Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Observations - ASU

Sorry for the infrequent posting....work has been wearing me down, and by the time I get home and work on the house (we are in the middle of a kitchen re-model), I can't seem to find the energy or brain power to knock out a post...not that you can tell that my posts normally take a lot of brain power.

Anyway...on to the ASU game recap.

First of all, it was great to see how well the Dawgs were represented in Tempe. I'd say at least 15K Dawg fans were in the stadium, and you could actually hear them on the TV coverage. When the Sun Devils were facing third down, at times it sounded like they may have been in Sanford. I think the Bulldawg Nation showed the nation Saturday night what kind of fan base we have.

As far as the game goes, I agree with Coach Richt. That was the most complete game we have played so far. Not perfect yet, but certainly our strongest showing yet.

This could be a long list...the aspects of the game that were the most satisfying and exciting to me were (in no particular order):

- The offensive line. Thought they were very solid, considering this was their first game together in their new lineup.

- AJ GREEN. The guy catches everything in his area code, speed, ups...by the time he leaves, I think he will be the best receiver we have ever had. Saturday was his coming out party.

- Stafford/Moreno. I put them together, because I think that's why they are effective (well, that plus their enormous talent). Saturday night, we came out throwing to loosen the defense up (a strategy I was in full agreement with), and then in the second half Knowshon started ripping huge gaping holes through the defense. Knowshon added another Heisman clip as well. Looked to me like he has been playing NCAA '09...that play looked exactly like it does when you get down near the goal line in the corner and press the "Y" button on Playstation.

- Defensive line. Finally provided some pressure with the four man rush, which Coach Martinez's defense desperately needs.

- Rennie Curran. The guy is like a torpedo to the football. Can't wait to see him against the Tide's running game on Saturday (more on that in the Bama preview).

- Kickoffs. Some improvement this week, but we still can't seem to consistently kick it deep and cover effectively. This could really hurt us against the Brandon James and Trindon Hollidays of the world.

- Penalties. Yes, a couple of these were bogus, particularly MoMass tripping his own player, but still, you take away the questionable calls and we still have ten penalties, or close to it. This hasn't hurt us yet, but we can't continue to give up that kind of yardage every week.

Overall, this game went about as well as you could have hoped for. Went out west, took care of business, and showed the country a little better idea of what we are capable of. Now comes the fun part....'Bama, Blackout, and Gameday. GO DAWGS!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Farewell to a legend

We all knew it was coming, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. Munson is officially retiring, effective immediately.

This means I have lost two of the voices of my youth in the last few months...first Skip, and now Munson.

Guys like that are just not around anymore...everybody is the "golden piped" objective professional. I love that both of these guys were just like us: they rooted with us, they sweat with us, they lamented with us, they worried with us...and man, those were great moments when they celebrated with us.

"Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!......BRAVES WIN"
"Well, I broke my chair...a metal STEEL chair"
"We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose! We just crushedtheirface!"
"Gotta steal this one from ya, Dad...HOLY COW!"

I could go on for pages and pages....

Bottom line is that even if there were these type of announcers around anymore, if you grew up in my era and in my location, these men are the definition of irreplaceable. They are the soundtrack to my childhood, and to say they will be missed is an understatement.

Good luck, Larry...hope the fish are biting.

P.S. - ASU, Alabama, and Falcons thoughts coming tomorrow...planned it for tonight, but wanted to pay tribute to Larry instead.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Still no update?!?!?!?

Yeah, I know...the real world stinks.

Oh yeah, I'm not going to turn this into a political blog...but Joe Biden is a Pinko Communist moron.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Still ridiculously busy...

....both at work and at home. Final thoughts on last weekend and preview of Arizona State coming up tomorrow, hopefully.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quick Falcons thoughts

That little end-around to Harry Douglas on 3rd and 1 in the second quarter was nice.

Everything else.

Lesson learned?

Add the Arizona State Sun Devils to the long list of people who don't listen to my advice, and go on to suffer the consequences.

I told them...worry about UNLV before you concern yourselves with the Dawgs. See what happens when you don't listen to me?

This happens.

Observations - South Carolina

Well, I got one thing right in my preview...the first ten minutes did in fact give a good indication of how the game would go. The first ten minutes were ragged and disjointed, thanks in part to an officiating crew that was incompetent even by SEC standards and a play clock that reminded me of early-season Sanford Stadium games. That raggedness continued in a game that, as good ole' Jim Ross would say, was BOWLING SHOE ugly.

Once again, the collective reaction from the Bulldog Nation after the 'Cocks game....WHEW.

- Knowshon Moreno. This guy continues to bring it every week. His touchdown run was a tremendous display of balance, strength, and vision, and he ran hard all day, as usual.

- AJ Green. This guy catches EVERYTHING thrown anywhere near him. That first catch was not nearly as easy as he made it look. He's already the second-best receiver we have on the team, only three games into his career. He is going to be special.

- The rushing defense. The Gamecocks had no room to run all day (18 yards on 16 carries) and all but gave up on the running game late in the day. In the 4th quarter, the Gamecocks had 2nd and 2 at the UGA 32 and went incomplete pass, incomplete pass, incomplete pass. For the day, they threw the ball 40 times and only ran it 16. This is an area where I thought we might miss Jeff Owens the most, but we got good penetration all day against the run, and the SC coaching staff was obviously frustrated late in the game with their inability to run the ball.

- Brian Mimbs. Mimbs may have been the MVP of the game. The 78 yard punt was a BOMB, with no wind to help him, at exactly the right moment. What's not getting as much attention is that the next time he was called on, he kicked a 50-yarder that Munnerlyn had to fair catch at the 10. The way the SC offense was moving the ball late in the game, the fact that they were forced to go the length of the field on each of their last two drives may have saved the game for us.

- The pass defense. The fact that we can not get pressure on the quarterback with our front four has to be a concern now. We are getting a little push up the middle, but our DE's can't seem to even get close to the quarterback. This is a huge concern as we go to Tempe next week, since one of the real advantages I thought we were going to have in that game is our ability to get to Carpenter.

I was also obviously wrong about our linebackers' ability to cover Jared Cook. That was a total mismatch all day, and I'm not sure why our coaching staff didn't realize that after the first couple of interference penalties.

- Kickoff coverage. I'm afraid that this may be a problem all year. For some reason, Walsh does not seem to be able to get the ball deep enough or high enough for the coverage to do their job. Wonder if the league will let us let Stafford to throw the ball for the kickoff, the way we used to do in the backyard?

THE JUST OK: Everything else. Stafford made big plays several times during the game, but he was also pretty inaccurate at times. Chandler is taking crap from several fan sites today for "drops," but the first two were almost certainly not his fault...the first one was high, hard, and behind him, and the second was tipped right before it got to him. Nothing like the problems he had last year, when passes were hitting him in the chest and bouncing off.

The offensive line was inconsistent...Cordy had a couple of obvious blown assignments, and in general the offense was thrown off balance a little bit by the fact that our o-line was not blowing guys off the ball. Carolina's defense is tough and physical, so it's not particularly surprising that we struggled with this young offensive line in their first SEC road game.

I was a little disappointed in the offensive play calling...I didn't think we spread them out nearly enough. Not enough screens, swing passes, etc. They were pretty effective for the most part when we did run them. I also thought we ran the QB zone-read running play too often. We hit it a couple of times, but then they started looking for it and we were still trying to run it in crucial situations....like third and goal from the 7?!?!?!?

Overall...we're 3-0. 1-0 in the SEC. I do NOT think we looked like the #2 team in the country, but the good thing about this schedule is that we don't have to look good every week. Just survive and advance. And if you could say we accomplished anything yesterday, that was it...we survived.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Here you go, Gamecocks

In preparation for today's game...here's a little DAVID POLLACK.

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Old school rasslin' post of the week

One of the greatest heels of all time....the Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase.

Take a look at this clip if you want to know how to make a crowd really hate you....this is what you call HEEL HEAT.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gamecock preview

Well, it's finally time to say goodbye to the cream puffs and start playing Big Boy Football. This week has seen a ridiculous amount of attention paid to a missing highlight (glad I could help add to the hysteria).

Bottom line is that it was an oversight...it's not some sort of conspiracy to keep the Dawgs from getting any publicity. I do think that the Dawgs have received less coverage than a typical #2 team, but I think that has a lot to do with A) our level of competition and B) our lack of difficulty in dispatching of said competition. As backward as it seems, we probably would have received more coverage if we had struggled against CMU the way tOSU struggled against tOU. After this week, I really don't think we'll have much to complain about in regards to how much coverage we get.

Spurrier is trying his best to poor-mouth their chances this week, even going so far as to say that critics that say the game has passed him by may be right. He couldn't help himself, though...he had to throw in the little dig that 16 points was enough to win this game last year.

Gamecock fans are more down in the dumps than I can remember...the Gamecock message board was in full on meltdown mode after the Vandy game last week. It was pretty entertaining to read.

- This week will be a HUGE step up in difficulty for our offense. As great as we have looked, we might as well have been running pass skeleton at times based on how much resistance we've seen. Carolina returns just about everybody from the defense that held us out of the end zone last year.

That being said, this Dawgs offense isn't the same one the Cocks saw last year. For starters, we didn't really know what we had yet in Knowshon this time last year. If we had handed the ball off to Knowshon a few more times rather than ask Stafford to throw the ball 45 times....I think it would have been a different game. How's that for hard hitting analysis?

The S. Carolina D is going to be stacking the line against the run and daring Stafford to beat them. I think he can, especially if the wide receivers continue the stellar play we've seen so far this year. I look for MoMass and Green to both be making plays downfield, especially off of play-action. Nice to get Harris back, too...if he's 100% that's just one more downfield threat.

Jasper Brinkley looks SLOW. I think the more we can spread these guys out and make them run sideline to sideline, the better off we are. I think we will continue to run those little swing passes we've been running a lot, as well as some screens to Knowshon. Another thing I think will probably work is a little old-school...the toss sweep with the pulling guards that we've incorporated into the offense really accentuates the new athleticism we have on the line with Glenn and Tripp. Those guys out in front, with Knowshon's cut back ability, could give this defense fits, I think.

One more thing on the offense...everybody keeps talking about Spurrier breaking out some kind of trickeration this week, and that wouldn't surprise me. But what about Bobo? I wouldn't be shocked if we try to pull something like that off, either, especially as concerned as the Cocks are going to be about gearing up to stop the run. How about an end-around to Green off the hand-off to Knowshon? That halfback pass we ran against Auburn last year worked perfectly, if not for the procedure penalty, and we haven't seen it since. Think the Gamecocks might be ripe for that one, especially early? Their number one corner, Captain Munnerlyn (great name), is going to be looking to make a big play after his embarrassing night last week. I think he can get sucked in by one of these.

- The defense is actually facing WEAKER competition this week than they did last week. The Gamecock offense has been atrocious. Neither of the quarterbacks have played well, and their offensive line has been less than effective. I think SC is going to have a hard time scoring at all, as long as we don't turn the ball over and give them a short field.

With Mckinley out, the number one threat the Cocks have is tight end Jared Cook. Take him away with our athletic LBs and safeties, and they don't have much else.

The return of Weston helps a lot...we should be able to rotate DTs all day (which will help, since it's going to be around 93 degrees), and I look for pressure to come up the middle. Neither of the SC quarterbacks are very mobile, so even if our DE pressure doesn't increase (which it needs to eventually) I think we'll have at least 2-3 sacks just because of the push up front.

The wild cards in the equation are Spurrier and Stephen Garcia. Spurrier always has something extra for us, and it will be even more magnified this week because his back is against the wall. However, I don't know if it matters because he just doesn't have the personnel to do what he wants. Lots easier to recruit playmakers when you're a Gayter, huh Stevie?

If the QBs play poorly, I will be very surprised if we don't see Garcia. More mobile, supposedly better tools, but an absolute imbecile, if all evidence is to be believed. Can't stay out of trouble, apparently can't pick up the playbook. If we see him, the key will be to contain him, as I don't see him running through a progression without taking off.

To me, the absolute key to this game is the first ten minutes. If we can shut them down and put up a couple of scores, I think they will be deflated due to the mindset they are in after Vandy and the fact that the fans will absolutely turn on them. However, if we let them in the game, especially if we start turning the ball over, we could be in for a long day.

I don't think that happens....final score: Dawgs 27, Gamecocks 10.


VERY delayed Falcons thoughts

Better late than never, I guess...

- This is an easy one....the running game. Every facet worked exactly how you draw it up. The offensive line opened huge holes, along with Ovie and those big tight ends that we picked up in the offseason. Many times, Turner and Norwood hit the second level without being touched. Once they got there, they certainly knew what to do. Turner seems to be the real deal...pretty good speed, shifty for his size, and definitely not afraid of contact. A franchise record 220 yards and 2 touchdowns is one heck of debut. Norwood continues to be a threat every time he touches the ball.

- Kind of a corollary to that one is the offensive line. I think the line is going to be much better than most people expected them to be. Sam Baker already looks like an NFL tackle...I was glad to see that he did in fact have normal human-size arms. Kiper was making him out to be an alligator with all his talk about "short arms." Jeff Fisher said after the Titans preseason game that this o-line played a little nastier than previous years...gotta love that. Good to see them playing real blow-you-off-the-ball type football rather than that pansy zone blocking we've seen for so long.

- Matt Ryan. He did exactly what we needed him to do...make good decisions, be accurate, and protect the football. I don't see us getting away with him only throwing the ball 13 times very often, but we will definitely be running the ball quite a bit in order to protect him. I'm thinking this may be kind of like the Dan Reeves offense...pound the ball to set up the play-action. I think Ryan is perfectly suited for that.

- The wide receivers. Didn't ask them to do much, but no drops and Roddy White made a nice play on the deep ball that Ryan threw. Says a lot about the WR play we've had recently that this was enough to stand out to me as a good game by our wideouts.

- John Abraham continues to absolutely dominate every time he's healthy.

- Just like the Dawgs game, not much. I still have questions about the defense, with the exception of Abraham, but I wouldn't even put them in the "bad" category...let's call them an "incomplete."

Overall, you couldn't ask for a better start to the season. Nice of the Lions to basically roll over and die on defense.

This week should provide a stiffer test, and we'll know a lot more about this team in about four days.

I work hard for the money...

I hate it when real life interferes with my blogging...be back tonight with my thoughts on the Falcons and the Dawgs-Cocks preview.

Wish I could embed this....

This is me..

Monday, September 8, 2008

Leftover thoughts from the weekend

Didn't get to watch much this weekend, since I was in Athens all day Saturday.

My quick leftover thoughts from the weekend...

- Looks like Carlton Thomas and Dontavious Jackson will both redshirt this year, barring any unforeseen injuries. If they were going to get in, they probably would have in one of these first two games. What this means is that, even if Knowshon goes pro after this year, the tailback depth chart will include King (So.), Samuel (So.), Jackson (RFr), Thomas (RFr), Washaun Ealy (Fr.). Wow. Tailback U, indeed.

- Urban Meyer is a putz. There is NO reason to still be throwing the ball with your first team offense and kicking field goals with 25 seconds left. Like Randy Shannon said, that kind of thing will tell you a lot about what kind of person somebody is. I already hate him much more than I ever have Spurrier. At least Steve is entertaining. Meyer is just an arrogant, whiny, lying, classless, punk crybaby.

- Tebow's running stats from Saturday night: 13 carries for 55 yards. Florida's non-Tebow running stats from Saturday night: 14 carries for 34 yards. Take away one Chris Rainey run of 13 yards, and it's 13 carries for 21 yards. Moody did not get a single carry. So much for the running game improving and Tebow shouldering less of the burden. He took some big hits Saturday night, and that doesn't look to get any better when they face UT next week. Hope Tebow stays healthy...I don't want ANY excuses at the WLOCP this year.

- Great media-related news for Dawg fans...at the Athens Banner-Herald, John Kaltefleiter is out as Sports Editor, and David Ching is in. Kaltefleiter was consistently the most negative writer among all of the regular Dawg scribes (in my opinion), and David Ching is the MAN when it comes to providing quality coverage.

PAC-10 fans...

Aren't they just ADORABLE?

Hey ASU...why don't you just worry about UNLV this week. The Dawgs will be there soon enough.

Thanks to Brent for the pic.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Knowshon who?

That is apparently what ESPN is asking, since THIS play was not deemed worthy of a mention or clip on ANY of their highlight shows. If TEE-bow had pulled something like this off yesterday, not only would Brent Musberger have drowned in a puddle of his own drool, but we would have already seen it 48,745 times by now.


UPDATE: Apparently (per Ugasports.com) this came up on Richt's weekly teleconference today and set off a little snit between the ESPN and Fox correspondents on the call...ESPN claimed that Fox did not include it in the highlight package they sent in, and Fox countering that ESPN had a camera there and could have captured it themselves. Richt's response?

"OK, so maybe it wasn't that good of a play," he chuckled. "I thought it was pretty good."

Love that guy.

"He's not like the other guys"

That was how Richt described Knowshon in the UGASports article I read today on Rivals.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Observations - CMU

I was in Athens yesterday...great time as always. Great weather (though a little hotter than I thought it was going to be), great food (thanks, Holt!), great seats (thanks, Brent!). And to top it off, a fantastic performance by the Dawgs.

  • The offense. Just like last week, it looked like the offense was able to do anything they wanted all day. First team, second team, running game, passing game, it didn't seem to matter. We all knew going in that CMU's defense is atrocious, but we can all remember games like this in the past where we have inexplicably struggled against defenses that couldn't seem to stop anybody else. I am not really prone to hyperbole, but I honestly don't think any team will be able to shut this offense down. Not saying we are going to put up 45-50 points every week, but you are going to have to score to beat this team. I could list every facet of the offense in the "good" this week...Stafford was efficient and mostly accurate, Knowshon was unbelievable, MoMass continues to be a playmaker, AJ looks like a veteran, Michael Moore could turn into a weapon, 9-12 on third down, perfect in the red zone, a 99-yard touchdown drive....this was about as perfect a game as our offense can play.
  • The offensive line. Wanted to give them special mention. Great to see Boling back...did you see the block he made on the little pass to MoMass in the flat near the goal line? The guy he was blocking just vanished. The running backs had plenty of big holes, several opportunities to get into the second level before anybody laid a hand on them. I don't remember a sack, unless one happened late that I'm not remembering. Once again, under the leadership of Searles, what appeared to be a worry early on could very well turn into a strength by the end of the season.
  • The defense. My opinion on the defense changed completely after watching the tape of the game. When I was watching it live, I was very frustrated by that stretch between the 2nd and 3rd quarters when we couldn't seem to get them off the field. However, after watching it again, I really think it was more of a case of the opposing offense really executing very well. We actually were getting pressure on Le-FEVER, but he was doing a good job of buying time with his feet and throwing the ball away before we could get to him (including a couple that absolutely should have been grounding but weren't called). In the beginning of the game, before it got out of hand, the Chippewoo's offense had NOTHING going on. Also, the defense continued their big play ability with Dobbs' interception and TD, which was just a joy to watch and really electrified the crowd, until we turned right around and gave up a TD right after that. Maybe the defense was just tired from running down the field blocking...yeah, that's it.
  • Knowshon's Superman act. Enjoy this guy, folks...I don't see him sticking around much longer. The play where he jumped over the d-back yesterday is going to be one we see for years. As impressive as he is on TV, you really get a better appreciation for what he brings when you see him live...just non-stop energy, even on plays where he is not carrying the ball, and that energy is infectious. I know it's been said before, but he really is like a David Pollack on offense.
THE BAD: Not much.
  • Kickoff coverage. I have a bad feeling that this is going to cost us sometime this year. According to Richt last week, there were a couple of times where we called for Walsh to kick the ball deep, and he just didn't get it deep enough. Looks like that happened a couple of times again yesterday, plus he put one out of bounds. It's one thing against the GSU's and CMU's of the world, but when we get into the meat of our schedule we can't keep giving the opponents the ball on the 40-yard line, or worse...letting somebody break one and take it back, which maybe the first two opponents don't have the players to do.
  • Dave Rowe. Hey, did you know that on 3rd down the offense really doesn't want to give the ball up, and the defense really wants to get off the field? Thanks, Dave. And also, stop comparing Knowshon to Herschel after every carry. Herschel is the greatest college football player of all time...let Knowshon be Knowshon.
See, told you there wasn't much bad...one of the points didn't even have anything to do with the Dawgs' performance!

Still some penalty issues, but we were a little better than last week, and there were less procedural type penalties.

Overall, I thought that this team re-established themselves as one of the best of the elite...certainly had a better day than both Ohio State and the Gators. More on them tomorrow, probably.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Weekly old school rasslin' post

Classic, classic American Dream...

Great stuff from #10

For those who haven't checked it out, the Total UGA forums (linked to the right) have become a very good source of Dawg news and commentary. What looks to be one recurring feature is Eric Zeier's analysis of the previous week and the upcoming game. What I like about Zeier is that he is very honest in his assessment of the team, and to me, speaks like a real (and extremely knowledgeable) fan. He also is one of my top 3 favorite Dawgs of all time, so check him out.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

CMU preview

You know, the more I think about this preview the shorter it gets.

Here's the deal...the Dawgs should be able to do WHATEVER they want to do WHENEVER they want to do it on offense. The Chippewawas finished 367th in the nation on defense last year, giving up an average of 700 yards passing and 400 yards rushing per game (actual stats would require actual research, and this defense is not worth that effort...trust me, I'm close enough). If the first team offense is as efficient this week as they were last week, look for at least 3-4 touchdowns before halftime.

On defense, it's a little different story. Dan LeFevour is a true threat on offense, and he does have multiple weapons. However, haven't we heard this story before? Wasn't Oklahoma State supposedly the best offense in the world last year? And Boise State two years before that? Why should this week be any different? I think the defense is a little ticked off after people are downgrading their performance last week...reports say the coaches have been working them overtime this week. Expect them to take that frustration out on the Chippewoos in a big way Saturday.

Also interesting is that Richt said that on defense we are studying the tapes of the Florida game last year to try and mimic the scheme and execution from that game. Remind me...how did that one turn out?

Any excuse to post that...

Prediction? Dawgs 48, Chipppewatoosies 17.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Light posting today...

Real life calls...

A couple of quick hitters on the Dawgs:

- I guess I'm the last Dawg blogger to react to the Dawgs being dropped to #2, and I guess it's because I have no problem with it. First of all, I probably would have voted the same way...I saw all of the Dawgs game, and most of the USC game (which is more than could be said than for 99% of voters, I would guess), and I thought USC looked better than we did. Based on that, plus the fact that I don't think there was much separation between the two to begin with, I probably would have put USC ahead of us for this week. Secondly, the difference between #1 and #2 for us right now is meaningless...we will get our opportunities to move back up once the meat of our schedule gets here. And lastly, imagine if the situation was reversed...let's say in the opening week we were traveling to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State, while USC was opening with somebody like San Jose State (this is the case next year by the way). Let's further hypothesize that we were a close 2nd to a #1 Trojan team. If we went across the country and cleaned the Cowboys clock, while USC had an efficient, but not COMPLETELY dominant performance at home against a much lesser opponent, would we not be howling that we should jump USC in the polls? I know I would be.

Wow...that one wasn't as quick as I planned it to be. The next one will be much quicker.

- Funny story in the Albany Herald today (h/t to David Hale). Apparently Kris Durham has been dubbed "White Lightning" by his teammates.

Be back tomorrow with my thoughts on the CMU game.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Weekly data dump

This will likely end up being a weekly feature. Inevitably, a couple of days after the football weekend I still have a bunch of random thoughts running around in my head that I start trying to work into a conversation so that I can get them out of my head. Luckily for you, I have a blog now where I can flush all of that information out. Here goes...

  • How bad must it be for Michigan fans to look over at the Buckeyes and see Terrelle Pryor? This is a guy who I think most Michigan fans thought was going to be a Wolverine all along, especially after the hiring of Rich Rodriguez. Pryor seems like he would be a perfect fit for RichRod's spread offense...kind of like a super-sized Pat White (more on him in a minute). Instead, not only does he not become a Wolverine, he goes over to the dark side and joins their most hated rival. I was trying to think of a comparison to make for Dawg fans, and then it hit me...only it's in the other direction, luckily. It's Aaron Murray. Let's see...
    • Fan base assumes that he will almost certainly commit to them...check. Aaron himself has said that he grew up a Gator fan, and most Gators thought it was a foregone conclusion that he would be donning the jorts come 2009.
    • Seems to be a perfect fit for said team's system...check. If you've seen clips of Aaron Murray, he seems to have everything Urban is looking for...good speed, strong and accurate arm, great decision making.
    • Instead, shocks the fans by not only shunning their team, but instead choosing their hated rival...check. Aaron committed to UGA very early in the 2009 recruiting process and has been hard at work calling other high-profile recruits trying to get them to join him. What made this one even better was that we took Aaron out of the Gators home state, which just twists the knife even more. I love it.
  • By the way, Aaron Murray's numbers for his first game of the season Friday night? 19-25 passing for 319 yards and 5 TD, as well as 117 yards rushing. The Dawgs' QB situation for the next few years is very exciting...even if Stafford leaves after this year, you're looking at probably Cox for a year (it will come down between him and Logan Gray), and then Gray, Murray, and Zach Mettenberger battle it out.
  • Speaking of numbers (and Pat White, which I was a long time ago), how about White's numbers for Saturday? 25-33, 208 yds, 5 touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who is only supposed to be a runner, even if it was against Villanova.
  • One thing Phat Phil can tell his team to help soothe the wounds from last night's embarrassment...last year, the Vols went out to Cal to start the season and lost, only to wind up in the SEC championship game. They haven't really lost anything yet, other than pride. That being said, I think last year's team was much better equipped to make that kind of turnaround, especially at the QB position.
  • Everybody is writing off Clemson after their disgraceful showing against the Tide, but think about it...aren't they probably still the most talented team in the ACC? Wake Forest is tough, but Clemson certainly has more talent. They are another team that, even though they are licking their wounds right now, are still in the running for everything they were realistically in the running for 4 days ago. And if you don't think a team can bounce back from a beating like that, I say remember the Dawgs last year...they came back from the beat-down they received in Knoxville and did not lose again for the rest of the season, so it's possible.
  • The more I think about UCLA's decision to pooch kick in the last minute, the more irritated I get. This is just one of those "by the book" things that drives me crazy, like Bobby Cox insisting on righty-lefty matchups even if the stats say otherwise. UCLA gave up roughly 20 yards of field position (if they cover the kick effectively) plus at least 4-5 seconds on the clock by choosing not to just kick the ball downfield. It was especially boneheaded because they were only up three points...they put UT in a situation where all they had to do was pick up about 25 yards and they could tie it up, which is exactly what they did. Just another example of the fact that UCLA tried desperately to give the game to the Vols and they absolutely refused to take it.
  • Typical Spurrier..."Beecher is our guy, no matter what, we're going to stick with him." Then, after one bad performance, Smelley will be the starter on Thursday. Yeah, Smelley looked good last week, but NC State had rolled over and died by that point...he was basically playing pass skeleton. Personally, I think this is all designed by Spurrier so that he can go through those two guys as quickly as possible so he can go ahead and hand the reins to Garcia and feel justified.
  • And, to go out on a good (if somewhat bittersweet) note, check out these quotes from Jeff Owens, courtesy of David Hale. Owens is such a class act, and here's hoping he's able to come back full strength next year and continue his path to his dream.
On his attitude about the injury:
"It's just a little bump in the road. You've always got to face adversity to be the best, and this is my real, true, big test of adversity at Georgia, so I'm going to come back and stay positive."

On whether he would definitely take a redshirt and come back next year:

"I really haven't been thinking about nothing right now because I just hurt my knee Saturday. My main thing is just to get healthy, doing rehab and try to come back 100 percent. Get my knee back healthy, then let it go from there."

(NOTE: Everyone else - from Richt to Owens' good friends Corvey Irvin and Geno Atkins -- expect him to be back.)

On the support from his teammates:
"I have a lot of guys backing me up and just trying to keep me positive and know that just look on the bright side. The storm's going to be over, I've just got to weather the storm."

On how the injury happened:
"It was just a freak accident. I jumped over the pile, I landed on one leg, my body shifted one way and my knee went the other, and it just blew it out."

On whether he's angry about the injury:
"It's all in the game. It's football. It's going to happen. I take a risk of getting hurt every time I step on the field. I know there's a risk, and I know that injuries happen. I've just got to come through it, fight through it and get back healthy. Injuries are going to come. I'm not looking down on myself thinking, if this is gonna happen, if that had happened. It's football."

On how well Corvey Irvin will replace him:
"No doubt in my mind he can do it. As a matter of fact, I look up to Corvey. He might not know it, but he pushes me. We both motivate each other. I know he's going to take over my role and be a leader of this defense."

On how well the D-line will do without him:
"They're still great. I was just a small piece of the pie. They're way bigger than me, and they're going to blow up this season."

AAAHHHH....I feel better now that none of that stuff is rattling around my brain anymore. On to the Chippewas!

P.S. - What is a Chippewa? Is it a flavor of ice cream? Sounds yummy...

More piling on the ACC...

Bruce Feldman of ESPN has what I assume will be a weekly feature where he ranks the strength of the conferences. This week's are out, and he has the ACC at #7, right behind...the Mountain West. Ouch.

Full rankings are here. I don't really have to tell you who #1 is, do I?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Thoughts on UT-UCLA

And now you know why players hate kickers.

Well, it was entertaining, huh? Not a lot of offense early on, but some big plays on special teams and defense and then the offenses kind of coming alive late, culminating in some tremendous back and forth at the end. It kind of reminded me of a heavyweight fight, where not much happens until the last round, and then both guys get desperate and start throwing haymakers. I started writing this post and had to revise it about four times....

Maybe it was the urnge uniforms, but I was having flashbacks to the Hobnail Boot game when UCLA came flying back down the field after the UT touchdown to take the lead late in the 4th.

I HATE the pooch kick....UCLA pooched it after their last TD in regulation, and UT ended up with the ball at the 42. I know Jones is dangerous, but aren't the odds better that you will at least be able to shut down a kick return before it gets to the 42 yard line? Not to mention the fact that it would have taken up more time...and UT kicked the tying field goal with what, :05 left on the clock? Ugh.

Early returns on the Clawfense...color me unimpressed. The UT offense looked really out of synch all night, even having problems lining up correctly several times. Not sure if it was being unfamiliar with the scheme or what, but even the vaunted UT offensive line did not perform up to their usual standards, with not a lot of holes being opened up in the running game (until the end) and Crompton under pressure all night.

Speaking of which, one thing that I believe bodes well for the Dawgs is how uncomfortable Crompton seems to be under pressure. When given time, he looks very impressive, but any time he was under pressure he couldn't keep his feet under him and his accuracy plummeted. I think the Dawgs ought to be able to pressure the QB at least as well as the Bruins D with the personnel we have on defense.

On the flip side, it was interesting to watch a QB grow up right in front of our eyes. Kevin Craft looked like an entirely different QB in the 4th quarter than he did in the first. It was like one of those bad movies...the QB who couldn't hit the side of a barn in the first quarter all of a sudden becomes John Elway at the end of the movie. Nice coaching job there by Neuheisel and Chow, I think...whatever they showed him and talked to him about at the half certainly seemed to click.

So, to recap the weekend...I'm now a little more worried about Alabama than I was, but South Carolina and Tennessee did not impress me at all.