Archive for September, 2012

Live from Tech-Presbyterian: I’m picking the Jackets again!

He didn't have the sweetest of Labor Days. (AP photo)

He didn't have the sweetest of Labor Days. (AP photo)

My prediction regarding Georgia Tech’s opener didn’t pan out. (Though it looked pretty good with 44 seconds left in regulation, I must note.) Undaunted, I offer another. Here goes:

Tech’s tilt against Presbyterian tonight will not be the greatest game ever played.

So there am I again, out on Ye Olde Limb. Just can’t help myself.

Presbyterian is an FCS program based in Clinton, S.C. It is the smallest (enrollment: 1,200) Division I football operation in the land. Its nickname is the Blue Hose, doubtless to differentiate it from the Boston Red Sox. It played two ACC teams in 2010, losing 53-13 to Wake Forest and 58-21 to Clemson.

The Blue Hose went 4-7 last season. Last week they won their opener 45-10 over Brevard, about which I know nothing. (OK, now I do. Mr. Google tells me Brevard is located, oddly enough, in Brevard, N.C. Its nickname is the Tornados.)

About Georgia Tech: On Labor Day night it came within one play of …

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The Saints may have won a battle, but they’ll lose the war

Julio Jones scores six points. Jonathan Vilma (on ground) collects no bounty. (AP photo)

Julio Jones scores six points. Jonathan Vilma (on ground) collects no bounty. (AP photo)

Quoting a character from “Family Guy,” Jonathan Vilma took to Twitter and declared: “Victory is mine!!!!”

Quoting another animated character — Lee Corso, in the case — I say, “Not so fast, my friend.”

We can agree on this: Not being suspended beats the heck out of being suspended. But just because those players who were singled out by Roger Goodell for their parts in the Saints’ money-for-mayhem scheme have been cleared to play doesn’t mean the Saints are sitting pretty again.

For one thing, only two of the four — the linebacker Vilma and defensive end Will Smith — are still Saints. And Vilma probably can’t play anytime soon because he’s recovering from a knee injury. (Pro Football Talk speculates that he could be placed on the physically unable to perform list, which means he’d miss a minimum of six games.)

Vilma had been docked the full season, Smith for four games. Given that they’re …

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The Braves used to be able to hit. What the heck happened?

A sight seldom seen of late: The Braves scoring a run. (AP photo by John Amis)

A sight seldom seen of late: The Atlanta Braves scoring a run. (AP photo by John Amis)

We begin by saying that no one regular-season series tells anything approaching the whole story. Remember when the Braves were swept by the Yankees here in June? Remember how that series seemed an example of boys against men? Well, if you check today, you’ll find that the Braves have a better record than the Bronx Bombers. (Only a half-game better, but still.)

That said, it was nonetheless chilling that the Braves could go the final three games of a four-game set against Colorado and not score a single earned run. The Rockies have the worst team ERA in the big leagues, and here, after a 6-1 victory on Labor Day, is how the Braves fared: Shut out on Tuesday, won 1-0 on a run scored via a bad throw on Wednesday, won 1-0 on a run scored on a flubbed return catcher’s toss by the pitcher, which might have happened in the big leagues twice in the past two decades.

For the first half of the season, …

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Credit the Braves for this: They didn’t hire Bobby Valentine

A regional cover of this week's Sports Illustrated.

A regional cover of this week's Sports Illustrated. Rather evocative, eh?

Even as the Braves tease/torment us with the possibility (remote though it would seem) of another Epic Collapse, we can take solace in this: As frustrating as they can be, they’re not the Red Sox. Because the Red Sox took their own E.C. of last September and proceeded to destroy themselves.

They changed general managers. More to the point, they changed managers and hired the absolute worst man for the job, and not a day passes that Red Sox Nation isn’t given a new reason to realize that any organization that employs Bobby Valentine is doomed.

A manager must be able to lead men in the pursuit of a common goal. Bobby Valentine can only lead men to want to get as far from Bobby Valentine as possible. If there’s a bigger phony in the world, it’s only because this is a mighty big world.

He cannot bring himself to shut his month, and whenever he opens it, trouble follows. Valentine defenders — actually, the …

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Video: On Georgia Tech’s Labor Day loss and its ramifications

Continue reading Video: On Georgia Tech’s Labor Day loss and its ramifications »

Another game effort yields another galling Georgia Tech loss

Tevin Washington with no particular place to go. (AP photo)

Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington with no particular place to go. (AP photo)

On its face, it wasn’t a terrible loss. Georgia Tech came within one unmade play of upsetting the Coastal Division favorite in a charged and daunting setting, and the Coastal favorite needed overtime to prevail. All of which made it …

A terrible loss.

With so much to gain on Labor Day night, Georgia Tech threw it away in the time it takes to say, “No way Virginia Tech can score in 44 seconds.” Had the Jackets won, they’d have stamped themselves as the new Coastal favorite. Had they won, they’d have been ranked in the Top 25. Had they won, we’d have no real reason to wonder if the best days of Paul Johnson have come and gone. But they lost, and now we do.

This isn’t to suggest Johnson coached a terrible game. His team was positioned to win with 13 seconds left in regulation, but the Hokies converted on fourth-and-4, same as Utah had converted on fourth-and-14 in the Sun Bowl. Two games running, …

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3 points from Tech-Tech, which was decided by 3 points

This was one big play -- a fourth-quarter touchdown -- yielded by Rod Sweeting. (AP photo)

This was one big play — a fourth-quarter touchdown — yielded by Rod Sweeting. (AP photo)

1. The Georgia Tech defense did its job — for 59 minutes and 16 seconds. Until Virginia Tech’s final drive, this had the makings of a night of deliverance for the besieged Al Groh. Instead the defensive coordinator will be asked how a unit that had made the Hokies work hard to achieve not very much allowed receiver Corey Fuller to run free twice in the final 44 seconds, the second time on fourth-and-4 from the Georgia Tech 47.

2. The Georgia Tech running game still isn’t what it was. Granted, Virginia Tech can play some D of its own. But the long gain was again missing. The most expansive gain by any of the three B-backs was for eight yards. (Remember when Jonathan Dwyer would take it 60?) The longest gain by an A-back was 13 yards. The longest gain by any Jacket, be it rushing or passing, was quarterback Tevin Washington’s 22-yard scramble in the third quarter. That’s not good …

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Georgia Tech coulda/shoulda won this, but somehow it lost

After much ado, this is how the long night ended. (AP photo)

After much ado, this is how the long night ended: With the other Tech celebrating. (AP photo)

Blacksburg, Va. – Yes, crowning a division champion on Labor Day is more than a bit presumptuous, there being three months of football remaining. But we say it again: The winner of Tech-Tech has taken the ACC Coastal title every year there has been a Coastal Division, and as of this moment you’d have to say …

The Tech based on North Avenue is not the team to catch.

Georgia Tech came very close to a famous upset but fizzled in the final 44 seconds of regulation, watching Virginia Tech drive 51 yards to the tying field goal as regulation expired. Then, in the first overtime, quarterback Tevin Washington tried to make something happen and wound up helping his team lose. Washington forced a pass under duress, and the interception doomed the Jackets.

“I was trying to throw the ball away,” Washington said. Instead his weak throw was taken by the Hokies’ Kyle Fuller, meaning the home side …

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Live from Tech-Tech: Rain (and an upset) could be coming

Georgia Tech's uniforms. Not much gold in them, is there? (Photo by M. Bradley)

Georgia Tech's uniforms. Not much gold in them thar duds, is there? (Photo by M. Bradley)

Blacksburg, Va. — Here’s great news. There’s a flash flood warning in effect here until midnight, with a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms at 7 p.m. (Kickoff is at 8, or whenever ESPN decides it’s good and ready.) We mention this because …

Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech were set to play here on Aug. 27, 2000, which was so long ago that George Godsey was Tech’s quarterback and some guy named Vick was playing for the Hokies. The game never came off. A savage storm that Sunday night forced the game to be canceled, as opposed to postponed. In ESPN lore, the memory lingers because Lee Corso’s rental car was struck by lightning. (Without him inside, let’s stipulate.)

For more on the non-game, here’s esteemed colleagues Ken Sugiura’s recounting of it. But I’m not worried about a repeat of the washout, for these reasons:

1. The forecast — and I’ve been watching — has actually improved throughout …

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Stop the presses! Clemson breaks through for the ACC!

The story of the game: Auburn can't grab Tajh Boyd. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

The story of the game: Auburn can't grab the splendid Tajh Boyd. (AP photo by Dave Martin)

For the ACC, the first leg of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic brought another cosmic flop. Tennessee, which finished below .500 last season, beat North Carolina State, which went 8-5 in 2011 and is expected to do better this year, by two touchdowns.That marked the fourth appearance by a team from the basketball league in this football event, and going 0-for-4 is how you get to be known as a basketball league.

At least the ACC’s first three Chick-fil-A losses came against SEC heavyweights — Alabama twice, LSU once. Tennessee had been slotted to finish fifth in the seven-team SEC East. (Behind Missouri, which hasn’t yet played a game in its new conference.) But the Vols beat State, and near the end a few Tennessee fans raised the chant, “SEC! SEC!”, but there was no oomph in it. Who crows over a point that has been proved a hundred times?

The SEC plays the nation’s finest football. That’s …

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