Tag Archives: Florida Gators

Are the Georgia Bulldogs the Real Deal in 2013?

The Georgia Bulldogs had a ridiculous first month of the college football season. The Bulldogs opened the season against the top 10 Clemson Tigers. They took a loss in Death Valley and many analysts felt as if Aaron Murray could not win the big game. They had to come back the next week and take on another top 10 team in the South Carolina Gamecocks. This game was at home and the Bulldogs pulled out the victory. After a layup game versus North Texas the Bulldogs had to take on yet another top 10 team; this time it was the LSU Tigers. Another win between the hedges put Georgia at 3-1 to end one of the most difficult months in recent college football history. Does this mean that Georgia is the real deal?

Georgia’s Defense

Although the Georgia Bulldogs are 3-1 after the brutal September schedule I have not been impressed with their defense. They have given up 35, 30, 21 and 41 in four games. If they did not have a senior quarterback that has NFL talent there is no way they would have won three games. In fact, the SEC is known for defense yet this Georgia team is winning in shootouts. As long as Aaron Murray stays healthy the Bulldogs will be able to score but it may be the case that they run into a game in which they need to hold someone to win. If that is the case I don’t like the Bulldogs chances. Clemson and LSU walked up and down the field on Georgia. I would think that Alabama will be able to do the same thing. Until the Georgia defense gets better I cannot put them in the BCS National Title talk.

Now that the Georgia defense has survived a difficult first month I will be interested to see how they settle in during the easier part of the schedule. If they can put things together, stop the run and improve on their total yards given up this team could be very good. There is no argument to be made that the Georgia Bulldogs can score points. The only issue is if the Georgia Bulldogs can stop the other team from scoring points. Giving up over 21 points in all four games of the season, so far, is a cause for concern.

Georgia’s Offense

The shining star for the Georgia Bulldogs has been Aaron Murray. He will go down as the SEC’s most prolific passer after passing fellow Bulldog David Greene. Even though many have criticized Murray for not being able to win the big game he has now beaten a top 10 team twice in the same month. It is important to note that both of these games were at home. When Georgia plays between the hedges they seem to be a much different team. Even though they don’t have many extremely tough road games coming up they will still be challenged just because it is the SEC. Even the bottom half of the SEC causes problems when teams have to hit the road.

If Georgia is going to be a national title contender they need Aaron Murray to continue to be the quarterback he has been in the past month. A strong running game will only improve Murray’s game. One of Georgia’s strengths is their running game. An improved offensive line and rushing attack will make this a very potent offense. Before we make any long term predictions about the overall strength of the Georgia offense we will need to see how they play on the road. This week they go to Knoxville to play a Tennessee team that is not very good. If Georgia cannot score over 27 points on this Tennessee team in Neyland Stadium there might be some cause for concern. If Aaron Murray and the offense put up some huge points we might be talking about an SEC Championship game lock.

The SEC Championship Game

Just the other day I heard a few experts mention that Georgia was a shoe in for the SEC Championship game. Before we crown them SEC East Champions I want to see them go on the road and win some games. Playing at home is one thing but going on the road and winning in a hostile environment is another thing. Having a senior QB that will be the most prolific passer in SEC history sure helps when it comes to winning big time road games. That said, there are still some that are worried about the Bulldogs defense. If the Bulldogs defense cannot stop anyone at home how are they going to stop anyone on the road. A few road trips will help us make a much better assessment of this team. Right now, they definitely deserve to be in the top 10 but I would not give them the SEC East title just yet.

Florida and South Carolina are not playing their best football right now but anything can happen in the SEC. We have learned this over the past several years. Florida often gets better as the season goes on. If Florida can get on a roll they may end up beating Georgia in Jacksonville and heading into the SEC Championship. Some people discounted Florida solely because they lost their starting QB for the year. If the Florida defense plays as good as most people think they can they will be able to compete with any team in the country by shortening the game.

There are very few teams that have the ability to shorten the game in college football these days. Alabama had to score 49 to beat Texas A&M and Oregon scores 60 points a game. If the Florida defense can slow down the opposition’s offense and Florida can run the ball this might be a way to win some ugly games. Georgia has proven they cannot stop anybody. With this being the case Florida may be able to run it right down their throat, every single play, until Georgia does something to stop them. If Georgia decides to bring up the safeties and put more men in the box we will see Florida go over the top for some long gains. This is old school football that has worked for the last century. Whether or not Florida will be able to run the ball right at Georgia, Texas A&M or Alabama has yet to be seen.

Running the Ball in the SEC

Anyone that has read my columns or talked college football with me knows that I feel as if some teams can run the football and stop the run to win a national championship. There are a few teams that can install a new offense that scores a ton of points to win games but these programs are few and far between. The teams that can play old school, smash mouth football tend to be the traditional schools like Texas, Alabama, Florida and LSU. The teams that want to toss the ball all over the field and score points are Oregon, Louisville and Texas Tech. Interestingly, the high scoring offenses seem to do very well in the regular season but they do not do so well when a big game is on the line. Oregon has won BCS Bowl Games but they have not won a National Championship game.

Texas A&M scores tons of points but they struggle when they are in a big game against a team with an excellent defense. Ultimately, the teams that run the ball straight at Texas A&M often end up beating them. Texas A&M scores very quickly which means their defense will be on the field much more than their offense. This can cause fatigue for the defense and when they need a stop they just don’t have the energy. I have seen this time and again with Oregon and Texas Tech. When a defense doesn’t have time to rest they are going to be a little bit lazy when they are on the field.

I can remember watching the early 2000s Texas Tech teams score 50 and 60 points a game. They would win nine or 10 games a year but they could never beat Texas or Oklahoma. Teams that ran the ball straight at them ended up tiring out the defense. As soon as the Texas Tech offense got on the field they would try to score as quickly as possible. Even if they were successful scoring it did not allow their defense to get any rest. This is a recipe for disaster and injuries. Some coaches have learned they need to learn to slow down and run the ball. In the SEC it is almost always the case that the team that runs the ball better ends up winning the game. If Georgia can run the ball very well, control the clock and stop the run they will be a contender for the 2013 BCS National Championship.

Who is the favorite to go to the 2014 BCS Championship?

Crimson Tide Vs LSU Tigers

Tide Vs Tigers face off on Nov 9th.

Following their defeat of the Texas A & M Aggies in College Station the Alabama Crimson Tide are again odds on favorites to finish number one in the country and represent the SEC in the BCS title game in Pasadena on January 6th. A title game appearance by the Tide would be their fourth in five years. Under Nick Saban they are a perfect 3-0 in title games. Alabama’s remaining schedule is conducive to a potential undefeated season, but is not without pitfalls. Here’s a look at the three remaining matchups that could blemish Alabama’s potentially undefeated season.

Saturday, November 9th versus LSU: The Tigers and Crimson Tide have formed a tremendous rivalry over the past five years with the annual matchup typically deciding the SEC West. Les Miles and his staff have their typical roster full of future athletic players, with the offense again being the big question mark. Since LSU defeated Alabama 9-6 two years ago the Tigers have struggled offensively versus Alabama, including a whitewashing in the 2011 title game. Zach Mettenberger has been efficient and protected the football this season and the Tigers have a stud running back in Jeremy Hill. LSU will be entering a tough environment in Tuscaloosa, but if Mettenberger can limit his turnovers the Tigers defense should make it a close game.

Saturday, November 30th at Auburn: The annual Iron Bowl should be a closer contest this season with Gus Malzahn in at head coach of the Tigers. Auburn has their usual talented roster but had perhaps the worst head coach in all of college football the past few years in Gene Chizik. Malzahn is an elite offensive mind and the Tigers offense should continue to improve all season. The big question is the defense, a unit that has struggled in early season non-conference play at times. After falling behind quickly in a tough environment at LSU the Tigers rebounded and made the game respectable, showing a grit they lacked last season.

 SEC Championship Game

SEC Championship Trophy


SEC Championship Game: If the Tide can navigate the regular season undefeated they’ll face a tough opponent in the SEC championship game. The trio of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida all could stiff competition for Alabama, especially if Georgia wins the right to represent the SEC East in the title game in Atlanta. All three teams present unique challenges to the Crimson Tide. Under quarterback Andy Murray and running back Todd Gurley the Georgia Bulldogs have a high powered offense that put big numbers on the board versus Clemson and South Carolina and should be able to move the ball versus the Tide. The question mark for Georgia is their young defense, although they are a talented bunch that will have a full regular season behind them by the time they reach the SEC title game.

South Carolina is playing from behind after a loss to Georgia, but are a well coached and talented bunch that could very well run the rest of their schedule undefeated. They have a versatile dual threat quarterback in Connor Shaw and a game-breaking running back in Mike Davis. The defense is led by Jadeveon Clowney, the odds on number one overall pick in next spring’s NFL draft. If the Gamecocks can reach the SEC title game they may give the Crimson Tide their toughest opponent.

Due to their struggles at quarterback the Florida Gators may be a longshot to reach the SEC title game, but have a deep roster with an elite defense. If the offense can get sorted out in conference play the Gators have the depth of talent on defense to give the Bama offense fits. Unfortunately for the Gators their schedule is brutal with trips to LSU and South Carolina. They get the Georgia Bulldogs at home in their traditional rivalry game, aka “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party”.

Alabama’s remaining schedule is highly favorable to an undefeated regular season and a return to the BCS Title game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. They’ll receive tough opposition from LSU on November 9th and in the SEC title game, but the odds are Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will be back in the BCS Title game on January 6th. By:Chris Michaels

College Football Midseason Report

Halfway into the 2012 college football season, let’s take a look at some of the big surprises, some not-so-surprises, and biggest flops yet so far. After winning a national title and losing four players to the first round of the NFL Draft, Alabama was thought by many to have lost just a little too much to continue their dominance. At the midpoint of the season, the Tide is clearly the best team in the country with a bruising running game, solid QB play from A.J. McCarron, and the nation’s best defense.

Surprisingly, the Florida Gators are not far behind and are looking to make a run through the SEC East in order to take the Tide for the SEC title come December. Coach Will Muschamp, in just his second year, has brought the Gators back into the national title picture with a strong dose of RB Mike Gillislee and what may be the nation’s second-best defense. In a 44-11 blowout win over then No. 7-ranked South Carolina, it was the Florida defense and special teams that forced four turnovers. The Gators are already 5-0 in SEC play, with three of those wins coming on the road against ranked opponents.

Notre Dame (6-0) surely has surprised many sweeping Big Ten rivals Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue, then destroying Miami and beating a very good Stanford team in overtime. And the Irish did all of this with some pretty shaky quarterback play. The Irish still have two big tests remaining on their schedule (Oklahoma, USC), but could find themselves in the thick of the BCS championship picture at season’s end.

Maybe the two biggest surprises are Oregon State and Kansas State. Both are unbeaten, but the Beavers are coming off a disastrous 3-0 campaign a year ago. So far, they have beaten Wisconsin, hammered BYU and have destroyed three Pac-12 opponents. Kansas State, which has always been good under Bill Snyder, has just been phenomenal. Quarterback Collin Klein may be the nation’s best player and the Wildcats play great defense and just don’t make many mistakes. KSU still has some big games remaining, but they are another team that could find themselves in that BCS title picture should they win out.

On the other end of the college football stratosphere is Auburn. Just two years removed from a national championship, head coach Gene Chizik finds his Tigers sitting at 1-5 with one of the country’s worst offenses. Their QB play has been horrendous and the Tigers may have trouble winning another game this season.

Right beside Chizik is John L. Smith at Arkansas. The Hogs were ranked in the preseason Top Ten and after former coach Bobby Petrino’s bout with motorcycle mayhem cost him his job, Smith walked in ready to ride Petrino’s wave to an SEC title. Five weeks into the season, Arkansas stood at 1-4 losing to mid-major Louisiana-Monroe, then getting trounced at home by Alabama the following week. The Hogs are now 3-4 with consecutive wins over Auburn and Kentucky, neither of which is very good.
With the recent success of school’s like Michigan State and Wisconsin, and even Michigan’s 11-2 season a year ago, one would have thought that the Big Ten might rival the SEC for college football dominance. Not so. Michigan and Wisconsin each have two losses thus far and Michigan State sits at 4-4 going into the ninth week of the season. Northwestern has been a surprise, rattling off six straight wins to start the season, but from top to bottom, the conference is nowhere near the SEC or even the Big 12.

With another eight weeks to go, there is still plenty of football left. What remains to be seen is how the BCS title picture plays out and, who will move to the forefront in the race for the Heisman Trophy.

How the BCS Top Ten Fared Last Weekend

NCAA College Football Showdown Saturday did not disappoint as the weekend was full of quality match-ups, including a Top Ten battle in Gainesville. The No. 2-ranked Florida Gators proved they are worthy of their lofty BCS ranking clearly outplaying No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks in a 44-11 victory. The Florida defense and special teams forced four Gamecock turnovers, three of which Gator QB Jeff Driskell turned into touchdown passes. Driskell, who continues to improve, threw for four touchdowns. Both Florida and SC played outstanding defense. The Gators managed just 183 total yards, becoming the first FBS team in history to score over 40 points without gaining 200 yards of total offense.

Alabama Crimsontide, ranked No. 1 in the BCS, had little trouble with Tennessee in a 44-13 win. Tide QB A.J. McCarron threw for a career-high 306 yards and four touchdowns. The vaunted ‘Bama defense gave up just 79 yards rushing to the Vols and held Tyler Bray, the highly touted Vols’ QB, to 184 yards on 13-of-27 passing and no touchdowns.

Prior to Saturday’s lineup feast, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks traveled to Arizona State and dismantled any hopes of an upset in the first 15 minutes of play en route to a 43-21 win over the Sun Devils. ASU scored on its first play, a 28-yard pass from Taylor Kelly to Kevin Ozier, to jump out to a 7-0 lead just 49 seconds into the game. The Ducks countered with a Kenjon Barner 71-yard run and two Marcus Mariota touchdown passes to take a 22-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Barner would run for two more scores and Mariota, an 86-yard run, as the Ducks built a 43-7 halftime lead.

In somewhat of a surprise, head coach Bill Snyder’s No.4 Kansas State Wildcats went to Morgantown and made it look easy against Geno Smith and West Virginia as Wildcat QB Collin Klein accounted for seven touchdowns in a 55-14 thrashing of the No. 13 Mountaineers. Klein established himself as a legitimate Heisman favorite with a career-high 323 passing yards, completing 19-of-21 passes, three touchdowns, and added 41 yards on the ground and four scores.

No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish remained unbeaten fighting off a 14-7 halftime deficit to defeat Brigham Young, 17-14. The Irish rolled up 270 yards on the ground and George Atkinson III scored on a two-yard run early in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Running backs Theo Riddick (15 carries, 143 yards) and Cierre Wood (18-114) led the way for ND. Irish QB Tommy Rees, playing in place of the injured Everett Golson, completed six of his first seven passes, then only attempted three in the entire second half. Notre Dame’s defense limited BYU to just 66 yards on the ground.

After falling behind 12-0, No. 6 LSU scored 24 unanswered points and downed No. 18 Texas A&M, 24-19, in College Station. The Tigers started ugly but were able to gain some momentum going into the halftime break when Zach Mettenberger hit Kadron Boone with a 29-yard TD pass with 11 seconds to go to give LSU the lead for good at 14-12. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M’s dynamic freshman QB, was held to just 27 yards rushing on 17 carries and was intercepted three times. LSU RB Jeremy Hill ran for a career-high 127 yards on 18 carries and scored once.

The surprising Oregon State Beavers, ranked No. 8 in last week’s BCS poll, took care of Pac-12 opponent, Utah, 21-7. OSU forced four Utah turnovers and Beavers’ RB Storm Woods rushed for three touchdowns. Oregon State is 6-0 and off to the school’s best start in 105 years after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North this preseason.

Oklahoma got ready for its showdown next weekend with Notre Dame by handing Kansas a 52-7 setback. The No. 9 Sooners were hardly challenged by coach Charlie Weis’ Jayhawks. Sooner QB Landry Jones threw for three touchdowns and Penn State transfer Justin Brown returned a punt 90 yards for a TD. OU has now won three consecutive games by at least three touchdowns.

It was a record-breaking day at USC Trojans as QB Matt Barkley threw three touchdown passes in the game’s first six minutes as the Trojans, BCS No. 10, beat Colorado, 50-6. Barkley’s second TD pass, a 39-yarder to Robert Woods, broke former Trojan QB Matt Leinart’s Pac-12 career touchdown passing mark. Barkley finished the day 19-of-20 for 298 yards and six touchdowns, giving him 102 TD passes for his career.

Can Anyone Beat Alabama?

Can Anyone Beat Alabama?

Can Anyone Beat Alabama?

Just three weeks into the season and already the questions are buzzing around. How good are the Alabama Crimson Tide? Can they be beaten? Head coach Nick Saban is the master of minimizing the probability of losing. It’s very simple, really. Don’t turn the ball over, force turnovers on defense, run the football aggressively using zone and power run schemes, and pass out of play action, which are safer throws for the quarterback.

Is there anyone on the schedule that can defeat the Crimson Tide? Well, they all have the opportunity to beat them, but talking and doing are two very different things. How in the world can anyone win against Alabama?

Alabama has a far superior defense (giving up just 4.6 points and 58 rushing yards per game) than most. To beat it, a team will have to find an advantage that slows ‘Bama down play after play. Western Kentucky, for example, used a variety of shifts and motions to get some type of advantage by formation (didn’t work that well as they were crushed 35-0 by the Tide in week two).

An opponent must play within their system to beat Alabama. If you are a power running football team, you must stick to it and not try and become a spread offense in a week. It won’t work. And, while you’re at it, do not turn the ball over. One turnover and Saban’s troops will make you pay.

The Alabama offense is notorious for its power running game that uses zone and power runs. The offensive line is big, fast, and just plain good. And, ‘Bama has a slew of running backs that will just keep pounding on a defense. The running game sets up a very good play-action passing game where QB A.J. McCarron is very effective at making all the necessary throws. In order to beat this offense, an opponent’s defense has to sell out and take away what the offense does best. In this case, do whatever it takes to stop the run! Then you pray that the passing game doesn’t beat you.

A ‘Bama opponent can gain some knowledge by looking at some of the Tide’s past failures. For example, in wins over Florida and Tennessee last year, Saban was livid late in those games when both the Florida Gators and the Vols used a two-tight end formation and his defense could not get aligned correctly. The result? Florida and Tennessee were able to move the ball against the Tide, albeit versus mostly second- and third-teamers. Interestingly, both Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Tennessee head man Derek Dooley coached under Saban at some point.

If you plan on beating Alabama, you must have a head coach who is well-schooled in the art of JEDI mind tricks. You know, the type of narrative that Lou Holtz would deliver before his Fighting Irish would take on Navy or Rice. “I just don’t know how we’re going to beat them,” Holtz would say to reporters. If your coach can encourage that the team is outmanned and there is no way that it can win, you may have a shot.

Finally, what team has ever won without believing it could? To beat the best, which Alabama can surely lay claim to, you must believe that you can (whether you can or not). There weren’t many who believed that a bunch of amateurs could beat the world’s best in Olympic ice hockey back in 1980. But a group of young Americans and their coach believed…and they won, defeating the powerful Russian team on their way to a gold medal.

Looking at the Tide’s schedule, there is really only one opponent that has what it takes to defeat Alabama. Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina are not on the schedule this year and while Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas A&M are improving, they are not yet ready to compete with Alabama. And there will be the big rivalry game with Auburn on Thanksgiving weekend, but the Tigers have struggled in the first three weeks of the season.

Only the LSU Tigers, which was Alabama’s only blemish in the national championship run a year ago, has what it takes to beat the Tide. The Tigers have a defense capable of taking away ‘Bama’s running game. They will find advantages and benefit from past Alabama failures, and they will believe they can win…they’ve done it before. LSU will not attempt any drastic changes and coach Les Miles will stick to what he does best. Plus, Miles will work wonders in the media as he and Saban offer up their best versions of the JEDI mind tricks.

Can anyone beat Alabama? It remains to be seen. The Tide have another “tune-up” game with Florida Atlantic before getting into the SEC schedule. November 3rd is the date with the LSU and Saban’s squad will have to travel to Baton Rouge. If anyone can beat Alabama, LSU will have the best shot on the first Saturday night in November.

Dream of Playing in the NFL Not For Everyone

Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, and the rest of the 2012 NFL Draft Class now have the opportunity that many of them dreamed about their entire lives–fame and fortune. Griffin even had another year of collegiate eligibility, but passed it up for the chance to earn millions and, who knows, maybe even win a Super Bowl someday.

Believe it or not, there are some college football players who have said, “No,” to the NFL dream. Players who had passed all the tests and had the talent to compete at the next level chose to do something else. Hard for layperson to swallow, but for Andrew Sweat, Jeff Demps, Albert Rocker, and Jacob Hickman, their choices were easy.

Hickman started 36 straight games at center for the University of Nebraska, a school notorious for developing the nation’s best offensive linemen. After his senior season in 2009, Hickman was invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis where the top prospects in the country are put through a battery of tests to determine their draft status. Hickman declined the invitation.

“I had a great experience,” Hickman said. “I didn’t feel the need to continue playing. It just didn’t feel like it’s what I wanted to do with my life.”

Injuries played a part in Hickman’s decision. The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has 14 screws and two metal plates piecing together his body as well some early arthritis. He was projected to be No. 10 center taken in the draft in 2010. Instead he chose to use his degree in construction management and the opportunity to chase his future kids around when the time comes.

College football fans will remember Jeff Demps and how dangerous he was for opposing defenses every time he stepped on the field for the University of Florida Gators. Demps was a running back and kick returner for the Gators whose speed led him to choose the track over the fortunes of the NFL.

Demps is on a quest to make the U.S. Olympic track team. After rushing for 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns in his four-year career on the football field, Demps passed on the college all-star games and the NFL draft workouts in order to compete on the Florida track team. Demps is a four-time national champion on the track and holds the junior world record in the 100 meters (10.01) which he ran at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.

The Gator star could still return to football at some point, but even if he fails to make the US Olympic team this year, there is still a lucrative career ahead of him on the world track & field circuit.

Albert Rocker is not very well-known across the college football land. But, at Microsoft…well, that’s a different story.

Rocker was an outside linebacker for Georgia Tech, playing in a total of 38 games, all 13 games during his junior year in 2010, and was set to be the starter for the upcoming 2011 season, his senior campaign.

Rocker had decided that he was going to be a success; he was going to be successful in business or he was going to the NFL for a successful career. He approached both with tenacity. His days often started at 4:30 AM and ended well after 11:00 PM. There were football workouts and there were long hours spent hitting the books.

His drive paid off. Rocker attended a career fair where a former Georgia Tech alum passed on Rocker’s resume to a Microsoft recruiter. Ultimately, Rocker skipped his senior season to accept a job as a technical account manager with Microsoft in Irvine, CA.

“Your future’s not really secure in anything, but it’s a gamble as far as the NFL goes,” said Rocker. “I felt like I had to do what would be better for me in the long run.”

Andrew Sweat had to make the choice that would benefit him the most in the long run also. It was much easier after he slipped in the shower and hit his head.

Sweat started his junior and senior seasons at LB for Ohio State earning Academic All-Big Ten honors three times and was a four-time OSU Scholar-Athlete award winner. He was hoping the phone might ring during April’s NFL Draft, but that didn’t happen. But, when the Cleveland Browns called and offered a free-agent contract, Sweat had realized his dream.

After reporting the Browns, Sweat was staying at the team hotel and just hours before his first official workout with the team, slipped, fell, and hit his head in the shower. Sweat had suffered three concussions while playing for the Buckeyes the most recent midway through his senior year.

When the concussion symptoms returned after the shower mishap, Sweat made a decision. He is going to law school. Sweat graduated from OSU with a degree in finance and was accepted into five different law schools. Instead of choosing his Cleveland Browns uniform number, Sweat will be deciding on which law school to attend.

While the fame and fortune of the NFL is enticing, most will never have the opportunity. And for some that do get that opportunity, the fame and fortune just isn’t enough. For some, the choice is something other that football.