By Ryan Black
For the AJC
By the time Georgia takes the field for the Capital One bowl on Jan. 1, exactly one month will have passed since it lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship. On Friday, the Bulldogs had their last practice in Athens before they head to Orlando to continue their bowl preparations in the Sunshine State. All the while, Christian Robinson knows people are unsure how the Bulldogs will respond to their crushing, 32-28 loss to the Crimson Tide. Doubters’ questions are grounded in Georgia’s bowl results the last two seasons, falling to Central Florida in a humiliating 10-6 loss in the Liberty Bowl in 2010 and a 33-30 triple-overtime defeat to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl last year, a game the Bulldogs led 16-0 at halftime.
Despite that evidence, Robinson assured he and his teammates are motivated to end the season on the right note.
“We all realize we came up a little short and that’s really disappointing,” the senior inside linebacker
Wide receiver Tavarres King has played in more football games for Georgia than anyone else in school history. The Capital One Bowl will be his 56th — and his last.
“The time flew by,” King said recently. “It feels like just yesterday I was getting dropped off by my parents over there at ECV (East Campus Village).”
King has squeezed about as much into his college career as possible. He graduated early from Habersham Central High School and enrolled at UGA in January 2008. He played in the first four games of the ’08 season before a season-ending ankle injury resulted in a medical redshirt. He played in 12 games in 2009, 12 in 2010 and 14 in 2011, and the Jan. 1 bowl game against Nebraska will be his 14th this season.
UGA confirmed it all adds up to a school career record for games played, and it will be a tough number to top because King played the maximum games allowed in a medical redshirt season.
ATHENS — There has been much debate at the end of 2012 about whether or not Aaron Murray will – or should – turn pro after the season concludes. But there has been no debate whatsoever about who will play quarterback for Georgia if and when Murray makes that jump.
Hutson Mason is unchallenged as the Bulldogs’ heir apparent. In fact, so set is the plan for succession, there is no need for the word “apparent.” Better to call him “QB-in-waiting.”
So confident are Georgia’s coaches and players in Mason’s abilities, they speak of him in the same reverent tones as a seasoned starter.
“When he gets the opportunity he’s going to make some plays, I have no doubt about that,” junior tight end Arthur Lynch said of the 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback. “I’m positive about that and I think Aaron would be the first to tell you that as well. I think
ATHENS – In the end, Rodney Garner felt like he could no longer ignore his alma mater’s calls for help.
Garner, Georgia’s assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach for the past 12 years, accepted an offer to handle the same jobs at Auburn, where he played offensive line and started his coaching career. He will also receive a significant salary increase from the $300,000 a year he earned with the Bulldogs.
But as Garner adamantly pointed out in an exclusive interview with the AJC Thursday night, “this is not about the money.”
“It was a very difficult decision,” Garner said. “I’ve been approached many times about this opportunity. But it’s my alma mater. It may be more of a pride thing, just looking at where they are right now and feeling like I
By Ryan Black
For the AJC
ATHENS – Though Georgia’s injury list has continued to grow since the end of the SEC Championship game, one key defender may be on the verge of returning.
Defensive end Abry Jones injured his left ankle on the first drive of Georgia’s victory over Kentucky on Oct. 20 and has not played since. But the senior from Warner Robins has continued to rehab the injury, and after seeing how well he ran Thursday, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt felt optimistic about Jones’ chances of playing in the Capital One Bowl.
“It’s definitely a possibility; I think it’s more of a probability now, just watching him run today,” Richt said following Thursday’s practice. “I think today gave him more confidence, because he was running pretty hard. He’s not in the best condition right this minute, but he ran about as fast as he could and felt good. I was going from one drill to the other — from the defensive field to the offensive field — and I saw him flashing across there. . . . He
By Ryan Black
For the AJC
ATHENS – Mark Richt believes there is talent returning to his team’s secondary next season. The problem is, he hasn’t seen it on the field yet.
With Sanders Commings, Bacarri Rambo, Branden Smith and Shawn Williams graduating, the only underclassman defensive back who has seen significant playing time this season is sophomore Damian Swann, who has started all 13 games.
The impending departures have left Richt feeling uncertain about the state of his secondary for 2013.
“I have no earthly idea who is going to play DB for us next year based on the maturity level of the group that we have here right now,” he said. “I don’t think they’re mature enough to be the starters and I told them, ‘You’re competing with guys that aren’t even here yet. We’re recruiting our tails off and we’re going to bring some guys in here. You guys are here and we’re going to compete and we’re going to see who really belongs back there. Don’t think just because you’re
ATHENS -- For all the adoration heaped upon Georgia’s defense and its cavalcade of all-star players this season, it hasn’t been all that good at the one thing considered a cornerstone of being great – stopping the run.
The fact is, the Bulldogs exited the 2012 regular season ranked among the bottom third in the nation in rush defense. They’ve given up an averaged 177.77 yards per game, which is 77th among 120 FBS teams.
Most notably, the last time we saw it in action, the Georgia defense gave up 350 yards on the ground to Alabama in the SEC Championship. For all the debate about whether the Bulldogs should have spiked the ball or not in the closing seconds, it could be argued the inability to stop the run is the reason they lost the game 32-28.
“Some of it was just wrapping them up better,” Georgia coach
ATHENS — With the Georgia basketball team is clearly in neeed of some help, Jay Rome hasn’t decided yet whether he can offer any.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end joined the basketball team as a forward and played in seven games last year. He remains undecided about this year.
“Both coaches are still going to allow me to do it if I choose to but I’m not really sure myself if I want to go through with it again this year,” Rome said on Tuesday. “I haven’t made a decision yet. It’s something me and my dad are going to talk about, something I’m going to pray about and talk to Coach Richt and Coach Fox about.”
After redshirting in football last season, Rome played in all 13 games this season with one start. He caught 11 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns, including a 19-yarder against Alabama in the SEC Championship game. In basketball, Rome averaged 0.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in 2.4 minutes.
Rome, an all-state basketball player at Valdosta High, has always been
ATHENS – The Malcolm Mitchell debate is a debate no more.
Mark Richt put an abrupt end to the speculation over what the sophomore’s role on the team will be going forward.
“What do I think (his role) is going to be? Wide receiver,” Richt said matter-of-factly after Tuesday’s practice. “I doubt he plays any more corner.”
Mitchell, a sophomore who played both cornerback and split end this season, expressed mixed emotions recently about continuing his career as a two-way player. Meanwhile, Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham each said this week they’d like to have him full-time on their respective sides of the ball, but ultimately deferred to Richt.
Richt was able to weigh in on it publically for the first time on Tuesday, and he didn’t pussyfoot around the issue.
“I just think he needs to play one position,” he said. “. . . If he’s going to be the best he can be at either position, I think he needs to concentrate on just one of them,
ATHENS – Turns out a building full of school children was exactly what the Georgia Bulldogs needed.
More than 4,000 kids had Stegeman Coliseum rocking with high-pitched noise for Tuesday’s 11:30 a.m. tip against Mercer. The Bulldogs responded with just their third victory of the season, 58-49 over Mercer.
And while the children, who came from Athens area elementary schools, were invited well before last week’s tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the significance of their presence was not lost upon coach Mark Fox or his players.
“With what happened in Connecticut, you couldn’t look at those kids without thinking about it,” Fox said of the Dec. 14th shooting, which left 27 dead. “I mean, I’ve got kids who go to elementary school. I can’t imagine what some of those families are going through. So often in this country we lose sight of the things that are the most important. . . . So today did feel different, and I hope those kids had a great time because
ATHENS – Technically it’s just bowl practice. But for Georgia’s offensive lineman, the month of December may seem more like preseason camp.
The Bulldogs’ offensive coaches made a pronouncement regarding the line almost as soon as the SEC Championship game ended: Every position is up for grabs and the starting lineup will be determined during the 15 practices leading up to the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl.
“That’s how we put it to those guys,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “The five that are going to play, we’ll figure out between now and the bowl who’s going to be where. I do think the line played extremely well this year and got better. But there’s always room for improvement, and any time there’s competition that’s good for the group.”
The Bulldogs were seemed stable up front this season. They played just three different starting lineups – including the same for the first nine games – and shuffled it around only because of injuries. The primary lineup included
Adds comments from offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham . . .
ATHENS – Georgia’s Malcolm Mitchell is one conflicted football player.
With the regular season and final exams in the rear-view mirror and a bowl game still a ways down the road, Mitchell has been able to reflect some on the “Great Experiment” that the 2012 season was for him. He went through spring practice and into the season expecting to be a two-way player. He said what came to pass wasn’t exactly what he envisioned, but neither was it anything approaching a disappointment.
In the end, Mitchell played the first four games as a cornerback and the last nine as a wide receiver. He never truly played both in one game, save for an occasional offensive play
ATHENS – You got the feeling when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer, this might be Georgia’s night.
Instead, the Bulldogs did what has been typical of them this season. They missed free throws and key shots down the stretch and watched in disbelief as Iona made all the clutch plays to win 81-78 in overtime.
The loss dropped Georgia to 2-7 – its worst nine-game start since 1970 — and adds to the list of defeats to small-time opponents, including Youngstown State and Southern Miss. Mercer (5-5) is up next on Tuesday.
The Gaels, a New York team out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, improved to 4-4.
“That was a tough loss,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “I’m sick of losing, as our team is, but we’ve got to play better basketball. That’s taking
ATHENS – Because most of his brothers, uncles and cousins left college early to play pro football, most assume Georgia’s Kwame Geathers will follow a similar path.
Not necessarily, Geathers said Friday.
“It’s not right to assume at all,” said Geathers, a 6-foot-6, 355-pound junior from Georgetown, S.C. “They let me make my own decisions, so it’s up to me. Sometimes I feel like, ‘all right, break the tradition.’ They were all in college for three years. I’ve been here for four years already, so I feel like I’m already breaking it a little bit.”
The Bulldogs would definitely appreciate Geathers sticking around. They’re already going to lose John Jenkins and Abry Jones off the line. Junior linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree are expected to turn pro and a total of nine senior starters will be graduating off Georgia’s defense.
That will certainly leave a leadership void for next season.
I’d like to have that leadership role, to be a guy for the younger guys to look up to. .
ATHENS — Georgia coach Mark Richt said he has disciplined freshman cornerback Sheldon Dawson for an incident in the SEC Championship game in which it appears Dawson tried to poke the eyes of Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. But he said Dawson won’t miss any playing time and no other UGA players are being punished for their actions in that game.
Richt also declined comment about the SEC’s decision to not suspend Alabama defensive lineman Quinton Dial for his illegal hit on quarterback Aaron Murray. Richt addressed the situations at the end of the Bulldogs’ practice Friday afternoon.
“Dawson, I did (discipline), yes,” Richt said. “I’m not going to give detail of it. But, yeah, and Dawson saw it. He realizes it was a bad thing and a bad image for him and for Georgia. He understood why I needed to discipline him. It won’t be any playing time.”
Video shows Dawson sticking his fingers in Milliner’s facemask after a scrum for a loose ball following an Alabama kickoff return early in
ATHENS – If Quinton Dial is going to receive any discipline for his illegal hit on Aaron Murray in the SEC Championship game, it’s not going to come from the SEC office.
That was the word Friday as the SEC sent out a short news release stating that it had reviewed several plays from the Dec. 1 matchup between Georgia and Alabama and that it would be leaving punishments decisions to the respective schools. In addition to Dial’s hit on Murray at the end of a first-half interception, Georgia’s Sheldon Dawson appears on video to be trying to gouge the eyes of Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner at the end of a kickoff return. Also, Bulldogs’ linebacker Alec Ogletree was flagged during the game for a “targeting” hit on Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.
“The Southeastern Conference has completed its review of video from the 2012 SEC Football Championship Game. Several plays involving both teams were reviewed. After review, all subsequent action will be handled internally by the two
ATHENS — Dallas Lee’s parents have begged him to go with them to Miami for the BCS National Championship game. But if Georgia’s starting left guard couldn’t go as a participant, he said he definitely wasn’t going to go as supportive brother.
“I’m still a little upset so I’m not going,” Dallas said. “I’m going to watch it on TV at the house. I’m a little too upset about it to go down there and have fun.”
Lee’s family was the subject of many profiles heading into the SEC Championship as Dallas and his brother, Alabama linebacker Dillon Lee, were facing off from opposite sidelines. But after that game ended excruciatingly close for the Bulldogs, with time running out on the at the Crimson Tide 5 in a 32-28 loss, Dallas said he just can’t bring himself to go to
ATHENS – For Georgia it’s a good problem to have. But for Ken Malcome, it’s more than a little frustrating.
Everybody knows about the successes of freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall this season. Gurley was named a Freshman All-American by The Sporting News on Thursday. He became just the second Georgia true freshman to surpass 1,000 yards in a season (1,260 to date) and scored 17 touchdowns, including a 100-yard kickoff return. Marshall emerged as Gurley’s primary backup and ran for 723 yards and 8 scores.
Lost in the smoke of that fire has been Malcome, who actually began the season as the starting tailback. The redshirt sophomore from Decatur has appeared in 10 of the Bulldogs’ 13 games, averaging 27.2 yards and 5 carries in those contests.
As Georgia prepares for its Jan. 1
Christian Robinson doesn’t want his time at Georgia to end.
“If I could stay in this situation forever I would,” the senior linebacker from Norcross said this week. “I love it here.”
Alas, he doesn’t have a choice. Robinson will be among seven football players – and 39 UGA student-athletes in all – who will walk in graduation ceremonies on Friday morning at Stegeman Coliseum. Like it or not, it’s time to move on.
And for Robinson, like many of his compatriots, he’s not entirely sure what he’ll be moving on to.
“I won’t be Jarvis Jones when the (NFL) draft comes,” cracked Robinson, referring to his teammate, who is projected as a possible No. 1 pick. “Maybe I’ll go after him. But I’ve enjoyed my time here. Hopefully what I’ve done to this point will give me an opportunity to keep playing. If not,
ATHENS -- There are few things more unpredictable than the emotional state of a football team heading into a bowl game. But there are reasons for Georgia to be on guard against a letdown in the Capital One Bowl.
The No. 7-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) are coming off a game in which they literally finished five yards shy from playing for a national championship. The SEC Championship ended with Chris Conley sitting with the ball on the 5-yard line in the Georgia Dome and Georgia unable to stop the clock. Time ticked away in a 32-28 loss to No. 2 Alabama.
Not only did the Bulldogs come up short in their bid for the national championship. They lost consideration for a BCS bowl. So now they head to a non-BCS bowl to face a 10-3 Nebraska team coming off a 70-31 loss as a double-digit favorite.
Add to that a looming threat of distraction. Twelve UGA defensive starters are expected to be moving on, nine due to exhausted eligibility and three others due to soaring NFL stock. Even junior
ATHENS – Starting defensive end Abry Jones remained sidelined for Georgia’s first bowl practice on Wednesday. But coach Mark Richt spoke optimistically about the senior making a return in time for the Capital One Bowl.
“I know his intention is to rehab and get ready to play,” Richt said Wednesday. “He was making progress towards that goal. Do I know whether he’ll be ready to or not? I don’t know that. We’ve not counted him out by any means.”
Jones (6-foot-3, 309 pounds) started the first six games of the season — and 26 in his career — before suffering an ankle injury that required surgery. If he returns, it could provide valuable depth for Georgia’s defensive line. Noseguard/ends John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers and defensive end Garrison Smith rotated positions and played nearly every snap against Alabama.
Jones, who averaged nearly 3 tackles per game before the injury, is considered an NFL prospect. He was invited to the Casino Del Sol College All-Star game Jan. 11.
ATHENS — Georgia’s Aaron Murray refuses to get into a detailed discussion about his plans after this season. “All I’m thinking about right now is Nebraska and the Capital One Bowl,” he says in various different ways. But the Bulldogs’ record-setting quarterback did allow that the prospect of entering the NFL draft after this, his redshirt junior, season is a very real and serious consideration for him.
“I’m definitely going to think about it and pray about it and sit down with my family (to discuss it),” Murray said during Georgia’s Capital One Bowl Media Day Wednesday afternoon at the Bulldogs’ football complex. “But that’s not going to be probably until after the bowl game. I’ll sit
It’s pretty clear that Georgia’s offense will be reloading next season. Depending on the decision of quarterback Aaron Murray — it’s not as cut-and-dry as you might think — the Bulldogs should be returning 10 starters (only WRs Marlon Brown and Tavarres King graduating).
The same can’t be said of the defense. In total, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is expected to lose 12 players who started games for him this season. Three of those are underclassmen who I expect will turn pro shortly after the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl: outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, inside linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive lineman Kwame Geathers.
The other nine are seniors who have exhausted their eligibility: Safeties Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams, cornerback Sanders Commings, noseguard John Jenkins, defensive ends Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington, linebackers Christian Robinson and Michael Gilliard, and
Georgia held its annual Senior Awards Gala this past Saturday night at the Classic Center. Not surprisingly, Aaron Murray, Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree were among the recipients for the team’s top awards.
Jones, an junior outside linebacker and two-time All-American, was named the overall permanent captain for the 2012 team. Jones and Murray both were presented the Vince Dooley Award as the team’s most valuable players. Murray was named the team’s most valuable offensive player, and Jones and Ogletree shared most valuable defensive player honor. Connor Norman and Blake Sailors shared most valuable special teams players honor.
Murray and senior wide receiver Tavarres King were elected as the team’s offensive captains, senior safety Shawn Williams was chosen as the defensive captain and senior snapper Ty Frix was named the special teams captain.
Other trophies handed out Saturday included:
David Jacobs Award (”for players who, by example, portray courage, spirit, character
Georgia coach Mark Richt and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini were each flown to Orlando on Thursday by the Capital One Bowl for a news conference to preview their teams’ matchup in the Jan. 1 Bowl. Following are some of their comments from that session:
NEBRASKA COACH BO PELINI
On being selected for the Capital One Bowl:
“We’re excited. I know I can speak for everyone and say that we’re excited to be coming back to Orlando. We’re coming to a first-class bowl game, great hospitality, great city of Orlando, and the opportunity to play a tremendous football team, one of the top five, top couple football teams in the United States. So we’re looking forward to the challenge, a great football game and a great trip for our team and our fans.”
On a return trip to the Capital One Bowl:
“Having some familiarity with the surroundings, the hotel, everything. One thing I can say from my appearance last year is that the folks at the Capital One Bowl do such a great job. They’re so organized. They
ATHENS – It’s likely to be a very good Christmas for Mike Bobo and his family.
Not only did Georgia’s offensive coordinator lead the Bulldogs to a record-breaking season that netted 11 wins and another SEC Championship Game bonus, but he’s also in line to have his compensation increased in 2013, either by Georgia or somebody else.
Bobo’s name has surfaced as a head coaching candidate at Southern Miss and, according to his agent, he is drawing interest for other jobs as well. Even if Bobo declines the overtures, it would likely result in an enhanced financial agreement from UGA.
Russ Campbell, the Birmingham-based attorney who acts as Bobo’s agent, confirmed that his client is being considered for jobs but declined to discuss specifics.
“I can tell you that he’s getting some long
Alabama’s victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship game drew the largest national television audience of any college football game so far this season.
The CBS telecast of Saturday’s game from the Georgia Dome posted a national Nielsen rating of 9.8, meaning 9.8 percent of U.S. households with televisions tuned in on average. Previously, the highest rated game of the college season was the Nov. 24 Notre Dame-USC game, which posted a 9.4 national rating.
CBS said the SEC title game averaged 16.2 million viewers across the country, peaking at 21.8 million for the final half hour of the telecast..
Locally, almost one-third of metro Atlanta households watched the game on average. The local rating of 32.2 was the highest for any football game — college or pro — on Atlanta TV since this year’s Super Bowl, which posted a 51.3 rating here.
The highest local ratings for Falcons games so far this season are 31.8 for last Thursday’s game against the Saints and 31.1 for the Nov. 4 game
Following is UGA’s news release on six Georgia players being named to the Coaches’ All-SEC team on Tuesday. Junior outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by The AP on Monday, was the only Bulldog named to the first team. . . .
ATHENS — Six members of the Georgia football team were voted to the All-SEC Coaches’ Team, according to announcement by the league office on Tuesday.
Junior linebacker Jarvis Jones was named to the first team, while junior guard Chris Burnette, freshman tailback Todd Gurley, senior nose guard John Jenkins, junior linebacker Alec Ogletree and senior free safety Bacarri Rambo were named to the second team.
Jones has recorded 77 tackles this season, including 22.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks, one interception, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 11 games. Jones currently leads the NCAA in forced fumbles per game and tackles for loss per game, and he is one tackle for loss shy of David Pollack’s
ATHENS — It’s not to difficult to figure out how to defend Georgia at this juncture in the basketball season. The Bulldogs’ scoring leader is sophomore guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with 17.6 points per game. No other player is averaging double figures.
Suffice it to say, Georgia is in desperate need of offensive diversification.
“Kentavious is doing all he can,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said Monday. “We need somebody else to finish some plays. … We can’t put it all on one guy’s shoulders. That’s probably the biggest issue right now.”
Tuesday night would be a good time for that somebody to step up. The Bulldogs (2-5) are heading into Atlanta to face rival Georgia Tech (4-2) at new McCamish Pavilion. In order to score its first victory over a major-college opponent, Georgia needs someone other than Caldwell-Pope to put the ball in the basket.
That starts in the paint. Sophomore Nemanja Djurisic, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward, is currently the Bulldogs’ No. 2 scorer at 8.3 points
ATHENS – Jarvis Jones was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year by The Associated Press and he and freshman Todd Gurley were the only Bulldogs named first-team All-SEC as the news organization’s annual all-conference team was released on Monday.
Six Bulldogs in all were represented in the All-SEC voting by a panel of sportswriters.
Jones has accumulated 77 tackles, including 22.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks, one interception, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 11 games this season. Jones sat out two games with injuries. He enters the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl as the NCAA active leader in forced fumbles per game and tackles for loss per game. Jones’ 22.5 tackles