Examining Georgia’s Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State – Plenty of Blame To Go Around

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Did Mark Dantonio and the Spartans out coach the Bulldogs in critical situations?

A few days removed from Georgia’s second straight bowl debacle, Bulldog Nation is searching for someone to blame for the Bulldogs’ new year lump of coal. However, there are multiple parties at fault for what happened in the final two quarters (and three overtimes) in the 2012 Outback Bowl. The most frustrating aspect of Georgia’s latest collapse is that all of the usual suspects were involved. As the old adage goes, those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

The Offensive Line
One of the most painful things about the Outback Bowl was watching Georgia’s offensive line get pushed around and give up about a dozen tackles for loss against the Michigan State defense. William Gholston led the charge as the Spartans dominated the line of scrimmage. The Dawgs averaged just 1.3 yards per rush in the game. True or not, the perception is that the Big Ten is the slow conference and that SEC speed and athleticism  dominates when the two conferences meet head-to-head in bowl games which makes the Bulldog loss a bitter pill to swallow. According to the Wall Street Journal, since the year 2000 the Big Ten’s record in bowl games after Michigan State’s win stands at 33-51. 

Mike Bobo was a fine college quarterback. He has been in over his head as offensive coordinator.

Mike Bobo’s Playcalling
During Georgia’s ten game win streak the offense was able to put up great numbers– against lesser competition.–  Unfortunately, when the Bulldogs were faced with an opponent that could match up with them physically such as in all four of their loses,  the results were pedestrian at best. The 2011 Georgia Bulldogs did not beat a single team in the top 20. Against Michigan State Georgia never seemed to give any thought to running outside, as the Dawgs were stuffed time after time between the tackles. Georgia had a chance to put the game away in the fourth quarter after a turnover gave them the ball in Michigan State territory with the Bulldogs ahead by four points.  An inexplicable play action pass in the third overtime was the straw that broke the Dawgs’ back. Continue reading

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

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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.



Maddawg’s Sports Weekend Itinerary (Ocotober 28 – 30, 2011)

This Saturday is all about college football and the Georgia Bulldogs’ quest for redemption in Jacksonville.  But first, Major League Baseball takes center stage tonight for Game 7 of the World Series. Game 6 was fantastic, (I was fortunate enough to turn on my TV for what I thought would be the conclusion in the ninth inning.) Here’s hoping the Rangers have something left after losing in extras last night. Congratulations to both teams on a wonderful baseball season.



Tomorrow brings about a more serious tone. College Football enters its ninth week of regular season play. For the Dawg fans in Dixie, Georgia-Florida is not about having a good game, or may the best team win. Those cliches are out of the window. For Bulldog Nation, this Saturday is about winning at any cost. Georgia wide receiver  Malcolm Mitchell is doubtful for the game, but the Dawgs remain optimistic. If Georgia’s leading wide out can not play, it will be up to other receivers such as Marlon Brown, and Tavarres King to step up.

Although, the real key to success for the Dawgs is Isaiah Crowell. If the young tailback can get Georgia’s running game off to a fast start it would take a lot of pressure off of quarterback Aaron Murray. Georgia needs to pin the Florida Gators down early and make sure they don’t have a chance to get up. Defensively, the Dawgs need to prove that the Vanderbilt game two weeks ago was an aberration, and not a sign of things to come.

Elsewhere in college football there are a plethora of good  games throughout the day. Michigan State travels to Lincoln to take on Nebraska just one week after bushwhacking the Badgers. I’m not a fan of Taylor Martinez and it would be fun to see Michigan State and Wisconsin meet again at the end of the year. Look for the green and white to win a hard fought contest.

Among other intriguing match-ups is Baylor taking on BCS #3 Oklahoma State,while the Oklahoma Sooners try to rebound at Kansas State, and Stanford travels to USC to battle the Trojans.The BCS standings have helped bring more excitement to college football this year and week 9 will be no exception.

In pro football the Atlanta Falcons have a bye week following their big win in Detroit. While I will still pick five games in this blog there are only two games that look good on paper. First up, The Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to square off with the Steelers. After the Ravens lost to the Jaguars in a horrific Monday night game there is not a clear favorite in the AFC. The game between the Pats and Steelers will likely determine who the best team in the AFC is going into the second half of the season.

The Sunday night game features Dallas on the road at Philadelphia. Neither one of these teams have been able to live up to lofty preseason expectations, and they both need to win. If the Eagles lose they will be 2-5 and their season will be all but over. Andy Reid is too good of a coach for that to happen, the Eagles will fly at home.

Picks– College Football:

Michigan State won’t have a let down this week against Nebraska. Senior Spartan signal caller Kirk Cousins is determined to get Michigan State to a BCS bowl.



Michigan State 31, Nebraska 21

Baylor will attempt to burst Oklahoma State’s BCS bubble. The problem with that is Baylor’s defense has been dreadful. Oklahoma State wins again.

Oklahoma State 56, Baylor 31

Oklahoma may have watched their Bowl Championship Series title game hopes fade last week. This week, they play the role of dream crusher, ending the perfect season of the Wildcats.

Oklahoma 41, Kansas State 27

Andrew Luck versus Matt Barkley in prime time on Saturday night. Stanford wins as USC is still a year off probation away from becoming a Pac-12 powerhouse again.

Stanford 35, USC 21

The big Dawgs eat tomorrow afternoon. The main course? Gator.

Georgia 41, Florida 24

Picks–NFL quick picks this week due to falcons being off.

In a battle of rookie quarterbacks the Panthers beat the Vikings.

Carolina 34, Minnesota 24

Miami remains winless in their fight to get lucky.

NY Giants 28, Dolphins 10

Stafford beats Tebow just like in 2007.

Detroit 31, Denver 6

Big Ben and company out duel the Brady Bunch at home.

Pittsburgh 38, New England 34

Philadelphia wins at home to stay in the NFC playoff race.

Philadelphia 24, Dallas 20

Phenomenal weekend to be a sports fan. Enjoy. GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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.