Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Well.....Here We Are

Well Boys, it's hard to believe we're where we are.  I texted Teddy last night this…boy, doesn't that cocktail party get sweeter and sweeter.  I can think of few things greater in football world than waking up on Jan. 8 with UGA #1 at 13-1 and National Champs and Floriday at 12-1 and #2…and there's not a thing they can do about it.  They'll be champions of the Sugar Bowl (maybe over Kent St!!!!!!!), and that's about it.  I suppose they'll get Oregon because they get the first 2 picks, but wouldn't Gators vs. Flashes be a beauty.  BTW, the CFA bowl is a happy group after Saturday.  They stand to get something like Clemson vs. TAMU or LSU.  Either way, it will be 2 10-2 teams. 
As for Saturday….
  • I was thinking this morning about Mark Richt.  I wonder if this will show through the broadcast, but you've got to think Danielson and Verne are pulling for Richt.  Moreover, I'd think nearly everyone in the conference is.  He's a good man.  I hope it's his time.  From an SEC perspective, I think ND has a better chance of beating Bama than us.  I think we're too fast and explosive on offense.  #26 and #12 would look like lightning bolts against that ND secondary.
  • If we pull it off, we'll prove something pretty monumental.  They say it can't happen after 12 years.  "THEY" are stupid.  We've got a great coach who has completely re-made himself and the program.  He's been willing to change everything but the pieces he knew were right (i.e. offense).  Now, we look pretty good.  I just keep thinking about poor Matt Stafford.  We owe that kid a defense.
  • I think we're better, plain and simple.  I think we're playing at a higher level right now.  I watched a good bit of that LSU/Bama game.  LSU beat them every which way but sideways and I'm not convinced LSU is a great team.  Right now, I think the Gators and Dawgs are the best 2 teams in the land.  Have I mentioned who won that head to head match-up?
  • I'm most interested to see what they try on offense.  Can they road grade us with that great line they've got?  I don't know.  I'd be shocked if they could pound us all game.  I think that's the test.  I think we'll get our points on offense, but can we stop their physicality?  And, then, can we get to McCarron and get him a little rattled.  #29 certainly gets me rattled, and I'll bet he's ecstatic to be playing against a pro-style attack again.
  • Of course, I'm interested to see if we can run the ball against them.  I think Murray's going to have get something with his legs, maybe even a designed run or two.  We ran the ball enough against Florida, and I think their D is better.  If we can run it, we're going to win this thing.  It's hard to believe we managed to dominate that first half last year with Crowell gimped up and Carlton Thomas in the line-up.  That was literally our plan:  Gimpy IC and Carlton, with a little Boo mixed in.  And we should have been up on them 21-0. 
Just some random thoughts: 
  • You know why our FG kicking hasn't been that big of a deal this year?  We score TDs. 
  • I can't believe all those guys were suspended 4 games and still came back.  Makes me think they want to make this special.  Saturday at 8 p.m. could be pretty special.
  • You know, in a 4-team playoff, the Cocktail party means very little other than winning the SEC.  Sad face.  I think a 4-team is right, but we'll lose a little charm.  What we gain is that conferences that we can't tell if they're equal or not get a chance to square off against one another.  I still think K-state is a pretty good team.
  • We're the home team Saturday.  We've never worn white in the Dome.  Black jerseys would be…ballsy.  You can bet your bottom dollar we'll be in red, as well we should be.
  • The last 2 times that the SECCG has been a 'semi-final', the lower ranked team won.  Bama was #1 in 2008, Florida was #1 in 2009. 
  • Geno Atkins is tearing up the NFL, if you care, as is Dannell Ellerbe.
  • I don't want to hear about schedules.  We were loaded for bear in 2008 and riding high.  We got Bama and LSU out of the West along with Auburn and stupidly had a cross country trip to Tempe the week before the Bama game.  It was ridiculous. 
This season sure has been fun.  It's hard to believe we're less than 2 years removed from that long ride back from Memphis with my boys sleeping in the back of my truck.  I was sad, but hopeful.  After Boise, I was down and out.  Somehow, though, we started figuring out how to win games.  In Nashville in 2011, we won a game we'd found a way to lose in 2009 and 2010.  In Jax, we found a way to win a game we always lose down there.  Turnovers and down early 17-3, we stormed back and won the dang thing, winning the East and setting the stage for this year.  Enter Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.  It's a really fun team to cheer for and a group of guys that seem to really love each other.  I hope they get what they deserve Saturday night.  They've fought hard for the red and black.
Go Dawgs!
Beat Bama!

Aaron Murray

Quick Tuesday night thoughts after devotion (though not related to football, I don't think).  The devotion was about the blood of Christ, and it'll take blood, sweat and tears on Saturday, so there you go.
  • Took a quick gander at the All-ACC teams.  Clemson has zero on 1st Team Defense and 1 on 2nd Team Defense.  Hopkins, Boyd and Ellington, 2 Linemen and the TE Ford all made All-ACC first team.  That's right, they had 6 First Team All-ACC offensive players and zero on defense.  I don't know why the coaches in that league can't figure it out. 
  • Don't know if you saw Richt's comments about Hutson.  It tells me his jaw is set, and I like Richt when his jaw is set.  He said Hutson would play if Murray went down and out for the game -- too much at stake.  We're in it to win it, boys.  Just 2 short years ago we had Logan Gray returning punts.
As I've been for his career, I'm "all in" on the Murray bandwagon this week.  I think we win because of Murray.  After he wins the next 2, will he be considered the greatest QB in UGA history?  None of that matters, really.  Win the next 2 and his legacy will be set.  I think the kid is just ready. I think he's tired of hearing all the big-game and 'vs. elite defense' crap.  I think he's a DGD of epic proportions and got his brains beat in his freshman year.  I think the lights were a little bright in the dome last year for him.   But, I also think after the 2nd series on Saturday he's going to think "These guys look wide open compared to the Florida game."  That Florida defense is the best in the land for my money, and we beat them.  Murray made the plays on the last drive he had to after a shaky start.  I think he'll shine on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

You better be careful...

You know, watching all those games Saturday made me think how careful we need to be with college football.  I was glued to the TV and flipping channels between Fox, CBS, and ABC to watch teams in front of us in the polls.  I'd watch anyway, but it won't matter as much in 2 years when we have the 4 team playoff.  In 2 years, by now teams wil simply be jockeying for position.  K-State is a virtual lock for the Big 12 title and in the mix with 4 teams, even at 11-1.  They don't even think about playing a banged up Klein this week.  Oregon needs only to beat Oregon St. and then win the Pac 12 title.  The games against Cal and Stanford aren't worth kids getting injured.  Georgia and Bama are just counting down to playing in the Dome.  Even a loss to A & M or a colossal upset to Auburn won't ruin Bama's chances.  Win in Atlanta with 1 or 0 losses, and they're in.  Heck, even if we lost to Tech and beat 12-0 Bama, we're probably in.  Then, we're all simply watching Notre Dame, because if they lose, an SEC team or FSU is probably in the mix.  Florida St. and Florida are probably playing for a spot in the top 4 then.  What if FSU beats Florida but loses a crazy game in the ACCCG…but Clemson goes 11-1?  Does Clemson get to go even though they didn't win their division.  Does South Carolina go in that scenario if they beat Clemson, even though they finished THIRD in their division, behind 7-1 UGA and Florida? 

I've been a propoent of the 4 teams because I think scheduling is simply too varied these days.  The thought that we could go 12-1 with wins over the #2 and #1 BCS teams, win the toughest conference in the land that currently has 5 of the top 8 BCS teams in the nation while Notre Dame's best win will end up being over Oklahoma and Oregon's best will will be over Oregon St.  Well, it makes you think that maybe 4 is the way to go.

However, watching AJ McCarron weep on the sidelines made me think we need to watchout.  He understood the significance.  Lose, and those guys aren't going to Atlanta or Miami this year.  Not again.  And all the hard work and dominating wins are for nought.  But in a 4 team playoff in most years, 11-1 Bama who didn't win their division, but lost a tough night game in Tiger Stadium and dominated everyone else…they probably get in.  And I don't know that THAT'S good for college football.  What is good for college football is watching that kid hug his parents because he had the sele-awareness to know that he had just had is Belue to Scott moment when all the chips were on the table.  Had Bama lost that game, we would have stayed at 6 and Bama would have dropped to 5, with LSU at 4.  They would have only needed 1 team to lose to get back in the top 4.

That's why this SEC guy was on the Jim Delaney bandwagon of having only Conference champions in the playoffs.  However, we will have a committee select the teams.  My hope is that they give preference to conference champions and only choose teams that didn't win their division or conference as a last resort.  But sometimes even the last resort won't be a good resort.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The dark years are over

You know, there's been constant complaining about how Richt's first half was far superior to his 2nd half and how things have really fallen off since then.  Now, I saw every game of the dismal '09 and '10 campaigns live and in color.  However, I was just thinking about the last 6 years compared to the first six years (obviously this one isn't over yet).

Vs. Auburn - first 6 (3-3) - last 6 (4-1…with 5-1 looming)
Vs. Florida - first 6 (1-5) - last 6 (3-3)
Vs. Tennessee - first 6 (4-2) - last 6 (4-2)
Vs. Tech - (6-0) - last 6 (4-1…with 5-1 looming)

No doubt, this is why Richt has received the support from the administration through some of those lean years.  His record vs. our rivals is simply stellar.  The difference is that in the last 6 years we've lost more games like Miss. St, UK, and Colorado.  We simply didn't lose those games the first year.  And, of course the biggest difference is…

Vs. South Carolina - first 6 (5-1) - last 6 (2-4)

And, against the heavy-weights?

Vs. LSU - first 6 (2-2) - last 6 (1-2)
Vs. Bama - first 6 (2-0) - last 6 (1-1)

That's a wash.  I think the dark days are over.  It's hard to keep up to this level because everyone will be chasing us, but I think we've climbed out of the doldrums of whatever 2009 and 2010 were.  And we managed to beat our rivals a lot in the process.  And if we can revert back to the early days of not losing those mind-boggling games, then we'll be in a pretty good spot.  It was just interesting to think about those numbers.

Monday, October 29, 2012

News and Notes...Who to pull for...

Well, as Erk would say, "That was something."  After the game, Captain immediately asked when was the last time we beat the #2 team in the nation.  Our minds went to the victory against #1 Florida in '85.  Of course, that was #1.  Then I was thinking about #2 Texas in the '84 Cotton Bowl ('83 Season).  I was right.  Texas was #2.  However, Butler's 60-yarder came against #2 Clemson in '84.  That wasn't a very good UGA team, but somehow we found a way to win that one.  We beat Bama that year in B'ham, but lost to South Carolina, Florida, Auburn and Tech.  Dooley had a way of winning those.  Of recent vintage, we beat #3 LSU in the SECCG in '05.  So, really, that was as big a game as we've won in almost 30 years.  I agree with Mark Richt.  That's a great team.  That's a tremendous defense they've got in Gainesville.  Jordan Reed is a junior, btw.  Let's hope he takes this opportunity to enjoy the riches of the NFL.  I don't know what they'd do on offense without Gilleslie and Reed.  Bad news for the Gators…#26 and #3 will be back in Jax next year.  Good news for the Gators…I don't think #29 will.  What a one man wrecking crew.  Here's your weekly 'who to pull for' deal, which is a lot clearer for the rest of the season.  Bottom line, it's in our hands and we just need a couple of chips to fall.  Here's the schedules for the rest of the season:

Nov. 3 - Okie St - 8 p.m. on ABC
Nov. 10 - @ TCU
Nov. 17 - @ Baylor (Can RGIII play?)
Nov. 24 - Open
Dec. 1 - Texas (What in the world are UT and KSU doing closing the season out against one another?)

Notre Dame
Nov. 3 - Pittsburgh - 3:30 on NBC
Nov. 10 - @ BC
Nov. 17 - Wake Forest - 3:30 on NBC
Nov. 24 - @ USC (You can almost bank on that one being on 8 on ABC, but I don't know if Fox has the rights to non-conference games in Pac 12 stadiums)

Nov. 3 - @ USC - 7 p.m. on Fox
Nov. 10 - @ Cal
Nov. 17 - Stanford
Nov. 24 - @ Oregon St.
Nov. 30 - Pac 12 Championship Game (Friday night at 8 p.m. on Fox)

We need 2 of those 3 to lose a game.  Notre Dame has the easiest road, but seems to be the most vulnerable team.  You've got to believe Matty Trojan shows up to beat at least once in 3 tries (twice vs. the Ducks and once against the Trojans).  Even with a USC win, the Pac 12 championship game is likely to be hosted in Eugene.  It's hosted by the team w/ the best Pac 12 record.  However, the Ducks have 3 of their remaining 4 games away from home, and the one at home is vs. the most physical team in the Pac 12.  They've got the toughest road, especially considering they'll have to beat USC twice to run the table.

So, who else loses?  K-State looks really good, but is that an undefeated-type team?  Can they beat TCU in Fort Worth or can Patterson draw up a defense to stop Klein?  Can OSU put together a string of points on Saturday night to stay with them?  Can all those athletes in Burnt Orange actually play like a college football team on Dec. 1?

I think there's a good chance USC wins Saturday night.  They were embarrassed last week, but rolled on offense.  Monte Kiffin is still their DC, and I think Barkley has a moment in him.  If that happens and Bama looks like Bama and we take care of business, we will wake up to rankings on Sunday that look like this:

1.  Bama
2.  K-State
3.  Notre Dame
4.  UGA

Now, if Okie St. pulls it off Saturday night AND USC…well, brothers…it's on like it's never been on in 30 years.  And that sure would make for a fun few weeks of football.

Go Dawgs!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Backing In

There is no such thing as backing in.  So, don't even entertain it from people.  No.  Such.  Thing.  If the Gators beat the Cocks and we go down and beat #3 and undefeated Florida in a stadium and in a series we haven't won 2 in a row in since 1989, and go 11-1, that is not backing in.  That is earning it.  It is what it is sometimes.  You roll with the punches, deal with the schedule, get lucky sometimes and get unlucky sometimes.  We had the most talented team we'd had in years, probably ever in the Mark Richt Era in 2008.  We have Bama and LSU on the schedule instead of Ole Miss and Miss St.  Jeff Owens gets hurt in the opener.  Ellerbe gets hurt in the first quarter against Bama.  We had to show up in Baton Rouge and play lights out to win there…and we did.  We got boat raced the next week.  What if we'd have played in Oxford the week before Jax instead. 

Peyton's 1997 team made it to Atlanta because us and LSU beat Florida.  They hoisted a trophy.  LSU won a train-wreck of a division in 2001…and hoisted a trophy.  You win some, you lose some.  Sometimes you get the schedule breaks, sometimes you don't.  We played amazing vs. Vandy cause we wanted it bad, rolled early vs. UT and left our guts on the field in the 4th qtr.  I look back now and think, "How in the world did I think we could pull off 2 of those in a row."  It's very hard.  Then you have a couple plays go against you and you're down 21-0 in a hornets nest.

UT backed in in 2007 thanks to us beating Tebow, something they never did.  South Carolina backed in with 3 losses in 2010 because everybody else sucked.  Yes, I know they beat all three of UT, UF and UGA.  Still, 3 losses?  That team lost to Kentucky…seriously.  If we go 11-1 and so to the Cocks I'll tip my hat to them.  But if we end up playing in the SECCG, I won't feel a bit dirty.  If you go down the Jax and win that game, any UGA fan in their right mind knows that's earning it.  We're trying to do something that hasn't been done in 23 dadgum years and people are talking about 'backing in.'  Have they lost their minds? 

I kind of get the feeling that this thing is going to great crazy this year.  It just feels that way.  Don't know why. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It hasn't happened since 1998...

You know, I read a comment yesterday somewhere that made me pause.  Since 1999, only one Eastern Division team has shown up to the Dome undefeated -- 2009 Florida.  That team got bushwacked by Bama that day.
1999 - Florida boinked a FG off the upright to lose in OT to Bama.
2000 - Florida lost inexplicably 47-35 (and it wasn't that close) in Starkville to an MSU team that went 4-4 in the league
2001 - UT lost at home to us after pulling off a miracle to take the lead with 47 seconds
2002 - We lost a heartbreaker to a terrible Florida team
2003 - We lost a heartbreaker to eventual national champion LSU in Baton Rouge, then lost to an even worse Florida team with a true freshman QB
2004 - UT lost 34-10 at home to Auburn
2005 - We lose to Florida with DJ out and to Auburn in the final minute...at home.
2006 - Florida loses at Auburn
2007 - UT loses to Florida 59-20 and to Bama 41-17...seriously
2008 - Florida somehow loses at Ole Miss (Eli Manning was already playing for the NY Football Giants)
2009 - Florida goes unscathed
2010 - South Carolina loses to Kentucky, Auburn, and Arkansas...and somehow wins the thing.  Boy, us and the Gators stunk that year
2011 - We lose to South Carolina in one of the craziest games evah
Strangely, the West has sent 2004 Auburn, 2008 Bama, 2009 Bama, 2010 Auburn, and 2011 LSU all undefeated to the dome.  2 of those 5 didn't come out alive.  I don't knwo what all that means, but it tells me that, for whatever reason, none of us (Florida, USCe, UT, or UGA) seem to be able to make it to the dome undefeated, so the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.  That South Carolina team is good.  Do you think it's good enough to beat LSU, Florida, Tennessee, and Arkansas back to back to back to back?  I don't.
We suffered a horrendous and embarrassing loss.  It's a long season.  We were 0-2 last year and led the best team in college football 10-7 at the half about 11 weeks later.  Get back to work.  Chances are everyone in front of us in the division will lose and we control what we do against one of them.  We're 12th.  4 of the 11 teams ahead of us are in our league.  3 are from the Big XII.  2 are from the Pac 12 and will probably have to play each other twice.  Finish the drill.  Finish 11-1 and let the chips fall where they may.  If the Cocks go 12-0 or 11-1, tip your cap to them as a fantastic team.
Just as a crazy side thought.  I've already been thinking about the craziness of Thanksgiving weekend.  If us, Florida and USCe all round robin each other and go into thanksgiving 10-1, we'd turn all our state rivalry games into de-facto conference games because BCS rank would determine the champion.  I like our chances there and I'd cheer harder for Clemson than I ever thought possible.
Alright, that's my mind-break football moment of the day.
Geaux Tigers!

Monday, October 8, 2012

To make you feel better...

Well, I don't know if it will actually make you feel better.  It was a complete and utter dismantling.  However, it was weird.  It's not like they gashed us all night long.  The 2nd and 3rd quarters were hard football to watch and very evenly matched.  Nobody could do anything.  Problem was, we spotted them 21 points.  Call me crazy, but I'm on the Malcom Mitchell for punt return campaign.  We can't play teams that have their fastest player back there while we have Rhett McGowan.  That kind of thinking got us to 6-7 in 2010.  Anyway, it's not that I have much say-so on that issue.

So where do we go.  We keep playing football, man.  The season ain't over.  And, 11-1 is a GREAT season by any measuring stick.  And we're fully capable of that.  Whether that gets us to Atlanta is out of our hands, but we have set the stage for a tremendous season.  We avoided a hornets nest in Missouri and a meltdown vs. Tennessee because we're a pretty good team. My first born said to me yesterday, "Well, we could still go to the national championship this year because Alabama lost one last year and still made it."  Bingo.  And what I mean is that, bingo, the luck has to tilt our way at some point, one would think.  And don't tell me you make your own luck.  Bama lost the most important game on it's schedule last year to the best team for all the marbles in their division.  Yes, it was a 9-6 OT loss, but they still lost it…at home.  But Saban is better, right? 

Of course, Saban's program is better right now.  And South Carolina's is better.  That's because they have, for my money, the 2 best coaches in College Football in the last 25 years.  The other guy that is in the conversation thankfully doesn't coach in Gainesville anymore, but is in Columbus.  So what do we do?  We ain't getting Saban and Spurrier's gone after Clowney leaves, and maybe this year if he wins the SEC.  Who else is going to compete with them?  And do you think we can do it knowing that we WILL NOT oversign like Bama and USCe do?  And you do realize that our admission policies are demonstrably more stringent than theirs.  In short, there's no way Clowney gets in at UGA.  No way.  He might not have gotten in at Clemson, if that tells you anything.
So, I want to see us get tougher and meaner, but I'm not sure that we can guarantee that.  There's a lot of teams in our league in shambles (UT, Arky, and Auburn).  We're not them.  I'm not sold on Muschump or Miles at LSU for the long haul.  Patterson is in the Big XII and has no reason to jump ship anywhere.  Chip Kelley's offense will get someone killed in the SEC…and we don't allow our kids to smoke dope, which would dramatically alter his recruiting practices (and perhaps his personal life).  Petersen ain't leaving Boise.  He has no reason to.  He gets paid almost $2 mil. to live in a place he loves with almost no pressure and wins a lot.  I'll gladly up my per game ticket prices from $40 to $75 if that's what it takes to get Jim Harbaugh, but that ain't happening.  Do we really think Kirby, with no HC experience, has what it takes to win those games?  Maybe he does, but he also might be Ray Goff.

So, you're left with this.  Is this what we are?  Well, time will tell in Jax, but we gotta afford this team that.  
They’ve looked REALLY good at times.  And it might still turn out great.  I do believe that we're going to see a different defense the rest of the year.  And we have to.  That's the difference.  We were pretty darn good last year because our defense played great.  That was the story for SC Saturday night.  Their defense won the game way more than their offense did.  If we're going to be elite, it starts with an elite defense.  We had one for the last 12 games last year (save for that 2nd half vs. LSU), and if we're going to be great, we've got to have the same thing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Saturday, we get it back...

I've changed my mind.  I think we're going to kill them.  Of course, by Saturday I will be a nervous wreck.  But there's this…
  • In '10 they had the only team they've ever had that won the East.  We played them up there and we were missing our best player (AJ).  We were starting our freshmen QB in his first game on the road.  We had Washaun Ealey and Carlton Thomas.  Caleb King was suspended and Richard Samuel was redshirting.  It was Grantham's 2nd game.  We lost 17-6 and Lattimore rushed for 182 yards.  Ealey had a crucial fumble in the Gamecock redzone.  It was Mark Richt's worst team, which would go on to lose 4 straight and ended up 6-7 with a  loss to UCF in the Indy Bowl.
  • In '11, we had a pick six, a fumble returned to the 1, a fumble returned for a TD, and a fake punt for a loooooong and slow TD.  28 pts.  We lost Alec Ogletree the week before and lost Christian during the game.  We had just lost to Boise the week before, following that Indy Bowl loss and a 6-7 season.  We had absolutely no idea how to win.  We had Isaiah Crowell (who played great that game…but he was still IC), Richard Samuel and Carlton Thomas.  John Jenkins really hadn't started playing.  They won 45-42, thanks to our gift-wrapped 4-TDs.  We were in extreme identity crisis mode.
Fast forward to 2012 and think about a few things:
  • Alec Ogletree will play Saturday.  Due to him being a freshman safety or injured, the 'Cocks have never had the privilege :) of playing against #9.  Allow me to introduce you to the guy we call 'Tree.
  • Aaron Murray is not a freshman.
  • John Jenkins plays a lot.
  • Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall play RB for us, not Carlton Thomas, Richard Samuel or IC.  That, alone, should give you pause to feel really, really good.
  • I don't think we'll gift wrap 28 points (21 off turnovers).

I think I'm starting to feel like what Alabama must have felt like in '08 coming to Athens.  Our blackout/Gameday atmosphere was unbelievable.  Bama had won a couple games of consequence.  They beat Clemson in the CFA game 34-10, but that ended up being Bowden's last year.  They had beaten Arky 49-14, in what would be Nutt's last year.  Otherwise, they'd beaten a bunch of nobodies, including an ugly 20-6 win over Tulane.  We had beaten them the year before at their house on a miracle.  We were coming off the best run I'd ever seen under Mark Richt and feeling very good about ourselves.  The stars were aligned.  And they punched us in the mouth and took our manhood.  I think we're going to punch THEM in the mouth.  Spurrier's distracted with this reporter at The State.  I think he's preoccupied.  I think this team is ready to enforce it's will on someone and…for once, we're going to play a mammoth game with all our bullets in the barrel.  I don't think they're going to like it.
Then the real war will be in Jax.  Those guys have the horses to play with us.  Simply, these guys don't.  And they're gonna wilt when we're up 27-0 at halftime.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fun With Numbers

Go back five years for the last 30 years and check out our seasons.

1982: 4th

1987: 13th

1992: 8th

1997: 10th

2002: 3rd

2007: 2nd

2012: ?

This seems to be a good stretch for the men in Red and Black.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tailback U is Back

It's going to be so much fun next year. It was so painful when Isaiah wasn't in there because we simply weren't dangerous...at all. Now, I like what I saw from Boo late in the year, but he's not dangerous. I'm interested in seeing how it all plays out. I'd bet we've seen the last of Carlton. That feels a whole lot like an summer 'left the program' deal. I'm not sure you can actually have 5 tailbacks on the roster, can you? I mean, you can. It's just that...you can't. We're crazy if we don't move Richard to fullback. God bless that kid. He's tremendously gifted physically, just not athletically. I'd love to see him at 250 and blowing up LBs on ISO's and toss sweeps.

It'll be fascinating to see who starts next year. But, with that crew, it's hard to imagine one of them being the bell cow. I'm not sure you need one to unless you just have one that gets supremely hot for a few games.

It's gonna be fun in Columbia, MO. Those guys are going to be thinking, "What on earthy kind of defense is this?" "Is it legal for them to have 13 guys on the field on every snap? What? It just feels like 13?" And then, "Wow, that #4 cat sure could get gone once he got on the edge couldn't he?"

If IC gets healthy and has his head on straight, then we're going to have a pretty nasty 1-2-3 punch with him, Marshall and Gurley.

Wonder what number Gurley will wear? He's 1 in high school.

I'm sure he'll pick a single digit, but it would be all-world if he chose 38. You know, we signed another big RB out of North Carolina about 25 years ago that wore 38. This really could be a run like that. The shame of Worley and Henderson is that they were academically ineligible in '87. Lars was a senior and Rodney was a freshman. They carried the load. But, we should have had all 4 of them for that one season. But we rolled pretty good in '88 with Rodney, Tim and Keith. Tailback U is back.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Detox from Tampa....Why the Isaiah Crowell Hate?

Good ride back from Tampa. Made good time. If we could just get our running game going like we were rolling. Guys, that was the story of the season. Luckily, in the meat of our season, Isaiah was healthy and we were a vastly different team.

He had:

147 @ Ole Miss
104 vs. Miss. St.
58 (and 2 TDs) @ UT
81 vs. Florida
132 vs. Auburn

The bottom line is that we were rolling by the Auburn game, even after the suspension. He came back and ran crazy hard against Auburn. After he got hurt against UK, it severely limited what we could do offensively. I'm frankly flabbergasted that people think he just came out of the game Monday and wasn't hurt. The kid wanted to get 1,000 yards. Frankly, I don't understand the vitriol for Isaiah. AJ never played a full season at UGA. His carreer was severely hampered by nagging injuries and a monumental suspension. No one seemed to care. Lattimore has yet to make it through an SEC season, and he's seen as a horse. I don't understand why some UGA fans want him to fail. Especially since the numbers simply don't lie. We were a much, much better team once we got him rolling mid-season. We turned the ball over less because Aaron didn't have to press, and we could milk games away and rest our D.

Toward the end of the season, we looked more like the 2009 Dawgs and Joe Cox. We couldn't run for anything and that forced Murray into bad situations. Aaron's a really good QB. He's going to be great. Our offense is not predicated on slinging it around. It's built on play action and we had to 'play' to 'action' late in the season. Tech's secondary is so bad it didn't matter. There was so much to blame about the bowl game, but it was a total team loss:

-Aaron's turnovers
-Richt's conservative calls
-The D wilted on the last drive after a stellar season
-Our (former) All-American kicker choked
-Bobo didn't have his best day

Couple notes from my perspective:

-We missed Gilliard, especially in pass coverage
-We dropped a boatload of game changing INTs
-We couldn't block them for nothing
-I'm going to miss Brandon Boykin
-That was a pretty good team, especially on defense

Two plays stuck out in my mind.

  • The shuffle pass to Orson, which I thought was a TD. We hadn't run it all year. It was brilliant and looked like a cinch. They closed the gap in a hurry and that made me think they were pretty good.
  • The pass that IC got hurt on. Another brilliant call that we haven't seen all year. It looked wide open and first and they closed on it in a hurry. I couldn't believe we didn't get the first down on the play.

They were just pretty good, and we missed our chances. I really don't mind Richt's calls. I don't think he does that in another game. I don't think he thought they could drive it on our D w/ no timeouts for 85 yards. I think he thought we'd get one sack, which would have been a drive killer. I also think he WANTED Blair to have the storybook ending. I don't know that it was a bad thing. I think looking back he'd run some plays and try to get some yards. But, he watched the same game we saw. We had 14 plays for lost yardage, Murray was off in the 2nd half and getting beat to death, and we were out of effective running backs. We were in a bind because 1 sack and you're out of field goal range.

Hopefully, we'll use it as motivation to say, "Hey, we made progress, but we still haven't really beaten anyone. We've got a lot to prove." That can be a good thing. Hard for me to complain about a 10 win season in which we beat our 4 biggest rivals. In the end, we lost to a 12-1 team w/ the winningest QB in NCAA history, the best team in the history of USCjr. Football that went 11-2, the best team I've probably ever seen in person in LSU (13-0), and a really good 11-3 Mich. St. We aren't quite there yet, but we're far from where we were.

Go Dawgs!
Beat Buffalo!