Saturday, September 21, 2013

A statement and a question

First, we're going to kick LSU's tail next week. The week leading up to it is going to be almost as much fun as the game itself. It was a soggy afternoon and I'm just now about dried out. But I CAN NOT WAIT TO GET BACK AND SCREAM AND CHEER AND CHEST BUMP AND REFILL MY STADIUM CUP AGAIN AND AGAIN!!!

Next, crap on a broken record cracker. Are we the only damn team on Earth that doesn't have a kicker that can kick the ball into the endzone? Sometimes it seems like a coaching decision and others it seems like a different flavor of weak sauce. Either way it tastes like rotten corn dogs.

Just let Murray kickoff.

(Kidding. Really.)

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Loyalty before royalty"

Great story about Damian Swann and his support system. Bowers goes deep into the starting cornerback's childhood, his development as an athlete, his recruitment, and this nugget he adopted from Jarvis Jones.
It was in Athens that Damian has found his second family as he is in the midst of his second season as a start for the Bulldogs. It’s a friendship he cultivated with former Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, that helped Damian build on a “loyalty before royalty” principle — look after the people who look after him. The phrase, coined by Jones, Damian says, just carries over the concept he grew up with. And his teammates take note of the character trait Damian says he got from his dad.
Good read. Check it out.

The unbearable lightness of lackadaisicalness

North Texas is a 32 point dog in Athens tomorrow. So why are we so nervous? Sure, Akron set the stage well last week in Ann Arbor. But there are examples that hit much closer to home.

There was Troy in 2007 where the Dawgs won by double digits - albeit barely - in a game that was way too uncomfortable to watch. There was also Marshall in 2004, another 10 point victory over a mid-major, 13-3. Not to mention UAB in 2003, a narrow 16-13 victory by the skin of our teeth. Or more directly, a Blazer missed field goal.

Recently, you only have to look at last season's games against both Buffalo and to a lesser extent Florida Atlantic. Both were early season charity games that saw the defense struggle to contain an offense that should have barely put up a fight. Instead, we give up nearly 200 yards rushing to Buffalo and 134 to FAU on the way to allowing 23 and 20 points respectively.

Which is why I posted this last week in terms of stopping the run. The Mean Green can run the ball if someone lets them. They have some playmakers and they're bringing about 20 offensive linemen with them (seriously, take a look at how many big uglies they carry on their roster). Are we going to force them into long yardage on third down? Can we contain their mobile quarterback?

To the point, if we're going to have a shot in hell against LSU's punishing attack, we're going to have to develop an attitude and an identity on defense. Quick like. We can't be caught off guard by a fledgling football squad, or approach them with a lackadaisical attitude.

Our offense should be able to name their score tomorrow. I just hope our defense can follow suit.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

No more "maybe" in Mayes

It's been a long road for Chris Mayes to get on the field for Georgia. Saturday against North Texas it'll finally end. Between a stint at Mississippi Gulf Coast, redshirting last season, enrolling at UGA early to participate in spring ball, and then a concussion last month, no one's more ready than the Griffin GA native.
“It set me back a while,” Mayes said. “I couldn’t work out for weeks. I couldn’t do any conditioning. I was frustrated about that. It took me a while to get back into playing shape. A lost technique and stuff, but I’ve gained it back. … I feel like I’m 100 percent right now. I’m doing well in practice, taking a couple of reps and playing real well right now.”
“I feel like I’m more of a run-stopper,” Mayes said. “I can clog up lanes. I try to make plays. If you’re trying to run the ball, I don’t like to allow that.”
I certainly like the sound of that.

More relaxed Matthews ready to pull the Trigga

Tray Matthews was available for the media yesterday for the first time since Signing Day. He spoke of his development, his expectations, the fans' expectations, the new targeting rule, speaking to some former safeties from UGA, and what the future holds. There's a lot there to digest from Georgia's starting safety. But what was most important was what he said about the adjustment to the speed of the game while also playing tentative.
"The world is gonna see. My time is coming, that's all I can say," Matthew said.
So far the world has seen a player who by his own admission has been tentative. It goes back to the preseason when Matthews was limited by injuries, first a shoulder and then a hamstring. He missed about two weeks' worth of practices, and was limited in several more.
Matthews was still able to make the start at Clemson, making four tackles and assisting on four more. But he didn't feel like himself, saying he was playing "scared," both because of the injury and the first-game jitters.
"Going out there I was hyped, I was tensing up. I was like, it's my first game I don't wanna mess up on TV. That's kind of the reason I don't think I played as fast as I can," Matthews said. "I don't want to mess up. I'm on the big screen, if I mess up they'll be like: Dang, Tray Matthews did this, he did that. But now I've made my mistakes, I'm ready to go out and play my game."
I don't think any of that is a real surprise. Everyone expected the learning curve to be steep, even for a player of Matthews' caliber. As long as he (and his teammates) stay healthy, we're going to see improvement in the secondary each week.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The life that AJ juggled

I missed this when it aired last night. If you did ya go.

Just one of those times you find yourself asking, could I possibly like this guy anymore?

Damn Good Dawg!

99 touchdowns, and this is THE one.

Saw where reporters asked Aaron Murray (who with his next touchdown throw will obtain the century mark, of course) which one was his favorite. He mentioned one that went to his longtime teammate Orson Charles against Tech in 2010, a win that made the Bulldogs bowl eligible. If I have it correct, and through the powers of the YouTubes, it is at about the 1:40 mark.

But you were probably going to watch this one all the way through anyway. Right?

Humpday Hilarity - Scottish whales

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A diamond 'tween the hedges

Georgia has former players all over the NFL landscape. And they're not just filling out roster spots. They're making an impact on games from positions all over the field. You didn't have to watch much of this weekend's NFL slate to see a former UGA player on the field.

And the one I find most intriguing is Marlon Brown. The guy who once donned a Georgia cap on national television before finishing out a lackluster career in Athens is now taking full advantage of a roster need in Baltimore. (h/t Weiszer)
Marlon Brown
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound former Georgia player has emerged as one of quarterback Joe Flacco's most frequent targets, catching eight passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Brown leads the team in touchdown catches, ranks third in receptions, second in receiving yards and has a 13.8 average per reception.
"To come into a team where they have some wide receiver issues, I had an opportunity to come in and start playing early," Brown said. "I've just been trying to seize every opportunity I get."
To say the Ravens are pleased with Brown despite a dropped pass Sunday during a 14-6 win over the Cleveland Browns would be an understatement.
"Marlon Brown is a humble, hungry, hard-working guy," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "There are plenty of things he can get better at, route-running wise and playmaking-wise. He stays after it, and he made some big plays for us."
That's a guy that only made 11 starts and 55 catches in his college career, and he's now turning heads in the infancy of his NFL career. And before everyone starts griping about this and that, I chalk this up to a "late-bloomer" situation. Both on and off the field.

We all knew Brown had this kind of talent in him, and to be honest we saw a lot of it last season before he was injured. But he played in high school against competition that, by my untrained eye at least, did not ready him for the SEC. So it took awhile for him to rise above the coverage.

Regardless, really proud of what Brown has done thus far. Coach Harbaugh got a good one at a cheap price - 3 years for $1.5 million. Not a bad value. But hopefully the diamond has only begun to shine.

More Strict-lin

Folks. The Scott Stricklin era officially began yesterday. The coaches and players took the field which gave the media a chance to get a peek into what's been going on since the new regime took over earlier this summer.
Stricklin collaborated with his strength coach, Ryan Gearheart, who came with him from Kent State, to begin the change. Gearheart has instituted a football-like environment in the weight room, facilitating daily competitions between players. That has created a new energy in the locker room that second baseman Nelson Ward said has been lacking for a couple years.
“Now instead of dreading going to the weight room we’re looking forward to it, looking forward to trying to beat somebody each day,” said pitcher Pete Nagel, who missed last season due to Tommy John surgery.
That's just one small part. The players also talk about the differences in the rules and expectations and the general feeling overall. Good read. Perhaps sophomore Sean McLaughlin put it best:
“It was definitely just a different ball game once he stepped in here."

Pass happy offenses, is the worst behind us?

Blutarsky hit on the new SEC meme that was put on grand display in the national game of interest this past Saturday. And that is that defense is minimalistic bordering on optional in the SEC this season. Georgia-South Carolina set the bar high (or low depending on how you look at it) and Alabama-Texas A&M cleared it easily.

But the point he makes (through a Rece Davis final thought on the weekend) speaks to experienced quarterbacks having the advantage, at least thus far. Murray, and his veteran compadres in McCarron, Manziel and Shaw, are all off to great starts this season. So I thought it might behoove us to take a look at how future opponents are faring under center. I left Boyd and Shaw in there for comparison purposes.

comp %
Boyd, Clemson
Shaw, S. Carolina
Thompson, UNT
Mettenberger, LSU
Worley, Tenn
Franklin, Missouri
Carta-Samuels, Vandy
Driskel, Florida
Bryant, App State
Marshall, Auburn
Smith, Kentucky
Lee, GA Tech

  • First and foremost, still very early as most of this is based on two, maybe three games worth. But these stats give us something to chew on nonetheless.
  • For what it's worth, Vandy, App State and Kentucky use more than one quarterback. What you see here are their leaders thus far.
  • Mettenberger has really had his way early. And he'll go against an Auburn pass defense ranked dead last in the SEC this Saturday as his last primer before a return trip to Athens.
  • Speaking of conference rankings in pass defense, the Dawgs will play three of the bottom five - Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Auburn. (The other two of that group by the way is Georgia and Alabama. Food for thought.)
  • Unless you believe in Vad Lee's stats against the likes of Elon and Duke, Mettenberger is the most efficient and productive passer on our schedule. But he too, to a lesser extent, is a product of some cupcake crumbs. His passer rating against TCU in the opener - 126.2.
  • Driskel is just gonna do Driskel things y'all.
  • Overall, the most experienced and dangerous quarterbacks appear to be behind us.
And just for the sake of comparison:

Aaron Murray - 71.2  /  632  / 4  /  1  /  194.77

Monday, September 16, 2013

Help wanted - defensive identity

The team has reconvened in Athens after getting some rest and relaxation. This week begins the next step in the season; the next rung in the ladder. And it starts with North Texas on Saturday.

One thing we hope this bye week before a cupcake provides is a step toward finding an identity on defense. The goal line stand against the gamecocks was huge and should be a shot in the arm. But as we watch this young unit grow up it'll be important for them to develop some proficiency on which they can hang their hat. Richt alluded to just that last night.
Much of the focus for Georgia this week will be on defense, which has yielded 68 points 921 yards, albeit to two tough foes.
“We’ve got to become better tacklers; we’ve got to communicate better in the back end, get more pressure on the quarterback,” Richt said. “There’s just a lot of things that we’ve gotta get better at defensively.”
I think this puts some more pressure on Jordan Jenkins. In two games thus far he has nine tackles, two for a loss and one quarterback hurry. Much was made about him replacing Jarvis Jones in the off season at the much heralded weak side outside linebacker spot. Recording five sacks in spot duty of 14 games last season eased a lot of minds regarding a defense that lost all but one starter, especially Jarvis who tallied 14.5 sacks.

But is it all about sacking the quarterback? Grantham's scheme is built on pressure and creating mistakes. When it works, it's a beautiful thing to behold. It stands to reason we are deeper and more talented on defense than last year. So the question becomes when...when will it all click and we see the quarterbacks under duress, the running backs stuffed behind the line and the tipped passes?

It's something that Grantham himself was asking in the wake of the Clemson loss. While everyone grumbled about the missed tackles and the rushing yards given up, Georgia's defensive coordinator was more concerned with the -1 turnover margin.

And I agree, as that is the fuel for Grantham's defense. We saw it on grand display in Jacksonville last November. It's been one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises with the changeover in the defensive staff the last few seasons.

But on Saturday I'd take stopping the run with some Junkyard Dawg authority. That'd be a great start towards identifying this defense as one making positive strides.

Coach Richt digs the Zips' timing

Didn't take long for Coach to give a nod to Michigan's lapse Saturday in his Sunday teleconference.

No doubt the team will hear plenty of this during the week...with maybe some 2003 UAB thrown in for good measure.