Our weekly Heat Check begins with a team that won a warm and fuzzy game in the warm and fuzzy city of … Detroit? (Just between us, sometimes these heat metaphors can get a bit strained.)
The Falcons: When they were trailing the Panthers a week ago, it was possible to look ahead and wonder if this gifted team could be 3-6 come Nov. 13. Not possible now. The Falcons are 4-3 with two bye weeks upcoming — one where they play nobody, the other where they travel to Indianapolis, which has become nobody without Peyton Manning — before they hunker down in the Dome for a three-week homestand. Heat Index: For a team that hasn’t hit full stride but has the worst of its schedule behind it, this is suddenly a hot commodity.
Julio Jones: He was supposed to be the missing piece. He has missed two games due to injury, and his team is 2-0. It was 2-3 with him playing. Heat Index: A hot rookie is in cold storage, and his team seems better for it. I don’t understand it, either.
Georgia Tech: Paul Johnson’s offense gained 768 yards and scored nine touchdowns in four quarters against Kansas. It has managed 507 yards and mustered three touchdowns in eight quarters against Virginia and Miami, neither of which is any great shakes. Heat Index: When you’re hot, you’re hot. Tech was, but now it’s not. And the schedule just gets tougher.
Georgia: It’s headed to Jacksonville. Bulldog fans love going to Jacksonville. Then the game begins, and they love it no more. But this year — stop if you’ve heard this a time or two — might be different. Heat Index: Georgia has won five in a row; Florida has lost three in a row. But last season the Bulldogs entered on a three-game run and the Gators on a three-game slide, and guess who prevailed.
Mark Richt: Should Georgia win Saturday, there’s a chance — a chance, I say — we won’t hear the words “hot seat” mentioned in connection with Mr. Cool again this season. Heat Index: Every Georgia-Florida game is huge, but for this coach, this one might be the biggest yet.
The Braves: They have a new hitting coach. He’s Greg Walker. He’s not to be confused with Harry (The Hat) Walker, who was a hitting coach of some renown and who starred as the manager of Jim Bouton’s Houston Astros in “Ball Four.” But I digress. In even bigger news, the Braves announced their new hitting coach will have an assistant. Heat Index: Guess Larry Parrish was pretty hot item if it takes two men to replace him.
The Hawks: They’re locked out. The sale of the team hasn’t been approved. Games have been canceled and Josh Smith hasn’t been traded and Zaza Pachulia is about to go play in Turkey, and you know what? I haven’t heard anybody say, “Boy, I miss the Hawks.” Heat Index: Indifference can be the coldest cut of all.
By Mark Bradley