Road Hog South Carolina fan photos • Arkansas scouting report • Kevin Butler’s players of the week
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BU L L D AWG Issue 8 - Arkansas
From the Editor Well the good news is that our Dawgs are now in the winner’s circle as the marathon night contest against South Carolina came to an end with the good guys doing the celebrating. It will go down as one of the longest and wildest games in recent memory. You name it, that one certainly had it. A safety, a blocked extra point, a fake punt and dozens of big plays including a kick return taken to the house and a pick-six interception. And while it would be nice to hinge on the old saying that a win is a win, I simply can’t go that far. Yes I’m very proud that our young team earned some battle stripes on Saturday night that will most definitely go a long way for the remainder of this season and beyond. But I do worry about a team that is ranked 11 or 12th in the majority of the SEC stats after its first two games. Here are just a few: Scoring offense, 11th in the league.
Scoring defense, 12th in the league. Total offense, 12th in the league. Total defense, 11th in the league. Now as Jeff Dantzler pointed out to me those stats are somewhat misleading as many SEC teams open their season with far-lesser teams. Let’s hope that is the case and in the coming weeks our Dawgs will find themselves out of the SEC cellar as far as stats go. For now, they are 1-0 in the conference and have the ability to keep that positive momentum as they travel to Fayetteville this weekend. However I don’t think they can count on getting very many more wins when losing time of possession by almost 10 minutes and running 30 less total plays than their opponent. Like I said, it was a wild one. Major kudos must go to players like Brandon Boykin, Branden Smith, A.J. Green, Joe Cox and Rennie Curran. These guys refused to give in when things could have gotten very ugly against the Gamecocks. Here’s to hoping that Coach Richt and his staff hit the ground running this week. There’s plenty of room for improvement. That’s for sure. But if somehow the team can travel halfway across the country again with a victory against the Hogs, then the coming weeks set up nicely with home games against Arizona State and LSU. Speaking of home games, major
props must go to the electricity supplied by the Bulldog Nation on Saturday night. Sanford Stadium was rocking from the opening warm-ups until the game’s final whistle. Like I said, it was a wild one. That about does it for me. Like everyone who bleeds red and black I’m in need of some serious rest if I’m going to make the trip to Fayetteville. Please enjoy this issue of BI. This time out, we spotlight one of my most favorite Dawgs, senior defensive end, Rod Battle. Unfortunately, the news today wasn’t good for Rod. His career at Georgia came to an end with a knee injury. I was lucky enough to get to know Rod a little this summer when he shadowed me because he has an interest in sports marketing and promotions. There’s not a more likeable guy and where as I know he is crushed not to be on the field, I have no doubt that his leadership will continue on the sidelines. Who knows he might even convince our coaching staff not to throw the ball on first down with a lead in the fourth quarter. Sorry I couldn’t resist that one. We’re behind you Dawgs. Keep playing with that determination that got the victory against South Carolina. Magic is still attainable in 2009. FYI … 47 days until kickoff in Jacksonville! — Vance Leavy
SWEEPSTAKES SWEEPST TA TA AK KES
WINNERS ISSU ISSUE UE #8
4 Controling the state a must
14 Kevin Butler’s player of the game
Jeff Dantzler reminds everyone the importance of getting the peach state’s best players.
Former Dawg great names Boykin, Smith and Curran as his top players from the South Carolina game.
5 Georgia-South Carolina fan photos
15 Jeff Dantzler’s Top 25
The season officially begun in Athens with the first home game. The BI camera was everywhere capturing it.
Georgia Tech at number 5 ... what is the world coming to?.
8 Georgia-Arkansas preview Get ready for the Dogs and the Hogs.
Although his season has ended on the playing field, Battle’s leadership can continue on the sidelines.
11 Bulldogs first-rounders legendary
22 Gruff and Grump
Murray Poole takes a look at former Georgia players who went high in the NFL draft.
They will take the win, but these two are still in search for much more from the clip boards.
Publisher Cha Cha Cha Publishing Editor Vance Leavy Editorial & Ad Director Cheri Leavy Sports Editor Jeff Dantzler
Public Relations Director Andrew Miller Sales & Marketing Kelley Blanton Austin Keeble Andrew Miller Holly Stanfill
21 Dawg leader: Rod Battle
Sports Murray Poole Layout/Design Vance Leavy Student Interns Mary Boyce Hicks Ryan Scates
Ad Design Cheri Leavy Andrew Miller Tech Support Chris Lee Cover Design Vance Leavy
Columnists Carlton DeVooght Al Hickson Reg Murphy Eddie Roche Rob Sherrell Chad White Web Maven Cheri Leavy Issue 8 - Arkansas September 15, 2009 - Credits: Chris Collins Photography, Georgia Sports Communications, SEC Sports.com
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Controling the state a must in recruiting Georgia has enjoyed tremendous success, winning at least eight games in each of the past 12 seasons, highlighted by a pair of Southeastern Conference championships and a No. 2 national finish in 2007. The last two recruiting classes and what Georgia has in the fryer, combined with much more manageable schedules lead to great hope for 2010 and 2011. As long as Mark Richt as at the helm, there is reason for hope. But the Bulldogs talent level has been down a bit. The Bulldogs havenâ€™t had a first round draft choice off the defensive side of the ball since April of 2006. Between the drafts of â€™06 and â€™08, the Dogs had just four players taken in the first three rounds of that trio of drafts. Georgia had its first quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since John Rauch following the 1948 season. The Bulldogs had their first tailback taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since Robert Edwards following the 1997 season. And the Dogs lost one of the best receivers in school history. Meanwhile, Florida, Alabama and Tech are roaring. Ron Zook, Mike Shula and Chan Gailey are gone. Urban Meyer, Nick Saban and Paul Johnson have raised the bar. Georgia fans who have spoken with such hope of the â€œteam conceptâ€? of 2009 are being smacked in the face with the reality that Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford and Mohammed Massaquoi masked deficiencies There is an All Points Bulletin out for standout prospects to come to school and play football at the University of Georgia â€“ especially those from the Peach State. When Georgia controls the state in recruiting, the Bulldogs compete for the Southeastern Conference championship and the highest of national honors. And the Bulldogs are off to a very good start on the recruiting trail for 2010. In the Bulldogs thrilling 41-37 victory over South Carolina, what was most promising were the big plays made by a host of talented underclassmen. After the season-opening loss to Oklahoma State, A.J. Green was the lone Georgia offensive player who struck fear into opposing defenses. But in the win over South Carolina, freshman Branden Smith and sophomore Brandon Boykin both scored on electric long touchdowns that energized the raucous Sanford Stadium throng. Freshman tight end Orson Charles continued to show a knack for getting open. And Richard Samuel runs hard, getting stronger as the game goes along the more carries he gets. The Southeastern Conference and this schedule is so tough and challenging, that the Bulldogs will have to be able to rip off big yardage plays, score long touchdowns and make game-changing plays. It was a great night between the hedges and a wonderful win, but a championship run in 2009 is a stretch. Georgia scored 10 points against a team
that gave up 45 to Houston. Georgia gave up 37 points to a team that scored seven at North Carolina State. Three things have stacked the deck against the Dogs of 2009. 1. What Georgia lost off of last yearâ€™s team. 2. The schedule. 3. Florida â€“ in case you werenâ€™t aware, the Gators return Tim Tebow and their entire two-deep off of last seasonâ€™s national championship squad. And when it comes to ailments personally, I like to take all of my shots from the doctor in the same day. Itâ€™s an affect similar to 2006, when the Dogs lost to Vandy and Kentucky in the same season. My buddy Rob made a great point. â€œWeâ€™re going to lose to Vandy and Kentucky once every ten years, so it might as well happen in the same year.â€? This is a house money season, one that became a lot more promising â€“ for the â€™09 campaign and the program â€“ with the explosive performances from Georgiaâ€™s youngsters against South Carolina. The Bulldogs can come back, and in a hurry. And thereâ€™s a quick solution. Get back to controlling the state and nabbing the best players out of it. Eric Berry, Morgan Burnett, Johnathan Dwyer, Eric Norwood and new edition Greg Reid â€“ take any of those three, and put them in the red and black, and Georgia is right there fighting for a spot in the top five nationally. In the most recent draft, 13 players from the state of Georgia were picked. Three went to Georgia, two of whom were junior college players. There were 86 NFL players from the state of Georgia last year, 25 played for the Bulldogs. Like Florida and LSU, the Bulldogs are blessed with playing in a state loaded with high school talent, so much so, that these programs can live almost exclusively off of the best players from within their borders. Ohio State and Oklahoma, who have combined to play in seven BCS Championship Games in the 2000s. Both have gone through 8-4 seasons after earning title tilt berths. And they play in leagues that donâ€™t offer near the weekly challenges of the SEC. Both have returned to BCS Championship Games after â€œsufferingâ€? through those 8-4 campaigns. The program is in good hands. Mark Richt is one of college footballâ€™s best coaches, but so are the ones at Florida, Alabama and Tech. Georgia will return eight to nine offensive starters, six to seven on defense and both kickers in 2010. If an heir apparent emerges at quarterback and big play perimeter threats step to the forefront, the Bulldogs will have a much better shot at the SEC title, as the schedule softens and the Gators will lose a lot of talent. Donâ€™t throw dirt on the 2009 season. Beating Auburn and Tech would be huge for the program and mean that the Bulldogs will have a good football team at the end of the year.
The Bulldogs havenâ€™t had a first round draft choice off the defensive side of the ball since April of 2006. Between the drafts of 06 and 08 the Dogs had just four players taken in the first three rounds of that trio of drafts.
Georgia 41 South Carolina 37
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By Jeff Dantzler BULLDAWG ILLUSTRATED Arkansas and Georgia experienced extremely different first two weeks of the season. While the Razorbacks were tuning up for the Bulldogs with Missouri State and an open date, Georgia was slugging it out in emotional, physical contests with Oklahoma State and South Carolina. Now the question is, will the speed of the game negatively affect Arkansas, as the Razorbacks, be it in practice or against Missouri State, haven’t gotten a taste of what will go on Saturday? Or, is a rested Razorback squad, which has essentially been focused on Georgia since closing the 2008 campaign with a win over defending national champion LSU, going to be aided by fresher legs – even at this early point of the season? Bobby Petrino caused quite a stir, when he left the Atlanta Falcons under the cover of night to take the Arkansas job. Taking over for Houston Nutt, Petrino took over a program that lost a lot of talent, including all-time great tailback Darren McFadden, a two time Heisman Trophy runner up. The Razorbacks struggled mightily, barely beating Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. Arkansas got crushed by Texas, Alabama and Florida, and looked as though the Razorbacks would have a hard time winning another game. The Razorbacks then got a spark. Arkansas upset Auburn, then lost by one and two to Kentucky and Ole Miss. After beating Tulsa, the Hogs fell at South Carolina and Mississippi State, but then pulled it together for the big 31-30 victory over the Bayou Bengals. It was a signature victory for Petrino and amped up what was already a palpable excitement level with the arrival of highly touted Michigan transfer quarterback Ryan Mallett. An offensive backfield that was a huge question mark last year is a strength for the Razorbacks in 2009. Tiny, but elusive tailback Michael Smith, all of 5-7, 176, topped the 1,000 yard mark a year ago and is one of the Southeastern Conference elite returning runners. Mallett, at 6-7, 250, was a five star blue chip recruit, who didn’t mesh with Rich Rodriguez’s Maize and Blue spread offense. Georgia won a thriller from South Carolina and the Bulldogs were hit by elation and relief. Question marks still abound, but Georgia showed a big play ability that was severely lacking in the season opening loss in Stillwater. It’s been an interesting series between the Bulldogs and Razorbacks. Arkansas won the first two meetings in the 1969 Sugar Bowl and 1976 Cotton. Georgia secured bowl victories – though not major ones - over the Razorbacks in the 1987 Liberty and 1991 Independence. Arkansas joined the SEC the following year and Georgia won 27-3 in Fayetteville. The Bulldogs were woeful and lackluster in a 1993 loss to Arkansas in Sanford Stadium. Since then, Georgia has won five straight in the series, including a resounding 30-3 victory in the 2002 SEC Championship Game. The Dogs are a perfect 3-0 in Fayetteville and seeking a 2-0 start to SEC play. Here are some key match-ups that will largely determine the outcome in Arkansas:
Georgia’s offensive line vs. Arkansas Front The Bulldogs have a big size advantage up front. Arkansas has an experienced, quick defensive line, returning all four starters. If Georgia can push the Hogs and run with power on the shoulders of Richard Samuel, that should open up big play opportunities for the Bulldogs on the perimeter. Due to the nature of the game, including turnovers and long kickoff returns, Georgia ran only 53 plays compared to South Carolina’s 83 in the Bulldogs squeaker of a victory. But when the Bulldogs needed points and to eat up clock, the offensive line led the way on a touchdown drive to start the second half and field goal march late in the fourth quarter to increase the lead over the Gamecocks to four points.
Georgia’s linebackers vs. Michael Smith Arkansas’s star tailback is not a bruiser, but the 5-7, 176 quickster can hide behind those big offensive linemen, find a seam or hole, and blister a defense. With Ryan Mallett giving the Arkansas passing game credibility, Smith becomes even more dangerous, though he will likely get fewer touches. Georgia’s linebackers, led by All-SEC junior Rennie Curran will have to be at the top of their games. Marcus Dowtin, a sophomore, is making strides and teaming with Curran and junior Darryl Gamble to give Georgia a good first group of ‘backers. Georgia’s defensive ends vs. Arkansas offensive tackles Redshirt freshman Cornelius Washington of Waynesboro got Georgia’s first sack of the season in the win over South Carolina. The Bulldogs welcome back sophomore Justin Houston of Statesboro from suspension. Georgia will need the energy and athleticism from both to further bolster and strengthen a major question mark. If Arkansas’s offensive tackles can handle the Bulldogs on the edge and give Mallett time to throw, Georgia’s secondary will be in trouble.
ARKANSAS 1-0, 0-0 SEC
GEORGIA 1-1, 1-0 SEC TEAM STATISTICS SCORING Points Per Game FIRST DOWNS Rushing Passing Penalty RUSHING YARDAGE Yards gained rushing Yards lost rushing Rushing Attempts Average Per Rush Average Per Game TDs Rushing PASSING YARDAGE Comp-Att-Int Average Per Pass Average Per Catch Average Per Game TDs Passing TOTAL OFFENSE Total Plays Average Per Play Average Per Game KICK RETURNS: #-Yards PUNT RETURNS: #-Yards INT RETURNS: #-Yards KICK RETURN AVERAGE PUNT RETURN AVERAGE INT RETURN AVERAGE FUMBLES-LOST PENALTIES-Yards Average Per Game PUNTS-Yards Average Per Punt Net punt average TIME OF POSSESSION/Game 3RD-DOWN Conversions 3rd-Down Pct 4TH-DOWN Conversions 4th-Down Pct SACKS BY-Yards MISC YARDS TOUCHDOWNS SCORED FIELD GOALS-ATTEMPTS ON-SIDE KICKS RED-ZONE SCORES RED-ZONE TOUCHDOWNS PAT-ATTEMPTS
UG 51 25.5 32 11 16 5 202 272 70 59 3.4 101.0 2 363 32-54-2 6.7 11.3 181.5 3 565 113 5.0 282.5 11-317 4-6 1-0 28.8 1.5 0.0 5-4 20-166 83.0 7-379 54.1 44.1 25:58 9/21 43% 0/2 0% 2-16 0 6 3-3 0-0 6-6 100% 4-6 67% 6-6 100%
OPP 61 30.5 43 17 21 5 286 312 26 76 3.8 143.0 1 448 42-75-1 6.0 10.7 224.0 4 734 151 4.9 367.0 10-259 4-50 2-39 25.9 12.5 19.5 2-0 26-204 102.0 9-435 48.3 45.4 34:02 12/32 38% 4/5 80% 4-30 0 6 6-6 0-0 9-10 90% 4-10 40% 5-6 83%
Score by quarters Georgia Opponents
2nd 17 16
3rd 10 12
1st 21 17
4th 3 16
Total 51 61
TEAM STATISTICS SCORING Points Per Game FIRST DOWNS Rushing Passing Penalty RUSHING YARDAGE Yards gained rushing Yards lost rushing Rushing Attempts Average Per Rush Average Per Game TDs Rushing PASSING YARDAGE Comp-Att-Int Average Per Pass Average Per Catch Average Per Game TDs Passing TOTAL OFFENSE Total Plays Average Per Play Average Per Game KICK RETURNS: #-Yards PUNT RETURNS: #-Yards INT RETURNS: #-Yards KICK RETURN AVERAGE PUNT RETURN AVERAGE INT RETURN AVERAGE FUMBLES-LOST PENALTIES-Yards Average Per Game PUNTS-Yards Average Per Punt Net punt average TIME OF POSSESSION/Game 3RD-DOWN Conversions 3rd-Down Pct 4TH-DOWN Conversions 4th-Down Pct SACKS BY-Yards MISC YARDS TOUCHDOWNS SCORED FIELD GOALS-ATTEMPTS ON-SIDE KICKS RED-ZONE SCORES RED-ZONE TOUCHDOWNS PAT-ATTEMPTS
AR 48 48.0 29 10 19 0 144 150 6 30 4.8 144.0 2 447 30-41-1 10.9 14.9 447.0 3 591 71 8.3 591.0 2-115 2--2 2-5 57.5 -1.0 2.5 2-0 8-60 60.0 1-36 36.0 36.0 30:24 3/10 30% 3/3 100% 3-15 0 6 2-2 0-0 6-6 100% 4-6 67% 6-6 100%
OPP 10 10.0 15 4 7 4 82 112 30 36 2.3 82.0 1 123 13-22-2 5.6 9.5 123.0 0 205 58 3.5 205.0 6-126 0-0 1-0 21.0 0.0 0.0 0-0 5-42 42.0 5-208 41.6 42.0 29:36 4/13 31% 0/0 0% 0-0 0 1 1-1 0-0 1-1 100% 1-1 100% 1-1 100%
Score by quarters Arkansas Opponents
2nd 10 7
3rd 10 0
1st 21 3
4th 7 0
Total 48 10
High on the Hogs #18 Adrien Davis, DE 6-4, 250 Sr. Rosenberg, Texas One of Arkansas’s strengths is its defensive front. All four starting defensive linemen from a year ago and two of three linebackers return for the Razorbacks. Davis leads the way. Quick off the ball with long arms, Davis can string out the run and pressure the passer. His eight career sacks are the most on the team. If Arkansas is going to make a run at the upper division of the SEC West, then the touchdown. By Murray Poole From Petrino’s first Razorback team, which went 5-7 overall defense will have to make major strides. It all starts BULLDAWG ILLUSTRATED and 2-6 in the SEC, Arkansas returned eight offensive starters and up front. The good news for Akansas, the defensive While Oklahoma State had an entire summer to find ways to nine defensive regulars. In addition to the shifty Smith (5-9, 180), two-deep has only four seniors. upend Georgia in its newly-renovated stadium in Stillwater and who rushed for 1,072 yards and eight touchdowns in 2008, the Ra#15 Ryan Mallett, QB South Carolina had nine full days to prepare for its visit between the zorbacks returned their leading receiver in junior tight end D.J. 6-7, 248 Soph. Texarkana, Texas hedges this past Saturday night, the Arkansas Razorbacks likewise Williams (61 catches, 723 yards) as well as offensive line starters Ray A strong-armed, monster-sized gunDominguez, Wade Grayson and DeMarcus Love. Defensively, have had ample time to formulate a good slinger, Mallett is blessed with talent and has been Arkansas returned all four starters up front, highlighted game plan for the Bulldogs. by senior tackle Malcolm Sheppard (6-2, 280) and sen- lauded with accolades, making scouts drool. He After pounding FCS member Missouri ior end Adrian Davis (6-4, 250). Another weapon for began his career at Michigan as a heralded five-star State 48-10 in its season opener Sept. 5 in the Hogs is sophomore running back Dennis Johnson, recruit and redshirted during Lloyd Carr’s final seaLittle Rock, Arkansas enjoyed an open date Arkansas’ No. 2 ball carrier last year who returned the son. Rich Rodriguez came in and, committed more last weekend and thus, by the time the Raopening kickoff against Missouri State 91 yards for a to his spread offense and the future than Michigan zorbacks and Bulldogs kick if off Saturday ’08, Mallett decided to transfer. It was a huge pickup touchdown. night 9 (7:45-ESPN) in Fayetteville, the Hogs Not getting too carried away by their opening for Bobby Petrino, who has a great gasp of the passwill have had a full two weeks to map their romp over an FCS opponent, several of the Razorback ing game. At the start of last season, Arkansas had strategy for derailing the Bulldogs. faithful are taking the cautious approach to the Bull- more backfield question marks than any team in the Actually, longer than that because it’s no league. Now the Razorbacks look like they have one dogs’ invasion Saturday. secret Arkansas has been getting ready for its Said one, “Logically, I think we have at best a 50/50 of the SEC’s most promising quarterback/tailback SEC opener with Georgia ever since preseachance at this game, and probably less without my combos. Mallett got off to a great start in the easy son camp began, the Razorbacks knowing win over Missouri State and has had another full homer glasses. Our defense is still unproven.” they wouldn’t be pushed too much by little But, at the same time, even more Arkansas fans are week to get ready for the Dogs, who have pass-rushMissouri State. Bobby Petrino feeling pretty confident about the Hogs’ chances to bite ing question marks. This weekend, the Bulldogs will be seeing a much different Arkansas team. Indeed, instead of the run-based the Bulldogs Saturday evening. #21 Michael Smith, TB “It would not surprise me to see us jump on Georgia and really Razorback teams of recent years (Darren McFadden, Felix Jones), 5-7, 176 Sr. Tallahassee, Fla. the Hogs under second-year head coach Bobby Petrino are now fill- spank them,” declared one Razorback. “As in ‘75 A&M, ‘81 Texas Stepping in for one of the greatest tailbacks ing the air with footballs. Behind 6-7, 248-pound sophomore quar- and ’98 Alabama. We’re overdue for a game like that. We’ve had a lot in the storied history of the Southeastern Conferterback Ryan Mallett, a transfer from Michigan, Arkansas set a new of time to prepare. Georgia can’t be confident in themselves (although school record for passing yards against Missouri State, throwing for they certainly won’t overlook us). We’re at home. There are a lot of ence, two time Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren “Run DMc” McFadden, and fellow first round draft a whopping 447. In his first game with the Razorbacks, Mallett was intangibles going for us.” “Georgia will be fortunate to be in the game by the 4th quarter,” choice Felix Jones, Smith had enormous shoes to try 17-of-22 for 309 yards and one touchdown … in just three quarters of play. Freshman Tyler Wilson then came on and was 13-of-19 for exclaimed another. “What that translates to in terms of odds, I don’t and fill. He came through and had an outstanding 2008 campaign, with 1,072 yards and eight touchknow. I suspect they are much better than 50/50.” 138 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. “This is the first time to see Coach Bobby Petrino have time to downs on 207 carries – an average of 5.2 per pop. Sophomore Jarius Wright led the Arkansas receivers with six catches for 139 yards, including a 58-yard catch-and-run. Sopho- prepare a talented team for a big game,”said a long-time Arkansas That was without a big time passing threat. Now mores Joe Adams and Greg Childs and true freshman Cobi Hamil- supporter. “Georgia better be ready. Their defense looked pretty with Mallett in the backfield, that should free up ton all had four receptions each. With Missouri State loading the box good against Oklahoma State, against a good offensive team. I’m Smith to do even more, as defenses will be forced to defend the pass and the run. on the Hogs’ running game, true freshman Ronnie Wingo (6-3, 220) still not sold on (Joe) Cox at quarterback. We will see.” This will be only the 12th meeting of Georgia and Arkansas, led with 50 yards on eight carries while standout returning senior - Jeff Dantzler Michael Smith, playing sparingly, ran four times for 43 yards and a with the Bulldogs owning an 8-3 advantage on the Razorbacks.
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Georgia 41 South Carolina 37 rewind Photos by Chris Collins
By Murray Poole BULLDAWG ILLUSTRATED Nobody expected this. Not the Georgia players, not the Georgia coaches and, especially not the Bulldog Nation. With Georgia and South Carolina coming off season openers when they both displayed very little offense, the Bulldogs and Gamecocks combined to put nearly 80 points on the scoreboard this past Saturday night in the SEC opener at Sanford Stadium. Fortunately, for Mark Richt’s Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0 SEC), they scored four more points than South Carolina in a wild 41-37 shootout, this coming in a contest that many saw evolving into maybe a 14-10 finish prior to the opening kickoff. And, yet, after the scoreboard had blinked continually the night long, it all came down to the Georgia defense making a big stop on fourth down …. Bulldogs’ linebacker Rennie Curran tipping away Stephen Garcia’s last-gasp pass at the Georgia 7-yard line with just 22 seconds lef t to play. “Probably no one expected a game like this,” said Bulldogs’ senior quarterback Joe Cox, who bounced back from a shaky performance in the opening loss to Oklahoma State to complete 17-of-24 attempts for 201 yards and two touchdowns, though having one costly interception that Gamecocks linebacker Eric Norwood returned for a fourth-quarter touchdown. “I’m glad we had one of these type games,” Cox added, “especially since we were able to win it. I’m glad we were able to answer their scores and put up points like we did. It really feels good to win after last week.” “It was just one of those games,” said Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. “South Carolina has a very good defense but we tried to take advantage of some of their aggressiveness. I think everybody that touched the ball for us had it in their mind to make a play,” said Bobo. “I’m just proud of the way we played and fought the whole game.” In a contest where Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks (1-1, 01) totaled 427 yards to the Bulldogs’ 308 and ran 30 more plays than Georgia, 83-53, the Bulldogs made the big plays on both sides of the ball to hold off Carolina’s valiant upset bid. After South Carolina pounced on a A.J. Green fumble at the Georgia 23 and marched to a quick 7-0 lead, sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin brought the Sanford Stadium crowd to its collective feet by pulling in the Gamecocks’ ensuing kickoff and going a new school-record 100 yards for a touchdown. Boykin’s return broke the previous Georgia record of 99 yards, held by Lindsay Scott and Thomas Brown. It was also the Bulldogs’ longest ever touchdown in Sanford Stadium. Blair Walsh’s kick evened the score at 7-7, still 9:37 left in the initial quarter. “Brandon Boykin is a tremendous athlete,” said head
coach Mark Richt. “I wish I had about three of him.” South Carolina, however, then bounced back to streak into a 17-7 lead, a Stephen Garcia 13-yard pass capping a 77-yard drive and Spencer Lanning drilling a 21-yard field goal after Georgia freshman Branden Smith fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Gamecocks recovered at the Bulldogs’ 8-yard line. But back came the Bulldogs. After Boykin reeled off another fine kickoff return, to the Georgia 48, the Bulldogs wheeled 52 yards on seven plays behind the running and pass receiving of sophomore tailback Richard Samuel. Samuel got the touchdown from a yard out and Walsh’s kick pulled Georgia within 17-14 with the first quarter not yet ended. Seconds after the second period finally began, young Smith was to make up for his kickoff fumble, taking a reverse in the backfield and using his blazing speed to sprint 61 yards for a touchdown that lifted the Bulldogs up 21-17, still 14:04 left in the first half. The two teams then swapped field goals, Georgia getting a 50-yarder from Walsh after Boykin picked off a Garcia pass at the Carolina 33 and the Gamecocks getting a 39yarder from Lanning. That blinked the board to 24-20. Then, after South Carolina drew within 24-23 on a 22-yard field goal by Lanning, the Bulldogs struck quickly again just before halftime. A 48-yard return by Smith on the kickoff put the Bulldogs at the SC 40 and Georgia measured the distance in eight plays. A 19-yard deflected pass from Cox to Michael Moore was the key gainer and Cox then hit Green in the back of the end zone with only nine seconds left until intermission. Thus, the long first half -- over two hours in length ended with 54 total points on the board and the home team up by 31-23. The Bulldogs then upped their lead to 38-23 by taking the second half kickoff and wheeling 80 yards on nine plays. A 34-yard completion from Cox to Green, to the SC 5, proved the big gainer and Cox came back three plays later and connected with Moore on a 4-yard scoring toss. But this one was far from over. The Gamecocks pulled within 38-31 on two more Lanning field goals sandwiched around a 2-point safety when the Bulldogs snapped the ball over punter Drew Butler’s head and out of the end zone. Lanning’s fifth 3-pointer of the game came with 13:21 to play and left Georgia clinging to just a seven-point lead. And minutes later, here came South Carolina again, Georgia native Eric Norwood picking off a short Cox pass and taking it 35 yards to score. However, the Bulldogs would hold to the lead when tackle DeAngelo Tyson blocked Lanning’s PAT kick, leaving the score at 38-37 with 12:56 remaining. Georgia then marched back down to the SC 24 before settling for a 42-yard field goal by Walsh, blinking the board to 41-37 with now 6:20 to play. With the fans then clinging to the edge of their seats,
Garcia then drove the Gamecocks all the way to the Georgia 7 before Curran broke up Garcia’s fourth-and-four pass with 22 ticks of the clock left. Cox then took a knee to preserve Georgia’s heart-stopping four-point victory. What Worked Big plays all over the field after the Bulldogs had sputtered mightily the previous week in Stillwater. In addition to Boykin’s record-breaking 100-yard kickoff return and the freshman Smith’s 61-yard scoring dash, there was Tyson’s huge block of the Carolina extra point to keep the Gamecocks from evening the game at 38 and maybe later adding another field goal to sent the game into overtime, there was tailback Carlton Thomas falling on a Cox fumble to keep a late drive alive and enabling Walsh to boot his final 42-yard field goal and then, of course, there was Curran’s clutch pass break-up in the final seconds. What Didn’t Work Despite the win, the Georgia defense couldn’t get a handle on Garcia’s passing all night long. The Carolina QB riddled the Bulldogs to death with short passes, completing 31-of53 for 313 yards and two touchdowns while being sacked only twice. Garcia also led the Cocks in rushing with a net of 42 yards. “Garcia was fantastic,” said Richt. “I don’t know how many times we pressured him but we couldn’t get him.” And while Cox had 201 yards passing, Georgia could run for only 107 against the SC defense. And, too, the Bulldogs can’t be happy over committing three turnovers and 13 penalties for 108 yards. Top Performers Boykin, in addition to having four kickoff returns for 187 yards (2nd best to Scott Woerner’s 190 in 1977), also recorded an interception. Green snared six passes for 86 yards and a touchdown and Samuel and Smith each rushed for 65 yards … Samuel on 15 carries and Smith on just two runs. Walsh was dead-center perfect on both his long field goal tries. Defensively, Rennie Curran was again all over the field for Georgia, showing 15 total tackles and his clutch breakup at game’s end. Safety Reshad Jones and linebacker Darryl Gamble recorded nine tackles each while safety Bryan Evans followed with eight stops. Another Air Raid Upcoming? After seeing Garcia throw more than 50 times, the Bulldogs will now turn around and face the pass-happy Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday night in Fayetteville. Under second-year coach Bobby Petrino, the Hogs with transfer QB Ryan Mallett set a new school single-game passing record in their opening win over Missouri State two weeks ago.
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Bulldogs’ NFL first-rounders legendary Each year, during football season, I enjoy digging into the Georgia media guide, which is so expertly put together by sports communications director Claude Felton and his assistant staff. Not only are there statistics of every Bulldog team and player through the ages but just outstanding general information about Georgia football that likely even the most rabid of fans don’t know. Today, after hearing earlier this week that Matthew Stafford will open the new NFL season Sunday as the Detroit Lions’ starting quarterback, I thought it would be most informative to talk about all of the other former Bulldogs that went as first-round choices in the National Football League draft … as documented by the 2009 UGA media guide. According to the list on page 185 of this season’s publication, a total of 26 Georgia players have been taken in the opening round. And, of this number, four Bulldogs have been selected as the No. 1 pick in the entire draft. There was Stafford this year, of course, when the strong-armed quarterback was chosen by the Lions. There was Heisman Trophy winner Frank Sinkwich taken in 1943 by also the Lions; there was the immortal Charley Trippi selected No. 1 in 1947 by the Chicago Cardinals, and there was Harry Babcock picked at the top of the collegiate heap by the San Francisco 49ers back in 1953. Stafford, in his three years in Athens, showed a powerful enough right arm to throw the ball through a carwash without it getting wet and of course, Sinkwich and Trippi, along with Herschel Walker, are arguably the top football players in Georgia’s long and glorious history. I regret not ever getting to see “Fireball Frankie” and the great Trippi play in person but, in the 1940s when those two were terrorizing Bulldog opponents, I was a mere baby in diapers. Trippi, who won the Maxwell Award and should have won the Heisman - after leading the Bulldogs to a perfect 11-0 record in 1946, is generally regarded as the best all-around player in UGA history and, certainly, who could argue that point concerning a player who was dazzling on both sides of the ball and went on to become the NFL’s Rookie of the Year with the Cardinals in 1947? Harry Babcock was also most worthy of his No. 1 draft selection. An Ocala, Fla. native, Babcock was an All-America and All-SEC end for the Bulldogs from 1950-52 and led the SEC in receptions in 1951. Babcock was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1992. Two NFL first-round draft choices from Georgia who were sandwiched between Sinkwich, Trippi and Babcock were Dan Edwards, the No. 9 pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1948, and Johnny Rauch, selected No. 2 by the Detroit Lions in 1949. Edwards was another end for the Bulldogs and was captain of Georgia’s 1947 Gator Bowl team. Also an All-American, Edwards is best remembered for the 67-yard touchdown pass he caught from Trippi in that ’47 Gator Bowl. He went on to play nine seasons in the NFL and CFL. Rauch earned All-America honors as a quarterback at Georgia, where he started 45 consecutive games from 1945-48, including four straight bowl games. Selected SEC Player of the Year in 1948 Rauch, after his NFL playing career, became head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 1966 and led the team to the Super Bowl in 1967. The rest of the Georgia Bulldogs who became NFL first-round draft selections, I was fortunate enough to see play between the hedges. After Babcock was picked at No. 1 in 1953, it was 16 full years before Georgia had another first rounder … when defensive tackle Bill Stanfill was tabbed in the No. 11 spot by the Miami Dolphins. Stanfill, forever glorified for helping stop eventual Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators in 1966, of course went on to All-Pro honors with the Dolphins and was a ringleader on Miami’s 1972, 17-0 Super Bowl champions. After Stanfill, the Bulldogs had only one player in the 1970s to be taken in the NFL first round, that being All-America offensive guard Royce Smith who was the No. 8 selection of the Saints in 1972. And the 1980s weren’t much kinder for first-round draft choices from UGA as only two -- wide receiver Lindsay Scott and AllAmerican tailback Tim Worley -- were picked by professional teams in the opening round during that time. Scott, immortalized in Georgia lore for his 93-yard touchdown reception
from Buck Belue in the 1980 Florida game, was taken as the No. 13 pick by the Saints in 1982, while the powerful Worley was the No. 7 choice by the Steelers in 1989. But ah, during the decade of the 1990s and thus far in the 2000s, the University of Georgia has been blessed by no fewer than 17 first-round NFL selections. Both hard-hitting Bulldog defensive back Ben Smith and elusive tailback Rodney Hampton were selected in the opening round in 1990, Smith going as the No. 22 pick by the Philadelphia Eagles and Hampton as the 24th pick by the New York Giants. Then, in 1993, another Georgia All-America tailback, one Garrison Hearst, was chosen higher than any other college players but two … being tabbed No. 3 by the Arizona Cardinals. Still four additional Bulldogs would end up in the NFL first round during the remainder of the 1990s. Six-foot-9 offensive tackle Bernard Williams was the No. 14 selection of the Eagles in ’94; standout tailback Robert Edwards was the No. 18 selection of the Patriots in ’98, and both Champ Bailey and Matt Stinchcomb were opening-round choices in 1999. All-America cornerback Bailey, who won the 1998 Bronko Nagurski Award presented annually by the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s best defensive player, was taken No. 7 by the Washington Redskins before eventually going on to become an All-NFL defensive back with the Denver Broncos. Stinchcomb, an All-America offensive tackle, was selected No. 18 by the Oakland Raiders that same year. Georgia would again have double firstround selections in the 2001 draft as defensive tackle Richard Seymour began an all-pro career with the Patriots after being chosen in the No. 6 spot, and defensive tackle Marcus Stroud was picked in the No. 13 slot by the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2002, Georgia defensive end Charles Grant also was tapped for first-round honors, being taken at No. 25 by the Saints. The 2003 NFL draft would see still two more Bulldog standouts becoming opening round picks as rugged defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan went No. 6 to the Saints and offensive tackle George Foster was a No. 20 selection by the Broncos. Ultra-strong tight end Ben Watson kept the first-round tradition going for the Bulldogs in 2004 when he was the No. 32 pick of the New England Patriots. And then, in 2005, the National Football League reached into Athens and plucked two more first-round selections, All-America safety Thomas Davis going as the 14th pick to the Carolina Panthers and AllAmerica defensive end David Pollack being chosen at No. 17 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Before having to give up his pro-playing career due to a serious neck injury, Pollack became Georgia’s most decorated defensive player in history, winning the Rotary Lombardi Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, the Lott Trophy and Hendricks Award (twice). And then, of course, came this year when the Bulldogs’ terrific offensive tandem of Stafford and Knowshon Moreno were grabbed up in the first round … Stafford as mentioned by the Detroit Lions at No. 1 and All-America tailback Moreno in the No. 12 slot by the Broncos. Great stuff and certainly a reflection of the caliber of Georgia football down through the years. And how many other legendary Bulldog players were there who weren’t taken in the first round of the NFL draft but still went on to have outstanding professional careers? I can name a few, such as Marion Campbell, Terrell Davis, Ray Donaldson, Joe Geri, Lynn Hauss, John Kasay, Guy McIntyre, Tom Nash, Jimmy Orr, Jake Scott, Mack Strong, Fran Tarkenton, Bobby Walden and Bobby Walston. All of those guys, as again documented by the Georgia media guide, earned All-Pro honors. Of course, a most conspicuous name not among the Bulldogs’ top-round draft choices through the years would be three-time first team All-American and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker. But as you all are well aware, Walker took Donald Trump’s money after his junior season at Georgia in 1982 and helped launch the new United States Football League while playing for the New Jersey Generals. No question, had No. 34 not opted for the new league, he would have joined those other Georgia greats Sinkwich, Trippi, Babcock and Stafford as a No. 1 selection in the National Football League draft of collegiate players.
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Georgia 41 South Carolina 37
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Kevin Butler’s players of the game Kevin Butler, former University of Georgia legendary kicker and AllNFL kicker who has now joined the Georgia radio broadcast team, will each week during the 2009 football season select his offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week for Bulldawg Illustrated. Here are Butler’s selections and reasons why for the Bulldogs’ 41-37 win over South Carolina this past Saturday night: OFFENSE -- Freshman running back/cornerback Branden Smith, who ran for 65 yards on just two carries including a 61-yard touchdown jaunt on a reverse in the backfield. Smith also had two kickoff returns for 56 yards. “We finally got him in there and he’s really a complement to the offense,” said Butler. “His reverse touchdown was huge, and it’s the first time we’ve seen that kind of breakaway speed from a Georgia player in a number of years. This kid really adds another dimension to our offense. He helps A.J. (Green) and especially helps our running game because you’ve certainly got to respect his running ability. He just may be our new “Mad Dog” running back, as someone has said. Branden is the kind of athlete Mark Richt seems to find every year and you certainly want to get the ball in his hands.” DEFENSE -- Junior linebacker Rennie Curran, who was in on 15 total tackles and batted down what would have been South Carolina’s winning touchdown pass with just 22 seconds left to play. “This could only go to Rennie,” said Butler. “He made his Tim Tebow speech to the team this week, that this game was all about pride and character. Rennie is our vocal leader on the field and that was never more so than Saturday night. We’re very lucky to have a guy that plays with such intensity all the time. And for him to have enough energy left to make the play that secured the game, was just incredible. He brings 110 percent every play and he’s what the Bulldog defense throughout history has been based on. Rennie’s not the biggest guy around but his heart is as big as anybody’s.” SPECIAL TEAMS -- Sophomore cornerback Brandon Boykin, who had four kickoff returns for 187 yards including a new Georgia record 100-yard touchdown return. Boykin also had the Bulldogs’ first pass interception of the season. “Brandon was just tremendous with 180-something yards in returns,” said Butler. “He brings a third dimension to the game and is an impact player. With that 100-yard touchdown return, the longest in Georgia history, he really brought the Georgia crowd into the game. He also had that interception. Now, we can talk about putting Brandon into more situations where the ball will come to him. He’s such a threat and demands such respect on the field, it makes him a focal point the opposing team will have to prepare for.” — Compiled by Murray Poole
Photos by Chris Collins
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Jeff Dantzler’s Top 25 It was a big Saturday in college football, highlighted by Southern Cal’s win at Ohio State and Michigan’s thrilling victory over Notre Dame – there’s some pretty good history there. This is a big weekend, with a lot of intra-conference battles across the country. It’s a monster day in the SEC with a host of major interest games.
— Jeff Dantzler 1. Florida – The Gators have rolled through Charleston Southern and Troy, putting up monster numbers. Now Tennessee comes to town, and it might not be another “name your score game,” but Florida is hungry to embarrass the Volunteers. Urban Meyer’s juggernaut will probably do it. 2. Alabama – Almost on cue after a Nikita Kruschev-esque fist pounding towards writers for calling Florida International a cupcake, making his job tougher, Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide muddled around and then rolled. 3. Texas – Colt McCoy struggled in the first half, but the Longhorns turned it on and put up more big numbers in a blowout of Wyoming in Laramie. Things toughen up a bit as Texas Tech comes to Austin. This is one that Longhorns obviously want badly after what happened in Lubbock a year ago. 4. Southern Cal – It was tight and tough, but Southern Cal proved again to be the best “big game” program in college football with a monumental 18-15 victory over Ohio State in the Horseshoe. Matt Barkley is following in the footsteps of Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez. 5. Georgia Tech – Paul Johnson has the Yellow Jackets rolling. The Yellow Jackets jumped on Clemson 24-0, then fell behind, but came back to win 30-27. Now comes more Thursday night ACC lights, as Tech tangles with Miami at Landshark Stadium. 6. Brigham Young – With a 14-13 victory over Oklahoma in the Dallas Cowboys new stadium, BYU claimed its biggest win since topping defending national champion Miami in Provo to open the 1990 season. The Cougars then came rolling back and pounded Tulane. Now comes Florida State in a game with huge implications. 7. LSU – John Chavis’s defense made a huge jump as the Fightin’ Tigers took out Vanderbilt 23-9 in Baton Rouge. The Tigers should cruise over Louisiana-Lafayette and then they jump right into the teeth of SEC play. 8. Penn State –Joe Paterno has his quarterback Daryll Clark playing well and Evan Royster is a threat at tailback. The Nittany Lions dispatched old rival Syracuse and have an easy one with Temple before opening conference play in State College with Iowa. 9. Ohio State – Well the Buckeyes are getting closer in the big games, but they couldn’t get over the top yet again. Ohio State and Penn State appear to be the class of the Big Ten (11). Jim Tressel has done a tremendous job in Columbus. Ohio State gets Toledo this week. The Rockets have beaten Michigan and Colorado the last two years. 10. Virginia Tech – The Hokies hung tough with Alabama and then blew out East Carolina. It should be a good race in the ACC with the two Tech’s, Miami and Florida State – though the Seminoles on the short week nearly got beat by Jacksonville State. 11. Ole Miss – The Rebels schedule is funny. They were off this past week and now host Southeast Louisiana, then go to South Carolina for a Thursday night game. There are no more open dates for Ole Miss. 12. Cal – The Golden Bears got off to a great start with a big win over Maryland in Bezerkley and followed it up with a pounding of Eastern Washington. Back-to-back road games at Minnesota and Oregon loom, then the Golden Bears get a season maker with Southern Cal at home.
13. Oklahoma - It was a devastating start to the season, losing to Brigham Young and losing Sam Bradford to injury. Boomer Sooner hosts Tulsa, then comes the renewal of those great showdowns from the 1980’s, as Oklahoma goes to Miami on October 3. 14. Boise State – The Blue Turf Broncos always seem to win 11, 12 or 13 games. They beat Oregon and pounded Miami (Ohio) to jump to a 2-0 start. Boise State will have its hands full with Fresno State in the Valley. 15. Cincinnati – Brian Kelly is one of the hottest coaches in the country. His Bearcats won the Big East a year ago and had to replace 10 defensive starters this season. The Bearcats have responded with a 47-15 thrashing of Rutgers and 70-3 rout Southeast Missouri State. 16. Miami – After their thrilling Labor Day night victory over Florida State, the Hurricanes had this past Saturday off. Now they get Ga. Tech on Thursday night. Miami has speed and athleticism. The Hurricanes have some juice at the skill positions. 17. Nebraska – Bo Pellini has the Big Red faithful hopeful and excited after a 2-0 start to the season. Now comes a tough road date with Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. It’s college football. Who would have thought 25 years ago that the Big Red Thrashing Machine would be looking for an upset at Virginia Tech. 18. Houston – The Cougars got a big time signature victory over Oklahoma State, as the Cowboys were riding high coming off the win over Georgia. Houston is a potential BCS buster. They have a week to relish the win, then Texas Tech comes to town. 19. TCU – Gary Patterson just churns out 10-win seasons. He’s the most beloved Horned Frog since the great Dan Jenkins was enjoying Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth. TCU should crush Texas State then comes a great intersectional meeting with Clemson in Tiger Town. 20. Auburn - Tommy Tuberville left Auburn with a lot of talent on defense and on the offensive line. Now the Tigers have a big time home run threat at tailback with freshman Onterio McCalebb. The Tigers are a strong 2-0 and get West Virginia on the plains. 21. Arkansas – Ryan Mallett got off to a great start, as the Razorbacks beat Missouri State. Arkansas had this week off and now the Bulldogs come to town. The Razorbacks beat LSU to close out the 2008 campaign, and they have been focused on Georgia ever since. 22. Utah – The Runnin’ Utes had a scary one with San Jose State and now they get their crack at Oregon. The Ducks have already lost to Boise State and certainly don’t want setbacks to the WAC and Mountain West. 23. Pittsburgh – The Panthers got a nice win over Turner Gill’s Buffalo Bulls, the defending MAC champions. Two weeks in, it looks as though Pitt and Cincinnati are the two best teams in the Big East. 24. Oklahoma State – Riding high after their signature victory over Georgia in the dedication game of Boone Pickens Stadium, the Cowboys ran into a buzz saw, losing to high powered Houston 4535. Oklahoma State should bounce back and beat Rice. 25. Michigan – Rich Rodriguez and the Wolverines got a much needed signature win, taking a thriller from Notre Dame. Maybe now Lou Holtz will pipe down about the Irish being favored in every game.
A look at Georgia-Arkansas By Jeff Dantzler BULLDAWG ILLUSTRATED My esteemed afternoon co-host and buddy, the very talented Chris Brame, was kind enough to offer his keen insight into Saturdayâ€™s showdown in the Ozarks. Who do you think will win Saturday? This was a game that looked like a real land mine for Georgia all summer long. Arkansas had a tune-up with Missouri State and a bye week. The Dogs have been in two heavyweight fights with Oklahoma State and South Carolina. Bobby Petrino said before the season began he really wants to win all of his home games, and with good reason. The Razorbacks conference travel itinerary includes Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, Oxford, and Baton Rouge. While the Dogs have been busy with Okie State and the Gamecocks, the Hogs have been able to narrow their focus to Georgia. To borrow from George Clooneyâ€™s character in â€œO Brother Where Art Thou,â€? the Dogs are in a â€œtight spot.â€? Since this is Bulldawg Illustrated and the Hogs are just 3-10 off a bye week since 2002, Iâ€™ll say Georgia wins a close one. When do they ever make it easy? What is your take on Georgia in 2009? So far weâ€™ve seen Georgia lose a close game to a good, but not great team on the road, and win a close game against a good, but not great team at home. Georgiaâ€™s a good team, not a great one. Theyâ€™re capable of beating any team on their schedule, except Florida. Theyâ€™re capable of losing to any team on their schedule, except Tennessee Tech. What is your take on Arkansas in 2009? With one game against Missouri State, itâ€™s hard to tell. We know Bobby Petrino is a good college coach, and I believe Arkansas will be a threat as long as heâ€™s there. Interestingly, there are several similarities between this yearâ€™s Razorbacks and last yearâ€™s surprise team Ole Miss. Three starters are back on the offensive line. They are deep at receiver (13 different players caught passes in week one). Nine starters are back on defense. Their offense is built around a hyped quarterback that transferred in from another major program.
Does anyone beat Florida in the regular season? Well, based on my above answer and the parallels to last yearâ€™s Ole Miss team, could I say Arkansas? Or would you have me committed? The Hogs do go to Gainesville the week after the Gators play at L.S.U. The answer to the question, though, is.....NO! Can Alabama beat Florida in the SEC Championship Game? Bama played a close to perfect game last year. They had 15 play and 10 play scoring drives in the third quarter, and didnâ€™t turn the ball over until their final drive of the game. They still lost by 11 and the Gators offense still found its way to 31 points despite barely touching the ball in that third quarter. So, I would say probably not. Will the national champion come from this group: Florida, Alabama, Texas, and Southern Cal? This is like the question we hear four times a year in golf. Would you take Tiger or the field. If Florida, Texas, Bama, and S.C. are Tiger. Iâ€™ll take him this week. Will the BCS Championship Game come from the above group? I like Florida and Texas to meet in Pasadena; but, B.Y.U has a shot having already claimed Oklahomaâ€™s impressive scalp. If they beat Florida State and run the table in the Mountain West, they could get there with the absence of two unbeaten giants. How close is Georgia to returning to the SEC Championship Game? This depends on how quickly Georgia can upgrade the talent on defense. The Dogs have been slowly eroding on that side of the ball for the last three years. Georgia had 10 defensive players taken in the first two rounds of the NFL draft between 2001 and 2005. In the four drafts since, theyâ€™ve had 11 total defenders taken. The highest was Tim Jennings, who went in the second round in 2006. Meanwhile, the Gators have had first rounders Jarvis Moss, Reggie Nelson, and Derrick Harvey come through, and could have three (Carlos Dunlap, Brandon Spikes, and Joe Haden) on this yearâ€™s defense. The big plays made by Brandon Boykin, Branden Smith, and Deangelo Tyson last weekend were encouraging.
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Jeff Dantzler’s five keys to victory 1
. Pressure Ryan Mallett – A year ago, Georgia had a backfield that featured the eventual top tailback and quarterback taken in the draft. Arkansas’s backfield had question marks. Now the Razorbacks have one of the league’s top tailbacks and a big time prospect at quarterback. Mallett gave Bobby Petrino and the program an enormous shot in the arm when he transferred to Fayetteville from Michigan. Mallett was a big-time prospect coming out of high school and got off to a terrific start against Missouri State. Georgia’s pass-rush is a major question mark, and if the Bulldogs don’t get to Mallett, it could be a long night in Fayetteville. And at 6-7, nearly 250, if the Dogs do get there, he’s no lock to be brought down.
2. Contain Michael Smith – One of the Southeastern Conference’s top tailbacks, Smith combines with Mallett to give Arkansas some serious punch out of the backfield. He had an all-time elite to follow – plus another dandy tailback – and Smith cracked the 1,000-yard plateau a year ago, averaging 5.2 per pop. Georgia’s run defense, led by a stout interior line and tackling machine Rennie Curran figures to be a strength. But Arkansas has the ability to lead with the run and with the pass. If the Razorbacks catch the Dogs on their heels, Smith has the speed to pop loose for a long one.
3. Move that Arkansas front – The Razorbacks return six of their front seven starters from a year ago, and have reason for optimism that what was the Southeastern Conference’s worst defense in 2008 can make a big jump in 2009. The front isn’t very big and Georgia’s offensive line should be able to move them. The Bulldogs don’t exactly have a backfield that is striking fear into enemy defenses. That means that Georgia must take care of the football, play field position and take advantage of any scoring opportunities. That big, strong Georgia line and how they’re able to control the fast-improving Arkansas front is vital to a Bulldog victory.
4. A.J. = TDs – Georgia’s electric sophomore wide receiver A.J. Green is the one player that enemy defenses put the proverbial circle around. The more touches Green gets, the more dangerous the Bulldogs are offensively. If Georgia is able to unleash Green down the field, that should loosen up the defense to throw underneath and run. Ask Arkansas’s coaches what Georgia offensive player they fear the most? Georgia’s ability to attack that could lead to that big play that could lead to victory.
5. Withstand the Early Arkansas Push – The Razorbacks topped defending national champion LSU in the final game of 2008, and with Missouri State and an open date before Georgia rolls into town, make no mistake that Bobby Petrino and the Razorbacks have been squarely focused on Georgia for the last nine months. The crowd will be on fire, as Arkansas will have the chance to beat both of the teams that finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation in 2007 over a three game stretch. Mark Richt’s Bulldogs are 30-5 in road games, but 0-1 in 2009. Georgia got off to a great start at Oklahoma State then went due south. The Bulldogs must remain poised and avoid turnovers, excessive penalties and special teams breakdowns.
Photos by Chris Collins
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Marilyn Sikes of Macon, GA Q: Other than Herschel, who is your favorite Bulldog and why? A:Eric Zeier. I followed his entire career and I once mailed him a schedule card with his picture on the cover for an autograph. It took him a while, but I will always remember that he did return it, which I appreciate.
TRIVIA CONTEST Last issueâ€™s TRIVIA question and answer:
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Q: Who is your favorite player on the current UGA roster and why? $5LFKDUG6DPXHO+HKDVWRĂ€OO.QRZVKRQÂˇVVKRHVDQGSURGXFHWKH numbers that the Dawgs need to win. Q: What makes you a true Bulldog? A: I dislike Urban Meyer and Florida to the enth degree; actually, anything with the color orange. Q: What is the most memorable play you have experienced in person? A: It was 1996 when the game went into overtime. It was great to be able to watch Uga V bite the Auburn player live, and not just in a photo. Q: Which one of our rivals do you enjoy beating the most and why? A: Florida. Who else would there be? Q: What makes your tailgating scene so special? A: +DYLQJDOORIP\IULHQGVJDWKHUDURXQGHDWLQJ.)&DQGKDYLQJIXQ$OVRHDWLQJERLOHG peanuts and indulging in wholesome spirits. I enjoy meeting other UGA fans like myself and HQMR\WDONLQJZLWKWKHPDQGVKDULQJVWRULHVDERXWRXU*HRUJLDFROOHFWLRQV,KDYHWRWU\DQGĂ€QG more every year to complete my collection. I have a German Shepherd named â€œGeorgiaâ€?.
FANS OF THE WEEK
This issueâ€™s question:
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Have the answer? Go to www.bulldawgillustrated.com,
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Harlan Kinsler of Lilburn, GA Q: Other than Herschel, who is your favorite Bulldog and why? $.HYLQ%XWOHU,ZDVDNLFNHULQKLJKVFKRRO Q: Who is your favorite player on the current UGA roster and why? $&DOHE.LQJ,ZDWFKHGKLPJURZXS Q: What makes you a true Bulldog? A: I went to UGA. My dad also went to UGA. Q: What is the most memorable play you have experienced in person? A: The Lindsay Scott touchdown in Jacksonville. Q: Which one of our rivals do you enjoy beating the most? A: Florida â€“ we hate them! Q: What makes your tailgating scene so special? A: Lots of food and drink.
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Bulldawg Leader: Rod Battle By Murray Poole BULLDAWG ILLUSTRATED After the story below on Georgia senior defensive end Roderick Battle and his mom’s question-and-answer were written for this issue of Bulldawg Illustrated, it was learned just before the publication’s Sunday night deadline that Battle has been lost for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his knee, sustained in the first half of the win over South Carolina Saturday night. Roderick Battle’s playing career at the University of Georgia hasn’t always been an easy one. The senior defensive end has had to overcome numerous setbacks in his five seasons with the Bulldogs, most of them brought about by injuries that left him sidelined for good portions of time. But to Battle’s everlasting credit, he hasn’t let that misfortune get him down. Through his dedication to the Georgia Bulldogs, many hours of rehab and strength and conditioning work, Battle has climbed back up the mountain to assume his rightful position as starting defensive end for the Red and Black. After being redshirted in his true freshman year in 2005, the 6-4, 259-pound Battle appeared in all 13 Georgia games in 2006 and recorded four tackles and two sacks including a sack in the Bulldogs’ 15-12 win over rival Georgia Tech. He also had six quarterback hurries. Then, in Battle’s redshirt sophomore season in 2007, he earned the starting role for all 13 of Georgia’s games and totaled 24 tackles including four tackles-for-loss. Battle had two tackles and a sack against No. 9 Florida and registered a season-high four tackles in the opening win over Oklahoma State. But then came his junior campaign in 2008 and that’s when the old injury bug began to swarm around Battle’s No. 41 jersey. Due to a neck injury, Battle had to sit out the South Carolina, Arizona State and Alabama games. Still, he was able to play in nine games, with seven starts, while finishing the season with 14 tackles and 10 quarterback hurries. In Georgia’s hard-fought 4238 win over Kentucky in Lexington, Battle notched a career-high five tackles and caused two Wildcat fumbles. Shooting for a big senior season this year, Battle was then forced to miss all of spring practice after undergoing shoulder surgery in January. But, as documented, Rod Battle wasn’t one to sit around and moan about his situation. He worked and rehabbed more diligently than ever to maneuver his way back into the Georgia starting lineup and come preseason camp in August, there was Battle better than ever, making numerous sacks in the Bulldog scrimmages and setting a new tone for the Georgia defense. And even though the Bulldogs would drop their Sept. 5 season opener to Oklahoma State by 24-10 in Stillmore, Battle was credited with three tackles as the Georgia defense stepped up its performance considerably over last season in hold-
ing the explosive Cowboy offense to 24 points and just 307 yards of total offense. “In camp this year, I think I picked everything up pretty well again,” said Battle, who was the Class AAAAA state Defensive Player of the Year in his senior year at Douglass High-Atlanta in 2004. “It felt a little different the first time I put the pads back on but I had worked hard in the summer and off-season to get back in the groove. And I think I’ve actually improved since I had my surgery,” Battle pointed out. “I had a chance to lose some of the weight I had put on and that helped out with my quickness. I had a chance to reshape my body and get more lean and get more muscle.” How did Battle grade his own performance in the opening game at OSU? “I think I played well,” he said. “I think when I had the opportunity to make some plays, I made them. Now, I just want to try to get better as the season goes on.” Battle, speaking prior to the Bulldogs’ battle with South Carolina this past Saturday night, said the opening game was a “pretty good” starting point for the Georgia defense. “I just wish though we had made more plays when they presented themselves,” he said. “If we had, the outcome would have been different. But we made a couple of goal-line stops, and we just need to keep building on that and become a productive defense.” Battle thinks the experience of playing at a tough environment such as Oklahoma State will be a plus for the Bulldogs as they go to Fayetteville, Ark. this Saturday night to face the 1-0 Arkansas Razorbacks. “I think it will,” he related. “That first game showed us some things we’ll face on the road and that we must capitalize on our opportunities. I know it should help our young guys be more ready to play, now that they’ve had that opening experience.” Battle believes the Oklahoma State opener of two years ago, when he made his first start at defensive end, is his best game at Georgia thus far. “I made some plays in that first game starting,” he said. “I don’t know if I was playing scared or what but I made some plays. I consider it my best game so far.” Battle is hoping to get a shot at playing in the National Football League next year but if a pro playing career doesn’t work out, he plans to fall back on his degree in Sports Management, which he’ll earn in December. “I’d like to go into college sports, maybe working with corporate sponsors in some kind of administrative duties and the like,” Battle said. “So far, so good,” said the always-optimistic Battle of his career at UGA. “Hopefully, I can make some more good memories this year and we can win some championships.”
The Foundation: Cynthia Battle By Murray Poole BULLDAWG ILLUSTRATED No one could be prouder of Roderick Battle than his parents, Rod and Cynthia Battle. They, along with the Georgia coaching staff, know the long hours the Bulldogs’ senior defensive end has put in to overcome numerous injury issues and once again become a powerful leader for the Georgia defense. In this question-and-answer with Bulldawg Illustrated, Cynthia Battle gives the Bulldog Nation a special insight into her son:
His single best football play ever as a Bulldog? I can’t say which one was my favorite but the first game I ever saw him play was special. Rod always wanted to go to Georgia and actually seeing him get on the field as a redshirt freshman just meant a lot to the whole family. And Rod is a big family guy. Can you tell the Bulldawg Nation a few unique things about Rod outside of football? He likes to fish and likes to play video games. And Rod is very religious … at least when he’s at home (laughing).
Parents/Guardians names: Rod and Cynthia Battle. Siblings’ names and ages: Broderick, 21; Renard, 14. In your opinion what is the number one attribute that makes Rod a leader? I just think he’s very honest. Rod always gives his honest opinion. He’s not a big talker but just leads by example. What was your nickname for Rod growing
Can you discuss the pride you have in Rod attending and playing football at Georgia? We are very proud of him and especially him getting his degree. He will graduate in December with a degree in sports management. You can’t always play football but Rod will always have that degree. What is the nicest thing he has ever done for you? There’s not one particular thing, but Rod always fixes breakfast for me when he’s at home. And he’s always very thoughtful on all the special occasions.
up? I always called him “Little Rod” because he looks just like his dad. Best childhood story? Everything he did when he was little was real cute, but I can’t think of any one thing. Rod was just a cute baby. His father was the baby of his family and Rod was his dad’s oldest child, so everybody just had a fit when Rod was born. What do you think he has gotten most out of his time at Georgia? Rod has really matured since he’s been at Georgia. He’s really grown as a young man.
What is your most entertaining story involving the passionate Bulldog fan base? The Georgia fans are very enthusiastic. I had never gone to a Georgia game until Rod played. But when I saw all that red and black for the first time, it really got me hyped. The Georgia fans really support the Bulldogs. What has Coach Richt meant to your young man’s life? I think it’s just the leadership Coach Richt has. He’s not only a coach to Rod but a friend, also. Coach Richt lives his faith and has great character.
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A win is a win. That is what the head man says. That, evidently, is where we are now as a program. A win is a win. Sure, it beats a loss any day and the whole day. An SEC win counts the same no matter who we beat. So, how can you really argue with the top guy? His position really is bullet proof. You will find no argument from us on that point. We remember these days, as well. Truth be told, this is the type of program positioning we know best. In the 90s, we were worn out on this. We’d watch talent after talent under perform as a defensive unit. Every game was a nail biter and any game could realistically be lost. Again, any game. That isn’t where we were in the early half of Coach Richt’s career. Per him and our eyes, that is clearly where we are now. There was much to be proud and excited about on Saturday night. Brandon Boykin exploded on the scene with an incredible display of kick returning and a phenomenal skyscraper leap for an interception. True Freshman Branden Smith showed exactly what the hype was surrounding his arrival. He is the fastest man we have seen on a football field that comes to memory. Blistering fast. Blistering. It is terribly exciting just thinking about his speed. Rennie Curran may be the best defensive player in the SEC. That guy is everywhere. What a stud. Reshad Jones continues to get picked on by the officials as he was flagged for a personal foul on a play called almost as poorly as the one he drew last week. Just a tragedy. Keep playing Reshad. You got jobbed. A.J. Green really is just the greatest wide receiver to ever grace our campus. Is there anything he can’t do? Well, some would say holding onto the ball at times which he must improve on but he is really something. Really, really something. Joe Cox is not now and never will be John Elway. But, he fought hard in this game. Plenty of people are writing plenty of things about him and we will let them do so. We chose this week to focus on his guts. He showed a bunch Saturday night. Though, he made an awful play on the interception return for a touchdown and later said he saw the defender but decided to try it anyway. Huh? What? Really? And you are what year of your eligibility? Joe, Joe, Joe. Don’t do that again. You should be smarter than that. You need to be smarter than that. Richard Samuel was running like a man possessed. Once again, he was forgotten by our offensive coordinator at a time when running the ball and shortening the clock would have been a wise decision. Alas, we have just decided this staff loves to pass for the sake of passing. They are former quarterbacks, after all. We lost the turnover battle again. For all the lip service in the offseason about our renewed focus on turnovers as a defense, it sure isn’t translating to the playing surface. What gives? Our defense gave our offense one short field Saturday night. Our offense immediately proved a short field doesn’t guarantee a touchdown as we seem to believe at times in Athens. They gained zero yards and settled for a field goal. The kickoff return team, a unit that set a school record for return yards with 3,768 (approximately), gave us another short field with a return to the 48. Our offense responded that time with seven. Job well done. This brings us to a question. We hear so much about how our D is hamstrung and can’t be liable for scores because the other team has short fields. Now, we have a defense that is completely loaded with talent. Completely loaded. Yet, our offense rarely is giving a short field of their own compliments of this completely loaded defense. We have given our offense a short field by the defense exactly one time in our first two games. So, the question ... why does every team on our schedule the past year or so have a defense and special teams that are much better at
providing short fields than our team? Every single opponent does this better than we do. Why? Anyone? Anyone? And, why is Coach Richt talking to the fans in the press conference about the dangers of kicking it deep on the kickoff as if he owes them this explanation? Why entertain the fans at all in this manner? Furthermore, you were wrong. Here is the breakdown coach. We have done some math for you. In this game you put fast people on the kickoff unit. You kicked the ball deep six times out of eight. Blair Walsh kicked several into the end zone or just shy. Those kicks, along with the faster coverage unit, translated into starting field position for the opponent at the 26, 23, 20, 19, 22, and 43. We assume the drive starting at the 43 is the one you said went to the 50 and the one you were referencing when you were explaining to us dumb fans why kicking it deep isn’t necessarily the best thing. We kicked two directional kicks. Both drives started at the 37 after those. (Note- Why is Bogotay kicking directional kicks? Isn’t that the scholarship we used for a deep kicker?) So, let us dumb fans finish this exercise. Two directional kicks, average starting position at the 37. Six deep kicks, average starting position is the 25.5. So, if us dumb fans can do the math right here, we gained 72 extra yards of field position throughout the game by kicking it deep. This includes their big return. That return only cost us six whole yards verses the directional kick. Everyone make their own judgments of this as they wish. As for the punting game, who was it that said to hang tight and wait til we gave up a fake punt with our alignment? It is coming, they said. Some dumb fans, probably. Oh wait. That was us. Yep, again, some dumb fans. The defense is just not suitable for a top tier program. This has become such a strange situation, as well. The first thing out of Coach Richt’s mouth on the after game on field interview was that the red zone D won the game for us. Huh? Really? That is what you came up with? Not the offense that kept scoring? Not the kickoff returns that were so dominant? The red zone D? The same team that let an anemic offense shred us for 427 yards and create those opportunities? That is the team we can thank for the victory? Got it. He repeated this in the press conference afterwards. No mention of the offense. No mention of the returns. Just the defense. Again, strange, strange behavior. It is like a grand cover up or something. We just don’t get it. South Carolina managed a whole seven points against NC State in their opener. They scored twice in one drive this past weekend after a penalty saved us from the first one. They marched up and down the field on us all night. We needed one more stop with 6 minutes left and they marched straight down the field on a drive starting deep in our territory. Straight down the field. They converted three 3rd downs on the drive. They had a touchdown drive in the first half that began at our 23 yard line and they didn’t so much as have to attempt a third down. They never had one. Again, strange behavior and comments are surrounding our weak link. Talent isn’t the problem. The guys have plenty of fight in them. Though, the over top comments lauding effort as if it isn’t a given is a bit troubling. Nonetheless, a win is a win. We came away with a W that will have to be enough. Talent is everywhere on our sidelines so we have a chance. Better get it together, though. It only gets tougher from here. Bobby Petrino knows the passing game like few others. Hope the clipboards get it done. Gruff and Grump are still calling on the headsets to pick it up. The guys are fighting. Get them in the right places. Get it done clipboards. Get it done. Go Dawgs!
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Published on Sep 14, 2009