Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Rose Bowl - could time of possession be the game's biggest factor?

If we can agree that this Rose Bowl isn’t likely to be the high scoring affair that Sooners have gotten used to with Mayfield at the helm of its offense, and if we can agree that the Georgia coaching staff is likely to want to slow this game down and limit the Sooner possessions as much as possible, then we might start to look for 2017 games for each team that could serve as a crude, yet convenient barometer for what each team wants to avoid.

Never fear, I did just that last night.

October 14th, the Red River Shootout, Oklahoma 29   Texas 24. (And yes, that’s considered low scoring by their standards.) Time of possession is pretty even with the Sooners possessing the ball for just under 32 minutes. Here’s a recap of the highlights:

What I see is a lot of big plays breaking down (for both offenses really) to the point where the quarterback and his playmakers have to improvise. Both quarterbacks do a remarkable job of moving the pocket, using their feet for both time and yards (points), and simply waiting for the secondary to break down to the point that a receiver was open or there was room to run.

In the end Baker made one more play than Ehlinger. Otherwise it might have been the Longhorns running out the clock at the end instead. And in the end Texas surrendered 174 yards on 39 carries. The Longhorns were essentially beaten by Mayfield’s arm because they weren’t effective enough in stopping Trey Sermon and Rodney Anderson on the ground.

November 11th, Iowa State 38   Oklahoma 31. The Cyclones handed the Sooners their only loss, and ISU too held the OU just below their season average in time of possession. Unlike the Longhorns though, the Cyclones were able use enough screens, score late, or play some defense late to hold off another Sooner rally.

There’s no question that Georgia’s secondary should provide a more difficult task for the Heisman winner and this Sooner offense. But the last thing we want to see is Tucker’s defense struggling to balance when to rush extra men and when to drop them back. Because Mayfield is the type of quarterback that will expose a defense that is playing on its heels.

And he’ll do it with ease.
Baker dominated the Buckeye midfield logo. What a champion!

If 2017’s version of the Red River Shootout and the loss to the Cyclones at home are the types of games Oklahoma wants to avoid playing again, then without question Georgia wants to avoid what happened on the Plains about a month ago even more.

November 11th, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, part one, Auburn 40   Georgia 17. This was, obviously, the Dawgs’ worst game in terms of controlling to game’s momentum and possessing the ball - 26:54 to 33:06. (We only held the ball for 25 minutes in Jacksonville, but that was all you needed to whip the gators’ ass this year, so…)

The Tigers were undoubtedly the more physical team at the point of attack. They gashed Tucker’s defense for 237 yards, and made it feel like double that.

However you feel about the Big 12 being a finesse league and full of soft defenses and cute passes, make no mistake that this Sooner o-line is legit. They’ve got a Heisman winner that has helped them win some awards and gain some recognition. Plus they’d love nothing more than to contain Georgia’s pass rush and open up holes for their running backs in front all those NFL scouts that will be out in full in Pasadena.

I like the fact that our offense could really complement our defense well on this grand stage in the Rose Bowl. Fromm will definitely have to make some throws, but there should be plenty of yards to gain on the ground against a defense that is 40th nationally in rush defense.

Hand the ball off. Tick tick tick tick tick tick...Keep the Baker man cold on the sideline as much as possible.

Go Dawgs!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Your Unofficial Heisman Saturday Evening Alternative Entertainment Guide

The damn thing has been irrelevant since 1980...minus 1982 when they awarded an already twice-slighted Herschel Walker the hardware he'd actually earned three times...but I digress...

I'd like to provide alternatives for your first Saturday evening without football in some time. A word of caution however - depending on your own neighborly environs, some of these could get you a visit from Officer Friendly who also might just be a recently disgruntled Auburn fan. So proceed with caution.

Regardless, you should find something to do rather than listen to Kirk Herbstreit gush over Baker Mayfield. Although the ratings will probably sky rocket if they end up grabbing each others' crotch. At any rate, here are my suggestions:

  1. Eat a big bowl of Captain Crunchberries at 8:00 pm.
  2. Call your mom and tell her you just ate a big bowl of Captain Crunchberries at 8:00 pm.
  3. Find a nice romantic comedy to watch with your significant other.
  4. If you can't find your significant other, watch a nice Holiday film like Die Hard for the 173rd time. YIPPEE KI YAH!!!
  5. Call your favorite Tennessee fan and ask them if Jeremy Pruitt is going to coach them in their bowl...."Aw shit. I'm sorry. Welp, how's your mama n them?"
  6. Start reading a book. Or at least open one up in your lap before you doze off so that it looks like you were doing something important.
  7. Rewatch last week's SEC Championship game and text updates to your favorite Auburn fan as the game develops.
  8. Find a new favorite Auburn fan because your last one just blocked you.
  9. Help your wife with all those Christmas Cards. Or at least refill her wine glass. Stop sitting there drooling in your kid's Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and be helpful!!
  10. Go back to September of 2008 and re-read every post I've ever written. Then translate them into Mandarin for all my homeboys over in Manchuria!
  11. Prepare a large tumbler of bourbon and go door to door singing Christmas carols. Take your dog along for the harmony of it.
  12. Create a fake Baker Mayfield's cell phone twitter account that only tweets random Roquan Smith stats and related facts.
Whatever you choose to do to pass the time tomorrow evening, make it a great weekend Dawgs!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The 8th Annual Bowl Pool - Another Festivus Miracle!

The brain trust at ESPN has spoken and matched all of the teams up for us. So it's time to select the winners and see who comes out on top.

PASSWORD = Festivus

It all starts December 16th with Grambling vs NC A&T in the Celebration Bowl. It ends in The Benz with the Rose and Sugar winners. Should be quite the ride. So gather round the table and let's begin with the Airing of Grievances!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Atlanta by way of Pasadena

Man, what a weekend! Two years ago today we didn’t have a coach. Yesterday we watched Kirby give an interview to Rece Davis after Georgia was seeded third in the CFB Playoffs!

What a time to be alive!

When Joe Waterloo texted me for a prediction before the SEC Championship game I went with 28-17. I knew our offensive line especially would play better than they did in the environment of Jordan Hare three weeks ago. The wild card was Kerryon Johnson. Turned out he was a shell of his former self. I’m not entirely sure he should’ve even been playing at all.

Take away their running game and Malzahn is back to being just a gimmick with no alternate game plan.

Kirby preached before and during his game interviews about “physicality” and “composure”. His team really played with his instructions in mind. We were dominated in the trenches three weeks ago, but Georgia's coaches were able to flip the script on Malzahn & Co. Saturday night. The offensive line was bulldozing jokers and the defensive front was everything we saw in other locations like Knoxville and Jacksonville earlier this season.

We knew it before Saturday, but this team is something special. Now that we've made it in I'm thoroughly looking forward to seeing how they measure up against the nation's elite.

Speaking of which, I really think the committee got it right by bringing in Alabama at #4. I didn't think they would, but it seems they saw what many of us did as well - with Ohio State you have an up and down team. Conference champion or not, on January 1st in prime time no one wants to tune in to see a re-run of Clemson obliterating the Buckeyes.

On the other hand, a rematch of last season's epic battle between the Tigers and the Tide? Yes please.

But there's a lot of time in between now and then. I'll have the 8th annual Bowl Pool up later today or tomorrow. Until then, you can keep pinching yourself until the cows come home. But this is real y'all! Go Dawgs!


Friday, December 1, 2017

the Friday Misery is not feeling entitled

They blew up the place where your five yards short was born. So I don’t know why everyone keeps talking about it. Are you the kind of husband that gives his wife the same gift every five years? Are you wearing the same shirt today that you wore back then? Did you save the last three cups of milk from December 1st, 2012 to tailgate with tomorrow outside the Benz?

Put your History books down. The bell rang and there’s a new sheriff in town.

The Official SECCG entrance exam
Step off Trebeck! This is my show. Contestants, please remember to phrase your answers in the form of a correct answer.
  1. Which number is greater, Matt Lauer’s creep factor or the number of Auburn mascots?
  2. Which has a bigger mouth, Mr. Ed or Cam Newton?
  3. Celebrity quotation: who said it? … “We beat the dog crap outta them didn’t we?” ...Gus Malzahn or Mike Vick??
  4. Per capita, which city’s teenage boy population takes more cows to their high school prom, Pakistan or Opelika?
  5. Greatest running back of all time….Herschel Walker...or the Goal Line Stalker? (I’m sorry, Bo who?)
  6. What one item do Auburn area Costco’s and local supermarkets stock more frequently than all other items combined?
  7. Is it Plainsmen or Planes’ men?
  8. Eric Ramsey is to cassette tapes as Cam Newton is to _________?
  9. Greater man, Vince Dooley or Pat Dye?
  10. Please spell your name here —-> _____________.

Answers: 1. Ironically, Lauer by a long shot. Congrats National Broadcasting Company Creepshow. 2. Cam. But, have you ever seen the two of them in the same room? At the same time? Hmmmm…. 3. Both answers are correct! But Vick has paid for his crime. Gus, you’re next dipshit! 4. Opelika up until 2010 when there was a sudden surge in goat dates and Pakistan took the lead. 5. Yes, even the Official SECCG entrance exam has a freebie. 6. Toilet paper. What else? 7. Who gives a shit? 8. Church Steeples. Also, bagman is an acceptable answer as well. We’d also accept sleaze bag, laptop thief, panderer of attention (aka attention whore), outfit pimp, Pimp of Cheese, misogynistic asshole, whiny ass loser, eternal three year old, and of course Fairley’s shower partner. 9. Son, it ain’t how you start it’s how you finish! Patty shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as St. Vincent. 10. If yu jist rote a “X” than u cuddint git ntwo UGA. Wur dam eegle!

Comparing apples to some other apples
Of course I considered going back to re-read my post prior to the 2012 SEC Championship Game. It’s still one of my favorite Friday Miserys of all time. Honestly. So it would make sense to at least give it a cursory glance.

But as I reflected back on how I felt back then to be in that position, as well as what I thought I could remember about my words that came forth from my keyboard before that epic GA Dome battle, I realized the vast differences between then and now.

Back then I remember feeling like it was our turn, it was our time. I’d be willing to bet there is an air of “Hey, we’re due!” in that post. I was eager to see our team stand up to the nation’s darling, the straw that stirs the college football postseason drink, the mighty Saban’s minions vs our talented squad of hard working Dawgs.

Yes, I felt it was our time. In other words, I felt that 2012 team was entitled to the national title game as a reward for a hard fought season. I felt those players, and by proxy us as fans, were even destined for it.

I don’t feel entitled to anything today. Sure, that 2012 team came so very close to earning it all. Nothing was going to be handed to them on that field, on that day. We knew that going in. Alabama gave us their best effort, as expected, and the Dawgs nearly stood taller in the end. Nearly.

But despite that near euphoric moment five years ago, I don’t feel entitled to anything today. I certainly don’t think that’s Kirby’s message. In fact, I know so.

"Hey guys, I read the quarterback's eyes, broke on the route,
and this is what I earned!"
We can argue at a later date as to whether the 2017 SEC East champions are better than the 2012 SEC East champions. It’s a little too early to gauge that honestly right now, other than to say that the 2012 team had a more competitive geographic environment to do work in. But at this point in the season, I do feel it’s safe to say that this team has worked harder than any other Georgia team in recent memory.

Some of you may bristle at that last sentence, but bear with me. You have to remember that those 2012 seniors were a foundation that had grown into men together under one regime. They were a group that had been to the SEC Championship game together the year before.

This 2017 team that will vie for the SEC crown against Auburn tomorrow is in their second year under a new head coach. Some of them have had more than three different position coaches since they left high school. They finished last season with five losses.

They lost to Vandy at home. They needed a late field goal to beat Kentucky. They lost to Tech.

Georgia Tech.

And they responded in the off season by lifting more weights, by running more reps, by pushing each other even further, and by buying into what the coaches were selling even more. Then they laid absolute waste to the SEC East this year. From the end of the Georgia Tech game in Athens last year to today, this team has grown leaps and bounds.

After losing to Auburn three weeks ago Kirby said that this team will be remembered by how they respond. Well, they’ve responded by beating two lesser teams soundly. That’s resiliency.

That’s the kind of resiliency that sees its quarterback go down in the early moments of the season and says, “This is just the next obstacle.” That’s the kind of resiliency that finds a way to force a turnover late on the road against the storied Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

It’s focus in the eye of the storm. It’s taking a punch and steadying yourself instead of falling. It’s not just Georgia. It’s the new breed. It’s not preparing yourself for the professional Sundays. It’s facing the here and now with a low growl and leverage against the man in front of you.

You want more? You need more?

Well, the pressure is on Auburn. They set a bar I don’t think they can continue to clear. Their coach used his mouth to write a check that his team can’t cash. Gimmicks are cute, but just like two-ply shitpaper dangling from trees, mall Santa candy canes, and Bobby Lowder’s checkbook, they’re a dime a dozen.

The pressure is on Auburn. Compared to three weeks ago, they’re trading in roughly 40,000 fans for a nice dinner in Buckhead and what they hope will be a front row spot on Finebaum’s show. They’ll bring their Walmart jeans and anti-Bama signs/slogans/chants, still clinging to the only bowl they truly care about.

Bless their hearts. We beat our state rival and calmly boarded the buses for home. Auburn fans will still be talking about beating Alabama last week when the cows’ calves’ calves come home in 2028.

Erk telling his captain Ros the best way to GATA!
Georgia knows their mistakes. Tucker and Pittman and Chaney have taught and coached and revamped just for this moment. Bellamy and Dom and Zo didn’t come back to lose to the same plain men twice in one season. Chubb and Sony can shoulder the reins; their thighs only get heavier as the fourth quarter wears on. Then, “Oh hey there Mr. Swift! C’mon in!

Georgia has the talent. We also have the depth. And both are rested and ready. While Bama was separating shoulders Saturday evening, Swift and Herrien and Clark and Muckle were iced and ready for Monday’s practice. Fromm, perhaps the only player to show his true composure in the fourth quarter three weeks ago, has been patiently waiting for a moment to shine on this kind of stage.

Tomorrow is time. It’s not time to go through warm-ups and stand there ready to be handed a trophy. Tomorrow is time to earn every yard, fight for every first down, challenge every ball carrier. Tomorrow is only our time if we make it our time. Kirby’s crew ain’t coming to claim what we believe is rightfully ours. He’s coming to put his players on a field for the opportunity to prove they’re worthy, prove they’re ready.

It’s “your time” if you wait in line during recess for a swing on the playground. It’s “your turn” if you have successfully traversed the queue before finally getting to ride Space Mountain at Disney World. You’re entitled to take a seat and say “WEEEE!!!!”

I don’t want a swing and Space Mountain is just turns in the dark at a high rate of speed, like an Indy 500 during a solar eclipse. I’m ready to see to the finish what these Dawgs started Labor Day weekend. Are you ready? Are you going to just stand there with your hand out, or are you going to shove it into the turf, bend your knees and get your hips set to drive through whoever, whatever is in front of you?

It's SEC Championship weekend baby! And these Dawgs weren't bred to be hunted. Now bow your heads...dear Lord, please don't let these tigersmenplaineagles hoard our Charmin over the weekend. And may our Savages run as rampant as our running backs run free. In the name of Uga V and Auburn's own four sport letterman, the late, great Erk Russell! Amen!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Thoughts on Roquan pulling ol’ Turkey Neck’s pants down

Seriously, last night #3 knew what Coach Johnson was going to have for dinner before the Johnson’s party was even seated.

If you like that, here’s a few more:

- I was both elated and afraid to see Trenton Thompson come back in. Seeing him writhe in pain really took the wind out of my sails early on. Glad he’s okay.
- I’m also conflicted on seeing #1 and #27 on the sidelines so much of the fourth quarter. Gonna miss seeing those guys run for the G. But glad we can keep them fresh. We’ll need that on Saturday at the Benz.
- Hard to say who was worse, the refs (although they closed the game strong) or the ABC play by play guy (name = ???). There were times I had no idea what he was referring to, except that it seemed to not be in the Dawgs’ favor. I mean, he actually made McIlroy sound times. (But not Luginbill.)
- That field goal at the end of the half was huge. In the end it wasn’t even needed, but I thought the fact that the coaches were game for using the timeouts instead of taking a knee really shifted the momentum in our favor.
- And once again the adjustments on both sides going into the second half were key. Tucker had the answers and Chaney’s crew took it from there. I haven’t even stopped praying for that Tech defender’s ankles that Sony broke!
- Hello Akhil Crumpton! Can we haz mor plz!
- If you take a step or two back, it’s interesting what’s happening along Techwood drive, other than the local drug deals. I mean, Paul Johnson just keeps doing just enough. So many of their fans are tired of it, but he seems to get a pass. How long can it last?

For me, I hope he retires there in around 15-20 years. For now, we’re 11-1 heading back to Atlanta! What a season! Who woulda thought that!

(Lastly, Coach Paul Johnson was at the nearest Subway because he can’t get enough $5 foot longs.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Clean Old Fashioned Hate - turnovers

I mentioned yesterday the importance of winning time of possession. The fact is that last year we won time of possession against Tech, although the second half was a near 50/50 split.

However, we didn’t protect the football, which is part of the reason why our defense was playing that last Tech drive with their hands on their hips in between plays. Our first three second half possessions went field goal, touchdown, field goal. But the last three went punt, interception, interception. (VIA)

The difference this season is that this team knows how to close a game. The coaches know how to make the adjustments and communicate them effectively to the players.

Plus, Georgia is a decently good +2 on the season in turnover margin, while Tech is -4. (VIA)

A lot of people are poking Tech fans over that loss last weekend to Duke. And yes, it was ugly. But it tells me Johnson will have these enginerds ready to play. There’s no game that means more to him than the last of the season.

But the reality is that we are way too talented to lose to Tech. Protect the football and keep the defense rested and it should be a fun one for us to watch.

Don’t do those things, and we should just prepare to gnash the teeth deep into the fourth quarter.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Clean Old Fashioned Hate - Mambo Gook

Coach Fish-Fry is in his 10th season at Tech. So by now we know the recipe for continuing our domination in this series. But a reminder is always helpful.

1. Stop the dive. Unless our defense can stop this basic first option run, it will make for a long afternoon at the Joke by the Coke.
2. Protect the football. Our offense has to keep theirs off the field as much as possible. A close game with a tired defense in the fourth quarter is not a good way to spend the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
3. Mind your gap. Play disciplined defense. Miss an assignment and a three yard gain turns into at best a first down, at worst a touchdown.

In other words, Mambo Gook. Because ol’ Erik always knew how to wreck Tech!

“If you think you’re coming my way, that’s the wrong way brother. Because you ain’t gonna make nothing here.”

Friday, November 17, 2017

the Friday Misery converses with the internet idiocy

It's short, but it's sweet. So grab the remote and let's dive right in! Because on this episode of “Conversations After a Loss”....

The Internets
  1. “...and we all knew this would happen. We all knew Georgia would implode like this and what we thought was a magical season is actually just another flop and we’ll back our way into that Independence Bowl again because we can’t have nice things and oh have you seen this video of a chimpanzee cooking pop tarts in the microwave with the foil wrapper omg it makes me laugh so hard…”
  2. “9-4 season. Not much better than last year to be honest.”
  3. “So we need to beat Auburn or Bama, and then hope that…”
  4. “I hope we do implode. Kirby needs to go back to the coordinator level. Hopefully we can get <INSERT NAME OF HOT MESSAGE BORED NFL COACH> before it’s too late!
  5. “Lost a recruit. Whoa boy, here we go again.”

  1. “Dude, we lost one game. Got our asses beat for sure. But all of our goals are still ahead of us.”
  2. “No, are you high? We’re 9-1. Put down your crack pipe for one minute and sort through some facts okay?”
  3. “Nope nope nope nope! Stop right there. What we need to do is beat Kentucky. That’s step one partner. Step two, beat Tech. Then we worry about Bama or Auburn. Get back on the winning run and the rest will take of itself.”
  4. “Shut. Up.”
  5. “If you believe for one second that we’re on a recruiting downtick, well, it might be time to go back on your meds.”
"I believeeeee I can fly!!" (via ABC Sports)

1+7+17+24+27 = 2017
Senior Day, the home closer if you will, is always a time for reflection. And when I think about all of these seniors, I’ll call back to that day that those mentioned in the subheading stood in front of the media and explained why they were staying in Athens for their senior season. Regardless of the final W-L record, regardless of whether we win the SECCG and make it into the CFB Playoffs, this season has been made possible by their leadership.

When you think about it, it’s really because of them that we haven’t had one home nooner this season. What a blessing!

And to be honest, how the team responds after last weekend’s loss will start with the senior leadership as well. I think they’re going to finish strong. I think Kentucky’s not going to know what hit them. I think Christian Payne gets sent in to throw a block and next thing you know there’s #JazzHands all up in our endzone one last time. Then there’s Wynn raising Chubb to the Heavens next to the Hedges one last time. And God I hope there’s a blindside sack by Bellamy and that beautiful oblong spheroid pops free then Zo scoops and scores that damn thing!

Lord have mercy! How ‘bout them Dawgs y’all! So please let us bow our heads...dear Lord, can we please see a Parrish or Sanders or Davis pick one more time? Maybe also followed by one last glimpse in Sanford of Wims soaring to some ungodly height to catch that ball before returning to the earth with six points? Thank you, and please bless all these Dawgs in their future endeavors. Once a Dawg, always a Dawg. How sweet it is! Amen!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Will the biggest factor for Saturday’s game even be on the field?

The largest crowd Kentucky has played against was in Columbia when South Carolina beat lost to them 23-13 in front of 82,000. For the rest of their games they’ve played in front of an average of less than 50 thousand people.

In fact, here’s a look at the crowds they’ve faced on the road other than that loss to the Gamecocks:

- at Southern Miss, 22,761
- at Mississippi St., 58,963
- at Vanderbilt, 27, 346

The Sanford crowd was notably subpar against the Gamecocks. In the seniors’ last game between the hedges, I hope we manage to lift their spirits while crushing Kentucky’s will. If so, it could be quite a special day in Athens.

Are the fans ready to get behind the team? I think so. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the backlash following the Auburn beat down, naturally. Many are especially upset that some took Miami’s win just as hard as our loss.

I get it, but I really think there’s a very small minority out there that can’t see that both Coach Richt and the Georgia program are better off after the split. I think most can see the results Kirby is bringing in in terms of recruiting energy and game preparation. I also think he has the leadership in him to help the team see that loss Saturday and turn it into something to build upon late.

Now, if the game were today there might still be a hangover from the plains, both with the players recovery and especially in the fans’ spirits. But I think by Saturday everyone will be ready to put that game against Auburn behind them. Nothing heals the wounds from a loss like that like getting out there and drawing first blood.

So bring the noise! And go Dawgs!