For Bulldogs and Jackets, ‘Hate Week’ never goes out of fashion

georgia vs tech punchSomeone once dubbed the in-state rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech “Clean Old Fashioned Hate.”

Visit the putrid environs of the Yellow Jacket discussion boards, where Tech students and fans make ridiculously tacky comments about the state’s flagship university and its fans and athletes, and you might question just how “clean” it is.

But old fashioned? No, the rivalry between the Bulldogs and the Insects is as current as any social media meme: Check Twitter or Facebook or just talk to a supporter of either school during what’s known as “Hate Week.”

Yes, UGA has other football rivalries that mean more to the program since they’re conference games — Florida, especially. And the series hasn’t been as competitive as some of our other football rivalries in recent years as the Bulldogs have dominated the annual meeting with the North Avenue Trade School.

But despite that, the game with Tech is the one that the players and the Bulldog Nation least want to lose, which in my book …

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Saturday night’s alright with Todd Gurley, ‘Free Bird’ and Goooooldberg!

Todd Gurley looks to be nearly back at full speed. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Todd Gurley looks to be nearly back at full speed. (Jason Getz / AJC)

A few more observations from Saturday night’s bittersweet win over Kentucky and a couple of early thoughts on this week’s game against the erstwhile Golden Tornado …

Shaking off the disappointment over the loss for the rest of the season of Aaron Murray, it was impressive enough that 11 different Bulldogs caught passes Saturday night and nine different players ran the ball. But I especially liked it that, besides placekicker Marshall Morgan, six different Dogs scored against the Wildcats: Rhett McGowan, Todd Gurley (twice), Artie Lynch (twice), Hutson Mason, J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas. Gurley seems to be nearly back at full speed, which is the best news the Bulldog offense has had in weeks. …

The awfulness of Kentucky made it a bit difficult to judge just how much improved the Georgia defense was, but they did manage to hold the Cats to 211 yards of offense, and as Todd Grantham pointed out, 69 of those …

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Aaron Murray went down as he has always played — battling like a warrior

Senior Night saw a great performance by Aaron Murray end prematurely. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Senior Night saw a great performance by Aaron Murray end prematurely. (Jason Getz / AJC)

The future of Georgia football at quarterback arrived a bit earlier than any of us expected Saturday night at Sanford Stadium as the latest player to go down in an injury-plagued season was the seemingly indestructible Aaron Murray.

Having already injured his left knee earlier in the second quarter on a 29-yard QB keeper, Murray refused to be taken out of the game and continued to play, though it was obvious something was wrong. Then, on an interception resulting from a tipped ball, Kentucky defensive end Za’Darius Smith hit him (perhaps a tad late) and Murray didn’t get back up.

He wound up being taken to Athens’ St. Mary’s Hospital for an MRI, the results of which had not yet been announced at this writing, though Coach Mark Richt indicated it was unlikely Murray would be able to play in next week’s game against Georgia Tech.

Watching him carried off the field by two Georgia trainers and …

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UGA fan talk: Dawgs’ defense, Todd Grantham, Aaron Murray, Penn Wagers, uncalled targeting and more!

Todd Grantham is on the hot seat with a lot of Bulldogs fans. (Associated Press)

Todd Grantham is on the hot seat with a lot of Bulldogs fans. (Associated Press)

Let’s get straight to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. There were a lot of letters from anguished fans wanting to vent about the way the Auburn game turned out, and especially about Todd Grantham and the defense in general. We’ll start off with a representative sampling of those. …

Craig A. Howard writes: Watching the Dawgs attempt to play defense is very frustrating. The defense has not improved all season. Before every play they never appear to be set to play football. For SEC defenders they are the worst tackling team in the league. I have never seen a Dawg defense so undisciplined, poor fundamentally and unable to get turnovers or get off the field in third down. If Todd Grantham and the linebackers and defensive back coaches are not fired at the end of this season every young man that has committed to come to UGA to play defense should decommit and go somewhere else to play football. … …

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Student-led Blackout a good way to salute Aaron Murray, seniors

Aaron Murray reaches out to UGA fans. It's time for the fans to show their appreciation. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Aaron Murray reaches out to UGA fans. It's time for the fans to show their appreciation. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo noted this week that all the career retrospective talk as Aaron Murray gets ready to play his last game Between the Hedges in Athens is a bit premature. The season isn’t over yet, and Bobo said he told his record-breaking senior quarterback, “You’re not dead. I’m not hugging you till after this season. We’ve got to beat Kentucky.”

And that’s not always as easy as it might seem on paper. If you’ll recall last year’s game, a sleepwalking Georgia team seemed in danger of dropping one to the Wildcats until Murray basically put the team on his back and carried it to a win with a remarkable passing performance that saw him throw four touchdowns and rack up 427 yards passing in a 29-24 thriller.

That’s just one of the many times Murray has stepped up big for the Dogs. This season’s big wins over Top 10 teams, South Carolina and LSU, both saw …

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Tentative coaching, poor preparation hindered Dogs early on

Aaron Murray reacts to the end of a game in which he led a remarkable comeback. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Aaron Murray reacts to the end of a game in which he led a remarkable comeback. (Jason Getz / AJC)

A few more thoughts and observations from Saturday’s heartbreaker at Auburn …

Sometimes (all too often, frankly) the way Georgia comes out in a big game looking ill-prepared — and the delay in the coaching staff adjusting to what the other team is doing — is just baffling.

Saturday against Auburn, the Georgia coaches seemed tentative in the first half, starting with the decision to give the Tigers great field position with a short pooch kick because they apparently were scared to death of Auburn’s return men. Likewise, in the second quarter when the Dogs faced a fourth-and-1, the coaching staff opted to punt instead and were rewarded with a dismal 23-yarder. It’s like they were coaching not to lose rather than coaching to win.

Auburn, on the other hand, came out full of energy and confidence. After grinding out a scoring drive mainly on the ground, Gus Malzahn then went to the …

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Heartbreaking loss to Auburn ruins one of Georgia’s greatest comebacks ever

Aaron Murray was big for the Dogs Saturday with both his passing and his running. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Aaron Murray was big for the Dogs Saturday with both his passing and his running. (Jason Getz / AJC)

That was, without a doubt, the wildest, craziest fourth quarter of Georgia football I’ve seen since run-Lindsay-run in 1980.

And absolutely heartbreaking for anyone who calls themselves a Dawg.

A Georgia team that was trailing Auburn by 20 points with 12:39 left on the clock clawed its way back into the game thanks to the incredible play of its senior quarterback and took a 38-37 lead with 1:49 left. It was as if Aaron Murray was willing his team not to lose this one despite plenty of reasons that it should have.

And then, with a mere 36 ticks left, the Tigers faced fourth-and-18 and former Bulldog player Nick Marshall launched a Hail Mary pass that was off-target and yet in miracle fashion was tipped by a Georgia defender and landed in the hands of Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis, who took it in for a score.

That play was one of the most deflating moments in my more than five …

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Another tight game likely in dead-even Georgia-Auburn series

Gus Malzahn's uptempo, run-oriented offense poses a major challenge for Georgia. (Associated Press)

Gus Malzahn's uptempo, run-oriented offense poses a major challenge for Georgia. (Associated Press)

The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry — and probably the nation’s most evenly matched college football series, tied up at 54-54-8 — kicks off at 3:39 Saturday in Auburn with the No. 7-ranked Tigers looking to avenge last year’s 38-0 whipping.

It’s a game full of interesting storylines. A daunting task faces Todd Grantham’s Georgia defense, as Gus Malzahn’s suddenly revived program — the college game’s most startling turnaround this season — boasts the SEC’s best and the nation’s third-best rushing attack. Better than that, the Tigers are led by Nick Marshall, a dual-threat quarterback who used to be a defensive back for Mark Richt’s Bulldogs.

But while the Dogs have had their troubles on the defensive side this season, defending the run has been their strong point, with Georgia ranking fourth in the conference and 20th nationally against the ground game. And for a Georgia offense that …

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As the karmic wheel turns: Richt and Georgia face another ex-Dawg

Mark Richt takes an unusual approach to players dismissed from his program. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Mark Richt takes an unusual approach to players dismissed from his program. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Among the many other things he is, Mark Richt appears to have become the leading supplier of starting SEC quarterbacks.

Three of this year’s SEC starting quarterbacks originally signed with Georgia. Which says good things about Richt’s nose for talent.

But two of them are now leading the offense at other schools as a result of Richt’s strict disciplinary policies: LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Auburn’s Nick Marshall.

I don’t know whether it’s happened before where a college team has to face two Top 10 conference rivals in the same season, both of whom have starting quarterbacks that used to be on the first team, but I imagine it’s pretty rare.

For one thing, not many coaches would kick a player good enough to be an SEC starter off their team, no matter what they did, and even fewer would allow the departed player to sign with another team in the same conference.

In an era when many …

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Dogs’ performance raises both hopes and concerns as Auburn looms

Aaron Murray was Georgia's second-leading runner Saturday. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Aaron Murray was Georgia's second-leading runner Saturday. (Jason Getz / AJC)

A few more notes from Saturday’s relative breather as the No. 25 Dogs prepare to take on another Top 10 foe in a nationally televised CBS broadcast. …

Let’s face it, getting a team up for a nonconference Homecoming opponent like Appalachian State is a lot different from getting them ready to take on a traditional rival that’s become one of the nation’s hottest teams — especially in the Mark Richt organization. So while I’m pretty hopeful that against Auburn we won’t see the sort of laid-back, unfocused play we saw from both the offense and defense in the first half Saturday, there’s always last year’s South Carolina game lingering in my memory to make me feel a bit uneasy.

Yes, I do feel that, even without all the weapons Mike Bobo had at the season’s start, Georgia is capable of outlasting Auburn in an offensive shootout — but not if they wait too long to get on track.

Along those lines, I think …

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