Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How Do You Build Rome ?

It’s Tennessee week, so better get your mind right.

There wasn’t much that went right about our trip to Oxford, but the Grove was nice.  I realized something during the game.  I realized how emotionally and spiritually invested I was in Mark Richt.  I’m part of an interesting generation of Dawg fans.  Dooley was the coach of my childhood.  I saw Herschel play, and remember many hard nosed games (and wins) with great defense and Tate, Worley, and Hampton.  We never really had a QB in the 80s.  We didn’t need one.  Goff and Donnan came in my teens and college years, and I was incredibly invested, but it was different than Vince.  Vince was honored.  They were not.  No one was really invested in them.

Then came Richt, the coach of my adulthood.  But Richt did so much that was so important so early, he became so engrained in the fabric of every dawg fan.  It had been 20 years since we won the SEC.  He won it.  Gracious, we had not beaten UT in Knoxville since #34 ran over Bates and we made it commonplace.  We finally be Florida.  Then we beat Florida 3 times in a row.  We beat Auburn 8 of 10 times.  We boat-raced them several times.  We went to 3 Sugar Bowls when I wasn’t sure we were ever going to go to one again.  We beat UT 5 times in a row.  We owned Tech the way we should for 15 years.  And he was a darn good man, and when we lost, it hurt because you knew how good of a man he is and was.  Every decent UGA fan wanted Richt to win.  The losses that looked a lot like Saturdays became yearly happenings, though.  It had to happen.

Kirby was hired on to do something different.  It’s going to take time.  Everything is new.  We’re on our 3rd OC in 3 years, and our senior defenders are playing for their 3rd DC.  We are struggling in so many spots due to complete recruiting misses for several years.  Think about our WRs.

Stanley, Chigbu and Godwin are all Sophomores.
McKenzie is a Junior.
Reggie Davis is our lone senior.  That’s for real.  And we know Reggie’s deal.

We’re playing 4 TEs, a junior, sophomore and 2 freshmen.

Briscoe is a sophomore.  Mauger is the only senior in the secondary.  We’re starting two sophomores and LB.  

We have a true freshman QB.

We have a freshman punter.  We have no kicker, but the kid that kicked Saturday is a redshirt freshman.

We have been so messed up, that we have had to have transfer stop gaps at multiple key starting positions in the last 2 years (Lambert at QB, Ganus at LB, Smith at Star, and Catalina at LT).  When you have to do that, you’ve had a mess.  Think “Florida QB position” when you think about transfers coming in to help.

On the flip side, the losses from those teams are tremendous.  Detric Bing-Dukes was the leading tackler for Ole Miss on Saturday.  Think of a defense that includes Dukes at LB, Shaq Wiggins at Corner and Trey Matthews at Safety.  That is supposed to be our defense in 2016, with Matthews and Wiggins being 4 yr starters.  

But there is hope.  The Kid can flat out play, and he is going to have a moment (Mizzou wasn’t it) where he absolutely lights up a team.  We are going to get running yards.  I believe we have played the 3 best passers we’ll play (Trubisky, Lock and Kelly).  Our secondary and D will magically look better on Saturday, and then they’ll look fantastic the next two weeks.  This UT team is no world beaters.  Dobbs still can’t throw, nothing like those three kids can, and Malone is good, but they don’t have 3-4 like UNC, Mizzou and Ole Miss had.  Defensively, they do not have up front what we’ve faced the last 2 weeks.  And we ran the ball ‘okay’ vs. Ole Miss.

The message this week is somehow survive a home game.  Guys, if we somehow pull it out, we’re 6-1 headed into the off week and WE are the ones who control our destiny because we’re 2-0 vs. Mizzou and UT.  Mizzou is going to give Florida and/or UT fits.  That’s all we want.  My goal is win the next 5.  WIN THE NEXT 5.  Go 6-0 in the east, and we win this thing.  I’m not sure we even have to beat Auburn.  We’d have head to head over Florida and they’d have 2 losses, and there’s no way UT survives A&M, Bama and Mizzou w/o another loss.  Mizzou has LSU, Arky, Florida and UT.  

In 2012, we went to Columbia and got absolutely blasted.  It was 35-0 before I knew it.  We scored a garbage TD with Ken Malcom late to avoid a shut-out.  That team flipped a switch.  I’m hoping Kirby can do just that.  But this is going to take a while to build Rome.  We just need to find a way Saturday.  I expect us to play good.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Show Me

Will Mizzou ever stop wearing those awful yellow jerseys against us?  

It was something.  It was a huge moment in game 3.  It is funny to me how people react.  We wait all summer for the season, and then we complain about the season.  We’re 3-0, and we’ll take that.  The truth is we don’t know anything.  UNC might very well go 10-2.  I think that Mizzou team is good.  At the end of the year, we might all believe Mizzou is better than Ole Miss.  It’s hard to win games.  And we won a tough one.

It was truly a bizarre game in that I felt like we should be up by 2 scores and at the same time literally could not believe we’d won.  I almost thought we’d forgotten how to pull one of those out.  I’m delighted we did.

·       The runs seemed forced to so many, but we kept time of possession in a game we desperately needed to.  We also had a lot of 2nd and 7s instead of 2nd and 10.  That would bode well for us on 3rddowns.  Speaking of which…
·       Jacob Eason…3rd down machine.
·       Loved that Lambert was the first to Eason as he came to the sideline.  I don’t know why, by people kind of lose their minds when thinking about sports and assume people are some kind of egotistical robots.  They’re not.  These are these guys’ best friends.  If I was on Andy Stanley’s staff, I wouldn’t be thinking I should preaching more than him.  Lambert knows what we all know, and I’m super proud of him.  We might need him at some point this year.
·       With Sony still getting back, we’re just starting to see the offense.  Because of Eason’s development, I really think it’s going to be about another week or two before we can really pin down who we are.
·       At what point, though, will teams back off?  Will Eason have to hit that bomb?  Will 55 passes force Ole Miss to do it?
·       At the end of the day, the D didn’t play that bad.  Quietly, we just started getting stop after stop and turnover after turnover.  We gave them some field position on KO and the pick, but they really hit 2-3 big plays.  The two games against quality teams, I feel like we’ve done that – gathered our feet and shut the door defensively.
·       I am kicking this week.  It’s been a while, but I’m warming up.  There is a sense of glee from me toward the morons who have exclaimed for 15 years that a kicking coach and special teams coach is all we needed to fix our woes.  We have the potentially the greatest college kicker coaching our kids and the son of the greatest special teams mind in modern football coaching special teams – and we can’t make a kick and have made a weekly tradition of kick catch interference.  Kids.  Are.  Dumb.
·       I was worried a little about Nick.  Was he dinged up, not 100%.  Mostly I thought he was gassed after the UNC game getting back into game shape.  That may still be true.  But when I saw he was hit in the backfield 12 of 19 carries.  You can’t do much with that.  I’ve got 99 UGA football problems, and #27 ain’t one.
·       I think Mizzou is going to give some teams some fits.  UT is going to have a hard time keeping up with them and I don’t think Dobbs can throw it 55 times to win it.

I have no idea what happens this week.  No idea.  Are they fragile or angry?  Are we finding our groove and learning to win or masking a lot of deficiencies.  I do believe we’re going to get better and better every week.  But I could see us getting blown out Saturday, and I could see us blowing them out.  I just really don’t know.  I’ve decided that you almost really have to get well into October before you know what a team is, but even then…any given Saturday.  I’m not convinced Ole Miss is great.  I predicted before the season they’d be 1-3 by the end of September.  I don’t trust Kelly, and they don’t have the stars to make the plays now that they had the last 2 years.  

BTW, if you didn’t hear or see the presser today, you probably should.  I happened to be coming back from a meeting when it was on.  I think it’s hilarious.  First, I love how he simply calls Eason “The Kid.”  I just don’t get the butt hurt over his testiness w/ the media.  Sunday School is over guys.  He’s all business.  And I don’t mind it.  I don’t think fans care.  I sure don’t.  Maybe y’all feel different.  Media obligations come with the large paycheck, but the truth is none of those guys have a clue what they’re talking about.  Like, literally they don’t know what they’re talking about.  You don’t hear former players ask the stupid questions.  They just don’t.  The bottom line is that the finest man to ever coach in college football won 10 games for 2 straight years and every guy in the media room wrote a story speculating and even suggesting his dismissal.  Nice guy and 10 wins isn’t enough in Athens.  So Kirby ain’t got time to be nice.  What will being nice get him?  What did being nice get Mark Richt?  Nothing.  Plus, it just makes it more fun to listen to.  And here’s the big secret:  I truly believe that it’s all calculated.  He wants the media to write about him and worry about this rather than research the team and write about the kids.

Oh, and I really love the QB for Louisville.  Awesome to watch him play.  But remember how we were convinced Fournette was the Heisman lock about week 4.  He didn’t even get invited to NYC.  Long, long season.  As the Dawgs say, Keep Swinging.

Go Dawgs!
Beat Ole Miss!
Chubb for Heisman!
Kirby/Eason '16

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Nicholls and Dime Ya

Well, glad that’s over.  That literally happened.  It was almost the worst loss in college football in quite some time – but it wasn’t.  At this point, that’s all that really matters.  College football is the most maniacal sport on planet earth because it’s played at such a high level (much higher than NCAA basketball and baseball) by college kids.  The sample sizes are so hard to figure because the season is so short.  For the life of me, still, I cannot figure out how the team that showed up in Lexington, KY in 2012 was the same team that showed up in Jax a fewweeks later.  

I do think first year coaches kind of have these moments, but all teams kind of do.  Our high powered offense in 2008 could barely score vs. a bad South Carolina team.  We won 14-7.  I know, I know.  Nicholls State is remarkably bad.  I’m not sure it matters on a given day like that.  Once you get in a funk it’s hard to get out of.  

I will say it was the most bizarre game I think I’ve ever attended.  I felt fine the whole game right up until Joystick fumbled.  That was the moment.  They didn’t dominate us or gash us.  They’re stats were meager and ours were okay.  We were even on turnovers.  We had less penalties (and only 3).  It was bizarre.  Nothing about the stats tell you the game should be close.  But there we were.   We couldn’t block them, and that was the whole dang story.  D wasn’t bad.  QBs were fine.  Punter punted good.  We just couldn’t block them.

I watched Kirby’s Q & A w/ the press today.  You’d do good to do that sometime.  His tone and words come across much differently than the way the writers write it out.  BTW, I’m so tired of the griping from the press about lack of coach and player availability.  Go cry a river and do your job.  It’s clear they get the QB situation.  He even said the reason Lambert isn’t talking to the media was “Greyson’s not our starter and leader.”  

I’m appalled by the number of people writing off Eason after Saturday.  One of the AJC guys said that he doesn’t appear to be as talented as Stafford.  He says that after 2 games and watching 10 minutes of practice 2 days/wk.  The kid, thus far, is far smoother than Stafford was at this point.  No way Matthew wins that UNC game back in the day.  Matthew could zip it like no other, but Eason is really close in arm strength.

The truth is we know nothing, but we’ll know a lot more by 11 p.m. Saturday.  I do contend that a 60-65 degree kickoff (which is what it will be there) will do our kids a world of good.  We looked a little dead legged.

On to Columbia.  Beat Mizzou!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Eat Mor Tarheel

Well, that was fun.  Let’s do it for 14 more.

·       It was an interesting atmosphere.  Dawg fans got really, really loud before the safety.  I’m sure I was more aware because of my lovely bride, but I saw more mixed couples or families than any other game I’ve ever been to.  I even saw several people with gear from both teams on.  The fans were very cordial.  It’s the same people groups.  I think that’s why it’s hard for us to really hate Bama.  Of the people that actually go to games, it’s the same people groups.  Most UNC fans had on a polo and/or Carolina blue pants or shorts.  I can respect that.
·       To describe Nick Chubb is impossible.  It’s a long season, and he needs to make it through it, but I’ll say it – I think he’s better than Todd.  I wasn’t sure I’d ever say that.  I thought Todd was the best back we’d had since Herschel, even better than Garrison, who I had considered the post-Herschel best before.  I think Nick’s better.  If he stays healthy, he might, MIGHT, sniff 2,000…because Coach Kirbs is going to give him the rock.
·       My Lord, is Charlie Woerner going to be some kind of football player.
·       After watching the tape, I’m not as worried about kicking as I was.  I know.  You’d like what I’m smoking.
·       Kimbrough probably made a good career decision.  He ain’t playing in front of those two jokers.
·       Mo Smith’s 2 deep ball break-ups were as good as I’ve ever seen a UGA DB do.
·       No one talks about this, but we really missed Christian Payne when he got injured last year. 
·       It will be fascinating to see where Herrien ends up once Sony and Elijah get back in the mix.  I was elated to see Kirby’s short leash with Douglas after the fumble.  The kid’s just not that good.  He’s had ball security issues his whole career and can’t hit a whole.  Good on Kirby to go to a more talented freshman in a big opening game.  It won the game.  The kid made huge runs, and there’s a good chance he’s our 4th string back.  That’s one of those decisions that I just don’t see Richt making.  He had gotten more and more conservative through his career.
·       I think I’m going to love our offense.  For our personnel, we did about all you can do…in game one!  I didn’t realize how many times we went empty until I watched the replay, and we only did it with Jacob.  Kudos to the staff for putting a package in to make him comfortable based on what he did in high school.  Who knew you could do that?  We were empty, 5-wide on the bomb to Joystick.  It won the game. 
·       We’ve gotta get 5 involved more.  I had heard he was in the doghouse a bit when I was at practice, but he’s still our most explosive player.  We need to unlock the doghouse.

I’m beyond excited about Kirby.  Watching the TV copy, I loved his coaching.  He coached.  I really believe his style is going to quickly become one of the most attractive in the nation.  There’s an edge without the disdain that Saban has.  He’s ridiculously intense but looks like he’s having fun.  Good for him.  Good for us.  Having said that, this week matters a lot.  We need to start the Seattle Slinger©.  It’s clear he’s a star in the making.  We can win the East this year, and we’re very capable of being 11-1 when we get there. Maybe we’ll see more holes as the season progresses and UT and Florida get better, but we’re very capable of going 11-1.  If we get there to play the Tide, they’ll have a true freshman QB, too, but they won’t have Nick Chubb.  We’ve gotta get our kid ready, ‘cause we’ll have to throw it to beat them.  That’s a loooooooooong way off, but we have to be thinking that way.  If we doesn’t start, fine.  He needs to come in early and get as many reps as possible.  It starts mattering in Columbia the next week.

Go Dawgs!
Chubb for Heisman!
Kirby/Eason ’16!