Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Thoughts on being the much, MUCH better Dawg in the fight

It’s hard to know where to start, and time is short for me this morning. But I know this - I can’t wait to rewatch this game!

Probably the best way to break down my thoughts this morning is in these three parts:

Crowd 
Loudest and involved Sanford’s crowd has been since 2013 LSU. Now as usual, a lot of that had to do with what was happening on the field, which was in a word, spectacular. And we’ll get to the coaches and the players in a minute. But whenever the crowd noise can impose its will on an opponent it’s with more than a mention.

The level of engagement matched the intensity on the field. (Well, except for the crew behind me that spent 10 minutes having everyone check under their seat for a phone that ended up being in one of their pockets. Hahaha) It was a night to remember as a fan of Georgia football.

Coaches
The score clearly indicates that MSU was out-played. But it doesn’t take much to realize that in between the lines to see that it was the Georgia coaches preparation and game plan that set the tone. From the perfect play call on our first offensive series to having an answer for everything they asked Nick Fitzgerald to do, it was quite a statement for Smart and his staff.

As amazing as the game plan and play calling were (and yes, it’s time we give Chaney a break y’all; even I can see he’s earned it) it’s the physicality and the discipline on the field that is just as nice to see.

Take this for instance:
“We play physical and we practice physical,” Bellamy said. “Sometimes you’ll be like, ‘Gosh, coach, we’re going full pads again?’ But on Saturdays it shows how physical we are and I think that’ll keep carrying over.”
We might be a long way from realizing our dreams since it’s still just September, but it’s clear something is going right in Athens with Georgia football.

Players
I think I would start with Deandre Baker. His game last night is a welcome sight considering all those years we suffered under Willie Martinez with defensive backs out of position and never, ever, ever turning to the ball to make a play (not to mention avoid the interference penalty). There were times when Fitzgerald made the right decision to throw Baker’s way, but it was never because 18 was out of position, just in single coverage.

And that interception was just a thing of beauty. The defensive front seven has earned every bit of praise and headline they’ve made, but it’s time the secondary earned some props. They held their own while Parrish was out, and now they are their own force to be reckoned with.

Offensively, anytime you can use the program’s second all time leading rusher as a lead blocker for a true freshman sensation, you’re living life right. Even though we have trouble running in between the tackles, Chaney is using the players he has to find production outside of that. On Chubb’s direct snap touchdown run, great downfield block by pulling Wynn into a hole that Jayson Stanley opened up.

Fromm had his best game thus far (and again you have to commend Chaney for putting a true freshman in good positions to make safe throws. Perhaps the experience of trying to do the same thing last year for Eason helped in that regard). He started by completing his first eight passes and ended up  4-5 for 143 yards on throws of 10+ yards. So it’s not just checking down and throwing the ball away.

And I’ll end with the execution on special teams. Nizialek (sp?) is amazing. He’s now averaging 44.5 yards per punt and the ball is up in the stratosphere forever! Blankenship wth six more kickoff and guess what? Six more touch backs. I cry tears of joy every time it happens. What a time to be alive!

And just like that it’s Tennessee week. Let’s go help the UT brass write out Butch’s pink slip!


Friday, September 22, 2017

the Friday Misery has bad news for Grantham's towel

A nun, a priest, and a rabbi walk into a bar in Starkville...

j/k Starkville has zero of those nouns.

Welcome to Athens!! We have beer drawn from kegs! Not your Uncle Rufus’ tub!
Back in '05 the wife and I spent a month in Starkville one afternoon, so what follows are factual accounts.


It’s the perfect town if you like to spend a day shopping for God’s word at the Bible Outlet store, crossing the road to the WalMart to replenish the underwear drawer, swinging through the Zaxby’s drive-thru to pick up some over-fried chicken, and then setting up a picnic under the town water tower.


And that’s just about it. The town is a desolate homage to what life was like during the post-depression era. It’s just that it has yet to progress any further.
Is that supposed to be a dog? A bear? A gopher?


Case in point, on Saturday find a Missy State fan that’s made the trip from Starkville. Now they have to have come from Starkville. Not one of those rare cowbell clanging fans that now lives in Atlanta, or anywhere east of the Tuscaloosa-Starkville-Meridian Triangle.


If you have trouble, listen for a couple discussing how in the world they are going to play this football game after dark. “I know Winona, I wus jus’ wondering the same thing. It’s gon be dark long before the bands even toot their marching horns! Now how’s Fitzgerald gonna tell the difference between the center and the left guard’s hindquarters?”


Anyway, find that fan, probably in a #7 maroon jersey fitted neatly under some overalls and wearing a cowbell around his neck, and ask him if he has a cell phone. Or even knows what one is.


Ask him if he has an opinion about whether The Stones were better than The Beatles.


Ask his wife anything about the Bay of Pigs and the resulting strained relations with Cuba.


Ask either of them their thoughts about milk going from cardboard cartons to plastic jugs.


Then prepare to stare into the actual and real face of Stupefied personified. Seriously, they will probably walk away quietly while whispering cautions of crop circles, aliens, and satanic worshippers.


Bubby, why don’t these people get their milk from glass jugs like normal people do?


After scaring the buhjeebus out of Mr. And Mrs. Clanga, catch back up to them and introduce them to the world of wonder that is Athens GA. In all of its Millennial brilliance! The lights, the vehicles not powered by two mules and a gust of wind, the delicious food, being able to walk more than two steps without having to negotiate a cow pattie, the trees, the running water, the “outhouses” made of plastic, THE LIGHTS!!


They might not want to leave. And really, why would they?

The part where Toddles waddles back ‘tween the hedges
Let’s be real, Todd Grantham did a lot to improve our defense when he arrived in 2010. It took a couple years, but we caught a glimpse of what a squad of eleven men can do when they’re coached to do football things like cover receivers. And tackle.


The douchebag deserves some credit there, okay? Really, he does.


That said, what a poser. What a coward. What a semi-deranged lunatic with an nonsensical white towel fetish.


His greatest memory in Athens - confronting Vandy’s penis-head of a coach at midfield. His lowest? Pick from a plethora of plays where the opponent had huddled, set, gone through a cadence of voice commands, and then snapped the ball all while our defense was gazing at the sideline like a herd of clueless sheep waiting on some kind of direction.


Here’s my take...Chubb breaks one and is running free along the Missy State sideline. All that stands between him and a touchdown is 60+ yards of Sanford paydirt. As the fans reach the top of their audible crescendo...wait, what’s that? No, who was that?


"I WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW THAT I ACCIDENTALLY PUT
GARLIC ON MY CHEERIOS THIS MORNING!!"
Grantham steps in front of Chubb waving said towel like some maniacal bull fighter whose cap is more than slightly askew and whose face is toxic with anger.


The cheers become gasps. Some avert their eyes in the milliseconds before impact. Others, now empowered with the full realization of what in the holy hell is actually happening right here under the lights on national tv and my God I think even some grandmas are watching, shriek like they’ve never shrieked before.


“GET OUT THE GAHTDAMN WAY GRANTHAM YOU SONOFA…”


The rest trails off because when the dust clears there is just a towel, floating casually and effortlessly down towards the MSU 43 yard line, within feet of where Christian Robinson stands with mouth agape.


Then the cheers, slowly at first, begin to return. The dude in front of you points to the endzone and starts jumping up and down. Your eyes follow and that’s when you realize that the spectacle has only just begun. Nick Chubb’s arms are raised, and one of them hands Grantham the football.


“Is this what you were looking for a second ago Coach? Sorry, I wasn’t quite done with it.”


Grantham, his eyes dazed and his countenance thoroughly confused, reaches down and gently takes the ball. Then he slides off of Chubb’s shoulders and waddles back to the opponent’s sideline.


Drunk on night kicks
A couple weeks ago I told you that the Irish weren’t ready. And for the most part I was wrong. They played better than I thought they would. They’re a better team that I thought they were. To be perfectly honest, I underestimated them to some degree.


Now it’s game four and we’re still kicking off under the lights. In my nearly three decades of following Georgia football, I’ve never seen Sanford with the energy for a cupcake like we saw last week. It’s loud and people are into it, every aspect of it.


Thirty-five to seven in the third quarter and Samford has the ball looking for a first down, no matter. Dawg fans still up in their ears disrupting the set and the audibles.


And that’s so, SO important. Because the truth is that I don’t know if MSU is ready. I don’t know how good they are. I’d like to think we can contain this media darling quarterbacker they’ve got, force him into throwing it while applying the rush. I hope we can.


I also think our special teams can be a difference maker tomorrow night. They’ve been the model of consistency thus far. We had a long return called back in South Bend. Last week we had a blocked kick after Fromm fumbled. That tells me they’re capable of making that one play that is a huge difference in the outcome.


I think our offense can over-power their defense. I really think they can.


But I do know that I’m tired of hearing people talk about just how great “these Bulldogs” are just because they beat a half-assed LSU team at home. Who cares. We beat a pretty good Notre Dame team on the road. But that was two weeks ago. Teams are supposed to get better as the season progresses. The good ones do. Have we gotten better since boarding the busses in South Bend, prepping for Samford, beating them soundly, and then prepping for another team of bulldogs?


On the other hand, has Mullen’s team gotten better since last Saturday when they beat a team that’s notoriously hard to beat but is nothing more than a shell of its former self? Have they gotten better during a week when they’ve been continuously billed as the second best team in the SEC? “And Dan Mullen is the second best coach in the SEC!!


Bullshit.
"These gloves make my face feel...different."


None of that matters tomorrow. It’s late September and I don’t give a damn who the second best team in the SEC is. I just want Georgia to be the best team on the field tomorrow night. I want Kirby to expose Mullen as a fraud and a joke, just another Urban Meyer project living out his days under the Starkville water tower, wearing wide receiver gloves on the sidelines to fight off a November chill.


And I want this amazing, uber talented, incredible game manager, dual-threat, future Heisman winning quarterback to completely and utterly fold like a cheap suit under the verified, the insurmountable, the downright imposing, the unified force of nature that is the deafening weight of Sanford Stadium. I want to see him try to bounce outside, think he’s gained the edge and then…


POP!!!


Roquan levels his ass and then Fitzgerald spends a moment on the turf seriously contemplating the consequences of returning to the next huddle.


We saw what Kirby’s team could do on the road against a storied program. It gave me a taste. Tomorrow night it’s just a casual rival that’s been continuously flagellated by the media all week, but it’s SEC football. Like the corny conference slogan says - “It just means more.

It does, and I want it because it will taste even better than those Irish tears. Now, please bow your heads. Lord, please make Grantham pick up his own dirty laundry. Our thoughts continue to be with everyone battling these hurricanes. We pray for their safety. And also, we pray that the Chapel Bell rings loud and proud late tomorrow night! Amen.

Go Dawgs y'all!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Is this the hottest collective SEC coaches' seat we've ever seen?

It's early and there's a lot of football left to be played. But I just keep wondering how many new coaches there could be in the SEC come next season. Some of these guys started the season in troubled water and have done nothing to even pick up an oar. Others seemed safe a month ago and now their days may indeed be numbered.

Then there's Derek Mason living that Nashville dream son!

Let's break all 14 down from the safest Saban to the hottest Sumlin.

Bama - Saban will coach in Tuscaloosa until he's ready not to. Next!

Vandy - Mason is the trifecta. 1) at a school that doesn't like to spend time on athletic decisions, especially coaching searches 2) he's a damn good coach that can steal some wins with less talent at a school that doesn't like to spend $$ on recruiting budgets, and 3) after a very slow start to his career, he's got that thing in a bit of a groove Stella.

Miss State - Mullen is also in the perfect place at the perfect time. Ole Miss could spend the better part of a decade getting out of where they're heading. Meanwhile, it's not beyond reason to think Mullen could host Alabama in a couple months with no more than one or two losses. Maybe less. That'll buy another water tower or two down yonder.

Georgia - Kirby's our guy. He got his signature win in South Bend, the next step is winning the East. If that doesn't happen this year, then it better next year or he'll be much further down this list.

South Carolina - Muschamp is recruiting well enough to bring that program above the hole Spurrier dug. He also seems to have matured some, which certainly helps. You know, he has more of that head coach vibe going for him. In Florida he just always seemed like an extra mad assistant.

Kentucky - Stoops can win enough games at a basketball school to survive as long as he doesn't take Calipari's parking spot.

Florida - McElwain is swirling above the turds...for now. But that mess is really starting to stink. If the team starts losing too (which should've happened Saturday to be honest), it's only going to swirl faster.

LSU - "Ol' Coach O need to coach em up now and coach dem up good too. Dem suits already made that move wonce so Coach O kno dey pissed. Woo boy yeh!"

Auburn - Malzahn's entire career is built on a quarterback that fell into his lap. We've been asking for years, "If he's such a genius, why can't he replicate stats and actual on field results?" He'll need better than 8-4 to have a chance. And nine wins doesn't look like enough unless one of them is against that King up there at the top.

Ole Miss - Matt Luke is just borrowing the office on a six month lease. Could a miracle happen? Sure. If he rallies them to a big win or two he could at least get an interview. Also, Ole Miss could decide they don't have a better option for the time they're in NCAA purgatory. A lot still undecided here.

Arkansas - Bret coaching for his job this weekend against Sumlin. Who's the most desperate for the win? I think Sumlin is the better coach, but who has a firmer grasp of their team after rocky starts? A Razorback loss and Bret could have even more time for hoppin' on his wife.

Missouri - The only reason Odom isn't lower is because no one in Columbia MO is really interested in handing out a pink slip before summer is officially over. "Fired your defensive coordinator the second week of the season and then promptly lost to Purdue by 32 points? Alright, let's meet again in November Barry."

Tennessee - Butch needs to beat UMass Saturday and then beat Kirby the second time in as many meetings to stand a chance at seeing October. Lose to Georgia and his desk will be cleaned out before his post-game press conference is over. Lose to UMass and he may go missing before hitting the podium.

A&M - Sumlin is a dead man walking. It's not a matter of if, just when.

What an overall mess huh? Has there ever been a season that has seen this much coaching turmoil in one conference? It has everything from a scandal in Oxford to a glorified cheerleader in Knoxville trying to keep his career out of his own trash can. It's fun when it's not your team going through the uneasiness.

And it's going to be fun to see who can salvage enough to stay another year. As mentioned above, starting this weekend there will be a lot of games in the coming weeks that not only will decide places in conference standings, but also who starts shopping for moving companies.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Early thoughts on SEC play and the Starville pups

Georgia finally opens SEC play this week. After so many years of having the Gamecocks in week two or sometimes three, it feels weird opening up the conference schedule this late. But alas, the OOC slate is shelved until November and it's time to strap em a little tighter men!

Still a little surprised by what happened in Columbia Saturday night. No, not talking about Purdue. How did anyone think Missouri would stand a chance there? Can we officially get rid of those Tigers now? I guess not since they've actually competed in the SECCG twice since they joined the conference. But man, what a joke.

I digress..no, I'm referring to Kentucky beating South Carolina at their own game. Deebo socked them in the mouth the first play and those Cats just rolled with it. I hadn't completely bought into the Gamecock hype yet, but I thought they would push the Wildcats around. After all, that was the same Kentucky team that struggled some against Eastern Kentucky and even shuffled their quarterbacks around.

And now the Gamecocks have lost their best player for the season. Hate seeing such a good player go down like that, but this is football. Wish Deebo a speedy and full recovery.

Meanwhile, down in Gainesville Butch still has his DB's in press coverage on the final play of the game more than half the field away from the Florida endzone. You think Shoop wishes he'd played that just a little differently? Give credit where it's due, the Gators saw what they were up against and went right for the win and not the 30 yard out to hope for a true field goal.

(pardon me while I spit that foul taste outta my mouth)

Shout-out to Coach Bobo for hanging tough against Bama. Sure, they never had a chance because of course they were far and away out-matched talent wise. But the Rams made it respectable by halftime and then scored some points in garbage time late. Our old quarterback showed he can move the ball against another elite defense. Good on ya Mike!

Ole Miss played their bowl game in mid-September and shat their pants. Oh well, basketball season should bring that old consortium feeling back to Oxford.

Back to the East, with Florida and Tennessee still trying to find their identity (one in the aftermath of a credit card scandal, the other perhaps at the bottom of a trashcan), is Vandy going to step up with Kentucky as the darling picks to challenge in the East? Granted, the Dawgs haven't proven to be the top dog yet, but we've had the most complete start to the season. However, if Vandy can play Bama as hard-nosed and tough as they did K-State Saturday night, then I'll be a firm believer.

Jared Stitham leads the Southern Conference in passing after torching the Mercer Bears for 364 yards Saturday. We were talking about this at the tailgate. Until Cam Newton or Nick Marshall's kid turns 18, Malzahn is gonna keep paying on that loan for the Struggle Bus.

Which leaves us with the dog fight Saturday night under the lights in Sanford. I guess I'm not surprised Miss State beat LSU. But I was shocked by the score. That Tiger defense just laid down huh? Clanga clanga.

Regardless, as a result the Fake Dogs come in boasting about being just shy of a touchdown favorite. I still like our chances. On the one hand they've got a mobile quarterback that is averaging 7.8 yards per pass and 7.78 yards per rush (via cfbstats.com). I still like our defense's chances at making their offense beat us through the air. And if Malkom Parrish can indeed play, forget about it.

On another hand, word is that Grantham has really pared down his defense. So you're telling me that gone are the days of 10 of 11 guys staring at the sideline as the center snaps the ball? Okay, good for you Toddles. But even despite my frustration with Coach Chaney's play-calling at times, I'd still take Jim against a defensive coordinator that's been run out of the last two towns largely because he can't make any mid-game adjustments.

In other words, anyone remember the MVP of the 2014 Belk Bowl?


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday thoughts on 20-19

Huge win in South Bend. What a showing by our defense! Just an incredible feeling this morning that helps instill a lot of hope for the future of this program.

But first, what went wrong.

- 12 penalties for 127 yards. From what I saw it was a mixture of bad calls, a little home cooking, over eagerness, and an aggressive defense trying to make a big play in a big game. Even good teams have trouble overcoming that much laundry on the field. The holds were especially damaging, so it was nice to see Smart get in Blazevich and Wilson's face and "coach" em back up.
- Play calling, especially in the 3rd quarter when Chubb disappeared, was very reminiscent of last season. And that's troubling. Chubb and Michel each got 13 carries and 14 total touches on the night. Swift deserves the touches he gets, that kid is explosive. But it still has a feel that 27 and 1 are under utilized.

With those items out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.

- So many big plays by the defense, but it's the small stuff that made the real difference. It's refreshing to see so few missed tackles, good angles to the ball carrier, and solid game planning. On one hand Notre Dame's red zone offense was 100%, but on the other they only had one touchdown. That's a vast improvement from last season and makes a huge difference in big games such as this one.
- Anyone think Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter improved their draft stock last night? They lead the way and were everywhere! JR Reed is showing why Smart wanted him so badly. And Roquan and Patrick were their usual epitome of defensive dependability.
- Despite some troubling play calls, I thought Chaney did a good job of helping Fromm settle into the game early. He made a couple easy throws to start and it seemed to help the freshman get acclimated in his first road game.
- Staying with the young freshman, I thought his only real mistake was not dropping on the fumble. It looked he made the right reads. For instance, on the third and goal that lead to our first field goal, he had trips right and eventually threw to Michel towards the left corner of the end zone. It was a good throw just beyond Sony's reach. But most of all, given the coverage, it was the safest throw. Good game...even though he wasn't wearing khakis.
- I like seeing fullbacks get rewarded with carries for positive yardage.
- Godwin with two spectacular catches. Both put his vertical on display, not to mention incredible hand/eye coordination.
- Mecole is lightning in a bottle! Wow, his speed reminds me of Branden Smith.
- Congrats to Rodrigo, got a scholarship on Friday and came through with the game winner in South Bend.
- See you in Athens in a couple years Fighting Irish!

Those are my initial thoughts. But we have to end with the fans. I think Kirby said it best post game. His 18yo quarterback was able to go through his cadence and make audibles with relative ease in an opponent's stadium. That just doesn't happen on the road without Georgia fans making the trip and flooding the stands with red. I remember being awestruck in 2008 walking into Sun Devil Stadium in a sea of Red. But we didn't turn it into a 50-50 split like there was in Notre Dame Stadium last night. There's no question that the players and coaches felt that presence and it helped.

So again, kudos to you Road Dawgs!

Two and Oh Baby! Bring on Samford!

Friday, September 8, 2017

the Friday Misery exposes the Irish torso

The short of it is this - Y'all, they ain't ready.

Of course I'm referring to Notre Dame, its fans, its town, its campus, and most of all its tackle football team.

Santa! Hey Santa!! SANTA!! Hey!
Their coach is on the hot seat, and someone just adjusted the flame so that's it's just a bit hotter. He's the kind of coach that addresses his team's failures by firing assistants and coordinators. Yes, Brian Kelly is trash.

Their history is as storied as it is ancient and irrelevant. At least to the game tomorrow night. Parseghian, Rockne, Leahy...they ain't walking through that tunnel. The Four Horsemen will have zero yards rushing and Joe Montana will attempt as many passes as my dog.

The Notre Dame of today can't even stand in its own History's shadow. They're nothing and they're on a map to becoming even less. They beat Miami last year, but lost to Duke at home. They managed just a field goal against NC State and blamed Mother Nature.

That's what storied programs do when they fail, they shift blame and try to distract you by pointing to all the Heismans in the trophy cases. The truth is that the "fighting Irish" have been just a squad of vegan yoga posers since before George O'Leary faxed that resume.

Georgia, on the other hand, is here and now. Kirby has zero F's to give.

While Kelly is drafting a gameplan for another losing side of the press conference where he points to turnovers, or special teams, or the fact that their water boy just switched from boxers to briefs, Coach Smart knows this is the kind of game that is won in the trenches.

Yes, their offensive line is large in size and stature. But they are even less of a match for Trent Thompson than they are for our defense's speed.

Quick, close your eyes and imagine Roquan Smith running around a big tree. One of those big south Georgia oaks. Now put a clock on him and see how long it takes him to get past that statuesque yet stationary massive growth. Two seconds? Less?

That's Smith and anyone else on Coach Tucker's three deep tracking the ball tomorrow night. Size is cool, but speed is sexy. And any and every Dawg fan will tell you that Saturday nights are made for sexy.

Other side of the ball is no different really. Both teams want to run. People have been telling me all week how many yards their running backs had against Temple. Okay, the same Owls that replaced half their defense from last season?

"But Bernie, Josh Jones is 6'2" and 225!"
"So? Jalen Hurd was 6-3 and 227 last season. Lemme give ya two more numbers...four and two. Put them together and that's how many yards he had in Athens."

I don't trust overly tall running backs. Too much of their torso is exposed. I bet Natrez Patrick is licking his chops.
As shown here, Hurd's torso coughing it up.

And please don't even start with me about this quarterback that set career highs as a freshman against UMass and then spent last season carrying a clipboard. Fromm stepped onto campus and was immediately the #2. If he'd've committed to Coach Kelly instead, well Wimbush would be carrying that clipboard again tomorrow night.

So gimme plenty of  Michel and Chubb, even with our offensive line that hasn't quite gelled into a consistent unit. Those Dawgs up front have their own big bodies, and I've met enough offensive linemen to know that they love nothing more than to "road grade" run block.

Let Fromm take the snap, hand it to Michel, and then let the big boys make pancakes. Huddle up, flex Michel out into the slot, then do the same thing with Chubb.

Rinse. Repeat.

Yes, there will be punts and it will be a field position game at the start. But just pace yourself and don't lose hope. Because I just know in my heart that those part-time ACC bodies can't handle 60 minutes of SEC football. If their admins and powers-that-be can't fully commit to a conference, no way their players can commit to taking a hit snap after snap.

These Irish want a "fight", well we've got fly, welter, middle, and plenty of heavy weights. But we ain't lacing up no gloves Coach Kelly. So tell your boys to strap those pretty yellow helmets on tight.

Now, please bow your heads...Dear Lord, please tell me who this Rudy guy is? I can't find him on any college football statistical website or reference book. Just a picture of the dude from Lord of the Rings. Supposed to be some tie between him, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, so maybe he was O'Leary's agent, but I'm at a loss as to why I should even care. And please shove Irma back out to sea,. Shove her so far that South Bend IN is the only locale in the USA needing FEMA on Sunday.

Amen, and Go Dawgs!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Open letter to you Road Dawgs

Dear Road Dawgs,

I trust this finds you well and with tickets in hand. I'm jealous that you are packing a suitcase, complete with Khakis and red polos and maybe a light jacket or two to survive those chilly summer nights in South Bend, while I sludge my way through the work week with one eye towards a Saturday night party.

While you're boarding your flight or gassing up the motor vehicle, I'll be checking to see how many pounds of brisket it'll take to feed the horde.

And while you're setting up the tailgate Saturday morning I'll be mowing the yard and doing my best to rid the porch/patio/deck of mosquitoes.

Following the Dawgs on the road is what dreams are made of; this little ol' blog was born against the backdrop of a trek to Tempe. Since then it's been through half the SEC landscape, Boulder, Atlanta a few times, and even a few bowls.

Unfortunately, this trip has forced me to sit the bench.

But that doesn't mean I have to be quiet. My prediction is that 25,000 or so Georgia fans will make it into Notre Dame Stadium, which will leave only ten or so thousand of you to meander around the streets. Regardless of how big the Sea of Red is inside the stadium, that's a lot of Georgia fans that might be new to this travel thing. So...

First impressions should be painted red. There will be extensive visual footage around South Bend all the way through the end of the game. So, the more red the better. Half of their own fans are expecting to lose this game. So their alumni, faculty, and students walking out Saturday morning to more red than they've scene since Old Lady Stark and son Robb attended his wedding will only accentuate their inferiority complex.

Courteous, but with a tone of smart ass. Momma always said to be polite. But we've also seen her subtly finding ways to point out how tacky so and so's dress is just before the processional on Sunday morning. In short, you'll hear snarks about the barking and how you're from the South, but rising above that fray goes much further in proving the point that we are Georgia and they're just merely a half-assed part-timing ACC team.

Win the tailgate. Every college football fan thinks they know how to tailgate until a bunch of LSU Tigers, or Old Miss (whatevers), or Roll Tiders, and especially Georgia Bulldogs invade their town. Watch this video of our first tailgate in Columbia MO and pick out the spots where we are intrigued by their traditions, but with an air of "That's so cute and bless your hearts". What happens on the field we have little control of, but whether we win or lose the opposing fans should wake up Sunday morning think, "Wow, those guys and gals know how to eat and drink!"

Speaking of which, drink the town dry. It's tradition for local restaurant and bar owners to have to scramble for even more kegs and liquor by Friday evening when the Road Dawgs have just started to quench their thirst. If you're staying in Chicago that might seem like a tall order, but I have faith in you.

That's enough. Most of you know what you're doing anyway and don't need me to prattle on. The rest of you will be with someone who does.

So, safe travels y'all and Go Dawgs!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sunday thoughts on my God all those freshmen!

I mean, at one point Fromm tried to throw the ball away and Swift caught the damn ball with one hand.

Jeebus.

If you are a freshman and attended the game last night, chances are you saw the field with your mouthpiece in place.

Of course, the biggest question for the season was where Jake Fromm actually and truly was on the QB depth chart. Unfortunately that was answered quickly as Eason left the game with a knee injury in the first quarter. Fortunately, the true freshman did better at footballing as an 18 year old than I did at attending Poly Sci back in 1989.

Seriously, that kid has a set of stones and delivered exactly what we wanted - a decisive victory. Good bye Nichols State, hello App State hillbillies. Kudos to Kirby and his staff, because that's exactly what you want to see from a game where you're paying the opponent seven figures to travel.

Beat. Them. Down.

But truly, the night belonged to the defense. And Tucker's squad had plenty of its own kids making plays. LeCounte and transfer JR Reed came up big. And clearly Trent Thompson is still a bad mutha. Dom Sanders and Roquan Smith did all they could to earn the shut out.

Just a great opener to be honest. I don't know how you could be disappointed. And let me be clear, if you're bitching today about a third string QB throwing picks when he hadn't had anymore reps under center than I had in August, you need professional help.

Now we wait to see how long Eason is out. I would expect he won't be ready for the golden domers next Saturday. So we march on...trusting the youth on the bench.

Go Dawgs!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Old enough to know better...

Having been baptized a Dawg fan in the wee hours of the Goff era, I reserve the right to retract what follows by halftime of the game tonight. Because I'm now officially old enough to have former college roommates that have children matriculating in Athens.

From waiting for Zeier to mature, then a Donna era "punchuated"* with one Kevin Ramsey as a defensive coordinator, followed by the bittersweet reign of Sir Mark Richt...yeh kids, I've seen some shit.

I'm no longer into predictions, but I'll never ignore certain feelings. And I think this 2017 campaign could be something special for us. Lord, let this evening lead us on a path from Athens through sites unseen like South Bend, through the treachourous swamps of Jacksonville, all the way to (hopefully) back to back games in Atlanta. Then beyond. We pray for those in Texas suffering unspeakable hardships. And please give our offensive line the spirit, foot speed, strength, and guts that Sony and Chubb deserve.

Amen, and Go Dawgs y'all!

Yep, We're ready!

* you old dudes that remember Ramsey quick exit get that joke

Friday, August 25, 2017

Eason's offense, questions and maybe some answers

It's pretty easy to feel comfortable with a defense that returns so much talent and experience, especially up front. Trent Thompson will lead a unit backed by promising stars such as Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick. And there's also a couple senior linebackers that put off professional dreams for one more season to try and live up to their potential in Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter.

And I've also pointed out some reasons to feel pretty comfortable with the 2017 slate of games. The home schedule may not offer much at first glance, but I'm encouraged that playing teams like App State and Samford under Sanford Stadium's lights should provide a better atmosphere than last year's game against Nicholls State. And hopefully the scoreboard takes it easy on our nervous system as well.

So most of the questions/concerns I have are on offense and special teams:

  • What will Eason in year two look like?
  • If When a game comes down to a kick, do we have someone the coaches trust and have prepared for just such an occasion?
  • Will Chaney call plays for an offense that is working on the same page consistently?
  • The offensive line can't be worse than last year, but exactly how much better will it be with so much youth?
  • Can Mecole step in for McKenzie in both the return game as well as the dependable slot receiver position that we depend on so much?
Those are the big ones right now. For that last question, I'm encouraged when I read things like this from Terry Godwin:
“Whenever the ball is up, he’s going to go get it,” Godwin said of Hardman. “When you see that burst of speed, I mean, I haven’t seen anything like that in a long time. He has something special.”
A lot of people were wondering last year where Hardman was and why he wasn't getting more looks with the ball in his hands. I certainly hope he makes the coaches sorry they kept him on defense last year. It might leave a sour feeling in our guts for what might have been last year, but it could sweeten our tea a bit if he can produce like we seem to be counting on him to.

As for Eason, I'm not concerned at all really. It's good to have Ramsey back as insurance, and I think Fromm has the talent to step in if needed this season. And he certainly has the game to challenge Eason in the future.

But this is Eason's season to shine. On the latest Waitin' Since Last Saturday podcast, Lietch and UGA beat writer Emerson discuss the pressure on Eason in the offseason. They point out something that we tend to forget - #10 won a game against Missouri with his arm, and should've won one against Tennessee as well. I would also add that it was his throw to McKenzie that turned the tide against the Tar Heels in the opener.

So we know what he can do in pressure situations and we've seen him make all the throws. Can he have the time to make all the reads this season? Will his deep ball provide a more consistent threat to stretch the opposing defense? Will the receivers drop less passes that are on target?

I think our quarterback is poised for a great season. I think our offensive line is built more for what Pittman and Chaney are aiming for up front. Hopefully that means we can use Nauta and Blazevich as receivers more. And it sounds like Chubb 2017 is back to his old 2015 self, and behind him is enough talent to fill the entire SEC East with starting tailbacks.

We saw what quarterbacks like Greene, Stafford, and Murray were able to do in their second season. They all did so with a competent if not good offensive line, well rounded running backs and receivers to keep defenses honest. If Eason is afforded the same luxuries those guys had, it could be a lot more fun to watch the offense this season than it has since Murray graduated.

Go Dawgs!