Hope­fully putting some­thing to rest; Week­end foot­ball picks

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS SATURDAY -

Get­ting some­thing off my chest

I want to open this col­umn with a lit­tle clar­i­fi­ca­tion of an is­sue that has been brought up over and over since I have been at the Cal­houn Times for what will be six years in mid-Oc­to­ber, and I want to let my voice be heard on it.

Last Fri­day, three Cal­houn play­ers were ejected from the Cal­houn- North Mur­ray game due to a skir­mish that briefly broke out af­ter a play in the sec­ond quar­ter. Due to the fact that ref­er­ees do not wear mi­cro­phones in high school and penal­ties are not an­nounced with a spe­cific num­ber, our re­porter cov­er­ing the game was un­aware of which spe­cific play­ers were ejected. Texts to coaches and oth­ers at the game ask­ing which spe­cific play­ers were ejected were not re­turned un­til af­ter our 11:30 p.m. dead­line to send and ap­prove our Sports front page, there­fore the names of the play­ers ejected were not in­cluded in the game story on Satur­day.

The names of the three play­ers were in­cluded in the pre­view on­line of this week’s Cal­houn-Har­al­son County game be­cause we had the in­for­ma­tion to put into the story.

So there is the full ex­pla­na­tion. Here is what I sim­ply can­not ac­cept. When some read­ers no­ticed the names of the ejected play­ers were not in the ini­tial game story, we heard from var­i­ous peo­ple and places that once again we were “fa­vor­ing Cal­houn” or “try­ing to cover up some­thing for Cal­houn” or other ridicu- lous thoughts.

Then there was an­other play that hap­pened in the game where a North Mur­ray player was hurt on a Cal­houn kick­off re­turn, and we didn’t speak of it in the story so we were once again “fa­vor­ing Cal­houn” or “try­ing to cover up some­thing for Cal­houn.” First of all, we had no knowl­edge of what hap­pened on that play un­til later in the week­end when it be­came an is­sue on­line, and sec­ond of all, the play was not pe­nal­ized dur­ing the game.

Folks, I’m tired of hav­ing to fight this bat­tle. It is very frus­trat­ing to hear the same old stuff about us treat­ing Cal­houn spe­cial or dif­fer­ently than the other lo­cal schools. I have gone above and be­yond over my time here cov­er­ing lo­cal sports to make sure I let it be known that I value each lo­cal school equally and that my cov­er­age in the sports sec­tion rep­re­sents that. I have great re­la­tion­ships with coaches, ad­min­is­tra­tors, par­ents and fans at each school (or so I be­lieve. If not, some­body please let me know who I made mad.), and I feel like each is given the same level of at­ten­tion and care. And our man­ag­ing ed­i­tor, Brandi, has also fol­lowed the same path with our news and life­style sec­tion. We can­not speak for what the pa­per did or didn’t do be­fore us, but that is in the past and it is time to move for­ward.

If you want to point out a mis­take that you think we made or an is­sue that you think we should cover in the pa­per, please feel free to do so. Our email ad­dresses and our phone num­ber ap­pear in each and ev­ery pa­per we pub­lish. But can we please get past this non­sense and false think­ing of us han­dling Cal­houn or any other school sys­tem, peo­ple or is­sues dif­fer­ently than oth­ers based on how we want it to ap­pear in the pa­per. It is get­ting rather old.

Foot­ball picks for the week­end

Al­right, now that is­sue is out of the way, so let’s get to a bet­ter topic… foot­ball. The week­end has some in­trigu­ing games so here are my picks:

Ge­or­gia at Tennessee

The Bull­dogs are fresh off their most im­pres­sive state­ment win of the sea­son and pos­si­bly in the last few sea­sons with their 31-3 vic­tory over Mis­sis­sippi State. But it al­ways comes back to how they per­form once ev­ery­one ac­knowl­edges how good a team they are. In the past, this is where they would have a let­down and lose a game they prob­a­bly shouldn’t.

This is an op­po­nent that has backed their way into some wins over Ge­or­gia in the re­cent past as well so the con- di­tions are right for that kind of per­for­mance from Ge­or­gia. But I think this is dif­fer­ent kind of Ge­or­gia team (even as much as it pains me to say). And Tennessee just isn’t very good on top of that.

Do I think this one will be com­pet­i­tive early on, pos­si­bly into the third quar­ter? Yes. But Ge­or­gia’s tal­ent and speed on de­fense and multi-di­men­sional run­ning game and enough of a pass­ing threat makes it not very com­pet­i­tive in the sec­ond half. Ge­or­gia pulls away and coasts to a vic­tory over their ri­vals from Knoxville.

Score: Ge­or­gia wins, 37-20.

North Carolina at Ge­or­gia Tech

This is one of those games where Ge­or­gia Tech should feel good about them­selves go­ing into it. North Carolina is strug­gling might­ily, and the Jack­ets are at home, com­ing off an ACC win to open con­fer­ence play. But the Jack­ets have proven that they are con­sis­tently in­con­sis­tent over the past sev­eral years so any­thing can hap­pen in a game like this.

Ge­or­gia Tech looked rather sloppy in their 35-17 win over Pitts­burgh last Satur­day thanks to sev­eral fum­bles, which caused them to let the Pan­thers hang around. And the more you let a team hang around, the more likely a team is to beat you when they have no busi­ness do­ing so (see the Tennessee loss on open­ing week­end).

I do think ball se­cu­rity will be a point of em­pha­sis ( which it should be ev­ery week but what­ever) for the Jack­ets, and that will lead to a po­tent of­fen­sive at­tack against an un­der-manned Tar Heel de­fense. Ge­or­gia Tech puts to­gether their most com­plete per­for­mance to this point of the sea­son in a big win.

Score: Ge­or­gia Tech wins, 42-24.

Mis­sis­sippi State at Auburn

This game will de­ter­mine which SEC West team is ready to step up and be the main chal­lenger for Alabama in the di­vi­sion and which team goes back to the mid­dle of the pack. The Bull­dogs were em­bar­rassed and ex­posed last Satur­day in Athens in a blowout loss to Ge­or­gia. Auburn, on the other hand, went on the road and took care of busi­ness with a de­struc­tion of Mis­souri that came af­ter a rather lack­lus­ter win against Mercer the week be­fore.

I think Mis­sis­sippi State will bounce back with a bet­ter per­for­mance and quar­ter­back Nick Fitzger­ald has a nice day against a solid Auburn de­fense. But the Tigers will get back to their strong run­ning game. I think the home team will win this one and re­main in solid stand­ing in the West while Mis­sis­sippi State suf­fers their sec­ond con­fer­ence loss.

Score: Auburn wins, 27-23.

Clem­son at Vir­ginia Tech

No of­fense to Auburn fans, but this will be Clem­son’s tough­est test so far as they en­ter a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment at Lane Sta­dium at night against the Hok­ies.

Vir­ginia Tech has flown un­der the radar a lit­tle, but their new quar­ter­back Josh Jack- son has been very im­pres­sive to this point. He’ll have his hands full, how­ever, against a Clem­son de­fense that is deeper and more tal­ented than the one that helped them win a na­tional ti­tle last year. Plus, the Tigers’ of­fense seems to be get­ting bet­ter each week un­der new quar­ter­back Kelly Bryant.

The Hok­ies will make it in­ter­est­ing, but Clem­son’s tal­ent and ex­pe­ri­ence in big games shines in the sec­ond half.

Score: Clem­son wins, 31-21.

Buf­falo Bills at At­lanta Fal­cons

The Fal­cons are 3-0, but it cer­tainly hasn’t been in the most im­pres­sive fash­ion as they have had to hold on for dear life and catch a few breaks in their wins over Chicago and De­troit. Buf­falo, who no­body ex­pected much from, is 2-1 af­ter an im­pres­sive win over Den­ver last week.

At­lanta bet­ter not take this game lightly be­fore they go into their bye week be­cause the Bills have enough tal­ent on of­fense and a stout de­fense to cause prob­lems. I just feel like the Fal­cons are due for a com­plete per­for­mance and a rel­a­tively stress­free win. I think Matt Ryan and the of­fense cleans up the turnovers and con­tin­ues to use the strong run­ning game with the Devonta Free­man and Tevin Cole­man combo plat­ter, and the de­fense gets af­ter it once again.

Fal­cons move to 4-0 and head into their bye week as the top team in the league.

Score: Fal­cons win, 35-17.

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