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Too early to separate contenders from pretenders
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Forsyth County News
I don’t know. You know?

Two games played, and I still don’t know what to make of Tech or Georgia. The Falcons have played only one, but I know what to make of them.

I think.

Tech stands 2-0 and ranked among the nation’s top 14 teams. But are they closer to No. 5 than they are to No. 25?

Is Tech the team that began its season by popping Jonathan Dwyer loose for a 74-yard touchdown romp on its opening play? Or the team that, in the estimation of coach Paul Johnson, spent the rest of that game looking “ragged’?

Granted, Jacksonville State can hardly be considered a litmus test. But Clemson sure can.

Tech and the Tigers have gone back and forth with some great battles in recent years. None of them prepared us for this year’s episode.

Once again, Tech began like world beaters. On their second play from scrimmage, the Jackets sprung Anthony Allen on an 82-yard touchdown jaunt along the sideline.

Then the Jackets reversed some brilliant Clemson strategy, turning a fake field goal turned poor pooch punt into an 85-yard touchdown return by Jerrard Tarrant.

Tech then beat Clemson at its own game, turning a fake field goal into a 34-yard touchdown pass from kicker Scott Blair to Demaryius Thomas.

Whew. 21-zip after 12-plus minutes. Time for the Jackets to turn it off. It took a pair of Blair field goals in the final six minutes for Tech to prevail, 27-24.

My question for you is, have you ever seen a team play so well and so poorly in the same game twice in a row?

Of course you have, if you watched Georgia’s openers. Opening drive at Oklahoma State: 80 yards in 10 plays, touchdown. Touchdown drives in the final 55 minutes: none.

And after shutting out the Cowboys for the first 27:36 of the first half, the Dogs allowed 10 points in the final 2:24.

The South Carolina game was even more extreme. Georgia managed to fall behind, 17-7, in the first quarter. Next thing you knew, the Dogs were up, 38-23, before having to hang on for a 41-37 win.

Here’s a Georgia team that rang up 41 points on a Carolina defense that surrendered three a week earlier. And here’s a Georgia team that surrendered 37 points to a Carolina team that mustered only seven a week earlier.

At times the Dogs were executing beautiful reverses, school-record kickoff returns and flawless drives. At other times, the Dogs were fumbling, throwing an interception returned for a touchdown, and snapping the ball over the punter’s reach and through the end zone.

Not to mention committing 13 penalties for a whopping 108 yards.

The Dog defense allowed Carolina to amass 427 yards, yet the same unit stopped Carolina seven yards short when it mattered most.

Whew. If you can sort that out and make sense of it all, you’re ahead of me.

Thank goodness for the Falcons’ solid 19-7 win over Miami on Sunday, a win that left no doubt.

Or did it?

The Falcons soundly defeated a team that went 11-5 last year. Of course, they had the benefit of an easy schedule based upon going 1-15 in 2007.

Still, the Falcons took a team ranked in the top dozen in the league last year and held it almost 100 yards under its average (259 compared to 345.6 in 2008). They held a team that averaged 21.6 points per game last year to seven.

Even better, they forced four turnovers out of a team that had the fewest turnovers in the league in 2008. On one, new linebacker Mike Peterson blasted Dolphin tight end Anthony Fasano, causing a fumble that new cornerback Brian Williams returned 53 yards. Peterson later had an interception.

But the Dolphins contributed as well. “We didn’t do smart things,” coach Tony Sparano told the Miami Herald. “At the end of the day, when you turn the ball over four times, your percentage of winning is about 10 percent.”

And before you consider the defensive makeover a total success, consider this: the Dolphins offensive mastermind is one Daniel Ernest Henning, Jr., the same Dan Henning who installed the ill-fated “H-Back offense” as the Falcon’s head coach from ‘83 to ‘86.

Then again, the Falcons won handily on a day when Michael Turner gained just 65 yards, well below last year’s average of 106.2 per game.

They won on a day when sophomore quarterback Matt Ryan never found his touch on the long ball. Ryan proved accurate enough with the short stuff to keep the Falcons moving.

Then again, there’s all that sordid Falcons history.

So I don’t know. You know?