Friday, May 17, 2013

Tennis update

In better news, men's tennis aced Oklahoma yesterday 4-1 to move on into the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. Third seeded Georgia will play Pepperdine, the same team that ousted them last year, at 1pm on Saturday.
Georgia (25-4) is into the quarterfinals for the 10th straight year and has now won 16 matches in a row and 20 of the last 21.
“We feel good,” Georgia coach Manuel Diaz, who has led his team into the NCAA field of 64 in each of his 25 seasons in Athens, said in a news release. “Oklahoma was ranked as high as No. 5 in the country and they have a very good team. They’re well-coached. This was a great victory today and we earned it. It was physically and emotionally draining and we look forward to getting some rest and bouncing back.”
Meanwhile the ladies take on Clemson today at 1pm, also in Illinois. If they can dispatch the Tigers the way they did Winthrop and Arizona State last weekend in Athens they'll advance to the quarterfinals as well. You can follow all the action at

Diamond Dawgs fall to gators

Florida rallied in the ninth of a close game at Foley. Coupled with Missouri's win against Kentucky, this officially eliminates Georgia from the post-season SEC Tourney.
“It was a longshot coming in and we knew it,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “It’s just been one of those years. Maybe that win on Tuesday (14-13 at Georgia Tech) was something that we can hang our hat on. They’ll finish the right way. These guys will keep playing the right way. We’re obviously disappointed but we’re playing good baseball. We’re just not scoring enough and making mistakes at the wrong time.”
Georgia and Florida play game two of the series tonight at 7pm. We'll likely go with freshman right-hander Sean McLaughlin on the mound. The final game of the season will be at 2pm on Saturday. Then it's just a matter of when the new coaching search begins.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Muschamp "turns over" his hair

LSUFreek never ceases to amaze. The "hairswap" rivalry piece he does with Spencer Hall is off season gold. This one for Richt and Muschamp isn't even one of the better ones. But we can count it as yet another turnover for the gators.

Too bad Lil Dools left so soon. Would've loved to see him and Saban swap mops.

SECCG rewatch: six months and five yards

I promised to rewatch the Bama loss and then to share my observations. (BTW, here are some quick reactions in pictures.) I recognize that some of you are not ready for this step. For the record, I didn't believe I was either. But I managed okay. I would never steer any of you towards peril, but I do encourage you to at least try watching it if you have not already.

Anyway, here goes. I've taken my original talking points as a guide and then added some additional thoughts at the end.

Lasting memory
My point here is that as much attention as the last play gets (even months afterwards), it is the vision of the Alabama running backs gaining yards at will that is the most tumultuous; the Tide's offensive line mercilessly pounding our future draft picks into the Georgia Dome's turf.
Bracing for impact is easier when you know what's coming.
Still painful though.

And my memory served me pretty well. Rewatching it shows how tired we became as the game wore on. That statement can apply to much of the team and is not meant to suggest that we were lazy, fat and not fit. It's just that our defensive front was too fat and tired to handle Alabama's ground attack. And when Grantham adjusted to address it, McCarron beat us deep.

21-10 lead vanished
And the offense didn't help down the stretch. At least not until the final possession. Murray had a great start to the game (most of which was overshadowed by some early miscues and penalties) and I thought Bobo's gameplan was sound. There were a couple screen passes early that were either called back or not well executed that were just perfect play calls.

But when we needed a first down and some yards we just wilted under the pressure. The players talk about this game haunting them and Bobo talks about how that is part of the game of football. Well, my guess is the ineffectiveness of the offense with a three point lead in the 4th quarter is just as much what they're referring to as that last play of the game. All the momentum we'd earned after Tree's blocked kick return leaked out steadily until we just couldn't move the ball at all.

And that was the most frustrating moments to relive through. Painful. Especially given how well Murray and Company had performed for much of the game to that point.

Special teams - solid A
I wondered how well the special teams had done, mostly because the numerous first quarter punts and second half kickoffs somehow got lost in the highlights and lowlights. But turns out Collin Barber had a great game (six punts for over a 44 yard average), specifically in the first half when field position was critical on every possession. And although Morgan missed the one long field goal, he avoided the dramatics otherwise. Kickoff and punt coverage was great. And of course there was this:

Perfectly executed and well timed. Especially since it came after Alabama botched their own opportunity to catch us napping.

Final drive
So the defense does it's job and gives us the ball back, trailing by four with 68 seconds left. My overall feeling about the final drive is that the near interception that was eventually overturned was a blessing. And a curse. The offense was much more composed after the replay timeout. Murray's feet were settled, confident. The play calling found gaping holes that Lynch utilized and a tremendous catch that King hauled in. Somehow. It was a drive for the ages. But...

...the replay regrouping was also a curse because it eventually led us to the last play of the game.

Final play
I'm surprised by the number of people that are hung up on not spiking the ball. Then again, it wouldn't have changed the play that was called. But would it have helped the execution of the play?

It was the perfect scenario as Bama was completely on their heels, having been gashed for 80 yards in less than a minute. They certainly could've used a timeout. They had two left incidentally, but it's a moot point as even in the position they found themselves in they would not have wanted to give Georgia the time. Regardless, Bobo was getting the best of Smart and he had a play designed to give Murray his best throw (the back shoulder toss that he does so well and had thrown numerous times in this game already) to their top target - Malcolm Mitchell.

Alabama linebacker CJ Mosley was perhaps the only player that could change the script and he did with the touch of a few fingers. Gurley should've met Mosley deeper in, closer to the line of scrimmage. Instead, Mosley was able to intersect his hand with the flight path of the ball. Conley did what he's been told to do since he was knee high to a PeeWee coach.

The clock drained. And Manti Te'o called his dead fake girlfriend to tell her he'd be playing the Crimson Tide.

Closing the book chapter
Couple of final thoughts on this chapter of lore in Georgia Bulldogs history. During the telecast they were polling the audience as to which SECCG was the best ever. I don't recall which game was grabbing the most votes, but it was clear that, as this game wore on, the 2012 installment could poll with the best of them. It was a game for the ages. A contest that was initially believed to be between the best teams in the country, and then proven to be just that, play after play. If you are a fan of college football, this game is the epitome of the reason why.

I noted that Gary Danielson described each team before the game as such: Alabama, focused and Georgia, confident. That ended up being a dead on description for what we were about to see - two heavyweights battling it out for all the marbles. Lucky breaks have long eluded Coach Richt. But Richt won the fake punt game against Saban and that was as much a sign that this Georgia team isn't going to be one to wait on opportunities as there could be. This team was poised and ready to take what they felt was rightfully theirs.

And I'll end this post the same way I ended the other "rewatch" post, because I can't find any better words to wrap up this kind of thing. 
The point is, this game will always be a thorn in our side. It will haunt us forever. But it was a pleasure to watch this team play again. It was a point of pride to see the Georgia Bulldogs play a game against the best team/program in the country, put them on their heels time and time again, even after getting punched in the mouth. We never gave up. And our players left it all on the field. Right where their coaches had asked them to.  
We're all different and we all deal with pain in different ways. But this was good for me. Sure, my heart broke all over again on that last play. How could it not? But win or lose it is always a pleasure to see your team play with that much skill, determination, preparation and heart.
Go Dawgs y'all! One hundred and seven days!

Grantham flips the script, on the field

It really comes down to individual performances and turnovers more than circuit tour coach speak.
Grantham is replacing a star player who had dominating individual performances the last two years against Florida. Jones, the two-time All-American outside linebacker, had seven sacks in two games against the Gators and had two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries last season in a 17-9 Bulldogs win.
Georgia forced six Florida turnovers in that game and rode a pair of touchdowns on fourth-down passes in a 24-20 win in 2011.
“In this league when you turn the ball over, you’re going to have a hard time winning,” Grantham said. “The last two years we’ve had 62 turnovers [gained], which is second to only LSU.”
And really, what'd we expect him to say?
“The bottom line is, in this league, you really win with individual performance,” Grantham said. “You win with mental and physical toughness and you do it on the field. The fact is the last two years, we’ve won in Florida and we’ve won the SEC–SEC East I should say. From that standdpoint, that stuff has really no effect on me or how we prepare.”
Dead on. Even though he calls Muschamp a "good friend", he's able to sit comfortably on a rare winning streak in the series. Just like Blutarsky said yesterday, it's just nice to wear my cocktail shoes comfortably for a change.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Help me care about Matthew Thomas

This is muddy water. Here's what I know:
  • Matthew Thomas is a talented young man in terms of tackling football carriers.
  • He signed a letter of intent with FSU.
  • Since then he has decided he doesn't want to go to Tallahassee. He'd rather go to UGA or USC.
  • Coach Jimbo has (smartly) refused to let the young man out of his commitment (an actual commitment that is binding).
  • ...well, that's about it for me. Add whatever I've missed in the comments.
And here's what I think. Should the young man appeal, the NCAA should stick to its guns like Jimbo. If Thomas wants out he can sit out in Southern California or Athens for a year before regaining his eligibility. If he'd prefer to play right away, stay in Tallahassee or transfer to a smaller divisional school.

Thomas is too good (according to what I've read) to sit out. It sucks that he has changed his mind, or the mind of his mother depending on the actual circumstances. But the recruiting process is set up well for young men (even those as young as 17 or 18) to make an informed decision about where they'd like to attend college and play football. He didn't have to sign the letter. Could've taken more time that he evidently needed. How many times have you made a purchase you later came to regret? How many times have you wanted out of a tv contract shortly after the repairman finished installing your new remote control and the equipment stopped working?

Sure, DirecTV once bought my way out of a shitty Dish Network deal. I didn't have to pay the penalty. Maybe UGA or USC are willing to take on the scholarship for Mr. Thomas here. I would guess they are. But what happens when the next kid is unhappy about the thought of coming to Athens? The shoe's not so comfortable on the other foot.

Lastly, I don't think UGA is as much in play here as we're being made out to be. No inside knowledge on that statement. Just a hunch. Thomas had a chance to visit back in February and chose not to come to Athens, for whatever reason there may have been. Suddenly circumstances have changed. To me it smells more like the coaches at USC meddling around and stirring things up. Regardless of the details that are unbeknownst to me, I hope Thomas sticks with his commitment and has a great career at FSU. I think that's what is best for all involved.

If I'm wrong, help me understand.

Just like football!

Diamond Dawgs take the series against Tech for the first time since 2007 and win a game at Russ Chandler for the first time since 2004 with an extra inning 14-13 victory. It was much more dramatic than the Turner Field blowout last month, but we'll take it.
“Our season hasn’t gone the way we’ve wanted it,” Georgia first baseman Jared Walsh said. “But anytime you can win the series against Tech, it’s obviously a blast. We definitely had ambitions when we first came over here to get a win. It didn’t look good the first couple of innings. But we held on.”
Walsh, who missed two games last week after his father died, figured heavily into Georgia’s late-game offense. His RBI double scored Hunter Cole to tie the game 8-8 in the seventh after Georgia had trailed 7-0 going into the fifth. Walsh hit a two-RBI single in the eighth to give Georgia its first lead of the game at 10-8. Then Walsh added the game winner in the 11th inning when his sacrifice fly brought home Curt Powell. 
Perno's squad returns home to face Florida this weekend in the season's final series.

Christian Robinson's "dream position"

Yesterday he drove back to Athens. He also spent some time speaking with DawgNation's David Ching about the decision.
“I called my agent and talked to him and I said, ‘I have this position open to go back and be a GA and I really think that I don’t want to sit around and wait for somebody to call me to make a 90-man roster when I’m not even on their radar right now and the likelihood of making it is very low,’ ” Robinson said. “So my agent talked to me and said, ‘You’re not like a lot of guys.’ A lot of guys, this is their only option and they don’t have a slot like I do to go back and be a GA so quickly. He said, ‘It would be hard for me to tell you not to do that at this point.’ ” 
Having played for the Bulldogs so recently, Robinson knows this is a rare opportunity. But his knowledge of Grantham’s defensive scheme and terminology will also help him hit the ground running as an instructor, which should come in handy in working with the four true freshmen who will play his former position, inside linebacker, this season. 
“That’s one thing my dad’s reminding me -- not a lot of guys have this opportunity, how easily it was kind of handed to me by the coaching staff,” Robinson said. “I really appreciate it. It’s definitely my dream position if I’m not playing professional football.” 
Hard not to be excited as a fan, both for Christian and for the program. His attitude is all about two things: UGA and winning. We're lucky to get this guy back.

Damn Good Dawg!

Humpday Hilarity - livin' for the free gas!!

I'm sure you all have seen this by now, but I still need to catalog this one for posterity.

Sing along now. And don't forget the dance break!

You can see Will and Monefa's (sp?) guest appearance on Leno by clicking here. They're the second greatest karoake couple I've ever heard.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

CRob45 back at UGA

Last night the former linebacker tweeted that he wasn't going to pursue an NFL career after all. Sounded like he and his family had discussed his options over and he'd decided on a different direction. Today that direction lead him back to Athens!

Wish Christian the best. Selfishly glad he's back in Athens. Go Dawgs!

via Twitter

Smells like a visit to Tuscaloosa in 2014

McGarity hinting at the currently unknown SEC West opponent for 2014.
“From our standpoint, the University of Georgia doesn’t have to worry about that in 2014 because our strength of schedule is already off the chart for the next two years,” McGarity said. “Who knows what the ’15 schedule will be, but we just know that in ’13 and ’14, the strength of schedule is not an issue here in Athens.”
Perhaps that's reading too much. Ole Miss is a$$embling quite the battalion after all.

Scratch Bobo's back and he'll scratch yours

The symbiotic relationship between a functioning, high powered and multi-talented offense and Mike Bobo's playbook has been an intriguing and pleasant development. And Ching gives a complete assessment ($) of the offense as it enters its seventh season under the former Georgia quarterback's direction.

The message from the offensive coordinator is clear: it's going to take a lot of hard work to exceed expectations for 2013 after breaking all those records in 2012.
And Bobo has an easy example that can help drive home his point -- Georgia's defense from last year, which disappointed somewhat after returning nearly everyone from a unit that ranked fifth nationally in total defense in 2011.

"We've got basically the whole offense coming back except for a couple guys, but that don't mean anything," Gurley said. "Just like last year we had the whole defense coming back, but they didn't actually do what they did the year before. So we've just got to keep working and just getting better at little things as far as running, passing, minimizing mistakes and turnovers and everything like that. So we're just going to keep working."

Hype can be a motivator if you let it. Just like Coach Bobo can give plenty of highlights to his players, if they let him.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Leonard Floyd finally on campus

It's been a longer road, but it finally brought the Eastman-Dodge County outside linebacker to Athens. Legge says Floyd's time is done at Hargrave Military Academy and he's ready to be a Bulldog.
"Floyd is immediate impact type of performer who combines physical ability with playmaking," notes Fox Sports Next recruiting analyst Scott Kennedy.
"Floyd is arguably the top post graduate prospect in the country this year, and he has the physical tools and on the field instincts to be an impact player for Georgia early in his career," Kennedy added in a article from October 2012.
Floyd will start his true freshman season this fall and says he can't wait to get started.
"I am very excited," Floyd said. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mom, great day for tennis!

Hug your momma and hunker down! Live updates and chat here - Go Dawgs!

Scott-Wesley gaining confidence

More from Coach Bobo's quotables in Augusta the other night comes this from Ching about Justin Scott-Wesley's progression as a receiver.
“I think the confidence level he gained from playing in the bowl game when Malcolm Mitchell went down with a concussion, he caught three passes -- two big third-down conversions -- and him making those plays in a game gave him confidence to carry over into spring ball and get better and make that next step,” Bobo said. 

Blessed with sprinter’s speed -- in fact, the former Georgia high school record-setter will compete in the 100-meter dash for Georgia’s track team on Saturday evening at the SEC championships -- Scott-Wesley was a project for the Bulldogs’ coaching staff when he arrived on campus in 2011. Bobo credited receivers coach Tony Ball for molding an SEC-ready receiver out of a player who initially had much to learn about the finer points of his position. 

“He can absolutely fly, but he was not a football player,” Bobo said. “He was very raw, and coach Tony Ball does an outstanding job with our receivers and coaching the little things and the details and has really refined this guy’s game to where I think he’s going to have a breakout year.” 
We do too Coach. We do too.