College Football Week 5 – Georgia Faces Tennessee

todd_gurley_tennesseeRocky Top Calling The Bulldogs
Bulldog Nation plays host to the Tennessee Volunteers this weekend.  UGA is coming off their most lopsided win in more than five decades, while Butch Jones and the Vols seek to prove they can be competitive in the Southeastern Conference.  The contest is the conference opener for the Vols, whereas the Dawgs need a win to get back to .500 in SEC play.

2013: Georgia won the Battle, the War Took A Toll
Last year, the trip to Knoxville was a nightmare averted for Georgia.  Though they left Neyland Stadium with an overtime victory by a final score of 34-31, the 2013 Bulldogs were never the same.  In fact, Georgia lost their next two games following the close call in Rocky Top.

Dawgs Running Free
Georgia’s rushing attack ranks among the most lethal in the country this year.  Led by Todd Gurley, the Bulldogs have run over and through the competition.  In an era where the no-huddle spread offense is dominating college football, the Dawgs pro style, run first approach is a breath of fresh air.

Under Pressure – Bulldogs must bite Justin Worley
Georgia’s secondary has had trouble finding the football throughout the first month of the season.  To make matters worse, injuries have caused the defensive backfield to become a revolving door of healthy bodies.  While Tennessee is a young team, their most experienced player is at quarterback.

Bulldogs and Volunteers Hurting at Receiver
According to Sports 24/7 UGA head coach Mark Richt has stated pass catcher Malcolm Mitchell will not return this weekend.  In addition, Jonathon Rumph is still dealing with a hamstring issue, and Justin Scott-Wesley remains suspended For Tennessee, the Kingsport Times is reporting the Volunteers are preparing to be without at least two receivers between the hedges.

Volunteer head coach Butch Jones has indicated both wide outs in question are dealing with a high ankle sprain.  Junior-college transfer Von Pearson is not going to participate in Saturday’s contest, but fellow Volunteer Josh Smith is still hoping to suit up.

Georgia – Tennesee: Picking a Winner
Bulldog Nation has won the last four contests in this storied rivalry.  Tennessee football has yet to recover from their quick hook of Phillip Fulmer, which should serve as a reminder to those UGA fans who seem to want a new head coach every time the wind blows in the wrong direction.

As with most pigskin parties, this game will be won at the line of scrimmage.  If Georgia succeeds in imposing their will at the line of scrimmage, this one could get ugly.  On the other hand, if Justin Worley is allowed time to throw, Tennessee has just enough talent to mount a balanced offensive attack.   Prediction: Dawgs 31, Tennessee 21.

Aaron Murray – NFL Prospect?

Aaron Murray has been a good Dawg.

Aaron Murray is in the middle of his third season as the starting quarterback for the University of Georgia football team. After beginning the 2012 campaign as a dark horse Heisman candidate, Murray has had a good first half for the Bulldogs. While his career numbers at Georgia are tremendous, (7685 yards, 71 touchdowns) there are more questions than answers about how well the junior QB translates to the NFL.

Aaron Murray is Short. (Relative to NFL Standards)
According to NFL Draft Scout Aaron Murray is currently rated as the third best quarterback in his class, behind Tyler Bray, who is 6’5″ tall and Logan Thomas who stands at 6’6″. Unless Aaron Murray has a master plan to grow four inches in approximately the next 16 months, his lack of height is going to be an issue. The current Georgia QB is listed at 6’1″ tall and weighs approximately 210 pounds,  Despite his stature, Murray is a good athlete who works hard to get better on the football field. Because of this, NFL Draft Scout reasons that in order to make up for his lack of size, Murray must move around in the pocket at the next level to see the whole field.

Aaron Murray Must Learn to Throw the Football Away
The Georgia signal caller has struggled with turning the football over in critical situations throughout his career in Athens. Most of these miscues have come as a result of him trying to force a play when nothing is there. Murray must be willing to give up on certain plays and move on to the next down. In the same vein, Murray must learn to take care of his body and avoid unnecessary hits.

Aaron Murray Should Return to Georgia as a Senior
Aaron Murray is a skilled quarterback who will get a chance to be successful in the NFL. As for how many hurdles he has to overcome first, some of that is up to Murray. It would be a mistake for him to turn pro after this season. Murray needs to come back for his senior year at Georgia to test his ability against  Alabama, LSU, and South Carolina (among others) one more time.

Aaron Murray has the arm to make it in the NFL.

Aaron Murray Can Prove the Doubters Wrong
ESPN draft analyst  Mel Kiper was asked in an ESPN SportsNation chat who he thought had a better opportunity as a pro prospect between Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, and UGA quarterback Aaron Murray. His answer? “Wilson, by a lot.” The fact is that everyone who pays attention to the sport of football has an opinion on who will be great and who will be a bust. There is no scout in the history of football that has been right 100% of the time. Just ask former first overall picks like Jamarcus Russel, Ryan Leaf, and David Carr about how good draft experts are.

So, I’ll Chime in with my expertise. Can Aaron Murray make it in the NFL?
Yes he can.  Aaron Murray will need time to develop his game and adjust to the high level of play in pro football. He needs to be drafted by a team that can help him grow as a passer, as opposed to being picked up by a team hoping for a quick fix.  Projection: fifth round pick if he leaves after this season. If he waits until after his senior year, he will likely be a third round draft choice.

Georgia Bulldogs 2012 Schedule Preview – Part One

Over the next several weeks, I will be previewing the 2012 Georgia football schedule as college football is on the fast track to kicking off the regular season. This three part series begins with the focus on  the Dawgs’ first four games of the 2012 campaign. The highlight of the opening month will likely be a showdown in the “Show Me State” for Georgia’s Southeastern Conference opener against Missouri on September 8.

Before the Bulldogs come face to face with the Tigers, they begin the year at home against Buffalo. On paper, this is certainly a tune up game but it will be good for the Dawgs to get some of their parts in place before hitting the road in week two. Georgia would be well served to treat the season opener against the Bulls as a dress rehearsal. Bulldog Nation can get an early glimpse of who will step up up at the running back position, and the coaches can decide which side of the ball Malcolm Mitchell can contribute the most. Somewhere in the not too distant past, a Michigan fan had a similar train of thought going into the Appalachian State game in 2007. Remember how well that turned out?

Catastrophic possibilities aside, I will assume that Georgia wins the first game, and begins the year 1-0. Missouri will be chomping at the bit to take a bite out of Bulldog Nation, as suspension and depth issues have left the Bulldogs ripe for the picking early in the year. By the time the final whistle blows, this game will come down to three key factors. First, quarterback Aaron Murray must exercise his turnover demons from a year ago and play a polished game in a hostile environment. Georgia may have to outscore Missouri, and that task will ultimately fall on the shoulders of the signal caller. Second, Georgia must make a few key stops on defense to keep the Tigers at bay. The more out of control the game gets on the scoreboard, the more confident Missouri becomes. Continue reading

Georgia-Kentucky 2011- The Wildcats are all that remains on the Dawgs’ Road to Redemption


Georgia's leap of faith has paid off in 2011.

Week 12 of the 2011 college football season marks the final regular season conference match-up for the Georgia Bulldogs. To the delight of Georgia players, as well as Bulldog Nation, this game is for all the marbles in the SEC East. If Georgia wins, the Dawgs will represent the SEC East in the Southeastern Conference championship game on December 3rd.

First things first, the Kentucky Wildcats come calling on Saturday in Athens looking to spoil the Bulldogs’ championship aspirations. Kentucky is just 4-6 on the season and 1-5 in conference play. However, that fact will not deter head coach Joker Phillips from trying to trick the Bulldogs into sleeping on his Wildcats.

Georgia was wide awake last week during their 45-7 dismantling of The Auburn Tigers. The Dawgs are playing with a sense of focus that has largely been missing between the hedges during the past three seasons, and they are not showing any signs of slowing down. Georgia continues to get better as leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell returned to the starting line up after missing three games, and picked up where he left off with three catches for 85 yards and a touchdown last week against Auburn. It will be equally as important for fellow freshman Isaiah Crowell to have a turnover free afternoon against the Wildcats this week as he looks to build confidence as the feature running back at UGA.

As for Kentucky, a letdown by Georgia is the Wildcats’ best chance to pull out a win. The Wildcats have been anemic on offense as they are ranked 115 in the nation in scoring,  averaging just 17 points per game. Kentucky has just one conference win this season, (against Ole Miss) and they are coming off a 38-8 road loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores. Georgia’s special teams must be aware of the possibility for a fake punt, or fake field goal early in the game as Kentucky tries to generate offense.

Georgia’s defense has been lights out during the Dawgs’ eight game win streak. They are among the top 15 defenses in the country in terms of points per game on average. The Bulldogs’ stingy unit is allowing opposing teams just 18.6 points per game. Georgia’s offense averages 35.8 points per game. These numbers translate to UGA winning convincingly on Saturday.

Even so, anything is possible in college football. The Georgia Bulldogs can not afford to look past the Bluegrass State in favor of the Georgia Dome artificial turf that awaits them if they are victorious at home on Saturday. Georgia must keep in mind that the game against Kentucky is the most important football contest they have played in the last three years. This is the final stop on the road to redemption for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Georgia-Auburn 2011- Georgia faces a tough road block to the SEC Championship Game

ugamaddawg georgia back on top

The Georgia Bulldogs are finally back on top of the SEC East.

Week 11 of the college football season means that “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” will be renewed this Saturday when the Georgia Bulldogs host the Auburn Tigers in Athens. For Georgia this game is about much more than a tussle with the Tigers. The Dawgs are a mere two conference wins away from ensuring that the 2011 campaign comes full circle. If Georgia can tame the Tigers this weekend, the Bulldogs will be one victory away from winning the SEC East for the first time since 2005.

The Dawgs have been victorious in four out of the last five meetings with the Tigers. However, Auburn would love to trim Georgia’s hedges, as well as derail the Bulldogs’ SEC East victory celebration before it even begins. In order for Georgia to take care of business at home they have to be completely focused on grabbing the Tigers by the tail. The line on this match-up was 12 and a half points on Monday morning. The only significance of that is bulletin board material for Auburn head coach Gene Chizik.

Georgia must concentrate on the task at hand in order to get a crucial win in front of a rabid Bulldog Nation this Saturday. The Bulldogs can ill afford to look ahead to the Georgia Dome (or those more fearsome Louisiana Tigers).  Georgia must continue to fight and keep playing the way they have been to make sure that their hot streak continues against Auburn.

After a one game suspension, Isaiah Crowell looks to come back and prove himself again. For Crowell, there is no better way to make amends with Bulldog Nation as well as his coaches than for him to have a big day in the most important game of Georgia’s season to date. Quarterback Aaron Murray needs to get in rhythm early to keep the much maligned  Tiger defense at bay. After his record tying five touchdown performance against New Mexico State, the sophomore quarterback is poised to write his own chapter in the Georgia record books.

Receiver Malcolm Mitchell is expected to make his anticipated return to the field after a three game absence due to injury. His presence should add to Aaron Murray’s comfort level against the Tigers’ below average defense. Mitchell is still the Bulldogs’ leading pass catcher in terms of yardage.

The defending national champion has not had much success stopping opposing teams from getting in the end zone this season. The Auburn defense has given up a whopping 27.7 points per game on average in 2011 (including 38 points to the visiting Utah State Aggies in the Tigers’ home opener). Georgia is averaging 34.8 points per game, so the Georgia offense is certainly capable of making sure Auburn leaves Sanford Stadium with their tail between their legs. If Aaron Murray can avoid adding to his eight interception total, the Dawgs should have a big day.

The Bulldogs have been phenomenal on defense in year two of the 3-4 under Todd Grantham, and they are a big reason why the Bulldogs find themselves atop the SEC East. The hunting Dawg defense needs to corral Michael Dyer and make the Auburn Tigers one dimensional. Forcing Auburn to throw the ball would give Georgia a big advantage because Auburn is still trying to find the right fit under center after Cam Newton was the #1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

Auburn’s current crop of quarterbacks has made the Tigers miss last year’s Heisman Trophy winner all the more. Barrett Trotter began the season as the starter. He has completed just 54% of his passes and has recently been benched in favor of sophomore signal caller Clint Moseley. Moseley is making only his third career start this weekend and he has just 44 career pass attempts. The Tigers are ranked 108th in the nation in terms of throwing the football and the big, athletic Georgia Bulldog defense will look to turn up the heat on the young quarterback. Georgia needs to be careful though, Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn makes big money to take advantage of over aggression.

Georgia’s mindset for Saturday afternoon should echo the great Al Davis, “Just win baby.” The Dawgs’ special teams need to have a short memory, because both Blair Walsh and Drew Butler are capable of kicking footballs on Sundays when their Georgia careers come to an end. As long as Georgia does not beat themselves Bulldog Nation should have a lot to celebrate on Saturday night.

Dawg Night in Nashville (Georgia – Vanderbilt 2011)

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

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

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

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