Archive for the 'Football' Category

Post USC-East takes

Maybe it was the emotional exhaustion of another grindfest in SEC play…or maybe it had something to do with an eight-week old girl in the house, but I somehow drifted into an unexpected nap on Sunday afternoon.

So after all that, and some time to let everything from Saturday sink in, here are a few takes.

– Was the decision to not run Todd Gurley four times at the four-yard line a knuckleheaded call by Mike Bobo? Probably (Of course, it didn’t help that officials botched the intentional grounding call…more on that later). But I’m more than willing to give Bobo some slack. This offense has averaged more than 40 points or so the past three years. If you would have told me we’d roll up around 40 points the first two games this year with a hovering above average QB and ZERO deep threats at receiver, I’d gladly take it. This team has some shortcomings right now. Mike Bobo is not one of them.

– The defense showed how far of a hole it has to dig out of. When you have inexperience, you can have the greatest coaching in the world, but it cannot compensate with lack of experience. There is talent on defense, but that talent has to grow up in a hurry. A few players that did not want to do it ‘The Georgia Way,” who are not worth mentioning, may help this team long-term, but they put it in a tough spot short-term. This defense will get on the right track. Hopefully, it will be before it is too late. Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins were non-factors against South Carolina…but the Chickens going max-protect had a lot to do with that.

– Did the referees cost Georgia the game? Yes and no. It baffles me that as much revenue as the SEC pulls in that it has no problem that its officials continue to embarrass the conference. And this is not only a Georgia gripe. Ask Kentucky’s fans, as well. An awful holding penalty call cost Georgia a touchdown and Heisman-highlight clip from Todd Gurley, and the intentional grounding call was an awful miss too.  For whatever reason, the SEC does not think its important to have quality officials. It is laughing all the way to the bank. The league, its teams and fans deserve way better. At the end of the day, though, you have to assume in every game you are not going to get certain breaks and have to play well enough to over come them. Georgia did not do that. Which brings us to…

– Football is a funny and illogical game sometimes. How Marshall Morgan’s field goal streak ends with two misses in the second half baffles me. If he makes one of them, it’s a tie game. If he makes both, Georgia wins. On the road in this conference, you have to make your own breaks and take advantage. Georgia did not do that.

– Despite many comment section and Facebook postings after the game, this season is not over. It’s a tough pill to swallow to lose to the HBC, but this team still controls its own fate. USCe will lose at least once more this season. More often than not, you won’t run the table in this conference, it just won’t happen as much as you want it to.

– I’m avoiding the call-in shows on Monday.

– You can’t pin this loss on one facet. It was a team loss. There were breakdowns on offense, defense and special teams that contributed to the loss. This team has a week to get better and heal up against Troy and take on what will be a pesky Tennessee team.

– Can we replace Uncle Verne?

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Last week was nice, but…

From the moment that Georgia’s 2014 schedule was released, one positive that jumped out was this week’s open date. The schedule-makers slotted Georgia with an open date between two brusing matchups – last week against Clemson and next week’s road trip to South Carolina.

While the Gamecocks will go up against a pesky East Carolina team, Georgia can rest up and guys such as Malcolm Mitchell and John Theus can get closer to being healthy.

Still, the open week could be a bad thing.

The Bulldogs are coming off of an impressive win last week against Clemson. Georgia has risen in the rankings, and very, very early talk of National Title hopes and a Heisman Trophy contention for Todd Gurley has been kicked into high gear.

Georgia’s fans have an extra week to reflect on how impressive the Dawgs looked last week – and the players have more time to hear about how good they looked.

Georgia’s season may be defined in how well it handles the open date. If it lapses this week, the Bulldogs could leave Columbia next Saturday 0-1 in SEC play, and the Clemson win would be little more than a nice win over an old rival.

It’s great to win, but that win cannot define a season.

Anyone remember 2004. Georgia whipped LSU in a much-anticipated rematch. The next week, a lackluster performance against Tennessee cost Georgia the game as well as the SEC Eastern Division title. Or as Georgia head coach Mark Richt said, “we lost the wrong game.”

Last week was nice for Georgia. But it’ll pale in comparison if the Bulldogs don’t come out with a win following this weekend’s open date.

Lugnut Dawg 

A few spring practice observations

1. As far as the most impressive spring so far, it’s J.J. Green is making a strong case. It’s too early, without question to pencil in anything as far as time on the field in the fall, but when a guy has pretty much been on offense since coming to Athens and leads the team in tackles during a scrimmage? That speaks volumes.

2. Brandon Kubanlow and Greg Pyke know that it’s ‘moving season,’ and it’s shown based on the info coming out of practice. The way things look now, I’d look for both to play extensively come August. This is their shot to make their move and show that they can contribute. If they can’t take full advantage, they could get bypassed.

3. To redshirt Keith Marshall or not? If he won’t be 100 percent it is a no-brainer. That said, I wouldn’t mind him being a ‘soft redshirt’ similar to Hutson Mason two years ago…redshirt him, but have him on emergency duty just in case Gurley gets banged up pretty good. There’s something to be said about experience, regardless of how talented these two studs at tailback coming in are.

4.  Speaking of Mason, we’re seeing why Mason is a very solid No. 1 based on how Brice Ramsey, Jacob Park and Fauton Bauta have fared this spring. The fact is that there’s a level that Mason is at, and the other three QBs won’t get to that point. It’s easy to hit the panic button based on the Gator Bowl. But Mason also had to contend with a massively depleted offense around him, and pretty much no one on the Georgia sidelines was excited to be there, and it showed.

5. Jonathan Rumph is having a nice spring. But then again, we heard how great he looked in practice last year and it never translated to the field. Seeing how far along he is progressing is one of many reasons to look forward to G-Day.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg



Bobo being taken for granted?

Let’s throw it out there. Mike Bobo is a massive lightning rod when it comes to the UGA football program. Mention his name and you’ll either have fans talk about how great he or how he needs to lose his job (which I still fail to understand, for what it’s worth).

Georgia, however, is running a high risk of neglecting Bobo. There was recent news that Bobo received a contract extension, but a pay raise was not included.

Look, I get the fact that the defensive staff has to be offered more to lure them in, and I have no issue with that. If Pruitt and Company produce, they are worth every penny.

But when you have a coach such as Mike Bobo, whose offense is the only reason that this team was a national title contender two years ago and made itself a factor for Atlanta again this year, you have to, as they say, “Pay the man.”

And then there is the fact that Georgia’s upswing in South Georgia recruiting has a lot to do with Bobo.

Bobo is a loyal guy to both Georgia and Mark Richt. But when you underappreciate someone long enough, the end result is that person making an easy decision to leave.

Let’s hope it never comes to that.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Disappointing, but not shocking

Josh Harvey-Clemons’ time in Athens is officially over, with him being kicked off the team for a ‘violation of team rules.”

You’d assume that he did something similar to the previous teams that he was suspended. If that is the case, JHC needs help, and it is best to leave Athens to get it.

It’s for the best that JHC is no longer in Athens for everyone involved. JHC and UGA need to move on. Inevitably, this was going to happen soon, so it’s very good for Georgia that it was prior to spring ball so that some other guys can get looks such as Tray Matthews or Corey Moore.

For JHC, it closes the book on a highly touted potential that was never realized. When you come in as a five-star recruit with signing day drama, the onus is on you to deliver big, and those expectations are hard to match (see Crowell).

JHC not only will never live down an errant tip on the plains, but also that he had all the talent in the world and pissed it away.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Personally, I’m glad it’s over

If anything else, the Gator Bowl loss to Nebraska means one thing more than anything else – closure.

You want frustration, this season has been full of it with injuries, unbelievably bad luck, defensive misadventures and haphazard efforts on special teams.

Unless you are playing in a BCS Bowl, a bowl game is pretty much, as Corbin Dawg alluded to earlier, an exhibition. Oh sure, they are fun to go to for fans (me and Lugnut’s dad enjoyed ourselves in Jacksonville) and players get to do some cool things. But for the most part, bowls do not define your season.

Regardless of Georgia’s result in Jacksonville, it does not change the fact that three damning issues exist within the program going into the offseason that would be the same if Georgia would have rallied to win:

– An atrocious defensive secondary

– Bad News Bears special teams play

– Hutson Mason getting a firm enough grasp of the offense

If there is a silver lining, it’s that this team heads into the offseason pissed off. If this team needed a wakeup call, Nebraska may have done Georgia a big favor.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Gator Bowl Review: A Crummy Commercial

Be Sure to drink your Ovaltine.  Ovaltine?  A crummy commercial?  Son of a bitch!

I have a few thoughts about the Gator Bowl yesterday, but before I jumped in the specifics, I wanted to touch on some big picture thoughts.

I hate when the Dawgs lose.  I hate it so bad.  I want, and most years expect, Georgia to win every game.  I have as unrealistically high expectations on where I want the football program to be as anyone.  I was devastated after the Auburn loss, and in the past, I have been devastated by losses in bowl games.

But not anymore.  I saw a lot of venom and angst yesterday on Twitter, but I simply don’t care that Georgia lost yesterday.  If Georgia had won, I would have felt good, but not have the same feeling of happiness I have when we beat South Carolina, LSU, came back against Tennessee and Tech, and beat Florida for the 3rd year in a row.

Don’t be confused; I am not one to hate on the Bowls.  I love watching these games.  I stayed up to 12:30 in the morning last night watching UCF beat Baylor.  I was glued to Texas A&M and Duke.  These are fun games.  But in the end, they are just glorified commercials for the sponsors, ways for local towns to fill up hotel rooms, and ESPN to have content and sell advertising space.  That is all.  The bowls have no merit other than that.  Except the National Championship.  And I’ll even say the bigger bowls have luster.  Living in the South and having the tradition, you want to say you won the Sugar Bowl.  The Rose Bowl is important to the Big 10 and Pac 10/12.

But these mediocre bowls are just exhibition games and fun games to watch.  How many times yesterday did they talk about the bad playing conditions on the field, yet they let Junior drive his car out on the field and hand over the coin?  It was done for pomp and circumstance, and to let Tax Slayer have their spokesmen get TV coverage.  I’m sure if this was game in Sanford Stadium, there would be no way in hell a car would be driven on the field, espeically in those conditions.

I saw stats yesterday that UGA is 1-3 in Bowls the last 4 years, or they’ve lost X number of games the last five years and this and that.  I hate these stats, because they are intellectually dishonest.  If we had won yesterday, UGA would be 2-2 in their last four bowls.  Just like with the beating ranked team argument, those stats are only thrown up after a loss. If we had won, no one would say “Hey, Mark Richt is 47-21 his last five years.”  But since they lost, it was “Mark Richt is 46-22 his last five years.”

Previously, a bowl win might help you in the polls for next season.  But now with the playoff selection committee, the polls are completely irrelevant.  And Auburn and Baylor showed that if you start the season unranked, you can still climb up in the hearts and minds of America if you just win the games.

I am not just saying this as a defense mechanism because the Dawgs lost or having sour grapes.  It was nice to get a win last year, but did it matter?  I mean, it was nice to close out on a win, but last year I was still hung over from the Alabama game.  Losing to UCF didn’t keep the Dawgs from signing the Dream Team or winning the SEC East in 2011.  Losing to Michigan State didn’t keep Georgia from signing the “Ring Team” or winning the East in 2012.  Beating Nebraska last year didn’t do anything to help us for 2012 against Clemson or keep anyone from getting injured this season.

I opened with a quote from one of my favorite movies.  I’ll throw in another 80s movie franchise example.  In the Rocky movies, what bout was more important-Rocky beating Apollo Creed for the title in Rocky II or beating Ivan Drago in Rocky IV?  Clearly, beating Creed was more important.  It was for the belt.  Did Rocky’s fight against Thunderlips in Rocky III matter?  No, it was a charity exhibition.

Like with Ralphie and his Little Orphan Annie Decoder that was thought to be something more than it was, these bowls are just a crummy commercial.  Any more or less emotional investment in them is just a waste of time.

The actions in the game certainly frustrated me.  Same old, same old.

-I want to get into special teams more in detail later, but how we can’t be competent in the punt return game is maddening.  As I was watching UCF last night, every time they received a punt there was no drama.  Remember when we had Damien Gary, Thomas Flowers, Mikey Henderson, and Brandon Boykin would could actually make plays?  We can’t even field the punts anymore.  Man, I long for the days of Logan Gray.

-I think the defense quietly played its best game of the year yesterday, with one glaring mistake.  Of course, the glaring mistake was a big one.  For all intents and purposes, a 100 yard touchdown pass is not something you see often, especially from Nebraska.  And what sucked so bad is as soon as he let it rip, you just knew it was going to the house.

-Gurley was hobbled, it was clear he wasn’t 100% still.  But he still had a very good game.  I think that if he was 100%, he would have scored on the 3rd and 10 draw play in the closing minutes.

-It seems like Lynch has had some big drops and other miscues this season, but Lynch is still a good player and will be sorely missed.  I wish him nothing but the best in his NFL or other future endeavors.

-Not having Matthews or JHC at safety was evident.  I hope JHC can get his act together, because I am not sure his leash is going to be incredibly long going forward.  He is reminding me an awful lot like Ealey and King.

-Mason did well statistically, but 182 out of his 320 yards (57%) came on little dump offs to Gurley and Douglas, and the one long pass to Bennett.  I get the weather didn’t help any, and the O-line protection was shaky, but it seemed he was a little off, hesitant, and held on the ball for way too long.  Like I said last week, hopefully he was able to learn something.

I don’t know if I have ever said this, but I am glad this season is over.  I love watching the Dawgs play. I pine for it all year.  I talk about it all year with friends.  Hell, I take the time to blog about it.  Football season is fun, even if the team is not doing well.  It is even more fun when they are.  But this year was an up and down roller coaster of emotions and I’m glad it is came to an end.  I’ll be jacked up for the 2014 campaign soon, but right now, I am just glad this year is over and behind us.


Grasping For Silver Linings

Is there a more wasteful group of individuals in sports than bowl selection committees? Other than showing up at the top games of each season in their blazers and getting to watch for free, what do they do?

As we saw Sunday night, they are good for one thing – putting together terrible bowl matchups.

The initial prospect of the Gator Bowl was a good one at an earlier point. Though going back to Jax isn’t what you play for to start the season, the prospect of facing a Michigan or even Iowa was exciting.

That never happened thanks to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl snapping up the Wolverines. Still, Minnesota, a team with one of the better feel-good stories of the year was an option.

But no, the Gator Bowl folks liked last year’s Capital One Bowl so much that they lined up a rematch with the Dawgs and Cornhuskers. No disrespect to Nebraska, but a bowl rematch a year later is good for nobody. Players on both sides I am guessing are not thrilled, and neither are the Georgia fans I know of, for the most part.

Honestly, the crowd for this game stands a good chance of being smaller than a Jaguars game (and I’m a Jags fan, too).

But there are some positives.

Firstly, the Dawg Nation knows this area well. We know where the hot spots up and down the first coast and golden isles are. I mean, it’s an excuse to go back to our favorite WLOCP spots. Personally, I’m looking forward to having some great shrimp at a place below Jax. I won’t name it out of fear that it’ll no longer be a well kept secret, but let’s just say that Kensington Dawg knows all about it as well.

Secondly, it’s great for South Georgia Dawgs. I can understand some fans from Atlanta not making this trip. For me, being a South Georgian, this trip is a great way to visit home and cheer on the Dawgs.

Thirdly, JOONYER!!! That’s right, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will be tossing the coin before kickoff.

Fourth, Taxslayer is based in Augusta. So Georgia is in a bowl game sponsored by a Georgia company.

Fifth, the offseason will be tough and we’ll need a football fix. It’s a great way to get one more game in in-person. As frustrating as the year as been, we’ll miss football when it’s over until next fall.

Go Dawgs, and see you in Jacksonville!

Lugnut Dawg

Saturday may have been pivotal for UGA, and that’s a bad thing

This night is fast becoming one of my least favorite of the year.

Tonight a year ago, I was still in a state of shock, kicking in the gut from one of the worst tipped passes I’d ever care to think about…wondering what Georgia would have to do to win a MNC.

After this past Saturday, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Georgia will never get to that point…at least with Mark Richt at the head of the program.

Look, I’m a huge Mark Richt guy. As long as he is here, Georgia should have a pretty good program, winning 9-11 games and contending for a national title. But winning one? Personally, I’m not so sure. As Ohio State wet the bed Saturday night, gift-wrapping Auburn a trip to Pasadena, it was just a reminder that other rivals continue to rise to heights that Georgia cannot get to.

Think about it. Auburn has a QB who was not on campus until August that has accomplished something that both Murray and Stafford never could.

Going forward, the task of keeping Georgia on the same plane as its rivals will be tougher than ever before. Auburn has quickly awoken from its slumber. Tennessee is on the way back. Mizzou is proving it’s SEC caliber.

When it comes to in-state talent, two of Georgia’s toughest foes are Auburn and FSU. Well, if there’s any recruits on the fence right now, both of these programs just became VERY attractive. I mean who could blame a kid for wanting to be at a program playing for a MNC rather than one cannot get to that level?

I hate to mention the hot seat topic. But the bottom line is this. Auburn will be paying a combined amount of over $500,000 next month for Gene Chizik’s buyout and Gus Malzahn’s current salary. I’m pretty sure no Auburn folks are complaining one bit about making a change.

In other words, ‘continuity’ wasn’t as important to Auburn as it is in Athens.

I’m convinced that Georgia will have a good program as long as Richt is here. Other than that, I’m honestly not sure.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Keys to Beating Tech

Five Novembers ago, we experienced in Sanford Stadium something that I would not wish on any Bulldog – a loss to the North Avenue Trade School.

Here’s what I think they keys are to winning for the fifth time in a row against the Maggots.

1. Defense has to stay on target. With the triple-option being unconventional, it relies on two things to have big success against a team such as Georgia – missed assignments and players not finishing plays – both of which result of big plays – see Reshad Jones in 2008. This worries me…a lot. How many times has Georgia’s defense missed on assignments this year? It will be very critical for Grantham’s charges to not get worn down and frustrated by the mundane nature of defending Tech’s defense. Tech will get its chunks of three or four yards per play. But if Georgia can force numerous third and longs, it’ll have itself a good day.

2. Mason doesn’t need to win it, but can’t lose it. Hutson Mason doesn’t need to takeover the game, but he’ll need to do enough to make Tech think about the pass. If Georgia can have some measure of success, it’ll prevent Tech from putting eight or nine in the box on a regular basis.

3. The tight end. The best way to catch a Tech defense looking for a heavy dose of Todd Gurley’s running sleeping? Quick passes over the middle to Arthur Lynch to spread things out.

4. Absence of the red zone. With Tech’s offense able to pick up short-yardage first downs more easily, multiple trips inside the 20 could bode well for the Jackets. Georgia needs to prevent that from happening by snuffing out scoring drives before they advance that far.

5. Up the Middle. Georgia doesn’t have a John Jenkins or Kwame Geathers up the middle to clog the center of the running lanes. The Dawgs will need to come up with a combination of linemen or linebacker play to shut this option (no pun intended) down and force running plays towards the perimeter, which could equal a big day for Josh Harvey-Clemons.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg