Offering Perspective From the Southeastern Conference
The Bowl Championship Series began in 1998. The Southeastern Conference won seven straight BCS titles from 2007-2013. In addition, the SEC claimed ten of the 16 crystal balls handed out in the BCS era. I must admit to rooting for Florida State in the final BCS Championship game, but the positioning of the SEC as the dominant conference in college football cannot be denied.
Next season marks the debut of the long-awaited College Football layoff. Affectionately known as “Mr. College Football”, Tony Barnhart offers a very comprehensive and honest view of how the CFP (College Football Playoff) will change the landscape of college football.
For what it is worth, Tony Barnhart is a passionate Georgia Bulldog football fan. According to his website, he has authored four books on the subject, including From Herschel to Hobnail Boot, The Life and Times of Larry Munson.
With two games remaining, the Dawgs’ roller coaster campaign is almost over. 2013 has been a challenging year for Bulldog Nation. Georgia has lost four games this year. Each defeat has been riddled with injuries, a lack of execution, and bad luck. In spite of the adversity UGA has faced this season, it is always great to be a Georgia Bulldog.
Aaron Murray Leaves a Legacy to be Proud of
This past weekend’s game against Auburn was a microcosm of Aaron Murray’s career between the hedges. No matter how many rushing yards the defense gave up, (323) or how big of a lead the Auburn Tigers built, the Georgia quarterback refused to let his Dawgs roll over and play dead.
The senior UGA signal-caller led the Dawgs to a 17 point fourth quarter comeback in Auburn. The end result will not be discussed on this blog, but the effort should be commended.
Georgia-Kentucky: Basketball Season Has Begun
The majority of Wildcat faithful will be too busy slurping John Calipari flavored Kool-Aid to make the trip to Athens. Mark Stoops has notched two wins in 2013. Patience is a virtue for Stoops, who is in his first season as a head coach. The good news for the youngest stoops brother is his success on the recruiting trail. However, the Bluegrass State revolves around college basketball.
The Aaron Murray Farewell Tour Begins
Aaron Murray has two regular season games left on his farewell tour. The fifth-year signal caller is a combined 6-0 against Kentucky and Georgia Tech. The Dawgs welcome the Wildcats into Sanford Stadium on Saturday night, before traveling to Atlanta for a date with the Yellow Jackets. The SEC’s all-time leading passer has left it all out on the field for UGA. It is a shame Murray does not have a championship to show for it.
Georgia should beat Kentucky by three touchdowns. Emotion will be running high between the hedges for Aaron Murray’s final home game, while the Wildcats are dead last in the SEC East with a Southeastern Conference record of 0-6.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dawgs and Dores at a Crossroads in Nashville
The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off a difficult loss to the Missouri Tigers. Vanderbilt’s goal was to be a top 25 caliber team this season, but the Commodores are 0-3 in Southeastern Conference play. Week eight will be a turning point for the team that is victorious. Georgia will either rebound or head further south, while Vandy looks to navigate their SEC schedule which will only get more treacherous.
Georgia Cannot Afford to Turn the Ball Over
Georgia self-destructed last weekend against Missouri, turning the ball over four times. The Bulldog defense is vulnerable enough without the offense making things easier for the opposition. The majority of the miscues by the offense were side effects from Georgia’s injury bug, so the Dawgs must learn to adapt and overcome their roster issues.
The Health of Todd Gurley
For UGA, having running back Todd Gurley at their disposal would solve a myriad of issues. Brendan Douglas and J.J. Green are both talented, but neither is ready to start at tailback for The University of Georgia. ESPN reveals that Georgia head coach Mark Richt expects Todd Gurley to be back soon. Gurley and the Georgia coaching staff will have to decide whether he should return for the contest against Vanderbilt or take a few more weeks to heal for Florida.
Austyn Carta-Samuels is an Experienced Quarterback
I remember watching Austyn Carta-Samuels win a bowl game his freshman year as the starting quarterback of Wyoming in 2009. Having transferred to Vanderbilt, he is a talented passer who is fully capable of making life miserable for Bulldog Nation. UGA must pressure Samuels to force other Commodores to beat them.
Statistically, Vanderbilt ranks in the top half of the nation throwing the football. However, the Commodores are currently rated 80 in rushing yards. If the young Georgia defense can prevent the Commodores from converting on third down through the air, it will severely hamper their chances to pull off an upset.
The View From Vanderbilt
The Commodores last played on October 5, when they too suffered a defeat at the claw of the Missouri Tigers. Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and his team have had two weeks to prepare for a visit from the Georgia Bulldogs. According to The Tennessean, Coach Franklin is looking forward to the early kickoff. “I love the early game, I don’t think our guys like just sitting in the hotel waiting for the game to start”. Vanderbilt will be ready for the kickoff at noon Eastern.
The Stakes are High for Georgia and Vanderbilt
Georgia has beaten Vanderbilt six years in a row. It is critical for Bulldog Nation be able to pick up lucky number seven on the road. The Dawgs have had more than their fair share of setbacks this season; still, Georgia is still the favorite to capture the SEC East if they do not suffer another conference loss.
Vanderbilt is a quality football team. The Commodores would love to ruin Georgia’s conference title hopes in the process of notching their first Southeastern Conference victory of 2013.
Faith 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.
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.
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.
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.
Missouri 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.
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.
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.