Archive for the 'Rivals' Category

Three Make or Break Games

There are a lot of games this fall to raise the needle up as far as anticipation.

There’s Kirby Smart’s debut. A pivotal game for the division against UTK. Jacksonville. A chance to exact more mastery against Malzahn. The bugs. And others along the way.

Here are, at least in my mind, three games that can make or break the season.

  1. North Carolina: This one is big for oh so many reasons. First – the Bulldog Nation has some demons of the Georgia Dome to rid itself of. And then there’s the whole Kirby Smart’s first chance to prove himself as head coach against and pretty good quality opponent. Losing won’t detonate the whole season, but it’ll certainly get things off to a good start, and also avoid detractors that are bigger fans of The University of Mark Richt than UGA from foaming at the mouth.
  2. Tennessee: If Georgia takes care of business, this one could be big, and even may still be if a loss to Ole Miss happens. Win this and the season, as usual, hinges on the WLOCP. Plus, you can stunt the upward path of a Tennessee program that just may be better than the ’72 Dolphins if you ask their fan base.
  3. Florida: First of all, Kirby knows what this game means as a South Georgian and former player. Remember – he grew up partially in a time where Georgia did not lose often in Jax. If there are any doubters about CKS – they’ll be greatly silenced by doing something Richt struggled to do for the most part – beat Florida.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

 

Lewis Grizzard Wednesday

Lewis had many loves, one of which was tormenting our inferiors at the North Avenue Trade School. 

Georgia Tech Goliath Shown the Truth

So maybe I made a couple of comments like, “We beat them in football, we beat them in basketball. All they’ve got left to talk about are academics.”

Tech had beaten us three straight years and, quite frankly, those of us on the Georgia side grow a bit weary of reading about the supposed greatness of the Atlantic Coast Conference, of which Tech is a member.

If you read the paper and listen to the Tech fans, you’d think the  Jackets go to the Final Four every year.

The truth is, they’ve never achieved such loft, but Georgia has.

Back to the near fight.

I was in the restroom in The Omni. I was actually in the process of doing one of those things you do in a restroom when the guy behind me, who was wearing a yellow sweater, began to make disparaging remarks about me.

He said, “You rotten, no-good, gravy-sucking, four-eyed son-of-a-blah, blah, blah.”

After completing what I had come into the restroom to do, I turned around and said, “Listen you yellow-bellied, sap-sucking, slide rule-carrying, pimple-faced, blah, blah, blah, you have no business talking to me that way.”

The guy was big, too. He must have been 6 feet 4 inches, 220. A crowd had gathered by this time. I had no choice but to stand in. To have backed down, even to a guy who was 6 feet 6 inches, 260, would have been a sign of weakness.

I took my glasses off and slung them to the floor and said, “I’m 42 years old, been married three times, had two heart surgeries, haven’t exercised in 10 years, eat too many foods that contain cholesterol, still insist on white bread, have sticks for arms and legs, lose every time I play gin rummy, can’t putt and read a lot, but if you want to go at it, here I stand.”

The guy, who had to stand 6 feet 8 inches and 280 pounds, and probably was a member of a motorcycle gang and had a knife on his person, began to back down.

“I’m really sorry about making those quite disparaging remarks about you,” he said.

“That’s not good enough,” I countered. “I want you to repeat after me: ‘Georgia has kicked our butts in both football and basketball, and it is obvious that Georgia people are better human beings than Tech people.’”

He said, “Georgia has kicked our butts in both football and basketball, and it is obvious that Georgia people are better human beings than Tech people.”

“Now,” I said, “I want you to go from this place in shame. I want you to hurt from the knowledge that the great Atlantic Coast Conference is nothing but a gathering of bed-wetting communists and the University of Georgia is a pinnacle of learning and athletic greatness.”

The guy turned and walked out of the restroom, beaten to a verbal pulp.

“How big was he?” asked my lovely female companion as I reluctantly reconstructed the story.

“Had to be 6 feet 10 inches and weight 290,” I said.

She kissed me gently on the cheek and said, “Let’s go home, Rocky.”

It was one helluva night.

This was for you, Ray Goff

Few head coaches at The University of Georgia have been as maligned as Ray Goff, who had the unfortunate circumstance of taking over as head coach of a handstrung program that at the same time became a glutton for punishment at the hands of the Ol’ Ball Coach, especially when he hung half a hundred on the Dawgs in 1995 in Athens.

I wasn’t in Sanford that day – but know plenty who were. If you had to endure that day, Saturday night was especially sweet.

1966 was a lifelong torture. 1997 was sweet revenge. Last night? That was an undressing. Georgia has a good team, and showed it. USCe is down, and Georgia exposed it in a big way.

Detractors – you know they are out there. They’ll pull out the fact that, “but…USC is a bad team. That win isn’t that big.”

Not hardly.

How many times has Georgia played an inferior team and slopped its way to an ugly win. I’ll eat crow – I expected it on Saturday. But what we saw on Saturday is what championship teams do – take care of business and make a statement – do what you are there to do to start with.

Will this team play on that level the rest of the year? Probably not. You cannot expect that over the course of a season. In a perfect world, you could bottle up the emotion of Saturday and sprinkle it around each week. We remember all too begrudgingly the 2004 LSU win followed up by a flat loss to Tennessee…even the 1997 Florida win followed by laying an egg against Auburn.

But if this team plays at a fraction of what we saw Saturday – executing on both sides of the ball and a lack of special teams gaffes…for the most part…bigger things could be in store later down the line.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Style points or not, it’s all about the wins from now on

– To quote the noted orator from Faber College, “nothing is over until we decide it is!”

In the midst of the fog of despair of the loss to USC-East, one thought, though tough to swallow, is that the pursuit of the SEC East was still within this team’s control. It gets old having that mindset for the Georgia program, but that is the reality with the way the schedule sets up.

All of a sudden, the game next month at Mizzou is very, very large. Funny thing is, it was one of the biggest worries of the season going in – back to back road trips to Fayetteville and Mizzou won’t be easy.

The bottom line is this – it doesn’t matter how you win in this league as long as you win. From here on out, it’s win out and you head to Atlanta. The wins still count the same amount, regardless of how hideous they look.

That’s how I look at the Tennessee win. Was it a bland victory in some ways? Yes. Georgia won in spite of a punchless passing attack and the good fortune of Tennessee catching fumblitis in its own end zone.

But it’s still a win. I’m sure USC would gladly take an ugly win over Mizzou instead of a loss on Saturday.

From here on out, it is all about getting a win – no matter how they come.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Has the Tennessee rivalry lost a step?

Rivalries are a funny thing. You highly dislike them and want to be beat them and beat them bad. But once you do it too much, can it lessen the rivalry.

To a degree, that’s where the Georgia-Tennessee rivalry is right now.

Unless you live up near North Georgia right now, Tennessee has taken on the look of another game on the schedule. The Vols have fallen on hard times (if you have had to endure UT fans, you shed no tears over it). To a point, you want to do a combination of laugh and pity them (maybe a small amount). That’s how it goes when you regularly beat someone.

There’s a part of Georgia’s younger fan base that wonders why UGA and Tech still play, and do not have a genuine dislike for the maggots. But the ‘old school’ fans…or those of us who lived through the 1998 to 2000 Tech wins, see Tech as a massive rivalry.

Tennessee is the same way. As Macon Dawg noted earlier this week, if you think the Bama fans (aka, the guy who saw Bama play on TV one time when he was 9 years old) are unbearable, you didn’t have to deal with the Tennessee fans in the 1990s.

This is a fan base that, and still does, shove the greatness of Peyton Manning down our throats. This is the program that got away with Nick Fairley-style cheap shots game after game with guys like Raynoch Thompson. UT took full advantage of UGA being mediocre in the 1990s and 2000s. If there was a recruit in the Atlanta area, the Volunteers and Phat Phil usually got them. You want to talk about lucking into a national title? UT took the cake in 1998 when Clint Stoerner inexplicably fumbled the ball right into Tennessee’s hands. And of course, there’s the engineering nightmare of a stadium in Knoxville. The capacity of that place needs an asterisk by it – it’s easy to cram 100,000 plus in with seats that narrow.

Oh, and then there’s that idiotic song that oddly enough was written by a Georgian.

Time has healed some dislike of Tennessee. Other than Lane Kiffin, there’s not much much to hate about Tennessee recently.

There will be if Butch Jones takes UT a step forward Saturday.

Somewhere along the way, the intensity of the rivalry has lost some steam. It needs to get back to the dislike of a bad guy wrestling in WCW.

Saturday’s kickoff is early, there is no doubting that, and Tennessee could benefit from a flat, late-arriving crowd (it did so in the 2004 upset).

If you’re heading to the game, get there early. The Bulldog Nation needs to get back to treating Tennessee like an old hated rival again.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

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

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


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