Thursday, December 31, 2009

DAWGBEASTS **BOWL EDITION**



INDEPENDENCE BOWL
TEXAS A&M vs. GEORGIA

WooHoo, Reader! The final game of the DAWGS 2009 campaign was a case study in my kind of football. I think it’s safe to say that all of us would have rather seen the Georgia offense find their groove a bit earlier, but that was worked out with a few halftime adjustments to our blocking schemes. Beyond that though, this was the way I like to see the game played….stiff defense that forces the offense to beat you and takes advantage of their mistakes (and the DAWGS didn’t cash in on every opportunity to say the least), game-changing special teams play and an offense that imposes it’s will and dictates the flow of the game. This game, this victory, leaves me with a great feeling heading into the off-season and I am looking forward to seeing what happens between now and September 4th against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.

DAWGBEASTS

SPECIAL TEAMS UNITS – Nothing seems to turn a game the way a big play on special teams can. Georgia’s special teams units all deserve a gold star for their performances versus Texas A&M. Blair Walsh and Drew Butler did their parts and the coverage was solid, but that in no way completely tells the tale.

GENO ATKINS – Early on, Atkins blocked an Aggies field goal attempt that kept the game scoreless. This turned out to be huge as it gave the DAWGS some fire on the defensive side of the ball and seemingly steeled their resolve to continue to play hard, even with all of the questions surrounding that side of the ball coming into the game. Their teammates would pick them up eventually.

BRANDON BOYKIN – the Georgia sophomore, a repeat offender here at the BEAST, had a 81 yard punt return for touchdown. Boykin set a school record and tied the SEC record with three kickoff returns for a TD in a season in the process. Number two now shares the SEC record with Willie Gault (Tennessee, 1980).


Courtesy Patricia Spaulding/Onlineathens.com

BACARRI RAMBO – Rambo blocked a punt late in the 2nd quarter that led to Georgia’s go-ahead touchdown. I thought Vance Cuff was going to score on the play, but the DAWGS eventually cashed the big play in for seven.

GENO ATKINS – I know the DAWGS senior defensive tackle is mentioned above, but in addition to the blocked field goal, Atkins also finished with three tackles and one sack and earned the game’s MVP (defense). What’s more, every time I looked up it seemed #56 was channeling Nebraska Heisman Trophy finalist Ndamukong Suh as he man-handled any Aggies interior linemen that dared challenge him, driving them into the backfield, stuffing the run and pressuring the quarterback with apparent ease. Atkins’ game clearly passed the eyeball test and his performance in the Independence Bowl epitomized what it means to be a BEAST…totally dominating the game whether his final numbers reflect his impact or not.

CLINT BOLING – Texas A&M’s Von Miller came into the game leading the nation in sacks (17), but Boling absolutely shut down the Aggies playmaker holing him to just four tackles in the game.


Courtesy UGASports.com

RUSS (interim mascot) – Two starts, two wins…and swagger wins at that. A thumping of the in-state Techies and a bowl victory…that’s pretty good stuff.

THE PROGRAM – No, there has not been a national championship for the DAWGS since 1980, but there very easily might have been with a just a bit of luck along the way during a near-miss seasons and there have been division and conference championships. In case you missed it, there has also been a staggering run of consistency in Athens that is unmatched in the rest of the college football world. With the win, Georgia (8-5, 4-4 SEC) leads the country with 13 consecutive seasons with eight or more wins. Not Southern Cal, not Ohio State, not the HATED Gators. Texas and Virginia Tech rank second with 12 each.

MARK RICHT – Even in a season where expectations of the team and the fans fell short, Georgia still managed the aforementioned eight wins and a bowl victory. Under Richt, the DAWGS own a 38-4 record against teams from outside the Southeastern Conference. In bowl games under Richt, Georgia is 7-2. Overall, Richt is 90-27 in his nine seasons. Successfully carrying the banner for the conference and owning consistent bragging rights over our neighbors and friends, heading into the off-season with a full head of steam and averaging 10 wins a year as a head coach…not to mention running a program boasting high graduation rates and consistently turning out fine young men. That, my fellow DAWGS, is about as much of a BEAST as a head coach can be.


Courtesy UGASports.com

Finally…

the SENIORS – You are a bunch of Damn Good Dawgs and we here at the BEAST would like to thank you for all that you have given to the University of Georgia and to each of us as fans over the last few years.

GO DAWGS!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Didn't see this one coming...honest.



Just a heads up on this blog entry Reader, I am firing this one straight from the hip without any of the normal research and long-formed opinion that I usually attempt to offer you.

I never thought that I would really get into the speculation about possible candidates for the Defensive Coordinator position at the University of Georgia here at the BEAST, but that is exactly where I find myself right now.

How does this one strike you….Brent Venables, Oklahoma?

Here is some quick red meat for you:

Brent Venables
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thomas Brent Venables (born December 18, 1970) is an American college football coach.

Born: December 18, 1970 (age 39)
Annual Salary: $260,000

Playing career:

1989-1990 Garden City CC
1991-1992 Kansas State

Coaching career:

1993-1998 Kansas State (asst.)
1999-present Oklahoma (DC)

He is currently the associate head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for the University of Oklahoma Sooners football team. In 2006, he was one of five finalists for the prestigious Broyles Award for the nation's top assistant coach. He coached with Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops at Kansas State University and was brought to Oklahoma by Stoops.

As a player he played at Kansas State under Coach Bill Snyder. He would later become an assistant on Bill Snyder's staff at Kansas State.


My initial thoughts are that Venables is a fiery, detail oriented coach and his defenses have players that attack their individual match-ups. Like it. He is used to the big stage in a BCS conference and competed for and won championships. Really like it. Venables played under and worked for a tremendous teacher and head coach in Snyder during his time at Kansas State and has worked right alongside Stoops (whom I have tremendous respect for even with his Gator ties) at Oklahoma. Absolutely love it. And who wouldn’t give up the twisters of Oklahoma for the rolling hills of Athens, Georgia? To top it off, it looks as though Georgia would be in position to offer Venables a significant pay raise for his services (assuming the number quoted above is accurate) and a nice title to go along with it.

As with any of these possible candidates for the Georgia Defensive Coordinator, this means about as much as an answer you might get from a magic 8 ball. I will say, at first blush I am as excited about this name as any I have heard so far in this very cloudy (from our perspective) process. I would be thrilled with the hiring of Brent Venables at Georgia. Now whether or not this is even a possibility, your guess is as good as mine.

You can peruse Venables' official bio HERE.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's all about the G



I really, really, really am so very ready to watch the DAWGS play football again. The Aggies of Texas A&M await the DAWGS in the Independence Bowl and game time cannot get here fast enough for this Georgia fan. Call it a mid-level bowl game if you like, I don’t care.

So much has happened since our last game. It was AWESOME to see us whip the Techies to finish the regular season. Make no mistake…we do run this state…but it has been a tumultuous time since the DAWGS reminded everyone of that fact. Coach Richt has seen fit to make changes on his staff, it has come to light that high school coaches have had to be bouncer and bodyguard to keep the Tennessee temptresses and their boobies off prospective recruits, Saban won = suck, the Gators lost and Timmy cried = fantastic and then it was all blown out of the water by the circus at Florida brought on by the Urban Meyer faux resignation attention grab. It’s exhausting and enthralling all at the same time and like so many car accidents, we just can’t look away. As for Meyer, I really don’t care, but I do tend to agree with the views expressed HERE (be sure to check out the Pat Forde article link too) and HERE. I was actually sad when I heard he may be leaving because I felt we all had been deprived of the inevitable glory that will come when CMR and the DAWGS put another @$$ whipping on the Gators in the very near future. At least now I can look forward to that joyous moment again and I can rest well each night knowing that we are still Georgia and you still are not.

Bottom line, I just wanna see the DAWGS. I am just so tired of hearing about everybody else and their business. I just wanna see my guys play. I love the bowls and I love the DAWGS. Strap ‘em on tight boys and sic ‘em! GATA!!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A BIG BOWL OF INDEPENDENCE



Hello Reader! We find ourselves still basking in the warm seasonal glow of another Christmas come and gone. Hopefully you have all been able to overcome your holly jolly hangover brought on by a bit too much merriment and one too many trips to the kitchen for just one more yummy something. So now we turn our attention toward the upcoming year and embrace all the hope that it brings. That means several things…winter finally comes to Georgia, the gym dogs go after yet another national championship, Mark Fox and his DAWGS will be finding their way through the SEC schedule on the hard courts, the diamond dogs take the field soon and a new season of DAWGS football too. All of that will be great, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves just yet. Just in case it may have slipped your mind, our DAWGS have still got a bowl game to play in Louisiana on Monday. That’s right…2009 isn’t over just yet.

I’ve heard and read a lot since the bowls were announced about a lack of interest in the DAWGS game and how the Georgia people won’t travel well to Shreveport because we’ve somehow gotten spoiled the last few years with flashy bowl destinations and prime time game slots. In a very self-fulfilling prophecy, the more I have read and seen on television about the sad state of affairs over at the football offices of Butts-Mehre that I have noticed the thick malaise that is strangling the life out of everything that is associated with the red and the black.

Well, I for one refuse to be a part of it. For me, this time of year, it starts with the bowls in general. I have always loved the bowls and I still do. I have memories of watching the Orange, the Cotton, the Sugar, the Citrus, the Gator and the Liberty bowls and loving them all the same. Granted, I could do without all of the sponsorships that have made the bowls open to easy ridicule by some in recent years, but I understand that it is just a sign of the times in which we live and I simply opt to not mention them when I talk about the bowls. I enjoy all the pageantry of the bowls, the weird schedules that they are played on, the unusual locales in which they are played and the widely varied match-ups that they present. I am a fan of the bowls and that has not and will not change. I am excited that Georgia will be playing Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl on Monday and I will be cheering just as hard as I ever have for a DAWGS victory. This game is a fantastic treat that will help our little group bridge the gap from Christmas to the New Year’s Eve and we will celebrate it as we do most everything this time of year. This Georgia team has earned my respect and they deserve my support regardless of where or who they are playing. I cannot be in Shreveport in person because I will be working…that is the nature of this 24 hour business that I am a part of…but that doesn’t mean that my point of view is any less credible than that of any other DAWG fan. My friends and I…true DAWGS every one…will be cheering full throat from the first whistle to the last on Monday because it is who we are and it is what we do.

Soon enough we can turn our sights towards all things football that the new-year brings…national signing day, spring practice, summer workouts and the 2010 season. But for now, I would like use this very modest forum to humbly suggest that you take advantage of the opportunity to cheer on the 2009 edition of your DAWGS one last time because changes are absolutely coming in 2010…for better or worse.

GO DAWGS!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

SANTABEAST!? Abso-holly-jolly-lutely.



I absolutely love Christmas. Love everything about it. Of all the wonderful and mysterious symbols associated with Christmas and the season, I have a wonderfully particular affinity for that jolly old elf, Santa Claus. Now that we know where I'm coming from, here's the BEAST of the week...

BEAST - SANTA CLAUS

I have read that about 1/3 of the world's population celebrates the Christmas holiday....that's a little over 2 billion people! Imagine it...making that list (must be a whopper)! Checking it twice (that's gotta mean some late nights)! Keeping track of who's naughty and who's nice (can you imagine the stories?)! And probably the most impressive of all, whizzing around the globe in an open sleigh with THE bling-bling associate leading the way while bringing 2 billion-plus people presents and joy in one 24 hour period...!?!?!?! If that doesn't get you some votes as a BEAST then nothing will. Congratulations Santa Claus (each and every one of you...*wink*), you claim the title of BEAST of the week....SANTABEAST that is.

Seriously READER, we here at the BEAST wanted to take just a minute and wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. We hope the holiday season is healthy and bright and that 2010 brings you all nothing but the very best.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

“See, here’s the thing…” INITIAL THOUGHTS ON BRIAN KELLY TO NOTRE DAME




Let me start by saying I think Brian Kelly is one hell of a football coach, and I fully expect him to be successful at Notre Dame. That’s about all the good I have to say about that. Now that he is at Notre Dame I will be forced to root against him and I will continue to root against the Irish because of their totally b***s*** backdoor into the BCS and their national television network...among other things. So, there that is.

Now that my personal feelings out of the way, that has nothing to do with why I’m banging away at the keyboard this Thursday evening. My problem comes with the inevitably ugly dance that always takes place every time a “hot right now” coach leaves one newly successful program to take over at an old, used to be successful program and the trail of broken promises and cracked realities that are left behind. Listen, I know it’s just business for these head coaches and the schools that hire them away from now longing programs. Personally, I believe that any one of us that has the opportunity to better our personal situation and the situation of our families should do so. However, that does not mean that all is okay. There is always a very real human impact on the players that are left behind. It is absolutely unavoidable, and there is a right way to go about it leaving and there is a wrong (and way too often embraced) way of leaving.

The young men that choose to play for a head coach and program and represent one university over another do so, in large part, because of the fact that they trust the man in charge of leading that program. No building on campus, adoring fan base or professor in a lecture hall sat in their living rooms, ate dinner with their families and promised their mothers, fathers or grandparents that they would take care of them and return them a better man than they received them. Do not kid yourselves into thinking anything different. What could make a bad situation for the jilted worse?? How about if that same head coach that had promised you he would be there for you throughout your journey is now disrespecting you by being misleading and less than truthful on his way out the door for the big bucks? That would do it for me.

Well, it sounds like that is exactly what has happened this time around on the coaching carousel with Kelly leaving Cincinnati for Notre Dame. Just a day or so ago, Cincinnati -wide receiver Mardy Gilyard was quoted as saying Kelly had addressed the team and told them that the Notre Dame job opening was a non-issue because he wasn’t going anywhere. But that was then. Now, not so much….

From @AP_Top25 via Twitter:

Whoa. #Bearcats WR Gilyard unhappy with #Kelly going to #NotreDame, tells AP: '"He went for the money,. I'm fairly disgusted'. Agree?

More from #Bearcats WR Gilyard on #Kelly: 'I feel there was a little lying in the thing. I feel like he'd known this the whole time.' Ouch.

And this from #Bearcats TE Ben Guidugli on #Kelly: 'We weren't giving him a round of applause. It's like somebody turned their back on us.'

If you missed it: #Cincinnati's Brian Kelly wins Home Depot Coach of the Year award about the time he told team he's leaving for #NotreDame.


Again, I get it. I don’t need to hear about Kelly’s side of things. For this piece, it simply doesn’t matter. I am talking about how tough it must be for the guys in that Bearcats locker room tonight and going forward. They’re all big boys and they will get over it. The question is…when? Kelly probably won’t stick around to coach in the Orange Bowl against Florida given his past track record when it comes to coaching moves. So the question becomes, “Will the Bearcats be road kill for a ticked off bunch of Gators all hopped up on their last hit of Tebow juice or will the men from Cincinnati rally together and fight as if their world is ending?” I don’t know, but it sure will be fun to watch and find out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I TRUST THIS GUY ABOUT AS MUCH AS ANYONE



As you can tell from my recent blog posts and comment threads, I have no idea who the next DC will be in Athens and the process overwhelms me and I'm not even involved. All I know is I trust Coach Richt to make the right moves here. With that said, when Tony Barnhart speaks SEC football I listen. It seems Kirby Smart might be available...for a price...and I guess if that's the guy you want as a Georgia fan you have to be somewhat hopeful. I was particularly interested in this line from Barnhart:

"Everybody in the college football community agrees that he is ready to move on."


You can find the rest of Tony's quick thoughts HERE.

GO DAWGS!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

ME, KIRBY AND THE GATORS



Kirby Smart was a four year letterman for our DAWGS from 1995-1998. I’m pretty sure you already knew that part. What you probably didn’t know is Smart and I shared our time at Georgia until I graduated from Grady in the spring of 1998. Now while I shared an afternoon bus with Mike Bobo three days a week in 1997, I had no such (meaningless) relationship with a young Kirby. Why does any of this matter? Well, 1997 was a nice year for the Georgia football team. It was Jim Donnan’s best Bulldogs team and Kirby was a major contributor to that squad. What’s more, the DAWGS beat Florida and Steve Spurrier that year 37-17 after entering the game as 20 point underdogs. This is relevant because I was at that game, my first Georgia/Florida experience, and it is justifiably my first, greatest first person memory as a DAWGS fan and Kirby played a big role in the win. Therefore, according to my bourbon influenced connectivity chain, Mr. Smart and I are eternally linked.

In 1997 a group of fellow Georgia fans and I headed south to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party with more tickets to the game than we knew what to do with and no idea what we were in for. We spent the night before the game partying deep into the night and sleeping on the floor at a friend’s house in Valdosta only to wake early on game day feeling bouncy, bright-eyed and bushy tailed as if we knew it was going to be a great day. As soon as we got to Jacksonville and got parked for some alcohol-based tailgating we ran into some good ole boy strangers from south-Georgia and they readily offered up shot after shot of some libation I remember only as Hot Damn. Needless to say, by the time we wobbled our way to the stadium and found our seats, we were well oiled and wide open.

We cheered and body-surfed and talked trash to every Gator within shouting distance as Bobo threw to Hines and Corey Allen, Robert Edwards ran for touchdown after touchdown and…this is where Kirby comes in…the DAWGS picked three Gator quarterbacks off a total of four times in the game, of which, Kirby had two and should’ve had another. The Georgia defense was great that day coming up with big stop time and again and Mr. Smart played smart and was seemingly always around the action. Kirby would go on to lead the Bulldogs with six interceptions in 1997 and that was while sharing the same field as future NFL Hall-of-Famer Champ Bailey.

This is clearly the memory zenith of football fandom during my college daze and while it may not be the first thing I recall about that day, that game, that glorious victory over the HATED Gators or even that trip, Kirby’s contributions to the win absolutely rank as my favorite memory of the current Alabama defensive coordinator’s time as a DAWG.

That was then. This is now. Who knows? There may be a memory or two that have yet to be crafted by Smart at (for) the University of Georgia, just in a different role. I have no idea, but I will be keeping a keen eye on the goings-on in Athens in the coming days…just in case.

FAITH REWARDED



I have been silent up until now about the recent coaching upheaval on the football staff at the University of Georgia. I’ve kept quiet for several reasons. For one, I’ve tried to be respectful of all the efforts that the departing coaches made during their time at Georgia to make the program one that we could all be proud of. These men were part of a staff that led our DAWGS during arguably the greatest run in the history of the football program and that deserves my respect. However, in the end, I felt a change needed to be made.

You have not read here that I thought any coach should be fired, although I have voiced my opinion about the direction the defense was headed from time to time. I kept quiet because no matter how much I ranted or raved, it was implausible to think that any major changes would be made during the course of the season. I kept quiet because I believed that nothing I or anyone else outside the program could say would have any impact on Coach Mark Richt’s ultimate decision about the direction of his program. As it turns out, I was exactly right on this point as Coach Richt was quoted as saying that the noise surrounding his team this season had absolutely “zero” impact on his decision making process. But most of all I kept quiet because I have absolute faith in Coach Richt, both as a head coach and more importantly as a man, to do the right thing and to make the moves necessary to lead Georgia in the right direction both on and off the field and to take the DAWGS back to the top of the conference.

During the times of the greatest tumult, I had a hard time reading where others were questioning whether or not Coach Richt had the vision and the strength to honestly look at the state of his program and make the appropriate moves to achieve the type of success we all had become accustomed to during his tenure. No one bleeds for the Georgia football program more than its head coach, and at the end of the day Coach Richt made those very difficult moves that needed to be made. That too deserves my respect.

I have sat with Coach Richt in his office and discussed football and life. I have been in the meeting room with the team and I have seen his passion as he talks to recruits and tells them about the Georgia way. So you see, this is why I have faith in Coach Mark Richt. This is why I believe he is absolutely the right man to have leading our beloved DAWGS on the field. This is why I know he is the right person to guide these young men and prepare them for life after football. I am proud of Coach Richt and the program he has built and I am confident in the future of the program. I have faith that Georgia’s head coach will make the appropriate hires in the coming days and that we will all be shouting glory, glory again very soon. My faith has been rewarded at every turn in the past and I expect nothing less going forward.

GO DAWGS!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

BEASTS: Championship weekend edition




Ndumakong Suh

Suh had one of the great games in Big 12 championship game history, producing a career-best 4.5 sacks (Nebraska had 9 sacks total) among his team-high 12 tackles -- seven of which were for a loss.

You can read more about this dominant performance HERE.

C.J. Spiller

Spiller was absolutely dominant for the Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship game versus Georgia Tech. Seemingly every time the Tigers needed a play, they would just hand the ball to number 28. No wonder they’re going to retire his jersey as soon as he’s done with it. Spiller finished with 20 carries, 233 yards and 4 TDs. With four touchdowns against the Techies, Spiller set the Clemson record for touchdowns in a single season (20).

Mardy Gilyard


The Cincinnati Bearcats' Gilyard caught five passes for 118 yards and a touchdown, a 68 yard strike from Tony Pike, as the Bearcats rallied from 21 points down for the victory over Pittsburgh to give Cincinnati the outright Big East title. He also racked up 256 kickoff return yards, the most in one game in the FBS this season, including a 99 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

**Honorable mention from this game has to go to Pittsburgh Freshman running back Dion Lewis. The Panthers tailback finished with three touchdowns and 194 yards rushing on 47 carries.

LaMichael James

Oregon’s Redshirt freshman running back ran for 166 yards and three touchdowns Thursday night sending No. 7 Oregon to the Rose Bowl with a 37-33 victory over Oregon State (No. 16 BCS, No. 13 AP) in the Civil War as Pac-10 champions.

Greg McElroy


McElroy threw for 239 yards and a touchdown to claim the MVP award as Alabama owned Florida 32-13 to claim the SEC Championship. The player that was only at Alabama because Tim Tebow opted not to go there handed the Florida quarterback what was quite possibly his most painful defeat as a starter and denied the Gators a shot at their second straight national title and third in four years.

HEISMAN BALLOT



HEISMAN BALLOT

The wording on the ballot reads “The Most Outstanding College Football Player.” It doesn’t say “Most Valuable” or “Most Likely to be an All-Pro” or “Best Player on the Best Team.” Voters often get that confused, or just don’t care. This is the very reason I have grown to have a great deal of animosity towards the process that chooses the award winner each year. In recent years I have even wondered if the award should even be handed out each December. My rationale being that it should not be dictated by school driven campaigns or talking head “expert” spin, but strictly by a player’s performance on the field. Full disclosure, I have had Colt McCoy as my odds on favorite to win the award this year since the preseason and he stayed pretty much on track until his performance in the Big XII Championship game. However, other candidates had already forced their way into my head for consideration before the game and McCoy’s performance the other night just was too much to ignore and my deck has been shuffled.

I believe in “Competitive Greatness” which means that players play at their very best when their very best is what is called for. There is no better example of that than when a player comes through on their team’s biggest stage and this weekend’s championship games provided such a stage and I cannot overlook the performances turned in under the glare of the season’s brightest lights.

My ballot reads as follows:


1. Toby Gerhart

Stanford’s senior running back and American Football Coaches Association All-America Toby Gerhart rushed for a Stanford single-season record 1,736 yards and 26 touchdowns this season.

From Stanford’s official website:

“Gerhart ranks second in the nation in rushing, averaging 144.7 yards per game, and he leads the nation in scoring (13.33) and touchdowns (26). He has rushed for 100 or more yards in 10 of Stanford's 12 games this season, including three games in which he rushed for 200 yards or more.

Gerhart was at his best down the stretch, as he averaged 185.5 yards a game and scored 13 touchdowns over Stanford's last four contests against No. 7 Oregon (223), No. 11 USC (178), California (136) and Notre Dame (205). The Cardinal posted a 3-1 record in those games to finish the regular season with an 8-4 overall record, its most wins in a single-season since the 2001 campaign.”

2. Ndumakong Suh

Ndumakong Suh has been absolutely dominant this season and took full advantage of the big stage the other night in the Big XII Championship game. Time after time I watched as Suh tossed the Texas offensive linemen and Colt McCoy around like they were rag dolls.

Suh started all 13 games for the Huskers and finished with 82 total tackles (50 solo), 23 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, an interception, 10 passes broken up, 24 quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and three blocked kicks.

Between a stat line like that and what I saw on the field all season, I came within a hair of giving the Nebraska defensive lineman my first place vote as the Heisman Trophy winner.

3. C.J. Spiller

C.J. Spiller has been the driving force behind Clemson’s success this season and he has done impacted the game in each of the three phases as a runner, a pass receiver and as a kick returner. Spiller finished 1,145 rushing yards, 445 receiving yards, 210 yards on punt returns and 708 yards on kick-off returns and 20 total touchdowns and averaged 192.9 total yards per game on his way to 2,508 all-purpose yards for the Tigers.

4. Mark Ingram

Alabama’s Mark Ingram has had a fantastic season for the Crimson Tide this year highlighted by his 200+ yard rushing performance against South Carolina. However, Ingram’s back-up Trent Richardson is very productive making the two players virtually interchangeable in the Tide’s offense and that takes a lot of shine off of Ingram’s apple for me. You cannot say that about the players I have listed above Ingram on my ballot.


Rushing gp-gs att gain loss net avg td lg avg/g
Mark Ingram 12-11 221 1447 18 1429 6.5 12 70 119.1

Receiving gp-gs no. yds avg td lg avg/g
Mark Ingram 12-11 28 246 8.8 3 31 20.5

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DAWGS should appease their sweet tooth



Cupcake…cream-puff…call it what you will. The DAWGS had quite a treat this past Saturday in the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech and a tasty treat it was. A few days removed from a very pleasant Homecoming victory over Golden Eagles, I cannot lose the thought of what Georgia’s season may have looked like had the DAWGS been afforded the luxury of fattening up a bit on a couple of games against lighter weight opponents. David Hale mentioned this thought process in his live game blog Saturday. Playing a strong schedule has its advantages and too much of a sugary-sweet schedule is a bad thing, but maybe it is these “sweeter” match-ups that help a program like Georgia’s rank among the heavyweights at the end of the year.

Don’t misunderstand me. I take great pride in being able to point to the fact that the DAWGS have not been afraid to schedule a better grade of opponent in the last few years and that we plan to play several more quality and/or entertaining match-ups in the upcoming seasons. In a hardened and often cynical newsroom environment, this fact carries a great weight. From a fan’s perspective, Wifey and I love the intrigue and excitement that goes with an inter-sectional meeting. When we looked at the schedule for this year, Oklahoma State and Arizona State offered that unusual and enticing sparkle that a pairing against any directional school just can’t offer. The big SEC match-ups are always fun and exciting and we know exactly what they are all about, but it is nice to have a less familiar foe on the schedule from time to time. As for 2010, we’re making plans right now to make the trip out to Boulder, CO to watch the DAWGS tangle with the Buffaloes. We can’t wait to head out on what should be a fantastic trip.

With all that said, what Georgia may have learned and the experience that was gained from the performance this past weekend cannot be ignored. What happened “Between the Hedges” Saturday appears to have done wonders for the team’s confidence, especially the weary psyche of the defense, it gave the younger players a chance to find their legs and have some success, and it provided the coaching staff with an opportunity to better figure out exactly how to use all the tools they have in the toolbox. Having a positive result on tape from a game speed situation is invaluable when it comes to teaching the game and building the confidence of an individual player and a team.

Specifically, I have wondered this week about what impact having such a challenging schedule over the first half of the season has had on the DAWGS running game. If the early season schedule had provided another pay-check opponent, is it such a stretch to think that the four-back scenario that is just now clearing itself up would have been sorted out a bit sooner? I know there have been other factors involved at that position…injuries, the pursuit of offensive balance and so on…but seeing what happened on the field against Tennessee Tech definitely begs the question. Without being in the pressure packed situations that were a staple of Georgia’s early season games, the possibility certainly exists that there would have been more opportunity to work players like Branden Smith, Logan Gray, Rontavious Wooten, Marlon Brown and Washaun Ealey into the rotation to see what they could do when the band is playing.

If Georgia had followed the lead of their conference brethren and scheduled a bit lighter to start the year, is it too presumptuous to assume that the running game would have found its wheels a little sooner? It can be argued that a strong running game is the cornerstone of everything that Georgia is and does. An effective running game leads to balance in the offense and hopefully more production. Moving the ball effectively on the ground keeps the defense off the field and effects how the game is called defensively. Hopefully, all of that leads to the DAWGS being ahead more often late in games which would allow for the coaching staff to get the younger players some valuable game experience.

Couple the above ponderings with the fact that nine games into the season it has become obvious that the DAWGS best play-makers are all underclassmen and the evidence becomes even more convincing. What if the coaching staff had been able to see that prove itself out as fact ON THE FIELD earlier in the season? None of us can say for sure if anything would be different, but it is certainly an interesting possibility. One would guess that this week’s edition of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry will offer some insight into whether any of this carries any validity at all. If the DAWGS successfully find a way to continue to incorporate their young play-makers into the game plan against Auburn, maybe what happened against the Golden Eagles can be viewed as a lesson. It would support the thought that although not flashy, early season tune-up games should be a consistent staple of the future DAWGS early season diet. Those more flashy inter-sectional games against teams from the other BCS conferences will still be prized additions to the schedule, but instead of being the steak and potatoes of the out of conference slate we can happily think of them more as the sprinkles on top of our cupcake dessert.

When is a Horned Frog a Duck….or a DAWG?



As I have stated clearly before, I really like a touch of black when it comes to the DAWGS uniforms. However, I like most Georgia people I know, have grown a bit weary of Georgia breaking out a new twist on the black every time we have a big game. On a related note, I will have more on Georgia’s big game trend coming soon. I guess I get Coach Richt’s position on this topic…(paraphrasing) being open to anything that helps keep the game fun for the players and maybe adds a little juice…but when the game doesn’t go your way it certainly leaves a bitter and hollow feeling in your gut for everyone involved.

I have seen other teams take a similar tact in recent years. The Oregon Ducks, backed by Nike’s Phil Knight, have an avalanche of uniform choices to choose from. So many, in fact there is a rule that no uniform combination can be repeated in a season. A few examples can be seen HERE.

Last year, Army donned a new look in the very tradition laden Army vs. Navy game. At first blush, I liked the Cadets look. However, the new look did nothing to change the foreseeable outcome of the game as Navy went on to win 34-0.





This week, the #4 TCU Horned Frogs are taking on the #16 Utah Utes in Fort Worth. A sellout crowd will be on hand for what looks to be the last major hurdle on the way to an undefeated season and all of the possibilities that come along with it for the Frogs. Enter the seemingly unavoidable costume switcharoo. This week, instead of the traditional purple helmets, black or purple tops and black or white pants, TCU will be breaking out these new Nike Pro Combat Uniform beauties:



You can read the full article and check out a slide show HERE.

I’m not saying that it’s not a good look. Frankly, I haven’t come to a decision on that one just yet, but I’m just shocked that it seems yet another team is trying to take advantage of a move that Coach Richt was so successful with just two seasons ago. (DISCLAIMER: I know that other teams have manipulated uniforms before CMR’s move, but I am a Georgia fan and therefore my perspective starts with the DAWGS and moves out from there.) Who knows if this is more a TCU “amp the guys” move or if it is just another Nike “Oregon Duck style” marketing ploy tied to a high-profile college football game. Will this move impact the game in any tangible or measurable fashion that spurs on the Frogs? At the end of the day, I don’t think it really matters. If TCU wants to add a little flair to the greatest game in the world that we know as college football, it has every right to do so. I just think that all of this alternate uniform business across the landscape of college football is getting a little out of hand. Changing a jersey color or a pant design seems within reason, but an outright overhaul for the sake of an event seems a bit much. I just hope we don’t see snarling bulldog teeth plastered on the Georgia helmets anytime soon.

GO DAWGS!!!


Monday, November 9, 2009

BEASTS from the CFB landscape



Given that this week was Homecoming for the DAWGS and provided a very enjoyable (save penalties) and easy win, and the fact that I'm on vacation and have had more time to look around and write, I present to you performances from the CFB landscape that are worthy of designation as A DAMN BEAST!!!

BEAST!!! - Toby Gerhart, Stanford – 38 carries, school record 223 yds (5.9 ypc), 3 tds in the 51-42 upset win over #8 Oregon. Gerhart is an absolute tank. The Stanford power back had rushed for over a hundred yards by halftime against Oregon and did not have a run over 14 yards...impressive. Stanford is fun to watch. I didn't think Jim Harbaugh was nuts in saying his freshman QB Andrew Luck was the best quarterback in the land and there's something growing up on The Farm. The Cardinal are coming as a team and Gerhart is the big diesel engine that makes them go.

BEAST!!! – Zach Callaros, Cincinnati – 29 of 37, 480 yds, TD passing and 75 yds rushing and 2 TDs vs. UCONN. Tony Pike is a nice player and I like Chip Kelly as a coach, but it will be interesting to watch the QB situation in Cincy once Pike is game ready (*Pike was medically cleared this week, but had not practiced enough to be ready for the game according to Coach Kelly)

BEAST!!! – CJ Spiller had a school record 312 total yds vs. FSU. Spiller is a game changer in every sense of the word and the Clemson staff is putting him position to make plays for them. Good for them. Any chance we can get Branden Smith to run that wheel route out of the backfield for the DAWGS the way Spiller does at Clemson? That would be nice.

BEAST!!! – Houston true freshman kicker Matt Hogan 51-yd FG as time expires saves the Cougar’s hide. Case Keenum and the boys are unbelievable. I thought they had lost that game at least three times before they miraculously won it. I'll say this, they keep it interesting.

BEAST!!! – Jordan Shipley, Texas – 11 receptions, school record 273 yds, td vs UCF. This game is one that may make you want to split Heisman votes between Colt McCoy and Shipley at the end of the year. I do not agree. I still stand by my preseason pick that McCoy will win the Heisman and Shipley has been really good all season, but this past Saturday Shipley was absolutely dominant and was absolutely the catalyst for the Longhorns easy win over the Knights.

GO DAWGS!

DAWGBEAST and SEC POTW! Nice.



Looks like the folks at the SEC offices also TOOK NOTICE of one of our fine young DAWGS. Congrats MR90! GATA and GO DAWGS!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

DAWGS come up golden at Homecoming



The first weekend in November brought a beautiful fall day and the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles into Athens for Homecoming 2009 and a better all around day would have been hard to come by.

I could not be in Athens for this year’s homecoming festivities, but even listening on the radio the DAWGS level of execution against what was an admittedly inferior opponent came shining through. Couple that dominating performance with a W and you get the perfect cure for the indigestion brought on by a 4-4 start to the season. You can’t do anything about what’s already happened, so it was good to see the DAWGS take care of the business that was in front of them.

Here are a few more thoughts:

I’m not against adding a splash of black to Georgia’s uniforms by any stretch, but it sure was nice to see the RED hats and tops paired with those SILVER BRITCHES.

Two things about the defensive effort today:

1. A shutout is damn hard to pull off regardless of who you play and that fact, as well as the effort it took to finish it off, should be acknowledged, respected and appreciated.

2. Again, I know Tennessee Tech was over-matched, but regardless…the DAWGS held the Golden Eagles to just 55 total yards of offense and that is just beautiful to see. This is the second lowest output by a Bulldog opponent in school history. The record is 39 total yards by The Citadel in 1953.

A couple of offensive pieces of perspective:

1. Joe Cox was efficient: 10-13, 140 yards, 2 TD….that’s a pretty good day’s work.

2. Georgia finished with 304 yards rushing on the day. Did anybody think we would see that number at any point this season? Me neither. Kudos to everyone involved.

It was very nice to hear the young DAWGS have some success…gives me hope. Looks like I may not be delusional for feeling that way. Well, at least not delusional about that.

A whole host of young Georgia players contributed in a big way on Saturday. Orson Charles. Montez Robinson. Branden Smith. Washaun Ealey. Cornelius Washington. That list is not all-inclusive to be sure. Michael Moore was the first non-freshman to score a TD today and his tally made the score 38-0 in favor of the DAWGS. I think that is impressive. Although I had personally hoped to see a lot more of Marlon Brown and Rontavious Wooten today, Coach Richt said that game situations dictated that the game plan change and the DAWGS rode the running game. He added that he liked what he saw from the young WRs and that they did a good job of blocking in the running game . I’ll certainly take his word for it. Besides, if this season has shown us anything thus far, Georgia can certainly use every live rep it can get when it comes to running the football. Not a shot here, just stating the obvious.

On to everybody’s favorite section, the DAWGBEASTS.

MONTEZ ROBINSON, freshman DE - Robinson had three tackles and two sacks in the first half and finished with five stops. These were the first tackles of his career and his two sacks accounted for 1/3 of the team’s total of six for the game.

BRANDEN SMITH, freshman WC - Smith took a direct snap at quarterback and broke loose for a 51-yard TD with 3:01 left in the first quarter. Smith finished with 72 yards on three carries for the game. This was Smith's second TD run of the season after he ran for a 61-yard score on a reverse against South Carolina. Once again, number 1 proved he is a lightning strike just waiting to happen and is the very definition of a game changer.

WASHAUN EALEY, freshman TB – Ealey scored the first two TDs of his career Saturday scampering in from seven yards for his first career TD and then breaking free on a 44-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. Ealey finished with a team-best 89 yards on seven carries in the game.


GO DAWGS!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Don't take my word for it, the DAWGS said it.



So what is the marquise match-up on tap at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail party? Well it may be the flash and lightning that could be on display on the edges.

Joe Haden/Janoris Jenkins vs. AJ Green

5’11” 190 lbs vs. 6’5” 205 lbs

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, Gators.



A lot of the time, all the talk leading up to a game like the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party can be shrugged off as coach speak or cliché. Most of the noise coming out of the camps involved is no more exhilarating or meaningful than yesterday’s newspaper. However, given the jabs exchanged between Mark “Evil” Richt and Urban “T is for timeout” Meyer over the last couple of years, one might expect a little rancor rattled bulletin board material making it’s way out of Gainesville and Athens this week. Usually the really passionate outbursts are more likely to be found on fan blogs or message boards, but the sounds swirling around the gauntlet that is the WLOCP this week are rather tasty indeed.


Make no mistake, the Gators are feeling themselves a bit leading into the game, even with their perceived struggles of late. Meyer said Florida "had the best Sunday practice we've ever had." He added: "Everyone knows exactly what this game is." That’s all fine and good, but the DAWGS are hardly cowering in the days leading up to the game.

Don’t take my word for it, the DAWGS said it.

Joe Cox
“We know this game could change our season. This is our first step toward the rest of our season.”

I often refer to A.J. Green as Lethal Weapon 8 because he is silent but deadly from any distance. Green wasn't a part of the end zone celebration in the 2007 game, but the mild-mannered and soft spoken wide receiver is raging about the 2008 timeouts.

"That's motivation for me," he said. "That's a sign of disrespect. So I'm going to go out there and play my heart out."

LW8 remains bothered more by the outcome.
"The way they physically beat us, I feel like we have a statement to make."

Defensive end Justin Houston made a statement Tuesday when asked about Saint Timothy Tebow:
"He's like every other quarterback. I don't see anything special about him. He's a quarterback and he's a good quarterback, but nothing special."

Yep, that one’s got a little bite to it.

As for the DAWGS defensive heartbeat Rennie Curran, well he seems to be taking a very man-to-man attitude:

“That’s our main thing…..We all know how much he’s respected, the reputation he’s built for himself and Florida. If you want to stop Florida’s offense, you’ve got to stop it from the head, with their leader, and that’s Tebow. That’s our main thing. We’ve got to get that guy to flinch.”

I think Coach Richt is saying a lot in that he isn’t say too much. In the recap from his radio show on Monday night, the head DAWG is reported as saying
“This game is different in that it’s 50/50, and Richt wants the fan base to get excited and jacked up for this game, because excitement is coming.”

Last year, senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens could only watch as things unraveled on the DAWGS. That’s not the case this year and as for Tebow, well he had this to say:
“If I can get a nose-to-nose shot, it will be nasty. He’s a quarterback. He’ll try and run over the (defensive backs) and probably linebackers, but linemen? He ain’t going to do that to any defensive linemen.”

On a less heated but hopefully just as telling note, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez had some interesting things to say this week. I totally agree with his statements about attitude being the difference.

"I don't want to speak schematically, but people who have had success like when we beat them in 2007, it's really the style that you play, the mentality that you play, the attitude that you bring on every play that's going to be the difference. You've got to be physical. They are a very talented football team but we try not to make it about them. It's more about us and what we do."

Like I’ve said here before, football is not just a contact sport, it is a violent sport. The team that plays with a higher level of acute violence will most often be victorious. I hope Willie's statements are a harbinger of things to come.


In case you haven’t heard, I HATE Florida. Knowing that we GATA so often in the 70s and 80s only makes the losses of the 90s sting that much more, but it also makes the victories that much more glorious. That is why these DAWGS are dangerous. They have nothing to lose. They have no pressure on them. They have nothing to do but show up, play fast and free and GATA just like the DAWGS before them did on a regular basis back in the day. Don’t take my word for it, The Dawg-gone blog said it. But, I sure as Gainesville (HELL) agree with them.

And finally, didn’t I ask THIS question just a few days ago?

I am fully aware that there isn't much in the pregame notes or the stats that should lead me to believe that I should expect an upset this weekend, but it doesn't matter. I just have a really good feeling about how things are going based on the vibrations coming out of Athens and Gainesville this week. As irrational as it may seem, I believe. The DAWGS may win or they may lose, but I know that they are going to fight. The best part is, you don't have to take my word for it, the DAWGS said it.

GO DAWGS!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Screw you, Timmy!



QUICK HITTERS

The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is more than just a game, it’s an event. It’s an event so bit that has events planned around it. It even has it’s own Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include two Damn Good Dawgs to be sure.

Screw you, Timmy!

I hate Florida. I hate it when the DAWGS lose to Florida. If anything could make a bad situation worse it would be if the Urban and the Gators could be condescending and mocking way to refer to it. Oh wait, they have. Honesty? Really? Screw you, Timmy!

What’s that coming down the track….

Excitement! At least that’s what Coach Richt is saying. In the recap from his radio show on Monday night, the head DAWG is reported as saying “This game is different in that it’s 50/50, and Richt wants the fan base to get excited and jacked up for this game, because excitement is coming.” Read the recap HERE. Why shouldn't we be excited? What do the DAWGS have in store for the Gators this weekend? Damned if I know, but I sure can’t wait to find out.

Gators SUCK!

The best team does not always win this game. Need proof? Just think back to 2002 when the DAWGS rolled in dominating virtually every opponent on their way to an 8-0 record, while the Gators wandered into Jacksonville at 4-3 and waltzed out having ended any shot the DAWGS had at playing for national championship thanks to Miami and Ohio State’s undefeated seasons. That is the sort of maddening thing that just makes you want to slam your hand in the nearest car door. Bubba ‘n’ Earl seem to see things the same way.

GO DAWGS!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Halloween. Trick or Treat, DAWGS?



I am a true Generation-Xer. You know, old enough to know about but not really old enough to remember the time when the DAWGS made the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville their annual feeding bowl and the team from Florida seemed to be little more than so many kibble and bits. As for the number one ranking that Florida currently sports, well I have flashes of scenes from the 1985 matchup where Georgia defeated the No. 1 Gators 24-3, but unfortunately my memories of the 47-7 beat down at the hands of the No. 1 Gators in 1996 are more easily recalled. Thank goodness for November 1, 1997. I was a senior at Georgia and road-tripped to Jacksonville with more tickets than I had people to give them to because seemingly no one expected the DAWGS to put up much of a fight. We all know what happened that year. I remember thinking that despite being a three touchdown underdog to the defending national champions, those Gators could be had. Those Gators were shaky at quarterback with Jesse Palmer and Noah Brindise and that was the key since Steve Spurrier’s offense depends so heavily on the quarterback position. They had stars in Fred Taylor, Jevon Kearse, Mike Peterson and Jacquez Green, but if we could just pressure the QB, slow down the run, establish our running game and not beat ourselves I felt the DAWGS could shock the world. Well, Jim Donnan, Robert Edwards, Mike Bobo, Hines Ward, Champ Bailey, Corey Allen and the rest of the boys let it all hang out that day and danced out of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party with a 37-17 victory. We danced the night away to “Georgia on my mind” at The Landing and there has never been a sweeter ride home. I remember that glorious trip to Florida as the defining moment of football fanaticism from my college years.

In many ways, this year’s game shares many similarities to that 1997 matchup. The 2009 edition of the Florida Gators are also the defending national champions. The DAWGS are once again nearly a three touchdown underdog and coming off a defeat the previous year that was just one point shy of 40 points. Granted, the 1997 Florida team did already have a loss coming into the game with Georgia, but how much of a stretch is it to say that this year’s Gators might too have a loss if it were not for the horrendous officiating that we have seen in the SEC this season? In reality, none of this means anything. The 1997 matchup has absolutely no bearing on the 2009 game, but I can’t help but feel very much like I felt in 1997. I know Florida is scary deep on defense. I know that Florida leads the league in scoring defense and total defense. I know that Florida leads the league in scoring offense, total offense and has a Heisman Trophy winning, two-time national champion as it’s starting quarterback. Yet, in the month of October, the Gators have looked anything but unbeatable.

So, here are a few sweet treats to enjoy during the scariest week of the year.

When it comes to Saint Timothy, for all of his achievements that do garner respect, I still say he is not all he’s cracked up to be. Regardless of what others my want you to think, Tebow is not a skilled passer and does not handle pressure well. As for his brute strength, Saint Timothy running in short yardage is like Shaquille O’Neal dunking…I’m not impressed. Blessed with his size and strength, he should be able to do that. With that said, Tebow’s short yardage run can be taken away if you attack it as we have seen again and again from Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi State in recent games. Tebow is just like any other big back in that he must be stopped before he gets started. When you know Saint Timothy will be carrying the ball, you have to attack. Playing the Gators dive play well will go a long way in helping you to figure out when number 15 will be toting the rock.


Given where we are in the season, it is clear that everything the DAWGS do offensively begins with AJ Green, Lethal Weapon 8. AJ > anything Florida has on either side of the ball, Saint Timothy included. Opponent’s defensive game plans begin and end with what to do with Green, so distribution is the key for the DAWGS to keep that Gators defense off balance. How Florida chooses to play AJ…lock up in man…play zone…play a deep zone…will be something that Georgia offense will have to adjust to and the other receivers will need to have a good day, especially the tight ends.

In the kicking game, I have to give the edge to Georgia. The DAWGS key contributors, Blair Walsh, Drew Butler, Brandon Boykin (with occasional appearances by Prince Miller and Branden Smith) are valuable keys to winning the battle of hidden yardage in this game. Florida has the edge off the tee ranking 2nd in kickoff returns and kickoff coverage, but the kickoff return specialists Boykin (27.3 ypr) and Brandon James (27.5 ypr) are essentially a wash. Georgia has the edge in the punting game ranking 4th in punt return and leading the conference in punting with a 44.1 net/punt average. A key blocked kick would be HUGE in this game.

Now to put some real meat on this Dawg’s bone. In my opinion, here’s the real deal on this game. Florida leads the league in every key offensive statistical category except passing offense where the Gators rank 7th. Why then, when you watch them play, it doesn’t look that way? Two reasons: 1) Tebow leads the team in rushing. When your quarterback, particularly this quarterback, is your primary ball carrier the final numbers can sneak up on you. 2) Aaron Hernandez, the Florida tight end, is the team’s most consistent threat in the passing game. Riley Cooper (WR) is nice, but nothing special. Hernandez and Cooper have caught 60 of Tebow’s 84 completions and the other two starting WRs have a combined 14 catches. No other Gators wide receiver scares opponents because Florida has not established a consistent threat in the vertical passing game. This assertion is supported by the fact that that both Arkansas and Mississippi State played a lot of man-to-man coverage against Florida. “Hernandez and Hooks” seems to be the philosophy of this Gators team right now which allows opponents to squat on routes without the threat of being beaten deep, and this forces Tebow to hold the ball and that has led to sacks and bad decisions. Sounds like a winning strategy to me. With that said, it must also be said that the DAWGS could be vulnerable when our linebackers match up in pass coverage with Florida’s speedy running backs.

When it comes to coaching, that has to be the wildcard for Georgia right now. I say that because of the fantastic timing of the bye week. The team has had a chance to rest up, heal and prepare. The opportunity is there for a big statement to be made by Georgia. We will know soon enough.

Am I the only one? It just feels like Florida is ready to crack after a few close calls? They have dealt with the pressure of being touted as the greatest team ever assembled with the greatest player ever to strap on a helmet running the show. Everyone in the national media thought the season was a mere formality that would inevitably lead to Pasadena and a national championship. Could it finally be getting to them? Everyone tries to deny it, but it is simply impossible and pretty soon the players begin to expect certain performances and outcomes for themselves. Winning simply is not good enough. Urban Meyer can deny it all he wants, but these pressures are inherent to these situations and they are unavoidable. Sometimes teams manage to overcome these thoughts with great individual player performances or defining team moments, but more often than not all that pressure leads to cracks and eventually forces bursts. If things line up and the DAWGS put a whole game together, throw in a little Florida stress and this could be the Halloween that Georgia treats the DAWG Nation and hands out nothing but tricks to the Gators.

Friday, October 23, 2009

DAWGBEASTS and the 'DORES



This feels like it is coming a little late and I don’t want to needlessly rehash all that has been said already, so this will be short and sweet. Hey, it’s a bye week for us too. To put a bow on what happened in Nashville last weekend, a single prevailing thought keeps coming back…wins should be celebrated. It’s hard to get a win, any win, regardless of opponent. This win over Vanderbilt was a conference win on the road and those should never be taken for granted (see Knoxville one week prior). The players and coaches in that locker room following the game knew that and I would bet that had an awful lot to do with the joyous scene in the locker room following the game. We as fans need to be reminded of that from time to time.

With that said, let’s move on to the DAWGBEASTS for this week.

CALEB KING - This pick says a lot more about the effort, attitude, toughness and pure grit that King played with than anything else. Caleb was making his return to the line-up after suffering first hand at the incompetence of Marc Curles and his crew in the form of a broken jaw. King was a BEAST when he was called on to block during the game and contributed two touchdowns to the overall effort, one rushing and one receiving. By the way, in case you missed it on King’s touchdown reception, AJ Green proved once again why he is one DAMN GOOD DAWG, deserving of being crowned as a DAWGBEAST every week and truly an all around player as he blocked his man right out of the play to give King an alley to the end zone. LETHAL WEAPON 8 is just amazing.



Courtesy: Ugasports.com

GENO ATKINS – Obviously, if you garner SEC honors as player of the week, you must be doing something right. Atkins’ career-high eight tackle effort was good to see. It was a flashback of sorts to his sophomore season in Athens when Atkins led Georgia in tackles for loss with 14.5 and was named first-team all-SEC. You can read the ABH spotlight story on HERE.

HONORABLE MENTION – PRINCE MILLER – Number 23 has had issues in the secondary this season and that has helped us to almost forget what a difference maker he can be when employed in the role of punt returner. Only once prior to Saturday’s performance in The Music City has Miller shown us the impact he can have in the return game. In week one, Prince came up big with a punt return for touchdown that was called back due to a penalty. Since then, Miller’s role in the punt return game has been a revolving door of spot duty due to Logan Gray appearances and bad decisions as to when to catch the ball and when not to, but that was not the case this past week against Vanderbilt. Miller had two returns for 95 yards (long 55) and was just a step away from taking both of those kicks back for touchdowns. Quality work to say the least.

HONORABLE MENTION – MIKE BOBO – Georgia’s much-maligned offensive coordinator made his first appearance on the sidelines in that role since taking over the play-calling duties in 2007 and it would seem he made his presence felt. The move seemingly paid off as the DAWGS racked up 399 yards of total offense – nearly double their tally from a week earlier. Georgia found the end zone four times, too, including twice in the red zone, after failing to move the ball inside Tennessee’s 35-yard line last week. I like this move because it gives the players and the coach a chance to look into one another’s eyes and get a real feel for what’s going on in the game. Football is a game of emotion and handling situations as they arise in a game. I don’t think that this level of communication and truly having a feel for what’s going on with a player in any given game can be overstated.

Monday, October 19, 2009

“…and that’s the bottom line! Cause Rogers Redding said so!”



Look, I don’t have anything against the refs in general. I would be hard-pressed to point out a single loss from my years of playing or watching football that I can attribute directly to the call of any referee (though I have witnessed some truly awful ones). Any rational fan, if willing to ignore the immediate urges of hyper-emotion and turn away from blind team loyalty, can usually admit that if his team had only taken care of business the way it should have throughout the game the end result could, should and probably would have been different. This would explain my thought process and reluctance to pin any loss solely on the actions of the Zebras. However, choosing to not use the refs as an excuse for my team’s shortcomings is completely different than not calling them like I see them and pointing out some of the blatantly obvious issues that the officials in the SEC have had this season. And that is the intent of this post.

As a DAWGS fan, I am extremely sensitive to the thought of the atrocity that was the excessive celebration penalties (yes, both ways) assessed at the end of the LSU game, the hair-trigger attitude that officials in the SEC have taken towards the DAWGS in recent years with regard to personal foul penalties and the fact that it seems the Florida Gators play by a different set of rules than the rest of the league, especially Saint Timothy. With that said, I was still reluctant to write about this topic for fear of being thrown in with those that choose to use any referee’s possibly questionable call against their team as THE deciding factor in the outcome of the game. But, once the excessive celebration call in the LSU game blew up into a national talking point, I began to think that this issue was fair game for this forum. (If you need a nuts and bolts re-counting of the incident you can find it HERE.) Then, seeing what has continually happened in games officiated by SEC crews under the supervision of Southeastern Conference coordinator of officials Rogers Redding since that game has only strengthened that view point.

The events of this past weekend only serve to further focus the spotlight on the issues with football officiating in the Southeastern Conference. I witnessed Rontavious Wooten get called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for forcefully slinging the ball to the ground at no one in particular after a big play, while a Vanderbilt player was not flagged after sacking Joe Cox and then hurling Cox’s towel high into the air in celebration. You can say that Wooten’s play was not advisable and was a coachable moment to be sure, but to equate it to the Vanderbilt player’s actions seems a bit ridiculous.

Meanwhile, in the Arkansas/Florida game in the Swamp in Gainesville, Saint Timothy and the Gators could seemingly do no wrong in the eyes of the officials while the Razorbacks were repeatedly flagged at crucial moments in the game for plays that would be iffy at best in their justification. I saw Saint Timothy spike the ball right at an opponents head, gesture at him and then turn and gesture to the bench without so much as a second look from the officiating crew. Fast forward to Florida’s game-tying touchdown drive and Arkansas is called for pass interference that was questionable at best and a down right AWFUL personal foul call that directly preceded the game-tying touchdown. You can check out the carnage more in depth HERE and HERE and HERE. As I posted on HALE’S blog the other day, “Call it how you see zebras, but for goodness sake, call it the same way regardless of which TEAM a player is on or what his name and number happen to be.”

I have just one final point. Apparently, we members of the Bulldog Nation are not the only ones taking notice of the tendencies of the officiating crews in the league this year as evidenced by the actions of the Florida players and coaches at the end of the game on Saturday. Regardless of the circumstances that may have assisted the Gators in putting themselves in position for the victory, they all acted as if they were taking no chances with the SEC’s “Russian Roulette” style of officiating either. In the immediate seconds following the go-ahead field goal by Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis, he can be seen wearing a stone faced expression and urging his teammates to not react to what had just occurred. Likewise the Florida coaching staff followed his lead by frantically wrangling the Gator players off the field of play and attempting to mute the team’s celebration so as to not draw an “LSU type” flag of their own. Look, even if this did take place in the scenario of something good happening for Florida, it is still absolutely ABSURD that any player, coach or team should have to attempt to squash the emotion of what should be an exhilarating moment in team sport out of fear of an unwarranted penalty that may drastically impact the outcome of the game.

Bad calls happen in football games all over the country, every weekend. Think back to last year when Washington quarterback Jake Locker was flagged for a celebration penalty in the end zone for tossing the ball too high in the air. Penalties are a part of the game, but things just seem to be trending in a dangerous direction in the SEC and unfortunately it doesn’t look like they will be straightened out at any point in the near future “…and that’s the bottom line! Cause Rogers Redding said so!”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

DAWGBEASTS and the edict of my DEFENSIVE WORLD ORDER (DWO)

I purposely have been quiet this week. I wanted to give myself a chance to sort out all the feelings and thoughts I've had since the debacle in Knoxville last Saturday. What happened up there was important. It meant a lot. However, football is a game that is about a body of work over the course of any given season. As much as each game can mean in and of itself, the season is not and can not be lost on any one Saturday throughout the fall. To be sure, there has been an alarming series of events that have taken place in Athens this season, but as followers of our team and devout members of the Bulldog Nation I believe we owe it to ourselves and to Head Coach Mark Richt to focus only on the game that is in front of us and see where this season takes us. We will have plenty of time once the year is over to re-visit any missteps or failures that may befall our DAWGS along the way. I'm not saying don't voice your opinions as we go, but just keep in mind that our boys are gonna tee it up again really soon and we should try to enjoy the sport and all of it's pageantry that we wait the rest of the year to be a part of.

With that said, there are some things I want to mention here and now. I will try not to ramble too much.

BE RESOLUTE

Georgia AD Damon Evans and Coach Richt will get this thing straightened out. I believe it. Recent quotes from the two top men in the world of Georgia football reaffirm my belief:

Coach Richt -
"They want somebody to be let go or fired or that kind of thing, and maybe that's what needs to be done, but at this point right now, we're going to do what we know is the best thing to do and that's to focus on this game this week."

Damon Evans -
“I do have some concerns about where we are at this point of the season. I know Coach [Mark] Richt, the assistant coaches, the players and our fans have the same concerns with our current record and the way we’ve been playing...Coach Richt and I have talked just as we do periodically throughout the season. I think his focus right now is on the immediate future, which is the Vanderbilt game and doing everything possible to prepare our team. That’s where it needs to be...Beyond that, I have total confidence that Coach Richt will properly evaluate our team, address concerns and prepare the right path that will direct us back into the position we all want to be in — competing for championships.”

Coach Richt is attempting to get the DAWGS focus right where it should be…on what’s six inches in front of your face. That is where you will find your reality. The DAWGS reality is that improvement is needed and the only thing you can do about that is get back to work. At this point, I don't know if any player or any fan has the energy to do much more than that.

DEJA VU IS OVER-RATED

Moving along, you all really should know my wife Alice. Wifey loves football with a fierce passion and is more knowledgeable and reasonable about the game than most men I know. I truly am a lucky man. I tell you that to tell you this. Wifey and I share a belief that perception is reality. After Saturday's loss to Tennessee, I've read a lot about what it all means from a Georgia perspective and about what Lane Kiffin wants it to mean. Well, I know this. Losing to the Vols the way we did will have an impact whether we like it or not and I fear it will be much more than just bruised feelings and one L on this year's final tally. It was not that long ago that a head coach that was also a good recruiter and a string of wins over Georgia led to Tennessee raiding the Peach state for top-notch recruits every year...several of which eventually turned out to be KEY players on the Vols 1998 MNC. This is a dangerous situation for Georgia in terms of the possibility of history repeating itself. A loss like this for the DAWGS (or a shaky season of losses) could lead to a change in the regional and national perception of the Georgia program. If that happens there is a real possibility that there will be a change in our "big picture" reality. I do not believe this is happening right now, 10 wins or more in six of the last seven seasons puts a quick end to that train of thought, but coupled with Georgia's recent history against Florida this whole thing could get out of control in a hurry.

***Side note: I loved to refer to Phillip Fulmer as The Great Pumpkin. After seeing Lane Kiffin on the sidelines Saturday in his selection of an over-sized, orange disaster of a jacket, I have to wonder out loud if it's okay to refer to Kiffin as The Rotten Pumpkin? That thing looked as if it were a rotten, sagging pumpkin that was collapsing in on itself. Ugh. Just saying.


I THINK THIS HURTS THE MOST


I saw this on David Hale's blog earlier this week and I felt like we were sitting in the same recliner.

--I watched all of the LSU-Florida game. I think the announcers made fun of Georgia about 9,463 times.

**SIGH**

I WILL LEAVE YOU WITH THIS

There was also a ton of discussion this week about naked bootlegs, switching from playing the run to playing the pass and the defense's work in 3rd and long situations. So, a take on 3rd and long.....

GET OFF THE DAMN FIELD!

I put it on the players. I will not call any one individual out here, but this is how I see it. It has been my observation through six games this season that when it comes to the defense in general there has been too much poor tackling, too many uncontested passes, too much chicken fighting from the D-line on the pass rush, poor defensive line technique against the run and seemingly no ball skills from our DBs and LBs while the ball is in the air and when CWM does call for the blitz, our linebackers and defensive linemen display AWFUL attacking techniques as they execute the play. All of these things are important, but none is more glaring to me than the final point.

YOU HAVE TO IMPOSE YOUR WILL ON THE OTHER TEAM! FOOTBALL IS NOT JUST A COLLISION SPORT. FOOTBALL IS A VIOLENT SPORT AND IF YOU DON’T PLAY WITH THE APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF VIOLENCE, YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE. VIOLENCE MAKES UP FOR A LOT OF MISTAKES AND IT CAN FORCE YOUR OPPONENT TO SIMPLIFY THEIR ATTACK. BIG BOY SWAGGER CANNOT BE TALKED INTO EXISTENCE. IT MUST BE EARNED AND PROVEN, AND YOU EARN IT ON DEFENSE! YOU TAKE IT! GREAT DEFENSE STARTS WITH GREAT EFFORT AND GREAT DISCIPLINE. A DISCIPLINE TO WORK IN THE OFF-SEASON, TO PREPARE DURING GAME WEEK ON AND OFF THE FIELD AND TO PLAY HARDER IN THE 4TH QTR THAN YOU DID IN THE 1ST QTR BECAUSE YOU ARE MENTALLY TOUGHER THAN YOUR OPPONENT AND THAT IS WHAT THE GAME DEMANDS. IN THE SCHEME OF DEFENSE THE DAWGS EMPLOY, YOU MUST PLAY RESPONSIBILITY DOWN AFTER DOWN AFTER DOWN. WHEN A BLITZ IS CALLED, IT IS A REWARD AND YOU MUST TURN IT LOOSE AND ATTACK WITH A FROTH AND A FRENZY THAT WILL NOT BE DENIED. I HAVE BEEN SADDENED THIS SEASON AND HARD PRESSED TO FIND A GEORGIA DEFENDER THAT APPEARS TO BE BLITZING WITH A CRAZED ATTITUDE AND A SOUR DISPOSITION WHEN HE HAS BEEN GIVEN THE GREEN LIGHT TO LET IT GO! ONCE THE DAWGS RECLAIM THIS ASPECT OF THE GAME, THINGS WILL CHANGE FOR THE BETTER IN ATHENS. THE OFFENSE WILL FEED OFF OF THE DEFENSE AND THE ENTIRE TEAM WILL GET BACK TO A QUIET CONFIDENCE AND BELIEF THAT THEY ARE THE BETTER TEAM IN EVERY WAY. THE DAWGS WILL KNOW THAT THEY HAVE DONE AND WILL DO ALL THAT IS NECESSARY TO ATTAIN VICTORY AND THAT IS WHY GEORGIA WILL WIN. THEY WILL DEMAND IT TO BE SO WITH A PERSISTENT AND IN EVITABLE DICTATING FORCE OF WILL.


DAWGBEAST of the week

Georgia Special Teams, with a special nod to Brandon Boykin. Sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin had his second 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown this season. Boykin and former Bulldog Gene Washington share the mark now with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a season. Boykin is the first SEC player to have two 100-yard kickoff returns in one season in SEC history. He finished the day with 128 returns yards (32.0 avg) on four kicks to give him 529 kickoff return yards this season. Boykin's return versus the Vols also ties the longest scoring play on the road in school history. Since 1941, the NCAA put a maximum length on all plays at 100 yards.



Courtesy: UGASports.com

**NCAA Leader Drew Butler had to punt six times for a 49.8 average with four covering 50+ yards and one inside the 20. The Sophomore punter's first punt was his longest at 61 yards. He went into the game against Tennessee leading the nation with a 49.8 average.

**Redshirt sophomore split end Zach Renner blocked a punt with :23 seconds left in the opening half to give the Bulldogs two points on a safety as it went through the endzone. This was the third blocked punt of his career after he tallied one against Alabama and Arizona State in 2008. Renner tied the school record for blocked punts in a career along with Corrie Collier, Kendrell Bell and David Pollack. Renner's latest punt block was the 17th for the Bulldogs in the Mark Richt era.

**Sophomore PK Blair Walsh drilled a 52-yard field goal late in the second quarter. He is 5-for-8 from 50 yards or more in his career and 3-for-3 from that distance in 2009.

****An honorable mention for the DAWGBEAST goes to Redshirt Freshman safety Baccari Rambo. Rambo caught a tipped passed for an interception and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. This was Rambo's second career INT and the first defensive TD for the Bulldogs this year. Georgia has had four INTs this year with Boykin also having two. This was the first INT return for a TD since Darryl Gamble returned a pair of picks for scores at LSU in 2008.


FALCON CREST (CFB, but non-DAWG)

In case you missed it, Tyler Sheehan and WR Freddie Barnes combined for 22 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns with scoring grabs from two, eight, and 45 yards and Sheehan scored the game-winning touchdown late to give Bowling Green a 36-35 win on the road at Kent State last Saturday. Sheehan final numbers were crazy, finishing 44-63, throwing for 505 yds, 4 TD and an INT. However, the Player of the Game has to be Bowling Green WR Freddie Barnes. His numbers look like some player's totals for an entire season, 22 receptions, 278 yards and three touchdowns, and if that performance doesn't make you A DAMN BEAST then I don't know what does. Congrats Freddie!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm with Favre on this one.

After ripping his old team for 271 yards and 3 touchdowns, in a post-game interview Brett Favre turned the spotlight on his teammates and more specifically, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Favre went on to call him a "BEAST" and he should know, having played against Allen many times. Favre's high praise came in response to Allen's performance on MNF...7 total tackles, 6 solo tackles, a career-high 4.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a safety.

Allen completely dominated the game Monday night, disrupting the Packers offense all night long. Admittedly, #69 took advantage of some injuries in the Packers offensive line, but injuries are part of the game and I don't think it would have made a difference anyway.

You can check it out for yourself HERE.

Of all the players that I thought might take over the game Monday night, Allen was at least 5th on my list behind the obvious choices of every game BEASTS...Favre, Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver...but that's why we play the games and that is why I write this blog. So there it is, Jared Allen was a damn beast on MNF this week because Brett Favre said so.





Tuesday, October 6, 2009

WTF?!?!? You CANNOT let this slide!

Look, I'm not sayin'....I'm just sayin'. If someone punches your brother in the face, are you just gonna stand there and watch???? I fully understand that these photos might be misleading. We don't know where he is looking. We don't know if his eyes are even open. HOWEVER, the following photos seem to clearly show that DAWGS center Ben Jones has a front row, unobstructed view of LSU defensive lineman Rahim Alem as he LAUNCHES himself at Caleb King, clearly leading with the crown of his helmet with a seemingly fully realized intent to use his headgear as a weapon! I do not remember a single DAWGS player coming to King's aid after the play (full disclosure: I will have to check the tape on my DVR later). Simply stated....WTF!!!! That just cannot be acceptable. We all know that if an opposing player is a bit too rough with a teammate of yours, it is absolutely acceptable behavior for you to come to his aid. Hell, it's almost mandatory! ESPECIALLY when it comes to offensive linemen and a running back or quarterback! A football team truly is like a family. A band of brothers. At least, the ones worth a flip are. There is absolutely no way that Alem should have been allowed to get away with this action without some sort of retaliation. I'm not saying there should have been a fight or that Alem should have been targeted, but someone should have been immediately in his face to let him know that, uh, stuff just won't fly.






Alem's hit certainly had the desired effect. It was made public after the game that King suffered a broken jaw (almost definitely on the play in question) and a concussion. And by the way, HUGE KUDOS to the kid for playing the majority of the rest of the game. This hit is ABSOLUTELY, to the letter of the rule, what the helmet-to-helmet penalty is supposed to punish. THERE WAS NO FLAG. If the game doesn't provide justice, shouldn't someone.

Again, I cannot say definitively whether Jones actually saw this frame-by-frame the way we can see it now, but regardless...I say it's a safe bet that someone saw it...and they should have been Category 4 PISSED! This reaction, in my opinion, is absolutely justified by the laws of brotherhood, team and pride in defense of all that the Georgia "G" on the side of that helmet stands for.

This type of action CANNOT be allowed to go unchallenged and I certainly hope it was just a situation of circumstance that prevented the DAWGS from taking care of their own. For Caleb's sake, I certainly hope so. I would love to know what y'all think.

GO DAWGS!!!