Vandy 31, UGA 27: Mistakes Cost Dawgs Again

Nightmare in Nashville
Georgia’s trip to Vanderbilt resulted in pure terror for Bulldog Nation.  The encounter between the Bulldogs and Commodores turned disastrous in the fourth quarter, as the Dawgs gave up a 13 point lead in the final frame.  UGA fell to Vanderbilt by a final score of 31-27.

georgia_vanderbilt

Sex appeal to ease the pain of a 1-2 record in October.

Special Teams Miscue Recapped
Georgia’s special teams woes continued to haunt them in week eight.  The Bulldogs were leading by three with less than three minutes to go in the football game.  The Dawgs were forced to punt, but the punter never got an opportunity to kick the ball away.  For the second time this season, a botched special teams snap contributed to UGA losing.

Aaron Murray: Countless Records, Zero Championships
The worst part of Georgia’s lackluster performance against Vandy was the season altering implications attached to it. When Georgia finished September 3-1, Bulldog Nation was poised to compete for a championship.  The month of Halloween has altered the course of Georgia’s voyage completely.  Instead of sailing towards the SEC championship, the Dawgs are 1-2 in October. The Bulldog boat is barely afloat.

With the injury list mounting, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray had one of the least productive outings of his Georgia career.  The fifth-year signal caller managed only 114 yards through the air, and did not throw a touchdown pass. The silver lining for the senior Bulldog is he surpassed Tim Tebow for the most total yards in Southeastern Conference history.

Dear Georgia Coaching Staff, Hire a Special Teams Coach, Now.
On the first day of 2013, SB Nation reported the Bulldogs would not hire a special teams coach for the 2013 season.  Furthermore, Georgia head coach Mark Richt stated he would educate himself more on the fundamentals of kicking, to help out with that aspect of the game.

Allow me to pose a question.  Does the long snapper hiking the football back to the kicker constitute fundamental?  If so, UGA’s head coach needs to go back to the drawing board.

I love Coach Richt, and my faith in Georgia football will not be shaken.  However, it is time to hire a special teams coach.  The Dawgs have had bad snaps, blocked kicks, and an overarching issue with the kicking game all season long.  If I were UGA athletic director Greg McGarity, hiring a special teams coach would be a demand, not a request.

Mercifully, the Dawgs have an extra week to get up off the mat. Following the bye, Georgia will travel to Jacksonville for a game against the equally reeling Florida Gators.

Georgia Versus Vanderbilt – October 19, 2013

todd_gurley_south_carolinaDawgs and Dores at a Crossroads in Nashville
The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off a difficult loss to the Missouri Tigers.  Vanderbilt’s goal was to be a top 25 caliber team this season, but the Commodores are 0-3 in Southeastern Conference play.  Week eight will be a turning point for the team that is victorious.  Georgia will either rebound or head further south, while Vandy looks to navigate their SEC schedule which will only get more treacherous.

Georgia Cannot Afford to Turn the Ball Over
Georgia self-destructed last weekend against Missouri, turning the ball over four times.  The Bulldog defense is vulnerable enough without the offense making things easier for the opposition.  The majority of the miscues by the offense were side effects from Georgia’s injury bug, so the Dawgs must learn to adapt and overcome their roster issues.

The Health of Todd Gurley
For UGA, having running back Todd Gurley at their disposal would solve a myriad of issues.  Brendan Douglas and J.J. Green are both talented, but neither is ready to start at tailback for The University of Georgia.  ESPN reveals that Georgia head coach Mark Richt expects Todd Gurley to be back soon.  Gurley and the Georgia coaching staff will have to decide whether he should return for the contest against Vanderbilt or take a few more weeks to heal for Florida.

Austyn Carta-Samuels is an Experienced Quarterback
I remember watching Austyn Carta-Samuels win a bowl game his freshman year as the starting quarterback of Wyoming in 2009. Having transferred to Vanderbilt, he is a talented passer who is fully capable of making life miserable for Bulldog Nation.  UGA must pressure Samuels to force other Commodores to beat them.

Statistically, Vanderbilt ranks in the top half of the nation throwing the football. However, the Commodores are currently rated 80 in rushing yards.  If the young Georgia defense can prevent the Commodores from converting on third down through the air, it will severely hamper their chances to pull off an upset.

The View From Vanderbilt
The Commodores last played on October 5, when they too suffered a defeat at the claw of the Missouri Tigers. Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and his team have had two  weeks to prepare for a visit from the Georgia Bulldogs.  According to The Tennessean, Coach Franklin is looking forward to the early kickoff. “I love the early game, I don’t think our guys like just sitting in the hotel waiting for the game to start”.  Vanderbilt will be ready for the kickoff at noon Eastern.

The Stakes are High for Georgia and Vanderbilt
Georgia has beaten Vanderbilt six years in a row.  It is critical for Bulldog Nation be able to pick up lucky number seven on the road.  The Dawgs have had more than their fair share of setbacks this season; still, Georgia is still the favorite to capture the SEC East if they do not suffer another conference loss.

Vanderbilt is a quality football team.  The Commodores would love to ruin Georgia’s conference title hopes in the process of notching their first Southeastern Conference victory of 2013.

41-26: The Missouri Tigers Outscore the Georgia Bulldogs

georgia_sec_championship_lossFaith Testing Defeat
Georgia’s 15 point loss at home to Missouri during week seven of the 2013 college football season put an end to the Dawgs’ national championship aspirations for the year.  However, it is still great to be a Georgia Bulldog.  Aaron Muray and the UGA offense nearly led Georgia to a comeback victory over the Tigers.  It was not to be, as mistakes put the Dawgs down midway through the fourth quarter.

Whether Georgia rebounds and finishes 10-2, or stumbles to an 8-4 season, the support of Bulldog Nation will remain.  Now that allegiance has been pledged, it is time to vent a little frustration.

Pee-Wee Football
If last year’s defensive effort against the Tigers of Mizzou was grown-man football, this past Saturday’s defense can only be described as pee-wee football.  The Georgia Bulldogs missed tackle after tackle, while being consistently outplayed by Missouri’s potent offense.  Credit must be given to Mizzou quarterback James Franklin for playing an outstanding game.  It is unfortunate he is out for the remainder of the regular season with a separated shoulder. The versatile Tigers will miss him dearly.

There is no excuse for giving up 28 points in two quarters of football. Almost two months into the season, Georgia’s defense has shown only minor signs of improvement.  Last week, I wrote patience is a virtue, but it is difficult to be patient when your team struggles to execute basic fundamentals. The reason for the highlights below below begins about 46 seconds into the video. At the 6:10 mark in the second quarter.  Cue the Benny Hill music.

The Georgia D adjusted, and played better in the second half, but they cannot expect to only show up for the final two quarters and still be able to win a football game. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham needs to get more out of his personnel.

Aaron Murray Says Turnovers Killed Georgia
Aaron Murray told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution turnovers ended the Bulldogs comeback chances.  The most heartbreaking gaffe was probably when Georgia running back Brendan Douglas fumbled inside the Missouri ten yard-line late in the first half.  The mistake squashed any momentum UGA could have carried into the locker room.

To be fair, QB Aaron Murray coughed up the football to end the previous series, which Missouri promptly picked up and returned for a touchdown.  The error left the Bulldogs in dire straits, as Bulldog Nation found themselves in a 28-10 hole they could not climb out of. UGA committed four turnovers in the contest, Missouri did not give away the ball.

Dawgs Prepare to Hunker Down Against Vanderbilt
Georgia remains in contention for a third straight SEC East crown.  If the Bulldogs plan on making it to Atlanta, Mark Richt and company must find a way to right the ship. Coach Richt believes injuries are no excuse for losing, but they sure do make it more difficult to achieve victory.  Georgia’s Southeastern Conference fate likely rests on the ankle of tailback Todd Gurley.

It’s Great To Be a Georgia Bulldog

aaron_murray_bulldog_nation
Keep the Faith
Throughout the first five games of the college football season, drama and excitement have been synonymous with Georgia football.  As USA Today points out, three of Georgia’s four wins in 2013 have been determined in the final minutes.  Even the contest with North Texas featured multiple lead changes.

Pessimists will argue that many of the nail-biting moments were signs of a flawed team that struggled to put away the opposition.  However, we here at UGAMADDAWG choose to believe there are greater forces at work. This Georgia Bulldog team is special.

In light of the recent injury bug, I have taken it upon myself to encourage Georgia Bulldog football fans everywhere to keep the faith.  Some of my reasoning is outlined below.

Aaron Murray’s Last Stand
Prior to the 2013 campaign, Athlon Sports rated UGA starting quarterback Aaron Murray as the sixth most overrated quarterback in college football.  The article also pointed out that Murray is a diminutive passer. You have got to love any writer that uses a ten dollar word to describe someone as short.   This season, Murray seems poised to lead his Dawgs to win the SEC crown that has eluded him during his time in Athens.

No matter how much adversity befalls this football team, Aaron Murray under center gives the Bulldogs a chance to win.  Now the all-time leading passer in Southeastern Conference history, Murray has developed into a young man that can carry the team on his shoulders.



Chris Conley is Awesome
The one-handed catch made by Chrs Conley against Tennessee may have been the catch of the year thus far. The UGA wide receiver has been grabbing everything thrown his way, and Conley seems determined to leave his paw print on Georgia football far beyond what happened in the final eight seconds of the 2012 SEC Championship Game.

Todd Gurley Needs to get Healthy
Georgia running back Todd Gurley is a difference maker.  With respect to Keith Marshall, Gurley is a man among boys.  If UGA is going to get back to Atlanta for a third straight year, the Dawgs need to be able to hand the ball to TGII.

Georgia’s Young Defense is Only Going to get Better
Georgia’s defense is filled with potential.  At some point, experience will help the Bulldog D realize its potential.  Patience is a virtue, and Bulldog Nation must stay patient with coach Grantham and the personnel that he puts on the field.

Emotional Mark Richt
This final point goes back to the LSU game in week five.  Coach Mark Richt got visibly emotional watching his football team overcome the LSU tigers.  Mark Richt wants to win a national title; he has been busting his ass in Athens for over a decade.  While a crystal ball does not define Mark Richt’s career, it would catapult his legacy into legendary status.

Football Season is a Wonderful Time of Year
No college football team, not even that one in Tuscaloosa, should measure success by a national championship alone.  Unrealistic expectations can ruin magical moments if Bulldog Nation does not remember to enjoy the ride.

The University of Georgia absolutely strives to field the best football team possible. Even so, there is a lot of luck involved in winning a national championship.  The difference between Alabama’s third national championship in four years and Georgia’s first in three plus decades was less than ten yards.  Keep the faith, Bulldog Nation.

Georgia Versus Missouri – October 12, 2013

georgia_missouriMissouri is Untested So Far This Season
There is a bit of fool’s gold in the Tigers’ 5-0 start.  Missouri has beaten Murray State, Toledo, Indiana, and Arkansas State.  The Tigers thumped Vanderbilt 51-28 this past weekend, but the college football team from the Show Me State has a lot left to reveal regarding its potential.

Georgia Bulldogs Football: The Walking Wounded
The number of injuries piling up on Bulldog Nation following the game at Tennessee is devastating.  Keith Marshall is done for the year after being hit in the knee during the first quarter resulting in a torn ACL. Receivers Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley each went down with a non-contact knee injury later in the game.  According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Michael Bennett’s status is up in the air this weekend.  However, Justin Scott-Wesley tore his ACL.  He is out for the rest of the 2013 campaign.

Missouri Tigers on the Prowl
Saturday cannot get here fast enough for the Missouri Tigers to get a crack at the wounded Dawgs.  UGA will have home field advantage in this contest, and they will likely need help from the home crowd.  Mizzou was crushed by Southeastern Conference competition in 2012, and Gary Pinkel’s bunch needs to rebound this year, as the Tigers won only two SEC games last season.

An Early Bye Week is Never a Good Thing
Georgia needs tailback Todd Gurley to heal up as soon as possible.  However, the last thing Bulldog Nation wants is for him to come back too soon only to suffer a more severe injury.  The Bulldogs survived the trip to Knoxville, but there are only so many setbacks a major football program can overcome.

Survive and Advance
The Dawgs managed to escape a raucous Neyland Stadium with a 34-31 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers, but even the punter could not get out unscathed. Starting punter Collin Barber is questionable in week seven after he suffered a concussion following a blocked punt.

Football is a team game, and UGA needs to limit special teams mistakes while making the opposition fight for every yard.  The pressure is on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray now more than ever to play at a high level so that his senior season does not go south in a hurry.

Bulldog Nation – Win, and Stick Together
It is of the utmost importance for Bulldog Nation to stick together. The 2013 Georgia Bulldogs football team has shown an abundance of courage.  No matter what happens the rest of the season, this team is one that Bulldog Nation should be proud of.

Keep the Faith. Go Dawgs!

Top College Football Traditions: Smokey and the Tennessee Volunteers

tennessee_volunteers_smokeySmokey has Been Part of the Tennessee Football Tradition for 60 years
The Tennessee Volunteers mascot, Smokey, is a Bluetick Coonhound.   Smokey has been a staple in Rocky Top since “Blue Smokey” in 1953. Wikipedia tells that The University of Tennessee chose their mascot based on a student poll conducted that year.  The results of the vote indicated the student body wanted a coon hound that was a Tennessee native.

A Contest was Held
During halftime of Tennessee’s home game against Mississippi State during the ’53 season, a number of hounds were introduced to the Tennessee Pep Club for voting. The last dog to audition, known as “Blue Smokey” howled loudly as he was introduced.  The Vols faithful found the outburst endearing, therefore Blue Smokey was selected to be the official mascot of the Tennessee Volunteers.

Smokey IX Will Be On The Tennessee Sideline This Weekend
In the six decades that have followed, eight other Bluetick Coonhounds have carried on the Smokey name.  “Smokey IX” holds the current honors, having been introduced in 2004.  Other than Uga, Smokey is my favorite mascot in college football.  I love dogs and the Dawgs equally.

The video below offers a more personal view of Smokey the Tennessee mascot.



Tennesee Football Finally Does the Right Thing for Phillip Fulmer

phillip_fulmer Phillip Fulmer’s Volunteers Won the First Ever BCS National Championship Trophy
The Tennessee Volunteers won the inaugural BCS National Championship Game with Phillip Fulmer at the helm in 1998.  A decade later, coach Fulmer agreed to step down after a 5-7 season in 2008. Tennessee won ten games the year prior to his dismissal. Especially with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear the University of Tennessee was too quick to pull the rug out from under Phillip Fulmer.

Since his departure, the Volunteers have been dwelling in mediocrity.  With the exception of 2009, Tennessee has not had a winning season since they fired Fulmer.  ’09 was the infamous year of Lane Kiffin in Knoxville, and he left ole Rocky Top as soon as the University of Southern California came calling.  One can justifiably surmise USC now wishes Kiffin did not answer the phone.

Derek Dooley Tried, but the Rebuilding Work in Rocky Top was too Much
Derek Dooley went 6-7 and took the Volunteers to a bowl game during his first season in Knoxville in 2010.  Unfortunately for Barbara Dooley’s baby boy, it was all downhill from there.  The junior Dooley notched only one conference victory per year during ’11 and ’12.

Derek Dooley was fired following the 2012 campaign, on the heels of back-to-back 5-7 seasons. The highlight of coach Dooley’s three years in Knoxville may have been the win that wound up being a loss against LSU in 2010.



Butch Jones: Rebuilding Tennessee Football one Burned Bridge at a Time
According to Bleacher Report, Tennessee coach Butch Jones invited Phillip Fulmer to football practice a little over a week ago.  The article notes that coach Jones also requested that the once proud Volunteer speak to the team.

No matter how Jones fares at Tennessee, his invitation to Fulmer was a classy move that had been long overdue.  Neither Derek Dooley nor Lane Kiffin afforded Fulmer the chance to associate with the program that he coached for 16 years.

Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson called Phillip Fulmer “Tennessee to the core.” Coach Fulmer is in the College Football Hall of Fame, and it is nice to see that Tennessee is finally making an effort to honor a man who put his heart and soul into the University of Tennessee.

Closing thought: Maybe Butch Jones can invite Lane Kiffin back in a few years?  I doubt Hell will ever get that cold.

Georgia Versus Tennessee – October 5, 2013

uga_tennesseeGood Ole Rocky Top…
Well, not really.  Times have just been tough lately in Rocky Top, and the Tennessee Volunteers football program is adjusting to its third head football coach in five years.   Tennessee has some players at the skill positions on offense, but they have yet to find a quarterback capable of getting them the football since Tyler Bray left at the end of last season.

Butch Jones is tasked with being the architect of the rebuilding project in Knoxville.  The new head coach has his Volunteers at 3-2 after the Vols held off the South Alabama Jaguars to win 31-24 in week five.  Tennessee’s next three opponents are Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Welcome to the SEC, coach.

Aaron Murray, Conquering Hero
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray’s college football career has been chalked full of twists and turns.  Rewritten record books, legacy defining moments, and possibly a championship await Murray at the end of his journey in Athens.  The fifth-year senior will need help from the defense, as well as a healthy Todd Gurley to accomplish all of his goals, but the victory over LSU had to vindicate Aaron Murray’s decision to come back to UGA for his final year of eligibility.

The Georgia Bulldogs: Avoiding a Massive Letdown
The last time Georgia won a regular season home game at home against LSU in 2004, they followed it up with a loss to Tennessee the very next week.  There is nothing to indicate that history is going to repeat itself.  Unless the Dawgs decide to roll over and play dead, the longest thing about the trip to Knoxville will be the ride down there.

Tennessee does not have the talent on either side of the ball to compete with Georgia for four quarters.  One of Tennessee’s biggest assets is their offensive line, but it is a work in progress according to what coach Butch Jones told the Times Free Press, “I need more in terms of a level of physicality and finishing plays.  We’re working on that each and every day.”

Taming the Tigers Altered the Course of Georgia’s Football Season
Georgia’s four sacks on LSU QB Zack Mettenberger cast a silver lining on a poor defensive performance against the Tigers.  The Dawg secondary must feed off of the pressure created by the front seven, such as outside linebacker Floyd, to help create opportunities to stop the opposition.

No opponent should be taken lightly based on how big their reconstruction job is. However, The University of Tennessee has some work to do before they can be competitive in the Southeastern Conference again. Rocky Top Talk points out that coach Butch Jones is doing well in recruiting.  His new job is a marathon, not a sprint.

Prediction: Tennessee will play well early on defense, but the Dawgs’ veteran offense will settle down and take the crowd out of it early in the second half.  The Volunteers do not have enough offense to chase down the Dawgs even with home field advantage.  Georgia 34, Tennessee 17.

Georgia or LSU – Which Team Will ESPN College GameDay Pick?



Bulldog Nation is well aware of how this pick turned out…

So, Which Team Will Lee Corso pick? The Georgia Bulldogs, or the Tigers of LSU?
My ESPN College GameDay viewing prowess tells that Corso enjoys getting under the skin of the home team’s fans, especially when predicting a match-up that could go either way.  Last time I checked, Georgia was favored by three points.  Let’s face it, this game is a toss up.  Betting odds tend to favor the home team in this scenario.

That is why I believe Lee Corso will pull one of his favorite tricks to try and hoodwink Bulldog Nation.  He will put on the ‘Hairy Dawg” mascot head, only to throw it away in favor of the “Mike The Tiger” mascot head.

Prediction: Lee Corso picks the LSU Tigers.  Bulldog Nation boos at the top of their lungs in response as GameDay goes off the air.

Georgia Versus LSU – September 28, 2013

les_milesThe Face of LSU Football
Les Miles has been the head football coach at LSU since January of 2005.  The grass eating Michigan man has had his fair share of critics during his time in Baton Rouge, and the NCAA is currently investigating his old team, (Oklahoma State) but Les Miles continues to find ways to win.

The Dawgs Will Have Home Field Advantage
SB Nation reports that ESPN College GameDay will be in Athens this weekend.  The hedges will come alive with the national television spotlight squarely on Athens, Georgia.  This stage offers a great opportunity for Georgia to regain the momentum they lost on opening night in Clemson, South Carolina.

The LSU Tigers have let the good times roll to four straight victories to begin 2013.  Conversely, the young Georgia team  has had trouble stopping the opposition on a consistent basis. The Bulldogs pass defense is a particular concern heading into this weekend, having  given up 238 yards through the air to North Texas.

Welcome Home, Zach Mettenberger
Zach Mettenberger is likely salivating at the thought of playing the inexperienced Dawg secondary.  Mettenberger has inserted himself into early Heisman chatter by tossing ten touchdowns and only one interception this season.  In addition, he has thrown for 1,026 yards.

CBS Sports is reporting that UGA head coach Mark Richt has given Zach Mettenberger’s mother the week off to “Enjoy this time of year.”  If the Bulldog defense does not shore things up, Mrs. Mettenberger will be one of the only Georgia residents who delights in Saturday’s presentation.

The Georgia Defense Must Grow Up Now
Georgia cannot afford to get into another game of who has the ball last with a top-tier Southeastern Conference opponent.  The Bulldogs need to be able to make occasional stops on defense in order to take some of the burden away from the offense.  Failure to get the Tigers off the field will result in a long afternoon in Athens.

This is the Litmus test for Georgia football
Georgia came into 2013 with sky-high expectations.  If the Bulldogs can manage to overcome LSU, the path to Atlanta will become very clear.  If they come up short, the Dawgs will fall back to the pack in a messy SEC East.

Bulldog Nation possess the talent to beat LSU, but UGA will need to have their best outing of the season to turn back the Tigers. The Advocate reports that Louisiana State University’s defense may be peaking at the wrong time for Georgia fans. The Tigers gave up 49 total yards in the first 17 and a half minutes of the game against Auburn.  LSU also forced three turnovers against those other Tigers.

Georgia has been telling everyone who will listen they are primed to win a championship.   If that statement is accurate, losing to the Bayou Bengals is not an option.