(I started the post on Monday and got so busy with work that I couldn't get back to it until Friday)
On September 15th, I predicted that the Dawgs would win big in the following three ballgames (Coastal Carolina, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.) In some ways, that prediction held. We scored 59 points against Coastal Carolina and we dominated the Mississippii on both sides of the ball and scored heavily in both first halves. However, my prediction came up short in the second halves of the past two weeks when our offense went into self-inflicted shut-down mode and scoring all but ceased. Still, Georgia controlled all three teams from the opening kickoff and was never in danger of losing those games.
On September 15th I felt I didn't have near enough information to form a sound opinion about the game in Knoxville that looms next on our schedule. I wasn't sure what the 2011 Vols would look like against good competition and I wanted to see if Georgia would develop as I expected over the three game stretch we just completed. Today I am still mostly uncertain about how Tennessee will perform against good competition and our offensive schizophrenia coupled with our propensity to give away charitable touchdowns was not part of the development track I had envisioned for our Dawgs. But, here we are on the eve of what I believe is the bellwether game of our season.
The last two trips to Knoxville resulted in inexplicable displays of ineptitude by our football teams. But, those were day games. Tomorrow's game will be played under the lights and our last two night games in Knoxville ended like this and this. That's a 68 - 28 scoring differential in favor of the good guys! If only the absence of sunlight made all the difference...
At this point, I feel that Georgia is a little better on paper but not by much and we are playing in their loud Rocky Topping stadium full of Lulus and Juniors.
I like our running game against their defense in the first half. But, we have yet to establish that we have the stamina and depth to pound it for 4 quarters. Could this be the week that we play offense in the second half? If so, I like our chances to win going away. I also like our play-action passing game if we can run the ball and I am hoping to see several passes to Bruce Figgins out of the backfield and lots of passes to our tight ends. This is the week we really must cash in on our red zone opportunities.
On the other side of the ball, I like our run defense against their run offense. And our pass defense has looked very good in the stats column ever since we were carved to pieces by Cullen Moore. Realistically, we haven't played a capable passer since Boise State. So, tomorrow our pass defense gets a decent test against the cocky, hot-dogging California puke, Tyler Bray. It is to our benefit that he won't have the super-talented Justin Hunter to throw to so he will have to rely on cop-stomper Darrick Rodgers. I may have missed a few apostrophes in his name, but I am not interested in looking it up. I believe Baccari Rambo and Brandon Boykin have the answer for Rodgers but we need to make sure somebody is covering the wheel. Seriously. I have seen us burned by the wheel route against Tennessee enough times to last me a lifetime.
I said it last week and I will say it again... we need our special teams to be special. Is this the week we get a touchdown return on a punt or kickoff? And is this the week that we actually hang onto a pick-six and get points? I am certain that if Georgia protects the football and plays focused for 4 quarters that we will obtain Mark Richt's 100th victory.
The last time I predicted Georgia to win big against Tennessee, we didn't even show up. (2007 fwiw). So I learned my lesson. This time around, I am picking the Dawgs to win by a narrow, but sufficient margin. DAWGS 24 - Vols 19. (Wondering how the Vols end up with 19? After a late TD they go for 2 so that if they can recover an onside kick they could tie with a field goal. But Jarvis Jones sacks Bray on the conversion try.)
P.S. The Hunker Down Beer Challenge will be in effect.
GO DAWGS! GATA!