Archive for November, 2009

A robotic Uga as programmed by mad scientists at Tech

Deep within the catacombs of the Arthur B. Edge Center on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology, a team of scientists works feverishly on an endeavor  so secret its code name — Operation ‘Droid Dawg– cannot be breathed under pain of banishment from the breakfast table at the Silver Skillet diner. It has taken decades for the project to reach this critical stage, and there were times when its originator believed it would never move beyond the blackboard.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” says the scientist in question, Prof. George P. Burdell, “we are but months from sweet fruition. We have the financing. We have the political leverage. What we need now are the devious touches that will make our animatronic bulldog the most effective faux animal weapon since the Trojan horse.”

“What if,” offers Simon Bar Sinister, doctor of robotics, “we program it to do everything a normal mascot would do, right up until the point he runs on the field and sees Lane Kiffin. And then, via …

Continue reading A robotic Uga as programmed by mad scientists at Tech »

How three points and one man changed football in Georgia

Paul Johnson exulted as Georgia fell and the tides turned. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Paul Johnson exulted as UGA fell and the tides turned. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Three points on a rainy day when 87 were scored. Three points that halted a seven-year run of losing for one side and induced an abject reversal for the other. Three points that changed the state of college football in a state that lives for college football.

Georgia Tech beat Georgia 45-42 on Nov. 29, 2008, and never has one skinny victory assumed such heft. Tech is now the champion of the ACC Coastal Division and has been ensconced among the nation’s top 10 teams for a month. Georgia has had its worst season under Mark Richt and could be bound for  Shreveport. You can argue that a different result 12 months ago wouldn’t have affected anything that has occurred in 2009, but you’d be wrong.

We stopped seeing Tech as hopeless during the first seven minutes of that famous third quarter. The Jackets went from 28-12 behind to 35-28 ahead in the time it took you to say, “There goes Dwyer!” And …

Continue reading How three points and one man changed football in Georgia »

Turns out Matthew Stafford does have a heart. Fooled me

Matthew Stafford is being hailed as a folk hero across the NFL for, of all things, a display of heart. I have to confess: As someone who saw Stafford’s first collegiate pass against Western Kentucky and his last against Michigan State, “heart” wasn’t the commodity I felt he had in abundance.

Arm strength, yes. That he threw for 422 yards against Cleveland on Sunday didn’t surprise me all that much — Joe Cox could throw for 442 yards against Cleveland, which hasn’t had a team in any sport do much of anything since the self-appointed mayor of that city threatened me on live TV — but the already-legendary endgame tableau did.

To recap: With Detroit down by six, Stafford runs around looking for a receiver and, after much hurly-burly, slings the ball into the end zone as time expires. (Did I mention he has a big arm?) Alas, it’s intercepted. But wait.

The Browns’ defensive backs, making the Falcons’ DBs look good by comparison, manage to interfere with two different Lions. The foul …

Continue reading Turns out Matthew Stafford does have a heart. Fooled me »

After 26 NFL starts, how does Ryan compare to Vick?

Matt Ryan hasn’t had the sunniest of sophomore seasons. His team is 5-5. He threw 10 interceptions in a five-game span. His team has lost four of its past five. But with all the dissection we’ve done, here’s one thing we haven’t tried: We haven’t yet compared/contrasted the Falcons’ newest franchise quarterback with their previous franchise quarterback. Here goes:

• After 26 regular-season starts, Ryan is 16-10. After 26 regular-season starts, Michael Vick was 16-9-1. (Note: Owing to his apprenticeship behind Chris Chandler in 2001 and his broken leg in 2003, Vick needed four seasons to make 26 starts.)

• Ryan’s passer rating in his second season as a pro is 80.0. Vick’s passer rating in his second season as a pro was 81.6. Ryan’s career passer rating is 84.3. Vick’s career passer rating is 75.6.

• Ryan’s completion percentage in his second NFL season is 59.3. Vick’s completion percentage in his second NFL season was 54.9. Ryan’s career completion percentage is 60.3. Vick’s …

Continue reading After 26 NFL starts, how does Ryan compare to Vick? »

A very short post about a very big topic – UGA’s coaching

Willie Martinez does some coaching. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Here's Willie Martinez, seen doing some actual coaching. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Shortest post ever. Three simple questions:

1. Which team has better players — Georgia or Kentucky?

2. Which team won the game?

3. What does that say about the losing coaches?

There it is. Have at it.

Continue reading A very short post about a very big topic – UGA’s coaching »

The Falcons lose a close one but again find a quarterback

Tony Gonzalez rises above Michael Boley and sends it to overtime. (AP photo)

Tony Gonzalez rises above Michael Boley and sends it to overtime. (AP photo)

East Rutherford, N.J. — The Falcons lost a game but saved a season. If that sounds convoluted … well, try this: On the day the  Falcons fell to 5-5, they nonetheless demonstrated why this will be that forever-sought second consecutive winning season.

Or this: The Falcons lost a game but found a quarterback.

The first half was wretched. It ended with the Falcons down 17-7 but was far more distressing than that. The defense was awful, which we’ve come to expect, and Matt Ryan was just as bad, which has become a recent phenomenon. But in the second half things changed: The defense was still bad, but the Iceman again, er, cameth.

Ryan in the first half: Six completions in 11 attempts with a long gain of 18 yards, two sacks, one fumble. Ryan in the second: Twenty completions in 35 attempts, two touchdowns, no turnovers, no sacks. The first half he looked like a rookie, and this is the guy who never looked …

Continue reading The Falcons lose a close one but again find a quarterback »

Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN’s Dinich now likes Clemson over Tech

According to ESPN's ACC expert, Tech won't win this time. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

According to ESPN's ACC expert, Tech won't win this time. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Say this for Heather Dinich of ESPN.com: She’s consistent. She didn’t pick Georgia Tech to win the Coastal Division, and she’s not picking the Coastal champ to win the ACC title.

Ms. Dinich call her choice of Clemson over Tech in Tampa on Dec. 5 a “wacky prediction.” I wouldn’t call it wacky. I’d just call it misguided. You can make a case for Clemson. You can make a much better one for Tech.

Winning the ACC would put Clemson in the Orange Bowl. So where, according to Ms. Dinich, would Tech land? The Chick-fil-A? Nope. She has Georgia Tech falling behind Virginia Tech in the pecking order and landing in the Gator Bowl against a Big East opponent or Notre Dame. (I understand the Chick-fil-A might not want to have Georgia Tech for a second consecutive year, but I also understand that there would be local pressure from Jacket fans to keep Tech out of Jacksonvile.)

But … Notre Dame? Is it …

Continue reading Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN’s Dinich now likes Clemson over Tech »

Live from New York, about to watch the other Big Blue!

We're in the stadium on the left. The one on the right opens next season. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Two stadiums: We're in the one on the left. The new one opens in 2010. (Photo by M. Bradley)

East Rutherford, N.J. – I’d never say I’m smart or anything. For one thing, you folks know better. For another, I thought there was no way my alma mater would win in Athens last night. (When last my alma mater won in Athens, I was just out of school. And that was a long time ago.)

But I digress. This isn’t about Willie Martinez or Mark Richt. (I suspect we’ll get around to both these next few days.) This is about the Falcons, who are about to play the New York Giants, and the one thing I can say for sure is that they’re almost exactly where I expected them to be on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

I had them 5-4 at this point, and the only part I got wrong was I had the results of the Carolina games flipped. I also had them losing today. But I also had them winning the NFC South, which won’t happen, and finishing 10-6, which is still within reach even if they’re 5-5 when night falls …

Continue reading Live from New York, about to watch the other Big Blue! »

Tech’s expert AD sends Paul Johnson yet another love note

One more year tacked onto a contract that already had six years to run won’t keep Paul Johnson from going to Notre Dame — or to Oklahoma, should Bob Stoops wind up in South Bend — should PJ want to leave. Georgia Tech will never be able to outspend the big boys. (Example: Even with Johnson’s deal having been redone twice in 11 months, Mark Richt still makes more.)

But that wasn’t the intent of the one-more-year tack. This was designed as a love note, a reminder that nobody anywhere is going to love PJ more than the folks at GT. As Dan Radakovich noted in the official release: “We remain committed to Paul in every way, and we foresee a long-term relationship with much continued success.”

We knew already that Tech has a splendid football coach. What was evident with Friday’s announcement is that the Institute’s athletics director is every bit as good. Homer Rice was a great AD. Vince Dooley was a great AD. D-Rad is cut from that same regal cloth.

Hiring a splendid coach is only …

Continue reading Tech’s expert AD sends Paul Johnson yet another love note »

The Hawks are so good I might even pay to watch them

I'm asking: Does this look like a fun bunch or what? (AJC photo by Elissa Eubanks)

OK, I'm asking: Does this look like a fun bunch or what? (AJC photo by Elissa Eubanks)

I’m not Clark Howard. I’m no consumer advocate. When I go to games, I get in free. But I feel, in light of current events, I need to say something:

Were I a paying sports fan, I could think of worse ways to dispose of my disposable income than buying a ticket to watch the Hawks play.

They’re not just good. (And they’re very good.) They’re fun to watch. They play hard. They guard people. They pass the ball. Sometimes Joe Johnson still dribbles overmuch and Josh Smith reverts to the excess of youth, but this happens less and less. If your impression of these Hawks was formed a few years ago, you need to look again.

I don’t know that they’ll win the NBA title, but I’m reasonably certain they’ll win at least 50 games. And I know we Atlantans tend to come fashionably late to such soirees. I’m not telling you what to do, but I am making a gentle suggestion: If you go now, I’m guessing you’ll come …

Continue reading The Hawks are so good I might even pay to watch them »