THE WORLD'S LARGEST OUTDOOR COCKTAIL PARTY
Even though UGA's largest COCK has issued forth an illegitimate name change for this grand tradition of southern football, HDD doesn't check in with the good doctor prior to hanging a moniker on a football game surrounded by a throng of serious revellers. So, tomorrow we will be attending the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and it looks like it will be one of those days in which the weather dog ain't coming back.
It is going to be windy. The only way it could be windier is if it was a weekday that I had taken the day off to go offshore fishing. The wind will be blowing around 20 mph. That could be the story of the day. While our kicking game has suffered plenty since Coutu got hurt, this type of wind, could neutralize the disadvantage. Of course the wind could hurt us more than it hurts Florida, but still, in extreme weather situations, it always seems that the games are closer than expected. Just look at the game between Nebraska and Texas last week in the miserable cold conditions that nearly felled the Longhorns. Well, anyway, I don't know how this stiff breeze will impact the game, but it will somehow. I just hope it helps the Dawgs and hurts the Gators.
I do know that the last 4 years in a row, I have gone to Alltel believing that Georgia had the better team. We prevailed only once. This year I will go to the stadium certain that Florida has the better team. Indeed, I am not sure how we are supposed to even keep this game close. The 14 point line seems about right to me. Florida should have no trouble dinking and dunking the ball for 5 and 10 yards up and down the field on our passive, soft zone that bends until it breaks. Once the Gators figure out how to handle our 4 man pressure on the passer, it will be deja vu all over again. Remember when Goff and Donnan teams decided that blitzing the Gators was too risky because you might give up a big play? So instead, we dropped 8 men back to cover 5 and the results looked something like this: 38, 45, 26, 33, 52, 52, 47, 17, 38, 30, and 34. Good thing we didn't blitz or we could have been scorched. Well, ladies, if we don't pressure Leak tomorrow, the result will be like the Goff/Donnan years. The Cutcliffe/Ainge clinic on how to score 50 on the Dawgs has been published and widely disseminated to our opponents. Don't think that the Gators don't own a copy. The good news is, that I bet we don't have to see the old triple stack formation that Zook used 400 times and we stopped it zero times.
Now, if CWM wants to put me in the box with a headset, here is what I would do... I would run my defense like a Chinese fire drill. There would be blitzes coming from every angle on every play. Sometimes, we may only rush 4, but there would be twisting stunts and other calls designed to keep Leak and the Gator offensive line off balance. I would do everything possible to try to beat the Gator offense with my best defensive players (the front 7) instead of hoping that the inexperienced secondary can cover a talented group of receivers for 5 or 6 seconds. I would challenge Leak to beat the blitz or pay the price. I would use as much disguise of the blitz packages as possible, but somebody would be coming on every play. You know, kind of like Auburn did. Sure we could give up a long play or two, but that is worth the risk. Because, without constant, relentless pressure on Leak, we will surrender more than 30 points tomorrow. However, if we get in his face enough, we just might be able to force him to throw his first ever pass into the hands of a Georgia defender. That would be progress.
On offense, I expect nothing less that a conservative game plan in which we try to keep Stafford from making mistakes. Lord, I hope that isn't the plan. But come on, do you really think CMR will open it up and let Slingin' Matty Stafford throw it all over the place? You know, if we can establish the run, I would be happy to see use run and run and run. But, this Florida defense has yet to let any team run on it. We will not have any success running the ball until we have success passing the ball. So, we better get busy playing pitch and catch in the first quarter so we can get some first downs and keep the Gator offense off the field as much as possible. We do need to take some shots downfield, but the key to success will be hitting the 5-8 yard timing routes and for the receivers to hang on to the ball because they are going to get popped. That is something that scares me... Our guys have been fumbling when not getting drilled, I dread to think what could happen when they get their teeth rattled a few times by the Florida secondary.
This brings me to another point... Reggie Nelson is a star on the Florida defense. He has the Raggedy Ann dreads that are so popular these days. Why do so many kids go with this look these days? I am glad that CMR does not permit that hair style on his team, however, is it possible that this is limiting some of our playmaking ability? Is there any reason that having all that yarn coming out of the back of your helmet helps you make plays? Can we tackle a player by yanking on the yarn? Or is the yarn greased up with jury curl and therefore impossible to grasp? Rhetorical questions, all. But still, it seems like the rastafari always make a big play in every game. This worries me. But, I saw our guys doing the "Fall away, Bob Cousy Jump Shot Dance" during the Miss State game, so maybe these skills will overcome our lack of dreadlocks.
Special teams. Several key points here. The biggest is this: if we win the toss, get the ball. Do not defer to the second half. That strategy has been bad news for this bunch this year. If we take the ball in the first half, then we get to select which end to defend in the second half (unless Florida elects to kick to us - which wouldn't be a bad idea.) With the windy conditions, it would be a good idea to get the wind at your back for the fourth quarter. However, the forecast indicates that the wind will be subsiding in the later afternoon. Still, we don't need to take the second half kick-off if we have a choice. The next point is this: don't get a punt blocked!!! Is Joe TIII back on the punt team yet? If not, why not? We never got a punt block when he was back there. Coincidence? Next point: never run a kickoff out of the end zone. We have a habit of getting all the way back to the ten yard line when we do that. Then, when we get the obligatory block in the back flag, we start on our own 5. Just let the damn ball sail into the end zone and let's start at the 20. Next point: Don't let Florida return kickoffs back to the 35 and 40 all day. That will be brutal. Last point: get Mikey Henderson some space and let's see him dazzle the Cocktail Crowd!
Coaching: This is the first time CMR has entered this game with absolutely no pressure on him or the team. Can we play loose from the opening kickoff for a change? Let's go out there just to have fun. Maybe play that song by Lee Ann Womack called, "I Hope You Dance?" That seemed to work for SOS a few years ago in this game.
Objectively, I would have to say that Florida will win in a lopsided affair. We have not looked good since the first half of the Tennessee game. We have not played 4 good quarters since the SECCG last year. Florida is one play away from being the number 2 team in the land. Granted, many of us always think of them as number 2. This is their year to win the SEC. This is our year to rebuild, succumb to adversity and generally flail in every direction. Oh, and that streak, the 14-2 streak. Never forget that streak. Nevermind that one could say that the current streak is a one-game winning streak. Nossir, let's constantly be reminded about 14-2. Our announcer is old and decrepit and probably has no more instant classics remaining in his career. They have the "Oh My" guy who is so exciting to hear. We have a shitty basketball team with one scholarship player. They are the reigning national champs and look to repeat. (Not sure if that is relevant.) They have Tim Tebow of already mythical proportion. We have Joe TIII. They have Percy Harvin. We have Demiko Goodman. They have Dallas Baker. We have Mario Raley. They have a pothead who will be in our backfield all day. We have a pothead who will false start all day. They have a safety who leads the conference in INTs. We have a safety who leads the conference in personal fouls drawn more than three yards out of bounds. They have a 4 year starting QB who has yet to throw an interception against Georgia. We have a 4 game starter who has more INTs than TDs. Worst of all, again, is that 14-2 streak.
Yes, objectively, you have to admit we should be doomed tomorrow. In fact, any Dawg with a ticket should have sold it to a Gator so they can all bask in the glory of extending the streak to 15-2. No self-respecting Dawg fan would be gullible enough to think that we have a chance tomorrow. That would be very Gamecockish. You definitely should burn your ticket if you still have it instead of going to this bloodletting. That is, unless you have any reason to think that old lady luck could smile on the Dawgs during this installment of the Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. In that case, I will see you tomorrow. Section 103, Row P, Seat 3. I'll be the guy wearing red.