Archive for uga

Decision Day for Top Dawgs

Posted in NCAA Football, NFL with tags , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2009 by nathanjzacharias

Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno will be announcing their plans for the 2009 football season, and all sources seem to indicate right now that they will be turning pro.  I can’t say I blame them, but as a loyal Dawg fan, it still hurts.  It’s not a huge surprise by any means, as both are the top ranked players at their position, with Stafford possibly being the number one pick overall.  But with some key players returning from injury next year, it would have been nice to have those two in uniform to make one more run at a championship.

I’ve tried to put myself in their shoes and figure out what I would do in the same situation.  And I have to say,  I can see why it’s a tough decision.  There are good reasons to choose either side.

As far as Stafford is concerned, if he’s a possible number one pick now, it’s kind of tough to improve his draft status in 2010.  Some say that he doesn’t have the “big” game in his resume.  While I kind of see their point, he has still led Georgia to some key victories (remember the ‘Bama game in ’07).  And in his defense, their losses and narrow wins this year were more a result of shaky defense than poor offense.  Sure they had some struggles, but for the most part they were putting up more than enough points to win each week.  He also showed a lot in the Capital One Bowl last week.  No, Michigan State isn’t Florida, but he showed a lot of resolve when he came back from a terrible first half to put up huge numbers.

In Moreno’s case, he’s proved all he has to at the college level. The guy is just a machine.  He ran well over 1,000 yards in both of his seasons, and he’s a weekly highlight reel.  He seemed to constantly turn what was a sure 5-yard loss play into a gain of some sort.  His play energizes the team and annoys the heck out of the opposition.

On the one hand, I like to think I would stay if I were them.  Does it get much better than playing for a huge program in a great college town with an awesome fan base?  In a way, no.  And the money would have been there next year too, as the NFL rookie payscale won’t be changing until 2011.

But they’re playing for their future, and all the circumstances seem to indicate that now is the best time for them to take that step.  Their arguably the top picks at their positions and their healthy.  Why not go now?

It’s disappointing to know we won’t be seeing them in the Georgia red anymore, but when Stafford hit Moreno for the final touchdown in last week’s bowl game, it almost seemed too picture perfect to mean anything other than that it was the last time we’d see that happen.

They represented the program well, and I wish them all the best.  Go Dawgs!

A Football Weekend

Posted in 1, NFL with tags , , , , , , , on September 8, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

394 Yards.  5 Touchdowns.  

I went to see the Georgia game on Saturday and the Falcons game on Sunday, and those are the numbers I witnessed Knowshon Moreno and Michael Turner put up this weekend.  It was a good weekend to be a fan.  

Turner set a new Falcons single game record for rushing yards, and Moreno had the best highlight when he literally hurdled Central Michigan safety Vince Agnew.  If you didn’t get to see it, check it out here.  

Welcome back football, you’ve been missed.  

I haven’t had the chance to attend a lot of football games.  Prior to this weekend I had only been to two NCAA games and two NFL games, one of which was preseason.  But what I experienced this weekend only reinforced what I had already learned – you just can’t beat the football environment.  

I am a die-hard baseball fan and always will be, but it just doesn’t seem to quite match the excitement that you find at a football game – even in the markets like New York, Boston, and Chicago.  I don’t believe any of the other sports do.  I realize the crowd energy is going to vary depending on the city.  Fans at an Atlanta Hawks game are going to be very different from the Boston Celtics.  But to me football still holds the edge, and I think I’ve finally figured out the reason. 

Football isn’t just a sport, it’s a cultural experience.

It’s the fact that the game doesn’t start when the clock starts ticking; it starts when the generators powering your portable satellite are running and your tailgating tent is in place.  It’s the attitude that every game has the importance of a playoff game; there is no regular season.  It’s the reality that fans will sit in any kind of weather to watch the game.  It’s the total devotion of the guy next to you that dresses up in some costume that seriously invades the boundaries of your personal space.  

And it’s the fact that a mascot like Uga has an air-conditioned doghouse and his predecessors are buried in marble vaults at the stadium.  

All that combines to make for a stadium experience that I don’t believe is matched by any other sport. 

But maybe that’s just me.  What do you all think?

Are You ‘Nuts’

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Two years ago, I probably would have been burned at the stake for saying what I’m about to say: Ohio State is overrated.  However, this year, I’m pretty sure that most people (outside of Columbus, OH, that is) will probably agree with me. 

I’m not saying they don’t have a ton of talent.  They do.  There’s no doubt they are a great team.  But are they the #2 team in the country (according to the AP poll)?

A quick look at the their schedule shows the Buckeyes playing 4 teams that are currently ranked.  The highest ranked opponent is of course USC, who is sitting at the #3 spot.  After that, the next highest teams drops to 13, and then the last two are at 20th and 22nd.  In other years a Big Eleven Ten Conference schedule would have been pretty brutal.  This just isn’t that year. 

And even USC is only scheduled to play 3 ranked teams (again, based on current rankings).

Contrast that to the #1 Bulldogs, who play 6 ranked teams, with three of those being in the top 10.  The SEC schedule is so tough, that it’s highly unlikely for any team in the Conference to come out the regular season unscathed.  And that may cost Georgia a chance to play in the Championship game, depending on if they lose and when.  

In OSU’s case, many analysts are saying the only opponent that could give them a true challenge is USC.  And if they win that they’ll likely end the season as the #1 ranked team.  

But I would argue that a one or two loss team like Georgia, or even Florida as much as it pains me to say it, is a better team than the Buckeyes.  Those teams will have to defeat much tougher competition to even stay in National Championship contention. 

And I think the last two years that an #1 Buckeye team is over matched when they play the SEC Champion. 

OSU is a great program with a great team and a great coach.  But I think their ranking is just too high, and I will join a lot of people in being disappointed if they play in the Championship game this year.

Tough Times in the South

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , on August 22, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Ok, who did it?

Which Atlanta sports fan spotted a black cat while walking under a ladder and then opened up an umbrella inside the restaurant they spilled salt in?  Because I’m beginning to think that has to be the explanation for what’s been happening to sports here.

It hasn’t been this bad here since Sherman rode through.

It all started last year with Michael Vick. He had multiple off the field incidents that finally culminated in his imprisonment.  Their season and clubhouse were fractured by injuries, big mouths, and overmatched coaching.  Head coach Bobby Petrino resigned abruptly and in a matter of hours was in Arkansas doing the somewhat strange “Woo Pig Sooey” chant with his new employers.

The season mercifully ended a few weeks later, and the team managed to pull out another win by the end.  But the overhaul of the team and franchise began shortly thereafter.

That was a rough season – probably the roughest ever seen by a sports team.  But the Braves have certainly done their best to add more frustration to the Atlanta sports scene.

Coming out of Spring Training they were considered the team to beat by many analysts.  Their veteran rotation was older but very strong, with 22 year old Jair Jurrjens being at least a decade younger than any of the other starters.  The offense was one of the best in baseball last year, and a full year with Teixeira was expected to propel them into the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

It’s safe to say things didn’t go as planned.

4/5 of the starting rotation has spent significant time on the disabled list, with 3 of them undergoing season ending surgeries.  In a matter of a few months Jurrjens went from promising rookie to staff ace. (He’s pitched like it, it’s just that no one thought he would have to fill that role) By my count, the Braves have placed 17 different players on the DL this year, with several players making a couple of trips.  They’re not quite up to the Nationals level, who have DL’d 22 players, but it’s close.

Amidst the injuries, the team has been marred by inconsistent play in every area.  When the bats come alive the pitching fails.  When the starting pitching holds up, the offense makes the opposing pitcher look like Cy Young.  Defense has hurt them from time to time as well.  On paper, this should have been a great team.  But between injuries and frustrating stats, they haven’t been what people thought.

Meanwhile, the Thrashers failed to build on their playoff appearance the year before, and while the Hawks made it to the postseason and played well, they still finished under .500 for the season.

It’s tough to explain how this all happened, but I’m inclined to blame it on oil prices.

Ok, maybe not, but I do think 3 of the 4 teams have struggled largely in part to ownership situation.  The Atlanta Spirit has been disappointing in their handling of the Hawks and Thrashers.  And while the Braves used to be one of the highest spending teams in baseball under Ted Turner, they are now considered middle of the pack.  But they have some large contracts from the previous financial era and with athlete salaries skyrocketing, it’s been tough for them to go out and get the big name player they need when that player will take up 1/4 of your payroll.

So is Atlanta destined to dwell in sports mediocrity? I don’t think so.

The Hawks have a good young foundation that has improved steadily the last couple of seasons.  The Braves should have a little extra cash to spend this offseason and their farm system has several potential superstars just a couple of years away.  The Falcons also have some good talent, but equally as important, a solid coaching staff and front office.

And of course, the number 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs are 8 days away from kicking off their run at the Championship, and Georgia Tech has a new coach that should help the program.

What’s the purpose of this article, you may ask? Well, there really isn’t one other than to console myself and any other Atlanta fans reading this blog.  So to us I say, hang in there.