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Georgia Preps To Face Vandy Without Gurley, Matthews

gfx - they said itIt appears the Georgia Bulldogs will once again be missing some of their bite this weekend.  Star running back Todd Gurley — who’s been out for two-and-a-half games with a sprained ankle — returned to practice in limited form yesterday, but Mark Richt suggested that might not mean much come Saturday’s game with Vanderbilt.  In addition, starting safety Tray Matthews — who suffered a hamstring injury two weeks ago at Tennessee — hasn’t practiced at all this week.

Richt’s take on the injuries:

 

“(Gurley) was out there moving around and changing direction a little bit, catching a couple of balls here and there, but not at a tempo that would make you feel like he’ll have a chance (to play Saturday).  If we played tomorrow he wouldn’t play tomorrow, I know that… We’re preparing to play without him…

We’ve got other people coming in and playing pretty good in (Matthew’s) spot.  Obviously we’d like to have him back and have him playing, not only on defense but some special teams as well… But we’ve just got to be careful with that hamstring.”

 

A BCS-contender when at full strength, Georgia’s season has come undone due to multiple injuries to key players in multiple spots.  As a result, this weekend’s game at 0-3 in the SEC Vanderbilt might be more of a struggle than many would assume.

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Gurley Commits To Georgia

Tarboro, North Carolina running back Todd Gurley has committed to the Georgia Bulldogs.  The four-star recruit made the announcement today.  ”I’m going to the University of Georgia,” Gurley said.  ”Go Dawgs.”

Gurley is Georgia’s 17th commitment for the class of 2012. He chose Georgia over Alabama, Auburn and Florida.

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SEC Headlines 10/22/2011 Part Two

1. Alabama’s defense best ever?  Not so fast, says ESPN’s Ed Cunningham.

2. Week off gives Mark Richt a chance to see his son play.

3. Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Brown’s breakout game against Vanderbilt came at a good time for Georgia.

4. Catching up with longtime Georgia Bulldogs announcer Larry Munson.

5. Reasons why South Carolina fans should be optimistic.

6. Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton became “the first MU official to publicly mention the SEC.”

7. “Don’t be remotely surprised if the SEC becomes just another conference in another year or two and that it lasts for some extended period of time. ”

Extra

8. Big East, Mountain West and Conference USA consider mega-conference option - have 28 to 32 teams.

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What Urban Meyer’s Retirement as the Florida Gators’ Head Coach Means for Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia
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You’ll have to pardon me if I’m a little bit gun shy here; I bid a respectful farewell to Urban Meyer last December, after all, and he made me regret that show of decency . . . repeatedly. This time around, therefore, I come to bury Coach Meyer (metaphorically, of course), not to praise him.

In case you’ve been under a rock since around 2:30 this afternoon, Urban Meyer has resigned as the head coach of the Florida Gators. Yes, again, although it sounds a lot more real this time. Last year, Coach Meyer made his decision in the midst of a health scare, which can cause anyone to react erratically; this year, he seems to have realized the toll coaching has taken on him and responded appropriately after careful consideration. Going 7-5 will do that to a guy.

Jeremy Foley spoke of Urban Meyer as a guy who wanted to spend more time with the family that he loved. I could be crass and roll my eyes at such a statement after the infamous reversal following the “I got my daddy back!” exclamation of a year ago, but, if, after putting football ahead of faith, family, and health last December, Urban Meyer has re-ordered his priorities this Christmas, I say good for him, and better late than never.

This all could have ended very, very badly. After being taken to the hospital at the end of a pressure-packed 2009 season, Urban Meyer quit abruptly before reversing course just as quickly, and that decision ultimately could have sent his health into a downward spiral that concluded in a tragic denouement. Fortunately, if belatedly, he saw the light before allowing that to happen, and all we can do is wish Urban Meyer well. 2010 was his worst season as a head coach, but it did little to diminish the extraordinarily successful career preceding that disappointing, but not more than merely disappointing, ending.

Now it is time to look to the future.

I agree with Year2 that Dan Mullen will succeed Urban Meyer in Gainesville and Gus Malzahn will succeed Dan Mullen in Starkville. While Kirby Smart could prove to be the wild card that reshuffles the deck in that scenario, I strongly suspect that Jeremy Foley will be making a trip to Jacksonville to entice Coach Mullen back into the Florida fold while Coach Meyer’s former offensive coordinator is in town for the perhaps presciently named Gator Bowl.

There is no denying Coach Mullen’s credentials—I believe he should have been named the SEC Coach of the Year, given what he did with what he had—but it is hard to believe that anyone could be more successful than Coach Meyer was. Granted, it was hard to believe when Urban Meyer was hired at Florida that anyone could be more successful there than Steve Spurrier had been, but the recent resurgence of the Florida State program makes this a tough time for the Sunshine State Saurians to be in transition. The Gators could take a step back, however slight; given the fact that six of the last nine series meetings in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party have been decided by margins of seven or fewer points, a slight step back by Florida may be all the steps back we need.

If all goes according to Year2’s sensible prediction, that will send the SEC’s hottest coaching commodity, 2010 Broyles Award winner Gus Malzahn, to Mississippi State. If, as many suspect, Coach Malzahn is the true power behind Gene Chizik’s throne, the most exceptional autumn in Auburn history could be followed by the winter of the Tigers’ discontent, as Cameron Newton goes pro, the architect of the Plainsmen’s impressive offensive attack bolts for cowbell country, and the NCAA investigation continues. One small step back for Florida could be one giant leap to the rear for Auburn.

In short, it is too early yet to know for sure, but there is the distinct possibility that two of Georgia’s three biggest rivals are about to get worse . . . and Mark Richt is 9-1 all-time against the third. Skeptics have asked, somewhat sensibly, how the Bulldogs will be better in 2011. To that reasonable inquiry, I now respond simply: we don’t have to be better, as long as everybody else is worse.

We send our best wishes to the Meyers, congratulating Urban Meyer on a stellar career and hoping this Christmas season brings joy to his family and him as they begin this new chapter of their lives together. As we bid Urban Meyer farewell, though, we in Bulldog Nation should look ahead to a future that now appears just a tiny bit brighter . . . and we should appreciate the fact that it may not be entirely coincidental, after all, that Santa Claus wears red and black.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Instantaneous Ill-Informed Roundball Wrapup: Georgia Bulldogs 73, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 72

Georgia
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In a series notable for offering an overwhelming home court advantage, Mark Fox’s Bulldogs went on the road and claimed a 73-72 victory over in-state rival Georgia Tech in Alexander Memorial Coliseum. In many respects, the game was as even as the score indicated.

Both teams shot 44.3 per cent from the field, with each squad sinking 27 of 61 two-point shots. Georgia and Georgia Tech garnered ten fouls apiece, and the Yellow Jacket bench contributed 18 points, just four more than the Bulldog reserves added to the tally.

In other facets, though, the game was a mismatch. The Engineers dominated the boards, pulling down 43 rebounds to the Red and Black’s 30, and the home team hit ten of twelve free throws (83.3%) while the visitors struggled to go seven of 15 from the charity stripe (46.7%).

The Bulldogs benefited from twelve-of-22 shooting from beyond the arc (54.5%) as the Golden Tornado managed to get just eight of their 20 three-point tries to drop (40.0%). Perhaps most significantly, Georgia Tech turned the ball over twice as frequently as Georgia (14-7), and the Red and Black turned those steals into 15 points, more than offsetting the ten ticks put on the scoreboard by the Ramblin’ Wreck off of takeaways.

Despite their slow start, the Hoop Dogs overcame a 35-29 halftime deficit and stormed back to score 44 points in the second half, led by Trey Thompkins’s and Dustin Ware’s respective 21-point performances. Thompkins hit four of five free throws, while Ware went seven of nine both from two-point range and from three-point range.

Ware’s symmetrical shooting performance was a nice touch, as it allowed the fans of the home team to drown their sorrows with mental pictures of Jeri Ryan while the Red and Black faithful did what Bulldog fans do; namely, celebrate yet another victory over Georgia Tech in yet another sport.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Georgia Bulldogs at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Basketball Game Night Open Comment Thread

Georgia
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Mark Fox’s Hoop Dogs go on the road to a venue I recently visited for the purpose of squaring off against in-state rival Georgia Tech in a battle for Peach State bragging rights that could benefit the Bulldogs in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament selection committee. (Although, really, the selection committee’s machinations make the BCS seem coherent and transparent by comparison.)

If you can’t be at the Thrillerdome, join in the conversation in the comment thread. Your participation is welcome, so that it doesn’t wind up being just one guy talking to himself . . . not that such a thing would ever really happen, mind you.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Georgia Bulldogs to Meet Central Florida Knights in Liberty Bowl: Who Are These Guys, Anyway?

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Our mindset going into the Liberty Bowl, and you can see that from the season we’ve had, is we’re going to win it. We’re not just going to a bowl game and going to play an SEC school. We’re going to win this game.

Central Florida Knights defensive end Bruce Miller (December 4, 2010)

Miller seems rather sure of himself in the wake of UCF’s Conference USA championship campaign, in which the Knights tied a school record with ten wins in a single season. I can’t help but admire the young man’s confidence, especially since Central Florida has never in its history won a bowl game and the SEC has gone 4-0 against Conference USA since the Liberty Bowl began pairing representatives of the two leagues.

In 2010, the Knights have gone 10-1 against teams from Division I-AA, Conference USA, and the MAC while posting a ledger of 0-2 against teams from automatically-qualifying BCS conferences. George O’Leary’s club fell to the N.C. State Wolfpack by a 28-21 margin in Orlando and dropped a 17-13 decision to the Kansas St. Wildcats on the road. However, Central Florida outgained N.C. State but finished at minus-five in turnover margin, and Kansas State needed a go-ahead touchdown with 24 seconds to play to beat UCF in a game featuring a weather delay of almost 90 minutes.

In short, the Knights are no pushovers, but they have gone 0-11 against major conference opposition since upending N.C. State by a two-point margin to start the 2007 season. Since moving up to Division I-A status in 1996, Central Florida has gone 1-13 against the Southeastern Conference, falling to the South Carolina Gamecocks in 1996, 1997, and 2005, to the Mississippi Rebels in 1997, to the Auburn Tigers in 1997, 1998, and 1999, to the Mississippi St. Bulldogs in 1997 and 2007, to the Florida Gators in 1999 and 2006, to the Georgia Bulldogs in 1999, and to the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2001, but beating the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2000, when the defending SEC champions went 3-8 in Mike DuBose’s final season at the Capstone.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Instantaneous Ill-Informed Roundball Wrapup: Georgia Bulldogs 66, UAB Blazers 64

Georgia
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Remember the Notre Dame game? Evidently, this was a repeat of that, only with the good guys holding on to win this time.

After holding a commanding halftime lead, Mark Fox’s Hoop Dogs fell behind in the second half, ultimately prevailing by a 66-64 final margin to run their record for the season to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in Stegeman Coliseum. Trey Thompkins led the way for the Red and Black, adding a trio of blocks and a pair of steals to a performance that included nine rebounds and 20 points.

Georgia turned the ball over 13 times to the Blazers’ 11 and sunk only three of ten shots from beyond the arc while allowing UAB to hit seven of 17 three-point baskets, but the Bulldogs made up for it by pulling down ten more rebounds (37-27) and tacking on ten more points off the bench (13-3).

The Red and Black shot 50 per cent from the field (28 of 56), while Alabama-Birmingham saw only 25 of 57 two-pointers fall. Despite giving the ball away more frequently, the Hoop Hounds turned their takeaways into more points, putting 21 ticks on the scoreboard to the visitors’ 17 points off of turnovers.

Perhaps most encouraging is the fact that Georgia shot 77.8 per cent from the free throw line, including four for four shooting from the charity stripe by Jeremy Price and Gerald Robinson in the final 66 seconds to render moot Jamarr Sanders’s three-point basket at the buzzer.

The Bulldogs held a commanding 38-23 lead with two minutes to play in the first half and remained out in front by eleven points at the break, but the Blazers whittled the home team’s advantage down to nothing before claiming a 57-56 edge on an Aaron Johnson free throw inside the final four minutes. Georgia deserves credit for winning a thriller, but it is cause for concern that Georgia had to win a thriller.

After a year of near-misses last season, the Bulldogs have found a way to win a close one; now they need to learn how to put teams away. If they don’t, more than a few of these sorts of games aren’t going to go their way. For now, winning ugly is good enough, but winning ugly won’t work when the Red and Black get to the meat of their schedule.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Georgia Bulldogs v. UAB Blazers Basketball Game Night Open Comment Thread

Georgia
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Since I totally missed the existence of the Georgia Bulldogs’ last game on the hardwood, I thought I’d better get this evening’s basketball game day open comment thread up early. (I remain ashamed of my oversight in overlooking entirely the Hoop Dogs’ outing against the Manhattan Jaspers, if only because “Manhattan Jaspers” is just plain fun to say.)

Why should tonight’s outing be on your radar screen? Well, I’ll just let Mark Fox answer that question for me:

Game day! 7pm tip vs a good UAB team. It’s our 1st home game in 2 weeks &we aren’t home again for another 15 days. Come cheer for the Dawgs!

There you go. If you can’t be in Stegeman Coliseum, you can join in the fun here by sharing your thoughts in the comments below.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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In the State of the Blind, the One-Eyed Team is King: Georgia Bulldogs 42, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 34

Georgia
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It was a somewhat surreal night in a strangely subdued Sanford Stadium. Perhaps it was the cold; perhaps it was the unfamiliar spectacle of a late evening kickoff between the hedges in November; perhaps it was the quiet confidence that we were sure to get almost exactly the game we got; perhaps it was the unexplained presence of Samuel L. Jackson, clad in a red shirt with an oval “G” logo, leaning against the east end zone goalpost as the Georgia Bulldogs headed back into the locker room after their pregame warm-ups; in any case, though, it was a curious night in the Classic City.

The oddness of the experience was underscored by the fact that I was accompanied by kleph, a colleague from SB Nation’s Alabama Crimson Tide weblog, Roll ‘Bama Roll. He had arranged to be in Tuscaloosa for Friday afternoon’s Iron Bowl, so he sent me an e-mail to inquire how he might secure a ticket to Saturday evening’s contest between the Red and Black and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. I, of course, wrote back to ask whether he would be rooting for Georgia, rooting for Georgia Tech, or attending as a disinterested observer.

When kleph gave the B answer (“disinterested observer,” which is not as good as the A answer “for Georgia,” but which is much more acceptable than the F answer “for Georgia Tech”), I wrote him back and said I’d be happy to have him use my other season ticket to the game. (He wore his Alabama gear, and, fortunately, only one person told him he was “at the wrong game.”) It’s been a long time since I entered Sanford Stadium with someone who was making his initial trip to our arena, and it was interesting hearing the impressions of a first-time visitor to that venue. (For instance, he found our barking after kickoffs to be unusual.)

All in all, it was a most atypical edition of Clean Old-Fashioned Hate, even though everything (apart from the turnovers) went exactly according to the predetermined script. At no time was I seriously concerned that Georgia might lose; at no time did the Georgia Tech fans in the vicinity seem confident that the Yellow Jackets might win; aside from the jackass in the west end zone who stupidly threw a water bottle at the visiting band, the hatred appeared to be largely cosmetic (as with the faux fight prior to kickoff, which consisted exclusively of players jumping up and down near one another) rather than heartfelt. For everyone involved, it seemed like it was just business, but nothing personal.

That remained the case throughout the game and during the drive home, lasting right up through church this morning. I am a big believer in Winston Churchill’s dictum about being magnanimous in victory and defiant in defeat; I am content with my team winning, and I feel no need to rub anyone else’s nose in it. Consequently, I didn’t seek out any of the Ramblin’ Wreck fans in the congregation or say anything other than a perfectly ordinary “good morning” to any of them, but two of them came looking for me.

The first simply pointed and said, “You got lucky.” (It was not the first time a Georgia Tech fan said that to me following a Georgia victory.) The second suggested that, had Joshua Nesbitt been healthy, the Yellow Jackets would have scored 50 points on the Bulldogs. I respectfully disagree with both contentions.

I have a hard time believing that Georgia got lucky when a couple of debatable spots went against the Red and Black, and I have a tough time seeing how the absence of Nesbitt hampered the Engineers. For one thing, having Nesbitt didn’t help a demonstrably better Georgia Tech team defeat a statistically worse Georgia team in Atlanta last year; for another, the Golden Tornado held the ball for over 38 minutes, ran 92 plays, amassed 512 yards of total offense, picked up 32 first downs, converted seven third downs in a dozen tries, and passed for 101 yards thanks to Tevin Washington’s completion of eight of his 15 aerial attempts. It’s hard to imagine the Yellow Jackets could have been markedly better with Nesbitt, particularly since the Ramblin’ Wreck never led and Washington is the more efficient passer.

In 2008, when Paul Johnson’s first Georgia Tech team defeated Georgia between the hedges, I admitted that the better team had won, even though subsequent series meetings make that outcome appear increasingly like a fumble-fueled fluke. I regret it if some rival fans are unwilling to make similar concessions in the wake of last night’s outing, but the facts speak for themselves, and these are they:

Aaron Murray completed 15 of his 19 passes for 271 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. A.J. Green’s final game in Sanford Stadium featured an eight-reception, 97-yard performance. The Bulldogs finished with four takeaways to offset a pair of giveaways, tallied 425 yards of total offense, matched exactly Georgia Tech’s rushing average of 5.3 yards per carry, committed half as many penalties for roughly a third as many yards, and scored more than 30 points for the seventh straight game. (In 2010, Georgia is 6-0 when scoring at least 32 points and 0-6 when scoring 31 or fewer points.)

Frankly, though, I don’t care if the North Avenue naysayers are right. I don’t think we were lucky, but, after a season full of improvement on the stat sheet yet regression in the record, the Red and Black are due to catch a break. I don’t think Georgia won because Joshua Nesbitt didn’t play, but, at the end of an autumn in which the Bulldogs would have beaten Florida if Chris Rainey hadn’t played and would have beaten Auburn if Cameron Newton hadn’t played, I’ll take a win against a rival at less than full strength, even though I regret the fact that Nesbitt was injured and I hope he recovers in time for the Yellow Jackets’ bowl game, because he is a fine athlete and a stellar competitor.

I am not naive about the significance of this victory. All this win really proves is that a mediocre SEC team is better than a mediocre ACC team, and everyone knew that already. None of the problems that existed before this triumph were solved by this triumph. Nevertheless, a 5-7 season was avoided, bowl eligibility was attained, and a win over a rival was secured. Winning this game isn’t everything, but it certainly is something, and, right now, I’ll take it for what it’s worth, even if it is worth only a little.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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