Kickoff 2014 – Dawgs Maul Tigers: UGA 45, Clemson 21

keith_marshall_todd_gurley_ugaGeorgia Pummels Clemson in the Second Half
Georgia versus Clemson was a tale of two halves.   The first act was altogether unimpressive.  UGA gave up 254 yards on defense, resulting in the game being tied at 21 as the teams headed to the locker room.  During the final two frames, Georgia not only tamed the tigers, they slayed the tigers.  Bulldog Nation pitched a shutout in the second half while outscoring the Tigers 24-0 in the last 30 minutes of the game.

Dawgs Run Wild Between The Hedges
Having options at running back is nice, but Todd Gurley is clearly the big Dawg in Sanford Stadium.  His production on Saturday night, including 293 all-purpose yards, proves the Dawgs carry a championship level bite when #3 is able to shoulder the loud.  TGIII finished the opening contest with 198 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Wearing #27, Nick Chubb had a 47 yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to break the will of the Clemson defense.

jeremy_pruitt_mark_richtA Damn Good Dawg Debut
On the other side of the ball, Jeremy Pruitt’s defense settled down nicely after giving up 13 first downs in the opening quarter quarter and turned in an impressive performance against Clemson.  If the starters can stay healthy, coach Pruitt should expect to continue his meteoric rise through the coaching ranks.

The Bulldogs came out even on the turnover ratio in week one. The fumble charged against Georgia was questionable, as what was originally ruled an incompletion to Michael Bennett turned out to be a fumble upon further review.  Thankfully, the mistake turned out to be nothing more than a blip on the radar.

Will Georgia’s Bite Be Worse Than Their Bark?
There is reason to be excited in Athens.  Georgia possesses a seemingly endless stable of running backs, led by a fifth-year senior signal caller.  As long as Hutson Mason is able to make big throws when the running game opens up the throwing lanes, the sky is the limit for the UGA offense.

Defensively, linebacker Leonard Floyd is poised to continue wreaking havoc on the Southeastern Conference.  Selected as a preseason All-American by ESPN, Floyd is the face of coach Pruitt’s defensive unit.  Pressuring the quarterback will be the key to the Bulldogs’ season.

What A Difference One Game Makes
UGA issued a resounding statement on opening night and the Dawgs now find themselves in the championship conversation.  Following a bye-week, Georgia will look to build on their success in a pivotal Southeastern Conference contest against a wounded Gamecock squad that laid an egg against the Aggies in week one.  Steve Spurrier has been a constant thorn in the Dawgs’ paw, but this year’s South Carolina squad found out that the hard way that it takes a lot more than a mouthy head coach to win a title.

Times Announced for Georgia’s Frst Two Games of 2014

Georgia – Clemson: 89 Days Away
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution is reporting Georgia’s home opener against Clemson will kick off at 5:30. The contest will be televised by ESPN.  In addition, the Bulldogs’ annual showdown with South Carolina has been picked up by CBS in week two.

Recalling the Ridiculous Bus Ride
In 2013, ESPN made a big production out of Clemson’s short bus ride from their campus to Death Valley.  The “Worldwide Leader in Sports” showed the entrance in its entirety, from the loading of the buses, to players touching Howard’s Rock and running down “The Hill”, showcasing a display which appealed to absolutely no one other than Tiger faithful.  Admittedly, that statement is full of bitterness toward last year’s result.



It’s Only Teenage Wasteland
In an effort to make this year’s coverage equally home-centric, ESPN should broadcast the entirety of the Baba O’Reily entrance to Sanford Stadium, making sure to keep the commentary team quiet during Glory Glory to Ole’ Georgia as well.

It is far too early to tell what the outcome will be of Georgia’s impending tussle with Clemson.  2014 marks game number 64 between the two schools.  The Dawgs lead the all-time series by a count of 41-18, with four ties.

The Pressure is on Bulldog Nation
Clemson met (and arguably exceeded), expectations last season, capping off an ACC Championship with a victory in the 2014 Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State.  At present, it seems Cole Stoudt will get the nod at quarterback for the Tigers. Conversely, Hutson Mason will end his four-year odyssey of waiting to be the starter on opening weekend.  UGA will be eager to prove their worth as a top ten college football program as Bulldog Nation looks to put more bite behind its bark.

The SEC Network Problem

sec_networkDriving Up The Cost of Cable
The price of cable television is becoming so outrageous that some people are cutting the cable cord.  Were it not for my love of live sports, I probably would have joined the growing crowd.

Exclusive Networks are a Needle in the College Football Haystack
Growing up in Athens, Georgia, has been very conducive to my love of UGA football.  I am fine with missing out on an occasional west coast showdown, as long as I get to see the Dawgs play every down.  The SEC Network launches on August 14, and it is shaping up to be another hoop for college football fans to jump through.

SEC Network – Distribution Fight at the Line of Scrimmage
According to Awful Announcing, the fight for SEC Network distribution rights is getting worseESPN is partnering with the SEC to broadcast this wonderful new network, however, as is the case with most every new network these days, this will not equate to free viewing for consumers.  At present, DISH Network and AT&T U-verse are the only television providers that have a deal in place to air the network.

The SEC Network will Feature Every SEC Football team
CBS Sports reported that every Southeastern Conference team will appear on the SEC Network this fall.  Set to broadcast approximately 45 college football games in its inaugural season, avid watchers of SEC football should be somewhat concerned with how this new network may change their viewing experience.

If cable companies such as Charter, Comcast, and Direct TV cannot agree to the terms necessary to carry the SEC Network, there are going to be a lot of unhappy folks down south in a few short months.

Money Talks: Solving the SEC Network Issues
The posturing between cable providers and the ESPN led SEC Network will be solved when the money is right.  Common sense says this issue will be resolved before a pigskin is ever tossed around, because the demand for SEC football is so high.  Still, with so many viewing options readily available, everyone involved with the shiny new network has an obligation to make it available to the widest possible audience.

2013 – 2014 Bowl Game Thoughts

georgia_nebraska

Photo is from 2013.  Result resembles 2014.

24-19: The Dawgs Choke on an ear of Corn
Since the heart of this blog is Georgia football, I feel obligated to discuss the 2014 Gator Bowl. The Bulldogs turned in a slippery and sloppy performance, losing 24-19 in their season finale.  The Nebraska Cornhuskers deserved to win.  For Bulldog Nation, the Gator Bowl left one more stain on a season which started with so much promise.

Excuses and injuries notwithstanding, the Georgia Bulldogs have a long offseason ahead.  Mark Richt and company must work towards getting better on the field without getting in trouble off of it. On a positive note, The University of Georgia won eight games this season.

The Dawgs remained competitive despite an overwhelming number of injuries and bad breaks.  History may not smile on this particular team the way they had hoped, but the 2013 Bulldogs continued the winning tradition associated with Georgia football.

espn_bowl_week
Too Many Mediocre Bowls

There are too many bowl games.  The 2013 bowl slate featured 35 bowl games.   Despite ESPN’s promotional insistence, Capital One Bowl Week is far from the most wonderful week of the year.  Even die-hard college football fans must have trouble getting excited for the mediocrity that ensues early in bowl season.

Johnny Football is Money
The debate about Johnny Manziel’s off the field conduct may never end.  Still, there is no questioning his will to win. Manziel’s highlight reel performance against Duke resulted in a 52-48 win for Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.  By erasing a 38-17 deficit,  the Aggie comeback capped off an unforgettable two year run for “Johnny Football” at A&M.

The former Heisman Trophy winner will be a top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  No matter which team selects him, Manziel is expected to be a franchise quarterback.  Love him or hate him, the legend of Johnny Football continues to grow.

The Bowl Championship Series Goes out With a Bang
With the 2014 BCS National Championship Game in the books, the Bowl Championship Series is no more.  Thanks in part to intriguing match-ups, the BCS went out in style. BCS festivities began with the 100th playing of the Rose Bowl game, which gave college football fans a 28-24 slug fest between Michigan State and Stanford on New Year’s Day.  That same night, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl culminated in a 52-42 shootout between UCF and Baylor.

The Orange Bowl produced another high scoring battle between Ohio State and Clemson.  Clemson picked up the victory while Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes finished the year with back-to-back losses.

Major college football has needed a playoff for some time.  With that said, certain aspects of the Bowl Championship Series will be missed.  The Rose Bowl will maintain some of its luster as a marquee athletic event, but I hate to think the Tournament of Roses will not be quite the spectacle when it is part of the playoff puzzle.

The Streak Ends
Congratulations to the Florida State Seminoles for winning the 2014 National Championship Game.  My disdain for the Auburn Tigers would not allow me to pull for the SEC’s streak of championships to continue.  As a college football fan, I am pleased the better team won. Luck finally ran out in War Eagle country.

College Football Thoughts – Conference Championship Week

ohio_state_urban_meyerUndefeated Ohio State Should be Ranked Ahead of one Loss Auburn
If the Buckeyes can best the Spartans on Saturday night, Urban Meyer and company deserve to play for a national championship.  The Ohio State University has won 24 football games in a row dating back to 2012.  On the contrary, Auburn needed back-to-back Christmas miracles to make it into the SEC Championship Game.

Should Sparty stun the Buckeyes this weekend, the winner of the Southeastern Conference title showdown between Auburn and Missouri will likely play Florida State for college football’s ultimate prize.  Even though anything can happen in college football, I feel confident FSU will defeat Duke.

The Targeting Rule Needs to be Amended, but it is not Going Anywhere
Safety is the number one priority at every level of football.  The changes to the targeting rule are representative of the emphasis on protecting players from concussions.  As far as properly enforcing the rule, referees have been pretty hit or miss.

There have been some excruciatingly bad targeting calls this season, along with cases where obvious fouls went undetected, such as in Navy versus San Jose State.

Wave Ryder is the Midshipmen defender at the center of the play in question, apologies in advance for the low-quality of the video below.  Searching for Wave Ryder highlights brings up a variety of topics in Google.



One aspect of the targeting rule in need of further examination is the 15 yard penalty assessed regardless of whether the ruling is upheld.  Logic dictates this penalty serves as incentive for defenders to go low when attempting to make a stop.  Still, it is unfair to impose an automatic first down on an overturned targeting infraction, because doing so can change the complexion of a contest.

Todd Grantham Will Coordinate Georgia’s Defense Until his Contract is up
The unrest in Athens continues to grow due to UGA’s inability to get the opposition off the field consistently.  Do not hold your breathe for a change on defense.

As current associate head coach and defensive coordinator of the Bulldogs, Todd Grantham is not going anywhere until the end of his current contract. Unless, of course,  he receives a better job offer.  The former NFL assistant stands to make $850,000 a year for the next two years.  His contract expires at the end of 2015.

This season has been about dealing with injuries and breaking in new players.  While Grantham’s aggressive 3-4 defense can be frustrating to watch, having a negative turnover ratio certainly does not help.  According to Sports Illustrated, coach Richt is adamant his coaching staff will remain intact.  As a loyal Dawg, I hope Todd Grantham does not spend his offseason waiting by the phone for job offers.  Still, if he wants to leave, adios.

Picking Winners
The 2013 college football campaign has been filled with twists and turns. Conference championship weekend should be no exception.
Predictions (Automatic Qualifier Conference Championship Games Only).

ACC: Florida State 34, Duke 13.
Big Ten: Ohio State 34, Michigan State 21.
Pac-12: Stanford 31, Arizona State 17.
SEC: Missouri 35, Auburn 28.

Georgia Versus Georgia Tech – November 30, 2013

mark_richt_paul_johnsonNeither Team has Bigger Fish to Fry
The 109th renewal of the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry has lost some of its luster for the 2013 edition.  These two major college football programs from the Peach State have combined for eight losses this season.  How is this possible, you ask?  Any number of reasons come to mind, including an inability to stop the opposition, injuries, and untimely buffoonery.

Is Paul Johnston Still a Genius?
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has earned the right to be called a genius dating back to his time coaching the Naval Academy.  He achieved even greater success during his first two seasons in Atlanta.  However, since 2010, the Yellow Jackets have struggled to rise above mediocrity.  Georgia Tech’s inability to win big games in the past few years has left some fans in Atlanta wondering if their head coach is too smart for his own good.

Oh Yeah, Both These Teams Are Bowl Eligible
The contest known as “Clean Old-Fashioned Hate” signifies the conclusion of regular season UGA football.  Unfortunately, neither the Dawgs nor the Jackets are participating in a conference championship game, meaning a lackluster bowl game is all that separates these two teams from a long offseason.

Aaron Murray’s Injury
When Dawg Post tweeted a picture of Aaron Murray leaving Sanford Stadium to go to the hospital for a Saturday night MRI, the prognosis did not look good.  Sadly, the worst fears of Bulldog Nation have been realized Aaron Murray’s Georgia career is over.  He will have surgery to repair his ACL on Tuesday.  So ends his 52-game start streak, along with his decorated college career.

Don’t Cry for Aaron Murray
Aaron Murray’s injury does not signify an end.  Rather, it marks the beginning of his next chapter. #11 had arguably the greatest career of anyone to ever quarterback the University of Georgia.  He will get the opportunity to play in the National Football League.

Based on the grit and determination he has shown throughout his time between the hedges, Aaron Murray will make an NFL team start him on Sundays sooner rather than later.  Don’t cry for Aaron Murray, bark louder than ever.

The Hutson Mason Show
Hutson Mason’s time has come.  Any Georgia Tech fan who believes the sudden change at QB means the Jackets will win has not been paying attention.  Hutson Mason has been in the Georgia program for nearly four years.  He has yearned to start a game for the University of Georgia since he was 18 years old.  November 30th represents a chance for Hutson Mason to send a message to the rest of college football.

On behalf of all of Bulldog Nation, Hutson Mason’s arm is going to pronounce 2014 as the year of the Dawg.  The defense is going to reinforce the statement by keeping the Yellow Jackets from buzzing.  Todd Gurley has been unstoppable when healthy.  He is sure to make his presence felt as well.

Georgia-Georgia Tech, Picking a Winner
This Saturday is the final stop on the Bulldogs’ regular season calendar.  The 2013 UGA football season will not go down in the history books in the way that Bulldog Nation had hoped, but Georgia fans and players alike should be proud that passion did not waiver no matter how many obstacles got in the way.  Coach Richt has owned Georgia Tech during his time in Athens, expect that trend to continue.

UGA 31, GT 20.  GO DAWGS!

Georgia Blackout: Aaron Murray Appreciation

aaron_murray_kentucky_wildcatsAccording to Bulldawg Illustrated, Aaron Murray is requesting a blackout this Saturday for his final home game at Sanford Stadium.  However, before Bulldog Nation starts reminiscing about Knowshon Moreno and the CBS announcers dancing, it must be noted Georgia head coach Mark Richt has stated UGA does not have access to black jerseys.



Oh, Coach Richt, You are Such a Kidder.
Who does Mark Richt think he is kidding?  Unless the Dawgs had a jersey burning party following the loss to Alabama in 2008, I refuse to believe black Georgia football uniforms are not available.

What if Mark Richt is Telling the Truth?
On the off-chance Mark Richt is being truthful, it is incumbent upon Georgia fans to give their senior quarterback the blackout he so richly deserves. If black uniforms are not an option, then the game against Kentucky should be played with the stadium lights out. Everyone in attendance can bring lighters for a true old school blackout.  Alas, television presentation would be too difficult.

Georgia Should Absolutely Send Aaron Murray out on his Terms
The article on Bulldawg Illustrated reveals Aaron Murray “would be the happiest man in the world” if a blackout is made official for the Kentucky game.  For this reason alone, a blackout must occur.  With all due respect to the other Bulldogs who will be moving on after the season, this Saturday night should center around Aaron Murray’s wishes.

Aaron Murray Appreciation Night
The Georgia starting quarterback has earned the right to make his final Sanford Stadium start memorable in whatever fashion he desires.  If Aaron Murray wants to pad his stats and attempt to throw for six touchdowns against the Wildcats he should be given free rein to do so. I am sure such a scenario has not been discussed, but is impossible not to wish the best for Aaron Murray in his last hurrah between the hedges.

Following the loss to Auburn, Aaron Murray tweeted, “Would do anything to go back and start playing as a freshmen again. These 4 years have gone by way to fast. I am a Dawg for life!”  If more past and present members of the Georgia football program shared Aaron Murray’s passion, the Georgia Bulldogs would probably not be in the midst of a 33 year national championship drought.

College Football Week 13 – State of the Georgia Bulldogs

aaron_murray_2013With two games remaining, the Dawgs’ roller coaster campaign is almost over.  2013 has been a challenging year for Bulldog Nation. Georgia has lost four games this year.  Each defeat has been riddled with injuries, a lack of execution, and bad luck.  In spite of the adversity UGA has faced this season, it is always great to be a Georgia Bulldog.

Aaron Murray Leaves a Legacy to be Proud of
This past weekend’s game against Auburn was a microcosm of Aaron Murray’s career between the hedges.  No matter how many rushing yards the defense gave up, (323) or how big of a lead the Auburn Tigers built, the Georgia quarterback refused to let his Dawgs roll over and play dead.

The senior UGA signal-caller led the Dawgs to a 17 point fourth quarter comeback in Auburn.  The end result will not be discussed on this blog, but the effort should be commended.

Georgia-Kentucky: Basketball Season Has Begun
The majority of Wildcat faithful will be too busy slurping John Calipari flavored Kool-Aid to make the trip to Athens.  Mark Stoops has notched two wins in 2013.  Patience is a virtue for Stoops, who is in his first season as a head coach.  The good news for the youngest stoops brother is his success on the recruiting trail.  However, the Bluegrass State revolves around college basketball.

The Aaron Murray Farewell Tour Begins
Aaron Murray has two regular season games left on his farewell tour. The fifth-year signal caller is a combined 6-0 against Kentucky and Georgia Tech.  The Dawgs welcome the Wildcats into Sanford Stadium on Saturday night, before traveling to Atlanta for a date with the Yellow Jackets. The SEC’s all-time leading passer has left it all out on the field for UGA.  It is a shame Murray does not have a championship to show for it.

Georgia should beat Kentucky by three touchdowns.  Emotion will be running high between the hedges for Aaron Murray’s final home game, while the Wildcats are dead last in the SEC East with a Southeastern Conference record of 0-6.

Dawgs 49, Cats 17.

Georgia Versus Auburn – November 16, 2013

georgia_auburn_2013The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry             
Georgia and Auburn square off for the 117th time this weekend.  The series is deadlocked, as the Dawgs and Tigers have each won 54 games and played to eight ties.  UGA began playing Auburn in 1892. The Dawgs have been victorious in their last two meetings with the Tigers.

The Auburn Tigers Have Been Running All Over the Opposition
For Georgia to pull off the upset, they must find a way to slow down Auburn’s running game.  The Tigers rank third in the nation, averaging 322 yards on the ground per game.  The Bulldogs have had some success stopping the run this season, UGA’s rush defense is fourth in the Southeastern Conference.

Aaron Murray’s Last Big Stage?
Barring a minor miracle in the SEC East, week 12 marks Aaron Murray’s final game against a top-ten opponent.  ESPN notes Aaron Murray has played brilliantly against the Tigers.  In three career starts, Murray’s completion percentage against Auburn is 67.1.  The fifth-year quarterback is 2-1 against the Tigers, throwing for a total of 705 yards with ten touchdowns. Murray has yet to throw a pick to the War Eagle. Hopefully I did not just jinx the Dawgs.

The Dawgs Must Make Nick Marshall Throw
Current Auburn QB Nick Marshall began his college career in Athens as a cornerback.  According to All Alabama, the Georgia coaches thought Marshall would be a future All-SEC defensive back in Athens.  Unfortunately for both sides, Georgia head coach Mark Richt dismissed Marshall from the program after he violated team rules.

Now the starting quarterback for the Auburn Tigers, Nick Marshall’s athletic ability is obvious.  In the six games that Marshall has attempted to throw the ball more than ten times, his completion percentage has only exceeded 60 twice.  Still, teams have struggled to keep the Auburn QB in the pocket.  Marshall has run for over 100 yards in four of Auburn’s last five games.

Georgia 83, Auburn 7.
Bulldog Nation has rebounded from a rough October.  UGA is ranked in the top 25, bringing a record of 6-3 into Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers are 9-1, with aspirations of playing Alabama in a winner-take-all game in the Western division at the end of the regular season.  Considering the Dawgs have tamed the Tigers by a combined score of 83-7 over the past two seasons, planning ahead does not seem wise.

Georgia Needs to Focus on Winning Out
Despite the inconsistency in Athens, a victory over Auburn would give the Bulldogs three victories over teams ranked in the top ten in 2013. UGA should be focused on finishing 9-3 and sending their seniors out victorious in a bowl game.  If the Dawgs can win their two remaining SEC games, Missouri would have to lose their final conference contests for the Bulldogs to end up in Atlanta.

Georgia Versus Appalachain State, Two Marquee Games in Week 11

The Bulldogs Face a Cupcake on Homecoming
Georgia’s homecoming date with the Appalachian State Mountaineers leaves many college football fans looking elsewhere for a Saturday gridiron fix. The Mountaineers are a long way from the squad that shocked the college football world by beating Michigan six years ago.

App State has won two games in 2013. For UGA, the key to success this weekend is to focus on beating the Mountaineers and not look ahead to Auburn next week.

Prediction: Georgia 45, Appalachian State 17.  Now, on to more exciting games.
oregon_stanfordOregon-Stanford
Oregon travels to Stanford Stadium to take on the Cardinal on Thursday night.  The Ducks are favored by 10.5 on the road.  New Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich has helped make the transition from former head man Chip Kelly seamless.  The Ducks are quacking like a well-oiled machine.

Oregon ranks in the top twenty in the nation in passing yards, they average 55.6 points per game, boasting a ground attack averaging more than 300 yards per contest.  The Ducks are 8-0 with no signs of slowing down.

As for Stanford, the Tree has fallen from the ranks of the unbeaten.  The Cardinal has been inconsistent on offense as a result of their struggle to develop a reliable aerial attack. Stanford is currently 96th in the nation in passing, and they lost to an unranked Utah team.

All signs point to Oregon’s speed killing Stanford in week eleven.  The quack attack is out for revenge.  Their loss to Stanford in 2012 knocked them out of national championship contention.

Prediction: Oregon 35, Stanford 24.
alabama_lsu_2013Alabama Faces LSU – Nick Saban Too Damn Old to Coach Anywhere Else

Despite the rumors of Nick Saban’s interest in coaching Texas, the Crimson Tide football program remains focused on their showdown with LSU.  The Bayou Bengals are wounded, having already lost two games.  LSU’s most recent stumble came on the road in Oxford against an Ole Miss team the Tide had already rolled over.  Still, the Tigers would love to spoil Alabama’s undefeated season.

Bama is the two-time defending national champion and the Tide are the number one team in the country.  Even so, the LSU tigers have won two of their last four meetings against coach Saban and company.

The last time a team won three straight national championships was over 80 years ago.  Nick Saban has four national titles to his credit, and is in the conversation of greatest college football coaches ever. Alabama senior quarterback AJ McCarron is the leader on the field for the Crimson Tide.  A third BCS title would certainly etch his name in Alabama lure.

Prediction: Alabama 28, LSU 17.