Saturday, October 19, 2013

We drunk and I suck

Film at 11.

Vandy- what to look for today

I've been up much of the night preparing a couple pork shoulders. During the game the guys and I will be making our next batch of beer. All in all, outside the arena it is shaping up to be a nice Saturday.

I hope it is inside the arena as well. Here's what I'm looking for:
  • Offensive line consistency. If those guys up front don't come to play and come to play hard, it's going to be a long afternoon for Georgia fans. And an even longer one for Aaron Murray. A Todd Gurley can help mask some inconsistencies on the line. But without him and a host of other playmakers, Murray really needs these guys to step up.
  • How "set" is the defense. I really think Tyler hit on something big with his post earlier in the week about the defensive play calling. If for nothing else it gives us something to look for today. The last thing a young and not very confident defense needs is getting calls in late from the sideline.
  • Who steps up on offense? Murray needs someone to take the pressure off. When he starts to feel like it is all on him is when we start to see the uncharacteristic mistakes. Can Reggie Davis be that guy? Can Jay Rome or Artie Lynch be released to run some routes? Does JJ Green go on a tear?
  • Defensive ditto. The same goes for the defense that is still looking for an identity. Ray Drew is really playing well by pressuring the quarterback, but Vandy will use a lot of quick passes to slow down the pass rush. Can a defensive lineman get their hand into one of those passing lanes to create a deflection? Better yet, can a defensive back react quick enough to jump a route?
  • Special teams. They've become the equivalent of a four letter word around Athens. But games in Nashville tend to be very difficult for Georgia. Whether it keeps the pace as a high flying touchdown frenzy or devolves into a low scoring slugfest somehow, special teams will play a key role. Every kickoff is important and every punt is crucial.
That's a lot to ask I know. But sure would be nice to go into the off week before Florida with both a win and a lot of confidence!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Misery - "To catch a Commodore"

And I ain't talking about Lionel Ritchie.

"I wear my eye glasses at noon..."
I'm not going to Nashville. And I'm flat out miserable about it. To all of you who are: enjoy yourselves, have a great time, hunker down. 

And for God's sake...bring home a win!

Hunker > Anchor
I reached out to Nashville's Corey Hart wannabe, Mr. James Franklin, this week for an interview. His response was extremely eager at first, strangely eager actually. Creepy. 

But after consulting with the Supreme Chancellor of Student Athletic Athleticism at Vanderbilt University he hedged. So I asked for a simple statement. Here's his response:
We're not gonna take any shit. (Please pardon my colorful and mildly intimidating language Supreme Chancellor of Student Athletic Athleticism.) I've made this clear from the get go. When Georgia's defensive players started yapping a couple years ago and your defensive coach was really mean to me, I went straight to Coach Richt and told him about it! That's right. We're not going to take anybody's crap without getting even. I'm trying to build a program based on high moral character. And except for some dirty chop blocks and a few rape indictments, we're doing pretty good.

So yeh. There's that. But how you gonna stop Todd Gurley...Michael Bennett....Malcolm Mit.......Keit....(shit!)....Justin Scott- We...(oh dammit!!)...

How you gonna stop Aaron Murray?
"Wanna see my hot tub young man?"
I rest my case. Show up and win. If our minds are back in Athens or in Knoxville or ahead in Jacksonville...well, our chances are cut in half.

While both a hunker and an anchor are "down" in trajectory, one is for winners wanting to rise to the top. The other is for losers waiting to have their battleship sunk.

Let me just break this down for you...
That last section was too woe is me and my woe is just about damn broke. So here's why we win: 

They suck at everything but SATs. 
Their mascot's uni-brow once sat on a stool next to Dateline's Chris Hansen and discussed an online chat log.
Their quarterback's name - Austyn....with a "y"...
They're pure-bred yuppies who'd rather drape a sweater around their necks than strap on a helmet and sweat for a few hours.
Their undergrads play drinking games with chess pieces. 
They rhyme with "dandy". 
Their football players evidently can't get dates by any legal means. 
Their fans do shit like this for giggles. 
The ones that actually tailgate prefer to listen to Nickelback, the muzak version.
They also prefer a chilled, fermented grape over beer. 
Jay Cutler. 
They steal shit from your kicker's duplex while he's kicking the winning field goal. 
Their basketball court is permanently erect. And that's really creepy.
Their football stadium is the 18th largest stadium in the state.
Their players have stars on their helmets but have been tackled by our punter.
James Franklin's transition lenses.
Did I mention their quarterback's name?
When chilled, fermented grapes run out, they break out the Zima.
Out of 74 meetings with Georgia, they've won 18.

And two of those wins came while I was matriculating and Goff was...was....goffing. Times have changed. Let's keep it that way. Cuz The New Vandy TM just creeps me the hell out.

Go Dawgs!

Playing fast vs playing overwhelmed

Great piece here by Gentry Estes about the young defense absorbing a massive playbook. I think Josh Harvey-Clemons sums it up nicely.
“A lot of those guys from the secondary last year, they’ve told us the playbook they have in the NFL is not even as hard as the playbook we have here,” safety Josh Harvey-Clemons said. “It just shows you right there how difficult our defense can be, I guess. …
"We run a very complex defense. You’ve got to know a lot to play fast.”
And it's not just the freshmen. As Estes points out, even some of the more experienced players are playing different positions than the ones where they played previously. People ask where Jordan Jenkins has been. Well, he's at his new spot - the Will.

Add in a bunch of new kids and it explains a lot as to why we're seeing so many players standing instead of running because they're not sure yet what they're seeing. Reaction is good. Reacting late yields yards. And points.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Gurley, Matthews both a "no go"

In what was the least surprising news of the week, Richt said neither Georgia's top running back nor its free safety are expected to play Saturday. Gurley appears to be making some progress, but he'll rest the tender ankle another couple weeks and hopefully be 100% ready for Florida. Richt said he was running at a very conservative tempo and making some cuts. Just not doing anything that would lead you to believe he is ready to play.

Matthews meanwhile wasn't even practicing on his pulled hamstring. He, along with Gurley, will miss his third consecutive game.

But, there was some news out of practice that I found interesting and positive. John Theus will start at right tackle in place of Kolton Houston. Theus has been a big mystery this season. Considered a top prospect for the NFL one day, he let a guy who hadn't played football in years supplant him as the the starter. When Theus is in top form, this line performs better, bottom line. We need him at full tilt down the stretch if we're going to keep the pressure on Missouri et al. for a trip to the Georgia Dome.

Also, mentioned yesterday that Johnathon Rumph will play for the first time on Saturday. Here's what Richt had to say about the lanky wideout:
“He hasn’t played all year, obviously,” Richt said. “He hasn’t practiced in a long time, or at least before this week. He’s still getting comfortable with the system. To think that he’ll make a huge impact, it would be hard to predict that, but hopefully he’ll get in the game and when he gets opportunities, he’ll make plays.”

Thursday headers - anchoring down

Some news and notes from Vanderbilt as well as Athens. As well as Vegas. Well, not really.

- Need a Woody Widenhofer reference this morning? Okay, Vanderbilt will be making a CBS appearance Saturday for the first time in over a decade! And it's the first time a game at Vanderbilt Stadium has been on CBS in over 20 years.
- Commodore defensive end Kyle Woestmann feels good about being able to "exploit" Georgia's offensive line and pressure Murray. This has been an area of emphasis for Vanderbilt in the off week as their ability to pressure the quarterback has seen a significant drop off since conference play started.
- Meanwhile, in other news, former Commodores Brandon Vandenburg and Corey Batey will stand trial next August.
-If you thought some of the names on the new playoff selection committee were interesting, how about the selection criteria? Talk about having a lot of gray area to work in.
- It's been eight years since the ACC had a matchup of two top five teams. Clemson is looking for payback.
- Georgia is one of three SEC East teams favored on the road this weekend, giving 8.5. Florida is favored over host Missouri by 3.5 and South Carolina by a touchdown over Tennessee. That covers everyone in the division except for Kentucky, who is getting 3.5 from Bye Week.

Just don't use up too much of that 2014 Kentucky Derby money!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

But can he play safety?

JUCO prospect Jonathon Rumph, who highlighted spring practices and GDay, could play this weekend for the first time all season in Nashville.
The 6-foot-5, 208-pound receiver out of Holmes (Miss.) Community College has been sidelined through the first six games with a nagging hamstring injury.
Though Richt said “there’s not much doubt he’ll play,” it’s still up in the air how often Rumph will take the field.
“You got to just see by the end of the week how comfortable he is and how comfortable we are with what he knows and the way we think he can execute,” Richt said.
Meanwhile, Bobo wasn't quite as confident.
 “To be honest, I don’t know yet,” Bobo said. “He practiced a little bit [Tuesday], but not a lot. I’d say we’re still up in the air.”
Probably comes down to how well he does today as to how much he'll see the field and be counted on to block, run clean routes and catch the ball when Murray targets him.

So...anyone remember this?

It's Vandy week! And the first trip back to Nashville since the chop block and the chippiness and "the confrontation" post-game.

Don't you just know that James Franklin would love to stick it to Grantham? Kick him while he's down? Especially after the way last year's game in Athens turned out. Plus, the 'Dores have had an extra week to prepare for this one. So there's also that.

Suddenly, very glad this one isn't a night game.

Humpday Hilarity - Where God put Earth's idiots

If you weren't already aware, Mrs. Bernie is from Virginia. Smart enough to come south to UGA. But still proud of her home...

When God created Virginia
God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael, the archangel,
found him, resting on the seventh day.

He inquired, "Where have you been?"

God smiled deeply and proudly pointed downwards through the

clouds, "Look, Michael. Look what I've made."

Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, "What is it?"

"It's a planet," replied God, and I've put life on it.

I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a place to test Balance."

"Balance?" inquired Michael, "I'm still confused."

God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth.

"For example, northern Europe will be a place of great

opportunity and wealth, while southern Europe is going to be poor.

Over here I've placed a continent of white people, and over

there is a continent of black people. Balance in all things."

God continued pointing to different countries.

"This one will be extremely hot, while this one will be

very cold and covered in ice."

The Archangel , impressed by God's work, then pointed to a
land area and said,
"What's that one?"

"That's Virginia , the most glorious place on earth.
There are beautiful mountains,
rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, and plains.
The people from Virginia are going to be handsome, modest,
intelligent, and humorous,
and they are going to travel the world.
They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving,
carriers of peace,
and producers of good things"

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then asked,
"But what about balance, God? You said there would be balance."

God smiled, "Right next to Virginia is Washington , D.C. ..
Wait till you see the idiots I put there!"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

At least they were impressed by the fans...

Like many of us, Pinkel was not impressed with our defense.

Now with the New York Jets, neither was Sheldon Richardson.

But if you were in attendance and at your seat for pregame, please pat yourself on the back.

Tread lightly

It was a tough loss. It's not easy to see your team's chances at something super fantastic go down the drain right before your eyes. At home no less. But let's take a moment to caution ourselves. We know it's already become a piss and vinegar kind of week on social media and message boreds and around the water cooler at the office. We know coaches' heads are gonna be called for and there will be a lot of people throwing in the towel as they leap off the bandwagon.

And to be honest, I understand some of it...with the notable exception of calling out players. I attempted to re-watch the game yesterday in hopes of finding something to hang our hat on defensively and being able to post a wrap up on the game today. I made it almost to halftime. Folks, it was a bad game. Really bad.

The only semi-cogent thought I can put together for the Missouri loss is that when we finally wore down to where the offense needed the defense to step up - something the offense had been doing more than their fair share of the previous five games - they just didn't. They couldn't come close.

If you're susceptible to the kind of venomous vitriol we'll see and hear this week...if it hurts you deep...if it compels you to join the din of squeaky wheels demanding grease...well, just opt out. Maybe log off that website where "fans" go to bitch about Richt's record and Grantham blows and how their car won't start and Bobo is the worst and their wife talks too much and their oatmeal is too cold and Terrance Edwards dropped that pass in Jacksonville and the Government is an asshole and their job doesn't pay enough and their kids' teachers suck and the only good player we ever had in the history of Georgia football is Herschel Walker!

Miserable people are going to be miserable. And this is a week when they have both reason to and the means with which to air it. More power to them. Me? I'm moving on. Sure, I'll afford myself moments of abject despair. But it'll be followed by a deep breath and a commitment to beating the shit out of Florida!

To clarify, I am not rooting for Florida. Period.

I just wanted to make that clear. After I re-read my post yesterday on the muddy SEC East picture. If they manage to win against a backup quarterback (one who seemed every bit as good as James Franklin against our defense Saturday), on the road, in front of what is sure to be a frenzied 11:21 am crowd...well, good on ya Muschamp.

And the gators are favored...
No. 14 Missouri opened as a 3.5-point underdog against No. 22 Florida on Saturday because the Tigers won't have starting quarterback James Franklin, who separated his shoulder in their big win at Georgia.
Had the senior been available, the Tigers would have opened as 1-point favorites, said John Avello, executive director of the Wynn Las Vegas sports book.
Early action is on the Tigers, who are now getting 3 points.
But they'll have to do it without my support.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Controlling your own destiny is nice and all...

...but history in the SEC East tends to favor the strong finishers.

That being said, Georgia knows two things midway through the SEC slate.

1. Win out and Atlanta is still a very real possibility. Missouri may be in the drivers seat, but there'll be a new quarterback doing the steering. Florida and South Carolina have a lot to play for and should prove difficult tests for the Tigers, even at home. The Gators also controls its own fate, but is having trouble scoring. They are 13th in the league in scoring offense as well as total offense. At some point they are going to have to put up a bigger number than they've been asked to so far. South Carolina meanwhile needs Georgia to lose again before it can re-enter the picture with clarity.

2. In a season that has seen Grantham's defense learn the ropes against a gauntlet of high powered offenses, much of the big scoring threats (LSU, South Carolina, Missouri) are in the rear view. Florida and Kentucky make up the bottom of the offensive categories. Both Auburn and Vanderbilt average over 33 points a game and will be true road tests for Richt's team. Focus shouldn't be an issue this week as the Dawgs should come out hungry and eager.

And if they can get to Auburn with still just the one SEC loss, they should find themselves in good position again.

Mumme Poll - week 7

I forgot to submit my ballot on time last week, so I'm a little late in sharing this. But I'm glad to have the Mumme Poll back this season. So I'll be sharing my ballot week to week like before. For those of you unfamiliar, you pick your top team overall and then the next nine in. Here's who I have this week:
  • Alabama
  • Oregon
  • Clemson 
  • FSU
  • LSU
  • Ohio State
  • Texas A&M
  • South Carolina
  • UCLA
  • Baylor

  • Just outside - Miami, Missouri, Stanford.
  • Bama and Oregon are heads and shoulders above the rest in my mind. At least for this point in the season. Still, I'd be surprised if both finished the season unscathed. 
  • The winner of the FSU-Clemson game this weekend could vault into that small sample as well. 
  • The Buckeyes are a square peg that I;m just not sure where to fit them in. What's more is that I'm not sure we'll know how good they are until after their bowl game. 
  • As for South Carolina, perhaps I'm putting too much weight on that Arkansas game, but the score really surprised me.
  • At the bottom I had Stanford in there. They were tough to leave out after a close loss on the road. But if they beat UCLA they'll be right back in.

Let's talk turnovers

I'll preface this by saying I believe we're recruiting much better players under Todd Grantham. Physically they're better equipped for the SEC, they're faster and able to compete for playing time earlier rather than later.

But suddenly that's not translating into creating fumbles and picking off passes. And the numbers are eye opening to be quite honest. Now, this isn't a knee jerk reaction, fire the coaches they all suck post. So if you're looking for that, you might as well go elsewhere. I'm sure there are plenty of other hosts that will feed into that, but the fact is that it's October. I'd rather look at what needs fixing than throw grease on the fire.

Speaking of grease fires, let's look back at Willie Martinez's last season.
2009 - 12 turnovers gained, .92 turnovers per game, and a -16 margin on the season
That sucked. And it reminds us that a lot of Martinez's defensive backs were so far out of position they made up for it with pee wee league tactics such as face guarding and just out-right interfering/tackling/mugging the potential receiver. All in all, those numbers in 2009 were a large part of why the defensive staff (outside of Rodney Garner) were let go.

Ok, now Grantham's revolution.

Year Total
Margin Turnovers per game
2010 26 10 2
2011 32 7 2.28
2012 30 11 2.14
2013 5 -4 0.83

Our national ranking in turnover margin since 2009: 118th, 19th, 26th, 22nd, and this year we're back down to 106th. You can tell me about the youth and the inexperience. But we're now six games into the season. Where are all those pick sixes we heard about in training camp back in August? The pass rush is starting to evolve and we're actually on pace with last year's sack totals despite losing arguably our best pass rusher of all time. But we just can't create enough chaos to give us the ball back.

Is it having the confidence to make a play? Being in position to separate the ball from its carrier or tip a pass at the line of scrimmage enough that it falls into a teammate's waiting hands? Knowing an opposing quarterback's tendencies well enough that you can anticipate and jump a route?

I'm sure it's a combination of a lot of things. The number of points scored against this defense through just six games has to be playing games with their collective psyche. I'm just dumbfounded at the drop in creating turnovers. Is it a regression to the mean? I don't think I'm wrong about that opening statement as to the talent, size and ability of the players. And I know that turnovers are an emphasis with Grantham and his staff.

So what gives?

Sunday, October 13, 2013


From BD_Illustrated at this evening's presser:
Richt: "Ron Courson informed me we came out of Missouri clean. No new players will miss any time due to injury."
Both thrilled and depressed that this is news. 

Sunday's thoughts on reality in our face

I hate dwelling on the negative. So on a morning when there is little else to do other than that, I'll keep this brief with a promise to address some specifics during the week.

I'll also rewatch the Missouri game off the dvr later today or tomorrow. But my first reactions are these:
- The lack of consistency from the offensive line is one of the season's most puzzling questions. The fact that we can't move Gates inside to guard really hurts us.
- Of course that's not a recent concern. Offensive line recruiting is Richt's Achilles heel.
- Timeouts at inexplicable times is his other one.
- At a time when there are fair and direct questions for the defensive coordinator, here's the man himself:

You’ve got to understand the sticks,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “What’s the down and distance? You’re going to play coverages based upon the down and distance. You’ve got to be on them, you’ve got to be able to cover them. If you can do that, you get off the field. If you can’t, you extend drives and when you extend drives, you get more plays, which allows them to be out there, which in turn increases points.

- Ok. You've got this week to figure that out Coach. I'm done listening to how young this defense is and how they're still learning. We're halfway through the season.
- I can't help but reflect on the things we embraced after Grantham arrived - intensity, turnovers, adjustments within the game. I did some research in the turnover side of things last night that I'll share later. 
- But it's clear that there's been considerable drop off this season. Sure, some of that is youth. But it's getting harder and harder to have the kind of faith that Richt sees for the defense's immediate future.

“I believe we’re going to be the type of defense that everybody is going to be proud of,” Richt said. “It takes some time. We’ve played some pretty good clubs. No doubt about it. This team was no joke offensively averaging 550 a game and 46 points or whatever it was a game.”

It's never as good as it feels and it's never as bad as it seems. At least in October. I keep telling myself that. Because the morning afters are the worst.