Posted on: October 5, 2010 12:10 pm

Vince Dooley won't be attending Georgia/Tennessee

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Vince Dooley spent 25 seasons roaming the sidelines at Georgia before becoming the school's athletic director, and has seen many games played at Sanford Stadium.  He will not be spending his Saturday in Athens this week, however, when his son Derek Dooley brings the Volunteer's to town.  The elder Dooley has gone to three of his son's first five games with Tennessee -- though he didn't attend the latest Les Miles magic trick -- but this one just doesn't feel right.

While his wife, Barbara, will likely be attending the game Vince is content to sit at home on the couch and watch it on television.

"They've got those high-tech TV cameras, and they can find you, but I'm going to be at home. I'm going to pull for my son, but I'm not going to pull for him at Sanford Stadium," Dooley said Monday. "I spent 40 years at the school, so that's the last thing I'm going to do."

The conflict of interest is obvious, so it's hard to blame Dooley for not wanting to attend the game in person.  Plus, by staying home and watching on television he's afforded the opportunity to change the channel.  Who wants to watch a four-hour funeral?
Posted on: October 4, 2010 12:31 pm

It's getting morbid in Athens

Posted by Tom Fornelli

This has been a nightmare season for the Georgia Bulldogs.  The team is 1-4 -- with a lone victory against Louisiana-Lafayette -- on the season, and 0-3 in SEC play, leading many to wonder if Mark Richt is going to survive after the season is over.  Still, things were supposed to get better last weekend.

Wide receiver A.J. Green was returning following a four-game suspension, and he was going to help the Bulldogs offense get over the hump.  And he did.  Green was fantastic in his first game back, making seven catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns -- including a beautiful one-handed touchdown catch in the second quarter.

Still, even Green's return couldn't heal a team that just seems snakebit in 2010.  The Bulldogs were on the verge of beating Colorado on Saturday night, but fate can be extremely cruel.  Trailing 29-27 in the closing minutes the Bulldogs were driving down the field and on the verge of kicking a field goal that would have given them the lead, and in all likelihood, a victory that may have helped turn the tide of their season.

The Bulldogs were already within field goal range when Aaron Murray took a snap and turned to hand the ball off to Caleb King, but Colorado linebacker B.J. Beatty met them both at the exchange and knocked the ball loose, holding King back while Jon Major jumped on the ball.

That was it.  Game over, but to Georgia defensive end Demarcus Dobbs, it felt like something much worse.

“I thought it was a shoo-in; that’s how comfortable I was [about winning the game]. I put my helmet down. I was ready to run on the field and celebrate. But it didn’t happen that way. We made a fatal mistake, and that type of stuff needs to be corrected. We cannot turn the ball over at the end of the game. It felt like death to me. We have to keep grinding and support each other.”

And there are still seven games -- or funerals -- left to go.
Posted on: September 28, 2010 6:33 pm

A.J. Green finally speaks

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Now that Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green has finished serving his four-game suspension for selling a game-worn jersey to Chris Hawkins, he was finally allowed to speak to reporters for the first time since the suspension on Tuesday.  Much like he was with the NCAA when they came calling, Green was incredibly forthright and honest on Tuesday.

The obvious question was why did Green sell his game-worn jersey from the Independence Bowl to Hawkins, and the answer was simple. He just needed "extra cash" for spring break.  Though Green did also admit that he was aware that selling the jersey could cause a problem for him and Georgia.

“When I did it, I really didn’t think [anything] of it,” Green said of selling the jersey.  “I thought it was just something minor. I didn’t think it would be anything serious when I did it.  I didn’t really think it through. I just did it. And it came back, and it was a big thing. And I served my punishment, and I am ready to play now.”
Green said that the NCAA came around after reading a report on TMZ that he had supposedly been at a party in South Beach hosted by an agent.  It was due to that rumor that the NCAA asked Green if they could see his bank records, and it was while looking through those that the NCAA noticed a $1,000 deposit into Green's account. 

After asking Green where that money had come from, Green came clean about all of it, though he still denies ever attending any party.

Whatever the case, Green should be commended for being honest with the NCAA.  Seems somebody was paying attention to how Dez Bryant handled things at Oklahoma State.
Posted on: September 27, 2010 8:00 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 11:53 pm

For the Big Ten, the fight begins this weekend

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Big Ten Conference play begins this weekend*, and the race for the conference title is either already over (Ohio State) or wide open (the six other teams seemingly capable of winning the conference). We'll quickly find out whether many of the presumptive challengers to the Buckeyes' supremacy have what it takes to put together a great season. Considering the questions surrounding so many of them, the answer seems to be "maybe, but it's unlikely." In no particular order ...

Michigan (4-0): On one hand, Denard Robinson is a near-lock for Heisman candidacy this December; his stat lines are other-worldly, and there are few defenses in the conference that seem capable of containing this Michigan offense. But that defense. Ye gods, the defense. Michigan allowed 37 points to FCS stalwart UMass, and has given up more points thus far than every Big Ten team except Minnesota. Can Robinson and his teammates outscore enough conference opponents to justify the team's No. 19 ranking? They'll find out soon enough against Indiana this weekend; the Hoosiers have scored more than 40 points a game this season and have talent everywhere on offense.

Iowa (3-1): The good news: the Iowa Hawkeyes look materially better than last season, as wins that were close last year are blowouts now. Ricky Stanzi is far more efficient as a passer, and the only interception he's thrown all season came on a deflection. The bad news: the Hawkeyes have three kickers, which is to say they have none, and their cornerbacks are still rather suspect. And good heavens, that Arizona game. Iowa committed mistake after mistake in the first half, found themselves down 20 points at the break, then imploded on the offensive line with the game on the line. So what's there to make of the Arizona game? Was it an aberration, or is Iowa merely a bully of plainly inferior competition? Penn State comes to town this weekend, and intends to find out exactly how good the Hawkeyes actually are.

Wisconsin (4-0): No undefeated Big Ten team is more of an enigma than Wisconsin, who looks like it should be a Rose Bowl contender on paper -- and may very well be so -- but has underwhelmed against FBS competition. The Badgers needed a blocked extra point and a miraculous tackle at the 1-yard line at the end of the first half to help preserve a 20-19 win against Arizona State, and only beat an unimpressive San Jose State team 27-14. Yes, they won 70-3 over Austin Peay. Whatever. Wisconsin has the hogs up front and the stable of running backs (led by All-American candidate John Clay) to run over just about anybody in the conference, and Scott Tolzein is having another impressive and efficient season. Their defense isn't a weakness, and they get Ohio State (whom they've usually given fits) in Madison. But lo and behold, they face Michigan State in East Lansing this week, and it's basically a toss-up. Which Wisconsin will show up this Saturday -- and this season? 

Penn State (3-1): Joe Paterno made waves when he installed true freshman Rob Bolden at quarterback to begin the season, and for the most part, the decision has worked out; Bolden hasn't looked great, but he's playing with a maturity beyond his years, and he's certainly not a weak link in the offense. That weak link, however, would be the offensive line; Penn State hasn't blown anyone off the ball with any regularity yet this season, and that includes the likes of Youngstown State and Temple. That Penn State is still ranked after its somewhat underwhelming non-conference schedule demonstrates the deep level of trust voters have in JoePa to field a competitive team, and that's a trust that's rarely betrayed. Still, the Nittany Lions had better start playing like a quality team very soon, or they could find themselves in line for something like the Texas Bowl.

Northwestern (4-0): The Cardiac 'Cats have the inside track to a 6-0 record right now; they're two-thirds of the way there at 4-0, and their next two opponents are absolute doormats Minnesota and Purdue. Quarterback Dan Persa is one of the highest rated passers in the NCAA, and he's also Northwestern's leading rusher. That's sort of a bad thing. In fact, Persa and his stable of running backs all average less than 4 yards per carry, and they haven't even faced great rush defenses: of their three FBS opponents, only Central Michigan is in the top half of the nation's rush defenses. Let's face it: if you can't run on Vanderbilt (143 yards on 46 carries most certainly does not qualify), you can't run on most of the Big Ten. Can Persa keep up his efficient passing in the conference season, or is that 6-0 start going to turn into 8-4 and a mediocre December bowl bid?

Michigan State (4-0): Here's what's scary: The relatively underhyped, unheralded Michigan State squad could end up being better than all the teams mentioned above. Kirk Cousins is 17th in passing efficiency in the FBS. True freshman Le'Veon Bell is a dynamo in the Spartans' backfield (and pancaked two defenders at once on MSU's game-winning fake field goal). Also, unlike Michigan, MSU doesn't have a giant honking RED ALERT attached to its defense. Oh, and the Spartans miss Ohio State on this year's schedule. Ten wins or more for Sparty? It's happened all of once (1999) since the NCAA went to 11-game regular seasons, but it could easily happen this year. Or MSU could revert to its usual self and drop four or five games in the conference. We'll start finding out when the Spartans and Badgers lock horns -- if, y'know, ancient Greek warriors and badgers had horns -- this Saturday.

So who's legit and who's not? To be honest, right now, nobody really knows. That's why this weekend's going to be vitally important for all the teams mentioned above. No more excuses, no hiding behind cupcake schedules; it's Big Ten season now.

*It's worth pointing out that the Big Ten is still something of a dinosaur in this respect; it's the only conference with an eight-game schedule that has yet to begin conference play. Sure, thanks to bye weeks, Indiana and Illinois each still have a non-con to squeeze in during the conference slate, but that's it; for the rest, it's the tried and true formula of out-of-conference, in-conference, bowl. A bit stale, to be sure, but it's somewhat nice to not have your conference title hopes completely ruined before it's even October; Georgia, after all, has already gone 0-3 in the SEC. Hopeless in September. That's no way for a fan to be, is it?

Posted on: September 26, 2010 12:27 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2010 5:47 pm

Georgia LB arrested for DUI, dismissed from team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Well this is the last thing Mark Richt needs right now.  Following a 24-12 loss to Mississippi State in Starkville on Saturday night, Richt and his team returned to Athens to find out that one of the players they left at home took the time to drown his sorrows and then get in his car and drive around a bit.

Georgia freshman linebacker Demetre Baker was arrested for DUI, improper driving and underage possession of alcohol early Sunday morning and was booked into the Clarke County jail at 4:26am.  Baker had not traveled to Starkville with the rest of the team, so I guess he had to find something else to do with his time.

Baker is the tenth Georgia player to be arrested since March.

While a suspension will be coming for Baker, this could help lead to even worse for Richt.  It's getting harder to deny that Richt is on the proverbial hot seat in Athens following his latest loss, and when you combine the losing with all of the off field issues, you get a coach who is in a fight to keep his job.

Update: Word coming from Athens this afternoon that Baker has been dismissed from the team thanks to his arrest.

Posted on: September 20, 2010 5:28 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 5:56 pm

Mark Richt digs deep, sees improvement

Posted by Tom Fornelli

These are not happy days in Athens, Georgia.  The Bulldogs are off to a 1-2 start, with both losses coming against SEC foes, so it looks like Georgia 's chances of winning the SEC East lie somewhere between slim and none.  Though that's no reason to be down if you ask Mark Richt.   Sure, his team has dug itself a quality hole to work their way out of, but there's reason to be optimistic.

Richt watched the game tape, and he sees improvement.

“It’s always discouraging to lose any game, so we’re not happy about the won-loss record right now,” Richt said. “When you do the job we do and you coach and you teach and you give your guys assignments and you give them things they’re trying to get better at, and you watch the film and you see guys improve, that’s what I’m talking about.”

Yes, well tell that to a fan base that would like to see improvement in the form of wins.  After all, a few more losses and the cries for Richt's head on a pike will start to come, if they're not already there.

Richt has been very successful in Athens, going 91-29 in his career there, but things have gone on a downward trend since Georgia last appeared in the SEC title game in 2007.  Since then Richt's teams have gone 19-10 with a 10-8 mark within the SEC.  It's not a terrible record by any means, and Richt's history with the Bulldogs would seem to buy him some time to put the program back together, but in the high stakes world of college football these days -- where loyalty is no match for money -- you do wonder if Georgia will go another direction if Richt doesn't turn things around soon.

It's not fair, but it is reality.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: September 20, 2010 2:38 pm

Ryan Mallett named Davey O'Brien Player of Week

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Davey O'Brien Foundation named their quarterback of the week today; it's Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett, and deservedly so:

Junior Ryan Mallett has been named the Davey O'Brien Quarterback of the Week after leading his team to a dramatic 31-24 road victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. 

After getting off to an early start, Mallett found himself under pressure late in the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs rallied from a 24-10 deficit to tie the game with 3:55 left to play. He remained calm and collected, marching his team down the field with a three-play, 73-yard scoring drive that ended with a 40-yard touchdown pass to Greg Childs with 15 seconds remaining. The signal caller from Texarkana, Texas finished the game with 380 yards and three touchdowns on 21 completions.

"This is a really surreal feeling," Mallett said after the game. "This is something I've never experienced before. This has got to be one of the greatest moments I've felt since I've played the game of football. It so rarely comes down to the wire like this. It's sometimes gone the other way for us, but now I know how it feels to get the win."

Mallett beats out 11 other notable peformers, such as Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, Arizona's Nick Foles, and Michigan's Denard Robinson.

Mallett's selection is merited simply because of the game-winning drive, which essentially came out of nowhere. The writeup above doesn't do Mallett's performance justice; Arkansas and Georgia traded punts after the Bulldogs tied the game, so Mallett's game-winning drive didn't start until there was about a minute left on the clock. Most teams, given the ball at their own 27 with 47 seconds left and a tie game, would simply kneel and take the game to overtime. Not Arkansas, and not Mallett, and they've got a win to show for it.

It should be noted, of course, that Mallett wasn't the only quarterback that led a game-winning drive in such a scenario; Foles drove his Wildcats for the win with under four minutes to play after the Iowa Hawkeyes scored 20 straight points to tie their score at 27-27. The difference, of course, is that Iowa tied the game when defensive lineman Broderick Binns picked off a Foles pass and took it 20 yards for a touchdown. Giving up a game-tying 20-yard fat guy touchdown is an automatic disqualifier for O'Brien POTW status. Sorry, but it's science.

Posted on: September 18, 2010 3:10 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2010 3:19 pm

Arkansas scores go-ahead TD with 0:15 left

Posted by Adam Jacobi

[UPDATE, 3:13 p.m.: Arkansas has forced a punt with a quarterback sack on 3rd and 4. This one's probably going to overtime.]

[UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.: OH HO HO DISREGARD OVERTIME. Ryan Mallett needed only three throws to lead the Razorbacks 73 yards, culminating in a 40-yard touchdown catch by Greg Childs. DAGGER.]

[UPDATE, 3:20 p.m.: A Georgia Hail Mary fell incomplete in the end zone. Final score: Arkansas 31, Georgia 24.]

What looked like a convincing road win for Arkansas is now in serious danger. The Razorbacks led Georgia 24-10 in the fourth quarter, but two consecutive touchdowns have tied the score--and now Arkansas is punting on 4th and 21 after a three-and-out.

Georgia now has 2:18 to get into scoring position from their own 34-yard line, and they've got all three of their timeouts. They'll need Washaun Ealey to continue his clutch play if they want to make this last drive happen.

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