Monday, October 30, 2006
1. Ohio State. Rolling right along.
2. Michigan. And now the stage is set.
3. West Virginia. Like the TV Game Show: Real or No Real? Tune in Thursday at 7:45.
4. Louisville. And now the stage is set. Sound familiar?
5. Florida. So the Gators leap over Auburn and the UTs? Yes. Their defense will keep them in any game they have remaining and they should not lose again in 2006.
6. UT. Either one.
7. UT. The other one.
8. Arkansas. They belong above Auburn now, but staying there will prove difficult if not impossible with South Carolina, Tennessee and LSU on their slate.
9. Auburn. The Tigers had trouble with Ole Miss and have a few more difficult games ahead. At this point, they will need some help to get to Atlanta.
10. Southern Cal. Like Sisyphus, they now must roll the rock back up the hill.
11. Notre Dame. Should they be ahead of USC? Settle it on the field boys.
12. California. Sorry dude. What have you done for me lately?
13. Rutgers. Undefeated. Unbelievable.
14. Wisconsin. Now this is my kind of rebuilding year. Dawgs, take notice.
15. Boise State. The last of the unbeatens.
16. LSU. Am I the only one who thinks that on any given Saturday, this team couold beat any team above them?
17. Boston College. Are these guys still have only one loss?
18. Wake Forest. See Boston College.
19. Oklahoma. Hanging tough despite all of their bad luck.
20. Clempson. WTF happened to you?
Also ran: Texas A&M, Tulsa, Oregon, Georgia Tech
Sunday, October 29, 2006
I have played and watched a whole lot of football in my 40 years. I have cared way too much about the outcomes at times. I have let losses anger me or depress me. I have let wins make me irrationally exuberant. I have spent a small fortune to support my favorite team. I have, in recent times, become a little more balanced in my approach to the whole thing. I haven't thrown any objects, such as toasters, in years. I have learned to enjoy all of it much more as a result. Don't get me wrong, I love the DAWGS and I expect them to compete for the SECC every year. But, I also know that there will be years like this one. And in a year like this one, the number one thing I expect from the players and coaches is that they give the best effort they can. There have been several games this year in which they clearly did not give a maximum effort. However, yesterday, they fulfilled and possibly exceeded my expectations for the level of effort shown.
I hate losing to Florida. I hate that the post 1989 years have been for Dawg fans what the preceding two decades were for Gator fans. Indeed, a Georgia victory in 2007 will make the 1990-2007 series record a mirror image of the 1971-1989 era: 15-3. I reckon that since I got to enjoy those 18 years, the yang to that ying is what has happened the past 17 years. But through it all, I love the Dawgs and always will. The only thing I really ask of the team is that they give a maximum effort. I saw maximum effort yesterday and I am proud that this bunch rose to the occasion and showed some heart and fight. Sure they came up short, but I am a big boy and I can handle that.
This was another of those games where too many mistakes and bad breaks conspired to keep victory out of our reach, despite the effort and resilience of our team. Without recounting all of the contributing factors, I will simply point to two plays that most embodied the ill-fated outcome in this game.
1. The punt that bounced off of Kelin Johnson's leg is one. I know that this has happened to Georgia before, I just cannot remember when. Which makes me think it has been years since it last happened. So naturally, if it was going to happen, it was going to happen in the Florida game at a most inopportune time. The ball careened into a sea of red jerseys but was recovered by the lone Gator player. Sadly, Johnson was giving a Gator hell as he was locked up in a block showing great effort and desire. The kind of block that may have sprung Mikey Henderson for a nice return had the ball not been knocked down short by the stiff wind. The second part of this point is that we were not fortunate enough to recover the loose ball. And so it goes...
2. The second play was when the Georgia defense needed to make a play to give our offense the ball and a chance to tie the game. Tra Battle sacrificed his body as he came screaming into the line of scrimmage and flung his 175 pound body at warp speed into the ball carrier causing a fumble deep in Florida territory. The ball bounded into a part of the field covered with red jerseys, yet a lone Florida lineman recovered the ball, averting disaster for the Gators.
And so it goes...
As someone once said, unless I coined the phrase myself, "That's the way it goes when that's the way it is going."
So what now? Are we supposed to be happy that we fought hard and showed great effort? Well, it actually helps me to accept this loss knowing that our guys never quit and showed signs of maturing as a group. This gives me hope that we will have a few more good outcomes before this season is over. It leads me to believe that this young group will be a force to be reckoned with in 2007-2009. As long as this bunch gives what equates to maximum effort for their particular level of talent and experience, I believe, like Kyle King, that we could close the campaign with a WWW. It would be unlikely, but not impossible.
So, for now, I will be looking forward to the next 4 games and hoping to see the same level of effort. If they show that, I will not whine about the outcomes.
Friday, October 27, 2006
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.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
1. Ohio State. This team has yet to be challenged.
2. Southern Cal. Until somebody beats them, if ever.
3. Michigan. This team is going to the MNC Game or, at worst, the Rose Bowl. Not bad.
4. West Virginia. The real challenges are at the door-step.
5. Louisville. See West Virginia.
7. Texas. Close one against Nebraska, but they made their own miracle happen.
8. Clempson. Wow. Did you see CJ Spiller? Me neither, but I did catch his vapor trail.
11. Cal. Slight demotion.
12. Notre Dame. Go NAVY!
17. Boise State.
18. Boston College.
20. Wake Forest.
Also ran: Oklahoma, A&M, Tulsa.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Today I finally had the chance to watch the MSU game on CSS replay. I have a few observations that I wish to air...
No more booing our players, shitheads! If you canÂt refrain, move to the
The two completed passes on the MSU final drive were not entirely the result of weakass coverage. The first was a poorly considered throw that just so happened to hang very high to a tall receiver who leaped high to catch it with a smurf defender, Bryan Evans, right underneath him but in an impossible position to break up the pass. Not sure Champ Bailey could have done much with this pass. The second was an out route after 5 or 6 seconds with no rush. The ball was thrown to the sideline and low and was put in a place where no defender could possibly knock it down. When the sliding receiver caught the ball, the ball was at least two feet out of bounds with the receiver still in bounds. Maybe the ball could have been completed even if thrown a little less perfectly because Kelin Johnson was laying off about 5 yards when the ball got to the sideline. Still, based on where this ball was thrown, there was no defensive stop even possible, ever. Then, the third pass was perfectly thrown to Kelin Johnson who Milnered it.
What is the deal with the annoying new celebration dance that assumes the form of a shitty fall away jumpshot? Were all of the cool celebration dances already taken, so now this is the best that these clowns can come up with? Why not just recycle the cabbage patch? I am not an advocate of anti-fun, but I am opposed to anti-cool. The jumpshot/freethrow/Bob Cousy dance is just not cool. Someone please shoot it in the head and do it yesterday!
We will need Mo Mass to beat
Never, ever take Southerland off of the field. Put him on defense and all special teams.
Slingin' Matthew Stafford was only off by inches on a few of his throws or he would have had an amazing game. We will need those throws against
Lumpkin needs 20+ carries for us to beat Florida.
More on the
Sunday, October 22, 2006
GEORGIA. Hooray for surviving the threat from the worst team in the SEC. I was not at the game and so was relegated to listening to Larry on the radio. I have not seen any of this on video, so it is hard for me to critique with great specificity. However, a few issues are clear. Something is wrong with MoMass. Three drops is what I heard on the radio. Why? Elsewhere, two fumbles and three interceptions and most of them in our own territory. WTF? I know that Stafford is learning on the job and I have confidence that he will continue to grow and improve. But, I surely hops that he doesn’t have three picks next week. By the way, I think he should throw it away from Pegues. Next week, please know where Reggie Nelson is at all times!
I think we should applaud our handful of offensive linemen for having to take all of the reps everyday in practice and the game and still giving Stafford time to throw the ball and opening some holes for the runners. This has been 8 straight weeks of football with no breaks and no reserves to spell them in the games. That ain’t easy.
I will be in my seat at Alltel next Saturday and I will be hoping against hope that we play our first flawless game and catch the Gators with a bad case of butter fingers. Otherwise, I have little hope that we can keep it within three touchdowns. It hurts to say that, but I can’t imagine how our defense will stop them consistently or hold them under 31 points. More on this later.
CLEMSON. I was impressed with Clemson the first week of the season. Then they started losing starters and more starters and then lost to BC in an overtime game they should have won. Watching them tonight, I am still convinced that they are an outstanding team with some tremendous playmakers. Their defense has Reggie running scared and has rendered him impotent. He is throwing while back-pedaling on every throw.
CJ Spiller reminds me of Reggie Bush. Lightning in a bottle. James Davis is a stud as well. They have torched a fast and talented Tech defense. If Clemson can get Chansi Stuckey healthy for the stretch run, they should run the table. I am not sure where that will land them for a Bowl Game. They need BC to lose a conference game so they will make it to Jacksonville. I think this will happen. Clemson has certainly made a case that they should be considered alongside Texas, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee and Cal as the best on-loss team. I will certainly have them in my Top 10. Oh yeah, the Clemson cheerleaders are smokin’.
TEXAS. I saw most of the second half of this game. The weather was miserable and that surely impacted the ability to hold on to the ball. Texas was going to lose after a third down conversion by Nebraska with 2:14 remaining and only one timeout left. But… not so fast. After the receiver caught the ball beyond the first down marker, he was drilled by the Texas defender who made a great play to knock the ball out. Then, another Texas player recovered, giving Texas a short field to work with to maneuver into field goal range. A few plays later, as Texas was driving, their ball carrier fumbled and this would have lost the game for Texas, but… Texas recovered. Later, on third and goal with 30 seconds left, Texas trailing by 1, tried a fade into the corner that was primed to be picked off. But… the Texas receiver played defender and knocked the ball to the ground. Finally, Texas kicks the field goal to win by 2.
So, what is my point? Simply this… good-to-great teams make plays in the clutch. They cause the fumble and recover it. Or, they recover their own fumbles. Or they refuse to let the defender intercept the ball in the end zone. All of this with the game on the line. Notre Dame did it too. So did Cal. Auburn did it last week. Sometimes, a team needs some luck to win. However, many times, you make your own luck by giving the sufficient effort and refusing to fail. We have had teams with this quality lately, but this year’s group may not have it. Sure, we refused to lose to Colorado, Ole Miss and Miss St. But, come on… they are horrible teams. We need to have some of this mojo next week against Florida. Oh, and a shitload of luck.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
1. Ohio State. This is building to what may be the biggest Ohio State-Michigan showdown ever. That will be epic if it comes down to both being undefeated and ranked 1,2.
2. Southern Cal. I will stubbornly keep them at #2 unless and until the lose a game. I love their cheerleaders in those sweaters. Case closed!
3. Michigan. Must avoid a stumble against Iowa (the Georgia of the Big 10) coming off an embarassing loss.
4. West Virginia. Still unbeaten and untested.
5. Texas. The best of the once-beatens.
6 . Louisville. See West Virginia.
7. Tennessee. Many obstacles remain, but if Ainge is hot, they will be tough to stop.
8. California. The Golden Bears have begun to look unbeatable. USC stands in the way.
9. Auburn. Yep.
10. Clemson. The best of the ACC - don't say BC please.
11. Florida. What coulda woulda shoulda been.
12. Notre Dame. This seems like the right spot until they play somebody again.
13. Arkansas. They keep improving. But they have some big tests ahead.
14. Georgia Tech. Yuck!
15. LSU. They can't lose again, can they?
16. Wisconsin. Quiet and efficient.
17. Rutgers. Go Scarlett.
18. Boise State.
Wake, A&M, Pitt, Mizzou, Oklahoma
Sorry y'all, I have been in Kansas City since Monday and have not had time to blog. I have, however, had time to reflect on our squad. I could reiterate much of what has been said, but by now, that is tired old hat. So, instead, I will speak to the most important issue that I find to be causing us to lose games...
NOT POPPING LEATHER
Our defense has not hit anyone hard in about 4 games. In the first few games, I saw Kelin Johnson lay some wood to a few players. However, in the past four games, I cannot think of a single memorable bone-jarring hit by any of our defensive players. We do not inspire the emotion of fear in the opposing offense. Nobody fears the missile-like thuds of yesteryear from Greg Blue and Thomas Davis. Opposing receivers do not have to worry about being decleated or earholed. Instead, we will hug them to the ground greco-roman style. Unless we swing and miss.
I remember in 1994 after we lost to Arkansas at home (was Terrell Davis's best game) which took us to like 0-4 in SEC play. On the call-in show, ole Ray Goof said, "We're gonna do some Oklahoma and find out who wants to play some football." Well, I think it is about time for some Oklahoma again.
Come on Dawgs, turn this thing around and get something going!
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Watch this sweet video collection of some great runs by these great tailbacks. I especially like the music selected for these highlights. Notice how Dorsett had an extra gear whenever he needed it and outran many who had an angle on him. He may be the fastest player ever to play between the hedges. I was there, in 1975 as Dorsett led Pitt past Georgia 19-9. He could fly. Enjoy...
Friday, October 13, 2006
Last week was not full of surprises here. A record of 9-1 with the sole errant pick being the Oklahoma mistake. However, I did not pick the Auburn-Arkansas game, but would have gotten it wrong. That may be the zenith edition of the HDD picks. Nevertheless, in fearless fashion, here are this weeks picks.
Vanderbilt at Georgia. The Dawgs must regroup after the collapse against UT. Vandy has played tough in all of their games and they will come to Athens looking for a win. Joe T III and Matthew Stafford will share the QB duties and they both need to elevate their game. If the Georgia O-line blocks like they did against UT, the running backs should have a good day. The Bulldog defense has to have a short memory and bring some intensity from the opening bell to seize the momentum. The longer Vandy keeps it close, the greater the likelihood of a devastating upset. I am concerned that our defense will struggle again. But, the resurging offense will bail them out.
Georgia 31 – Vandy 24.
Rutgers at Navy. Rutgers is undefeated and ranked as they head into Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. Navy leads the world in rushing at 350 yards per game. However, Rutgers can run the ball as well and Ray Rice is the 4th leading rusher in the nation with 805 yards thus far. This game has “Old School” written all over it. I gotta pick this one with my heart. Navy 26 – Rutgers 24.
Florida at Auburn. The team in orange and blue will win this slugfest. Auburn has shown that something is missing in their close shave at South Carolina and the whipping the took from Arkansas at home. All Florida has done is beat Tennessee on the road, beat Alabama and LSU soundly at home and develop into one of the most impressive defensive units in the land. The Gator offense has been up and down, but mostly up. The Leak-Tebow rotation has been interesting and will be even more compelling in this serious road-test. Auburn needs Kenny Irons to be healthy, but he is gimpy and will get hit hard by the Gators. For Auburn to win, Brandon Cox must have a special night (a la Erik Ainge.) This is another Meteor game, but I suppose I will pick one of these hated rivals. Florida 24 – Auburn 19.
Michigan at Penn State. The Wolverines will be without Super Mario and that gives the Nittany a shot. But, Michigan has more than enough weaponry to hold off Joe Pas troops. Michigan 30 – PSU 20.
Ohio State at Michigan State. Some will want you to believe that this could be a trap game for the Buckeyes. Caca de toro. OSU wins easily. Ohio State 45 – MSU 17.
California at Washington State. The Golden Bears are coming off an impressive win over the Oregon Ducks. Washington State is 4-2, with the losses against Auburn and USC. They are a pretty good team and this is a spot where Cal cannot come out flat or they will be waving goodbye to their well-earned Top 10 ranking. Cal is on a roll and will narrowly escape the clutch of the Cougars. Cal 35 – WSU 33.
Arizona State at Southern Cal. ASU has been a let down this year, so I can’t give them any respect going into this game at the Coliseum. USC is a beat or two off from where they have been the past 4 seasons. But they will smoke ASU anyway. USC 44 – ASU 20.
Missouri at Texas A&M. Mizzou is for real. At least as far as the Big 12 North is concerned. They have not been threatened yet in their 6 straight wins. The Aggies have not impressed me at all and they have Coach Frankandbeans. It is easy for me to want the Tigers to win this one. But, it will be a struggle because it is just going to be one of those days for Mizzou. Missouri 20 – A&M 17.
UCLA at Oregon. This is the battle of the 4-1 clubs to determine who can claim to be the third best team in the Pac 10. Oregon is probably feeling a lot like Georgia right now. They will be at home looking for a good rebound against the Bruins who may or may not be any good. Their 10 point loss to Washington is their only blemish, but their wins have been against softies. Oregon has been tested more, but they basically failed two of those tests. Oregon wins because they are at home. I think. Maybe. Oregon 28 – UCLA 24.
Wake Forest at NC State. Wake coulda woulda shoulda entered this game at 6-0. NC State once looked like a team that would enter this game at 1-4. However, Wake collapsed against Clemson in the 4th quarter (I feel your pain) and NC State ripped BC and FSU in consecutive wins. Don’t look now, but the Wolfpack are atop the ACC Atlantic division. I want Wake to win because they are Wake and it is like wanting Rutgers to win, except I don’t want Rutgers to win this week. (See above and “About Me”). The ACC is wacky. Here is what will happen… NC State will beat Wake but then will lose at Maryland next week. Or Wake will beat the Wolfpack but then go and lose at UNC. The horror, the horror. NC State 30 – Wake Forest 27.
There you have it. Have fun.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
- Ohio State. Showing no chinks at all.
- Southern Cal. Showing a few chinks, but still winning. In my view, after the past four seasons, these guys are entitled to win without style points if they must. If they win their remaining games a combined 7 points, they will be in the title game unless the current number 3 runs the table.
- Florida. The Gators continue to play 60 minutes of solid football against good teams. That reflects good coaching, good leadership and good discipline. The convincing win over LSU propels them past Michigan, but only by a razor-thin margin. They have several tests remaining and perhaps none bigger than the trip to Auburn this coming Saturday.
- Michigan. The Wolverines continue to play 60 minutes of solid football against good teams. That reflects good coaching, good leadership and good discipline. They have a decent road challenge this week at Happy Valley.
- West Virginia. Cruising against an easy schedule that won’t change before the next moon.
- Louisville. See West Virginia. Have you seen this receiver called Mario Urrutia? 6’-6”, 220 lbs sophomore running something like a 4.4. Where can we get one or five?
- Texas. One of the UT’s is the best one-loss team in the country. Good luck proving either case.
- Tennessee. See Texas. Ainge was near-perfect against a soft zone Georgia defense. He would have torched man coverage as well that night because he was in a zone and only a severe helmet to helmet sledgehammer Thomas Davis-like collision could have slowed this comet last Saturday.
- California. Played their way back up to this spot by scoring 42, 42, 49, 41, and 45.
- Notre Dame. Not the best one-loss team in the country, but playing consistently now after a few screwy early weekends.
- Clemson. Ugly purple pants almost cost them a win. But pure determination by the players overcame the horrible haberdashery. Nice contest with Georgia Tech lined up on October 21 at night in Death Valley.
- Missouri. Hey, they are 6-0, winning easily in every game. How about some love?
- Boise State. Props to another 6-0 club with no close calls to date.
- Georgia Tech. I know, I know. But it is only for two more weeks, and then we can cast them down into the lower quartile or beyond.
- Arkansas. Because they beat Auburn and now have a chance to contend for the West. Why not?
- Auburn. Ass burn is more like it after the Nutt job Arkansas pulled on them.
- Iowa/Wisconsin in a tie, ummkay.
- Oregon. Got smoked by a very good Cal team. Chance for redemption against UCLA this week.
- Georgia. Ran into a buzz saw after a fast start against the Vols. Rally time.
- Navy. Hell yeah. Four in a row over the Zoomies. Don’t look now, but Navy has Rutgers at home this coming Saturday with a chance to solidify a spot in the HDD Top 20.
- Rutgers. Oh Scarlett...
Others receiving consideration… LSU, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, Nebraska.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Having just watched the replay on CSS, I have the following observations…
- In the first half, everything went right for us. Uncanny.
- Cutcliffe called a great game and Ainge delivered over and over and over. Ainge made quick throws when he had to. He took his time when he could. He stepped up in the pocket when necessary. He delivered the ball where it needed to be. His timing was outstanding. So, while our zone coverage was soft, he also would have torched man coverage if that would have been our adjustment. You know it, I know it and yellow dog knows it. They had our number. Period.
- Tennessee’s big 3 receivers and tight ends hung on to every ball after the first quarter (when they dropped 2). They held on to a few balls after getting popped pretty good. They are big and strong and we need some receivers like them.
- Our run blocking was really impressive and the running backs made some nice reads and ran with authority. Let’s see more of this, please.
- Our receivers caught the ball as well as possible, but were rarely out in space. If they keep catching the ball like this, hopefully we can start getting them open with some space to run.
- After Tony Taylor, we didn’t have any linebacker play. And none of them could cover. Brandon Miller is just a tweener. He is a freakish athlete, but is not a linebacker and is not a defensive end. Can we make him a BIG receiver?
- Tra Battle needs to be firmly admonished that hitting guys three steps out of bounds or chicken fighting at the end of every play is stupid and amateurish. If he keeps it up, he will get us a personal foul that could cost us a game.
- What happened to the Asher Allen that played in our spring game? He looked like he could be a shutdown type corner one day. He still might, but he looked extremely tentative all night.
- Martinez got schooled by Cutcliffe and a near perfect Erik Ainge and his big targets. But, the combination of their defense/our offense made Martinez’s job impossible. Tennessee came out of the gate in the second half with all guns blazing and we got put on skates and could not recover on either side of the ball. I wonder what their halftime talk was like?
- We have a disastrous QB issue on our hands. But, I trust CMR to sort it out as well as any other living coach would.
Ladies, things are never as bad as they seem nor or they ever as good as they seem. The saying, “May you live in interesting times” is apropos here. I think we will finish 10-2 or 9-3 in the regular season. Either way, with our youth, inexperience and QB carousel, it will certainly be interesting. What will not happen is a total collapse and a 6-6 or 7-5 season like we have seen several other SEC teams (UT, Auburn) experience within the last few years. So quit bitching, strap on your balls, and support these DAWGS!
Please see Doug Gillett’s take for a sane analysis of this night. I agree with a lot of what he said. I also agree with much of what Kyle had to say. Here is a comment I made over at Dawgsports in response to Kyle’s take…
I see this game the same as you. The Vols are better than us. We could have done a few things better, but, if we played UT ten times in a row, they would win 7 - I think. Our team has holes that are not filled and may not get filled this year. However, this team is good enough (or talented enough) to win 9 or 10 regular season games. That has not changed since August.
I would really like to see Will Muschamp as our DC someday soon. However, you know that we will lose Rodney Garner if/when we replace Willie with anyone other than Garner.
The most frustrating thing to me in the past two games is that CMR does not seem content to let our ground attack take over a ball game. We had two backs averaging over 6 yards per carry. But we had to press out luck with our mediocre QB and it cost us twice in situations where running the ball made more sense. From my seat, it looked like we were gaining 5,6,7 yards per carry even when UT had 9 men in the box. If it is working, go with it. ARRRRGGGGHHHH!
UT is a great team again and I think Cutcliffe deserves most of that credit. Of course, last night, they were running two receivers into simple, short routes that Ainge was delivering rapidly before our rush could be a factor. Simple, simple gameplan. Executed to perfection with no adjustment by our DC. Painful to watch, but I finally assumed the posture proposed by Bobby Knight when he said "you might as well enjoy it."
Oh well. Let's go Dawgs, get ready for Vandy.
And also this comment…
Don't Mail It In Yet
I don't think we must concede 3 or 4 losses this year. We had a real chance to win the game Sat night and we failed to make a few key plays that could have made the difference. In short, with the way UT played, we could afford no mistakes and we made plenty in the second half. Worse yet, we could not force them into any mistakes except the two long returns.
Auburn proved that they are not invincible the past two weeks. Florida, while damn good, is not invincible. And we know Tech is not invincible. So, I don't concede any of these games outright even though I don't expect to win all three. By the way, I DO expect to beat Vandy, MSU and Kentucky.
It is a long season and circumstances change all the time. Last year we had a circumstance hit us the week of the Florida game and it cost us. However, the Sunday after we throttled Tennessee, many in Gatorland figured us to beat them until Shockley went down.
Believe it or not, it is likely that the SEC East representative will have 1 loss and possibly 2. UT still has LSU and Alabama. What happens to them if Ainge misses one of those games - ala Shockley? Or even if he doesn't? Florida still has Auburn (who can't afford to lose this game) and us. I am convinced that Florida has a better team than we do this year, but I have watched enough football to know that this does not always guarantee a win. Right now, this is clearly the most difficult game for us to figure out how to win.
Auburn can be beat. If you think we have no chance of beating Auburn, please explain.
Tech is Tech and they have Reggie Ball. So that one is clearly winnable.
Will win all 3? No. Will we lose all 3? No.
It is time to do some serious coaching, which our staff is capable of or we wouldn't have won 10+ games each year on talent alone.
Preseason, I figured us to go 10-2 at best and 9-3 at worst. Still looks reasonable to me.
Our defense needs to get their GTBB (get the ball back) mantra from last year and leave the KTIFOY (keep them in front of you) mantra in the carnage that was the last 35 minutes of the UT game.
Our offense will improve between now and Florida. The run blocking is much improved and our running backs can win ball games for us if CMR will let them. We should start Joe T because the freshmen don't want to start. Until they demonstrate that they want it more than Joe T, he should be the starter.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, I trust CMR to get as much out of these players and this situation as any other living coach would. So we won't be undefeated this year. OK. We, you and I that is, didn't expect to be anyway. Let's just worry about beating Vandy and then let the rest of it take care of itself.
So those were my initial observations before watching the replay of the game tonight. My thoughts, upon further review, appear in the next post.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
PREDICTIONS AND PREDILECTIONS
Last week I correctly picked 4 out of 6. The Yellow Jackets and Golden Bears proved me wrong in convincing fashion. Georgia had a win that felt like a loss. I would settle for that again this week from the Dawgs. There are many great games tomorrow, so let’s get right on it…
TENNESSEE at GEORGIA
Georgia can’t find the right combination to unlock its offense. Tennessee is firing on all cylinders. The Dawgs defense has held it together, but will face its toughest test of the year. The loss of kicker Brandon Coutu swings the edge in the kicking game completely over to the Vols. I am happy that Joe T III is back and will hopefully provide the leadership and knowledge of all of the offensive packages to give Georgia a renewal on offense. But, I can’t conceive of any way that the Dawgs can mend all of the problems shown the past two weeks with the Vols in the opposing uniforms. Thus, sadly, I suspect it will be UT 17 – UGA 10.
NAVY at USAFA
Navy has won three straight against the Zoomies. All three have been by 3 point margins. The last two were last-second field goals. Air Force showed how capable they are by coming with one two-point conversion from shocking Tennessee at Neyland. Navy rushes for a Div 1 leading 357 yards per game. Air Force stands third with 290 rushing yards per game. The clock will fly in this game. Air Force has home field advantage. Navy has Paul Johnson. Please Navy, make it 4 in a row! NAVY 31 – USAFA (can you guess?) 28.
TEXAS and OKLAHOMA
I will call this the Red River SHOOTOUT because I like tradition and I don’t think that football games called shootouts kill people, people kill people. Texas is at least a little better than the Sooners across the board. Last year Texas finally beat Oklahoma, just as they beat every other team they played. However, Adrian Peterson was hobbled and gained only 10 yards on 3 carries. This year, the horse is back and will carry the Sooners to a victory in a classic. OKLAHOMA 33 – TEXAS 31.
LSU at FLORIDA
LSU brings their bonafide defense into the swamp to try and stop the Gators efficient run of victories. Chris Leak has guided an improved Gator offense and the Gator defense has been stellar. The Tigers offense has rolled up scores as follows: 45, 45, 3, 49, 48. Remember, “Which one of these does not belong with the others” from Sesame Street? Well, Auburn stopped Jamarcus and the gang from Red Stick. The Gator defense is probably better than the Auburn defense. So, will LSU score less than 3? On the other hand, the Gators have scored 21 and 28 against UT and Bama respectively and lots more points against their lesser 3 opponents. One of these teams will score a defensive TD and that team will win. The Gators I know are guardedly optimistic. Where is the swagger? I think FLORIDA 17 – LSU 14.
CLEMSON at WAKE FOREST
Wake enters unbeaten. Clemson is on a roll. Wakes exits with a loss. CLEMSON 38 – WAKE 21.
OREGON at CALIFORNIA
Oregon is undefeated (unless you ask Bob Stoops) and Cal is now living up to their pre-Neyland hype. This is the battle for the second best team in the Pac 10. Each team beat up on ASU. I am sure to get this one wrong, no matter how I analyze it. So I will just pick the home team. CAL 30 – DUCKS 28.
MISSOURI at TEXAS TECH
Mizzou gets to Lubbock unbeaten. The Red Raiders are coming off of an emotional close win over Texas A&M. Tech will be pass happy. Missouri’s defense has fared well against the run and pass thus far. Indeed, the Tigers held Ole Miss and Colorado to fewer points than the Dawgs did – while posting 34 more points. Kind of hard for me to pick against Mizzou even though they are a long way from home in this game. MIZZOU 33 – TECH 21.
STANFORD at NOTRE DAME
The only chance the Cardinal have in this one is if Notre Dame gets caught looking ahead to NAVY. Yeah, right. DOMERS 44 – STANFORD 21
MICHIGAN STATE at MICHIGAN
This game is interesting merely to see if Sparty can show any fortitude after getting away from East Lansing after the two baths they took at home the past two weeks. The Wolverines are solid, explosive and look unstoppable. Is there any chance of something extremely goofy happening in the Big House under a full moon? I have a feeling, but it is not strong enough to sway me. MICHIGAN 34 – SPARTY 28.
MARYLAND at GEORGIA TECH
This is another homecoming for the Fridge. The field cants towards his sideline when he takes the field. Not sure if this is an advantage or more of a benign observation. Are the Techies thinking about the NC State game from last year when they lost a heartbreaker at home? Maryland is slow. Tech is fast. Calvin is unstoppable if he gets the ball. Tech may lay an egg this season, but this won’t be it. TECH 31 – TERPS 20.
That is all folks. Have a safe and enjoyable day.
Go DAWGS. GATA!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Not too many shocking developments in Week 5. So here is my ranking of the Top 20 teams…
- Ohio State. Rolling.
- Auburn. No penalty from me. They beat the Evil One by 7. Good enough.
- Southern Cal. Again, no penalty. There is a chink in their armor, but they still may not lose a game all year.
- Michigan. Pushing both #3 and #2.
- Florida. Nice 60 minute ball game against Bama. Now, LSU.
- West Virginia. Who will beat them if Louisville doesn’t?
- Louisville. Who will beat them if WVU doesn’t?
- Texas. I am concerned that they will get beat by the Sooners this week.
- LSU. In the swamp for another colossal test. Can’t wait to watch.
- Oregon. Annihilated ASU. At Cal Saturday to prove where they belong.
- Clemson. Will rain on Wake’s parade Saturday.
- Oklahoma. Chance at the Top 10 if they can beat Texas.
- Tennessee. The Vols are firing on all cylinders. But, I hope they sling a rod or two in Athens and have a total breakdown.
- Notre Dame. Not much of a schedule remaining until Thanksgiving.
- Georgia. Will anyone please catch a forward pass? 3-spot demotion for second week in a row. Must beat Tennessee to regain credibility.
- California. Wracking up the points lately. Big home game with the Ducks will determine the second best team out West.
- Georgia Tech. If they throw it to Calvin, they win.
- Boise State.
- Wake Forest. Undefeated and upset-minded.
We hope that the Scarlet Knights remain in the TOP 20 so we can keep posting pics of Scarlett Johannson who has no connection to Rutgers other than her name.
Others under consideration: Iowa, Nebraska, FSU, VPI, Missouri, BC.