Bishop Media Sports Network

Chomped From Inside

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Steve Spurrier created the Gator Standard, Urban Meyer exemplified this standard by taking the program to new heights, and after two failed coaching hires, and numerous embarrassing losses; Dan Mullen was the man hired to awaken the sleeping giant.

Year one under Mullen saw a quicker turnaround than any realistic fan could have expected (and could’ve asked for). Bad losses occurred, and red flags appeared, but they were excused due to the upward trajectory of the program in only one season.

Fast forward to year four, the bad losses and red flags remain; this time, Mullen has run out of excuses. I am no insider, and don’t claim to have any secret knowledge inside the University of Florida’s football program, but several things have made me scratch my head.

Mullen’s ego is disproportionate to his on-field accomplishments. What big game has he won? He has been extremely close twice versus Alabama but lost at both contests.

I would think he’d carry himself with a chip on his shoulder, but quite the contrary. Dan Mullen refuses to hold himself to the Gator Standard.

He does not hold himself accountable! After his second loss to Kentucky in four years, being the first Florida coach since Doug Dickey to lose multiple games to Kentucky (for reference on how long ago that was: Jimmy Carter was President), Mullen snapped at a reporter who asked if felt outcoached tonight.

Mullen’s quoted, “NO! But 382 yards, I guess that sputtering. I don’t know. We had 382. They had 211 yards. I wouldn’t think that would be the case. I think guys did some pretty good things right there, moving up and down. I think we got to really look at the penalties that we have and how to get ourselves in better situations that way. I got to do a better job coaching up the PAT/field goal group. They’re a physical group. We outrushed them. We outpassed. We out total gained them. The time of possession, we were better on third down.”

BUT COACH, AT THE END OF THE GAME, YOU DIDN’T OUT SCORE THEM! SOUNDS PRETTY OUTCOACHED TO ME!

Mullen has also refused to make changes to his coaching staff. He has selectively neglected staff incompetence, especially in recruiting SEC-level talent.

He has yet to win a game as an underdog in his tenure at Florida. Fans will calm down and Florida will finish the season with eight or nine wins. Dan Mullen isn’t going anywhere soon.

I am not one of those calmed down fans. The stench from the Gators’ loss to Kentucky is lingering like burnt popcorn after the worst movie ever. Another loss like the last one and noise will build in the program for an exit.

Mullen will be a name next to Zook, Muschamp and McElwain, and be another coach that can’t return Gainesville to glory.

Let’s not forget that most Gator fans (and I) are already miffed with him for not starting Anthony Richardson.

If Mullen wants to win championships, he is going to have to change.

First, he will have to make significant changes to his coaching staff. Next, he is going to have to give a Damn about recruiting. Finally, he is going to have to hold himself to the Gator Standard.

Mullen has steadied the program, and now, can he take them up to the next level?

Pretenders or Contenders?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Week 4 of the NFL has just ended. We have a small sample size to observe which teams are contenders or pretenders. Let’s take a look around the NFC South to see which teams fall in these categories.

Atlanta Falcons: Pretenders. Atlanta (1 – 3) is currently in last place in the division. Statistically they rank poorly in several categories. The Falcons are 25th in rushing offense, 23rd in scoring and 23rd in total defense.

They had every opportunity to win the game against the Washington Football Team but the defense gave up a touchdown with less than a minute remaining in the game. If they won that Atlanta would have been 2 – 2 heading into a Week 5 matchup with the New York Jets (1 – 3).

The offensive line is still a problem because they can’t run the ball or protect Matt Ryan. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts and Calvin Ridley have both gotten off to slow starts.

Ryan is 19th in passing yards, which is pretty low when you look at how often they pass. They are 24th in rushing attempts. The Falcons are destined to have a top 5 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Carolina Panthers: Contender. I’m surprised to say that about this team. Carolina (3 – 1) traded to get quarterback Sam Darnold from the Jets. In his three seasons in New York he looked like a bust. He’s playing drastically better in Carolina is 6th in the league in passing yards with 1,189.

Christian McCaffrey is the best all-around running back in the NFL but he’s dealing with a hamstring injury. Wide receiver DJ Moore is tied for 2nd in receptions (30) and 4th in receiving yards (398). The combination of him and Robby Anderson can create explosive plays.

The defense has looked elite so far, ranking 3rd in total defense. They give up an average of 251 yards per game. They did give up 36 points to Dallas in their Week 4 loss so it appears that a good offense will not have trouble against them.

New Orleans: Pretenders. New Orleans (2 – 2) is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because they look completely different each week. They started the season with a dominating 38 – 3 win against Green Bay (3 – 1). The following week they were beat down by the Panthers, 26 – 7.

Week 3 they beat New England convincingly, 28 – 13. Playing the winless New York Giants at home looked like a slam dunk victory, right? They lost in overtime, 27 – 21. The Saints are 11th in total defense so they are solid. Jameis Winston is ranked 29th in passing with only 613 yards.

New Orleans does rank 7th in rushing offense. Star receiver Michael Thomas has not played yet, but he is expected to return around Week 7.

Tampa Bay: Contenders. The reigning Super Bowl champs return every starter from last season. Barring a major injury, I think the worst case scenario is getting to the NFC Championship. The Bucs (3 – 1) are 30th in rushing. With Tom Brady I guess you don’t have to worry about running the football.

Brady is 2nd in passing yards (1,356) and tied for 3rd in passing touchdowns (10). They have the best receiving corps in the league with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. The only loss was against the Los Angeles Rams (3 – 1).

Change Is Coming

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

One would think that if you are still a Jacksonville Jaguars fan (as I am), you would have developed a bit more patience.

Imagine being a Jaguars fan that went into a coma after the 1999 season. You’ve experienced four straight playoff appearances, back-to-back division championships, two trips to the AFC Championship game, and an overall record of 49-31. The franchise looks primed for a long stretch of success on the gridiron.

Now imagine that fan coming out of that coma Thursday night.

The Jags have only had four winning seasons in the last 21 years. Only three trips to the post-season. I don’t even want to add up the win/loss record in this stretch (I’m not THAT much of a sports self-flagellator).

Gus Bradley. Doug Marrone. Mike Mularkey.

Oh, and Myles Jack wasn’t down.

And now, we have this season. We started the season with a highly-touted franchise quarterback. A new head coach with a top-notch college resume. Dare I say it, hope. Things, on paper, looked good.

And then, reality. An opening game loss to a Houston Texans team in a Jaguars-esque state of franchise chaos, followed by a week two loss to the Broncos, and a second-half collapse against the Cardinals.

Which brings us to Thursday night. Sometimes, being a Dawg fan prepares you for being a Jags fan. Remember the meme that was making the rounds after the 2018 SEC Championship game? Georgia and Alabama have played 120 minutes in the past two games. Georgia has led or been tied for 119 of those minutes and lost both games.

Wanna hear it sound even better? In those last two games the teams have combined for 290 plays. Alabama has had the lead for 9 (3%) of those.

Oof. Not “woof.” Oof.

Thursday night was like that for the Jags. They were tied or had the lead for the full 60 minutes of that game. The winning kick for Cincy crossed the goalposts as the clock read 0:00. It was the only play of the game that the Bengals were in the lead, and unfortunately, it was the only play that mattered.

And out come the boo birds. The defeatists. The naysayers. The fans that were expecting the franchise to immediately turn around with the arrival of Coach Meyer and T-Law, calling both men “mistakes” and “failures” with ¾ of a season still to play. Armchair GMs decreeing that the Jags are going to go nowhere with either one.

To quote our Commander-In-Y’know-The-Thing; “C’mon, man!”

Let’s be honest, Duval. We are on a 19-game losing streak. We didn’t get here by making smart choices. But change *IS* coming, just not overnight. To make my point, I implore you to look at the 1999 season.

Not ours, but Indianapolis’ 1999 season, otherwise known as “Peyton’s Rookie Year.”

The best forehead in the history of the NFL led his team to a 3-13 record. He threw two more interceptions than touchdowns. He finished the year with a 71.2 QB rating. And just look where he went from there.

Oh, and that same 1999 season, Bill Belicheck was unemployed. His win-loss record after five years in Cleveland was 36-44. Heck, his first season in New England looked like more of the same – 5-11 and last place in the division.

True, the last two decades of football on the banks of the St. Johns River have given us precious little reason to have hope for the future.

Four games into a career is not the time to give up on our new coach and QB. You’ve held on to that glimmer of hope thus far, keep the faith. Change is coming.

Just maybe not this year.

It’s Game Day In Athens

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

ESPN announced that College GameDay will be headed to the Classic City for Arkansas versus Georgia. Dawg fans are complaining about the noon kick-off, but I like it. ESPN will have eyeballs from 10 am to midnight.

This isn’t College GameDay’s first visit to Athens. GameDay has been on Georgia’s campus five times. Here are those results.

October 10, 1998: #5 Tennessee vs #3 Georgia. Tee Martin and the Volunteers came “Between the Hedges” and dominated the Dawgs. Strolling out of Athens with a convincing 22-3 win en route to winning a National Championship.

September 27, 2009: #8 Alabama vs #3 Georgia. This was Georgia’s big Blackout game that wasn’t. This was one of the most anticipated games of 2008. The Tide opened the game by punching the Dawgs in the mouth. The game was over at halftime with a score of 31-0, Bama. The final score of 41-30 was more cosmetic than the result.

September 21, 2013: #6 LSU vs #9 Georgia. The battle between Murray and Mettenberger, both quarterbacks put on an offensive firework show.  Mettenberger had a career day 23 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns. Murray did not disappoint, completing 20 passes for 298 yards and four touchdowns. One of the loudest days in Sanford Stadium’s history. Whoever had the ball last would win. Murray found Justin Scott Wesley for the game clinching touchdown with less than two minutes left in the 4th quarter. This, my friends, is a classic. If you are ever bored, pull this one up, sit back and enjoy.

September 21, 2019: #7 Notre Dame vs #3 Georgia. A perfect day in Athens to host the Fighting Irish in the Classic City.  Jake Fromm and Lawrence Cager didn’t show the same southern hospitality, Fromm threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Cager early in the fourth quarter and the Dawgs survived for a 23-17 victory. This was also the debut of the Celebrated Red Lights at Stanford Stadium to add to the already electric Light Up Stanford tradition at the close of the third quarter.

October 3, 2020.  #7 Auburn vs #3 Georgia. Stetson Bennett and The JunkYard Dawg’s Defense led Georgia to a 27-6 win over the Tigers in last year’s rendition of “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.” GameDay was held inside Stanford Stadium with no fans due to COVID.

October 2, 2021. #8 Arkansas vs #2 Georgia. The Hogs come in 4-0 with wins over Texas and Texas A&M. It is important to emphasize that Arkansas is a good football team. Vegas book makers have installed them as a 19.5 underdog. That’s because Georgia is an elite football team. Kirby Smart has built a roster loaded with studs on both sides of the ball.

Georgia’s defense looks impermeable and the offense continues to stretch the field.  Georgia 44  Arkansas 13.