Fresno State 13 NEW MEXICO STATE
Navy 14 Army (Baltimore)
SOUTHERN CAL 20 Ucla
*OREGON 4 Oregon State
California 13 STANFORD
WEST VIRGINIA 28.5 Pittsburgh
ARIZONA STATE 7 Arizona
HAWAII 14 Washington
TROY 15 Florida Atlantic
Central Michigan 3.5 Miami (Ohio) (Detroit)
Central Florida 7 Tulsa (Orlando-not sure if it's on UCF's home field, but I guess it probably is)
Virginia Tech 5 Boston College (Jacksonville)
Lsu 7.5 Tennessee (Atlanta)
Oklahoma 3 Missouri (San Antonio)
Byu 15 SAN DIEGO STATE
Friday, November 30, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Is anyone really surprised? It is great to make it 7 in a row and run our record to 10-2. Shame that Kentucky couldn't execute a 32 yard field goal. But, that is the way the cookie crumbles when you do not control your own destiny.
Thomas Brown, Massaquoi and Sean Bailey came up big again for the Dawgs. The gameplan was solid. The defense played aggressive and fast. In the end, we are just better than Tech and fortunately, we did what we had to do to beat them again. Sure, we had some breaks. But we also missed some huge opportunities. I hope we can hit those long balls in the Bowl game. Speaking of which...
So now we wait and see which BCS Bowl we are going to. I would prefer the Rose Bowl and a matchup with USC. That would be the best possible game. If that doesn't happen, I will be happy going to the Fiesta or Orange. In short, I'm going wherever it is.
By the way, I think that UT has had a horseshoe up their ass the past few weeks and I think they will beat LSU in Atlanta. I think LSU is dejected and the Les Miles to Michigan speculation is a distraction.
This is the busiest week of the year at my company, so I will not likely be blogging too much. But will try to get a few comments in during the week.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
At first, I was concerned that an LSU loss would hurt our shot at a BCS berth - assuming we beat Tech today. But now I can only determine one scenario in which the LSU loss hurts Georgia, two scenarios that are neutral, and one scenarios where the loss actually helps.
Here are the scenarios in which the LSU loss is inconsequential:
#1. Tennessee beats Kentucky. Georgia beats Tech. LSU wins SECCG. Georgia is 10-2 and BCS Bowl bound.
#2. Kentucky beats UT. Dawgs beat Tech. Dawgs win SECCG and go to BCS Bowl.
Here is the one scenario where the LSU loss helps the Dawgs.
#3. UT beats UK. Dawgs beat Tech. UT wins SECCG. Now UT goes to BCS Bowl and the Dawgs go to a BCS Bowl instead of the three-loss LSU. Had LSU not lost to Arkansas, we would get left out most likely.
The one scenario in which the LSU loss hurts the Dawgs - and this one is convoluted and requires all kind of things to happen involving the MNC Game.
#4. Before the LSU loss last night, for Georgia to have a far-flung shot at the MNC Game a victory over the #1 ranked LSU Tigers in the SECCG was expected to boost their BCS formula points. Now, if Georgia gets to the SECCG and beats LSU ranked around 6-8, then the BCS formula points will be a little lower. The other things that need to happen: West Virginia loses to UConn or Pitt. The Missouri/Kansas winner today gets beat by Oklahoma in Big 12 Championship Game. Then it comes down to 11-1 Ohio State facing one of the following two-loss teams resolved by the mysterious BCS Formula: UGA 11-2, Oklahoma 11-2, West Virginia 10-2, and possibly Virginia Tech as ACC Champs and 11-2. That leaves out an 12-1 or 11-1 Kansas and a 11-2 Missouri because they did not win their conference. I firmly believe that you should not be in the MNC Game if you do not win your conference. Anyway... The only chance that the LSU loss affects the Dawgs is if we get into hundreths of points in the BCS Formula after all these possible but not extremely likely outcomes come to pass.
If all the things that need to happen for the Dawgs to make the MNC Game do not happen, then I would prefer to see West Virginia against the Kansas/Missouri winner. Ohio State can go play in the Grand Daddy and lose to USC.
Feel free to point out any flaws in my logic or oversights or plain ignorance on my part. No matter about all this conjecture, the DAWGS must beat Tech today. That is imperative!
Go DAWGS. GATA!!!!!
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Because we are Georgia and beating Tech is what we do. By now you have seen the stats showing how great the Tech defense is and how great Tashard Choice is, but also how ineffective the Tech passing game has been this season. You also know how well Georgia has run the ball with Moreno on a current 5 game streak of 100+ yard performances. You know about our balance on offense and the big play potential of Stafford to Bailey/Massaquoi/Henderson/etc. But how much do you really think any of that matters in this game that burns so white-hot on the Tech desire-meter. Tech wants this one not just a little bit, but maybe something like 100X more than we wanted to beat Florida this year - or every year for that matter. There is no doubt that Tech wants this game much more than we do, and we want it BAD. The thing is, Tech always wants this one bad, and for the past 6 years, they went home crying about how much harder it is to recruit players at Tech because of the strenuous academic standards. Curious how that works since they always recruit the same in-state players as Georgia. But, anyway...
So if you throw out the stats and acknowledge the desire factor and consider that the four years of Reggie Ball throwing and fumbling the ball to the Dawgs are now gone and there is a distinct possibility of the Bees derailing the Dawgs legitimate shot at a BCS berth. Their utter frustration of futility, congenital feelings of inferiority and seething hatred of their Canine Overlords should be a cause for concern because eventually, the Gnats will up and win one. But, not this year.
The Tech defensive blitz or die scheme is designed to disrupt our offense both running and passing. They sack opposing quarterbacks with regularity and they hold opposing tailbacks under 100 yards. So, maybe they keep Moreno from reaching six straight 100 yard games, but with Moreno and Brown combining for about 180 yards, the Dawgs will grind it out enough to open up some throwing lanes. Stafford will have to do a great job of recognizing Tech schemes even though they will try to disguise and bluff all day. Our receivers can and will beat their corners and our tight ends will find some holes in the middle seam. The key is having Stafford get us into the right quick hitting plays to beat the blitzes and for our O-line to do a good job of picking up 5 men and leaving the sixth man for a back to get. We will not go over 40 points this week, but we will surpass 30. At least one score will come by our special teams or defense.
When Tech has the ball, we will see our same defensiive gameplan that we have run since the Florida game. As long as our tackles get a push in the middle, like Geno Atkins habit of playing 3-5 yards deep in the offensive backfield, all of the other defensive pieces of the puzzle will align perfectly to hold Tech under 20 points. With the stout play in the middle, our fast, athletic ends will contain the outside while the tackling machine - Rennie Curran, Marcus Washington and Danell Ellerbe will hem up Choice more often than not. In my opinion, all we have to do is stop Choice and we can possibly turn this into a blow out. If Tech has to turn the game over to Taylor Bennett, then the our ends will have a fun day chasing him all over historic and scenic (I should add) Grant Field. Choice may reach 100 yards, but there is no way he gets to the magical 140 number which has led Tech to 5 wins and no losses.
Tech will sack Stafford 2 or 3 times. We will sack Bennett 4 or 5 times. If turnovers are even, we will score around 30 to their 20. For every turnover we get more than we give, add 3.5 points. So if the turnover battle turns out 4-2 in our favor, we will win 37-20. If we do not have a single turnover, take away seven from Tech and they score not a point more than 13. If we turn it over more than they do, break out the Mylanta and expect an ending like 2004, 2005 and 2006.
My final prediction is GEORGIA 34 - Tech 20.
GO DAWGS. GATA!!!!!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
My picks are bold and gold. I failed to submit last week due to a complete brain fart.
Southern Cal 3 ARIZONA STATE
MISS. STATE 6.5 Ole Miss
LSU 13 Arkansas
Texas 6 TEXAS A&M
HAWAII 5.5 Boise State
WEST VIRGINIA 17 UConn
*Kansas 2 Missouri
Wake Forest 2 VANDERBILT
Clemson 3 SOUTH CAROLINA
KENTUCKY 1.5 Tennessee
AUBURN 6 Alabama
Georgia 3.5 GEORGIA TECH
FLORIDA 13.5 Florida State
OKLAHOMA 14 Oklahoma State
Virginia Tech 3.5 VIRGINIA
Friday, November 16, 2007
The Cats will score some points, mmkkay? But, worry not my friends because the Dawgs will score more. all the Dawgs have to do is run the ball as good as Vanderbilt. Does that sound doable with Moreno and Brown running behind an offensive line that is functioning as a solid unit the past four games? In addition to the o-line play, throw in a few deep ball connections between Stafford and Massaquoi, Bailey, Henderson or Goodman and you have a good chance of going over 40 points again this Saturday. If we do that, we will win.
Look for Georgia to get the running game going with a few toss sweeps to Moreno with the lethal blocking tandem of Southerland and Boling leading the way. Then we bust a few straight up the middle. When Kentucky crowds the line and leaves a corner in man coverage, Stafford checks into a deep ball. Sound familiar? It should because it has been a recurring theme the past three games and has led to scoring 42, 44 and 45 points respectively. Further, in the past three games, our run:pass ratio has been close to 40:20. With a comparable effort against Kentucky, a lesser defense, should lead the Dawgs to scoring over 40 again. One key to this formula working is that we cannot afford to turn the ball over like we did last year.
On offense, Kentucky will pass for over 250 yards. But will they be able to run the ball consistently? Their top tailback, Rafael Little is questionable for the game and has been banged up much of the year. However, they did beat LSU without him. If we can limit their success on the ground and make them one-dimensional, our front 4 can pin their ears back and get after Woodson. We sacked Tebow six times and Brandon Cox 4 times. I believe that if we sack Woddson 4 or more times, we will hold them under 30 points - which will be sufficient for a Georgia victory. If we sack him 4 times, that should also mean that he is under pressure another 4 or 5 times which should lead to one or two interceptions. If that happens, we could even hold them in the low 20's. As usual, the key is with our front four who have been playing well recently. In particular, Atkins, Owens and Weston must get nasty in the middle and play in the UK backfield all day. If that happens, we will have a great day in Athens.
Having said all of this, I now must say that it is entirely possible that this turns out to be a low scoring affair since all intelligible signs indicate a high scoring game. You know, the whole "This is a crazy, unpredictable season" deal. If it gets reduced to a low scoring game, we must control the fourth quarter with our ground attack and lead by more than 8 points prior to Kentucky's last possession. I do not want them to have the ball late in the game with a chance to tie or win. They have too many playmakers, like Dickie Lyons, Jr.
When the final horn sounds, expect Chapel bells to be ringing in Athens, but the goalposts will remain standing. DAWGS 45 - Cats 31.
GO DAWGS! GATA. See you in Athens.
Kickoff: 12:30 PM
It was one of the most unique game environments I’ve ever been a part of. It was a roller coaster of a ride that saw this improving UGA team dismantle a very good AU defense and saw Brandon Cox cement a place in the Reggie Ball Honarary Favorite Player From a Rival Hall of Fame. It was difficult to explain and nearly impossible to predict, but in the end it was a beautiful thing.
About the AU game
First off let me say that was probably the noisiest, most raucous crowd I’ve ever seen in Sanford Stadium. From the opening kickoff it was just something special with the whole crowd dressed all in black. I admit I was skeptical about the benefit of the crowd turning out in black but it seemed to have an effect on the crowd, lending a sense of solidarity to the whole program. It was amazing.
As for the game, what else can I say besides we saw how absolutely lethal this team can be. Offensively, the emergence of Knowshon at the same time Stafford starts connecting with receivers downfield provides a balance to this offense that is truly scary (at least for opposing DCs). It all boils down to the OL though. That group is simply playing tremendously; opening holes for the running game, giving
That being said, I thought the turning point of the game was the late hit on
· Leading the
· As expected of a receiving corps with a QB the level of Woodson, there are more than a few options in the
· The UK OL has struggled at times this year keeping Woodson upright, giving up nearly 2.5 sacks per game but considering the number of times they throw the ball it makes a little more sense. The unit is a mix of upper and underclassmen, starting 2 seniors, a junior and 2 sophomores. They’ve been a bit inconsistent in terms of their protection, struggling while giving up 6 sacks to UF and 3 each to
· Bottom Line: This
· Key Matchup to watch when they have the ball: This is such a balanced team and Woodson is such a solid passer it’s hard to say what one matchup could prove the biggest key. They’re an excellent 3rd down team, converting more than 50% so getting them in 3rd and long will be key. To do that I think we’ll need more big performances from Owens, Atkins and Weston inside. If we can get a push there and make Woodson move, eventually it will result in big plays. He’s good enough that we won’t see the Cox effect take over but we should see it start to pay off late.
· As strong as the
· Up front the Wildcats most productive DL is 6-3, 268 pound sophomore Jeremy Jarmon, whose 10.5 TFLs and 9 sacks lead the team. His 9 sacks account for nearly half of
· The UK LB corps is the strength of the D. WLB Wesley Woodyard (Lagrange native…get ready to hear that about 40 times Saturday) is having a phenomenal year, leading the team in tackles including 18 against
· Bottom Line: We’re clicking on offense like we rarely have in recent memory. We’ve been especially solid on the ground recently and that’s an area that
· Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: Just watch
Game Overall UK
Looking back at last year’s loss to
Look, folks have been speculating what Richt will do next to get this team motivated after the UF celebration and the black jerseys. I don’t know that Richt feels he needs to do these motivational tactics on a regular basis. I think he caved on the jerseys after years of pressure. I think he felt that we needed a psychological shake-up in
As for the game,
· We suffered no major injuries Saturday. I had thought that
· Rennie Curran is rapidly developing into the player we all hoped he would be. He’s becoming that guy that when there’s a violent collision on the field, you just know he was involved. Same thing that happened when Thomas Davis and Greg Blue were on the field a few years back. I guess when you average over 175 tackles per year for 4 years in class 5A football in GA it means you’ve probably got a nose for the football.
· How huge is the dual emergence of Sean Bailey and Massaquoi as downfield threats? Those two guys are just catching everything right now. Better yet,
· Look, I know this is senior day and all but I would like to make a statement about Kelin Johnson. He had a great game with 2 INTs. With that being said, I think it’s important for Johnson to step up as a senior leader and understand there is a line that can easily be crossed when playing with the level of emotion that our team currently is. We have to cut back on the post play exuberance somewhat. The call that Johnson got flagged for was just too much. As a senior he knows better.
· A friend of mine had a great analogy for Penn Wagers. He’s pretty much the stereotypical southern sheriff type of ego-maniac…smug, crooked…at least that’s the way he comes off. In the stadium on Saturday he sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown because the mic was so bad. I was surprised to hear it sound so clear on the telecast. That guy is approaching the Al Ford level of officiating, something I thought impossible.
· Verne Lundquist made the comment that we were wearing black for the first time ever but that’s not entirely accurate. As David Ching’s blog indicated this week (great blog by the way), the 1942 Football Illustrated showed Heisman winner Frankie Sinkwich wearing a black jersey. That was also the year we won the national title…also the last time we scored 40 or more in 3 consecutive games. Sinkwich is also wearing a black jersey in his Heisman portrait. While no one has actually verified if they wore black that season, those two things point to the fact we likely wore black at some point back then.
· Speaking of blogs, I’ve been kicking around the idea of converting the format of these things to a blog. If you have a strong opinion either way, let me know.
· That atmosphere Saturday was just pure fun. I mean everyone not wearing orange and blue was having a blast, recruits, fans, players, even announcers (Verne and Gary dancing was particularly “interesting”), well everyone except Penn Wagers.
· I loved the black jerseys but I hope we use some restraint in how often we see them. The less often they are used, the more special they are.
· How about Ron Zook at
· OK, I know it’s next week, but who had Kansas-Missouri being a game with serious national title implications between two top 6 teams? Not me.
· Looking back, it probably wasn’t the smartest idea to give out stuffed footballs. Pretty much a 100% chance those are going to end up on the field or at least getting tossed around the stands. Reminded me of the Chic-fil-A cows they gave out at the Peach Bowl that one year. Those things were everywhere.
Have a safe weekend,
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
From the Sunday after the Troy game up to the Friday before the Auburn game, I have been either traveling for work or back in the office struggling to catch up. Since Friday, I have had almost no access to the internets. Now, I am back in my office and I want to belatedly discuss the Blackout Game. Forgive me if you have already moved on to the Kentucky preparations, I will join you later today.
First, I want to say that I can never remember being higher than I was for an entire afternoon and evening. I am talking about a natural high! Sure, there was a little gin and tonic to help me along, but mostly, it was a natural high. The electricity in the atmosphere was palpable from the time I stepped out of my truck at Five Points and started walking toward the stadium around 1:30 pm. I arrived in Athens a little later than planned, but still had a great time connecting with great friends at the tailgate in the Tate parking lot. Everyone decked out in black seemed to have everyone feeling a little "special" I think. I was dressed in black from head to toe with the exception of the silver G's on my belt. I chose Miller's Gin and Tonic with lime as my pregame drink because this was my concoction two weeks earlier at TWLOCP and we all know how that turned out! See if you can guess what I will be mixing this coming Saturday. One of my best friends from the Naval Academy, Rob Fryer, accompanied me and helped me with the G&T. As we walked down Lumpkin past the track we could distinctly feel the surging vibe in the air. Man, was that awesome.
ENTERING THE STADIUM
We entered the stadium at the field level from the lower Tate Center parking. We along the UGA bench seconds after the team rushed the field in the black jerseys. As the players were jumping around and up on the benches waving towels at the crowd, we got Chester Adams attention by hollering "Cheese" and he gave us a big thumbs up. The kids were fired up. The energy on this team now reminds me of the 2002 squad as they closed down the stretch.
I cannot state with certainty that I have ever enjoyed a game more than I enjoyed this one. Beating Florida two weeks ago was awesome. I was at Auburn in 2002 for the Micheal Johnson miracle catch. I was at the SECCG when we destroyed Arkansas and at the Sugar bowl snoozer over FSU. There have been many other momentous games I have attended dating back to the 1970s, but this topped every game for me because of the truly unique and special night of the Blackout and how the team performed and how the crowd clearly played a part. Just fantastic from start to finish. The players got after their asses and delivered some spectacular performances: Stafford, Moreno, Brown, Bailey, Massaquoi, Chandler, Boling, Velasco, Ellerbe, Johnson, Curran, Atkins, et al. The Redcoat Band kept the crowd pumped up and twice I heard well-timed intros of AC/DC's Back in Black on the PA. Lastly, in the fourth quarter, when we were rolling along our way to scoring 28 unanswered points, the PA Cranked Dat from Soulja Boy and the players really had some fun with it while waiting for a 10 minute TV timeout to end.
Watching the play develop on the 58 yard TD throw to Massaquoi in the first quarter was poetry in slow motion. As Stafford was sliding out of the pocket to his right looking down field, there was Massaquoi five yards past the last defender. Stafford hit him in stride for an easy strike. It was beautiful. Sean Bailey was sensational against man coverage as Stafford found him several times for big plays. Stafford completely only 11 passes, but they averaged 22 yards per catch and were all at critical times. Moreno and Brown were huge again, but many props to the offensive line for giving them some nice holes and for the receivers blocking downfield. Consider that Moreno (101 yards) and Brown (81 yards) combined for almost treble the yardage gained by McFadden and Jones (67.) That is fantastic production. Here is one last key stat for our offense: Run:pass ratio 41:21. I am counting the two Stafford rushes as passing plays because, if I am not mistaken, he did not have any called runs. Anyway, this 40:20 run: pass ratio has been lethal the past three weeks as we have averaged nearly 43 points per game.
After the game, back at the tailgate, I was so jacked up and was not coming down. A few cold beers did not hurt the mood. My Navy buddy had to return to Atlanta, but I had my great friend Whit Yates to hang with as we walked up to Steverinos for pizza and beer, just like in the good old days. We had a table full of UGA cheerleaders at the table next to us and thanked them for their hard work. While we waited for our pizza, we proceeded to call just about everyone we could think of who was not in Athens for the game. After pizza, we headed downtown and met up with the incomparable Andrew Rothschild and the inestimable Bobby Wilkes at Harry Bissetts. Shortly thereafter, we went the Georgia Theater to watch The Zac Brown Band. My wife, Leslie loves their music and I was sad that she was not there with me. So, I did what anyone else would do at such a moment and called her cell phone so she could hear the music - which sounded more like noise from her end. But, at least I tried. Around midnight we called it a day, a glorious, fabulous, fan-freaking-tastic day.
Quinton McDawg has a commentary at Georgia Sports Blog about how much he enjoyed the Blackout Game. I have heard similar sentiments from many others. GLORY GLORY GLORY, it was a great day for all DAWGS! If every day was that awesome, I would probably combust spontaneously from the energy coursing through my body. I think I am still high from Saturday. And Saturday, I was still high from beating Florida two weeks earlier! Now, I look forward to the Kentucky game maybe more than any game I have been to in several years. For the first time in at least three years, my amazing wife Leslie (below) will come to Athens with me to share in the fall splendor that we will surely encounter next Saturday. She has only made it to two games since our daughter Annie was born 7 years ago. I am so excited that it has worked out for her to come with me next Saturday. And that really makes me high!
Saturday, November 10, 2007
EDIT: I was unable to finish this post due to a loss of internet connection Saturday morning. And, now that the DAWGS have crushed Auburn, the point is moot. Yeah Dawgs!
I am still trying to figure out how the Dawgs will beat Auburn in the same year that the have also beaten the Gators, since it has only been 25 years since this has happened. For an answer, we only have to look at worked then and try to do it this year. And, that my friend, is called rushing the football. Fortunately for the Dawgs, they have found a running game in the past few weeks with Knowshon Moreno gaining 156 yards, 188 yards and 197 yards in consecutive games. Unfortunately for the Dawgs, Auburn was able to hold the Arkansas duo of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones to a combined 67 yards. So, while Georgia must run the ball well to win, Auburn is a team fully capable of shutting that down.
If we can't run, we can't win. But, we will also need to be able to throw the ball to keep the Auburn defense from ganging up on the line of scrimmage. Imagine the Dawgs gameplan against the Gators. We need to play a similar game on offense to win - even thought this game will be lower scoring. I expect to see Georgia run the ball 40 times and pass it 20 times. If we can stay out of third and long scenarios and convert more than half of our third downs, we will win.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Last week, for the second consecutive week, I went 6-7-1. For the year, I am now 66-73-2.
This week, throwing all caution to the wind. I am running with scissors with no safety net, seatbelt or condom. Yeah, I'm off the chain!
My picks are bold and gold and two or three might even be correct.
MIAMI 4 Virginia
CLEMSON 8.5 Wake Forest
Georgia Tech 14 DUKE
Kentucky 3.5 VANDERBILT
Alabama 4.5 MISS STATE
Arkansas pick'em TENNESSEE
GEORGIA 1.5 Auburn
Michigan 3 WISCONSIN
OHIO STATE 15.5 Illinois
VIRGINIA TECH 6.5 Florida State
Boston College 6 MARYLAND
TEXAS 6 Texas Tech
Kansas 5 OKLAHOMA STATE
Florida 6.5 SOUTH CAROLINA
Southern Cal 3.5 CALIFORNIA
Oh how original!
HERE IS JODY'S PREVIEW OF GEORGIA-AUBURN
Opponent: Auburn Tigers
Kickoff: 3:30 PM
It was an up and down experience that sort of typified the season this year. Ultimately we managed a win against a strong team in a game sandwiched between two heated rivals. It could’ve gone much, much worse.
About the Troy game
It’s hard to say exactly what we saw on Saturday. Troy is a good team and they certainly did some things very well but we seemed content to try a few different things and seemed set on working on a few aspects of the team rather than doing what was necessary to blow them out. There were several times in the game, for instance, where it made perfect sense to run the ball to pick up a first down or put ourselves in a manageable situation and we elected to pass or if we ran, we did so with Chapas at FB or into the teeth of their D. It was like we were either challenging ourselves or trying very hard to avoid establishing trends in our playcalling. It’s hard to argue with our results, scoring 44 points, but you got the feeling that had we chosen to, our offense could’ve been even more productive.
With that being said, I don’t know what to say about the defense. They gave up lots of yardage and a fair amount of points although to their credit, they were put in a considerable hole early and managed to dig themselves out of it with minimal damage. They did force a few turnovers, something they’ve struggled with this season. In the end, the first unit gave up 27 points, not too bad considering some of the numbers that Troy has hung on people all year.
· The AU offense will remind you some of ours, right down to the ridiculously young OL. They’ve struggled to establish a consistent passing game this year but have managed to run the ball decently. They’re averaging just over 25 ppg, 9th in the conference. In conference games though, their scoring output drops under 20. They’ve managed to piece together a solid 7-3 record after losing 2 of their first 3 with their only other loss coming to #2 LSU on the road in a nailbiter.
· At QB, AU has the enigma that is 5th year senior Brandon Cox. Cox took over the reigns to the offense from Jason Campbell after the 2004 season and has fought through ups and downs over the last 3 years. Despite the fact his completion percentage is up slightly over his career numbers, his TDs are down and his INTs are up. He suffered through the worst game of his career against UGA last year, throwing 4 INTs, so he’ll be looking for some more of the magic he tapped into in his other visit to Sanford Stadium in AU’s 2005 win (although I was surprised to see he didn’t throw a TD in that game). He’s not mobile and (as shown in last year’s UGA-AU game) is prone to mistakes when pressured consistently. On the year he’s only topped 200 yards passing twice. On the year he only has 8 TDs to 7 INTs. Backup Kodi Burns is a freshman that serves as the change of pace at QB. He’s mostly a running threat at this stage in his career.
· Like any successful Tiger team, the 2007 group features a strong ground game. They have 3 RBs with 70 or more carries on the year. Jr. Brad Lester has only played in 4 games this season after academic issues sidelined him early in the season but he’s managed to already garner 73 carries and nearly 350 yards (over 82 ypg) in his short exposure. He’s a quick, hard running back that reminds me of Thomas Brown only more elusive. He missed the Tigers’ last game with a groin injury but is expected to be ready to go. So. Ben Tate leads the team in yardage and attempts and is a strong, physical back. He and Lester both average right at 4.5 ypc. Mario Fannin is the wildcard. The converted HS QB has the size, speed and moves to be a gamebreakers down the road and he’s averaging 5.3 ypc. Tate, Lester and Fannin each average about 1 reception per game played. None are as dynamic as the Kenny Irons, Cadillac, Brown group they’ve been running out in recent years though.
· The AU WR corps is anchored by Rodgeriques Smith. Smith leads the team in catches (43), yards (593) and receiving TDs (5). He’s not big, he just gets open consistently and makes plays. He’s got more than double the catches of the next receiver. Montez Billings is 2nd on the team in catches and yards. AU FB Carl Stewart is actually 3rd on the team in receiving yardage. Starting TE Cole Bennett has managed only 4 catches on the year but backup Gabe McKenzie has reeled in 13 including 2 TDs.
· The AU OL, as mentioned before, is as young as ours. They have 3 freshmen starting on the OL including both OTs. The group is among the lightest we’ve faced all year, with only one starter listed at over 300 pounds. The starting group averages under 295. As expected, this young OL has given up their share of sacks, especially considering the immobility of Cox. Cox has been sacked 18 times on the year, including 4 sacks against UF. They did manage to hold LSU’s potent DL to a mere 2 sacks though. Like ours, this young group has really gelled as the season has moved along.
· Bottom Line: AU has struggled some this year on offense. In SEC games they’ve managed the following point totals…14, 20, 35, 9, 24 and 17, an average of under 20 ppg. Drop out the Vandy game and they’re only averaging 16.8 ppg. The AU offense has struggled with consistency this season. Against MSU the problem was turnovers, as they managed 5. Against Arkansas, they were a horrid 1-13 on 3rd downs. In their loss to LSU they averaged under 3.0 yards per rush (although LSU does that to lots of teams). The point being they’ve been plagued by different things each week that has managed to set them back overall. Some would say they’re due for everything to click. Others would say they still have yet to show they can score consistently on anyone. The answer, as always is in the middle somewhere.
· Key Matchup to watch when they have the ball: Last year’s UGA-AU game was decided early on when UGA got after Cox and rattled him some. He never looked settled and by the end of the game he looked positively shaken. He’s prone to hold onto the ball. He’s been sacked at least once in every game this season (except last week in limited action) and even going back to last year when he had some veterans on the OL he was sacked in all but 3 games (Tulane, Ole Miss and Ark St didn’t get to him), heck in 18 of his 33 career starts he’s been sacked 2 or more times so there’s no reason to expect we can’t get to him. If we can pressure Cox and keep them in long yardage conversion situations, we can take them out of running situations and make Cox carry the offense, something he’s struggled to do at various times.
· Not surprisingly, AU sports a stout defense. They’ve put together a strong unit despite suffering some personnel losses from last season. They are 10th nationally against the pass and 24th against the run. Their total defense ranking of 8th is incredibly impressive, as they are allowing less than 294 ypg. Even more impressive is that they are 5th nationally in scoring defense, allowing less than 15 ppg. Despite the presence of All-American DE Quintin Groves, AU is struggling to pressure the QB this season (9th in the SEC in sacks), something they’ve done extremely well in recent memory.
· The Tiger DL is solid. Sr. All-American Quentin Groves is currently tied for the AU career record in sacks and is a quick, strong DE that gets upfield in a hurry. He dislocated 3 toes in their win over FL earlier this season and missed a few games, but in his place So. Antonio Coleman has emerged as a real threat, enough so to allow Groves to move to LB. Coleman’s 12.5 tackles for loss have him currently tied for 5th in the conference. His 6 sacks lead the team over Groves’ 3. Sen’Derrick Marks holds down the opposite DE spot and at 6-1, 290+, he’s more of a run-stopper. The interior of the AU DL is capably handled by Sr. Josh Thompson and Jr. Pat Sims. Thompson’s 43 tackles rank 5th on the team, surprising for an interior DL, especially one who barely tops 6’. Sims is a beast at 6-4, 320+.
· The AU LB corps is made up of a fleet of small, fast guys that they’ve featured the last few years with one major exception. They lost senior Will Herring off last year’s unit but haven’t missed a beat this year. Junior first year starter Chris Evans (6-0, 221) leads the team in tackles. Sophomore Tray Blackmon (6-0, 223) has struggled with injuries for the 2nd year but when he’s healthy he seems to always be around the ball. You may recall he had a big early game fumble recovery last season against us. Quintin Groves has moved to OLB and plays there in certain formations, shifting to DE at times as well. He’s athletic enough to pull it off and brings some serious size to the group, which even in the 2-deep features a no one (outside of Groves) much bigger than 6-1, 220 or so.
· The Tiger secondary continues the undersized, fast theme shown in the LBs. They’ve rotated several guys at safety, with the main two guys being Eric Brock and Zac Etheridge. Both are in the top 4 in total tackles. Sophomore Aairon Savage and Freshman Mike McNeil provide excellent depth. Senior Patrick Lee has started 19 career games at CB (including every one this year) and has played well on the year, pulling in 4 INTs. Sophomore Jarraud Powers starts opposite him at the other corner spot, moving in to replace departed David Irons. The secondary has played MUCH better than projected coming into the season.
· Bottom Line: This is a stout bunch both on the ground and through the air. When you look at their incredible numbers against the pass you have to remember that in the SEC they’ve faced the following teams: MSU, UF, Vandy, Arkansas, LSU and Ole Miss. Of that group, only UF and LSU can be considered good passing teams. While AU did manage to hold UF to 201 yards through the air, LSU teed off for 319 yards. I’m not saying we’re the cream of the SEC crop in terms of passing by any means, but we’re certainly better through the air than most of those teams they’ve faced. The thing that makes our offense so dangerous right now is the development of Moreno. With his steady rushing, it’s allowed Stafford to continue his development and avoid those costly turnovers that marred much of last season. We’ll need a focused, efficient effort like we saw in
· Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: I think
The AU Game Overall
Nothing in the numbers points to one team being the clearcut favorite.
In a game featuring two well matched teams, the result could easily boil down to two things (assuming the defenses and offense play as they have this year…a particularly poor assumption given both teams’ inconsistencies, but an assumption I’m going to have to make) special teams and turnovers. Shocker, huh? I know, it’s not earth shattering or profound, but football ain’t roacket science and in some games such as this, it becomes even more important to control the ball. These factors are obviously important in every game, but in games that have as much riding on them as this one, these things become even more amplified. Special teams come into play big time from a field position standpoint, especially against a defense as formidable as
· How much has Stafford progressed this year? Last year he had one game where he threw 2 TD passes (MSU) and he only had two games (after the gained the starting job) where he threw at least as many TDs as INTs (AU and GT both with 1/0). This year? Through 9 games he’s thrown 2 or more TDs in 6 games and has thrown for more TDs than INTs in all but two games (SC – 0/1 and Bama- 2/2). Sure it hasn’t been the explosive development many thought it would be, but the kid is actually playing really well.
· If Weston can’t go that’s a huge absence in the interior of our DL. He’s really been a rock lately, but right now, DT might be our deepest position on the D, especially with the emergence of Atkins as a big time disruptor. Owens has been solid as usual and Irvin is logging quality minutes as well.
· Depth at safety will be an issue this week. CJ Byrd and Reshad Jones will likely start and usual starter Kelin Johnson will probably be available but the other member of the two deep is out, with Quintin Banks getting injured on
· Thomas Brown appears set to return to the lineup after missing the last several games due ot a broken clavicle. His return is HUGE from a depth standpoint as Knowshon won’t have to worry as much about pacing himself (the coaches too for that matter).
· Alright, I said it was over and I really thought it was, but Steve Perry just won’t leave me alone. The first song I hear when I walked into the stadium was
· We need some serious work on the mic guy (and girl) that try to get the crowd going prior to the games now. The have to pick up the pace on those chants…like double time. Folks in our section wanted to join in but the rhythm was just way off…so they just quit.
· Big, big kudos to the pre-game video folks. Excellent job on the inclusion of the UF game highlights into the video. Just perfect. Maybe the biggest cheer all day outside of the 80-yard scamper.
· About the blackout…look, I can count on one hand the number of times the football team has made a request of the fans (and I mean specific, not just to show up and cheer). If they want me to wear black, I can handle that…it is, after all, one of our school colors.
· I’m pretty sure the upper deck of the south stands is about 15-20 degrees cooler than anywhere else in the state when it’s in the shade. Somehow it turns into a wind tunnel.
· I’ve avoided this until now, but basically the way this works out is we have to win our next two games (AU and UK) and UT has to lose one of its remaining 3 games (Ark, Vandy and UK) for us to win the east. Given how well UT’s played at home, our best shot might be UT’s lone remaining road game (@UK), especially when you consider that with ND’s loss to Navy, I think UT-UK might be the longest win streak over a single opponent in football. UT has won 20+ in a row over
· Speaking of ND, they have 1 win on the year, against UCLA and that was when UCLA had a walk-on 3rd string QB starting (if I’m not mistaken). Without that hallmark win, ND would have a real shot at going from BCS bowl to winless season. Good thing they nailed Weis down with that extension before the NFL started calling.
· You think some UGA fans have been frustrated with out defense? Imagine being
Have a safe weekend,