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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Post Game Notes

Maybe it was meant to needle the Georgia coaching staff. Maybe it was a minor dish of revenge, served ice cold in the waning moments of Florida's 49-10 win. Or maybe it was just a fresh dose of salt in Georgia's wounds courtesy of a Gators team that had been biding its time for a chance to hurt the Bulldogs as bad as it had been hurt a year ago.

Whatever the reason for Urban Meyer's two timeouts in the game's final minute, there was one inarguable fact the Bulldogs had no one to blame for the embarrassment but themselves.

"They were ahead," Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran said. "They probably thought they had to get us back somehow for last year, so they did what they did. They were ahead and about to win the game. They can do whatever they want to do."

After Georgia danced around the end zone following its first touchdown in a win against Florida last year, much was made of the potential revenge Meyer hoped to inflict this time around.

A raucous second half that included five touchdown drives that required a combined 5:18 boosted the Gators to a huge lead as the fourth quarter drew to a close, and Meyer decided to use his two remaining timeouts to enjoy the victory.

"(It was) to enjoy the moment, to enjoy the game," Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said. "We were still playing the game. We didn't do it for anyone else. We were just playing the game."

Meyer said the timeouts weren't aimed at delaying Georgia's pain or to provide retribution for last year's end-zone celebration.

Meyer's explanation was simple he was trying to win the game.

That might seem a bit odd considering he was already up 39 points, but Meyer has gained a reputation for squeezing every second out of the clock he can.

In a September game against in-state rival Miami, Meyer left his first-team players on the field until the end of the game, booting a meaningless field goal as time expired despite holding a big lead. Miami coach Randy Shannon complained after the game, suggesting Meyer was showboating.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt had no such complaints.

"The rules say you have three timeouts per half, and they can use as many as they want," Richt said. "They used their timeouts and they certainly had a right to do that."

The timeouts came after runs by Emmanuel Moody, Florida's third-string running back who had tallied a game-high 71 rushing yards, and Meyer said he wanted to give Moody a few more chances to pad his stats.

"Moody was running the ball real well and I wanted to get him a couple more carries," Meyer said. "He deserved that."

Curran thinks there was a bit more to it than that.

Following last season's celebration, the Bulldogs expected some payback. Curran said he holds no grudges for the final-minute timeouts. He just wishes the Bulldogs could have done something to stop it.

"We did our thing last year," Curran said. "I feel like they came into this game feeling like they had something to prove, and they did with those timeouts and with the way they played."

-- In a game filled with missed opportunities for Georgia, Matthew Stafford can't help but wonder if he threw away the Bulldogs' best chance at a comeback in what ended up a 49-10 Florida win.

Georgia failed to cash in on three red-zone chances in the first half, but trailed by just 11 when Stafford got the ball at his own 1 early in the third quarter. The Bulldogs drove to the Florida 30, moving the ball with ease, but Gators defensive back Joe Haden put an end to the rally with an interception he returned 88 yards, setting up a 1-yard Tim Tebow touchdown.

"We had a corner route called, and the guy read it, did a good job and made a great play," said Stafford, who finished 18-of-33 passing for 265 yards.

As it turned out, the play didn't end up meaning a lot in the final score, but at the time it was a devastating blow to the Bulldogs.

"It certainly killed a lot of momentum that we were gaining at that point. Not only was it an interception, but it was an interception for all that hidden yards. That's what killed us, and there was very little chance of keeping them out of the end zone at that point."

The quick shift in momentum turned into an avalanche of blunders for the Bulldogs, who turned the ball over three more times in the second half including two interceptions by Stafford.

"From then on out, we were going throw it, and they know it and we know it, so it's a little easier for them," Stafford said. "We became one-dimensional just because of the scoreboard, but that still doesn't excuse it."

Florida scored 21 points off turnovers Saturday, and the Gators five touchdown drives in the half took a combined 5 minutes, 18 seconds, turning the close game into a blowout.

"We did it to ourselves," Stafford said. "Us turning the ball over, giving them the short field a bunch, we know they're a good football team, and they took advantage."

-- In the end, it didn't really matter, but after freshman Blair Walsh missed two short field goals in the first half, he couldn't help but wonder if he had cost his team the game.

Georgia drove into the red zone twice in the first half and came away with just three points after Walsh missed kicks of 38 and 27 yards.

"I want to make them all, obviously, but to miss something like that, to give your chance to go up, it's heart wrenching," Walsh said. "These guys work so hard on the field, and you've got that one shot, that one try to make it, and when you don't, it just kills you."

Walsh gained some solace from his teammates, who told him to keep his head in the game. At halftime, Georgia trailed by just 11, and Walsh's teammates told him he could have a chance at redemption.

"They never doubted me or anything," Walsh said. "I have great teammates. I can't ask for anything better. They were just trying to keep me up. At one point, it looked like it might come down to another field goal, but the game got away from us."

-- After Georgia added its first points to the board with a field goal, Richt decided to take a chance to steal some momentum.

Walsh's kickoff following the field goal was an on-side kick that bounced straight to Florida's Butch Rowley, who covered the football at the Georgia 41. Florida scored seven plays later to open up a 14-3 lead.

"The onside really wasn't executed as well as it should have been executed," Richt said. "We just wanted to get another possession. We knew Florida's offense was very explosive, and the less amount of drives they had, the better it was going to be for us."

Richt said the decision was a calculated risk, given the explosiveness of Florida's star returner Brandon James, who returned just one kick in the game for 22 yards.

"You could kick it to Brandon (James), and he can run it back to the 40 easily, so kicking it off to those guys isn't always the best thing either. We just didn't execute very well."

-- Tight end Tripp Chandler and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe each returned to action for the first time in more than a month Saturday.

Chandler had one reception for 14 yards, but also fell in the end zone and missed a potential touchdown pass from Stafford.

Ellerbe had just one tackle in the game a six-yard sack of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

Chandler said the return to the field was like playing for the first time.

"It was a lot of fun to be able to get back out there and play again," Chandler said. "I had those jitters like it was my very first game ever."

-- Georgia's blowout loss to Florida looked an awful lot like its first loss of the season to Alabama, with penalties, turnovers and missed opportunities turning a potentially close game into one that got out of hand quickly.

While offensive lineman Clint Boling was equally perplexed by both outcomes, he said Georgia showed a bit more fight this time around.

"I really have no idea what happened," Boling said. "I wouldn't say it was a lot like the Alabama game because of the score and everything. I thought we did a lot better job of moving the ball. It was just a tough game all around."


Anonymous said...

David, quick question.

At what point does Coach Richt petition the SEC to quit having Wagers call UGA games?

The guy has an obvious vendetta and the fact that he cannot hide his impartiality as a Gtu alum should bar him from ever calling another UGA game.

The bogus spot on the first drive was a clear shot across the bow to CMR, as Wagers was basically saying that UGA would have no chance of winning as long as the refs had a say.

This has become a major issue and I think that it would be well worth CMR's effort to make sure that Wagers never calls another of our games.

What would really have to happen to rid us of the Wagers problem? Would he have to be disabled? Could he simply be relieved of his duties? This is simply not a tenable situation any longer.

Carter said...

The 2 best QBs in the state are in Atlanta.

Matt Ryan and D.J. Shockley

wes said...

I have been thinking about all this alot lately. We as college football fans are set up for torment. In the Nfl you can lose 5 or 6 games and still be the champion. In college it is usually one and done, on the occasion a two loss team will get in(lsu). How are we as college fans supposed to expect greatness week in and weekout from college kids. I am only a year removed from school and know that these days college students have a ton going on besides football. I also feel like we in the sec are punished for playing in a good conference. You can be a big ten team lose a game and then have 4 or five bye weeks left in your schedule.
Now on to the problem at hand. I feel like a tratior, the reason I feel this way is that yesterday during the game I was envious of the Florida fans. It wasnt because of the mullets or the jorts but it was TEBOW. I actualy hate Tim because he wears orange but I wish we had one guy, just one on our team that had the pride and pashion to be a BULLDAWG. I saw the piece were he apoligised after ol miss, do you see stafford, knowshon, or asher doing this? Im tired of the big expectations and ready for results. Knowshon, Stafford, and Asher owe us one and they better damn well be back next year. And somebody better damn well have the pride on the field that our fans exert all to often.

Carter said...


Is Stafford starting to remind anyone else of Jeff George?

David Hale said...

I can't argue with the point about the spot from Penn Wagers, but the fact is, a.) it was reviewed by the replay official (not Wagers) and wasn't overturned, and b.) in the end, it's hard to argue the refs cost Georgia that game.

I do agree there were some questionable calls, and what happened the last time Wagers ref'd UGA game was absurd, but the loss would still have been a loss. When it's 49-10, there's plenty of blame to go around.

I really like Carter's post, and he's right -- every week in college football is a potential heartbreaker. That's both the best and worst part of the sport. And yes, we definitely expect an awful lot out of 19, 20 and 21-year-olds.

wes said...

You really like my post David carter is talking about pro QBS. I wanted you to know I live in Kentucky and have follwed you a bit but know that you blog here I read it daily. Thanks alot David and keep up the great work.