Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Read it to Believe it

I keep saying this season feels an awful lot like 2007.  The Tech/FSU play had all the makings of a play that throws a giant wrench in the whole playoff deal.  That year, a team w/ 2 losses made it into the championship game.  This year, I think a team with 2-losses gets in the playoff.  But that’s neither here nor there.  2015 feels like 2007 for the dawgs, too.  Do you remember those 1st 7 games?  We had a first year play caller, as Mike had taken over the reins for the Tech game and VaTech games the year before, but it was his first full season.  He struggled to get out of the gate.  

We started off 5-2.  We had a 16-12 loss to South Carolina (led by Blake Mitchell) in which we failed to score a TD.  We beat a decent Okie St. team.  We beat Saban’s first Alabama team in OT, which lost to LA-Monroe and went 7-6.  We were absolutely listless in Knoxville, losing to UT 35-14, and we scored the last one as a garbage TD very, very late.  We had beaten Western Carolina handily, and an Ole Miss Team coached by Orgeron (his final year) that went 3-9 and 0-8 in the league.  Ole Miss scored first, and fumbled on first and goal at the 1 with a chance to go up 14-0.  They actually tied the game at 17 all with under 10 minutes to go in the 3rd Qtr.  This is a team that went 0-8 in the SEC.  Brandon Coutu hit a game winner at the buzzer to beat a Vandy team that went 5-7 in Nashville.  A few weeks prior, in Knoxville, Thomas Brown broke his collarbone and was out for several weeks.  We were beat up and largely a disappointment after the dazzling win over Okie St.  We took a week off and we rested.  

7 games into the season, here were Stafford’s stats:
115 for 229 (50.22%)
1,364 yds
10 TD

Here were Knowshon’s stats:
119 rushes for 619 yds
5.2 yds/carry

We approached 9th ranked Florida ranked 20th. 11 spots behind the Gators.

Here we are again at 5-2.  We have a loss in a lopsided score in which our offense was non-existent.  We have a loss that was maddeningly frustrated because we just couldn’t punch it in when needed.   We lost in Knoxville and our starting running back was injured there.  We are 23rd and the Gators are ranked 12th…11 spots ahead of us.  Now, take a look at Lambert and Sony’s 2015 stats through 7 games, compared to Stafford and Moreno’s.

100 of 156 passing (64.1%)
1,276 yds
9 TD

89 rushes for 508 yds
5.7 yds/carry

With a  similar stat line from our QB and RB, we lined up against a team ranked 11 spots higher than us with a QB who would win the Heisman THAT YEAR and man-handled them like never before.  We hit a couple deep passes.  Are Malcom, Godwin and Izzy as good as Massoquoi, Bailey and Mikey?  I’d say they are better.  The catalyst for that run at the end of ‘07 was a suffocating defense led by a pass rush that wouldn’t stop, namely Marcus Howard.  Are the rushers we have capable of turning around our defense?  Were Stafford and Moreno THAT much different or better than Lambert or Sony.  I’m saying this with a serious face.  We had seen Matt come alive at the end of his freshman season, but really he had just show flashes at the start of the ’07.  He was wildly inconsistent, more prone to INTs and much less accurate.

I have no idea what’s going to happen on Saturday.  I don’t remember how I felt pregame in 2007, but I remember how I felt when I saw us dancing in the end zone.  I knew we had come to play in a way that we NEVER had before on the river.  We stayed relentless all day.  I can tell you this; 2007 was the last time My wife went to the Cocktail Party, and she’s loading up at 3 p.m. Thursday to head out again.  When you look back at all that, you realize how incredibly improbable the end of that 2007 run was.  We essentially looked like we look now till that point in the season.  And something snapped.

Here’s for more snapping on the banks of the St. John’s, and may the ghost of Trinton Sturdivant dance again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Field Goal U

I figured up a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been to somewhere around 300 games.  I have seen every one of Mark Richt’s 50 losses in person.  I also witnessed every one of Jim Donnan’s 40 losses.  Heck, that’s 90 losses right there.  I went to a bunch of Dooley and Goff games, too, which offered their fair share of losses.  I’d guess I’m roughly around 190-110 as an observer, though I might not have seen 20 Dooley/Goff losses in person.  I’m at best 200-100.  All that to say, there ain’t nothing like walking out a winner vs. a loser.  We scored 28 and played a great game vs. Bama in 2012.  Give me a 9-6 victory every day.

But the game felt eerily familiar.  It felt so much like Richt circa 2001-2003.  People forget how conservative we were, how much we relied on Billy Bennett.  To this day, Billy Bennett remains the SEC’s all-time leader in career FGs made, with 87.  And Billy’s first 2 years we were only playing 11 games.  Remember the 2001 Tech game?  Billy had SIX FGs, Verron finally scored a TD in the 3rd and Wansley had a pick-6 late to seal the deal.  We scored 31 points and scored 1 offensive TD.  13-7 over the Cocks in ’02 with the only TD a Pollack miracle.  On Oct. 25, 2003, a then 3-5 UAB team came to Athens.  It was 10-10 at haltime.  They took a 13-10 lead in the 3rd and we didn’t tie it up till about 3 min. left in the 3rd.  Billy kicked a FG early in the 4th for us to win 16-13.

So, maybe we’re back there.  Maybe we play Defense and do that.  I don’t know.  I just used to know winning was enough back then.  I’m not sure what happened in the last 10 years when winning didn’t seem to be enough.  I’m cool winning 9-6 from here on out.  What I do know is that those teams in 2001-2003 also showed up in some bigger games and proved to be explosive at times.  Greyson reminds me most of Greenie in his skill set.  If he can get his moxie and coolness, we’ll be alright.

For your recruiting pleasure:
>Kyle Davis commits on Friday
>Tune-In to ESPNU Friday at 10 p.m. to watch Eason play.  No, he can’t play for us in Jax no matter how many strings you pull.

The game…

·       I am incredibly proud of Sony.  He didn’t feel well and ran his rear end off.  Keith ran as hard as I’ve ever seen him run.  Douglas still hits the hole too slow for my taste, but we’re gonna need him to produce some.  If there was ever a doubt how good Nick Chubb is…there ain’t no more.
·       Malcom Mitchell is awesome.  Godwin is gonna be a star.  Boy do we need JSW.  We really need 16 back.
·       Rumor is Jeb Blazevich still plays for us.  Could just be a rumor, though.
·       I think Briscoe is gonna be good.  Pruitt could care less about players’ feelings.  He’ll play a new kid in a heart beat.  That young secondary is getting better.  Those 90 plays in Knoxville killed us, y’all.
·       We play Roquan and Natrez A LOT at key points in the game.  Will be fascinating to see how it plays out, because Kimbrough and Ganus are playing lights out.
·       I am beginning to looooooooove Davin Bellamy.  That joker is huge.
·       I thought our O-line got pushed around, but sometimes you can’t block 7 with 5.  It’s going to continue to be a problem until…

Lambert.  He’s our guy, like it or not.  He’s what we got, and he’s a stop gap to get to Eason.  I can’t figure it out.  He’s not terrible.  JT3 was terrible.  Jeremy Johnson is terrible.  The kid from South Carolina is terrible.  In fact, he throws a beautiful ball at times.  But no one is scared, and that’s more apparent with Chubb out.  To me, it really seems like  crisis of confidence.  Vernon Hargreaves III will not help that confidence.  Our hope is that the QB guru of gurus can coach him up in the next 12 days.  Do you remember Matt Stafford and how bad he was the first half of 2006.  It was awful.  Colorado and Ole Miss games?  Awful.  Losing in Lexington.  I don’t know what happened that day in Lee County, Alabama, but something clicked and he was never the same again.  Lambert is not Stafford, but he’s got plenty of talent for something to click emotionally and mentally to be a really, really good SEC QB.  Let’s hope it happens on the river.

As for Richt, this is a big stretch for him, but he ain’t going anywhere short of 6-6.  In a way, this might his greatest hour.  No one really rallies the troops like CMR, and no one really keeps the noise out quite like him.  It would be JUST like him to win this thing out and win the East.  I do know that I believe in him.  I believe in where we’re headed.  What he did with Marshall reaffirmed WHY I love him so much, and I believe in THAT process.  I’ll bet his jaw is set on the banks of the St. John’s River.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Some Fundamental Questions & THE Fundamental Question

We are licking our wounds, but there are fundamental questions that we have to address.  Unfortunately, there aren’t easy answers.

·       I have a lot of questions, but the simplest one is why on earth don’t we give Brice Ramsey a shot punting.  To date, he has punted the prettiest ball of the year in 1 attempt.  
·       I don’t know why we can’t cover the middle of the field, but I have my suspicions…and it includes 2 true freshmen and a true sophomore.
·       I cannot figure out why we keep throwing bombs on 3rd and 5.
·       2nd and 9…it’s the Georgia Way.
·       Blazevich is still on scholarship, right?
·       I’m very worried about our lack of a dynamic WR outside of Malcom, especially since he has 6-8 games left.
·       I’m more concerned about our lack of mental toughness when things don’t go right.  Florida, Tech, Bama and UT.  We have wilted at 1 or 2 scores.  
·       I’m concerned about Sony’s ball security, but he has a lot of Garrison Hearst and Knowshon in him.  He could be up for a special last half season if we’ll utilize him.
·       Keith Marshall, you’re up.  And don’t put that redshirt on just yet Tae Crowder.

In the end, the game came down to this:
·       If Lorenzo Carter tips 4th and 7 up 24-3, the games over.  In fact, we might tack on another one before halftime because we were rolling.  We were getting to Dobbs, too.  Kudos to Butch for going for it.  He had to.  I reminded me of us in Columbia in 2012.  Down 21-0, we went for it inside the 5 and didn’t get it right before half.  Ballgame.  Had we scored, who knows what happens.
·       If Sony doesn’t fumble…probably ballgame.
·       If Reggie Davis catches the ball, we’ve got us an interesting last 3 minutes and we have all the momentum.
·       The bottom in is that defense flat out wilted playing 90 plays and the offense didn’t help with a boatload of 3 and outs.  It was a total team failure.

All is not lost:
·       As crazy as it ALL sounds, we’re still in really decent position to win the East, whatever that means.
·       Florida goes to Baton Rouge Saturday night.
·       UT goes to Tuscaloosa on Oct. 24.
·       It’s a very real possibility that we go to Jax with our destiny in our own hands.  For whatever reason, I’m still not that scared of Florida.  I’ve seen them play several games, and I’m just not impressed.  Defense is lights out but has vulnerabilities.  This is why it’s so important for CMR to rally the troops to laser focused.  Control what you can control (as in, beat Mizzou and get better).  If it happens it happens, but we are talented enough to beat every remaining team on our schedule and not many have the ability to exploit the middle of our secondary like we’ve seen.

I began a poor man’s list of potential coaching hires, seriously.  I began thinking about Tommy Bowdon and had we become like Clemson in the mid-2000s.  Dabo has energized that program (I actually think we could make a run at Dabo – he’s the coaching flavor of the week).  But let’s be honest.  Dabo got hired because he was cheap – that’s it.  Clemson got lucky.  And how lucky?  His first 7 years he’s got a winning percentage of 71.74%. Richt’s first 7 years were 79.12% and his total is 73.68%.  In the exact amount of time (mid-way through the 2008 season) that Dabo took over at Clemson, Richt has a 67.74% winning percentage.  Dabo did that in an ACC that won exactly 1 National Title.  Richt did that during the Tebow era at Florida, Saban taking the job at Bama, and a stretch where LSU was often the best or 2nd best team in the nation.  Oh, and Auburn keeps buying titles.  The common opponents?  Spurrier, who had his way with Dabo more than Richt.  And Tech, who is lucky to ever beat Richt and gives Clemson fits usually.  My point is it’s not an easy answer.  What is sexy today isn’t always what is sexy over the long run.  There might be guys that we could hire that could do 2 things:  1- Inject energy and mental toughness into the program that’s missing and 2 – Hold Eason and the recruiting class together.  Narduzzi, Harsin (who’d probably be my pick), Swinney, Dantonio, Patterson, Whittingham, Fitzgerald, Brian Kelly (he makes $1.19 mil…don’t laugh).  I think we could make a run at those guys for $5 mil/year and they MIGHT do it.  But would we make a run at those guys?  And are we to the point where we HAVE to change because the FUTURE is so bleak?  And that leads me to the MOST fundamental question.

We need a program turn-around (and maybe it’s slowly happening, but whatever), but the mess at USC and Haden’s complete incompetence hiring Kiffin, then Sark, led me to this question:

>>>>>Do you trust Greg McGarity or Mark Richt more to turn our program around?  That’s the million dollar question.  Or do we trust the process we’re going through?  Every coach in his right mind believes Jeremy Pruitt knows what he’s doing.  Every SEC team would take Rocker.  Sale is recruiting lights out.  B-Mac and T Brown are young coaching stars.  Eckeler could get a job in about 24 hours.  I just did a little thinking, and this is what our 2017 depth chart could look like:

QB – Eason – So
RB – Chubb – Sr. (I don’t think he’s going anywhere now after the injury.  Could be a Robert Edward type deal of playing next year but not looking same till the next).
FB – Payne – Sr.
TE – Blaze – Sr.
WR – Godwin – Jr.
WR – Chigbu – Jr.
WR – McKenzie – Sr.
T – Ben Cleveland – So.
G – Wynn – Sr.
C – Kendall Baker - Jr
G – Galliard – Jr.
T – Bynum – Sr.

DE – Ledbetter – Jr.
DL – Thompson – Jr.
DL – Atkins – Sr.
OLB – Carter – Sr. & Walker – Jr.
LB – Patrick – Jr.
LB – Smith – Jr.
OLB – Bellamy – Sr
S – Abram – Jr.
S – Sanders – Sr.
C – Parrish – Sr.
C – McGraw – Jr.
Star/Nickel – Wilkerson – Sr & Roundtree – Jr

Guys, that’s what a National Championship team looks like, not starting freshmen and sophomores all over the place.  Remember the story of 1980.  We had all the pieces, but we just needed a tailback.  Woerner and Ross were senior captains.  Belue and Scott were proven juniors.  I think I wanna see Pruitt and Richt coach that team.  I hope we can get to winning this last half to make sure we can.  I really do.  When you step back, you see we’re on a right track. You see we recruited terrible for a few years and we’ve changed everything.  That’s why we’re playing these young cats on defense…they’re better!  I don’t think we can blow that up.  This isn’t a cupboard going bare like Mack Brown and Phil Fulmer were doing.  Dooley’s 15th season was 1978.  He had won 3 SEC titles (one was a tie), and been to 2 Sugar Bowls and an Orange Bowl.  We were struggled to find a QB, and a freshman Belue came off the bench to beat Tech.  But he was building something.  

Go Dawgs and on to better days.

Monday, October 5, 2015


I’ve had to stay away from Blutarsky for a few days because it is in these moments that he shows his ignorance.  Listening to Danztler on the way home Saturday was much the same.  “Blah, blah, blah…how many straight years with a loss of 15 points or more.”  As if that is some magical number.  Garbage TDs and ‘seal the deal’ TDs make final scores hard to compute.  A game that’s an 8 point game for much of the game but ends up being 15 isn’t a blowout.  A game that is a 21 point game most of the game that ends up a 14 point game with 30 seconds left wasn’t close.  It’s just a moronic sentiment, and the idea (which seems to be Blutarsky’s) that we didn’t come prepared is asinine.  We were toe to toe for more than a quarter.  It’s ridiculous to mark this as some kind of ultimatum on Richt.  It showed us that Bama can still push us around on the wrong day, and we still have some hill to climb there, but the thought someone else, some magical coach, that could ‘avoid’ these losses is the most ridiculous statement ever.  There might be one guy.  He coached for the other team Saturday and he ain’t coming to Athens.  But, here’s the reality of some lopsided losses for some of the other best coaches and programs in our league JUST over the last two years

A & M Losses
17 to MSU
15 to Ole Miss
59-0 by Bama
24 to LSU (with Johnny Football on your team)

Ole Miss Losses
2015 – 28 on Saturday to Florida
30-0 by Arkansas
42-3 by TCU
25-0 by Bama
14 to Mizzou

34-0 by UGA
29 to Bama
17 to Auburn

15 to MSU
27 to UGA
14 to LSU

21 to Bama
29 to Mizzou
19 to Mizzou
17 to Vandy
30 to FSU

34 to Auburn
17-0 by Arkansas
21 to Bama

I didn’t do South Carolina and Tennessee because I don’t have that much space.  For kicks and giggles, I did dig quickly on Dabo, the coaching flavor of the week, and Clemson, who play in a vastly inferior league.  He’s had some fun losses the last 4 years.

14 to Tech
24 to NC State
21 to South Carolina
70-33 by WVU in the Orange Bowl
12 to FSU
37 to FSU
14 to South Carolina
24 to UGA
22 to Tech

The frustrating thing for UGA fans?  Bama doesn’t do it.  They’ve lost by double digits once since the start of 2011 (14 to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2014).  Ohio State has lost twice by double digits since Urban arrived, including by 14 to VaTech in Columbus.  But don’t listen to the meme that UGA is the only one who face plants for huge losses in games.  It’s just not accurate.  Every team in America outside of Tuscaloosa is doing it.  It bothers us because T-town is only 3 hours away, and we want to be them.  We’re not yet, but we’re climbing.  We still start 3 sophomores in the secondary.  THREE out of FOUR!!!!  We started a true freshman DL on Saturday.  I also think we’re still very talented and Bama won’t play that good again all year.  Maybe we’ll get a rematch, but all we can control is what we can control.  Win these next 3 and get home vs. UK.  That’s all we can do.  Get to 11-1 and it doesn’t matter who we play in early December in the Dome.

Let me ask you an honest question.  Would you rather be in Bama’s shoes or our shoes?  Ole Miss stumbled on Saturday, but they’ve got LSU and A & M in Oxford.  Bama has to be perfect and hope they trip up.  I don’t think Ole Miss is THAT good, but I just watched a Mizzou team that wasn’t THAT good win the East because they refused to stub their toe for two straight years.  We still control our destiny.  Beat UT…then beat the next one.  The sky is not falling.  We lost a game…badly.  But we’d be in the same shoes record wise if it was a 2 point game.  It doesn’t matter.  Just win the next one.