Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

DAWGS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR DAWGS!

I have been busy doing other things - like taking care of Christmas for my kids - which was awesome! Santa brought us a Wii. I jacked a homer (in practice) 623 feet just like I used to back in the day. Hampton, my 5 year old, has beaten me regularly in baseball and boxing. He won't let me throw junk when I am pitching. He says, "Daddy, you don't push any buttons because then I can't hit it." Then he turns around and strikes out my side like old Jack Morris in the 1991 World Series throwing a devastating splitter at 86 mph twice in a row then crossing me up with a 65 mph change up. I could have swung twice I was so far out front. Crafty little sneak. So far, I have handled him in tennis, but he holds the household record in bowling with a 182.

Anyway, we have had fun the past few weeks and quite frankly, I haven't paid a ton of attention to UGA related football news. I have enjoyed many of the bowl games, but not the outcome of the Navy-Wake game.

I am getting killed in my Footie Picker Bowl Picks against the spread - which is par for the course this season. But, I am still looking okay in my confidence pool. I've got a ton of points still out on the field. But, last night, I almost lost my 34 point game when Missouri needed OT to put away Northwestern. I will post both of my Bowl pool selections later just for reference.

Based on the match ups in the bowls this year, I think the SEC will not look too good (maybe because the SEC is not very good after the top 3 or 4 teams anyway). The Big East and the Pac Ten will look like heroes while the Big 12 and ACC come out looking pretty good. To me, it looks like the SEC will go 5-3 at best, but I have it picked to go 4-4. Here is how I have picked the other majors: Big East 5-1; Pac 10 4-1; Big 12 5-2 (but I am concerned about OSU tonight); ACC 5-5 is how I picked it but they may end up 7-3.

I will be back tomorrow for my Dawgs prediction. For tonight, let's go Pokes.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

IMPORTANT PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

Please view this brief film about gun safety. This could help save your life!



True.

Monday, December 08, 2008

MUMME POLL after 12/06 Weekend

My Mumme Poll Ballot following the weekend of 12/06- Until further notice.

Top 5 - No particular order:

Alabama - Got Tebowed
Florida - Tebow is keeping his promise
Texas - Had to suck for them on Saturday night
Oklahoma - Ain't scoring 60 on Florida
USC - Bored

Next 7 - no particular order:

Penn State - Not bored
Texas Tech - What a year
Utah - Gets a shot to prove it against Alabama
Ohio State - Rubber match with Texas
Boise State - Chance to be perfect against the Frogs
Cincinnati - Won't surprise me if they beat VPI
Oklahoma State - Making plans to be at the Boone for Labor Day

Friday, December 05, 2008

ALABAMA vs FLORIDA

The thud from this game will be heard from Atlanta to Norman to Austin and South Central. And when the dust settles, the winner will not be the flashy, pretty, ESPN darlings. No, the workmanlike Alabama Crimson Tide will emerge victorious on the strength of the two things that matter most in all football contests: great defense and dominating offensive line play.

First, my prediction is predicated on Percy Harvin being out. He is the Reggie Bush of 2008. Having him on the field is like having two extra weapons that are both indefensible. I doubt he will play, and if he does I think he will be severely limited due to the high ankle sprain. As a result, the Florida offense loses it most lethal weapon and that tilts the scale in favor of Alabama in my opinion.

Here is how Bama rolls in Atlanta. First, the best offensive line in the country will establish control of the line of scrimmage by hitting the Gator defense in the mouth extremely hard early and often. Alabama will work the ball down the field methodically and efficiently. Watch for them to get 5 yards or more on first down. When they do that, they will get a first down almost every time. They will run the ball 70-75% of the time with two great backs - Coffey and Ingram. They will ask John Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Parker Wilson to throw high percentage passes with an occasional deep route for good measure. The key is for Bama to not turn the ball over. If they protect the ball, they will have possession for about 36 minutes, which will give them a 12 minute advantage over the Gator offense.

Assuming Harvin cannot contribute, Alabama has a much easier time gameplanning against this Gator offense that has been so amazing for the past number of weeks. First, the Gators will not be able to run inside on Mount Cody, so it will be up to the ends and LBs to make sure that Rainey or Demps does not get turned upfield at full speed. Even Georgia was able to stop these two guys by penetrating and making them run horizontally. Bama has much better talent at the edge than UGA, so they should be able to handle this. Next, they have to contain Tebow when he wants to run. This will be their toughest assignment and Tebow will make some plays to extend drives and score points. Lastly, Bama needs to force Tebow into passing situations and challenge him to beat them with his arm. Bama needs to account for Louis Murphy and the tight end. The other guys will not kill them. It really hurts Florida to be without Harvin and this will bite them on obvious passing downs.

Finally, Alabama cannot allow UF to block a punt. Sure, Brandon James is a threat to break a long one. But, so is Javier Arenas for Alabama. Both average right at 14.66 yards per return and both ahve 2 touchdowns. I call that a push.

This game will feature the two best coaches in college football in terms of scheme and game preparation. Urban's offense against Saban's defense. Since I always have and always will preach that defense wins championships, I am picking Bama to win 27 - 24.

Note: Yes I understand that Florida has a great defense and Charlie Strong should get a HC job somewhere, but I think Bama's defense caught a huge break when Harvin got hurt and that, to me, makes the difference in this close game. Of course, I could be wrong - it won't be the first time! Just read a few of my posts from the week of Halloween or Thanksgiving for proof.

Anyway... GO NAVY, BEAT ARMY!

UPDATE***
Florida played a near-perfect game. Very impressive the way other receivers stepped up in the absence of Harvin. Tebow should be the Heisman winner! He is an amazing competitor. The FLorida defense, Spikes in particular, shut Bama down in the 4th quarter and Tebow did the rest. Well done Gators.

GO NAVY, BEAT ARMY!!!

It's that time of year again. The ONE game that matters most for Navy and Army. Because Navy beat Air Force and Air Force beat Army, Navy has already secured retention of the Commander In Chiefs trophy for the 6th consecutive year.

Navy now leads the series 52-49-7 on the strength of an ongoing series record 6 consecutive wins (all with Paul Johnson was at the helm.) Navy enters the game with a 7-4 record while Army is at 3-8. Navy should win again, but Army has played several good games this season along with some stinkers. Navy is a 10 or 10.5 point favorite. I picked Navy to cover, but I would not bet on it. Still, I predict Navy 33 - Army 20.

Ooooh, Aaaah, Whitewash the Black Knights!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

From the Armchair

The Tech Loss – A Few Comments

I know this is old news now, but I just didn’t feel like writing much about this for a couple of days.

1. Again, Mohamed Massaquoi played like a warrior with the heart of a lion. He is, without question, my favorite player on this offense. I hate that his amazing performance was squandered by our Keystone Cops defense. I hope to see Mo Mass having a rewarding NFL career. I think he has the work ethic and heart to contribute to any franchise in the league.

2. My favorite player on defense is, of course, Rennie Curran. For the 5th time this season, Curran recorded double digit tackles and ended the regular season with 109. It is curious that both of these standouts are one generation removed from Liberia.

3. I have to also give a ton of credit to Stafford, Moreno, Green, Chapas and the entire offense for scoring 42 points. That should have been enough to win. Even Chandler, Harris and Moore made big plays.

4. The number one reason that we gave up 409 yards rushing was the terrible kickoff team and the average starting field position for Ga. Tech. Otherwise, Tech would have rushed for well over 500 yards. Twice, Roddy could have run to Bogart without being touched – unless you count shoulder nudges.

5. My key to the game was to punish Nesbitt. That didn’t happen. He could hit hard twice and had to leave the field one of those times. However, he was not holding the ball long on the option. Once it became clear that we weren’t going to cover the pitch man anyway, why should he sell out the option and take hits anyway?

6. Tech is running the Paul Johnson offense well right now, but it can be run better. That is scary. In the game Saturday, as noted in the previous point, Nesbitt didn’t have to make anyone commit before he pitched the ball. They were able to gobble up all those yards without taking a defender out of the play by forcing him to commit to the man who will not have the ball. This offense gets even scarier when the QB comes down the line and you actually have defenders in position to make the play, but fearless execution at the edge causes you to not make the play. For examples of this type of QB play, try to find film of Chris McCoy or Brian Madden when they ran this offense at Navy. Saturday, Nesbitt did not run the option as well as it can be run and that may have been by design because of his injuries.

7. Rennie, you know I love you, but this must be said… On two of the long touchdown runs, Rennie Curran and another defender both over-pursued and allowed the Tech back to cut back inside them and then bounce off the safety shoulder nudge and off to the races. There is a lot to be said for flying around the field, but when a team runs an option into the boundary, you have to use the boundary and defend it from the inside out. (Actually, one of these runs was a toss sweep to the motion man so it wasn’t technically an option play.) Rennie was out there quick enough to stop the play, but he overran it both times. I think both of these plays were on 3rd and 6 – which was a good position to be in for our defense, but we just failed. I am sure Rennie feels worse about it than we do. GATA Rennie.

MUMME POLL after 11/29 Weekend

My Mumme Poll Ballot following the weekend of 11/29 - Clear as mud.

Top 5 - No particular order:

Alabama - Rolling, so to speak
Florida - Facing Alabama without Harvin - yikes
Texas - I would place them ahead of OU
Oklahoma - Getting the BCS love again
USC - stuck in the Rose Bowl again

Next 7 - no particular order:

Penn State - A significant season for the ageless Jo Pa
Texas Tech - Escaping at Baylor
Utah - BCS bound
Ohio State - Got the help they needed from Oregon
Boise State - Please play Ball State in a Bowl
Cincinnati - Solid season
Ball State - What the hell, they were perfect.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Back Up A Brinks Truck to Dick Bumpas's House?


Not that UGA is looking for a new DC, but hypothetically, if they were, TCU's Dick Bumpas is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. A finalist for the Broyles Award, he has the 2nd ranked defense in 2008 and had the 2nd ranked defense in 2006 in the scoring happy Mountain West Conference with Utah and BYU.
If you want a shiny new DC, this wouldn't be a bad place to look. Read more about Bumpas here and here. One little nugget that would make you smile... in 1996, as Navy's DC, the middies beat Ga. Tech at the Joke. Unfortunately, I think PJ was the OC for that Navy team.
Bumpas is not a newbie and he sure as hell knows what he is doing. There is some speculation that TCU HC Gary Patterson is the brains behind the TCU defense, but I am not sure. Bumpas was his mentor before Patterson became a HC. I don't know much about Bumpas personally - whether he would fit in with Coach Richt's staff, etc - but he has put some great defenses on the field in his career.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

TEXAS - Bend Over, Here It Comes Again

This year, Texas gets hit with the BOHICA banana. In my opinion, Texas got a royal buggering by the BCS formula. But, perhaps that is the fault of Big 12 officials allowing the BCS formula to dictate the tie-breaker. If the analysis came down to picking Oklahoma or Texas, then I believe Texas irrefutably deserved to represent the Big 12 South in the Big 12 Championship Game. Why? Simple. In a game in which we all believe the regular season games are sacrosanct and mean more than regular season games in any other sport on the planet, not using Texas's 10 point victory over Oklahoma on a neutral field to elevate them above Oklahoma is utter horseshit. Yes, I know that Texas Tech throws a wrinkle into this, but they are far enough behind these two teams in all of the rankings that the inquiry boils down to OU and UT. UT beat OU by 10 points on a neutral field with both teams at full strength. WTF? To paraphrase what Colonel Jessep said in "A Few Good Men" - "You just weakened college football today."

Sorry Longhorns. You got totally screwed.

How Depressing

To me, losing to Tech yesterday was more depressing than maddening. If losing to them once in 8 years is this depressing, I can't imagine how Tech felt for the past several years. Nor do I wish to learn. Better get some defense Coach Richt or we might find out.

Too depressed to look for the energy to write what I think should be done about our serious problems on defense and special teams. Maybe later.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dawg Mantra for Today...

Knock the SHIT out of NesBITT
Knock the SHIT out of NesBITT
Knock the SHIT out of NesBITT
Knock the SHIT out of NesBITT
Knock the SHIT out of NesBITT
Knock the SHIT out of NesBITT
Knock the SHIT out of NesBITT
Knock the SHIT out of NesBITT

Repeat this 8 times, 8 minutes before kickoff and at the 8 minute mark of each quarter.

GATA!

DAWGS WILL BEAT TECH: EIAR,B!!!

How will the weather affect the game? Since it will have been raining for hours before the game, the field will be soaked and we will probably see a few players slip on cutting. This type of field condition typically favors the offensive player that knows where he is going. This could allow the UGA receivers to gain an extra step of separation on their short routes. If gripping the ball is not a big problem, then we could see an advantage for our passing game against their pass defense.

As for the rushing games are concerned, I believe a player that runs like Moreno, with constant hard cuts, will be hindered more than a player like Dwyer who is more of a north-south power back. However, the Tech offense may be limited in its ability to execute the high speed option play in which a wing back (or whatever they are called) comes at full speed from the opposite side of the formation. On that particular play, the back may have trouble making the turn at the corner at the rate of speed in which the play is normally executed. Also, the QB may have more trouble making the sharp cut inside off of the read at the edge. THat is how Nesbitt normally gets into the second level by breaking inside and causing the overpursuing linebackers fly right by. That particular cut may be less effective.

I think that the kicking game will be all-around more difficult on a wet, soggy day. I would not count on Coach Richt having great confidence in sending Walsh out for a field goal try over 45yards - if that.

All considered, I believe that Moreno's numbers could be down in bad weather while Stafford may have a fantastic day is we concentrate on shorter, quick hitting routes. The Tech running game probably would not be as affected as ours overall - because of Dwyer's style - but I think Nesbitt will be affected as mentioned above.

I said a few days ago that I felt it was reasonable to foresee a score like UGA 24 - GT 17. I still feel about the same, but I am going to pick Georgia to cover the spread and win 28 - 17. I think Moreno will be held to about 100 yards but Stafford will go over 300. We will have 4 TDs. Moreno (2), Massaquoi (1), and Green (1). Rennie Curran will collect 13 tackles and Reshad jones will have 10. The unexpected hero of the game will be Richard Samuel with a long kickoff return to set up a TD in the first half.

Go Dawgs. GATA!

Friday, November 28, 2008

One More Time

The Georgia defense must pound the Tech quarterback like a cheap Mexican skirt steak. He needs to be picking Sanford turf out of his face mask on every play in which he can be legally planted in the sod. He needs to look like he was run through a jumbo sausage grinder by half-time. If we punish him like a Bad Newz Kennel underperformer, he won't finish the game. Do you hear me Wynn, Lomax, Battle, Houston, Dobbs, Curran, Dent, Ellerbe, Gamble, Jones, Byrd? Knock the turkey and dressing out of him early and then beat the pecan pie and ambrosia out of him late. THIS... is the key to the game.

GATA!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Beating Tech - A Simple Plan

There is one simple thing that the Dawg defense can do that will assure a victory. Knock the living shit out of the quarterback on every option play. Every single time, he needs to get hammered. Period. That will neutralize the triple option.

GATA!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

C'mon Dawgs, Let Your Balls Drop

I have heard too much pussified whining about how Tech is going to run all over Georgia because "look what they did to Miami." Guess what, we aren't Miami. Senator Blutarsky had some valid points on this issue today that you should read (as if you haven't already.) If Tech had gashed everyone like the did Miami, then I would be more worried. But, before you concede the game to Tech because our defense has tackled poorly lately, let's consider a little more of Tech's body of work.

The five games prior to the domination of Miami looked like this:

Tech 10 - Gardner Webb 7 (3.4 yards per play.)
Tech 21 - Clemson 17 (4.7 yards per play.)
Tech 17 - Virginia 24 (4.6 yards per play.)
Tech 31 - FSU 28 (6.7 yards per play.)
Tech 7 - UNC 28 (5.5 yards per play.)

That is an average of 17 points per game against mediocre competition. On the season, they average 6.1 yards per play. Our defense, on the year, has allowed 5.0 yards per play. While these stats can be meaningless if we give them great field position all day or if we turn the ball over, I think another conclusion to draw from these figures is that we should not expect them to score much more than 17 points.

Do you have any idea what our offense averages? 6.7 yards per play. Their defense only allows an average of 4.5 yards per play, but they have surrendered an average of 24 points per game during the past 5 games. We have scored an average of 29 points per game over the past 5 games - including our 10 point outing against Florida. My point is that if those mediocre ACC teams could score 24 points per game, then we should too. And, if those mediocre ACC teams could hold them to an average of 17 points per game, then we should too.

This is not my final prediction on the game, but on paper, we should beat them by more than 24-17 despite our defensive woes on occasion. If the turnover battle is even or in our favor, then we win this game by at least a touchdown but probably by two touchdowns. So stop worrying and start planning to GATA!

MUMME POLL after 11/22 Weekend

My Mumme Poll Ballot following the weekend of 11/22 - Musical Chairs.

Top 5 - No particular order:

Alabama - Iron Bowl Bound
Florida - Tebow and Harvin may be rusty after sitting out most of the Citadel game
Texas - I would place them ahead of OU for now (pending the outcome of OU-OSU)
Oklahoma - That was a statement heard loud and clear
USC - Praying for Oregon State to win so they won't have to destroy another Big Ten Champ in the Rose Bowl

Next 7 - no particular order:

Penn State - A significant season for the ageless Jo Pa
Texas Tech - Crashing back to earth
Utah - They are good, but I have no idea how good
Ohio State - Didn't mind kicking Michigan while they were down
OK State - Is an upset brewing in Bedlam?Georgia - Just beat Tech!
Boise State - Hoping Fresno State will put Detwiler and Mendonca in pads to knock off Boise this weekend

Missouri sits and waits and waits and waits.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Eight Things That Need to Happen for The Dawgs to Make It Eight In A Row, Bitches

#1. Moreno needs to have at least 23 carries. The Dawgs have never lost when he has gotten this many carries. Moreover, if Moreno runs it 23 times or more, he will certainly have over 125 yards and the Dawgs have never lost when he gains at least 105 yards.

#2. Stafford needs to take care of the ball and have zero turnovers. The Dawgs have only lost once when Stafford had no turnovers - Vandy 2006.

#3. We must get Touchdowns instead of Field Goals when we are in the red zone.

#4. Average more than 5 yards on first down. The key to being effective on offense in this game will be to stay out of 3rd and long situations.

#5. Penalties. For the love of everything that is holy, do not commit countless senseless personal fouls. Also, no procedure penalties in the red zone would help.

#6. Hammer their QB on every play. Put his ass on the ground on every pitch. If he keeps it, drill him. If holds the ball until the last second, nail him as he is pitching the ball and follow through with the tackle until he is buried into the ground. Nesbitt needs to be gun shy by the second quarter. He is already playing banged up, so keep on banging on him.

#7. Clog the middle to minimize the fullback. We have 5 tackles and they need to be rotated every two plays to keep them fresh. All they have to do is occupy the middle and take away the fullback. But they have to do it on every snap. They cannot take a play off.

#8. Our defensive ends need to avoid cut blocks. They have been terrible all year about getting cut down on the edge. If they cannot properly neutralize the Tech blockers, then Tech will be 5-10 yards upfield before first contact. Our ends must beat the block and force the pitch. The earlier they can force the pitch, the easier it will be for our corners, LBs and safeties to make a stop.

Monday, November 17, 2008

UGLY WIN YIELDS THIRD STRAIGHT OVER AUBURN: Things could be much worse

You know the last time we beat Auburn in three consecutive seasons was when #34 toted the ball for us. I have been watching Georgia since I can remember and I am 42 years old now. In my lifetime, here is what we have done with Auburn:
66-69: 3-1 (were 4-6 for the decade)
70-79: 4-6
80-89: 4-6
90-99: 4-5-1
00-08: 5-4

The overall record in my lifetime is 20-22. As you can see, this is the first decade since I was born in which we are finally assured of not having a losing record against Auburn. So you will please forgive me if I am not too upset with an ugly win against Auburn.

Auburn is now 5-6 on the season. Their offense is terrible. But their defense has kept them in every game except the West Virginia contest. Excluding the 17 point loss to WVU, Auburn has lost the other 5 games by an average of less than 5 points per game. While I think we are better than the other teams that have beaten Auburn, I was not at all surprised that we couldn't put them away. They were fighting for their (post-season) life and we continued to be plagued by the things that have hurt us in recent weeks. Poor special teams play, poor tackling, stupid penalties and red zone problems. Our defense played better, but were not spectacular - allowing 303 total yards. Despite all of this, I am still happy just to get out of there with a win.

The personal foul penalties are just a big, hairy, WTF? Although, I must say that it did not look like Reshad Jones did anything that caused the Auburn player (Burns I think) to go down a couple of steps out of bounds. I could be wrong, but it looked like Reshad let him go and then Burns tripped over his own feet at the exact same time making it look like Reshad threw him down. Someone correct me if I missed that. Watching the replay a few times on Raycom, I never saw an actual foul, just what appeared to be a foul and one in which we were never going to get the benefit of the doubt.

Prince Miller should be done with returning punts. This should have been decided before the fumble against Auburn.

No more fade passes please. We can't hit them and we don't need to throw that type of pass given Stafford's arm strength and Massaquoi and Green's ability to make cuts and catch balls in traffic. I have beaten this dead horse since the Tennessee game. Still not reaching Bobo's ears yet.

Moreno got close to the magic number of 23. He had 22 rushes for 131 yards. That 23rd carry could have been a beauty.

Stafford was effective and most importantly, had no turnovers. We did not do well on first down on too many possessions which led to poor down and distance situations. The result was a 3-11 effort on third downs. That will get us beat in most games. I felt like our offense should have shown a solid commitment to running the ball, but I did notice some effective defensive adjustments by Auburn in the first half that slowed our rushing attack. So, perhaps I need to give more credit to Auburn on this one and acknowledge the youth and lack of depth on our offensive line.

All-in-all I am happy with the win. Frustrating at times, but satisfying when the game was finally secured. At this point in this season with this team... it is what it is and we are slowly marching to an 11-2 season. Things could be much worse.

Now, on to Eight In A Row, Beotch!

MUMME POLL after 11/15 Weekend

My Mumme Poll Ballot following the weekend of 11/8 - No changes.

Top 5 - No particular order:

Alabama - Methodical
Florida - Steamrolling
Texas Tech - Everything on the line this week
Texas
USC - May get the UGA 2007 treatment if Oregon State doesn't lose again

Next 7 - no particular order:

Penn State
Oklahoma
Utah
Ohio State
OK StateBoise State
Georgia

None of these 12 teams lost and I am not inclined to promote Missouri into my Top 12 right now so there is no change from last week. The big game coming up with Texas Tech and Oklahoma will probable send a few ripples throughout.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

GEORGIA - AUBURN 2008

I am having a hard time getting a read on what I expect to happen on the Plains Saturday. One reason is that I refuse to believe that Auburn is as bad as their performance this season would indicate. Thus, I have a minor dreadful concern that they have a break-out game that they have not yet played this season. On the other hand, offensively, they don't appear to be able to pour piss out of a boot. At the same time, our defense also appears to have forgotten how to operate the boot for piss removal. So, what happens when an offense that can't score meets a defense that can't stop anyone? Fortunately, it may not matter.

The UGA offense should be able to run the ball on Auburn. Sure, our offensive line continues to lose players like a modern-day Western Front. But, the Auburn defense has been equally stung by the injury bug. I think Knowshon will get to the second level often enough to have a special day. As always, I want to see him get 23 carries and if he does, it should be good for about 150 yards. Of course, if Moreno has this kind of day, there should be plenty of opportunity for Matthew Stafford and the play-action passing game. I hope we will see a solid commitment to getting Moreno established and will be content to pound the ball. If this works, we will score over 30 points.

I think 30 points will be more than enough to win this game. It damn sure better be. I have a sneaking suspicion that our defense is going to show a level of determination not seen since Tempe. I believe the talent is there to shut down this discombobulated Auburn offense and it will begin on the first possession. Our front 4 need to focus on whipping the man across from them. We need the big uglies to occupy the Auburn line so our linebackers can roam free to make tackles. Speaking of making tackles, we can't try to hug these guys to the ground. We need to punish them from the very beginning.

To keep this game from becoming a shoot-out, we need to win the turnover battle for a change and our special teams need to be at least mediocre. The good news is that there is no way our special teams can do worse than last week.

I know that there is a feeling that Tuberville is fighting for his job and that the Auburn players want payback for having been embarassed the past two years. Those two factors bother me. But, this team has not scored on anybody this year. I have to believe that we won't be the one team that allows them to have an orgy of offense. I do wish we had the added comfort of knowing that Brandon Cox was still their QB, but we will have to do what we can with Kodi Burns instead. He has been generous with the ball this year with 7 interceptions in 126 attempts. That is a pick in every 18 throws. In fact, he has thrown 5 picks in his last two SEC games. Maybe we will grab a few of his passes.

I may amend this on Friday, but for now, I am feeling like the Dawgs will score 31 and will hold Auburn to 24 or less. So, I guess... UGA 31 - AU 24. Another ugly win? Maybe.

NAVY - NOTRE DAME: TWO IN A ROW?

Last year, Navy beat Notre Dame for the first time in my life. That was a pretty good Navy team and a horrible Notre Dame team. This year, due to injuries and graduation, Navy is not as strong as last year but is still having a nice season at 6-3. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is improved but not anything special at 5-4. The game is in Baltimore this year so hopefully ND won't get every call from the officials like they do in South Bend. If Navy protects the ball and doesn't fall behind early, this will be a good game. I am not expecting a Navy win, but it will certainly be sweet if they get it done. GO MIDDIES!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Midweek Musings: A Smorgasbord

Red Zone Touchdowns... Did you notice how that statistic improved to perfect last week? Did you also notice that Knowshon Moreno was on the field every time? That is no coincidence. He can get in the end zone on plays that our other backs would not. Even if he doesn't get the ball, he commands much attention which opens up our other playmakers. In these last few games, we must have KM on the field when we are in the red zone. It just works.

Tailbacks... Last year, Thomas Brown and Knowshon made a great 1-2 punch and both had the ability to get in the end zone. This year, when Knowshon comes out, we have a precipitous drop in the talent/productivity at the tailback position. That includes running and blocking.

Richard Samuel is a true freshman who is barely 18 years old. He may become a great tailback in the next couple of years. He also could be a great linebacker, which is the position I thought he would play at Georgia. He is fast, tough and strong but he doesn't seem to be a fluid runner. He can still be effective in a Musa Smith style of running, but he will need a solid offensive line to gobble up yardage. Fortunately, barring continuous season-ending injuries to offensive linemen, he will have a tremendous line to run behind in the coming seasons.

Caleb King has size, speed and elusiveness. So why does he not inspire confidence when he goes in the game? Does he remind anyone else of Patrick Pass? And how did Patrick Pass have such a long NFL career?

Auburn... I will have more input about the game tomorrow, but for now I keep vacillating between being worried that they will play out of their heads... to being confident that they totally suck. I want to believe that our defense is going to nut up and play with a new level of determination. I expect our offense to be able to move the ball and score, but we can't commit costly turnovers. If our special teams make the trip, we should win, even if it is another ugly win. I just can't yet make up my mind what it is that I foresee.

Best Case Scenarios... It is not that I expect either of these scenarios to manifest, but if we win out, here are two scenarios to put us in a BCS game. (1) Florida loses to Spurrier's Cocks (or FSU) and Alabama in the SECCG. Sure they were a better team than UGA, but I suppose losing two of their last three games would move them below us in the BCS standings. This isn't going to happen, but they will be facing the best defense they have seen all season on Saturday. Perhaps it will be close. Perhaps. (2) Alabama loses to either Miss. State or Auburn and to Florida in the SECCG. This is less likely to happen because Bama losing to State or Auburn seems unlikely, though they have played with fire several times this season already.

Kentucky Coach... I am not sure which coach to attribute this to, but the timeout call right before the end of the 3rd quarter was brilliant and directly led to an easy touchdown drive. With UGA facing 4th down around our 10 yard line there was only about 15 seconds remaining in the quarter. Kentucky called a timeout to force Mimbs to punt out of his end zone into a stiff 20-30 mph wind. The result was a wobbly shanked punt that landed around the UGA 35 and bounced backwards to the UGA 29. It was a net 19 yard punt. Kentucky scored shortly thereafter. It was a brilliant call and most coaching staffs would have missed the opportunity - I assure you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

MUMME POLL after 11/8 Weekend

My Mumme Poll Ballot following the weekend of 11/8 - this one was easy.

Top 5 - No particular order:
Alabama - Flirting with disaster and surviving.
Florida - will be interesting to see how their offense does against a really good defense Saturday.
Texas Tech - Fun to watch
Texas
USC

Next 7 - no particular order:
Penn State
Oklahoma
Utah
Ohio State
OK State
Boise State
Georgia

Thoughts on Kentucky Game

I was not surprised that this game was close (42-38.) However, I was surprised and disappointed in how many points our defense surrendered. I expected a flat, malaise-like performance overall. But, there was no shortage of energy on the field for both sides. We just did not make plays on defense and tackled poorly again. We were fortunate to escape with a win - thanks to some incredible improvisation by Stafford and Green and thanks to our defense finally making a few stops late in the game.

Mohamed Massaquoi! I have to say that he is my favorite player on this team. I love how hard he plays. My heart was breaking for him after two consecutive fumbles. I don't remember him ever fumbling before. These fumbles resulted from him struggling for extra yardage and the Kentucky defenders doing a great job hammering the ball. Thankfully, Mo Mass had an opportunity to redeem himself and did with a 78 yard catch and run on our last possession to put us inside the 10 yard line. On the day, he had 8 catches for 191 yards and one TD. I said last week that he was a warrior. I now say that he has the heart of a lion. I am glad we get to watch him play 3 more times. After that, I will be sad that he is gone, but hope he has a stellar NFL career. He is a terrific young man and has been a tremendous asset to our program.

Knowshon Moreno - A very good game with three TD runs that no one else in Red and Black could have made. This is nitpicking, but he made a rare bad cut inside our 10 on third down. It looked like he could have easily made the first down by going outside but was tackled short when he tried to cut inside. Maybe the TV angle did not give the accurate picture, but it looked like he would have had it easily by going outside. The shocking thing is that since he has such great vision and nearly always makes amazing, intuitive cuts, the rare bad cut seems amplified. Still, he does things that no other Bulldog back can do right now. His next carry, after a Kentucky TD, was an 18 yard TD run. Redeemed!

Matthew Stafford - Went through a few streaks of being perfect and only missed a few throws when the wind was at his back and the ball seemed to sail. His 17 completions were good for a career best 376 yards. That is 22 yards per completion. His scrambling game-winning toss to AJ Green appeared to be headed into the first row of the bleachers. Green really went up the ladder. It was a brilliant throw that was calculated to have only one of two results: A TD to Green or an overthrow out of the back of the end zone giving us the opportunity to tie the game with a field goal. The fact that the pass was virtually unable to be intercepted made it spectacular and has been praised by Coach Richt.

Prince Miller - Twice now he has fielded an over-the-shoulder punt return inside the 10 yard line. There is no scenario, with any punt returner - Deion Sanders included - in which fielding a punt running into your own end zone is acceptable. That he has done it twice is an indication that he can't be coached on this point. Thus, he should not be returning punts unless the punter is standing near his own goal line. This doesn't make him a bad person, just the wrong person to handle punts inside our 20 yard line.

Defense - We have a combination of things contributing to our defensive problems. Coaching, talent, poor tackling, etc. I concur with Quinton's remarks and PWD's remarks. I can't add much to those two summaries, so check them out. I think the biggest problem starts with the play of the front 4. When they play well, good things happen. If they get pushed around, bad things happen. We have to get solid in the middle. That means we need our guys healthy and deep. Our depth has been hurt all year by injuries. As PWD notes, if everyone comes back and stays healthy next year, it should be a much different defense.

Special Teams - ugh!

That is all for now.

Go DAWGS!

Friday, November 07, 2008

HDD PREDICTION - UGA Over Kentucky

I have been on the road since Tuesday and have not had time to pay much attention to the news leading into this game against Kentucky. From what I can tell, the lingering hangover from the WLOCP is worse than any in recent memory. How will that affect the players?

I am tired from my trip and still hung over from the WLOCP myself, so I will be brief...

The Dawgs need to start fast and keep their foot on the accelerator in this game to begin their healing process. This is not a game that just any win will make people feel better. No sir. Everyone is in a mood for an ass-whipping and they don't want that ass to be wearing silver britches. I feel like the team will not be especially sharp in Lexington and this could be a frustrating game a la UT and VU. That is not what we need.

However, in the end, a win by any margin is critical to point this team toward a 10-2 regular season record and a Capital One bowl bid. I truly believe we will win this in a game that is too close for comfort and I hope I am wrong. There is not any one thing that I expect to be a problem but just a general sense of malaise and drudgery. Look for an uninspired plodding effort resulting in a final score of 23 - 13. Damn I hope I am wrong. I am totally in the mood for us to ring up 50+ points while playing a modicum of defense. We shall see.

GO DAWGS!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

MUMME POLL after Weekend 11/1

Here is my Mumme Poll Ballot this week...

Top 5 - No particular order:

Alabama
Penn State
Florida
Texas Tech - Now THAT is how you play inspired football!
Texas

Next 7 - no particular order:

USC
Oklahoma
Utah
TCU
OK StateBoise State
Georgia (because, despite the complete meltdown in Jax, I would keep them ahead of tOSU and Missouri)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

FOOTIE PICKER - Weekend of 11/9

I forgot to post my picks last week, but I went 7-7 to bring my season totals to 61-72.

My picks in BOLD.

Thursday
Tcu 2 UTAH YEP

Saturday

Ohio State 11 NORTHWESTERN NOPE
UNC 4 Georgia Tech YEP
WAKE FOREST 3.5 Virginia YEP
TEXAS TECH 3.5 Oklahoma State
Florida 23.5 VANDERBILT
SOUTH CAROLINA 10.5 Arkansas NOPE
Georgia 11 KENTUCKY YEP
Oklahoma 25 TEXAS A&M NOPE
FLORIDA ST 6.5 Clemson
Penn State 7 IOWA
BOSTON COLLEGE 3 Notre Dame
Alabama 3 LSU
SOUTHERN CAL 17.5 California

PHIL FULMER ERA ENDS AT UT

I just watched a video of Phil Fulmer's press conference...



That is a video of a man who is hurting and heartbroken and I truly feel bad for him. I don't feel bad that he will have a golden parachute worth a few million (of course Obama will make it fair and redistribute some of that money to coaches who haven't achieved much.) It is obvious that Fulmer has just dived onto a grenade to try and save something he loves. I respect that a lot.

I never really liked him as their coach. Probably because he beat us more than we beat him. But, in looking back, I can't really remember him ever being anything other than a determined recruiter and coach who loved his job and his school. I don't recall many if any instances of him being a huge prick. Sure, he may have misled some Georgia HS prospects to get them up to Knoxville, but that is part of the game.

Here's to hoping UT can find someone to come in and lead them straight into solid mediocrity for the next decade or more!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE

NAVY WINS!

"WOULD YOU LIKE US TO WRAP THAT FOR YOU? IT'S COMPLIMENTARY."

Dear Gators,

We sincerely apologize for "The Celebration." Please accept all of these gifts as reparation. We know you may not even need them because you seemingly have everything anyway. But we are in a giving spirit and will be offended if you refuse.

My alternative headline was this...

WARNING, THIS TEAM WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN EXACTLY 2.5 QUARTERS.

I don't feel like writing much about this game, so this will be short. The Gators are an excellent team. We had no chance in this game if we made even one or too costly errors. Making errors by the fistful... well that results in the worst loss in the Richt era. Call it payback for the celebration if you like. But, take an explosive offense like the Gators, give them freebies like you are handing out Halloween candy, and prepare for an embarassing outcome. Congratulations to Florida for making us pay and pay and pay. That is what championship teams do. And, to make their day even better, Texas went down to Texas Tech in a thriller.

A few specific comments:

Mohamed Massaquoi is a WARRIOR. He plays fearlessly and is the most reliable receiver we have ever had in a Bulldog uniform. Let me know if you think that is inaccurate.

Stafford's hurt leg. I don't know if that caused the underthrows, but he had his man open for big gains on the first two pics if he didn't underthrow it.

The onside kick. I am not opposed to the call if we were in the lead. I didn't like it at that point with the score what it was.

Demps and Rainey... I thought we contained them pretty well. But, in the end, Tebow and Harvin are gonna hurt you.

How to keep Brandon James in check? Before the game I said we should just score when we have the ball to avoid risks of blocked punts or long returns. I didn't consider the alternative... turn it over on every second half possession. That also keeps Brandon James from taking one to the house.

Extensive pre-game analysis... I won't be bothering in the future.

Penn Wagers and crew... AWFUL. Though they didn't per se cost us this game, they certainly do not seem to have the capacity to call a decent football game.

Florida vs. Alabama... who will win it? I think Florida.

That is all. GO DAWGS!

Friday, October 31, 2008

HDD PREDICTION - WLOCP

If you have read my analysis in my previous posts, you will notice that I spent very little time discussing the Gator offense and how to stop them. That is because the only way I can think of is to keep them on the bench. So I focused on our offense against their defense. It was more comfortable for me this way as well! Their offense is ridiculously explosive and will score points on anybody. They can be held under 30 points, but it will require a great effort on our defense and an edge in the turnover margin and no blocked punts or touchdowns on returns. Like Halloween, their are plenty of scary things to think about with their offensive skill players, their return man Brandon James and their knack for blocking punts.


In truth, we won't stop them often. So, the only way to beat them is to outscore them. That is why I devoted way too much time to trying to determine if we will be able to score enough points to win this thing. I have gained confidence that we will be able to approach and probably exceed 400 yards in total offense. But, the key will be if we can convert this into touchdowns. I think that the balance we have on offense and the significant improvement we have experienced since Southerland has returned from injury will help us find the endzone when we get to the red zone. It will be a windy day, so kicking field goals can be risky, but I also like our chances with Walsh if we need to kick. Stafford's experience in recognizing defenses and getting us in the right plays will have to be peaking in this game for us to capitalize on every scoring opportunity we get. We absolutely cannot leave points on the field in this game.

I am confiedent we will get to 30 points. I feel like we will beed to get to about 35 or 38 points to win. We may need help from our defense or return teams to get that extra score. Or, we could flip the scrip and have Zac Renner get in there and block one of their punts.

I am running out of time here... got to go out and get a couple of beers. Priorities you know!

I think we have one secret weapon on defense and that is Bryan Evans. Not as a corner - he is a liability there. As a safety, he will be the surprise of this game. He is the fastest defender we have and he is very effective on run support. He is just the guy to have out there to track down there speedsters. He is a Jacksonville native and he will be amped up to make some plays in this game. I think he will.

Here is another point I wish to make. If we ever get in a 3rd and forever (like 15 to 20 yards) we need to send Green 50 yards down the middle and have Stafford throw a rainbow out there and let Green try to out jump the Gator defenders. If we catch it, hooray! If they catch it, okay - better than punting to them!

Here is my final answer: Dawgs win the turnover margin by one and win the game by 3. DAWGS 38 - Gators 35.

GATA!

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER

I have explored what I wondered might be "Chinks" in the Gators armor. There were 5 in all and the research and analysis appears in the previous posts. Of the 5 areas explored, I have been encouraged about 3 and I am neutral about the other two. Here is the summary:

1. Can Knowshon run on the Gators again this year? The short answer is that, statistically, their run defense is a little less stubborn this season. Our run offense is more productive now than it was last season. For these two reasons, I think we will do no worse than our rushing average for the season, which is 173 yards. Of that total, I think Knowshon will be around 130-140.

2. Has Florida faced a quality, experienced QB this season? This one is totaly straight forward. Absolutely not. They have faced one mediocre senior in Casey Dick and every other QB they faced (11 in all) had a combined total of 35 passes at the college level before this season. Last year they had faced 6 straight senior QBs coming into the game and Stafford had one of his best games. The seasonal average passer rating of their opponents this season is 114 and against Florida they have an average passer rating of only 99. Stafford enters the game with a passer rating of 146. He is magnitudes better than the competition they have faced and has better receivers than every team they have faced (with LSU being the next best.)

I think Stafford will throw it between 23-28 times for over 200 yards and closer to 250 yards. Combining this with our rushing yardage, we should be between 400 and 425 total yards of offense. Our average for the season is 431. Our two off games were South Carolina (252 yards) and Alabama (324 yards.) The Gator defense does not worry me as much as those two defenses did because of personel match-ups and the improvement in our o-line. Florida does rank close to SC and Alabama in total yards surrendered per game (273 for UF, 256 for USC and 263 for US.) So, in my opinion, even if they have a great day against us, we should still amass no less than 350 yards - which probably will not be enough to win.

3. Can the Gators Sack Stafford? They average 2.29 sacks per game. We have allowed 1.13 sacks per game. I think they will sack Stafford once or twice. If they get more than that, things could get tough for the Dawgs! But, I don't think they will get Stafford more than once from a 3 or 4 man rush. So if they have to blitz to get pressure, I like our chances to beat the blitz with max protection schemes and an experienced QB putting us in the right plays.

4. How do their shorter defensive backs match up with our tall receivers? I don't think this height difference will matter often but it could come into play in the red zone or in a long jump ball play. We could see an advantage in size on downfield blocking, but their d-backs are aggressive and physical, so this probably won't be a distinct advantage.

5. Can we sack Tebow again this year? We are getting 1.88 sacks per game and they are allowing only 1.43 sacks per game. We have more healthy defensive ends for this game than we have had for a long time. But, none of them are named Marcus Howard. I expect us to sack Tebow twice. But, as a glimmer of hope, I point out that coming into the WLOCP last year, we were averaging only 1.71 sacks per game and we sacked Tebow 6 times and went on to average 5 sacks per game for the last 6 games. Is there another Marcus Howard waiting to breakout in this game? Maybe Justin Houston - please!

So there are the 5 areas analyzed. I think we can expect to have a better day against their defense than any other team they have faced. In my next post, I will indicate how much better - in terms of points on the scoreboard.

GO DAWGS!

CHINK #5: Can we get to Tebow again?

Possible Chink #5:

5. Can we sack Tebow again?

Last year we sacked Tebow 6 times. He was under pressure all day. It was a coming out party for Marcus Howard and it contributed significantly to the Dawgs victory. But, Marcus Howard is now in the NFL and the Dawgs have not yet generated the type of pass rush that we had down the stretch last season. So, the big question is: Will we be able to pressure and sack Tebow tomorrow?

We have 15 sacks on the season for an average of 1.88 sacks per game. Here are our sack totals for each game compared to the opponents average sacks allowed per game:

GSU: 3/2.63
CMU: 1/1.5
SC: 2/3.5
ASU: 4/2.29
UA: 1/1.38
UT: 2/1.5
VU: 0/1.75
LSU: 2/1

Statistically, we sack teams only slightly more than they average giving up sacks. So how many sacks do the Gators allow? They have allowed 10 sacks in 7 games for an average of 1.43 sacks per game. This would lead us to believe that we may sack Tebow once or twice and no likely more than that.

As a caveat, I will point out that the Gators gave up an average of only 1 sack per game last year and we sacked Tebow 6 times. That would be a beautiful thing to repeat, but without Marcus Howard, I don't see it. But, if you want to remain hopeful, consider this... coming into the WLOCP last season we had only 12 sacks in 7 games (1.71 per game.) So, despite the perception, the 2008 Dawgs are ahead of last year's team at this point in the season. In 2007, we got 30 sacks in the last 6 games - starting with Florida.

What I expect to see is two sacks of Tebow. Anything more will be gravy for the Dawgs.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

CHINK #4: How will their DBs match up with our tall receivers?

Possible chink #4:

4. How will their DBs match up with our tall receivers?

Our receiving corps consists of:
AJ Green (6-4, 200)
Mohamed Massaquoi (6-2, 204)
Kris Durham (6-5, 208)
Kenneth Harris (6-3, 208)
Demiko Goodman (6-2, 190)
and Michael Moore (6-2, 200) **not so sure he is this tall**

Even if Michael Moore is not as tall as he is listed, the other guys are every bit as tall as advertised. We have seen them use their height advantage in going after the ball and their size helps them get physical on downfield blocking. So what about the Florida defensive backfield?

Corners:
Joe Haden (5-11, 185)
Janoris Jenkins (5-10, 185)
Wondy Pierre-Louis (6-1, 185)
Safeties:
Major Wright (6-0, 200)
Ahmad Black (5-9, 190)

These guys are about average height for a defensive backfield and may be a little heavier if these weights are accurate. While none are tall, they certainly aren't smurfs. Still, at 6-4/6-5, I think Green and Durham have decided height advantages and I would like our chances in jump ball situations. Nevertheless, we won't see any more advantage in this game than we have seen in most of our other games. A slight advantage, but nothing to get too revved up about.

CHINK #3: Can They Pressure Stafford with 3 or 4 Man Rush?

Possible Chinks in the Gator Armor

3. Can they get to the QB with a 3 or 4 man rush? Our O-line continues to improve, but we can we expect from the Gators pass rush?

The Gators have 16 sacks on the season. Of those, 13 came from defensive linemen, 1.5 from MLB and 1.5 from DBs.

Here are their sacks by game compared to the opponents sacks allowed on average per game:

Hawaii: Gators got 4/Hawaii allows 3.63 per game
Miami: 3/2
UT: 0/1.5
Ole Miss: 2/1.25
Ark: 4/3
LSU: 2/1
UK: 1/0.75

As you can see, the Gators are getting an average of 0.4 sacks more than each team has allowed. In other words, the Gators tend to sack these teams more than they are normally sacked.

Through 8 games, UGA has allowed 9 sacks for an average of 1.13 sack per game. Here are the sacks we have allowed and the average sacks per game for the opponent defense:

GSU: 1/2.25
CMU: 0/2.38
SC: 4/1.5
ASU: 1/1.29
UA: 2/1.75
UT: 0/1.75
VU: 0/3.13
LSU: 1/2.29

The Dawgs are allowing 0.92 less sacks per game than their opponents have averaged. In other words, the Dawgs allow less sacks than their opponents normally get.

We know the Dawgs have a young offensive line, but, like last year, the line has improved steadily throughout the season. In fact, this young O-line has allowed only one sack in the past three games and that was with 85 pass attempts. In short, the O-line has protected Stafford well. In addition, we have kept a tight end and/or running back in on max protection frequently in the past few games.

What to expect? Based on performances, I can't see any reason to expect the Gators to sack Stafford as often as they have sacked other QBs, which is an average of 2.29 sacks per game. They will probably get him once or twice. Any more than that will be a disappointment for our offense.

To answer the original question: I think the Gators will have trouble getting to Stafford with a 3 or 4 man rush because of our utilization of max protect schemes with 6 or 7 blockers in pass protection. I think they will get Stafford once without blitzing. If they get him more than once, it will be with blitzes. I don't think they will get him 3 times.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PULPWOOD PREDICTS: Georgia vs. Florida

Pulpwood is coming back atchall from St. Simon Island.

WARNING: Do not do this link around your children, Grandmother or pastor. Let's just say the language is fitting for the magnitude of the game!

Chinks #2: Has Florida faced a quality QB yet?

Possible Chink #2:

2. UF pass defense has not faced a quality, experienced quarterback this season. If this is true, how have they fared against the QBs they have faced? I recall that Jevan Snead made a few plays on them, but I don't know if any other QB has had any success at all. So, which QBs have they faced and how will they fare against our passing attack?

Here are the numbers on the Florida Pass Defense: on the season they have allowed 225(att) - 126(comp) - 1195(yds) - 10(int) - 5(TD). The completion percentage is 56%. Yards per attempt = 5.31 and yards per catch = 9.48. Yards per game = 171. Average passer rating = 99.

The numbers from last year: 466 - 277 - 3361 - 11 - 19. 59% completions, 7.21 yards per attempt, 12.13 yards per catch and 258 yards per game. Average passer rating = 129. This appears to be a much improved pass defense based on these numbers alone. But, we need to look at the QBs they have faced this season to see who has put up such shoddy numbers against the Mighty Gator.

Here are the QBs they have faced:

Hawaii: used three ineffective QBs who have an average passer rating of 111 (81 vs UF). Their line against UF: 21/39 for 181 yds, 1 TD and 4 Int.

Miami - 2 Freshmen (Marve and Harris) with an average passer rating of 113 (85 vs UF.) Their line against UF: 12/22 for 79 yds, 0 TD and 0 Int.

Tennessee: Now-deposed Sophomore Jonathon Crompton with an average passer rating of 96 (106 vs UF.) His line against UF: 18/28 for 162 yds, 0 TDs and 1 Int.

Ole Miss: Sophomore transfer from Texas, Jevan Snead beat the Gators. He has a passer rating of 128 (139 vs UF.) His line against UF: 9/21 for 185 yds, 2 TDs and 1 Int.

Arkansas: Senior Casey Dick with a passer rating of 115 (107 vs UF.) His line against UF: 24/38 for 220 yds, 0 TDs and 1 Int.

LSU: Freshman Jarret Lee with a passer rating of 135 (117 vs UF.) His line against UF: 25/41 for 241 yds, 2 TDs and 2 Int (Hatch had two of these completions.)

Kentucky: 50/50 between Hartline (So) and Cobb (Fr) who combine for a passer rating of 103 (71 vs UF.) Their line against UF: 17/36 for 127 yds, 0 TDs and 1 Int.

If you thought they had not faced an experienced QB this season, you would have been absolutely correct. Here are the total collegiate pass attempts prior to this season for each of these QBs they have faced:

Hawaii - Gang of 3 = 15
Miami - Marve = Zero
Miami - Harris = Zero
Tennessee - Crompton = 12
Ole Miss - Snead = Zero
Arkansas - Dick = 493
LSU - Lee = Zero
LSU - Hatch = 2
UK - Hartline = 6
UK - Cobb = Zero

If you remove Arkansas's Casey Dick, in the other 6 games, all of the QBs combined had only 35 tosses at the college level. That barely equates to the equivalent of one game of experience, and that is among 11 QBs. I will let you draw your own conclusions about this one! The only experienced QB they have faced is Casey Dick and I have thought him to be a consistently mediocre QB at best over his years at Arkansas.

Here are Stafford's numbers through 8 games this year: 141/229 for 1946 yds, 12 TD and 5 Int. He has 61.6%completions and averages 8.5 yds per attempt and 13.8 yds per catch. He leads the SEC with 243 yards per game and has a passer rating of 146. Stafford will be the best QB that UF has faced since the WLOCP last year and it ain't even close.

Here is Stafford's line against UF last year: 11/18 for 217 yds, 3 TDs and 1 Int. That was good for a passer rating of an astronomical 206.

Here is a contrast between the type of QBs Florida had faced at this point last season and at this point this season: In 2007 UF saw Troy's exceptional senior Omar Haugabook, UT Senior Erik Ainge, Ole Miss Seniors Seth Adams and Brent Schaeffer, Auburn Senior Brandon Cox, LSU Senior Matt Flynn and Kentucky Senior Andre Woodson. (Their other game was against W. Kentucky and I didn't look them up.) So in 2007, Florida faced senior QBs every week coming into the WLOCP and Stafford ate their lunch. In 2008, the Gators have faced consistently below-average Casey Dick and a slew of QBs that had less than one game of experience between the 11 of them. I think it is fair to say that their secondary has not been adequately tested. Snead, Lee and Dick all had decent outings against UF in terms of yardage. If being a Junior with 34 games of experience can help Stafford throw at least two TDs, he will have another memorable outing against these Gators.

The answer to the original question is a resounding NO. UF has not faced a quality, experienced QB all season. That will change in about 2 more days. I think Stafford will throw the ball about 23 - 28 times in this game. I see no reason that he would not complete 60% which would give him around 16 completions which should be good for at least 200 yards. However, I truly expect his yardage to be closer to 250. If he can stay away from the costly INTs, then Stafford and Moreno should be able to lead the Dawgs to close to 30 points in this game. Will that be enough? Stay tuned.

Chink #1: Can Knowshon Run on the Gators Again?

Possible Chinks #1:

1. UF run defense may have trouble with Knowshon again. I saw the little back from Arkansas run the ball well against them, but I think they stopped Charles Scott. So, what can we expect?

Here is what I discovered digging into the numbers: Florida's improved 2008 defense is allowing 3.36 yards per carry this season. Their porous and youthful 2007 defense from a year ago allowed a whopping 3.0 yards per carry. Hmmm. Apparently, their run defense is not improved at all. They did have a monster day in stopping LSU's Charles Scott, holding him to a 2.9 ypc on 12 carries.

Here are the notable rushing performances against the Gators this season:
Arkansas: Team had a 5.64 ypc in the game but is only 3.98 ypc for the season. RB Michael Smith (5-7, 173lbs) went 20/133 for a 6.7 ypc.

Kentucky: Team had a 4.27 ypc in the game but is only 3.97 ypc for the season. It was running back by committee for the Cats.

Ole Miss: Team had a 3.68 ypc in the game and has a 4.44 ypc for the season.
McCluster (5-8, 165lbs) went 11/60 for a 5.5 ypc. and Bolden (5-11, 220lbs) went 13/55 and a 4.2 ypc.

The Gator run defense had their most impressive games against LSU (3.08 ypc for the game with a 4.91 ypc for the season) and Miami (1.65 ypc for the game and a 3.98 ypc for the season.)

Of the 7 games Florida has played, they have allowed only 2 teams to attain a higher ypc against the Gators than they have averaged on the season (Ark. and UK.) Those are two of the last three opponents. However, you have to include the whopper of a performance against LSU in the past three outings as well.

Coming into this game, as a team, UGA is averaging 4.95 yards per carry. Knowshon is averaging 6.2 ypc and averaging almost 19 carries per game (this includes only 8 carries against GSU and 9 carries against Alabama.)

WHAT TO EXPECT?

Last year, UGA entered the game with a 4.53 ypc and had 4.45 ypc in the game. Knowshon was 33/188 for 5.7 ypc. I don't think we should expect to have a better performance against Florida than we have averaged on the season, which is 173 yards per game. But, I also don't see any reason that we can't come close to our average performance either. My guess is that we will rush for somewhere between 150 and 175 yards in this game on about 35-40 attempts. We should average at least 4.5 yards per carry. To do that, Knowshon would need to average more than 5 ypc. All season long, I have posited that the magic number for Knowshon is at least 23 carries. He had only 21 against LSU, but I still say 23 is the magic number for a UGA win. If he has 23 carries with a 5.0 ypc, that will be 115 yards. If he has 33, like last year, that would be 165 yards.

We will have to take whatever their defense will give us. If they commit to stop the run and we can still have some success running, then everything else should work. If they stack the box like LSU did and we can make great blocks at the point of attack (like we did in Baton Rouge), then Knowshon will get into the secondary with some space. If they stack the box, it will make it easier for Stafford to throw to our tall receivers. What was a key in our rushing attack against LSU, was that they would commit safeties to stop Knowshon but we often ran the opposite way from where they sold out - which resulted in big plays. Same thing on a few of the long passes.

I think that having seen that, Florida will not sell out their safeties like LSU did. They will play us straight up with a few blitzes early to see how we are responding. We need to be able to establish the run early on so we can utilize play-action passing. This means our O-line will have to be up to the task on the opening drive like they were last year. They will need to recognize blitzes (Stafford too) and work us into good down and distance situations in the first quarter. Down and distance killed us in the first half against Bama. We have been much better since.

To answer the original question posed... I think Knowshon will have a good day running, but maybe not a great day. I will be shocked if they can shut him down completely without exposing themselves to a heavy dose of Stafford to Green/Massaquoi/Durham/Harris et. al. For Knowshon to have a great day, our O-line will have to play their best game of the year so far.

Can we win if Knowshon only has a "good" day - like 115 yards rushing? That will depend on the answers to the questions raised in points #2 through 4. Stand by.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CHINKS in GATOR ARMOR

Clearly the Gators have got their offense in high gear and their defense seems measurably improved from last season. They have speed all over the field and they are operating with a high level of confidence. So, I am wondering... what are the chinks in the Gator armor? I have a few preconceived notions and I will look into their statistics to see if any of these areas indeed appear to be potential weaknesses that could offer us some advantage. For now, I am going to list each possible chink and over the next couple of days, I will offer any relevant analysis based on their performance (and ours) leading into the WLOCP.

Possible Chinks:

1. UF run defense may have trouble with Knowshon again. I saw the little back from Arkansas run the ball well against them, but I think they stopped Charles Scott. So, what can we expect?

2. UF pass defense has not faced a quality, experienced quarterback this season. If this is true, how have they fared against the QBs they have faced? I recall that Jevon Snead made a few plays on them, but I don't know if any other QB has had any success at all. So, which QBs have they faced and how will they fare against our passing attack?

3. Can they get to the QB with a 3 or 4 man rush? Our O-line continues to improve, but we can we expect from the Gators pass rush?

4. How will their DBs match up with our tall receivers?

5. Can we sack Tebow again?

These are the 5 areas that seem like opportunites for us to take advantage. I will look into each over the next couple of days. I know we have some chinks in our armor, but that is not the point of this inquiry.

MUMME POLL after Weekend 10/25

My Mumme Poll Ballot following the weekend of 10/25 - some changes are afoot...

Top 5 - No particular order:
Texas
Alabama
Penn State (who will beat them now?)
Florida (next week, this spot will belong to the winner of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party)
Texas Tech (taking the place of Okie State and will either fall out after this coming Saturday or will prove they belong)

Next 7 - no particular order:
Georgia (I could have put them in the Top 5 instead of Texas Tech, but I gave the Raiders the benefit this week for still being undefeated. This will sort itself out in about 4 days. FWIW, I believe the Dawgs belong ahead of USC and Oklahoma.)
USC
Oklahoma
Utah
TCU
OK State
(Close, but no cigar. Still good enough to stay in the Top 12.)
Boise State (holding my nose here because I doubt a WAC team can beat any of these teams just outside this second group such as: FSU, Ohio State, LSU or even Tulsa.)

I really wish there was a way to sort out Boise State, but they have a weak schedule all the way. TCU and Utah will prove it on the field in two weeks. I think FSU can jump ahead of Boise if they can beat Tech convincingly this week.

Go DAWGS!

Monday, October 27, 2008

DAWGS CRUISE TO BIG WIN IN BATON ROUGE

GEORGIA rolled up 52 Points in Death Valley and snapped LSU's 30 game home winning streak. Huge games were turned in by Darryl Gamble, Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford and AJ Green. The offensive line had a solid game against a veteran front and the defensive ends were much more active than we have seen in most games this season.


(I did not catch these two reds, but no one else wanted to hold them for the picture.)


We had a great trip to New Orleans. Thanks to Kent Morrison and his family for hosting us for a fun day of trout and redfish fishing on Friday. On gameday, we had an entertaining bus ride to BR thanks to Andrew Rothschild and his hilarious impersonations. The game itself was shocking from the standpoint of how many big plays we were able to produce. To win in Death Valley and to make it look almost easy was completely unexpected. Our defense tackled poorly and gave up too many big plays. But, the offense (and Darryl Gamble) were up to the task to outrun LSU in this horse race.

Our bus ride back to New Orleans was a celebration as Rothschild again entertained and made our sides hurt. It was a terrific road trip, but we are glad to be home.

Now, all eyes turn to Jacksonville and the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Obviously, we here at Amelia Island enjoy this week and weekend as much as any other week of the year. It is always exciting to watch all the Dawg fans rolling into town with their flags flying as early as Monday. By Thursday, a drive down Fletcher Avenue along the beach, you will see big Georgia banners hanging from most balconies.

We hope to see many of you here by the weekend. This will be an epic match up between two explosive offenses. There is the whole "celebration" thing that Urban says in his book will be a big deal and now is saying it is not a big deal. Anyway, it's a big deal. The SEC East is on the line. Time for the Dawgs to put together a complete game in every phase of the game. I will get into the match up later in the week. Enjoy this week Dawgs, it is a big one.

GATA!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

HDD PREDICTION - UGA over LSU

I am leaving in two minutes for the airport to go to New Orleans. I may not have another chance to post before the game. If not, here is my predicition...

Dawgs need to win with defense. Stuff the run and take away the short passing game. Sound familiar? Try like hell to get pressure on the quarterback. The biggest key is to have our front four keep their OL off our linebackers so our LBs can make plays.

On offense, we need to give the ball to Knowshon 23 times. Throw quick, high percentage passes. Attempt the long ball a few times, but please do not underthrow the thing. Green can run it down. Remember: "Throw it man. As far as you can."

If we keep the turnover margin neutral or in our favor, we win.

DAWGS 27 - LSU 17.

GATA!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Footie Picker - Weekend of 10/25

Last week I was 7-7, bringing my season record to 46-59. Here we go again...
This week: 8-6, Season: 54-65.

My picks in BOLD.

Thursday
WEST VIRGINIA 3.5 Auburn NOPE

Saturday
MIAMI 3 Wake Forest YEP
FLORIDA 23 Kentucky NOPE
Ole Miss 4 ARKANSAS YEP
VANDERBILT 10 Duke NOPE
Alabama 6.5 TENNESSEE YEP
GEORGIA TECH 13 Virginia YEP
TEXAS 12.5 Oklahoma State YEP
LSU 2.5 Georgia YEP
Oklahoma 19 KANSAS STATE YEP
FLORIDA STATE 5 Virginia Tech NOPE
Texas Tech pick'em KANSAS NOPE
Penn State 1.5 OHIO STATE NOPE
Southern Cal 14.5 ARIZONA YEP

A Couple of Things

Massaquoi and a Devastating Block

While watching the game against Vanderbilt, I noticed Mohamed Massaquoi make a Hines Ward-esque block on a Vandy linebacker and meant to mention it in my comments about the game. It was on the Moreno TD run that was called back because he knee touched the ground. The play was a sweep right and MoMass came from split to the right and was in motion going left and when the ball was snapped, he set up and then ate up a linebacker. He hit him with speed and force and totally decleated him and just smothered him. None of the replays showed the block and none of the announcers mentioned it on Raycom or CSS. Still, was a beautiful play. That kind of blocking along with good receiving will get you on an NFL roster!

Terrence Cody of Alabama

The gargantuan nose tackle for Alabama left the game against Ole Miss with a knee injury. Fortunately for him and his team, it is only a sprained MCL. He will be out at least a couple of weeks, but should return. Imagine if he was out for the year. Then imagine if left tackle Andre Smith was out for the year. Then imagine if right tackle Drew Davis was out for the year and then imagine if LB Rolando McClain was out for at least three conference games and would be slowed for the next two conference games after returning. Ok, got it? Now you're UGA in 2008.

IT'S TIME FOR A COMPLETE GAME

This is what it looks like when you get all of your gears moving at the same time in perfect rhythm...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

MUMME POLL after Weekend 10/18

Top 5, perhaps in order of magnitude (no change in the group - only in the top spot):

Texas (moved ahead of Bama based on impressive dismantling of Missouri)
Alabama
Penn State
Florida
OK State (Will this be the zenith of their season?)


Next 7, no particular order:
Texas Tech
Georgia
USC
Oklahoma
Ohio State
Utah
LSU (welcome back Tigers, hope your stay is a short one!)

Gone are:
BYU (Thank you TCU)

This took 5 minutes this week. Next week will most likely be a different story.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

UGA-Vandy Observations

Georgia got the win 24-14. That is the most important point. It was not inspiring because of mistakes, dropped interceptions and frustrating play calling. Allow me to bitch for a few minutes and then I will get back to being sunny the rest of the week as we prepare for an epic trip to Baton Rouge.

1. We ran the ball almost at will, especially on the first drive of the second half. Then we abandoned the run and let the game tighten up and finally went back to the run late in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. Would have been nice to put this game away in the 3rd quarter. But, dumbass passing play calls prevented that.

2. Stafford had a good first half and an awful second half. He and the receivers were totally out of synch. So, why in the hell did Bobo insist on continuing trying to pass the ball when we could run at will? Stupid.

3. I love me some Knowshon Moreno, but why does he take a breather after every couple of plays? Sure, it is good for Caleb King to get some reps, but unless KM is hurt, he should be able to manage more than two or three consecutive plays. I have much more confidence in his running ability than I do in Caleb this year. Caleb will do some very good things, but KM is the special player right now and he needs to get the reps and needs to be able to stay on the field in the critical 4th quarter drive that can put the game away. This might seem overly critical, but it has been a pattern all year. ---UPDATE--- I saw that Knowshon's shoe came off after his second carry in the last long drive. That is why he came off at that time.

4. Drops by our secondary and LBs. I counted 4 that should have been caught and a couple more that would have been extraordinary grabs. Two of the dropped interceptions (I know there is really no such thing as a dropped interception because if it was an interception, by default it was not dropped - but bear with me) would have ended scoring drives by Vandy. Theoretically, this could have been a shutout if we could hang onto interceptions.

The SEC Truck commercial. It is sweet to see Dad and Son driving to the SEC game in the old Chevy truck. Tradition and all that. Can somebody tell me at which SEC stadium you can drive right up and park 30 feet from the gate while people are filing into the stadium? Seems more like Division III.

I am glad we got the win. It should not have been as difficult to put this one away. Bobo needs to become a little more comfortable running it down their throats if that is what is working.

Friday, October 17, 2008

HDD PREDICTION - UGA Over Vandy

This will be brief. Same gameplan as we had against UT. It is spelled out here. In a nutshell, our defense stuffs the run and takes away the short passing game and make the QB beat us over the top. Our offense stays balanced with about 45 runs and 25 passes. If they load the box, we pass a little more. Hopefully Moreno will get at least 23 carries. That is his magic number.

If we execute in the red zone, we win going away. We will botch it at least once, but otherwise, I see us getting it done.

I on't be in Athens and will miss the first few minutes if not the entire first quarter. I will be making my first 100 mile bike ride. We leave at 8:00 am and I hope to be back home between 1:00 and 1:30.

DAWGS 34 - Vandy 13.

Go DAWGS! GATA!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Night Games

Two points...

1. Ten years ago, would you have ever guessed that in 2008, the BYU-TCU game would have greater national relevance than FSU-NC State?

2. Remember when FSU football was explosive and exciting and couldn't possibly put you to sleep?

Footie Picker - Weekend of 10/18

Last week the kids went 6-8 and brought my record for the season to 39-52. I will call my own shots this weekend and see if I can improve this abysmal showing... This week 7-7.

Thursday

Byu 1.5 TCU NOPE

Saturday

Wake Forest 1 MARYLAND NOPE
Georgia Tech 1 CLEMSON NOPE
BOSTON COLLEGE 2.5 Virginia Tech YEP
OKLAHOMA 18 Kansas NOPE
TENNESSEE 8 Miss. State YEP
GEORGIA 15 Vanderbilt NOPE
Pittsburgh 3 NAVY YEP
Ohio State 3.5 MICHIGAN STATE YEP
TEXAS 7 Missouri YEP
North Carolina 5.5 VIRGINIA YEP
PENN STATE 23.5 Michigan NOPE
KENTUCKY 10 Arkansas NOPE
Lsu 3.5 SOUTH CAROLINA YEP

Stafford and Moreno at the Half

Before the season, I made projections on the output for Stafford and Moreno. We are now half way through the 12-game regular season. Now seems like a good time to see how the progress compares to the projections.

Stafford
Projection: I suspect that Stafford's best line will look something like this:235 completions on 392 attempts for a 60% completion percentage. 3220 yards for 230 yards per game. 8.2 yards per attempt and 25 TDs. (These projections were based on best-case scenario of playing 14 games.)

Progress: 111 completions on 180 attempts for 61.7% completion percentage. 1503 yards for 250.5 yards per game. 8.35 yards per attempt and 8 TDs.

Stafford's Attempts are 2 more per game than projected and completion percentage is 1.7% higher than projected. This has led to almost two more completions per game. The average yards per attempt is almost exactly as projected (8.35/8.2) and the yards per game is up from 230 to 250.5. He is well on his way to surpassing the yardage projection of 3220. If he keeps pace, he will reach about 3500 yards.

The biggest discrepancy is TDs. He has 8 and is on pace for 18 or 19 if we play 14 games. This is well short of the 25 TDs projected. He would need to average 2.38 TDs per game the rest of the way to hit my projections.

Though I did not make projections regarding interceptions, Stafford has 3 thus far for an average of 0.5 per game. On that pace, he would have only 7 picks in a 14 game season. Last year, he had 10 picks in 13 games. So he is on track to having a better season in that regard as well.

Groo points out that Stafford's numbers are not tracking to meet Stafford's own pre-season goals. His goals were a little lofty, as you can see.

Moreno
Projection: I project that Moreno's best line will look something like this:1806 yards on 322 attempts for a 5.6 average and 22 TDs. (These projections were based on best-case scenario of playing 14 games.)

Progress: 590 net yards on 105 attempts for a 5.6 average and 10 TDs.

Knowshon is averaging 5.6 yards per carry as I projected but he is not getting as many attempts as projected (17.5 vs 23.) His 98.3 yards per game is below the 129 ypg projection but it is mainly a result of fewer carries. His carries were limited in the first two games by cramps and substitutions. He was limited against Alabama after injuring his elbow. In fact, the only two games in which Moreno got 23 or more carries are ASU (23 for 149 yards) and UT (27 for 101 yards.) For the remainder of the year, Moreno could reach 1600 yards if he averages 23 carries per game. He is currently on pace for 1376 yards in 14 games and can only reach 1800 yards if he averages 151 yards per game. That won't happen. I still think 1600 could happen and might be enough for a Heisman if we run the table.

Knowshon has 10 TDs through 6 games and is on pace to score 23 TDs - which is one better than the 22 TDs projected.

I believe all of the talk about Knowshon not having as good a year as expected is premature. His YPC is tracking through 6 games although his YPC in SEC play is around 4.0. A big day against Vanderbilt can go a long way toward fixing that. However, Vandy is currently only allowing 3.48 YPC. But... last year Vandy allowed 3.73 YPC for the year and Knowshon chewed them up for 157 yards and 5.6 YPC.

In sum... Stafford is ahead of pace and Knowshon is on pace for most categories except attempts and total yards - which are correlated.

What do you think about these two guys, statistically and what about their intangible assets thus far this season?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Look Who Could be President!

http://www.tsgnet.com/pres.php?id=370617&altf=Qvmqxppe&altl=Tnjui

Never underestimate a good grass roots campaign.

OBSERVATIONS: Tennessee Game

1. Defense! We took away their short passing game and absolutely stuffed the run. Funny how well that works. Everyone played well, but it all started with outstanding effort from the front four and outstanding linebacker play despite the absence of Dannel Ellerbe. I was excited to see our cornerbacks walk right up to the line of scrimmage. So they hit one long one. I will take that trade every time. Our pass rush was also much improved. We will need to do the same thing to Vandy and LSU. The defensive gameplan need not change for these next two games. As for the Florida game, we need to sneak Marcus Howard into a uniform.

2. Stafford, Moreno, Massaquoi = tough as nails! All three of these guys took some brutal shots and kept bringing it. MoMass came back in the same series in which he was knocked silly and caught the crucial touchdown to end the first half. Moreno had to fight for almost every one of his 100 yards against a physical defense that is as good as any that we have left on the schedule. Stafford showed again that he has nerves of steel in the pocket while waiting for the route to open. He got hammered several times while zinging a bullet into a tiny window. He had to be hurting on Sunday! Without Stafford's arm, that game would have been a toss up.

3. Red Zone play calling? We need to throw out the fade route. We can't run it and we don't need to. With Stafford's arm, we need to let him throw balls with zip that have less chance of being intercepted. Also, we don't need to get too fancy in the red zone. We need to keep it simple and let our playmakers make plays.

4. Blair Walsh. Kickoffs were much improved - finally. Watching him kick field goals is more fun when we are 40 or more yards out. But, if we have to kick the short ones, at least he is making them! If he can kick in Baton Rouge, he may have to win the game for us.

5. The Fans. Another fine performance.

MUMME POLL after 10/11 Weekend

Here is the poll I submitted today...

Top 5, perhaps in order of magnitude:
Alabama
Texas
Penn State
Florida
OK State


Next 7, no particular order:
BYU
Texas Tech
Georgia
USC
Oklahoma
Ohio State
Utah

Spent about 20 minutes to determine two things:
1. Who would be the 5th team to make the Top 5? Decided on OK State to reward them for beating a very good offensive team (Missouri) and to reward an unblemished record with wins over TAMU, Houston and Troy - who are not terrible. I strongly considered both UGA and OU for this spot and compared both of their resumes to date and had trouble elevating one clearly ahead of the other and finally decided to reward the Pokes for an inspired signature win against a team many thought could get to the Big 12 championship game undefeated.

2. Who would be the 12th team? I chose from among LSU, Utah and Boise State and momentarily considered UNC. Finally decided that Utah's 7 wins were slightly more impressive than Boise's 5 wins. LSU has no important win yet thanks to Auburn's continued slide into the realm of embarassments.

After three weeks of constructing ballots, I will say that it makes much more sense to do groupings rather than splitting fine hairs for every individual spot on a scale of 1 to 25 (or 1 to 12 in the case of this poll.) So far, it has only become difficult when filling the lowest spots of each group. I think it is fair to say that we have 3 teams that clearly deserve the top 3 spots of any poll.

Go DAWGS!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

HDD PREDICTION - UGA over UT

Dawgnation has been nursing a severe hangover for almost two weeks after being hammered at home by Alabama. We had countless players injured who have been trying to get well for this game coming up with Tennessee. Some will not make it back in time, but we will have most of the guys we started against Alabama except Danell Ellerbe, Tripp Chandler and Kris Durham. We will miss those guys - especially Ellerbe - but we have to play with what we've got.

Wednesday night I had a series of anxiety dreams. In one, I showed up to Athens with the wrong tickets. When the house is almost 6 hours away, that is an irremediable error. In the second dream, I was trying like hell to walk to the stadium and kept running into delays of various kinds and missed most of the first quarter. I am adamant about being in my seat at least 10 or 15 minutes before kickoff. This dream was extremely frustrating. Then, in the final dream, we were losing by a couple of points late in the fourth quarter and were driving for the winning score. I woke up before this dream concluded, so now, I must analyze these dreams in the context of my concerns about this game.

Needless to say, I am worried about this game. This game is pivotal. A loss would scuttle the season while a convincing win would restore much of the confidence and swagger we will need if we are going to make a run for the SEC title. I am almost always worried going into the Tennessee game and usually with good reason. Last year, I wasn't worried. In fact, I predicted a blowout - but had the teams backwards. Last year I was overconfident. This year, not in the least. Sure, UT has looked confused and inept on offense for most of the season. But, their defense has been reliable and they still have a stable of great athletes on offense. I have no doubt that they could pull their head out of their ass on Saturday, but I hope that Rennie Curran will be there to return that very same head to that very same ass. So what do we have to do to win?

Our offensive line will be the key to this game. If they can get the job done and make room for Knowshon to run, we will be able to execute our play-action passing game and move the ball consistently. We must run effectively if we want to dictate the outcome of this game. If Knowshon can eclipse the 100 yard barrier, we will win. If, as a team, we rush for over 200 yards, it will be a convincing win.

If we run the ball well, Stafford will be charged with merely managing the game, hitting a few passes on first down and protecting the football. He will not be asked to win the game. If we cannot run it, then Stafford will have to sling it all over the field like the second half against Alabama and hope that their offense continues to walk into walls.

On defense, we must plan to stop the run and take away the short passes. That is asking a lot for a team that just flat doesn't ever take away the short passes. Still, in this game, we must load up the line of scrimmage to stop the run and press the receivers at the line to take away the short game. Take those things away and challenge the new QB at UT to connect on the deep ball. At this point, I will pledge not to complain or get upset if UT connects on a couple of deep balls - IF - they have no success in the short passing game. We simply cannot let them dink and dunk us to death like they have the past two years. The key to our defensive gameplan is the front four. Those guys must get a push upfield against the UT o-line and tie up the linemen so our linebackers can make plays. Our front four must also provide more pressure on the passer than we have been seeing. If this occurs, we will disrupt their offense enough that they will not be able to use this as their get well game like they did last year.

I am comforted by two things: the off week and the fact that I am worried. I believe the off week was useful for our team to heal and to work on our problems and hopefully allow our offensive line to gel more than they have up until this point. I expect that our defensive coaches will have created an effective gameplan for what UT needs to do to win the game - rushing and short passing. On the second point, I am glad that I am worried. I am not taking UT lightly despite their underwhelming performances thus far this season. If I am not taking them lightly, I know that our coaches and players aren't taking them lightly. If we are prepared for a fight from the opening coin toss, we will be able to take that fight to the Volunteers early and often. Unlike my dreams, we need to show up ready, come out fast and keep our foot on the accelerator.

I would like to see our run:pass ratio around 40:25. That is a balance that works for our talents. I think we are capable of gaining close to 400 yards in this game if we execute. That means we cannot turn the ball over or kill ourselves with penalties. We should find our defense capable of holding UT under 20 points. I am confident that our offense is capable of scoring close to 30 points if we avoid turnovers and deadly penalties. But, I am worried that we won't play so flawlessly - hence the dreams. I hope my dreams were no harbinger of things to come, but if they were, I hope we get that late score that I missed by waking up. I will take any win, though we truly need to win in convincing fashion to start gathering the momentum we need for the toughest part of our schedule that remains.

When it is all said and done, I expect our Dawgs to win a game that will be closer than this final score:

Dawgs 27 - Vols 17.

GO DAWGS!

FOOTIE PICKER - Weekend of 10/11

Last week, I let my kids pick for me and they were 9-5. So I am going back to the well. They have made some interesting selections, but with my record, who am I to question their choices. Our Record for the year is 33-44. Update - The kids came crashing backto earth with a combined 6 - 8.

Annie's Picks (Age 8) - 3 and 4

Thursday
WAKE FOREST 3 Clemson NOPE

Saturday
East Carolina 5.5 VIRGINIA NOPE
Michigan State 3 NORTHWESTERN YEP
Oklahoma 7 Texas (In Dallas) YEP
KENTUCKY 1 South Carolina NOPE
Vanderbilt 2.5 MISS STATE YEP
OHIO STATE 19 Purdue NOPE

Hampton"s Picks (Age 5) - 3 and 4

MISSOURI 13.5 Oklahoma State YEP
GEORGIA 13 Tennessee NOPE
SOUTHERN CAL 26.5 Arizona State NOPE
UNC 7.5 Notre Dame NOPE
AUBURN 19 Arkansas YEP
Penn State 5 WISCONSIN NOPE
FLORIDA 6 Lsu YEP

Last week I identified 3 of their picks that I was most concerned about and I was wrong on all three. Again, here are the picks that worry me... Clemson (they are going to cover on the road?), OK St (if they stay within 13.5 points in this one, there will be over 100 points scored), GEORGIA (is the hangover gone?).