Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Guarantee That Muschamp Was Wrong! Dawgs Win 24-20

What a glorious game, glorious day, and glorious team!

My Saturday morning began with the great news that my nephew Michael had received a nomination to the U.S. Naval Academy from Congressman Jack Kingston. If Michael gets an appointment, he will become the 4th member of our family to attend since 1976. Thanks Jack and good luck Michael!

My day only got better from there. Uncle Bo and I hit three tailgates before heading into the stadium and had some excellent food and beverage with great friends. Confidence was growing with each Hendricks, Tonic and lime I poured. By kickoff, I felt as good as could be expected about the potential fate of our Dawgs on this 90th meeting for the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

In the opening flurry, Florida proceeded in a very Georgia-esque fashion having a long kickoff called back by penalty (the refs had several to choose from). Then Jeff Demps, the fastest man in college football, got run down by Brandon Boykin after a 72 yard sprint. Not sure what to call the guy who ran down the fastest player in the NCAA, but Boykin's hustle and TD saving tackle paid a huge dividend a few plays later when the Gator kicker missed a field goal.

For the next quarter and a half, it was Georgia who played like Georgia while Florida seemed to revert to former Gator squads with big plays, interceptions and scrambling passes for TDs as they built a 17-3 lead. Meanwhile, Georgia had turned it over inside their 20, missed a field goal and allowed a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

But then after a 14 play UGA drive ended in a missed 33 yard field goal by Blair Walsh, with under 4 minutes remaining in the first half, the two teams began to magically morph one into the other. In a word... things got ZANY. Florida snapped the ball past QB John Brantley for a 10 yard loss, got a false start penalty and then Chris Rainey fumbled the ball to Georgia at the Florida 25. Four plays later, on 4th and 5, freshman Michael Bennett made a very veteran catch in tight coverage for Georgia's first TD and the game went into the half with Georgia only trailing 17-10.

When the second half began, Georgia had its full complement of defensive starters and reserves available for the first time since the first quarter of the first game of the season. The addition of Shawn Williams and Kwame Geathers in the third quarter completed Todd Grantham's defense and from that point on, this is what Florida did:

Third Quarter
11 plays for 5 yards, two delay of game penalties, zero first downs and a fumble to Georgia at the Florida 18.

Fourth Quarter
13 plays for 7 yards, one first down, a false start and another delay of game.

In sum, Florida ran 24 plays netting 12 yards in the second half. Easy math says that Florida gained only 18 inches per play in the second half. Or, realistically, if you take out the 20 yards of penalties, they gained 32 yards on 24 plays which is 4 feet per play (or Boss Bailey's vertical leap per play.) Seven possessions, one first down. Their 3 points came courtesy of field position set up by a long kickoff return.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Dawgs managed another TD pass on 4th down and a grinding TD run from Richard Samuel to take the 24-20 lead that was good enough to win. Florida helped Georgia with 2 pass interference penalties on 3rd down. The only things Georgia did that were reminiscent of the usual Jacksonville crap was on special teams in which we missed another short field goal and punted the ball for only 24 and 36 yards when deep in our own end of the field, thereby giving Florida amazingly good field position. Fortunately, Grantham's defense was immovable and Florida never even scared the end zone in the second half.

Yes, it was opposite day in Jacksonville and we can only hope that this is the start of a new trend in the series. After all, Will Muschamp is now 0-5 in this game as a player and coach. Clearly he is jinxed in Jacksonville. Muschamp has a monkey on his back. This game is in his head and it affects his players too. Say it with me Dawgs. This is the new meme for the WLOCP.

I really don't care that this was a weak Florida team with a gimpy QB and after a few series, a gimpy running back. Blah, blah, blah. We won in Jacksonville. We needed the win to keep our SEC East chances alive. We needed the win for Coach Richt. We beat Muschamp despite his guarantee of a victory. It was a big deal and it will forever be in the minds of Hamp Tanner, the Georgia players and coaches and the entire Georgia fan base.

Way to go Dawgs! You really did GATA and made us all proud.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Great... to be... a Georgia Bulldog!

Gators... Gators... how'd you like to bite my ass?

Time to get my WLOCP on. See y'all in Jax.


Richard Samuel... Do What?

Yeah, I know I said I wasn't going to make any predictions this year. But, I have had this nagging at me all week and thus, I felt obligated to post it and allow the prophesy to be fulfilled. As you all know, weird shit always happens during the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Often it is completely unpredictable, once in a lifetime stuff that changes the game and becomes a lifetime memory for the participants and the fans. So here is my premonition...

Richard Samuel is going to break off another of those long sprints like he had against Arkansas in 2008 when I had Swine Flu (true story). He will come in to spell Crowell and will take a lead off tackle on the left side into a vacuous hole and will show off his 4.3 speed for a long touchdown run... probably untouched.

There you have it. In less than 18 hours, we will see if I am prescient or delusional.


Monday, October 24, 2011

What More Need Be Said?

In previous years I have gone to great lengths to preview the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party - the game on the field, not the games in the surrounding parking lots. And every year, what happens on the field generally defies description. I won't predict anything except that this game is HUGE for Georgia and I hope our boys respond accordingly.

I will say that in the first half, while Crowell is healthy, fresh and not fatigued, we need to convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns. If we get into the bad habit of settling for field goal attempts and God forbid we even miss field goals... better have some nitro glycerin and some lithium handy.

I am doing my best to suppress my excitement and anticipation so that I can try to be productive at work until Friday. On Friday, as is the tradition, I am going fishing for big reds on the jetties. I am looking forward to seeing all the usual suspects who converge on Amelia Island for this festive weekend and I hope that Saturday night, we will have cause for celebrating until the wee hours. Until then... Gators... Gators... How'd You Like to Bite My Ass?


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dawgs Down Dooley Again

Man was I worried about our trip to Knoxville. Not because I felt that Tennessee was better than Georgia, because I didn't. But our last two trips up there were such debacles and because this game was HUGE for this particular season and we have not exactly been getting the job done in HUGE games in recent years. For me, this was the bellwether game for the Dawgs' season and our steadily dominant performance was enough to give me more optimism for the remainder of this season.

Going in, I was a little concerned about UT because they had hammered Cincinnati by 22 points and Cincy looked pretty decent dismantling NC State on a Thursday night a few weeks back. But my real concerns were less about UT and more about UGA and our recent penchant for red-zone paralysis and our charitable offense/special teams. I knew that we would shut down the UT rush and would have a better chance of slowing down their passing attack by making them one-dimensional. Still, after two quarters, we had not found the end zone and were one gift TD away from trouble. Then came the third quarter complete domination in which Isaiah Crowell reached paydirt twice and Tennessee mustered only 24 yards on 8 plays. At that point, the party was on at Chez Tanner because there was no way Grantham's Dawgs were letting Tennessee score twice in the 4th quarter.

Speaking of Grantham's defense... if you had told me in September that our linebackers were going to steal the show but would do so without Alec Ogletree, Cornelius Washington and with a limited Christian Robinson, I would have been highly skeptical. But hats off to Mike Gilliard (12 tackles, a pass break-up and 2.5 tackles for a loss for 20 yards), Amarlo Herrera (6 tackles), Jarvis Jones (5 tackles with 3.5 for a loss of 9 yards) and Chase Vassar (2 tackles with 1.5 for a loss of 5 yards). Of course. all of this stellar linebacker play would not happen but for the great play from the front 3 anchored by the rotation of John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. Indeed, UGA owned the UT backfield with the net result for the Vols being 23 rushes for -20 yards. That is a happy statistic no matter what, but to do it to the Vols in Knoxville is even better. And yes, the Gators held them to -9 yards rushing, which means our defense was more than twice as good as the Gators against the run. Ha!

Beating Tennessee never gets old and no victory over the Vols is anything but beautiful. There is no such thing as an ugly win against any team wearing disgusting orange colors.

Congratulations to Coach Mark Richt for reaching the 100 Victory milestone. Here's to hoping he reaches 108 before he signs another class of Bulldogs.

Go Dawgs! GATA!

Monday, October 03, 2011

UT Night Game: Let's Get It On!

(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.