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Another year in the books!
Today's Kentucky/UGA football game was the last home game for outgoing seniors Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, who combined for 238 yards and 5 touchdowns on the way to a 42-13 win.
(It wasn't really as close as the lopsided score indicates. By the end of the game, Kentucky players were gassed, and Georgia's second line of running backs kept gashing them. UGA had 381 rushing yards overall on the day.)
The win doesn't exactly make up for last week's collapse at Auburn, but it does inspire confidence going forward to Georgia Tech and the SEC Championship. Go Dawgs!
I haven't dumped on the Miami Dolphins enough this year. Let me start correcting that.
Yesterday before the NFL trade dealine, the Miami Dolphins traded their starting running back, Jay Ajayi, to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 4th round pick. (True story: they wanted to trade their best wide receiver, Jarvis Landry, but they couldn't find a taker willing to pay the asking price, presumably a 3rd round pick.) Ajayi had three 200+ yard games last year and ran for a total of 1,272 yards. For comparison, Jay Cutler passed for only 1,059 in 2016. Given that Cutler no longer has a running back to help him anymore, that number is going to have to get a lot better fast. That doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon.
You may have had the misfortune of seeing last Thursday's "game" in which the Dolphins were beaten 40-0. That wasn't because Cutler was out with broken ribs, and it wasn't because Ajayi forgot the playbook. It was because the offensive line played offensively. Who saw that coming? I mean, it's not like the offensive line coach quit two weeks earlier after being caught doing cocaine and models. Oh, wait. Yes, it was exactly like that.
But that was just one game. Otherwise, the Dolphins' offense has been great! Not. The team is last in the league in points scored. It's also last in the league in yards gained. Normally, when a team is bad in all offensive categories, they'll fire the Offensive Coordinator. But the Dolphins can't do that, because the Offensive Coordinator is also the Head Coach. So bye-bye, Ajayi.
Adding insult to insult, the Dolphins were careful to belittle Ajayi on the way out the door. "He has a bad attitude and bad work habits. And, oh yeah, bad knees, too!" Stay classy, Miami! You really fleeced Philadelphia out of that 4th round pick.
There are 9 games left in the season, but at least the team still has Cutler! How the hell am I supposed to cheer for this dumpster fire?
(On a seemingly unrelated note: the initial 2017 NCAA College Football Playoff Rankings were also released yesterday, and the Georgia Bulldogs have jumped the Alabama Crimson Tide for first place. Whoo hoo! If the price I have to pay for a great Bulldogs team is a terrible Miami team, I'm in.)
DawgNation.com reports that last week UGA had to lower the cost of their season tickets for year two of the Kirby Smart era. When asked why such an unusual move was necessary, the UGA Associate Athletic Director for Tickets said "I don't know what the full cause is."
Hmm. I don't know what the "full cause" might be, either. Let's help out the AADfT and see if we can't go all Sherlock Holmes on this using a little inductive reasoning (also known as "what I learned in PHIL 110, Introduction to Logic").
Logical syllogism #1:
Fan enthusiasm wanes following bad seasons.2016 was a bad season.
Therefore, fan enthusiasm is down.
Despite what you may have read between the lines in my opening paragraph, I'm not going to blame Kirby Smart for decreased ticket demand. Not directly, anyway. Last year's very disappointing season is probably playing a role, but UGA has had other lackluster seasons without needing to discount tickets the following year (see: 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, etc.).
Logical syllogism #2:
Spectators do not want to pay to see games against weak teams.UGA's 2017 home schedule is full of weak teams.
Therefore, spectators do not want to pay to see UGA's 2017 home games.
Ugh! What a terrible home schedule UGA has put together for 2017. Home games against Appalachian State, Samford, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, and Kentucky — I'm not sure I want to pay to see most of those. If UGA can't win at least 5 of those games, it's time to get out of the SEC altogether.
Logical syllogism #3 (the important one):
Higher ticket prices result in fewer tickets sold.
UGA raised their football season ticket prices.
Therefore, UGA sold fewer tickets.
That's right, UGA raised their 2017 ticket prices a minimum of 10% over 2016 prices. Personally, I don't consider the new prices so bad because it's the first time they've raised the price in years, but I can't say that I'm surprised others have cut back, especially given other reasons listed above. Football tickets are a luxury expense, after all.
So there you go, Mr. AADfT. It's not going to do much to help you this year, but you might want to keep these things in mind before you set prices in the future. Even UGA fans don't want to have to pay a premium price for an inferior product.
Word on the street (or at least the word via the AJC) is that the Seiler family, owners of UGA's beloved Uga mascots, is looking to inject some fresh DNA into the winnowed Uga bloodline. Future Ugas should be smaller and look more like the bulldogs of yesteryear. Good for them. Our mascots have been getting far too heavy, and the breed has serious health issues that need to be addressed if it's going to survive into the 22nd century.
There are some other Bulldogs that could use some new blood, too. Greyson Lambert has officially been named as starting quarterback in today's season opener versus North Carolina. Coach Smart has been hinting at this heavily for months now, so it comes as no surprise. It's a shame that Smart hasn't learned from history.
Lambert, as all Bulldog faithful recall, was not spectacular last year. In fact, I blame Mark Richt's firing on his decision to waste a year on the arms of Lambert, Bauta, and Ramsey in anticipation of incoming wunderkind Jacob Eason. Richt learned the hard way that high expectations plus lackluster performance are a fast track to a pink slip.
Eason, Smart says, isn't ready to start yet. He's playing it safe, putting in the proven commodity. Lambert is experienced. If he wins, no big deal. He's also terrible. If he loses, no big deal. That's the kind of selfish coaching decision you like to see: no matter what happens in the game, coach can't lose. Yet another indication of just how much we've lost by ash-canning Richt.
Sink or swim, there's no time like the present to learn how to play the game. If Eason is as great as they've been saying, let's get him some game experience that counts at the start of the season when losses mean the least. When Bulldogs need new blood, procrastination isn't an option.
I was notified over Christmas dinner that Uga IX, aka Russ, died this week at the age of 11. What can you say to that? I settled for "Please pass the deviled eggs."
Why was it that whenever Mark Richt had a bad year, an Uga died? In 2009, Uga VII died after losses to Oklahoma State, LSU, Tennessee, and Florida. After the 2010 season, which Georgia finished 6-7, Uga VIII died of cancer. Despite wining nine games (with a bowl game still to go), 2015 was so disappointing, we said goodbye to both Richt and Uga IX.
(To be clear, Richt is still alive. At least I think he still is. No one said otherwise during dinner.)
Let's hope this tragic trend ends with Kirby Smart. May Uga X's reign be long and fruitful.
I'll have more to say about old dogs on Monday. In the meantime, I'm going to Florida. If it's going to be 80 degrees in December, I might as well be at the beach.
After the way the 2015 season has gone, I didn't think it was possible for the UGA coaches to outcoach anyone. I didn't account for the Georgia Southern staff.
After trying and failing to find anyone to accompany ("I'll be out of town" and "I'd rather spend time with my girlfriend" were common excuses), the only reason I went to this game alone was to see the seniors introduced and see Que officially named Uga X. I got to the stadium 17 minutes before kickoff, and I was too late. I should have just turned around and gone back home.
I suppose if you judge by the final score, it must have been a pretty good game. Some of the crowd seemed to enjoy it, especially the apparently 50,000 Georgia Southern fans in attendance. (The picture above was taken at the start of the 4th quarter when the fans turned on the lights on their cell phones in place of the usual "four finger" signal.) I did not. Greyson Lambert was his typically terrible self, and Georgia Southern only lost because... honestly, I'm not sure why.
Tied 17-17, the GaSo coach kicked a late punt in an obvious attempt to reach overtime. I guess he'd heard that his team was a 13-point underdog, and maybe he had placed money on his team covering the spread. His kicker had easily scored a field goal from the UGA 31 to take a lead in the 4th quarter, but after reaching the UGA 16 in overtime, he went for it with a "wildcat" run up the middle that was doomed to fail.
Why not kick to extend overtime? Typically, the answer is because underdog coaches feel they have to take a chance on the win rather than lose a protracted battle against a deeper team. However, that strategy only applies if you're playing catch-up (say, going for a two-point conversion as opposed to kicking). Maybe the GaSo players were out of gas. Maybe their kicker had broken his ankle. In overtime, if you can take a lead on your opponent, you should. Georgia Southern didn't and lost. All UGA had to do was kick a field goal on their first overtime play, and they would have won. The fact that they ran up the middle for a touchdown doesn't excuse the Georgia Southern decision. Bad strategy is bad strategy.
If only we could get the Georgia Southern coaches jobs at Florida.
So now Georgia has 8 wins on the season, and I couldn't care less. "There's always next year" they say. Here's to 2016.
Jets flew over the stadium before kickoff. Aaron Murray and AJ Green were in the stadium. The Bulldogs beat the Kentucky Wildcats 27 to 3. And I wasn't there to see any of it.
It wasn't that I had anything better to do; I just didn't care to go. From what I saw on television, I wasn't the only one. UGA played so poorly during the month of October that it may take a year before I have any interest in attending another game in person. Football is entertainment, and I have not been entertained.
The Bulldogs were completely embarrassed by Florida after having two weeks to prepare. That's a coaching failure that I cannot forgive. That the same coaching staff was able to manage a 24-point victory over a self-destructive Kentucky team with nothing on the line does nothing to restore my faith. The dogs have already lost to every rival they've played this season with Auburn and Georgia Tech yet to go. Neither of those teams has a winning record, and I'll still be shocked if this UGA team beats either one of them.
A national title is always a remote probability, but I agreed with most people who thought UGA would be good enough to win the SEC East. Were my expectations out of line with reality? Should I have expected that a Georgia team overflowing with recruiting talent wouldn't even show up for a game against Alabama? Should I have predicted the team would allow a mediocre Tennessee to mount a three touchdown comeback or fail to score a single touchdown against both Missouri and Florida? No, those would have been unreasonable expectations.
Perhaps it's time for Georgia fans to adjust their hopes downward. Maybe it's enough for those kids to earn scholarships and learn some life skills. Because they certainly aren't being taught how to win football games.
We left the season-opening University Louisiana Monroe/UGA football game with 9:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. But so did everyone else. The game was called after its second lightning delay with Georgia ahead, 14-51.
The first lightning delay was called at 8:35 remaining in the third (ULM 14, UGA 35), and the game wouldn't restart for another hour. Friend Randy and I took shelter in the stadium concourse while it rained. It was hard to tell how long it might last. Even in the middle of the heaviest downpour, Randy's WeatherBug® app insisted that there was a 0% chance of rain in Athens, GA.
The second delay was called completely unexpectedly during a period of sunny skies. The few of us left in the stadium watched as the two head coaches met on the 20-yard line. It was obvious to all of us what they must be talking about. Sure enough, they soon announced that the game was called. UGA win!
I've been a season ticket holder for over a decade, and this was the first time I've seen either a lightning delay or a called game. Just when you think you've seen everything....
(P.S. Today's game was also the unofficial debut of Uga X-elect, Que. I didn't know this before I arrived at the game, but when I saw that the mascot had no brown spot on his rump, I knew it wasn't Russ. I hope that the rest of Que's tenure produces many more games just as memorable.)
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While working, I tend to have the television on but the sound off. Occasionally, I look up and read the closed captioning to see if I'm missing anything. On Saturday night, I looked up and saw this:
That's Atlanta's "11 Alive" 11PM newscast referencing the Georgia Bulldogs' basketball opponents. It's a good things the Bulldogs won. It'd be embarrassing to lose to a bunch of "Florida Gay Toes" in Athens.
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"This is more fun when we win," Mom said. She was right.
The 2014 Belk Bowl game was exciting. The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead, then struggled to overcome the loss of senior quarterback Hutson Mason just before halftime. A small but enthusiastic crowd cheered the Dawgs over their hurdles as Nick Chubb ran for 266 yards on the way to a 37-14 shellacking of Louisville. (Gurley who?)
I'm sure it was a satisfying win for a lot of Georgians, who savored scoring so many points against former UGA coach Todd Grantham and also enjoyed crushing Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino. He was the man who walked out on the 2007 Atlanta Falcons in the midst of a disastrous 4-12 season. (He was later fired by the team that stole him away, the University of Arkansas, for getting caught in an adulterous affair with an employee.) It will never stop being satisfying to see him lose.
Charlotte was cold on December 30, 2014, but the city was welcoming and Bank of America stadium was very nice (besides a complete failure of signage instructing visitors how to get around outside the stadium). Two consecutive bowl games, two stadiums built for the 1995 NFL expansion teams. Mom thinks Charlotte's is nicer, but that may be because it rained on last year's trip to Jacksonville.
For the record, Mom jumped at the chance to visit Charlotte, home of her old alma mater, Queens University. She didn't graduate from Queens — that would come later at Georgia State University — but she still has a fondness for her first college. I can see why. It's a beautiful campus, if a bit small for my tastes. Where's the football stadium?
So that's two bowl games in one calendar year. I don't know if or when we'll head to another bowl game, but I enjoyed both that I went to in 2014.