Saturday, September 24, 2016

Three keys to a win in Oxford

Tall order today. Look for the coaches to try and set the tone for the players with aggressive game management and play calling.
via OnlineAthens

  1. Kirby should take some risks on field possession decisions when faced with fourth and manageable yardage around midfield and certainly deeper into their territory. And when in field goal range develop a mentality that three point tries probably aren’t going to help you beat a high scoring offense like the Rebels’. (Until maybe late in the game if it’s close, then Lord have mercy let’s kick that thing through the upright fellas!)
  2. Quick pass options for Eason to try and slow down their pass rush. Another tough day in the trenches this week against this Ole Miss defense. So Chaney has to help his offensive line out with some quick throws and screen plays to slow down their pass rush.
  3. Blitz early and then also often as long as it’s effective. Kelly is probably the most talented quarterback we’ll see, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his faults. The more he has to think and the less comfortable he is the better.

In short, I’m looking for Smart and his staff to show the players that their all in on winning this thing. This is the toughest test of the season thus far. Don’t just wait on the game to settle in. Go out there swinging and let’s give them our best shot.

Go Dawgs!

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PS - After taking in yesterday's Misery, Nama just texted me this video from the 2011 game. I'll try and embed it later this morning after I've had a Bloody Mary or three. Great times!

Friday, September 23, 2016

the Friday Misery is feeling Grovey

Huge win on the road thanks to a 4th down throw from a freshman quarterback to improve to 3-0 on the season and then the veins start to do whatever the opposite of the word “constrict” is plus you got a good night’s sleep because the pillow was just right and you didn’t wake up in a sweat from a nightmare having something to do with orange checkerboard hillbillied animated overalls chasing you down Sanford Drive in a Prius with a funnel...because that’s next week.

So yeh, feeling pretty okay and more than alright this week.

Which is why I’m not going to try and get you mad and fired up and upset and ready to punch that poor bastard in the cubicle next to you. Just pull this Misery up on your cellular phone (except you there with the flip phone, yeh, you’re going to need to renew your AOL account, dial up that modem and squint at your monochrome IBM CRT green screen...sorry…), put your feet up, and breathe deep.
Eight inches, yes. But floppy.

Riding the bench
I’m not heading to Oxford this weekend. First time in three games I’ve missed a trip there. So I’ve been reminding myself of what I said during my first trip there in 2006, which was that we’d never miss another trip to Oxford MS and The Grove.

Oh welp.

My buddy Nama twisted my arm into going back in '06 and despite a hangover for the record books on Saturday morning, it turned out to be quite a memorable experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to tailgate in The Grove every weekend. Maybe it’s the claustrophobic in me with all those thousands and thousands of people gathered together within a couple square miles. I much prefer Athens because, well, it’s home.

But when the SEC road schedule shines on you with a trip to Oxford, you can’t do much better than a Hotty Toddy Saturday.

And I’ve had the pleasure of both a late kick in Oxford as well as an 11AM local kick. So to keep us nice and relaxed, here’s what I can remember from both experiences.

Sundresses, Bud Light, and chandeliers
Having been goaded into a trip through Memphis to see the Dawgs play the Rebels (kids, this is what Ole Miss athletic teams used to be referred to before General Political Correctness marched through Oxford and stuck a Bear or something or whatever on a flag and all the local t-shirts and koozies), I had the hangoverest of headaches after a Friday night on Beale Street. Tennessee fans had invaded Memphis that evening to prepare for a game against Memphis State. I remember making fun of some of those inbreds at a nearby table as Nama and I drained flights and flights (and also some more flights) of beer.

We were likely speaking too loudly. Or maybe not loud enough. Probably the latter. But since neither of us were in any shape to throw a punch, probably good that we were seen more than we were heard.

A stop in Tunica for some gambling on the way down was the early plan. It was a 7pm kick I believe and I remember the other guys we were riding with were surprised we planned to leave Memphis by 9am. To Nama and I, hangover or not, that seemed rather late. I tried to sleep on the drive down but when we arrived I couldn’t add to 21 consistently if my life depending  on it, so I headed straight for the buffet and wished Nama good luck. After a couple hours of eating potatoes and gingerly sipping cold, cold water I desperately...desperately needed a beer.

We parked in Oxford and the campus was already starting to buzz. We could see Vaught-Hemingway in the distance and a parking attendant told us to “wait down yonder and a courtesy van would take us on up to The Grove”. The four of us got in and waited to depart.

Wolf pack in search of a chandelier.
Now, mind you, three of us are happily married and the other guy is engaged to be bethrothed. That’s important because of what I’m about to type into the screen that you’re looking into right now.

The driver returns to the door and asks us to scoot over some because there’s some more people about to get in. I turn around to look and there are 20+ (TWENTY!! PLUS!) coeds in sundresses about to pile into this courtesy van all around and over and on top of us.

It’s 2006. Which is also important because of what I’m about to type into your eye sockets. “No one will ever believe this happened,” I said to Nama as yet another AOPi sat in my lap. “None of us has a camera.”

Not even four months later Steve Jobs introduced an eye phone to the consumer public. It had a camera inside of it and it fit into your shorts pocket. Sonofabitch!

The driver was frustratingly reluctant to just keep driving us around campus all afternoon, a suggestion the four of us thought was prudent not to mention extremely accommodating, so as the ladies all climbed out they said to “be sure and come by the AOPi tent when you get to The Grove y’all. It’s the one with the chandelier.”

Seemed easy enough, until we stood at The Grove’s precipice and roughly 48% of the tents had chandeliers. We travelled around and if there were 1200 individual tailgates going on in that place, we were invited into all but about 200 of them. You can’t find a more genuinely accommodating crowd. I mentioned how nice Missouri fans were on our trip in 2012. This is different. It’s Southern Hospitality at its finest. It's P's and also Q's. It's manners ever so delicately intertwined with SEC competitiveness.

Plus, they talk like us, but with 100% more mentions of Mannings.

For instance, standing in line for the Port-O-Johns, Nama just happened to mention that we needed another beer. A kid overheard and told us to wait right there. He quite literally dove back into The Grove and emerged with two cold Bud Lights. It was as beautiful as it was absolutely magical. I couldn't help but look around for cameras, just sure that we were suddenly in a commercial.

We did find the AOPi’s again. They were super excited to see us again. Which is to say that they pretended to remember us and didn't fully ignore us. Then Charles Johnson whooped some rebel ass and on the car ride back to Memphis while stuck in traffic I managed to con my way onto the local post game talk show. I think I was about halfway through my Munson impression when they suddenly broke to commercial.

Great day. Great game. I swore we’d always go back.

Curb appeal
Five years later we let the wives come along. And by we let them I mean that they graciously accepted our invitation. This time we went through Tupelo and there were no hangovers to start out Saturday. After all, even though we’d gained an hour somewhere along I-20, we knew we’d need that and more to make kickoff at 11am.

Eleven! AM!

We got there early enough to tailgate some and soak in as much of The Grove as time would allow. It was definitely abbreviated but we got our bellies full and quenched our thirst. I can’t find a picture of it, but at the end of our row in the stadium was about 30 miniature Makers bottles, only a couple of which were ours. It was like a empty bourbon bottle depository.

It was another good game that saw the Dawgs victorious. Looked like we’d run away with it at the start, but ended up holding on at the end. As we were leaving we happened upon a young lady sitting calmly next to what looked like an unconscious fraternity pledge lying prostrate on a sidewalk, using the curb as a pillow. It appeared as if he'd gone twelve rounds with The Grove and lost by unanimous decision. He also appeared to be about five months removed from his high school Spanish class where he had learned to Siesta in the absolute worst of ways.

Is he alright honey?”, the wife asked.
Oh yes ma’am. He just needed a nap.”

That’s the way things go in Oxford. The Rebels (or whatever) don’t always win games, but their fans attack the tailgating scene like a drunken covered dish church hoard hellbent and armed to the nines with deviled eggs, fried chicken, and enough alcohol to survive two and half more Prohibitions.

Seriously, if Nucky Thompson were Southern, he’d’ve used The Grove as his main distribution hub.

Hotty Toddy now go buy yourself a personality.

freezer burned out
With those pleasantries out of the way…

Screw the rebs. Once purchased amateur players admit to as much on a national stage and Dr. Hugh gets nothing but a face full of nfl draft pie. He licks it off, grins, and then slips another five star a benji.

Then he winks. Cuz that's what bullshitters do when they're not bullshitting. They wink, surreptitiously.

Those rebel has beens are going to come out stark raving mad in their pretty blue uniforms. Their backs are against the wall after Kiffin pulled their drawers down in front of Uncle Verne last week and then swiped right on his Joey Freshwater tinder account. How brazen, right? Anyway, in 180 minutes of game time so far the Rebel Bears have only played just north of ninety. They’re embarrassed, pissed, and can’t seem to Shout Out  the super awkwardly soiled stain from their britches.

Case in point, Chad Kelly. This pampered bitch brat spends all week shot-gunning beer and serenading sororities with Nickelback karaoke blaring from his circa 1985 boom box that his uncle Jim handed down to him when he was a pimple-faced 8th grader.
Douche. First rate. Douche.

I hope Trenton Thompson eats his goddamn lunch brunch. I hope Bellamy buries his helmet in Captain Craptastic’s middle back and Lorenzo scoops and scores his second touchdown of the season. Kickoff’s at 11:00am, I hope they’ve surrendered by Noon. I hope they turn tail and walk back into the locker room, tv cuts to commercial, and then all of the rabid Dawg fans get to go back to the tailgates and finish what they started.

Then, Kirby sends his team to the bus before waltzing into Freeze’s office. The Georgia coach pulls out a clean Gillette, and shaves his week old beard right over the Ol’ Missy coach’s desk.

And stay the hell out of Georgia, asshole.” Then throws a slightly bloody towel on the floor and disappears into the eastern sun.

Now, please bow your heads...Dear Lord, I just gotta see some sacks something awful. Please. PLEASE let them big Dawgs EAT! In the name of Admiral Akbar, may he rest in peace. Amen.

Now, go Dawgs y'all!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A little Tigers, some Rebels, then plenty of BBQ

Bob, Corbin, and I rehash the thriller in Columbia West and then turn our attention to Saturday's battle in Oxford. And if you're heading for the game this weekend, be sure and tune in all the way until the end for Corbin's BBQ suggestions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pulling Catalina

I find myself continually baffled by how we can go from this in the opener... barely getting 100 yards total against Missouri. And yes, I get that we threw more Saturday night because it was what was working. But even when Chaney came back to the run there was zero ingenuity nor imagination in the sets used and the direction we tried to run the ball.

Against Nicholls there was a feeling that portions of the playbook needed to be protected. On the road in the SEC opener, not so much. Right?

I've watched that toss sweep up there until my eyes cross. Chubb has to be patient for Catalina pulling out, and even with Payne clearing downfield he has to break three arm tackles to get into open space. But that play will work against anybody we play. 

Remember, UNC knew that play was coming and they still couldn't stop it. Surely it could've managed a few yards here and there last Saturday.

Anyway, this Ole Miss defense is fast and aggressive. We're going to need to meet that with some inventive plays and a hard-nosed attitude.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Chip has the new lede

After reading Towers' hissy fitted response to getting shut down in today's press conference with Coach Smart, I can safely assume he doesn't read my blog.

Because myself along with about every other person with any sense of predictive power could see this coming before Kirby Smart was even officially introduced. Here's what I said in January:
This came up last week after the national championship game as it looks like there will be minimal access to players and some coaches/staff. Not a surprising development considering this is what is comfortable to Coach Smart being under Saban for so long. But it’s going to drastically change the way in which those who cover UGA football develop stories as well as how the rest of us read them.

As a fan, I applaud it. Mostly because Smart should keep with what is comfortable while he makes this transition. Whether it’s due to less distractions and increased focus, or not having certain news leak out, or if it’s just a part of the process, if it helps us win one more game each season that’s cool with me.
So the only thing for the average fan to wonder was what the media guys would do to adjust in a world where demand for instant access only increases every day. According to Mr. Towers it's going to be conniption fits about lack of access to players that are impacting the season.
For instance, Todd Gurley wasn’t available in the preseason of 2012, when we started hearing a lot of buzz about the young back from Tarboro. But Gurley was available at the end of the season opener that year against Buffalo when he returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
Same thing with Terry Godwin last season. The freshman wide receiver showed up for postgame interviews only after he played in games when his presence made an impact. I think we finally heard from “Little T” after he had big game against Kentucky last fall. And he was there again after earning MVP honors in the Bowl.
Guess we have our answer. Joy.

More importantly, I just don't get the outrage when we knew this was coming as soon as UGA fired a coach bringing in winning seasons aplenty. The bar was set higher and with that comes changes. Lots of them.

As a fan I put on my big boy britches and resolved to hold Smart and everyone with control in Butts-Mehre accountable. If the coaches don't clear the bar then more changes should be coming.

Maybe that's what Towers believes he is doing - holding Smart accountable. I'm certainly no journalist, and I don't envy the position these new procedures put them in, but it seems to me Towers' tantrum would be better suited to post after a loss.

Last I checked Georgia is undefeated. So as far as I'm concerned Smart can duct tape Eason's mouth shut and sit him on a Butts-Mehre stool to stare blankly at the AJC's iPhones and notepads. After all, that's probably what a Major would do to his Private First Class if he were forced to let his underlings placate the media.

The Mizzou recap is pass heavy and undefeated

Just getting around to having the time to put these thoughts together. I think Kirby put it best in the post game press conference, we’re so close to being 0-3 really, but those guys are playing really hard and instead we’re undefeated. Unreal.

  • Eason is growing up before our eyes. I know we came into that game hoping to be able to run more effectively. The game dictated that we go pass heavy, and 10 really stepped up. Couple bad balls and the one interception, but it’s obvious he’s something special.
  • I mean we knew he was going to be special, but it’s different now. The comparison to Matt Stafford is no longer relevant because Eason has so much more composure than Staff did at this point.
  • The bottom line is that Eason is working through his progressions which is why he’s starting. He’s reading things well and making plays with not just his arm but his head.
  • I think the touchdown pass to Payne exemplifies this. Payne was open and it seemed an eternity passed before Eason finally decided not to throw to the receiver trailing in the back of the end zone. I was sure he'd waited too long, but he zipped that ball in there and Payne ran a great route to meet that throw.
  • Just shows he has a different set of skills and his college football mind is developing up to his arm's talent level.
  • Yes, he still has a long way to go, but you have to be encouraged with our quarterback’s growth, especially after that game winning 4th down throw.

  • Kirby alluded to the only concern we can have about 16 at this point, and that is that there’s no way his body can handle carrying that much of the load the entire season.
  • We’ll get to the offensive line in a minute, but Chaney has to find a way to get some yards using his stable of running backs and tight ends as well as guys like Godwin.
  • 16 is dynamic and a game changer. We knew that before the season. But it’s more than a little uneasy seeing how much we have to rely on him.
  • Still, McKenzie deserves all the accolades he should receive this week. The touchdown run is one only a few guys in college football can make. His first touchdown catch would have just been a long reception for many receivers, but he found a way to make it into a touchdown.
  • And the game winner, whoa Nelly. Perfectly placed ball, but 16 went up and got it. Showed a lot of tenacity and grit.

  • Defense struggled but made a ton of plays when we needed them to. Not sure what Drew Lock was thinking on Mauger’s  interception in the endzone, but that was a game saving pick.
  • And Mauger is clearly the type of player Smart wants. He’s a senior that hasn’t played much but continues to practice hard and makes the most of his time on the field.
  • Coach Tucker is going to have to find a pass rush this week if our secondary is to have a chance to keep up with Ole Miss.
  • After getting picked on repeatedly Briscoe improved in pass coverage in the second half, but some of that may be attributed to Missouri leaning more towards running the ball once they had the lead. Huepel has to be kicking himself for the shift in his philosophy after halftime.
  • I was hoping we’d be more physical than we were, especially considering our lack of pass rush. The next couple games are critical for this defense. As a fan you want both the front seven and the d-backs to dictate the play, but we need at least one facet to step up.

Special teams
  • I’m glad we didn’t have to line up for another field goal, but if we had it would’ve been interesting to see if the coaches actually would’ve stuck with Ham or given Rodrigo a shot.
  • I would expect more emphasis on this phase of the game this week in practice. You can’t give up return yardage and leave points on the field like we have and expect to beat Ole Miss on the road and Tennessee the following week.
  • And there’s moments to build on for sure. For instance, Tyrique McGhee had a great tackle in kick coverage. Just seems to me we have some guys sticking to their lane and others not as conscious about it or trying too hard to make a play.

Offensive line
  • I was legitimately optimistic after beating UNC. I saw real promise in the run blocking and thought we’d have some time to develop better pass protection.
  • Nicholls showed our offensive front could be outworked. That was an eye opener.
  • Then Saturday night we saw a great defensive front just dismantle them play after play. Charles Harris never stops. He might end up being All-SEC for sure and might be the best pass rusher we see, even better than Tennessee’s Barnett and Auburn’s Lawson.
  • But we have to run the football more effectively. Just as McKenzie can’t carry us at receiver all season and survive, Eason can’t throw it 55 times a game. We just can’t rely on that week in and week out.
  • The coaches know that. Chaney is in Athens because Kirby respected him as a play caller and developer of quarterbacks. If the line can’t run block we have to do two things: find guys who can and develop plays that get Chubb to the second level.

But in all honesty, what do I know? Seriously. I looked closely at our schedule in August and scoffed at Missouri being able to beat us. I truly believed we would go in there and run them out of the state.

So I don’t know squat, except that I have a bruise on my arm from pinching myself Sunday morning.

I know I love teams that fight hard. This team does. They believe in each other from start to finish. And that’s the biggest reason why we’re heading to Oxford undefeated.

Go Dawgs!