Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Intensity of rivalry, upsets of last weekend help keep Tech foremost on Georgia’s mind

ATHENS – Kansas State coach Bill Snyder emerged from the Wildcats’ locker room after his No. 1-ranked team had just been dismantled by unranked Baylor 52-24 this past Saturday night and he fell on the proverbial sword.

In his postgame remarks, Snyder talked about not handling well his team’s situation. And by “situation” he wasn’t talking about blocking and tackling the Bears that night in Waco. He was talking about the Wildcats’ place among the BCS contenders and all that comes with it.

“I don’t think we handled the situation as well as we should have been able to,” Snyder told reporters after the game. “It had nothing to do with young guys wanting to be successful. They wanted to play well; they wanted to play hard; they wanted to win. We just couldn’t handle the environment as well as we could.”

Suffice it to say, Georgia coach Mark Richt doesn’t want to find himself in a similar situation following the Bulldogs’ game against Georgia Tech …

Continue reading Intensity of rivalry, upsets of last weekend help keep Tech foremost on Georgia’s mind »

As for maintaining focus on Tech, Bulldogs simply referencing this past weekend

ATHENS — Once again, Georgia coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs spent most of their day Tuesday deflecting questions about acronyms such as BCS and SEC and guiding discussions instead back toward the immediate task at hand, which is trying to beat archrival Georgia Tech and slow down the Yellow Jackets’ spread-option attack.

Get used to it. This will be the Bulldogs’ tact going forward. And it’s the right way to handle their situation, what with Tech coming to Athens and everything on the line and all.

“After what happened on Saturday, it’s a little bit easier for us,” said senior linebacker Christian Robinson, referring to the upset losses of No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon this past weekend. ” You know that if we handle our business, there are no worries. We’re not worried about other people any more. It’s completely on us and it’s on everything we do from this point on. Our focus is completely on Georgia Tech because this is the game. Nothing else matters at this …

Continue reading As for maintaining focus on Tech, Bulldogs simply referencing this past weekend »

Notebook: Georgia’s Shawn Williams downplays his ’soft’ comments, keeps focus on Tech

Georgia strong safety Shawn Williams (36) intercepts a pass intended for Orwin Smith during last year's game at Georgia Tech. Williams' "soft" comments are credited for reinvigorating the Bulldogs' defense this season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia strong safety Shawn Williams (36) intercepts a pass intended for Orwin Smith during last year's game at Georgia Tech. Williams' "soft" comments are credited for reinvigorating the Bulldogs' defense this season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

By RYAN BLACK
For the AJC

ATHENS — Shawn Williams doesn’t want anyone to say he saved Georgia’s season.

The Bulldogs’ senior strong safety said Monday night the defense was always capable of playing the way it has for the last four weeks, during which it has allowed only 33 points. Speaking to reporters for the first time since Oct. 22 — when he made his now-famous comments about the defense playing “soft” — Williams says he’s ready to move on.

“I don’t care if it got everybody stirred up or whatnot, but we’re looking past that now,” he said after Monday’s practice. “We’ve got Georgia Tech, so we’ve got to go out and get another win so we can keep them rolling.”

Williams acknowledged the …

Continue reading Notebook: Georgia’s Shawn Williams downplays his ’soft’ comments, keeps focus on Tech »

Oddsmakers have UGA as underdog vs. Bama, favorite vs. Notre Dame

Georgia would be an underdog against Alabama in the SEC Championship game but, if the Bulldogs pull an upset there, would be favored over Notre Dame in the national title game.

That’s the early word from oddsmakers.

Todd Fuhrman, former sports oddsmaker at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, said Monday that he projects Georgia as a 7-point underdog to Alabama in the Dec. 1 SEC title game. But if the Bulldogs beat Alabama in the Georgia Dome, they would be a 4-point favorite over Notre Dame in the Jan. 7 BCS title game in Miami, said Fuhrman, now senior market analyst for betting information services provider Don Best Sports.

RJ Bell, of sports betting news website pregame.com, sees it similarly. He projects Georgia as a 7-point underdog to Alabama but views the Bulldogs as 1-point favorite if they play Notre Dame.

All of this could be altered by what happens Saturday, of course.

Notre Dame, No. 1 in this week’s BCS standings, closes its regular season at USC and needs a win to …

Continue reading Oddsmakers have UGA as underdog vs. Bama, favorite vs. Notre Dame »

Oregon’s loss was must-see TV for Bulldog Nation

By late Saturday night, Atlanta was awash in Stanford Cardinal fans.

Word had spread that Baylor was in the process of handily beating BCS No. 1 Kansas State and that Stanford was in a close game with No. 2 Oregon, all potentially good news for the Georgia Bulldogs’ hopes of reaching college football’s national-championship game in Miami.

The closing minutes of Stanford-Oregon became must-see TV for Bulldog Nation.

By the time Stanford kicked a field goal in overtime to win 17-14, the metro-Atlanta audience for ABC’s telecast had grown gradually to 338,000 households from about 80,000 at the start, according to Nielsen ratings figures.

The game posted an overall rating of 8.9 here, meaning 8.9 percent of Atlanta’s TV homes — about 200,000 homes — tuned in on average. That was the sixth highest rating for the game among the nation’s 56 largest markets.

But for the final hour, the game garnered a 12.5 rating in Atlanta, including a peak of 14.7 in the last 15 …

Continue reading Oregon’s loss was must-see TV for Bulldog Nation »

Georgia’s Mark Richt refuses to look into future; focusing solely on Georgia Tech

By RYAN BLACK
For the AJC

ATHENS — In case there were any questions, Mark Richt is focused on Georgia Tech.

Period.

Multiple times during his teleconference with the media Sunday, the Georgia coach was asked about what Saturday’s events — top-ranked Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon both losing — meant to his team. With the losses by the top pair, it is assumed that if the No. 3 Bulldogs can win out, they will clinch a spot in the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 7 in Miami.

Richt didn’t want to hear any of it.

“Right this minute, all I can think about is Georgia Tech,” he said. “Does anybody want to talk about Georgia Tech?”

Avoiding distractions this week shouldn’t be a problem, Richt said. His team is well aware of what the Tech game means for the program. Richt went on to list the various stakes riding on Saturday’s outcome, such as the Governor’s Cup, which goes to the game’s victor. Another benefit is being able to use a win for recruiting …

Continue reading Georgia’s Mark Richt refuses to look into future; focusing solely on Georgia Tech »

UGA moves to No. 3 in BCS standings, within reach of national-title game

The scores from Eugene, Ore., and Waco, Texas, reverberated loudly across this state,  seemingly putting the Georgia Bulldogs two victories away from playing for college football’s national championship.

Saturday night’s losses by previously No. 1 Kansas State (to Baylor) and previously No. 2 Oregon (to Stanford) triggered a celebration among Georgia fans and a shakeup of the Bowl Championship Series pecking order. In the latest BCS standings, released Sunday night, Notre Dame moved to No. 1, Alabama to No. 2 and Georgia to No. 3.

That means, BCS analysts agreed, that if Georgia beats Georgia Tech and Alabama beats Auburn this week, then the winner of the Dec. 1 SEC Championship game between the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide would play for the national title.

The top two teams in the final BCS standings, to be released Dec. 2, earn berths in the title game, which will be played Jan. 7 in Miami. Georgia has not played for a national championship in the BCS era and last won …

Continue reading UGA moves to No. 3 in BCS standings, within reach of national-title game »

After Saturday upsets, Georgia can get national title shot by winning out

And just like that, Georgia controls its own destiny for a national title shot.

Same for Alabama. That’s the end result of Saturday’s BCS chaos.

How do you think Georgia will close out 2012 season.

  • Beat Georgia Tech and Alabama and play for BCS championship
  • Beat Georgia Tech but lose to Bama in SEC Championship
  • Lose to Georgia Tech but beat Bama and miss out on BCS chance
  • Lose them both and end up in second-tier bowl
  • Win it all, baby! It’s the Year of the Dawg!

View Results

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No. 1 Kansas State (52-24 to Baylor) and No. 2 Oregon (17-14 in overtime to Stanford) went down in major upsets. That means No. 3 Notre Dame will move up to No. 1 in next week’s BCS standings and No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 Georgia should slide up right behind at 2 and 3, respectively.

If the Bulldogs (10-1) and Crimson Tide (10-1) can get to the SEC Championship game unscathed — each must survive rival games against Georgia Tech and Auburn, respectively, next Saturday …

Continue reading After Saturday upsets, Georgia can get national title shot by winning out »

Jarvis Jones: ‘It’s week by week and we can’t get ahead of ourselves’

THEY SAID IT

“It was a very good game. It was hard-fought. Georgia Southern has an outstanding football team. They run their offense well. They’re well-coached, even the little things like sprinting to the other side at the end of a quarter. They have a plan for everything, and they execute it well.”

Georgia coach Mark Richt on his impressions of the Eagles

“We were just shooting ourselves in the foot. We were driving the ball, but kept committing penalties or turning the ball over, which helped them stay in the game. We need to work this week to correct that and be sharper.”

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray on the Bulldogs’ slow start

“It just took us some time to get comfortable with what they were doing and what plays they were going to run. Once we got comfortable, I thought we played a pretty good game. It definitely will help [playing Georgia Southern the week before Georgia Tech], but we have to come back to practice this week and work. This was a good …

Continue reading Jarvis Jones: ‘It’s week by week and we can’t get ahead of ourselves’ »

Notebook: Todd Gurley gets 1,000 yards, ‘Gurshall’ runs past Herschel

Georgia's Todd Gurley found the going tough against Georgia Southern, but he managed 68 yards, which made him the first true freshman since Herschel Walker to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia's Todd Gurley found the going tough against Georgia Southern, but he managed 68 yards, which made him the first true freshman since Herschel Walker to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – It wasn’t really a big day on the field for Georgia tailback Todd Gurley — he finished with a modest 68 yards rushing on 15 carries — but it was a big day in the history books.

The 6-foot-1, 218-pound running back became the first Bulldogs freshman to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season since Herschel Walker did it in 1980. Walker had 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns while leading Georgia to the national championship that year. With three games still to play, Gurley now has 1,041 yards and, including a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, 13 scores.

“Having Todd Gurley — and I like to throw Keith Marshall in there, too, because Keith has really had a fine true-freshman season, too — they’re definitely two important …

Continue reading Notebook: Todd Gurley gets 1,000 yards, ‘Gurshall’ runs past Herschel »

No. 5 Bulldogs take care of business, dispatch Georgia Southern 45-14

Georgia flanker Chris Conley takes off up field en route to a 33-yard touchdown sprung by the block of fellow receiver Rantavious Wooten. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia flanker Chris Conley takes off up field en route to a 33-yard touchdown sprung by the block of fellow receiver Rantavious Wooten. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – It wasn’t as easy as it may look on the scoreboard.

No. 5 Georgia beat Georgia Southern 45-14 at Sanford Stadium on Saturday. But for one half at least, the Eagles had the Bulldogs worried.

The teams had played to a tie at 7 through the first 23 minutes and the Bulldogs were clinging to a 10-7 lead inside the final two minutes of the first half with Georgia Southern threatening to score a go-ahead touchdown. But the last 90 seconds of the half changed the course of the game.

Georgia Southern’s Trevor McBurnett was called for a personal foul for a chop block on noseguard Kwame Geathers on a run that would have made it first-and-goal inside the 5. Instead, the penalty backed up the Eagles to the 22 and kicker Alex Hanks missed the 37-yard field goal attempt.

Aaron Murray made the Eagles pay. …

Continue reading No. 5 Bulldogs take care of business, dispatch Georgia Southern 45-14 »

Channel 2 excited to bring UGA-Georgia Southern game to TV viewers

Say this for WSB Channel 2: The Atlanta television giant likes its Bulldogs

Not only did the station step up to broadcast Georgia’s 1:30 p.m.  game today against Georgia Southern — SEC guidelines allow members to produce one game per year outside the league’s contracts with CBS and ESPN — but it also will be providing UGA content throughout the day Saturday.

  • At 10 a.m., coverage begins with “Bulldogs Gameday,” WSB’s regular, weekly, hour-long program dedicated to the coverage of UGA athletics.
  • At 12:30 p.m., the station will air a special edition of “SportsZone,” which will provide pregame coverage up until the 1:30 p.m kickoff. The show will be anchored by Channel 2 sports director Zach Klein. He will be joined by Channel 2 Action News anchors Jovita Moore and Fred Blankenship, and former Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley will provide his insight and analysis
  • At 1:30 p.m., game coverage begins at 1:30 p.m.. Veteran sportscaster Bob Neal and former Georgia player DJ Jones

Continue reading Channel 2 excited to bring UGA-Georgia Southern game to TV viewers »

Georgia Bulldogs face Georgia Southern with one eye on SEC, BCS races

Missed opportunities, such as this drop by Malcolm Mitchell inside the 5-yard line against LSU in last year's SEC Championship game, is what has the Bulldogs so excited about their BCS possibilities this season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Missed opportunities, such as this drop by Malcolm Mitchell inside the 5-yard line against LSU in last year's SEC Championship game, is what has the Bulldogs so excited about their BCS possibilities this season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – When it comes to the BCS championship race, Georgia coach Mark Richt refuses to talk about it. He won’t even acknowledge that the it’s nice just to be in the discussion. This past week he dodged questions about it like spitballs flying across a classroom.

“I don’t worry about it,” said Richt, who will lead the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs into Saturday’s game against Georgia Southern. “I don’t, because I can’t control it. If you worry about stuff you can’t control, you’re really wasting your time and you’re going to make yourself crazy a little bit. I can only control what we do on a weekly basis.”

But that hasn’t been the case with Georgia’s players. While they’re clearly focused on Saturday’s game against …

Continue reading Georgia Bulldogs face Georgia Southern with one eye on SEC, BCS races »

Back Porch Chat: Bulldogs keeping focus on Georgia Southern, limiting BCS talk

In this week’s edition of “Back Porch Chats,” CineSport’s Brian Clark and I talk about Georgia’s preparations for Saturday’s game against Georgia Southern and how the Bulldogs are focusing on the task at hand in the midst of their BCS pursuits.

Continue reading Back Porch Chat: Bulldogs keeping focus on Georgia Southern, limiting BCS talk »

Notebook: Bulldogs’ offense needs to stay hot vs. Georgia Southern

Quarterback Aaron Murray and wide receiver Tavarres King (12) are excited about the Bulldogs' offensive possibilities against Georgia Southern. (UGA photo by Perry McIntyre, Jr.)

Quarterback Aaron Murray and wide receiver Tavarres King (12) are excited about the Bulldogs' offensive possibilities against Georgia Southern. (UGA photo by Perry McIntyre, Jr.)

UGA FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

ATHENS – To date, most of the conversation regarding Georgia’s game against Georgia Southern on Saturday has been about the Eagles’ triple-option offense. That hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Bulldogs’ offensive players, who would like it to be known they can advance the football a little themselves.

Wide receiver Tavarres King’s eyes lit up like he was wide open on a go-route when asked if he thought Georgia might have some big-play opportunities against their FCS visitors this Saturday.

“Well, I think so,” he said, grinning wide. “We’re pretty strong out wide and at the quarterback position. We should have a good time out there on Saturday.”

The reality is, Georgia’s needs its offense to have a big day. Again, because of the ball-hogging style of …

Continue reading Notebook: Bulldogs’ offense needs to stay hot vs. Georgia Southern »

Notebook: Todd Gurley eyes 1,000 yards while ‘Gurshall’ runs past Herschel

Georgia freshman tailback Todd Gurley (3) celebrates his 11th rushing TD of the season, which came against Auburn this past Saturday. (AP photo)

Georgia freshman tailback Todd Gurley (3) celebrates his 11th rushing TD of the season, which came against Auburn this past Saturday. (AP photo)

ATHENS — With 27 yards rushing against Georgia Southern on Saturday, Todd Gurley can become only the second true freshman in Georgia football history to go over 1,000 yards in a season. And it’s not beyond the realm of possibility Gurley could still catch that first guy on the list.

Gurley would need to average 160.7 yards in the Bulldogs’ final four games to run down Hall of Famer Herschel Walker. But that likely won’t happen because of the “Gurshall” phenomena, and “Gurshall’s” going to blow past Herschel this week anyway.

“Gurshall” is the nickname dreamed up by receiver Tavarres King for Georgia’s combination of freshman tailbacks, Gurley and Keith Marshall. Together they’ve accounted for 1,595 yards and 17 touchdowns. Walker’s freshman record set in 1980 was 1,616 yards and 16 …

Continue reading Notebook: Todd Gurley eyes 1,000 yards while ‘Gurshall’ runs past Herschel »

Back-to-back triple options ‘probably not ideal’ preparation for SEC Championship

ATHENS – You’ll get no wishy-washy answers from Georgia’s defensive players when asked how they feel about playing Georgia Southern and its vaunted triple-option attack this Saturday. Cornerback Sanders Commings probably summarized their sentiments most succinctly.

“It sucks, to be honest,” said the senior from Augusta.

Now add in the fact that the Bulldogs will be facing this exact scheme for two consecutive weeks. The Eagles run the same “spread option” system that Georgia Tech has perfected under coach Paul Johnson. Jeff Monken, Georgia Southern’s head the last three years, worked for Johnson at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech going back to 1997.

So the good news is facing the Eagles in Game 11 should prepare Georgia well for facing the Yellow Jackets in Game 12. But the bad news is while the Bulldogs will be deeply mired in the intricacies of reading and reacting to the “counter trey” for the next two weeks, they’ll do so knowing they’ll face …

Continue reading Back-to-back triple options ‘probably not ideal’ preparation for SEC Championship »

LT Mark Beard’s performance in first start ‘beyond good,’ coaches and teammates say

Tackle Mark Beard (79) celebrates with Keith Marshall after helping spring the freshman tailaback for a 62-yard touchdown run against Auburn. (UGA photo by Wes Blankenship)

Tackle Mark Beard (79) celebrates with Keith Marshall after helping spring the freshman tailaback for a 62-yard touchdown run against Auburn. (UGA photo by Wes Blankenship)

By Ryan Black
For the AJC

ATHENS — Mark Beard’s most difficult assignment against Auburn on Saturday had nothing to do with blocking oncoming defenders.

The Georgia left tackle’s biggest issue didn’t even occur in the game itself: He had to figure out how to distribute tickets prior to kickoff. With his cousin, LaDarius Owens, playing for the Tigers, the pair had to figure out which family member would use what ticket. They wound up splitting their allotment evenly.

Beard made it a memorable experience for his family, as the Alabama native made the first start of his Georgia career against his favorite team from childhood.

“You can never be perfect,” he said after Monday’s practice. “I messed up a couple of times, but I think I played a pretty good game.”

Beard and Owens shared a brief …

Continue reading LT Mark Beard’s performance in first start ‘beyond good,’ coaches and teammates say »

Georgia’s ‘Boss,’ David Andrews, named SEC O-lineman of week

Georgia's David "Boss" Andrews (61), a sophomore from Johns Creek, graded out at 88 percent with six "dominator" blocks against Auburn. (UGA photo by Perry McIntyre Jr.)

Georgia's David "Boss" Andrews (61), a sophomore from Johns Creek, graded out at 88 percent with six "dominator" blocks against Auburn. (UGA photo by Perry McIntyre Jr.)

ATHENS – The “Boss” of Georgia’s offensive line was named offensive lineman of the week on Monday.

David Andrews, who has been nicknamed “Boss” since his youth football days in Atlanta, played like a man in charge in Georgia’s 38-0 win over Auburn this past Saturday. Andrews, a 6-foot-2, 295-pound sophomore from Johns Creek, graded out 88 percent and recorded six “dominator” blocks and three knockdowns. He anchored a line that helped the  Bulldogs roll up 497 yards against the Tigers and limited them to only one sack of quarterback Aaron Murray.

Murray passed for 208 yards and three touchdowns and tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall each rushed for more than 100 yards in the win, which clinched the SEC Eastern Division title. Much of Andrews’ good work came against fellow Georgians Jeff Whitaker and …

Continue reading Georgia’s ‘Boss,’ David Andrews, named SEC O-lineman of week »

Georgia-Georgia Tech game time set

The Georgia-Georgia Tech football game on Nov. 24 will kick off at noon, the SEC said today.

The game, in Athens, will be televised by ESPN.

CBS chose the Alabama-Auburn game for its 3:30 p.m. SEC telecast on Nov. 24.

Continue reading Georgia-Georgia Tech game time set »

Notes from Mark Richt’s conference call

A few notes from Mark Richt’s Sunday evening conference call:

  • Asked if he plans to discuss with his players the possibility that Georgia could be in the BCS title game picture if it wins out (and gets some considerable help): “Quite frankly, we’re not doing that right now. We know we’re playing in Atlanta (the SEC Championship game). We know that’s settled right now. But we know there’s a lot of work in the meantime, which is the job of getting better on a daily basis. … We know we’ve got some work to do as far as playing Georgia Southern this week, too. That’s really where we’ve got to be thinking and keeping our minds. Because if you don’t do that, all that other stuff doesn’t mean much.”
  • On the challenge of defending against the triple option, which Georgia’s next two opponents (Georgia Southern on Saturday, Georgia Tech on Nov. 24) run: “We’re going to play defense so completely different than how we’ve been playing it all year long. Everything changes. The …

Continue reading Notes from Mark Richt’s conference call »

BCS standings: Kansas State No. 1, SEC out of top 3, Georgia still behind Bama at No. 5

The SEC, which has won college football’s past six national championships, will be shut out of this season’s title game if the latest Bowl Championship Series standings hold up.

Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M on Saturday dropped the Crimson Tide from No. 1 to No. 4 in the BCS standings, behind three undefeated teams — No. 1 Kansas State, No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Notre Dame — and ahead of No. 5 Georgia.

The top two teams in the final BCS standings, which will be released Dec. 2, meet for the national title Jan. 7 in Miami.

The latest standings, released Sunday night, hardly shut the door to the title game for the SEC. But for an SEC team to get there at this point apparently would require that two of the top three teams, all of which are 10-0, lose a game in the next few weeks.

If that happens, and if Georgia and Alabama win their final two regular-season games to carry 11-1 records into the SEC Championship game, the winner of the Dec. 1 game in the Georgia Dome could …

Continue reading BCS standings: Kansas State No. 1, SEC out of top 3, Georgia still behind Bama at No. 5 »

Dogs: Winning SEC East is nice, but not enough

UGA linebacker Christian Robinson (45) and cornerback Devin Bowman celebrate with fans after 38-0 win at Auburn clinched SEC East championship Saturday night. (AJC photo/Brant Sanderlin)

UGA linebacker Christian Robinson (45) and cornerback Devin Bowman celebrate with fans after 38-0 win at Auburn clinched SEC East championship Saturday night. (AJC photo/Brant Sanderlin)

AUBURN, Ala. – Georgia’s football team heartily celebrated its SEC East-clinching victory over Auburn late Saturday night, first by rushing to a corner of the end zone to share the moment with a large contingent of joyous UGA fans and then by “going crazy” — quarterback Aaron Murray’s description — in the locker room.

“It’s huge to win the East in back-to-back years,” Murray said. “It’s not an easy thing to do.”

Even so, Georgia players and coaches said their celebration was accompanied, if not subdued, by thoughts of larger goals still within reach: winning the SEC Championship game in Atlanta and, if a lot of things fall their way, playing in the BCS title game in Miami.

“We had fun celebrating the victory, winning the East,” UGA coach Mark Richt said. “But I …

Continue reading Dogs: Winning SEC East is nice, but not enough »

Notebook: Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray celebrates his birthday in style (updated)

Two plays after having to be helped off the field following a hard hit, Aaron Murray came back in the game and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Two plays after having to be helped off the field following a hard hit, Aaron Murray came back in the game and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres King. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

AUBURN, Ala. – For the first time since he can remember Aaron Murray’s parents weren’t at his football game. His father, Denny, recently underwent radiation treatment in Tampa and was unable to make the trip and his mother Stephanie remained back home at her husband’s side.

That it was Murray’s 22nd birthday made it a bigger bummer. But Mom and Dad sent their son his favorite treat — chocolate-covered strawberries for this birthday — and he shared them with his teammates at the team hotel Friday night.

“When I got to the hotel last night there were balloons everywhere and chocolate-covered strawberries decorated like footballs,” Murray say. “They were great.”

With his parents watching on television Saturday night, Murray continued to share treats with his buddies. He …

Continue reading Notebook: Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray celebrates his birthday in style (updated) »

Georgia-Auburn quotes: ‘We just came out here with a mentality to shut them out and get the offense rolling’

WHAT THEY SAID AFTER GEORGIA’S 38-0 WIN OVER AUBURN

“It was a very outstanding performance by everybody — offense, defense, special teams.”

— Georgia coach Mark Richt

“We’re very excited about winning the East. We’re very excited about going to Atlanta. There’s no doubt about that. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then. … I think we’ve been improving as we go, and hopefully we keep it going.”

— Richt on clinching the SEC East title and a berth in the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome

“Georgia is a very good football team. They are certainly worthy of their ranking. But I didn’t feel like we played well in any phase of the game.”

— Auburn coach Gene Chizik

“Our goal really was to start fast. That’s why we came out with the up-tempo, the no-huddle. We do no-huddle all the time, but we went a faster pace no-huddle with some set plays. … (Auburn) had done a great job of defending pro-style offenses all year, and the …

Continue reading Georgia-Auburn quotes: ‘We just came out here with a mentality to shut them out and get the offense rolling’ »

UPDATED: After beating Auburn to win East, Bulldogs focus sights on bigger goals

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Georgia's Christian Robinson (45) and Devin Bowman (37) celebrate among their fans, who came to Auburn in large numbers in anticipation of clincing the SEC East. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia's Christian Robinson (45) and Devin Bowman (37) celebrate among their fans, who came to Auburn in large numbers in anticipation of clincing the SEC East. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

AUBURN, Ala. – The Dogs are back in the Dome. But that’s not the end-goal this time around.

With a resounding 38-0 win over Auburn Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium, No. 5-ranked Georgia clinched a berth in the SEC Championship game for a second year in a row.

The Bulldogs (9-1, 7-1 SEC) closed out the conference season tied with Florida (9-1, 7-1) as SEC Eastern Division champions. But they will represent the East  in the Georgia Dome on Dec. 1 based on their 17-9 win over the Gators on Oct. 27. South Carolina (8-2, 6-2), which beat Georgia 35-7 on Oct. 6, finishes third in the East.

“This feels great,” senior safety Bacarri Rambo said. “This is what all the seniors and everybody that stayed out of the NFL came back for. We still haven’t finished. This is just a ticket to the …

Continue reading UPDATED: After beating Auburn to win East, Bulldogs focus sights on bigger goals »

Storylines: New starting lineup for UGA offensive line versus Auburn

Auburn, Ala. — Greetings from the pressbox at Jordan-Hare Stadium. It’s an absolutely gorgeous night for football. It’s actually moving pretty rapidly from what was a warm and sunny afternoon (73 degrees) to a clear and brisk night. It will probably be pretty cool by the time this one is over.

Which, again, makes it a perfect night for football. Georgia is in its traditional silver britches and white jerseys for tonight’s game. The only real question mark heading into this one was would start for Chris Burnette (left shoulder) at right guard and who might start in place of split end Marlon Brown, lost last week to a season-ending knee injury.

Burnette, who started every game at right guard this season, did not travel with the team. Sophomore Mark Beard will get his first career start at left tackle, left tackle Kenarious Gates will slide inside to left guard and left guard Dallas Lee will flip over to the right side to start at Burnette’s guard position.

As for Brown, Tavarres …

Continue reading Storylines: New starting lineup for UGA offensive line versus Auburn »

Bulldogs can punch their ticket to Georgia Dome with win over rival Auburn

Gene Chizik will coach Auburn against Georgia on Saturday amid reports that the school has already decided to dismiss him at the end of the season. (AP photo)

Gene Chizik will coach Auburn against Georgia on Saturday amid reports that the school has already decided to dismiss him at the end of the season. (AP photo)

AUBURN, Ala. — The line of Georgia’s detractors could probably wrap around Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium this Saturday and Steve Spurrier would probably be at the front of it.

“They lost to us by four touchdowns,” the South Carolina coach would shout. “They didn’t have to play Alabama or LSU from the West; they got Florida the week after the Gamecocks had softened them up.” And so on.

But all the squawking won’t change this fact: No. 5 Georgia will be the Eastern Division representative in the SEC Championship game if it can get by a troubled Auburn team Saturday on The Plains. And for the Bulldogs, who would be playing in the Georgia Dome for the second year in a row, that accomplishment is not one to be diminished.

“I don’t think the average fan realizes how tough it is every game,” said …

Continue reading Bulldogs can punch their ticket to Georgia Dome with win over rival Auburn »

Video: In latest ‘Back Porch Chat,’ UGA’s challenges versus Auburn are examined

In another edition of the “Back Porch Chat, CineSport’s Noah Coslov and I talk about the challenges facing No. 5 Georgia as it visits Auburn on The Plains on Saturday. . . .

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Notebook: Damian Swann emerges as playmaker on UGA defense

On a Georgia defense with no shortage of high-profile players, cornerback Damian Swann has called a lot of attention to himself the past two Saturdays.

Against Florida, he forced a fumble, intercepted a pass and sacked a quarterback. Against Ole Miss, he recovered two fumbles, one of which he returned 53 yards, and made another sack.

“Just play every play,” Swann said, “because there’s no telling what could happen.”

He was especially surprised by what happened on his second fumble recovery against Ole Miss.

“I just looked up, and the ball was coming,” Swann said. “I just grabbed it. I thought it was Christmas already.”

Swann, a sophomore from Atlanta (Grady High), has stepped up his game as Georgia’s defense has hit its stride after disappointing performances earlier in the season.

In the past two games, the Bulldogs have held opponents to 121 yards rushing (75 by Florida and 46 by Ole Miss) and forced nine turnovers (six by Florida and three by Ole Miss). …

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