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.

Georgia Versus Florida: Rivalry Renewed

florida_georgia_rivalry_2013Aaron Murray Facing Florida – Chasing History Again
Despite Georgia’s mediocre win-loss record, 2013 has been a historical season for quarterback Aaron Murray.  The Georgia passer has a chance to write more in the record books if he can lead the Dawgs to victory over the Gators for the third time in his career. Surprisingly, this feat has only been accomplished by two other UGA quarterbacks dating back to the 1940s.

According to an article on ESPN College Football Nation, other than Buck Belue in  1979-1981, one must look back over half a century to find a Georgia quarterback who was able to beat the Gators at least three times.

Written by David Ching, the article states Hall of Famer Johnny Rauch is the only other Bulldog quarterback to ever earn three victories over the Gators. Rauch beat UF four times, from 1945-1948.  If the Bulldogs defeat Florida this Saturday afternoon, Aaron Murray will become the third Georgia quarterback to best Florida three times.  The stat is a little less surprising when one considers how rare it used to be for a freshman or sophomore quarterback to start in college football.

Harsh Reality Check for Todd Grantham
In 2010, Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was heavily criticized when CBS television cameras caught him grabbing his throat, and encouraging the Florida kicker to choke.  Ironic, considering Grantham’s defense has specialized in gagging for the better part of the past two seasons.

The UGA defense faces a struggling Florida offense in week ten.  It would be wonderful if the Dawgs are able to play stout and earn a victory without making UF QB Tyler Murphy look like a Heisman candidate.

Thanking the Missouri Tigers (and Sending a Grunt to Steve Spurrier)
Both Georgia and Florida fans should send the Missouri Tigers a thank-you note this week.  Missouri’s 17 point choke job against the South Carolina Gamecocks leaves the Southeastern Conference door slightly ajar.  However, the eye ball test reveals UGA and UF are too banged up to chase a division crown.

This game has been dubbed “The World’s Largest Outdoor Pity Party” for 2013.  The team that comes up short will be faced with a .500 record and a disappointed fan base.

The Georgia Bulldogs Need Their Gurl Back
If the Dawgs can count on the returns of receiver Michael Bennett and running back Todd Gurley for the trip to Jacksonville, Bulldog Nation should be favored to win.  As of this writing, both Bennett and Gurley are expected to play against Florida on Saturday.

The Georgia-Florida Clash Encompasses Everything Great About College Football
Regardless of how many off the field scandals college football endures, there is nothing better than a passionate rivalry.  We have chronicled the history of the Georgia-Florida Football Classic, but each year brings about a new chapter.  2013 is about pride, and for the team that is victorious, it is about salvaging the season.

Georgia Versus Missouri – October 12, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep the Faith. Go Dawgs!

Clemson 38 UGA 35 – Unforced Errors Doom the Dawgs

clemson
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 Wide Receiver Michael Bennett Out For Season

The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that Georgia pass catcher Michael Bennett will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Bennett has been a key player in a very impressive Georgia offense that is averaging 48.2 points per game in 2012.

It remains to be seen how big of a blow this injury is to Georgia’s championship aspirations, but the Bulldogs will need their other receivers to be ready to fill the void. Michael Bennett had been an excellent slot receiver, which created match-up issues for opposing defenses. Bennett also made critical blocks down field, springing Georgia running backs Todd Gurley, and Keith Marshall free for long runs.

Get well soon, Mr. Bennett. Everyone in Athens certainly hopes your Twitter prediction comes true and that this is a year that Bulldog Nation will never forget.

Maddawg’s Play of The Day College Football Week 9 – (October 30, 2011)

ugamaddawg_todd_grantham

Georgia's Defense Mauled the Gators

Week nine of the 2011 college football season yielded jubilation in Jacksonville for Georgia Bulldog Nation. At times the game was bowling shoe ugly, but, in the end the Dawgs dropped the Gators by a final score of 24-20. Georgia has won six games in a row, while Florida is left to pick up the pieces having lost four straight. However, there won’t even be a crocodile tear shed here.

The latest chapter in the “Florida vs Georgia Football Classic” was not about a singular moment or key play. Ultimately, It was about a Georgia football team and their fan base being desperate for redemption after almost two full decades of torture from a despised rival. In the post-game interview on CBS, Georgia head coach Mark Richt echoed that sentiment when he said that he was not thinking about the SEC East at the moment, he just wanted to enjoy the win with his football team.

Georgia was far from perfect in victory, but the Bulldogs answered the bell at every key moment. On the first play from scrimmage, the Dawgs chased down Jeff Demps and prevent him from scoring on a 72 yard screen pass. As a result of their effort, Georgia was able to force Florida kicker Brad Philips into a 38 yard field goal try that he missed.

In the second quarter the Georgia Bulldogs found themselves in desperation mode. The Dawgs were down 17-3 and needed a score to help the dwindling morale of players and fans alike. On fourth down with five yards to go, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray hit wide receiver Michael Bennett with a 20 yard touchdown pass that gave Bulldog Nation hope. Georgia headed into halftime trailing only 17-10.

Turnovers sealed Georgia’s fate in the previous visit to Jacksonville, but, this year it was Florida’s turn to fumble their lead away. Gator receiver Frankie Hammond coughed up the football on the Florida 18 yard line and the Bulldogs were there to pounce on the gift. It took all four downs, but, Aaron Murray found wide receiver Tavarres King with a 14 yard touchdown pass on fourth down to tie the game and send Bulldog Nation into a frenzy.

With Georgia trailing 20-17 entering the final frame, the game began to resemble that of a heavyweight title fight in the late rounds. Both teams were battered and each was trying to land a decisive blow. To the delight of Dawg fans, the knockout punch came in the form of Richard Samuel, embattled running back who had struggled to identify his role on the team.

Richard Samuel took it upon himself to do his part in helping the Georgia offense as he ran through tackles, and, pounded the tired Gator defense into submission. After a pass interference penalty kept a Georgia drive alive early in the fourth quarter, the Dawgs rode on the back of Samuel as he scored on a four yard touchdown run. Georgia Bulldogs 24, Gators 20.

Georgia denied Florida’s attempts to take back the lead as they were determined to leave Jacksonville, Florida on a high note. When Georgia got the football back with 5:32 left to go in the game the Bulldogs knew they could not give the Gators another opportunity. Following a surprising 18 yard throw to wide out Chris Conely, Georgia was poised to run out the clock.

Georgia’s season defining battle with Florida had some of the key elements of Bulldog success that have been highlighted by this blog. Mark Richt made two gutsy fourth down calls that led to euphoria, Georgia executed a textbook drive before halftime that gave them momentum, but, there is apparently something wrong with kicker Blair Walsh.

Maddawg’s Play Of The Day belongs to Richard Samuel. It is dedicated to every member of Bulldog Nation that believed Georgia would turn their Jacksonville fortune around. For those that stand by Mark Richt for as long as he is our football coach, yesterday was a small measure of vindication. If we can get a little help from the Razorbacks, or even the Gators, maybe the Georgia Bulldogs can shock the college football world by taming the LSU Tigers, or turning back the Alabama Crimson Tide.