One of the best times of the year, isn't it? Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time. Families gather for an awesome meal and there is plenty of football to go around. Saturday should be outstanding. Rivalry games are lined up all day long.
Georgia Tech's lost 4 in a row to the 'Dogs. Jackets haven't beaten Georgia at home since '99. But could the Bulldogs be vulnerable, with Aaron Murray out? Might appear that way, but the guess here says Hutson Mason plays a strong game. Don't you just know that Todd Gurley's getting a full load in this game. Give it to him early and often!
Tech's best shot at an upset might be turning pass-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu loose on Hutson Mason. Gates and Theus have their hands full in this match-up. Might be a good reason to run Gurley early. Attaochu looks too quick for those Georgia tackles to handle in pass-pro.
Bet Coach Paul Johnson targets the Georgia safeties, in the option game. That group has been a step slow reacting all season. Harvey-Clemons, Moore and Matthews are in the spotlight against this Tech option scheme. Can they react and tackle? They'll be tested. Show up late and Robert Godhigh might be gone...
I've got Georgia winning 24-16. Also, in the 78th Iron Bowl, I've got Alabama slamming Auburn, 31-13. Look for the Tide defense to do a solid job against the Tiger rushing game. Wonder if Malzahn will be aggressive early and take some shots downfield against these Alabama DB's. Sammie Coates needs some big-play opportunities.
South Carolina looks to make it a record 5 in a row against Clemson. Tigers better step up on the line of scrimmage! Boyd and the gang better convert some 3rd downs too. Should be a good one.
Probably not going to be much fun, down in the Florida Swamp. Seminoles are poised to lay a big number on the Gators. Muschamp is trying to survive. Jimbo might feel for him, but FSU is trying to advance to the BCS title game. No mercy!
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. We appreciate you all!
Grantham's Georgia defense is now halfway through the season. All those young pups have had time to get coached up. So, when do they elevate the performance level? Or is this how it's going to be the rest of the season?
Appears as though safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is improving with each game. Leonard Floyd also has the ability to grow into a difference-maker. Cornerback Shaq Wiggins has flashed some playmaking ability. Need all 3 of these guys to play ball the rest of the season, for this defense to improve.
The secondary seems to be a step or two slow reacting a lot. Not enough plays being made at safety and corner. Got to get that cleaned up. Might be past time to simplify the scheme.
With all of the injuries suffered on offense, it's unfair to ask those guys to pick it up. Got to be a little drop-off on that side of the ball, right? No Gurley or Marshall. No Mitchell, Scott-Wesley or Bennett. That hurts.
Coach Grantham is under fire right now. Lot of folks out there criticizing his defense. The 3rd down scheme is particularly bad. Can't force turnovers. The fight and effort are solid. But the results are disappoointing.
The SEC East is up for grabs. Missouri's schedule is killer. The Gators are struggling to score. The Gamecocks might run the table, so the 'Dogs need to step it up. Still time to earn a spot in Atlanta and play for a title.
Only way that happens is if the defense starts Hunkerin' Down. The time is now.
Hope to see you baseball fans down at Turner Field this week, as the NLDS gets underway. Braves & Dodgers! Sounds good to me. If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best. So, bring on the Los Angeles Dodgers!
Dodgers just got some bad news on star outfielder Matt Kemp. He's out for the postseason, because of an ankle injury. And Andre Ethier's ankle is hurting too. They might have to go with Van Slyke in right and Puig in center. The Dodgers are quick to point out this trend: Dodgers were 42-8 without Kemp in line-up this season.
The Los Angeles line-up included only 2 guys that finished up the regular season with a strong month at the plate. Michael Young (acquired from Phillies) hit .314 & Juan Uribe hit .308 in September. Puig struggled in the final month, hitting .214.
One other trend to take note of: Dodgers went 12-15 in September, going 7-9 on the road. It's not like they hit the postseason on a big hot streak.
The Braves line-up has to find a way to score a few runs off Kershaw & Greinke, in Games #1 & #2. Clutch hits are huge in the postseason, obviously. Got to cash in, when there are opportunities.
Maybe it'll be Freeman at the plate, when the scoring opportunity comes. Freeman hit .443 (58-131) with runners in scoring position during the regular season. Gattis has come up huge too. Chris Johnson has delivered. Would love to see McCann deliver a big hit, in what could be his last opportunity in a Braves uniform. Talk about huge.
Medlen isn't scared to face Clayton Kershaw. And Minor won't be intimidated by Greinke. Bring it on, boys!
Can't wait to see this series. See you at Turner Field.
Should be a great atmosphere at Sanford Stadium Saturday. The LSU Bengal Tigers invade Athens along with ESPN GameDay. And why not? Two Top-10 teams will be knocking heads.
The big storyline is this: Both teams have experienced, balanced offenses...and both teams are trying to grow up on defense quickly. This could develop into a high-scoring battle.
Grantham's defense has rapidly improved, since Clemson. However, this looks like the toughest test they'll face this season. The LSU O-Line is big, tough and physical. The fullback is a monster. The Tigers WR duo is the best in CF. The running back (Hill) is a beast. And obviously, Mettenberger can sling it.
Time to Hunker Down!
What makes LSU offense so difficult to stop is the balance. They can line up and run it downhill and they can spread you out and make you defend the entire field. That's a tough combination for any defense.
Somehow Grantham has to figure out how to load up against the physical running game, without leaving themselves vulnerable against the deep shots. And get ready for Cam Cameron (LSU OC) to come after freshman CB Brendan Langley.
Can the 'Dogs slow down Hill? Can they get pressure on Mettenberger? Will they force a few turnovers? Tune in Saturday. And hope Murray and the offense has a great day.
Mr. Blank might need to get these guys in front of a shrink. This New Orleans Saints curse has gone too far. Seriously. This one really hurts. Now Brees is 12-3 against us.
If only had Steven Jackson had caught the ball. That would have been the game-winner. Simple as that. Got to catch that one. Koetter dialed that one up for him. Had Steven involved with Julio, on a combination route, working on Saints LB Ramon Humber. Play was there to be made. Catch the ball, man.
The Saints came up big on the 4th down play. It was the same play the Falcons ran earlier, on Julio's TD catch, to take a 17-13 lead. This time, the Saints covered it up. Tony moves left to form a "Trips" set, with Julio & Douglas. Roddy is isolated on the right side. No one was open. Plus, the Saints got pressure, with a 3-man rush (Baker got beat by Lofton).
William Moore also had an opportunity to come up big, but missed out on back-to-back plays in the 3rd quarter. Got beat on a big 3rd down play and then, dropped an interception. That was a big swing, where the Falcons could have gone up two scores, instead they went down 20-17.
Went back and watched Lamar Holmes in the 2nd half, when Matt's protection went bad. He got beat a few times, after a good start to the game. He also finished the game strong. Can't blame the loss on this guy.
Saturday's showdown with South Carolina appears to be the "Game of the Year" for Georgia. Got to have this one. Got to go get it. Can't start the season 0-2.
The Coaches Handbook has always stated that a team can't let a loss beat them twice. It also says that a team should improve the most, between the first and second game. Seriously.
Tip your hat to Clemson, if you're a Georgia man. The Tigers got the job done, in front of their home crowd. Real impressed with how they performed in the trenches. Of course, Boyd & Watkins were spectacular too.
So, how do the 'Dawgs improve? I've got a few thoughts.
Coach Friend needs to decide on who his Top 5 offensive linemen are this week and go with them on Saturday. Can't be asking Kolton Houston to play 3 different positions. And how is John Theus now a 2nd team guy? Best I can tell, Chris Burnette still hasn't returned to 100%, after his shoulder procedure. Shouldn't the right side be Houston and Theus? At least until Burnette is fully recovered?
Coach Wilson's D-Line concerns me to. Garrison Smith is legit inside, but who else is capable to pushing people around? We look undersized, with Josh Dawson & Sterling Bailey at D-End. Not sure the D-Line can hold up against a Gamecock Offense that will run straight at us. Can we play physical football?
Murray will miss playmaker Malcolm Mitchell the rest of this season, but Chris Conley and Justin Scott-Wesley are primed to play ball right now. That takes some of the sting away. Bennett is back on top of his game. Wooten can make plays. Rumph should be in the mix too.
Josh Harvey-Clemons returns for Carolina. That should help defend on passing downs. He can run, cover and hit. Got to turn him loose Saturday.
The Bulldog fans need to show up big at Sanford Stadium on Saturday too. Rock the place. Just like the Tiger fans did in Clemson. And just like the Gamecock fans did last season in Columbia. That would give this team a huge boost.
Spurrier's guys are going for a record 4th straight win over Georgia. Can't let that happen. Got to turn the season around on Saturday. Need a win in the worst way. Time to Hunker Down!
Time to tee it up and go get it. What's it? A big win to start the season, with the nation watching. Can't wait to see this match-up. Should be entertaining.
Clemson's up-tempo, spread offense is supposed to be operating at an even faster pace this season. Plus, OC Chad Morris has challenged his players to play more physical this season. That means he wants to be able to knock D-Lines off the ball some and convert some 3rd downs by running the ball between the tackles. Wow. Don't see many spread teams playing physical.
Obviously, Boyd is one of the top quarterbacks in CF. And he's got the most talented playmaker in Sammy Watkins to throw it to. Doesn't appear the 'Dogs have anyone that match up with him in coverage. So, that's a dangerous issue for Todd Grantham.
The most intriguing storyline of the game is how Grantham will play it. Will Grantham's plan be blitz/man? Or will he simplify the plan for his young, inexperienced secondary and play mostly zone?
The educated guess here says Coach Grantham brings the heat on Boyd and will roll the dice on covering Watkins. There is a passage out of the CF Coaches handbook that says, "the QB can't find open receivers, when he's laying on his back."
Got to figure Coach Bobo will test the Clemson run defense early. Feed the beast: Todd Gurley. Give Marshall some opportunities to break off some long runs. This Georgia duo at running back looks like one of the top 1-2 punches in CF. Pencil in 20-25 touches for Gurley.
If the 'Dogs get the run game cranked up, then that keeps Boyd, Watkins and the young 'Dogs defense on the sideline a lot. Sounds like a good plan to me.
There are a lot of unknowns in the opener, especially under the bright lights of a nationally televised showdown like this. However, one factor remains a constant...turnovers will get you beat. Got to hold on to the ball. Limit turnovers.
Falcons Live Action Against Bengals
So, the Falcons came out of that Bengals game in good shape, uh? Starters won the 1st quarter 3-0 and nobody got hurt! Not real concerned about how the rest of the game went. You shouldn’t be either!
Big Lamar Holmes looked like he’s capable of holding on to that right tackle spot. Big body and a big base. Good feet. Long arms. His technique was strong. Watched him block down in the run game a few times and he got some movement. Pass blocking was good. Holmes might make it.
Thought Peter Konz looked comfortable at center. He’s a big, strong dude. Got some push on a few run plays. Konz is a player. The center position is still in good hands.
Both of the rookie corners are talented, obviously. Trufant and Alford both have ball-skills. Can turn and run with receivers. Des got KO’d by the Bengals tight-end, so he got that “Welcome to the NFL” moment out of the way. Robert was aggressive against the run. And Alford has some big-play ability on punt returns, if he gets that shot.
Linebacker Paul Warrilow (Delaware) led the team in tackles, but the dude that stood out to me was LB Joplo Bartu (Texas State). Bartu is a tough, physical tackler. And the Falcons need some back-ups at LB that can play tough. Keep an eye on these two guys.
Need to see more out of the defensive end group. Osi still has some game left. Biermann’s versatility fits the Nolan system. Not sure about the rest of them. Massaquoi had a sack, but looked too aggressive with that outside speed rush. Maponga hit the QB once and looks like he can help with the pass rush. Goodman had trouble getting off blocks. Matthews looks like a run-down option to me.
Best I can tell, the Falcons will be better this season. Might not have a 13-3 record at seasons end, but they should be stronger come playoff time. Of course, that’s just a first impression. Stay tuned.
The Braves need to pick it up, into the All-Star break. That 6-game lead isn’t real comfortable, from my seat. Our team could have buried the Nationals by now.
The line-up has me concerned. In June, the Braves are 12th in runs scored (15 teams in N.L.). Justin Upton has gone from slugger to invisible. McCann has had a tough month, even though the grand slam saved us in Milwaukee. Gattis had to be put on the shelf. Scoring enough runs has been tough this month.
We should be encouraged with what we’ve seen out of Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla. Into Kansas City, Jason has hit .287 this month. B.J. has been resuscitated. Check out his June average: .246! And I watched Uggla shorten up his swing and put the ball in play, on the right side of the infield, which scored a run, on this road trip.
Simmons has his average up to .247, but appears to be still pulling off the ball, a lot of the time (trying to pull it). Wish he would quit that. Not that it’s easy…hitting major league pitching.
Freeman has just carried us lately. Freddie deserves a serious look as the All-Star game approaches. He’s one of the toughest outs in the league, with runners in scoring position. He also picks it at 1st base. Again, Freeman has been “The Man” lately.
Must admit, I’m just a little frustrated right now. I expected more from this line-up. Also, expected this team to break the Braves out of this postseason funk we’re in right now. Our Braves haven’t won a postseason series, since 2001. That’s 12 long years. And this team has to be better than it has been to get us to the top of the mountain.
Sure hope they have it in them.
What needs to happen? Need to get some of these bats going. Heyward needs a big summer. So does B.J. Younger brother Justin has got to put it back together. Need Gattis back doing damage. And can we get Andrelton Simmons to hit the ball to the right side of 2nd base some. Got to get this line-up back on track!
Our Braves are getting slammed a little right now. Critics are all over the strikeout thing. And after getting shutout, again in Phoenix, the critics are also ripping the Braves for those 6 shutout losses. Bunch of bums, right? Oh, please.
When Kincade checks the standings later this month (Memorial Day), he's going to see his Phillies floundering around the .500 mark & the Braves up front, battling the Nationals. Anyway, this start to the season for the Braves has been anything but easy.
No MLB team has played more road games. At the conclusion of the recent road trip, the Braves will have played 26 road games. Two of the trips have been of the 10-day variety. This team is road weary. The Upton's have forgotten where their new pads are. Seriously.
So, if you're down on the Braves. Relax. This marathon is just getting started. The first month and a half have been challenging, with so much time spent on the road. It can be exhausting out there on the road.
Bet we'll see this team get it going offensively heading into the summer. Jason Heyward will be back in this homestand and that'll be the first time all season the top guys will be all together in the batting order. McCann is back busting the ball. Heyward gets to restart his season. I envision a boost in production.
Hope to see you out at the ballpark. Stop by and see the Braves Pre-Game Show live. Hope to be talking about this team going on another hot streak.
Kiper, Jr. gave the Falcons & Thomas Dimitroff a draft grade of B. Can't say I disagree.
Moving up to grab a top CB ---before the run on cover guys went down--- was smart. Desmond Trufant looks like he's worth a late 3rd round pick. Talented and confident. Go ahead and plug the rookie CB in as a starter. Dimitroff watched the 2nd CB come off the board at 12 and decided it was a good time to pull the trigger on a deal to move up. Stay put at #30 and 5 CB's may be off the board.
In today's NFL, the base defense has 3 corners on the field. And that is played more than half the time. Quality teams have got to have 3-4 solid options at CB. Or they can't cover. So, the "Dimitroff Double-Down" was needed.
2nd round pick Robert Alford is a CB with ball skills, but doesn't appear to be as polished as Trufant. Need to get him coached up quick. He also looks like a great option as the Falcons return man. That would be a big boost. The Falcons return game has been disappointing.
4th round selection DE Malliciah Goodman (Clemson) will compete with Massaquoi & Matthews. Dude was strong against the run in college and only flashed his pass-rush skills a few times. Hope for a hit here.
Tight-end Levin Toilolo beat out Zach Ertz & Coby Fleener at Stanford a few years ago. But then, he suffered a knee injury. This target is 6'7" in cleats, with good hands. Good red zone weapon. fact of the matter is this: Falcons were desperate for another TE. Got to have 2, right?
Simply don't know much about Stansly Maponga (TCU DE) or Kemal Ishmael (Safety UCF). Need a pronunciation guide though.
Zeke Motta (Notre Dame safety) is a smart, tough guy. Impacts special teams cover units. Dimitroff passed on Rambo (Georgia) and Lester (Alabama) to take him.
By the way, the Falcons were one of 3 teams who did not draft a player out of the SEC. Find that strange. The SEC had 63 players selected (most ever). Almost 25% of the players drafted came from the SEC.
NFL Draft is one week and counting...and we all wonder what the Falcons draft plan will be? But you can bet Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff is looking to move on his targets! Dimitroff has made a move in every draft, here in Atlanta.
Peter King's reporting that Dimitroff is looking to move up from #30, in the 1st round. D. Orlando Ledbetter has pointed out the potential trade partners: Jaguars (2), Lions (5) and Rams (16 & 22). Those spots have former Falcons executives in place.
So, who is the Falcons target? Alabama CB Dee Milliner? He's being described as the missing piece on the Falcons defense. Got to move into the Top 5 to get this guy. That's pricey. But check the Julio Jones deal. It was worth it.
If corner is the target in the 1st round, it makes sense to move ahead of both New England and Denver (both need to add a quality CB). So, doing a deal with Les Snead & the Rams could be the move. The Rams have two 1st round picks (16 & 22). If the Falcons get one of those spots, then they can maybe take the other top-rated CB prospects Marcus Trufant or Xavier Rhodes.
But maybe the target is talented TE Tyler Eifert. Or OLB Jarvis Jones? Or maybe one of those beast offensive guards (Warmack or Cooper)?
Stay tuned. Sure love the way Dimitroff aggressively pursues his targets in the draft. None of this staying put and taking the best guy available.
Also, just released is the news that Deion Sanders will announce the Falcons 2nd round pick... is that a clue that the Falcons will take CB/PR Tyrann Mathieu? Prime Time is all in with Tyrann. The guess here: Don't look for that.
No time to waste on defense. Todd Grantham needs to find out who is ready to play, so he can start planning on how to defend a dangerous Clemson offense in the opener. That process started to play out this spring.
Up front, there is a new coach and there will be 2 new starters. Garrison Smith is the only returning starter, but Ray Drew and Sterling Bailey came on strong this spring, at D-End. Drew was at times unblockable. Mike Thornton is in the mix inside, at the nose.
At linebacker, Amarlo Herrera and Jordan Jenkins return. They both played a lot of good football last season. Now they need to be leaders on this young defense. Jenkins is expected to replace Jarvis Jones and be a playmaker. The new faces coming on strong are ILB Ramik Wilson and OLB James DeLoach. Wilson moves inside this season. DeLoach is a run stuffer.
The secondary will have 3 new starters, only corner Damian Swann returns. Sheldon Dawson made some plays at CB this spring and heads to summer camp as a favorite to win that job. Devin Bowman is after some playing time too. Or maybe one of these freshmen CB's will step up.
At safety, the 'Dogs lost two quality players, in Rambo & Willliams. Two young players are busy impressing this spring: Josh Harvery-Clemons & Tray Matthews. J-H-C is a hybrid SS/OLB and he could be in for a busy season. Matthews is a early enrollee freshman, who is locking down the top job at free safety.
Worried about a freshman free safety? Tray is advanced. Way ahead of most freshmen, with his understanding of concepts. He's shown off some open field tackling ability this spring.
Over on offense, Coach Bobo's group is deep with experience. The O-Line is back. "Gurshall" returns. Aaron Murray runs the show for the 4th season. There is a lot to feel good about on this side of the ball.
Chris Conley has had a good spring at WR and looks to be the 2nd weapon (Malcolm Mitchell is go-to guy). Freshman J.J. Green has shown off his playmaking ability. TE Jay Rome has had a good spring too.
Clemson stares Georgia in the face this summer. Huge opener. Awesome offense...Grantham's got to get this defense ready to go.
When McCann gets back a couple weeks into the season, this Braves line-up will be deep with quality. Think about it for a moment...Chris Johnson & Juan Francisco will be hitting 8th. So, 2-7 is going to be a tough road for opposing pitchers.
Andrelton Simmons is up top and looks ready to have a breakout season. Seriously. This dude is on the fast track to scoring 100 runs. Heyward hits 2nd and we're talking 30-30, right? Can't wait to see Jason Heyward run the bases. It's special. And the ball jumps off his bat. We are strong up top.
The middle of the line-up looks dangerous. Upton-Freeman-Upton, at 3-4-5. Justin's swing is in a good place. Freeman is primed for a 100 RBI season, in the clean-up spot. B.J. looks like a 40 double dude. Let it rip.
McCann and Uggla follow those guys. Brian's swing looks good this spring. Watched him drill some balls opposite field in BP, when last year he couldn't extend without pain. "Mac" is playing for a contract, so he's got an edge to him. Dan is determined to bounce back too.
The Braves are going to score some more runs. It should be fun this season. More athletic. Faster. More pop. Let's play ball.
And I hope you're not freaking out over the starting pitching! Medlen and Minor will be strong. Teheran is a new man. Hudson and Maholm will be dependable. By the way, the Braves rotation had the NL's best ERA this spring, entering Minor's start today.
See you at the ballpark next week. Get there early, for those BP homeruns!
It's almost time to get the show on the road. The Braves are winding down spring training and about to head north for Atlanta. They appear to be ready to roll.
Not many roster decisions to make. Who is the back-up shortstop (until Janish is ready)? Ramiro Pena is a nice option. Who is the 5th outfielder? Schafer looks like the guy (he's out of options). Who grabs the final spot in the bullpen? Varvaro or Gearrin. The back-up catcher is probably Evan Gattis, right? Dude is a rock star and has earned a spot on that 25-man roster, until McCann is ready.
Can't wait to see what kind of damage this new line-up can do. More speed. More athletic. More right-handed pop. And when Brian McCann gets back in there, it's going to be a deep line-up. Uggla is probably hitting 7th. Francisco & Johnson are probably hitting 8th. This should be fun. Bet Simmons and Heyward both score 100 runs.
Sounds like Tim Hudson will get the opening day assignment. It'll be the 3rd time for Hudson, with the Braves. Yes, it's an honor on most teams. One of the special days of any baseball season. Medlen deserves the honor too. Little surprised that he won't get the ball. But it's not a big deal, as far as how the season goes. Glad to have both these right-handers in the rotation.
Julio Teheran looks ready to win a lot of games, as the 5th starter in this rotation. Dude looks like a different guy this year. All grown up. That new 2-seam fastball is now a weapon against left-handers. Breaking balls look solid. Change up is good. Really impressed with Teheran. He looks like a weapon.
After spending two weeks with the Braves at spring training, I'm encouraged. Upton's look like a good fit. Lot of the guys are swinging the bat. Pitching looks solid. Let's get behind this team!
Thanks for helping make the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame induction so special. The 680 The Fan team stepped up big, which I appreciated very much. Not sure how the suits got some of those pictures that made it up on 680thefan.com, but that was cool.
The event was fun. Kincade did a nice job at the induction ceremony, although he did keep me to that 5:00 limit on the speech. Barely had time to talk about the big impact Coach Nick Hyder & Herschel Walker had in my career. Seriously. Coach Hyder was the first coach to embrace me.
Proud to have Coach Mike Cavan and Coach Butch Brooks sitting at our table! Cavan was the big brother I never had and he passed along some great advice to me back at Georgia. Brooks was everything I thought a coach could be in high school. Tough. Big heart. Competitive. Cared.
Coach Dooley hosted a UGA table and it was great to see Barbara there, along with Coach Greer and Coach Whittemore. I thanked Vince for being straight with me. I could trust him. He was tough on us. I respect that. Steve and Charlie were special too. Both were coaches that cared.
Had some former teammates there. Butler & Buckler showed up. That's special. Got to mention Lindsay and Lastinger.
I just know this: I believed that I could help my team win. I trusted that in high school and college that I would get a good fastball to hit. And that the ball needed to go LIndsay Scott's way in big situations. I treasured the competition and loved to win.
It's an honor to now be in there with Cobb, Aaron and Tarkenton. Just wish my Father could have lived to see it.
The Buck & Kincade Show trip down to Orlando was fun! It's always one of my favorite business trips of the year. The Braves provided us with some awesome access.
The work day started at 7:30 a.m., as players arrived at the facility. It was time to work the clubhouse for some interviews. Not exactly the best time of the day for that. But it's business, right?
"B.J., I know it's 7:30, but can you come do a sit down interview?"
But we did have some success. Heyward took time to be with us. Jason is such an impressive guy. He's poised for a great season. One of those 30-30 years. The ball is just jumping off his bat. And he takes such great pride in his defense. Told us he's proud of that Gold Glove Award. The Braves have a lot of guys that have pop. Dudes that can square the ball up and drive it. But Jason Heyward's BP is the most impressive. Look for him to have a big season.
Justin Upton's HR against the Marlins went 500 feet! Or so it seemed. Strong, balanced stance and just drives the ball. Saw him hit one over the centerfield wall at Disney in BP. Seems pretty cool too. Like his chances of having a big season too!
B.J. Upton has some quick hands at the plate. Open stance and hands held high. And he is quick on the inside fastball. Watched him rip some topspin down the left field line. Impressed that he can take the outside pitch comfortably opposite field too. Seems to be a quiet guy.
Can't wait to go back in March for another week. I'll get to call two Braves games with Mark Lemke. That'll be awesome.
Back from New Orleans and Super Bowl 47. Good to be back home, but it was another fun experience. Kincade & I have done the "Radio Row" thing over 10 times now. It's always fun. Just love being in the mix.
It's a Who's Who of sports broadcasting. Some of the NFL's top stars---past & present--- are being trotted out. Over 100 stations are wheeling and dealing, trying to get these guys on for a few minutes. It's an intense scene. And you can feel the buzz, when Beyonce' walks into the room.
Our producer Jonathan Chadwick was cutting deals left and right. Adding names. Cutting names from our list. And J-Chad did great. Our road show man, Adam Gillespie also delivered behind the scenes. Those two guys got it done. And we're talking 8-10 hour work days, for 3 days.
This is big-time radio. And it's fun. Sure hope you enjoyed the interviews. It was awesome of the Falcons to get Coach Smith, Thomas Dimitroff and Mr. Blank on B&K, while we were down there. Cris Carter was a little brash, but it made for some good radio. Mrs. Manning's visit was enjoyable and out of the ordinary. Doug Williams, Warren Moon and Kurt Warner joined us...nice trio of QB's there, uh? Still trying to wrap my arms around Swamp People and Troy Landry. they brought real gators in to intimidate. Bobby Hebert was entertaining. Love that dude.
Sure wish the Falcons could have delivered and joined us in New Orleans.Maybe next year. And thanks to the suits at 680 The Fan for sending us back to the Super Bowl. It was fun.
Thank you Frank Wren! So refreshing to see the Braves go out and add a big bat, with a big trade. There was a hole in the line-up, with a corner OF spot. Not anymore. Pencil in Justin Upton at the #3 spot.
Fredi has hinted at what the top of the line-up will look like: 1- Simmons, 2-Heyward, and 3-Justin Upton. What do you think? Worried about Simmons? Think it's too much to put on his plate?
Andrelton will be in his first full big league season, but he's won a batting title in the minors hitting lead-off. And he rarely looked overmatched last season, as a rookie. Turn him loose. Can't wait to see more. Jason Heyward bounced back in a big way last season. He's never going to be a old-school #2 hitter, but no worries. Get him up top and let him do his thing. That sets the table for Justin at #3.
Freeman, BJ Upton, McCann and Uggla swing the bat 4-7. That gives Fredi a LH-RH-LH-RH thing working. Freddie looks like a 90-100 RBI man. Expect Brian to bounce back with a solid season, now that he's healthy again. Dan is a man on a mission, because of struggles last season.
Francisco & Johnson will probably hit 8th. Both have some pop.
The line-up looks strong now. Solid top to bottom. Worried about too many strikeouts? That's understandable. But don't freak out. Looks like this line-up has the ability to score.
The Falcons loss to the 49ers was extremely disappointing. Our team was a play away. One. So, this one hurts. Probably will haunt us for years. Just one play from the Super Bowl.
Tip your cap to the 49ers. It takes a championship team to rally back from that deficit.
Couple of 2nd half turnovers helped seal our fate. Roddy took responsibility for the interception (fell down on route) and Matt fumbled, when he took a quick look up at the defense, after the snap. Still had a shot to win it though.
Thought for sure Matt had Douglas for a TD, when the 49er DB fell down. The turf monster must have grabbed Douglas too. Matt played the final 3 plays with a seperated shoulder. Tough competitor.
That 3rd down play---Matt rolled right, trying to hit a slot flat route---got tipped at the LOS. Matt felt pain, on the throw.
On 4th down, with the season and a shot at the Super Bowl riding, Dirk Koetter went trip's right. Tony flexed out wide left and got doubled. Roddy was the primary, on the short crossing route. Julio ran a fade. Good call. Matt's throw was just a little behind Roddy, on his back shoulder. Bowman jammed Roddy and made a play on the ball.
One play short.
Tony Gonzalez was close to a Super Bowl, in his final season. Just short. And it was easy to see the pain and passion on his face, back in the Falcons locker room afterwards.
Chokers? That's a cheap shot. Can't fault the effort. Falcons went toe-to-toe with the Niners and had them on the ropes. Left it all on the field.
Atlanta will host the NFL Championship Game for the very first time, on Sunday. How special is that? You know how special it is, right? We've been playing pro football in this city since 1966.
Exhale, Atlanta. We're one win away from the Super Bowl!
Matt Bryant drilled that 49 yard FG, with Atlanta holding its breath, to send the Seahawks home losers. Clutch kick, obviously. A memorable kick! One for the history books. Thank you, Matt Bryant.
Can't believe it came down to that, but what a finish. Matt Ryan had to hit two big throws, in order to get Matt Bryant into FG range. Douglas and Tony G. came up big. And the O-LINE stepped up in that situation too. Matt Ryan had time in the pocket, with the season riding. In fact, Matt Ryan didn't get sacked once.
After the great escape, Matt Ryan was thrilled with the protection. Got hit a few times, but never sacked. And they took a lot of shots downfield. The O-Line was a difference-maker. Simple as that.
Falcons ran the ball effectively and stuffed the beast Marshawn Lynch. Two other reasons why we are a win away from another Super Bowl.
This is awesome! Go Falcons! Now go get it!
The Niners are coming to town. Got to get ready. Need to get ready.This is special.
Coach Paul Johnson filled that DC opening quick. Ted Roof is coming back home! Spent last season at Penn State. Helped Auburn win the national title. Coach Roof was also on O'Leary's staff at GT. This is a real good hire. Great fit.
Charles Kelly did a nice job...but bolted for FSU. Getting Roof to come back home is a quality move by Coach Johnson.
The Jackets return 8 starters on defense. So, Coach Roof has some experienced guys coming back. I wish him well. Class act. Good coach. Again, great fit for Georgia Tech!
Mark Richt and Todd Gratham filled the D-Line spot with Chris Wilson. He cut his teeth on Bob Stoops staff at Oklahoma. Spent the last 2 seasons at Mississippi State. One insider told me that he's "very polished." Can recruit and teach.
Coach Wilson will need to hit the ground sprinting. He needs to impact this recruiting class. D-Line jobs are open. There is playing time to sell. And there are some quality DL prospects to recruit. The next 3-4 weeks will be important. Can he go get Toby Johnson and Davin Bellamy? No time to waste.
Look for Grantham to develop the young talent on defense quickly. Bet on it. He's got to find some players on the D-Line & in the secondary. Spring football should be interesting. Stay tuned.
So, here we go. Falcons are back in the playoffs. Can they finally win one? And beat the Seahawks? Should be fun on Sunday.
Sounds like the Falcons will get a boost on defense. Robinson and Moore are ready to go, in the secondary. And Abraham is good to go up front. Got to like that. Need these guys leading the way.
Priority #1 with Nolan's defense will be slowing down RB Marshawn Lynch. Dude is a beast. Can't allow him to run wild. And it would be nice to force Russell Wilson into some mistakes. Couple of forced turnovers would be large.
Can the Falcons offense score on the Seahawks defense? I believe so. Need to run it at DE Bruce Irvin. Look for the back-shoulder fade to be a good play. Matt Ryan gets bump coverage on Roddy & Julio out wide, which sets that throw up. Sherman and Browner are solid, but the technique leaves me wondering...it's a soft bump. They simply turn and run with the WR. No attempt to jam the receiver.
This is going to be fun. Time to Rise Up! And get a playoff victory!
The Georgia Bulldogs got the new year underway with a big bang. The 'Dogs got it rolling on offense and laid a 45 spot on Nebraska. Once Aaron Murray got going, Bobo's balanced offense looked impressive. Gurley was tough to handle. Marshall made some plays. That RB combination is something special.
Tavarres King made the big play. Cornhuskers had just slapped Murray with a "Pick 6" to take a 14-9 lead. Murray's start included 2 interceptions. The Nebraska crowd was going nuts. And that's when TK made the big play. Murray deep ball was a little underthrown, but King was textbook. He slowed in full gallop. That kept the DB off him. Extended his arms at the last second and snagged it. Shook off the weak attempt at a tackle and sprinted to the end zone. Murray settled in, after that.
Aaron was MVP impressive, despite the slow start. And that tells NFL scouts something about him. He's mentally tough. And he can make all the throws.
If he bolts for the NFL, the 'Dogs appear to be in good shape on offense. Everyone returns, except Tavarres King and Murray. Hutson Mason takes over at QB and is polished in the passing game. King will be missed, but the Georgia WR position group is deep. Conley is big-time. Scott-Wesley is a playmaker. Bennett's back. And Malcolm Mitchell will be the go-to WR.
In 2013, the 'Dogs offense needs to lead the way. Grantham's got some work to do on defense. rebuild the D-Line. Put together a secondary. that may take some extra time.
My best guess says that Murray moves on. The timing appears right. His competition (Matt Barkley, Tyler Wilson and Geno Smith) is beatable. Not much left to accomplish at Georgia. Probably ready for a new challenge. We'll know next week, he says.
Right now, Coach Richt needs to jump on this D-Line coaching search. Need an impressive coach to introduce to these top DL recruits in a few days. Giff Smith looks like a good fit. The Bills just cut him loose. This is an important hire.
The Falcons hit the Giants with a big left hook, early in the fight. The G-Men never recovered. We wiped the Georgia Dome floor with those guys. Seriously. It wasn't much of a fight.
The statement was this: These Falcons will be ready come playoff time.
Samuel's playmaking ability is just huge in these big games. He's jumping routes and making plays. Need William Moore back in there making plays too. When the Falcons defense forces a few turnovers, we look like a team that can beat anyone.
Matt Ryan made some big throws against the Giants. He delivered. And the O-Line was the biggest surprise to me. The front 5 played big. Baker can it done. Konz held up. They kept a clean pocket for Matt.
So, bring on any of these so-called contenders. The Falcons look like they can play with the big boys.