Archive for November, 2012

Looking at Aaron Murray In Big Games

First off, I think the whole “big game” meme is overblown.  When you are playing for SEC Championships in a tight Eastern Division or even in contention for a National Championship, every game is a “big game”.  Hell, the Georgia Tech and Auburn games were big games, though no one on ESPN or the media will tell you that. 

Georgia has struggled in big games recently, but it is not just all of Aaron Murray’s fault.  Now, he does deserve some blame for losing some of the games, but he is not the only one at fault.  I said after the Florida game that even though Georgia won and Murray threw the game clinching TD pass, one game against the #2 wouldn’t change the perception. 

But, to tickle the fancy of the pundits, let’s just see if it is Aaron Murray’s fault that Georiga hasn’t won a big game recently.

Well, in 2008 Murray was a senior in high shool, coming back from a broken leg to lead Plant to a state championship.   I guess it was somehow Murray’s fault that Stafford and company lost to Alabama and Florida.  In 2009, I guess that, even though he was a redshirt, it was Murray’s fault that UGA lost to Oklahoma State and Florida (and Kentucky, and Tennessee, and LSU).   I think all SEC games are big, especially in 2011 and 2012, but I will humor the pundits and look at their definition of a “big game”. 

But in 2010, Georgia played three really big games against ranked opponents and then the Cockatil Party:

2010

South Carolina:  Murray went 14/21 for 192 with 0 TD and 0 INT.  Didn’t have A.J. Green and was asked to not do much.  Didn’t make any plays, but didn’t make any mistakes, and was not put in a bad situation in his first start.  Verdict:  South Carolina was the better team, but I guess if we are assigning blame, you blame Richt here.  Murray was handled with kid gloves; but that strategy was their perogotive, and who am I to argue with their QB development?

Arkansas:  15/27 for 253 and 1 TD and 1 INT.  Murray led a late comeback and a game tying drive in the final moments.  Verdict:  Took a big sack that hurt us, but overall this was a defensive stinker. 

Florida:  18/37 for 313 and 3 TD, 3 INT.  Murray deserves some credit for leading a comeback, but wouldn’t be in that mess if he was better.  And, he threw a pick in OT that sealed the loss.  Verdict:  Under 50% completion percentage and 3 INT, yeah I’d say Murray didn’t play well.

Auburn:  15/28 for 273 and 3 TD and no int.  Against the eventual National Champions and he got the hell knocked out of him.  Verdict:  I’d say he played his ass off.

2011

Boise State:  Murray went 16/29 with 236 and 2 TD and 1 INT.  Nothing spectacular, nothing great.   Verdict:  Very mediocre performance, but I wouldn’t say Murray’s play cost the Bulldogs the game.  I think you can point the blame a lot on the defense on this one.

South Carolina:  Murray went 19/29 for 248 and 4 TD and 1 INT (and one fumble).   Verdict:  Well, there were a lot of reasons Georgia lost this game.  Murray didn’t help with the fumble and scoop and score that sealed the deal for Carolina, but I mean, dude still threw for 4 TD and kept the game close.  Special teams screwed the pooch here, and though the defense played well enough, it couldn’t stop Lattimore when it counted.  But Murray’s turnovers (and Crowell’s fumble) were costly also.

Florida:  Murray was 15/34 for 169 and 2 TD and 1 INT.  Murray had a very forgettable 2nd half, missing like 8 or 9 in a row, but played well enough when it counted to seal the deal.  Verdict:  Played mediocre, but the Dawgs won, so it really doesn’t matter.

LSU:  16/40 for 163 and 1 TD and 2 INT. Verdict:  The stats look bad, but the special teams and the lack of running game here is what got the Dawgs.  Once LSU realized there was no running game threat, they teed off on Murray.  Murray actually stood strong and had some recievers open, but the recievers just couldn’t make plays.  I really honestly believe that you can’t blame Aaron for this game.  He played as well as  you could possibly play against the best defense in the country with absolutely zero help from anyone else around you.

Michigan State:  20/32 for 288 and 2 TD and 1 INT (1 fumble lost)    Verdict:  Decent game.  Again, like with LSU, there was no threat of a running game and Michigan State had one of the top defenses in the country.   Murray’s three turnovers hurt, but to me this game was lost by the defense.  Michigan State drove down the field with a minute and half left and tied it up.  Murray hit Boykin with a TD to go up by 7; the defense screwed the pooch here.  He didn’t play outstanding, but the play calling got very conservative in the 2nd half until we need to get back in it, and his performance didn’t cost us the game either. 

2012

South Carolina:  11/31 for 109 with 0 TD and 1 INT.  Verdict:  Murray played pretty pitiful, but wasn’t helped out any by the defense, special teams, or play calling.  An all around poor effort, and I don’t think you can single handidly blame Murray.  But, he did not play well. 

Florida:  12/24 for 150 and 1 TD and 3 INT.  Verdict:  Murray didn’t play that well.  He did have a strong 2nd half, but his first half was forgettable, and this game shouldn’t have really been that close.  He didn’t play well, but managed the game well in the 2nd half and was poised on the final drive to seal the deal for the Dawgs. 

So, in 2 big games this  year, Murray has not played well.  In two last year, he didn’t either.  I think the games in 2010 he played pretty well.  I still think it is BS to say he doesn’t show up in big games, becuase every game is a big game.  He has struggled in some big games, but also consider the defenses he has struggled against.  I think it is more fair to say that he has struggled agianst elite top level defenses rather than in the “big game”.  In 2011, he faced the the #2, 3, 6 and 16  teams ranked in total defense.  In 2012,he struggled against the #5 and #13 defenses.  Alabama has the #1 defense, but I honestly feel like Alabama’s defense will be the 3rd best defense UGA has played all season.  I know the stats and rankings, but going on the eyeball test, I would say Florida’s secondary and South Carolina’s defensive front is the best in the nation. 

Aaron very well could struggle tomorrow.  And the pundits will say he continues to struggle in big games. That is easy if you just look at the W-L records, but take a closer look, and you will see that the big games Georgia has lost, he deserves some blame, but it is not entirely his fault.  

Why isn’t anyone talking about Todd Grantham’s unit in big games?  Why does he get a pass and Aaron Murray doesn’t?

Corbindawg

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Keys to a National Title Berth

1.  Don’t be too emotional.

One of the concerns I have about Saturday is UGA coming into the Georgia Dome overhyped and too emotional.  This leads to personal fouls, excessive celebrations, roughing the quarterback penalties, and losses in big games.  Bama has been in this moment often under Nick Saban while this is Georgia’s first opportunity in 30 years.  Expect Bama to play disciplined and within themselves.  The Dawgs have to match this same discipline.

2.  Murray Can’t Kill Georgia

Bottom line Aaron Murray has played awful against great defenses since he’s been at Georgia.  He single handledly cost us the South Carolina game in 2011 and tried to cost us the Florida game this season.  Murray also gets severely rattled when he gets hit often (see 2011 SEC Title Game and 2012 South Carolina game).  Murray needs to take the pressure off himself.  He doesn’t have to go out Saturday and throw for 300 plus yards.  Murray just needs to be smart, hit a few 3rd and 5-8 yard throws, with one or two big passes down the field.  If Murray gets through Saturday without turning the ball over, Georgia will beat Alabama.

3.  Employ the Cocktail Party Gameplan

Georgia’s defensive gameplan against Florida was a thing of beauty.  Georgia pressured Jeff Driskel all night for 60 minutes.  This is how you beat Bama as well.  If you watch the 2nd half of the Alabama-LSU game, the Tide had no answer to John Chavis’ blitz packages.  McCarron was beat up and extremely frustrated.  Only when LSU implemented the soft zone late in the 4th quarter, did Bama capitalize.  McCarron is less mobile than Jeff Driskel and Bama doesn’t have any dynamite receivers. UGA must get after McCarron.

4.  Be Physically and Mentally Prepared for the 4th Quarter

To beat Nick Saban, Georgia is going to have to be physically and mentally tough in the 4th quarter.  It’s been over two seasons since the Tide was blown out of a football game, so Georgia will have to out tough a Nick Saban coached football team.  This means dealing with Bama’s massive offensive line, and stopping runs late against the most physical lrunning back in college football Eddie Lacy.  Saban put the ball into the hands of TJ Yelton late against Texas A&M and the freshman made a crucial fumble.  Saban won’t make the same mistake twice.  Georgia will have to stop Lacy.

“Our Team, Our Time, No Regrets!”  We are 60 minutes away.  Can you imagine what it will be like to be a Bulldog on the Saturday night of December 1, 2012?

Go Dawgs!

Kensingtondawg

Three reason why Georgia wins, and three why it won’t

Honestly, I think Saturday goes either way. My contention all week has been that if it’s a blowout, Georgia loses. But if its close, Georgia wins.

Why Georgia Might Win

1. Airing it out

If there’s a weakness in Alabama’s defense, it’s its defensive secondary. If Murray gets protection, he could exploit that.

2. This team smells destiny

Since January, the goal for this team is being in Miami for the title. When a team of destiny is that close to a goal, it’s tough to stop it.

3. Gamechangers

Georgia has a more talented defense, and it starts with playmakers, Bacarri Rambo, Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones. Alabama has a talented defense, but it doesn’t have the playmakers who can turn a game on a play and take it over all by themselves.

Why Georgia Might Not Win

1. Aaron Murray

It’s funny. Murray is why Georgia may or may not win. If Murray presses too much and makes early mistakes (see Florida last year), Georgia is fighting uphill right away and will be in a hole that’ll be tough to dig out of. Georgia’s hopes of winning hinge on what Aaron Murray shows up.

2. Getting Personal 

If there’s been a blight on Georgia’s defense the past month, it’s been the amount of senseless personal fouls. Georgia CANNOT afford these against Alabama. If Georgia comes out wanting to carry its pre-game trash talk onto the field, it will lose, because it’ll result in either personal fouls or players trying to make too big of plays early with the result being busted players on defense.

3. The Line

Georgia’s offensive line has looked good recently. It helps a lot that it hasn’t faced a good offensive line in that stretch. It’s easy to break big plays against Ole Miss, Tech and Auburn. It’s harder against great defenses, and Bama has a darn good defensive line.

How much is the recent offensive success due to lack of competition? We’ll find out Saturday afternoon.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Student Attendance Woes Not Limited to UGA

Multiple times in this space, we’ve been over the support, or lack there of by current UGA students. Hardly a game goes by that at kickoff there are gaping, unfilled seats in the upper deck of the student section. 

Turns out, it’s an issue for students at Bama too. 

Road Tripping: SEC Championship Edition

What: Southeastern Conference Championship
Who
: University of Alabama
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
Stadium: Georgia Dome,   seats 74,515,    FieldTurf
Record: 11-1
Distance: 71.3 miles from Sanford Stadium
How to get there: 316 to I-85 all the way downtown or MARTA.  MARTA is my choice of transportation but only if you are brave enough to handle the crowd at the station when you leave the Dome.  It works best if you are meeting up with friends who are tailgating at the dome so you have a spot to go to.  You can take your cooler on the train but on the way home I’d recommend leaving it with your friends because it’s very difficult to squeeze on the train yourself, it’s much worse if you have a cooler in tow.   There are also some pay lots around the CNN Center and the Dome if you want to brave that. 

Corbindawg:  I have been to Los Angeles and and D.C., and have taken their subway system.  I have only been on MARTA once.  I had no quams about blindly hoping on L.A.’s subway system.  Something about MARTA doesn’t sit right with me.  I’d rather park and fight traffic. 

In Atlanta:

Corbindawg:  I have been to the Dome 5 times in my life.  One was for Women’s basketball in the 1996 Olympics (Brazil vs. China baby!).  The other four times were for football games that involved UGA.  Never been to a Falcons game, and that really doesn’t bother me.  Maybe one day.  For the 2005 SEC Championship game, we just parked at a lot somewhere and sat in the car and drank.  When we went to the 2005 Sugar Bowl, we got there mid afternoon and tailgated for a little bit with someone else, then went to CNN Center and ate supper.  Fast food Chinese, if I remember.  The best tailgate experience was last year for the Boise State game.  We parked in a lot a good hike away from the Dome on Peachtree, then went to eat lunch at Ted’s Montanna Grill.  I am a big fan of that place.  It is very, very good.  I have been twice, and one time I saw Ted Turner in there eating a steak.  He came by our table and spoke to us.  It was pretty cool.  If you don’t mind spending some cash, the steaks there are excellent, but you can’t go wrong with a burger.  From Ted’s we went to the car and got our coolers and walked a country mile to the Dome to tailgate.  Walking so far lugging chairs and coolers sucked big time, but once we got there we had a blast. We just had styrofoam coolers, so we could leave it and not worry about it during the game. 

It really does suck tailgating around the Dome, so I would recommend going to a resturant and having lunch and some drinks there.  My brother lives in Atlanta and we have gone to some very good places.  My favorite has got to be Manuel’s Tavern on the corner of North Avenue and Highland.  Good atmosphere and lots of TVs to catch Gameday.   On the Weekends they have Brunch, so you can go by earlier and get some Bloody Marys.  Other favorites:  Felini’s Pizza, Everybody’s Pizza, Fox Brother’s BBQ, Daddy D’z BBQ, and of course, The Varsity. 

***

Maybe some of our more Atlanta-savvy readers can offer a suggestion on where to eat or go.  If you have a better suggestion, leave it in the Comment section.

Granite

This Takes the Cake

Of all the stupid shit that the AJC puts out-and there is a lot-the five reasons why they say Nick Saban is overrated is the dumbest. 

Corbindawg

Lewis Grizzard Wednesday: Lewis Holds A Press Conference

Leave Pulitzer Out Of This

I have called this press conference to announce I am not going to retire.

“Why not?”

I need a job.

“But there must be other reasons?”

I don’t have $46 million in the bank and I need the company health insurance are two that come to mind.

“But you have to sit around trying to think of column ideas all the time. That must really become a grind.”

Sometimes. But I don’t have to do any heavy lifting.

“But what about all the pressure?”

What pressure? If I mess up, nobody dies.

“But what if you write a lousy column? All those readers see it.”

They can always read “Dear Abby.”

“Aren’t you being a little callous here?”

Of course not. I’m just saying for 50 cents, how much insight do you expect to get? If Michael Jordan has a bad night, there’s always Scottie Pippen.

“But what about your health?”

Doctors say I can type all I want to.

“Let’s talk about burnout. You have been in the league for 16 years. ”

That’s nothing. My mother taught first grade for over 30 years for a lot less than I’m making and I don’t have to convince 6-year-olds to sit down and shut up.

“But what about living in the spotlight? Your picture is in the paper. You’re a celebrity.”

So I’ll get a gun.

“You’re referring, of course, to Atlanta Falcon receiver Andre Rison, who says he carries a gun because of his celebrity status as a pro football player.”

If I were Andre Rison, I would carry two guns. He’s not only a celebrity, he also plays for the Falcons.

“But don’t people often harass you in public for what you write?”

Yo. I don’t mind that as long as they don’t challenge my manhood.

“Still, there must be other things you would like to accomplish. As they said about Michael Jordan, there’s a lot more to him than just being a great basketball player.”

Yeah, like the 46 million in the bank.

“You wouldn’t like to, say, go into teaching?”

I can’t convince my dog to sit down and shut up.

“How about television?”

Too many have already tried to out-Andy-Rooney Andy Rooney.

“What about acting? You did an episode of `Designing Women.’ ”

In one scene I had to hug Delta Burke. Like I said, heavy lifting isn’t my bag.

“Some say Michael Jordan is retiring because he’s already won three league championships and several most valuable player awards. Is one of the reasons you’re not retiring the fact you’ve never won a Pulitzer?”

Winning the Pulitzer has never entered my mind.

“Oh, come on. The Pulitzer is the highest prize in journalism. Surely you must covet such a prestigious award.”

Awards are nice, but I didn’t get into the profession to win awards.

“What did you get into it for?”

To get mentioned favorably on the Rush Limbaugh radio show. That was enough for me.

“Michael Jordan retired in his prime. You’re telling us you don’t think you reached your prime yet?”

No. I just said I still need a steady job.

“That sounds like a cop out. How much more money do you need before you feel secure enough to retire?

Forty-five million and change.

“One more question. What primary goal do you hope to attain before you finally do retire?”

Outlast Beavis and Butt-Head.

“How long might that take?”

November 1996, if we’re lucky.


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