Georgia Bulldogs

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I Have The Power

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

1)Georgia (1-0): Did everyone enjoy the Duck hunt in Atlanta? The Georgia faithful sure did. UGA dismantled Oregon 49-3. Could have been a lot worse. After week 1 Georgia is the best team in the country.

The defending national champions looked as if they could repeat. I am not going to say it but #13 looked like the best QB in the country last weekend. Yeah, I did say it.

2) Alabama (1-0): Alabama beat Utah State 55-0. Good solid opening day win for Alabama. Alabama and Georgia are the class of the country now.

The Tide is preparing to issue a beatdown to the Texas Longhorns on Saturday in Austin, Texas.

3) Florida (1-0): Yes, Florida goes right here after week one. The Gators playing in front of a raucous Swamp crowd on Saturday night beat the team everyone said would blow them out in Utah.

Utah was never coming into Gainesville and getting a win. BTW, I called this outcome.

The Gates land here. Billy got snubbed by LSU in the hiring process after building the best program in Louisiana. They called him Sunbelt Billy in LSU circles. Bet the power brokers in Red Stick are kicking themselves now after the Brian Kelly debacle against FSU.

Anthony Richardson looks like a Heisman front-runner.

4) Tennessee (1-0): The Vol offense looked world class, but can they stop anyone with a pulse. But today they land in the four spot. Look at the SEC East rising to the top of the current power rankings…

5) Arkansas (1-0): The Hogs beat a College Football Playoff contestant from a year ago at home last weekend in Cincinnati. That is enough to land in the top five of my initial SEC power rankings for 2022.

6) Mississippi State (1-0): The Air Raid is in full effect in year 3 of the Mike Leach era in Starkville. This could be a dangerous team in 2022. Alabama and Georgia are you listening?

7) Kentucky (1-0): The Cats looked ok in week one. Business picks up this weekend in Gainesville. I mean business really picks up. The Cats will not be ready to handle Anthony Richardson and the Gators.

8) Ole Miss (1-0): The Ole Miss defense looks solid. The offense will come around soon. Lane Kiffin will see to that.

9) Texas A&M (1-0): I am not a believer. Do not get upset by Appy State at home this weekend Aggies.

10) Missouri (1-0): The Tigers looked like you would expect Mizzou to look and that is the look of an SEC bottom feeder.

11) South Carolina (1-0): The Gamecocks had to block two punts for TDs against Georgia State to pull away.

Spencer Rattler looked rusty. Carolina better get better quick with Arkansas and Georgia coming up during the next two weeks.

12) Auburn (1-0): Auburn should never be in this position which is a formal accusation on everything associated with Auburn at this moment in time. This is unacceptable.

13) Vanderbilt (2-0): This may be the high-water mark for Vandy in 2022. Vandy looks good on offense currently. Enjoy it while it lasts.

14) LSU (0-1): What in the blue hell LSU?

You looked like hot garbage against Florida State. Offense was horrible. Players were unmotivated, coaches lacked emotion.

The culture in Baton Rouge right now is rotten. For week one you land right here where you deserve.

Florida looked impressive with Billy Napier in his first game. LSU looked awful under Brian Kelly in his first game.

Absolutely no reason for LSU to look this bad with the talent on that roster.

The East Beasts

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are going to take a look and preview the SEC East for the upcoming 2022 season.

#1 Georgia: The Bulldogs finally beat Alabama in the National Championship to win their first national championship since 1980.

They only return 10 starters but they are expected to reload. The defense was historically good but they lost players like linemen Jordan Davis and Travon Walker, linebacker Nakobe Dean and safety Lewis Cine.

Stetson Bennett returns under center and they return three starting offensive linemen. They have two very talented tight ends, Brock Bowers and Arik Gilbert.

#2 Tennessee: Head coach Josh Heupel is entering his second season in Knoxville and he has the program going in the right direction. The Volunteers averaged 39.3 points a game. They also led the SEC in plays of 40-plus yards (23) after only having three in 2020.

Quarterback Hendon Hooker is entering his senior year after having a breakout year in 2021. He passed for 2,945 yards, 31 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also rushed for 620 yards and 5 scores.

They also return four starting O-linemen. The defense allowed over 200 rushing yards and 33.6 points a game in SEC play last season.

#3 Kentucky: It’s a toss-up between the Wildcats and Tennessee for the No. 2 spot. Offensive coordinator Liam Coen helped them average 32.3 ppg last year. Coen left to take a job on the LA Rams staff. Mark Stoops hired Rich Scangarello from the 49ers to replace him.

QB Will Levis is back and they have a good running back stable led by Chris Rodriguez Jr.

Kentucky ranked fourth in the SEC in scoring defense, 21.7 ppg allowed. They have holes to fill up front and in the secondary. The linebacker unit is talented.

#4 Florida: The Gators are led by first year head coach Billy Napier. They finished 6-7 in 2021 and they should improve this season. Quarterback Anthony Richardson played in eight games last year and averaged 8.1 yards per play, ran for 401 yards and 9 total scores.

Florida should have a solid running back core that includes Louisiana transfer Montrell Johnson and former top recruit Demarkcus Bowman. The Gators finished 10th in the SEC against the run and only had 20 sacks in conference play.

#5 South Carolina: The Gamecocks could be one of the most exciting teams to watch. They have several transfer players including quarterback Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma) and receivers Corey Rucker (Arkansas State) and Antwane Wells (James Madison) to add to a receiving corps already featuring Josh Vann (15.8 yards per catch) and Dakereon Joyner.

They return all five starting O-linemen but that’s still an area of concern. They only averaged 3.8 yards per carry in 2021. The defense allowed 175 rushing yards a game.

#6 Missouri: The Tigers have a bad defense and inconsistent quarterback play. The defense allowed 6.7 yards per play, 36 points a game and more than 200 rushing yards a contest in SEC action last fall.

Offensively, the Tigers averaged only 22.6 points and 5.2 yards per play in SEC games last season.

Ends Isaiah McGuire and Trajan Jeffcoat lead the way up front, while cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine and safety Martez Manuel are two building blocks for new coordinator Blake Baker.

#7 Vanderbilt: Are we surprised to see the Commodores here?

Mike Wright and Ken Seals are competing for the QB 1 job.

Vanderbilt ranked 13th in the SEC against the run, last in pass efficiency defense, and surrendered an unpleasant combination of 6.8 yards per play and 35.6 points per game.

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!

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.

 

 

Ill Play There

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

National Early Signing Day has come and gone for college football and here is what the top 10 looked like:

 

1.Texas A&M

2.Alabama

3.Georgia

4.Ohio State

5.Texas

6.Penn State

7.Notre Dame

8.North Carolina

9.Michigan

10.Oklahoma

Here are some of my take aways from National Early Signing Day:

Texas A&M-This is Jimbo Fisher’s first #1 class, however A&M has consistently been in the top 10 over the last few years. This has not translated into being relevant in the National Championship picture or even in the SEC West.

Notre Dame and Oklahoma-Both of these programs did well to finish in the top 10, considering they both lost their head coaches weeks before National Early Signing Day.

North Carolina-The Tar Heels once again finished inside the Top 10, second straight year. Possibly a rising ACC power?

Kentucky-The Wildcats finished with the 11th class in the country. Yes, you read that right, 11th! Kentucky is making a case to replace Florida as the second-best team in the SEC East.

Florida State and Tennessee-Two blue bloods hoping to wake up the echoes. Their recruiting classes will help. FSU finished 13th and Tennessee 14th.

Clemson-The Tigers were a perennial Top 5 program when it came to recruiting for a decade. Looks like the guard is changing in the ACC as the Tigers finished 17th.

Georgia Tech-The Yellow Jackets have recruited well the last few years under Geoff Collins, without a lot of wins to show for it. Tech finished 25th last year, but dipped to 41 this season. A bad omen for Geoff Collins.

UCF and Cincinnati-These two soon-to-be Big 12 teams have been the flies in the ointment of the college football playoff and you would think that would translate to better recruiting classes, it hasn’t. Cincinnati finished 38th and UCF 42nd.

Vanderbilt-Something must be in the water in Nashville as the Commodores netted a top 40 class for the first time in… who knows how long. 38th

Florida-The Gators’ dumpster fire only gets worse. The mighty Gators ended up with the 50th ranked class in the country. New Hire Billy Napier was left with a mess. Recruit after recruit decommitted from the swamp. Good luck, Billy.

Miami-Another big mess to clean up in the state of Florida. Mario Cristobal will have his work cut out for him too. The Hurricanes finished 62nd.

USC-The mighty Trojans finished with only 6 commits. SIX! Good enough for 81st.

Georgia State-The Panthers must get credit. They cracked the top 100 with the 84th class. This program keeps getting better.

Georgia Southern-The Eagles must improve from being outside of the top 100 to compete. They reeled in the 109th class.

 

Smart Or Not?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

First and foremost, I am a huge fan of Kirby Smart.

After six years, some honest and constructive assessments seem fair game.

Kirby is hands down the best recruiter UGA has ever seen and probably the best in college football. The Athletic Board has given him a blank check for several hundred million dollars of new and upgraded facilities.

The UGA fan base is one of the most loyal, loud, rabid and die-hard in America. They show up and show out. Kirby has been given every possible resource at his disposal. He has proven himself as a phenomenal recruiter. He has not yet proven himself to be a phenomenal head coach.

Some guys are great defensive coaches. Kirby, Will Muschamp certainly qualify. Some guys are great offensive coaches. Todd Monken appears to be one of the best they have ever had at UGA.

But being a great Coordinator does not mean you will be a great Head Coach, just ask Muschamp and Mullen.

So far, Kirby has been a better than average Head Coach, and he has shown growth and improvement during his six years.

Clearly there are other coaches who have done more with a lot less talent and sub-standard facilities. Kirby is building a program for the long haul. No shortcuts. But to quote Kirby, “you’re either elite or you’re not” and Kirby is not an elite coach … YET.

Elite professionals work as hard improving themselves as they do improving others.

They don’t let egos or stubbornness impede their personal growth. I don’t know if that is what is happening with Kirby this season or not, but the next few weeks will certainly answer the question.

Kirby has tried beating Bama twice with Stetson Bennett. He failed both times.

He has more than enough film to prove he is not going to beat his mentor with Stetson Bennett. He also saw Auburn take Bama to 4 OT ‘s by playing man defense and pressuring Young with a constant blitz.

Georgia has three of the brightest defensive minds and through stubbornness or ignorance, they stayed in zone defense, with no pressure, and allowed Young to pick the Dawgs apart. Auburn had 7 sacks; Dawgs had zero.

Elite coaches will ADMIT their mistakes and make the necessary corrections. Time will tell if Smart has that skill set or not. And soon, we will see if Kirby can become an elite coach.

If he continues to do the same thing and expect different outcomes, then we will know Georgia hired a phenomenal recruiter, and an above average head coach.

Flame away if you like, but these are my constructive thoughts. Good news is you won’t have to wait but about a month to find out if I’m right or not.

Reevaluate the quarterback situation and get JT Daniels ready to play. I don’t know if it will happen but I do believe it needs to. I know many Dawg fans want to see Daniels under center against Michigan.

UGA has to get healthy and get some guys ready to play.

The STAR/nickel position got exploited against Alabama. I think the staff needs to get Kamari Lassiter or Javon Bullard or whoever ready to play winning football going into the playoffs.

The bottom line is Kirby Smart has built an Elite Program but can he win the BIG GAME?

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