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State & Regional
Falcons looking to regroup during desert trip
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Falcons looking to regroup during desert trip

Falcons looking to regroup during desert trip
Photo Credit: Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde (23) rushes for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Falcons looking to regroup during desert trip

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons planned this week's extended trip to the desert when their schedule came out six months ago, hoping the time together would be a good bonding experience.

Now that they're under the sun and among the cactus, they realize the timing was impeccable.

"If there was a week to do it, this would have been the one if I had a crystal ball, say you know what, it could look real ugly for a while so let's go there," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said before the team's first practice at Arizona State's campus Wednesday. "I was happy that happened this week, but the decision was made way back in the spring."

The Falcons have gone on extended bonding trips in the past, including one during the team's Super Bowl run three years ago.

Their desert trip may be more of a regrouping.

Since that Super Bowl run - and subsequent meltdown - Atlanta has been muddled in mediocrity.

The Falcons are 19-21 since winning the AFC and blowing a 25-point lead to New England in the Super Bowl. The 2019 season has been a struggle so far, their only win coming in Week 2 against Philadelphia.

Atlanta's latest loss was perhaps its most disheartening. The Falcons (1-4) gave up nearly 600 yards of offense, failed to pressure quarterback Deshaun Watson, who threw five touchdown passes, and again had trouble getting stops on third downs in a 53-32 loss to Houston.

A trip to the desert may be just what they need.

Instead of flying home from Houston, Atlanta went straight to Arizona, where it will practice at ASU's football facility before Sunday's game against the Cardinals.

"It's off to a good start for us, the energy exactly to get our football aligned," Quinn said. "That's been the real driving force for the week, starting when the coaches got here on Monday and the players arrived today."

The road doesn't get any easier from here.

After Arizona, the Falcons face the Rams, Seahawks, Saints and Panthers, all teams with winning records.

And though the Cardinals are 1-3-1, they are coming off their first victory under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, beating the Bengals 26-23 on Zane Gonzalez's last-second field goal.

Arizona also has one of the NFL's most dynamic players in quarterback Kyler Murray.

The reigning Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick has suffered through some rookie pains but seems to be getting better every week as he gets more comfortable with the NFL game. Murray threw for 253 yards and was Arizona's leading rusher with 93 yards against Cincinnati after Kingsbury continued to add more designed runs into the game plan.

The Falcons are tied for worst in the NFL with five sacks - none the past two weeks - and are allowing teams to convert 56% on third down. Atlanta needs to ramp up the pressure on quarterbacks but facing a running threat like Murray adds another layer of defensive scheming.

"You've got to balance it," Falcons defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. "At times, you've got to pressure him and make him feel uncomfortable. At times, you've got to devote a guy to potentially spy on him, at times you've got to go into max coverage from the standpoint they do have so much spread, so much space out there. A little bit of all that."

The Falcons are hoping the time together helps them figure out a way to make it work - not just against the Cardinals and Murray, but for the rest of the season.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Georgia Sports News

  • Georgia basketball is going to have to grow up in a hurry if it has any chance of becoming an NCAA tournament team this season. Coach Tom Crean's young squad came apart on the road at Mississippi State on Saturday night, falling 91-59 in a battle of SEC Bulldogs. Crean's concerns about Mississippi State's size and rebounding prowess became a reality. The maroon-and-white clad Bulldogs entered the night as the SEC's top rebounding team. They proceeded to show why, posting a commanding 40-22 advantage on the glass over UGA. 48 of State's 91 points were scored in the paint. Georgia dropped to 11-6 overall and 1-3 in the SEC with the loss, while Coach Ben Howland's team improved to 11-6 and 2-3 in league games. UGA freshman Anthony Edwards got off to a rough start at the so-called 'Hump.' Edwards was held to 3 points in the first half and made only 1 of his first 9 shots. Edwards finished with 19 points on 5-of-16 shooting, including 1-of-8 marksmanship beyond the 3-point line. Georgia, coming off an 80-63 home win over Tennessee, kept things close throughout much of the first half in Starkville. Freshman Toumani Camera scored all 10 of his points in the opening half, including a dunk that made it 32-28. But Mississippi State closed the first half on a 10-3 run to take a 42-31 lead to intermission. Georgia couldn't get any closer than 11 points the remainder of the game. Junior Rayshaun Hammonds, UGA's top interior threat, scored 8 of his 10 points and grabbed 3 of his 4 rebounds in the first half. Hammonds scored just one basket on 1-of-6 shooting and grabbed just one rebound in the 15 minutes he played in the second half. The home team went on a 17-3 run late in the game, stretching the lead out to 30 points with four minutes left. UGA point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who suffered an ankle injury last Wednesday, started and played 21 minutes. Wheeler had 2 points on 1-of-2 shooting, and 1 assist. The Bulldogs return to action at 7 p.m. at Kentucky on Tuesday. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Anthony Edwards says UGA didn't play tough enough vs. Kentucky Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphs Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener Georgia freshman already making basketball history The post Mississippi State blasts Georgia in battle of SEC Bulldogs, Anthony Edwards struggles appeared first on DawgNation.
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