Georgia Bulldogs: Devin Taylor

Ranking the SEC's bowls

December, 13, 2012
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The bowl season is getting closer and closer, and as we all prepare for what truly is the most wonderful time of year, it's time to rank the nine bowl games that involve SEC teams.

This month, ESPN colleague Mark Schlabach took the time to rank all 35 bowl games. We only have nine to discuss here, but some are very intriguing matchups.

Here's how the SEC's slate of bowls ranks from top to bottom:

[+] EnlargeAJ McCarron
Matthew Stockman/Getty ImagesAJ McCarron and Alabama are one win away from another national title.
1. Discover BCS National Championship: No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama (Jan. 7: ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET, Sun Life Stadium, Miami) -- Two quintessential blue-collar football teams will smash into each other for the national championship. This game also features two of the most respected/hated football programs of all-time. People from all over will be disgusted with themselves for having to root for either squad in a game where some big hits and bruises will be given out.

2. AT&T Cotton Bowl: No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 Oklahoma (Jan. 4: Fox, 8 p.m. ET, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas) -- The scoreboard inside Jerry's World better have brand new bulbs, because there are going to be a lot of points in this one. The Aggies will be without offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who accepted the head-coaching job at Texas Tech, but Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and his group of playmakers will be ready -- and rested. Both teams are averaging more than 500 yards and 40 points a game.

3. Chick-fil-A Bowl: No. 8 LSU vs. No. 14 Clemson (Dec. 31: ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET, Georgia Dome, Atlanta) -- One stout defense takes on one of the nation's flashiest offenses. The only thing is that LSU currently has some real bite on offense, so that Clemson defense better make adjustments after giving up 444 yards and 27 points in a home loss to South Carolina. Oh, and if Tajh Boyd thought Jadeveon Clowney was a handful, he now has to face Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo coming at him from the outside.

4. Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 21 Louisville vs. No. 3 Florida (Jan. 2: ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans) -- Some people are turning their noses up at this game, but there are a lot of fun storylines. This is a huge bowl for the Cardinals, and coach Charlie Strong was once the Gators' defensive coordinator. Teddy Bridgewater was also recruited by Florida. We've also learned that Florida's offense can be pretty tough when healthy, and a month off should have the Gators in proper form.

5. Outback Bowl: No. 10 South Carolina vs. No. 18 Michigan (Jan. 1: ESPN, 1 p.m. ET, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.) -- Clowney and fellow defensive end Devin Taylor get another mobile quarterback to chase around. Michigan had major issues with the last SEC team it played, and this South Carolina defense is a little more aggressive than the Alabama one that made the Wolverines' offense relatively obsolete in Arlington this year.

6. TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Northwestern (Jan. 1, ESPN2, 12 p.m. ET, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.) -- At first, I wasn't thrilled about this game, considering how the Bulldogs ended the season. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that this team will be fired up to prove people that its better than its 1-4 finish to the regular season. Plus, Mississippi State is going for its second nine-win season in four years, something this program has never done.

7. Capital One Bowl: No. 7 Georgia vs. No. 16 Nebraska (Jan. 1: ABC, 1 p.m. ET, Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.) -- On the surface, this looks like a very fun matchup. But you have to wonder how both of these teams are feeling after they lost in their respective conference title games. The Bulldogs were literally a play away from the national championship, while the Huskers missed out on the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio because of a blowout loss to Wisconsin. Both teams expected a much bigger bowl at season's end and could be a little down heading into this one.

8. BBVA Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss (Jan. 5: ESPN, 1 p.m. ET, Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.) -- So both teams are 6-6 and barely made the bowl cut. They're in the postseason, and both showed a lot of fight this year. Both are also averaging more than 400 yards of offense a game. Pitt took Notre Dame to the wire in triple overtime and owns the nation's No. 16 defense, which means the Rebels' offense will have to keep up its high-flying routine if it wants its first bowl win since 2009.

9. Franklin Mortgage Music City Bowl: NC State vs. Vanderbilt (Dec. 31: ESPN, noon ET, LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.) -- For starters, I'm opposed to any team having to play in its own city for a bowl game unless its a BCS bowl. The Commodores ended the season on a six-game winning streak, while NC State's season ended with the Wolfpack losing three of five and seeing head coach Tom O'Brien get fired. Dana Bible will be coaching in his place.

Five storylines: Georgia vs. Alabama 

November, 29, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia has gone 30 years since playing a game of this magnitude. Alabama played in a game of this magnitude 11 months ago.

But the two programs will meet in Saturday’s SEC championship game with an equal shot at playing for something even bigger than a conference title -- a shot at a BCS championship. Defending champ and second-ranked Alabama (11-1) enters as the favorite, while No. 3 Georgia (11-1) is playing in this game for the second time in as many years.

The Bulldogs will need a much more consistent effort on Saturday if they are to improve upon last season’s 42-10 defeat against then-No. 1 LSU once they had advanced to this point.
ATHENS, Ga. -- After rewatching Georgia’s 35-7 loss to South Carolina online, I can’t say there was much there that wasn’t evident while watching it live.

The key to the game was that Georgia’s offensive line couldn’t handle South Carolina up front, which shut down the running game and eventually led to Aaron Murray unraveling at quarterback and finishing the night 11-for-31 for 109 yards and one interception.

South Carolina was excellent on its first two possessions and then took the air out of the ball, but it didn’t matter much what the Gamecocks did offensively after the first 10 minutes. Georgia had no good answer for the Gamecocks’ defensive front and Jadeveon Clowney in particular, as the star defensive end ran roughshod over Bulldogs left tackle Kenarious Gates all night.

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Gamecocks winning where it counts

October, 7, 2012
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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Connor Shaw could see it in the Georgia players’ eyes on South Carolina’s first touchdown drive.

A few minutes later, it was even more obvious to Marcus Lattimore after the Gamecocks drove it right down the Bulldogs’ throats for their second touchdown in as many possessions.

“They were shell-shocked. We hit them in the mouth, and they weren’t ready for it,” Lattimore said.

Nope, not even close.

But in Georgia’s defense, it’s debatable whether anybody in college football would have been ready for what the Gamecocks unleashed Saturday night on the No. 5 Bulldogs in a 35-7 bludgeoning at Williams-Brice Stadium that sent a clear message about the shifting balance of power in the SEC.

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Third-and-long a problem for Georgia 

October, 7, 2012
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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The most damaging byproduct of Georgia’s inability to move the ball on the ground Saturday against South Carolina was the regular third-and-long situations that made life rough on Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray.

Considering how often Murray and the Bulldogs faced third-and-8 or longer, it’s no surprise that South Carolina’s talented defensive line was able to harass Georgia’s junior signal-caller throughout the game, leading to a 35-7 Gamecocks win.

“You’ve got to make those plays when you’ve got a chance and try to get them on their heels and we could not do that,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “You can’t ask anybody to just constantly on third down-and-long or second-and-long to protect. There’s just too much pressure. We couldn’t get the running game going tonight and it hurt us.”

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Gamecocks D-line dominates throughout

October, 7, 2012
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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Georgia offensive line coach Will Friend was careful to point out throughout the Bulldogs’ early-season offensive successes that his rebuilding group still had a lot of progress to make before he would call it a dominant unit.

South Carolina’s defensive front showed why Friend tried to temper the enthusiasm about his players, as the Gamecocks completely controlled the line of scrimmage en route to a 35-7 victory.

“I didn’t see us, especially in the first half, being able to generate a drive because their front was whipping us,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose team fell behind 21-0 in the game’s first 10 minutes. “So you hope to make a play here and there to change the momentum of the game and we just couldn’t get it done.”

They couldn’t get it done because a previously dominant running game ran into a brick wall. Freshman Todd Gurley, who came in as the SEC’s leading rusher, broke a 15-yard run on his first carry and never got another one that long. He finished with 13 carries for 39 yards, while fellow freshman sensation Keith Marshall ran 12 times for 37 yards.

Ken Malcome actually led the Bulldogs with 45 rushing yards on five carries, including their only score -- a 3-yard run when the game was already well out of reach -- on a night that was otherwise a disaster in every way for the Bulldogs’ previously high-scoring offense.

The Bulldogs finished with seven points and 224 total yards -- 41 points and 312 yards below their per-game averages -- thanks in large part to do much of anything at all early in posssessions.

“They’re very talented, especially in their front four, but I think we killed ourselves with too many third-and-longs,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said. “When you’re in third-and-long and they know you have to throw the ball, those ends can gear up and that whole defensive line -- every defense does that.

“That’s a goal of every defense is to get third-and-long and put the offense in a passing situation and let their front four do work. That’s our problem. We put ourselves in that situation. We need to do better on first and second down in order to not let that happen.”

And it wasn’t just South Carolina’s star defensive ends, Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor, who made plays. Defensive end Chaz Sutton had one of the Gamecocks’ two sacks -- Clowney had the other -- and defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles deflected a Murray pass that resulted in the game’s only turnover, a first-quarter interception by DeVonte Holloman.

“The front five, it was all of us that were making mistakes and not getting the job done,” Georgia right guard Chris Burnette said. “We definitely want to make sure that we can figure out those issues and try to fix them for the next game.”

The Bulldogs knew coming in that South Carolina’s deep and talented defensive front would create the greatest challenge they’d faced yet. After the Gamecocks dominated the line of scrimmage throughout, Richt acknowledged that they were as good as advertised.

“Their defense the entire night just took care of business,” Richt said. “We’ve got to give them a lot of credit. We got the consolation touchdown at the end just so we didn’t get the goose egg, but they whipped us pretty good.”

Game breakdown: UGA at South Carolina 

October, 5, 2012
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NO. 5 GEORGIA AT NO. 6 SOUTH CAROLINA
Saturday, 7 p.m.
Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
ESPN

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Barking Dawgs: UGA quotes of the week 

October, 5, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- As the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (5-0, 3-0 SEC) prepare for a key SEC East game at No. 6 South Carolina (5-0, 3-0) on Saturday, here is a selection of quotes from the Bulldogs’ coaches and players from throughout the week:

“We just try to come out there and play our game. We’re not trying to be like nobody else. But it’s a cool thing.” -- Tailback Todd Gurley, on the nickname ‘Gurshall’ that Georgia fans have bestowed on Gurley and freshman backfield mate Keith Marshall, a reference to legendary Bulldogs running back Herschel Walker

“Keith does a great job of pressing the hole on the zone plays and then his cuts are not two or three steps. They’re one-step cuts and he’s going vertical. Sometimes he’s moving so fast I feel like he’s almost going to fall down. It’s hard for a defender to stop when he’s pressing and his step is so fast and so vertical, I think that’s what makes him so dangerous.” -- Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, on Marshall, who broke touchdown runs of 75 and 72 yards last week against Tennessee

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Arthur Lynch talks hurdles, Clowney

October, 4, 2012
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Georgia was trailing Tennessee 30-27 on Saturday when the Bulldogs got the ball back with 37 seconds left in the first half. On first down, quarterback Aaron Murray hit tight end Arthur Lynch for a 16-yard completion to the Tennessee 49-yard line. While the catch was instrumental on the drive that ended in a Marshall Morgan 50-yard field goal to tie the game, the play was more memorable in how it ended.

The 260-pound tight end tried to hurdle 6-foot-1 defensive back Byron Moore. Lynch was unsuccessful and he blames coach John Lilly.

“The linebacker was supposed to match me but luckily I came open on the other end on a little drag route,” Lynch said. “I went upfield and it is funny because for the past couple years with Orson [Charles], Aron [White] and myself here, Coach Lilly would always bust our chops about never hurdling anybody -- people would always chop our legs down. As I caught the ball and turned upfield, the first image in my mind was coach Lilly’s face. I was like, ‘This better work or I am going to blame Coach Lilly.’ ”

It didn’t quite work as you can see in the video above.

“I went back and watched the film and I was mad because I could have easily went around that guy, gotten 10 more yards and gone out of bounds,” Lynch said.

Lynch of course had to tease his coach.

“Coach, this is completely your fault,” Lynch said. “You have been such a great coach up until this point. ... He got a laugh out of it.”

Lilly and Lynch may not be so jovial Saturday when they face No. 6 South Carolina. The Gamecocks have two of the best defensive ends in the SEC in the 6-6 Jadeveon Clowney and 6-8 Devin Taylor. Lynch remembers his previous battle with the twin towers.

“I played against them last year and they were both very good last year -- fast, long, strong guys,” Lynch said. “They are able to get their hands inside of you. So it will be a good test. It is going to come down to the fundamentals really -- our footwork, our hand placement and just being able to play fast, play smart and play aggressively.”

Notebook: Gamecocks biggest test for line 

October, 2, 2012
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Jadeveon ClowneyJim Dedmon/Icon SMIRangy sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, along with Devin Taylor, presents a huge challenge for Georgia's offensive line this weekend.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s offensive line has exceeded reasonable expectations to this point, clearing the way for the Bulldogs’ skill players to post eye-popping point totals each week.

But they haven’t played a defense like South Carolina’s yet -- so they realize their biggest test will arrive Saturday night in Columbia, S.C.

“This game will definitely be the best gauge,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said of a Gamecocks defense that ranks second in the SEC with 11.2 points allowed per game. “South Carolina’s defense is playing great. They’re not playing good, they’re playing great. They’re kind of used to playing great.”

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Notebook: Richt sings Bobo's praises 

October, 1, 2012
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Keith Marshall Dale Zanine/US PresswireKeith Marshall and the Georgia offense are executing at a clip that is better than almost everyone in the nation.
ATHENS, Ga. -- The numbers speak for Mike Bobo these days, but Georgia coach Mark Richt sang his praises following Saturday’s win against Tennessee, anyway.

After watching his Bulldogs score 51 points -- extending Georgia’s program-record string of five straight games with 40-plus points and total 560 yards against the Volunteers, Richt heaped compliments on his offensive coordinator.

“Mike has just blossomed into one heck of a coach,” Richt said of Bobo, who has been the target of plenty of fan criticism in recent seasons. “I know anybody who calls plays catches grief. I was a play-caller and I caught my share of grief, and so anybody calling plays catches grief. But I’ve always known Mike as just a heck of a ball coach. He understands the game.

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Richt Sunday teleconference highlights 

September, 30, 2012
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Georgia coach Mark Richt spoke with reporters on a Sunday evening teleconference to review Saturday's win against Tennessee and look forward to next weekend's key SEC East matchup with South Carolina.

Here is what Richt had to say:

On what he was pleased/disappointed by against Tennessee:

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Spurrier's Sunday soundbites 

September, 30, 2012
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Some highlights from South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier’s Sunday teleconference, where he previewed the Gamecocks’ upcoming game against Georgia:

On the South Carolina-Kentucky game:


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Two pairs of teammates highlight the nine SEC players named to the preseason watch list for the 2012 Ted Hendricks Award, which is presented annually to the top defensive end in college football.

South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, a sophomore, and Devin Taylor, a senior, are on the list along with LSU's Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, both juniors.

Other SEC defensive ends making the 40-player list were Florida's Dominique Easley, Auburn's Corey Lemonier, Missouri's Brad Madison, Texas A&M's Damontre Moore and Georgia's Abry Jones.
We ranked the guys in the trenches on Friday, so now it’s time to take a look at the outside guys on the defensive line.

[+] EnlargeSam Montgomery
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesSam Montgomery led the Tigers with nine sacks last season.
Below is the way we would rank the top 10 defensive ends in the SEC heading into the 2012 season. One thing to note is that Florida’s Ronald Powell, who plays a hybrid end/linebacker role for the Gators, is not on this list because he’s recovering from ACL surgery and could miss the first part of the season.

Here’s what we came up with:

1. Sam Montgomery, Jr., LSU: The SEC’s most complete defensive end, Montgomery is big enough and explosive enough to stuff the run as well as rush the passer. He had nine sacks last season.

2. Jadeveon Clowney, Soph., South Carolina: His freshman season was just a glimpse. Clowney had eight sacks and five forced fumbles and was playing on talent alone. He’ll be an every-down force in 2012.

3. Barkevious Mingo, Jr., LSU: LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis predicted that Mingo would emerge as the best pass-rusher in the SEC. He’s well on his way after racking up 15 tackles for loss last season.

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