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!

Georgia Versus Tennessee – October 5, 2013

uga_tennesseeGood Ole Rocky Top…
Well, not really.  Times have just been tough lately in Rocky Top, and the Tennessee Volunteers football program is adjusting to its third head football coach in five years.   Tennessee has some players at the skill positions on offense, but they have yet to find a quarterback capable of getting them the football since Tyler Bray left at the end of last season.

Butch Jones is tasked with being the architect of the rebuilding project in Knoxville.  The new head coach has his Volunteers at 3-2 after the Vols held off the South Alabama Jaguars to win 31-24 in week five.  Tennessee’s next three opponents are Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Welcome to the SEC, coach.

Aaron Murray, Conquering Hero
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray’s college football career has been chalked full of twists and turns.  Rewritten record books, legacy defining moments, and possibly a championship await Murray at the end of his journey in Athens.  The fifth-year senior will need help from the defense, as well as a healthy Todd Gurley to accomplish all of his goals, but the victory over LSU had to vindicate Aaron Murray’s decision to come back to UGA for his final year of eligibility.

The Georgia Bulldogs: Avoiding a Massive Letdown
The last time Georgia won a regular season home game at home against LSU in 2004, they followed it up with a loss to Tennessee the very next week.  There is nothing to indicate that history is going to repeat itself.  Unless the Dawgs decide to roll over and play dead, the longest thing about the trip to Knoxville will be the ride down there.

Tennessee does not have the talent on either side of the ball to compete with Georgia for four quarters.  One of Tennessee’s biggest assets is their offensive line, but it is a work in progress according to what coach Butch Jones told the Times Free Press, “I need more in terms of a level of physicality and finishing plays.  We’re working on that each and every day.”

Taming the Tigers Altered the Course of Georgia’s Football Season
Georgia’s four sacks on LSU QB Zack Mettenberger cast a silver lining on a poor defensive performance against the Tigers.  The Dawg secondary must feed off of the pressure created by the front seven, such as outside linebacker Floyd, to help create opportunities to stop the opposition.

No opponent should be taken lightly based on how big their reconstruction job is. However, The University of Tennessee has some work to do before they can be competitive in the Southeastern Conference again. Rocky Top Talk points out that coach Butch Jones is doing well in recruiting.  His new job is a marathon, not a sprint.

Prediction: Tennessee will play well early on defense, but the Dawgs’ veteran offense will settle down and take the crowd out of it early in the second half.  The Volunteers do not have enough offense to chase down the Dawgs even with home field advantage.  Georgia 34, Tennessee 17.

Paying Tribute to Larry Munson – Part II



Larry Munson Calls the Dawgs
In 1966 Larry Munson was working in West Palm Beach, Florida, covering spring training for the Atlanta Braves.  According to Wikipedia, Munson was browsing the Atlanta Journal, (now known as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) when he noticed a blurb about Georgia Bulldog radio play-by-play man Ed Thilenius leaving The University of Georgia to take a broadcasting position with the Atlanta Falcons.

Larry Munson seized the opportunity and called the UGA athletic director to express interest in being the new voice radio voice of Georgia football.  He was quickly hired.  Despite the location of his new job, Munson continued living in Tennessee to maintain his Rod & Gun Club television show.  Larry Munson resided in Nashville until 1978 when he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to work as a reporter for the Georgia Radio Network.

A Match Made In Bulldog Heaven
Larry Munson’s distinct voice set the tone for UGA football for over 40 years.  Former Georgia sideline reporter Loran Smith told the Gwinnett Daily Post that Munson was cut from a different mold than the sportswriters of today.  Larry Munson was a master at his craft while openly rooting for Georgia, which is one of the many reasons Munson will forever be revered by Bulldog Nation.

Larry Munson’s Favorite Calls of All-Time
Rather than opining about personal favorite Larry Munson moments, it is best to track down Munson’s fondest bellows according to the memoirs he left behind.  The historic memories that follow can be found in an ESPN Insider CFB Nation article written by David Ching on November 21, 2011.

Larry Munson’s ten favorite calls are chronicled in the article, which is written according to Munson’s autobiography, “From Herschel to Hobnail Boot: The Life and Times of Larry Munson. For the purposes of this blog, his top five calls are remembered.

5. Sugar Falling From the Sky/Hunker Down!
Larry Munson’s work on the Georgia/Auburn game in ’82 has likely been brought up during every UGA football season since it occurred on November 13, 1982. The Dawgs put on their rally cleats to stage a comeback and grab the from the Auburn Tigers.  Munson made it sound as if the Bulldogs were hanging on for dear life.

I know I’m asking a lot, you guys, but hunker it down one more time!” UGA responded by stopping Auburn on fourth down, which led to an observation which will live forever in Georgia football lure. “Look at the sugar falling out of the sky.”  Hear the call at larrymunson.com.

4.  My God a Freshman
I regret that I was not conceived yet, so that I could at least lay claim to being alive in some form when Herschel Walker announced his arrival in Athens. It was on September 6, 1980 and the Dawgs found themselves trailing the Tennessee Volunteers.

Enter freshman running back Herschel Walker. Larry Munson’s rousing reaction to Herschel’s heroics soon followed. “He’s running all over people! Oh, you, Herschel Walker.  My God almighty, he ran right through two men. They had him dead-away inside the nine. Herschel Walker went 16 yards. He drove right over orange shirts, just driving and running with those big thighs. My God, a freshman!“  Hear the call.



3.  An Olympic Effort
Florida Gators football is nauseating.  From the obnoxious Gator chomp celebration, to the ridiculous statue of Tim Tebow, everything about the swamp sucks. In 1975, the Bulldogs used some trickery to pry a win from the jaws of the Gators. With Georgia in a 7-3 hole, UGA head coach Vince Dooley called a reverse pass.

To the delight of UGA fans, Larry Munson roared during the ensuing touchdown which propelled Georgia to a 10-7 victory over UF.  “Washington caught it, thinking of Montreal and the Olympics, and ran out of his shoes right down the middle 80 yards! Gator Bowl rocking, stunned, the girders are bending now. Look at the score!”  Hear the call.

The final two calls will be remembered in part III of our tribute to Larry Munson. We will also share a bit of personal recollection on what impression the Bulldog legend left on every Georgia fan who heard him call a football game.

College Football Outside of the South – Pacific 12

philadelphia_eagles_chip_kelly

Who will be the new face of Oregon football?

College Football Outside of The SEC Bubble
I love Southeastern Conference football.  As a fan, most of what I am invested in takes place within the realm of the SEC.  However, it is healthy to acknowledge that college football is played in other areas of the country as well.  This particular post will focus on college football on the west coast, specifically in the Pacific-12 Conference.

Oregon
It will be fun to see how the most dynamic offense in college football adjusts to having a new head duck. The departure of Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles sent shock waves throughout football. That is, after he decided to come back to Oregon, then he changed his mind again and left for the city of Brotherly Love. Coach Kelly leaves a legacy of being an offensive guru in Eugene, but he also helped get Oregon put on probation as a parting gift.

Mark Helfrich is now the head coach in Oregon town as he inherits a team that is loaded on offense with eight starters coming back. SB Nation revealed that one of the reasons Chip Kelly decided to try his hand in the NFL is because he knew nothing would change in the Oregon offense under Mark Helfrich, who had been the offensive coordinator for the Ducks since 2009.

Stanford
The fact that Stanford won the 2013 Rose Bowl without former quarterback Andrew Luck speaks volumes about the Cardinal commitment to success.  When the previous Stanford head coach (Jim Harbaugh) left for the National Football League, I assumed that Cardinal Football would go back to dwelling in mediocrity.  I could not have been more wrong.

The 2012 Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year David Shaw has the fans in Stanford, California dreaming of a national championship. The Cardinal returns seven starters on offense, and a robust ten starters on the defensive side of the ball. Stanford figures to be in a tight battle with the Oregon Ducks all season long. The media gave Oregon the slight edge in their Pac-12 North preseason pick. Even so, I have always been a huge fan of the Stanford Tree.

stanford_tree

The Stanford Tree wreaks of awesomeness.

UCLA
I must admit to having very little interest in Bruins football once the ball is snapped. My curiosity with UCLA is triggered by their current head football coach, “Jim Mora Jr.”  The man born James Lawrence Mora (according to Wikipedia) was the head football coach in Atlanta during the Michael Vick days. His tenure began in 2004 with a bang when the Falcons played for the NFC title at the end of the season, but it ended with him being fired after the thud of back-to-back 8-8 seasons.

I have heard unconfirmed stories that coach Mora can be combative.  I never passed judgement until I was watching ESPN’s The Herd (hosted by Doug Gottlieb who was in for Colin Cowherd) and the following interview unfolded.  Given how poorly he handled the situation, I cannot take Jim Mora Jr. seriously as a leader of young men.



USC
Since leaving the Tennessee Volunteers high and dry in January of 2010, Lane Kiffin has gotten exactly what he deserved.  After leading the Trojans through their probation, USC appeared all set to fight for the college football throne once again. Hell, I picked them to lose to the Georgia Bulldogs in the BCS National Championship Game last year. The University of Southern California proceeded to go 7-6, and fall off the horse before they could even get going. The Trojans DID cap the season off by losing to a team from Georgia, Tech, that is, in the Sun Bowl. USC reportedly broke out into a brawl pitting teammate against teammate, too.

Coming into this season, about the only thing going right for Lane Kiffin is that the Los Angeles Times is reporting that he is not on the hot seat.  If the Trojans do not improve drastically in 2013, the temperature of the head coach’s chair figures to rise considerably.

Georgia Will Win The SEC East in 2013

national_cgampionship_trophy

Will this be the year that Georgia wins it all?

The Third Time is the Charm
Georgia will win the SEC East for a third straight year.  The Bulldogs are led by fifth-year senior signal caller Aaron Murray, and the Dawgs look to have a bad bark on the offensive side of the ball. With five starters returning on the offensive line and three more lineman with college football experience, Georgia figures to have one of the best lines in the country.

Furthermore, we are entering year number two for the dominate rushing duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall who together ran for 2,144 yards last season. It is safe to assume that Georgia will have no trouble putting points on the board.

 An Examination of the Competition (In Order of Projected Finish)
The final SEC East standings will look exactly the way they did in 2012. Florida will finish second because Will Muschamp will give his roster nightmares with his terrifying glare if the Gators lose too many games. An example of this (hilariously) horrifying look can be seen in the video below.  Along with the motivation of the Muschamp death stare, the Florida Gators have a very talented defense that will leave the opposition afraid to enter the swamp.



Nothing to Crow About
Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks will finish third, because the Ole’ Ball Coach will not have enough bullets for his fun n’ gun offense. Despite welcoming back the fearsome Jadeveon Clowney,  South Carolina will be without Ace Sanders and Marcus Lattimore, who are now both in the National Football League.

Vanderbilt is Improving
The Vanderbilt Commodores finished 2012 with nine wins, which is the Dore’s highest total since 1915.  The Commodores may very well open the season ranked in the preseason polls. Even so, Vanderbilt simply does not have the athletes to defeat the top teams in the Southeastern Conference. James Franklin is a good coach, not a miracle worker.

The Tigers Have Been Tamed
The Missouri Tigers attempted to make a splash in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers were roaring when Sheldon Richardson called out Georgia for playing “old man football.” But, after a 2-6 finish in Southeastern Conference play, the Tigers have yet to make a ripple in the SEC pool. The Tigers figure to have another sub-par campaign this year, as the transition from the Big 12 has proved difficult. Missouri finishes fifth in the East, and the biggest question in the “Show Me State” this year may be whether or not Gary Pinkel keeps his job beyond the upcoming season.

Tennessee is Going to Hit an Iceberg
New Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is about to set sail on his maiden voyage as the captain of the Volunteer ship. But the boat has taken on water before it can even leave the dock. The leak that I am referring to is Tennessee’s schedule this year. The Vols play Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Oregon in a six week stretch that may be one of the most difficult schedules in recent memory.  The folks in Rocky Top have not had much to sing about on the gridiron lately, and that will not change in 2013. Tennessee will finish sixth in the SEC East.

Another Rebuilding Year in Kentucky
Finally we come to the bottom of the barrel in what is a very top heavy division. The Kentucky Wildcats have brought in Mark Stoops from Arizona, but the new head coach inherits a team that lost ten games in 2012. Mark Stoops is the brother of the Oklahoma Sooners head coach nicknamed “Big game Bob.” That pedigree will not save him from the Bluegrass blues.  Kentucky is a basketball school now and forever.

Hail to Georgia.



The SEC Coaching Carousel: Familiar Faces in New Places

mike_slive

Mike Slive, the godfather of SEC football.

Since the SEC coaching carousel has stopped spinning, we thought it would be appropriate to welcome some (sort of) familiar faces into their new Southeastern Conference home.

Pig Sooie
Arkansas: Bret Bielema- The former Wisconsin head coach spent seven years watching Badger fans at Camp Randall Stadium jump around.  Bielema helped Wisconsin become a perennial BCS contender by beating up on the Big Ten. Former Arkansas head coach John L. Smith did little to make Arkansas seem like an attractive destination, but consistent winning will help coach Bielema get more Razorbacks in the hog pen. As documented by Sports Illustrated, the new Grand Poobah of Pig football has been accused of being a bit of a jerk when he gets a big lead.

War Damn Malzahn
Auburn: Gus Malzahn- What a kick in Gene Chizik’s ass this hire had to be. After watching Chizik flounder in two seasons without Cam Newton, Auburn decided to give Gus Malzahn the keys to the War Eagle mobile. In 2010, Gus Malzahn was the offensive coordinator for Gene Chizik when the Tigers rode on Cam Newton’s back all the way to the top of college football and captured the national championship.

Much to Auburn’s chagrin, “Chiz” has completely totaled the War Eagle car since then, prompting Auburn to take away the keys. Hiring Malzahn should prove to be a wise choice for Tiger nation, but anything is better than that prick Bobby Petrino landing another SEC gig. More on Bob-O next week.

From A Joker To A Stoop
mark_stoopsKentucky
: Mark Stoops- The younger brother of Bob and Mike finally gets his opportunity to be a head coach as the Stoops family tree branches to the SEC. Unfortunately for coach Stoops, he takes over a Kentucky program that is unquestionably a basketball school. However, when Kentucky Wildcat fans are not encouraging coach John Calipari to take full advantage of the one year rule to win a championship in college basketball, they are delusional enough to expect Kentucky football to compete in a bowl game on a yearly basis. Good luck, coach Stoops. You are going to need it.

The Ghost of Phillip Fulmer
butch_jonesTennessee: Butch Jones- Butch Jones says goodbye to the Big East, and hello to the Southeastern Conference. Jones will be the third football coach to attempt to scare away the ghost of Phillip Fulmer. We are certainly not Tennessee fans, but it has been fun watching the Volunteers continue to fall after being so impatient with coach Fulmer. Tennessee has the passing game to compete with anybody in the country, but the Vols’ suspect defense and lack of a running game has prevented them from being a factor in the SEC for the last several years.

Will Butch Jones have any better luck in Knoxville than Derrick Dooley or Lane Kiffin? Consider this: Butch Jones never won the outright Big East title at Cincinnati with talent that Brian Kelly recruited. He now finds himself in the best college football conference in America, in the SEC East coaching against three potential top ten teams moving forward. The rocky road is likely to continue in good ole’ Rocky Top.

SEC Football Weekend Winners (Week Three) September 15, 2012

It’s Saturday in Athens.

Week three in SEC football brings about a big match-up in the East, Alabama likely picking the bones of a skinned Hog in the West, and Missouri trying to rebound from an old man attack. It is difficult to pick a side in Saturday’s SEC East battle between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Gators, but the slight advantage goes to Good Ole’ Rocky Top.

Derrick Dooley could not have scripted a better start to the Vols’ 2012 campaign. Tennessee is 2-0, and ranked in the AP top 25 for the first time in four years. If Tyler Bray can stay healthy, the Volunteers will be a factor in the SEC East race if they can find a way to beat the Gators on Saturday night. Whomever comes up short will have a big hole to climb out of in the race to Atlanta.

The Georgia Bulldogs have a much simpler task ahead of them Saturday evening, as the Florida Atlantic Owls come to town. Georgia welcomes back Chase Vasser and Sanders Commings to a defense that does not need any help stopping FAU. It will be important for the returning Dawgs to play at a high level quickly because the Bulldogs resume Southeastern Conference play next week.

The Arkansas Razorbacks are coming off one of the most embarrassing things to happen to the program since Bobby Petrino wrecked his motorcyle with a female employee on the back. The Hogs lost at home to Louisiana Monroe in overtime after blowing a 14 point  fourth quarter lead. This week, Arkansas welcomes the #1 ranked Crimson Tide into town. Upsetting Alabama seemed highly improbable at best, and that was before the Warhawks visited Fayetteville. Continue reading

College Football Week 6 – Next Stop Rocky Top – (Georgia – Tennesee 2011)

Isiah Crowell Georgia Dawg FootballThe Georgia Bulldogs are coming off their best showing thus far in 2011, a 24-10 beat down of Mississippi State between the hedges. Georgia’s defense made life miserable for Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf with five sacks. On the other side of the ball, Georgia’s offense executed a textbook two minute drill going into halftime to keep the pressure on the visiting team.  As the Dawgs prepare to travel to Neyland Stadium in an attempt to vanquish the Volunteers under the Saturday night lights, there is reason to have faith that the regular season will end where it began for Georgia–in the Georgia Dome.

Crystal ball conjecture notwithstanding, Georgia must take things one step at a time. This week, UGA faces a Tennessee Volunteer team with an ultra talented sophomore                  quarterback in Tyler Bray. Bray currently sits at the front of the line in the SEC in terms of yards per game (332) and passing efficiency. The Dawgs will need to hit Bray early and often to ensure that the road trip to Knoxville is a successful one.

Unfortunately, getting pressure on the Vols signal caller has become more of a quandary for Georgia since Cornelius Washington found himself in trouble over the weekend and he will now miss both games in the State of Tennessee at minimum. What is wrong with Mr. Washington? He is a young man who is going to make mistakes. But, to get suspended for driving drunk at this point in the season (or at any other time) is especially selfish. The defensive captain of the Georgia Bulldogs should know better. Remember, “Attitude reflects leadership, captain.” (Clip is from one of my favorite films: Remember The Titans.)



The Vols are dealing with their own adversity as they continue to work at overcoming the 6’4″ hole left by the season-ending injury to Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter. Georgia’s secondary still has to worry about Tennessee’s other wide out, Da’Rick Rodgers who is more than capable of making the Dawgs pay for lapses on defense. He is a playmaker even when facing solid coverage. The bulls-eye on Rodgers will be even bigger in the mind of Bulldog Nation, as he spurned UGA during his recruitment and is now a focal point of the Vols offensive attack.



Neyland Stadium will be filled to capacity as bitter SEC rival Tennessee looks to bring Georgia’s momentum to a halt. The Dawgs must take the crowd out of the game early by executing on both sides of the football. Derek Dooley is still looking for a signature win in his second year as Tennessee head coach and Saturday night against his daddy’s favorite school is a great opportunity. Even so, Georgia should get an important win as long as they do not make many critical mistakes on the road. The Georgia Bulldogs are a team on a mission and the next chapter unfolds on Saturday night.