Maddawg’s Play of The Day College Football Week 9 – (October 30, 2011)

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Georgia's Defense Mauled the Gators

Week nine of the 2011 college football season yielded jubilation in Jacksonville for Georgia Bulldog Nation. At times the game was bowling shoe ugly, but, in the end the Dawgs dropped the Gators by a final score of 24-20. Georgia has won six games in a row, while Florida is left to pick up the pieces having lost four straight. However, there won’t even be a crocodile tear shed here.

The latest chapter in the “Florida vs Georgia Football Classic” was not about a singular moment or key play. Ultimately, It was about a Georgia football team and their fan base being desperate for redemption after almost two full decades of torture from a despised rival. In the post-game interview on CBS, Georgia head coach Mark Richt echoed that sentiment when he said that he was not thinking about the SEC East at the moment, he just wanted to enjoy the win with his football team.

Georgia was far from perfect in victory, but the Bulldogs answered the bell at every key moment. On the first play from scrimmage, the Dawgs chased down Jeff Demps and prevent him from scoring on a 72 yard screen pass. As a result of their effort, Georgia was able to force Florida kicker Brad Philips into a 38 yard field goal try that he missed.

In the second quarter the Georgia Bulldogs found themselves in desperation mode. The Dawgs were down 17-3 and needed a score to help the dwindling morale of players and fans alike. On fourth down with five yards to go, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray hit wide receiver Michael Bennett with a 20 yard touchdown pass that gave Bulldog Nation hope. Georgia headed into halftime trailing only 17-10.

Turnovers sealed Georgia’s fate in the previous visit to Jacksonville, but, this year it was Florida’s turn to fumble their lead away. Gator receiver Frankie Hammond coughed up the football on the Florida 18 yard line and the Bulldogs were there to pounce on the gift. It took all four downs, but, Aaron Murray found wide receiver Tavarres King with a 14 yard touchdown pass on fourth down to tie the game and send Bulldog Nation into a frenzy.

With Georgia trailing 20-17 entering the final frame, the game began to resemble that of a heavyweight title fight in the late rounds. Both teams were battered and each was trying to land a decisive blow. To the delight of Dawg fans, the knockout punch came in the form of Richard Samuel, embattled running back who had struggled to identify his role on the team.

Richard Samuel took it upon himself to do his part in helping the Georgia offense as he ran through tackles, and, pounded the tired Gator defense into submission. After a pass interference penalty kept a Georgia drive alive early in the fourth quarter, the Dawgs rode on the back of Samuel as he scored on a four yard touchdown run. Georgia Bulldogs 24, Gators 20.

Georgia denied Florida’s attempts to take back the lead as they were determined to leave Jacksonville, Florida on a high note. When Georgia got the football back with 5:32 left to go in the game the Bulldogs knew they could not give the Gators another opportunity. Following a surprising 18 yard throw to wide out Chris Conely, Georgia was poised to run out the clock.

Georgia’s season defining battle with Florida had some of the key elements of Bulldog success that have been highlighted by this blog. Mark Richt made two gutsy fourth down calls that led to euphoria, Georgia executed a textbook drive before halftime that gave them momentum, but, there is apparently something wrong with kicker Blair Walsh.

Maddawg’s Play Of The Day belongs to Richard Samuel. It is dedicated to every member of Bulldog Nation that believed Georgia would turn their Jacksonville fortune around. For those that stand by Mark Richt for as long as he is our football coach, yesterday was a small measure of vindication. If we can get a little help from the Razorbacks, or even the Gators, maybe the Georgia Bulldogs can shock the college football world by taming the LSU Tigers, or turning back the Alabama Crimson Tide.



Georgia-Florida 2011- The Bulldogs’ Road to Redemption Goes Through Jacksonville



The end of October means one thing for Georgia Bulldog fans– it is time to make the trip to Jacksonville, a “neutral” site, for the annual “Florida vs Georgia Football Classic.” Georgia Coach Mark Richt has not had much success in this rivalry as he is a mere 2-8 against the hated Gators. However, Georgia’s agony against Florida extends far beyond who is patrolling the sidelines. Jacksonville has been a thorn in the paw of the Dawgs for the past two decades. Georgia has just three wins against Florida in the past 20 years.

Speaking as a diehard fan myself, there is not a more important game on the schedule than Georgia versus Florida. Every year I am completely emotionally invested in the outcome. I want nothing more than to beat Florida, so that Georgia fans everywhere don’t have to go another year hearing about how the Gators bit the Dawgs again.

Unfortunately, that has become the theme of this rivalry over the past decade. Other than in 2004, (the year that Ron Zook was a lame duck head coach) and 2007, (the year of the big end zone celebration) the trip to Jacksonville has ended in misery for Dawg fans.

Horror stories of the past notwithstanding, 2011 brings about a sense of encouragement  for Georgia. The Dawgs have won five in a row, and are in the thick of the SEC East race.  Florida started hot in winning their first four contests. Since then the Gators are ice cold, having lost three straight games, and they are all but out of conference contention. But, what better way for Florida to circle the wagons than to ruin another season for the Dawgs.

Georgia must eliminate the critical errors that the Gators have thrived on in the past. Last year, the Dawgs could not get out of their own way soon enough, as they committed four turnovers. Although, even with the benefit of three interceptions and a fumble, the Gators could not fight off Georgia in regulation. Aaron Murray’s interception in Overtime doomed the Dawgs and allowed Chas Henry to kick a spirit crushing game winner.

The Dawgs need to treat this contest like any other game as much as possible. Pressing too much on either side of the ball is a recipe for disaster. Quarterback Aaron Murray must avoid forcing a throw if it is not there. Defensively, the Dawgs must avoid over pursuit to eliminate big plays.The Gators have a dynamic duo in Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. If either of them is allowed space in the open field they can score a touchdown at any moment.



This game should not be about the future of Mark Richt, or what has happened lately in this match-up. Instead, it must be about turning the page in this bitter rivalry and ushering in an era of Dawg Days in Jacksonville. Furthermore, If Georgia can take care of business on Saturday, nearly all of the axillary issues will resolve themselves. Mark Richt’s approval rating will go way up in gouging the Gators, and Bulldog Nation can bark without fear of Gator trash talk.

Georgia has no control over whether South Carolina loses again. The Dawgs must take care of their own business and finish the 2011 season strong. Ending the regular season on a 10 game win streak would capture the hearts of even the most cynical Georgia Bulldog fans whether they make a return trip to the Georgia Dome on December 3rd or not. I hope the Georgia Bulldogs repeat their much talked about 2007 celebration. Only this time, they should wait until the game is over.



Maddawg’s Play of The Day – College Football Week 8 (October 23, 2011)

In a season that had largely gone as expected, with very few upsets, week 8 of the regular season turned the college football landscape on its ear. Two big upsets were the order of the night, but before they occurred LSU proved they are the only true Tigers in the Southeastern Conference with a dominant performance over Auburn. #1 ranked LSU certainly looks like the best team in college football as they have a bye week before they travel to Tuscaloosa for an epic showdown with Alabama.



Many other teams did their part to hold serve as well. The aforementioned Tide rolled over Tennessee after giving the Volunteers a false sense of security in the first half. The game was tied at six when the two teams went to their locker rooms but Alabama came out swinging as they scored 31 second half points while blanking the Vols in the final 30 minutes. Elsewhere, Boise State was able to ground Air Force’s hopes of ending their undefeated season. The Broncos won 37-26.

Clemson also looked strong as they beat the tar out of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Next week’s game against Georgia Tech has lost nearly all of its luster as the Jackets have looked terrible in losing two in a row. The Clemson Tigers appear as if they will be immune to the sting of Georgia Tech, but as last night proved, anything can happen in college football.

BCS chaos is the lifeblood of a compelling college football season. It is fitting that in the first weekend of the Bowl Championship Series standings there would be two season altering outcomes. In a game that ended early this morning in the east, the Red Raiders of Texas Tech shocked the Oklahoma Sooners, 41-38,  in Norman. While it was tremendous to watch a stunning upset, it is also hard not to feel terrible for Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt, who missed two crucial field goals. Here’s hoping that Sooner fans can be reasonable human beings and leave the kid alone.

Now for Maddawg’s Play of The Day: Wisconsin had been steamrolling the competition through the first seven weeks of the college football season. The Badgers’ road trip to East Lansing was supposed to be a statement game as they found themselves at #6 in the BCS standings. However, somebody forgot to tell Michigan State. The Spartans fought hard all game, and, with 4 seconds left the game appeared to be headed for overtime.

What followed is the reason why I love college football more than any other sport. Michigan State won on a 44 yard Hail Mary that bounced off of two Badgers before Keith Nichol was able to catch the ball and score a touchdown. The play is arguably the most memorable play in the history of Michigan State football. The Bowl Championship Series is not perfect, but after last night, one would be hard pressed to argue that it does not produce tremendous results in the product on the field. In addition, Michigan State and Wisconsin could have a high profile rematch in the Big Ten title game on December 3rd.



The Bowl Championship Series Standings- taking a look at the first BCS poll of 2011.

This year the BCS has served its purposeWeek 8 of college football signifies that the season is more than halfway over. While that can be a downer for diehard football fans, there is some very good news. The Bowl Championship Series chaos has only just begun. Moreover, with the release of the first BCS standings a rarity has occurred. This year, the BCS got it exactly right.

The top eight teams in the standings are all undefeated, and the #9 team must play the current number one before the year is over. Like it or not, the BCS has set college football up for a brilliant finish to the regular season. Southeastern Conference love aside,  November 5th is even bigger now because it sets up one of the most highly anticipated regular season match-ups ever– LSU and Alabama in a BCS #1 vs #2 clash. In addition to that, while there is not a Big 12 title game this year, there will be a de facto BCS playoff game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on December 3rd.

Stanford and Oregon meet on November 12th. If neither team loses before that date, the game will be another battle between two of the top 10 BCS teams. Who stands to benefit from these highly ranked teams butting heads? Boise State. As long as the Broncos can go undefeated they can sit back and watch as teams ranked ahead of them eliminate each other.

Not everything is perfect though, especially if you are a fan of the Clemson Tigers, or Wisconsin Badgers. But the reality is that neither one of these teams played anyone good enough to merit a birth in the national championship if there are other undefeated teams ranked ahead of them at the end of the regular season. For proof, take a look at Wisconsin’s schedule. Their biggest win to date was against Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers have not beaten a ranked opponent this season. Whether that is fair or not is irrelevant, as Boise State deals with the same problem on a yearly basis.

As for Clemson, they must finish the season unbeaten. On top of that they need to become a big fan of their in state rival South Carolina Gamecocks to have only one loss going into the “Battle of the Palmetto State” on November 26th. Beating a one loss SEC team would certainly help Clemson’s case if they are still undefeated heading into the final week of the regular season.

There is no such thing as a perfect system when it comes to crowning a champion in college football. Even if there were a playoff, the last team left out would gripe about getting the shaft. (This happens in college basketball where there is a 64 team tournament AND a first round play in game.) The 2011 Bowl Championship Series standings set up intriguing games throughout the rest of the regular season. College football fans everywhere should be pleased with that.

Barrie can keep watching Steve Spurrier drag his headset.  I’ll take a Nick Saban rant any   day of the week.



 

Dawg Night in Nashville (Georgia – Vanderbilt 2011)

The Georgia Bulldogs visit Tennessee for the second week in a row as they face the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday night in Nashville. A victory is obviously the Dawgs’ top priority but they must also avoid further injury going into the bye week. Tailback Isaiah Crowell was able to play through the discomfort in his arm as he helped lead Georgia to a 20-12 victory in Knoxville against the Volunteers. However, emerging wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was not so lucky.  All indications are that he will be ready to go following the bye week.

As for Saturday’s opposition, Vanderbilt is 3-2, (1-2 in the SEC East) and the ‘Dores were blanked by Alabama last week. Vanderbilt has failed to score a touchdown in their last two games. Georgia cannot afford to overlook Vanderbilt though because a sleepwalking Bulldog team will be exactly what the Commodores are hoping for.



Georgia should view this game as a tune up game for the Gators. With all due respect to Vanderbilt, Georgia learned their lesson in 2006. The Bulldog defense needs to keep flying to the football and playing the way they have the last few weeks. As for the offensive side of the ball Aaron Murray has an opportunity to get his timing down with the other receivers since Malcolm Mitchell is out. If Murray had been able to hit Tavarres King on deep routes last week Georgia would have been more impressive in beating the Vols.

Upon getting his 100th career victory last Saturday night, it is apparent how much Georgia football players love playing for coach Mark Richt. As long as Georgia can continue to win, future Bulldogs will have the opportunity to play for Richt as well. Positive results on the field ensure that Bulldog Nation keeps barking while the fair-weather fans can stay where they belong–in the dog house.

Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen – So this is what he meant by “Taking care of business between the hedges.”

Saturday Down South is reporting that a Mississippi State player urinated between the hedges during the game on Saturday. Enough with the speculation of Dan Mullen being the next head coach at Georgia when Mark Richt is gone. Wait, maybe this is what Mr. Mullen meant when he said Mississippi State needed to “Take care of business between the hedges.”

After all, those other Bulldogs sure didn’t accomplish much on the field during the actual game. They probably tired themselves out with their idiotic pregame display.  Can we keep our mascot name in Georgia now? We’ll still share it with Fresno State, but Mississippi State should change their mascot to the mutts, because Georgia proved on the field that they are the true Bulldogs of the South.

Imagine if the roles had been reversed and Georgia had done this at Mississippi State. The criticism would be horrendous and rightfully so. The fairweather fools would use the incident to pile on Mark Richt. Some fans would likely use it as ammo for their ridiculous fire Mark Richt campaign.

As it is, there is no such talk about Dan Mullen losing control of his football team. Instead, people are making excuses because Mullen has a young football team. They are inexperienced and Dan Mullen needs time to build up a program that has struggled for years. He got a contract extension in the offseason that pays him 2.65 million dollars for the next 4 seasons, and last month he talked about Mississippi State’s chances at an SEC West title. 

Earth to Dan Mullen: time to take those rose colored glasses off now. Welcome to the reality of SEC football. Your team is 0-3 in SEC play after getting throttled by the true Bulldogs in the Southeastern Conference. The only way you should be allowed back in Sanford Stadium is when you are visiting to add another loss to your coaching record. Or, if you want to offer to do a little landscaping after what your foolish young man did on Saturday. There is also the matter of our G needing to be repainted if you want to help with that.

College Football Week 6 – Next Stop Rocky Top – (Georgia – Tennesee 2011)

Isiah Crowell Georgia Dawg FootballThe Georgia Bulldogs are coming off their best showing thus far in 2011, a 24-10 beat down of Mississippi State between the hedges. Georgia’s defense made life miserable for Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf with five sacks. On the other side of the ball, Georgia’s offense executed a textbook two minute drill going into halftime to keep the pressure on the visiting team.  As the Dawgs prepare to travel to Neyland Stadium in an attempt to vanquish the Volunteers under the Saturday night lights, there is reason to have faith that the regular season will end where it began for Georgia–in the Georgia Dome.

Crystal ball conjecture notwithstanding, Georgia must take things one step at a time. This week, UGA faces a Tennessee Volunteer team with an ultra talented sophomore                  quarterback in Tyler Bray. Bray currently sits at the front of the line in the SEC in terms of yards per game (332) and passing efficiency. The Dawgs will need to hit Bray early and often to ensure that the road trip to Knoxville is a successful one.

Unfortunately, getting pressure on the Vols signal caller has become more of a quandary for Georgia since Cornelius Washington found himself in trouble over the weekend and he will now miss both games in the State of Tennessee at minimum. What is wrong with Mr. Washington? He is a young man who is going to make mistakes. But, to get suspended for driving drunk at this point in the season (or at any other time) is especially selfish. The defensive captain of the Georgia Bulldogs should know better. Remember, “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.” (Clip is from one of my favorite films: Remember The Titans.)



The Vols are dealing with their own adversity as they continue to work at overcoming the 6’4″ hole left by the season-ending injury to Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter. Georgia’s secondary still has to worry about Tennessee’s other wide out, Da’Rick Rodgers who is more than capable of making the Dawgs pay for lapses on defense. He is a playmaker even when facing solid coverage. The bulls-eye on Rodgers will be even bigger in the mind of Bulldog Nation, as he spurned UGA during his recruitment and is now a focal point of the Vols offensive attack.



Neyland Stadium will be filled to capacity as bitter SEC rival Tennessee looks to bring Georgia’s momentum to a halt. The Dawgs must take the crowd out of the game early by executing on both sides of the football. Derek Dooley is still looking for a signature win in his second year as Tennessee head coach and Saturday night against his daddy’s favorite school is a great opportunity. Even so, Georgia should get an important win as long as they do not make many critical mistakes on the road. The Georgia Bulldogs are a team on a mission and the next chapter unfolds on Saturday night.

In Defense of Mike Bobo…UGA’s Text Book Two Minute Drive: Georgia-Mississippi State 2011

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Team or coaching or both? 2009...Mr. Cox, meet Mr. Bobo...now go run that offense fella.

It is all the rage to cast derision towards University of Georgia Offensive Coordinator Mike Bobo, and there were Dawg fans that (predictably) took issue with UGA’s decision to be aggressive on offense prior to halftime of the 2011 Georgia-Ole Miss game.  As I wrote in the linked article, I believed (and still do) that the experience factor made the decision to play uptempo against Ole Miss before halftime a good one.

Witness a week flashed forward, and Georgia, led by Aaron Murray and Isaiah Crowell, executed a pitch perfect two minute drill in scoring UGA’s third touchdown at the 1:03 mark of the second quarter (maybe they scored too fast? nah.).  I will admit that the results of Mike Bobo’s play calling can be less than heartening, but recent years have featured UGA offenses prone to penalties, fumbles, disclipline-issued tailbacks, stars leaving early, injuries up and down the offensive line…

The University of Georgia has had little problem scoring points this year (and oh does Isaiah Crowell take one’s breath away).  Maybe we just need to let the Dawgs play and lay off Mr. Bobo for a little while.

College Football Week 5 – SEC Prepares for World Domination as BCS May Reconsider Two Team Rule

Which SEC team will hoist the trophy this season?

Since 2006, the Southeastern Conference has had a vice grip on the ultimate prize in college football.  The SEC has won five straight national championships while becoming a fixture in the Bowl Championship series. Four different teams from the SEC have won the BCS national title, with Florida winning it twice. While the Oklahoma Sooners currently own the #1 ranking in the country (according to the USA today poll), it is only a matter of time before an SEC team is #1 again. (As of this writing, LSU is #1 in the Associated Press poll.) As it relates to the BCS ESPN is reporting that the Bowl Championship Series may reconsider its two team rule.

What a dream come true this would be for SEC homers in the South, present company included. Not only is the best conference in college football going to be able to keep winning national championships year after year, but if the two team limit is eliminated, then another SEC team could have the opportunity to destroy the hopes of that year’s BCS buster. Better yet, the Southeastern Conference could achieve the ultimate dream– an all SEC national championship game.

Never mind the fact that the SEC beats up on one another each week in conference play with match-ups like Florida-Alabama and a Battle of the Bulldogs between the hedges.  The SEC doesn’t need to expand…it needs the Bowl Championship Series to reconsider the two team rule so that the third best team from the SEC East or West can go beat up on Notre Dame when the opportunity is available. Continue reading

Dawg Fight in Athens (Georgia – Mississippi State 2011)

As the calendar turns to October Georgia Bulldog Nation is left with many unanswered  questions following the first month of the 2011 college football season. Unfortunately, many of the uncertainties are all too familiar to Georgia fans. “How good are we?” “Which team is going to show up this week?” The Bulldogs must find a way to be consistent for 60 minutes in order to beat Mississippi State on Saturday.



Mistakes plagued Georgia in their 24-12 loss at Mississippi State in 2010. Two crucial fumbles cost the road Dawgs a chance at victory. To make matters worse Georgia was penalized 9 times for 63 yards. Georgia must avoid beating themselves if they want to be a factor in the SEC this season. Coming off of a sleepy second half at Ole Miss, it will be important for Georgia to start fast at home.

The good news for Georgia fans is there are new faces that have allowed a ray of hope to creep back into the hedges in Athens. Malcolm Mitchell and Isiah Crowell are creating a buzz, while Aaron Murray is quickly growing into the leader that this young team needs. The defense seems to be improving but there is reason to be concerned about their overly aggressive nature. (which my pal Barrie took to task over the weekend.) Dan Mullen’s spread offense feasts on carelessness from opposing defenses. Georgia must stay focused and stick to their assignments. Failure to do so will result in a long afternoon in Athens.



There is nothing wrong with Georgia kicker Blair Walsh. But Georgia does need to get their special teams in order because it has been an Achilles heel for them throughout the first month of the season. Mississippi State is reeling after an 0-2 start in conference play. It is safe to say that former Urban Meyer assistant Dan Mullen will have tricks up his sleeve. Georgia needs to get back to finishing the drill and stop making the mental errors that have cost them dearly in the past.

Georgia is more talented than Mississippi State. However they were more talented last year and they managed to lose to their Bulldog counterpart. Another conference loss at home would be devastating for a team that has experienced its fair share of them in the past few seasons. Mark Richt is still a good football coach but, he must answer the bell in order to extend his streak as the SEC’s longest tenured head coach for another year. Richt’s next test is Saturday at noon.