CineSport’s Noah Coslov and I discuss Saturday’s loss to South Carolina and what it means to Georgia going forward. . . .
COLUMBIA, S.C. – A dismal loss to South Carolina extended and exacerbated the Georgia football team’s multi-year trend of struggling — a lot — against top opponents.
Saturday night’s 35-7 loss — Georgia’s first game of the season against a ranked opponent and its first defeat of the season — dropped the Bulldogs’ record against Top 25 teams to 2-8 since the start of the 2010 season, including 0-4 against Top 10 teams.
And going back a bit further, the loss dropped the Bulldogs to 6-14 against Top 25 teams since the start of the 2008 season, including 1-9 against Top 10 opponents.
The impact of the loss on Georgia’s national reputation was quickly registered. Ranked No. 5 before the game, the Bulldogs tumbled Sunday to No. 14 in the Associated Press media poll and No. 12 in the USA Today coaches’ poll. South Carolina rose from No. 6 to No. 3 in both.
Asked late Saturday night how he responds to the perception that Georgia doesn’t rise to the occasion in
(Updated 11:50 p.m.)
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Remember the Georgia defense that ranked among the nation’s top five last season and expected to be even better this season?
It once again was nowhere to be found Saturday night.
The Bulldogs’ defense ranked an inexplicable 55th among FBS teams in yards allowed through this season’s first five games and looked even worse in Game 6, a 35-7 loss to South Carolina in Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night.
The Georgia defense was porous on South Carolina’s first two possessions, allowing touchdown drives of 76 and 69 yards that gave the Gamecocks a 14-0 lead and set the tone for what was to be a long night for the Bulldogs. A special-teams touchdown –- a 70-yard punt return — stretched South Carolina’s lead to 21-0 with 5:18 still to play in the first quarter.
“We said we were going to fight back,” cornerback Sanders Commings said, “and unfortunately we couldn’t tonight.”
Any remote chance of Georgia getting back into the
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Lights. Camera. Action!
Today, we get to watch a classic Southern drama unfold. Georgia and South Carolina have accepted their roles in it, and they’re ready to play it out before a sold-out theater in Columbia. Both teams have played their parts to perfection to this point, each arriving with a top- 10 ranking and an unblemished record. One will leave in firm control of the SEC’s Eastern Division, at least for a week or so.
“This is why I came to Georgia, to play in games like this,” said Georgia senior cornerback Sanders Commings, who hails from the border town of Augusta. “To be in the top five in the country and to play other SEC teams in the top 10.”
Said South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw, who’s from Flowery Branch: “Two top-10 teams, a lot riding
As Jeff Schultz so eloquently pointed out in his weekly predictions column, my scheduled interview with South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw on Wednesday was canceled by The Ol’ Ball Coach that day. We’re not sure if it was related to Schultz’s column advising Steve Spurrier he should learn to take criticism more like Georgia’s Mark Richt, but we have our suspicions. He’s been known to be a little thin-skinned here lately.
In any case, I wanted to profile Shaw for our readers because obviously he’s the starting quarterback for the Gamecocks, he’s from Flowery Branch, he’s the son of a longtime Georgia high school coach and, in case you haven’t noticed, he’s playing some pretty good ball.
A quick review on Shaw: He played at Flowery Branch High for his father, Lee Shaw (now at Rabun County). There he threw for 3,100 yards and 30 TDs with just six interceptions as a senior and established a reputation for finding a way to win games in dramatic fashion. Shaw was lightly
Time for another “Back Porch Chat” with the good folks from CineSport. Thursday I talked with Tara Petrolino about Saturday’s monumental matchup between No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. She wanted to know how the Bulldogs are going to deal with the season-ending injury to leading receiver Michael Bennett, if Georgia will be able to protect quarterback Aaron Murray and what the Dogs must do to slow down Marcus Lattimore. . . .
ATHENS – Remember when Georgia used to play every home game at 1 o’clock in the afternoon? Well, the Bulldogs are going to give you a chance to reminisce on Nov. 17 as the Georgia Southern game has been set for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.
Television broadcast rights are still being negotiated as the game falls into the one game pay-per-view or point-to-point telecast provisions as outlined by the SEC. There are strong indications that Atlanta’s WSB-TV Channel 2 could end up carrying the game. The local ABC affiliate, a Cox Media Group station, televised Georgia’s game against Idaho State in November of the 2010 season.
Nevertheless, the kickoff time in such cases is left to the discretion of the schools and Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity liked the idea of an early afternoon start for a November game.
“We felt the 1:30 p.m. kickoff would give the fans the best timetable for tailgating opportunities before the game and will provide ample time to return home following the
ATHENS – Some high-profile mishaps — missed extra points, botched punt returns — have obscured generally good play by Georgia’s special-teams units, coach Mark Richt insisted Tuesday.
“I think the special teams as a whole are getting a bad rap,” Richt said.
Richt said he is pleased that Georgia special-teamers have blocked two punts, stopped an opponent’s fake punt attempt, allowed opponents only 18 punt-return yards in the past four games, provided “excellent” kickoff coverage and made four of five field-goal attempts, including two from 50-plus yards.
He also said “kickoff return has actually been pretty solid” with the exception of the one on which Todd Gurley stepped out of bounds at UGA’s 1-yard line against Tennessee. Gurley and Malcolm Mitchell “have big-play potential as kickoff return men,” said Richt, who mentioned Gurley’s 100-yard return in the season opener.
All of that said, Richt acknowledged the problems with PATs and punt
ATHENS – Georgia coach Mark Richt and selected players visited with media on Tuesday to discuss Saturday’s game between the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs and No. 6 South Carolina in Columbia.
Following is some of the highlights from the news conference. . . .
COACH MARK RICHT
Opening statement . . .
“Here we go. We used to play South Carolina earlier in the year, and now it’s game six for both of us. Normally when we play South Carolina, both teams are undefeated in league play because it’s always been the first one, but this year both teams have found a way to stay undefeated. So I know it’s definitely an exciting time for their program and for our program. We all know that ESPN College Game Day is going to be there, so that’s usually a pretty good sign that it’s a big ballgame. A lot of people are going to be watching and are going to be very interested in what happens, so we obviously have a lot of respect for South Carolina.”
On Spurrier going for 250th career victory
By RYAN BLACK
Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATHENS – Every day is an adventure for Malcolm Mitchell.
Georgia’s sophomore cornerback/wide receiver said Monday he doesn’t know where he will practice each day until he arrives and sees which color jersey is hanging in his locker. And yes, he admitted, it does get tiresome.
“It can be difficult sometimes because you never know, but it’s what I signed up for, so I’ve got to deal with it,” Mitchell said following Monday’s practice, a day he noted was spent exclusively on offense.
Mitchell, who started three games at cornerback on defense, played only offense against Tennessee this past weekend. He said he never has an issue separating the offensive and defensive calls in his head given his constant, back-and-forth shuffling. He has played enough with both units already, after all. But he has had his share of issues in another area: punt returns.
Problems have plagued him fielding punts all season, and
ATHENS — Three different Georgia players earned with player of the week honors from the SEC because of their performances against Tennessee this past weekend.
Tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall actually shared the SEC Freshman of the Week award with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny “Football” Manziel. According to the SEC’s Charles Bloom, it’s the first time the league has bestowed an award on three individuals.
Meanwhile, senior cornerback Sanders Commings was named Defensive Player of the Week. He, too, shared his award. Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche of Grayson also was honored for his defensive play.
This is the third freshman honor for Gurley and first for Marshall. The roommates combined for 294 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns in Georgia’s 51-44 win over Tennessee ton Saturday.
Gurley, a Tarboro,
How big was Georgia’s game against Tennessee on Saturday at Sanford Stadium? So big that CineSport’s Noah Coslov came all the way down from his home in New York to little ol’ Athens to take in the game. As a result, we got to do a rare side-by-side interview, as opposed to over the world-wide web. Click below to hear our thoughts and those from the the Bulldogs’ coaches and players following Georgia’s 51-44 victory over Tennessee. . . .
“We were hit by a freight train early in the game, but we were able to fight back and get back into it. We went toe-to-toe with a top-10 team that will be competing for a national championship.”
– Tennessee coach Derek Dooley
“We knew they were going to be special players. How special was up in the air. But right now, through five games, they’re two of the best backs not only in the SEC but in the whole country.”
– Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray on freshman tailbacks Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, who ran for 164 and 130 yards, respectively, against Tennessee
“They are really fantastic players. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”
Georgia coach Mark Richt on Marshall and Gurley, who scored two and three touchdowns, respectively, vs. the Vols
“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to be the best tandem in America, running backs and fullbacks. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I think if we keep pushing we can be there.”
ATHENS — As the hype builds around Georgia freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, one of their teammates has settled on a nickname for the duo.
“Gurshall, that’s what I call them,” wide receiver Tavarres King said.
As King excitedly enunciates it, the combination of the first syllable of Gurley and the second syllable of Marshall rhymes with … Herschel.
The wildly premature suggestion that the Gurley-Marshall tandem is somehow reminiscent of Herschel Walker, the greatest Georgia tailback, reflects the excitement the freshmen have stirred.
Tailback is a position that commands attention, good or bad. In the previous two seasons, Georgia tailbacks were known more for the bad — arrests, suspensions, dismissals, injuries. With Gurshall, things seem good again at the position.
“I went to the dining hall one day, and
Here is another exciting installment of “Chip’s Back Porch Chats,” with CineSport’s Noah Coslov. Today we talk about Georgia transitioning Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo back into the defense, the Bulldogs’ offensive strategy against Tennessee and what we know about No. 5-ranked Georgia to this point in the season. Enjoy . . .
ATHENS – Georgia has survived the Great Suspension Plague of 2012.
While no one is still coming right out and saying as much, we know from outside testimony, school policies, indirect hints and good old-fashioned horse sense that star linebacker Alec Ogletree and All-American free safety Bacarri Rambo are returning from four-game suspensions this week. And they’re getting back just in the nick of time as next on the dance card is Tennessee and its high-octane offense.
Ogletree and Rambo are the last two of four defensive starters that were missing for the Bulldogs this first part of the season as a result of internal team discipline. Cornerback Sanders Commings and outside linebacker Chase Vasser were benched two games each for off-season arrests.
Retrospectively, some might say that there was no great
By Ryan Black
Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATHENS – Chris Burnette was 99 percent sure his girlfriend would accept his marriage proposal on Sunday.
That wasn’t good enough for Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend. He needed 1 percent more certainty from his right guard.
“He was like, ‘Well, you better mark sure she is going to say yes before you invite all of these people,’” Burnette said.
Not to worry, though, as Arielle Haynes indeed said “yes” when Burnette popped the question. The proposal took place Sunday at Athens Church, where Burnette and Haynes are regular attendees. Luckily, the weekly Sunday service begins at noon, which meant many of Burnette’s Bulldog teammates who go to earlier services at other churches could make it.
News spread quickly, especially after video of the event was posted online. When asked what made him do a video, Burnette couldn’t explain it.
“I just knew that I wanted it to have something that was
(Updated 12:45 a.m. )
ATHENS — By the time Aaron Murray threw his first incomplete pass Saturday night, Georgia had built a 27-0 lead over Vanderbilt.
Murray completed his first 12 passes –- the third most completions ever by a UGA quarterback to start a game – and did not misfire until less than three minutes remained in the first half.
He didn’t misfire much after that, either, as Georgia trounced Vanderbilt 48-3 in Sanford Stadium.
Murray, who called it a night after the third quarter, finished with 18 completions in 24 attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns (no interceptions).
Murray’s stellar performance came one week after he threw for a career-high 342 yards against Florida Atlantic and two weeks after he tied his career high of 22 completions against Missouri.
In other words, his season is off to a fine start.
“I think this is the most consistent I’ve played,” Murray said late Saturday night in the Georgia locker room. “That’s my goal this year — to be
ATHENS – This time around, the only drama between Georgia and Vanderbilt was the pregame coin toss.
The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs won that little contest and nearly every one thereafter, cruising to a 48-3 win over the Commodores Saturday night at Sanford Stadium.
The stress-free victory came less than a year after Vanderbilt pushed the Bulldogs to the brink in Nashville before losing 33-28 in a nail-biter that ignited a postgame shouting match between Commodores head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. This time it ended in a friendly handshake between the two men at midfield.
“We were going to go out there and, you know, have a group hug and then everybody’s going to go their way and move on,” Grantham quipped afterward. “They coach them hard, they play hard and
Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) plays host to Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1), on Saturday at Sanford Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:50 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
1. Will last season’s postgame incident affect Saturday’s game? Players and coaches from both sides were asked about last year’s postgame skirmish so much they turned to sarcasm late in the week. Asked yet again on the SEC coaches weekly teleconference if the incident would provide motivation for his team, Vandy coach James Franklin sighed, “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” But he also said those event won’t put “any points on the scoreboard Saturday.” As always it will come down to strategy and execution.
2. Can defense avoid another slow start? Not only has Georgia’s defense not been as dominant as everyone expected this season, it has been decidedly soft in the early goings of each of its three games. The Bulldogs have allowed an average of 13.3 to their
Following is yet another installment of my weekly “Back Porch Chats” with the video folks at CineSport. This week it was Tara Petrolino asking me what the storylines are for the No. 5-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (3-0), who play host to Vanderbilt (1-2) on Saturday night at Sanford Stadium (7:45 p.m., ESPN2). . . .
By RYAN BLACK
Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATHENS — While Georgia and Vanderbilt exchanged heated words on the field following last season’s game in Nashville, UGA’s Cornelius Washington was nowhere to be found.
Serving a two-game suspension due to a DUI arrest, he was at home watching on television. A year later, he rues not having been in the middle of the action.
“I like a good confrontation and that seems like one I would have enjoyed being a part of,” the senior outside linebacker said Monday.
Washington also took a different tack than most of his teammates did two weeks ago. Unlike the fallout from Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson’s “old man football” comment — where Georgia refused to fire back — Washington tackled this week’s popular topic head-on.
“I think it’s something we do care about,” he said of the contentious tone of last year’s meeting. “It’s a pride thing. It’s a competitive thing. When
Georgia climbed to No. 5 in the Associated Press college football poll released Sunday, up two spots from last week.
Georgia (3-0) is one of three SEC teams in the nation’s top five, according to the AP’s media vote, and the two SEC West teams that met for last season’s BCS title once again are 1-2 in the poll.
Alabama is No. 1 for the third consecutive week, receiving 58 of 60 first-place votes. LSU moved up one spot to No. 2 after previously No. 2 USC tumbled out of the top 10 in the aftermath of a 21-14 loss at Stanford. LSU got the two first-place votes that didn’t go to Alabama.
Oregon is No. 3 and Florida State No. 4. Georgia, No. 7 last week, moved ahead of Oklahoma, as well as USC, in the AP poll. Oklahoma is No. 6 after being tied with FSU at No. 5 last week.
In the USA Today coaches’ poll also released Sunday, the top four teams are the same as in the AP poll, but Georgia and Oklahoma are flip-flopped. In the coaches’ poll, Oklahoma is No. 5 and Georgia
ATHENS — Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have a lot in common –- both from North Carolina, both highly recruited tailbacks, both University of Georgia freshmen.
Oh, and roommates, too.
Saturday night, they had something else in common: 100-plus yards rushing.
It was a race to see which of the two would reach triple digits first against the outmatched Florida Atlantic defense, and as it turned out they did so on back-to-back plays early in the third quarter — Marshall first on a 13-yard run, then Gurley on a 38-yard touchdown run that gave Georgia a 42-14 lead with 10:18 remaining in the quarter.
Neither played much after that as Georgia went deep into its roster for the completion of a 56-20 victory at Sanford Stadium.
Gurley finished with 111 yards and Marshall with 104, both getting 10 carries and both scoring one touchdown.
“It was probably … what they envisioned,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said afterward. “They are good friends, and they wanted to play together
ATHENS – Mark Richt didn’t much care for the question. He was asked if he thought Marlon Brown was injury-prone.
“I don’t think that term is fair,” Georgia’s coach said. “I think most anybody who gets injured is unlucky.”
If that’s the case, there must be a broken mirror somewhere in Brown’s past. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior has yet to play a full season for the Bulldogs because of one nagging injury or another. But Brown has always picked up the pieces and moved on, and never did he look more healthy and vibrant than Saturday against Missouri.
Brown was the star of the Bulldogs’ offense, hauling in eight passes for 106 yards and scoring two touchdowns in the 41-20 victory. As Georgia enters Saturday’s game against Florida Atlantic, he’s viewed as one of the team’s potent weapons.
“A quarterback’s dream,”
ATHENS – The University of Georgia Athletic Association’s board of directors voted Friday to invest $30 million from cash reserves through the UGA Foundation, which manages non-athletic donor funds for the school, in an attempt to get a higher rate of return.
The UGA Athletic Association currently has about $68 million in reserves, money that it says is in the bank drawing little interest.
The plan is to put slightly less than half of the reserves “to work for us in maybe a more aggressive stance to help us meet both current and future long-term needs of the association,” Tim Burgess, UGA senior vice president for finance and administration and Athletic Association treasurer, told the board before the vote.
Board member Jeffrey Dorfman, a UGA professor, spoke and voted against the action.
“I think before we move $30 million of Athletic Association money into a different form of investment, the people that are going to manage that investment ought to come here and make
Florida Atlantic is assured of setting one Sanford Stadium record Saturday night: The Owls will pocket the largest paycheck of any visiting team in Georgia football history.
Georgia will pay Florida Atlantic $1 million for making the trip to Athens — a reflection of the rising cost of scheduling presumed easy victories against FBS nonconference opponents that don’t require a return engagement on their campus.
UGA scheduled the game and agreed to the seven-figure payout after canceling a two-year, home-and-home series with Louisville to accommodate last season’s opener against Boise State in the Georgia Dome.
“We were fortunate [FAU] was available to play on this date,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said this week. “But to make the date work, there was an expectation we had to pay a million dollars. That has kind of become the going rate.”
He isn’t complaining. Even after the record payout, UGA will clear about $1.7 million from the game, according to
ATHENS — Here’s the abridged version of notes from today’s presser and practice:
By Ryan Black
Special to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATHENS – Piece by piece, Georgia’s defense is coming back together.
Linebacker Chase Vasser and cornerback Sanders Commings are set to come off their two-game suspensions to play against Florida Atlantic on Saturday night. And their teammates can’t wait to see them back on the field.
“I texted them right after we got back on the bus and I included all of the other guys who weren’t there and said, ‘That was for you guys,’” linebacker Christian Robinson said. “Now people are starting to come back and we’re excited. They can just jump on. They don’t have to keep worrying with some of the regret of not being there.”
Even with two key cogs on defense back in the fold, the Bulldogs still have to guard against a letdown coming off their win against the Missouri Tigers. Florida Atlantic will enter Sanford Stadium 1-1 overall, but 0-1 in conference play after dropping its Sun Belt opener against Middle