Archive for December, 2013

Quarterback play, Gurley likely to be key factors in Gator Bowl

GatorBowl 2014 helmetsTeams with 8-4 records that wind up in mid-tier bowls generally have a few nagging problems, and that’s certainly the case with Georgia and Nebraska, who meet again Wednesday in Jacksonville.

The Dogs’ defense has been a weakness all season long, especially the secondary. The Cornhuskers have been inconsistent on both sides of the ball. Both teams have had injury problems, and both have lost their productive starting quarterbacks, but the Bulldogs’ high-scoring, explosive offense, averaging 38.2 points a game, stuttered only briefly in the transition from Aaron Murray to Hutson Mason, while neither of Big Red’s two backup QBs really has gotten any real traction. Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr., who missed the final regular season game with an ankle injury, is the likely starter for the Huskers. He’s good at running the option but has completed just 53 percent of his passes and has seven passing touchdowns and seven interceptions.

No matter who’s at QB, Nebraska’s passing …

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Fan talk: Playing it coy on suspensions isn’t helpful

Josh Harvey-Clemons' grandfather says his suspension is because of an academic problem. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Josh Harvey-Clemons' grandfather says his suspension is because of an academic problem. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Hope you had a good holiday week. The King family had a very nice Christmas, including lots of UGA-related gifts exchanged, ranging from shirts, a fleece jacket, basketball shorts and books to a Bulldog cutting board and coasters featuring the arch!

And, of course, between feasting and watching a John Wayne movie marathon we spent a little time talking Georgia football as Mark Richt’s team was making its way down to Jacksonville for Gator Bowl practice— amid news reports that, predictably, a couple of members would not be taking part in the game because of suspensions.

That’s never a good thing, no matter what sort of infraction was committed by defensive players Josh Harvey-Clemons and Sheldon Dawson, but the way Richt handled the situation this week, repeatedly refusing to answer any questions about the suspensions, allowed rumor and speculation to run rampant for a few …

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Fan talk: What’s needed for the Dawgs to finally win another national title?

bcs logo for 2014Let’s jump straight into some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

David Rosenberg writes: I’m 43 and a 3rd generation Bulldog. I take pride in the fact that Georgia plays in what many consider to be one of the toughest conferences in football. However, I take no joy in bitter rivals like Auburn or Florida winning national titles; or even having the opportunity to play for one. Do I have respect for their accomplishments? Sure. Do I relish the idea that the “SEC” has a team in the game?  If it is not Georgia? No! Georgia last played for a national title 30-plus years ago. The loss to Alabama in the SEC title game in 2012 crippled their best shot at a title. The 2013 Dawgs beat South Carolina, LSU, Tennessee, Florida, and Tech! Now, if someone would have told me those wins would be on our schedule before the season started, you would have thought Georgia would be headed to Pasadena. But again, it is not to be. The season is not over and Richt and Grantham look like they will be …

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Dawgs must shake ‘been there, done that’ mindset against Cornhuskers

gator bowl logoA Georgia team that has suffered through extremely slow starts in its past couple of games now must get ready for yet another Florida bowl game against the same team they played on New Year’s Day last year.

They’ll be going up against a Nebraska team that also might not be thrilled with its bowl assignment, but which would like to avenge last year’s loss and end a three-bowl losing streak.

Will that make the Cornhuskers the more motivated team in Jacksonville?

True, the Bulldogs are now all talking the talk like the coaches want about respecting Nebraska and being excited about playing in any bowl game, but you’ve got to wonder how many of them are really thinking like receiver Michael Bennett initially did when he learned of UGA’s bowl opponent and tweeted: “Nebraska again? You kidding me?”

Michael Bennett initially wasn't too rah-rah about a rematch with Nebraska. (Associated Press)

Michael Bennett initially wasn't too rah-rah about a rematch with Nebraska. (Associated Press)

Bennett subsequently pulled that tweet down and now is on the bus, noting that he didn’t play …

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Not a lot of fan happy talk when it comes to Todd Grantham’s defense

A lot of UGA fans aren't happy about the way Todd Grantham is running the defense. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

A lot of UGA fans aren't happy about the way Todd Grantham is running the defense. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Let’s get straight to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail, which was dominated by concern over the state of Georgia’s defense and the future of coordinator Todd Grantham. Here’s just a representative sampling. …

Cohen Moore writes: Hey Bill! I’m a current Grady [College] student at UGA and next football season will be my final one in Athens. I just wanted to say that after watching Georgia play this season, the lone reason we have four losses is our defense. I blamed injuries for a while. But even with all those injuries, we still put up 30-something points a game. If a defense can’t keep opponents under 30, that’s a huge problem. I tend to be optimistic every season, so I think that if UGA can SIGNIFICANTLY improve the defense (which I think will happen), then next year should be nothing short of a BCS bowl. I would love for Richt to stay for the long haul and get our …

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Should Bulldog Nation consider 2013 season a success?

Chris Conley plants the school colors on Grant Field. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Chris Conley plants the school colors on Grant Field. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

I know there are lots of UGA fans out there who look at the Dogs’ just-completed 8-4 record and fume about another year without Mark Richt bringing an SEC championship or that elusive national title to Athens.

A season that, at the end of September, looked so promising with a Top 5 placement, huge wins over a pair of Top 10 teams and BCS championship chatter ended up so-so by UGA standards — in large part due to an unusually large number of injuries to key offensive players that put the kibosh on Georgia’s plan to outscore everyone while an inexperienced defense learned the ropes.

It definitely was a schizophrenic kind of year. On the one hand, no season that includes a loss to Vanderbilt (even the new, improved James Franklin brand of Commodores football) and doesn’t include a trip to the SEC Championship Game is going to sit well with most of Bulldog Nation. While Richt hasn’t made a habit of …

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