Archive for October, 2009

Another black day in Jax reveals UGA as second-rate

One more is hunting a third BCS title; the other is trying to get bowl-eligible. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

One is hunting a third BCS title; the other isn't bowl-eligible. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Jacksonville — The game was a total loss, but the lesson imparted need not be. After yet another lost Saturday in Duval County, this much is beyond dispute: Georgia is no longer a major player in its division, let alone the nation.

Mark Richt began his somber media briefing by saying, “Well, here we are again.” And there they were, lopsided losers. It was 49-10 last season and 41-17 this time, and for all the good work Richt did in the early part of this decade, he and his program have been lapped by Urban Meyer. And Richt, once so clever and driven, seems to have run out of ideas.

He tried the color-scheme gimmick Saturday, presenting his players with black helmets after they’d warmed up in the usual red headgear. The upshot of this was to make Georgia look like an Arena league team and to cow the nation’s No. 1 team not one whit. After 11 1/2 minutes, the guys in the orange hats …

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Live from hot Jax: Only 30 (of 32) writers pick the Gators!

This is not what it seems. The sweater is orange. It's a Gator dog. (Photo by M. Bradley)

This is not as it seems. The sweater is orange. It is, of all things, a Gator dog. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Jacksonville — It was raining when I boarded the plane at Hartsfield-Jackson at 7:45 a.m. It is not raining here, unless you count sweat beads. Here it’s hot. Here it’s hot even by Florida standards. And, speaking of sweat …

Your genius correspondent managed to leave his glasses in Tim Tucker’s rental car at the stadium, necessitating another walk to/from distant Lot P. This marks the second time in 13 months I’ve left my glasses in a rental car, and the first was in Tempe, Ariz., where it was only 97 degrees and we were parked even farther away.

But enough about this perspiring writer. Let’s talk about other writers. The Florida Times-Union asked 32 writers, some of whom might actually have seen Georgia play in the past five years, for a prediction. (None of the 32 were from the AJC, you should know.) Thirty picked the Gators. The two exceptions: Matt Hayes of Sporting …

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UGA fans, what’s an acceptable result in Jacksonville?

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Is it possible to lose to the hated Gators and still feel good? (AJC photo by Pouya Dianat)

Georgia heads to Jacksonville unranked, which it almost never is, and a two-touchdown underdog, which it never is. It will be met by a team that hasn’t lost since September 2008, a team tracking a second consecutive BCS title. (Know how many schools have won consecutive BCS titles? None.)

Put simply, Georgia is up against it in a way unaccustomed to Georgia teams under Mark Richt. It lost to Florida 49-10 a year ago in what seemed a coin-flip game going in. This one is no coin flip. This outcome seems foregone.

But hope springs eternal in the breast of every fan, and on the day before Halloween I want to ask Dawg fans this question: What would you deem an acceptable outcome Saturday?

A narrow and honorable loss? (Within a touchdown, say.) Or is actual victory the only satisfactory result? And here’s a twist: If beating Florida convinces Mark Richt he doesn’t need to make changes within …

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Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN thinks UGA can (almost) beat Florida

When last I doubted the wisdom of ESPN’s Insiders and its Scouts Inc. brand of predicting, the Worldwide Leader was right and I was wrong. I thought Georgia Tech would beat Miami. Scouts Inc. picked the ‘Canes. Score it Scouts Inc. 1, MB nil.

So I pass this along for purposes of edification. Scouts Inc. gives Florida the edge over Georgia in seven of nine categories. (Link requires registration.) The Bulldogs are preferred at wide receiver and linebacker, you should know. Me, I’d have made it eight of nine, but I’m a famous Gator fan

Regarding Georgia’s offense, such as it is, against Florida’s top-ranked defense:

“Look for Georgia to attack the middle of the Florida run defense. True freshman RB Washaun Ealey and 222-pound backup Richard Samuel are both tough between-the-tackles runners who can lower their shoulders and pick up yards after contact. In addition, FB Fred Munzenmeir is an effective lead blocker who has done a nice job filling in for the injured Shaun Chapas. On …

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5 ways UGA (and Mrs. Dooley) can sack the mighty Gators

1. In the attempt to show the world there’s no SEC bias toward Florida, Mike Slive deputizes a completely unbiased septet of refs: Vince Dooley, Barbara Dooley, Don Leebern, Sonny Seiler, Loran Smith, Chuck Dowdle and Bill King. (Replay official:  Some guy named Munson.) The Gators are called for 77 penalties. Georgia wins 2-0 when Barbara Dooley sacks Tim Tebow in the end zone.

2. Herschel Walker realizes he left one year of eligibility on the table, and Michael Adams, in his new capacity as president of the NCAA, hastily grants the appeal for reinstatement. And Herschel, at age 46, does what he has already done three times — beat the hated Gators essentially by himself. Then he rides off into the sunset to become an FBI agent.

3. With the Gators leading 16-10, Florida readies for the clinching field goal. Urban Meyer gets so carried away with his timeouts that he calls all three to ice his own kicker. Georgia blocks the resulting try and returns it for the winning …

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The new Hawks resort to an old method to win Game 1

Good times! Rookie Jeff Teague exults after his first pro hoop. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Good times! Rookie Jeff Teague exults after his first pro hoop. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

There was something old (Joe Smith, who’s 34), something new (Jeff Teague, who’s a rookie), something borrowed (Jamal Crawford, acquired from Golden State) and something blue (the Hawks’ pregame warmup shorts). There was a brand new bench, which did its part, and better balance among the starters. And at the end there was …

Joe Johnson.

He deferred to Josh Smith and Al Horford for a half, and then the Hawks’ best player reminded us that, even though this team has more good players than at any time in two decades, he’s still the Hawks’ best player. And if that’s the new method — let others get involved early and let JJ save it for later — it just might work.

The Hawks weren’t smashing in their opener. They yielded 65 points to tepid Indiana in a half — is Willie Martinez coaching basketball? — and trailed in the fourth quarter. They held — wrong word, I know — Danny Granger to 31 points. …

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The new Hawks have a new problem: Too many players

Jamal Crawford (in white above the key) is one of many new Hawks. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Jamal Crawford (in white above the key) is one of many new Hawks. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Mike Woodson might have too many players. As problems go, this is among the better ones. Indeed, it beats the heck out of the issue Woodson faced when he arrived here in 2004 — having no players whatsoever.

“That team [the 2004-05 Hawks, who lost 69 games] was gutted,” Woodson said Wednesday, speaking before the grown-up Hawks were to open their season against Indiana. “We were in rebuilding mode. We counted on young guys to get better — Marvin [Williams] and Smoove [Josh Smith] and Al [Horford], and even Joe [Johnson] was young — and they have. And if they continue to grow, we’ve got a chance to be in the hunt the next three or four years.”

And they do. But first Woodson has to wrangle a roster unlike any he has had. He has to find minutes for 11 legitimate NBA players, and not many teams ever placate 11 men. So, Woodson was asked, can he?

“It’s something I haven’t done,” he said. “And I …

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The SEC, its refs and the conspiracy theory: No sale, I say

You make the call: Was A.J. Green separating himself from his mates? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

You make the call: Was A.J. Green separating himself? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Lane Kiffin is upset, not that it takes much to upset Lane Kiffin. Bobby Petrino is upset, not that Bobby Petrino is ever not upset. But Dan Mullen is likewise upset, and to date we’ve had no reason to lump him with the first two.

Mike Slive is upset because the highly compensated coaches in his highly compensated league are throwing a snit fit not seen since Duke and J.J. Redick were perceived to be getting all the calls in another sport in a different highly compensated league. The growing feeling around the South is that SEC refs are doing their part — more than their part, actually — to produce another conference championship game matching the nation’s top two teams. I have one problem with this line of thinking:

Football refs aren’t clever enough to pull off a conspiracy involving one team, let alone two. And I’m not speaking just of SEC refs; I’m speaking of refs in any and every …

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5 reasons not to panic over the Falcons just yet

1. There are still six wins on the schedule. To enumerate: Two against Tampa Bay, one more against Carolina, home victories over Washington and Buffalo and a road victory over the Jets. That would make 10, and 10 generally gets you into the playoffs. And the Philadelphia game here — maybe you’ve heard some discussion about it — on Dec. 6 is a tossup. That would make 11, which would make the Falcons a postseason lock.

2. There’s room for growth everywhere. This is a polite way of saying the Falcons aren’t tearing it up in any single category. They’re 19th in the NFL in total offense, and they should be in the top 10. They’re 25th in total defense, which is one spot down from last season, which was to be expected with the changes made on D. Given the losses of Peria Jerry and Brian Williams, it will be hard for this defense to improve much this season. But the offense should have some breakout games in it, which would give the Falcons a puncher’s chance against anybody.

3. Jason …

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Even if Florida is ripe to be had, has UGA ripened yet?

In 2008 Florida scored at least 30 points in all nine games against SEC opposition, including the one it lost to Ole Miss. Its average margin of victory in those games was 30 points.

In 2009 Florida has scored 30 points against one SEC opponent, that being Kentucky. The Gators managed 23 against Tennessee, 13 against LSU, 23 against Arkansas and 29 against Mississippi State. Their average margin of victory in those five games was 13.4 points.

As silly as it sounds to say of the nation’s No. 1 team as led by the nation’s No. 1 player, Florida isn’t playing well. It was lucky to beat Arkansas in the Swamp — remember, Georgia scored 52 points against the Razorbacks on the road — and needed a phantom interception to escape Starkville with a 10-point victory. (Remember, Georgia Tech beat MSU by 11 points on the same field in a game that was only cosmetically close.)

Tim Tebow ranks 45th in the nation in total offense. By way of comparison, Joe Cox ranks 53rd. After the Mississippi …

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