Sunday, November 20, 2016

UGA 35 ULL 21 - Nothing to See Here

Scoreboard looks ok, points of the game didn't, but in a season where it seems every game has had some sort of heartache or underwhelming performance let's just be satisfied the game went pretty smoothly.

There's no doubt this wasn't Eason's best performance. All year I've been saying at least he hasn't been putting us in bad spots, well on Saturday he sorta did. A couple throws into traffic, a pick, a missed TD overthrow, and the inability to really push the ball downfield came to bear. Not Jacob's best performance, probably one of his worst, but it least it came at a time when we could afford it.

It was good to see Nick Chubb going over 100 again and getting in the endzone. He still looks a click off from his previous versions, but still showed the ability to bust those big chunks of yardage and tactically make his moves in the hole or versus a defender. One RB who struggled was Michel. He didn't seem to be getting the holes Nick saw, and really didn't have any plays of significance. The fumble also hurt. The rest of the corps served in the role as one would expect.

It's good to see the offense trying to push the ball to Nauta, though at times it seems if it's supposed to go there Jacob locks on a little bit (a la the pick). However he did get in the endzone and continues to emerge as a weapon going forward. Riley Ridley was utilized a little bit like his brother on the designed run, and look to see him increase in versatility as Calvin has been doing at Bama.

And then there's Isaiah McKenzie who had one of his early season reminiscent "I bet you're glad I was a tag along recruit" games. He took the game over in the first quarter. It was good to see, as he'd had some woes in the kicking game in previous weeks. Hopefully that instills the confidence (not the over-confidence) to provide that threat for UGA. Without true form receivers this year, we've had to rely on guys like IMac to get creative wrinkles in the offense.

I thought the defense played pretty well versus a semi-mobile QB. They ballhawked when asked, though some of those throws were awful up into the wind. Still they did what was asked. Davin Bellamy was flying around the field showing his speed and ability to work different levels. Parrish's pick was a nice feat of athleticism.

What wasn't pretty on defense was the late scoring drive in the first half, and some of the drives toward the end of the game. This was reminiscent of some earlier season games (Nichols, etc) where UGA couldn't quite close out the half after a decent performance. Not sure if the mentality changes when the clock nears 0:00 or what, but we have to find a way to execute until we hit the locker room.

Not pretty, but still a W with no catastrophic losses. Now we face Tech and the chance at an 8-4 record. If you ignore what the 8 and the 4 were, or how they looked, you wouldn't be too mad if we beat Tech. Heck it's basically one less game than we've been winning for the last few years. Not satisfactory, but maybe not as bad as you could have seen it going after Vandy. The Tech game will leave the chance for the taste of the offseason to be good or bad, so let's hope the option doesn't throw Kirby any fits.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Georgia 13 Auburn 7 - We Needed That

In a year where I feel we've seen a bunch of different variations of what this team actually is, it's only fitting that it's pinnacle win came in a very strange fashion. No offensive touchdowns in a game where we actually ran the ball ok, pretty good execution on special teams, and one of the best defensive halves of football we've seen in a long time.

Let's not kid ourselves, Auburn was pretty banged up, but the team still had to come out and execute. Where Auburn was not that banged up was on defense, and that front four was a tough item to handle. For an offensive line that's been pretty maligned they actually did a decent job. Eason was pressured at times, but I thought the play calling was much more creative in dealing with this unique challenge.

This was a win that this program desperately needed. After the lackluster run though the middle of the schedule we were resigned to taking solace in hard fought victories like Kentucky. What Saturday showed was that Kirby and this current team still had something within them to show up against a top tier opponent. There were ugly parts to the game, but the team showed the ability to get stronger (particularly on defense) as the game continued. This has been somewhat absent, thinking specifically about the Florida game. What was neat as well was to see the support in Sanford hadn't waned. It was an electric atmosphere, and the result on the field catered to optimistic expectations.

The Auburn scoring drive got me worried. Their war of attrition and variety of looks seemed to be working well eating up 5 yard chunks with ease. I'm not sure how much they changed up their game plan or how much UGA made positive adjustments, but that was the last time in the game they really seemed to shove it against the UGA defense. The pick six to open the half proved to be the turning point. It pulled the teams level and seemed to put the confidence into the defense that carried them through the rest of the half, while allowing the crowd to get back in the game behind them. Auburn wasn't at 100%, but any time you are able to be that effective against a Gus Malzahn offensive level of creativity it's a good day.

The ugliest part of the game had to be the goal line play calling. One was abysmal and resulted in a turnover. The other was really close to being a thing of beauty. Still it was strange to see that much effort having to be utilized to try and score. Maybe there wasn't confidence to go against that Auburn D-Line, but it seemed a little too creative for the situation.

Riley Ridley renounced himself as a guy that's going to be a very good receiver for years. He is emerging as an over the top threat and has the hands to boot. It was nice seeing the tight ends get involved again as well. Once Georgia starts getting some more dangerous receivers in there it will be fun to watch Eason get more confident with legitimate weapons.

The running game did what they were asked. Getting 150+ from the Sony / Chubb combo is what we all envisioned. I thought both were used very effectively yesterday, and we were a little more creative in how we got the ball to them. We are watching Eason grow up before us in a tough spot where he doesn't have much time to process things given the O-Line. I am hoping that these little victories like Kentucky drives, Vandy completions in a tough spot, the Tennessee drive, and even back to the Mizzou drive are leading to bright things in the future. It was another game last night where it wasn't overly beautiful, but if we look at it we've been rolling out a true freshman QB and not feeling like it's a major liability.

Special teams had a nice day. It seemed a little laughable when the crowd reacted to kickoffs sailing through the endzone. Rodrigo went 2/3 but made them when they counted. Ramsey and the punt coverage team did a nice job not letting Auburn flip the field and gain momentum. Where we struggled a little bit was in our punt return game, but honestly I'm just happy if we catch it these days. To their credit, Auburn is at the top of the conference list in defending the punt return.

In the end it was a win that this team desperately needed. It was strange obviously, but seemed to be a big step forward for Kirby and what he's trying to do. In a season that won't be everyone's favorite, it provided a moment to remember in Sanford Stadium during 2016 we'll look back on fondly. It seemed like the crowd afforded the necessary patience and were excited for their reward. Now it's time to finish strong, mainly versus that team from Atlanta. It could be an ugly 8-4 in hind sight, but this season had a chance to be much worse. If we get to that result all in all it won't be so bad or feel like a major setback. The games haven't been easy, but most have been fun, and are hopefully leading back to being in the Dome the next few years.

I would 100% do Saturday over again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Georgia 27 Kentucky 24 Recap - A Re"spec"table Win

Little late to the party on this one, but there's really not too much to take away. We've reached a point in the season where you really shouldn't have an expectation going in, so getting a victory is a great result. Sure it's Kentucky, and it's hard to put your head around being excited about a win, but let's just be happy it wasn't the opposite. At a time when people where questioning all sorts of things we went into Lexington, turned the ball over a few times, yet avoided mistakes from a catastrophic standpoint to execute in the end. The alternative would have led to a much darker picture of the season. That could come about in the final three games, but for now there's a least a bright spot.

In the most confusing aspect once again, we had a run game make it's once a month appearance. We rushed for 200+ this time with Sony leading the way. I'm not sure what's up with Nick Chubb, especially regarding ball security this year, but Sony decided to carry the load Saturday night. It was etched during the last series. I'm not sure what the secret sauce is in telling how well we will execute running the ball or protecting Eason, I just know some days it shows up.

Jacob Eason is pretty good. This was another game where he was faced with needing to execute in his own ability at the end, and the last couple drives showed just that. Those are spots where a frosh QB gets a little greedy and throws the back breaking pick. Heck even versus Vandy he didn't do that. He's show a few times that if given the chance he has what it takes to come through.

A surprise MVP appearance goes to Javon Wims. He's show a few bright glimpses this year and it was nice to see him featured on Saturday. The receiving corps has been a struggle, so maybe Eason is starting to develop some rapport with a few.

On to the kicking. I mentioned during the Ole Miss game when kicking disaster concern was at an all time high that somehow, some way, I took solace in Rodrigo's first missed FG. Even though it was a miss, it was at least high and straight, just a little right. That was a far cry from the wounded lazer ducks that Ham had been putting up. Well since then he's been on point. That was solidified on Saturday with a 4/4 effort. Who would have thought in a season where we were wondering if there was some old washed up frat dog that elected to go to UGA rather than kick for a DIII school existed on campus, a kicking performance late in the season would be the highlight of the game?

As I stated earlier we executed well at the end of the game. A few key stops. A few key conversions. A few key executions when needed (the Sony TD, the 2 pt conversion, driving down the field, and merely executing an easy FG). Those are the kinds of things unfortunately we've been forced to build on. But understand, at least we did them Saturday night. The alternative is ugly. So it's a mediocre bowl game year, but it looks like we'll avoid the utter blow up year and all that ensues. Meanwhile we've gotten a very talented freshman some meaningful reps and a new staff chance to figure things out. Not what we hoped for certainly, but lowering the barometer for success has been kind of ok with me. Survive the storm and move forward. The recruiting trail certainly echoes that notion. It's not what we're used, but much as I said during the CMR years at least we haven't gone to the dark place yet. Here's to hoping for a fun environment and an overachieving performance on Saturday night.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Week 10 ATS Picks

16-12 on the year.

Vandy at Auburn Over 44.5

Until Auburn stops scoring, and until they stop going for style points, I'm taking the over.

Wisconsin at Northwestern Over 41

Dreaded early Big 10 time slot, but the Wildcats have been allowing some high scoring games, and the total is a little depressed right now.

Southern Miss -20.5 vs. Charlotte

Bounce back game for the Golden Eagles at home vs. a poor Charlotte team

South Carolina -6 vs. Mizzou

New energy with a new QB and a home game for the Cocks. Mizzou is falling apart.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Florida 24 Georgia 10 - There are Still Gators Chasing Us

There are weeks were you are just forced to write something, even though you don't want to.

Saturday reminded me of last year's Florida game. Just an utter inability to execute and compete as we bumbled all over ourselves to lose.

The offensive line play absolutely doomed us. We didn't turn the ball over (actually won turnover margin), we played ok on defense, we made a FG, and we just got utterly outplayed / destroyed.

I'm no X's and O's junkie, but it's obvious when your quarterback drops back, can't even finish a drop, and has to start running for his life. I watched Jacob Eason take a drop and when it looks like a QB should be able to set his feet and move up, he literally just had to run sideline to sideline. When we tried to run the ball there were Gators in the backfield nearly at our handoff. It got worse as the game went on. It seemed there were a couple plays where Jacob just wanted to show off his arm because routes didn't have time to develop so he would just heave it and hit a pylon.

People are going to read into this game and make a judgement on Kirby. I'm going to wait until after the Kentucky game. Losing to Florida and Tennessee is normal... losing to both Kentucky and Vandy isn't. That moves you into "not making a bowl game" territory. Even in the midst of trying new things and new coaches, the talent level at UGA isn't THAT bad. What Kirby will be able to show is whether he has the ability to make a team resurrect itself in a tough spot. That's a learning lesson that doesn't involve talent.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Week 8 ATS Picks

13-11 on the season after a tough 1-2 last week.

Central Michigan +10.5 vs Toledo

There are a bunch of unknowns with these teams, despite similar records. Vegas is putting the value on the home team with a big spread so here's to hoping the Chippewas keep it close.

Purdue +24 at Nebraska

Nebraska will win this game, and Purdue is bad, but Purdue has been pretty good at backdooring some points this year. Nebraska has been prone to start slow.

Louisville -19.5 vs. NC State

This seems like a Joe Public bet, but we're trying to take advantage of Vegas overreactions. It was only 3 weeks ago that you would take Lou -40 and Over 80 vs. whoever they played. After a few mundane weeks and a strong Wolfpack showing vs. Clemson we've got a manageable spread.

UTEP at UTSA Over 47

Both teams are bad, but both teams have proven the ability to put up points against a variety of opponents. Last time I took a UTSA over it covered in the 1H, so here's to hoping for more of that.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Vandy 17 Georgia 16 Recap - It Shouldn't Be That Hard

Georgia once again failed to put a whole game together. In a game where we got back on the wagon in a few facets, we fell flat on our face once again in others, and boy did it cost us.

The sour taste in our mouth is from the absolutely abysmal call on 4th and 1 where we decoy with our best play and toss it to a converted wide receiver who was struggling all day. To gain one yard against a team you should have a decisive talent advantage on at the line of scrimmage. At some point you have to realize, despite what struggles may have occurred rushing the game, you have put yourself in a position where you just have to trust your ability to play football. When you are a run first power SEC team, you shouldn't have to resort to trickeration to gain one yard. There comes a moment when you just have to say the game hasn't been pretty, but if we're going to win, we are going to give it to our best player and trust him to gain one yard. If the play worked we may not be talking about this, but the fact it didn't certainly allows us to ridicule it.

This play hurt, but it wasn't the one I was the most upset about. How about 4th and three down one at the opponents 42 yard line with less than 5 minutes to go. This is a another situation where you have to simply trust your ability to play football. At that point the advantage of gaining a net of at best 30 yards, getting the ball punted back to you in a game where you've looked the worst ever in the punt return game, makes absolutely no sense. Heck I would've rather tried a field goal. Instead we punted, and took the game even more out of our hands. That was the play where we looked sheepish, and the one that upset me most.

Special teams has been an awful struggle the past few years, and today was it's worst iteration we have seen. We couldn't stop anyone on returns, we couldn't kick accurately on punts / kickoffs, and we couldn't figure out when to catch it or let it go (and looked absolutely clueless in the process). IMac's decisions could have made this game even worse. Sometimes he simply tries to do too much. Sometimes you have to just cut your losses and do less. Instead we took the opportunity to make a normal one terrible. Simple execution in that facet could have helped make an ugly game palatable.

The run game disappeared again. Jacob Eason bounced back with a 300+ yd passing day and no major miscues, but once again we couldn't put a complete offense together. That makes 5/7 games where we've been unable to accomplish that.

Here are three players who shined on Saturday:

Isaac Nauta - he's going to be a force for the coming years. Finally we start using our unique weapons at tight end. His progression is a welcome sight.

Rodrigo Blankenship - I said after the Ole Miss game (even when he missed one) his kicks look so much better than Ham's. 3/3 on FGs was a welcome relief, and he's solidified himself as the man at the position.

Javon Wims - he didn't have a big day, but proved he can be an effective receiver.

Other than that the result overrides any bright spots. People need to stop making comparisons to Richt lost to so and so this year, Saban lost to so and so this year, etc. Kirby has a learning curve, but what was displayed Saturday was an abomination when it comes to coaching execution and discipline. The patterns of the past, or learning curves, don't mean squat when it comes to the future. The fact is we just lost to a bad Vandy team when we did a few things right. This result has been hinted at in games like Nichols and SC. Finally it reared it's head.

The rest of the season is a building process. Eason needs to continue to improve, and other weapons need to continue to step up. There's literally nothing to play for of merit other than beating Florida, Auburn, and GT, and I feel a lot less confident about our execution in those facets. I still believe a change at the head needed to be made, and this is the bed we've made. Time to deal with it from a point of executing and show improvement.