Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Broyles Award finalists:
Jeremy Pruitt - Alabama
Brent Venables - Clemson
Jim Leavitt - Colorado
Don Brown - Michigan
Matt Canada – Pitt
Can we get a do-over on hiring the Pitt OC?  They’ve averaged 42 PPG.  10th in the country.  That’s a lot. 
Like I said, I’m in the ambivalent camp with Chaney.  I can see it both ways and don’t know which way to lean.  But I can’t say I’d be disappointed at hiring this guy.  First time since 1990 we didn’t crack over 40 points in a game.
I watched that ’90 team play a bunch of games.  That was one bad team.

'It was a microcosm of the season'

It was just yesterday we were at the Dome getting ready to kickoff against UNC.  They go by faster the older I get.  Losing Saturday was just awful, but it’s a game of inches, and we’re not a team right now, basically, that makes the plays on the right side of those inches.  It’s easy to blame Eason for throwing behind Godwin and Nauta.  It’s easy to nitpick at Chaney’s call on 2nd and 8.  But we also didn’t HAVE to let them score twice.  Kirby was right.  It was a microcosm of the season.
Alabama’s D has not let a team in the month of November get past the 10 yard line.  They have not given up a TD and if the field were 90 yards long, they still would not have given up a TD.  They have played LSU, Miss. St., Chattanooga and Auburn.  They beat LSU 10-0.  Can you even fathom that?  The best team we’ve had in the last 10 years beat #2 17-9 because we had a D that would shut you down and force turnovers in the red zone.
This year, we’re 127 out of 128 in FBS red zone defense.  Teams have scored 29 TDs in 37 trips.  There is a lot that needs fixing in Athens.  It’s just where we are.  We do not have a roster full of guys that believe they can and will make the play to win the game.  They lack confidence, and maybe that’s because they’ve seen it go haywire too often.
And we are here, in many respects because the SEC has lost its ever-living mind.  Nick Saban has made us lose our minds.  I know that because LSU fired the winningest coach in school history and we fired a guy who reeled off 10-win seasons in his sleep (and he very well may have been asleep for a good portion of the last two seasons).  We’re an impatient bunch, but it is what it is.  And there’s no looking back with buyer’s remorse, and most folks just don’t get it.  Miles and Richt had both run their course.  I left Jax in 2015 knowing we HAD to make a change.  Perhaps I didn’t know how painful that would end up being.  I think the criticism at our process to get Kirby is ridiculous.  If you know who you want, get them.  Had I been asked who I’d have liked us to interview among current head coaches who I thought we ‘might’ could sway from their schools, I’d have said:  Dantonio, Shaw, Fedora, Kelly @ ND, Helfrich and maybe Herman and Fuente, though I’m not a fan of hiring coaches at small schools who have no roots or experience in SEC country.  Those are some darn good coaches who have led their teams to Conference titles, CFP playoff births and BCS births.  They went:
Dantonio:  3-9
Shaw:  9-3
Fedora:  8-4 (w/ a loss to Kirby)
Kelly:  4-8
Helfrich:  4-8
Herman lost to SMU, Navy and Memphis.  Fuente had a sterling debut at VT, going 9-3 and winning his division.  The point is 4 of those 5 coaches had proven recently they could do something Richt couldn’t do recently:  win a Power 5 conference title, go to BCS title game, go undefeated in the regular season, make the CFP playoff.  They went a combined 28-32 this year.  Simply, we could have hired them and it still could have gone sideways this season.  3 of them aren’t going to bowls in the programs they’ve spent years establishing.  We had to make a change, and with change comes pain.  We…are in pain.
Honestly, as much as we’d like, there’s not much data you can pull from first seasons that tell us a lot.  Had Kirby gone 10-2 this year, we’d feel great, but Malzahn proved to us that first year success doesn’t mean sustained success.  Everyone talks about Saban’s 7-6 campaign at Bama (6-6 regular season).  But he also went 7-4 at LSU, and 6-4-1 at Mich. St.  Richt was 8-4 through the bowl, and I left Nashville in 2001 scratching my head at what I just saw.  8 months later we lit the SEC on fire.  Mack Brown was 1-10 his first year at UNC.  What we can say is that 1st seasons for a HC are like introductions to their book.   Next season is chapter 1 and it started yesterday on the recruiting trail.  You know how had the #1 and #2 classes in 2013, for what is now senior classes?  Alabama and Ohio St.  I also think we knew that a little.  Would feel better if we were 9-3 (and probably going to the Sugar Bowl) had we slow played Eason with a series here and there and basically let Lambert manage the team?  We threw the kid to the wolves, and we’ll be better off for it.  And for those thinking Fromm might push Eason for playing time.  No, just no.  No more QB carousel. 
I don’t know what to do about Chaney.  It’s not my job.  We’re not terrible.  And there are a lot worse.  I trust Kirby.  I promise you Kirby wants to score more than 24/game.
Go Dawgs!  On to Music City!

Monday, November 21, 2016

We Run This State

Here we are at Hate Week.  Man, it goes by fast.  It was nice to breathe on Saturday during a game.  I am already recognizing the feeling of Saturday morning’s arrival in the pit of my stomach.  Basically, I’m miserable the entire Tech game unless we get up by 3 TDs.  Can you believe we won 13-7 last year.  We scored 1 TD against them.  That really happened.  I do have a feeling that Eason is going to light them up.  I also have a feeling that Sony and Nick are going to go off.  I think they both remember the mistakes they made at home in ’14.
My main worry is the D.  How will Kirby approach that offense?  As for this past Saturday, I’ll just be sad when Isaiah is gone.  In all my life, I’ve never had the feeling I get when a Georgia player gets the ball.  You know why he thinks he might score every time he touches it?  Because he just might.  His vision and cutting ability are off the charts.  Maybe the best I’ve ever seen.  But don’t let anybody fool you, that joker is fast in the open field in a straight line, too.  Really, really, really fast.  Thought Eason looked good.  We played super vanilla everywhere.  We HAD to play the 2s on D to get them some work late.  Hopefully that experience will pay off down the road.  Brooke Whitmire offered up a complete FAIL with Greyson Lambert.  No announcement whatsoever that he was in the game.  Thought the kid deserved more.  And I can’t help but wonder what this season might have looked like had we played Deandre Baker from the start. 
Was thinking about something recently that really is the sticking point with every UGA fan, and it will be our perpetual problem until it’s not.  Someone said upon Stanfill’s death that he was on our Mt. Rushmore.  I got to thinking and thought, “Nah, not quite.”  But, that made me think who is.  4 guys for each program.  I don’t think it’s much of a debate for most teams, and it’s certainly not for us:  Dooley, Sinkwich, Trippi, and Herschel.  National titles, multiple SEC titles, Heisman Trophies, sugar bowl and rose bowl MVPs.  But think of Florida:  Spurrier, Wuerffel, Meyer, and Tebow.  Heismans, SECs, and Natties.  It’s a no brainer, right?  Bama:  Bear, Saban, Ingram, Henry.  Only 2 heisman winners.  All-time coaches.  You MIGHT could pick a LB from the past to put in there, but I don’t know.  Auburn:  Bo, Cam, Shug Jordan and Pat Sullivan.  Clemson:  Ford, Swinney, DeShaun, LB Terry Kinard.  Heck, even South Carolina:  Spurrier, George Rogers, Connor Shaw, and probably either Clowney or Lattimore.
Our rivals’ best years and greatest players have been in the last 20-25 years.  Many have been in the last 10.  Championships have been won.  National titles have been won and played for.  There are some positives here.  We have a long and storied history of excellence.  Sinkwich was the first player from the South to win the Heisman.  Many of those teams weren’t winning much in the 40s.  We were.  Herschel is at such an elite level, he ain’t ever coming off.  Dooley will be hard to knock off, as he coached 25 years…but the first coach to 2 natties and he’s gone. 
This is our frustration.  As much as I love Champ, Pollack, Greene, Knowshon, Murray, Richt, Gurley and Chubb…They’re not on there.  They’re just not.  The greatest players and greatest seasons in school history happened 35 and 70 years ago.  For all the incredible success Richt had, this was the ultimate shortcoming.  My hope for Kirby and his tenure is that he’d knock Dooley off the mountain, and find/coach a player that knocks Trippi off.  I’d be delighted if by 2021 we said:  Smart, Herschel, Sinkwich and Eason.
It’s possible.  That kid is very, very, very good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

That Was Fun!

Man, it’s been a long, long time since we walked out of that stadium THAT satisfied.  I’d say since 2014 Auburn, and that was marred by the injury to Todd.  It feels good to feel good about the program. 
It all drives me kind of nuts when fans, and especially the media, create narratives based on 60-70% of a completed project.  That’s just not the way sports work.  The most common fallacy in all of sports is that a team or individual will keep doing what they’ve done.  Sometimes they do (see:  Jay Cutler).  Often times they don’t, especially college kids.  You can’t write a narrative about a series when the Cavs and Cubs are down 3-1 because the series isn’t over.  And 8 games in this season wasn’t over.  I’ve just watched too many seasons like 2006 and 2011 to know a team can bounce back.  And I’ve seen enough teams like the 2008 team that are talented but seem disinterested, which might apply to Clemson 2016.  Anyway, it was fun, and a couple things stuck out:
·       I think Kirby Smart knows what he’s doing.  I never saw a Muschamp-in-the-making.  He’s not berserk on the sidelines at referees and doesn’t embarrass kids.  Moreover, he never seemed over his head.  He knew immediately when he’d made a mistake, like at the end of the half at South Carolina.  He’s getting better and better.  The draining of the clock at the end was perfect.  We had to run that last play on first down to take an extra 3-4 seconds off the clock before kneeling.  BTW, that also got Nick over 100.
·       Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker know what they’re doing.  The D is starting to take a form that we’ve never quite seen in Athens.  I re-watched the game.  Besides that one scoring drive, they didn’t really do much the entire game.  They went away from the run because they weren’t gashing us, and Gus didn’t have the patience for 3-4 yards at a time.  Our coverage in the secondary was something to behold.  I remember watching Lambert drop back vs. Bama last year and thinking, “Good Lord, no one is open…at all.”  It looked eerily similar.
·       Gotta give Chaney credit.  We’re getting better.  The plan was well designed.  I thought we should have thrown down there on first and second down in the fourth, but we won the game.  We moved the ball all day.  I think he’s seeing things better up top. I can’t imagine we’ll change that.  I also saw a good mix of throwing the kitchen sink at them.  5 wide, I-formation, 1 back, 2 TE.  We’re hard to gameplan against, and Nauta and Woerner are going to make it so for a long, long time.
·       We are ridiculously young and talented at a lot of positions, and man, that #8 sure does remind me from time to time of…okay, I won’t say it.
·       I cannot believe how little talk is really surrounding Eason.  Maybe it will come in the offseason.  The dude is scary good.  I’ll say it.  He’s the best true freshman QB I’ve ever seen doing what we ask him to do, which is essentially be an NFL QB.  Watching the replay, boy Gary is going to loooooooove him some Eason.  He made some ridiculous throws.  Danielson was talking about how the DBs think they’re in position but the ball gets there too quickly and they can’t react.  We have GOT to get some more stud WRs to play w/ that kid.
·       Speaking of QBs, the most fascinating thing to me about college football is the culture that surrounds programs over decades and multiple coaches.  When’s the last time Auburn had a competent passing QB that scares you the way Murray, Stafford, Shockley, Greene and Eason scare you?  Heck, even a Hutson Mason?  I guess Brandon Cox had a fling where he was okay.  I couldn’t think of one besides him.  Campbell never really scared you with his arm.  Cadillac and Ronnie is what scared you.  It can change.  Eric Zeier changed UGA football forever.
On a final note, this floors me.  For the last 11 years, this is Auburn’s record against their 4 biggest rivals/best conference foes that they play every year:
UGA:  2-9
Bama:  4-7 (assuming a Bama win this year)
LSU:  4-7
Arkansas:  5-6
This is ours:
Auburn:  9-2
UT:  6-5
Fla:  4-7
Tech:  9-2
And that team up top has won 2 SEC titles, won 1 and played for 2 national championships in the last 11 years.  We have ZERO SEC titles and ZERO national championship game appearances. 
Auburn is why college football must hate me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

An Open Letter to the Whiny Media

I am as avid a Bulldog Fan as there is – we all are – and there is not one piece of information for which they are fishing that I care about.  I do not care about how much we spent on a recruiting trip or a helicopter.  I do not care that we don’t get to talk to Jacob Eason.
There is an entitlement with sports press these days that is kind of disgusting.  How about do your job.  Call Jacob Eason’s dad and high school coach.  Call his high school teammates.  Ask Matthew Stafford what he thinks about UGA’s true freshman QB if you want to do a story on him.  You know, like, work.
How about ask hard questions in the Monday press conference that UGA wants to know about:
·       It seemed like there were less tackles for loss and better offensive movement with Wynn at LT.  Can we expect to see him play there the rest of the season, especially since that’s where it seems he’ll play next year?
·       Why haven’t we seen more of Holyfield?
·       It seems the offense is moving better with Sony in there now…why is that?
·       Has there been any thought to running 2-minute type hurry-up in the middle of games from time to time as Jacob seems to excel at that?
·       Why does Reggie Carter play on first down so much when it seems clear Patrick and Smith are the starting LBs?
·       When will we see more of Mecole Hardman?  Why haven’t we tried him on offense?
·       Why have we struggled in kickoff coverage so much throughout the season?
·       We obviously want to build a physical down-hill game, but even Alabama has operated w/ more spread elements this year to match their talent, what’s his take on utilizing what you’ve got?
·       Jim Chaney’s offenses in the past haven’t really scored a lot of points, and UGA isn’t this year.  In an era in which points scored are rapidly increasing, does Chaney’s track record and this season’s results give you pause for what you’re trying to do offensively?
·       For years fans screamed for a special teams coach.  Now we have one and there’s a weekly special teams gaffe that costs or nearly costs the team the game.  What’s the explanation there?  Davis is a senior and McKenzie is a Junior. It’s not youth.
There you go.  I just wrote you 5 articles guys!  I don’t want to know about helicopters or salaries.  I want to know about THAT.  But those questions will get you a stern eye from the Kirbs, and it won’t be easy and comfortable.  Welcome to the real world.  Life ain’t easy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Where We Are

You know, I update my lock screen on my computer to really the player of the game or defining play from a win.  I’m sort of tired of looking at Sony vs. South Carolina.
How in the world did we get to 4-4?  How in the world do we get out of this hole?  After a few days, a few things are clear.
·       A performance like this always brings out the yahoos.  This morning Steak Shapiro had the yahoo come out in him, suggesting that he’s disappointed in Eason and that he hasn’t developed.  What in the world is he watching?  It felt like a comment bashing Bobo back in the day.  A caller blasted him on it.  Jake is the least of our problems.  The Florida coach knows it, too.  Speaking of Bobo, remember when we’d all complain about this play call or that play call after we’d scored 35 points?  Fun times.
·       This is life with a true freshman QB.  It just is, unless you are supremely loaded in other areas.  I’ve seen us start a few of them, and I’ve learned my lesson.  We were 6-7 with Aaron Murray, and he had a junior AJ Green to throw to the last 2/3 of the season.  We still lost to an awful Colorado team.  We still lost to Central Florida and did not score a TD in the game.  I saw us start Matt Stafford in a season and lost to Vandy and Kentucky in 1 season.  And we darn near lost to that same terrible Colorado team, too.  In 2001, we Greenie had Terrance Edwards, Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown in his 3 WR set, and George Foster and Jon Stinchcomb at tackles, and Boss Bailey and Tony Gilbert at LB, Charles Grant at DE.  We didn’t need David to do much, but he did enough.  We still lost 4 games.  Bottom line is that even Richt and Bobo, the QB whisperers, struggled with Freshmen QBs (and even first year starters, to some extent). 
·       I’m incredibly frustrated by Chaney.  I listened to Kirby’s presser today, and I sense he is, too.  But, I keep coming back to Kyle Shanahan.  He was awful with the Falcons last year, and they couldn’t score.  1 center (Alex Mack) and 1 year later, and they’re the best offense in the league, and Matt Ryan might win the MVP.  An offensive lineman and a season can go a long way.  Kirby doesn’t do much w/ the O.  He’s going to let an OC run the show.  That means if we bring in a new guy, we’re going to have seniors learning new terminology for the 4th time in 4 years.  I really, really, really, really don’t want to have to fire him.  I also don’t know who we’d get.  Randy Sanders at FSU, maybe?  BTW, it’s clear that Richt made the mistake that cost him his job with Schotty.  Clemson lost Chad Morris put replaced him with insiders and kept the same system. 
·       I’m not sure the ADs care because they’re counting their money from the city of Jax, but we need to rethink that thing.  There were a lot of empty seats on both sides.  We had probably 6 next to us and others around us that never filled.  I think, culturally, every year it has become a grind.  I contend that jax-athens-jax-gainesville would be great.  Every senior would get a home game, a road game and get to play in jax twice.
We are in a terrible predicament, and frankly have been.  It’s so easy for fans outside the program or even fringe UGA fans to scoff now because we fired a coach that had won 10 games.  It was, painfully, time.  We wouldn’t have signed Ridley or Simmons at WR.  We wouldn’t have signed Herrien or David Marshall.  We wouldn’t have Mo Smith.  We’d have Bailey Hockman committed at QB and not Jake Fromm.
My immediate concern is that we’re no fun at all right now.  We’ve been a hard team to watch for a season and a half.  The last time we all felt really, really good was vs. South Carolina last year.  We felt good vs. UNC this year, but it was so short lived.  It’s just a painful bunch to watch.  We desperately need something fun to happen with the team.  That goes without saying.  A great showing in a victory vs. what will be a top-10 Auburn team would go a long way for the team.
My longer term concern is that it’s going to take a while to fix our O-line, like at least till 2018.  I’m wondering if we’re going to go after a JUCO tackle.  As bad as it is, one great tackle would make a world of difference.  An offensive line is like a basketball team.  You don’t need 5 stars.  You need 2 stars (that can handle one on one and dominate), and 3 guys to play their roles.
I’m also wondering if we’re going to see some transfers after the season.  It’s just a bad spot to be.  We had to make a change.  I think we made the right change.  There is no magic bullet.  Herman looks like he’s still learning on the job and would have completely overhauled our system and has no experience in Southern culture.  But this was just going to happen.  Donnan went 5-6 then went 10-2 the next year.  Richt went 8-4 then 13-1.  
Donnan had Auburn ’96.  Richt had Tennessee and Tech ’01.  Kirby could sure use Auburn and Tech ’16.