On the eve of the final game in 2014, I found myself wondering what life without Bobo will be like. I have little doubt that Mark Richt will hire a high caliber guy to run our offense for 2015 and beyond. Problem is, that guy won't be calling plays, John Lilly will, and he's never done that. I'm emotionally preparing myself for a stagnant offense that can't move the ball or can't run the right plays at the right time. Will Lilly be unusually conservative because he's a little scared? Or, will he throw 3 sheets to the wind because he knows he has virtually no shot of being the play-caller in the future so you might as well run every trick play in the book? I have a lot of questions.
- Is Louisville's run defense legit or is it an ACC mirage? Will Lilly know what to do if they stuff Chubb like Tech did in the second half?
- Will Hutson Mason look like Tom Brady vs. a Grantham secondary?
- How is psyche after that Tech game? The first half of the '09 Citrus Bowl was an emotional mess. AJ fumbled. Stafford threw a pick. We were losing 6-3 to that MSU team at halftime.
- Can the defense get the bad mojo of the Tech second half out of them?
- Will I freeze by baguettes off?
- How bad is the Big 12?
- Will we have the edge Richt seems to have had this week?
Thinking long term, I'm still very encouraged. These types of crises seem to be crucibles for Richt, and that usually ends up being a good thing. There is nothing wrong with a little new blood. I really hope we can keep Rocker around, but D players seem most determined to play for Pruitt. I like the new strength guy already. We have a chance to expand our horizons with the new offensive guy. I loved Mike's creativity and style. I never really question play calls because there's just too much we don't know. I saw Mike Bobo check to a lot of great plays firsthand and Quincy Carter check to a bunch of bonehead plays. It ain't always the play caller. And sometimes you just get a look you didn't anticipate. It happens. If I had any criticisms of Mike's play-calling, it would be the 'seeming' reluctance to gameplan players and try to get the ball into the hands of ball-players. Bama is not the Bama of 2-3 years ago, but they have an elite player in Cooper, and to Kiffin's credit, he ran him ragged trying to get the ball to him.
A new OC might look at Chubb, Michel, Mitchell and JSW and say, we gotta get those 4 dudes the ball as much as possible. We seemed to have a reluctance to really, really, really put the hammer down and do things like play Chubb and Michel together, a lot. That's what I'd like to see more of. Sony Michel does not need to be sitting on the sidelines for 30 offensive plays a game next season. Get him in the slot, do what we've got to do to get the best players on the field. Perhaps our injuries have made Mark and Mike gunshy on those types of things. We can't assume that we'll experience those kinds of injuries again.
Lastly, it was hard not to watch that Clemson game and think of what might have been. What a weird 3 losses. The South Carolina game had one of the weirdest delays and vibes I've ever seen. We waited, then warmed up, went back in for 45 minutes, then came back out again. It was just weird. It felt weird. South Carolina had to do the same thing, but it was just weird. Todd's suspension. Todd's injury. That Clemson team is pretty good. They lost @ UGA, @ FSU, and @ Tech. We handled them better than anyone. They couldn't stop Chubb and Gurley. Arkansas couldn't stop Chubb. Chubb broke his thumb the week before the South Carolina game and had 4 carries for 34 yards. That actually happened. We played 3 games with a healthy Chubb and Gurley: Clemson, Vandy and Auburn. The combined score was 123-45. I don't believe in the idea that somebody is 'due.' However, I just think Mark Richt's day is coming. We've had some incredibly bad luck on the injury and suspension front. Some of that is self-imposed, but not all. Some is bad luck. We're recruiting better and better. Bright days are ahead.