Lurking Gators

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida (6-1) is back in familiar territory as a top 10 team and national championship contender. The Gators beat No.7 Auburn about two weeks ago.

The Tigers came into the game as the favorites but left Gainesville with a convincing 24-13 loss. Florida was feeling great after that win and headed to No. 5 LSU the following week.

UF won the game in Gainesville last season, 27-19. The Tigers had revenge on their mind and pulled away in the second half. The game was tied at 21 at halftime. LSU won 42-28.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron declared that holding Florida’s defense without a sack was “the biggest stat of the night,” noting how the Gators’ defensive ends had “destroyed” opposing offensive lines in previous games.

Kyle Trask was 23-of-39 passing for 310 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

“There’s two ways you can go: You can either lose and start pointing fingers or you can lose and start coming together,” Trask said. “We have a great group of guys and at the end of the day; it’s just going to make this team better.”

This is the toughest part of Florida’s schedule. So far, they are 1-1 during these four games. The remaining games are at South Carolina and Georgia at a neutral site (Jacksonville).

Previously I did not think the USC game would be difficult. The Gamecocks were under .500 prior to this weekend.

They shocked the college football world by beating No. 3 UGA in Athens. The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times and South Carolina did not have any. Now this game in Columbia looks like a heavyweight matchup.

South Carolina (3-3) gave up 468 yards to Georgia but forcing the turnovers was the difference. The Gamecocks also lost freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski to a knee injury. He’s actually a backup and has been playing since senior Jake Bentley suffered a mid-foot sprain in the season opener.

Third string freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner played several snaps against Georgia. Currently, it does not sound like he will start the Florida game because Hilinski is expected to return.

“He’s got a sprained knee,” Muschamp said of Hilinski. “It’s nothing serious. I’ll know more Tuesday. He’s a little sore, obviously, today. But again, it’s nothing serious. We expect him to play on Saturday.”

So far, I give the early advantage to the Gators. They are ranked 20th nationally in total defense but they have played at least one more game than all of the teams ranked higher. That means they are actually better than many of them.

The Gamecocks are not good on offense and they are led by an injured true freshman QB.

If he cannot make it through the game, the third string QB will come in and they were not effective with him. They should be able to stop them and hold them to under twenty points.

I don’t think they will overlook this game since they know Carolina is capable of beating them. After that, they will go in to the bye week with two weeks to prepare against Georgia.

Ramblin Wreck

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I have to imagine Geoff Collins begins each day staring at the mirror, doing his best Stuart Smalley impression.

However, instead of repeating the self-affirmation quotes that end with “….and doggone it, people like me” I picture him reciting all the reasons he decided to take the Georgia Tech head coaching gig in the first place- $3 million dollars a season…it’s not Temple…close proximity to The Varsity.

I feel as though it’s pretty safe to assume most anyone who watches college football knew this would be a tough transitional year for Georgia Tech, but I’m not sure even the most ardent of Yellow Jacket fans thought it would be this rough.

Not only are they the worst team in the ACC, but you could argue they are the worst of all the Power Five schools. The team is really living up to the whole Ramblin’ Wreck nickname, but for all the wrong reasons.

It’s hard to find many bright spots when your opponents are out gaining you by over 100 yards per contest, you haven’t scored more than 24 points in any game and you lost not only to an FCS school, but a bad one at that.

I could go even more in depth, but it would be close to bullying at that point, especially since you can’t really blame the current coaches or players for what’s taking place.

When you’re struggling through a season like Georgia Tech is currently going through, you can usually point to a litany of reasons as to why it’s happening. While that’s true in this case, the main culprit has to do with recruiting; the talent just isn’t there.

Paul Johnson did a decent job early in his tenure of bringing in players that fit his system, even if they weren’t the most talented.

That wasn’t necessarily the case over the past few seasons, so what’s left is a group of players brought in to play in a system no longer being used, most of whom just aren’t talented enough to compete at this level on a weekly basis.

To use the “Cook the meals, buy the groceries” analogy from Bill Parcells, Johnson bought the groceries he thought he needed to make lasagna and now Collins is having to turn those ingredients into stir fry.

Given the circumstances it’s hard to tell how much of an impact the new head coach has made, but the free pass you could argue he should be afforded lasts for this year only.

Now, I know contracts don’t necessarily mean a lot in today’s game, but given the seven-year contract Collins was given I have to believe the administration is willing to give him an opportunity to turn things around, even though it won’t be immediately.

I doubt Tech will be favored in any of their games for the remainder of the season, and even though they could pull off an upset or two, they are looking at arguably their worst season in 25 years. At this point it’s about getting to the end of the season without completely embarrassing yourself.

More than likely it will be a few years before Georgia Tech is back to being relevant on the college football landscape, although being in the Coastal Division could certainly help speed up the rebuilding process.

In the meantime, Collins may need to find things to add to his daily mirror pep talk.

Chopped

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Let’s get this out of the way: “Redskins” is a racial slur, and the fact that the NFL has allowed a team to continue using that term as a mascot is both abhorrent and, apropos of the team being in our nation’s capital, disappointingly unsurprising.

The reason I start this piece off with such a disclaimer is because the recently-ousted-from-the-playoffs Atlanta Braves had a few headlines during their NLDS appearance owing to the comments of a St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher.

If you weren’t following or haven’t heard, it boils down to this: Cards’ pitcher Ryan Helsley, a member of the Cherokee tribe, expressed to the media that he was disappointed that Atlanta still hands out their famous foam tomahawks and encourages the Tomahawk Chop.

In Helsley’s estimation, the Tomahawk Chop is a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people and Native Americans in general, and is disrespectful.

In response, prior to the 13-1 drumming Atlanta took at the hands of St. Louis in Game 5, the Braves decided not to hand out the foam axes and reduced the usage of the Tomahawk Chop music over the loudspeakers during the game.

There was some chatter about this during and following the game (including some foolish notion being spread that the removal of the tomahawks was the reason for the embarrassment…I can’t even start with that nonsense), with varying opinions.

Being a die-hard Braves fan, I’ve been asked several times about this. Should the Tomahawk Chop be cast into exile?

I have a two-part answer. Stick with me.

The first part of my answer is this: to me, the Braves nickname and the Tomahawk Chop is so very tenuously associated with Native Americans that I don’t really consider that a part of Atlanta’s brand.

At worst, the nickname “Braves” is akin to “Warriors” – a group of the strongest fighters that, if anything, is celebratory. But I don’t see the letters across the chest and think about “Indian Braves.” I don’t do the Tomahawk Chop and think about a Native American war cry – they’re specifically, for me, associated with Atlanta’s baseball team, and that’s all.

That is, in part, because the Braves have done a relatively good job of doing away with Native American iconography as a part of their brand. The screaming Indian is gone (despite a brief attempt at a comeback in 2013 that was mercifully rejected), Chief Noc-A-Homa has been retired and there are very few feathers adorning the uniform outside of the 1970s throwback.

All that adds to me – this is one man’s opinion – not feeling like I’m appropriating a culture. There’s just not any association in my mind.

However. Here’s the second part, and it’s much more important: I don’t care one little bit about the name of the team. I genuinely don’t. I don’t care about foam tomahawks and the Chop and all of that. To paraphrase Shakespeare: the team by any other name would still be my team.

So, here’s the thing: if the Native American community thinks that the name and the Chop and the tomahawk are offensive or in any way inappropriate, then let’s change the damn name of the team.

I’m a white man. I can’t reasonably tell you what is or isn’t offensive to Native Americans. So, if changing some inconsequential things about the team that I love will make a group of people who have been disenfranchised by this country a little happier, then by god let’s go ahead a do it.

Look, I’m not out campaigning for change. If this dies down and nothing comes of it, then I’ll be back next season doing the Chop with a tomahawk on my chest, because I see those as a baseball thing, not a Native American thing.

But that’s just me, and if a change needs to be made, then that’s fine with me too. I’ll still be back next season, cheering on my team.

And if you’re sitting at home, reading this, grumbling about how people shouldn’t get upset over something like the Chop, then maybe try to assess who’s got a more sensible reason to be upset, and check your privilege at the Right Field Gate next April.

Chop or not, I’ll see you next season.

Week 7 Run Down

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Camden @ Colleton: Camden has looked unstoppable so far this year. The Wildcats went into last night’s game undefeated at 6-0 and has only really played one close game all season.

Camden took the trip to South Carolina to take on the Colleton Cougars. The Cougars came into the game 2-3 on the season.

The Wildcats scored on the opening possession on converted on the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead. Colleton would answer to make it 6-0. It was all Camden from there. The Wildcats took a 35-6 lead into the half.

Colleton would not be able to get back into the game as Camden kept adding on. The final, Camden 49 Colleton 12. The Wildcats improve to 7-0 on the season.

MCA @ Savannah Country Day: MCA has won 2 of its’ last 3, including a huge upset win over Calvary Day.

The Bucs come in a 2-3 football team but are playing much better than that. MCA took to the road up I-95 to take on the undefeated Savannah Country Day Hornets in a region matchup.

MCA returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead over the Hornets. Country Day answered to tie the game. The Bucs would score before the half to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room. Savannah Country Day evened the game in the 3rd quarter at 14-14.

The Hornets scored 14 unanswered points from that point to win a hard-fought game, 28-14. The Bucs fall to 2-4 on the year.

Brunswick High @ Richmond Hill: In 2018 the Brunswick High Pirates their season 3-3 and then lost all 4 region games to end the season 3-7.

In 2019, the Pirates started their 3-3. BHS kicked off region play against the Richmond Hill Wildcats on the road and were hopeful to not follow the 2018 plan.

The Wildcats almost knocked off Camden a few weeks back and came into this contest a 2-3 football team.

The Pirates took the opening kickoff of the game 80 yards for a touchdown to set the tone. However, the Wildcats would score 35 unanswered points to take a 35-7 lead into the half. The Wildcats would not look back, woodshedding the Pirates, 48-13.

BHS falls to 3-4 and 0-1 in the region.

Statesboro @ Wayne: Region play also starts tonight for Wayne County and Statesboro. The Yellow Jackets came in with a 4-1 mark while the Blue Devils entered the region affair with a 3-2 mark, but have lost back to back games after starting 3-0.

In a defensive struggle in the first half the Yellow Jackets to a 14-7 lead into the half.

Wayne added another TD in the 4th to go up 21-7. That would end up your final. The Yellow Jackets improve to 5-1 and take first place in their region.

Brantley @ Pierce: Everyone was beginning to think Brantley was for real, until they got thumped by MCA last week.

The Herons had a chance to prove their start wasn’t a fluke as they traveled to Blackshear to take in Pierce in the Bear’s Den.

Pierce entered the games undefeated and the class of the region.

Pierce drew first blood early in the first quarter, scoring a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The Bears would pour it on from there, Pierce took a 42-0 lead into the half and this was a laugher for the Bears. Final 56-7. Brantley drops to 3-3 and Pierce improves to 6-0.

Frederica @ Westfield: Frederica is coming off a 30-28 loss to region foe Pinewood. The Knights lead that game 21-0 at the half, but then got outscored 30-7 in the second half.

Frederica, now 2-3 on the season, found themselves in a must win situation on the road against the Westfield Hornets.

Westfield had lost their first 6 games of the year before beating Trinity Christian last week for a region win.

The Knights found themselves up 16-7 late in the 2nd quarter. The Knights would pull away in the second half, winning the gam3 43-10. The Knights improve to 3-3 on the season and 1-1 in the region.

 

The Peach Curse

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Ten run top of the first inning, blown 25 point Super Bowl lead with 17 minutes left in the game, 2nd and 26 in the National Title game, 4 game sweeps after having the best record in the NBA Eastern Conference, back up QB playing like a Heisman winner in 2018 SEC Title game, Loss after loss to Florida in Jacksonville in 2002, 2003, 2005, when UGA has clearly better teams, 3-2 sliders drilled over the left field fence to change the balance of a World Series, being beat into submission by a FSU home run barrage in the 2019 Athens Baseball Regional.

You get my drift? The list goes on and on. The curse of Georgia sports is real and right now there does not seem to be a cure at this moment in time.

The latest debacle was masterfully created by the 2019 Atlanta Braves.

We should have seen this one coming from a distance. The Braves went 97-65 in the NL East, clinched a division and slumped into the playoffs against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Braves were drilled 13-1 in a deciding game 5 in the NLDS. BTW, Atlanta has not won a post-season baseball series since 2001.

Yeah, we should have seen this one coming, but the 2019 Braves provided something the Georgia sports scene longs for and that is hope.  All of that hope faded in about 20 minutes during the 5PM hour on October 9th, 2019.

The debacle started before the series even began when Mike Soroka was slated to only get one start in the series. How does your two most consistent starters during the regular season Mike Soroka and Max Fried only get one combined start in the NLDS?

Fried, a 17 game winner, was relegated to the bullpen in the series where he struggled at times. Maybe his manager could have given this 25 year old kid a confidence boost by giving him something he earned during the regular season, which was a start in the NLDS.

Why didn’t Mike Soroka get two starts in this series? Seven strong innings in game three, but yet he was slotted as a game three starter after a meaningless start in New York on September 29th, which he was coming off 10 days rest after beating the Phillies on 9/19.

If the rotation was Soroka, Keuchel, Fried, Foltynewicz, and Soroka do the Braves win this series? Then you have Keuchel ready for game one of the NLCS.

We know Dallas Keuchel did not pull his weight in the series; or maybe he would have if he was not pulled in the 4th inning of a 1-1 game in game 1 with 2 outs.

Atlanta signs him for $13 million in June for a playoff run and you don’t let a Cy Young winner pitch out of a little jam in the 4th inning?

Why not let Josh Tomlin stay in the game in game 4 when he was mowing down the Cardinals at the time?

We know Freeman, Donaldson, and Markakis struggled at the plate in the series batting .200, .158, and .143, respectively. Freddie, just one fly ball in game 4 and you are hosting the Nats with a World Series on the line.

Why do managers feel like they have to manage differently in the playoffs? I get the all hands on deck mentality in elimination games, but Fried in the bullpen with 17 wins during the regular season raises a lot of questions. Baseball is a funny game maybe our most unpredictable game.

Position players have to produce runs, pitchers have to get outs, and managers have to make the right moves.

As a team the Braves failed in all three areas. The team is young and will continue to grow. Brian Snitker got badly out-managed in this series and I just did not see that coming.

This was a bitter defeat for the Atlanta Braves, and it appears the Curse of Georgia Sports is alive and well.

UGA is undefeated in football, but you have this sick feeling in your stomach don’t you Georgia sports fans that you cannot explain?

The Washington Nationals in the NLCS really stings.

Storm In Miami

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After five games, what have we learned about the Miami Hurricanes?

They aren’t well coached. The Hurricanes are off to a poor start with a 2-3 record. The Hurricanes have yet to beat a Power Five opponent, losing to Florida, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

First year head coach Manny Diaz is saying all the right things but morale victories don’t keep you off the hot seat. Is Manny in over his head?

On December 30, 2018, Coach Diaz was hired as the head coach at the University of Miami. Diaz was Miami Defensive Coordinator from 2016-2018. Coach Diaz is considered the engineer behind the “Turnover Chain” and a top 10 defense.

Miami fans want to restore the glory days of the 80’s and 90’s. When ‘THE U” rained terror down of college football. The Hurricanes dominated college football landscape winning five National Championships (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991 & 2001) plus national finalist (1985, 1986, 1988, 1992, 2000 & 2002).

Obviously, the Hurricanes of today won’t live up to the “The U” standards.

While it is premature to call for Coach Diaz’s job; the rest of the coaching staff should feel the pressure.

Defensive Coordinator Blake Baker has taken a top 10 defense and turned it into a dumpster fire. Miami currently ranks 15 in total defense. Virginia Tech scoring 42 points is not the Miami standard. It’s very clear Coach Diaz has to become more involved with the defense.

Offensive Coordinator Dan Enos inherited an offensive line that is offensive. Miami’s offensive line has been under scrutiny all season and are ranked 125th in the country in sacks allowed.

Quarterback Jarren Williams had been getting destroyed. Miami has talent at receiver and tight end but it doesn’t matter if Williams has no time to throw the ball.

Running Backs DeeJay Dallas has made the most of their opportunities rushing for 410 yard and scoring 6 touchdowns in five games. Dallas could be one of the top running backs in the country if he wasn’t having to make two guys miss on every play.

Enos get paid to put points on the board. He’s doing just that with the worst offensive line in college football.

Enos now has a quarterback controversy with Jarren Williams getting benched and N”Kosi Perry throwing for 422 yards and 4 touchdowns on Saturday.

The remainder of the Hurricanes schedule is relatively easy to manage. The Hurricanes play Virginia, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Louisville. FIU and Duke.

Miami must win 4 of these games to become bowl eligible. After losing to Virginia Tech this past Saturday, becoming bowl eligible will prove to be an uphill battle.

How does Manny Diaz salvage the remainder of the season? First, Diaz must become more involved with the defense. Second, he must hold coaches, players and himself accountable. Finally, he has to do a better job recruiting.

Diaz must influence the defense in practice and on a day to day basis. Coaching defense is how Manny Diaz got the job at Miami. This is the biggest sense of urgency for Miami.

Players and coaches must be held accountable for their actions. Miami finished the game against Virginia Tech with 11 penalties for 90 yards.

Three key personal foul penalties extend Virginia Tech drives. Miami tied the game but Mike Harley’s personal foul for celebration gave Virginia Tech great field position on their winning touchdown drive.

Miami coaches created the “Turnover Chain and Touchdown Rings.” Players care more about wearing them than winning.

The blood of college football is recruiting, and The Hurricanes must do a better job. Miami is currently ranked 27 nationally and 4th in the ACC (247Sports). This is unacceptable!

The Hurricanes glory days appear long gone and the future does not look bright.

Failure To Fly

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Making it to the proverbial mountain top is the goal of almost any athlete and coach.

The only problem with getting to the top is things can only go down from there. The Falcons may not have technically made it to the top of the mountain, but they, and Dan Quinn in particular, are finding out how quickly that fall can come.

So, here’s the good- Quinn ended an 18 draught for Falcons when he led them to the Super Bowl a few years ago.

He also guided them back to the playoffs the following year, something most teams that lost in the previous years’ championship game had struggled to repeat, so I give him credit for that. Plus, the Falcons have had some injuries, particularly on defense, which should be taken into account.

Now for the bad news- in today’s NFL none of what I mentioned above really matters, especially when you didn’t actually win the Super Bowl.

Since their Super Bowl appearance three years ago, Atlanta’s win total for each season has been 10-7-and “on pace for fewer than 7 wins this year”.

I realize after you win 14 games you’re going to step back, and 10 wins certainly isn’t anything to shrug, but it’s still a continual decline.

Defensively, the Falcons have had difficulty stopping the run and forcing turnovers; not a great combination, to say the least.

Fortunately, outside of the Houston game, where their defense had more leaks than the staff at the White House, they’ve been able to minimize the damage when it comes to points.

Surprisingly enough, the offensive side is really where they’ve been hurting. Matt Ryan is currently having a career worst TD/INT ratio and the running game is basically nonexistent.

Point being, you can deal with a few less wins each year as long as there isn’t a huge drop off in performance on the field, which isn’t the case.

Throw in the injuries to Drew Brees and Cam Newton, combined with Tampa’s inconsistency, and the season was opening up to be Atlanta’s for the taking.

The Falcons have yet to face either of those teams. All three are playing better than expected, so while their success isn’t a direct correlation to Atlanta’s struggles, it does make the season up to this point that much harder to handle.

You also can’t ignore Atlanta has some pretty high priced players that are right in the middle of their primes (Julio Jones) or close to nearing the end (Ryan), adding additional urgency to each season.

Personally, I don’t think Quinn should be in danger of losing his job, but the Falcons care about my opinion as much as McDonald’s does about my individual boycott of the McRib- seriously, that whole sandwich is just unnatural.

But, it’s all about what have you done for me lately, and if this current trajectory continues, Quinn answer will be very short.

I remember the simultaneous look of joy and exasperation on the face of my high school chemistry teacher when she found out we (her students) had the highest end of course test scores in the state; she was at the top of the mountain.

Unfortunately for Quinn he’s currently experiencing the exasperation and difficulty in Atlanta without having ever experienced the joy beforehand.

If things don’t change, he may not have to worry about it anymore, at least not in Atlanta.

Home Fried Cooking

By: TJ Hartnett

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

After a travesty of a NLDS Game 1, the Atlanta Braves, behind a stellar outing from a flame-throwing Mike Foltynewicz, evened up the series with a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Now the Braves travel to enemy territory. They will need to win at least one of the two games to be played at Busch Stadium in order to keep their hopes alive of winning their first postseason series since 2002 and advancing to the National League Championship Series.

The Braves will be sending their ace and master of the road game Mike Soroka to the mound on Sunday to face off against the Cards’ veteran Adam Wainwright. That should make for a compelling match up, and one worth watching.

The hopes of Braves Country, however, rely less on Soroka’s pitching ability, that is likely to be on point, and more on whether or not he can pitch deep into the game.

The blowing of the 3-1 lead during Thursday’s Game 1 could arguably be attributed to Chris Martin or to Chris Martin’s oblique, which got hurt during his warm up pitches and forced him from the game in the 8th inning.

With that, the reliable Shane Greene/Martin/Mark Melancon triad was disrupted, and instead Brian Snitker brought in Luke Jackson, who promptly gave up a moonshot to Cards’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Then Jackson allowed two more baserunners before Melancon came in and allowed one to score, tying the game up.

It isn’t really Chris Martin’s fault. Jackson was going to be the scapegoat no matter what happened, because he’s Luke Jackson; but Melancon hasn’t been a treat to watch either. He also allowed the tying run to the plate on Friday’s Game 2 before recording the save.

It’s a small sample size, but in the postseason when it’s life or death, a small sample size is enough. It might be time to rethink the way the bullpen is being used going forward.

Martin, unfortunately, isn’t coming back. Even if he heals quickly, taking him off the NLDS roster because of an injury makes him ineligible to return for the rest of the series and for the NLCS as well.

Taking his place on the roster is Julio Teheran. Teheran carried the team on his back for much of the year and also stumbled so mightily in September that his lack of inclusion on the DS roster was a shame but not a shock.

Unfortunately, that gives Snitker two guys, Julio and Jackson, who didn’t enter October on a high note as option from the bullpen.

Melancon hasn’t looked like the kind of shutdown closer that World Series winners tend to employ.

Max Fried has, though. Fried has now made two scoreless one-inning appearances in two games, with two strikeouts to boot.

At this point it’s unlikely that he’ll start Game 4 (it might be Julio, it might be Keuchel on short rest), and instead he’ll continue being a weapon in relief. Even though it’s not the role he thrived in all season, I think it’s time to go all-in on this notion.

Even if he doesn’t necessarily close games out, Fried should be the guy, along with Greene, to get the high-leverage situations.

He’s got a power arm and a sharp curve that can strike batters out with ease, as he’s already shown.

He’s not one of the mercenary relievers that the Braves picked up at the trade deadline, but in these desperate times he’s looking like the guy who can save – no pun intended – the Braves postseason hopes.

 

Time to Rise Up

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Atlanta Falcons are off to a 1-3 start. The beginning of the Dan Quinn era started great but it’s been all downhill since the Super Bowl LI debacle.

On Sunday, the Falcons lost to Tennessee (2-2) 24-10. The Titans are not a good football team and this was a home game, so this is a bad loss. The question is who is to blame for this terrible start? Can Atlanta turn this season around?

“It is a tough loss, and we’re as disappointed as our fans are,” Quinn said. “You better believe we’re going to look at everything. When you’re sitting at 1-3, you want to make sure you’re finding the answers.”

The first person to start with is head coach Dan Quinn. He took over as the HC in 2015. He’s a former defensive coordinator and so far he has not produced a good defense in Atlanta. They ranked 28th in total defense last season. This season they make every team look like super stars.

Marcus Mariota has been a bust thus far in his NFL career. He’s consistently injured and his play is inconsistent. He played poorly in the previous two losses before they broke that streak against the Falcons. He had 227 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and completed 66% of his passes.

Rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown had 3 receptions, 94 yards and 2 TD’s. Derrick Henry rushed for 100 yards. You can see the defense didn’t stop the run or pass.

The talent on the roster has been built by Quinn over the last 5 years. Sadly, they are in the same position they were in back in 2015.

“When you see Atlanta, what bothers you is if they don’t get to the quarterback, it’s all about speed (in the secondary),” Phil Simms said on “The NFL Today” studio show. “They play one defense. Guys wide open.”

The defense under Quinn consistently has gaping holes in the zone coverage, poor angles to pass-catchers and lack of speed in the secondary. The first two things can be attributed to Quinn’s defensive design and poor technique by his players.

The strength is supposed to be on the offense and they are playing poorly. Dirk Koetter is back in his second stint as offensive coordinator in 2019.

He previously held the OC position in Atlanta from 2012-14. Some of the growing pains might be from him trying to get familiar with the new talent on the roster.

Atlanta also has a poor offensive line they tried to fix in the offseason. They drafted two offensive linemen in the first round and guard Chris Lindstrom broke his foot in the season opener.

Guard Jamon Brown left the Titans game with a concussion in the first half and could not return.

Center Alex Mack has never missed a game in his Falcons career but he had to leave Sunday’s game with an elbow injury. He was able to return later in the third quarter.

Because of the poor line play, Atlanta cannot run the ball or protect Matt Ryan. The Falcons are ranked 27th in rushing offense with 70 yards per game. Ryan has 8 TD’s and 6 interceptions this season.

He’s second in the league in passing yards behind Patrick Mahomes by less than 200 yards. The difference is Mahomes has 10 TD’s and no INT’s.

There are two division rivals playing with backup quarterbacks and Atlanta still will not win the division. Hopefully they end up with a top 5 pick at the end of the year.

Deafening Silence

By: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Two years ago, Georgia was ahead of schedule when it won the SEC and suffered an overtime loss in the national title game; a storyline that was easy to follow and received a lot of national publicity for obvious reasons.

Last year, the storyline revolved around whether or not they could repeat their previous years success; specifically, could they get over the Alabama hurdle?

This year, even though they’ve been firmly planted in the #3 ranking for the first third of the season and are one of the most complete teams in the country, it almost seems as if Georgia is under the radar.

It’s a no brainer that Alabama and Clemson are going to be the major headlines throughout the season, there are too many juicy storylines between the two programs for them not to be.

Plus, Georgia hasn’t achieved nearly the same amount of success as those two have in recent years, so it just makes sense that they wouldn’t receive the same type of coverage.

It’s the publicity for many of the other current AP Top 10 teams below Georgia that I’m talking about.

LSU and Oklahoma are popular stories because the Tigers finally have an offense that doesn’t resemble something from the 1930’s and Jalen Hurts is putting up better numbers than the Sooners previous two quarterbacks, who just happen to be Heisman Trophy winners.

Ohio State gets the love because, well, they’re Ohio State, and as much as people like to complain about it, names sell.

If you’re questioning why Georgia has been out of the spotlight a little more than you would expect, just look at the Notre Dame game; another Top 10 team so popular you’d think Jesus was actually scoring touchdowns for them.

After Georgia’s 23-17 win over their fellow Top 10 opponent, you may have expected a number of stories praising the Dawgs and talking about how this could positively affect the remainder of their season.

There were a few of them, but the main takeaway for most people was that Notre Dame has a legitimate playoff worthy team this year, based on their play in Athens. I know that line of thinking upset more than a few Georgia fans who thought it was a bit disrespectful to focus on the Fighting Irish, but I’d argue it was the exact opposite.

In a matter of two years Georgia has evolved from being the team looking for validation to being the team opponents use to validate themselves.

If I’m a Georgia fan, that’s exactly how I want it- enter the game as the favorite and have the press drool over the opponent afterwards solely because they’re merely able to hang with us. It really is kind of the ultimate sign of respect.

When you look at the remainder of Georgia’s schedule, I wouldn’t expect things to change either, until they play Auburn on November 16.

As fans, when our team is playing well, we feel as though they should be the topic of conversation everywhere. Why else do we listen to five minutes of a four hours radio show and complain about our team not being mentioned?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if they don’t get recognition during the season, receiving it at the end of the season is what counts; it’s something all the elite teams learn over time. So, congratulations Georgia fans, that silence you’re hearing means you’re almost there.

 

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