Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Frivolities



GLORY GLORY TO OLE GEORGIA AND TO HELL WITH GEORGIA TECH.

Happy Friday, peeps. I just channeled my inner Robert California (from The Office) and am ready to double sales projections and...ah, hell. I'm ready to go home for a Jack & Coke and see the Dawgs tee it up between the hedges tomorrow.

Speaking of Mr. California, he is pure gold. I know it's just 2 eps in, but he has invigorated that show and I'm liking the show better than I did with Michael Scott at the helm. That character started to grow old and I think it was time for him to go. Only 2 things in life ever make me nervous: when Michael Scott opens his mouth or when my daughter goes down to the front of the church for childrens time and the preacher's wife goes around asking each child a question with a live mike. I start going over the past week in my head and sweat like Mark Richt on 3rd down. At least Mr. Scott is gone now.

I'm very interested to see how the Mighty Gators play against the Tide tomorrow night. If you started reading this blog at it's inception, you'll know that I am a fan of the Tide. It goes without saying that I want them to lose and lose badly only when it benefits us, but they aren't a rival and they are poised to put a beat down on the Jorted Ones tomorrow night. Let us all channel our inner tree poisoner and let out a bellowing, "RTR!" when they storm the swamp.

I have a friend that's a big Gator fan and he said he isn't worried about tomorrow night. Then again, he did soil his denim just after uttering those words. I think the Gators are well coached and execute well, but I also think some of their flaws are going to be exposed and be exposed in a major way with their next 2 games (the 2nd being @ LSU).


While we're at it, I don't do it often, but I'll do it when it's called for: War Damn Eagle tomorrow.

Enjoy your day and weekend, faithful readers. It's GATA time tomorrow.


Onward & upward.

Miss St prediction

Would the real Bulldogs please stand up......

For some reason, I feel good about this game and think we win easily. Don't ask me why but I'm more nervous about Tennessee than these faux dogs.

The main 2 themes I'll be looking for this game are tightening up on the mistakes and execution. This includes:
  • limit bad penalties, turnovers, and special teams miscues
  • focus and try to perfect fundamentals
  • stay on assignments and make tackles
At least for this game, I'm done with focusing on play-calling. That's not getting me anywhere and I already know what to expect, so there's no reason in getting all worked up over it. My new motto is if we can't out coach them, let's out execute them.

Yes, this is breaking the game down to a pop warner level, but as my pen name indicates, I'm just a SimpleMan.

If we can K.I.S.S., we roll away with it.

Bad Dogs - 16
Good Dogs - 38

P.S. stupid Braves (having that extra 2 hours let me stay up Wed night and watch that meltdown to the end but I did get to see the awesomeness that was the Rays coming back and later winning only 3 minutes after the Sox blew it. Sports truly has no script, except for the 1996 World Series where I still believe the Braves took a dive)

"MARCELINO: Jerry! Tonight's fight-night. Where's my rooster?

JERRY: Kramer won't sell.

MARCELINO: Well, tell you what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna take down your check anyway.

JERRY: Well, thank you, Marcelino.

MARCELINO: Well, perhaps someday you will do me a favor. And that day is today. Little Jerry Seinfeld must go down in the third round of tomorrow's main event.

JERRY: You want Little Jerry to take a dive?

MARCELINO: Shhh, not so loud.

JERRY: First of all, I don't think you can make a rooster take a dive.

MARCELINO: Can, too!

JERRY: Second of all, Jerry Seinfeld - big or little - doesn't go down for anyone, anywhere, at anytime! Now I'd appreciate it if you please leave."


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bizarro Dawgs Preview



I agree w/ what Rev said about the game in that it will likely be close throughout. Not that LSU is an explosive offensive team, but if they didn't pull away from them early, I don't know if we will, either.

Having said that, we need to avoid mental clusterforks like we had in the South Carolina loss (dammit, it still stings...and stinks) if this thing is still close in the 4th.

Also, we need to hope that Walsh has been relieved of the voodoo curse laid upon him. Good Lord, multiple misses like last week are going to cost us big time down the road.

I'm very eager to see how we respond to their offense and the runs to the outside. They don't have anyone remotely as good as Lattimore, so I don't expect us to get shredded out there.

Bottom line: we have more talent, but that doesn't always result in a win. I'm hoping to see us play hard on both sides of the ball and feel quite confident that if we do, we'll own the state of Mississippi and move on to conquer the state of Tennessee as well.

This is going to be a slobber knocker and much more challenging than our last 2 games. I'll be there loud and proud (although not as loud early as I'm not having Jack Daniel's for breakfast) and hope that Sanford Stadium will be rocking.

UGA 27

MS State 17

Looking Ahead to the Pseudo-Dogs

I have not been able to watch a lot of Miss State's games so far this year.  I saw a good bit of their game against LSU, and managed to catch the 4th quarter of last week's game against La Tech on replay, but that has been about it.  However, I truly believe that this is one of those games where we control our destiny.  If we do what we need to do, our superior talent should take over and win this game.  That's not to say we should expect to blow them out - if LSU couldn't blow them out, then I sure don't expect us to - but I do think that the line set by Vegas for this game (started at UGA by about 7.5, currently at 6.5 on most lines) is a reasonable one.

There will be a number of keys to the game including improving our red zone offense (touchdowns, not FG's, fellas!) and special teams.  But as I look at it, this comes down to one major key:  containing the run on the outside - more specifically, whichever side Jarvis Jones is not lined up on.  Our Defense has done a great job on stuffing the runs between the tackles this year, even Lattimore couldn't find much success there.  However, whichever side has had Cornelius Washington or Chase Vasser lined up has been shown to be susceptible to giving up big runs on the outside.  You can bet Dan Mullen knows that, but you can also bet Todd Grantham does too.  The chess match of how Mullen attacks that weakness and how Grantham seeks to shore it up will be very interesting to watch.  Our defense is pretty good right now, but is on the verge of becoming very good if this area can be sufficiently addressed.

In their last 2 games (LSU & La Tech), QB Chris Relf has been held to 10 and 20 yards rushing, respectively.  And when he is being contained as a runner, he has not shown the ability to overcome that and still be a productive passer, as he only passed for 96 and 164 yards, respectively, in those games as well.  Vick Ballard is a solid RB, but if we can keep him in the range of 75 yards rushing or so, and limit Relf's ability to gain rushing yards on option plays and scrambling out of the pocket, there's no reason we can't put up a solid win against these guys.

A few other things I would like to see are:
- Murray settling down more and continuing to improve his timing with the WR's.  He has had a tendency all year to wait until the WR gets open before throwing it, rather than anticipating what the WR is going to do.  As a result, by the time the ball gets there, the defender has already had time to recover and either make the play or make a tackle to prevent a big gain.  If Murray can start anticipating that a little better and giving guys a better chance to gain yards after the catch, that will elevate the offense to another level.
- As I mentioned earlier, no special teams breakdowns.  This is pretty self explanatory.
- Touchdowns in the red zone.  As SimpleMan pointed out earlier this week, our TD's against Ole Miss were either on long plays, or were aided by penalties that kept the drive alive in the red zone (the pass interference on the pass to Crowell jumps to mind).  We need to show the ability in the red zone to line up and convert.  If we are attempting 5 field goals in this game, that won't bode well for the final result.

As for my prediction, I think this will be a one score game late in the 4th quarter with us tacking on a late score to put the game out of reach at the very end.  I'll go with UGA 29, Miss St 20.  I won't be at the game this weekend due to family obligations, but will be watching and cheering, I hope all you folks who are there will be loud and boisterous when Miss St has the ball.

-Rev.







Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Simple Nuggets

Since we're in the middle of Mississippi week with not much to talk about that hasn't been discussed already, here's a few off topic nuggets.

MLB
What the hell is wrong with the Braves. I know it's football season, but I'm still a sports fan and local homer. If this team limps in, do they really have a shot of getting past the first round. This collapse is only overshadowed by the Red Sox collapse. Good stuff since I'm a little bit of a Rays fan.

Movies
Not to steal LC's Friday Frivolities but I did catch a couple of movies last weekend that some of you might be interested in.

Killer Elite - I'll say decent. I sat there waiting for a twist at the end but since it's based on a true story, they aren't really trying to "trick" you. It doesn't really give you much of a history lesson and isn't very complicated, so don't over think it. Not everything ties together neatly but it's not a long movie and has a few good fight scenes.

Drive - Good movie but slow. It has that No Country for Old Men feel to it. The acting is good and some of the violent scenes are graphic. There's not a lot of dialogue in the first hour and it doesn't speed up much so just be prepared.

Music
One of my favorite local bands (from Charlotte), Simplified, just released another album. They have a very unique sound, something like Sublime but very fun music to listen to. They also have a small link to College Gameday on ESPN. I'll let you find it for yourself if you really care.

Also check out Cowboy Mouth and Assembly of Dust if you like something different. I love all music but these bands are just perfect to sit out on the patio, porch, beach, or mountains with and chill with a few beers.

Conventions
That's right, you may have Dragon Con and there's of course a Comic Con but what else would you expect from Denver but HempCon. Book your flights now.

GOP
How about Herman Cain winning the FL straw poll. I've been told to stay away from politics, so I won't tell you that I think that's pretty cool.

Now back to football talk.......

-Simple

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ole Miss 2 cents

The other guys did a good job breaking down this past weekend's game and I just wanted to add my pennies to the wishing well. I know some of these things have come up in the comments already but this is what I had in my head right after the game. Starting tomorrow, I'll look forward to the other Mississippi.

Good
  • We won a road, SEC game
  • Defense played well against a terrible offense
  • Offense was balanced, moved the ball, and didn't put the defense in bad spots with awful turnovers
  • No matter the outcome, I was very happy to see our offense and coaches actually go for points at the end of the first half. Execution was bad but I like the attitude (brief as it was).
  • All 3 RBs had some great moments and no fumbles
Bad
  • Red zone offense - of our 3 tds, 2 were helped with penalties and one was the long play to White. I have no confidence that our offense can convert tough 3rd downs and finish drives like we need to. Yes we didn't spend a lot of time in the red zone but I consider getting down inside the 35 the same mindset.
  • Clock management - this has been a gripe of mine for a while. Why is the defense calling TO's because they are confused about something and why is the offense calling TO's on 3rd and 12 to only come out with a draw play. There's 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter and we burn a TO on 3rd and 12 on our own 30. How you don't already know that it's a draw or screen pass is beyond me but just take the freaking 5 yards and run the same thing from 3rd and 17. We're only up by 11 and might actually need that TO later in the game. Maybe if you have some great new play ready to execute, then yes, but otherwise, take the penalty. It didn't hurt us this time but it might down the road.
  • NO KILLER INSTINCT - this is by far by biggest take away from the game. We still do not have the ability to put a team away. It's very frustrating looking up at the score and the clock and thinking, just one more score and this thing is over, but knowing that there's no way it'll happen. We had the whole 3rd to 4th quarter break to think about and plan for a 4th and 1 on their 30 and we decide on a 48 yard FG try to take the lead from a 2 possession game to a 2 possession game. Not gonna mention what we did on 3rd and long the play before. Here's a fun activity, go read the play by play and look at everything we did on 3rd and long throughout the entire game. It's innovative stuff.

Watching a lot of football as we all do, it's hard to understand how we aren't at least copying a few different looks on the offensive side. I know it's personnel, scheme, and blah blah blah but when you watch other teams easily convert a 4th down or score on a 2 pt conversion with what seems like a "go to" play that's so different from what they normally do and make it look so easy, you have to wonder why don't we have one (or a handful) of those. I see the Patriots create settings with 3 TE's because it's a strength or teams spreading 5 out wide, wheel routes, versions of options, I mean someone was the first to use the wildcat. UF used to run that play where the TE pulls into the middle of the line and takes the pitch like a shovel pass. When was the last time we ran something where you said, WOW, that was pretty cool. I mean that old great play action we used to do on 3rd/4th and short, where the QB would hide the ball and go for the bomb was nice to see the one time a year we did it but there has to be something else in the bag O tricks. If not, steal someone else's bag. It would be great to see something that made you wonder what in the world was that.......in a good way.

Final 2 thoughts:
  1. The reverse on the punt return was a good call but we had a couple of guys around midfield that had opportunities to make the tackle and went after the guy about as hard as I did sitting in a restaurant booth 1,200 miles away. If I was a coach, I would be going off on those 2 guys during a video review this week. I watched it at home 10 times and was disgusted at the effort. They looked like Deion dodging running backs.
  2. Lastly, how did we seriously lose to South Carolina at home. Son of A, that game still burns knowing how we literally handed them the game. I hate losing on stupid mistakes. I can handle getting beat by a better team but not a loss like that. (slap myself) Focus forward, focus forward
-Simple

UT Kickoff Time Set



WOO HOO! Under the ernge lights @ 7 p.m.
One of the ESPN affiliates will carry it.

Hunker down, night Dawgs.

Looking Back & Ahead



Well, we're 2-2 with varying opinions on how we looked and how we feel about the team going forward. Rev violated the 10th Commandment (thou shalt not envy thy neighbor) by comparing our handling of lowly Ole Miss vs. how the Gators handled lowly UK (more on that in a minute...or more depending on how slow you read). To be fair, tho, I violated the same commandment when I saw Alabama go for it on 4th down early in the 1st qtr vs. Arky and turn it into a 40 yard score. Sigh.

But, I digress. Here's what I took away from the Ole Miss game:


  • Yes, we were playing an inferior opponent, but I loved our D. They've really played well for us this year and I'm very eager to see how we handle MS State's spread O this week.


  • If Walsh nails those 3 FGs (somewhat gimmies for him), we win 36-13. But, he didn't and we better be glad we were playing who we were playing and it didn't come back to bite us in the ass.

  • 3rd & Bobo is as frustrating to watch as it ever was. I wonder how many DCs mumble to themselves, "This is too easy."

  • Crowell is a stud. Please w/ a cherry on top stay healthy.

  • I bought some milk yesterday a.m. and John Jenkins' picture was on the back. C'mon, big fella. Time to live up to some of that hype.

This week's game features the first game of the critical month of Octubre. This is what I feel is the swing month as far as Richt's future. 4-0 has us roaring into November (where the Cocks, if they haven't lost 1 or 2 yet, have 2 potential losses w/ Arky & UF on the docket) hopefully still in the thick of the SEC East race. I don't view UT & Vandy as potential losses, per se, but winning those 2 and losing the 2 bookend games won't do any wonders for Richt or our fanbase. We're in for a dogfight (ba dum dum) this Saturday and better be ready.


As for the Gators, their brutal gauntlet begins this week (Bama, @ LSU, @ AU, then off before our game) and I'm not completely sold on their 4-0 start simply because of who they've faced. Yes, they look to be in sync and the D, especially their front 7, looks stout, but if UT is the best team they've beaten, well, I'll just sit back and see how they look in the next 3.


We should be able to put points on the board vs. the Bizarro Dawgs, but our depleted depth at LB concerns me with that 3 play offense of theirs (although Robinson is rumored to return this week). This should be a slobber knocker and provide a better barometer as to where we are.


I'd like to see us win by at least 14, but I expect it to be something closer.


How do you readers feel at this point in time?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Breaking Down the Ole Miss Game

First, and most importantly, it was a win.  An SEC win.  On the road.  And while we never really put them away like we should have, there was also never a point where the final result really seemed in doubt.  That was nice to see.

Of course, the fact that we could never put them away showed that we still have a long way to go if Richt hopes to win enough games to stick around past this year.  It drives me nuts to see a team like Florida have their act together enough under a first year head coach, learning new schemes on both sides of the ball, to go out and completely dispatch Kentucky.........then contrast that with how we allowed Ole Miss to hang around all day.  The mentality of a killer instinct continues to elude this team.  Here are my thoughts on the units.

Defense

The defense overall played a good game.  Ole Miss was never able to establish a running game, and we consistently pressured the QB, resulting in 4 sacks and 2 interceptions.  We were helped by some timely penalties and some just awful execution by their offense that made us a look a bit better than we really were, but it's hard to find too much to pick at with the D in this game.  Yes, the trick play burned us, but at the end of the day, the defense has only given up 24 points in the last 3 games despite some significant injuries, and that is impressive (technically they have given up 31 points, but most people are in agreement that the touchdown scored by the 'Cocks after Gilmore's punt return to the 5 should be pinned on the offense).  And while the offense and special teams were pussyfooting around in the 2nd half, the defense pitched a shutout.  I thought we did a great job of covering the short, underneath routes and the big boys up front did a great job of clogging the middle.  Also, Herrera sure is a good looking freshman, and Gilliard made some nice plays, they are filling in well.  The other thing I was REALLY happy to see is the defense stepping up in sudden-change situations.  After Murray's interception (which was really on Charles), and after the onsides kick recovery, the defense came out and stonewalled Ole Miss both times.  Those were key to never really allowing momentum to build.

Special Teams

Weren't special teams supposed to be the one part of the team we didn't have to worry about this year?  Well, so much for that.  As I mentioned last night in the comments though, I have some mixed feelings.  The one play I will not fault the coaching or the players for is the onside kick recovery.  If you watch the replay, Marc Deas actually read it all the way, and it was clear to me that he had been coached to be looking for it.  It was just an absolutely perfect bounce that came down like a perfectly thrown fade pass along the sideline.  I honestly don't know what more Deas could have done, and it's not like the coaches should have been expected to have the hands team on the field at that point.  Sometimes, the other team just perfectly executes a play, and that was the case this time.

As for the punt return we allowed for a TD, that hurt for two reasons.  Obviously the first reason was that it turned a game we had complete control of into a game where Ole Miss was back within striking distance and had some momentum going into halftime.  But the other reason was that I fear it will make Richt even more gun-shy in the future.  Immediately before that return, we had just taken over the ball at our 27 yard line with 1:26 to go in the half, up 24-7.  You know every fiber of Richt's being was telling him to just run the clock out and take a 17 point lead into the half.  But we have all been imploring Richt to start going for the jugular in those situations, and try to get some points.  Well, 3 incompletions and a punt return for touchdown later, and you know deep down inside Richt was thinking "See, I knew running the clock out in these situations is best".  Even though it didn't work out, I still think it was the right decision to try to move the ball in that situation, but I fear that the special teams failure will only make it even less likely to see us try that again in the future.

The return game, both punts and kickoffs, was virtually nonexistent.  And Smith nearly caused a disaster with that ball that rolled through his legs, that would have really changed the complexion of the game.  That's the problem with not putting a team away, you're only 1 or 2 mental mistakes away from giving the game to the opponent.  But fortunately, while the return game didn't help us much, it didn't end up hurting us either.

As for Walsh.....I don't know what to say.  He has proven in the past that he has the goods to get the job done.  I know absolutely nothing about how you coach a kicker out of a slump.  To me, it strikes me as similar to a golfer's putting game.....almost more mental than mechanical.  But I have no insight of value to add here --- if any readers do, I hope you'll expand on this in the comments below.  I just hope he shakes it off soon.  I mentioned it last night though, one sure fire way to reduce missed field goals is to score more touchdowns, which brings me to..........

Offense

Immediately after the game, I felt that Bobo had done a pretty poor job the entire game.  However, when I went back and re-watched the game, Bobo actually had a pretty good first half.  On our first drive (resulted in a FG), there were two very good calls on passing plays that should have resulted in touchdowns......Murray was just a half yard long on the post to Mitchell, and a half yard short on the fade to Bennett (Bennett could conceivably have made the catch, but the defender did a nice job of getting a hand in there).  Charles hurt us with a couple of easy drops, one of which resulted in an interception.  And on that drive at the end of the half just before the punt return for a TD, Bobo had a perfect playcall on with Troupe crossing underneath that Murray threw just a little too hot (though it was still catchable), and Troupe couldn't come up with it.  That play would have gone for at least 15-20 yards though if executed properly, gotten us out near midfield, and given us a really good opportunity to get some points and put the game out of reach.  Bobo actually did a pretty good job of using Crowell in some misdirection plays, Carlton Thomas had some nice runs, and we racked up 289 yards of offense resulting in 24 points.  That's a pretty good body of work for a half by any measure.  We really should have had at least 30 points at halftime, but any points that were left on the field were the result of player execution, not playcalling by the coaches.

The 2nd half was a very frustrating 30 minutes of football to watch though.  Again, so much of it goes back to having that killer instinct, and the belief that you can put a team away.  We don't have that, and we haven't for some time now.  It was clear to me that Crowell was winded the entire second half.  He would break off one decent run, then had nothing left unless he went to the sideline for a while.  To be honest, he looked winded from about the mid point of the 2nd quarter.  On the first drive of the 2nd half, when we got down into scoring position, even the announcers noted how winded he looked just before 2nd & 7 from the Ole Miss 23........then he ended up not even trying to read where the blitz was coming from on that play, Murray took a big sack, Walsh missed the FG 2 plays later, and that seemed to set the tone for the half.  I know he carried the ball 30 times, but it's not like he got tired on the 29th and 30th carry, his last 10-12 carries had nowhere near the burst he showed early in the game.  I hope that's just a function of missing practice time with his rib injuries the past couple of weeks, and his fitness level will improve going forward.  Because when he has that burst, the kid is a stud.

The playcalling in the second half was about as unimaginative and uninspiring as you can get.  Third and long?  Inside draw to Crowell.  Every time.  Yes, it worked great in the first half on that 29 yard run when we were deep in our own territory.  But it didn't result in ANY conversions on third down in the 2nd half.  It only resulted in FG attempts.  Again, no killer instinct.  And Murray matched the uninspired playcalling with some easy misses, like the time he overthrew Figgins who had nobody within 12 yards of him.  Murray's stats were actually decent for the game, but he still makes mistakes that leave you scratching your head.  

On the plus side, I've been a harsh critic of Richard Samuel, and I still don't think much of him as a runner, but the fight he showed to convert that 4th down was great.  And he has shown himself to be a nice receiver out of the backfield, that 22 yard catch and run was a big play.  With his size and catching ability, I think he would actually make a great fullback in our offense.  Perhaps that will be a transition we see next year when Figgins is gone.  He just doesn't have the wiggle or the burst to be a good tailback (watching him try to make cuts is almost painful), but I think he could play for a long time at the next level as a fullback.

Overall though, our offense still does not have the ability to put inferior teams away.  Blame it on the coaching, the execution by the players (which to some extent goes back to coaching), a lack of confidence, or whatever, it's going to hurt us and we're going to end up losing a game we had no business losing (you could argue we already have, against SC).  And when that happens, it very well could be the final straw for Richt.  As I mentioned early in this post, the contrast in the mentality of our team under a veteran coach and UF under a first year coach, who should be struggling in his first year (even Saban was 6-6 his first year at 'Bama!), is very striking.  If that contrast is still present when we arrive in Jacksonville, it's going to be ugly.  Fortunately we still have some time and some winnable games ahead of us to try to improve.

But again.....we won, on the road, in an SEC game.  I guess you have to start somewhere.

-Rev.



Saturday, September 24, 2011

Well, That Was Uninspiring

That was a game of equally matched coaching, where the victor was simply more talented than their opponent.

And when I say the coaching was equally matched, I mean that in the worst way possible.

Will have a more thoughtful post up in the morning.

-Rev.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Statement Game Tomorrow

Sorry the posting has been so light this week.  Unfortunately life happens (work, kids, etc) sometimes, but hopefully things are looking up a bit for me as far as free time goes.  Today is still pretty crazy though, so I'm trying to knock this out on an abbreviated lunch break. But here are some of my thoughts on the Ole Miss game.

I realize that calling tomorrow a "Statement Game" may be perceived as a bit of a stretch given the opponent.  But for me, it is very important to win convincingly tomorrow.  I totally agree with LC that I want to win, and look good doing it.  Now obviously I'd rather look bad while squeaking out a win than look good while losing, but I think tomorrow will be a real test of the mental preparation of this team.  For two consecutive weeks, they've come out and played with fire and intensity.  We didn't get the win against the Gamecocks, but if we play with the same intensity tomorrow, we could make the same mistakes in tomorrow's game that we did against SC, and we should still win by 10-14 points. 

I can't remember the last time we came out and played with that level of effort for 3 consecutive weeks though..........maybe back in 2007?  So for me, if the team is able to overcome an early start and their first "real" road game of the season and come out ready to play some ball, that will tell me that things really might be starting to turn around.  But if we come out with the unfocused, unprepared approach that has become all too familiar the past few years, then even a win won't make me feel any better about where we stand or about Richt's future.  It's hard to look at this game and envision us losing.......and yet I can't sit here and say that Ole Miss this year is much different than Colorado last year, and we saw what happened there.  So again, for me this game is about making a statement about what type of team we are going to be the rest of the year.  Win big, and things are looking up.  Lose, or win a sloppy game, and the mentality of the team is still going to be in question.  As so many people have stated, there is virtually no margin for error at this point.

As for my prediction, I think we win somewhere in the 17 point range.  I don't have a gut feeling if it will be more of a 20-3 victory or a 34-17 victory, but I'd probably bank more on the latter.  Hope everyone has a great weekend.

-Rev.


 

Friday Frivolities

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

I must admit, I'm quite excited to see how we look tomorrow. I want to blow these guys off the field. I don't care how crappy they are or anything of that nature, I just want us to look good doing it. I'm basically taking the opposite stance vs. Simple Man, but winning a nailbiter to these jabronis wouldn't do any wonders for our psyche...but like he said, a W is a W.

Fall TV premiered a new slate of shows this week and my favorite night, Thursday night, delivered a full plate of goodness. That's the night we lock the kids in their cages, I retreat to the man cave and the wife stays upstairs watching her DVRd crap, er, shows, along with Grey's Anatomy (yikes!) and Private Practice (yawn).
The Office came back w/ a bang and I absolutely love James Spader's Robert California. That guy is a scene stealer and I thoroughly enjoyed last night's ep.
Parks & Recreation (my favorite comedy) was excellent as always and I even liked the new show, Whitney (starring Whitney Cummings, a very funny comedienne and pretty raunchy on some of the Comedy Central Roasts). Normally new comedies on Thursday nights suck. This one will hopefully improve & stay for a while.
Always Sunny had one of the funniest episodes I've ever seen them spit out. It was great.

The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen was really funny with a lot of envelope-pushing digs at the victim's drug use, treatment of women, etc. Check out these highlights (proceed w/ caution).

I was urged by a pal to check out Breaking Bad (AMC) via Netflix and I did. I. Love. That. Show. I now see what all the fuss is about due to it's outstanding premise and edge-of-your-seat situations (50 year old straight laced high school chemistry teacher with a new baby on the way and struggling to make ends meet; gets diagnosed w/ terminal lung cancer; starts making crystal meth w/ an old student to stockpile money for his family once he's gone).

My wife & I watched Bridesmaids (starring Kristen Wiig) when it came out this week and were not disappointed. The raunch scenes are literally LOL funny and one particular one had to be rewound twice. Good stuff.

As for tomorrow, I'll be intently watching how we look vs. the Rebellious Bears and will be crossing all 20 fingers & toes that Vandy beats the Cocks.

Onward & upward.
GO DAWGS!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ole Miss prediction

Week 4 prediction against the Rebels.....that's right, the Rebels. They'll always be Rebels to me.

Based on everything we've seen this season, this should be an easy win. I mean Vegas has us giving 10 pts, which is a lot considering this is an early game on the road in the SEC. I would love to see us:
  • not shoot ourselves in the foot with disastrous turnovers
  • really control the clock
  • get some sacks and turnovers on defense
  • put them in a lot of 2nd/3rd and longs
  • have less than 5 negative offensive plays (not counting penalties)
These are not keys to the game for me, I think we can win even if we don't do many of these things, but this is what I'll be looking for.

Part of me wants a full on blow out but another smaller part of me wants the guys to experience winning a close game again and have that feeling which seems to have left us recently (Arkansas, Colorado, UF, UCF, USC, etc...) We haven't won a game by less than 7 points since the 2009 Ga Tech game. I won't be upset with a blow out, I'm just saying there could be something gained with a close win.

I used to complain about ugly wins, but I make this promise to you right now, I'll take a 3-2, 50-49, or anything in between and walk away happy. Beggars can't be choosers and I will honestly take any W, no matter how it looks. Sure, I hope we look methodical and dominate in all phases but will not be apologizing for a last second goal line stand or missed Ole Miss extra point if that's what it takes.

I say we get off to a slow start but the defense keeps us in the game early and we pull away late in the fourth.

UGA 34
Rebs 13

-Simple

Welcome, AU...Not Really.

You can find more details on all the parameters almost anywhere else, but the bottom line with Texas A&M and Missouri coming over to the SEC is that Auburn is (all but) coming to the Eastern Division. That doesn't strike fear in my heart as a UGA fan as long as Ted Roof is roaming the sidelines and Trooper Taylor is doing his thug thing out on the road, but I was really hoping we'd end up getting a team somewhere in the Eastern Standard Time Zone to keep the divisions as they are and just add 1 on each side (WVU really intrigued me, but word is their UHF TV market was a huge turnoff).

Having said all that, from a fan standpoint, I really hate to see AU leave the West because of their long, storied history with the Tide.
The flip side is that it really ratchets up our rivalry to another level.

This is obviously a money move as the best conference in the land goes out into the fertile recruiting grounds of Texas and makes all SEC fans over 60 just plum giddy to get to go to Branson, MO when their team plays.

Now, let's skip ahead a few years and say that us, SC, UF, UF and now AU are all loaded and ready for a title run. Good God, what a murderer's row to get to the SECCG.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

If Missouri Becomes # 14

Here is the latest on WVU, per Brett McMurphy of CBS:


Multiple Big East sources said they have been told by WVU officials that WVU rejected by ACC & SEC
Sep 20 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

If this is true (and who know if it is) then that leaves Missouri as far as "rumored" candidates.  It wouldn't shock me if #14 actually ends up being a school nobody expects, but just for giggles, let's look at how adding Mizzou would impact things from an annual rival standpoint.

If Missouri gets added, and if the SEC stays at 14 for awhile, then logic dictates that either Auburn or Bama will have to move to the East.  If (notice I keep using "if", because who knows what is really going to happen) the SEC still keeps the concept of having an annual cross division rival, then either UGA or Bama will lose a big rivalry game.  You have to assume that no matter what, Auburn and Bama would be each other's cross division rival, it's hard to imagine anything otherwise.  So if Auburn comes to the East, that would mean 'Bama would have to give up the Vols as an annual opponent.  If Bama comes to the East, then that would do away with UGA-Auburn as an annual game.  Then who becomes UGA's annual rival?  One of the new schools?  Either way, there will be a lot of moaning and groaning.

I guess the other possibility is that the SEC does away with the cross division rivalry games altogether, and everybody just goes on a rotation with everyone else in the other division.  But then I think there would be even more moaning and groaning with that.

I guess I'm saying all that to say this...........I hope the SEC has a plan, and that the plan includes a school that fits into the East, so all the current schools can stay in place.  Also, I'm glad I'm not the guy who has to figure all this out.

-Rev.





Well...So...Um...

Not a lot going on this week. It's hard to find a lot of storylines for Ole Miss with them being in the shape they're in and coming off that thumping at the hands of Vandy.
(Speaking of Vandy, I'll be paying very close attention to their game vs. the Cocks this Saturday).

Malcolm Mitchell has been getting first team reps, the coaches are mulling moving Samuel to the Redcoat Band, we issued a formal apology to Coach Kiffin about stealing Marlon Brown from him, etc. Like I said, not a lot in which to report thus far.

Like I said before, we have to come in focused and ready and usher a beatdown on the Rebels or Bears or Tea Party or whatever the hell they are now. I don't have any inside info, but I don't sense a huge player rally around Corch Nuttjob and them taking the field with extra oomph this week. If they do, I still think we should handle them w/ ease.

Anything going on you guys want to rave, bitch or talk about in general regarding the Dawgs?

Monday, September 19, 2011

MS State Game Time Set

12 noon EST on Fox Sports South.

A high noon shootout at Sanford Stadium! YEE HAW!

Simple Thoughts - Hiking

The bulldogs are 1-2, losing a very close road game and a tough fought home game. They do have one win against a cupcake and they should have another easy win in front of them this weekend. That's right, Mississippi State sounds a whole lot like us these days. Both teams should be 2-2 going into the bulldog battle in 2 weeks. Let's just hope we hold up our end of that. More thoughts on the Rebels later this week.

The purpose of this blog was to share 3 average schmuck's opinions about football and other life matters (when football season is slow). Well football season isn't slow right now but I did go for a Colorado hike this weekend and am sharing the trip. So feel free to move on to other important posts if this bores you.

Since this is the first hiking report I'm posting on here, I'll give everyone a quick summary of my hiking life (only time, I promise).

Done a lot of North Georgia, North Carolina day hikes with a few overnight trips. Did the Georgia section of the AT a few years ago in a 7 day period. Had a fellow dawg buddy do the first few days with me and finished the rest solo.

Moving out to Colorado has provided me the opportunity to start hiking "14ers". For those of you who are non-hikers, 14ers are mountains that reach over 14,000 feet, which is a kind of a milestone in the states, since none outside Alaska go higher. Hiking in itself is sort of a cult-like following. I've done 4 easier 14ers and this past weekend was going to be #5.

14ers.com is by far the best site for these hikes. You can find my most recent trip report here.

Hope everyone enjoys the week as winners.

Who Does Number 2 Work For?

By the looks of Saturday's events, we should be 2-2 entering into the October 1st showdown w/ the Bizarro Dawgs, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Losing to the Bears (such a stupid mascot) would be catastrophic and would tarnish any wins we had the rest of the way.
That being said, I flipped back & forth between the AU/Clemson game and the Ole Miss/Vandy affair. Good God, it was pure domination for both of the victors.
Ole Miss looks bad. Really bad. We need to come in there and take care of business and have that game in hand entering the half.

Kudos to our veterinarian fill-in for his analysis of the game. I, too, heard we had the QB running for his life, so that's as good as a sack to me as long as he isn't picking us apart on 3rd & Willie in the middle of the field.

Go Dawgs.

p.s. If you're wondering where you've heard that subject line before, click here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The New Reality? Coastal Carolina Recap

Since Rev did not go to the game, he asked me to guest blog. I cannot match his literary skills, but agreed to come in as a second teamer. I spent most of Rev's life teaching him everything he knows, and I have nothing left to teach. He is much more eloquent than I will ever be. And I am not as good as I once was, but hopefully, I am as good once as I ever was.

One thing was clear about the Chanticleers. They were outmatched at every position. From the beginning of the game, there was never a question of who was the best team. The only question was how high the score would go for the Dawgs. Everything worked for the home team. The offense moved the ball at will and the defense was overwhelming. Just like they were against Louisiana-Lafayette last year! That begs the ultimate question. Is this our new reality? What did this game mean?

First and foremost we came out with no apparent injuries. Rev says someone tweeted that Isaiah CroWELL forgot to wear his rib protector and got dinged again. (really, Isaiah, wear the rib protector!) I actually wondered during the first half why we did not see more of him. But otherwise, we appear to have dodged any further significant injuries.

Secondly, we came ready to play. Nobody took CC for granted and the play was intense. We really stood up and knocked down some of their players. We executed well on offense and the defense had good reads and attacked their offense every play. I really felt good about the team's mental preparation and execution.

We can also rest well that we have depth at quarterback. Hutson Mason looked comfortable. He has a good command of the offense, as well as a great touch on the ball. He delivers the ball to the receivers in a way that allows them to do something with it after the catch. That was really good to see. Michael Bennett and Malcolm Mitchell looked very good. With more receivers stepping up, Tavarres King flourished as well.

It is hard to say anything negative about a 59-0 win. How many times in college ball do you get a shutout? We did what we were supposed to do to an overmatched opponent, and looked good doing it. Alas, I can't resist a little critique.

I did not think Aaron Murray played his best game. He appeared a little slow to deliver the ball at times and overthrew receivers at other times. He did not anticipate the receivers coming open, delivering the ball only after they were already in position and the defender was closing the space. I don't think he would have had as many completions against a good SEC defense. When he was flushed out of the pocket, the throw was off his back foot and sailed high. All of this is correctable and hopefully the timing improves next week.

The offense was pretty straightforward. Bobo's normal offense. No extras. Maybe this is good, but I was hoping to see the short passing game developed even more. Isaiah CroWELL is money in the open field. He catches the ball well and has great vision. Dumping it off to him worked well last week, but we didn't see it much this week. Maybe Bobo is keeping his cards close. Personally, I would like to have seen us working on developing that part of the offense.

So, the question is still out there. Is this a new reality for the Dawgs? Time will tell. Next week should definitely be winnable. Hopefully the Dawgs continue to improve and the coaches scheme well. Only stringing together some SEC wins, beating teams like Florida, Auburn, and Tennesse will change old realities into new.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Observations From Non-UGA Games

My wife and our older daughter had a function to attend this afternoon, so I was home with the baby today and chose not to get UGA on PPV.  We all knew what the result was likely to be, and I couldn't justify the cost.  So it gave me the opportunity to watch some non-UGA football while Scott Howard kept me abreast of our game on the radio.  I'm posting this before the night games, but here are my thoughts as of 7:30pm:

- Make no mistake about it, Clemson absolutely whipped Auburn, much worse than the final score indicates.  The second half was a dominant performance by the Tigers of SC.  That being said.........Clemson students, you just stormed the field for beating the #21 team in the country, a team that needed a miracle to beat Utah State at home only 2 weeks ago.  I hope you are proud of yourselves.  Now go sit in timeout and think about what you've done.  (And to be fair, Dabo in the post game interview was acting like he just brought the crystal football back to Clemson.  Dude, I know you wear your emotions on your sleeve, but c'mon).

- I have a feeling that Clemson nation is going to find out next week that today's performance was a combination partly of an improved offense, but also A LOT because of a very bad defense that they were going against.  Some of the stuff that worked today will not work against FSU.  That being said, those freshmen are without question the real deal.  Even though Clemson's offense probably isn't as good as their fans are thinking right now, there is a VERY bright future ahead for them.

- Auburn is about to find out exactly what a Ted Roof coordinated defense is all about when he doesn't have a Nick Fairley to bail him out.  I know they lost a lot of players from last year's team, but yikes, I didn't see a single playmaker on that D.  Still a lot of time for them to improve, and they may be totally different by the time UGA sees them, but that was a very underwhelming performance.

- On the flip side, Florida's defense, especially their front 7, and even more especially their defensive line, are just plain scary.  I am not looking forward to watching our OL try to block those guys in Jacksonville. The secondary still has a lot of work to do, but I would almost argue that their front 7 is on the same level as LSU.  Maybe not quite, but a whole lot closer than I would have ever guessed before the season.

-  I was impressed by Tyler Bray.  If he gets Hunter back, and his WR's decide to start catching the ball, they'll give us fits in Nashville Knoxville.  They still have obvious holes, but so do we, and they are better than I thought they would be.

- Ole Miss.......I don't even know what to say, other than whatever routine you followed to prepare to play today, please follow THAT EXACT SAME ROUTINE next week leading up to our game in Oxford.

- Conference expansion!  Texas A&M was the first domino (at least of this year) but it looks like a lot more dominoes are about to fall.  I'm not thrilled about it.  I'm not one of these guys that hates change, I just don't see any benefit that expansion brings me as a fan.  And I still maintain that the SEC would have been fine staying at 12 teams no matter how big all the other conferences get.  But it all looks pretty inevitable now, so we'll see what happens.

I may have some more thoughts after the night games.

-Rev

*Update* - Nope, not much for additional thoughts.  OU did enough to take care of business, Ohio State didn't, and the Gamecocks realized how stupid it was to willingly schedule a game against a team that runs the triple option (we don't have much choice with Ga Tech).  That's one of those games you're just glad to escape with a win, and afterwards forget that it ever happened.

Guest Author for Coastal Recap

I asked my Dad to do the recap for today's game since the 3 of us were unable to attend or watch the whole thing.  Apparently, he's taking it pretty seriously and staying until the last snap, because I just received the following text from my mother (about 5 minutes left in the 4th qtr, up 59-0):

"Still at game.  About only ones still here.  Thank you for this."

She's pretty excited about this development.

Oh yeah, and Mom, you're welcome.

-Rev.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bush League...or Not?

Take a look at this comment made by former stud DE Justin Houston (h/t Mr. SEC).
After I read it, I thought, "Well, that was a douchey move."

Or is it? Are these guys not supposed to have opinions and want the best for their alma mater/former stomping grounds? Should he have kept this to himself?
Then again, if David Greene had said this, I would have been really surprised. Greene was obviously here during the highest point of the Richt era and Houston in the latter half, a.k.a. the falling off the cliff era.

What if David Pollack was posed this question while on GameDay and he said, "Yes, I think it's time for Richt to go."? How would we feel about that?
I feel sure there would be an explosion from a section of Bulldog Nation that he was using his status on the WWL & as a former All-American here to undercut Richt.

Folks that know me know I am opinionated. I don't go out of my way to hurt anyone's feelings, but I don't believe in laying it on thick, either.
I honestly don't have any problem w/ what Houston said because, really, we talk about the same stuff here, there and everywhere.

Go Dawgs.

Friday Frivolities



"Shoobie doobie doo, we got the 0-2 blues..."
Good thing Coastal Carolina and their batsh*t crazy coach are coming to town for a little scrimmage game.

As for the game. Just win. Win big. Look good winning. Don't look sloppy. Don't break any feet. Don't look lethargic. Just. Get. It. Done.

Fall TV had some premieres this week (finally!). One of my favorite shows, Parenthood, didn't skip a beat in it's return...and makes me really dread some of the aspects of the teenage years with my daughter (she's 6 now, thank God).

The raunchfest Always Sunny in Philadelphia came roaring back last night. There is no gray area w/ that show; you either love it or hate it. I love it. Really LOL funny stuff on there and some things that just can't be repeated in a public setting.

The pilot Up All Night looked promising and took me back to the newborn years and the joy of fighting a child that does not want their diaper changed and me being alarmed at their leg strength.

I won't be at the game this weekend due to some other commitments that, quite frankly, weren't worth wadding up my Dri-fit undies over, but I will be intently watching UT @ UF to see what they're both made of after 2 cupcake openers. Speaking of, are any of you Dawg fans pissed off and tired of hearing other fans of teams (Tech is an example) crowing about being 2-0, yet they played 2 warmup games? Hell, even Auburn is still excited about finding a way to win vs. the powerhouse Utah State. I'll just leave that one alone...for now.

Back to the UT/UF game, I'm very interested to see what Bray can do vs. the Gator D (which admittedly looks pretty solid) and give us a nice preview of both teams in their first tests of the season.

I will in no way whatsoever be saying GO VOLS, but I will be saying DON'T GO GATORS.


:)



Onward & upward.

Coastal Carolina Thoughts

Honestly, there's only so much analysis you can do going into a game like this.  Your main thought is that you just don't want to be the next Michigan or Virginia Tech, a big name getting shocked by an FCS school.  If that happens, have mercy on this staff, it's gonna get real ugly, real fast.  But here's just a few thoughts.


  • What I Hope to Happen - a 30+ point margin at halftime, Murray and Crowell on the bench for the 2nd half, and outside of Crowell, lots of playing time in the 2nd half for whatever freshmen the coaches plan on using this year.
  • What I Think Will Happen - face it, the team is coming off of a huge emotional letdown, and I think there's a chance we come out pretty flat, and let Coastal hang around (14 - 17 pt margin) until the mid part of the third quarter before putting them away.
  • What I Don't Want To See - Branden Smith on offense.  It always amazes me how teams tend to reach into their bag of tricks when playing these "cupcake" games.  If you think you've got a really good play or plays up your sleeve, why in the world would you show them against a team you should beat handily no matter what?  Then, your future opponents know what to look for.  Right now whatever packages they have for Smith are somewhat of a mystery, I see no point in showing any of it to future opponents on Saturday.
  • What I Want To See - a focused effort that puts the game away early.  If a lot of youngsters play, there will be mistakes, but focus and intensity as a whole would be nice to see.
LC will have his Friday Frivolities up later, and I'm sure he'll have a few thoughts on the game as well.  As always, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

-Rev.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Coastal Prediction - A No Win, Win

In keeping with the long storied history of this blog, here's my prediction for this game:

UGA - 52
CC - 17

I'll let others break down the game with analysis. IMO, there's nothing to be gained and not much to learn from this game. If we win big and everything looks great, you should. If you win a sloppy ugly game, nothing has been corrected. If an earthquake knocks down the Arch and we lose, all hell will break loose. If that does happen, all we'll have to do is go in the other locker room to find our next coach.


BTW, this guy was on Atlanta's 790 the zone yesterday morning and he thinks this Georgia team is a top 10 team. He's an entertaining guy for sure.

My only question for the game is should I watch. I know you die hards out there will question my fandom and loyalty.

[Resume: graduated 1998, have UGA slippers, sandals, shorts, jackets, shirts, pictures, clocks, cups, and even a pair of UGA shoes.....not just red shoes but actual printed UGA shoes, pretty much didn't miss a home game for about 15 years and went to some road and bowl games over that period. I think the only 3 home games I did miss over that time were for weddings and I wasn't happy about any of them. My older sister's (LSU), best friend's (Vandy), and even Rev's (I think another Vandy?). ]

Hopefully life has given you perspective and you don't let a bunch of 19 year-olds determine how your day/night/week will go. Don't get me wrong, I'll still lose my mind when we make stupid mistakes and my emotions still roll like the north Georgia mountains (6 gap for any bikers on here...Reeder 3:16 is big time). The only difference now is that I get over losses as quickly as it appears the players and coaches have over the last few years (cheap shot). I once thought I'd never miss a game but am learning how to do it and somehow still be a fan. Plus I know my other cohorts on here will give me all the highlights I need.

Options are:
A) Mellow Mushroom downtown Denver to watch the game or
B) Go up to the mountains and get some hiking in........let's see what happens.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Next 10

Our faithful reader & commenter, Mr. Bulluck, posed the question: what do we here at OTA think Richt has to do in terms of not only wins, but everything across the board to justify returning for another season. This has been talked about countless times on other blogs, in bars, at tailgates, etc., so here's my opinion:

I liken where we are now (as a fanbase) as (forgive me for this, but it's the best analogy I can come up with and the one that has been sticking w/ me) an abused wife (bear with me). You know how they'll say:


  • "But, he's been really good lately!"/We played better vs. South Carolina.


  • "He's changed!"/Firing Willie & crew and overhauling the S&C program.

  • "Yeah, he hit me last night, but...he had a bad day"/Any game vs. Florida.

  • "I'm done! (Yet, she doesn't go anywhere)"/Us since 2008.

You get the point. These next 10 games, I honestly feel, will re-shape the program going forward. Take a look at that schedule. If the ship has been righted (with 2 conceivably gimmie games coming up to shore up mistakes that cost us the SC game), we could run the table. That is not out of the question. Take another look at that schedule. There are 3 very likely losses on there in October (MSU, UT & UF). If that happens, I don't care what we do in November, I think he's done.

Bottom line, we have to beat Florida to save Richt's job. Not just based on the past, but now. Look at our new AD. You think he wants to play second fiddle to them? I don't think so. This guy WAS second fiddle down there. He came here to run the show. I don't know Greg McGarity from Greg Focker, but I know he doesn't want to leave a school and lose to them on an annual basis.

Now, let's say this team experiences deja vu and goes all 2007 again. Does Bulldog Nation want Richt & his staff to come back? Will we be scared of another decline that we're either just now coming out of or still mired in?

What scares me the most of making a coaching change is it completely backfiring and setting us back years. We're still getting good recruits. This isn't like what UT experienced w/ Fulmer at the end of his run. The talent is still here. I also can't liken this to what Tuberville experienced/caused at AU, although he was pretty much run out of town for holding on to a staff that was clearly behind the times for too long. The similarities are close, but not to the extreme over on The Plains.

For all the angst Bobo causes us, the man does coordinate offenses that put up some nice numbers and every QB that left here has said in interviews that he made them better and is an excellent QB coach. That doesn't forgive his predictability and almost blatant steadfast refusal to either go off script or stick with what is working during the flow of a game. (I'm not endorsing him, but he's not completely inept, either).

Grantham is in the pivotal Year 2 with his 3-4 D and he has the horses to get things done (although the LBs are dropping like flies on Yao Ming-like feet). I thought his schemes and adjustments were much better vs. SC than they were a week prior. A Bama fan was telling me that he heard Saban give an interview about the 3-4 and he said, "You want to force the offense to run to the outside and try and get yards, not up the middle." That's exactly what we did w/ Lattimore and he got his on the edges, but we won't see anyone that good until Auburn (Dyer is good, but not Lattimore good).

Having said that, should Richt return, he will be bringing back those 2 guys. While Grantham is too new to judge right now (try telling that to Rev, tho), Bobo's criticisms are well documented. As an alumni and season ticket holder, these 3 returning would give me pause and I can't say I'd be completely on board unless we went 10-2, won the East, the SEC and the Sugar Bowl while looking damn good in the process. Not that I ever care about preseason polls, but, hell, the pollsters for 2012 might have the "fool me once" feeling, too.

Back to the original question, tho. How many does he have to win? 8 just sounds too vanilla because who are the 8? Florida has to be in there, but I think it's going to come down to how we look vs. UT, UF & AU. If SC stumbles (and that is completely conceivable) and we continue to stumble, the label of missed opportunity is going to be stamped on the program and I think that might be it for him. If we're in the thick of things until the end, yet finish 2nd in the East because we lost to SC, I think he'll be back.

I honestly can't tell you that I want him to return. Sometimes a new voice is needed. Sometimes a guy needs to recharge his batteries (see: Meyer, Urban) and step away for a while. The time to snag the East is NOW. UF is down a little, UT looks to be stabilizing and SC is too shaky to be considered elite. If the proposed realignments put Bama and/or Auburn in the East, well then, we're really going to look back on the last few years and kick our own asses. But, if Richt is somehow right about better days being ahead and we do respond and return to elite status, I will be beyond thrilled because I'd like nothing more than to look back at where we started with him, how far we slipped and how far back we came all with the same man at the helm who did what took to get us there. I was too young to fully remember Dooley, but I was at UGA during the Goff & Donnan years. Regardless of the past 3 years, the Richt era blows them out of the water. I don't want to see a knee-jerk reaction cause us to be back at that level. There's no guarantee Dan Mullen, Kirby Smart, or whomever elese is on the love list today will come here.

I'm a Bulldog fan. Whether it's Urban Meyer or Phil Fulmer at the helm, I'm always going to be a Bulldog fan. A confession for ya: I entered Sanford Stadium Saturday expecting to get beat and was almost hoping we would to simply get the ball rolling & end the misery because I was still so disappointed in the Boise performance and wondered if the end was near, but those feelings naturally subsided once the ball was in the air, Crowell was doing his thing and we were completely outplaying the immortal Gamecocks. I left feeling a lot better about us, but was still concerned. I won't be surprised if we go on a tear and win the East or be right in the thick of it until the end, nor will I be shocked if we tank and the change everyone is talking about takes place.

Keep an eye on October, faithful readers. That month, I think, is the key.

What say ye, commenters? Let the opinions fly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why I Just Can't Be Optimistic

The guys played their hearts out, there's no doubt about that.  After previous displays of emotionless, disorganized, and unfocused efforts, they finally came out and played with the passion we've all been looking for.  Murray did some great things, but had a few critical mistakes, including a turnover at the end that was the deciding factor.......surely he'll learn from those mistakes though, right?  And the offensive line showed improvement too, they just broke down on that critical play that caused Murray's last turnover.  The defense finally showed some spunk, unfortunately they just couldn't come through with a couple of key opportunities for turnovers.  But the improved effort and attitude was great to see.  In the end though, the Gators just made one more big play than us, and won the game.

Oh, what, you thought I was talking about our game against the 'Cocks Saturday night?  Nope, I was referring to the game played in Jacksonville 10 months ago.  Sounds pretty familiar, though, huh?

We've been through this rodeo a number of times now the past few years, and it's always the same script.  The team comes out and gives a few disappointing performances, and the fan base starts to become vocal about the the state of the program.  But then they come out and play really hard that one time, and folks start letting themselves get optimistic again.  Prime examples are Saturday night, the aforementioned mention UF game last year, the Auburn game the year before, the Mich St bowl game the year before that, and so on and so forth.  After all of those games, the fan base dusted off their rose-tinted glasses and started convincing themselves that if we can just keep up with that type of effort going forward and make a few tweaks, we're going to get back to where we want to be.  Then ten months later, here we are still sitting in the same spot.  If Saturday night was a step forward, it was only because we had previously taken steps backward.  Because as of right now, there has been no net forward movement since the Florida game last year.  I have been right there with those fans though every time, believing the best was yet to come..............

Until now.

Now don't take what I'm saying as a prediction of utter failure for the rest of the season or a sign of my lack of support for the program.  No matter what, I will be watching every game, cheering for the win.  And it is entirely possible (though not likely) that I could be sitting here typing a couple of months from now, reflecting back on the fantastic 10-2 season we just had, and admiring the way the team was able to overcome two early losses and some pretty major injuries to rally against the odds.  But I refuse to allow myself to even entertain the thought of actually expecting something like that to happen.  Wanting your team to win and expecting your team to win are two very different things........wanting your team to win makes you a fan, but expecting your team to lose doesn't make you any less of a fan, as long as that expectation is accompanied by a desire to be proven completely wrong.  And I would love nothing more than to be wrong, because right now my expectations are that we're going to probably win the next two games, most likely in unimpressive fashion, before coming out and giving another valiant but losing effort against Mississippi State.  And if that happens, who knows what is going to happen from there.  But that's what I've been conditioned to expect now as a UGA fan.

I follow Ally Garner on Twitter, she has her own blog (http://copaceticincarolina.blogspot.com/, a must read for anyone who enjoys cooking or eating high class southern cuisine), is a guest contributor over at Leather Helmet Blog, and is a damn good Dawgette.  I saw one of her recent tweets where she basically said that Richt has earned the right to finish out the season, and be judged based on the season as a whole (this was in response to people who are ready to pass judgement now and go ahead and kick Richt out the door).  I agree 100% with her, I want Richt to have the full opportunity of this entire season to show that he can still get the job done.  There is just no longer any part of me that believes that he will.

-Rev.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Program At A Crossroads

Wow, David Ching does a phenomenal job breaking down the state of the program.  Read it, he knocks it out of the park.  And the quote from Todd McShay confirms what many of us have thought for some time now.

I just completed a post that I feel perfectly captures my feelings on the state of the program now.  It's not written nearly as well as Ching's article, but I'm very happy with it. Since it's fairly late in the day today, I have it scheduled to post at 6am tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

-Rev.

Ole Miss Gametime Set



12:21 p.m. EST on the SEC Network.


That's an 11:21 a.m. kickoff for those of you that will be in The Grove.

Spirit the Dodo Bird

This is going to end badly one day, and I don't mean in a "poor little bird" way.
If the guy filming this is as scared as he sounds, imagine how the people in the line of fire actually felt.

Monday Morning Coming Down

I feel exactly the same way I did yesterday: If we play like that the rest of the way, we'll be in the thick of the East race until the end.
However, if we keep losing LBs to broken feet, we'll be up poo creek without a paddle.

The worst of the schedule (as of today) is over. The next 2 games are imminently winnable. MS State is going to be a slugfest and our defensive guys on the outside better be ready after watching Lattimore shred us out there (given, he's damn good and MS St. doesn't have anyone remotely as good as him).
We're going to get a very good look at what UT & UF are made of this Saturday.

As for Richt, the seat is still as warm as the Honduras rumors, but he should be safe for another 2 weeks unless disaster strikes.

Anyone else on the ledge or do you at least feel a bit better?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's A Good Thing We've Got Samuel Providing Depth At RB.....

First we lose Ogletree up to 6 weeks, now C. Robinson is out at least 3 weeks. (h/t Blutarsky)


Yep, it's a good thing Samuel is able to provide all that depth and production (currently averaging 27.5 ypg rushing through 2 games) at the RB spot.  And I thought it was such a good idea at the time, too.

-Rev.

Update - The "official" reports are now saying he will miss at least 2 weeks........so while the initial report of being out 3 weeks is possible, at least there is a chance he could be back for Miss St.  I know Auburn beat them yesterday, but their offense rolled up a ridiculous amount of yards in that game, they just couldn't outscore Auburn.  But trying to stop that offense without either of our starting ILB's is a very scary proposition.  Get well soon, Christian, we need ya.

I Really Thought We Were Going to Win

When we went up 35-31, I just knew we were going to win the game.  You could feel it in the air, the momentum had turned back to us, and the players finally looked like they believed in themselves again.  The defense had played pretty well all day, and they were poised to come out and give us that late crucial stand we've all been waiting for, then Crowell was going to milk the rest of the clock for us.  I just knew it.  It was inevitable.

The defense comes out on the first two plays and gets them into a 3rd and 4, the whole stadium is roaring, everyone can sense the victory, C'MON DAWGS, JUST HUNKER DOWN ONE MORE TIME!!!!!!!!  Then, it happened..........Defensive pass interference, automatic first down.  What was inevitably going to be a win for us almost immediately felt like was now inevitably going to be their win.......and it was.  From there, our players' lack of ability to perform in the clutch took over, and the rest is history.  Last week after the Boise State game I was just pissed.  But this one wasn't one to get mad about, this one just hurt really, really bad.  I rode all the way back to Greenville without ever even turning on the radio, just in kind of a stunned silence.

You know, we used to be the team that found ways to win games that we had no business winning.......now we're the other team in that equation, that loses games we had no business losing.  I'm not saying that the Gamecocks should apologize for winning, they capitalized on the opportunities presented to them, which is what winning teams do.  Again, it's what we USED to do.  But congratulations to South Carolina, they made one more big play than we did, and that was the difference.

So here goes my breakdown of everything.

Defense

Night and day difference from the Boise State game.  I have to give Grantham respect after calling him out last week.  He had a good gameplan, had the team well prepared, and ultimately the defense really only gave up 17 points to an offense that has the 2nd best receiver and arguably the best running back in the country (the other 28 points cannot be pinned on the defense).  Obviously at the end of the game, we showed that we still do not have a defense that can close out a game for us, but we still looked better in this game.

My biggest complaint about the defense though?  You HAVE to seize the opportunity when turnovers present themselves.  We only created one turnover (Yes, Garcia had a 2nd interception, but that was one of those meaningless ones at the end of the half that was on a desperation heave........I don't really consider that to be a turnover in the sense of a play that affects the game in any way, it had no more effect than if we had just batted the ball down).  We should have had two more interceptions.........one would have easily been a pick-6 and the other would have prevented them from kicking the 49 yard FG that put them up 31-28.  That's a 10 point swing right there, points that the defense left on the field.  The reason SC won this game is not because their defense played well, but because their defense was opportunistic......they not only created turnovers, they scored 2 touchdowns and ran another one inside the 10......essentially their defense gave them 21 points.  Again, those are the things that winning teams do.........things we USED to do.  You can't fault the coaches on this point though, it's up to the players to start taking advantage of opportunities when presented.

And again, our defense just does not have the ability to perform in the clutch.  In no way do I pin the 7 points on them from Gilmore's fumble return inside our 10 yard line..........that being said, a top notch defense will come out in those types of scenarios and at least occasionally hold the opponent to a field goal.  But with our defense, if they ever get thrown into a quick-change situation like that with good starting field position for the opponent, it seems like they are never able to come out and make a stand, you can pretty much just bank on the fact that the other team is going to get a touchdown.  I'm not criticizing them for not holding them to a field goal, that is much easier said than done, but that's something we used to see our defenses do, and it would be nice to see it happen again at some point.

All in all, I'd probably give the defense a solid B.  In no way were they the reason we lost, but they also still could have done a lot more to help us win.  Lattimore still went for big yards, mainly due to his fabulous 4th quarter performance, but it didn't feel anything like last year when he ran over us the entire game.  The defense still needs to find a way to perform in the clutch, but I actually thought this was one of the better overall defensive performances in a while.

Offense

Again, I have to give some credit to the coaches here.  Did Bobo call a perfect game?  No, but this game was called much better than the Boise game, especially the 2nd half (more on that later).  It looks like we've finally accepted the fact that chunking the ball deep isn't going to be a great strategy with this group of receivers.  Once we finally went to the high percentage passes, and dumping the ball off to Crowell in space, the tide really seemed to turn for the offense.  We did a lot of small things really well.

But boy, when we did something wrong, we went BIG with it.  It's one thing to have 3 turnovers......but it's something else entirely when those 3 turnovers lead directly to 2 TD's and another possession where the opponent is starting inside your own 10 yard line.  You cannot win in the SEC that way.  And very little about those turnovers can be pinned on the coaches.......that was on the players.  A poor throw by Murray, Crowell not handling what looked to be a perfectly good handoff from Murray, and the offensive line not even laying a hand on Clowney at the end there........as a coach, you can coach and coach and prepare and prepare, but the players have to take ownership from there and go out and execute.

Speaking of playcalling in the 2nd half, my Dad is convinced that Richt was at the very least filtering the playcalls in the 2nd half........and I'm not so sure that he isn't right.  There was a marked shift in the playcalling about midway through the 3rd quarter where we finally opened things up for Murray and let him work us down the field with short, high percentage throws.  It was funny, Dad kept saying to me "Why don't they just dump it off to Crowell and see what he can do in space?"  Lo and behold, we finally do that a couple of times, and it lead to a touchdown.  Then, what's more, since that strategy was working, WE ACTUALLY STUCK WITH THE STRATEGY, and the receivers did a great job running those short routes.  In short, the sudden change in the playcalling and sticking with what was working (not to mention never throwing it deep on 1st and 10, which you know Bobo was chomping at the bit to do) was very un-Bobo like.  Like Dad said, I don't know that Richt was actually calling the individual plays, but I think there's a good chance he was at the very least providing some pretty direct suggestions on what types of plays to be calling.  We will probably never know if it's true or not, because Richt would never hang Bobo out to dry publicly and say "Yeah, I had to tell him what to do", but I think Dad's theory is a plausible one.  Regardless of who was calling the plays though, that was a nice adjustment, and it opened up running lanes for Crowell in the 2nd half as well.  Hopefully that is something to build on the rest of the year.

Mr. Crowell, welcome to Athens.  You're gonna be a good one, and without you our running game would be non-existent this year.  Please, please, please, please, pretty pretty please, stay healthy.

I really don't know what grade to give the offense.  Like I said, they did so many little things really well, but those were wiped out by 3 REALLY BIG bad things.  The offense kept us in the game but was also the main reason that we lost.  How do you grade that?  I guess I'll split the grade between the coaches and the players.  For the offensive coaches, I'll give you a B.  Nice adjustments were made, but it would have been helpful for those adjustments to have been made earlier when we only got 6 points out of our first 3 possessions.  We should have been up at least 14-17 points on them early, but couldn't seem to find the formula for success until the 2nd half.  But our guys actually looked prepared this game, and for once we weren't the team that was burning timeouts all game long due to confusion on the field.  For the offensive players, I'll give a C-.  Again, did a lot of good things, it's always impressive to put up 42 points on an SEC defense, but you cannot overlook the huge mistakes that lost the game.  Hopefully this is something to build on, but I'm not a moral victory kind of guy.  You either win or lose, and the offense lost this game for us.

Special Teams

Brandon Boykin is a stud.  Boise kept him pretty well contained, but he refused to be stopped last night, he was really fun to watch on those returns.  He probably could have taken one of those to the house if he had cut back outside instead of inside, but he was still amazing.  As for trickeration, they got us on that fake punt, that was a great call by Spurrier.  Likewise, Richt had a great call too on the onsides kick, we were just a hair offsides.......isn't that the story of being a UGA fan, always just a half step away from success?  Being offsides was an absolute killer though, because the ensuing drive after we re-kicked is when they ran that fake punt for the TD.  So instead of us having the ball in great field position, they end up with a touchdown, for at least a 7 point swing.  Between that and the missed turnovers by the defense, we really left a lot of points on the field, even not factoring in the turnovers.  Walsh had the one missed FG, but converted 2 others and drilled his kickoffs deep all night.  Butler averaged a little over 44 yards per punt.  Branden Smith had an impressive punt return.  Kick coverage was solid.  All in all, after disappointing in the Boise game, the Special Teams pretty well lived up to their preseason hype last night.  Yes, Walsh's missed FG was the difference in the final score, but I still put that blame on the offense because we should not have had to attempt field goals on all 3 of those possessions, you have to score touchdowns to win games.  I'll give the special teams a B+, with the missed FG and giving up the fake punt keeping me from giving an A or A-.  

So Where Do We Go From Here?

Like I said early in this post, this one just hurt.  There were so many things I liked.......despite the mistakes, the players showed way more heart last night than we are used to seeing........and credit for that goes to both the coaches and the players.  The coaching staff could easily have lost the team after the Boise game, and the players could have given up on the coaches, but it was obvious that they all pulled together with the right attitude.  We looked far more organized and aggressive than I have come to expect from this coaching staff. And there were times when the players looked like they were really starting to believe in themselves again.  Again, I am not a moral victory kind of guy, but I am at least happy that in no way can I look at this game and feel like we lost due to a lack of effort and desire.  The effort and desire were there, and were there in large doses.

But yet again, we fell just short on the execution side, which has become a consistent theme with this football program.  Just short of staying onsides on what would have been a huge momentum turner.  Just short of making some big interceptions.  Just short of making a great defensive play instead of committing pass interference.  Just short of getting out of our own way to win the game.  And how do you overcome that?  I don't know the answer.  And I feel like if Richt knew the answer, we'd already be a much better team than we are now.  The blame for this particular loss definitely falls more on the players than the coaches.  But at the end of the day, coaches have some level of responsibility for mental mistakes by the players too.......the coaches have to prepare the players physically AND mentally for success.  Then the players have to take ownership from there and execute.  Somewhere in that sequence is a breakdown within the UGA football program.  I'm going to have a post up later this week with some pretty detailed thoughts on Richt, the state of the program, and what I'd like to see happen.  But for now, I'm proud of the effort put on the field last night, but stinging like crazy from the loss.

-Rev.

0-2

(photo courtesy of AJC.com)




This is going to be a very interesting week.



Like Simple Man said in his in-game live blog, we squandered early opportunities and the turnovers were devastating, especially the last one (obviously).


Positive thoughts:





  • I can, however, say that for all the flaws we have, what does that say about SC? I didn't see a huge gap in where they are and where we are. If they're the best team in the East, it ain't by much.


  • We gave up 45 points, but only lost by 3.


  • Crowell looked damn good. If he ain't the starter next week...ah, who cares. He'll get the majority of the carries and it's just Coastal Carolina.


  • Amidst all of Murray's gaffes and the sketchy OL line play, we put up 42 on a supposedly stout D.


  • As I said at the start of this, and Richt said it in his post game presser, the East hasn't been decided yet.


  • Rambo came to play today. Damn good game from him.


Negative Thoughts:



  • The turnovers were aplenty and extremely costly.


  • While others are concerned about our OL depth, I'm more concerned about our OL's play. It hasn't been very good yet.


  • Moral victories are fine for some situations, but I don't see how they can be applied here.


  • The calls for Richt's head are going to be loud this week.


Like Blutarsky said, this game shouldn't have been close and you can't lay this loss on the coaches. I saw better effort and improved play in some areas, but I saw some glaring deficiencies that need to be addressed over the next 2 games before we enter into the October grind (MS State, UT, Vandy & UF),


Bottom line, I didn't leave this game ready for heads to roll. I left with a disgusted feeling because of how we lost. We are 0-2, but we really should have won this game. We didn't deserve to beat Boise State. We should have left here with a W. I know, shoulda, woulda, coulda.


This one hurts and is going to sting for a while.