Bishop Media Sports Network

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The Legend of Stetson Bennett

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken told Stetson Bennett IV that he wasn’t going to be in the Bulldogs’ plans for the starting quarterback in 2020.

He’s never entered any season as the guy. Georgia was supposed to lean on USC five-star transfer JT Daniels this year. 2021 was supposed to be Daniels’ season with Bennett in the rear-view mirror.

But football has a way of throwing well-laid plans out the window. Daniels’ lat injury opened the door for Bennett to take over, and “The Mailman” didn’t look back.

Even through rocky moments, Bennett had his gems. Bennett threw for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to rally Georgia for a 33-18 victory over Alabama in the National Championship Game.

Bennett shook off a gut-wrenching turnover that allowed Alabama to temporarily take the lead.

“I just knew there was going to be no way to let a turnover like that stop us from winning a National Championship,” Bennett said in his postgame interview. “No way that I was going to let that happen. I was not going to be the reason we lost.”

Here’s what we witnessed of Bennett’s heroic effort.

Bennett’s remarkable fourth-quarter performance will go down in Georgia Football lore. Bennett dreamed of playing quarterback for Georgia. His dream came true and he led the Bulldogs to a performance no one will ever forget.

But it wasn’t pretty. The Georgia offense went three-and-out in each of their first two drives. On Georgia’s third play of the game, Bennett scrambled for a 14-yard gain, but he fumbled. Thankfully for the Bulldogs, he was able to recover and avoid what could’ve been a champion-breaking early turnover. But with more and more struggles, the calls for Daniels grew louder.

But Bennett’s fumble early in the fourth quarter nearly spelled doom for Georgia. Alabama’s Christian Harris was a menace all night long, and he sacked Bennett on 3rd and 8. Bennett tried to throw the ball away, but it was ruled a fumble. Alabama’s Brian Branch nonchalantly recovered the ball with his foot inbounds by mere millimeters.

With his back against the wall, Bennett responded with the drive of his life. He was determined not to be the reason that Georgia lost the national title. Is a not losing motivation stronger than a winning motivation?

Bennett marched Georgia down to the Alabama 40-yard line and then used a free play to take his shot. He delivered a gorgeous deep ball down the right sideline and Adonai Mitchell hauled it in for a majestic 40-yard touchdown to give Georgia a 19-18 lead with 8:09 left in the fourth quarter.

Bennett did what everyone told him he couldn’t do. He heard the noise. He heard the doubters. He heard the majority say that he wasn’t the best option to lead Georgia past Alabama. “Georgia can’t beat Alabama with Stetson Bennett at QB” was a widely-used narrative, and he conquered it head on.

Stetson Bennett was named the Offensive Player of the Game. He is a national champion and a Georgia Bulldog Football Legend!

Dawgs Eat

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Something I thought I’d never see in my lifetime happened.

Georgia won their first national championship since 1980. I’m not a UGA fan at all so I was shocked they finally beat Alabama.

Kirby Smart lost his previous four meetings to his old boss, Nick Saban. In his case the fifth time was a charm. It was a close game through three quarters, but Georgia won 33- 18.

“I told the guys in the locker room, just take a picture of this, because I think back to the ’80 championship picture and seeing all those players and the Frank Walkers and the Herschel Walkers and all these people that have reached out and said things,” Smart said. “Our guys have accomplished that, something special, and as they say, they’ve become legendary, and I want that for them.”

The teams traded field goals in the first half and Alabama took a 9 – 6 lead into the locker room at halftime. In the SEC Championship win, the Crimson Tide lost wide receiver John Metchie III with a torn ACL. He leads the team in receptions with 96 and he was second in receiving yards with 1,142.

The other star receiver, Jameson Williams suffered a knee injury in the first half after catching a 40-yard pass. Williams is the team leader in receiving yard with 1,507 yards.

The first touchdown came with 1:20 left in the third quarter. James Cook broke a 67-yard run to get the Bulldogs in the red zone. Three more running plays and a facemask penalty by Alabama got them into the end zone. Zamir White went in standing up from a yard out. It gave Georgia their first lead, 13 – 9.

Alabama added another field goal after that. They got the ball back on a play that was ruled a Stetson Bennett fumble. It looked like he was trying to throw the ball away and the ball rolled out of bounds. Bama’s Drew Sanders casually caught it jogging out of bounds.

They got the ball in the red zone and Bryce Young threw a 3-yard touchdown to give them an 18 – 13 lead.

Bennett was 13 for 22 for 141 yards as the next drive started. He completed all three of his passes for 68 yards, including a long strike to Mitchell for a touchdown with 8:09 left that gave the Bulldogs a one-point lead after a failed 2-point conversion.

The Georgia defense forced a three and out and got the ball back for the offense to seal the win. UGA scored 20 points in the fourth quarter.

With less than a minute remaining in the game, UGA corner, back Kelee Ringo intercepted Young and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown.

“I hadn’t cried in — I don’t know, years — but that just came over me,” said Bennett, who was named the offensive player of the game. “That’s what — when you put as much time as we do into this thing, blood, sweat, tears, it means something.”

In the SEC Championship Georgia didn’t sack Young. Last night he was sacked four times and threw two interceptions.

“We had a lot of opportunities, moved the ball relatively well. We did some stuff well. We didn’t execute, and at the end of the day, that’s on me,” said Young.

“We played a heck of a game against a heck of a team for the first three quarters of the game,” said Saban. “Nobody can take the SEC championship away from this team, the Cotton Bowl championship.”

Three Wise Men

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

During the most magical time of the year, we all love the traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation.

While we all feel a lift in our spirits by surrounding ourselves with our friends & family that also embrace the season, the memories of those who have passed on makes us reminisce about them and wonder how they would feel about this season if they were still with us.

For those of us who have been raised right, we specifically think about the three wise men. Of course, I’m talking about UGA football season, and the three wise men are Lewis, Larry, and Jack.

For them to have never taken the field, no other triumvirate makes me think of Georgia Football more than Lewis Grizzard, Larry Munson, and Jack Davis.

To me, they are just as important to Georgia lore as Vince & Herschel, and their skills in their chosen fields have inspired and influenced me tremendously in three of my favorite hobbies over the years.

Lewis Grizzard was one of the first newspaper columnists I ever followed. He talked about things that were relevant to me (growing up in rural Georgia, southern cooking, the pains of being a Dawg fan) and things that would one day become relevant (politics, divorce, the pains of being a Dawg fan).

His columns in the AJC and his best-selling novels added so much to the southern lexicon that many of his quips have become standards. While he ruffled more than a few feathers in his tragically brief career, his writing style was instantly recognizable and it was more often than not as comfortable as a pair of grey sweatpants & a threadbare 2002 SEC Championship t-shirt.

Passing away in 1994, Lewis thankfully only had to suffer through 13 seasons of the UGA Championship drought and completely avoided the Jim Donnan years. If we all could have been so lucky…

If you search for Grizzard quotes about Georgia football, one of the first you will find mentions another of my three wise men; “listening to Larry Munson was better than being there.”

For a lot of us South Georgia Dawgs, Larry was the only way we could be there.  A Saturday trip to Athens wasn’t as relatively easy as it was for our North Georgia brethren, and believe it or not, back in those days it wasn’t guaranteed that the game would be on TV.

Even when it was, it didn’t feel right if you listened to the network commentator. They didn’t have the established relationship with the team the way that Larry did, so it became a longstanding tradition to turn down the TV and turn up the radio. Because of that, Larry Munson *was* Georgia football for generations. You could tell from his voice in those legendary calls that Larry loved Georgia football as much as we did. You could feel the anxiety, the tension, the elation in every game. He had ownership of the Dawgs. He had buy-in, just as much as every fan, be they students, graduates, or “tailgate alumni” like myself.

Then there’s Jack Davis. I was a MAD Magazine fan before I realized I was a Dawg fan, so I got a steady diet of Jack Davis art before I could barely say “What, Me Worry?” or “Hunker Down.”

Growing up in Glynn County, I didn’t get the Game Day Saturday editions of the Athens Banner-Herald with a Jack cartoon on the front page.

What I did get (as did most of the rest of the state) was the 1980 commemorative Coca-Cola bottle, and I’m lucky enough to have mine signed by the man himself. Much like Larry & Lewis, you could tell Jack loved UGA just as much as we did with every sepia-toned stroke of his brush that brought Hairy Dawg to life long before he roamed the sidelines between the hedges.

 

 

Another Shot

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Happy New Year!

Well, maybe it’s not so happy for some unlucky college football fans. They have seen this movie before, and they don’t like it.

Alabama (13-1 and ranked No. 1) defeated Cincinnati, 27-6, and Georgia (13-1) downed Michigan, 34-11, in the College Football Playoff semifinal games in the Cotton and Orange bowls, respectively.

Thus, the two teams that had held the number one spots in college football polls all season earned spots in the CFP national championship game in Indianapolis on Jan. 10.

While there can be no doubt that these are the two best teams in college football this year, it likely wears on fans of other schools to know that the Southeastern Conference will have the national championship for the third consecutive season; and for the 12th time in the last 16 years. Alabama alone will be seeking their seventh title in the past 13 seasons.

Will this rematch be different? After all, Bryce Young carved Georgia for 421 yards and 3 TDs in the SEC championship game, and the Crimson Tide were the underdogs the first time around.

Alabama remains that psychological hurdle for Georgia, one that comes with seven straight victories in the series. That includes three SEC championship games and the 26-23 overtime thriller in the CFP championship game in Atlanta on Jan. 8, 2018.

Alabama won’t have star receiver John Metchie III, who suffered a torn ACL in the last matchup. Indianapolis is the most unnatural setting possible for both fan-bases, and keep in mind the Bulldogs led 10-0 in the SEC championship game before things went south. Georgia is favored by 2.5 points in the CFP championship.

The Bulldogs will play under much more pressure than the Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs’ coaches and players will say over and over, the SEC Championship game does not matter.

It does matter because it was the seventh straight win for the Tide over the Dawgs. The Crimson Tide will be stronger in the 2022 season and Kirby Smart cannot afford to lose an eighth straight game.

The talent levels are too comparable to expect another one-sided game. Unless the Tide injury situation warrants it, and no one can knows yet if it does, there is no reason to believe the outcome will change.

The Bulldogs showed enough in the semifinal where 190 rushing yards was overlooked. Bennett is fine. So is the defense. Georgia played like a team that learned from that loss and might just be ready to break the national championship curse that extends back to Herschel Walker in 1980.

But even though Saban is 25-1 against his former assistant coaches — including 4-0 against Smart, who spent 11 years with him in Tuscaloosa — history says a rematch for the national title is a great sign for the Bulldogs.

In the 2011 season, LSU beat Alabama in the regular season. Alabama won the rematch for the Bowl Championship Series national title.

In 1996, Florida State topped Florida in the regular season. The Gators rolled past the Seminoles for the national title in what was then called the Bowl Alliance.

Now, it’s Georgia with a shot at turning the tide.

That’s what happens when you press the reset button.

Georgia 34  Alabama 20.

Wonder and Ponder

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

2021 has been a pretty good sports year in these parts. As we close out the year here are a series of sports questions that you can ponder.

  1. Why did UGA fans eat the “rat poison” before the SEC title game against Alabama? Everyone knows UGA has one of those head scratcher games every season.
  2. Stetson or JT? The media loves to create drama. Kirby knows what he is doing. Kirby is 11-7 in his career against top ten teams and 64-15 overall. Relax folks. January 10th is coming soon and then there will be no more 1980 jokes.
  3. Will Georgia finally beat Alabama once again in football? Tune in 0n January 10, 2022 Dawg fans.
  4. Does Dan Mullen think recruiting is important now? I’m thinking maybe so.
  5. How many times has Florida made the College Football Playoff? Tim Tebow seems so long ago.
  6. How will Urban Meyer and Jacksonville mesh? Oops we got that answer 3 weeks ago at 1AM in the morning.
  7. Why is FSU horrible in football? It has been a nightmare in Tally. I don’t see it ending soon either. Coach Prime is waiting by the phone Seminoles.
  8. Will Nick Saban retire soon? Damn I hope so.
  9. What in the world has happened to Auburn football? You fire Gus because you hated being 8-4 every season. Now you are sitting at 6-7 after losing to Houston in the Birmingham Bowl.
  10. Will Georgia Tech football ever recover? The 373 GT fans in state of Georgia want to know.
  11. Will the Jacksonville Jaguars finally hire the right head coach? Eric Bieniemy fans like me would like to know. Please get it right this time Jags.
  12. How did college football get so bad in the state of Florida? UCF is the best college football program in the state currently. Wow, just wow!
  13. Who blew the largest lead ever in the Super Bowl? The Atlanta Falcons haven’t been the same since that debacle. The Matty Ice era is over. It is time to draft a QB for the future.
  14. Why haven’t the World Champion Atlanta Braves resigned Freddie Freeman yet? Seems like they could have taken care of this right after the championship parade.
  15. Who is the third best team in the SEC currently behind Alabama and Georgia? The 10-2 Sugar Bowl bound Ole Miss Rebels would like to know.
  16. Who bailed out on the Gator Bowl this year? Nobody has heard from the 8-4fit Texas A&M Aggies lately. Jimbo is laughing all the way to the bank.
  17. Is the SEC overrated in football in 2021? Auburn lost to Houston, Mississippi State lost to Texas Tech, Missouri lost to Army, and Florida lost to UCF in bowl games. The evidence is strong in favor.
  18. Are the Brunswick High Pirates the premier high school football program in Glynn County, Georgia? Of course they are.
  19. Has AEW surpassed WWE? A resounding yes! Glynn County’s own Anna Jernigan will be the AEW Women’s World Champion before her 30th birthday. Take it to the bank.
  20. Why is John Willis not in the Glynn County Sports Hall of Fame? My football coach deserves to be in the local hall. It is way past time. Make it happen soon please.

Happy New Year to all. May all of your sports wishes come true in 2022.

 

And The Winner Is?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Georgia has been the most dominant team in college football in 2021 and on December 31st the Dawgs have one more team to tackle to reach the College Football Championship Game.

We all know what Georgia has to do to win this game, but what does Michigan have to do?

Pretty simple, smother the Bulldogs offense. This is arguably the best defense Georgia will face. Statistically, Clemson is better, but half the ACC offenses are hot garbage, and the other half are mostly gimmicky like Wake Forest, so less impressive than SEC and Big Ten defenses.

  1. Holding Georgia to 20-24 points should give Michigan ample opportunity to win, and I don’t think it’s out of the question that they keep them to well less than that.
  2. Efficient start on offense. This is my biggest concern, because Michigan tends to start a bit slower. It’s gotten better, no doubt about it, but it’s still not consistently coming out swinging. The first two drives against PSU were 3-and-out’s, the first two drives against Wisconsin produced 37 yards on 14 plays.
  3. If they come out and start like they did against Ohio State and put a touchdown on the board, you can get Georgia away from their strength (running the ball) and make them put the game in Stetson Bennett’s hands, which is how you beat them.

Michigan doesn’t need to run for 297 yards like it did against OSU, but they do need to average above 4.0 ypc, and throw the ball fairly well.

  1. No big mistakes. No interceptions, no turnovers, no shanked punts, etc. A defensive slugfest = field position and possession. Be clean with the football and don’t give Georgia anything they can’t earn themselves. Do the little things right and you can make it happen.

Prediction: You know, I’m very torn. Spread here is about a touchdown in Georgia’s favor depending on where you look.

I think it’s much closer to a toss-up than a no-brainer. I think Georgia has more talent and speed, but I think this Michigan team is as gritty and tough as they come, and Georgia has not dealt with much competition this season.

When Alabama punched UGA in the mouth, they faltered and fell behind. Can Michigan do the same?

Additionally, Michigan’s thrived with the chip on their shoulder, everyone’s doubting them this year. The Wolverines have heard non-stop about how they can’t match up with Georgia’s front seven, while Georgia comes in with a lot of questions and uncertainty.

Obviously, no one really is looking ahead in the playoffs, but Georgia’s probably got more reason to forecast than Michigan.

I think the intangibles favor Michigan, and the talent favors Georgia. The other major factor is coaching, and again, think we’re pretty split here.

Defensive Coordinators Lanning and MacDonald could be identical twins in terms of coaching profiles.

Michigan offensively, however, has been more creative than Todd Monken’s group, though to his defense, he simply hasn’t needed to be. I think that one is a slight edge to Michigan.

I’ll add this. Michigan is an underdog here. Do not flip out because some people may be less confident than you are.

Yes, Michigan has defied expectations and reversed some narratives, but that does not mean you always ride them if you don’t think they’ll win. It’s totally fine if you think Michigan loses. It’s totally fine if you think Michigan wins.

None of us are as prophetic as we like to think we are. The only opinions that matter are those of the two hundred or so coaches and players on the sideline that New Year’s Eve.

Not yours, not anyone’s here. I have had a perfect string predicting these games this season, and that includes a bunch of people flipping out because I picked Alabama to win earlier this year.

We all have wrong takes, it doesn’t matter. Win or lose, this season was a major success for the Michigan Wolverines and the Georgia Bulldogs.

Now, enough stalling….Can I see Michigan winning it? Yup!

Can I see Georgia winning it? You bet!

Can I see Georgia running away with it? Probably more likely than vice versa. But I think there’s enough to go with the Dawgs, and that’s what I’m going to do:

Final Score: Georgia 31 Michigan 13.

Wreck In Atlanta

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

William Geoffrey Collins has finished his third season as the head coach at Georgia Tech.

So far Geoff Collins hasn’t had much success in Atlanta, but should we be surprised? Collins only has head coaching experience at one school prior to Tech, which is Temple. In his two seasons in Philadelphia coaching the Owls his record was 15–10. Not very impressive but he’s looked at as more of a recruiter.

So far three is his magic number in Atlanta because that’s how many games they win each season. They lost the season opener by one point to Northern Illinois. The Huskies did win nine games, but they aren’t from a major conference. This should have been an easy win.

They were fairly competitive in most games, losing three games by one-score. They lost to Clemson 14–8, Virginia 48–40 and Miami 33–30. If they can figure out how to focus and have better attention to detail, they should have better success in close games.

They finished the season with two consecutive shutout loses. Notre Dame won 55 – 0 and Georgia 45 – 0. Both teams are drastically better but that’s embarrassing.

Once the season ended Collins fired several assistant coaches. He gave pink slips to offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude, co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Nathan Burton and cornerbacks coach Jeff Popovich. Collins gave insight into how he plans on turning things around.

“As I began the deep dive into everything we need to fix to take the next steps to get the product on the field and the results on the field at the highest level possible,” Collins said, “the things that I’ve realized is, less branding, more coaching. Less worrying about culture, more worried about ball.”

That strikes me as interesting because that’s what it looks like from the outside. I always see social media posts of pregame outfits, uniforms and doing things for the 404 (an Atlanta area code). I kept thinking is he coaching or making social media posts? The fact he had to address plans to focus on coaching now, three years into being at Tech is frightening. That should have been the only focus.

“We’re to the point now where it’s time to work,” Collins said. “The brand is set, the culture is set, all of those things. Now it’s time to coach. Now it’s time to work.”

Collins needs to get to work with the defense that finished tied for 111th in scoring defense, 117th in total defense, 117th in third-down conversion rate and tied for 112th in plays allowed of 20 yards or more.

He was asked if they should change the defensive formation or fire defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker and he did not directly answer those questions.

“I know Andrew Thacker would be the first person to say that we didn’t play to the standard that we’ve had playing defense wherever we’ve been,” Collins said. “His main focus is to do everything in his power to make sure we’re doing that.”

Chip Long has been hired as offensive coordinator and Travares Tillman as defensive backs coach and defensive pass-game coordinator.

Collins was defensive coordinator at Florida from 2015-16 and he led the Gators to consecutive top-10 finishes in total defense.

So far, the Yellow Jackets have the No. 40 recruiting class in 2022. They are getting better players than Paul Johnson did but not winning.

Next season they have non-conference games against Ole Miss and UCF so things won’t be easy. I don’t expect Tech to get drastically better next year and not make a bowl game.

Urban Dumpster Fire

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Urban Meyer is a Hall of Fame college football coach.

He was hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars as head coach in January 2021. Meyer was fired by Jacksonville in December of 2021.

Team owner Shad Khan issued a statement about it.

“After deliberation over many weeks and a thorough analysis of the entirety of Urban’s tenure with our team, I am bitterly disappointed to arrive at the conclusion that an immediate change is imperative for everyone.” Khan said. “I informed Urban of the change this evening. As I stated in October, regaining our trust and respect was essential. Regrettably, it did not happen.”

Darrell Bevell, the offensive coordinator, will serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season, the owner said.

Unfortunately, Meyer has had several controversies during his tenure. Most recently, a report came out this week that former kicker Josh Lambo accused Meyer of kicking him at practice in August. He was released in October after missing all three of his kicks from Week 1 – 3.

Lambo said that Meyer came up to him while he was stretching and said, “Hey Dips–t, make your f–king kicks!”

“And kicks me in the leg,” Lambo said of Meyer.

“Josh’s characterization of me and this incident is completely inaccurate, and there are eyewitnesses to refute his account,” Meyer told the paper. “(General manager) Trent (Baalke) and I met with him on multiple occasions to encourage his performance, and this was never brought up. I was fully supportive of Josh during his time with the team and wish him nothing but the best.”

Lambo went into further detail about the kick.

“Truthfully, I’d register it as a five (out of 10),” Lambo told the paper. “Which in the workplace, I don’t care if it’s football or not, the boss can’t strike an employee. And for a second, I couldn’t believe it actually happened. Pardon my vulgarity, I said, ‘Don’t you ever f–king kick me again!’ And his response was, ‘I’m the head ball coach, I’ll kick you whenever the f–k I want.'”

In February, Meyer hired former Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle to be Jacksonville’s director of sports performances.

Doyle, who was on the staff at Iowa from 1999-2019, was placed on administrative leave by the school in June 2020 after several former Iowa players accused him of racism.

Shortly after, the university and Doyle agreed to part ways. Doyle posted a statement on Twitter at the time — which has since been deleted — saying the accusations about his behavior are “not true.”

A day later Meyer announced Doyle’s resignation from the team.

In October, following a Thursday Night Football game at Cincinnati Meyer did not travel home with his team. He went to a bar in Columbus and a video went viral of him sitting on a stool with a woman dancing on him. This woman was not his wife.

He has also reportedly called his coaches losers and Marvin Jones had to be restrained from him after an intense argument.

Jacksonville was 1 – 15 last year and they have won two games under Meyer. In the end we shall see if he gets another opportunity to return to college or if this is his last job.

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