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If You Are Going To Take Shots, Be Accurate

If you didn’t think so before, you can now be assured that ESPN is all-in on TCU:

Kill was a member of Patterson’s wedding party, and the two coaches have said they weren’t entirely pleased about the match up, with both preferring the Kansas State-style non-conference schedule filled with cream puffs and pushovers. (emphasis added)

Since 2010, Kansas State played Eastern Kentucky, Kent State, Missouri State, North Texas, North Dakota State, LA-Lafayette, LA Tech, UTSA and South Dakota out of conference.

But Kansas State has scheduled Auburn, Miami (twice), UCLA, and UCF.

I’m a big fan of Minnesota and Coach Jerry Kill.  I thought the Golden Gophers would cover the spread last night, and they did.  But Minnesota isn’t exactly scheduling Alabama.

The best and worst of college football.


Rally Around The New Breed Of Bulldogs

Glory Glory to Ole Georgia. Heroes have graced the field before you.

Men with hearts, bodies, and minds for which the entire Bulldog Nation can be justifiably proud.

The tradition of unbridled excellence demonstrated by these individuals and many others spans more than a full century.

And now a new breed of Bulldogs stands ready to take the field of battle, to assume the reigns of their Georgia fore bearers, and continue that tradition.  Understanding that there no is tradition more worthy of envy, no institution worthy of such loyalty, as the University of Georgia.

As we prepare for another meeting Between the Hedges, let all the Bulldog faithful rally behind the men who now wear the red and black, with two words, two simple words which express the sentiments of the entire Bulldog Nation. 

 Go Dawgs!

My first ever game at Sanford Stadium was way back during my freshman year of high school in 1999.  I don’t even know the opponent.  I do remember going back in 2000 to see us beat New Mexico State.  I went again in 2001 to see UGA beat Houston in the game that was supposed to be on the weekend after 9/11 and was postponed to December.

You know, I was in high school.  I didn’t tailgate, and did all the “touristy” things.  Went to the Dawg Walk and saw the Uga graves.  Just went, more or less, and didn’t really understand it all.

I remember my first ever game in college.  Sitting down in Section 112 next to the Redcoats, I really heard the Larry Munson pregame for the first time. As Georgia fans, we are (rightfully) accused of living in the past.  This has been a complaint of mine for quite some time.  I have to say, though, that the pregame with the Battle Hymn solo and Larry Munson’s echoing voice sends shivers down my spine. There isn’t much more I remember about that freshman year, but I remember that.  I was hooked.

Those words ring true today, more so than they ever had.  Though SEC and National Championships haven’t occurred in Athens as often as we desire recently, Georgia is still considered, I would think by most, an “elite”, “blue blood” program in the college football world.  In the past 14 seasons, Georgia has ended the season ranked in the top 10 on 8 occasions.  Georgia has finished ranked in the top 5 three times, with finishes of 2, 3 and 4.

I think Todd Gurley is best player to play at Georgia since I have been closely following the Bulldogs.  Better than David Pollack, Jarvis Jones, Matthew Stafford, and even A.J. Green.

Not only was he immensely talented, he seemed like a genuine good, humble person.  When he was being interviewed after getting drafted by the Rams, and choked up a little bit, I got choked up along with him.

I get frustrated.  I see the likes of Justin Houston, Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, A.J. Green, Blair Walsh, etc…recently pass through Athens and have stellar collegiate careers, then go on and have stellar NFL careers.  There has been so much talent at this school in the past 10 years.

And no SEC championships to show for it.

Yes, it is frustrating.

Ultimately to win a National Championship in college, especially in the old BCS system, requires some degree of luck.  But the bottom line is that at least one of those seasons that ended with a #2, 3 or 4 ranking should have ended with a #1.  Some of it can be blamed on bad circumstances.  Some can be blamed on bad luck.  Some of it can be blamed on poor individual play from the players.  Some of it can be blamed on the coaching.  Some of it can be blamed for institutional and administrative shortcomings.  There is blame to be cast on the shortcomings.

Back to Gurley.  His freshman year, he carried the ball 222 times for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Nick Chubb in his freshman year carried the ball 219 times for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns.

As much as I loved watching Todd Gurley play, his time has come and gone.

A new breed of Bulldogs is prepared to assume the tradition of their Georgia forbearers.

It’s time.  It’s here.

Appreciate the past.  Relish in the good memories.  But for all intents and purposes, forget it.  Forget the good.  Forget the bad.

Let’s all rally around the new breed of Bulldogs.

Go Dawgs!


Lewis Grizzard Thursday: To My Son

In what has become a tradition around here, enjoy this classic Lewis column as we get closer  to getting back Between the Hedges.  As much as people are trying to ruin collegiate athletics, specfically college football, this post perfectly sums up what is so great about not only being a Bulldog, but being a fan of college football. 

Go Dawgs!


Great moments in a would be father’s life

To my Son, if I ever have one:

Kid, I am writing this on September 3, 1984. I have just returned from Athens, where I spent Saturday watching the University of Georgia, your old dad’s alma matter, play football against Clemson.

While the events of the day were still fresh on my mind, I wanted to recount them so if you are ever born, you can read this and perhaps be able to share one of the great moments in your father’s life.

Saturday was a wonderful day on the Georgia campus.

We are talking blue, cloudless sky, a gentle breeze and a temperature suggesting summer’s end and autumn’s approach.

I said the blessing before we had lunch. I thanked the Lord for three things: fried chicken, potato salad and for the fact he had allowed me the privilege of being a Bulldog.

“And , Dear Lord,” I prayed, “bless all those not as fortunate as I.”

Imagine my son, 82,000 people, most whom were garbed in red, gathered together gazing down on a lush valley of hedge and grass where soon historic sporting combat would be launched.

Clemson was ranked number 2 in the nation, and Georgia, feared too young to compete with the veterans from beyond the river, could only dream, the smart money said, of emerging three hours hence victorious.

They had us 20-6 at the half, son. A man sitting in front of me said, “I just hope we don’t get embarrassed.”

My boy, I had never seen such a thing as came to pass in the second half. Todd Williams threw one long and high, and Herman Archie caught it in the end zone, and it was now 20-13.

Georgia got the ball again and scored again, and it was now 20-20, and my mouth was dry, and my hands were shaking, and this Clemson fan who had been running his mouth the whole ballgame suddenly shut his fat face.

Son, we got ahead 23-20, and the ground trembled and shook, and many were taken by fainting spells.

Clemson’s kicker, Donald Igwebuike, tied it 23-23 and this sacred place became the center of the universe.

Only seconds were left when Georgia’s kicker, Kevin Butler, stood poised in concentration. The ball rushed toward him, and it was placed upon the tee a heartbeat before his right foot launched it heavenward.

A lifetime later, the officials threw their arms aloft. From 60 yards away, Kevin Butler had been true, and Georgia led and would win 26-23.

I hugged perfect strangers and kissed a fat lady on the mouth. Grown men wept. Lightening flashed. Thunder rolled. Stars fell, and joy swept through, fetched by a hurricane of unleashed emotions.

When Georgia beat Alabama 18-17 in 1965, it was a staggering victory. When we came back against Georgia Tech and won 29-28 in1978, the Chapel bell rang all night. When we beat Florida 26-21 in the last seconds in 1980, we called it a miracle. And when we beat Notre Dame 17-10 in the Sugar Bowl that same year for the national championship, a woman pulled up her skirt and showed the world the Bulldog she had sewn on her underbritches.

But Saturday may have been even better than any of those.

Saturday in Athens was a religious experience.

I give this to you, son. Read it and re-read it, and keep it next to your heart. And when people want to know how you wound up with the name “Kevin” let them read it, and then they will know.

First Year QBs Have Success In College Football

The college football world is bearish on the SEC having success on the National Stage this season because of all the uncertainty within the Conference at the quarterback position. Adding fuel to the fire to this narrative is the amount of talent, ease of schedule and the great coaching at Ohio State; with all this, the SEC is being written off as yesterday’s news.

Only Mississippi State-a team who is a consensus last place pick in the SEC West-doesn’t have uncertainty at that position. I guess you could throw Missouri in that mix, also; they are picked to finish third in the SEC East.

The uncertainty at the quarterback position is one of the biggest demerits for Georgia going into this season. This is uncharted water for the Bulldogs under Coach Richt. The only other year there were this many QB questions was 2006-and even then you knew at some point it was going to be Matthew Stafford’s job.

But how important is the starting quarterback to win it all in College football?

Normally, I would say very. You need a few other things to win it all in College football: luck, a good running game, a good defense, and a favorable schedule. Notice I didn’t say coaching (See: Chizik, Gene).

But dig a little deeper, and you’ll see that every season since 2009, one (and sometimes multiple) teams vying for the National Championship have done so with a freshman or first year starter at quarterback.

The last time you had two quarterbacks with experience facing off in the National Championship was back in 2008-Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow. Since then, however, it hasn’t been the case.

In 2009, Greg McElroy was in his first year as a starter at Alabama. Alabama faced off against Texas and Colt McCoy, who had a storied collegiate career.

In 2010, both Auburn and Oregon made it the BCS Title Game with first year starters. In 2011, Alabama won it in A.J. McCarron’s first year starting, beating LSU who had a quarterback controversy all season with Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson.  That LSU team was possibly the best team we’ve seen this decade, and they didn’t even win it all.  They are easily the best team to not win a National Championship in the BCS era.

In 2012, Notre Dame made it to the title game with Everett Golson in his first year as a starter.

2013 saw Auburn and Florida State face off. Jameis Winston was a redshirt freshman and Nick Marshall was a converted cornerback in his first year starting at Auburn.

Last season, while Florida State and Oregon had established signal callers, Alabama and Ohio State made it to the Playoff with first year starters, and in Ohio State’s case, won it all with a freshman who had just a few starts under his belt, period.

Going back to 2000, Heisman winners and established collegiate quarterbacks littered the National Championship scene: Jason White, Chris Weinke, Jay Couch, Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford. There are some all-time greats that hoisted the Crystal Football.

But recent history has proven that having an established starter under center isn’t part of the recipe for a Championship season.

It would help, but it isn’t mandatory.

This doesn’t mean I am saying that a team from the SEC will win it all in 2015, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I think Georgia will do so. The teams in the SEC have blemishes. In Georgia’s case, I would be as much concerned-or more-about the defensive line stopping the run.

But don’t write off Alabama, LSU, and even Georgia just because the questions at the quarterback position.


Top Thursday Night Football Games in 2015

I love the Thursday night college football games.  Don’t misunderstand that love for ever wanting Georgia to play in one.  These little appetizers are often fun matchups to get you ready for the upcoming weekend, and since they usually involve teams that have no bearing on Georgia, it can be stress-free and you can watch it for simply the enjoyment of football.

This season, there are some clunkers, but there are some interesting games as well.  Here are the ESPN Thursday night football games ranked:

14. South Florida at UCF, 11/26

Thanksgiving night used to give us the Egg Bowl, or Texas A&M-Texas.  Last year we were treated to LSU at Texas A&M.  We aren’t in Kansas anymore.

13. Cincinnati at Memphis, 9/24

Almost put this one at the bottom, but I don’t know.  Who cares.

12. ECU at UCF, 11/19

ECU is a good squad, as is UCF.  Will be fun.

11. North Carolina at Pitt, 10/29 (DH)

Only put this one ahead of ECU/UCF because it involves two Power 5 teams.  That is about it.

10. Miami at Cincinnati, 10/1

If Miami under Al Golden is going to be good, this is the year.

9. Cal at UCLA, 10/22

Cal will put up some points.  They aren’t very good, but they can hang with UCLA with their offense.

8. North Carolina vs. South Carolina, 9/3 (DH)

A good chance to see how South Carolina looks early in the season.

7.TCU at Minnesota, 9/3 (DH)

Minnesota has gone 8-5 for three straight years, and was a fluke upset from Illinois away from going 9-4 last season.  Coach Jerry Kill has the Gophers playing pretty good B10 football, and it is just easy to root for him with his health problems.  I think TCU will light the Gophers up on Opening Night, but I expect the Gophers to come ready to play.

6. Washington at USC, 10/8

 USC is the West Coast’s version of Ohio State, and anytime they can lose would be extra sweet.

5. Mississippi State at Missouri, 11/5

Hopefully this game won’t have any scoreboard watching implications involved, and Georgia is coming off effectively clinching the SEC East after Jacksonville.  But this game will probably have the Bulldog Nation pulling for the other Bulldogs.

4. Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, 11/12

It’s time for Virginia Tech to get back to respectability. They always play Georgia Tech tough.  The Hokies’ defense is one of the few SEC-like defenses Georgia Tech plays regularly.  See how the Yellow Jackets do before they come to Athens.

3.UCLA at Stanford, 10/15

Quite possibly a preview of the Pac-12 Championship game.  I think Stanford is going to be really good this season.

2.Clemson at Louisville, 9/17

If Louisville gets past Auburn in Week 1, this will have added luster.  A good ACC matchup.

1. Oregon at Arizona State, 10/29 (DH)

This should be a fun, mindless game involving two teams that can put up points.  This will be a track meet, and it will serve as a fun, harmless, and entertaining appetizer going into the Cocktail Party weekend.

What To Look For In The Starting QB

What do you want in your starting quarterback?

First and foremost, you want someone who isn’t going to turn the ball over.  At a Bulldog Club meeting one time, I heard Coach Richt say the goal of the quarterback should ensure every possession end with a kick-a punt, field goal, or PAT.

Last season, after the Tennessee game, I was on the ledge.  I thought that the time to bench Mason had come, throw Brice Ramsey to the wolves, and help him develop.  My thought, at the time, was that the good running game with Gurley would help Ramsey’s development.

When the situation with Gurley happened, I backed off.  I thought that you needed the stability on the offense in unstable times.

What was the main reason I thought Mason needed to take the back seat?  I didn’t think he could lead the team on a game winning drive late in the game.  I didn’t think he could take the game in his hands and win it, like David Greene, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray showed us so many times in the past they could do.

No matter how good your team is, and no matter how good the running game is, in the SEC, the quarterback is going to need to engineer a game winning drive.  The teams are too good and the margins are too thin.  You are going to have to come from behind and throw that touchdown pass with a few minutes (or seconds) left on the clock. Think of all the great teams the last few years-the Alabamas, Auburns, the LSUs-they all relied on their quarterback to win the game for them at some point.

I didn’t think that Hutson Mason had it in him.  I was wrong.  Though Georgia ultimately lost, Mason led what should have been a game winning drive against Tech, and hit Malcolm Mitchell in the end zone in the final moments.

Mason did what I thought he couldn’t do.  I was glad to be proven wrong.

So as the quarterback battle rages on for the rest of fall camp, the main attribute should be, “Can this guy lead the team to victory?”

After, of course, not turning the ball over.


Viewing Guide for Non-UGA Weekends

First and foremost, my allegiance is to the Georgia Bulldogs.  But Fall Saturdays are special days to kick back and sit in front of the TV and watch football all day.  The days when Georgia doesn’t have a home game are good to watch other SEC or Conferences’ games, but if the Dawgs are on the road, usually you worry about the upcoming Georgia game. There are several days when Georgia isn’t playing, or they have an easy game where you can get home early enough to enjoy the rest of the games for the day.

So, here is your viewing guide for Saturdays when you really don’t have to worry about the Dawgs.  A * means it is the Game of the Day.

September 5 (Louisiana-Monroe)

Alabama vs. Wisconsin:  Good early season test for the Crimson Tide.

*Auburn vs. Louisville:  The Chick-fil-A Kick Off Game…can the Georgia Dome already be demolished about 4:00?  At least the Louisville sideline?  Louisville should have a good defense, so it will be a good test for Auburn’s retooled offense. 

Texas A&M vs. Arizona State: Should be a lot of points here.  Good opportunity for Chavis’ new defense.

September 26 (Southern)

UCF at South Carolina:  Georgia should be Carolina; UCF won’t be a pushover.  See how the Gamecocks respond.

Mississippi State at Auburn:  Key early season game in the SEC West.

Texas A&M at Arkansas:  If one of these teams wants to break through the glass ceiling, here is the first chance.

*Tennessee at Florida: Can Tennessee snap their skid?  If Tennessee is ready to contend in the SEC East, here is their first litmus test. Florida is still down, but we will see how they do with a new coaching staff. 

USC at Arizona State: I’ve seen USC be mentioned in Playoff discussions…this game might go a long way to decide the Pac-12 South. 

UCLA at Arizona:  See above. 

October 24 (Bye)

Not a whole lot on the slate today…

Auburn at Arkansas:  This will tell us if Arkansas is legit.

*Florida State at Georgia Tech:  Tech already faces Notre Dame, North Carolina, Duke and Clemson.  Florida State will have already faced off with Louisville and Miami (LOL).  Key ACC game.  It will be a good test for Justin Thomas. 

November 21 (Georgia Southern)

Typically a weak Saturday, the weekend before Thanksgiving, but there are some good ones…

LSU at Ole Miss:  LSU is my dark horse playoff team.  LSU will either be playing for a spot, or fighting for Les Miles’ job. 

Tennessee at Missouri: UGA will be out of SEC play at this point.  Hopefully this game will be an afterthought and it won’t have any sort of implications other than for Bowl tiers, and Bulldog faithful won’t have to be scoreboard watching.  But it probably will important.

*Michigan State at Ohio State:  Huge game in the Big 10.

Michigan at Penn State:  Chance for Harbaugh to get a signature win in the Big 10.

USC at Oregon:  Potential Pac-12 Championship game, with even bigger implications.

TCU at Oklahoma:  TCU and Baylor is the next week, but this one could decide the Big 12.



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