Glory in the Hills (UGA)

While I will still be posting a few things about UGA football here at the Chronicles, I'll be doing most of my UGA-centric blogging over at my new site: Go You Silver Britches! Check it out as I'm posting pretty regularly over there. GO DAWGS!

Greetings! This will be the page where I house the stuff that I write about UGA football, my memories of growing up in a UGA family, UGA sports history, and maybe even a little bit of UGA-oriented fiction...hope you enjoy and...

 GO DAWGS! G.A.T.A.!!!

2013 UGA Football Preview

 * From the September 2013 edition of About Covington to Madison magazine. Click here to see the column as it appears in the magazine.
It's that time of the year again. College Football is just around the corner and that makes me a very happy man. For many of us, this is the best time of the year. Autumn is always so nice – the temperature starts dropping, the leaves start turning, and the Georgia Bulldogs hit the field. And for my readers who might pull for that North Avenue school or somebody else, what can I say – I'm a Dawg. You might just have to skip this one.
Five yards. Five lousy yards are what separated our beloved Dawgs from a shot at our first national championship since 1980. A fingertip on the ball, and an instinctual catch by one of our best players just short of the goal line sealed our fate that December night in Atlanta. Now, almost nine months later and with a new season about to begin, and the expectations couldn't be higher. Even with some key losses on the defensive side of the ball, UGA is currently ranked #5 in both the AP and USA Today pre-season polls. There will be lots of pressure, not to mention a grueling September schedule. With that said, these Dawgs - our Dawgs - have a real and legitimate opportunity to do something very special this year. Let's break it down:

Offense: Enough can not be said about how good and explosive of an offense we might have this year. Many experts agree that UGA may very well have the best combination in the country of the offensive skill positions: quarterback, running back and receiver. Add to that a deep and experienced O-line and two of the best tight ends in the conference, and this 2013 edition seems poised to knock off the 2012 UGA offense as the school's most prolific in history. QB Aaron Murray is on everybody's Heisman short list, and he will almost surely leave UGA as its greatest all-time passer. The running back tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall is second to none and we've got a couple of killer fullbacks as well. Add to that a receiving corps that is just absolutely stacked. Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Conley, two of last year's leading receivers, will benefit from the return of Mr. Hands, Michael Bennett. Look for Rantavious Wooten to really break out and expect to see our tight ends get in the mix as well. There is not a school anywhere in America that has two tight ends as good as Artie Lynch and Jay Rome in my opinion. And while many in the Dawg Nation have had their gripes about offensive coordinator and play-caller Mike Bobo, it really seems to me that he has turned the corner the last two seasons. His past borderline obsession with equally mixing run and pass and a tendency for scripted play-calling has dissipated. To me, he now calls as good a game as anybody in college football.

Defense and Special Teams: There has been much consternation and hand wringing in the Bulldog Nation about our defense. So we lost 8 starters to graduation and the NFL draft. So what? When you recruit like UGA does, you simply reload. The way I see it, from top to bottom, the 2013 defense will be much better than the 2012 edition. Really, go back and look at the stats – last year's defense wasn't all that. Not even close to the 2011 D. Yes, we had some unbelievable talent, but we lacked depth...and maybe even some cohesiveness as well. I expect to see our guys really get after it this year and to very much play as a unit. Jordan Jenkins, the phenom sophomore LB, will set the tone. Defensive end Garrison Smith will be the unit's leader and will be second only to Jenkins in terms of big play ability. I'm really not concerned about our front 7. I'm optimistic about the line and our linebackers. The secondary does have some question marks. No doubt about it. But in terms of pure talent, the two-deep for all four positions are as good as any program in America. But, with the exception of CB Damion Swann, they're all pretty young and untested. I think by the month of October, we will have one of the premier defenses in the SEC. It would be nice if we had an easy run in September, but we don't. More on that later. Also, look for the Georgia D to play out of the 4-2-5 alignment against pass-heavy teams in addition to its usual 3-4-4 formation.

In addition to defense anxiety, there are many who are nervous about our special teams' play. Vince Dooley once said that the keys to winning in the SEC were being able to run the ball, strong defense, and a solid kicking game. By kicking game, he was referring to special teams, and I think the key word there is “solid.” We will have solid, not great, special teams play. Colin Barber returns as our punter and he will do a fine job. We're not sure who our kicker is going to be the first game of the season, but there are reports that walk-on Adam Erickson is more than capable if Marshall Morgan can't play. Kick-off coverage has greatly improved since Coach Richt has realized that you've got to have your best talent on the field in that situation. I truly think we're fine in this phase of the game.

Overview: Obviously September is just a crazy grind. Three top-12 teams in our first four games. It's going to be tough. The big question is this: will the offense be good enough to carry the load until the defense gets
their legs under them? I think the short answer on that is yes. It all starts August 31st in Clemson. That's going to be one heck of a ball game. And by the first of October, we'll know if we're legit or not. I feel pretty darn good about it. Don't overlook LSU – they are as good as anyone in the country. And I have this sneaking suspicion that Tennessee is going to play us tough as nails up in Knoxville that sixth week of the season. And naturally Jacksonville will be huge. A win against the Gators will give UGA a three game winning streak and four of the last seven. My prediction for the 2013 Dawgs: UGA will trip up against LSU after impressing everybody with strong wins against Clemson and South Carolina. A smack down of Florida in Jacksonville and later, a great win against Alabama in the SEC championship game, help the Dawgs leapfrog an undefeated Louisville team to play in Pasadena for the national championship against Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.


A Trip Around the Dawgosphere 
*An online post from June  13, 2013

There are many great websites and blogs out there that cover UGA athletics and football in particular. I once read where it was thought that there may be more UGA-centric blogs and sites than any other school in collegiate sports. Maybe at one time, but I'm not 100% sure about that now. But if UGA doesn't have the most, they've got to be pretty darn close. There are literally dozens and dozens of pages out there dedicated to all things UGA. There are several that are now defunct, or only post sparingly (not that I could really say much about that). There are those that seem to be followed by a ton of people, and those that don't seem to really get much traffic. But they are all parts of the entity that is the Dawgosphere.

With apologies to any who were excluded, here is my personal list for the best of the best: 

The UGA football blog. It's the best of a very good group. From the name of the site referencing Larry Munson's famous way of describing what UGA and their opponent were wearing on the field right before kickoff, to the aura and mystique of The Senator himself (ESPN did a piece where they actually gave his real name...I immediately blocked it out - to me, he's the Senator). His posts can be short and sweet, or long and involved, but they are almost always just about right. His insights are sharp - he can always cut right through to the heart of the matter. His snark is beyond comparison, but he never comes across as a jerk. Add to that a very strong understanding of the game, and you've got yourself one hell of a blog. Simply put, Get the Picture (GTP) is the cream of the crop. From the moment you first pull up the page and see that picture of Dooley and James Brown at the top and begin to read a few posts,  you think to yourself - "Yes! This is it. This is what I've been looking for. This is what I've been waiting for." At least, that's what I thought about five years ago when I first visited. I've been, pretty much literally, an everyday reader since.With a very large, loyal, and eager readership, you can count on a ton of comments and discussion. Morning buffets are always a much anticipated happening, and his musical palate cleansers are great as well. In addition to everything else, the man has superb musical tastes - he once played a Jo Jo Gunne tune! What else needs to be said?

A fairly close number two that might be closer if this page's founder, T. Kyle King, was still involved. As I mentioned, Kyle is no longer there, but page manager MaconDawg still is and that means a lot. MD has great football knowledge and just the right combination of snark and humor to make him the 2nd best UGA blogger currently out there (and he also has very nice musical tastes). In addition to him, there are several other great contributors including vineyarddawg, Mr. Sanchez, Chuckdawg and others. One key difference between this page and GTP is that Dawgsports covers all UGA sports heavily, not just football. And I'm not only talking basketball and baseball here: tennis, gymnastics, golf, and pretty much everything else get the full treatment. Also, more than probably any other site, Dawgsports is very much a community. There is nothing quite like an open comment thread with dozens of your fellow Dawg fans online for a UGA football game that you couldn't attend in person. These guys do a really good job, and it's a fine page. The commenting is smart and savvy, just like the blogging. Great discussions, and occasional arguments, will happen. Just have you're grammar and syntax in order (ha, ha - see what I did there), although that might not be as much a prerequisite now that the Mayor is gone... 

This is a fun page. Whereas GTP and Dawgsports are everyday stops for me, Bernie's Dawg Blawg is more like an almost everyday stop for me, but I usually visit at least 3 or 4 times a week. Like other UGA blogs, this started out as a weekly email back in the day and officially launched as a blog in 2008. Bernie brings a good sense of humor and a strong understanding of the game to the table. And you can usually count on a good bit of posting. With a decent amount of regular readers, you will see some pretty good discussions from time to time. A really good page.

This is one that holds a special place in my heart being that I'm a huge enthusiast of the following things: UGA football, Lewis Grizzard, and Southern BBQ (is there any other kind?). I'll just let their intro page sum it up:
Welcome to The Grit Tree, where it is all things Georgia and all things Southern.  With all the other options out there in the blogosphere, we are glad that you have chosen our blog to read.
We are just four friends who have a passion for the Georgia Bulldogs, Atlanta Braves, southern food, peaches and Lewis Grizzard.  Though we come from all different parts of Georgia, we now reside in Middle Georgia.
We have decided to take our passions and turn them into a blog.
 There are principles on which we stand by, and will guide any future posts:
  1. The Georgia Bulldogs are one of the premier teams in not only the SEC but the entire country during the first decade of the new millennium.  We are led by a great man and equally great coach in Mark Richt, and Coach Mark Richt will bring a MNC to Athens.
  2. There is no better place to live in the world than the American South, specifically the great state of Georgia. 
  3. We prefer pulled BBQ pork, homemade soft serve peach ice cream, and sweet tea with a lemon.
  4. It will always be “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”   
  5. It is appropriate to wear a collared shirt to a football game, regardless of what Florida fans in their number 15 jerseys say.
 The Grit Tree will look something like this:
 July-January:  Heavy Georgia Bulldogs football
 January-July: Georgia Bulldogs football and other topics such as the BBQ restaurant of the       month or anything else.
These guys post a good bit and you won't want to miss their Thursday BBQ or Lewis Grizzard Wednesdays. Great stuff! 

This is one I have a particular fondness of since I am, after all, a history enthusiast. This is the online blog of one, Patrick Garbin, a UGA football historian of some note. I have literally spent hours at this site. It's really great. According to the page, it is "the only blog primarily focused on the rich history and tradition of University of Georgia Football." And that would be an apt description. While other pages, including some mentioned here, will from time to time cover the history of UGA football, Patrick's is the only one that is pretty much dedicated to it. Seriously, if you haven't visited this page yet, be prepared to invest some time. If you're a DGD, you'll be there for awhile.

This is a page I've recently become aware of. Listed on several blogrolls throughout the Dawgosphere, Kimberly Nash, owner and administrator, obviously has the street cred to be considered one of the top Dog Bloggers out there. And after having visited her site several times, I can wholly attest to her skills. This lady knows football, and she's a helluva writer.  Here is her personal description from the page:
I am not a 'journalist' by trade, nor do I present myself as such. I am just a wife, mother, and Georgia Bulldog fan who likes to write about two of her favorite things: the Georgia Bulldogs and college football. I write. You's a give and take experience.
A superb site, albeit maybe a bit Ad-cluttered, it's becoming a regular stop for me.

This is Tyler Dawgden's blog, and it's a nice one. A good writer with a good sense of humor, I don't make it over there as much as I should. He posts pretty regularly and has, I think, at least one other contributor. Whereas some of the other Dog Blogs will end up covering a lot of the same things, Tyler seems to do a good job of mixing it up and keeping things fresh.

This might be considered more of a news site as opposed to a blog, but I just really like it. Plus, they've got a link that has the results from every season since 1980 which, I believe, is the only page in the Dawgosphere that does. Now...if he gets every season since 1892 up, I'll be real impressed. LOL!...just kidding. This is a really great page and I check it quite often, especially during football season.


One more site I would have to recommend would be The Dawgbone. It posts links daily from every blog and news site in the Dawgosphere. And speaking of news resources, here are the following places to go to get good solid UGA sports news without having to fool with the goddam AJC:

And that, in my opinion, is the best of the Dawgosphere. long until that Clemson game?



Here are a handful of blogs that haven't posted recently but may reactivate for football season:

Jack's Bulldog Blog: A cool site. This guy does a pretty good job.
Bubba 'n Earl Sittin on the 50: Wish this page posted more...
A Bulldawg in Exile: See above. Unfortunately, I think this one might be done.

A Fond Remembrance of an Autumn Saturday in Athens
*An online only write-up 9.2.11
I've been going to Georgia football games for over thirty years, just saying that makes me feel old. Hell, I am old! I keep having these birthdays, you know? It's getting to be the end part of August and as I'm prone to do at this time of year, I have been reminiscing a good bit about my beloved Dawgs. I've been to some great games in Athens over the years. I was at the '82 Clemson game with the blocked punt and was at the '91 upset of them also; the 2000 Tennessee game when we finally broke the drought (and got to see the students demolish our hedges); the Georgia Tech beat-down of 2002, and of course--the Blackout against Auburn in 2007 where I witnessed a bunch of old white folks dancing to Soulja Boy. I was that guy wearing red, you know, the one who apparently didn't get the memo. All total, I think I've been to upwards of 200 UGA games and a good number of those were home games. And it's not just the games that stick out for me. At the risk of sounding sappy and sentimental--it really is the memories. Throwing the football with my Dad on South Campus back in the day; cranking up the grill; seeing folks you haven't seen in forever; witnessing the Redcoats take the field pre-game...the list goes on and on. And that's without even getting into the emotions you experience on a game day Saturday in Athens. Just that feel. There's really nothing like it. But of all those games and of of all of those memories, one always sticks out.

And truth be told, I cannot give you an exact year on this one. I know it wasn't as early as '82 and I'm positive it was no later than '85. My best guess would be 1984. I say that because I remember a lot of frustration and anxiety with the crowd for that game (and that was more of a 1984 thing as the magic of the '80-'83 run was wearing off) but for the life of me, I can't remember who we played, or, as I mentioned, what year it was. I know we won though. By the way, after reading this write-up, I can imagine some of you being skeptical about the validity of my memories, but I think I've got a good answer for that. I think that what follows was just so awesome and amazing that my mind kind of went into a super-record mode and that the memories of the actual contest were diminished as a result. Sound good? Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. So here we go...

I know the game was close and it was pretty suspenseful. I have gone back and researched and if it was indeed the 1984 season, then it was a good bet that it was the Ole Miss game that we won 18-12. I know it couldn't have been the opener vs. Southern Miss because I remember that game vividly, and I remember the rest of the home games that year. So for the sake of the story, we'll just go with Ole Miss. So our Dawgs won but because it was so close, traffic was an absolute nightmare after the game. Now for folks who think traffic is bad after a close UGA game nowadays, they obviously weren't around back in the 1980's. Back then it was the wild, wild west. A Free-For-All. Park anywhere and everywhere...hell, park on the street. It just didn't matter. These days you get towed if you improperly park. Also, there are cops everywhere directing traffic and they have these well-researched traffic plans put into place. Back then--they did not. It was always a mess.

My Dad had a Connor Hall parking pass. We were always a South Campus family, you might say. I tried doing the North Campus thing for awhile a few years ago, but I just couldn't get into it. Tailgating only feels right on South Campus for me...but I digress... So after the game, we get back to the car and it's just total and absolute gridlock. Nothing is moving. It took us forever to get out of the parking lot and by the time we actually got on Cedar Street, we seemed to be making a pace of about a car length every five minutes. I could tell the old man was getting antsy. He wanted to get home. There was college football to be watched on T.V., steaks to be cooked, and other consumables to be consumed. After what seemed like an eternity, the old man had simply had enough. He jerked the car into park and turned to our mother (my brother was there also) and said, "Take the wheel. You'll know what to do." And with that, he was off. Walking down Cedar towards East Campus Street at a pretty brisk clip. My mother slid over into the driver's seat and laughed nervously while trying to maintain idle chit-chat with us boys. Looking back on it, I think she was a little concerned. What, exactly, was her husband up to? What did he have in mind?

I remember feeling a little bit the same. I think my Brother did too. What was the old man up to? But then, after just a few minutes, it was like the floodgates opened. We started moving down the street with ease. As we got closer to East Campus St., I was the first one to see my Father. He was in the middle of the intersection. His right hand was held up in the direction of Sanford Stadium while his left hand was motioning cars. The man was directing traffic. I think all three of us were simply at a loss there at first. This possibly couldn't be happening. By the time we were in front of the Statistics Building right near the intersection, my brother and I had broken into hyena-like hysterics. My Mother soon joined in. And then, right there at the intersection, my mom stopped the station wagon and Dad hurriedly jumped in telling my Mom to “hit it!” She gunned it and we were off. My God, we were all just rolling by this point. Laughing like crazy. But that's not even the best part. The best part was this: I was sitting behind the driver's seat and had the vantage point for something I'll never forget. As my Dad was getting in the car, I happened to look at the first car stopped that had been heading down East Campus. The first car that my Dad actually stopped with his traffic cop routine, mind you. It was a Georgia fan that looked to be about my Dad's age who was also with his family. His expressions and emotions completely ran the gambit--from confusion, to shock, followed naturally, of course, by righteous indignation, briefly followed by rage, but then morphed into genuine admiration. When it was all said and done, he was actually smiling. The expression on his face at this point seemed to say, "Well played, sir. I salute you and your endeavors...I wish I could have done something like that." Man, oh man, it was so cool! We all just laughed and laughed. I seem to remember my Mom saying something like, "Oh my God--I can't believe you just did that!" My brother and I were completely in awe. My Dad just kind of chuckled and then broke into a easy smile. I think he was pretty proud of himself.

Obviously it was a big deal for me. I mean, here I am, over 25 years later, writing about it like it was yesterday. I don't know if it says something about my personality that this memory would stick out so much for me. Like, you know, the whole "anti-authority" thing, or whatever...I just know that it was a big deal for me! And it's one of the many reasons why my Dad is my hero. I think about that day often and always puts a smile on my face. And to me, for some reason, it just seems to encapsulate Georgia football. So...Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition. How Bout Them Dawgs!

Recollections of Columbia

 *An online-only write-up, October 2012

Well, our boys in red and black head to Columbia to take on their boys in garnet and black on Saturday, and as I'm wont to do, I've been thinking about past trips there a good bit lately. Actually, I'm not going this year. My brother is, and I think maybe he wanted me to go, but I just don't have the time, money, or inclination.

I've made the trip there 6 times in my life, and honestly, I feel like that's enough. That's not to say I won't ever make it back there. I'm just not going this year. For the record, I very much feel like we will win, and I'm usually right about these things.

My last trip was 2008. We won. Our trip was a disaster. That's another story for another time. My brother and I were there for the magic of 2002. We were actually in the corner of the end zone that gave us a great vantage point for Pollack's now-infamous fumble/interception/touchdown, that was so awesome. Of course, we were also there for the 2000 dumpster fire that I still think about rather often. I can still see Donnan sitting on the bench to next to QC during the 4th quarter, putting his arm around him and talkin' to him....oh, the horror!

I've been to others but none have had the impact as my first trip there in 1984.

One of my Dad's best buddies at the time, Mr. Joe, who was also a licensed pilot, joined my Dad, brother and I on that trip. I think the old man wanted Mr. Joe to go so he could take care of the flying of the co-op Cessna so that he might concentrate on the game and us crazy kids (and maybe a few cocktails). We left out from the Covington airport with dreams of a Bulldog victory...

Things started to fall apart right from the get-go. I seem to remember a near-miss in the sky, and something else happened as well...I think maybe a light came on the console that kinda freaked out the adults. Things didn't get much better in Columbia. It took us forever to get the plane parked and by the time we got on the shuttle that the airport was offering, it was almost time for kick-off. Then, we got dropped off almost a mile away from the stadium. Things were unraveling badly. Finally, my Dad offered a black man in an old Ford pick-up truck $10 if we could jump on the back and get a ride to the stadium. The man accepted and we finally got to our seats late in the 1st quarter.

Even as a 9-year old boy, I could tell that things just weren't right during the game. That magic I had come to know and love the previous 4 years was dissipating. The Cocks seemed to have our number. I remember my Dad telling Mr. Joe at one point that we were "going to mess around and lose this thing." Well, he was right. 17-10. It was an ugly game that started the downward spiral of an ugly season. It was a clear defining of eras. Tennessee, 1980 - Clemson, 1984 = good times; S. Carolina, 1984 started the not-so-good times that culminated in very embarrassing losses to Florida and Tech later in the season and basic mediocrity for the next 18 years. 

But what sticks out more than anything about that night was this: the stadium swayed. It swayed. Like swayed in the wind, I guess. Seriously, it swayed. At least the upper-deck did. I've talked to several people who can attest to this fact. I think that maybe they've fixed it now, but back then, the damn thing swayed. The other thing I remember, as we left Williams-Brice, was the large number of Gamecock fans who cursed us with just about every foul word known to man even though there were two children with our group. Total class. That impression has only been reinforced over the years...

But the best part came once we got back to the airport. The "nice lady" that was working the terminal was so sweet to us when we got back. Basically saying that South Carolina got lucky, and that it was a good game. After Dad and Mr. Joe did the pre-flight stuff and we taxied, took off and reached altitude, my Dad radioed in to inform the tower that we were about make the turn to head west back to Georgia. The sweet lady we had earlier spoken to told us we were good to go and wished us a very safe flight. Then she screamed, "GO COCKS!!!," and giggled. My Dad turned to Mr. Joe with a stern look on his face and simply said, "that [expletive deleted] bitch!" I knew right then and there that there were times to say the F-word and the B-word, and this was obviously one of those times.

I'm 3-3 in my trips to Columbia and I'd like to eventually get a winning record, but it will have to wait. As I mentioned earlier, I do feel good about Saturday. I'm not going, but I know we're going to pull it out. I hope my brother has a great time. And if he were to somehow run into that airport lady, I hope he tells her exactly what my Dad said that night 28 years ago.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. How 'Bout Them Dawgs!!!