UGA Mauls Missouri – Georgia Bulldogs Earn Historic Shutout

georgia_missouri_hutson_mason34-0: Offensive Line Manhandles, Defense Dominates
Georgia’s road trip to Missouri resulted in a 34-0 mauling of the Tigers.  The shutout was a combination of a sound defensive game plan, precise execution, and UGA’s ability to take full advantage of Mizzou miscues. Credit must also be given to sensational freshman Nick Chubb.  Chubb was the centerpiece for the Bulldog offense, touching the ball a whopping 42 times.

Hutson Mason played his role of game manager perfectly.  Normally, I shy away from labeling any player but the Dawgs are built to push people around and run the football.

The contest was far from a thing of beauty, but Georgia reminded skeptics football is a team sport which does not revolve around one player.  With 38 carries, Nick Chubb turned in 174 yards, announcing to the college football world that the time is now for the true freshman tailback.  While the immediate future of Todd Gurley as a student athlete at UGA is clouded in uncertainty, Georgia fans can rest easy knowing the Dawgs have a plethora of talented ball carriers.

Good Dawgs do not Beat Themelves
Much has been made of Hutson Mason’s apparent unwillingness to throw the ball down the field. Much to the chagrin of the Show Me State, Matty Mauk and friends turned the ball over a whopping five times, some of which can be credited to the Bulldog D, but sloppy play certainly played a role as well.  If Hutson Mason is able to get the ball downfield with any regularity, Georgia is the favorite in the SEC East with or without Todd Gurley.

Georgia Defense Makes History
The goose egg laid by the Tigers marks the first shutout ever for Georgia Bulldog football against a ranked opponent.   The University of Georgia has been playing football since 1892.  Basic math skills tell UGA has been playing with a pigskin for more than a century.  Given all the talented defenses the program has had, it is both encouraging and surprising that the 2014 Dawgs accomplished something previously unachieved.

Immediate Future Hangs in the Balance
Whether Todd Gurley plays another down in a Georgia uniform or not, this team has no excuses as far as achieving a ten-win season and representing the East in Atlanta.  Georgia is now back in the top-ten, but Bulldog Nation needs Gurley available in order stake their claim as a legitimate contender.

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 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 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.

Looking Back at Missouri and Ahead vs FAU 2012 – The Bulldogs Host Florida Atlantic

The tandem of Mark Richt and Todd Grantham has helped make it an exciting time to be a Georgia Bulldog fan.

From “old man football” to “grown man football” the Georgia Bulldogs tamed the Missouri Tigers on Saturday night. The game was certainly a bumpy ride for the first three quarters, but Bulldog Nation has to be pleased with the final result. The defense played outstanding football for most of the evening, all but erasing the doubts raised in the Dawgs’ first game of the season.

If Georgia can continue to build on their fourth quarter performance from this past week, there is not a team on the regular season schedule that can ruin the Bulldogs’ championship aspirations. This is certainly a lofty conclusion to draw in mid-September, but as long as the Dawgs can stay healthy and maintain their focus they should be favored to win every game between now and the SEC Championship Game.

As it pertains to week three of college football, the Georgia Bulldogs welcome the Florida Atlantic Owls between the hedges Saturday night in a match-up of teams headed in totally opposite directions. Georgia is fresh off of a triumphant victory in Columbia Missouri that has Bulldog Nation dreaming of Bowl Championship Series glory. Conversely, Florida Atlantic gave up 31 points on the road against Middle Tennessee, losing the game by a final score of 31-17.

It will be important for Georgia to stay focused on Saturday night. The atmosphere of a night game in Sanford Stadium should be beneficial to the Bulldogs  as opposed to the standard noon kickoff. Georgia should utilize this tune-up game as a way to build on their success from the previous two weeks. The Dawgs can continue to solidify their offensive line, while allowing the freshman tailback duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall to run through what will likely be large holes for significant chunks of yardage. Continue reading

Old Man Attack: On Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson, The Old Man and the Sea (& Acceptance)

Sheldon Richardson, defensive tackle for the Missouri Tigers, shared his opinion that the University of Georgia Bulldogs play, in Mr. Richardson’s words, “old man football”. Reaction before and after Missouri’s initiation into the SEC has been, thankfully, good-natured all around. I would like to introduce Mr. Richardson to The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway’s last work published during his lifetime. It follows the travails of an old man, Santiago, on an epic hunt for the marlin of his dreams.

There are a number of themes involved in The Old Man and the Sea, but truthfully, what got me thinking about Sheldon Richardson and Mark Richt (architect of UGA’s old man attack) was this: In Hemingway’s story, Santiago (the old man), who is Spanish, adopts many Cuban customs in order to fit into the Cuban community. The chase for the big fish symbolized his effort to be accepted into Cuban society.

In this case, Richardson and indeed the University of Missouri football team and its fans are those who seek acceptance into the SEC fraternity. (I suspect Mark Richt and the UGA football team is the marlin in this metaphor). To belong to a group is one thing…to be accepted and welcomed is another. We are all old in some ways and young in others, and the tension between youthful energy and the wisdom of age is natural and healthy.

Mr. Richardson, you have not caught your marlin yet, but your SEC brothers and sisters are with you. Welcome to the SEC. I leave you with this:

Mr. Richardson, meet Mr. Richt.