Friday, October 31, 2014

Week 10 ATS Picks

ECU -7 (Chuck Oliver Special)

Boston College at Va Tech Over 40

Georgia State at App State Under 69

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday Throwback: Your Greatest Stadium Sneak In Stories...

In honor of Georgia Florida week (it's only fitting I'm smoking a nice cigar in the fall air as I write this, probably left over from so many hopeful victories that didn't occur), a certain aspect of college football student life can be brought to the forefront.... sneaking into stadiums. Let me shed a little background light for those who may be a little unaware as to this undertaking, or may think it a bit juvenile....

I attended UGA from 2004-2008 (4.5 years, by choice of course) and didn't miss a single GA-FLA game. I actually went 2-2 in my first four years which is something of note these days. I'm not going to delve into the joys of that marvelous time that is fall break where you skip class and spend those not soon forgotten days on the SSI beach. We all know what that entails. What I will venture into is a little known facet of surviving a college a football season... the sneak in.

As a UGA undergrad there's a great debate as to who deserves tickets. Let me put it simply... as an undergrad at UGA during my time it was pretty damn near impossible to acquire a Florida ticket through the University. These away game allotments were filled up by 6th years, law students, and people who lived in Myers Quad and took 285 hours a semester. If you were an average college student, you were way down on the list. Undoubtedly, you're going to make the trip to Jax, ticket or not, no questions asked. Now you're posed with the task of entering the stadium and supporting your beloved Dawgs so you don't get left out staring at those God forsaken bridges of Jacksonville. Sure, you can pony up the $100 per for tickets, but to your average college student, that's a months worth of beer money. You've already paid for the gas, the 6 guys to a hotel room, food, etc. so you pretty much have one option. Sneak into the stadium. Why give some scalper an extra pack of cigs or the University more money which they've already earned? You're a fan, and your butt has to be in the stadium.

There are various sneak in methods, and I snuck into to Florida (amidst other stories) three straight years.

There's the fake ticket stub. There's the sneak under the gate while the guard doesn't look. There's the Mayor's tailgate. There's the blend into the fat family going through the gate, known as "splitting the difference". There's disguising yourself with the band to get past the gates. There's the slipping the gatekeeper the $20. The possibilities are endless. In all honesty you can really just walk into the stadium and act like you're supposed to be doing it. I had a buddy sneak into the National Championship while he was at Auburn. Not having a ticket should never be an excuse for not getting in a game.

My favorite sneak in story happened in 2006. After a few days on the SSI beach and a liquored up bus ride from the Winn Dixie (those who know, know)... a friend and I had to make our way in the stadium. We tried scalping, getting a friend's dad's tix, etc. but to no avail. We selected the sneak in with the band option. Two hours before kickoff, decked in our red and black, we found ourselves tucked in the middle of the tuba section ready to roll in with the band prior to the gates opening. The key here is less is more. Don't get noticed and just get in the gate.

Well everything was going to plan from my friend and I, until one Tuba player who is the kind of guy who gives the band the bad name it gets for the fault of one individual decided he didn't like our little charade. As we entered the stadium tucked into the Tuba players who knew the deal and loved it, he decided to call attention to us. Rule #1, don't call attention to yourself. As some people of some sort of authority approached us liquid courage took over as we realized we were already past the threshold of no return, the main gate. Rather than surrender we high tailed it for the inner skeleton of the stadium.

After passing security guards going over their detail for the day (remember we're obnoxiously in red & black) we faked our way somehow in the concourses by talking on our cellphones saying we were meeting our dad at the skybox (2 hours before kickoff of course). Rather than wander in this obvious out of place environment  for two more hours we decided to duck into a handicapped /family bathroom until the main gates opened. Lock ourselves in, wait it out an hour, and meet our friends on the inside. Problem was it did not go quietly.

Running through our options hoping we'd just wait it out in the bathroom until a few tugs on the door handle came along. That was followed by security radios. They were on to something being wrong. My buddy and I decided that if a maintenance man opened the door we'd pool together the $45 dollars we had left over from the Emerald Princess the night before to pay him off and not get us in trouble. A few more security radio blasts echoed the "doing my final checks of all the corridors" and we felt like our fate was sealed. "Why the hell is this door locked?" - I felt like a caged animal awaiting it's fate, but with the apprehension of being holed up in an episode of the Walking Dead. Remember, we were staring down jail time, an MIP, and more importantly missing the game and our bus home back to SSI. Somehow by the grace of God, the heat eased off as the crowd started coming in, and we got the best call of our lives.... the main gates had opened up and it was safe to go outside. We eased out back into the daylight and of course wedged our way back in to the student section at the GA-FLA game. While in the grand scheme of things it wasn't a great accomplishment, it sort of was. Mission accomplished. It was the only time I've ever spent an hour and a half sitting on the floor of a handicapped stall.

The funny thing is I could tell you story after story of buddies of mine sneaking into games all across the southeast, even some of my own first hand experiences. It's one of those scenarios you only feel you can get away with during the invincibility that comes with college, and you're way too old and dignified to pull off now. It's funny, even when the ticket situation comes up for GA/FLA these days, some one will inevitably say... "you know, we could always try the sneak in".

I know there's some guys who pulled the same types of stunts (especially you 80s guys), so I'd love to hear some in the comments. Lord knows there will be 75-100 students who try and pull the same thing this year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

GSB Playoff Poll First Edition

The first poll came out tonight which obviously means nothing because the season has to play out. To me, it actually did mean something. It meant the committee was actually going to look at the merit of one's season to that point, not outside measures looking ahead. Example, putting Ole Miss in over Oregon. If the season ended tomorrow something tells me Oregon may have snuck their way in that 4 slot to provide some national perspective.

Each week I'll put my top 4 up. This is my top 4 deserving based on season merit to that point, not looking ahead.

1) Mississippi State (7-0): quality wins vs. LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn

2) Florida State (7-0): *quality* win vs. Notre Dame, Clemson & OK State looking weaker, still undefeated reigning national champ

Those two are easy...

3) Auburn (6-1): they have the country's best loss (at #1 Mississippi State) and the country's best win (at Kansas State). Auburn right now deserves this spot over Ole Miss and Bama. While Bama may be better, Auburn has the better resume.

4) Oregon (7-1): for the fourth slot they're up against essentially Ole Miss, Bama, ND, TCU, and Michigan State. Oregon has a top 10 win (Michigan State) and a top 15 loss (Arizona). None of the other teams can really boast that, but they'll get their chance. Ole Miss has a top 10 win, but loss vs. LSU who "at this time" is below Arizona.

There's obviously no chance this holds. The SEC West is going to eat itself and that 4 slot is going to be pretty poured over concerning one loss teams.

One thing I have absolutely no problem with is UGA at #11 by the committee. We beat a top 20 team in Clemson who is looking weaker and weaker by the day. We lost to a now non top 25 team in South Carolina who is looking a bit down. The ranking means absolutely nothing because if UGA wins their next games prior to, they'll be in no doubt.

A debate that will rage is whether conference championship stay around. Georgia loves the championship this year because it gives them a chance to solidify their schedule and earn an auto-berth. The Western Division champion could be playing (let's say Georgia) with a chance to lose their way out of the playoff.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Week 9 ATS Picks & I'm Taking LSU Tonight

Syracuse at Clemson over 47.5

Georgia Southern at Georgia State Under 66.5

LSU +3.5 (or moneyline) home versus Ole Miss

I am the idiot that is continually thinking Ole Miss is going to slip up. At some point they have to right? Sure the game is in Death Valley at night which gives some lean towards the Tigers. However, one key matchup to watch here is the only weakness the Ole Miss D has really shown (if there are any) is the ability to stuff the run. They get great pass rush and fly around in the secondary, but the best chance to get them is through the run. A physical team like LSU who passed all last year, but is run first this year at home at night may be the best chance to knock off the Rebs.

Depending on the size of the play I'd take the 3.5 if you can get it, as well as if it's part of a parlay. No reason to potentially ruin a parlay with a tie if you get the line at 3, money line and cover / don't win, etc. Reserve the moneyline for a small play if desired as 3.5 is a huge number to get in football.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Georgia 45 Arkansas 32 Recap #dontfreegurley?

When I looked at the preseason schedule those that back to back trip to Mizzou and Arky looked like that lull / trip-up we needed to avoid. If you told me we'd be without Gurley or Marshall before the year I would have felt even worse. I don't think we could've imagined the results from these two games.

Here's the deal. Don't complain about the second half at all. If I told you UGA would win the game 9-6 on Friday you would have been fine. The score doesn't tell the dominance of the game. Despite the comeback UGA still covered the spread so even the degenerates can't be unhappy about that one.

After Arkansas' opening drive it looked as if the score and pace of the game would be a lot different. Arkansas controlled the ball for nearly eight minutes, churning up yardage, converting third downs, and knowingly running it down our throats. After they scored the missed PAT must have brought back fond memories of the Bama mishap.

What we didn't see coming was the offense to come out blazing in a counter attack behind Mason's arm. Kudos to Bobo on a great day of mixing the run and pass. We came out quickly with the 48 yard bomb to Conley and quickly followed with a strike over the middle to Bennett. What took Arkansas eight minutes to do took UGA about a minute and a half. My fun fact after that big pass to Conley was poor Hutson was still two yards shy of having the longest pass of the season.

The ensuing onside kick seemed a little baffling. I guess Richt figured if you can't stop the run from the 20 you can't stop the run from the 50. The fortunate thing after not recovering was the pressure the defensive line quickly showed. After two plays Arkansas was facing a 3rd and 33. This quick stop allowed UGA to capture the momentum and begin the first half onslaught.

I'm not sure what happened those last 10 minutes of the second quarter, but for the second week in a row we had the game in hand by halftime. One key turning point we may look over was the unsportsmanlike penalty against Arkansas that gave UGA new life. Bennett had a drop right after (didn't know that was possible) and Chubb bounced right back with his big TD run. This was the big score that set the tone.

Let's give Hutson Mason credit where credit is due. Some folks may need to eat a little crow. I said last week we need to get used to being satisfied with the Mason stat line of 150 / 1 TD / 0 Ints. He decided to get a little greedy this week and go for 179 / 2 / 0. Admittedly he's not the arm of Stafford or Murray, but what if I told you he's getting better? Things like throwing it away, or scrambling back to the line for minimal loss instead of throwing it into the feet of defenders. Things like overthrowing Reggie Davis (did you even think it was possible?) and coming right back to hit 3rd and 11 to Conley. Not panicking in the 4th quarter and getting what ended up being a crucial TD to Conley in the 4th. We're half way through the season and hopefully know we have a better perspective of what positives we can get out of Hutson. He still hasn't had to really "win" a game for us, but we should start to feel a little more confident he can when the time comes.

The defense had their second nice day in a row. Turnover were very abundant once again. Some of these were forced by our pressure, some by the offense, but at the end of the day we capitalized on opportunities when they were presented. When you go into two tough road games and win the turnover margin 9-0 it has to be pretty refreshing.

Early in the season we tore into the secondary. One thing I tried to note that was a positive compared to last year was the fact the players were at least "in position". They were lost last year. Now they just needed to come up and make plays in those positions. It seems as they are becoming more comfortable with the scheme these plays are happening. Plays like Swann's pick in the end zone, the batted pass to Mauger, etc.

The thing that really allowed Arkansas to score late was the annoying penalties on our defense. Some warranted, some not. I didn't really care... we were playing hard until the end of the game. It had to be frustrating for the defense to have ticky tack penalties while trying to shut down an opponent.

Mackenzie had a decent day on kick returns showing better judgement this week and averaging over 30 yards per return.

Chris Conley is emerging as the deep threat and had his breakout day. Bennett is working back into the role where he eats up yardage over the middle. As Mason becomes more in tune with a full receiving corps let's hope it gives other folks more opportunities.

We now have a bye week before the Cocktail Party. There will be only one item of news people will be waiting on, and let's hope it comes to fruition. It's hard to imagine how fun a coming out party would be against the Gators with #3 back in the fold.

We've survived the first half of the season with everything still out there to play for. I don't think we could imagine it looking like this, but let's just enjoy the ride however it may come to pass.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Potential Reasons for Gurley Optimism (if there are any...)

In the public's opinion, it may be in the NCAA's best interest to see Todd suit up again (c/o owner)
Let me preface with a few things:

1) This was not a post header to bait people
2) There is way too much unknown out there to feel a certain way right now

These are merely just subjective assumptions based on the stories we've seen and having to talk through this subject around the ole water cooler on a Monday.

One of the first items that seemed strange to me was why the number $400 was floating around. It seemed an awful random number for someone who had reportedly done numerous autograph signings. Well now we know, because the number $401 carries a good deal more significance... the difference between potentially one game and multiple games.

The conversation we'll never know and probably won't even when a ruling is determined is what Todd told the university when they were first made aware of the situation. Did UGA ask Todd if rumors were true, get acknowledgement, and keep him mum from there? It doesn't seem like our cowardly story provider Mr. Allen would have the acumen to concoct the $400 figure on his own. Meanwhile we don't know what proof is out there, but it doesn't seem someone who is openly (now) trying to hurt Todd would do him the favor of providing that oh so significant helpful number.

It seems that once the situation arose UGA did possibly stay out in front of it. Some will argue that the administration took a while to get going defending our star player, but I would also state that it's been the most I've ever seen this administration potentially go to bat for a player involved in a disciplinary situation. Their hands are tied if the evidence is out there as we've seen the university play by the book in these scenarios when other schools tread lightly. It seems the suspension was made with good reason (being something was obviously there), but every effort is being made to come to favorable if possible expedient decision.

Aside from the number, the next helpful item may be the national perspective of this situation. I cautioned in the beginning that the subjectivity surrounding the overarching "pay for play" argument bore no merit in the argument of whether Todd broke a rule or not. If there's evidence that's there not a whole lot that can be done. However if the evidence doesn't exist above and beyond measures already taken the onus is on the NCAA to act in a swift and favorable measure towards Todd.

The NCAA is facing a cloud of criticism surrounding this issue. With recent developments in cases like that of Ed O'Bannon's it seems the public opnion needle is swinging towards players being able to not be exploited by their universities. I don't think Todd will be the sacrificial lamb or the NCAA will make him out to be.

The NCAA also finds itself with a figure viewed in a very different light than previous players who have gone through this scenario. Cam, Johnny, and Jameis all acted in a way that led some of the arguers to view them in a negative fashion. Whether it was the sum of the money for Cam, the antics of Johnny, or the severity of the allegation for Winston, those topics were viewed in a much harsher light than that of Gurley. Would it really benefit the NCAA to have those three Heisman winners able to play and not miss significant playing time while a player the nation is behind is forced to watch from the sidelines. Todd's violation is also at the center of the debate that is at the forefront of the NCAA's criticism. Can the NCAA let a player who is favored in public opinion be punished while their reigning Heisman winner continues to play amidst a re-opened sexual assault case...

Furthermore the way in which Todd's transgressions came to bear creates an enemy against him and the nation to rally by his side. It's pretty simple to say (and even our rivals tend to agree) that it would be an unpopular opinion to never see #3 take the field again in red and black. Is the coward who hid behind emails shopping his story around to potentially ruin a kid's career going to be rewarded by never seeing him play again? Public opinion would lead to seeing Mr. Allen's story ruining Todd's career and UGA's season as giving validity to his efforts.

Look, if Todd did the deed to the degree that can be substantially proven we have no choice but to be at the mercy of the decision. Until it's rewritten, a violation of a set rule leads to acceptance of its current consequence. The hope is that whatever decision is made it be made swiftly. The longer it goes without substantiated findings the more the needle of the public swings towards Todd and puts more pressure on the NCAA.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Recap: Georgia 34 Missouri 0, Welcome Back Defense

Let's be honest, headed on the road with all the week's turmoil you never would have imagined a result like that. I would have taken any sort of ugly win that merely got the job done. If there was a team that was going to be shutout and have five turnovers it wouldn't have been hard to see it as Georgia. Somehow the team rallied to produce in my opinion one of the more impressive wins given the circumstances in Mark Richt's career. When the game opened with a ticky tack personal foul against Floyd, a bunch of fumbles that we luckily recovered, and some settled for field goals I was worried things would swing the other way.

The star of the day on a large scale had to be the defense. While Mizzou's offense didn't look great in hindsight, it was a complex scheme that Georgia isn't used to seeing. They handled it very well. The secondary which had been in position for most of the season but unable to make plays finally had those plays with four interceptions. The D-Line was able to get to a mobile quarterback to force many of those turnovers and had one of their own on the fumble. They also covered very well in the flats where the screen game is a big part of Missouri's offense.

The secondary had their best day yet. I think most people including myself had no clue who the player was when you saw #33 on the field make a play. Welcome back Mr. Langley. Hopefully with a less complex scheme this year he'll be able to have more of an impact. Dominick Sanders and Quincy Mauger are proving the same, now making plays where a guy like Mauger seemed more than lost last year.

People are going to point to this as a great game for Hutson Mason. There were a few plays that made me think otherwise (as in can somebody please explain intentional grounding to him), but all in all it was a mistake free day. We need to get used to this statline of 150 yds / 1 TD / 0 Ints as a the sign of a good day. If we're pressed to throw for more than that, or that last number comes into play it could signal a bad day. He even tucked in a fake pulled hamstring juke out TD run.

Nick Chubb had a great day, but it was certainly a strange one. If you look back at the game he really didn't have any "big" runs. A couple 15 yarders and the TD. He did tote the rock 38 times though. So being able to churn up small chunks of yardage consistently while not making any mistakes turned out to be a great thing. A ton of pressure was put on that guy and he delivered.

Brendan Douglas had the most memorable run of the day flying through the air. He proved as we all knew he'd be able to run the ball hard and answer when called on.

Prior to the game, the player in my mind who had been most absent this season was Michael Bennett. It seemed he'd be a very reliable target for Mason as he got his feet wet. Finally we got to see him come through with a nice TD and some good yardage over the middle.

Malcolm Mitchell got some great looks. He didn't really have any notable receptions, but getting six catches proves he is back to full strength. Let's hope his legs hold up.

Justin Scott-Wesley didn't have any receptions, but I did see his jersey on the field during action which leads to a hopeful positive.

IMac has incredible talent and burst. I'm sure he'll break another one before this year is over. However, he's certainly still getting his feet wet in the "decision" game. He luckily had his team recover the fumble that was stripped away from him. He also neglected to fair catch a ball with a defender barreling down on him. I'm sure he'll improve in this area as he becomes more experienced.

Missouri certainly didn't help themselves and if we're honest UGA got a couple breaks (the fumbles). However it was the first time in a long time I felt like we were on the right side of luck. This was a game we'd go out and disappoint traditionally. I'm hoping that isn't the case next week either. UGA rose to the occasion when needed, and now controls their own destiny in the east. Who knows what that team will look like going forward, but it is nice to still have it all to play for.