Georgia-Florida 2013: A Tale of Two Halves

georgia_floridaThis post began in the second quarter of the Georgia-Florida game when it appeared UGA would cruise to a win.

What a Difference a Gurley Makes
UGA running back Todd Gurley made his presence known early and often against Florida.  Gurley scored two touchdowns within the first ten minutes of the contest.  His performance seemed to inspire the defense, which used a red zone stop to keep the Gators from answering early.  At this point, Gurley had to leave the field due to exhaustion.

Thankfully, Todd Gurley returned to the game after a short break. In total, the weary Dawg ran for 100 yards on 17 carries, logging the 12th 100 yard game of his career. He also led the Dawgs in receiving yardage on the strength of his 73 yard catch and run.  Quarterback Aaron Murray should get a lot of credit for his three wins over Florida, but TGII was the difference maker in 2013.

Imagine How Good this Team Would Have Been Without Injuries (First Half)
When Georgia took a 14-0 lead, CBS color commentator Gary Danielson asked play-by-play man Verne Lunquist to imagine how good the Dawgs would be had they been able to stay healthy.  One can only wonder, but the future is bright in Athens.

Georgia’s Offensive Line Needs to Play like this Every Week (First Half)
Georgia’s offensive line was flawless in the first quarter.  If the unit were more consistent, Georgia would probably be a bigger factor in the SEC East race.  The Bulldogs were able to sustain drives and keep their paw on UF’s neck.  If football were only two quarters, the Dawgs would have done a masterful job of keeping the Gators down.

Bulldog Nation Used Their Bye Week Wisely (First Half)
UGA dominated the Gators in the first quarter. The Bulldogs built a 17 point lead by racking up nearly 250 yards in the opening frame.  Other than one big play that did not result in any points, the Bulldog defense kept the Florida punt team busy.  I do wish punt returner Reggie Davis would call for a fair catch more often, though.

Arthur Lynch’s Bonehead Play of The Day/The Safety (Second Half)
When Florida missed a field goal to open the second half, it looked as if the Dawgs were going to devour the Gators in the third quarter.  Instead, Arthur Lynch dropped a football that was ruled a lateral. From there, Florida seized the momentum.  It is hard to tell what the senior tight end was thinking, the whistle had not blown.

The Georgia Football Roller Coaster Continues (Second Half)
As soon as Lynch dropped the ball, he lamented his error as opposed to finishing the play.  Florida recovered the fumble. Nearly the entire second half was a microcosm of what a roller coaster the 2013 Georgia football campaign has been.

Later in the third quarter, Georgia was backed up inside their own five to begin a possession.  The drive only lasted one play, as a play-action pass led to a safety for the Gator defense.  The television commentary suggested Aaron Murray should have called an audible. Regardless of who is to blame, the safety opened the door for UF to close in on the Dawgs.

Celebrate Like It is 1989
At the end of the game, all that mattered to Bulldog Nation is Georgia left Jacksonville on top for the third straight year. The occasion marked the first time UGA has taken three straight from the Gators since 1987-1989. The Dawgs survived a bowling shoe ugly second half to beat Florida by a score of 23-20. There was a slew of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on both sides, but those can probably be chalked up to the intensity of the rivalry.

Bulldog Nation moves on to Appalachian State, while Florida fans are likely to make coach Muschamp’s backside feel a new degree of heat.
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Will Muschamp – Old Dawg New Job

florida_georgia_rageThe Pressure is on Former Bulldog Will Muschamp
Due to what the Bleacher Report calls “The Cocktail Party Curse,” Florida head coach Will Muschamp is winless against his alma mater.  Muschamp succeeded Urban Meyer after Meyer “retired” at the end of 2010. Coach Muschamp is 0-2 against UGA, the school at which he played college football.  During his playing days as a Dawg from 1991-1994, Georgia went 0-4 against the Gators.  It seems Will Muschamp cannot win for losing Hopefully the trend continues in 2013.

Coach Muschamp has an Impressive Resume
Jabs aside, Will Muschamp has a wealth of experience in coaching.  Muschamp held four different assistant jobs before he got the opportunity to be the head man in Gainesville.  Still, it is critical that Muschamp begin to turn the tide against the Bulldogs.  Before his arrival, Urban Meyer won five out of six against UGA.  Even Ron Zook took two out of three from the Dawgs.

This weekend is not just another conference game for coach Muschamp.  It is a critical opportunity for the big Gator to catch his first Bulldog.

Jacksonville has Been a Rough Trip for Georgia Fans
As long as we are crunching numbers, it is only fair to look at one of our own.  Even with Georgia’s recent success, Mark Richt is just 4-8 against Florida.  Even as a loyal member of Bulldog Nation, I never know what to expect against the Gators.  Predicting a win in Jacksonville generally leads to disappointment.  A third straight victory against the Gators would soothe some of the pain Bulldog Nation had to endure in October.

In May of this year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Will Muschamp proclaiming the Bulldogs current two-game win streak would not last long.  If the ramblings about coach Muschamp being on the hot seat are true, there is no time like the present.

Fact or Fiction: Georgia Bye Week

Nine weeks into the college football season and Bulldog Nation has been reduced to the following math equation:  Questionable targeting calls + a loss at Vanderbilt = the following image…

fair_weather_uga_fanThe Georgia Bulldogs get a week off before their annual gridiron war with the Florida Gators.  According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, what is normally a pivotal SEC East game has become the “World’s Largest Outdoor Pity Party”. Georgia and Florida have combined for six losses before the end of October.

As a result, it is time for a round of fact or fiction to ease the pain.

The Winner of the Georgia-Florida Game is Still a Factor in the SEC East.  Fiction.  No matter which team wins in Jacksonville, the Florida Gators still have to play the South Carolina Gamecocks, and the Georgia Bulldogs must contend with the Auburn Tigers.  New Auburn head coach, Gus Malzahn, has the Tigers at 6-1, and they beat Texas A&M in week eight.

 Alabama Will Earn Their Third Straight BCS National Championship.  Fact.  Nick Saban has proven discipline leads to dominance.  There is not a team in college football more consistent than the Crimson Tide.  Alabama does not have many more hurdles to overcome to get to Pasadena, California.

Ohio State Will Challenge the Tide.  Fiction.  Ohio State is a great offensive team, however, the Buckeyes do not have much of a defense.  Even if Ohio State gets through the regular season undefeated,  Buckeye fans must root for both Florida State and Oregon to lose.  Keep an eye on Urban Meyer folks, he is likely to start beating the opposition by as much as possible to rack up style points.

Florida State is Back.  Fact.  The Noles destroyed Clemson, and left the Tigers laying in Death Valley.   Quarterback Jameis Winston may not be ready for the BCS stage yet, but Florida State is talented enough to beat anyone, including Alabama.  Unfortunately for FSU, if they do play Alabama for all the marbles, Nick Saban will have plenty of time to prepare for Famous Jameis.

Long Live the BCS!  Fiction. The notion that anyone will miss the Bowl Championship Series is almost as ridiculous as the claim that a playoff would adversely affect a student athlete’s ability to study for an exam.  The playoffs will make money, the television ratings will be phenomenal, and the passionate fans of college football will finally get the finale we deserve.

Georgia Bye Week Thoughts



Mike Bobo Must Put the Game on Aaron Murray’s Shoulders
Georgia decided to run the football on the third down play preceding the botched snap that will live forever in Vanderbilt lure.  I hate to play the role of Captain Hindsight in Georgia’s loss to the Dores, but I do not understand why offensive coordinator Mike Bobo did not give his senior quarterback Aaron Murray the opportunity to put Vandy away.

Aaron Murray did not play well in Nashville, but, he is Georgia’s best offensive weapon. #11 should have been given the ball in crunch time.  Instead, Murray was forced to try and save the Dawgs’ backside when UGA’s special teams imploded for the umpteenth time.

Todd Grantham Signed a Contract Extension in June of 2012
Bulldog Nation is still waiting on the Georgia defensive coordinator/associate head coach to earn the money he received.  For better or worse, Todd Grantham’s contract runs through 2015.  If Georgia’s defense does not improve over the second half of the campaign, UGA should consider how much a buyout would cost.

The Telegraph posted an insightful look at the manner in which Todd Grantham should address his critics. Before college football season began, we hypothesized Todd Grantham would hold the key to Georgia’s season.  Inexperienced defense or not, coach Grantham’s unreliable key is part of the reason UGA is locked out of the championship chase.

Injuries Have Ruined Georgia’s Championship Chances
While defense and special teams have been a constant issue, the injury bug has been flat out cruel to the Bulldogs.  Wide receiver Chris Conley, as well as safety Josh Harvey-Clemons both suffered an injury during the loss to Vanderbilt.  It seems if it were not for bad luck, Bulldog Nation would have no luck at all this year. One cannot grieve forever.

The Georgia players and coaching staff have to exhaust every avenue to turn this season around.  Bulldog Nation can strive to finish the season 9-3, or struggle to the lowest tier Southeastern Conference bowl game tie-in.  At present, enjoy the week off, and take solace in other teams beating up on each other.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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 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.

Georgia SEC Opener – UGA Versus South Carolina September 7, 2013

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Steve Spurrier: “Just an old Sweet Song…”

According to Sports Talk SC, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier played Willie Nelson’s Georgia on my mind at football practice on Monday. The South Carolina Gamecocks are looking for a fourth-straight win over Georgia, which would mean an entire UGA draft class (sans redshirts) would leave Athens without experiencing the joy of beating South Carolina. If the unthinkable occurs, the Bulldogs will only have themselves to blame.

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
The last three times that UGA has played the Gamecocks, Georgia has committed a total of five turnovers.  As a result, South Carolina has consistently been in position to make Georgia pay for careless errors. The Dawgs’ high turnover rate is magnified when they make mistakes and allow big plays like the ones shown in the videos below.
2011:



2012:



The Offensive Line Must Protect Aaron Murray
Jadeveon Clowney did not have a memorable opening to the 2013 season.  Instead of frequently sacking the North Carolina quarterback, he spent most of the game huffing and puffing.  Even so, Bulldog Nation better beware of the big bad wolf.  For the past two years Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of the Gamecock front seven have had success disrupting Georgia’s timing on offense and causing mistakes.

During the broadcast of the Clemson game last weekend, ABC/ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit brought up the fact that Aaron Murray is a rhythm passer.  This is the reason that Georgia only scored one touchdown against the chickens last season.  The offensive line must make protecting the quarterback their number one priority Saturday afternoon.  If they cannot, UGAs’ goose egg in the win column will remain.

Aaron Murray: Just Win, Baby
Aaron Murray could break every Georgia passing mark in the record books.  If he continues to fall short in big games, his legacy in Athens will ultimately be that he never won the big game.  If the offensive line has protection issues, and history indicates that it will, Aaron Murray must step up and take the game out of the Gamecocks.  2013 is Aaron Murray’s last stand between the hedges, he must play football accordingly.

Special Teams Must Execute
Steve Spurrier may very well watch film of the fake punt that he pulled on UGA in 2011 whenever he needs a laugh. Special teams execution does not refer to making 50 yard field goals. Rather, it means that the Bulldogs need to keep their head on a swivel playing against the old ball coach, because a special teams fake could come at any time.

Regardless of preparation, challenges and mistakes are going to surface on the football field for Georgia on Saturday afternoon.  As long as the Georgia Bulldogs give South Carolina their best shot, Bulldog Nation will have nothing to be ashamed of.