Thursday, October 11, 2007


Thanks Jody.

FootballWeek 7

Opponent: Vanderbilt Commodores

Kickoff: 6:00 PM


Wow, who saw that coming? I mean seriously, what the heck happened up there? That was a complete disaster on both sides of the ball (all sides including special teams). Juts a completely disheartening game. Oh well, these things happen I suppose, but it’s certainly worrisome that we’re now sitting at 0-6 in our last 6 SEC East games and have come out flat with more frequency than I can remember under Richt. We’ve got to step up and get better and we’ve got to do it quickly. A UT loss last year started a mid-season funk that saw us lose 4 of 5. We can’t afford to have that happen again. My heart can’t take it.

About the UT game

Man there’s really not much good you can say about that game other than it’s over. We got completely worked in every phase. The stuff we thought we knew was wrong and not just a little bit wrong. Kinda like thinking you did OK on a test and finding out you made a 50. That 50’s probably generous if you were scoring our performance Saturday…probably should be closer to single digits.

You’d have a really hard time figuring out which unit (offense or defense) laid the bigger egg on Saturday. Both flopped spectacularly. On offense, we looked disjointed and unfocused. The running game we thought we had “discovered” was non-existent and the passing game saw lots of pressure on Stafford and lots of resultant poor passes. The defense was just indescribable. Bad against the pass, worse against the run. We never seemed to stop them and it was 28-0 before reality really set in. That was about the time I realized we were in trouble. It was like one of those kung-fu movies where the guy gets hit 10 times before he ever reacts. That guy was UGA this week.

As bad as the first half was though, you just knew that if we could muster a score late, the 2nd half could easily be won. UT did the exact same thing to us the previous year, where we owned the 1st half, gave up a late TD and managed to get routed. Instead of mounting that big drive, we laid a couple more eggs and it was as deflated a feeling as I can remember. It probably wasn’t as stunning an opener to a UGA game as the WVU Sugar Bowl mess from 2005 where our SEC Champion unit got taken out back early for a 28-0 lead, but unlike that game we never really mounted anything resembling a comeback and in the end, that was probably the most painful aspect of the whole day.

VU Offense

· Vandy presents a balanced offense with a mobile, dangerous QB and quite possibly the SEC’s most dangerous WR. They moved the ball well on us last year and are a more experienced unit now. Given the way our D played last week, they’ve got a lot to prove to not just to the fans and staff, but to themselves.

· At QB, Jr. Chris Nickson is experiencing a weird season. He’s thrown 6 TDs and 5 INTs on the year, but in his 3 SEC games he’s thrown 0 TDs and only 1 INT. He threw 4 INTs against Eastern Michigan. He’s a threat to run the ball although against Bama and AU he was completely shut down with 6 carries for -12 yards. On the year, he’s completing just over 50% of his passes and struggling enough to get benched some during the AU game last week. His backup is very similar in his skillset to Nickson as a mobile QB, but he was equally ineffective. It’s not certain at this point which guy will be starting.

· Sr. RB Cassen Jackson-Garrison is on pace for a solid year. At 6-1, 215, he’s not small. He’s only averaging 4.0 ypc on the season with only 2 receptions. He’s found the endzone at a better clip this year though, with 4 TDs through 5 games, almost eclipsing his 2006 total of 6 already.

· The Vandy WR corps is essentially Earl Bennett…and some other guys. If you’re going to build your WR corps around one guy though, Bennett is the one. He’s only a Junior but has already had a remarkable career and is on pace to shatter every SEC receiving record, no small feat considering the offenses and WRs this conference has seen through the years. He exploded on the SEC 2 years ago with 79 catches for 876 yards and 9 TDs. He followed that up with 82 catches for 1,146 yards and 6 TDs. For this season he’s already got 41 grabs for right at 500 yards, but the bulk of those yards came in the opener against Richmond where he snagged 13 balls for 223 yards. He’s not the fastest WR on the planet and he’s of average size, but he just has a knack for finding a hole in the zone and making every catch. Against Bama and AU this year combined he only had 8 catches for 83 yards though. Against us last year he managed 8 catches for 89 yards and a TD. The rest of the group hasn’t done much, with Sean Walker and George Smith each averaging right at 2 catches per game. Outside of those 3, no one else has more than 4 receptions on the season. Bennett has more receiving TDs than the rest of the team combined.

· Think of the Vandy OL as the anti-UGA OL. Vandy starts 5 seniors (4 redshirt seniors) along the front line, with all 5 being returning starters. You rarely see that. They have a combined total of 126 career starts amongst the group. The starters are similarly sized to UT’s line that just ran all over us. Both OTs (Chris Williams and Brian Stamper) were preseason all-SEC selections. This is a good, veteran OL. You won’t see many more seasoned units.

· Bottom Line: After that massacre on Rocky Top, the Dawgs will be looking to show that they actually do know how to play defense. This will be a game where their pride will be tested as a defense. Normally you might think that playing a traditional conference doormat like Vandy would present some motivational issues. I would hope that would be anything but the case this week as that doormat currently holds a winning streak against you and you just got shelled by your traditional rival. We need to see effort this week. We need to see fire. We need to see that old “play with your hair on fire” type intensity that has seemed to be missing all season. Their seasoned OL worries me tremendously, especially after last week and really the week before, where Ole Miss worked the ground game on us through the better part of 3 quarters.

· Key Matchup to watch when they have the ball: I thought last week’s defensive key was the play of our DEs…getting pressure, holding against those off-tackle runs, etc. I think we all know how that turned out. This week, given their mobile QB and the struggles we had last week, I think it’s imperative that we get more out of our LBs. I don’t think what we saw last week can be completely blamed on the absence of Marcus Washington, but we simply have to get better play from that unit. Ellerbe played well at times, but you just didn’t see the playmakers you need at that position.

VU Defense

· Vandy sports a pretty darn good defense. They’ve yet to play a truly explosive offense (not saying ours is, just giving you a frame of reference), with the slate to date featuring 3 SEC West foes in Ole Miss, Bama and AU. They’ve been excellent against the pass so far (7th in the country) and are barely allowing 300 ypg total defense. They’ve done a good job of keeping points off the board as well, only giving up 20 ppg (25th nationally).

· The Vandy DL has been pretty effective thus far. They’ve given up some rushing yardage but have done a good job getting after the QB, averaging almost 2.5 sacks per game. DE Steven Stone leads the way with 3 sacks so far. He’s a beast at 6-6, 255. They have solid DTs, especially Theo Horrocks, a Sr. with 17 career starts.

· AT LB, Vandy has some serious experience. Vandy always seems to have good LBs, going back to the Jamie Winborns and Shelton Quarles of years past. This year is no different, with the best of the bunch being Sr. MLB Jonathan Goff. The 6-4, 235 pounder has 33 career starts and a bunch of preseason all-conference nods. Sr. Marcus Buggs is more of a Rennie Curranosized LB manning the SLB. WLB Patrick Benoist is listed as the starter but has yet to make a start this season and has only played in 2 games. Because they’re Vandy, there’s not a ton of info out there. I seriously have an easier time finding info on GSU than these guys.

· Given Vandy’s proficiency against the pass this year, I was a bit surprised to see that they start 3 sophomores and a junior in the back 4…even more surprised to see that 3 of the 4 are retuning starters despite their youth. CB Myron Lewis is a big fella at 6-3, 195. SS Reshard Langford was named to a few pres-season magazine all-SEC teams. This is a solid secondary with good size and experience.

· Bottom Line: This is a decent Vandy D, but one we should have some success on if for no other reason than, like our defense, our offense has some serious strides to make. They gave up 35 to AU last week, an AU team that also happens to start 3 freshmen on the OL (same as us). AU ran the ball on them all day to the tune of over 250 yards rushing. The RBs ran hard last week and Stafford had a pretty solid game but there just wasn’t good enough play from the OL to sustain anything offensively. Knowing how much success AU had last week, I fully expect us to go to Moreno early and often, and when that gets stopped, I expect us to go back to him via screens, etc. I look for us to move Stafford around some as well, as he threw it well on the run Saturday and it makes sense given our protection issues.

· Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: We have to get better play out of our OL to sustain some drives. We got blown up all over the place. If we can’t get a push up front in our running game, it might be a long, long night.

The VU Game Overall

We need this game in a bad way. We have to right the ship and get out of Nashville with a win. At this point, after what I saw last week, I don’t even care about style points or anything like that. While a stylish blowout win a la Ole Miss two weeks ago (my how two weeks can certainly change one’s perception of this team) would certainly make me feel better about things, at this point, I just think we all need a win. We can’t let that complete meltdown last week result in the spiral out of control we saw last year.

Luckily for us Vandy beat us last year (I can’t believe I just wrote that), so in addition to trying to bounce back from the UT debacle, we’ll be looking to take a little revenge out. Richt and staff shouldn’t have any problems at all (again…shouldn’t, not won’t) getting the boys up this week. As sad as that is, it’s true. The loss to them last year was the lowest point in a pretty abysmal season. A loss to them this year would be equally devastating.

Look, I think it’s important to remember that like it or not, this is a young team we’ve got. I know many teams around the conference are as young as us, and I think it’s important to note that youth doesn’t always mean playing poorly. More often than not if youth can see the field, it’s plenty talented enough to play well. The problem with youth is quite often developing that consistency to be able to do the right thing over and over for a full season. I think you’re seeing that played out this year with the erratic play in Athens, Auburn, heck even Gainesville (like it or not Gator lovers, UF has two losses) to a lesser extent. In time this team has as much talent as we’ve probably ever seen on a UGA team, but that talent needs time to gel. Once it does, I think we’ll be more than pleased. The problem is just getting there.

Positional Notes

· How many offsides penalties did we have Saturday? There’s no excuse for that on the road when the crowd is (largely) quiet.

· Richt said Rennie Curran might get the nod at SLB this week ahead of Dewberry. He played pretty well Saturday despite sustaining a concussion. He also brings a fire to the table that I think we all agree is missing at this point. Miller’s out at SLB with Dent making the start after Miller hurt his calf this week.

· With Brown likely out until the season finale, it’s a darn good thing Lumpkin has made it back to the lineup. He looked good in limited carries Saturday. It’s a good situation to be in to plug a back the caliber of Lumpkin in to replace Brown.

· Demiko Goodman flat made a play on the ball. I think it’s safe to say he’s earned more PT. He, Bailey and Massaquoi certainly form a nice group of guys. Harris seems to have disappeared. Durham’s banged up, as is Bryant. Henderson is a solid situational guy, but he’s out now too. We only seem to ask Wilson to run short routes.

· Tripp Chandler quietly had a big game Saturday. Very solid performance from a kid who’s struggled some this year and really needed a game like that.

· Vandy is a bad punting team. They’re last in the SEC and 112th nationally in net punting, barely over 30 ypp. Normally I’d say Henderson was due for a big return. He’s out, so we turn back to Thomas Flowers…you may recall he’s not bad either.

· Jarius Wynn logged a ton of snaps Saturday. I couldn’t tell you how he graded out but I saw him around the ball a good bit. He’s quick for a DT.

Random Thoughts

· I feel I’ve waited too long to touch on this subject, but there is an epidemic facing college football that I may have been blind to in the past, but it’s increasingly prevalent and I think I need to say something. Body paint isn’t meant for everyone. We have to look at our brothers (and sisters) and be willing to tell them if they aren’t body paint worthy. It’s doing them (and all of us frankly) a favor. I was glad to see someone called that poor hefty UT fan adorned in white body paint, UT helmet and man-boobs and informed him to get some clothes on. He looked like he was slathered in ranch in the first half. At the start of the 2nd half he had a shirt on. A special thank you to whoever placed that call. I did think it was funny though that he was the exclamation point.

· How weird is this college season. Stanford beat USC. App St beat Michigan. South Florida is in the top 8 and so is BC. Kansas is undefeated. It’s just beyond bizarre. I blame it on Lou Holtz and his magic tricks. I’m still befuddled at that tearing the paper trick he did in his pep talk this week to UF.

· How old is Fulmer’s daughter now? I mean, does anyone else think she’s a little old to be trotting out with him at the end of games? I remember when she actually was young…not so much anymore. It wasn’t that cute then either. Now it’s just weird.

· So the Tebow lovefest is in full swing despite the back-to-back losses. He did play well on Saturday, but I’ve never heard such wholesale adoration for a single player from the media. They faun over him like he’s some cross between Mother Teresa, Jesse Owens and Magnus ver Magnusson (the world’s strongest man). Basically Herschel Walker…and I think we know that’s not even close to being right although both did draw early career comparisons to big, stiff fullbacks.

· Speaking of that LSU-UF game…man, what a game. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like to be a LSU fan watching that game. I mean Les Miles went for it on 4th down every time you turned around. He just didn’t care. It had to age his fanbase an extra few years per person.

· What the heck was the CBS announcer talking about on UT’s long WR pass to Coker when he just randomly started yelling “Forget it!”? It was certainly out of place. It sounded more like a home team announcing crew. I’m pretty sure he’s the same guy that kept referring to Damon Gray and Vernon Hayes.

· I’m starting to wonder if the poor outing last week was because I offended Steve Perry. If so, I throw myself at the altar of the mullet and beg forgiveness. Please let the wheel in the sky keep on turning.

Have a safe weekend,


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