Monday, November 29, 2010
The Next Nine (in order)
The last few spots were tricky but I decide to stick South Carolina in there because (a) I am an SEC homer, (b) I won't be surprised if they beat Auburn Saturday and (c) I think they are better than any of the teams I left off my ballot.
Friday, November 26, 2010
ALABAMA 4 Auburn
OREGON 17.5 Arizona
Boise State 15 NEVADA
OHIO STATE 17.5 Michigan
Mississippi State 3 OLE MISS
FLORIDA STATE 3 Florida
TENNESSEE 3 Kentucky
South Carolina 3 CLEMSON
VANDY 5 Wake Forest
NC State 2.5 MARYLAND
VIRGINIA TECH 24 Virginia
GEORGIA 13 Georgia Tech
Michigan State 2 PENN STATE
OKLAHOMA ST 2 Oklahoma
ARKANSAS 4 Lsu
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
The only change from last week is having Alabama replace Michigan State in the Ten spot. The reason for the change is that I wanted to go ahead and get the Bama in the Top Ten before they punk Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Justin Houston had to have dreamed of this type of matchup his entire football life. He has a chance to make a huge impact on the outcome of this game against the top player in the nation. If he slept at all last night, I don't know how. If we can hold down the middle of the field, I like Houston's chances of making things difficult for Newton. That is a big if... but I will go ahead and predict 2 sacks and 2 TOFLs for Houston.
Our offense needs to come out of the gate swinging... and connecting. Maybe we go back to the first play we used against Florida. Only this time, pump fake, double move and hit AJ Green deep. If the safety rolls over the top, hit Orson Charles in the middles seam. As others have pointed out, we should have success passing against the Auburn defense, so in a rare instance, I am not looking for us to try and establish the run. Instead, get the passing game cranked up and then neutralize Auburn pressure with well-timed draws and screens. I expect a big day for our offense, but avoiding turnovers will be the key to whether they can do enough.
I think we will score over 30 again. I hope it will be enough. The Hunker Down Beer Challenge is in full effect and we have participants committed from Florida to New York, New Jersey and Illinois. Here's my toast to the Dawgs and a lot of drinking going on starting at 3:30.
Go DAWGS. GATA!
Maryland 1.5 VIRGINIA
Miami 3 GEORGIA TECH
FLORIDA ST 7 Clemson
OKLAHOMA 15 Texas Tech
FLORIDA 6.5 South Carolina
KENTUCKY 14.5 Vandy
ALABAMA 13.5 Miss State
AUBURN 8.5 Georgia
Oregon 19.5 CALIFORNIA
Stanford 5.5 ARIZONA STATE
OHIO ST 17.5 Penn State
Virginia Tech 3.5 UNC
TENNESSEE 1.5 Ole Miss
ARIZONA 4 Southern Cal
Thursday, November 11, 2010
4. Score first and last and lots in between... Last year the Dawgs found themselves in a 14-0 hole before gradually working their way back to a 31-24 win. This year a 14-0 hole will equate to a 51-28 blowout. The Dawgs must start fast, finish fast and hold on like a bloody tick in between. I believe the Dawgs will need to score over 40 points to win this one. Accordingly. we need to average no less than 10 points per quarter. If the Dawgs maintain that pace... they have a chance.
5. Play downhill (or make Auburn play uphill)... the Dawgs will increase their odds if they can successfully use their fine kicking game to keep Auburn looking at a long field. We have seen significant improvement in our kickoff coverage this season and this is a game in which we must limit the hidden yardage available on kickoff returns. In addition, when we are forced to punt, we need Drew Butler to unleash his howitzers so we can make Auburn look at 80 or more yards on most possessions. And on the other side of the coin, we need Brandon Boykin to keep up his record-setting kickoff return prowess while Branden Smith gets back in the groove returning punts. If we can generate a field position advantage in the kicking/returning game, it will bode well for our chances against the #2 team in the land.
6. Take the $200,000 man out of his game early and often! No doubt about it, this will be a difficult task. But, if the Dawgs defense can make things difficult for Cam Newton in the first couple of series, they could place enough doubt to keep the big man off balance all day. In order to do this, we will have to step up at the the nose position like we haven't seen all season. I expect that we will have continuous pressure from our ends from Houston and Washington and those guys will need to stay under control to keep Newton from breaking contain and getting outside them, at which point he will eat our lunch. But, if we do not have a strong push in the middle backed up by disciplined play by our inside linebackers, then Newton will kill us by stepping up in the pocket and either running for 5 to 10 yards or buying time to find an open receiver to throw to. I understand that this is simplifying the defensive strategy, but it really is just this simple... if we do not get stellar play from our front 7, it will be a long day for the red and black. And, obviously it goes without saying that we must gang tackle this beast. We cannot shoulder bump him or arm tackle him. It is more like wrestling a steer, grab something, hold on and wait for help.
Help me out... what else do we need to do?
Monday, November 08, 2010
In case there is any confusion regarding the analogy... Newton is the thoroughbred with the number 9 on her blanket.
Short of Cam Newton waking up with his head sewn into the carpet next Saturday morning, the Dawgs will need to score a pile of points to keep this one close. Fortunately, the Dawgs are on a current streak of 5 consecutive games scoring over 30 points for the first time in school history. In the past 5 games, the Dawgs have put up: 41, 43, 44, 31, 55. Meanwhile, Auburn has yielded the following points in their past 5 outings: 34, 43, 17, 31, 24. It looks to me like the Dawgs have a great chance to extend their scoring streak another week, but this is a game that 31 points won't be near enough. To win this game, we may have to score over 50, unless of course, Newton has that afore-mentioned issue with his head and the carpet.
So there is your task armchair OC's and DC's. You need to devise a plan to slow down Newton while putting up 40+ points. How will you do it? AJ Green said he and Aaron Murray were going to shock people in Auburn. Wow! Like the Tigers actually needed bulletin board material. Alright AJ... I believe you are the best receiver in the SEC... now go out and back it up.
Each day this week I will toss out a few wrinkles that I think the Dawgs could employ to achieve a victory on Saturday. For today, Monday, I propose...
1. Practice tackling to the ground all week while using Arthur Lynch (6'5" 256) or Derek Rich (6'5" 265) as Cam Newton.
2. Review film of all of Lesticles Miles's trick plays and plan to use all of them in this game.
3. Practice passing drills in which Murray gets no more than 1.5 seconds to release the ball or he gets a moderate shock from a Hot Shot cattle prod. With Nick Fairley on the other side of the line coupled with the seive formerly known as our O-Line, the extra half-second will be a luxury.
Please feel free to offer your tips in the comments...
These are pretty much in order. I have Oregon ahead of Auburn based on how they have run away from their competition while Auburn had several narrow escapes earlier in the season.
The rest are pretty much in order. No trouble picking the top 6 but after that the teams are relatively interchangeable along with the also rans Bama, Arizona, and tOSU.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
VIRGINIA TECH 14.5 Georgia Tech
DUKE pick'em Virginia
CLEMSON 2.5 NC State
FLORIDA ST 10 Unc
OKLAHOMA ST 7.5 Baylor
S. CAROLINA 3 Arkansas
Florida 14 VANDY
BOISE STATE 22 Hawaii
Oklahoma 4 TEXAS A&M
STANFORD 8.5 Arizona
Tcu 5 UTAH
Alabama 6.5 LSU
OREGON 28 Washington
Monday, November 01, 2010
We didn't play terribly, but we made too many mistakes to win and the weird shit kept happening to us. To wit:
- First half, Florida fumbles inside their own ten yard line, we could easily recover it but instead we try to pick it up and bobble it right back to Florida.
- Twice Florida has big negative yardage plays nullified by penalty... their own freaking penalties. Since when does a team get saved twice by their own penalties. Argh!
- One of Murray's interceptions was a gift from Aron White's hands straight to the defender. But when Brantley tries to return the favor later by nailing Rambo in the numbers, we drop it. Argh!
- Fourth quarter, Brantley under pressure, fumbles, we pick it up and then, of course, fumble it back to Florida and all the while none of this really matters because we get called for defensive holding from about 20 seconds earlier. I will assume that our DB did hold (though I have not seen a replay) but this is just a perfect example of the weird shit that happens to us in this game.
The benefit of hindsight won't change the outcome from this game, but I hope Mike Bobo will at least take away one nugget of experience and use it in the future. In a game featuring a hot shot shut down corner back and the best receiver in the conference in which the cornerback feels confident enough to play man-to-man... DO NOT throw and hitch to that receiver on the first snap of the game. Instead, if you want to throw to that receiver on the first play... use the corner's aggression and desire to make a statement against him and try a double move. Jenorris Jenkins was coming so hard on that first play that a pump fake and double move would have left Jenkins hitting the brakes so hard he wouldn't have stopped until he reached the Matthews Bridge. We probably only have a few more games with AJ Green, but if any of our remaining opponents want to prove that their corner can cover AJ in man-to-man, give the double move a shot on the first play. Give their guy a reason to play timid, not ours.
To be fair, it was Florida's ball hawking secondary and the Burton/Rainey combination that did us in. But in a game that we can never afford to make any errors, we again made too many to overcome. I am proud of the way our offense got going in the second half and we had a chance to win, which is better than the past two bloodlettings in the series. I have to give huge hand to Aaron Murray and Tavarres King for the hustle they showed on our final offensive play in overtime in which Murray ran the length of the field and blew up a blocker to impede Will Hill just enough to allow King to force him out of bounds just short of a game winning TD. Despite the fact that the Gators were able to win with their FG in OT does not diminish the effort from Murray and King to prevent the TD and at least giving us a chance to stop Florida on their OT possession.
Neither Florida or Georgia is a special team this season, but this was a golden opportunity to capture a rare victory in JAX that slipped away like so many others have in the past two decades. For a rivalry game, this one does not have the give-and-take that most rivalries have (Georgia-Auburn, OU-Texas, Lehigh-Lafayette). No, it is mostly give give give from Georgia. In most of Florida's 18 wins since 1990, the Gators were the better team on paper and on the field. In all of Georgia's 3 wins in that same stretch, the Dawgs were the better team on paper and on the field (you could argue 1997 if you like.) There are definitely a few games we have lost in which we were clearly the better team on paper (mostly during the Zook years) but not once since 1990 has a better Gator team surrendered a win to a lesser Dawgs team. They may have booted a few games against teams from Mississippi, but they haven't botched a game at the Cocktail party since 1985. Hats off to them for that, but still, that is uncanny. Sadly, this must be how it feels for Georgia Tech every Thanksgiving weekend.
History, logic and good money says that we will win a couple games in JAX this decade. But I will bet you they won't come easy.
The rest, loosely in order...
This took longer than it has all season. I listed the teams in the order in which I think they belong, but after Wisconsin at #8, it became a toss up between a handful of teams that have one loss but for various reasons none stood out from the pack. I may have missed the mark by giving preference to Ohio State over Missouri/Oklahoma. I don't know that LSU belongs at #9 but their only loss was a close one to the #2 team in the land, so I gave them the nod.