Friday, September 6, 2013

Sanford Stadium Noise!

Coach Lilly makes a's only rock and roll but I like it!

Friday Misery - pink panties pulled down

Beer can chicken and bourbon > Arby's and Banquet beer. Let's get after it, shall we?

Angst and loathing in Athens
A lot of talk this week about crowd noise, both from those who reside inside the arena as well as outside of it. And it all leads me to wonder, why is this a new topic of discussion? It's been an issue for years. I guess what I'm asking is this - don't forget that as much as our team can be affected or unaffected by the noise on the road, the same is true at home. Don't let one loss in an extremely hostile environment against one of the best teams in the nation be the straw that breaks your back.

"I could hang a half a hundred at a funeral."
Don't get mad. Get even.

So let me get this straight. I've been harping on the noise level at Sanford for some time now*. Metaphorically I've described being just outside the hedges as more like being at a funeral service than attending a sporting event. I've bitched about us making excuses and failing to live up to competitors environments all while getting pats on the back and some "atta boys!", but also criticized and told I'm way off base.

But...when Aaron Murray's mom says Sanford needs to be louder everyone is all on the bandwagon. When Coach Richt says the fans need to get louder its constructive criticism that is welcomed with open ears. Why do you think they're saying such things? Because they've been to places that are greater, better and louder than Sanford Stadium. Let that stick in your craw a spell.

But hey, whatever gets your My Little Pony panties out of a wad and into your seat on time ready to yell...I'm cool with it. If you need the actual person who gave birth to the star quarterback and a certified head football coach to plead with you to not treat your seat as a perk and more as a birthright to hunker, sobeit.

In short, I don't give a damn what pulls the wool out from over your eyes as long as I can't hear myself think the first time Connor Shaw tries to convert a third down.

Noah, Darwin and Dawgs - the descent of man
The bottom line is this, we're all tired of being so welcoming. We're tired of lazily reacting to things and ending up out of place and the odd man out. It's like we recognize the SEC is built on natural selection, but we're still herding other animals onto the ship ahead of us. I think from the coaches on down to the fans, we've grown too accustomed with preparing for what the other guy is gonna do and being ready to react to it.

F. That.
On fall saturdays, manners are for the dodo bird.

I'm talking about punching them first, dictating the play and not having your plate fixed for you. You're hungry, I'm hungry. God knows Toby Johnson's hungry. Let's friggin' eat, you know? Save the manners for Sunday dinner and let's belly up to the table, load 'er down with all the trimmings and stick a fork in it.

Momma always used to say to mind our P's and Q's when we're around company. But Momma ain't been fryin' enough chicken lately, if ya know what I mean. Tomorrow's about getting what we want and leaving the crumbs for the hens to peck. It's less about being courteous and welcoming and more about the ball not being heavy and state trooper fist bumps. Tomorrow we're going to be proactive and not reactive. Don't wait on that one guy three rows down in your section to lead the cheer. Beat his ass to the punch and MAKE SOME GOTDAMN SANFORD STADIUM NOISE!! Make it a competition to see who can yell first and who can yell loudest. If you're second, you're last. If you're seated, you're gonna drown in all the GLORY GLORY THAT WILL RAIN DOWN UPON YOU!

Word is there's going to be quite an opening when the team comes out. The crowd (the one that is not still tailgating or filing into the stadium) should be nice and lively for the opening kick. But we haven't been waiting since November 24th, 2012 to sit in our seat again just to watch a five second kickoff. We need "nice and lively" for 3.5 "voracious, unadulterated, unbridled, passionate" hours. Longer if need be. I have a hunch that the big wigs that work the jumbotron and the PA system are finally going to do whatever they can to keep the fans engaged. If so, there's no reason to sit back and wait for what's going to happen so you can react to it. No reason to prepare for being naturally selected as the weaker animal when there's no more room on the ark.

Stand your ass up and be a part of it. You have all next week to rest...and shop for some real underwear. On the men's aisle. GO DAWGS!!

*And yes, I understand that in order for the crowd to be truly fired up the team must provide the spark. But don't use the team's struggles, however small or large in nature, be an excuse for being a lazy fan. Again, not a perk. A privilege.

Happier times. For State Troopers and for Dawgs.

Nearly four years ago. FOUR!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Can Friend's porous line protect Murray?

There are two things that give me great pause going into this SEC opener: USC tailback Mike Davis and the Gamecocks' defensive front. We looked at slowing Davis down yesterday. How will the Dawgs address protecting Murray?

Well, it's looking more and more like Xzavier Ward will play sometime soon ($). And while that might not mean as soon as Saturday, it remains a possibility. This is welcome news, but we should take it with some caution. Doesn't sound like he'll be ready for a full workload anytime soon either. Coaches will continue to be careful with the sophomore offensive tackle's knee which has been problematic since he signed with Georgia.

But I'm sure we might see some extra-jumbo sets. Ward has been working at left tackle mostly. Earlier this week Richt stood by Kenarious Gates at that position. Houston has been moved everywhere but center. Theus is accepting his role as a backup. It sounds like chaos, but is it controlled chaos?

Teams that have been successful against this defensive line have had a tackle that was able to (at least somewhat) neutralize Clowney. For as many times as we saw that one highlight from the Outback Bowl there were just as many times that Michigan's Taylor Lewan was holding his own against the all world defensive end. Last week (despite "reports" of a stomach virus) UNC's James Hurst did the same, if not more.

Coach Will Friend doesn't have that one man answer, but the question I have is will he just rotate bodies in there in hopes of stumbling onto a solution, or is there a plan in place?

Look for Bobo to do a lot of what the Tarheels did - run away from Clowney and use screens to neutralize the pass rush. But also look for a player that wasn't in Athens in 2011 or in Columbia last year to do his part...Quayvon Hicks.

New year. New team. One dream. Eat mor chikin.

It's a must win game. And unfortunately it's one the Dawgs haven't won since Bryan Evans was the starting safety.

Wherefore art thou Stephen Garcia?!?
Tight end Arthur Lynch and receiver Rantavious Wooten, who both took redshirts but not as freshmen, actually played in that 2009 game, but they are exceptions.
“It stinks that we haven’t beaten them, especially this senior class has yet to win a game versus South Carolina,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “Hopefully we can change that this year. It’s a brand new team, it’s a new season. We’ve got to put what happened last year, the past three years behind us and go out there, compete, have fun and try to win a ballgame.”

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

OBC singing "the way we were..."

Lots of good nuggets on the Sakerlina head coach here, including the fact that he has a brand new grandbaby. (Hope she grows up to like horsey sauce with her Banquet beer.)

But Spurrier sounds a bit nostalgic when talking about the hate we have for him.
“I don’t get near the hate from the Georgia side I used to get,” said Spurrier. “It’s hard, you’ve got to realize it’s hard for Georgia to really get mad at South Carolina. They’ve got so many teams they’re mad it or are mad at them. It’s hard to get another big rival for Georgia. They’ve got Georgia Tech, Florida, Auburn. They almost had a fight with Vanderbilt a couple years ago, some of their coaches, at least…We still haven’t beaten them enough for them to sort of circle South Carolina. But we’ve been fortunate the last few years.”
I've always held a bitter heart towards the man, while also admitting (and admiring, at times) that he just gets it. When he retires I plan on sending Spurrier a copy of this picture so he'll never forget us. I'm sure he holds a place in his heart for Stanfill. A BIG one.

If you'd like to autograph it as well, let me know.

Can Grantham's diseased run defense stop Gamecocks?

It wasn't as easy as the score indicates, but the South Carolina Gamecocks cruised to their first win last Thursday over North Carolina; and they did it with the help of two running backs - Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds. On a night when the Ol' Ball Coach didn't take to the air too often, Davis, Wilds and quarterback Connor Shaw became the work horses, to the tune of 12 carries apiece for 222 yards. Collectively, that's a Lattimore-esque type performance.
"I think they're both very capable," Spurrier said. "We told both of them that somebody's going to start but that both of them would play, and that's how it turned out. I think they both had 12 carries on a hot, muggy night, and they'll both continue to play. If one is really hot and making stuff happen for us, he'll probably play a little more."
Davis racked up 115 yards on his 12 carries, with a chunk of that coming on a 75-yard touchdown in the third quarter that snapped the Gamecocks out of an offensive lull. The 5-foot-9, 215-pounder from the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia got the start and had a 12-yard carry on the second play that helped set up a 65-yard touchdown pass from Connor Shaw to Shaq Roland on the ensuing snap.
Wilds, a 6-2, 223-pounder from Blythewood, S.C., had 64 yards and also had a 12-yard gain.
Davis and Wilds entered this season with some experience at taking over for Lattimore, who shredded Georgia with 467 yards in his three wins over the Bulldogs before leaving early for the NFL. Wilds signed in 2011 and was the fifth-string tailback entering that season but vaulted to the starting role following injuries to Lattimore (knee), Shon Carson (ankle), Kenny Miles (wrist) and Eric Baker (ankle).
All of that to say I was glad to hear that Richt is having the team go full tilt in practice, both yesterday and today, with pads to help correct some mental lapses in fundamentals such as wrapping up and tackling to the ground. Clemson's Roderick McDowell wasn't named ACC player of the week, but the Georgia defense made him a viable candidate as he easily eclipsed the century mark in just 22 carries.

Of course, getting Josh Harvey-Clemons (as well as Corey Moore) back will be a huge lift as it will add depth to the safety position but also allow Leonard Floyd to set up closer to the point of attack. Harvey-Clemons can play both strong safety in the base as well as the star position in the nickel, which helps both defending the pass and the run.
Cornerback Damian Swann said that Harvey-Clemons can cover better in space than Floyd “to where we won’t be a DB short on the back end. Now we can go out and call our regular stuff and really execute the defense.”
Opening up the defensive sets is a big plus for a unit that is struggling to find any kind of consistency in stopping the run. Since allowing only 75, 46 and 57 yards on the ground to Florida, Ole Miss and Auburn respectively last November, Georgia has surrendered an average of 279 yards rushing in the last five games. The first two of which were excused away because they were against triple option teams. Then Alabama proved that those games weren't just an aberration as they gashed Grantham's defense for 350 yards. Add in Nebraska's 239 yards and Clemson's 4+ yards per carry and you have a defensive epidemic.

We saw a number of different bodies along the defensive line of scrimmage last Saturday night in Death Valley. Containing Connor Shaw and disrupting these running backs' lanes will be a huge key towards stopping the South Carolina ground attack this Saturday in Athens.

Humpday Hilarity - Forgive me Father, for I love girls

An Italian Boy's Confession:

'Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have been with a loose girl.'

The priest asks, 'Is that you, little Joey Pagano?' '

"Uh . . . Yes, F...ather, it is."

'And who was the girl you were with?' '

I can't tell you, Father, I don't want to ruin her reputation.'

"Well, Joey, I'm sure to find out her name sooner or later so you may as well tell me now. Was it Tina Minetti?"

'I cannot say.'

'Was it Teresa Mazzarelli?'

'I'll never tell.'

'Was it Nina Capelli?' '

I'm sorry, but I cannot name her.'

'Was it Cathy Piriano?'

'My lips are sealed Father.'

'Well then, was it Rosa DiAngelo?'

'Please, Father, I cannot tell you.'

The priest sighs in frustration. 'You're very tight lipped, and I admire that. But you've sinned and have to atone. You cannot be an altar boy now for 4 months. Now you go and behave yourself.'

Joey walks back to his pew, and his friend Franco slides over and whispers, 'What'd you get?' 'Four month's vacation and five excellent Leads.

"Live, Love, and Laugh"

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Concluding thoughts on Clemson- nervous optimism

I rewatched the game. This time with ear plugs.

First, addressing yesterday's question. I might have overreacted, but not by much. We had 222 yards rushing on 41 attempts. Those are numbers we'd take nine times out of ten. But the bulk of the workload went right into the middle of Clemson's defense. To make matters worse they were keying on the slow developing draws and often Marshall never had a chance at getting into space before he even had secured the handoff.

So my answer, based mostly on film from last year that I also re-watched, is that our running game does indeed complement our backs. But Saturday against the Gamecocks we need to get back to stretching the defense out laterally more.

Other than that, not letting Grantham relay the first offensive play of the second half in (I mean, YGTBFKM. First play of the half and we get a delay of game? WTF?!?) and finding some consistency in the offensive line, there's not much to quibble over with the offense. Just a great game, both through the air and on the ground. Quayvon Hicks is going to be fun to watch and luckily Scott-Wesley has developed into a dependable target now that Mitchell is lost for the season.

On the defensive side of things, there is a lot of reason for optimism. Several different guys brought pressure in non-blitzing situations. Sterling Bailey, Ray Drew and Mike Thornton had good plays in the backfield. Of course, Jordan Jenkins is already proving he's ready to step in as this season's pass rusher extraordinaire. But he may be better against the run than Jarvis and Houston.

In the secondary, the young guys did as well as I think we could've asked. I had a chance to see Tray Matthews up close Saturday and he's a big kid with great speed. That we knew, but it'll be fun watching him, Langley and Wiggins develop. I was particularly impressed on a deep out to Watkins where Langley was clearly protecting against something deep and broke on the ball with authority. He closed with nearly enough speed to break up the pass that was well ahead of him. His arms are long. He had some mistakes, but overall he and the young secondary performed up to reasonable expectations for the offense they were facing.

Special teams...ok. The good is that the coverage teams were really good. Barber handled the kickoffs extremely well considering and placed the ball deep on all but one. He also netted over 42 yards per punt. The concerns were with the punt returns, or lack thereof (which appear to be part of the strategy as much as anything), and of course the botched snap on the field goal attempt.

The snap can be fixed with more reps, but Coach Richt has to find some balls to return some damn punts.

Overall, things are fixable. It'll develop as a big week for the coaches, the o-line and the special teams. The coaches have to make some adjustments and regroup after getting out-classed by Dabo's crew. But I think being at home will help things. If Bobo can use Murray's legs and a better designed and more varied run scheme, that will help the offensive line as much as anything. And that was the biggest concern coming out of Clemson. Those guys faced a defensive front that was allowed to play with their ears pinned back against a group who couldn't hear anything. You can't allow the Gamecocks to do that, because they are leaps and bounds better than the Tigers' defensive front.

So...moving on...we got beat by a good team. It shouldn't have happened as I still think we're better than what we saw. It's imperative that the coaches don't let this start slip into what we had in 2011, where a big and glamorous opening loss slipped right into 0-2 out of the gate.

Offensive line will have better cell service at Sanford

There was much made around Clempson when they installed "data enhancers" at the top of the stadium to improve cell service. This Saturday proved that they were just cosmetic fluff as fans couldn't talk, text or tweet until sometime Sunday morning. Those is attendance thought they had found the worst of all #firstworldproblems.

But then Georgia's offensive line had to function in an insane environment at unGodly decibels. The result was more than disappointing for a unit that had finally, finally received some good fall camp press in August. The result was four Clemson sacks, five tackles for loss and a lot of shuffling to find a working solution. It never came.
“A lot of times when you play in an environment like this it throws you off your cadence,” Richt said. “You just don’t get the jump you want off the line. I think the crowd noise had a lot to do with that.”
Georgia made a lot of noise about the depth of its offensive line during fall camp. There were extensive talks of a deep rotation. Offensive line coach Will Friend even had plans to rotate as many eight players throughout the game. While Georgia didn’t quite rotate eight against Clemson, it played enough of its lineup to give its linemen a quick breather.
Friendlier confines won't solve all of the offensive line's problems. But it sure won't hurt. Hope this unit has a good week of preparation.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Morgan still anchored to the sideline for Gamecocks

Beless will handle kicking duties as Morgan finishes off a two game suspension related to his BUI.

Suppose it's possible Erickson could work back into the picture based on this comment:
“Beless did do a nice job for us in that role,” Richt said. “It was a little bit of a kicking contest between Adam and Beless and Beless won it out in a very close match or competition.”
Now that we know the Morgan suspension is two games, I guess it's also possible the scholarship kicker has to earn his spot back. Stay tuned.

Does our running game complement the personnel?

I'm just going to ask the question here, because Saturday night really showcased it. And I say that without without having had the benefit of replay and without having re-watched the game, yet. Also, I realize that our offense amassed over 500 yards of offense and 35 points. It seems ludicrous to criticize play calling and pick nits with Bobo's playbook. But with Gurley missing much of the game, we never really seemed to adjust to the different style of running the ball that Keith Marshall brings to the backfield. And that's been stuck in my craw. Blame Clempson post-game traffic.

But first, look at the stat lines:
Todd Gurley: 12 carries, 154 yards, 2 touchdowns, long of 75, avg of 12.8
Keith Marshall: 16 carries, 43 yards, long of 6, avg of 2.7
I resist the monikers for these two like "Thunder and Lightning". I admit there are times when it is fitting. But the practice suggests that each has a role to play and I truly believe both Gurley and Marshall can be feature backs. Together they are greater, of course. But I digress.

We were relentless in challenging the heart of the Clemson defense with running the ball on dives and traps. That's made for a back like Gurley and he showed (based on the stat line above alone) that he can handle it and make it work. But we used Marshall essentially to run clock it seems. Content to get a couple yards and burn another 45 ticks instead of stretching the field and getting the defense moving laterally as much as north/south.

And I not saying Marshall can't break through to the second level on those plays. He proved he can last season. But his strength is stretching out wide on sweeps and turning the corner before the defense can react. The Clemson defense played well, and we ran right into their hands and made it too easy for them. I didn't see a single jersey in orange that could've caught Marshall once he got a step. The guy is lightning quick and faster than a laser.

Instead, we used him like a plunger and sucked their front seven in.

If you're interested, look at this compilation video of Gurley and Marshall highlights from 2012. I'm not going to embed it because it does some uncomfortable things with the Herschel comparison and has some weird music. But it shows a number of things. Not the least of which is that our running game can do a much better job of matching the talent in the backfield.

Really dude? What's your husband think?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

If it weren't for bad luck...

Damn. But perhaps there was an omen Friday evening before the game:

As soon as some Dawgs showed up to hunker down at my parents party that night the deck buckled and the Clempson fans spilled their wine. So they moved inside and we drank beer while enjoying the tilt.

The moral is, celebrating can be costly. 

Sunday's Thoughts on orange balloons

This will take a lot less time than Clempson post-game traffic.

- If you were there you saw what as difference the crowd can make. As Murray said, they expected it but there's no way to prepare for that level of intensity.
- there was a few times the crowd could've been taken out of the equation, but they were just relentless. And their team did nothing to hinder the noise level.
- that being said, booing injured players is gamecock level disfunction and low class Clemson. Don't be assholes.
- Onto the game, it was every bit the shoot out people expected. Clemson made fewer mistakes and won. Plain and simple.
- the turnovers were huge momentum shifts. The botched snap looms even larger.
- but crowd and mistakes aside, the Tigers were better prepared. I thought they challenged the defense to each sideline and vertically, made Grantham's guys defined the entire field. They also ran the ball much better than I expected.
- not sure why Bobo didn't make more of an effort to stretch things out to open up some of those run lanes in the middle. Also, losing Mitchell hurt, but we had other deep threats that weren't used. That might've been a statement about confidence in an offensive line that was struggling. But it's something to think about this week and moving forward.
- Quayvon Hicks is the real deal. As expected.
- Clemson guy next to me asked why Gurley isn't a Heisman candidate. "He is. Obviously."
- on the defensive side I'm lead to two questions: how good is clemson and how good is Josh Harvey-Clemons. 

More later. I've gotta go pack. Great game. Gut wrenching decision.  Lots of football left.