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One Georgia Team Has A Big Game This Weekend

If you live in middle Georgia, you have probably heard the buzz over Mercer University’s revival of football. In 2013, the Bears played their first season since 1941. The Bears finished their inaugural campaign with a 10-2 record (setting the NCAA record for a startup football team) and third in their conference, the Pioneer Football League.

While the PFL is a non-scholarship conference and some of their competition was a little weak, Mercer’s statistics are still impressive. The Bears led FCS in red zone offense, second in rushing offense, and thirteenth in scoring offense. The Bears also went 8-0 at a usually capacity crowd Anderson Field, continuing their home winning streak that began in October 10th, 1941, with a 25-0 win against Georgia Teachers College (now Georgia Southern).

On August 28th of this year, Mercer opened up again with the Reinhardt University Eagles, and finished with a similar result, a win by three (45-42 in 2014, 40-37 in 2013). As I was at the game, I wasn’t able to hear DJ Shockley’s commentary about the crowd on ESPN3, but I can tell you that the sellout crowd in the stadium was full, loud, and on their feet. Reinhardt lost the game when they missed the field goal that would have tied it up at 40.

Tomorrow, the Bears will open a new chapter in their history as they play their first conference game as a member of the Southern Conference (SoCon) against the Furman University Paladins (formerly Furman University Christian Knights and Greenville Women’s College Ankle Skirts). The game will be streamed on ESPN3 live at 6:00. Mercer coach Bobby Lamb was an award-winning quarterback for Furman and was their head coach for nine years in the 2000’s, and was named SoCon Coach of the Year in 2004 and SoCon Player of the Year in 1985.

Mercer is led by quarterback John Russ and linebacker Tyler Ward. Russ, from the Metro Atlanta area, can pretty much do it all and is a great field general. Ward, a homegrown Macon boy, was expected to get decent playing time in 2013, has turned into a tackling machine and is the emotional leader of the team. Both of these young men find and even create ways to win. This talent joined in by a young, fast running back core and Mercer’s first scholarship recruiting class which had transfers from several FBS schools; including 6’6” 321 pound junior offensive tackle A.M. Posey fresh from the University of Tennessee.

Furman leads the series with Mercer, 6-4-2, and leads in Macon, 4-3. 100 years ago, Mercer and Furman met on the field for the first time and Mercer won 39-0. I don’t quite see the same outlook for this reunion of Bobby Lamb and his old team however. Mercer is playing a Furman team itching to get back to the level of football they played a few years ago. Furman’s quarterback, Reese Hannon went out in the third quarter of their game again Garnder-Webb, and is out for the remainder of the season with an ankle injury. While the Paladins still won after Hannon departed, the team didn’t score again. This combined with the Mercer home fans and extra practice days for the Bears leads me to believe that the series in Macon will be tied at four wins a piece when the whistle is blown the final time in this close gridiron battle.


NOTE: Corndawg is a featured columnist here will keep us updated on Mercer Bears athletics.

Defense Performance Was A Long Time Coming

As I was leaving Sanford Stadium Saturday night, my wife and I ran into my brother-in-law and two nephews.  Both of nephews-10 and 7-are at the age where they are big into sports.  They both play football, baseball, basketball.  And though the 10-year-old has been getting into Georgia football for a few  years now, the 7-year-old is starting to really get into it also.

So Saturday night we navigated through the crowd together.  After that 2nd half where the defense dominated, I was in shock of what I had just seen.

I turned to my 10-year-old nephew, who was born New Years Day 2004, and told him “The Georgia Defense hasn’t played that good since before you were born.”

Technically, that isn’t true.  I guess the 2004 season the defense was still pretty good.  But, hey, I had a flair for the dramatic.

But just let that sink in for a minute.

There have been good defensive performances over the past 10 years.  Most of the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011 seasons I’d say the defense played very well.  There  have been individual games where they were very good and dominant.

And it wasn’t perfect Saturday night, as Jeremy Pruitt is making abundantly clear.

But still.

You know there is an “it” feeling.  You know “it” when you see it.  I know Clemson was one game against a team that was replacing a whole lot on the road in a hostile atmosphere.  I know I am trying to keep my head from being too high in the clouds.

But what I saw on Saturday, I haven’t seen or felt in a long time.

It appears the defense finally has “it” back.


Opposite Reaction Than Normal

I wasn’t so much happy Saturday night as I was relieved.

It was a long time coming for a Georgia to show up like that in the early part of the season and physically dominate a quality opponent.  I was glad it happened, but I was just relieved that we didn’t have to hear the same old negative comments.  It is something to have the entire national media notice you and talk about how great the team looked, not how unprepared they were and how Georgia is overrated.

After a big win, my head is in the clouds.  I want the team to stay focused and prepared, not to look ahead, but I am a fan and can do it.

Being at the beach last week, I didn’t have access to the South Carolina-Texas A&M game.  I did however watch the Ole Miss-Boise State game.  I also had a little juice on it, and for the longest time, it seemed my meager $5 wager was wasted.  Ole Miss struggled for 3 quarters, then in the 4th quarter finally pulled away.  It was clear the talent, depth and conditioning was too much for the Broncos, who are a step back from previous years.

Everyone talked about this being why Ole Miss wasn’t ready for the West contention, etc.  Two days later, Georgia struggles for a half, doesn’t do anything on offense for 3 quarters, and gets 21 points from explosive plays.  And the narrative from the national media is how Georgia would be the #1 seed right now.

Don’t mistake this for complaining or being too negative.  I’m not like Bill Shanks who will complain even when things are going great.  I am going watch replays, pour over the stats, and enjoy a big win.  But I also don’t want to get too high in the clouds, either.  I’m glad Coach Richt and the other coaches are saying the same things.

My typical reaction is to be excited.  I’m going to be the opposite. If every year I get bummed out when we lose, I’m going to curb my enthusiasm just a little after this big win.

Becuase I know that South Carolina is going to give us everything they have.  Their season is going to be on the line.

If we come out of the Carolina game with a W, then I’ll probably be incredulous.  People will not want to be around me.  My wife says I suffer from a condition called “football brain” this time of the year, and I’m sure if we are 2-0 after September 13, I’ll probably have a terminal case of football brain.

But for now, I’m not going to buy into the #1 seed, Gurley for Heisman, or how great we are hype.


Michael Bennett Continues To Impress

Outside of obviously Todd Gurley, I believe that Michael Bennett might be Georgia’s most valuable player on offense.

He won’t burn you as a deep threat, but he is as clutch and sure handed as they come.  When the Dawgs need a first down or a big catch, he seems like he is always the one making the play.

Saturday, his numbers were just so-so.  He did lead the team in receiving, but only had 60 yards on 5 catches.  The whole passing game as a whole was pedestrian.

But something I noticed watching the replay yesterday morning stuck out.   Bennett’s blocking was amazing.  Georgia got their big runs on the outside, and it seemed like during all those runs to the perimeter, Bennett was right there throwing a downfield block to help the backs break free.  It is a cliche to say “things that don’t show up in the box score”,  and it is absolutely true in his case.


Clemson Prediction

I am finishing up my vacation today…one last day on the beach.  Tomorrow is a travel day, so I wanted to go ahead and give a very quick Clemson prediction.

I think the game will be close. Too close. But then I think the Dawgs get a big play on offense, defense, and-wait for it-SPECIAL TEAMS late in the game. It ends up being a more lopsided score than what the game actually played out. Very similar to the Missouri game in 2012.

Dawgs 31, Clemson 17

Go Dawgs!


Lewis Grizzard Wednesday II: Clemson Paratrooper

I couldn’t get the thing to imbed, so here is the link to the Lewis story of the Clemson paratrooper.


6 Bold Predictions

I’ll see how I did at the end of the season. 

Bold Predictions.

1. Alabama won’t win the SEC West:  I think the Crimson Tide are prime for a step back.  I do think a “step back” for them is somewhere around 9-3.  Too many unresolved issues at QB, and in this league, even as good as their defense and running game is, your QB is going to have to win you a ballgame.  Especially on the road.  I’m afraid they just won’t do it this season.

2. LSU will win the SEC West: I know they have to replace a lot of offensive skill players, and are breaking in a new QB also, but they get Alabama at home.  The Tigers do have tricky road games in back to back weeks at Florida and at Auburn, but I think they are able to pull it out.  They will win the SEC West and be a contender for the National Playoff.

3. Florida upsets Alabama, but Will Muschamp won’t finish the year against Florida State:  The former student will have his boys ready against his mentor.  The Gators will pull off the upset in Tuscaloosa on September 20. However, three weeks later against LSU, Florida will get beaten, then will lose again to Georgia.  I had originally thought that if Florida lost to Georgia, Muschamp would get the Kiffin treatment and be fired at the stadium and have to get his buddy Mike Bobo to give him a lift home, but the victory over Alabama will keep around another week.  No, it will be more poetic.  Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks will beat Florida and run up the score in the swamp.  He will be fired before Eastern Kentucky, and then of course Florida will lose to FSU.

4. Georgia will make the 4 team playoff, but not win the National Title: How many times have we said that If there was only a playoff, Georgia and Mark Richt would have a couple of National Titles by now? This year, Georgia will make the playoff but won’t win it all. I cannot yet see who will win it all, but it won’t be the Dawgs.

5. This will be Dan Mullen’s last year at Mississippi State:  One of two things will happen:  Dan Mullen’s best team will perform well and exceed Mississippi State expectations, or they will underachieve. Either way, the natives will get restless or another school (like Florida) will call and beg him to leave.  He made a mistake a few years ago for not striking while the iron was hot; he won’t repeat that mistake.

6. Hutson Mason will lead the SEC in passing:  I’m not sure why this is so bold.  Throwing to talkbacks count as passing yards.  Who are the other candidates?  Not Nick Marshall.  Has to be someone.


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