Chattin’ with Bradley: UGA, Braves, Shockley & NASCAR!

The view from my perch. The stage awaits Diamond Rio, I believe. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The view from my perch. The stage awaits Diamond Rio, I believe. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Hello there. I’m at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where a goodly crowd has already gathered in preparation for tonight’s Pep Boys 500, which will be a significant gasoline-driven event in local annals. It is, as you’re aware, the first night Cup race in track history, and hopes, as they say, are high.

But because this is NASCAR and we car-racing veterans know to get to the track early lest ye sit in traffic worse than the seventh circle of Hades, I’m here with time to burn. And I’d like to spend it with you, dear readers. I’d like to give you my impressions of a fairly eventful weekend in Atlanta sports doings, and I’d be greatly interested in hearing your feelings. So here goes:

Georgia: I wasn’t shocked the Bulldogs lost. I was shocked they lost the way they did: Rather routinely after having jumped out to the necessary on-the-road start. Oklahoma State seemed determined to choke on that game, but the Cowboys were let off the proverbial hook.

I’ve already folks say Georgia is now destined to start 0-3, which it won’t. I think Georgia will be OK — not great, but OK. Just because Joe Cox didn’t overwhelm in his second career start doesn’t mean he’s in over his head. He’ll get better. But the annual loss of Trinton Sturdivant is again a major debit, and I still wonder about Willie Martinez’s defense. (No takeaways, no sacks.)

It’s difficult to extrapolate overmuch from any one game, especially a road loss to a top 10 opponent, but I saw nothing Saturday to contradict my belief that the Bulldogs have lost an edge. This is not the program of five years ago.

Braves: A week ago I was saying they had a good shot. They’re about down to a last shot, and it’s a 45-footer off the wrong foot. (Basketball metaphor.) They’ve lost ground at a time when you can’t reasonably expect to regain anything. As has been the story of the season, they lost ground because they can’t hit.

They’re tied with Cincinnati in the seventh as I write, and one more loss to the Redlegs might just do it. Never thought I’d be saying this the day before Labor Day, but that’s what four consecutive losses will do.

D.J. Shockley: Not to sound smart, but you could see this coming. He hadn’t yet played in a regular-season game, and he was drafted in 2006. He had worked under three coaching staffs and two general managers, and nobody seemed to regard him as a viable NFL starter. He was hugely popular among his mates — he and Matt Ryan are big buddies — but Shockley didn’t get enough chances and didn’t show enough when he did.

Give the Falcons some credit. The easier and more popular course would have been to keep Shockley and cut John Parker Wilson. But the folks in Flowery Branch aren’t running a UGA alumni chapter; they’re trying to put together the best roster they can. They like Wilson more than they like Shockley, and they acted professionally.

NASCAR: I’m not very good at estimating crowds, but I’m thinking there will be a good one on hand here tonight. Far better than at the spring race, and probably good enough to justify Ed Clark’s gamble. The track president traded a spot in the Chase for a shot at a night race on Labor Day weekend in the hopes that this could become a destination-type event. I’m guessing he’ll be pleased with the inital results.

OK, enough of me. I’ll be here for a couple of hours or so — I’ve got nowhere to go until I start working on a bit of Pep Boys writing for tomorrow’s AJC — and I’d be happy to discuss any and everything with you. Otherwise I’ll have to do something drastic. Like read a book. Or take a nap.

287 comments Add your comment

where's my crack pipe?

September 6th, 2009
3:35 pm

Dawg coaches coach with no passion

where's my crack pipe?

September 6th, 2009
3:37 pm

COUNTDOWN: 12 more games with Willie as D coordinator.

GATORMAN 722

September 6th, 2009
3:41 pm

I hope Georgia can keep there coaching staff together for the next 10 years and I also hope Florida can score 70 points on Georgia this year.
What do you think Mark is that to much to ask for?

HH

September 6th, 2009
3:41 pm

Mark Richt is a perfect example why no University administator in his right mind and with the brains of a rodent (pick one) should EVER give a ten year contract to a college football coach.

brewdawg

September 6th, 2009
3:47 pm

So we were better 5 seasons ago than we were 2 seasons ago, when we finished 2nd in the country? Odd.

Mark Bradley

September 6th, 2009
3:47 pm

You know, I’m not very smart, but I knew that sentiment would arise today. And I wouldn’t disagree that there seemed a clear difference between Paul Johnson’s view of Tech’s 20-point victory and Mark Richt’s take — “The difference was two turnovers” — on his team’s defeat.

Kelly Johnson Fan Club

September 6th, 2009
3:48 pm

Mark Richt wants his players to sit around in a circle and read their bible. Paul Johnson wants the team to win. It’s admirable that Richt is concerned with the character of his players, but he’s in the business of winning football games. And if you ask me, he should drop the Jesus Freak act and institute a bit of discipline. Because he’s not dealing with the most self-disciplined, upstanding group of players, is he?

Mark Bradley

September 6th, 2009
3:51 pm

I have no problem with Mark Richt’s — or anyone’s — religious beliefs.

Ben

September 6th, 2009
3:52 pm

FIRE THIS DAMN COACHING STAFF.

RICHT FREAKING PUNTS THE BALL AWAY WITH 6 MINUTES LEFT WHEN DOWN 14. LOL WHAT A JOKE.

MARTINEZ IS A JOKE

BOBO SUCKS

WITH OUR GENIUS JESUS COACH WE WILL START COX EVERY GAME AND NOT LET THESE OTHER STUDS PLAY.

THIS SEASON IS OVER

Ben D

September 6th, 2009
3:52 pm

So we were better 5 seasons ago than we were 2 seasons ago, when we finished 2nd in the country? Odd.

JAMISON

September 6th, 2009
3:53 pm

Wow, I’ve read an entire Bradley article which contains no sarcasm or 5 word phrases of sarcasm

brewdawg

September 6th, 2009
3:54 pm

Richt’s take of the defeat was no different yesterday than it was after a defeat five years ago. Not sure what the point is there. That Paul Johnson is a better coach bc he is understandably not satisfied with a sloppy win over a 1-aa team?

Kelly Johnson Fan Club

September 6th, 2009
3:58 pm

It’s not the religious beliefs that bother me. Like I said, I think it’s admirable. It’s the fact that he’s more concerned with developing the character of his players than winning football games. He wasn’t brought in to be the school counselor or the Chaplain. When a Georgia Tech player screws up, Paul Johnson rips them a new one. When a Georgia player screws up, Mark Richt makes them go to church with him. Those players need a butt-kicking, not a sermon. Let me be clear. I, like Mark, have no problem with anyone’s religious beliefs. The over-application of those beliefs to a job that largely has nothing to do with it to the point where you’ve lost sight of what’s important, that’s what bothers me.

JAMISON

September 6th, 2009
3:59 pm

We all know Bradley hates UGA and loves Georgia Tech.

He also predicted OK State would win this game then said UGA would so that it was a no-lose for him

That’s the state of AJC — a bunch of weak writers — one is Bradley — one of the most arrogant and smug writers in the country

FloridaMike

September 6th, 2009
3:59 pm

No one seems to believe that 2 blown calls gave OSU 14 points, no matter how bad the offense played. Samuel went down very easy and there was no passing game, but without the phantom spot on 4th down and the personal foul against Jones, OSU only scores 10 points.

T-Dub

September 6th, 2009
4:02 pm

Teams that lack character and disipline don’t when football games.

Mark Bradley

September 6th, 2009
4:03 pm

Braves tied in the ninth. Colorado scored four in the first inning against Ariz. Almost a must win now.

Bob Horner had a sweet compact swing

September 6th, 2009
4:03 pm

losing stinks….I’m done pouting..we have to re-group and beat SC…what else can we do..?? replay the OK State game..?? NOT… Braves need a 5-1 road trip…I think being on the road will actually help them..Go Mark Martin tonite…!!

PaulC

September 6th, 2009
4:04 pm

I wonder if Georgia fans realize that Mark Richt is headed for the same fate as Philip Fulmer? The comparisons are obvious; similar records, 2 conference championships each, only Fulmer won a NT. Richt was quoted in the paper today sounding very Fulmeresque…

“We looked good for a minute there,” Richt said. “When we look at the film, I think we’ll see that we’re very, very close. Even as things were happening, we could see that we were only one block away in the running game. I also think there were a couple times we could have caught the ball.

“I think when we watch the film, we’re going to be sick on a couple of occasions.”

If you only knew how much this sounded like Fulmer circa 2005-2008.

Now that UGA is out of the NT picture already in ‘09 and bound to lose 2-3 more, UGA fans will have all season to stew. Small rumblings of discontent have already started, and those complaining are receiving lots of ridicule. Eventually those voices will get louder and more numerous and it’ll start to get ugly in Athens just like it did in Knoxville.

Cut your losses now UGA, it’ll only get worse.

heyberto

September 6th, 2009
4:06 pm

I really don’t care, but I just fail to see what Sarah Jessica Parker Wilson has that Shockley doesn’t… is he just cheaper or is there something I’m missing?

Mark Bradley

September 6th, 2009
4:07 pm

My point about five years ago as opposed to now: Georgia had it going in 2004, having won the East twice (and it would win again in 2005). But since the most recent SEC title, Georgia has gone 9-4, 11-2 and 10-3 and hasn’t played for the conference crown.

brewdawg

September 6th, 2009
4:08 pm

If the offense continues to perform poorly, Mark Richt will stick with Joe Cox about as long as he stuck with JoeT3 in 2006. (Not very long at all). Mark Richt is not without his flaws. But I’m confused as to how the conclusion is made that the program has “clearly” lost it’s edge. Because in a dissappointing season UGA won 10 games and finished in the top 10? Because they lost on the road to a top 10 team? Because if that’s losing your edge, then when is the last time Tech has had an edge? I’m not bashing Tech here, I’m happy for them to finally have some direction. It just never ceases to amaze me how quickly Bradley will push his way to the front of the bandwagon to jump off.

Barry

September 6th, 2009
4:08 pm

The season is over??? Good grief Ben. Mark I agree that Georgia will be OK, not great, but OK. I don’t agree that this program isn’t the program of 5 years ago. The program is right where it was. This team may not be, but they still get the great recruiting classes, and I wouldn’t trade Mark Richt for any number of coaches. It’s easy to say Urban Meyer or Paul Johnson or any coach who’s team is on top right now is who we need. Me, I’ll take Mark Richt. He may not be fiery like those guys, but he is consistent, and he’s a competitor. He’ll keep his composure and right the ship. Honestly, I think this team still has a good chance of going 9-3 or 10-2, and the program will continue to be a top 10 team most every year.

Chris

September 6th, 2009
4:09 pm

People attempt to lay blame at GA ‘not getting over the top’ on Richt’s
demeanor. People said the same thing about Mack Brown. Just because a coach is really good at screaming doesn’t mean he’s not tough enough to get his team playing at a high level.
I actually started thinking about your ‘edge’ point sometime during the third quarter. It wasn’t that they lost, it was the way the lost as you put it. They had none of the intensity you saw during the AL/VA Tech game. Maybe that’s an unfair comparison given the championship atmosphere of Chik fil A kickoff, but it was like watching the difference in quality of play from a pro game to a college game.
The Miami and FSU teams had such a swagger during their heyday. The ‘02 GA team and others through the ‘08 team played like they wanted to punch someone in the mouth. There was a lack of fire last year and yesterday that I can’t put my finger on that was missing and it was disheartening.

Mark Bradley

September 6th, 2009
4:09 pm

Here’s one thing. JPW is 23. Shockley is 26.

Mark Bradley

September 6th, 2009
4:10 pm

It will be intriguing to see how long Richt does stay with Cox if the offense doesn’t perk up. (I think it will.) Because Murray and Mettenberger and Gray aren’t quite Stafford, are they?

Henry D.

September 6th, 2009
4:10 pm

I believe you are right about the Bulldogs not having the edge they did five years ago.Whether it’s from Martinez being the DC, or Richt handing over the play calling to Bobo or what. I just see this program floundering when they keep getting supposedly top 5 ranked recruiting classes.

THEY ARE NOT GETTING COACHED UP LIKE THEY SHOULD BE!!!

I truly like Richt, but this has got to change.

Kelly Johnson Fan Club

September 6th, 2009
4:11 pm

Teams that lack character and disipline don’t when football games.

What’s the better way to build character and institute discipline? Knocking someone on their butt when they screw up or sitting in a circle singing Kumbaya and quoting Philippians? I have to believe the former.

John Denver

September 6th, 2009
4:14 pm

Can I just say that as a Tech fan we suffered for YEARS under the Chan Gailey “win enough to keep my job regime.” It seems to me that the UGA folks fall apart at the smallest sign of trouble.

They are a rebuilding after losing two first rounders. Be patient and enjoy the beatings from the Wreck!!!

Mark Bradley

September 6th, 2009
4:15 pm

Apparently this is the weekend for “Kumbaya.” Paul Johnson broke into a lovely rendition of it yesterday.

Actually, he didn’t. But he did mention it.

brewdawg

September 6th, 2009
4:15 pm

If going 11-2 and 10-3 in back to back years is losing your edge… I mean, goodness where to start? You thought yourself that UGA should have played for the national title in that 11-2 year. The same year that you were convinced that Richts endzone celebration had changed the Florida-UGA series dramatically. I personally think we are looking at a similar 3 years to the ones you just gave us. 9-4 this year and double digit wins after that. And it was not that long ago that 9 wins was considered outstanding for this program. Now it’s considered a very mediocre year. That in and of itself is testament to what “bad shape” this program is in. I’ve read you for a long time Mark. What you are doing now is planting seeds for what will eventually be a garden full of reasons UGA should find a new head coach.

brewdawg

September 6th, 2009
4:19 pm

Well Stafford was at the helm during this horrendous three-year decline of ours, so isn’t it a good think that Murray, Metzenberger, and Gray AREN’T quite Stafford?

dawgman63

September 6th, 2009
4:19 pm

The Bulldog fanbase never ceases to amaze me,and I’m one of them. We are somewhat arrogant, and at the first sign of adversity ( a loss to be more exact ) we have no problem throwing whoever is handy directly under the tires of the bus. I even saw “Bring back Donnan” last night. We are the most fickle fans in the entire college football nation. I’m probably better off just turning the TV off and not reading anything the rest of the week……..

brewdawg

September 6th, 2009
4:20 pm

Two things: in my sarcastic haste,1. I misspelled Mettenberger, and 2. Thank you Barry for being a voice of reason.

Mark Bradley

September 6th, 2009
4:20 pm

Richt himself says the goal every year is to win the SEC East. He did it three times in four years. He hasn’t done it since.

brewdawg

September 6th, 2009
4:21 pm

*thing not think in my 419. I’m done for a while I’m getting frustrated

Dawg 79

September 6th, 2009
4:22 pm

Hey fair weather “fans”, go ahead and jump off the ship. Us real fans don’t need you illegal immigrants to the Bulldog nation
I will take CMRs record, final rankings and bowl wins over anyone else.
A class man, loyal and a proud Dawg!
Some of us remember the ray Goff years. BTW — how many losing records does CMR have in seven years? How many losses to Tech?
Ge a lif!

FloridaMike

September 6th, 2009
4:22 pm

Mark – Murray is closer to Stafford than the other 2, but if we had real refs yesterday, we would not be this disappointed.

NORRIS

September 6th, 2009
4:23 pm

Pretty sad that Shockley got released. I just dont see JPW being any better. Shockley was a fan favorite. He helped the quarterbacks. They should have kept him. As for Thomas Brown, they never gave the guy a chance. He will get picked up by someone somewhere. he was a good talent.

Kelly Johnson Fan Club

September 6th, 2009
4:23 pm

Former Georgia Tech Wins and Homers leader Micah Owings into the game.

Gravy Train

September 6th, 2009
4:25 pm

Without Stafford and Moreno to compensate, Bobo’s play calls will kill any momentum our offense can muster. Why abandon pounding the ball when the first drive proved it couldn’t be stopped. I thought that after some time as OC that Bobo would stop trying to impress with cute passing plays. He went away from the run after the Thomas fumble. Why did they not challenge the spot on the fourth and goal play? I was yelling at the tv “you gotta challenge that spot coach” to no avail. Willie had a great plan in place and did rather well with it considering the short field turnover plague. If we can learn from this, we will be fine. All is not lost.

NORRIS

September 6th, 2009
4:27 pm

I dont know how anyone could be a bigger dawg fan than myself. But I have to say that the dawgs yesterday looked pretty bad. We had no offense at all. The play calling was horrible. We always go away from what works. We drove down the field running ball to start the game and then we quit.
Cox is no more than a tereshinski. He looked pretty bad. Samuel had butter on his feet. The defense looked ok.
We are in for a long season. Coach Richt better come up with some ideas soon or this could be a 6 win season. he may be in the hot seat after that.
So let me ask you this. If he is such a good coach then why are we playing so bad. Good coaches at winning schools dont have bad years just off years.
we will see.

Dawg 79

September 6th, 2009
4:27 pm

In 7 years, CMR has 2 SEC titles, 3 East titles and top ten final season rankings 4 times.

Dannyboy

September 6th, 2009
4:28 pm

I’m saying this as a GATech fan..Bulldog fans need to chill. OSU is a nonconference game. If UGA goes on a run in the SEC (although with UF in the way it’s going to be real tough) you could still make to the conference championship and possibly a BCS bowl. Teams make the most improvement between their first and second games.

The good news is, if the Falcon’s defense keeps playing the way they do, Brian VanGorder will probably be available to coach your defense next year.

Mark Bradley

September 6th, 2009
4:28 pm

All is not lost, Gravy Train, but losing the opener takes the shine off a season right quick.

Mark Bradley

September 6th, 2009
4:31 pm

Richt has never had anything close to a bad year, Norris. But he has had disappointing ones — 2004 was one, and so was 2008.

NCBravesFan

September 6th, 2009
4:32 pm

Looks like the Braves are done indeed, but nice effort by Tim Hudson today. It’ll be an interesting off-season … lots of decisions to be made – Hudson included.

Buck Commander

September 6th, 2009
4:34 pm

Prediction: this is the last Braves blog of the season.

Why not? Braves season is over, isn’t it?

hedgepruner

September 6th, 2009
4:34 pm

the Richt faithful will really be upset if they happen to lose one or two more games in the next few weeks…and that is a real possibility considering there BRUTAL SCHEDULE.It sure was nice getting up this morning and not having to see all those pathetic ugly red car flags waving in the breeze! 0-1 and what were you ranked, over-rated again !!!!

fork

September 6th, 2009
4:35 pm

Stick me in fair-weather fans.