Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Few Thoughts in Early March

I’ve really got to get better at this posting regularly around here thing. However, I changed jobs at the beginning of the new year and now have some more time to contribute to the cause around here. Hopefully I’ll be active enough to contribute material that is meaningful to discussion around UGA topics and college football in general. With all that said, here are a few things just bouncing around my head on this Monday morning:

  • Perhaps I’ll save the longer rant on this for another post at a later time, but who in their right mind believes that a playoff without the team that stomped the ever-living crap out of LSU on January 9th (since it seems señor Sam the Eagle and Larry Scott believe that the soon-to-be Plus One should be comprised only of conference champs) would legitimately be considered an effort at crowning the best team in college football?
  • Following up on my first point above. Dude…DUDE…You wrote an entire damned book espousing the idea that a playoff system had to include conference champions as it “maintained the integrity and relevancy of the regular season”. Now you say that a playoff system that includes conference champions over a non-conference champion such as Alabama would make the regular season less relevant? Consistency, thy name is not Dan Wetzel (h/t: Senator).
  • I particularly like the news coming out of Athens regarding Isaiah Crowell from his teammates, and I agree pretty strongly with these words from Artie Lynch:

“The person I’ve been most impressed with — and the person who I think has been wrongly scrutinized the whole year — was Isaiah,” Lynch said. “You ask these high expectations out of a kid who’s 18 years old, it’s such a different game than high school. Let’s face it, he had instant success and people were so demanding of him to be the savior, this idea of `Oh, the next Herschel.’ That was just unfairly [placed on] him. . . .

  • We’ll never know the extent of Crowell’s ankle injury and how much it truly hurt him to try to tough it out. I certainly struggled adjusting to the college life my first semester away from home and I never had to endure everything I did being scrutinized by a million different people. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for him. I personally believe his ankle never really was healthy the last half of the season last year and we’ll see a world of difference this fall after a full offseason in the conditioning program and having endured a full season playing big boy football. I expect we’ll see big things from him next season.
  • Losing the Auburn game annually would probably be enough to make me stop caring about college football the same way I don’t really have a passionate interest in the NFL and college basketball anymore. I suppose baseball could get me through the year, but with the new playoff format I’m already having my doubts. Basically, don’t screw this up for us SEC president’s and AD’s. Please step back from seeing all the $$’s in your eyes and try to remember what made your commodity so valuable in the first place. I assure you it has nothing to do with entering the Dallas and St. Louis TV markets.
  • On that same note, the 9 game conference schedule is going to happen at some point. The coaches can go suck on an egg and stop whining about it. They sound just like the Jim Boeheim’s of the world who want the NCAA tournament to expand to 128 teams so that there is little to no chance they would ever miss it ensuring perpetual job security.

Final pre-game thoughts

Okay, I’m leaving Atlanta to head to Athens. There’s a pit in my stomach that worries that if this game gets ugly it could be a replay of Auburn ’99. Right now, I see no way that the Georgia O-line can stand up to the Carolina D-line. With that said, u expect this game to go similarly to the Boise game. Not a blowout, but the outcome is never truly in doubt.

My guess: South Carolina 27, Georgia 14.

Maybe Mark Richt and co. can prove me wrong, but I don’t believe they will.

Talking With the Enemy: 2011 South Carolina Version

Similar to last year, Gamecock Man from the great South Carolina blog, Garnet and Black Attack, has been kind enough to exchange a few questions and answers with me related to the game.  Check out my responses to his questions here.

1. Was the rough showing against East Carolina to start the game just early game jitters or did it expose some chinks in the South Carolina armor?  I know East Carolina piled up its lead based on turnovers, but the same could be said for South Carolina’s comeback being largely aided by East Carolina turnovers.  Did the first game performance take some wind out of the sails of the South Carolina fans or are you guys just brushing it off and still expecting big things this year?

It both did and didn’t expose weaknesses in Carolina’s armor. A lot of our problems could be chalked up to early game jitters. The turnovers were all fumbles, most of them from players who either aren’t likely to fumble often (Marcus Lattimore) or players who won’t get many special-teams touches from here on out (Stephon Gilmore, Kenny Miles). If they had been Stephen Garcia interceptions, it would be a different story, but I don’t think these turnovers were very predictive of what’s going to happen this year for Carolina.

Of course, you could say that our comeback was just as much a product of turnovers as our early deficit, but I’m not sure that really says much about how this game played out as most people think. At the end of the day, Carolina won by almost three TDs. That’s right about what Vegas thought would happen. People look at the score and the early deficit and say Carolina struggled, but I’m not sure they’d be saying that if Carolina had marched to a more conventional 19-point victory. I kind of see it as being that the TOs made the game more interesting than it might otherwise have been, but at the end of the day they evened out and the scoreboard reflected the difference between the two teams.

You also have to note that the turnovers weren’t the only anomaly; Shaw starting was the other. Does the first quarter go as badly with Garcia under center? Probably not.

All of this said, I do think Carolina showed some chinks, particularly in the secondary. East Carolina moved the ball well through the air at times, both due to poor schematics from the coaches and our players’–particularly Stephon Gilmore’s–inability to make key plays. Carolina has some depth returning in the secondary this weekend, but I still think UGA has the potential to hurt Carolina with Aaron Murray’s arm.

2. There’s been lots of sentiment that if you lined up the talent that South Carolina has this year in a Florida or Texas uniform, they’d be widely considered a top five team.  Do you believe that South Carolina is being underrated this year (if being a pre-season top 15 team is really grounds to be underrated) or the perception is accurate that they are good, but largely aided by the fact that the traditional three big powers in their division all seem to be in a down cycle right now?

South Carolina’s talent level has obviously risen a good bit since Spurrier arrived. Never before has South Carolina had quite this many All-American and All-SEC-type players. That said, I still think South Carolina’s depth is a bit worse than your Oklahoma’s, Alabama’s, etc. Carolina is a few OL and DB injuries away from having serious problems. However, the top-level talent is as good as anyone in the nation. I really don’t think that anyone has as good of a RB-WR combo as Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery. And the defensive line is chock full of NFL talent.

As far as the East being on a down cycle, I certainly think the East being down had something to do with Carolina’s East title. Can you imagine that Carolina team winning the East in one of the years that Florida won the national title? Probably not. That said, Carolina won the games it had to, and it did beat a top-ranked Alabama team. It’s not like last year’s Carolina team was comparable to past 6-6 and 7-5 Carolina outfits. It was certainly an improved team.

As far as the East this year goes, I’ll wait until the end of the season to comment.

3. Jadeveon Clowney.  We’ve all seen the high school videos of him looking like an NFL player in a pee wee football league.  How do you feel about his performance in the East Carolina game and how do you think he will be utilized against the Dawgs?

He looked fantastic in the ECU game. He was all over the field, got at the QB a few times, and made some nice plays tackling runners and receivers. He did overpursue a couple of times, showing some freshman inexperience. Those mistakes may take some time to weed out. However, other than that he looked very good. Granted, that was against a bad ECU offensive line, but I expect an impact from him this year, including his first career sack against UGA. It’s hard to say whether he’ll be on the field quite as much this weekend, though. Against ECU, he played almost every significant down, but we were running a small, coverage-oriented defensive line because ECU never runs the ball and likes the short pass. That won’t be the case against Georgia, and I expect that–other than on obvious passing downs–you’ll see Clowney rotate with Devin Taylor and Melvin Ingram (Ingram played DT against ECU but is likely to play more DE against UGA) more so than be on the field with both of them at the same time.

4. To echo your question to me; if you had to take one player from Georgia’s roster, who would it be and why?

I’d go with Brandon Boykin. We could use a player like him at CB, and obviously he’s a playmaker in other phases of the game, too. Can’t have enough players like him.

Plan B might be Drew Butler. Seriously. Carolina may struggle punting this year, so we could use Butler.

5.  What will it take for Georgia to pull the upset (that’s right, Vegas has South Carolina as a three point favorite – never thought I’d ever live to see a South Carolina team favored in Sanford Stadium) this Saturday?  Should Mark Richt start polishing up his resume or do you think the man will prove us all wrong and show that Georgia just ran into a buzzsaw last week against Boise State?

I think the key for Georgia in this game is improved offensive line play. Based on the performance against Boise, I really, really like the way our DL matches up against your OL, and if Crowell can’t find room to run and particularly if Clowney, Taylor, and Ingram are all over Murray on every pass, this game will likely be over quickly. However, if UGA’s OL play improves and gives Murray some room to work, I think UGA can gain some yards in the air. Defensively, UGA needs to force turnovers. USC has lots of offensive talent this year and should be able to move the ball well, but the potential for forcing some TOs is always there with Garcia at QB.

In sum, I think the matchups favor Carolina in this game, even more than the line indicates. I’ll go ahead and say that if Richt loses this game, he’s probably done. He and his staff screwed the pooch on the Boise game. To say nothing of winning, UGA should have at least been able to play closely with Boise if the Dawgs are really a Top-25 team. Instead, UGA got ran off the field more or less as soundly as many of Boise’s more respectable conference opponents. That falls on the coaching staff; there’s no excuse for such underwhelming play from a program with such obvious advantages. There’s still time to right the ship if Richt can rally the troops this weekend, but if he doesn’t do it now, he’ll likely need to do something drastic, like win out, to save his job. And if he loses this game, I doubt his team will be able to go on that kind of run.

Much thanks again to Gamecock Man for taking the time to exchange Q&A’s with me.

Four Months Later

A myriad of reasons for not posting over the last four months abound, but I’m not going to use those as excuses.  Practically speaking, it’s been mostly my own laziness.  As the summer starts to heat up, I plan on doing some more stuff around here and quit being a lazy jerk.  This is just my signal to the world that I’m not dead, just lurking.  More Dawg discussion to come soon.

Mumme Poll, Week 6

I’m going to hold off on my thoughts for that poopfest that was the Georgia game this weekend, but in the meanwhile I’ll go ahead and get my first official Mumme Poll up for the season after the dry run from last week.  Everything you need to know about the Mumme Poll can be found here:

Top Five (no particular order)

  • Miami
  • Alabama
  • Virginia Tech
  • Cincinnati
  • Florida

Remaining Seven(no particular order):

  • Oregon
  • Boise State
  • Texas
  • TCU
  • Southern California
  • Iowa
  • Kansas

I also decided to follow David Hale’s lead and add the teams that are just on the cusp that I did not include:

  • Ohio State
  • Penn State
  • LSU
  • Georgia Tech
  • South Carolina
  • Nebraska

No consideration was given to these teams:

  • Georgia (no explanation necessary)
  • Big East teams not named Cincinnati
  • Cal
  • Auburn (that loss to Arkansas killed all the goodwill they built up before that)

Let’s start with the Top Five.

  • Alabama is clearly the cream of the crop.  They have played the best football not only in the SEC, but in the country.  It is a shame that due to an archaic voting process (don’t drop the #1 team if they don’t lose unless you’re Georgia) that they are not the #1 team in the country.  What has Florida done to justify being #1 over Alabama?
  • Florida is here by default.  They are clearly a good team, but they have looked very beatable in the two games they played against real competition.  Everything is setting up for a collision course in Atlanta, but will we really know how good the Gators are by then?  Unless Georgia or Florida State can straighten up their respective messes, Florida won’t play anybody with a pulse between now and December 5th outside of South Carolina.  Does it scare anybody else to think that the Gamecocks control their own destiny in the East?  I struggled to put Florida in the top five because the win at LSU was so underwhelming, but a win at LSU is still a win at LSU.
  • Cincinatti keeps on ho-humming along winning all their games quietly.  They have a very impressive win beating Oregon State in Oregon.  I don’t know if anyone in the Big East will be taken seriously this year, but Cincy better be putting aside a slush fund in order to keep Brian Kelly around.  Methinks that if one of the big boy schools makes a coaching change this year, his name will be up at the top of the wish list.
  • Virginia Tech continues cruising after a complete demolition of a clearly outmatched Boston College team on Saturday.  I know that there are other undefeateds in the country, but I’m a resume voter, not a projection voter.  Virginia Tech has beaten two top 20 teams at home this season in Nebraska and Miami, and held a fourth quarter lead in Atlanta until succumbing to the team that I think is the best in America.  No shame in that.  Virginia Tech is a solid top five team to me.
  • The final inclusion in the top five came down to a debate between Miami and Texas.  Although Texas is unbeaten it still came down to collective resume for me and I believe Miami has done way more than Texas in that respect.  Yes, Miami looked bad on the road against Virginia Tech, but they have played four top 20 teams to start the season with their first cupcake this past weekend.  Texas looked lackadaisical against a pretty bad Colorado team and their only statement win was a pretty unimpressive victory over a middle of the road Texas Tech team at home.  If Texas beats a Sam Bradford led Oklahoma team in a few weeks they are deserving of a top five spot, but for right now I’m going with the Hurricanes.

Now for the remaining seven:

  • I still don’t know what to make of Iowa.  They need multiple blocked field goals to beat a FCS school in Northern Iowa, but they go on the road and demolish a pretty good Penn State team and handle a pretty good Michigan team this past weekend.  We’ll know more about this team after they play Wisconsin and Ohio State, but for right now they’ve got as good a shot as anybody to win the Big Ten.
  • Does this sound familiar?  Oregon loses starting QB, backup comes in and plays solidly in win.  Oregon has looked as good as any Pac-10 team not named USC this season despite the belly flop that was week 1 against a pretty jacked up Boise State team.  If they get a healthy Masoli back, they may give USC a run for the conference this season.
  • Speaking of Southern California, they remain in the top twelve lurking for a top five spot.  They did go on the road and beat a hostile Ohio State earlier this year and their only loss was in a hostile situation against a first day draft pick QB, a former coordinator that knows the team inside and out, and without their regular QB.  I can’t hold that against them entirely, but it does keep them out of the top five.
  • Boise State is a top twelve team mostly due to their big win over Oregon.  That win didn’t look so great at the time, but now that Oregon is rolling it could be seen as one of the better wins by a non-BCS team this season.  Sadly, I don’t think their schedule is strong enough to hold off TCU should both teams go undefeated and Boise may be playing in the Poinsettia Bowl rather than the Fiesta come bowl season.
  • TCU is going to make the strongest BCS cases of the non-BCS schools due to convincing wins at Virginia and Clemson.  I realize both those teams may be bad this year, but that is still two road wins at BCS schools.  There will be no debating the Horned Frogs’ strength of schedule when the BCS conversation begins.
  • Texas falls from the top five from my preliminary ballot.  As mentioned in my Miami explanation, my last spot in the top five came down to Texas and Miami.  Even though Miami has one loss, I still gave them the nod over Texas due to the difference in schedules and the fact that Texas had no business being down to a bad Colorado team as much as they were in the first half Saturday night.  Beat Oklahoma and Texas likely vaults back into the top five.
  • The final team in is Kansas.  I debated whether South Carolina deserved it more than Kansas, but frankly Carolina struggled with a Kentucky team that Florida completely obliterated a few weeks ago.  That leads me to believe that either (A) Florida is really better than they’ve looked, (B) Kentucky isn’t as bad as they looked against Florida, or (C) South Carolina isn’t as good as they looked against Georgia and Ole Miss.  As the old saying goes, I think all three fall somewhere in the middle.  Right now Kansas and Todd Reesing is lighting up the scoreboard with no end in sight.  We’ll see if they’re for real when they play Nebraska.

Those are my rankings with the logic behind my thought process.  It took me about 45 minutes to think about and compile my ballot.  Games I watched at least one full quarter this weekend (thankfully I missed Georgia/Tennessee as I was with the family):

  • Georgia Tech/Florida State
  • Florida/LSU
  • Nebraska/Missouri
  • Texas/Colorado
  • Oregon State/Stanford
  • Iowa/Michigan
  • Ohio State/Wisconsin

As always, comments are welcome.  Feel free to rip apart my thoughts as they are probably flawed and biased due to the uncertainty I feel regarding the Georgia program right now.

The Real New Year

I’ve either spoken directly on this or alluded to it before.  As much as football means to me, baseball is still my favorite sport of all time.  I don’t know if it’s the whole America’s Pastime argument or the fact that I just love the strategy involved with a baseball game.  Either way, I love baseball.  I realize that the calendar tells us a new year begins on January 1st, but to me the real new year begins when the first pitch is thrown on a new baseball season.

Tomorrow night baseball season kicks off when the Atlanta Braves travel to face the defending World Series champion (ugh, I think i just threw up a little typing that) Philadelphia Phillies.  The Braves will open up on national TV on ESPN 2 at 8PM.  I’m so pumped I can’t wait.  Over at SI, not one writer has picked Atlanta to make the playoffs this year.  It seems to be a general consensus that the Braves are going to finish 3rd or 4th in the NL East this year.  As Michael over at Braves and Birds says:

4. The Garret Anderson-Jordan Schafer-Jeff Francoeur outfield isn’t strking fear into the hearts of people who watch baseball for a living.

I can’t say that I disagree with that assessment, but I have a rebuttal on that point. What other team in the NL East has a rotation that strikes fear in the hearts of the rest of the East? I realize the Braves rotation may be unproven with the new addition of Kenshin Kawakami from Japan and the recovering Tom Glavine, but what other team in the NL East has a top 3 that at all measures up to Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, or Jair Juerrjens? Both the Phillies and the Mets have one pitcher that you know is better than anyone else on your staff in Cole Hamels and Johan Santana, respectively? But does anyone beyond that really scare you about those two teams? If the Braves are in a 3 game series against the Mets or the Phillies this year you have to believe the Braves will be trotting out better starting pitching in at least two of those games.

I’ve stopped relying on “expert” preseason prognostications for the truth awhile back. If there were always right then Georgia last year and USC the year before were the clear cuts to be national champions, but that obviously didn’t happen. I just think back to last year and that should tell you that a baseball season is completely unpredictable. Who in their right mind picked the Rays and Phillies to play in the World Series?

Either way I’m real excited about baseball season and the real new year getting started tomorrow night. I’ll be saddling up with some friends, my new Braves ballcap, and some Sweetwater 420 to enjoy the festivities. I’ve also already got my tickets for the Braves home opener next Friday and can’t wait for that glorious day either. Here’s to a new season and good luck to your favorite team, except when they play my Braves, of course, or if your favorite team is the Mets.

But did he pull his pants down this time?

Apparently, Matthew Stafford did not impress Mike Singletary during his interview (H/T: David Hale) with the pyschologist the San Francisco 49ers brought in.

The guy was asking about his parents’ divorcing when he was in high school, Stafford said, and said it sounded like he had “unfinished business” with the split. Stafford said no and added he wondered how much he was being charged for the psychoanalysis.

Apparently Mike Singletary had some verbiage of his own to add regarding Stafford’s attitude.

Singletary told a San Francisco radio station: “If you’re going to look at drafting a guy in the first round, and you’re going to pay him millions of dollars, and asking him about a divorce about his parents, if that’s going to be an issue, uhhh, then you know what, maybe he doesn’t belong here.”

Wow! I thought it was cool last year when Singletary had the whole pants-dropping routine and sent Vernon Davis to the locker room because he wasn’t being a team player, but this crosses the line. Obviously, I’m only touching on this because of my red and black colored glasses, but I think this is applicable to anyone. Singletary crossed the line if he’s going to judge Stafford based on comments regarding the kid’s parents’ divorce. Stafford is being more mature about this than the head coach by making a joke and simply saying no to the pyschologist. Discussing personal issues like these are completely off touch when evaluating a person for a job. I wasn’t subjected to this line of questioning when I interviewed for my job and I’m sure you weren’t either. For something that is universally known as a “don’t touch” subject, why does Singletary feel this is appropriate for a football player? If I were Stafford, my response would have been “What does my parents’ divorce from when I was in high school have to do with me playing football for your team?”

I realize high pick QB’s are expensive decisions that can cripple a franchise (See:Leaf, Ryan) or can bring hope and optimism (See:Ryan, Matt). I realize with all the expensive errors in judgment that teams have made on players such as Pacman Jones and Michael Vick that teams want to be as sure as possible before making a $30M investment on a guy that’s just barely 21 years old. Maybe Singletary is right, maybe Stafford doesn’t belong there. It’s not because he has issues with his parents’ divorce, but because he’s more mature than the head coach.