Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An Open Letter to My Parents in 1985

Dear 1985 Parents,

I've come back to revisit the letter I proposed in 2013. I figured I'd still see if there's time to go back and make things right because guess what... things have gotten worse!

The other night the Cleveland Cavaliers, who after the Red Sox end their curse become the noted city of losers and title droughts ended that said drought (even though I'm sure some fans enjoyed the Ohio State title). They had the greatest basketball player of the generation. Local kid, drafted to the Cavs, but then in true Atlanta maligned fashion, he left to go win championships. After he tallied a few for Miami, he did a very un-Atlanta thing. He returned back to Cleveland with the sole purpose of ending their woes and despair. After being down 3-1 in the Finals, he put the team on his back and won the next three (against a team that set the record for regular season wins that year), and officially took Cleveland off notice.

What that single event did was plunge Atlanta to the forefront of mediocrity and loserville. You'll get a championship in 95 (see below), but then it gets bad. I tried to tell you in 2013. Well it has now gotten even worse and Atlanta alone is at the forefront of loserdom. Below I will provide edits to the note I penned you a few years ago....

(from 2013 with 2016 edits)

An Open Letter to My Atlanta Parents – Please Read in 1985

To My Parents (in 1985),

            In one year you’re going to be blessed with the birth of your one and only child, a son, who will come to share in your passion of sports. You’ll do a great job of raising him and he wouldn’t be able to ask anything more. He’ll go on to graduate from the state’s flagship university, get a job, and marry a beautiful blonde Southern girl. He’s going to grow to love sports just the way you do… playing, watching, attending, spending family time together at featured events, etc. You’ll have Braves season tickets for the next 27 years, attend numerous Georgia games, and share so many wonderful experiences cheering on the teams from your city. There’s only one problem…. I need you to move to a new city immediately.

            What you can’t see is that you’re about to cast him into a lifetime of sports disappointments, heartbreak, and utter despair. Look we all know there are more important things in life than sports and we tend to take them way too seriously. That being said, they do make up a huge part of our lives. We identify with our teams, they garner a great deal of our time and devotion, and provide an outlet to share wonderful memories with our family and friends. With that loyalty comes the chance to share to special memories of glory when your team comes through and you celebrate communally with yourselves, your friends, and your region as a whole. Unfortunately for your son, those chances of celebration are going to always seem so close but yet so far away. Look I wouldn’t trade growing up in the Southeast for anything. It’s the perfect place to spend one’s first quarter century and learn the values all folks should possess, it’s just that when it comes to your regional sports it’s going to torture your son relentlessly. He’ll have a unique story as he’s one of a few people who get to solely devote themselves to their hometown teams and even those of his parents. He doesn’t get to pick random big city bandwagon teams but truly has passion for those in his backyard. This just ends up being a curse.

            Right now Atlanta sports are struggling, but I’ve got great news… they are about to take a turn in the right direction. The Braves believe it or not are going to become the team of the 90s. They’re going to make it into the postseason over a decade straight. They’ll become the identity of the region’s baseball love. The Falcons are going to struggle in the 90s to start, but before you know it, they’ll be making perennial postseason runs through the late 90s and 2000s even reaching a Super Bowl. They’ll make a risky move to grab a quarterback with a good deal of hope surrounding him, and he’ll turn out to be the face of your franchise. The Hawks will be in the top four of their conference year after year during the 2000s. They’ll take on a new identity and become the new highlight factory. You lost the Flames in 1980 to Calgary. You’re not a hockey town, but you’re a proud sports town. Guess what… you’ll get a new team in the late 90s and bring hockey back to Atlanta. Your son will even get the privilege to attend the University of Georgia. There’s no prouder accomplishment in his life. He’ll get the chance to attend the alma mater of his father and share in all those special memories. I know the early 1980s just saw some great times for this team’s football program. They’ll go through some lulls, but soon enough at the turn of the late 90s they’re going to be back as a perennial top 10 football team and return to winning SEC Championships. Even the basketball team will make some storied runs into the postseason tournament. They’ll even win a conference championship.

Here’s the problem. All of these teams will have success, but through this success they’re going to bring your son so close to the point of jubilation, only to fall short time after time after time.

The Braves are going to make the playoffs 17 times (yes 17 times) during your son’s lifetime. They’ll reach the World Series on five different occasions. They will provide the best moments in Atlanta sports, Sid’s slide to beat the Pirates, and winning a World Series Championship in 1995. You’ll see continued success from the Braves and all of the other Atlanta teams, the only problem is this victory in 1995 will be the only time they come through. Trust me you’re going to think you have it all wrapped up on numerous occasions. You’ll be up on the mighty Yankees 2-0 in a World Series only to fall short. You’ll have the best record in baseball countless years, winning division title after division title, with three hall of famers in your rotation, only to garner this one victory. You’ll see 18 inning losses to the Astros in games you thought you had wrapped up. You’ll learn what the infield fly rule is all about when you drop a wild card game to the Cardinals in a one game playoff that the umpires botch. Even at the end of this run, you’ll have an 8th inning lead on the Dodgers getting that lead on the best pitcher in baseball, only to see the bullpen subsequently give up a two run homer and lose the game.

2016 Update:

Those pitchers did all end up making the Hall of Fame. Good for them. The greatest player of that generation finally retired after a lifelong fruitful career with the Braves. I can sum up briefly what happened next... they absolutely blew the team up. You're done making playoffs so forget about that. You're actually done being able to recognize anyone that plays on the team. They're all gone. Basically the roster was obliterated and they traded for about 10,000 young prospects. They have the second worst record in baseball. There's talk of winning a few years down the road, but for now that seems like a good ways away. Oh, side note, they're moving the team from Atlanta's downtown out to the suburbs. Well, you know, because we're so cash heavy and putting an incredible product on the field.

Your son will absolutely fall in love with the Georgia Bulldogs. They will be his favorite sports team and he’ll attend every home game for over a decade, travel with all his lifelong college buddies to all the SEC stadiums cheering them on, venture all over the country, write a sports blog for them, and devote pretty much his entire fall in support of the team. The SEC is going to become the absolute premier conference in the country. They’ll win seven national titles in a row. Georgia will get a coach that is the best of men. He’ll lead Georgia back to the national spotlight in college football. He’ll even win 2 SEC Championships (they’re going to start playing a title game by the way) during some of the conference’s best years. The only problem is they’ll never share in one of these national titles or even play in one, and will fall just short oh so many times. They’ll win SEC titles in the wrong years. Only four teams that win the SEC title after 2001 will go on to not play in or win the national title, and Georgia will be two of them. Georgia will be arguably the best team in the country at the end of 2007 and not even get a crack at the game. They’ll even be five yards from beating the best team and dynasty in the nation (Alabama) only to mistakenly complete a pass, watch the clock expire, and not go on to beat a terrible Notre Dame team that would have been an easy National Championship game. Even the best year their basketball team has, they’ll get put on probation for academic fraud and not even get a chance at the NCAA tournament.

2016 Update:

Oh boy. That man I mentioned above being the best of men, well surprise, he's gone! After winning 10 games a season I guess UGA decided that championships meant something too. The debate tore the fanbase's hard out pretty good. I do like the new guy and hope he can turn things around (or I guess improve by a seemingly impossible marginal fraction). Since 2013 it hasn't been great. The SEC East was wide, and I mean wide open. Tennessee and Florida were down. The East was as bad as it's ever been. You actually won the right number of games. Unfortunately, this new team from Missouri joins the conference and spends a couple years in the Dome. Then a terrible Florida team makes it one year. You have probably the greatest running back since Herschel. During his banner year in true cursed fashion he gets caught up in some autograph ring and suspended multiple games. Don't worry he comes back... only to tear his ACL during that same season. Don't worry about him he goes on to be the best RB in the NFL the next year. Good news, he's immediately replaced by a young stud RB who is putting up ridiculous stats. He is a man of character off the field, and a man amongst boys on the field. Well, just as you'd expect, during what could be a Heisman campaign season, he blows his knee out on the first series early in the season. The rest of that season is pretty magoo, leads to the coach's firing. Wash, Rinse, repeat.

The Falcons will get to a point where they get in the playoffs every single year. They’ll even make the Super Bowl only to run into the storyline victory of one of the greatest QBs of all time. They’ll have one of the most transcendent players of  all time in Michael Vick. He’ll change how the game is played. Unfortunately he’ll get caught up in a dog fighting ring, get made an example of by the NFL, and never play for your team again. You’ll rebound though and get one of the best young quarterbacks in the game in Matt Ryan. He’ll get the nickname “Matty Ice” because he’s so clutch. Over this span of your son’s life you’ll reach the playoffs 9 times, but only reach the Super Bowl once. You’ll think you’re guaranteed to go in 2012 when you have a multiple touchdown lead on the 49ers only to see that lead slip away and fall short of your dreams (coincidentally in the same endzone that Georgia falls short in a few weeks before).

2016 Update:

Well, the Falcons still aren't that great. They actually have gotten worse since 2013. Some guy from Auburn comes in to Carolina (expansion team) and it looks like he's basically going to own the division for quite some time. That new quarterback is getting older and hopefully some weapons will gather around him. You get another coach fired by the way. Oh, guess what, another new Stadium! (don't worry this one isn't too far away, it's actually in the parking lot right next door). You probably won't be able to afford tickets to see them play however. TV has gotten really good, so enjoy that.

The Hawks will also become a perennial playoff team. They’ll make the postseason 16 times over the course of your son’s life. The problem is they’re never a serious threat and somehow have the ability to never get better than around the 4th best team in their conference. They’ll have home court advantage, all star players, and numerous chances but never even make an NBA final.  They’ll disband, rebuild, and get back, but never be a serious contender.

2016 Update:

Well, we're still pretty much the number 4 seed every year. Not bad, not great. Oh you fire another coach here too, and you get a good one. He actually wins you a 1 seed early on for the playoffs. Don't get excited, that guy I mentioned in the opening who returns Cleveland to glory crushes you in subsequent years. You're not really staring down any transcendent players who are going to boost your forward. At least you're staying in the same arena for a while.

I told you that hockey will come back to Atlanta! Well guess what, you lose it again to Canada. The Thrashers won’t even scratch the surface of the NHL finals. They’ll be really good one year, be a 3 seed in the playoffs, have home ice advantage, and guess what… they’re knocked out in the first round by a team from New York.  They’ll be gone again to Winnipeg before you even know what hit you. Your town won’t support them that much, but still it will be another slight against Atlanta as a sports town that they can’t even keep a professional franchise in a sport.

Overall, you’ll make the postseason 43 different times across the four major sports and Georgia will be a perennial top 10 team knocking on the door of National Championships. The only problem is that out of all those teams they’ll only win that one title in 1995. Furthermore, they won’t reach a championship series or game in the 2000s.  24 other cities will get to see their teams earn some type of championship after yours in 1995. Of course some of the other big cities will win multiple ones in multiple sports like New York, Boston (the Red Sox break the curse), Chicago, Detroit, Denver, and Philadelphia. What stinks is that some other smaller known sports cities like Miami (this team called the Marlins comes along and wins two World Series even though they are horribly run and cellar dwellers year after year), Anaheim, New Jersey, Charlotte, Phoenix, Green Bay, and Tampa Bay will get to hoist some sort of trophy as well. You’d think as a major metropolis with teams in all the major sports and even a great football team in college you’d get to share in at least one title every 20 years or so. You’d think you’d even make a championship appearance in some sort of sport every 15 years. Starting in the 2000s when he’s just a few years past really understanding and getting into sports, he won’t even get the chance. One title out of 43 appearances in the postseason. That’s a little over a 2% clip of success. It’s that bad.

2016 Update:

Basically just change the above stats to failing 44/45 times and add another city to the list of fanbases that have won. That's it.

People will bash your city for being a “poor and unenthusiastic” sports town. Some wise crack from ESPN (you’ll know the network really well soon) will even write an article about how you don’t deserve success. He couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ve got a city with great fans. They’ve just been desensitized to the regular season because success only starts with championships. They would attend every game in all sports if they could, it’s just a logistical nightmare to get there, extremely expensive to attend, and they know it may just lead to more disappointment. They’ll fill up all the arenas come playoff time. They’ll put 90,000+ in college football stadiums 6 or 7 times a year. They’ll just always walk out at some point during that season heartbroken that their team didn’t come through.

Let me put this heartbreak in perspective. In 2013 at the start of a week you’ll have the Braves entering a postseason battle, Georgia will have just beaten two top 10 teams and be headed towards another SEC Championship, and the Falcons will have good team with the chance to make a postseason push. Within the span of three days Georgia will have 3 starters get potentially season ending leg injuries in the same game. During one night, the Falcons will score the go ahead touchdown on Monday Night Football with 1:30 to go in the game only to see the supposedly struggling Jets go kick a game winning field goal to win (oh, and you’re top 5 NFL receiver will go out with a season ending injury the next day). Later that night, only a few hours later actually, the Braves will chase out the best pitcher in baseball and take a late lead to bring the series back home to Atlanta for a deciding contest. Unfortunately in the bottom of the 8th the Dodgers will fail to get a bunt down twice giving Juan Uribe the opportunity to swing away. He’ll go on to hit a two run homer and eliminate you from the postseason (don’t worry, your best pitcher will be just watching it all from the bullpen).  This night will be the epitome of the curse so many Atlanta fans believe is true. It will be a painful, painful night where Atlanta fans stay up until 1 AM cheering on their teams only to see heartbreak for the 42nd time out of 43 chances.

Look, your son is going to love the teams from the region of wherever he grows up. He’ll support them through thick and thin, attend games, watch religiously, and devote an almost unbelievable amount of time following them. It will be his greatest passion, and he wouldn’t ever change who he roots for or how hard he roots for them. That one championship in 1995 will stick with him forever and be a point of pride, it’s just that after so many chances he’d like to feel that again. You’re setting him up for a lifetime of heartbreak and insult. It will be the equivalent of taking the prettiest and most popular girl in school to the prom for 20 straight years, just to know in the back of your head you’ve got no chance and she’s got her eye on the starting quarterback the whole time. Just do him a solid right now, pack your things, and move to a new city. It doesn’t have to be far… maybe the Carolinas, Texas, or sunny Florida. It will cause a lot less heartache down the road. He’ll love his teams no matter what, so just make it a little easier on the poor guy.

2016 Update:

As mentioned, it's gotten worse. Like you're the worst city for sports trying to attain a championship. You should still move. Also there may be a woman elected president this year.  You also won't have grandkids by 2017. Cheers.

                                                                        Your Son Ryan (10/8/13)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Championship Week ATS Picks

Didn't post last week, but did go 3-0 per Turkey Day Texts. 33-19-1 on the year.

Temple at Houston Over 52.5

People seem to be overvaluing Temple's defense. After FanDueling Houston players all year I know they can put up points. Expect this game to be in the 30s + for Houston with some TDs fo Temple.

Texas at Balyor Under 62.5

Likewise after FanDueling Baylor all year they have now fallen off a cliff having to utilize their 3rd string QB. It basically has eliminate any threat of Linwood or Coleman going off. Compliment this with a decent Texas defense and anemic Texas offense and I am somehow taking a low Big 12 under.

Bama / UF Over 39.5

TWO GREAT DEFENSES! Means I take the over. Basic logic of what's supposed to happen doesn't when Vegas likes to make money. Expect Bama to be in the 30s in this one. They're ripe for an offensive output plus some UF turnovers. If UF can get to 10 I think we cover.

Mich State -3.5 vs Iowa

This is somewhat betting into the favorite norm, but I think Michigan State should handle Iowa. I've watched the Hawkeyes play a good bit this year and they're not as bad as you want to believe. Still I think the Spartans have enough in the tank to cover. Iowas is a methodical offense and Michigan State has enough defense to stop a good ground game... i.e. Ohio State.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Why Kirby is the Clear Choice for Me

Just like a debate raged regarding whether or not you would keep a coach, a similar one will now transpire as to what that next coach should look like. There is no right or wrong answer at this point because the main candidates (within reason) all have unknowns in one facet or another. I supported Richt for a very long time, up until the end, but now there's only one clear name being talked about that would truly make me feel the best going forward.

Much of my reasoning for Kirby being the guy stems from the arguments against him.

1) "Kirby Smart is Nick Saban's puppet". Whether you want to trust/believe me or not, I have firsthand knowledge that this is not true. If you honestly think Nick Saban is going to keep a guy on staff for nearly a decade just to dance around flapping his arms on the sideline and yell into a headset (while paying him over $1M a year), you're crazy. Also, if a candidate is going to be under someone, wouldn't you want that someone to be the most successful college football coach of our current era? Seems like a pretty good person to learn from and implement the philosophy that so many have seemed to envy over the past few years.

2) "Kirby Smart has never been a head coach". Well if head coaching experience is your key driver in who you want at the helm, you just fired the longest tenured one in the SEC. You had a "head coach" for a very long time and according to those merits the job wasn't done. Herman has one year of head coaching experience in a middle level conference. Does that one year of running a program (in which the groundwork was paved by another coach) really outshine Kirby's lack of a similar position?

3) "Kirby Smart has just had great talent". One major knock on Georgia is that we have been unable to go from good to great. I would also argue that our talent has not been lacking over Richt's second half of his career. What Kirby Smart did with the best defensive unit in the country was take great and keep it great. Georgia is a unique place abundant in resources and talent. That's the nature of the program and I don't think that should take a step back regardless of who the coach is. What I do know is that from what Kirby has shown, there is no semblance of under utilizing great talent which is something many have lamented over in Athens. A quick perusal of NFL rosters will confirm this.

Now on to why I think Kirby fits as the most seamless transition for UGA.

He knows the program landscape. I'm not merely talking about Athens, GA, I'm talking about being in the middle of a resource rich, strongly backed, big time SEC program. Navigating that world is a unique animal and he has seen firsthand how to be successful at it in a more similar style program than some other candidates.

He can continue to sustain and build on recruiting momentum. He has exhibited the ability to pluck key talent not only from Georgia and the Southeast, but nationally. His addition would have no ill effect on continuing the push to lockdown our border while reining in outside talent. Put best practices in recruiting from the best recruiting school in the country (Bama) with the common resources at UGA and I don't see any downside... with potential upside. It's a different style from Richt sure, but the talent pool should still be full. Can't say the same for coaches outside that current mold.

For those worried about staff continuity Kirby has been in the breeding ground of some of the most sought after coaches in the country for various roles. During that time of LSU, Miami, and Bama staffs with Saban he's built an incredible network of people to pull from.

Great defensive coach, knows the landscape, knows the program, knows how to recruit, knows the expectations, has a network, and knows what winning looks like. That should answer many of the questions the detractors have had over the years. To me there are fewer unknowns with Kirby than any other candidate that is being discussed. It doesn't mean those candidates couldn't get the job done, but I feel the pieces in place with Kirby could get the job done the quickest.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Georgia 13 Georgia Tech 7

In what seems to be the season where we're just trying to take a knee and get it over with, somehow we are gaining victories when they are proposed. I said after Florida headed into the last four there was only really room for disappointment, but I guess we should take solace in the fact we nabbed four victories including ones over Auburn and Georgia Tech. It seems strange that in a season where many feel it's the worst we've been in a long time, we're still going to end with a 9-3 mark and the potential to win the much maligned 10th.

None of this changes the fact that our offense is still not very good. Of course that comes back to QB play, but now at season's end it was obvious we didn't have an answer there and made due with what we had (or didn't). I mentioned over the last few games it looks like we have to do everything in our power to throw off a long floating ball to a diving receiver just to gain 6 yards. It is what it is. What I did notice yesterday was that it seems like a long time since we've had a guy who could take a normal drop, step up in the pocket, and fire one over the middle. It's just not there this year.

Losing Chubb obviously derailed the offense as well. At least in the last 3 games it seems we've been trying to throw in a wrinkle or two. The two fullback passes to Payne yesterday (reminiscent of the AU game) were nice to see and well timed. Sony has also done a nice job becoming an all purpose back when he used to be a nice wrinkle. Kudos to him for shouldering the carry load down the stretch.

I will say our defense is pretty good, and has been getting better. Remember even in some of the bad losses like Bama and Florida the offense basically accounted for two touchdowns on the scoreboard or the opponent. Against the rushing attack they did a decent job of not letting the big gainers burn them, and I thought the safeties in Mauger and Sanders did a nice job sealing it off when it got there. That said, GT's offense is really really bad. Watching them try to throw the ball, and do it as poorly as they did, is just baffling at the college level. I mean awful. We had good pressure in the backfield all day and all in all I think giving up only 7 was a nice end cap to the home stretch.

While it was a victory, it once again wasn't pretty. It seems like when we got a 10 point lead we basically went into kill the clock mode. We settled for field goals (and missed one), failed to convert on a 4th and 1, went into safe mode, and though we had dominated all game it still offered our opponent a shot at the end. That's basically been the story of the season... Try not to lose.

Looking back on this much maligned season it seems strange now to realize we garnered 9 wins. If I look at it, I think we honestly loss to three teams that were better than us.

1) Bama - more talented, we turned it over, and didn't have a chance
2) Tennessee - in Knoxville, without Nick Chubb
3) Florida - with Bauta, and gifted them two touchdowns

While we then didn't beat teams like we think we should've (GSU, GT, etc) we still got victories. This does nothing to change a debate that will surface, but still is much much better than the alternative.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Georgia 23 Georgia Southern 17

This is literally how I felt when Sony Michel ran into the endzone. This is how I feel about this season at this point.

Trying to ascertain anything new from that game is a worthless cause. Sure Georgia Southern is pretty good, and plenty of other teams got a good scare (or beat) by lesser foes in the conference on Saturday. But still, even with those types of scares coming about one in a blue moon (a la UCF at home or UAB games in the last 20 years), one still can't take much from the fact that despite the enormous talent gap between the teams we were lucky to snag a victory Saturday night.

I think the only thing that was cemented is that due to extremely lackluster QB play and the absence of Nick Chubb our offense has become inept. To complicate matters we turned the ball over (something we took advantage of versus Auburn) to allow Southern to have their shot.

The defense is doing a pretty dang good job, and our offense did a good job of putting their backs against the wall Saturday night.

This has to be the most confusing, turmoil filled, what is happening potential 10 win season in the history of Georgia football in recent memory. I stated before the last four games we only had the potential to have an adverse situation instead of really doing anything of significance. Well we are one game away from actually winning those four games (two against heated rivals), but man does it feel hollow. Trust me I'm glad we're winning, and I'm still cheering the boys on, but this is getting more and more confusing.

Part of me simply hopes for two more wins, pick up the pieces, and move on. The no-fun part is the offseason debate that I know will ensue. The stakes will be much higher next year as the margin for error is ever decreasing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Week 12 ATS Picks

29-15-1 on the season after a 3-1 weeks last week.

Top 3 Plays for this week:

LSU at Ole Miss Under 56

Two good defenses and LSU hasn't shown the ability to score big on good defenses. 3:30 game with some field goals and hopefully no turnovers.

Idaho at Auburn Under 63.5

Auburn will have the ability to score in this game, I'm just not sure with their ground attack they can score in the high 40's / 50's. Idaho is absolutely abysmal and Auburn has a good defense.

UGA -13 vs. GA Southern

Yes, I'm taking the bait. Maybe for some reason Vegas thinks we are as awful as we may appear? Here's what I do know... UGA sees the option 1-2 times minimum per year. The players have seen it. GA Southern is good, but not their best team they've had in the last 5 years. I watched them play App State in full. Night game, good UGA defense, and hopefully a late 2 TD win.

Others for the card:

WV at Kansas Over 59

This one is early in the day, and Kansas can't score a ton, but WV can. I watched Baylor have to take their starting QB out against Kansas because they were up so much in the first half. Big WV lead, then KU comes back with some back door TDs.

Michigan State +13.5 vs. Ohio State

Everyone is down on the Buckeyes which may be wrong, but everyone is even more down on Sparty. Ohio State probably gets this win at home, but I feel this isn't the statement game for them, next week is vs. Michigan.

Don't Bet Baylor / OK State! Too many unknowns. People are undervaluing the fact that OK State had nearly 200 yards less and 15 first downs less than TCU in their big win. Baylor had too many turnovers in their loss to Oklahoma. Yes Baylor has a backup QB, and yes OK State is good. Still the metrics of turnovers have skewed they view on each recently, which leads me to stay way.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Georgia 20 Auburn 13 Recap

In what seemed like one of the most meaningless Georgia-Auburn games in recent memory, the Dawgs while somewhat lackluster gained a nice gutcheck win Saturday. Amidst everything that's happened this year it has still been nice to see two wins the last two weeks in lieu of what "could have happened".

The star of the day was obviously the defense. Auburn has been all over the map this year as to what offense will show up for them, what quarterback will play, questionable play calling, etc. honestly much like UGA has. After marching down easily to provide an opening score, the defense allowed two field goals the rest of the game. The turnovers from Auburn certainly helped, but after some questionable turnover margins in the last month it was great to see UGA have the 3-0 edge in that column. Auburn is going to get theirs at times on offense. In what seemed like fighting against a war of attrition, the defense buckled down when needed to do an overall great job. They faced a team that's pretty hard to gameplan for with so many varied looks and wrinkles. They executed well after the opening drive, and sitting in the stands you could actually see them start to build on their own momentum in the second half.

We had good pressure on the QB, and made solid tackles (most of the time). Some of my Auburn buddies commented on #84's play during the game, noting he looked like a man amongst boys. Parrish got his first pick, Davis had two recoveries, and they really started flying around that second half.

The defense did it's job to allow the offense to do just enough. Sitting high up in Jordan-Hare it seemed like I was watching a game filled with UGA trying to do everything in their power to gain 3 to 4 yards at a time. Every time a pass of around 7 yards was completed it seemed like it took everything in our power to get it done. There wasn't any downfield threat to speak of. What we did see was UGA realize their standard offense of running up the middle or throwing over the middle of the field wasn't going to work, and try to make adjustments to get the job done. Even on the lone offensive TD we had to sweep IMac out wide in order to gain a couple yards due to the inability to get it done up the gut. I think it's time we just acknowledge that Lambert is the best option... but it's not a great option. That option will feature an unlikelihood of big plays down the field. I think since Reggie Davis dropped the UT touchdown we haven't really had a big shot to a WR. We tried to throw across the field for a big one yesterday to an open receiver, but the ball took too much time to get their and was caught up in the wind.

Some of the wrinkles I did like...

Our tight ends actually exist! Both Blazevich and Rome had big catches when needed. Still don't understand how these guys aren't seeing more targets.

Throwing to the fullback. Payne's big gainer was reminiscent of the good old Bobo days where the FB provided an added option out of the backfield.

The wildcat. If we're going to be unable to throw for more than about 5 yards, it's not terrible to see some different playmakers like Godwin get the ball in their hands from the get go. Those two plays generated 7 yards a piece.

Brendan Douglas had a nice 3rd down reception when it was really needed.

It wasn't pretty on offense. We've come to accept that at this point. Luckily the D did their job and the offense did just enough to allow the big break to go our way with turnovers and the IMac return. By the way no one other than him should return punts from now on. He did a good job fair catching when he needed to, and when he was given the opportunity he had the most of it. He's a dynamic threat and it's evident we really missed him when he was out.

Good job Marshall Morgan. In a game where we had to control what we could, he was solid on two big field goals that ended up being really important. It was also pretty windy in JHS.

It was so strange to sit amongst UGA and Auburn folks and talk amongst ourselves that out of the six QBs on the teams, none seemed like a great option. Jeremy Johnson missed some throws that easily could have led to big Auburn plays. UGA didn't really try anything grandiose and stayed in chip away mode during the entirety of the game. I know we've had our issues this year, but take solace in the fact that Auburn is at the same if not worse point in their fanbase. Not so much at Gus, but noting that they are trending downward as well.

In the end, it was a good win when we needed it. It was ugly for both sides, but UGA avoided pressing to make the mistakes that would cost them, which allowed them to capitalize on Auburn's. For all the struggles we've had against Florida, Richt does seem to have Auburn's number. Amidst all this chaos of a season and ugly losses, we may still end up with the vanilla 10 win season we've begrudgingly become accustomed to. That sparks the next debate what should be done, but for now I'll just enjoy a victory. We really haven't had the opportunity to do anything special down the stretch, but so far have avoided the opportunity to provide reason to blow the thing up. More of the same for the next two weeks.

As an aside I once again enjoyed my trip to Auburn as always. Great fans, good times, and a great tailgate. The bus trip from Atlanta proved an awesome decision. Enjoying a few cold ones on the ride some sure felt better with a win under our belt.