As the Dogs prepare to take on rising Sun Belt Conference member Appalachian State Saturday in this year’s Homecoming game, you can bet on three things: 1. Georgia’s coaches have mentioned this week the 2007 upset in which the Mountaineers beat Michigan thanks at least in part to a blocked field goal. 2. If the Dogs run true to form, there’ll be at least some letdown in emotion and focus the week after a big win. 3. It unfortunately is likely to be a late-arriving crowd thanks to the 12:30 p.m. kickoff.
However, the current App State isn’t anywhere near as strong a team as in 2007, and with Georgia’s first-teamers at least starting the game and Aaron Murray set to break Danny Wuerffel’s SEC career touchdown pass record on what should be a beautiful fall day, perhaps there won’t be as many empty seats as at some of these nonconference games.
Now, let’s get to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. Despite the big
With just a month remaining in the regular season, bowl projections are kicking into high gear. Most projections have 11 SEC teams in postseason play, and it’s interesting that there’s basically no consensus on where Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs will wind up.
Checking a sampling of nine of the better-known sources offering projections, I found three see the Dogs returning to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl, two have Georgia penciled in for the Chick-fil-A in Atlanta, two see them falling behind Ole Miss in the pecking order and landing at the Music City in Nashville and, surprisingly, two project Georgia to go bowling at the Outback in Tampa.
These projections don’t come with predictions of how the rest of the season will play out for the Dogs, but it’s pretty obvious by the placement of Auburn that many expect the resurgent Tigers to beat Georgia this year.
For example, Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel has
Some more thoughts and observations from Georgia’s win over Florida. …
My wife Leslie likes to quote a frequent saying from her old basketball coach about a loss being a loss no matter how many points it was by. To put a reverse spin on that, a win by 3 points means every bit as much as winning by 20 or more points. Especially when it’s over Florida.
Still, considering the roller-coaster ride the Georgia Bulldogs took us on in Saturday’s game in Jacksonville, it’s understandable that sportswriters were unimpressed and many fans were, like Mark Richt, feeling a bit subdued after the game.
Maybe it’s the historian in me, but I took the long view: a third consecutive win over the hated Gators was still reason to celebrate, no matter how ugly it was.
Of course, as is to be expected of such an up-and-down game — which began with Georgia racking up an incredible 250-plus yards of offense in the first quarter
The Dogs’ hard-fought, fractious 23-20 win Saturday over Florida in Jacksonville left UGA fans about as gassed as Todd Gurley, but that didn’t make Georgia’s third consecutive victory in the fabled series any less sweet.
Yes, the Bulldogs took their eyes off the prize for about a quarter and a half in the second half, just as surely as Artie Lynch took his eyes off the ball on that dropped screen pass that turned into a fumbled lateral and gave the Gators the big break they needed to get them back into the game.
And with the Gator players constantly trying to provoke Georgia players into dead-ball infractions, there’s no doubt that the Bulldogs lost composure for most of the dismal third quarter.
But in the end it was another big game that ended with Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs offense killing more than 8 minutes of clock with a scrappy fourth-quarter drive that preserved a win.
I don’t know
It’s been a crazy year in the SEC. You could field a pretty potent all-star team with players who are out for the season or are missing multiple games with injuries. Actually, you could do it just with the injured players from Georgia and Florida.
And so it is that two teams that were expected to be among the nation’s best limp into their annual grudge match at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, where only one will emerge with even an outside chance of being a contender in the SEC East.
Shorthand on this game goes like this: Georgia is bad on defense (ranking 58th nationally in total defense, 101st in scoring defense) but Florida is even worse on offense (outside the Top 100 in total offense, scoring offense and red zone scoring percentage). Meanwhile, Georgia used to be really good on offense, before injuries took out a bunch of its key playmakers, but the Dogs
One of the most gratifying things about the past couple of years in UGA football has been the flipping of the narrative when it comes to the annual game in Jacksonville.
Where once the Gators were seen (by those with short memories dating back only to 1990) as “owning” the Georgia-Florida series, the past couple of weeks leading up to this year’s game have produced headlines like this one in the Orlando Sentinel: “UF’s Muschamp is now officially coaching for his job.” And this headline in USA Today: “With another loss, will Florida’s Will Muschamp be on the hot seat?”
Yes, the page has turned in Cocktail Party history. As the Athens Banner-Herald noted this week, there are now only a half-dozen current Bulldogs who’ve played in a loss to Florida: Aaron Murray, Rantavious Wooten, Arthur Lynch, Kenarious Gates, Blake Sailors and Chase Vasser.
Where once Jacksonville loomed so large in the Bulldog psyche that Georgia fans were calling for the game to be moved elsewhere, that
Aside from the “Fire Richt!” and “Fire everyone!” laments from some readers, there were more reasoned fan responses and questions in this week’s Junkyard Mail. Let’s check some of it out. …
Joe Burger writes: Hey Bill, Mediocre defense, more special teams errors, the absolute worst called offensive game of the year, just terrible. The whole football program gets an F [against Vanderbilt]. Now, I know there were some TERRIBLE calls and, yes, we’re missing offensive playmakers, but we lost to Vandy. So, would you change your midterm grade for the team after seeing that performance? And even more importantly, but left unanswered in your report card, where is the UGA football program headed in the future? Bill, are we ever gonna win a national championship with coach Richt and his staff? I hate to be the Doubting Thomas, and I’m not gonna scream to fire coach Richt, but at what
Last week, after the Missouri game, when the Dogs still had an outside chance at winning the SEC East if they won out and the Tigers lost two, a fellow Bulldog fan and I were discussing various alternative outcomes for the season.
What if Georgia won out, I asked, but didn’t win the SEC East?
The fan said that any season that included wins over South Carolina and LSU (both in the Top 10 at the time) as well as Florida and Tech would have to be considered a really good season.
We revisited that discussion Saturday night after the Vandy game. He said that when he had made the earlier statement, he wasn’t even considering the possibility of the Dawgs losing to the Commodores. His new view? Even with wins over South Carolina, LSU, Florida and Tech, any season that includes a loss to Vanderbilt would have to be considered a disappointment.
OK, I’ll grant that losing to
A few more thoughts and observations in the wake of Georgia’s demoralizing loss to Vandy …
Wow, what a crazy Saturday in SEC football.
Missouri over Florida might not really have been that big a surprise, considering the surge the former has made and the weakened state of the latter. And because of how close the Vols came to knocking off Georgia, their win over the Gamecocks wasn’t that big a shocker, especially with Connor Shaw going out injured (again). But despite the offensive uptick Gus Malzahn has given Auburn, the Tigers winning that defenseless shootout with the Aggies was unexpected (and attributable, at least in part, to Johnny Autograph’s banged-up shoulder). And I know Ole Miss has done well in recruiting, but knocking off the Mad Hatter’s Bayou Bengals was another big surprise, even with LSU’s less than imposing defense.
Still, the booby prize has to go to Georgia: Even with
The wheels officially came off a once-promising season for Georgia Saturday in Nashville on a day when the Bulldogs failed in just about every facet of the game.
You know the old saw about it being “a team loss”? This is one game where that isn’t just a way of deflecting blame from one or two players. Just about everyone on both sides of the ball plus the coaching staff was to blame in this devastating loss, which probably eliminated Georgia from any chance for another SEC East title.
Running down the Dogs’ sorry performance against the Commodores, we find a familiar litany of problems: