Archive for September, 2009

5 reasons Georgia will – repeat, WILL – win at Arkansas

1. Georgia has played somebody. Two somebodies, actually. Arkansas has played Missouri State.

2. Mark Richt is still King of the Road until proven otherwise. And he has never lost more than one game in an opponent’s stadium in a single season. No, Georgia didn’t win in Stillwater, but it re-learned a lesson there.

3. Orson Charles = Big Time. The best asset an inexperienced quarterback can have is a strong running game, and Georgia hasn’t found that yet. The second-best asset an inexperienced quarterback can have is a first-rate tight end, and this freshman is.

4. The Hogs aren’t quite ready yet. Arkansas is 6-7 under Bobby Petrino, 2-6 in SEC play. Its two conference victories have come by a total of four points. Petrino will get results soon, but not just yet.

5. The game’s at night, and you-know-who likes to slip away under cover of darkness. There’s every chance Petrino could be coaching the Saskatchewan Rough Riders by the time the fourth quarter arrives Saturday. See the …

Continue reading 5 reasons Georgia will – repeat, WILL – win at Arkansas »

5 reasons Georgia might NOT have turned the corner

Bending but not breaking: Bryan Evans broke up this pass. (AJC photo by Brant Sandlerlin)

Bending, not breaking: Bryan Evans foiled this pass. (AJC photo by Brant Sandlerlin)

1. Joe Cox isn’t D.J. Shockley. Cox is a facilitator, not a playmaker. He has playmakers around him — A.J. Green, Richard Samuel, Orson Charles — but we still haven’t seen Cox make the tough throw or the third-down scramble.

2. This isn’t a shutdown defense. Georgia has one takeaway and two sacks in two games.  It held South Carolina without a first down only twice in 13 possessions. The Gamecocks punted twice. They gained 427 yards, or 171 more than they’d mustered in a 7-3 victory over North Carolina State.

3. The offensive line still isn’t road-grading. Granted, Trinton Sturdivant has again been lost to injury, but the running game hasn’t yet coalesced. The Bulldogs have rushed for a total of 202 yards in two games, and 61 of those have come on Branden Smith’s end-around.

4. The penalty monsoon returned at full force. Georgia was flagged 13 times for 108 yards Saturday night. It looked …

Continue reading 5 reasons Georgia might NOT have turned the corner »

5 reasons UGA might just have turned the corner

Here's Reason No. 3: A.J. goes airborne. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Here's Reason No. 3: A.J. goes awesomely airborne. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

1. Joe Cox is not Joe Tereshinski III. He gave a passing (no pun intended) performance against South Carolina. He made the necessary, if not necessarily artistic, throws. He kept his team moving against what was billed as a big-time defense. He made one egregious mistake — the Eric Norwood interception — but led his team to a vital field goal afterward. He did his job.

2. The men of Martinez made a stop. Actually, the Georgia defense made several. South Carolina didn’t score an offensive touchdown in the second half, and the difference between touchdowns and field goals — the Gamecocks had five –  was the difference between this being an Alabama-like blowout and a narrow victory.

3. A.J. Green is the greatest Georgia receiver ever. No amplification required.

4. Branden Smith can really run. Fastest Bulldog ever? Faster than Herschel? Faster than Goldberg? (Kidding.) Just get this freshman the …

Continue reading 5 reasons UGA might just have turned the corner »

You say the Falcons are legit? Buddy, I’ve heard it before

I have this problem. I can never fully concentrate on watching the local NFL club actually play because I have one eye on that door.

See it? It’s the one that says, “Falcons Annals.” And I keep waiting for Dan Henning to walk through and bum a cigarette. Or Norm Van Brocklin to barge in and start stacking chairs. Or Marion Campbell to amble over and say, “What’s up, gahz?” (Swampy talk for “guys.”)

I came to work here in 1984. It took seven years before I actually saw a winning Falcons’ season, and when finally one arrived Jerry Glanville was coaching and the stereo was blaring so loud — “Back in Black” and “Wild Wild West” and “2 Legit 2 Quit” — that I never heard a single word in any postgame interview and I was too distracted by the sight of Wayne Newton sitting next to Hammer in the press box for anything to register.

And now I watch the door, and I wait. For Wayne Newton to sing, “Danke Schoen.” Or for Hammer to put a move on somebody. (On that surrealistic Sunday, Deion …

Continue reading You say the Falcons are legit? Buddy, I’ve heard it before »

Bradley’s Buzz: An invisible link about UGA’s Carlton Thomas

Doggone it! Here's someone else I neglected to mention! (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Doggone it! Here's someone else I neglected to mention! (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Carlton Thomas. How could I forget Carlton Thomas?

In a perfect world — meaning: in a world where college games didn’t last four hours, leaving me 20 minutes to write a print column after doing a five-hour live chat — I’d have sung the praises of Carlton Thomas in this little submission. But his name isn’t in there, for a rather basic reason:

I forgot to mention him.

Carlton Thomas made maybe the biggest play of Georgia’s victory over South Carolina, and it was a pure hustle play, and what makes this so embarrassing is that I pretty much wrote about hustle. Which makes me the biggest idiot in the history of sports writing. (Don’t tell me. You knew that already, didn’t you?)

I wrote about DeAngelo Tyson blocking the extra point. I got Rennie Curran in there — I never forget Rennie Curran, who’s unforgettable — for deflecting Stephen Garcia’s final pass. But I left out Carlton Thomas. And …

Continue reading Bradley’s Buzz: An invisible link about UGA’s Carlton Thomas »

The Braves: It’s still over, but maybe not quite done with

If not for the Reds, the Braves would have a realistic shot. (AJC photo by Elissa Eubanks)

If not for the Reds, the Braves would have a real shot. (AJC photo by Elissa Eubanks)

I said it was over last week, and I meant it then and mean it still. With 19 games to go, the Braves are 7 1/2 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East and 6 1/2 behind wild card leader Colorado. They’d have to go 15-4 to finish 90-72, and 90 wins is often the cut-off point for playoff admittance in the National League. I don’t think they can go 15-4.

But I didn’t think they’d sweep the Cardinals in St. Louis, either.

Go back to the standings. There’s only a game’s difference between the Braves’ deficit in the division and in the wild card standings, but that one game could still be significant. They now figure to have a better chance — still not to say a good chance — in the East. The Braves  have three games left with the Phillies, who are having bullpen problems like you wouldn’t believe. (Remember Jeff Bennett? Now think how it would be were Jeff Bennett your closer.)

Were the Braves …

Continue reading The Braves: It’s still over, but maybe not quite done with »

In a fight to the finish, Georgia shows it can punch back

Whoosh! Branden Smith flees 61 yards on an end-around. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Whoosh! Branden Smith scores on an end-around. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Athens — We learned something about these Bulldogs on Saturday night. We learned that they might not be as gifted or as polished as vintage Georgia teams, but we learned that they still have Bulldog-sized hearts.

Yes, they played better — at least on offense and on special teams — than they had in Stillwater, but the revelation was that they played infinitely harder. They could never quite shake South Carolina, but if not for their resolve they wouldn’t have exited with a careening victory. They’d have left 0-2.

And an 0-2 Georgia team would have touched off a hue and cry unlike any raised since Mark Richt came north from Tallahassee. We know from the week just past that even one loss is enough to set off Bulldog Nation. (”Bench Joe Cox!” “Fire Mike Bobo!” “Hire Jon Gruden!”) A second loss so soon into the 2009 season would brought the even bigger heat. And there were long and scary moments when …

Continue reading In a fight to the finish, Georgia shows it can punch back »

Live from Sanford Stadium: Somebody’s starting at QB!

See what happens when you're 0-1? Nobody comes to the game. (Photo by M. Bradley)

See what happens when you're 0-1? Nobody comes to your games . (Photo by M. Bradley)

Athens – This is my 26th college football season as an AJC staffer, and the only thing I know for sure is that there’s no such thing as a dull week. This week has been one of the most eventful ever, especially since nothing really happened.

Joe Cox did not get the flu. Joe Cox did not get benched. Mike Bobo did not get fired. Willie Martinez did not get fired. Mark Richt did not resign in disgrace. Pretty much everything that was status quo this time a week ago is status quo still, with one major difference:

Georgia is 0-1.

Georgia hasn’t been 0-1 since Jim Donnan was a Bulldog rookie. More important, Georgia hasn’t been 0-2 since that same 1996 season, which also stands as the school’s last losing season. So you might say something is riding on this one.

I’m here between the shrubbery, and I have to say there’s a bit of a muted vibe at the moment. (Except for the infernal Sanford Stadium PA …

Continue reading Live from Sanford Stadium: Somebody’s starting at QB! »

Is it right to rip a collegian for not being as good as we’d like?

To me, Joe Tereshinski III seemed a Great Story — an Athens native, a third-generation Bulldog, a quarterback who’d waited his turn and even put in time as a long snapper. How could he not be the People’s Choice?

In a career of miscalculations, that was among my most egregious. JT3 was the choice of only those people named Tereshinski. Everyone else in Bulldog Nation wanted Matthew Stafford to be the starting quarterback in 2006, and there was almost an audible cheer when Tereshinski got hurt in Georgia’s second game. And I wondered: When did amateur sports — at bottom, that’s what college football is — lose all connection to sentimentality?

I know, I know. People pay big money to sit in oversized stadiums on autumn Saturdays, and TV networks pay even bigger money to air the games. But still: These guys are amateurs, not professionals. It seemed unseemly, at least to me, how readily Bulldog Nation turned its back on one of its own, and this week the back-and-forth over another …

Continue reading Is it right to rip a collegian for not being as good as we’d like? »

Bobby or Joe: Which Cox has had the rougher month?

Bobby Cox after ejection No. 150. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Bobby Cox incurring ejection No. 150. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

In the month of September — only in its 11th day, I remind you — two men who share a last name have become the go-to-and-dump-on guys on this dumb little blog. And it’s a hairline call as to which Cox has had it tougher. Before I render judgment on this burning issue, let’s consider the cases:

Bobby Cox: Has seen his Braves lose six of their past eight games to fall from three games behind wild card leader Colorado to an out-of-it 8 1/2 games behind. (The Braves are actually a half-game closer to NL East leader Philadelphia than to the Rockies, not that it will do much good.) Has seen them swept at home by sub-.500 Cincinnati on a weekend when the Reds mustered 10 runs in 30 innings but still more than doubled the Braves’ output.

Has gotten ejected for the 150th time in his career, which means he has been tossed from nearly a full season’s worth of games. Has seen his redeployed starter, Kenshin Kawakami, …

Continue reading Bobby or Joe: Which Cox has had the rougher month? »