass against Florida. (Bob Andres / AJC)

John Jenkins tips a pass against Florida. (Bob Andres / AJC)

I had a suspicion when Mark Richt said he’d wait until the team was in Orlando before talking about whether everyone was eligible for the bowl game that Georgia had not made it through exams unscathed this season.

As it turned out, only one player was scratched from playing against Nebraska because of academic issues, but the one who didn’t make it is a big loss in more ways than one.

John Jenkins, sometimes called “Motel 6,” took up a lot of real estate in the middle of the defensive line at 6-foot-3 and 358 pounds and accounted for 50 tackles and two tackles for loss this season, starting at nose guard and sometimes shifting over to tackle in tandem with Kwame Geathers.

Jenkins would be a major loss for UGA in any game, but especially as the Dogs prepare to go against the No. 8 rushing offense in the country.

Geathers, who himself might not be long for the Georgia roster as the NFL beckons, will be the starter …

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Fan talk: Losing Rodney Garner, and does Mark Richt take bowl games seriously enough?

How will Rodney Garner leaving for Auburn impact UGA recruiting? (Curtis Compton / AJC)

How will Rodney Garner leaving for Auburn impact UGA recruiting? (Curtis Compton / AJC)

What are fans buzzing about? Well, let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail to find out. …

Randy Powell writes: Bill, I was shocked to see that after all these years Rodney Garner is leaving UGA. It seems like a lateral move, other than a pay hike, but I suppose I can understand the lure of returning to his alma mater. From our standpoint, just how disruptive do you think losing Garner will be to Georgia’s all-important recruiting class? And who do you think Coach Richt will tap as Garner’s replacement?

While there’s no way losing your recruiting coordinator in the midst of recruiting season can be seen as a plus, Garner leaving for Auburn is not likely to devastate Georgia’s incoming class. I think our Michael Carvell has a pretty good take on this situation. He notes that while Garner was considered one of the best recruiters in the business 10 years ago, his impact with the team’s …

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Picking the Dawgs’ biggest plays of the season

Jarvis Jones strips the ball away from Florida tight end Jordan Reed in arguably the biggest play of the season for Georgia. (Associated Press)

Jarvis Jones strips the ball away from Florida tight end Jordan Reed in arguably the biggest play of the season for Georgia. (Associated Press)

Right before I went on vacation, I got a note from reader Gary Cody suggesting a Blawg topic: biggest plays of the year for the Georgia Bulldogs.

And Gary provided his own pick as a discussion-starter: “Kentucky just scored late in fourth quarter, kicked the onside kick and Connor Norman recovered it in front of the Kentucky kicker just before it rolled 10 yards to make it OK for Kentucky to touch. That was a perfectly executed onsides kick and Kentucky was inches away from recovering it.”

Had Norman not made that recovery, he notes, Georgia wouldn’t have been in the SEC Championship game.

Norman’s heads-up recovery of that onside kick was certainly a big play, but I’m not sure I can go with it for biggest of the year. I have a feeling the Dogs would have pulled out a win over the Wildcats even without that kick recovery.

I put the …

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Fan talk: Did Georgia get shafted by the BCS?

Even Nick Saban thought Georgia should have gotten a BCS bowl. (Associated Press)

Even Nick Saban thought Georgia should have gotten a BCS bowl. (Associated Press)

I want to take a moment to say thanks for all the positive feedback about the two Blawgs I wrote last weekend after the loss to Alabama.

I thought it was interesting that what seemed to resonate the most with many readers was my comment in the Sunday follow-up that I had trouble sleeping Saturday night after the game. It turns out quite a few of you also found yourselves lying awake replaying the game in your minds!

Speaking of which, I think the to-spike-or-not-to-spike debate has pretty well played out, so I’m not going to devote any more space to that particular issue. But there are other things on your mind, as is reflected in this week’s Junkyard Mail.

(By the way, I should note that some of the comments below are excerpted from much lengthier letters. Keep it concise, folks!)

Now, let’s answer some mail. …

Samantha Ducote writes: The BCS is a joke. So should Georgia have lost against (much …

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SEC pride: Should Georgia fans pull for Alabama in the BCS?

sec-pinwheel-logojpg-2deded0ba172b404On this week’s “Bulldog Hotline” call-in show, an interesting discussion came up about whether Georgia fans should be playing the SEC pride card when it comes to the upcoming BCS national championship game.

Program host Neil “Hondo” Williamson was on the SEC bandwagon, noting he’s pulling for Bama to demolish the Irish and win a seventh straight BCS title for the Southeastern Conference.

However, a caller to the show pointed out that while Georgia doesn’t recruit against Notre Dame, it does go up against the Crimson Tide for quite a few players, especially the top-rated ones from our own region.

Another national championship for Alabama certainly won’t help with that. That crystal football trophy and those national championship rings tend to make a big impression on high school kids trying to decide where they want to play.

Indeed, this SEC pride thing can be tricky. A couple of years ago a lot of Georgia fans pulled against Auburn in the BCS game, not just because we didn’t …

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Bulldog Nation feels a profound sadness mixed with immense pride

UGA football staffer Bryant Gantt consoles Jarvis Jones after Saturday night's game. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

UGA football staffer Bryant Gantt consoles Jarvis Jones after Saturday night's game. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Just as I imagine it will take a while for Mark Richt’s Bulldogs to shake off the hurt from their close call with destiny Saturday night in the SEC Championship, the disappointment of the so-close loss to Alabama also is going to linger with the Bulldog Nation.

Talking to and hearing from fans Sunday, the overall mood was one of profound sadness over just how close this team came to playing for a national championship mixed with immense pride over the never-say-die effort the Dawgs gave in the Georgia Dome against the most elite of college football programs.

Only the most ignorant of so-called fans were expressing anger toward the coaches and players over the Bulldogs’ loss. More representative were those UGA students and fans who were on hand in Athens late Saturday night to greet the returning team buses with cheers, applause and chants of “It’s great to be a Georgia …

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Dawgs have nothing to be ashamed of after epic battle with Bama

The inability of the Georgia defense to stop Eddie Lacy allowed Bama to get back into the game. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

The inability of the Georgia defense to stop Eddie Lacy allowed Bama to get back into the game. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

So, which hurts worse, getting blown out in the second half of an SEC Championship like last year, or coming tantalizingly close to a trip to the BCS title game, as the Georgia Bulldogs did Saturday night?

Both results are tough for the players and fans to take, but at least Mark Richt’s 2012 team knows it took the best team in college football down to the wire, and in the end was four yards and about 3 seconds away from playing for the national championship.

This latest SEC Championship loss was emotionally draining, no doubt, but the Dawgs have nothing to be ashamed of in their heartbreaking 32-28 loss to the Crimson Tide.

And while Georgia might not have gotten the win, no one can say quarterback Aaron Murray didn’t step up in a big-time game. Despite Bama’s Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon running wild as the Tide’s powerful offensive line wore down the Georgia …

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