Dawgs Going to the Show Me State
What will the Dawgs show? Before I address that question, I would like to report that the trip to Dublin Ireland last weekend was incredible despite the fact that Navy got steamrolled by Notre Dame.We stayed in the little town of Malahide 20 minutes outside of Dublin and the fine folks at Gibney's Pub took great care of us and treated us like family for 3 consecutive days. And I can definitively report that the Guinness does indeed taste better in Ireland.
Now, how 'bout them Dawgs?I am not one that shits the bed just because we didn't devour a cupcake by 60 points. I have just finished watching the Buffalo game on DVR. There was plenty of good and some bad. But there was nothing from that game that would cause me to shit the bed about our SEC road opener at Missouri. As I write this, I am assuming that we will be without Ogletree and Rambo. I am also worried about the health of Theus, Burnette and Malcome. But I am still confident that the Dawgs will treat the Missouri Tigers to a rude welcome to the SEC.
Where do I start? I think I will start with #3 Todd Gurley. 100 yards on 8 carries, 2 TDs and a 100 yard kick off return. He got off to a great start and in the process he showed speed, vision and determination. Isaiah Crowell will not be missed. In addition to the success of Gurley, Ken Malcome and Keith Marshall also looked good running the ball. This backfield is much better than any backfield we have had in a number of years. Granted, they are running behind a young and now, patchwork offensive line. But, we will see improvement in the running game this year based upon the skill of these players. And improvement in the running game will open up things in the passing game for Aaron Murray and his collection of talented receivers.
Aaron Murray started a little over-amped but once he settled in he was accurate and delivered some nice long balls. In addition to the vertical passing game, we made nice plays on the wide receiver screens behind some stout blocking by Michael Bennett. We missed on the one shot at the fullback on the flare but when Samuel makes that catch there is a huge potential gain to be had.
So, looking at the balance of this offense, it creates headaches for an opposing DC. If you load the box to stop the run, Murray can throw over the top. If you give the receivers a big cushion to defend the deep ball, Murray can throw the receiver screen. If you press the receivers at the line, Murray can go back over the top. The key to all of this is offensive line play, proper reads by Murray and execution when the players are put in position to make plays. Even with only average o-line play, there are enough skill players on this team to make big things happen on offense. I am really excited about the possibilities with the multitude of weapons Murray has to work with this season. When the offense has this many options, I look for our scoring average to go up this season. And last year was nothing to sneeze at with 32 points per game.
On defense, we have to start with the beast known as Jarvis Sacman Jones. He is a one-man wrecking crew. And against Missouri's mobile quarterback James Franklin, the high revving motor of Jarvis Jones will be much needed. Missouri's interior offensive line consists of inexperienced backups and a walk on. If John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers don't occupy the Tigers backfield the entire night, they will need their double-wide asses kicked all the way back to Athens. If they do, then Franklin will have to move right or left, so half of the time (or more) he will be heading directly into the path of Mr. Jones. The question is, will our edge rushers from the other side also be in position to make big plays?
The middle of the field is a liability with Ogletree and Rambo missing but the other guys will have to step up. The best thing that can happen for the Dawgs defense is to create major disruption at the point of attack by exploiting the holes in their interior o-line. This means, in addition to having our nose tackle blowing up their backfield, we can have an ILB flying in on a blitz every so often. I have confidence in Coach Grantham and the troops he will have on hand to play fast and to play hard and to slow down this Missouri offense enough to allow the Dawgs offense to outscore and outlast.
I could go into special teams but I don't know much about either yet so I will assume this area will be a push at worst.
To me, this game has the feel of the road game at Arkansas in 2009 or the LSU trip in 2008. At least, I hope the outcome will be the same for us.
Some of what I specifically expect to see tomorrow night is the following:
1. Gurley getting 14/15 carries for over 100 yards.
2. Murray connecting on a pair of deep balls for scores.
3. Marshall getting 10/12 carries for 50-60 yards.
4. Jarvis Jones with 2 sacks and 10 tackles.
5. Abry Jones with a pair of sacks.
6. Arthur Lynch with his first catch of the season for a TD.
7. King leading all receivers with 7 catches but with at least 8 different players catching passes.
8. Dawgs scoring 31 points.
9. Missouri scoring 21 points.
Go Dawgs. GATA!!!