Tag:Brandon Boykin
Posted on: January 2, 2012 5:52 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Michigan State 33, Georgia 30, 3OT

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



MICHIGAN STATE WON: Down 16 at halftime, with only 72 yards of offense to their name, and the parallels between their 2012 bowl performance and their 2011 bowl humiliation vs. Alabama looking unavoidable, the Spartans had to be the only people in Tampa thinking they had any shot of coming back and winning the Outback Bowl. But that belief paid off in spades as Kirk Cousins threw for 300 yards and led State to a thrilling 33-30 comeback win in triple overtime. Dan Conroy went 2-for-2 on OT field goals and Rashad White blocked Blair Walsh's 46-yarder on the game's final play to seal the win.

But Georgia fans will argue that the game never should have reached a third overtime after Cousins was picked off on the Spartans' first OT possession. All the Bulldogs needed was a field goal, but Mark Richt chose to have Aaron Murray kneel on second down to set up Walsh on third down--even though the kick was a full 43 yards and Walsh had gone just 19-of-31 this season. To say Walsh's miss will leave Richt in line for some second guessing is an understatement.

WHY MICHIGAN STATE WON: Richt's conservatism -- not just in overtime, but from the moment the Dawgs took that 16-0 lead -- arguably had as much to do with the Spartan win as anything MSU did. But to focus entirely on Georgia's mistakes won't do justice to the determination and guts of Cousins, who took a ton of hits in the early going and was still up for guiding one of the drives of college football's season late--a 10-play, 85-yard masterpiece that took just 1:35 and sent the game to overtime.

Contrast Cousins' poise with that of Murray, whose precision terrorized the Spartans in the first half and much of the second ... but who went an ugly 0-of-4 in overtime and took the sack that led to Walsh's final blocked attempt. Cousins wasn't always exactly John Elway himself -- he finished averaging just 6 yards an attempt and threw three interceptions -- but his cool down the stretch was what ultimately paced his team to the victory.

WHEN MICHIGAN STATE WON: Not until White's block, but that block was set up by William Gholston's crushing sack on third down.

WHAT MICHIGAN STATE WON: An 11th game for the second straight year, but more importantly, the Spartans snapped a five-game bowl losing streak and earned Mark Dantonio his first postseason victory. It also helped the Big Ten avoid an 0-4 start to the day's slate.

WHAT GEORGIA LOST: Not much in the big picture, really; Richt's 10-2 season and SEC East title has already cooled any "hot seat" talk, and win or lose the Dawgs should still enter 2012 as favorites to repeat as divisional champs. But given the ease of Georgia's schedule this past season (and next), the loss may open Richt up to questions as to whether his team is ready to take the next step and beat the high-caliber teams necessary to win the SEC.

THAT WAS CRAZY: It's a shame we haven't even mentioned Georgia corner Brandon Boykin's day yet: all the senior did in his final game as a Bulldog was score on defense (tackling Keshawn Martin on the Spartans' first play from scrimmage for a safety), special teams (on a highlight-reel 92-yard punt return), and offense (catching a 13-yard touchdown out of the backfield after lining up as a running back.)

FINAL GRADE: This one had everything: huge plays, giant momentum swings, NFL-caliber athletes and quarterbacks, seismic coaching decisions, and a desperate team making a desperate comeback for maximum drama. It doesn't get a lot better. A.

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 9:21 am
 

Keys to the game: Outback Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

GEORGIA WILL WIN IF: The Bulldogs' defense continues to perform like it has all season. Though the bookends for the year didn't go as fans had hoped, the team still ran off 10 straight wins and likely saved head coach Mark Richt's job. The biggest reason behind the surge is the defense, which is third in the country in yards allowed and features stud linebacker Jarvis Jones and a secondary led by Brandon Boykin and Bacarri Rambo. The offense has done ok behind quarterback Aaron Murray and freshman running back Isaiah Crowell but they have a knack for turning the ball over at times and that could prove costly in a close game against a very good team like the one they'll face in the Outback Bowl.

MICHIGAN STATE WILL WIN IF: The Spartans have to remain balanced on offense and limit turnovers. This is the first time the team has won 10 games in back-to-back years and given the bad taste left in their mouths in the Big Ten championship game, figures to a game they come out prepared for and ready to win. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has elevated his game this season, throwing for over 3,000 yards and posting a 24-7 TD-INT ratio. If he can make some plays in the passing game to open things up for Le'Von Bell and Edwin Baker on the ground, MSU should have a great chance to win the game given how good their defense is.

X-FACTOR: These two teams met just three years ago at this bowl game so there is some familiarity between them. Both are also coming off championship game losses and while a trip to Tampa isn't bad, it's not exactly what either had in mind at the beginning of the season. The key to winning this game undoubtedly belongs to who can control the trenches. Michigan State appears to be the more physical team but Georgia's front seven is very good and their offensive line has done better than expected over the course of the season. The Spartans also have an impact player on the defensive line in first-team All-America Jerel Worthy, who should be a load to handle for the Bulldogs' offensive line. Both teams want to play sound football and control the clock so winning the battles along the line will be paramount.


Posted on: November 26, 2011 3:31 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 13 Georgia 31, No. 25 Ga. Tech 17

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

GEORGIA WON: 
If the Bulldogs were looking forward to the SEC championship in any form or fashion, in never showed Saturday in Atlanta. Aaron Murray had another supremely efficient day (19-of-29, 252 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception) and the Dawg secondary picked off Tevin Washington twice on Tech's first three possessions of the second half to turn what had been a close game at halftime into a comfortable victory.

WHY GEORGIA WON: For all of Murray's brilliance -- and even his glittering statistics didn't do justice to how cleanly he picked apart the helpless Tech secondary, or how little answer the Jackets had for tight end Orson Charles (5 catches, 95 yards, all of them wiiiiiide open) -- this game belonged to the Georgia defense. The Bulldogs have slowly become one of the nation's best defenses since their early breakdowns against Boise State and South Carolina, and in the second half they showed it. 

The Jackets racked up nearly 200 yards of offense in the first 30 minutes and could have been within a field goal if they'd scored on a botched 3rd-and-goal option from the 2, but their first four second half possessions went like this: three plays, interception; four plays, punt; one play, interception; 13 plays, turnover on downs. Not only has the light come on for the Dawgs in Todd Grantham's schemes, but a handful of legitimate stars have emerged: linebacker Jarvis Jones, safety Shawn Williams, corner Brandon Boykin (who limited Tech top target Stephen Hill to just one reception). Add that kind of back seven talent to a major offseason increase in beef along the 3-4 line, and you're looking at a defense that's not going to make things easy next week for LSU.

WHEN GEORGIA WON: That second Washington pick -- a brilliant diving effort by Williams -- was quickly turned into six points by Murray, putting Tech in a 21-point hole their option offense had no prayer of erasing.

WHAT GEORGIA WON: Their 10th game of the season in Mark Richt's "make or break" year; we're fairly confident he's off the hot seat by now. The Dawgs also cemented their total domination of the series under Richt, having now won 10 of their last 11 over the Jackets. For all Paul Johnson's brilliance, aside from the shocker in Athens his debut season, he hasn't had any better luck solving Tech's archrival than his predecessors.

WHAT GEORGIA TECH LOST: Their fourth game of the season and maybe some juice in the bowl pecking order. But more to the point: any illusion that Johnson's arrival might mean a turn in fortunes in the rivalry.

Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:40 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Auburn at Georgia

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

AUBURN WILL WIN IF: Clint Moseley's performance against Ole Miss wasn't a mirage. Against the Rebels the redshirt sophomore hit 12-of-15 for better than 10 yards an attempt, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. It looked like a breakout game for a player still making just his second-ever start, but after watching the Rebels give up 30 points to Kentucky's dead-offense-walking, it's fair to ask if Moseley's numbers weren't a product of Moseley as much as an Ole Miss defense that's throwing in the towel. We'll find out for certain against Georgia: the Dawgs are sixth in the country in opposing QB rating and have held their six SEC opponents to a collective 44 percent completion rate and a 4-to-9 TD-to-INT ratio. If Moseley can hold his own on the road against that kind of secondary, Auburn will have found themselves a quarterback--and the same running game that took adavantage of his precision to roll up 254 yards vs. the Rebels could find space to dominate again.

GEORGIA WILL WIN IF: Aaron Murray plays like Aaron Murray. No one's going to confuse the 2011 Auburn defense for the '85 Bears, but against teams without a legitimate threat at quarterback, the Tigers have done just fine: 13 points allowed to South Carolina in a win, 6 to Florida in a win, 17 to Ole Miss before a meaningless TD on the game's final play. If Murray plays like the erratic quarterback who missed 9 straight passes against Florida two weeks ago, the Tigers have shown they'll be just fine concentrating on Isaiah Crowell and turning the game into another low-scoring slugfest like the ones they won vs. Carolina and the Gators ... and that was back when Barrett Trotter was flailing wildly as the Tiger QB.

Despite Moseley's ascension, a solid game from Murray would still likely leave Auburn unable to keep pace offensively, especially on the road. But after Murray's Florida performance, it's not a given.

THE X-FACTOR: Auburn freshman kick returner Tre Mason started the season like gangbusters, housing one against Utah State and looking poised to break another any minute through the first quarter of the Tigers' season. He's since cooled off (thanks in part to a nagging injury) but still ranks among the nation's top 25 per-return. The Dawgs, meanwhile, have often been atrocious in kick coverage this year -- Mark Richt openly campaigned for starters to volunteer for coverage duty recently, with several responding -- and have up a kickoff score to Auburn's Demond Washington last time the teams played in Athens. A similar big play from Mason (or Dawg returner Brandon Boykin the other way) might decisively tilt what shapes up as a tight contest.
Posted on: November 5, 2011 3:43 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 18 Georgia 63 New Mexico St. 16

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

GEORGIA WON: 
No scholarship running backs, no problem. Despite missing Richard Samuel to injury and three other tailbacks -- including Isaiah Crowell -- due to one-game suspensions, the Bulldogs had the very definition of "no problem" with visiting New Mexico State, scoring six second quarter touchdowns and coasting from there. (The 42 points in a quarter is an FBS high this season.) With the tailbacks out, corners Branden Smith and Brandon Boykin both got time on offense and both scored long touchdowns, Smith on a 56-yard run and Boykin a 42-yard pass reception. The Bulldogs finished the game with 628 offensive yards.

WHY GEORGIA WON: "They're Georgia, and the opponent was New Mexico State" pretty much covers it. But whatever hope the Aggies had of making this a competitive game likely required Aaron Murray to have been as erratic and scattershot as he'd been the previous week in the Bulldogs' win over Florida. No such luck for NMSU: Murray only played the first half, but that was long enough to go 18-of-23 for better than 10 yards an attempt and five touchdowns without an interception.

Obviously, Auburn's pass defense is going to offer a lot more resistance than NMSU's when the Dawgs host the Tigers next week. But Murray's big day has to give his team a lot of encouragement after his lackluster outing vs. the Gators.

WHEN GEORGIA WON: Oh, just pick a second quarter touchdown. We'll go with the Brandon Harton four-yard TD run to push the lead to 14-3, since it was immediately preceded by a questionable pass interference flag on a 3rd-and-4 incompletion. You knew that if NMSU couldn't even catch a break from the officials, they weren't going to hang around long.

WHAT GEORGIA WON: An entire second half of rest for their starters, and for a team with as many thin areas as the Bulldogs, they couldn't ask for anything more than that from this game.

WHAT NEW MEXICO STATE LOST: Lost? We suspect Dewayne Walker will wish his team had been more competitive and much sharper defensively, but no doubt the check from Georgia will soothe a lot of ills.

Posted on: September 8, 2011 3:58 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 5:44 pm
 

SEC Interrogation, Week 2

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Each Thursday we demand the SEC give us answers to its most pressing questions. Here those are:




Mike Bobo: do you know what you're doing with an up-tempo shotgun offense?  After rumblings from fall camp that Georgia would unveil a no-huddle spread offense gainst Boise State, the Bulldogs didn't quite go the full Dana Holgorsen ... but they definitely flirted with it, breaking away from their traditional pro-style I-formation look for a multitude of quick snaps, multi-receiver sets, and shotgun handoffs. The results were occasionally spectacular (see Brandon Boykin's 80-yard touchdown run) but more frequently sputterrific (see the other 25 rushes for all of 57 yards, or Boise's six sacks).

So why the change? "We wanted to get more plays, which we didn’t do on Saturday,” Bulldog coordinator Bobo said. “But we’re committed to doing it, and more plays equals more opportunities, and more chances to score.”

This is true, technically speaking. A faster tempo does lead to more possessions and plays packed into a game, and more scoring chances. But that's true for both teams, not just the one running the no-huddle; barring onside kick shenanigans or the occasional odd break at the end of a half, possessions in football are always going to be equal. For seasoned practitioners of the no-huddle like Holgorsen or Gus Malzahn, tempo is partially about giving their offense as many opportunities as possible, but it's also about making it more efficient by keeping an opposing defense off-balance and wearing it down over the course of 60 minutes.

Bobo is not one of those seasoned practitioners. As the Athens Banner-Herald points out, in 2010 Georgia ran fewer plays than any other team in the SEC. Suddenly lurching into a part-time, only-half-committed shotgun spread outfit seems from here to be a good way to neither execute that plan well nor the Bulldogs' traditional power-running and play-action bread-and-butter. One Georgia blogger has cleverly referred to Bobo's plan as the Cheesecake Factory offense--one that attempts to do everything, and in the end does none of it well enough to win.

Mark Richt, for what it's worth, is firmly on board with Bobo's approach. But if it doesn't pay far more dividends against South Carolina than it did against Boise (and if there's a bigger red flag than giving up six sacks to the Broncos the week before facing Devin Taylor, Melvin Ingram and Jadeveon Clowney, we haven't seen it), Richt may pay for that support with an 0-2 start and the hottest seat in the country.



Auburn's defensive line: what can you do with Mississippi State? The surprising thing about Utah State's 84-play slice-and-dice job on the Tiger defense wasn't the 22-of-31 passing from true freshman Chuckie Keeton, or the resulting 13-of-20 mark for the Aggies on third- and fourth-down conversions; Ted Roof's Tiger teams have always had issues with a tight, controlled passing game like USU's. But they've also usually been stout enough against the run to make up for that Achilles heel -- Auburn led the SEC in rush defense last year -- making the true stunner the Aggies' 227 yards on the ground.

Unfortunately for Roof and the Tigers, things only get tougher this week. State boasts the league's best dual-threat quarterback in Chris Relf, a veteran line featuring three senior starters, Dan Mullen's tried-and-true option schemes, and one of the nation's most underrated tailbacks in Vick Ballard. Even Auburn is obviously a far cry from Memphis, but the 309 rushing yards and 8.1 yard per-carry average racked up by the Bulldogs in Week 1 still make for a hell of a warning shot across the bow of the Tiger front seven.

That front seven should get a boost with the return of suspended senior linebacker Eltoro Freeman, and Roof's long track record of run-stuffing success suggests some level of improvement is due. But the Tiger front remains so young -- all four starting defensive linemen are sophomores -- that it will take a major, major leap forward for Auburn to avoid getting steamrolled. Are they up to it?



Alabama: is your offense good enough to stake a claim to No. 1? Maybe we'll be proven wrong about this. But the guess here is that despite the change of venue to Happy Valley, there won't be any more competitive drama in Saturday's Alabama-Penn State clash than there was in last year's 24-3 Tide throttling in Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban's loaded roster of future pros dominated the Nittany Lions physically in nearly every aspect of the 2010 meeting, and that's not a problem we see Joe Paterno repairing in the space of one offseason.

Which means the burning question is one of degree: does the Tide offense have the chops to go on the road and put together a performance worthy of putting the team in the top-of-the-polls discussion? Underrated though Kent State's defense may be (10th in FBS total defense in 2010), the Tide still looked surprisingly sloppy on attack, despite the 48-7 final. The quarterbacks threw four interceptions; the offensive line missed a handful of assignments; the Tide receivers and quarterbacks put the ball on the ground four times.

Were those opening-week jitters ... or something more serious that might deprive the Tide of championships once the 2011 season is finished? A dominant performance against a Lion team with plenty of questions of its own in the front seven would go a long way towards affirming it was the former.

Also worth asking: Can Tennessee's Janzen Jackson-less secondary hold up against Cincinnati's lively passing game? (The league's most underrated Week 2 matchup could be decided here.) Can Vanderbilt  look like a real team another real team? (Despite their 45-14 win over FCS Elon, the 'Dores were outgained by 14 yards. Jury's well out.) Will Kentucky or Ole Miss show any signs of life on offense? (If the 'Cats and Rebels can't get better against Central Michigan and Southern Illinois, respectively, it's going to be a long season.)
Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 2:35 am
 

QUICK HITS: No. 5 Boise St. 35, Georgia 21

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

BOISE STATE WON: The Broncos again thrust themselves into the national title chase with a comprehensive 14-point win over the Bulldogs. After an iffy first quarter, Kellen Moore returned to his All-American best, completing 28 of his 34 attempts for 261 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Meanwhile, Georgia struggled all night on offense, getting an 80-yard touchdown run from moonlighting cornerback Brandon Boykin in the first quarter ... and averaging a middling 4.8 yards on all other plays. 

WHY BOISE STATE WON: The common conception is that non-AQ teams like Boise can find a handful of good skill players, but just can't match up with the heavies of the SEC on the line of scrimmage. Too bad for Georgia Boise's performance was as loud and as forceful a rebuke of that misconception as it's possible to be. The Bronco defensive front of Shea McClellin, Billy Winn, Chase Baker and Tyrone Crawford routinely abused the Bulldog blockers, sacking Aaron Murray six times and harrying him into a 36-yard, zero touchdown, one-interception first-half performance. One of the few Bulldog first-half forays into BSU territory ended when an unblocked McClellin stuffed Richard Samuel on 4th-and-1. By the time the Bulldogs began to get a handle on the Boise front, the game was out of reach.

Things were nearly as lopsided on the other side of the ball. The Broncos finished the game with 129 yards on 37 carries, but those numbers don't do justice to Nate Potter and the rest of the BSU line's domination of the Dawgs in the four-touchdowns-in-five-possessions
stretch over the end of the second quarter and start of the third--four drives that totaled 31 plays and covered 232 yards. And about Moore's six-incompletions-in-34-tries performance: those numbers are a lot easier to reach when you're not sacked once.

WHEN BOISE STATE WON: Murray's sky-high pass on 4th-and-2 with 2:34 remaining in the game (and Georgia down 35-21) put the final nail in the Bulldogs' coffin, but the game was decided by the Broncos' 8-play, 76-yard touchdown drive spanning the third and fourth quarters. Georgia had pounced on a rare Bronco mistake -- an offsides penalty that turned a 4th-and-7 punt into a 4th-and-2 -- with a Murray 36-yard touchdown pass that cut the lead to 28-14. But Moore and the Broncos responded with a brutally, icily efficient drive, one capped by D.J. Harper's 1-yard touchdown to restore the lead to 35-14. Georgia never tasted real momentum again.

WHAT BOISE STATE WON: The chance to all-but cruise to another undefeated season. With TCU's defense looking utterly mortal against Baylor, only the Broncos' trip to San Diego State looks like a legitimate hurdle to 12-0. If Georgia does BSU the favor of winning enough to make this victory valuable and carnage reigns across the BCS conferences, Boise's first trip to the BCS title game could be in sight.

WHAT GEORGIA LOST: For the time being, any sense of progress over last year's 6-7 disaster. The Bulldogs of 2010 had little running game, an inconsistent passing attack, an erratic secondary, and conditioning issues in the fourth quarter. From what we saw Saturday, the 2011 version has the same problems--and unless they can make some quick repairs before a visit from South Carolina next week, they may sink a second straight season before it even begins.


Posted on: August 17, 2011 6:10 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2011 1:36 pm
 

Report: UGA safety Jakar Hamilton out for year

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For Georgia fans, a secondary that was shaky at times last season, saw corner Vance Cuff graduate, and safety Alec Ogletree move to linebacker entered 2011 as one of the Bulldogs' biggest concerns. And it's safe to say today's news won't help alleviate them.

According to Dawgs247.com reporter Gentry Estes, senior safety Jakar Hamilton has been diagnosed with a pair of stress fractures in his right ankle and will likely miss the entire 2011 season. The injuries occurred sometime during the offseason but were only discovered by a recent MRI.

A JUCO transfer who enrolled last year, Hamilton still has a redshirt year remaining and will likely take it if forced to by the ankle injury. After starting five games in 2010 and collecting 27 tackles with one interception, Hamilton was battling Shawne Williams and Sanders Commings for a starting job and was expected to play a major role in the Dawg secondary regardless.

Thanks to Williams and Commings -- and clearcut strong safety starter Bacarri Rambo -- Hamilton's injury isn't a backbreaker for the Bulldogs, on paper at least. But his departure limits the unit's versatility (particularly where the mix-and-match Commings is concerned) and certainly weakens its depth.

Assuming Hamilton returns at full strength in 2012, his continued presence will be one more bonus for what projects as one of the SEC's deepest and most experienced defensive backfields. (Barring early NFL departures, corner Brandon Boykin should be the only loss.) But that doesn't mean a whole lot for Georgia now as Mark Richt heads into a make-or-break season.


 
 
 
 
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