Archive for October, 2009

Who’s less defensive: UGA’s Martinez or Tech’s Wommack?

Tech defensive coordinator Dave Wommack: Whistling past the graveyard? (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Tech's Dave Wommack: Whistling past the graveyard? (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

For long moments Saturday night in Tallahassee, it was possible to believe Willie Martinez isn’t the lesser of the two Division I-A defensive coordinators in Georgia. True, the men of Martinez had yielded 45 points and 472 yards in Knoxville that very afternoon in Knoxville, but the non-work of Dave Wommack’s Georgia Tech D was threatening to set records. (And not the good kind.)

Florida State in the first half against Tech: Five possessions, five touchdowns, 35 points, 403 yards, eight-for-eight on third down. Match that, Willie!

True, Tech played better in the second half: Only nine points and 136 yards yielded. And Tech did win 49-44, which beats the heck out of losing 45-19, which is what Georgia did against Tennessee. But still, a check of the numbers almost makes you long for the golden days of defensive excellence under Kevin Ramsey and Ted Roof.

  • Total defense: UGA is 75th nationally and …

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Bradley’s Buzz: FoxSports says Hudson to decline his option

Tim Hudson: Having been on the mend, is he now on the wing? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Having been on the mend, is Tim Hudson now on the wing? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Here’s a a bit of a surprise: Citing “major-league sources,” Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reports Tim Hudson will decline his option to re-up with the Braves and will become a free agent instead. From Rosenthal’s story:

“The Braves are likely to exercise their option on Hudson, a decision that must be made within five days of the completion of the World Series. Hudson then would be required to decide within 10 days of the completion of the Series whether he wanted to return to the team on a one-year deal. He almost certainly would command a longer deal and a greater total guarantee on the open market.”

Update: Dave O’Brien spoke to Hudson this morning, and Hudson denied the report, saying he’d even accept a hometown discount to remain a Brave.

Until Rosenthal’s report, we’d all pretty much assumed Hudson, who returned only in September after Tommy John surgery, would be content to take the …

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UGA says nix to playing Tech in the Dome, and I understand

Next on MB's agenda: Tech-UGA hoops in Philips. (AJC photo by Pouya Dianat)

Next on the Bradley agenda: Tech-UGA hoops in Philips. (AJC photo by Pouya Dianat)

I understand why Damon Evans didn’t want to do it. He has a program to run and home games to protect/hoard. He’s not the president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He’s the athletics director at Georgia. Still …

It would have been nice. Just to try. Just once.

Dan Radakovich, who’s Tech’s AD, told me in Tallahassee he couldn’t see a Tech-Georgia game in the Dome as the 2011 installment of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic really happening. I told him I couldn’t, either, even though I’d just written how much I’d like it. But I’ve got no dog (pun intended) in this fight. I’m just a guy who writes for the Atlanta paper and who gets in free. (Unless Gary Stokan threatens to ban me from covering a game, as once was threatened regarding the Chick-fil-A Bowl.)

It made way more sense for Tech than for Georgia, which is why Radakovich pushed, if gently, for it. Tech is the program looking to market …

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Mark Richt on UGA football: “We’re a very strong program”

Mark Richt meets the media Tuesday. He was frugal with his smiles. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Mark Richt meets the media Tuesday. He was frugal with his smiles. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Athens — He looked and sounded tired. What smiles there were, and there weren’t many, were forced and fleeting. Mark Richt met the media Tuesday in a role all but unfamiliar to him — as coach of a team under severe scrutiny.

Georgia has never before been 3-3 under Richt. Georgia has never lost more than four games under Richt. Never has Richt heard his athletics director say, as Damon Evans did Monday, that he has “some concerns” about the football team.

Someone asked about Evans’ statement. Said Richt, correcting the question’s use of the word “program”: “I think he said he had concerns about the ’season.’ I have concerns about the season. But we’re a very strong program. When you finish No. 10 in the coaches’ poll last year and No. 2 the year before and when you’re in the Top 10 six out of seven years … that’s not bad.”

That’s more than not bad — it’s exceptional. But it’s also …

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Is it time for UGA to take the redshirt off Aaron Murray?

Aaron Murray: Wearing a green shirt, still a redshirt. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Aaron Murray: Wearing a green shirt, still a redshirt. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

This is a tough one. You’re Georgia. You’re halfway into a season that doesn’t figure to get a whole lot better anytime soon. You haven’t yet played Aaron Murray, the highly regarded freshman quarterback. Do you now?

Point: If you do, you cost yourself half a year of Murray’s services. If he plays now, he can at most play 3 1/2 seasons.

Counterpoint: If you don’t, there’s no guarantee Murray plays four full seasons anyway. If he turns out to be really good, he might well leave for the NFL after the 2011 season. (Players can declare for the draft three years out of high school. Doesn’t matter if they redshirt or not. Ask the same Georgia coaches who decided to sit Knowshon Moreno in 2006.)

Point: Almost every other freshman of consequence has played already — Orson Charles, Branden Smith, Rantavious Wooten, Washaun Ealey, Marlon Brown. If you’re going to recruit big-timers, you might as well …

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Damon Evans on UGA football: ‘I do have some concerns’

Damon Evans in a lighter moment. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Damon Evans in a lighter moment at the Cobb Galleria. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Georgia athletics director Damon Evans said today via e-mail that he does “have some concerns” about the state of his football program. Responding to an e-mail asking for his feelings regarding the Bulldogs’ season — they’re 3-3 for the first time since 1996 — Evans offered this:

“I do have some concerns about where we are at this point of the season. I know Coach [Mark] Richt, the assistant coaches, the players and our fans have the same concerns with our current record and the way we’ve been playing.

“Coach Richt and I have talked just as we do periodically throughout the season. I think his focus right now is on the immediate future, which is the Vanderbilt game and doing everything possible to prepare our team. That’s where it needs to be.

“Beyond that, I have total confidence that Coach Richt will properly evaluate our team, address concerns and prepare the right path that will direct us …

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Can Richt again lift UGA the way Johnson has inspired Tech?

Here's the man who has changed football in this state. (Photo by Stephen Jensen)

Here's the man who has changed football in this state. (Photo by Stephen Jensen)

Georgia has a problem. Actually, Georgia has several problems, but for today we’ll concern ourselves with one. His name is Paul Johnson. He coaches Georgia Tech. And he continues to prove just how much of a difference one determined man can make.

Tech was a notch above mediocrity when Johnson took over. Today it is 5-1 and underrated at No. 19. It is coming off its first-ever victory in Tallahassee on a night when the Jackets might have lost a dozen different times. But it won because Johnson has both a clever plan and a personality large enough to make large young men do his bidding. Which brings us to Mark Richt.

There was a time when Richt was the man with the plan. He arrived from Tallahassee and promised to Finish The Drill and proceeded, in Year 2, to Knock The Lid Off a long-frustrated program. His men began to believe in their coach — P-44-Haynes in Knoxville and 70X Takeoff that cold day …

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Chattin’ with Bradley: The Falcons play by the Bay post-bye

When last I saw the Falcons, they were soggy and sad. It was two weeks ago in Foxborough, and nothing much had gone right. The Patriots had run the ball and thrown the ball and hogged the ball, and the Falcons had done none of the above.

But now, two given Sundays later, the Birds are about to play again. They’re in San Francisco, and I’m at home in Vinings Estates. But, through the magic of the ol’ cathode-ray tube, I plan to monitor all developments and comment thereupon. And I welcome you to join the fun, such as it might be.

I’m thinking the Falcons win. I’m thinking they’ll put both the lessons learned in New England and the subsequent bye week to good use. I’m thinking the 49ers might well be 3-1, but they’re not really in the Falcons’ league. (I’m speaking competitively; as we know, both clubs hold franchises in something called the NFL.) I’m thinking it’ll be 24-17 Birds.

But I have, as we know, been wrong before, and I confess up top that I’m not in tiptop shape. Team …

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On the wildest night imaginable, Tech shows its tenacity

Tallahassee — We learned something about Georgia Tech last night/this morning. We learned several things, actually, and not all of them were good. But this part was:

Georgia Tech will fight until the last dog dies.

Georgia Tech will not bend to sentiment, to its own ineptitude, even to a fumble inside the red zone with the game on the line. Georgia Tech will fight to the end even if the end comes way past midnight. Georgia Tech might not be the nation’s best team, but it has as big a heart as anyone.

We flash forward. We flash past the five first-half Florida State touchdowns and the 78-minute delay for lightning. We gloss over the 403 yards the Seminoles amassed in 30 minutes and we move to the fourth quarter, to the bad Josh Nesbitt pitch that became the signature play of a screwball game.

Josh Nesbitt throws the ball away. Florida State’s Nigel Carr picks it up. Josh Nesbitt snatches — no other verb applies, really — it back. Soon Josh Nesbitt scores the touchdown that …

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Live from Tallahassee: A big end to a big day for Tech?

A statue of Papa Bowden points the way ... to the exit? (Photo by M. Bradley)

Outside the stadium, a statue of Papa Bowden points the way … to the exit? (Photo by M. Bradley)

Tallahassee – The PA system at Doak Campbell Stadium hasn’t cranked up yet, but this has the makings of a big day/night for the Institute sometimes sneeringly called the North Avenue Trade School. Georgia Tech will enter here with the best chance it has ever had to beat Florida State in the state in the Florida. And, not that Tech fans ever pay much attention to that college in Clarke County, but …

Georgia got trampled in Knoxville.

Win tonight and the Jackets don’t just set up a game for the ACC Coastal lead next week at Bobby Dodd Stadium; they also stamp themselves, rather clearly, as the best program in Georgia. The hated Bulldogs are 3-3 for the first time under Mark Richt; the Jackets would be 5-1 if they beat the Seminoles.

And they should beat the Seminoles. FSU is areel. The first word in the headline of the stadium edition of the Tallahassee Democrat was “distractions.” …

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