Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

'Random observations' from late, sloppy game

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ATHENS, Ga. -- A column writing associate from Atlanta retold an old Furman Bisher classic before the kickoff of Saturday night's Georgia-Georgia Tech defensive derby/fumble-a-thon.

The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets mix it up before Saturday's rivalry game at Sanford Stadium.   David Tulis/Morris News Service
David Tulis/Morris News Service
The Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets mix it up before Saturday's rivalry game at Sanford Stadium.

Once when pushed to make a early commitment for a possible column topic, Bisher bristled before settling on the broad "random observations on the day's events."

With a 7:45 p.m. kickoff between two teams with a combined 11 losses and deadline pressure enhanced by the looming post-Thanksgiving sale Sunday inserts, Mr. Bisher's standby plan seemed like the prudent choice for a running commentary on a 42-34 bowl-eligibity shootout.

- Simple question -- was this A.J. Green's last game at Sanford Stadium?

The junior receiver is undeniably a superstar and widely considered a lock to be a top-five pick in next year's NFL Draft should he opt out of his senior season at Georgia.

Considering the fact that he sold his Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000, it's safe to say the young man is ready to start making some money.

The lone caveat that could work in the Bulldogs' favor is the looming possibility of an NFL lockout next year as the players union and owners continue to spar over a new collective bargaining agreement. Would it be selfish of Bulldogs fans to root for a potentially devastating labor crisis in the midst of an already struggling economy?

Green will have to make a decision one way or another in January to be eligible for the April draft. Judging from some of the safe runs out-of-bounds he made Saturday night, it looked like Green has already made up his mind.

That'd be too bad, because it would be great to see what Aaron Murray and Green could do with a full season together.

- That said, the receiving star of the game Saturday night was Georgia senior Kris Durham.

Durham converted a 66-yard touchdown in the first quarter that was the longest of the season for the Bulldogs. The most impressive thing about the play was that Durham covered about 60 yards of it after the catch, beating the entire Yellow Jackets secondary in a footrace to the end zone.

- Speaking of the NFL, here's another early draft projection. Georgia's big-footed Blair Walsh is going to be kicking footballs on Sundays for somebody next year. That much is obvious.

The perfect place for him would be to replace another former Georgia kicker just up the road in Charlotte, N.C.

John Kasay has been kicking in the NFL since the leather helmet era (actually 20 years) and he has been the only kicker in the 16-year history of the Carolina Panthers franchise. At age 41, his leg has got to start losing something at some point. Then again, George Blanda and Morten Andersen kept kicking until they were 48.

- Is it too soon to say that Paul Johnson sure did a heckuva job with Chan Gailey's players?

As good as Johnson's offense looked in last year's ACC Championship campaign, it hasn't been as efficient this year even before quarterback Joshua Nesbitt was lost to injury. The well hasn't been refilled with anything comparable to draft picks Demaryius Thomas and Jonathan Dwyer.

And that defense isn't any better, which isn't surprising considering Derrick Morgan and Morgan Burnett are now on NFL rosters as well.

There's certainly something to be said for Johnson's system. But there's more to be said for his system when it has great athletes.

- Redshirt sophomore quarterback Tevin Washington did a pretty nice job for the Jackets right up until the critical moment when he suddenly turned into the second coming of Reggie Ball when it mattered most. Of course, it would have helped if Scott Blair made his last extra point try.

- Georgia fans got quite excited when Washaun Ealey burst up the middle for a 20-yard touchdown with 1:29 remaining to make it 42-34. It didn't occur to anyone (especially Ealey) that Georgia Tech wanted them to score to give the Yellow Jackets one last possession to try to tie it up rather than let Georgia kneel the clock out. It failed, but the logic remained sound.

- Both teams are equipped with former NFL defensive coordinators showing off a full season's progress in their new 3-4 defensive schemes. Just a hunch that neither Todd Grantham nor Al Groh are going to be recalled to the pro ranks anytime soon.

- With a muffed kickoff, muffed punt and a few red-zone failures, the Bulldogs didn't appear too anxious at times Saturday to punch that ticket to the BBVA Compass, Liberty or whatever other minor bowl that's willing to take them. Can't say the Fight Hunger or Music City bowl reps are too excited about locking up the Yellow Jackets. Does 6-6 really deserve a postseason trip?

- Georgia coach Mark Richt burned all three of his second-half timeouts in the third quarter -- again. He and Les Miles need to stop sitting next to each other at the SEC meetings.

- What this matchup may have lacked in luster it made up for with a little star power between the hedges.

Spotted on the Georgia sidelines Saturday night were Samuel L. Jackson, Lady Antebellum and Wimbledon marathoner John Isner.


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