Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Plays of the Year 2013: #7- #4

#7 - Gurley Being the Best Back in America

After an amazing freshman season, Georgia fans were anxious to see what Todd Gurley could do on the national stage on opening night against Clemson. It took Gurley only one carry to show the nation why he is the best tailback in the game today:


Unfortunately, the country was deprived of seeing a healthy Gurley perform for much of the 2013 season. An ankle injury against LSU held him out for a few games, but after returning against Florida, he showed why a little Gurley is better than a lot of almost everyone else:


#6 - Murray finds Scott-Wesley to Beat LSU

The early season battle with the Bayou Bengals was marked by amazing quarterback performances from Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray. The two sides trading punch after punch and LSU finally took the lead in the fourth quarter. Murray rallied the Dawgs quickly down the field and Justin Scott-Wesley found an opening in the LSU secondary:



The Dawgs defense would hold up in the end, preserving the 44-41 Georgia victory.
#5 - Shaq Wiggins Makes Vandy's Trick Play Look Stupid

The Vanderbilt loss was ugly. Without many weapons on offense, the team could not find a way to sustain drives and put up points. While the Dawgs would ultimately lose the contest, they were able to lead for much of the game thanks to the play of freshman corner Shaq Wiggins. Trying to catch the Georgia defense off guard, Vanderbilt came out in a strange formation with most of its linemen off the ball. The quarterback tried to make a quick read to his wide receiver, but Wiggins was not fooled. This play marked Georgia's only defensive touchdown of the season:


#4 - Justin Scott Wesley Runs Right Past South Carolina

One of my favorite plays of the last five years was watching Branden Smith take a pitch for a long touchdown against South Carolina in 2009. It was amazing to watch him absolutely burn everyone on the field. In years since, there have been a number of fast players at Georgia but I have not seen a player absolutely torch all of the defenders like Smith did...until the Dawgs took on South Carolina in Athens in week 2. With the Dawgs leading by 4 and facing a third and 13 at their own 15, Murray scrambled away from pressure and found Justin Scott-Wesley wide open around the 45. The Carolina DB was in full stride and should have caught up easily, but Scott-Wesley kicked in another gear and left him in the dust. This pushed the Dawg lead to 11 and helped secure the first win over South Carolina since 2009:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013 Plays of the Year - #10 - #8

Continuing our look back at the plays that made the 2013 season special, today I present numbers 10 through 8.

#10 -Leonard Floyd Blows Up Godhigh

Coming into the final game of the season, Georgia Tech had scored a touchdown every single time it had a first and goal situation during the 2013 season.  The announcers let the viewing audience know this on multiple occasions and earlier in the game, the Dawgs forced a Tech field goal to break this streak.  In the second overtime, the Dawgs had taken their first lead of the game on a 25 yard TD run by Todd Gurley and were now attempting to become the first team to prevent Tech from scoring at all when starting first and goal.  Tech was once again just outside the Georgia end zone with a 3rd and 2 from the Georgia three.  Tech ran a sweep to Godhigh, but Leonard Floyd was there to blow it up. The Dawgs learned from past mistakes and batted the next play down, escaping Atlanta with a 41-34 victory.


#9 - Gurley becomes Superman, Twice
Knowshon Moreno was known for those "wow" moments.  From the leap against Arizona State to the hurdle against Central Michigan, he had a certain flair for the dramatic. Todd Gurley, on the other hand, has mostly been all about business in his first two seasons.  But late in the year, Gurley would turn two short passes into fantastic, highlight real moments, saying to Knowshon Moreno, "Anything you can do, I can do better...twice."

The first came on a pass from Aaron Murray with the Dawgs already leading Kentucky 7-0:


The second came the next week on another pass, this time from Hutson Mason, that would end the Tech shutout and help get the Bulldogs comeback going:


#8 - Run Aaron, Run

The 2013 Tennessee game will always be remembered as the game that changed our season.  The Dawgs were dominant early but then the injuries began happening and things went bad in a hurry.  Tennessee had come back to tie the game at 17 in the waning seconds of the third quarter, when Aaron Murray took matters into his own hands.  On a perfectly called QB draw, Murray was able to run past a few Vol defenders and was finally dragged down inside the ten after going for a career long run of 57 yards:

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Plays of the Year – Honorable Mention


Ahead of Georgia’s bowl matchup with Nebraska (again?!?), I thought I would take a look back at the 2013 season and the plays that will no doubt be on Georgia fans until kickoff next fall.  Over the next few days, I’ll present my list of the top plays of the year.  Today, I’ll begin with a couple of honorable mention honorees.


Honorable Mention – Reggie Davis Sets a Georgia Record vs. North Texas


The only way I can describe the North Texas game is ugly.  It was raining, the Dawgs made too many mistakes, and they let a crappy opponent hang around until the second half.  That being said, there was one play that can only be described as perfect.  With the Dawgs leading 7-0 to open the second quarter, North Texas pinned Georgia at their own 2 yard line.  Freshman receiver Reggie Davis, he of 0 career catches at this point, lined up wide at the top.  Georgia ran play action and Murray, seeing Davis in one on one coverage down the field, let the ball fly.  The speedy Davis easily blew past his defender and caught Murray’s pass in stride at the 42.  No one would catch him.  The result was a 98 yard touchdown, the longest in Georgia history (it also happened to be the 100th touchdown pass of Aaron Murray’s career).



Honorable Mention – Brendan Douglas killing Gamecocks and Gators


Freshman running back Brendan Douglas was just a name buried on the depth chart for most Georgia fans entering the 2013 season.  A longtime Georgia Tech commit, Douglas switched to Georgia after a late offer came in when Alvin Kamara decided to become the ninth running back on Alabama’s depth chart.  But when Keith Marshall was hurting in the second half of the South Carolina game (before THE injury against Tennessee) and Todd Gurley winded from already carrying the ball 30 times, Douglas was called on to help grind out a final drive to bury the Gamecocks.  Douglas responded:




A few weeks later, Douglas once again decided to run over a bunch of opponents, this time it was the Gators:



Honorable Mention – Arthur Lynch Does his Best Knowshon vs. Missouri


If Georgia would have come back to beat Missouri, this one may have been higher.  But because the drive ended with a fumble, it is somewhat forgotten.  Artie Lynch is a big man and watching him hurdle a Missouri defender was impressive.  I think Knowshon would be proud. (got to the 58:40 mark) 

 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It's Been a Long Time...

But I'm finally coming back.  Over the coming months, look for a couple of features:
  • A look at the top plays of the 2013 season
  • A game by game review of the career of Aaron Murray
  • Analysis of Todd Gurley's evolution in the passing game and how Keith Marshall plays into this plan in 2014

Sunday, September 8, 2013

He Will Break You

Quayvon Hicks is a bad, bad man.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Former Southern Miss Coach Jeff Bower and the Hiring of Mark Richt at Georgia

During my freshman year at the University of Georgia, the Bulldogs failed to meet very high pre-season expectations and finished the season with a third consecutive loss to Georgia Tech and a 7-4 record.  The decision was made by University President Michael Adams to relieve coach Jim Donnan of his coaching duties and the next few weeks (leading up to Georgia's victory in the Oahu Bowl) were filled with rumors of who the new coach would be.  Ultimately, the job went to Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt and the rest is history.  But there was another candidate for the job and I got a chance this weekend to hear exactly how it all went down.

I attended my step brother's wedding in Norcross on Saturday night.  I knew that his fiance's father was a big time booster for the Southern Miss football program and was friends with a number of current and former members of the athletic association.  One of those friends who happened to be at the wedding on Saturday was long-time head coach Jeff Bower.  My father, knowing my love for college football, insisted on myself and my brother in law in meeting Coach Bower.  In talking with him, he gave me an interesting story about the coaching hire by the Dawgs in 2000.

First, a little bit about Coach Bower.  Jeff Bower grew up in Roswell and was a star athlete for Roswell High School.  As quarterback, he led them to back to back state championships and was named a prep All American.  He committed to play college football for Coach Vince Dooley at Georgia and was on the squad in the fall of 1973.  He ultimately left Athens for Southern Miss, where he became a three year starter.  He began his coaching career at Southern Miss as a graduate assistant in 1975 and after serving as offensive coordinator for Oklahoma State in 1989, he was named Southern Miss's head coach in 1990.  During his first years with Southern Miss as head coach, he coached future NFL legend Brett Favre.  By the time he was fired after the 2007 season (in what I think was one of the dumbest coaching moves I have seen in college football in recent years) he had compiled a 119-83 record including a 6-5 bowl record.

Back to December 2000.  Georgia is just beginning its coaching search and Mark Richt is on the list for many open positions.  Having just finished his 11th season at Southern Miss with a win in the Mobile Bowl, contacts the man who recruited him to Georgia back in 1973.  Vince Dooley begins conversations with Bower about coming in for an interview for the Georgia job.  Coach Bower told me that this was the only time during his 29 years he spent coaching in some capacity at Southern Miss that he ever actively applied for another job.  He was excited about the chance to return to his home state and coach at the school where he began his college career.  After some initial talks, Coach Dooley set up an interview for Bower in Athens for the day after Christmas.  Bower was going to be home for the holidays, so it set up perfectly for him.  But a phone call on Christmas Eve would put an end to those dreams.

The phone call came in and it was Vince Dooley on the other side.  The long and the short of it was that the University had decided to go ahead and make a decision to hire Mark Richt as the next football coach at Georgia.  Dooley stressed to Bower that decision to go ahead and make the offer to Richt was made by the University President (Adams) and he was very sorry to break the bad news.  Richt was atop of number of candidate lists, including Missouri, and they did not want to miss out on him.  So Jeff Bower never got a chance to interview in person for the University of Georgia job.

History tells us that the decision to hire Mark Richt was the right one.  Two SEC championships, an 8-4 bowl record, and multiple 10 finishes speak for themselves.  But what if Bower would have at least gotten that interview?  For Jeff Bower, this was a dream never realized but an opportunity that he surely will never forget.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Chuck Oliver, Done as a CFB 'Analyst'


For those who have not yet seen the end of Coach Richt's post-game press conference, I invite you to scroll down and watch the below video first, which comprises the entire exchange you've likely already heard about. The questioning voice is none other than Atlanta 680 AM/The Fan's Chuck Oliver.


For those very unfamiliar with Chuck, Chuck is the self-proclaimed "king" of college football (even claiming the moniker below his mugshot on his own website). He supposedly is even Atlanta's "most knowledgeable college football authority," per 680's bio.

Chuck, your English degree is worth as much as a piece of tattered toilet paper still lingering around in Auburn, Alabama. Do not ask a question in a passive voice, hiding behind anonymous 'some people' when asking a direct question you want answered. Even if within your own personal Candyland you are a voice of 'The People,' in that room you are a credentialed media member, a purported professional (supposedly the "most knowledgeable" one too!). Ask a question and own it, or just don't ask it at all if it is, in fact, indefensible. Perhaps the few journalism credits you picked up while struggling through Auburn's rigorous academic program for 5 1/4 years didn't cover any of that.

Does the supposed "king" know that this was the 3rd closest final score in SEC Championship history? Did the "king" watch the same game that everyone else did, the one the national media pundits are already labeling the 2nd-greatest SEC Championship game played? Do you even realize that Coach Richt has a higher career winning percentage than Saint Nick, or that Aaron Murray nearly carried his team on his back to Miami?

If not, Chuck, perhaps your time as a C-USA TV analyst, as well as your 5-year stint as a defensive line coach at South Gwinnett High School, give you a much clearer perspective on this particular game, and football in general, than every single person who actually watched this game. Maybe Nick Saban will be looking for a "king" of college football, a veritable guru of the gridiron, to supplant Kirby whenever he leaves for greener pastures?

Either way, Chuck, I would start brushing up on the 'ol resume, since your clear absence of professionalism, knowledge of football, and journalistic integrity all clearly reflect your one quality that shines through above all else: you're full of hot air.

I'm sure that cherished '68 Vista Cruiser of yours is still available to take you back out West, where some tiny Texas town, outside of your beloved hometown of Houston, is waiting to crown their own Friday Night Lights "king" of football.  Clearly you do not belong in front of a microphone, period, in a major media market, and it is nigh time for 680/The Fan to "dethrone" you and let the real journalism professionals get back to work.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Never Thought Hate Week Would Involve Hating Something Georgia Related

Hate Week.  A time when members of the Bulldog Nation show what it means to be part of the Georgia faithful.  We make the annual trek to Jacksonville to support the team in silver britches with a black G on the side of that beautiful red helmet.  We get into a war of words with our enemies from the south, making funny of their denim attire and their love of haircuts that have not been popular since the 1980's.  Hate week has always been about celebrating everything we love about Georgia and everything we despise about Florida...until today.  Hate Week 2012 will be marked as the day that I officially began hating the student operated newspaper, The Red & Black.

Anyone who attended school in Athens most likely has some kind of memory attached to the Red & Black.  Be it the Get Fuzzy cartoons, the stupid editorials about finding the best drink specials downtown, to the ever reliable crossword puzzle, the R&B was there to provide some distraction during those 75 minute lectures about macroeconomics or the climate patterns in southeast Asia.  So it came as a surprise this afternoon when I heard about a full page advertisement that appeared in today's issue of the paper.

The nature of the ad was to attack Georgia's football team and make a mockery of our coach.  I was not shocked that Florida fans would pay to have something like this put in our paper.  However, I am completely shocked that the editors and people who run The Red and Black would allow this to happen at all.  Under no circumstances is this acceptable for the student newspaper, independent of but still representing the University of Georgia, to run an ad like this.  It is degrading and down right insulting.

Like myself, many other people were outraged and voiced their opinions to the Red & Black's twitter account (@redandblack).  I expected a logical response and perhaps an apology, but instead there was the biggest scape goat answer I have ever seen (this same response was given to multiple people):

It's a paid advertisement. We have to sell some ads to bring students free news. Put some duct tape over it, we understand.

Are you freaking kidding me?!?  You are hiding behind money and the fact that you are a free paper?  If I was in charge of that paper, there is not amount of money that could have been paid to me to allow that ad to run in my paper.  It defeats the whole purpose of the paper, to report and cover the University of Georgia.  Hell, their official purpose is (from www.redandblack.com):

"Our two-fold mission is: to provide a training ground for students interested in gaining experience in various aspects of newspaper publishing and to produce a high quality newspaper for the University of Georgia community."

I don't know about you, but running crap ads that demean the university seem to break both of those missions.  An ad such as this is not something you see in a high quality newspaper.  You would never see an ad as childish as this in the AJC or any other paper.  And how does running that ad help the students in their learning experience?  It makes the paper that they are writing for and the school which they attend and hope to earn a degree look bad.

Later this evening, they offered an official statement from the Red & Black editorial board.  The long and the short of it was that they don't control the advertisements (I can't seem to find the link right now).  That's crap.  There is always someone who has the final say of what runs in a newspaper.  And it seems to me that the editorial staff, both student and non student, have enough power to stop the presses.  Hell, the entire staff WALKED OUT THIS SUMMER and the man who was running the paper quit!  So don't tell us you have no control over the ads that run in the paper.

So, as of today, now October 26, 2012, I officially hate the student newspaper at the University of Georgia, The Red & Black.  It no longer provides a positive image of the university and is not trying to make the university a better place for the students and men and women who work there.  This paper has operated without competition for a long time and I think the power has gone to their heads.   I wish the student editorial staff would have stuck to their guns when they walked out this summer, because maybe there would be a second choice for students to get information.  I am not a journalism major and if you this read blog, clearly I have no professional training, so by no means am I claiming that I could do a better job.  But there has to be someone out there who could.

I hate Florida and now I hate the Red & Black (newspaper)!

Go Dawgs!!!

PS - I have also read some chatter that some people feel this ad may have been planted by Georgia fans to try and motivate the team.  If that is the case, ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?  What kind of motivation is that?  It smells a lot like FAKE JUICE to me.  If indeed it was a Georgia fan behind this, turn in your Dawg card now, sell your season tickets, as stay as far away from Athens as possible.  We don't want, or need, people like you.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hate Week 2012: Payback

The year was 2002.  In its second season under Mark Richt, the Georgia Bulldogs were undefeated heading into the showdown with Florida in Jacksonville.  The Dawgs had a strong defense led by Sean Jones and Boss Bailey and a rising star named David Pollack.  The offense was playing well too, with a finally healthy Musa Smith and sophomore quarterback David Greene coming into his own.  Georgia was ready to not only win the SEC but compete for a National Championship. 

Jump to today.  Florida is in its second season under Will Muschamp and are undefeated.  They have a strong defense led by veterans Omar Hunter and Matt Elam.  This offense is playing well, with senior running back Mike Gillislee carrying the load and Jeff Driskel quickly improving.  They are ranked near the top of the BCS standings and looking to reassert themselves on the national stage.  Sound familiar?

In 2002, the Gators decided to ruin the party for the Dawgs.  Make no mistake, the Gators were not playing their best football entering the contest.  As a matter of fact, they were still ranked, but at 5-3 they had already suffered a loss to an Ole Miss team that would finish the year at 6-6.  They had also been embarrassed by LSU two weeks earlier, losing 36-7 in Baton Rouge (doesn't this also sound familiar to Georgia losing 35-7 at South Carolina).  Despite this, the Gators walked into the stadium in Jacksonville and ruined Georgia's perfect season.

I think it is time to repay the favor.

Is Georgia playing good?  Hell no.  The loss at South Carolina was embarrassing and the defense looked pathetic in the close win at Kentucky.  But does that mean that there is not talent on the team? No. 

Make no mistake Georgia fans, it may look bleak.  But if you can't look at the big picture and see that a win could mean that all those goals from the beginning of the season will be back on the table, then you are just blinded with hate for the coaching staff.  A win Saturday means we will most likely return to Atlanta.  Would we be able to hang with Alabama, I have no clue.  But you can't find out if you don't even make it in the first place.  It's time rally around the team and get a little revenge for 2002.

And by the way, as Georgia we hate Florida.  That should be motivation enough.

GO DAWGS!!!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

One Goal



This season began with promise: an experienced team with a high ranking and an easy schedule.  Many of the players talked about an ultimate goal, making it to Miami for the National Championship game.  But as we watched the debacle that took place on Saturday night, all of those lofty dreams quickly died to the sound of Sandstorm over the loud speaker.  Maybe the players were not focused, the coaching staff ill-prepared, or maybe South Carolina is just that good.  We’ll never truly know why the game went so bad on Saturday.  But one thing has become abundantly clear: Georgia must beat Florida.

The coaching staff may mention other goals.  They’ll say we still have a chance at the East, that we can beat Auburn for 6th time in 7 years and Georgia Tech for the 11th time in 12.  They’ll say we can return to a New Year’s Bowl game and potentially a BCS game if we win out.  NONE OF THIS MATTERS.
The only goal the coaching staff and the team should be focused on is beating Florida.  The rest of the schedule is filled with scrubs (Kentucky, Ole Miss) and teams that clearly have no idea what they are doing right now (Auburn and Georgia Tech).  Beating them should be expected (and no, that does not mean overlook them, it just means Georgia clearly has more talent).  After two down years, the Florida Gators are trying to reintroduce themselves to the nation.  Their second season under Will Muschamp is beginning to bear a resemblance to Mark Richt’s second season at Georgia, with a strong defense, a reliable running back, and a quickly improving quarterback.  If the Dawgs hope to reclaim what was once a bright season, they must return the favor that the Gators gave them back in 2002.

Florida is still the team that I want to beat more than anyone, and I think most of the Dawg Nation would agree.  South Carolina appears to have turned the corner as an upper echelon team in the East and if the Dawgs don’t want to get left behind, they must take back control of the series in Jacksonville.  We all know the numbers over the last 20 some odd years, but let’s just look at the years under Richt.  Since 2001, Georgia has gone 3-8 against the Gators.  And while that number is still horrendous, it is much better than the one win in the ten previous seasons.  And that record is better when you look at the last 5 years, where Georgia has gone 2-3.  Getting to .500 over the last six would be huge.

The season is not lost, but it sure feels like it.  The fans are angry and some are acting really stupid.  To salvage the season, we need to feel good about something.  Beating Florida (I believe) is what the doctor ordered.  So forget our time, our team, no regrets.  It’s time to embrace the only goal that matters:  BEAT FLORIDA.