Thursday, September 13, 2007


FootballWeek 3

Opponent: Western Carolina Catamounts

Kickoff: 1:00 PM

TV: PPV Only

Well, that couldn’t have been any more opposite of an offensive performance than we saw in week 1. Bad game on just about every front. We struggled all day to get in rhthym on offense and never really did. Defensively we played well enough to win but we couldn’t get stops when we needed them and yielded too many sustained drives. Even the giant bright spot that was our special teams had a mark against it with Coutu’s miss. Just an ugly day all around. Oh well, time to get back on the horse so to speak and get things done.

About the SC game

As well as things went against OSU, they went that poorly against SC. For the most part, especially considering the way they started, the OL played as well as could be expected Saturday. Stafford had time to throw during most drops. He was hurried some and sacked a few times, but the OL played better than I could have thought they were capable of after 1 quarter. The problem was that when they did manage to block, it wasn’t a guarantee that Stafford was going to be on target and if he was on target there certainly wasn’t a guarantee that the WRs were going to catch it. That’s a recipe for ineffectiveness. The running game certainly had its moments, but time and time again Jasper Brinkley plugged holes as quickly as they would open and we couldn’t sustain anything.

I suppose Mike Bobo’s having an interesting week. After week 1, everyone was extolling the virtues of the boy-wonder OC that was bringing some new wrinkles to our offense that the players seemed to like and that after one game certainly seemed to be effective. Now Bobo gets to deal with the opposite end of the spectrum, the one where the fans start to question exactly what in the world you’re thinking roughly 1 out of every 3 plays. We probably got a little too cute in the playcalling on 3 different (key) occasions Saturday, but you can’t fault Bobo too much for trying to make a statement early.

We managed to avoid the turnovers that plagued us all of last season for the most part. The one turnover we managed was on a tipped ball. That alone should tell you that Stafford has progressed from last season. When he struggled with accuracy last season, he was good for several turnovers. Now he knows the offense better and despite scuffling pretty much all day we were still in the game until the end because we hadn’t given them any short field situations. On the flip side of that we didn’t force any turnovers and only have one on the season.

I won’t make any comments on Stafford beyond what’s already been said. Honestly, on 2nd viewing he was much better than I had remembered. Frankly I don’t know enough about the offense to know when he’s making the right decisions. It kills me to hear announcers (ahem…that means you Bob Davie) saying things about him not going to an open man when they have absolutely no idea what the progression reads are. If the first receiver your QB looks at has man coverage and a step on his defender, that’s where the QB is going, regardless of what his other receivers are or are not doing. It’s obvious he was having some problems with accuracy and didn’t seem as comfortable as he has recently, but it wasn’t a complete turnover-fest like we saw at times last season. I think the fact he stepped up and took the blame for the loss in the media speaks volumes to his development as a leader.

WC Offense

· Let’s be honest, this is a team in Western Carolina that both the coaches and media picked to finish last in the Southern Conference. For those of you new to football, that’s not good. Over their last 11 games (all losses) going back to week 3 of last season, they’ve averaged under 12 points a game, only two of which were against 1-A (I’m not using the new designations) opponents (UF last season and Bama in this year’s opener).


At QB, they’ve used two guys this season. Jr Todd Spitzer has started both games this season which makes sense as he appears to be the less accurate, less mobile of the two. So. Adam Hearns has racked up more yards in less than 75% of the attempts and has a TD/INT ratio of 2/1 on the season. Compare that to 1/3 for Spitzer. We’ll likely see them both.

· At RB, Jr Mike Malone is a preseason all-conference selection. At 5-10, 174, he’s about the size of Mikey Henderson. He’s averaging right at 4 ypc. He’s averaged 4 receptions through two games, with a 69 yd TD, so our LBs can’t go to sleep on him in the passing game.

· Aside from Malone, only one other player has more than 4 catches on the year and that’s Jr. WR Eddie Cohen with 9, none for TDs. They have 11 difference people with receptions on the season, so they spread the ball around a good bit.

· The OL averages a light 285 across the starters. With none weighing more than 300. They do start 4 upper-classmen though, although one of those transferred in and another missed all of last year with an injury. Their starting LT played TE and DL last year and checks in at 6-2, 270.

· Bottom Line: I can’t imagine these guys being able to sustain blocks too long. Look for them to use short passes and a bunch of other stuff that likely won’t work against a fast, angry defense looking to prove that last week’s missed tackles and inability to make key stops was a blip, not the norm. They will take a few shots deep though, as they’ve had a long TD pass so far (against EKU) and had another one against Bama that got called back. They’re a decent passing team, averaging 234 ypg but through two games they’re under 100 ypg on the ground.

· Key Matchup to watch when they have the ball: In the interest of changing things up, let’s go with our LBs against their blockers and RBs. Our LBs struggled at times Saturday getting off blocks and missed a few tackles. Ellerbe should have a big day as should his backup, Washington, who plays a ton anyway.

WC Defense

· This is a first, but I’m not going into great detail on these guys. It wouldn’t be worth it for anyone involved. Did I mention that this is a team that was picked to finish last in the Southern Conference? That’s usually not a precursor to solid defenses. They play a standard 4-3 defense. There’s really not much else to say.

· Bottom Line: These guys have given up an average of more than 48 points over their first two games, only one of which was against a D-I opponent (Bama – 52). They’ve averaged giving up almost 320 ypg rushing so far and an astounding 505 yards of total offense. This is the worst defense we’ll see all year.

· Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: We got way away from the run last week. Richt wants balance, so look for us to return to the ground game some, establish it, then try and take a shot deep to get Stafford some confidence on those deep balls. Look for us to break a long one on the ground for the first time in a while too.

The WC Game Overall

By all accounts this should be a bloodbath. This is a I-AA team that went 2-9 last season including 0-7 in their conference. On this season they’re 0-2 including a loss to a I-AA team (hey, just like Michigan). If Michigan hadn’t lost to App St already, I might be tempted to say something like anything can happen or some other such coachspeak. I don’t think that’s necessary this time. Coming off our loss, we need to come out and establish some confidence on both sides of the ball. Richt is too nice of a guy to run up the score, but I look for him to try and make a point polishing as many of the rough edges as he can against live competition.

Ideally, I’d like to see some solid execution from the offense (really?). I’d like to see the WRs start making some plays in space again. I’d like to see Stafford on point like week 1. I’d LOVE to see him connect on a deep ball and don’t really care if it’s to a WR, RB or TE…just hit one, it’s been a while. I’d like to see Moreno or Brown break a long one. I’d like to see some holes for our RBs. I’d like to see a lot of 3-and-outs for their offense. I want us to create turnovers, with our young CBs or Reshad Jones taking in a few picks. I want to see Dewberry get involved and start making some plays. That’s a pretty long laundry list of things I want to see, and it would work for any game, but I think this week they’re feasible.

No matter what happens, we can’t read too much into this game, good or bad. Avoid injuries, put up some solid numbers and move on to the next opponent, who happens to be a traditional SEC power. Those are the goals. Don’t read too much into the results either. If we play well, don’t anoint us as “back” and ready to take on the world. If we don’t look like world beaters, don’t break out the sackcloth and ashes.

Positional Notes

· With Kelin Johnson out, Reshad Jones will get the nod at safety this week opposite CJ Byrd. While Jones got a ton of PT against SC last week, this is the ideal game for him to get some more experience before we head into the bulk of our conference schedule, especially if Johnson is going to be out for an extended period.

· Richt stated that he would start to rotate some OL this week to keep guys fresh. Look for Tripp, Vance and Boling to see time this week. Odds are you’ll see a lot more than just those two, but I think they’re looking to try combinations during live action to get a better feel for what we may actually have. Despite what the participation chart says for the SC game, Vance did indeed log a series at LT.

· Look for the LBs to rotate more this week according to Richt. Washington has deservedly gotten a good bit of PT at MLB, but look for more of Dent and Gamble this week.

· Kade Weston is starting to look like he’s ready to emerge as that monster inside threat we’ve lacked recently. He can collapse a pocket like no one else on our roster.

· Tripp Chandler certainly showed why he was listed as the starting TE. Very solid effort from him.

· Massaquoi certainly looks ready to have an increased role in the offense. He made an amazing grab on 3rd and 23 and generally looked solid all day.

Random Thoughts

· I think I speak for everyone when I say that the audio difficulties really set a bad tone for the game. It was surreal sitting there and watching the videos with no sound. Very weird. We only have a handful of games there each year…you’d think we’d take the proper precautions. For our west coast readers, the PA system went out about 30 minutes prior to the game and didn’t come on until…well, I honestly can’t remember when it was…I want to say it was after halftime.

· Speaking of halftime, in honor of this year’s halftime show, this week’s writeup was written to the ever so funky sounds of James Brown’s Live at the Olympia, Paris, 1971. That explains the extreme levels of funkiness this week.

· OK, does the loser of Michigan-ND this week have to give up football? Both of them are winless. It’s like a dream…only with a loss to Spurrier…definitely not dream like. The problem is someone has to win that game. The same thing applies to UF-UT.

· Is there anyway we can convince the folks at ESPN that whatever amount of time they’re allotting for college games clearly isn’t enough? So far, they’re 2 for 2 on screwing up the starts of our televised games, rewarding us with stellar matchups between Illinois-Missouri and a blowout finale to Boston College-NC State. It’s like they completely missed the rules changes impacting the clock and thus increasing game times back around 3.5 hours or more. They were probably covering Jimmy Clausen missing a class or some such meaninglessness.

· More ESPN griping. In rewatching the game I realized that Moreno’s 50-yard jaunt occurred in the middle of a 3-way split screen thing with another game and a NASCAR race. What the heck is that all about? That’s absolutely ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as Bob Davie saying folks are starting to compare Moreno to Herschel. Has anyone heard that or is that Bob just making assumptions again (like Notre Dame being relevant anymore)? I can’t imagine anyone making that comparison. Walker was a giant that was all speed and power. Moreno is smaller and shiftier. Garrison Hearst maybe, but not Walker.

· Continuing the Bob Davie thoughts, that guy locks in on a thought each week. Last week it was ACLs. This week it was man-to-man coverage. It’s like he’s contractually obligated to work these things into each week’s coverage. Meanwhile his partner is busy blowing up his word-of-the-day calendar.

· Alright, continuing with this year’s Road House theme, I have another correction to make. You’d think I’d never seen this movie before. There was some miscommunication with Chad last week on what exactly the role was that the gentleman in question played. Other loyal reader Maxwell Penn (the legend himself) was the first (of a surprising number) to point out that Locke’s dad was NOT a bad guy and in fact was the owner that hired Dalton to clean up the Double Deuce. I also dropped the ball on the obvious Dalton-Tanneyhill reference. Not sure if next week will be another Swayze movie or if we’ll go in an entirely new direction.

Have a safe weekend,


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