Archive for November, 2011

Gamecocks will be yelling ‘War Eagle’ during Georgia game

ATHENS – Georgia could be hoisting the SEC Eastern Division trophy by the end of Saturday’s game against Auburn on Saturday – or not.

There are three SEC East scenarios that could play out depending on Saturday’s outcomes:

  • If the Bulldogs (5-2, 5-1 SEC) win Saturday at Sanford Stadium and South Carolina (7-2, 5-2) loses at home to Florida, Georgia will have punched its ticket for its fourth trip to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship Game and first since 2005.
  • Conversely, if the Gamecocks win and Georgia loses to the Tigers, South Carolina wins the East.
  • If the Gamecocks and Georgia both win, the Bulldogs would have to defeat Kentucky (4-5, 1-4) in Athens the following week to clinch the East. A loss to the Wildcats would give the title to South Carolina.

The good news is the Bulldog Nation should know what’s at stake by Saturday’s kickoff (3:30 p.m., CBS). South Carolina-Florida kicks off at noon.

So, like there were a lot of Bulldogs calling the Hogs this past …

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UGA’s McGarity unsure about 2012 schedule but says SEC will stick with 8 games

ATHENS – When asked about Georgia’s future schedules in the wake of SEC expansion, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity deferred Monday to that well-known football scheduling expert of “Hogan’s Heroes” fame.

“What was it that Sgt. Schultz used to say? ‘I know nothing,” McGarity said in a fake German accent.

Lame jokes aside, McGarity was telling the truth. He said the SEC’s 12 current ADs met two weeks ago to discuss future schedules, but that all those scenarios involved a 13-team league. After Sunday’s news that Missouri has officially joined the league, the SEC will be a 14-team conference starting next season. Texas A&M agreed in September to join the SEC.

“I really don’t know anything,” McGarity said Monday. “Two weeks ago all we saw were several different variations of a 13-team schedule, but we haven’t seen anything regarding 14 teams. The only thing we know is that Missouri is in the East. I guess that means that we play Missouri next year. But who knows where and …

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Bulldogs’ TE Aron White talks about being eaten by UGA’s famous hedges

Aron White clutches a piece of Georgia's hedges as he's interviewed at Sanford Stadium following Saturday's 63-16 win over New Mexico State. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

Aron White clutches a piece of Georgia's hedges as he's interviewed at Sanford Stadium following Saturday's 63-16 win over New Mexico State. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

Aron White has become somewhat of an Internet sensation.

Video of the senior tight end from Columbia, Mo., getting stuck in Georgia’s famous hedges has been making its way around the world wide web since the Bulldogs’ 63-16 win over New Mexico State Saturday. White dove head first into the Chinese privet hedge row after leaping a marimba following a touchdown catch in the east end zone. He had to be extricated by teammates before he could celebrate his second touchdown of the season.

I spoke with White about the chain of events in the locker room following the game and took a picture of him clutching a piece of the assaulting hedge, which I’ve included here. Scroll down to see video footage of the play.

Here’s what White said about it after the game:

“I’m a little bit of a character so people thought I was …

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Richt: Important Dogs ‘focus on daily process’ now that they lead East

Here’s a somewhat raw transcription of Sunday night’s media teleconference call with Georgia coach Mark Richt:

How does it feel to control your own destiny and how excited is the team?

“Well I haven’t talked to the players yet. This is their day off. I didn’t really get a lot of text messages or anything like that from the guys. But I know they understand what’s at stake and the fact that we are in a better position now. We do control our own destiny. We’ve been fighting like mad for that ever since the moment South Carolina beat us. But the thing that’s gotten us this far on a weekly basis is just trying to take care of business. Again, that’s got to be our focus, for every man to do their job, starting tomorrow and not waiting until Saturday. Everybody’s got a job to do, scout teamers and special teamers and coaches. So we’ve got to focus on that and just focus on the process and we feel like good things will happen if we do.”

Where he watched the game and what was the scene …

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Auburn-Georgia set for 3:30 p.m. kickoff

CBS will televise the Auburn at Georgia football game this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Sanford Stadium.

This will be Georgia’s second CBS appearance this season and 66th in school history, joining the Bulldogs’ victory against Florida two weeks ago.

Although Auburn (6-3) is coming off a victory against Ole Miss, the Tigers have been inconsistent, alternating wins and losses in five consecutive games. The Tigers have lost on the road to Clemson, Arkansas and LSU but defeated South Carolina by a field goal.

Georgia (7-2)  has won seven in a row after dropping its first two games of the season. The Bulldogs control their destiny in the SEC East, needing victories at home against Auburn and Kentucky to clinch a berth in the SEC title game in the Georgia Dome on Dec. 3.

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Missouri officially accepted as 14th member of Southeastern Conference

Missouri has officially been accepted as a member of the Southeastern Conference. Along with new member Texas A&M, that means the SEC will compete as a 14-team conference starting next season.

Following is the official announcement sent out by the SEC Sunday morning:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (November 6, 2011) – The Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors, acting unanimously, announced today that the University of Missouri will join the Southeastern Conference effective July 1, 2012, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2012-13 academic year.

The addition of Missouri will increase SEC membership to 14 institutions. The additions of Texas A&M, announced on September 25, 2011, and Missouri, are the first expansions for the SEC since September of 1991 when the University of South Carolina joined the league. The University of Arkansas joined the SEC in August of 1991. With the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina, the SEC was the first conference to split …

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Video: Georgia’s offensive juggernaut overwhelms New Mexico State

My video report from Sanford Stadium after Georgia’s 63-16 win over New Mexico State. The Bulldogs improved to 7-2, 5-1 SEC. The Aggies fall to 3-6.

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What they said: Richt, Bulldogs pleased with effort, performance

Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt:

“I thought our guys played very hard. We got an awful lot of guys in the game. It’s gratifying to see that many guys who don’t normally have an opportunity to get in the game. We got to spread it around, so some of them scored for the first time in their career, and that had to be a lot of fun for them.”

“Aaron Murray was very sharp, there’s no doubt about it. He was on the money and made really good decisions all the way through. When you have five TDs in a half, you’ve played pretty darn good.”

“Brandon (Harton) played extremely well and (Kyle) Karempelis had his moments. (Branden) Smith was spectacular on that first touchdown. It was good to see those guys play well.”

“New Mexico State ran the ball better than I thought they would. You have to give them credit. They kept banging away. They got 400 yards of total offense, which is pretty darn good against our defense.”

“A lot of guys got opportunities that they don’t …

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Sophomore Brandon Harton gets starting nod at tailbback

Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon (L) talks to suspended starter Isaiah Crowell shortly before kickoff in Saturday's game against New Mexico State. (AJC photo)

Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon (L) talks to suspended starter Isaiah Crowell shortly before kickoff in Saturday's game against New Mexico State. (AJC photo)

ATHENS – Greetings from bright and and sunny Sanford Stadium. But don’t let that fool you. It’s cold here! A strong, cold wind is blowing north-northwest and keeping the flag in the west end zone blowing straight. It’s strong enough that I’d say it will have an effect on the passing and kicking games.

So here’s what I can tell you so far:

  • Looks like sophomore Brandon Harton is going to get the start at tailback. No big surprise there. The former walkon was named most promising walkon in the spring and earned a scholarship in preseason camp. In fact, he’d played his way into the rotation in August until a severe ankle injury the last week of preseason workouts sidelined him for the first two weeks of the regular season. He has the most experience of the tailbacks left after the Bulldogs lost four to injury …

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Preview: New Mexico State perfect opponent at perfect time for Georgia

Three storylines . . .

Missing persons. Georgia enters the game without its top four tailbacks. Freshman star Isaiah Crowell, Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome are suspended after flunking a UGA-administered drug test and backup Richard Samuel underwent season-ending surgery on Tuesday for an ankle injury suffered in the Florida game. The Bulldogs will go with Brandon Harton, a 5-6, 174-pound sophomore from Reidsville who was awarded a scholarship in preseason camp, and Kyle Karempelis (5-9-180), a freshman walkon from Norcross.

Not-so-special teams. Expected to be a team strength this season, Georgia’s special teams plays is instead among the worst in the SEC, where it ranks in the bottom half if not dead last in almost every category. The Bulldogs will look to shore up kickoff coverage in particular. They gave up 200 yards and a touchdown on five returns against Florida last week and New Mexico State features the nation’s 12th-best return team.

Calling the Hogs. While most …

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Georgia’s Mark Richt breaks down his special teams philosophies

ATHENS – Obviously the most critical area for Georgia to shore up for this final stretch of the regular season is its special teams. I outlined the Bulldogs’ poor statistical standing in most facets of special teams earlier in the week.

Yesterday, coach Mark Richt provided some details as far as how much they work on special teams on a daily basis and how the responsibilities are divided among the assistants.

Here’s a quick look at what assistants are handing what units and some tidbits about practice and meeting time spent on it. Then you can hear from Richt as far as his philosophies on special teams.

  • PAT/FG — OL coach Will Friend
  • PAT/FG Block — DL coach Rodney Garner
  • Punt team — TEs coach John Lilly
  • Punt return — RB coach Bryan McClendon
  • Kickoff team — LBs coach Kirk Olivadotti
  • Kickoff return — WRs coach Tony Ball

Only defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos doesn’t have an assignment.

According to Richt, Georgia meets and practices specials team every day. Of course the …

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Video: Tailbacks, suspensions, character issues and now who totes the rock?

I answer the questions of CineSport’s Noah Coslov about Georgia’s tailback situation heading into Saturday’s home game against New Mexico State. Coslov by the way, is getting married this weekend, so feel free to include your well wishes to him among the comments. Congratulations, Noah. . . .

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Mark Richt blasts accusation that UGA selectively suspended running backs

ATHENS – A couple more things on these running back suspensions and then we’ll move on to the next thing for Georgia football.

Georgia coach Mark Richt addressed the situation for the first time during the SEC Coaches Weekly Teleconference on Wednesday. Here’s what he had to say:

  • Richt took umbrage with the accusation that Georgia knew about the positive drug tests for Isaiah Crowell, Ken Malcome and Carlton Thomas before the Florida game and put off their suspensions until this week’s game against New Mexico State:

“My response is that we’ve always had the utmost integrity in everything we do. We have policies in place in our athletic association that we follow to the T. That’s the case here and it’s been the case since I’ve been at Georgia. We all know that we do our business the way it should be done and we do it with integrity. So people who make comments who don’t know probably shouldn’t, quite frankly, because they don’t know and I’d be able to prove 100 percent …

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Isaiah Crowell among 3 tailbacks suspended for failing drug tests (UPDATED)

Updated throughout . . .

ATHENS – Three Georgia tailbacks – including star freshman Isaiah Crowell – have been suspended for Saturday’s New Mexico State game for failing UGA-administered drug tests last week, two sources familiar with the process and the decision confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Crowell, junior Carlton Thomas and redshirt freshman Ken Malcome will have to sit out 10 percent of the Bulldogs’ competition dates, as is UGA Athletic Association policy for a first-time violation of the student-athlete drug policy. The tests, which revealed marijuana use, were administered last week and the results were confirmed via private lab on Tuesday, the sources said.

Georgia coach Mark Richt would not confirm the reasons for the suspensions beyond his statement that it was for “violation of team policies.”

“We have certain standards in all that we do and their actions do not reflect the Georgia way,” Richt said in a statement released by UGA Sports …

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Georgia’s Richard Samuel out for regular season with ankle injury

ATHENS — The Florida victory has proven even more costly than originally thought.

Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed on Tuesday that junior tailback Richard Samuel, who starred in the fourth quarter of the Bulldogs’ 24-20 victory last Saturday in Jacksonville, will be out for the remained of the regular season with an ankle injury.

Samuel underwent surgery Tuesday morning to repair ligament damage in Samuel’s left ankle. Samuel injured the leg on the very last play of the game, a nine-yard run down to the Florida 1-yard line.

“We don’t know exactly when he’ll be back, but it obviously won’t be any time soon,” Richt said. “I would say a minimum of four weeks.”

Just four weeks remain in the regular season. Samuel could possibly be back for the SEC Championship or a bowl game.

“We think [the surgery] will allow us to accelerate his rehab,” Richt said. “The surgery, Ron [Courson] felt, was real profitable. It could have been a non-op, it was debatable. But again, this will …

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Expected to be a strength, Georgia’s special teams have been horrific

Georgia kicker Blair Walsh attempts a field goal against Florida with Drew Butler as his holder. Walsh missed two against the Gators to fall to 13-of-23 this season. (UGA photo by Paul Abell)

Georgia kicker Blair Walsh attempts a field goal against Florida with Drew Butler as his holder. Walsh missed two against the Gators to fall to 13-of-23 this season. (UGA photo by Paul Abell)

In a word, Georgia’s special teams have been deplorable. What makes this such a shocking revelation is the fact that, coming into the season, it was generally believed that the Bulldogs would have not only one of the best overall groups not just in the country this year, but one of the best groups of all time. They featured a Ray Guy Award winner in punter Drew Butler, a Lou Groza Award finalist in kicker Blair Walsh and a record-setting kick returner in Brandon Boykin. Instead, as Georgia enters the last third of the season, here is where it stacks up regionally and nationally:

Category———Average——-SEC rank——-NCAA rank

Field goal %———-.565———–12th———n/a

Kickoff coverage—–42.3———–12th———109th

Kickoff returns——-22.3————8th———-53rd

Punting (net)———33.9———-12th———-104th

Punt …

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