Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Atlanta Hawks 2012-13 Season Preview

The Atlanta Hawks have made a lot of changes this past offseason after a disappointing first round loss in the playoffs to the Boston Celtics. They signed general manager and president of basketball operations Danny Ferry from the San Antonio Spurs to the organization. All-star SG Joe Johnson was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets to clear up cap space. The players received in the trade were Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, and Johan Petro. Atlanta also received a couple of draft picks. By dealing away Johnson, that clears up $90 million over the next five years. The Hawks are looking to acquire a superstar player next summer such as Chris Paul or Dwight Howard with this cap space.

PG Jeff Teague
Head coach Larry Drew hasn't declared the official starting lineup yet. There are many scenarios. You can make it Jeff Teague, Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver, Al Horford, and Josh Smith or Teague, Stevenson, Korver, Smith and Horford. Some of the key players coming off the bench are Lou Williams and Devin Harris. Lou Williams was acquired from Philadelphia and Devin Harris was acquired in a trade with Utah for Marvin Williams. The Marvin Williams experiment never went well at all. He was the second overall pick for Atlanta in the 2005 draft coming out of North Carolina. He never reached his full potential and was eventually a bust for the Hawks. The Hawks passed up on drafting Chris Paul and Deron Williams that year. 

Another good move Atlanta made this offseason was resigning PF Ivan Johnson. Johnson was an undrafted free agent out of San Bernardino. He was banned from the Korean Basketball League as a result of his anger problems. The Hawks signed him before the 2011 season started and he made an impact. With his powerful dunks and physical presence in the paint, he brought a lot of energy to the Hawks and became a fan favorite.

In the Draft back in June, the Hawks drafted John Jenkins from Vanderbilt and Mike Scott from Virginia. Jenkins is a SG that is a sharpshooter. He averaged 19 PPG. Jenkins was the best player in the SEC last season. Atlanta has a hand full of guards and Jenkins can be a major contributor and can be a clutch player late in games. Scott is a PF. He averaged 18 PPG and 8 RPG for Virginia. 

PF Josh Smith
Josh Smith had arguably his best season of his career last season. He averaged 18 PPG and 8 RPG. He was not selected to the all star team and was viewed as the biggest allstar snub. Smith is entering his 9th season in the NBA and is only 26 years old. He can only get better. He is making better decisions on the court and is learning what shots to and not to take. His leadership skills has improved tremendously as head coach Larry Drew made him a team captain last year. Based on what happens this season, we'll see if Smith decides to sign a contract extension with Atlanta. Aside from this, Hawks fans should be excited about what Smith is going to bring to the team this year.

All-star PF Al Horford tore his left pectoral muscle in January and was sidelined for the rest of the season. The Hawks made up for his absence and other players stepped up for him such as Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson. Atlanta was a 5th seed in the playoffs. Atlanta may have been a higher seed had Horford finished the season. Nonetheless, every season he has all-star potential.

Center Al Horford
The Hawks won't be receiving much love from the media but this is a team that can make some noise this season. They were aggressive in the offseason to rebuild their team and find out what the main focal points were to get over the hump in the playoffs. Getting rid of Joe Johnson was the biggest move they made mostly because it gave them an opportunity to get players who can step up and win Atlanta games this season. One big problem with the Hawks last season was that they couldn't close games out. Fourth quarter leads evaporated but they eventually found ways to pull out wins. As a team, they have to play hard for 48 minutes and can't take their foot off the gas.

The Eastern Conference is wide open every year. Everbody believes that Miami is the unanimous number one seed but after that, everything's up for grabs. The Boston Celtics made a good move by signing Jason Terry from the Dallas Mavericks to make up for not being able to resign Ray Allen. They aren't getting any younger, though. One team that did give Atlanta problems last season was the Indiana Pacers. The Chicago Bulls were a threat last season until 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose suffered a horrible knee injury and won't return til February. Due to this, Atlanta shouldn't have any problem with Chicago.

Hawks fans in Atlanta should expect good basketball out of their team this season. Philips Arena will be ecstatic as usual and I can't wait to see what the team's new acquisitions will do in the Highlight Factory. Hopefully the Hawks will improve on their mistakes from last season and make a big run in the playoffs. Good coaching from Larry Drew and fantastic managerial knowledge from Danny Ferry can make Atlanta a surprise team in the NBA. I cant wait to cover the Hawks this season and it will be another crazy ride, so tune in. Until then, GO HAWKS!!!-Yuriy A.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Falcons Remain Undefeated, Win In Philadelphia, 30-17

It was a great day for the Atlanta Falcons as they came into Philadelphia and manhandled the Eagles, 30-17. Matt Ryan had three first half touchdowns and head coach Mike Smith passed Dan Reeves as the Falcons all time winningest coach at 50 wins. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is now 0-2 as a starter when facing his former team.

Falcons' QB Matt Ryan
Falcons' QB Matt Ryan went 22/29 for 262 yards and three touchdown passes. WR Julio Jones caught five passes for 123 yards and one touchdown. WR Drew Davis played in his first career NFL game and caught two passes for 30 yards and one touchdown. RB Jason Snelling also caught one touchdown. RB Michael Turner had another off day on the ground as he had 24 rushing attempts for only 54 yards. RB Jacquizz Rodgers had eight attemps for 60 yards. The offense had 392 total yards.

On the defensive side, safety Thomas DeCoud had nine total tackles and one sack. Robert McClain and Kroy Biermann each added seven tackles. Sean Weatherspoon and John Abraham each had six tackles. Weatherspoon suffered a minor ankle sprain and is questionable for next week's Sunday night game against Dallas.

Eagles' QB Michael Vick went 21/35 for 191 yards and one touchdown pass. WR DeSean Jackson caught five passes for 59 yards. LeSean McCoy also had an off day for Philadelphia's running game. He had 16 carries for only 45 yards but ran for a touchdown. McCoy added three catches that accounted for 22 yards and one touchdown. 

Eagles' QB Michael Vick
Atlanta came out with great energy and it resulted in their first win in Philadelphia since 1988. Eagles head coach Andy Reid was 13-0 coming off a bye week heading into this game. The Falcons improve to 7-0 and are now looking ahead to the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are 3-4 following their 29-24 loss to the New York Giants. The Falcons will be playing the Cowboys under the lights on Sunday night and are looking to make a statement and show why they're the best team in the NFL. Good teams over come adversity to win games no matter what the situation is and that's what the Atlanta Falcons have been doing all season. Tune in to my blog next week and until then, Rise up, Atlanta.-Yuriy A.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Georgia Defeats Florida For Second Straight Season, 17-9

It was an ugly game but the Georgia Bulldogs pulled out the win against the Florida Gators, 17-9 in the annual game in Jacksonville. Both quarterbacks for each team struggled but it was Georgia's defense that stepped up all game long and forcing the Gators to resort to field goals.

Georgia QB Aaron Murray couldn't get anything going in the passing game. He went 12/24 for 150 yards, and threw one touchdown pass and three interceptions. WR Malcolm Mitchell caught five passes for 74 yards and one touchdown. RB Todd Gurley had 27 rushing attempts for 118 yards and one touchdown. The offense only had 273 total yards and couldn't convert on third down as they went 1/10. Penalities were a problem as they committed 14 for 132 yards.

The Bulldog's defense kept the team in the game for four quarters. CB Damien Swann and All-American safety Bacarri Rambo each had an interception. Linebacker Jarvis Jones, another projected NFL first round pick on Georgia's defense, had a Heisman-like game. He finished the game with 13 total tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. He gets in the backfield at will and never takes a play off.

Florida QB Jeff Driskel went 14/26 for 185 yards and threw two interceptions. WR Jordan Reed caught 5 passes for 74 yards. RB Mike Gillislee had 22 carries for 77 yards. The Gators also had problems committing penalties. They had 10 for 95 yards. They only had 266 yards in total offense.

Georgia's Jarvis Jones causing havoc in the backfield
Georgia improves to 7-1 and stays in the hunt for the SEC Championship game. If Florida would have won this game, they would have clinched a trip to Atlanta. From now on, Georgia controls their destiny if they want to play the SEC West winner in that championship game. The Bulldogs shouldn't have any difficulty in their final four games as they play Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia Southern, and Georgia Tech. The road to a national championship will be tough, but Georgia has what it takes to make these aspirations happen. Hopefully Georgia takes this momentum from this win and uses it to pull out a win against Ole Miss next week. Tune in next week as I analyze Georgia's game against the Rebels. So until then, GO DAWGS!!!-Yuriy A.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Georgia Edges Kentucky, 29-24

UGA QB Aaron Murray broke the school record for touchdown passes
It was a tough, grinding game for the Georgia Bulldogs in Lexington as they defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 29-24. The Wildcats came into the game with a dreadful 1-6 record and were looking to upset the #11 ranked, 5-1 Bulldogs. Kentucky fought and clawed throughout the whole game but it was Georgia who came out on top. Kentucky gave Georgia trouble in 2011 as the Dawgs won the game 19-10 in Athens to clinch the SEC East title.

Georgia QB Aaron Murray had a phenomenal game as he went 30/38 for 427 yards and 4 touchdown passes. He passed QB David Greene for all time touchdown passes in UGA history. WR Tavarres King caught 9 catches for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Malcolm Mitchell had 9 catches for 103 yards. It was another rough game for Georgia's running game as Todd Gurley ran the ball 12 times for only 47 yards. The Bulldogs' other freshman RB, Keith Marshall, only had six rushing attempts for 23 yards. The Dawgs had 504 yards in total offense.

WR Tavarres King dominated the Kentucky defense
Kentucky QB Jalen Whitlow went 9/13 for only 86 yards and no touchdown passes. RB Jonathan George had 12 rushing attempts for 87 yards and RB Raymond Sanders had 18 attemps for 72 yards and one touchdown. They only had 329 yards in total offense but committed no turnovers in the game.

Georgia's defense seems to have taken a step back since getting returning starters Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo back from suspensions. Ever since the South Carolina game two weeks ago, they have been giving up big plays that is unusual coming from one of the best defensive units in the nation. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will have to make the right adjustments so there will be no more mental or physical errors for the rest of the season as the competition gets tougher. One of these tests will be against the #2 ranked Florida Gators next week. There are as many as four potential first round NFL draft picks on this defense such as Jarvis Jones, John Jenkins, Bacarri Rambo, and Alec Ogletree. There shouldn't be so many problems on defense with a core group of talent such as these players. I think the right adjustments will be made and they will be well prepared against a high powered Florida offense next week.

Georgia improves to 6-1 and are going to face the undefeated Florida Gators in Jacksonville next week. The Gators dominated South Carolina in Gainesville this week, 44-11. The Bulldogs will have to play smart football if they want to take over first place in the SEC East. It should be a battle all game long as both teams battle for SEC supremacy in this heated rivalry. Tune in to my blog next week and hopefully UGA is 7-1. So until then, GO DAWGS!!!-Yuriy A.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Falcons Defeat Raiders 23-20 On Bryant's 55 Yard Field Goal

The Atlanta Falcons remain undefeated as the Oakland Raiders pushed them to the limit and made the game come down to the last 6 seconds. Falcons QB Matt Ryan struggled as the threw three interceptions in the first half. Matt Ryan got his rhythm together as he pulled his fourth quarter heroics that helped set up a Matt Bryant 55 yard game winning field goal.

Matt Ryan went 24/37 for 249 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. WR Roddy White caught six passes for 72 yards and one touchdown. WR Julio Jones caught four passes for 63 yards. RB Michael Turner had an off day on the ground as the ran the ball 11 times for only 33 yards. Atlanta had a dismal 286 yards in total offense.

Falcons' QB Matt Ryan
Raiders' QB Carson Palmer went 23/33 for 353 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. WR Denarious Moore caught five passes for 104 yards and one touchdown. WR Derek Hagan had four catches for 85 yards. RB Darren McFadden had 27 carries for 70 yards and one touchdown. He also had one first half lost fumble. Oakland had 474 yards in total offense. They had three total turnovers.

Atlanta had their first half struggles but as usual, head coach Mike Smith made the right halftime adjustments to help get his team's minds together and play real Falcons football in the second half. The Falcons' will and determination are what helps them overcome deficits and win games in the fourth quarter when it matters. This is QB Matt Ryan's 20th career fourth quarter comeback for a win. Kicker Matt Bryant also continues to prove why he's one of the best and most clutch kickers in the NFL.

Raiders' QB Carson Palmer
The Falcons remain undefeated at 6-0 as they head into their bye week. They face the 3-3 Eagles in Philadelphia in Week 8. Atlanta will be going against their former QB Michael Vick. The Falcons defeated the Eagles in Atlanta in 2011.

Big things are happening in Atlanta right now as the Falcons continue to prove why they're Super Bowl contenders. They look to remain undefeated in Week 8 and continue to build momentum as they try to secure the NFC South quickly. Thank you for tuning in and I will cover the Falcons in two weeks. So until then RISE UP ATLANTA!!!-Yuriy A.