Monday, October 30, 2017

The Exorcism

Welp…we’re a national powerhouse.  I suppose we all have to deal with it.  There’s no getting away from it.  We’re now 25 point favorites over a 6-2 team.  And 25 sounds about right because that’s about what we beat everyone by. 

Interesting scene and feel in Jacksonville.  The Gator fans knew what was coming, and their side was only about 75% full at kickoff.  The first 7-8 minutes of the game were so fast and furious it was almost unbelievable.  Most of us were in shock.  We’d never really experienced that.  But we had gotten up 20-0 in 2013.  The most impressive thing to me is Kirby’s ability to keep the hammer down in these games.  I don’t know if that’s scheme or mentality.  I just know we’re better at it than ever before.

As for Jake, after it was 21-0, I was thinking, “Why throw the ball?”  The only way that thing was going to end up tight was for us to make some stupid mistakes, as it him getting sacked and fumbling or throwing picks.  The narrative is that we will need to throw the ball.  But, I think I’ve seen that we can.  We did against MSU.  We did against Mizzou.  There’s no need to if we don’t need to.  We’re not trying to prove a point.  We’re trying to win games and keep leads safe.  Up 21, the clock was our friend.  Now, what will we do in a game where we don’t jump up?  Well, we went score for score vs. Mizzou until we finally started stopping them.  Will Auburn make us throw it?  Maybe.  Statistically, Miss. St.’s D is much better than Auburn’s in basically every category.  In Total D, they’re 6 & Auburn is 13.  We’re 3rd.  Now, that MSU D couldn’t really slow down us or Auburn.  But, the point is that this is far and away the best D Auburn has faced, but maybe not us.  MSU’s is statistically better and ND is a better rushing Defense by 8 spots.  And ND has played UGA, Mich. St, USC, and NCSU…4 pretty good teams. 

South Carolina is 107th in total offense and we’re #3 in total defense.  They shouldn’t score much.  They just shouldn’t.  I’m succumbing to the numbers. We’re just waaaaay better.  I’ve got to own and embrace it.  You do, too.

Florida notes:
·       So happy for our 5 big seniors.  They deserved this and all played well.
·       Trenton Thompson makes a huuuuuge difference on the DL.
·       No one is talking about how we’re surviving (well, that’s a bad word…we’re thriving) on D without Natrez.  One more game.
·       I don’t know what was going on w/ the delay of game penalties.  The refs were screwing up the clock there.  The first time, I find it hard to believe we got 25 full seconds.  We barely had any time.  Maybe we were slow.  But BOTH times, the game clock was moving after the penalty.  Uh…I don’t think that’s the way this works, elsewise the way to run out the clock is to keep getting penalties.  The game clock does not start back after the penalty. 
·       Nick Chubb still hasn’t seen the field in the 4th qtr since South Bend.  Seriously, I expect our skill guys to be very fresh down the stretch.
·       JR Reed continues to climb up my favorites list.
·       I do wonder what will happen to us in a close game.  It’s going to come at some point.

2 things:  No one could have predicted this, especially with Eason getting hurt vs. App.  This wasn’t the plan, per se, but it sure has worked out.  Jake seems to be the leader this team needs.  Maybe it will bite us as ‘too conservative’ at some point, or maybe he’ll be Buck Belue.  But, But BUT!!!!  This wasn’t THAT complicated, was it.  I love Mark Richt.  I really do.  I wanted him to stay as our coach.  But, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why he couldn’t figure out what any fan that knows a little football knew about this program 3 years ago.  We didn’t need to fix THAT much, but we HAD to fix it if we were going to compete:

Ø  Lock down the in-state talent.  Check.
Ø  Develop a competent offensive line.  Check.
Ø  Structure you’re team around these fantastic backs.  Check.
Ø  Play nasty defense with more press man coverage.  Check.  (We were getting there with Pruitt)
Ø  Improve special teams.  Huuuuge Check.
Ø  Discipline.  Stop jumping off-sides and getting stupid penalties.  Stop yapping at the other team during warm-ups.  Check.
Ø  Keep your foot on the gas and blow teams out.  Check.

It surely is a lot of improvement, but it wasn’t like it was that difficult to diagnose.  Maybe it was difficult to do.  Maybe the last 2 are the culture changes that had to happen with a new staff.  I love what Kirby has done, and he’s got a chance to be around for a long time and we’re going to watch some good football.  Our captains, Sony, Ro, and Wynn looked like robots coming out onto the field.  There’s no drama or chatter.  We’re about that business.  Talk with your helmets.

And, yes, we CAN beat Alabama.  But beat South Carolina first.  Sanford is going to be fun on Saturday.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Florida Week - Just Thinking

You know, just thinking....

-This was supposed to be Florida’s easy year.  They played BOTH West opponents at home.  They have UT, LSU, tAMu, and FSU all at home.  Boy, to blow that home schedule.  Imagine if we had Tennessee, Auburn, tAMu, and Tech all at home?

-This is our murderers row schedule.  We have road games at ND, UT, Auburn & Tech.  Next year, we have a MUCH easier slate, with 3 true cupcakes and all our rivals at home.  We go to Baton Rouge and Columbia.

It’s early in the week, but there is no logical reason this game should be close.  Florida is in the middle or bottom half of nearly every meaningful statistical team category.  They are 6th in total defense (which is what we imagine is their strength).  That is against the vaunted offenses of Michigan, Tennessee, and Vandy.  By contrast, MSU is 3rd in total defense with a schedule that includes UGA, Bama and Auburn, which include 1, 3 & 4 in Total offense in the league. 

Florida’s defensive prowess might be a mirage.  It’s hard to imagine how they move the ball.  They punt it well.  That’s about all you can say. 

We are way better than this team, guys.  What has Kirby Smart done to me?  I want to be worried, but nothing rational makes me worried.  It makes no sense.  It’s the Cocktail party.  We’re supposed to be spooked.  I’m trying to convince myself to be spooked. 

I’m worried about tipped ball, a blocked punt, and DB falling down.  That’s how this has to go.  ‘Cause if we just line up and play, we’re going to throttle them.

40 ain’t enough.  I want 50.  52-3.  That’s what I want.  I want Jacob Eason throwing a TD to Jayson Stanley with 4 minutes left. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We Don’t Need Any Help. Just Win.

It's hard to keep dominating.  But, I’m not sure I’ve seen anything like this.  I saw some games in ’82, but I don’t remember anything.  It feels like the way things ended in ’02, ’07 and almost ’12.  You know, we just sort of got on a roll to end those years and dominated our rivals and bowl games. 

But we’ve come out of the gate doing this and put ourselves in position.  I keep thinking about what is in hand – the possibility of walking out of Everbank Field undefeated.  We did that in ’68 (had two ties), ’71, ’80 and ’82, but most of us reading this don't remember it.

Florida has done that in ’95 (Sanford), ’96, and ’09.  That should tell you something.  In the last 50 years, a team has walked out of the cocktail party undefeated and untied only 6 times.  The results?  Played for 4 National championships, Won 2 national championships.  4 SEC titles.  ’09 Florida lost to Bama.  ’71 Dawgs lost to Auburn and Bama was undefeated in conference.  The ’68 team won the SEC, incidentally.

So, walk out of Jax with a victory and there’s a 2/3 chance you’re playing for the natty.  Them’s just numbers.  Of course, that means nothing.  It does mean it is, indeed, historic. We don’t need any help.  We just need to win.  And that’s nice.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Showed Me

Well, I didn’t necessarily like being right in the first quarter.  I thought after the UT game that one of the next two would be closer than we liked.  After Vandy, I was trying to convince myself I was wrong.  Eventually, you just get beat on a play.  Somebody makes a play or two.  That’s what happened.  We made a mistake and they got an easy 7 from the 5 on a great play call.  And we won by 25.  As we broke 30 in the 2nd quarter, I was thinking how we couldn’t score 30 for the last 2 seasons.  Like, we literally couldn’t do it. We scored 30 FOUR times last year:  UNC, Tennessee, Lafayette and TCU.  The most we scored was 35 vs. Lafayette.  In 2015, after the Tennessee game, we didn’t score 30 all year.  So, it’s fun to score.  Touchdowns remain fun.

BTW side note:  Washington didn’t turn the ball over 1 time vs. ASU Saturday night.  They just couldn’t move the ball.

Jake Fromm is 6th in the nation in Passing Efficiency.  And I had a thought…right now, who’s you’re all conference 1st and 2nd team All- SEC?  I guess Hurts is All-SEC by default, though he hasn’t been overly impressive.  Is Fromm 2nd team?  I mean, Stidham is in the running, but they’ll get their chance against one another.  I’m not sure with their record if Patterson makes it on any lists.

I really feel bummed for Jacob Eason, because I’m so appreciative of what he did for our team last year (virtually carrying it) and the work I know he put in over the summer.  I hope his time at UGA is a positive for him.  It’s clear that we’ve GOT to dance with Jake for the next 3 ½ years.  The kid’s got IT.  I don’t know what IT is, but he has a moxie about him that is apparent.  I keep saying he reminds me of Zeier more than anyone else.  It’s like if Eric Zeier had played with a defense.  The pick didn’t phase him, and it shouldn’t have if you have the right mindset.  It’s clear the kids are buying into him.  And the zone read at opportune times is darn near impossible to defend.  I have no doubt that we could have been (and probably would have been) 7-0 with Eason.  But we’re not.  And, I’ve shifted in recent weeks to gain more confidence in #11.  With the game on the line, I think I trust him now.  We were at 21 all and in a little bit of a dogfight and he slung it around beautifully.  He’s a gamer.

Saw someone worried about the Gators say that it reminded them of ’02.  Undefeated in 2nd year of coach headed to play a beleaguered Gator team.  It’s entirely possible it happens.  A difference I’d see is a few things:

1.        That ’02 team lived on the edge the whole first half.  We beat Clemson, South Carolina, Bama and Tennessee by the hair on our chinny-chin-chin.  We had come out smelling good in close games and were kind of due to lose one.
2.       That Florida team had Rex Grossman, who probably should have won the Heisman Trophy in 2001.  They were 2 years removed from an SEC title.  They were still very, very dangerous offensively.

This Gator team is not.  I think (if we get most of our guys back) they are going to have a very difficult time moving the ball.  I also think we’re going to play with a boatload of confidence, and they are going to have some unfounded confidence.  I’d guess their mindset is, “Well, we always beat Georgia down there, so we’ll take care of business as usual.”  I don’t think there’s anything about Roquan and his band of Savages that is business as usual. 

My biggest fear is that we get into a dogfight and don’t kind of tense up in the pressure of a tight game.  I mean, we haven’t been in one since South Bend, which pretty much feels like last season.  I think we’re going to throttle them, that we’ll be focused and ready, and that it’s more likely we’re in a tight one the following week vs. the ‘Cocks.  But it is Florida.  We’ve beaten them a handful of times over the years.  ’04 was fun but by 7.  ’07 was fun but tight all the way through till the end.  ’11-’13 were all very, very tight.  ’97 turned into a route late, but they had taken the lead in the 3rd Quarter.  We owe them an epic beat-down where they don’t stand a chance the entire game and they know and we know it and everyone watching knows it.  They’ve given a few of those to us in the Spurrier and Meyer years.  It’s our time.

Friday, October 13, 2017

6 and O....Rare Air

Hard to believe we’re 6-0 w/ 7-0 staring us right in our face.  It’s a very bizarre feeling to be universally respected nationally.  Defense sells.  When people see a suffocating Defense, it’s more difficult to figure out ways you’re going to lose.  Saturday will be interesting to see how our secondary response to a test.

I believe Kirby Smart is a really, really good football coach, and he’s going to get tested this 2nd season.  Our QB situation is so crazy in a million ways.  There’s no doubt at this point, Fromm is the guy to carry the torch for now, but Kirby also HAS to think about the future, and that means Auburn, and that means 2018.  I think the tricky part is this:  how short is Fromm’s leash?  What if we go 3 & out, pick, 3 & out in Jax?  

The other part of the equation is what does he think in necessary going forward.  My MIND tells me we’re going to need to be able to throw the ball to win big, but Alabama didn’t really have to do it last year for Bama.  Hurts averaged 185 yds/game last year through the air.  Jake is averaging 139/gm.  That’s not THAT far off.  Hurts used his legs more, but we also have way more elite backs than Bama had last year.  Bama went 14-0 with that formula before losing to Clemson.

Right now, Hurts is averaging 145/game, right in line w/ Jake.  There’s some smart Bama fan asking the same thing we are:  “Can we beat Georgia without putting the ball in the air?”  Though Eason is a much more elite passer than Jake or Hurts, Jake is still light years ahead of Hurts as a passer.  He’s also light years ahead of the kid from Clemson.  I THINK we’re going to need a different formula moving forward, but maybe not.

But Kirby knows more than I do.  I’m interested to see a few things:

·       How short is Jake’s leash?  (and will we even know?  It’s entirely possible we don’t even see him struggle – ever – because we don’t put him in position to).  
·       As Jacob gets healthier, will we mix him in with the 1s?  I’d love to see him w/ nick, sony and the receivers.  If we can get up 17-0 or 21-0 Saturday early, I really wish we’d put him in, if nothing else to give him a little confidence.
·       If Fromm is the guy for the season, is there any way Kirby can convince Jacob to stay and compete?  I do believe that Kirby would give him an honest change in the spring.  I just think that’s the way he rolls.

Go Dawgs!