Friday, October 31, 2008
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.
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.
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:
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
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?
Joe Haden (5-11, 185)
Janoris Jenkins (5-10, 185)
Wondy Pierre-Louis (6-1, 185)
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.
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
Ole Miss: 2/1.25
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:
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
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.
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
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.
Top 5 - No particular order:
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.)
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.
Monday, October 27, 2008
(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.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
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.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
This week: 8-6, Season: 54-65.
My picks in BOLD.
WEST VIRGINIA 3.5 Auburn NOPE
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
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.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Texas (moved ahead of Bama based on impressive dismantling of Missouri)
OK State (Will this be the zenith of their season?)
Next 7, no particular order:
LSU (welcome back Tigers, hope your stay is a short one!)
BYU (Thank you TCU)
This took 5 minutes this week. Next week will most likely be a different story.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
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
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
Byu 1.5 TCU NOPE
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
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.
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
Never underestimate a good grass roots campaign.
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.
Top 5, perhaps in order of magnitude:
Next 7, no particular order:
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.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
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.
Annie's Picks (Age 8) - 3 and 4
WAKE FOREST 3 Clemson NOPE
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?).
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Here are my Top 5 in no particular order:
The next seven in no particular order:
Comments: I have seen all of these teams play at least once except PSU. Most teams I have seen play a few games.
The Top 5 are unchanged from last week. In the next 7, I needed to replace Auburn but the rest stayed put. I struggled with the last team I would include in the second group and decided on Vanderbilt because I have watched them play SC and AU and parts of their Ole Miss game. I know they have caught some breaks, but I think they play faster than expected and they have enough offensive weapons to lose no more than 2 games. I can't say the same about Texas Tech and Ok State so I left them out even though they have scored a bunch of points against a bunch of nobodies. I think that Vandy has beaten better competition than TT and Ok ST. I guess I am not all that swayed by "style points." I mention this because I am trying not to be a homer for the SEC, but I chose the 12th team based on that reasoning. So Auburn gets replaced by the team that beat them.
I spent about 20 minutes putting this together. It helped that only one of my Top 12 lost this week. But I didn't see anything Saturday that would influence me to drop one of the other 11 teams.
Here are the results of all 59 ballots submitted.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Swim 1.2 miles = 40 minutes
Bike 56 miles = 3:07 (18 mph average)
Run 13 miles = 2:51 (13 min/mile average)
Transition time = 18 minutes (I took my time there with stretching to try and keep my back limber)
My race was going pretty close to my targeted time goals until I hit the ten mile point on the run. This was around 6 hours into the race and I was averaging about 10:30 per mile. Though I had cramping quads throughout the first ten miles, at that point my calves and hamstrings started cramping and I almost fell a couple of times. If I walked, they would not cramp, so I would walk a ways and then try to start running again. No luck. The cramps were just waiting for me to try and run some more and every time I tried, they came back with a vengeance. So I resigned myself to walking the last 3 miles. It was frustrating, but I got to the end and then did a limpy wooden soldier jog the last 50 yards to the timing mat just under 7 hours. So my race that started at 7:20 am, finished around 2:20 pm. What a day.
At no time did I worry that I wouldn't finish. But, at times, I did remind myself that I was doing this for fun and on the few occasions that I was feeling beat, I thought about Team Winter and the fundraising for prostate cancer research through Athletes For a Cure. It was easy to stay motivated.
I was happy to be done and looking forward to a cold beer. The whole family went to grab an early dinner at Beef O'Brady's so I could get a burger and beer and watch Navy beat Air Force again!
My goal for my next half-iron distance race is to finish under 6 hours. I will need to train with more mileage on the run and bike, but I am confident I can make it happen. But, before I do another one of these, I will do my first official half-marathon and I am now considering doing a full marathon which is something I thought I would never do. But after racing for seven hours, I feel like a 4:30 marathon would be not so bad. I guess it is all relative.
Tri it, you might like it. It is addicting.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Actually, I am letting my kids pick for me this week. Here are the games picked by Hampton (age 5):
Penn State 12.5 PURDUE YEP
Maryland 13.5 VIRGINIA NOPE
OLE MISS 2.5 South Carolina YEP
GEORGIA TECH 14 Duke NOPE
Auburn 4.5 VANDERBILT NOPE
MICHIGAN 2.5 Illinois YEP
Missouri 10.5 NEBRASKA YEP
And here are the games picked by Annie (age 8):
Texas 13.5 COLORADO YEP
MIAMI 2 Florida State YEP
Florida 24.5 ARKANSAS NOPE
ALABAMA 16 Kentucky YEP
AIR FORCE 5.5 Navy YEP
Ohio State 1.5 WISCONSIN NOPE
SOUTHERN CAL 16 Oregon YEP
I am confident these picks will be better than what I would have done on my won. The above picks that I like the least are FSU, Texas and maybe USC. Update: The kids went 9-5. I believe I will use them again next week.
I recently signed on to "Team Winter" which is a fundraising effort started by an inspiring young girl in support of her father, Michael Vinecki, who is fighting prostate cancer. This is a part of Athletes For A Cure and proceeds go the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Here is a link to my fundraising webpage that also has information on the amazing young Winter Vinecki.
In a few hours, I will be heading to the race. I have checked all of my gear and now I need to get a few hours of sleep. I will be getting after their asses for about 6 hours tomorrow starting at 7:15 am.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
I planned to get this up on Sunday night, but got too sleepy. Then I was in Kansas City for two days. I am now finally going to be home for a few weeks with no business travel. My kids are happy about that, and so am I.
What happened? At this point, nobody wants a detailed break down of the debacle Saturday night, so I will sum it up in one sentence. We got manhandled on both lines of scrimmage. Their big uglies whipped our big uglies. This is the first game where we truly got punished for the absence of Sturdivant and Owens and Battle. We have a very young O-line that is still trying to get all of the parts of the machine working properly and effectively. The talent is there, but the three new starters need more experience and unfortunately that means OJT. The defensive line held up well against the run most of the night but again we couldn't muster any pressure on the QB - especially in the first half. The defensive scheme failed and that failure primarily snowballed from the lack of pressure. I won't bore you with any more about the negative parts of the game because I am now more concerned about the "What Now?" question.
The few positives...
In the second half, our team showed that they were not quitters. Rennie Curran and Matthew Stafford deserve medals for their fearless service above and beyond the call of duty. It seemed like Curran made every tackle. He was officially credited with 14. That can't be right, but I don't have the game on video for review, so it will have to do. Anyway, he was playing like a missile and at one point got up from a tackle stumbling like he was punchdrunk. CJ Byrd tried to convince him to go to the sideline and he shook him off then made the next tackle. After that one, he could hardly stand up and did leave the field for the rest of the series. He returned later. What a warrior. Meanwhile, on offense, in the second half, Stafford stood in the pocket waiting for downfield routes to open and threw 40 yard darts into double coverage drilling the receivers in the chest hard enough for the ricochet to be heard 53 rows up in section 127. He got pummeled time after time. Naturally never drawing a late hit flag. At other times, he moved out of the pocket and made precision downfield throws with velocity while on the run. If any doubters keep wondering why NFL draft experts say he has the most NFL potential of all the college QBs, watch the second half and note the accuracy on those long throws while under pressure. Very Brett Favre-ish. Staff took a beating but he never quit even when it was clearly too late to win the game. Curran and Stafford played their hearts out and that should not be overlooked in this colossal disappointment.
What Now? First, we need an army of doctors, physical therapists, trainers, faith healers, usui reiki practitioners, accupuncturists and ngangas to help heal our growing cadre of injured players. Assuming we can assemble enough players to take the field against Tennessee on October 11, we will have to play every series as if our backs are against the wall because they are. They will be against the wall the rest of the season. If, and this is a huge if, but if we win all the rest of our games including the SECCG, we will play for the national title. But that is the last thing that our players, coaches and fans need to be concerned with.
We now must simply focus on winning the SEC East. This will require that we beat UT, VU, UF and UK and one of LSU or AU. We can lose another game to a western foe as long as we do not lose in the east. This is not the only scenario that could permit us to win the east, but let's face it, if we can't beat all of the remaining 4 teams we face in the east, we aren't a championship football team.
It is too early to worry about the LSU trip because we must beat UT and VU to make that game carry significant weight anyway. Our coaches need to spend all of their effort figuring out how to beat UT and VU and focus on nothing else right now. UT's offense has looked anemic but their defense is solid. They are supposed to have a great o-line, but they aren't scoring many points and that is partly due to the new OC trying to throw the ball too much with a QB that has yet to look any good. That doesn't mean he couldn't have a break out game against us, because he could. We better be prepared to pressure him early and often.
I have confidence that our staff will find a way to cobble together enough players and enough game plan to hobble past UT and VU. After that? I have no idea, but as my Marine buddies always say, we can Demo that bridge when we get to it.
Florida's loss was a huge break for us. But it caused me to become uneasy knowing that USC had already lost and these things seem to come in bunches.
Alabama will never cover the 16 point spread against Kentucky this week. They are due for another flat, Tulane-like performance. Bet on it.
Many Bama fans were talking a ton of shit after the game. Their team earned it on the field, but I believe they will totally need us to help them out this season with LSU or Auburn if they want to get after it again in Atlanta. I would love a rematch. Why not?
Nobody is going undefeated this year. I am not sure who will break Oklahoma's rice bowl, but it will happen. Same for Penn State. BYU may stay undefeated, but this isn't 1984.
Moreno has fallen out of the Heisman conversation for now. And, unless we can gel on the O-line, he won't reenter the conversation this year. He can't do it all by himself, though he will certainly try.
We don't need anymore blackouts for awhile. It was fun for the fans, but I think it was a distraction for the players who were expecting the magic from last year's game to materialize from the ether and it never did (at least it only did for the 12 seconds that it took Prince Miller to return that punt on the first play of the 4th quarter and pull us within two touchdowns.)
Pundits and pollsters can have a very short memory. If we take care of business, other teams will lay their enormous stinking eggs and will become the overated team du jour. We can bounce back, but we will have to get healthier, luckier and downright better.
That is all for now.