Saturday, December 7, 2013

Totally unbiased and unsolicited thoughts on the SECCG

Go Tigers!...the non-schizo ones from way out west or wherever.

Once my jaw closed after seeing the way Auburn earned their berth in Atlanta for this weekend, I had no doubts that it would be the other Tigers to win the SEC Championship tonight. Perhaps I'm giving the Missouri defense more credit than they deserve, especially considering when we played them we were re-re-adjusting to a diminished roster.

But even in these times of ultra ├╝ber offenses, I still believe defense wins the championship rings. And tonight Missouri will have more playmakers on that side of the ball.

True, Auburn's offense is very hard to stop once it is hitting on all cylinders. Plus, they (at least as a program) have been in this position before. But in actuality, it's Pinkel's staff (one of the most stable in the nation, btw) with more post-season experience. Just a new locale this year.

The SEC East's newest member may have caught Georgia in an injury-riddled year and South Carolina doing their usual casual flirtations with Atlanta, but they've earned the right to be in the Dome tonight. And I think they'll make the most of it.

Sturdivant's life after football

Totally whiffed on this a couple days ago. In case you did as well, here's a great article catching up with Trinton Sturdivant who's back in Athens making a life after football. I particularly enjoyed this quip:
“Right now, life is a game, and I’m playing chess. Hopefully one day I’ll be on the monopoly board.” - Trinton Sturdivant
Should also add that this is a well timed piece by the Red and Black's Alec Shirkey in that Sturdivant has a unique perspective as a former blue-chip athlete that wasn't one of the 1.7% of college football players to make it to the NFL, and is now working hard to find his place in a challenging job market. Words many students could do well to heed, athlete or otherwise.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Some much louder Gurley compared to Herschel talk

I mean, you and I can bat the idea around casually just as easily as when we compare and contrast Aaron Murray and David Greene for instance.

But when Tim Worley says he believes Todd Gurley is on a standard set by Georgia's greatest running back player ever...well, it certainly carries a lot more cache.
“I haven’t seen one like him in awhile,” Worley said of Gurley. “He’s on another level. Every single time he touches the ball he is a threat. And he’s powerful, he’s big, he will hurt you, and he understands the game. And he plays like he’s been in the league forever. He’s up there. I put him right there with Herschel. Not quite as fast, but I put him right there with Herschel Walker.”
Better than you, Worley was asked?
“He’s right there with me,” he said, laughing. “As far as just the strength and the pounding and the physicality, he’s right there. That’s the traditional Georgia back.”
High praise from an SEC legend. And by our own estimation, praise well deserved.

Read more here:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

No early NFL departures expected

It's been a recurring theme for Richt's staff the last several years - underclassmen declaring themselves for the NFL. This year however, the focus seems to be on making next season better.
With a team that could return a lot on both sides of the ball, do you know of any underclassmen that are threatening to leave?
At this point, honestly I’d be surprised if anyone left early. Malcolm Mitchell and Damian Swann were serious candidates before the season, but Mitchell’s injury and Swann’s struggles have pretty much ended those chances. A few other draft-eligible players – Amarlo Herrera, Ramik Wilson – have talked excitedly about next year.
After Mitchell's freak ACL tear in Clemson, and even despite his hamstring injury his freshman year and the role-switching experiment last season, my gut was telling me he'd leave. Early indications are the opposite and that he's only been pointing to a return in Athens next season. And that would be a decision that would pay off handsomely for him should he make a full return and have the kind of season we were expecting this year.

Read more here:

Hey Urban, I'm gonna need help with this one.

He could always just claim to have sampled too much of his players Mary Jane I guess. Or maybe he just wasn't feeling very well when he said it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Conley accepts his inner "nerdiness"

(AJ Reynolds/Staff)This dude just gets it. If I wasn't afraid I'd tear a lot more than an ACL, I'd offer my skills with the lightsaber.
Other than his No. 31 jersey he wears for the Georgia football team, the junior receiver has a Star Wars Jedi costume he will break out on special occasions. Like when he wore it to the Gym Dogs’ meet against Alabama on Feb. 2.
“It was pretty epic,” Conley said. “I was dressed as a Jedi and we had two Storm Troopers.”
But he is hoping it’ll come in handy again sometime soon.
Conley is trying to organize lightsaber duels on UGA’s campus with other fellow Star Wars fanatics. His campaign to get production of the fan film going began on Twitter.
The response?
“I’ve actually had a lot of response,” Conley said. “A lot of people really want to do this. It’s something I’m kind of spearheading. It’s been a goal of mine before I graduate. This is just for me, just for fun. All of the people who are involved like that sort of thing and we accept our nerdiness.” 

Humpday Hilarity - Iron Bowl final call parody

h/t Steve

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

When Luck trumps "The Process"

Given the way the Iron Bowl ended, it's natural to shed the spotlight too brightly on the one play that eventually decided the game. And it's easy to nitpick too. If you'd like to do some of both, this piece in the New York Times is a really good read. (h/t Mac)
Alabama quarterback A J McCarron is typically the holder on field-goal attempts when the first-team kicker, Cade Foster, is on the field, but Saban put Griffith on to try the longer attempt. Punter Cody Mandell was the holder, not McCarron. 
Perhaps if the more athletic, 6-foot-4 McCarron was on the field, he could have pushed Davis out of bounds. 
The process had accounted for the details of that move — Griffith for Foster, Mandell for McCarron — but what it could not do was stop Davis. It is doubtful, though, that the result is enough to stop Saban and others from turning to the process next week, and the weeks after that.
So basically, somewhere close to 99.9% of the time Alabama wins. But eventually luck is going to squeeze its way in there. The question now becomes, just how much Pixie Dust is street legal in Auburn AL anyway?

Nevermind. Dumb question.

So you're telling me we're not alone?

So the Monday after the wild weekend of college football (aka Auburn's latest miracle) it made for an interesting work day. I'm sure your day was similar.

√ You have the Auburn guy running around smiling like he's the only guy that got a Christmas bonus...well, because he's the only guy that got a Christmas bonus.
√ You have the Georgia Tech guy blabbering on and on about how well they dominated Georgia...Just look at the boxscore!!!
√ You have the South Carolina chick looking for anyone that went to Clempson...failing...sees you and then goes promptly back into her office to pick up a phone that wasn't ringing.
√ Florida chick thinks we should go another direction with the Holiday Christmas party.
√ LSU guy is still drunk somewhere outside of Baton Rouge.
√ You have the guy who has a neighbor who's mechanic is cousins with a girl who once dated a Missouri grad back in the mid-90s. He mentions that dude is probably pumped to come to Atlanta for something other than a layover.
√ At lunch you sit with a bunch of Georgia folks that all look both pleased with yet another win over the North Avenue Trade School and very thankful the season is over.
√ FSU guy should be on top of the world, yet he seems overly antsy and eerily cautious as if that rug next to the coffee table could suddenly slip out from under him.
√ Tennessee guy is out making cold calls and will probably be in the next morning.
√ Then there's the Alabama guy. I didn't see him until the very end of the day, partly because I purposefully didn't seek him out. But there he is, proudly wearing that Bama polo and distinctly contemplative. The "sick" day was there for the taking and instead he came in to take his lumps, all the people that want to help him relive the moment and the others that don't know what to say so they give him an all too condescending pat on the back.

Knowing some measure of the pain he's endured, the inescapable despair at witnessing the hurtful ways in which a game can end, I simply nod. I feel for him. I empathize like none of those others can. I eagerly give him his space having just endured a similar fate a couple weeks ago.

And yet...after we pass each other and exchange knowing glances...I can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of relief that it can happen to someone else's team too.

Monday, December 2, 2013

On Grantham and his "up arrow"

A month ago my gut feeling was that Grantham was in his last weeks as Georgia's defensive coordinator. My questions at the time had as much to do with strife between Richt and Grantham as anything on the field. To me it seemed as if Richt was suggesting more rotation among the players, particularly at inside linebacker. I won't go into a long discourse over our continued problems with positional depth. It's something that was painfully obvious on defense in the Georgia Dome last year, and is something PWD covers thoroughly here.

And to his credit, Grantham stuck with his plan (at least I never saw an alternative to playing just the starters and anyone who was forced to come in due to an injury). And there was improvement in the final stretch of games in terms of tackling and covering intermediary routes. If you recall, it was Ramik Wilson that had more than one key pass break up on Saturday, one in particular that sealed the win. That's something he struggled with earlier in the season.

One has his eye on the play clock, the other
has his eye on....?? (via Dawgs247)
All that aside, signs definitely point to a rift between head coach and defensive coordinator. Sure, part of that has to do with the frustrations of losing key players as well as just plain losing. But there have been directed comments from Richt regarding the need for simplicity in the playbook as well as the length of time it takes to get the plays in. For a guy that has been pretty guarded with the media in his 13 years in Athens I believe that speaks volumes.

Regardless, a vote of confidence was given yesterday. No one is getting fired. Continuity is Richt's bet and that means one of three things: 1) I'm off base in regards to whether there are differences in philosophy (however minute or grandiose) between the head guy and his defensive coordinator, 2) they've patched things up enough to where they can at least function on the same page, or 3) firing anyone at this point is a money issue.

Before you laugh at that third point, we'll get more into that side of things in a post for tomorrow. For right now we have a defense that grossly under-achieved (again) and a staff that has to fix that. Of course, there's still a chance Foley and Muschamp could come in the next couple weeks and offer Grantham as their offensive coordinator. Who knows. Stranger things have happened. Kidding aside, in the very least Richt believes he has the staff to fix what has ailed the defense this season.

His "body of work" (which may not have been the best phrase to use considering the decline since he arrived) notwithstanding, Grantham is right about one thing. And you can certainly argue to the contrary, but the defense is in better shape now that it was when he got here. The stats may not support it and the numbers may beg the contrary. But we have much better athletes entering the program on that side of the ball. And truly that's half the battle. When you're getting defensive backs who have offers from your actual conference competitors instead of mid-majors, that's improvement. When your linebackers are coming in as freshman physically ready to play SEC football, that's improvement. When you have players getting paid at NFL locales instead of Saskatchewan, that's improvement.

What we need to look at as how much they are improving before they exit Athens. What needs to go up are turnovers gained and not opponents' red zone conversions. What needs to improve are on field adjustments during the course of the game and not just on the practice field Monday.

People ask me whether we should keep Todd Grantham. Even though the point now appears to be moot, it's still worth saying - I truly don't know. I like the guy's intensity. I like the recruits we're getting under his watch. Overall, he's done a good at least an adequate job against our biggest rivals. I'm not sure what his "up arrow" is measuring against. But I think the greatest question we need to look at is how to take the talent he's helping to sign in February and turn that into on field results in the fall.

Whether he's the guy to get that done is a distinct maybe. Not exactly where you want to be heading into year five. But it's where we are nonetheless.

Gurley, the nerds' kryptonite

Love this picture, which I believe is right after his cape came out again.

via WardStudio

The Knowshon crawl

Thought this was funny.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pease out!

Gator OC Brent Pease has been let go, along with OL coach Tim Davis. So let the snarkiness commence.

Sunday's thoughts on a great day for America!

Before we dive in, I'd like to have everyone who thought the last pass, that hung tantalizingly in the air for so damn long, would most certainly find its way into a Tech receiver's hands for a touchdown please stand up...

Thank you. If you're not standing, you're either a liar or this was your first Georgia game of the 2013 season.

Some other random thoughts:
It's his team now. For realz.
- so this is now Hutson Mason's team. Not sure how much we learned except that he showed a lot of grit in his first complete game. Wasn't always easy and I thought it took him a good two quarters to settle into a rhythm. For awhile it seemed as though he was nervous, even when he had good protection. But 299 yards and a 61.1% completion percentage was a good look at what we have next season. And quite frankly I'm excited. Good game.
- [insert comment about Todd Damn Gurley doing Todd Damn Gurley things]
- Defensively I thought it was painfully ironic that we got ourselves in a 20-0 hole mostly from doing a good job against the run but failing to defend the pass against a team that really isn't comfortable doing it. Vad Lee's numbers were not eye popping (11-23 for 232) but they were much better than his season average. That hurts.
- while much of that may be blamed at not having Matthews and Wiggins, it's still one of the themes from this season I will look forward to leaving behind in the coming weeks.
- back to the rushing defense, we contained their workhorse Sims (100 yards on 21 carries) fairly well. But Lee not only hurt us in the air but also on the ground. And that's not something he's done against any other opponent when you look at his stats.
- Our front seven is really getting after it. As a whole they've gotten better each game and had six tackles for a loss yesterday. With a month to prepare and practice, this secondary can hopefully match this production. I truly think they're close (and was really glad to see Harvey-Clemons get that pick).
- I'm going to reserve any comments about the officiating until I have a chance to watch the televised version. My seat was a good one, but we couldn't really see the jumbotron to view any replays. But I can say that some of those flags came from awful spots on the field and very, very late after the play. And when I stop and consider that, it's about consistent for what we've seen this season.

Overall takeaway is this: this would've been an easy game to pack it up early. Coming in at 7-4 and having seen some really weird shit all season, this team had every reason and opportunity to say "Whatever. I'm done." Still, they hung in there and clawed their way back into it. I think that says a lot about the leadership, including Mason. And regardless of what we might say about the coaches, individually or collectively, it says a lot about them as well.

Lastly, Go Dawgs!! Have fun obsessing over our domination for yet another year nerds!