Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Amari Cooper Won't, But Should Win the Heisman

“The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”

This is the description of the Heisman trophy. Unfortunately the award now should read "most outstanding quarterback in the country". 12 of the last 13 winners have been from the QB position (Ingram '09 who was questionable anyway) stretching back to Ron Dayne in 1999. This year it's pretty much assumed Mariota is the sure fire winner continuing this trend. In my opinion the award should go to the overall best player in the country. Sure they need to be on somewhat of an in-contention team, and in my opinion Amari Cooper from Alabama fits the bill for 2014.

Here are the stat lines of the three contenders: Mariota, Gordon, and Cooper...

Mariota: 3,783 Pass Yards, 68.3% completion percentage, 38 Pass TDs, 2 Ints, 669 Rush Yards, 14 Rush TDs. 

Gordon: 2,336 Yards, 7.6 YPC, 26 Rush TDs, and 3 Rec TDs

Cooper: 115 Receptions, 1,656 Yards, 14.4 YPR, and 14 TDs

If you go by just stat lines sure Mariota is the clear front-runner. In my opinion that doesn't necessarily warrant being the best overall player in the country. Here are a few reasons why...

Scheme: While Mariota plays in a high powered, fast paced, score as much and as often as possible offense, Cooper plays in a run first ball-control offense. If Alabama gets up on an opponent, their objective is to run first and ball control the hell out of their opponent. Cooper is facing a diminshing stat line in most of his games.

Competition: This is probably the biggest element. While the SEC and Pac 12 certainly aren't as differentiated as they used to be, you would still argue that Cooper is going against the best defenses in the country. Furthermore, he's facing not only the best corner, but usually double teams. In light of that Cooper had big performances in the games that count:

West Virginia: 12 for 130
Florida: 10 for 201 and 3 TDs
at Ole Miss: 9 for 91
Texas A&M: 8 for 140 and 2 TDs
at Tennessee: 9 for 224 and 2 TDs
at LSU: 8 for 83 and 1 TD
Mississippi State: 8 for 88 and 1 TD
Auburn: 13 for 224 and 3 TDs
Mizzou (SECCG): 12 for 83

If you look at his worst game it was versus Western Carolina, and in the other mop up games he put up huge stat lines only within one half essentially.

Mariota's worst games came against Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, and Utah (though he eventually did bounce back in the Pac-12 CG.

Gordon in his biggest showing of the year vs. Ohio State only had 76 yards though they did get down early. He averaged near 24 touches a game when Cooper's touches were limited.

System: Mariota had been comfortable in a scheme for years now, while Cooper had to deal with a new OC, new QB (who wasn't quite the gunslinger), and also had his number one compliment in Drake go down half way through the season.

You can't argue with Mariota's stat line, but in an age where high octane offenses are the norm that may not always be the best barometer of who the actual best player is. In my opinion that award should go to Cooper, though I have no issue with Mariota winning the trophy.

I will say that it's been incredibly refreshing this year to see three very worthy candidate who exemplified what we hope to see out of our best players. After three years of Cam, Johnny, and Winston it's been an odd event to see three players who keep somewhat quiet on and off the field. All are worthy candidates and would represent the trophy well. In the days of QBs putting up the biggest stat lines ever and running back by committee, I think it will probably be a long time until we see a non-QB hoist the trophy again.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Some Quick Opinions on the CFB Playoff

Obviously Sunday's final four selection comes with a good deal of controversy. We knew it would. There's never a perfect scenario unless 4 power five teams go undefeated. Here's a couple quick thoughts on the results...

While it contains a bunch of controversy, it gives us a more definitive picture than the BCS would have. Could you imagine if we still abided by last year's format? The debates that would rage between which two of Bama, Oregon, and FSU should go would be endless. While the committee ranked Bama and Oregon as the top 2, there's no way you could have left out an undefeated reigning national champ in FSU. They would have every argument in the world being undefeated, and even if they aren't perceptively one of the "best" two teams in the country you would have had to put them in there. In the end we get what we want and those three teams who were the clear top 3 get to settle it on the field. In that instance, the playoff certainly worked.

I have no problem with the selection of Ohio State as the fourth team. The problem comes from the rankings movement in the final weeks. Sure they bolstered their resume with an impressive and dominating performance over Wisconsin, but what this really sheds light on is that they have to reformat how the rankings are done leading up to the final week. We knew they meant nothing, but Sunday's decision really reinforces that. Basically all the lead-up rankings mean nothing and you just survey the whole situation at the end of the year to see the most complete picture you want for the playoff.

One factor I talked about during the season was that the committee's job was to select the best four teams at the time of the playoff. With that notion, they were fully able to adjust based on a team's strength at that time. The key factor there is injury. For example if Jameis had been hurt in the ACC Championship but the Noles still won, they'd have every right to keep them out because they wouldn't be the strongest team. The Ohio State QB injury was a huge thing to look at. Maybe one of the reasons they were ranked 6 was that we really didn't think they were capable of being a top 4 team with a third string quarterback. One of the potential reasons for such movement was the fact Ohio State displayed they were still a really good team even with their third stringer in there.

Another thing the committee had at their disposal was the rankings. I mentioned before the season (and today) that the actual rankings mean nothing. The committee can re-rank as needed to create the best possible playoff picture. The example that's easy to use is if somehow LSU for instance had been the "fourth team" in. You wouldn't punish number one Bama (or whoever) by making them play the Tigers in their own backyard in New Orleans. That being said, Florida State could have been better served being ranked four this year. Instead of having to travel all the way across the country to play what will surely be a home field crowd for the Ducks, they could have probably had a 50/50 split if ranked four and playing the Tide in New Orleans. Both Bama or Oregon would have been a tough opponent, but it in the end may have been a little better scenario for the Noles to actually finish fourth in the standings.

One place where teams could have an advantage is that they get 20+ days to prepare for one team, and then have to turn around and play the other in a week. This would actually contradict my previous paragraph in the sense that Florida State probably wants a longer period to prepare for a scheme offense like Oregon than they would desire playing a more traditional offense like Bama. In that sense, you'd certainly want the longer period for the more unique offense to prep for.

This, like the BCS, will be a rolling work in progress. It moves towards a better result. Maybe they move to eight in the future. If they do they should definitely do away with the conference championships. A couple things will change... I'm sure the format of mid-season committee rankings will be addressed, I'm sure schools will now continue to push for stronger OOC opponents, and I'm sure the Big 12 is going to have some serious debates about expansion or a conference championship game.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Recap: Georgia Tech 30 Georgia 24

A deflating loss, in probably the most deflating way possible. With the Arkansas loss on Friday sure there was a little less energy potentially in the tank, but losing to Tech creates a much longer offseason. Rather than potentially notching an 11-2 mark with a decent bowl win, it's more of the same lackluster NYD Florida bowl letdown again.

There were parts of the game that were obviously very bad...

The ability to not rack up points on Tech. For some reason we abandoned the ability to run the ball in the second half. Chubb went off in the first half for over 100 yards including a huge gainer. In the second half he was pretty much non-existent as was the rest of Georgia's rushing attack. Having the lead this should have been a time when UGA could put the Jackets away.

The fumbles. I said in the stands I'd absolve them of these because karma righted the ship with Swann's return for a TD, but that was before I knew the final result. We've been fortunate all year that the backs have done a good job with ball security. Even the balls we had put on the turf were usually recovered by Georgia. Those two costly fumbles proved detrimental, especially since they should have been scores to distance us on the scoreboard.

The one that spurns everybody is the fact GT scored with 18 seconds left. ESPN projected a .19% chance they could win at that point. With Tech only needing a field goal to tie, we should have kicked it deeper. Even if it's a squib it should have been on that travelled a good distance down the middle of the field to chew up some clock and yardage. Allowing Tech to have one running play where they were able to get out of bounds is just atrocious.

One that hurts is Huston's final pick. It now looks like a ball that should have never been thrown. What's even worse is it completely erases what could have been a nice capstone drive for victory in Mason's much maligned career.

Special teams didn't have their best day. We had the field goal blocked. In my opinion more glaring was the complete lack of a return game which had been an emerging bright spot this season. We didn't have any big returns in the KR/PR game and weren't able to flip the field position when needed. Also - how the heck do you completely not even touch or recover a kickoff when you need to get the ball to go win on a drive.

The defense did struggle at times. Look with GT's offense their going to gain yardage in a war of attrition. If you look at it in hindsight allowing 24 points in regulation isn't an awful number, but they had the inability to shut down Tech when they really needed to.

It was a strange game for sure. Two fumbles inside the ten, a fumble strip for TD return, two blocked field goals, horrible clock management, a fake field goal, so on and so forth. It's the kind of strange game Tech needed to be in it, and they were able to capitalize on mistakes.

Despite the result, I'll point out a few nice things (if you can even stomach it)...

Malcolm Mitchell standing in there on that TD reception to go ahead was a thing of beauty. I hoped it would be a nice star on his career and a memorable play. With the result, it will probably be forgotten.

The fake field goal by Evil Richt worked out to be a thing of beauty. We hadn't tried one in ages and it came to fruition in a huge spot.

Hutson's last drive as previously mentioned should have been a wonderful memory when looking back on his career. He did show poise and the ability to get the job done on that drive.

The defense did make a huge stop and force a turnover when needed in the 4th Quarter. Had we won, the drive by Hutson probably would have gotten all the publicity, but that was a huge stop when it was needed.

In the end, looking back on this game will be painful for a long time. We tend to forget what it feels like to lose to Tech and the pain that comes with it. This has been a tale of two teams this year... performances like Clemson and Auburn leave hope, while losses like Florida and this one leave you scratching your head and bringing the doomsdayers back into play. It will leave an even nastier taste in your mouth in what has been yet another heart-wrenching and now ultimately disappointing season.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Apparently Georgia has Really Bad Fans and is a Hoodlum Program?

So over the past few days I have to admit I've fallen victim to some trolling. There have been a few instances on the web where UGA fans are being bashed by Auburn fans for the way they acted Saturday night, and this has led to blanket statements that we are a terrible fanbase?

@WarBlogle has mentioned this in numerous tweets garnering reaction.

 It's easy to say to me you're falling into the trap, why do you follow this guy, so on and so forth. The truth is I love college football and his blog is one of the ones I get a ton of info from about Auburn football. He does a great job with it. I follow a good number of other opposing fans because I enjoy seeing their perspective on the game we all love. Unfortunately this is baiting at a theory to further perpetuate a notion.

Here's the reddit article that floated around about mistreatment at the game Saturday. This is an instance that sucks if true. At the same time I guarantee this experience has been shared potentially by some fans who have ventured into other SEC schools including Auburn as well.


Then there was the AU Rivals article which labeled Mark Richt as the leader of a "nasty" and "hoodlum" program which has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the article or its intent. I'm sure Mark Richt is widely held as a hoodlum leader in college football circles.

These statements to a point could not be more correct. The University of Georgia has some of the worst football fans in the conference. The problem is every single school has some of the worst college football fans in the conference. We all utilize the phrase "every school has bad fans", the problem comes when you project this across an entire fanbase.

That being said I'm going to offer a few pointers when trying to navigate opposing fans:

1) Have some friends from the opposing university. If all you see of a fanbase is a bunch of drunk people who are solely there for a football game and want your team to lose, yeah you'll probably leave with some bad impressions from time to time.

I have a TON of Auburn friends. Those from Atlanta that grew up with me and attended there, I've met in Atlanta, or met at tailgates through friends. I lived with three of them in Atlanta for four years. I got to see them win a national championship. I told them great job. My best man in my wedding was an Auburn man. When I go to Auburn, they gladly host me at their tailgate and for years now I've hosted them with welcome arms. The same held true this past Saturday. When you have a life outside of the football stadium with people, it seems to make what happens on Saturday a little less important. At the end of the day you're probably not going to be friends with someone who has the sole purpose of bashing you because you elected to attend a chosen university. If you asked any of my Auburn friends, they'd tell you I certainly do love UGA football but it's not the core of who I am. I sure other Auburn fans could say the same about their UGA friends who shared a beer with them Saturday.

It's ok to have a beer and be friends with the opposing team.

2) Learn to ignore idiots. Don't base your opinion solely on bad apples who make comments to you in a football stadium. Here is a theory: grown people who bark at other grown people are idiots. Some will call me soft for that statement. Another theory, any school you go to is going to have some drunken idiot who is going to verbally chastise you before or after a football game. Here is my strategy... Ignore them. Don't give them the satisfaction of knowing they got under your skin. If a grown man barked at me while I was walking out the stadium I would probably just in my mind say "that's dumb" and continue walking. Returning the favor serves no good. Same way if we had lost 34-7 and an Auburn fan told me "Georgia is awful" to my face I'd probably keep on walking because my life revolves around more than a bunch of 18 year olds who wear the color of my university. I will tell you I've probably gotten madder at UGA fans than opposing fans over my time. Chances are if one person is being an idiot in a section, those around him are going to get annoyed too and help police it.

For every I met an idiot UGA fan, I bet if you reached out you'd find people who met a really nice one. I told every Auburn fan on my way into Sanford "good luck today". At the end of the day because of whatever life circumstance we've encountered we elect to root for a certain team. I even wrote a nice piece about my experience at Clemson last year: found here.

3) Don't let an pre-meditated notion affect your overall opinion of a fanbase in general, especially if it comes in a negative situation. I understand Auburn lost. I understand that's going to cause UGA fans to be a bit more over the top and excited. There have been plenty of times I've walked down those Sanford Stadium ramps and been cheered against by opposing fans. Learn to ignore things and walk into or out of a stadium with the ability to turn the other cheek. Yes you shouldn't have to, but it's going to happen regardless of where you are. Yes some bad fans may further a negative notion you have about a school, but don't ignore those that give a positive reflection.

Any time you mix alcohol, intense passion for a football team, and either an excited or disappointed result stemming from those things you're going to have lots of emotion. Georgia and Auburn both have great fans, and both have awful fans. At my tailgate Saturday I wish I had a picture of the mixed colors. Everyone was buddied up, having a great time, because we all love Saturdays in the fall and what they stand for. They've been a part of our varied histories for so many different reasons.

I'm sorry for any Auburn fan that had a bad experience on Saturday and apologize for UGA fans as a whole if that was your case. I've had a great time in Athens and I've had a great time in Auburn. I do take offense to making the blanket norm that UGA is an awful fanbase. It makes me mad when my school does it to other people, and it makes me mad when other people do it to me. I've been going to UGA games since I was a little guy with my dad and attending the University only made me grow to love the city and team more. Some people are fans of a football team and some are fans of a university. It's a fact of life. Just don't stoop to the level of giving into these people and fueling the fire. Georgia and Auburn is my favorite game of the year to me because of everything it holds: good friends, good times, and good football tucked in two lovely cities with a ton on the line for each. Learn to focus on these things and life will be a good bit better for all of us. Police fans of your team being an idiot. Crack a beer with an opposing fan. We'll all be a lot better off if we do.

Aside from the dumb comments we all make about schools, Auburn is a great program. I look forward to the game every year. Hopefully these perspectives can change for certain individuals over time. Looking forward to sharing some beers next fall in Auburn.

Recap: Georgia 34 Auburn 7

Noting the Todd Gurley injury I will refrain from discussing in this post as the suck factor of the situation is obvious, and it will be discussed in another topic.

Second note - this post is really late because Westjet does not believe in WiFi.

Having to fly across the country all Sunday seems a lot better after a big win. It sure was nice to have a big time night game in Athens, and even better to come away with a result better than anyone probably concocted. I haven’t had the chance to watch the replay so I’ll keep this short and sweet per my view from 316 and memory from 30,000 feet.

            I stated all day during the tailgate that I didn’t expect this one to be as high scoring as people seemed to think. As a former player of the ponies I did learn one thing, whenever something is definitely supposed to happen… it’s probably not. Cue the UGA defense. Auburn came out on the opening drive to churn up a touchdown drive and then never saw another point hit the board. My Auburn buddy reminded me that Jeremy Pruitt probably remembered a good bit of this offense from his 30+ days preparing for it before last year National Championship game. That wasn’t apparent at first, but the D settled in for their best performance of the season.

            The same linebackers that couldn’t’ seem to set an edge against Florida maintained incredible discipline against Auburn’s complex scheme. The core LBs of Herrera, Jenkins, and Wilson were in position the whole night and more importantly locked up tackles when given the opportunity. When teams have keyed in on Auburn’s rushing attack they’ve found their opportunities over the middle in the passing game. To be honest they had pretty good success with this during the early parts of the game. Georgia’s ability to get out to a big lead and change Auburn’s ability to dictate the tempo took them away from the core of their offensive gameplan.

            Another woeful comment I made at the tailgate was that turnovers in the game would allow one team to implement their tempo over the other. I was really nervous because we haven’t really had a game where we’ve gotten smoked in the turnover category (and somewhat felt due for it). The crucial moment of the game came when Bray fumbled the punt return deep in Auburn territory. This set the stage for UGA to pull square instead of Auburn continuing their momentum to a two score lead. The later turnovers weren’t as meaningful, but did continue to increase UGA’s turnover margin which as been a huge turnaround from last year.

            Random – how strange is it that maybe our three biggest plays of the day never got to come to fruition? Gurley’s KO return due to penalty, the Evil Richt fake punt due to pentaly, and the Chubb beast mode TD run because he stepped out?

            The offense did exactly what we hoped it would. Chubb & Gurley don’t really need to be discussed because we know what special players those are.  It’s clearly evident. The unsung hero of this season has been the guys opening up the holes for them. If you want an entertaining replay go look at Chubb’s first TD run but moreso at the three men driving their defenders into the endzone. This veteran unit has done a great job not only creating holes but protecting Hutson Mason.

            Speaking of Mason he could have had a much bigger night had there been some better stick’em on our receivers hands. There were two opportunities for huge gainers that slipped away. However it was another game of Huston doing just what Hutson needs to do in order to keep the offense moving. Once again, no picks, no poor decisions, etc. Now that we have learned to temper our expectations for him maybe we can start to realize he’s at least doing a serviceable job.

            Special teams had a decent day, but almost had a spectacular day if Gurley’s opening run wasn’t taken back or Evil Richt’s fake punt wasn’t taken away. Morgan was consistent. As a result we didn’t have any big returns on our side, but maybe more importantly we didn’t allow Auburn and huge field position gains in theirs.

            There is one unit I like to always highlight when they do a good job. That would be the Sanford Stadium crowd and the town of Athens, GA. From a gameday standpoint Auburn / Georgia is my favorite game of the year because the numerous friends I have that went to Auburn. It’s a great tailgate. There’s always some bad apples but from everything I could see everyone played pretty well together on Saturday.

            The stadium atmosphere was great. The crowd was early, they were loud, and they were involved. For those of you who will hate on the rap music I would encourage you to look at the two night time atmospheres this season at Sanford Stadium and from there look at the results. Two dominating performances. I am not making any utterances about winning because of rap so don’t make that conclusions. I’m just saying anything done to create a louder / rowdier home atmosphere is fine by me. I’ve lamented many times about how Sanford was behind the times on a few items but now it seems after some big wins we’re finally trying to return to a true home field advantage.

            Great Saturday in Athens (now with a more solemn tone due to TG3’s injury).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Interview with the Opponent - Auburn Fan Q&A

It's Auburn week, and Lord knows with me being in the Atlanta area there are tons of Auburn guys surrounding me. Heck, I lived with three of them in Buckhead (well I did until I got married two years ago). While some may have their issues with Auburn, it's a program close to home for me. It's a friendly game for me, as there are numerous tailgates that will welcome me with open arms, and it's an away game I really look forward to. I try to return the favor in Athens. For this interview  I reached out to my first boss, who is probably the most intense Auburn fan I've come across. This is the guy that kept my sanity at work, as work questions turned into 30 minute discussions on varied aspects of the college football world. Usually, we'd leave utterly exhausted from a screaming match with nothing accomplished. Tate is a unique case, as he opens up the debate I always wonder about. He grew up a diehard Auburn fan with family season tickets. Due to varied reasons he decided to attend UGA. While he likes the Dawgs, his heart has always stayed with Auburn, and they are still his number one team without doubt. Sure I give him a hard time for attending UGA but still cheering for Auburn, but being in his shoes it would be tough for me to think I could ditch the Dawgs with my background given the same situation.

 1. What is your affiliation with Auburn University?
My father graduated from AU and I’ve been going to games for as long as I can remember.  Section 52, Row 1.  Greatest place on earth to watch a football game.  I did not attend Auburn but it is and always will be in my blood.

2. What is your favorite memory during your time as an Auburn football fan (excluding any AU wins over UGA of course)?

There have been so many great memories.  So many special teams and special games.    But that night in the desert of Glendale, Arizona on January 10, 2011 when Auburn won the crystal ball and was crowned the best in the land was about as good as it gets.

What’s your favorite UGA / AU game you remember? 

In this space in previous years I’ve mentioned Cox to Aromoshadu in ‘05.  The “between the hoses” game in ’86.  The four overtime game on a frigid night in ’96 in JHS.  But the “Miracle at Jordan-Hare” last year is probably going to take up permanent residency going forward.  My brother flew down from Chicago that Friday, a last minute deal, to go with me to his first AU game in a couple of years.  It was already a special day because of that.  Early on it looked like we were running away with the game, but then UGA started to mount a comeback and cut the lead a little more to finally take a lead of their own.  That final “tip 6” was an amazing thing to watch live and I’ll never forget it.

4. Whether fair or not there’s this assumption that AU won the 2010 championship on Cam and Gus’ shoulders. Chiz seemed to be quickly undone when those two departed, and now Gus has returned and took them to the promised land again. How much of that 2010 season had to do with Chiz, and how much was really Cam and Gus?

Chizik took a team that was 5-7 in 2008 in Tubs last year and won it all two years later giving Auburn its first National Championship in 53 years.

I think there are very few coaches who could’ve kept that team as focused as they were considering all the outside distractions from whatever and whoever was trying so hard to keep AU from a Natty.  I give Chizik a ton of credit for what happened in 2010.  What happened after is  a mystery that a lot of people are still trying to figure out.  Chizik changed and made a ton of mistakes with the program.  He’ll admit that.  But Chizik pre-Natty was a great Head Coach who did something with that 2010 team that I’m not sure many others could do.

5. Auburn is always going to move the ball. I tell people all the time Gus scored a ton of points with Chris Todd, so that’s something. How would this year’s offense compare to his recent successes… same scheme not as talented players, more comfortable in scheme with same talent, etc ?

This year’s offense will be very familiar to UGA fans as it is very similar to last year.  It’s a run first, read option, spread attack with some hurry up no huddle tendencies.  We are definitely not as talented along to OL as a year ago and we are missing that bulldozing fullback played by Jay Prosch last year.  While the running game is not as dominant as a year ago, it’s still the bread and butter and statistically Cameron Artis-Payne is ahead of Tre Mason’s yardage total at the same time last year.  WR’s are better, although we lost leading receiver Duke Williams to a knee against A&M, and Nick Marshall has definitely improved as a passer.  We’ll take some shots downfield to Sammie Coates and run some speed sweeps to the receivers like we usually do.  Jeremy Pruitt is not going to be surprised.  But if he leaves the middle of the field open like he did in the BCS game last year I think the 2014 version of Nick Marshall will hit those passes for long gains.

6People keep telling us neither team will be able to stop each other. Given Auburn’s defensive performance this season how do you expect them to handle UGA’s productive offense?

I don’t.  Like everyone else I’m expecting a shootout.  Although I do think AU matches up better with UGA than A&M or Ole Miss who run spread attacks.  Our defensive secondary is weak and our pass rush is non-existent so as crazy as it sounds I would rather go up against a run first offense, even if those RB’s are Gurley, Chubb and Michel.  Yeah our secondary is that bad.  Either way, UGA will move the ball successfully all night.  We will also.  It will come down to turnovers and mistakes.

7Where is a place you see Auburn having an advantage in the game?

I wouldn’t trade our QB for anyone.  He’s about as clutch as it gets when the game is on the line.  I realize that’s tough to say after the debacle during the final 2 minutes of A&M, but I’ve watched him for nearly 2 years and he is cool under pressure.  If we are in another close one down the stretch I want the ball in Nick Marshall’s hands.

On the other side of the ball, I would give the edge to our run defense vs UGA’s run defense.  LSU is probably the best rushing team we’ve played so far and we were able to keep them in check most of the game.  With the way Florida ran all over UGA that has to be a concern for the Dogs.


8. Where is a place UGA has a definite advantage in the game?

Cameron Artis-Payne is one of the best RBs in the nation, but with the 3 headed monster UGA trots out there, UGA has an advantage at RB over anyone in the country.

Night game in Samford Stadium.  Advantage home team.


9. Who is a player on Auburn we may not know about now, that we will after the game?

With the injury to Duke Williams we are going to need a WR to step up and make some plays.  If you guys are doubling Sammie Coates deep look for #82 Melvin Ray to have a big game on some underneath and over the middle type routes. 

10. Is it an advantage to have Auburn’s style of offense going into hostile environments like Sanford Saturday night? It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of chatter / play-call change on the offensive side of the ball, and UGA may need to make audible calls at the line on defense amidst all the noise.

You will see us look to the sidelines after getting to the line and change plays often so the noise is always a concern when going on the road.  But Auburn has played in some hostile environments this year at places like K State, Miss St. and Ole Miss so hopefully we are well versed on how to handle.  I’m hoping the cold weather will keep it less hostile than usual.

11. Evaluate Ellis Johnson’s impact at Auburn since his hire?

CEJ has done an amazing job and is a great DC.  This year has been rough with the lack of talent in the defensive backfield (both corners and safety’s) and DE positions.  As Al Borges used to say...”sometimes it’s the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s, not the x’s and o’s”.

12. Honest final score prediction (no worries, it’s whatever you really think)

It should be another shootout – same story, different year.  Defensively, we stink.  But I think we match up better against run first offenses like UGA.  Offensively we should be able to run the ball and if Pruitt attacks us like last year we will hit some big passes over the middle.  UGA will move the ball and score all night.  AU will move the ball and score all night.  I’m taking Nick Marshall to make a play with the game on the line for a Tigers W.

AU 41

UGA 34

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Recap: Georgia 63 Kentucky 31

I'll candidly admit, I didn't get to give this game as much attention as I would've like. I was involved in an out of town wedding, and therefore I'll just give some quick thoughts on this one.

The score was a welcomed result. As I noted last week going to Lexington is never easy. In our last four visits we had 3 close wins and a loss (and there were some good teams involved in those). We got off to a fast start and weathered the 2nd quarter storm to not let a pesky team get back in the game. I would've taken a three point win given the uncertainty we had faced going into the last three games, so the final score was more than fine by me.

Let's take a moment to appreciate what Nick Chubb has given this team over the last four games. A freshman was asked to put the team squarely on his back and he answered the call. Averaging 150 yards and multiple TDs a game, even though the season may not end up like we wanted he'll hold a special place in many Bulldog fan's hearts I'm sure.

We also got to see what the running game can look like with a viable compliment as Michel returned. Next week we get Gurley back and look to return to a multiple headed monster in the run game. Each runner has certain variants which makes the extremely valuable and I'm looking forward to seeing what a more complete unit looks like.

Hutson Mason stepped up and had a nice game. Working off play action in the run game he had his best statistical day as a Dawg. He utilized multiple targets to get the job done. By year's end he will have completed passes to over 20 different Dawgs.

For years we've lamented about a complete and total absence in the kick return game. Imac has totally changed our perception in that area proving the notion he can provide a spark has come to fruition. I always get a little squeamish until he gets going upfield but when he does it's something special. We may even work towards having teams altering their special teams plan because we have an actual threat. The two TDs were more than welcome getting the game off to a great start and then burying Kentucky late.

Jonathan Rumph was a welcomed sight as he returned to the field. His body size and athleticism provides another much needed piece in Hutson's arsenal.

Speaking of receivers, Chris Conley who carries himself very quietly on the field has become the go to in our receiving corps. He's sure handed and a great route runner who has proven to have a nose for the endzone. It was nice to see Malcolm Mitchell finally return to the endzone as well.

On defense I think we're learning that Lorenzo Carter is going to be a beast going forward, and this performance was his coming out party.

We may have close to a full cupboard when Auburn comes to town Saturday. It will be a chance for UGA to answer the call on a big stage. Top 10 opponent, at home, at night, with our key player coming back. It's going to be a great chance to do a great thing for the Dawgs.