Sunday, September 28, 2014

Richt Goes Evil Richt Twice Yesterday

Two uncommon things we saw from CMR:

1) Going for it on 4th down at midfield early in the game

2) Not settling for a field goal and letting Todd make a great run on 4th down to seal the game.

Obviously the second one took a little more gumption. We of course were having the debate of what to do in our section in Sanford. I was actually a little more tentative than Richt was in that situation. A guy at my tailgate put it best it seems... "I'd rather go down swinging with our best guy than give them an automatic gift of a chance".

What would you have done (objectively not now knowing the result)? There are :40 left. UT has no timeouts.

A) Attempt a field goal of around 43 yards to go up 6 forcing Tennessee to find the endzone. They'd have to gain additional yardage vs. just kicking a field goal, but you could also miss giving them the ball at the 26.

B) Go for it. You burn a little time and potentially seal the game. Don't make and they get the ball wherever you end up (say the 26) and only have to go for a field goal.

Mark chose B, and luckily for him Todd had a little extra in the tank to make the gain.

Recap: Georgia 35 Tennessee 32, Ugly Wins are Better than Moral Victories

Walking out of Sanford yesterday the mood of the crowd didn't seem one that had just beaten Tennessee for the fifth straight time. I even witnessed one Tennessee fan running down the ramp shouting "we are back, just you wait". There is no doubt in my mind that yesterday was a lull in comparison with the expected outcome. It certainly make us look at ourselves and say we may not be as great as we thought we were. However, when we look back potentially at this scoreline in a few weeks hopefully as we really see is the W. I can assure you winning ugly is better than losing pretty 100% of the time. Just ask South Carolina.

The obvious concerns of the day the lack of a vertical passing game and the secondary being sliced up yet again.

Hutson Mason would be the first to tell you yesterday was not his best day (and in fact he has). The two picks were pretty bad. The first a misread and the second and underwhelming underthrow deep.  As I was driving back from Athens there were echoes that UGA would have to win "in spite of" Hutson Mason. I don't think we are at the point where we entertain some of the knee-jerk Dawgvent or water cooler conversations I know some people will be having tomorrow. Hutson is no where near Aaron Murray or Matt Stafford from a throwing standpoint. However at this point I trust that he's the best person to run the offense which he obviously realizes doesn't revolve around him. If we hadn't botched the first and goal scenario in Columbia, we could be talking about a 4-0 quarterback here. That being said it would be nice to see some upswing in the passing game as no doubt his arm will have to win us a game this year.

When Justin Scott-Wesley & Malcolm Mitchell return (whenever that is) there's this hope that it will stretch the field vertically. I don't think this will bring the advent of Huston throwing deep bombs over the top of defenses. I'm not sure we've got that capability right now. What I think it will do is open up the middle third and stretch defenses much like the second half against GT last year.

Tennessee sliced us up pretty good over the middle, in the screen game, and over the top yesterday. They gained big chunks in quick fashion. Immediate concern goes to reminiscing about the South Carolina game where we got abused. I mentioned earlier in the week that we would need D-Line pressure to help the UT receivers (who are a mismatch for our DBs) not establish their routes. We actually had decent pressure through the second half, and Worley made some pretty good throws and the receivers executed. The most frustrating thing to me was it seemed we had guys in position to make plays which is what you would hope for. There weren't glaring holes like you saw versus SC. However it seemed our guys rarely made a play in the air yesterday. It's apparent our linebackers are rush / stuff oriented and are going to have trouble covering vertically in the passing game. The screen game with Hurd and Howard seemed to be open all day as well. My only hope is that Pruitt & Co. now have an abundance of data to mull over and improve.

A few other things that weren't so good:

The too many men on the field penalty that gave the first down in the punt return game. I saw ole Reggie sprinting off the field and hoped the refs didn't. That's one that hurts. I guess that's what happens when you mix up punt return formations between games.

Speaking of punts, Isaiah I'm sure will be talked to about fair catching balls on the 5 yard line.

Losing all momentum gained in the second quarter plus getting the ball back at halftime by letting Tennessee smoke you in one minute for a TD.

Now on to some good things:

I feel like after every game we are going to talk about the amount of time Todd Gurley played. Part of me started typing out how I was amazed he didn't really see the third quarter when we needed a spark, but I then I started to realize maybe he took over the 4th quarter because he was so fresh? It didn't seem like it, but touched the ball 30+ times yesterday.

Todd is the man. He is the best player on the field, he knows it, and the opponent knows it. It seems strange that UGA's big play ability now rests on the 50-yard break away. I was talking to someone who got to see Herschel play who mentioned to me HW used to runs the same way. Stuffed sometimes for only 3 yards but there was always a big gainer for 15/20+ every couple runs.

His hurdle was awesome and you could hear the collective gasp in the stadium. My only wish is that he had landed upright, cut right, and taken it to the house. I would have walked out and just gotten in my car to go home. I also love those runs where he breaks into the second level getting one on one with DBs. It never seems the first one can take him down.

While the punt return game had some miscues, Isaiah's return in the second quarter helped flipped the field when we needed it leading to our first score. He'll break another one this year.

I really enjoyed watching numerous folks lay the wood on the UT quarterbacks. Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Carter, Ramik Wilson, and even Swann had some good licks.

When in position, our defensive unit actually wrapped up pretty well in the flats. Unfortunately the were either blocked or away from the play numerous times during the day.

Lorenzo Carter seems to be coming into his own from a comfort level and situational awareness. He's certainly got the size and talent so hopefully he continues to improve.

The safety no wait fumble recovery for touchdown. The defense got some gifts yesterday, but this was a great one. Josh Dawson recovered both fumbles on the day, and luckily this one was for six.

Mark Richt goes Evil Richt twice yesterday. Going for it on fourth down early, and then letting Todd go for it on fourth down to seal the game (which was the gutsier call).

In Conclusion:

Winning ugly is better than losing pretty. We at UGA are past the point of moral victories. The result is the result. Does it cause concern, certainly. I'm certainly not thrilled about the performance, but with a Mizzou win it's all out there again. At least we have that going forward.

I'm sure Tennessee feels like they gave that game away. I would argue that Georgia could say the same thing. We shot ourselves in the foot as many times as they did, it just ended up being not as costly for us.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Something to Keep an Eye on in Special Teams

One thing I noticed (which was actually pointed out by my neighbor in Sanford last Saturday) was the advent of putting a lead blocker set deeper in the punt return game. If you notice it's a new look for the return game this year. While the hype may be around IMac for explosive plays, having a blocker set stationary 10-15 yards in front of him to pick up the lead gunner is a new wrinkle and something we haven't seen in recent years. Putting starters on kick coverage and little nuances like this serve to further the notion we are trying to take small steps in improving areas we've been noticeably weak during the last few years. We've ranked in the bottom (if not last) in Punt Return Yardage in the SEC the last two years, and it's obvious little tweaks are needed.

D-Line is the Key to Beating Tennessee

     When people were bashing UGA's secondary as South Carolina lit them up, I was quick to try and shift focus to a shared blame. Yes the coverage was poor, but the D-Line in my opinion equally shared the criticism. When people got all overhyped about UGA's secondary from the second half of the Clemson game the biggest difference in that half was that Stoudt & Watson had minimal if any time to let a play develop. When we squared off versus the Gamecocks there was a noticeable absence of pressure which allowed Thompson ample time to let routes develop. If you give a decent SEC quarterback and receiving corps that much time  they will find holes which they did all day long in that game. 

     Tennessee's strength is in their receiving corps. They have a young quarterback in Worley but he has plenty of big athletic targets like Malone, North, etc. that can't be allowed to roam free in UGA's secondary. The best way to prevent them getting loose is to not allow the plays enough time to develop. If UGA's D-Line can be in the backfield soon enough it will cause needed disruption in the passing game. The veteran linebacking corps has the ability to handle the middle third, but as displayed in the SC game if we let these guys roam free in the last third there may be wide open holes. Look for the pressure of this unit when examining the secondary. A good day by them could lead to revamped optimism heading into the heart of the SEC slate.

Week 5 ATS Picks

7-5 ATS on the season. 3-0, 0-3, 3-0, 1-2... so we're due for a good week.

Maryland at Indiana Under 70.5 banking on the early start lull here

Wake Forest at Louisville Over 41.5 banking on some breath of offense

Clemson -14.5 vs. North Carolina Tigers at home, may be overvaluing the FSU game and the ECU blowout but in my opinion Clemson should hold serve at home vs. the line

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Interview with the Opponent - Vols Fan Q&A

So Drew is my good friend and one of the most logical Tennessee fans you can come across. Trust me we have our differences but we've had some great debates over a beer or two. Look every fanbase has their bad fans, but Drew is one of those guys who actually attended his university and can have some good objective debate. The guy is a diehard Vol, and probably the best one I know.

1.   What is your affiliation to Tennessee? 

I am 30 and currently live in Atlanta – I have been going to UT games since I was little, my dad (and grandpa) have had season tickets for 30+ years and still have them. My dad also spent his Fall Saturdays growing up as a hotdog vendor in Neyland Stadium. My dad is from Knoxville and my mom is from Chattanooga, both are graduates of Tennessee. In addition to them my older brother and I have both received degrees from Tennessee and my little brother is currently enrolled there as well. Born and bred.

2.   What is your favorite memory during your time as a Tennessee football fan?

My go to answer is the UGA game back in 2004, but I’ll change it up and go with the South Carolina game last year. It was a different kind of memory, b/c we really weren’t bad in 2004 (went to the SEC Championship game). For the last 7+ seasons we have been really really bad, so that win just had a unique feel to it. Two weeks prior Tennessee was behind UGA at the half by a pretty sizeable amount and for the last 4 or 5 seasons Tennessee has only gotten worse in the 2nd half so I had zero reason to believe they would make that a ball game. They did. I wasn't there because I left. It was a tough overtime loss, but everyone that stayed said it was one of the best atmospheres at Neyland Stadium in years. When South Carolina came up next there was no way I was leaving that game. Between Marquez North’s one handed grab on 3rd and long on our last drive to Michael Palardy’s last second field goal to win it, you would have thought we won the National Title. It sounds terrible, but I haven’t experienced anything like it before at Tennessee, b/c we had never been that down since I could remember. There was collective sigh of relief along with a ton of excitement that is difficult to describe, but it will really be a game I won’t forget.

3.   Butch Jones has had some time to get going. How would you evaluate his performance to this point?

He still has some work to do on the field, but the wins will come as Tennessee gets more experience. We took 22 true freshman to Norman for the Oklahoma game, we only have 11 players on the team who have played at Sanford Stadium (one of Butch’s useless stats of the week), and we are replacing our entire OL and DL. That doesn’t happen overnight, so everyone seems content to giving Butch 4-5 years to get things going. Tennessee was a dumpster fire in the wake of Fulmer’s last couple years, Kiffin, and Dooley, so there were a lot of wrongs that had to be made right. Kiffin was trying to make us the USC of the East and God knows what Dooley was trying to do, but he ostracized every former player and high school in the state of Tennessee. Butch has had an uphill battle since he got here, but he has done better than anyone imagined from a PR and recruiting standpoint. He has really embraced Tennessee’s traditions and mended fences with probably every player who came to UT. Arian Foster was the DJ at the orange/white game after not being on Tennessee’s campus since 2009. There were a handful of legacy recruits who were 100% not going to Tennessee before Butch got there and did what he did. Some guys who might even play this weekend. Todd Kelly Jr. and Dillon Bates for example (see Herschel tramples Bill Bates to score TD on Tennessee – Hopefully Gurley won’t have the opportunity to do the same thing). Anyway, He has been A+ in my book. 

4.   Prior to the season starting, everyone wanted to talk about the inexperience on the lines. How have the two units progressed?

The OL is still a really big weak point. Oklahoma had a field day, so I expect UGA to do the same. Worley needs to be on point and get rid of the ball quick to have a chance in this one. If we get into multiple 3rd and long situations, that will be worse case scenario b/c of the limited time our OL will give Worley.

The DL has been a surprise to most everyone, as they are playing pretty well considering we have 2 true freshman starting. When they have been making mistakes, our linebackers have done a good job covering them up. They will definitely have their hands full this week though. UGA’s OL is just as good as OU’s but Gurley, Michel, and Chubb are much more talented than anyone OU had running the ball.

5.   Who is a player on UT UGA fans will know by name after this game we may not know about now?

I am hoping it will be Curt Maggitt. He is a hybrid LB/DE type and was pretty disruptive to start off his career at Tennessee 2 years ago. He was out most of 2012 and all of 2013 with an injury and has been unimpressive thus far with only 10 tackles on the year. Hoping he has knocked the rust off and can have a big game this weekend.

I would have said Josh Malone, but he was heavily recruited by UGA, so fanatics who follow recruiting would know about him. For sidewalk fans, my answer is Josh Malone.

6.   Where is a place you see UT having an advantage in the game? 

I like what I have seen from Worley this year, he looks like a completely different quarterback, and even though we have a couple critical WR injuries I like the matchup there against UGA’s defensive backs. North and Malone and big guys that can block out/over match smaller dbs and Pig Howard will most likely have a chip on his shoulder after that brutal fumble in OT last year.

7.   How do UT fans view the UT / UGA game? 

I grew up in Roswell, GA so most of my friends went to UGA or at least rooted for them. I have always disliked UGA, and UT fans as a whole have always disliked UGA (especially over the last decade or so). Probably not as big a rival as Bama, but they are definitely up there with UF. UGA Fans have always been a mix, but overall good folks. Say what you want to about UGA, but it was always THE road trip to go on. Athens is hands down the best road trip, best college town in the Southeast, always a solid tailgate, and best bar scene. In college we always made it a point to go down once in the Spring. Either for a basketball game, or just to go.

8.   What worries you most about UGA’s team coming into this game?

The run game, no doubt about it. We have young corners, so they will have to play lights out to win the game since UT will most likely stack the box to try to slow down the running attack. Their front 7 worries me as well, especially since our OL is not very good. Even if we can contain (not stop) the run game and UGA scores 24 points, I am concerned that we won’t have more than 2 touchdowns.

9.   What is the current confidence level of the UT fanbase heading into Saturday’s contest?

There is more optimism on Volquest than I would like to see, but those people are crazy. I am hoping we can still be in the game in the 4th quarter. If we are, then I think we can win. I just don’t think we will be. I’m not confident, but a lot of fans seem to be.

10. What is your honest final score prediction?

24-13 UGA

Friday, September 19, 2014

Week 4 ATS Picks

6-3 ATS YTD. 3-0 Week One, 0-3 Week Two, and 3-0 Week Three. Sense the pattern. Be warned.

Texas A&M at SMU Over 59

Kenny Trill and Sumlin have shown no mercy or desire to stop scoring on people. SMU program has no  base right now, and A&M runs it up. Just need one score from the ponies. 3:30 start as well so hopefully no 12:00 lull.

Missouri -13 at home vs. Indiana

The oddsmakers think Mizzou has a falloff since people are talking about them. They still run a high octane offense and this one is at home. They have been easy money for a few games now. 4:00 kick.

Oklahoma at West Virginia Under 65.5

If this was in Norman it may be a different story. WV getting the home field slows OU down a little bit and we get to duke it out vs. a big number. A few stops or field goals and hopefully this one stays in the high 20's.