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.

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.

Clemson 38 UGA 35 – Unforced Errors Doom the Dawgs

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Rather than posting a drawn out diatribe filled with armchair hindsight, frustration, and silver linings, it is best to take a direct look at the negatives and positives coming out of last night’s loss to Clemson.

The Negatives
UGA’s Inability to Protect Aaron Murray

For a Georgia offensive line that came into the first game as a veteran group, the Dawgs struggled to keep quarterback Aaron Murray upright.  Murray was sacked four times, a number that easily could have gone up had he not used his mobility to extend plays. The poor blocking had a direct impact on UGA’s struggle to convert on third down. The Bulldogs only converted four out of 14 third downs last night.

The Georgia Defense Missed Critical Tackles
Following a flawlessly executed 75 yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley, the Bulldogs seemed ready to take back momentum from the Tigers.  With the game tied at seven, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd hit wide receiver Sammy Watkins on a pass over the middle.  Damian Swann’s laughable effort to tackle Watkins failed, and Clemson found themselves up 14-7 in a matter of seconds. In the third quarter, safety Tray Matthews failed to make the tackle on a crucial fourth down and one play that would have swung the momentum back in favor of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Unforced Errors
Georgia was penalized nine times for 84 yards. Infractions such as blocking below the waist, along with holding penalties, put Georgia behind the eight ball too often.  Quarterback Aaron Murray had a few turnovers, but UGA likely would have been able to overcome them if they had not insisted on shooting themselves in the paw.

The Dawgs’ biggest mistake came in the third period when Georgia was unable to put the ball in the end zone after driving to first and goal at the Clemson five yard-line.  At that point, UGA was down by three and they decided to kick a 21 yard field goal to tie the game. To the horror of Bulldog Nation, the kicker’s foot would never touch the football because the snap was too high to handle.  Georgia trailed for the remainder of the game.

The Positives
Gurshall
Todd Gurley was even better than advertised. He had an incredible showing and his struggle with an injury may have been the biggest turning point of the contest.  Keith Marshall did all he could to carry the load during Gurley’s absence, but the offensive line was too inconsistent for Marshall to flourish.

Justin Scott-Wesley appears to be another viable weapon as a receiver in Georgia’s loaded offense. Michael Bennett made a couple of phenomenal catches in his return from a torn ACL. Quavyon Hicks was a spark plug at the fullback position.  The Bulldog offense can never have too many options, and Hicks showed an ability to make big plays in important situations.

Georgia Gave a Valiant Effort, Clemson Deserved to Win
Georgia has nothing to be ashamed of, they fought to keep the game close and answered Clemson at almost every turn on the road. The Tigers were balanced, they (mostly) avoided catastrophic errors, and Tajh Boyd was absolutely masterful in the fourth quarter as Clemson put UGA away.  The Tigers forced Georgia to play from behind for nearly the entire game, which proved to be too much for the young defense to handle.

Georgia Bulldog Memories: David Pollack

Three Days Remaining
ESPN College GameDay emanates from Clemson, South Carolina this weekend to spotlight the match-up between the Dawgs and the Tigers.  As a result, it is fitting to pay tribute to the decorated career of University of Georgia alum and current ESPN college football analyst, David Pollack.

David Pollack was a Three-Time All-American at UGA
Pollack was a defensive end at Georgia from 2001-2004. He was selected as a first-team  All-SEC player, and recognized as a first-team All-American each year from 2002-2004. David Pollack was the recipient of many other awards during his time between the hedges.  A leader on and off of the football field, Pollack graduated The University of Georgia, and left Athens for the National Football League.
david_pollack_awardSadly, David Pollack’s professional football career was cut short due to injury.  After being selected 17th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2005 NFL Draft, Pollack suffered what was diagnosed as a broken sixth cervical vertebrae on September 17, 2006.  Fortunately he did not suffer paralysis as a result of the incident.

Personal Favorite David Pollack Moment
My personal favorite David Pollack moment came at the expense of the South Carolina Gamecocks in 2002.  At the time, the Dawgs were on a two-game losing streak against South Carolina.   Entering the fourth quarter of the game, Georgia found themselves up 3-0 on the fighting Lou Holtzes.

UGA had South Carolina pinned deep in their own territory with 14:05 left in the football game.  As Carolina quarterback Corey Jenkins dropped back to pass, David Pollack broke free of the Gamecocks’ offensive line.  Wikipedia describes what happened next as “David Pollack battered down and intercepted a pass from South Carolina quarterback Corey Jenkins in the end zone.” The play is characterized by the site as “memorable.”

Pollack’s Play Against the Gamecocks Changed the Course of UGA Football History
Georgia won the 2002 meeting against South Carolina by a final score of 13-7. Without David Pollack’s heroic effort, the Bulldogs may not have won that game.  Though the contest occurred in early September, Pollack’s interception helped secure UGA’s first SEC title in two decades.  David Pollack is a Damn Good Dawg.



2013 Opener: Georgia – Clemson August 31, 2013

Brief Historical Perspective
The Bulldogs and the Tigers waged their first gridiron battle in 1897. UGA and Clemson have played a total of 62 games against each other, with Georgia leading the series by an all-time count 41-17, with four ties.  At present, Georgia owns a five-game winning streak over Clemson. The two teams last met in 2003, when the Dawgs mauled the Tigers by a score of 30-0.

The Weight of Expectations
It is critical that Bulldog Nation does not still see UGA as being five yards away from a national championship.  It is always fun to dream big, but what happened in 2012 is largely independent of what is to come beginning this Saturday night. Conversely, Clemson carries the weight of being the highest ranked team in the Atlantic Coast Conference to start the season. The much maligned ACC will be roaring for the Tigers this weekend, just as the much ballyhooed SEC will be cheering for the Bulldogs.

Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney Has Much to Prove
Dabo Swinney has a history of getting very emotional following Clemson wins.  He has never won a BCS bowl game, but his Tigers did win the ACC Championship in 2011. The purveyor of Howard’s Rock parlayed that victory into one of the most embarrassing losses in the history of the BCS, falling to the West Virginia Mountaineers by a final score of 70-33.

The Georgia Bulldogs Must Prove Themselves, Too
The game against Clemson kicks off what will be an extremely challenging stretch for the Bulldogs. Three of UGA’s first four football games are against teams that are ranked in the top 15 according to the preseason polls. Georgia could probably absorb one loss and still accomplish all they set out to achieve  this season.  Even so, starting the new campaign with a defeat at the claws of the Tigers would let a lot of air out of a Bulldog Nation balloon that is pretty high on itself.
Picking a Winner
The defensive issues that both of these teams face have been well documented. When  looking for an edge in this contest, look no further than the conference that each team is representing.  The mighty Southeastern Conference has ruled college football by hoisting the Bowl Championship Series trophy for seven straight seasons.  Conversely, the Charlotte Observer notes that since the BCS was created in 1998, the Atlantic Coast Conference has one BCS Championship to their credit.

I’m going to channel my best Kirk Herbstreit and pick a winner based on what he might say, as a way of judging my own opinion versus the ESPN expert.  Unfortunately, Herbstreit probably will not pick the game because he likely has announcing duties on ABC.  As for Lee Corso, I think that guy started picking games based on which mascot head is more fun to put on years ago.

Georgia walks out of Death Valley a winner on the arm of Aaron Murray and the overall talent of the UGA offense.  The Bulldog defense will make enough stops to pull away from the Tigers in the fourth quarter.  Final Score: Georgia 45, Clemson 31.

Howard’s Rock – College Football Traditions

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Gameday Approaches
As the Georgia Bulldogs prepare to descend upon death valley, we thought it would be interesting to discover the origin of Clemson’s Howard’s Rock.  Our previous experience exploring college football traditions includes a look at why the Wisconsin Badgers jump around, the history of the hedges in Sanford Stadium, and the holding up of four fingers to signify the start of the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely this post will be as interesting as the aforementioned ones, because it is about a two-and- a-half-pound rock.

The Most Exciting 25 Seconds in College Football?
College Football About notes that Clemson’s 25 second entrance complete with the Tiger players charging down “The Hill” into Memorial Stadium has been called “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”  What could possibly be so exciting about charging down a hill?  It would certainly be entertaining if a player fell and rolled down said hill as long as no one gets hurt.

“Get This Rock Out of my Office”
According to Wikipedia, Howard’s Rock was named after former Clemson head football coach Frank Howard.  Howard received the rock from a friend named Samuel Columbus Jones.  Jones bestowed this gift upon Frank Howard because he found it in Death Valley California, and he thought that Coach Howard may find it useful.  Indeed, Howard found the rock to be a perfect doorstop.

Clemson lore tells that Frank Howard was tidying up his office one day afterward when he found the rock. Coach Howard took the rock to a booster named Gene Williamson and stated, “Take this rock and throw it over the fence or out in a ditch.  Do something with it, but get it out of my office.”

dabo_swinney_howard's_rock

What is Dabo doing in this picture?

As a result of this instruction, Gene Williamson chose to place the rock near the entrance to the stadium, at a location where Clemson Tiger players would have to pass by the rock  to enter the field of play. When Clemson erased an 18 point deficit to defeat Virginia 40-35 in the 1966 season opener a couple of weeks later, Coach Frank Howard and company decided that the rock was exactly where it belonged.

Gamecocks Better Not Touch That Rock
Howard’s Rock is closely guarded by ROTC members when the South Carolina Gamecocks visit every other year to renew the annual rivalry in The Palmetto State.  The article on About notes that South Carolina fans are particularly disrespectful to this Tiger tradition.

Some College Football Fans Need to Grow up
A Google search of Howard’s Rock brings up a myriad of articles regarding its recent vandalism, including an update yesterday by Greenville News regarding the arrests made as a result. No matter where your college football loyalty lies, defacing the rock only serves to give college football rivalries a bad reputation. The extension of one’s dislike for another school should never translate to criminal activity.

Jadeveon Clowney: Aaron Murray is Scared

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Clowney is one of the most explosive players in college football.

Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Gamecock?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that South Carolina defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney, thinks Georgia starting quarterback Aaron Murray is scared of him. Clowney also included Clemson starting quarterback Tajh Boyd, as well as former Arkansas signal caller Tyler Wilson on the list of quarterbacks he claims share the same fear. Aaron Murray is a decorated fifth-year senior who has faced tough competition in the Southeastern Conference throughout his time in Athens.  It is hard to believe that a college athlete as accomplished as Aaron Murray would be afraid of any opponent.

Jadeveon Clowney has Earned the Respect of the Opposition
Jadeveon Clowney is roundly regarded as a top five pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, assuming he decides to turn pro, of course. Clownery has put together a highlight reel of hitting the opposition, and he possesses an extraordinary ability to shift the momentum of a game with one snap of the football. Minimizing this dangerous defensive ends’ effectiveness at getting to the quarterback will be crucial to Georgia’s success against the South Carolina Gamecocks this season.

Numbers Never Lie
Jadeveon Clowney has faced the Bulldogs twice in his South Carolina Gamecock career. He has sacked Aaron Murray three times in those two games, including twice in 2011. Clowney’s presence has wreaked havoc on the Dawgs, who have not been able to avoid critical errors against the Steve Spurrier led squad, leading to three straight signature losses against a bitter SEC rival.



Georgia is The Team to Beat in the SEC East
Despite one Gamecock crowing about Aaron Murray being scared, Georgia is looking to win the SEC East for the third straight season. Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution believes that the Bulldogs will accomplish that goal.

Closing With an Observation From the Head Rooster
The Ole’ Ball Coach seems to get his jollies from using his quick wit to insult the opposing team.  However, sometimes his verbal jabs may leave even his own players wondering about how strongly their head football coach believes in them.  After soundly defeating the Clemson Tigers by a final score of 34-13 in 2011, Steve Spurrier quipped, “We aren’t LSU, and we aren’t Alabama. But we sure ain’t Clemson.”

47 Days Left Until Georgia Versus Clemson

College Football is Less Than Seven Weeks Away
The countdown to one of the most highly anticipated college football campaigns in recent memory is on. The Georgia Bulldogs will travel to South Carolina to square off with the Clemson Tigers in an ACC versus SEC showdown on August 31.  Anticipation for the season opener has grown since the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins feels his Tigers will “beat the mess” out of Georgia.sammy_watkins_clemson
The Trash Talk Will be Settled on the Field

I am not going to offer a rebuttal to what Sammy Watkins said. On the contrary, I love it.  As a result of this bulletin board material, Bulldog Nation will be chomping at the bit to get a paw on Watkins and company come the final night in August. Sammy Watkins may want to avoid going over the middle, though, as Georgia may try to knock the mess out of him.

Georgia-Clemson is Most Expensive Ticket on Opening Weekend
According to Tiger Net, the clash between the Dawgs and the Tigers is currently the highest priced ticket of any game on the opening weekend of the 2013 college football season. While it is a non-conference game, it is still a pivotal match-up for two teams that both have championship aspirations.

Listening to Dabo Swinney Overreact is the Worst Part of Clemson Victories
My co-author Barrie constantly reminds me that I need to be emotionally prepared for the fact that Georgia could start the season 0-1.  I accept the fact that Clemson is capable of beating Georgia, but I loathe the idea of hearing the Tigers’ head coach Dabo Swinney crow after the fact. This is a man that cried after Clemson beat Auburn in 2011. What is he going to do if the Tigers defeat the Bulldogs? Week one of college football cannot get here soon enough.

Is his Name Really Dabo?

For those wondering, thank goodness coach Swinney’s name is not actually “Dabo.”  His birth name is William Christopher Swinney.  During the video below, the Clemson head  coach says the Tigers are a national championship team after they won the Chic-Fil-A Bowl.  Here’s hoping the Georgia Bulldogs give “Dabo” a reality check in Death Valley.



Maddawg’s Sports Weekend Itinerary- December 3rd 2011 conference championship edition

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BCS Championship implications surround Saturday.

Saturday’s college football conference championship games begin with a BCS bid on the line for the Houston Cougars as they face Southern Miss. A loss by the Golden Eagles would be for the greater good of Conference USA, as Houston needs a win to crash the BCS party.

Houston quarterback Case Keenum has put up fantastic numbers against lackluster competition, but If the Cougars are able to win a BCS bowl game it would go along way in raising the sixth year senior’s draft stock. Houston may be exposed as a sheep in Cougar clothing under the bright lights of the Bowl Championship Series, but they will finish the regular season unbeaten. Houston 48, Southern Miss 34

The Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game between the Clemson Tigers and Virginia Tech Hokies is the first of two rematches for conference supremacy.  Virginia Tech has not lost since they got bushwhacked by the Tigers in Blacksburg on the first day of October. Clemson won their first eight games in 2011 but they have been on the losing end in three out of their last four contests.

Virginia Tech has one more chance to improve their resume as they audition for the part of the best one loss team in college football. While a lot would need to happen for the Hokies to find themselves in the national championship game, Frank Beamer and company have been hoping for a chance at redemption for their lone loss this season. Hokies win, and add an interesting variable to the BCS Championship debate. Virginia Tech 27, Clemson 20

The inaugural Big 10 Title Game features the other rematch of the day. Wisconsin battles Michigan State in a game that has a lot to live up to. Even though the Big 10 chose hideous names for their respective divisions (Leaders and Legends) the first meeting between the two teams was one of the best games of the year. The Badgers are eager to get revenge against Michigan State after the Spartans were victorious on a walk-off 44 yard  touchdown on the final play of regulation in the first contest. (After a controversial official review)



Wisconsin gets pay back on Sparty and the Badgers find themselves in a second straight BCS bowl game. Wisconsin 31 Michigan State 21

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State meet in the Bedlam game Saturday night. A win for the Cowboys may result a birth in the national championship for Mike Gundy and the Pokes. It is unclear whether or not Oklahoma State has recovered from their road debacle at Iowa State. As for Oklahoma, the two loss Sooners need a win to salvage a trip to the BCS after they began the year as the #1 team in the country.

Oklahoma wins on the road. I can’t bring myself to pick the Pokes after they lost to a 26 point underdog. Oklahoma 41, Oklahoma State 24

For the Georgia Bulldogs, Dome day has finally arrived. Not many outside of Athens believe the Dawgs have a chance to catch the LSU Tigers by the tail.  LSU is loaded on both sides of the ball, as the Tigers are the latest team in a line of Southeastern Conference juggernauts. Isaiah Crowell is a game time decision which will likely leave the Bulldogs with limited options at running back once again. Richard Samuel is not expected to be available for the game either.

If Isaiah Crowell does not play then it will be a huge blow to the Dawgs’ chances to pull off the upset. Georgia must play mistake free football against the best team in the country to stay in the game for four quarters. Since I am a homer, I will pick Georgia to pull off the biggest upset in college football this year. Georgia 20, LSU 17.



Enjoy the games. GO DAWGS!