Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Recap - Independence Bowl

I'll say this...that was the most surreal game day I can ever remember. It just feels weird to be at work knowing that it's game day, ya know? I don't know how the gnats do it all the time.

But it wasn't just the fact that I was at work on game day...it was also: 5:00 PM. On a MONDAY. Dec 28th. On ESPN2, live from Shreveport. With no Defensive Coordinator, and a defense run by two grad assistants, a d-line coach with no contract, and our head coach who has no experience coaching defense. Against a 6-6 Big 12 team. So....yeah. Just surreal in every way.

Despite all that, once the game started it was just football, for the last time this year. No matter what, I think all of us Dawg fans were happy to say good riddance to the 2009 season.

Let's break this one down old-school, shall we?

OFFENSE:
(OR: A Tale of Two Halves)

- Oof, that first half was bad. Especially for poor Vince Vance. I have no idea what was going on with him, but he looked totally helpless out there. My brother put it this way: "He looks like he's never even heard of this game called football." He was just blocking air most of the time.

David Hale said that Boling and Richt both said afterwards that the problem in the first half was scheme, that A&M were doing some things we had not seen on film and hadn't prepared for, but I don't know...if #55 wasn't Vince's responsibility on those plays when Caleb almost died in the first half, who did he think he WAS supposed to be blocking? There was nobody else out there...

Anyway, whatever problems they were having in the first half, they seemed to fix them in the second half. Which brings me to my next point...

- Great job by Bobo and the offensive staff making adjustments at halftime. Looked to me like we started running to the outside more, as A&M had obviously watched the tape of us against Tech and decided to take that away at all costs, as well as doubling A.J. everywhere he went on the field. So we started using A.J. as more of a decoy and attacked the edges with the running game, until the last drive when we had worn them down to the point where we could just ram it down their throat at will.

- Speaking of A.J., he seemed a bit rusty, which can be expected since he hadn't played in six weeks. Especially on a couple of those deep balls, his timing seemed off and he was having trouble picking up the ball. But he still had six catches, and the first Aron White touchdown was wide open because the deep safety rolled to A.J.'s side and left the middle wide open. A.J. changes the game without even having the ball thrown to him.

- Kudos to Clint Boling...he shut DOWN Von Miller, the nation's sack leader. Boling is one of the most under appreciated players in the country, in my opinion. Over the last few years he has played every position except center, and has been extremely effective everywhere we have lined him up.

- That second half game plan was just MANLY. The running game really opened up the more we were on the field, and it was especially satisfying to see Chapas and Munzenmaier get some love on that last drive.

- Overall, it was a pretty decent offensive performance. We were helped out a lot by the defense and special teams, but we did take advantage of those opportunities with touchdowns, not field goals. I would give the offense a solid B.

DEFENSE:

- The defensive line was DOMINANT. All night. Geno Atkins, Cornelius Washington, and Justin Houston were in the backfield all night, and if Jerrod Johnson wasn't such a great athlete they probably all would have had multiple sacks. Even Brandon Wood showed what he can do when healthy. A&M wasn't able to get a running game going all night, and both of the interceptions were a direct result of pressure being applied on the QB by defensive linemen...most of the time without the benefit of a blitz.

- The linebackers, on the other hand...oof. Poor tackling all night, and the poor pass coverage we have all come to know and loathe. Rennie missing the first quarter didn't help, but even he got into the missed tackle act when h did get in the game.

I will give Rennie credit, though...he made one of the biggest defensive plays of the game when he CREAMED Johnson a yard short of the first down on a third down play in the third quarter. At that time, we were up 24-14, but A&M was driving...Rennie's stop led to them going for it on 4th down, which turned out to be the Sanders Commings interception.

- The secondary was just OK...Reshad Jones continued his tremendous play with another great night. He has really bounced back to have a great year after being so disappointing in 2008. If that was the last time he dons the Red and Black, then kudos to him for going out on a high note.

Speaking of which, Prince Miller also had a nice night...some nice hits on run support and short passes into the flat, and he played nice coverage all night. The one long pass they hit on him was not his fault...he had great coverage and it took a perfect pass and tremendous catch to make the play.

- On the flip side to that...Bryan Evans. I try not to call guys out too much as individuals, but that was just a terrible performance. Missed tackles, blown coverages, etc...I still have no clue why Bacarri Rambo has not seen the field more in the last half of this season, and I'm just glad that I no longer have to try and figure it out.

- The game could have been even more of a blowout if we could have held on to a couple of those sure interceptions. Reshad and Branden Smith both dropped what were probably pick-sixes.

- Lots of talk, obviously, about who the new DC will be. Almost as important is who he will pick to fill out his staff. The secondary, especially, does not appear to be a particularly "coached up" group. It will be interesting to see how they respond to a new voice.

- Overall, the defense held a very high powered offense to only 14 points (I'm not counting the last touchdown...when you have linebackers on the field wearing numbers 64 and 65, it's safe to say you're emptying your bench). For a defense being coached by the D-line coach and two grad assistants, it was a very impressive performance.

Congrats to Coach Garner, Coach Mitch Doolittle, and Coach Todd Hartley. You guys definitely earned a little extra in your Christmas bonus.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

- Do I even need to say it? EVERY single aspect of special teams was dominant. Punt coverage, kick coverage, punt block/return, FG block, kick return...special teams really won that game for us.

- Congrats to Brandon Boykin for setting the SEC record with his third kickoff return for a TD this year. He is a gamechanger, and it's definitely exciting to look forward to what he is going to do to this league over the next couple of seasons.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:

- Boy, Ron Franklin was off, wasn't he? Washaun EARLY, Shaun Chapas playing tight end...he just sounded...old, I guess.

- Best part of the telecast? The Slam Energy Drink commercials. Has there ever been a sadder group of "celebrity" endorsers? Some kicker I never heard of, a female soccer player, Michael W. Smith...man, I'm kind of offended that I didn't get a call. After all, I write a blog that is read by literally TENS of people.

- Great stuff from Rodney Garner in Hale's blog today. He has handled himself with complete class during this whole scenario, and I truly hope he sticks around.

- A big thank you to all of the seniors who played their last game Monday night. They have bled, sweat, and basically worked their butts off for the last 4-5 years and given us hundreds of hours of entertainment. DGD's, every one of them, and I wish them all well in their future endeavors.

Goodbye and good riddance to the 2009 season...can't wait for 2010! When does spring practice start?

GO DAWGS!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This just doesn't get old...

I can not get enough of this.


GO DAWGS!

Monday, December 14, 2009

We interrupt this hiatus to announce another hiatus...

OK, as you can tell, I have gotten off of whatever posting “schedule” that I was ever on…sorry (again) for the intermittent posts. I could give you a long list of excuses, but instead I will just say that I probably won’t be back on a schedule until after the first of the year.

Here’s what I expect will happen, as far as future posts: I will almost definitely have a reaction to whomever the Dawgs get as our next defensive coordinator. I will certainly post some sort of recap to the Independence Bowl, and hopefully a season recap as well. If any big recruiting news breaks, I will likely react to that here as well.

After that, I plan on doing the same type of posting for American Idol and Lost as I did last year…consider yourself warned!

So, here are all of the posts I have been saving up for the past few weeks to tide you over until I get off my lazy butt and start posting regularly again…I’ll warn you ahead of time to pack a lunch. Even by my standards, this is gonna be a long one.

THE TECH GAME

- Maybe the most satisfying win of Coach Richt’s tenure, at least for me. Others may have been more important (the SECCG wins, Auburn ’02, etc), but there is nothing more fun than beating the gnats when they are just SURE that it can’t happen. Add in the fact that so many of them were such turds after the passing of UGA VII, and what happened last year, and the fact that this is supposed to be THE year for them while it’s certainly a down year for us…”sweet” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I also work with a bunch of Techies, and it’s amazing how much better I feel about having to interact with them on a daily basis now vs. how I felt for the past year. Many jokes have been made about how that win “set the universe right” or whatever…there is at least a kernel of truth in that for Dawg fans. I spent the last year simmering with rage every time I passed one of them in the hall…now we can all be friends again. Sort of. Until next year.

- And while it may not have been the MOST important game of Richt’s career, I don’t think you can overemphasize the fact that this win was definitely important. As bad as this season has gone (and a 7-5 season with a blowout loss to a mediocre UT team and a home loss to Kentucky is putrid), can you imagine what the fallout would be from 6-6 with 2 straight losses to the gnats? This game, plus the postgame decisions that showed that he was serious about fixing what went wrong this year, went a long way in restoring confidence in Coach Richt that some had lost.

- Many have asked where that team was all year, especially the running game. I think the resurgence of the running game started about 8 games into the season, and it can be attributed to two factors:

  • Stabilization of the offensive line. Once Sturdivant went down in the opener, the o-line was in a state of flux until around the Tennessee Tech game. Once the current lineup was settled, things really began opening up.
  • Caleb and Washaun got healthy. I think this was the biggest factor. Washaun is a true freshman who missed a lot of camp due to injury, so there was a definite learning curve. Caleb battled hamstring problems and then a broken jaw early in the season. Once these two got healthy enough to share the bulk of the carries (and send Samuel, God bless him, off to learn the linebacker position), the running game became a real threat.

- Overall, it was a best case scenario for me…we beat Tech, but it is not enough to keep from having to make changes. Which brings me to my next point…


THE COACHING CHANGES

- I let you know how I feel about the ongoing search here.

- As far as the actual move goes, I think it absolutely had to happen. There was no way to justify the steady decline in defensive output over the last four years, beginning with the Sugar Bowl debacle against West Virginia. I was still worried that Coach Richt would still find enough excuses to keep his friend around for another year, so I was very happy to see him make the tough move.

And once that decision was made, he decided to give whomever the new DC is the ability to hire his own staff by sending Jancek and Fabris away as well. This was less of a no-brainer for me, especially Fabris and his history of developing NFL-quality defensive ends, but it was probably the right move. Part of what doomed the Tony Franklin experiment at Auburn was the fact that Tubbs didn’t let Franklin bring in his own guys, and the old staff just never bought into his philosophy. If we’re going to go after a big-time DC, then I think a total house cleaning was necessary.

All that being said, I want to publicly thank all three of these guys for their hard work and efforts during their time in Athens. I didn’t always agree with the decisions that they made, but I never doubted that they were trying their best to bring a championship to the Dawgs.

- A couple of interesting notes that have come out in the last couple of days:
  • Nickell Roby, the cornerback out of Frostproof, FL that I think is a MUST get for this class, expressed some concerns right after the decision was made to let Martinez go. Martinez was the coach who recruited him, was going to be his position coach, etc. Robey took his official visit to Athens over the weekend and had some interesting things to say ($), including that Coach Richt told him he was going to hire “somebody that I like”. That sounds to me like maybe Coach Richt might already have an idea who that person will be, especially since…
  • Several reports out of the GALA banquet this past weekend are saying that Coach Richt “has his man”.
I have no idea what any of that means, especially in light of the fact that Kirby Smart was supposedly “in the building” over the weekend. I stand by the fact that I would be shocked (happy, but shocked) if Smart leaves Alabama, but the timing is interesting.

Oh, and also…somebody needs to take Twitter away from David Pollack. If you are following him, you know what I am talking about.

- One more quick note on the Dawgs…the Outback really screwed us by taking Auburn. If not for that, we would most likely be in either Atlanta or Nashville, instead of 5PM on a Monday on ESPN2 in Shreveport.


NON-DAWG SPORTS STUFF

- Did the Falcons build their training facility on some sort of Indian burial ground or something? We are rapidly approaching having to hear for ANOTHER year about how the Falcons have never had back-to-back winning seasons.

How has this promising season gone wrong? Let us count the ways:
  • Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Harry Douglas, Harvey Dahl, Sam Baker, Jerious Norwood, Todd McClure. All offensive starters, and all have missed significant time due to injury.
  • John Abraham has been MIA all season.
  • Jason Elam has Steve Sax Disease (or Mark Wohlers Disease for you whippersnappers who don’t remember Steve Sax).
  • The defensive secondary is atrocious, just like we all knew it probably would be.
Add all of that up, and what do you get? Probably 8-8, and that’s fairly amazing when you take another look at that list.

- I have no idea what the Braves are doing in their bullpen. We have replaced Soriano and Gonzales with Wagner and Saito…basically the same amount of money, but about 20 years older combined.

Wagner, in particular, concerns me…he’s 38 years old, coming off of Tommy John surgery. It always concerns me when these tiny little power pitchers start having arm trouble. They just have to produce so much torque to get the velocity that they are used to. Would not be at all surprised to see his arm fall off about halfway through the season. Maybe Lowe becomes the closer if we can’t find a taker in the trade market?

Still think the Braves are one big bat away from being contenders, but blowing up their bullpen really doesn’t help.

- I know most of you probably don’t care, but the Hawks are really good, and tons of fun to watch.

It looks like the light has finally come on for Josh Smith…he no longer fancies himself a three point shooter, and is instead going to the basket, attacking the offensive glass, and will probably make the All-NBA defensive team this year with his shot-blocking and skill at getting his hand into passing lanes.

If Jamal Crawford continues what he’s done so far, he will walk away with the Sixth Man award. Seems like he puts up 20 points off the bench every night. And we got him for Speedy Claxton and Acie Law?!?! BWAHAHAHAHA!!

Speaking of things most of you don’t care about…

NON-DAWG, NON-SPORTS STUFF

When I do get back on a regular posting schedule, I will be in all-TV, all the time mode. In fact, many of you who may have found this blog via various Dawgs football sites will probably have a whole different opinion of me once the winter TV season starts.

In that spirit…

Top 5 favorite returning shows I have been watching:

1) Mad Men. I’m counting this one even though the season is over now. Terrific storytelling, amazing writing, perfect acting performances…if you have not been watching this show, do yourself a favor and find copies of the first two seasons and enjoy television as an art form. This season was probably not as fantastic as season 2, but still better than 99% of what else is on.

2) The Office. Still makes me laugh harder than any other show, but can also pull off an episode like “Niagara Falls” that has as many heart-tugging moments as laugh-out-loud funny ones. The best ensemble comedy since Cheers.

3) Fringe. The “weird case of the week” stuff gets sort of pointless and monotonous sometimes (although no show has more cool gross stuff on a weekly basis), but when this show does shows like last week where they focus on the “big picture” story, it’s really superb stuff. Not to mention the fact that those episodes usually focus on the Emmy-worthy performances being turned in by John Noble as the heartbreaking and eccentric Dr. Bishop. Plus, it’s always good to have Pacey around, isn’t it?

4) Big Bang Theory. I just picked this one up about halfway through last season, but I have gone back and watched the entire series. Just when I thought the three camera sitcom with a laugh track was dead, this show comes along and consistently cracks me up. The only drawback is that the laugh track is overused, and it’s a little distracting. But the writing and acting more than make up for it, and Sheldon Cooper is in my top 5 favorite TV characters right now (the others, in case you were wondering: John Locke, Benjamin Linus, Betty Draper, and…Ryan Seacrest).

5) Dollhouse. I know we should consider ourselves lucky that we even got a second season of this Joss Whedon production, considering the abysmal ratings. But the geniuses at Fox really outdid themselves by pairing it with “Til Death” on a Friday night. Regardless, this season (especially the last few episodes) have been television at its best: funny (Topher Brink is hilarious), thought provoking, action filled. And the cast, especially Olivia Williams (Adelle), Enver Gjokaj (Victor), and Fran Kranz (the aforementioned Mr. Brink) have been amazing, along with superb guests Summer Glau and the always fantastic Alan Tudyk.

Honorable mention: The Mentalist, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Amazing Race, How I Met Your Mother


Top 4 favorite NEW shows I am watching:

1) Glee. Now THESE are my people. I watch this show feeling like I am watching home movies. As I’ve said before, I grew up a performing arts geek, and so much of this show is dead-on.

This show doesn’t feature great writing, subtle plot development, or any of the stuff I normally look for in a television show. It’s just FUN. Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester is…well, I can’t think of an adjective that would accurately describe my love for Sue Sylvester. It’s also fun to watch this cast of virtual unknowns (most of them had little to no prior television experience) get a chance to show off every week. And, man, do they show off…the musical performances are outstanding and are prominently featured on my MP3 player.

2) Modern Family. Best new comedy of the season. By FAR. I’m still cracking up about Fizzbo the Clown three weeks later. (People are GOING to stare. They’re not used to seeing only one clown in a car).

3) V. I was looking forward to this show more than any other one besides the very frustrating FlashForward. So far, so good, other than the incredibly annoying and clich├ęd “Teenage Moron” storyline. Alan Tudyk shows up on this one, too, and is his usual awesome self, as well as Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet from Lost) and the perfectly cast Morena Baccarin as the stylish, sexy, slightly murderous and evil leader of The Visitors. Tons of good stuff here, with nods to philosophy, religion, psychology, fascism, etc, etc. I think this one is going to get really good once it comes back from the long winter break, at which point it will be paired with LOST on the ABC schedule.
4) White Collar. Continues a great run of new shows on USA (Burn Notice, Psych, etc). I love how the shows on USA have a kind of “network TV in the ‘80s” feel to them. This is just another fun little show that they are getting really good at producing…likable characters, witty writing, nothing too challenging. The perfect show to tape on Friday night and then watch over breakfast on Saturday.

(Dis)honorable mention: FlashForward. This one has been a big disappointment, but still I keep watching. I feel like maybe the concept is too big to handle on a TV show. I keep thinking of all the ramifications of a blackout wherein the entire world gets a glimpse of the future, and all the cool things they could do with that, and instead...I am just waiting for something to actually HAPPEN. Not to mention that the lead is played by Joseph Fiennes in one of the most excruciatingly boring performances I have ever seen.


- On a semi-related topic, have any of you been watching Sons of Anarchy? If so, would you recommend going back and watching the first couple of seasons?


- One more note…if you are looking for a good book, and your tastes lean towards the slightly geeky (as mine obviously do), I strongly recommend the “Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin. There have been four written so far, and I am about halfway through the fourth one. I would describe it as either Narnia for grownups or a slightly more modern Lord of the Rings.

There is also production being done on a possible HBO series based on the books that I think has the potential to be phenomenal, so by reading the books you can actually be ahead of the curve!


OK, and with that…I am probably gone until the Dawgs DC is hired, unless something comes up that I REALLY want to write about.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The DC search and message board fans

I'm planning a ridiculously long post later as my return to the blogosphere, but I wanted to chime in on the latest "news" regarding our search for a defensive coordinator and the message board reaction to it.

According to UGASports ($), Vic Koenning has....well...maybe, possibly, talked to UGA about the vacant DC position. That's it. But that was enough to send the DawgVent into full-on meltdown mode, because....well...he's not Kirby Smart or Brian VanGorder, I guess?

The guys over at Catfish and Cornbread call it getting "greedy", and that's definitely part of it. It seems a lot of fans think that if we get anybody other than Smart or BVG, then Damon Evans and Coach Richt have somehow failed the program and the fan base. Of course, I would be happy to get either one of those guys (especially BVG...I would like to see Kirby do it somewhere other than Saban's staff before I anoint him as some sort of defensive genius), and I'm sure Damon and CMR would love to get someone of their caliber as well. But just WANTING them to come here doesn't mean that it's going to happen.

Brian VanGorder has never made any secret of the fact that he wants to be in the NFL...he left us to take a LB coach spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars, for crying out loud. I remember many Dawg fans (including myself) who looked at that as a step DOWN at the time, but he was willing to take it because he wanted to be in the NFL, and also to help him in his pursuit of a head coaching position. Why would he leave the NFL, where he is building a reputation by getting more out of less than just about anybody else in the league, to come back to a position he left five years ago? This is an obviously ambitious guy...why would he choose to go backwards in his career path?

Kirby Smart is a young, up and coming assistant coach. He is currently in a situation where he is the defensive coordinator at a national power who is about to play for the National Championship. He heads up what is widely considered to be the best defense in the country. He is learning from one of the most respected defensive minds in all of football, who is also the guy who has hired him and promoted him to every major job he's ever had. Why would he leave that situation to come to a place where he will be in a rebuilding mode? Yes, he would be coming "home"...but if I were him, I'd probably feel more loyalty to Saban at this point than to UGA, simply due to the way Saban has taken care of him and shown loyalty to him during his career. Yes, he could maybe enhance his reputation by coaching somewhere other than Saban's staff, but he just won the Frank Broyles Award...apparently his reputation is in pretty good shape. By staying at Alabama, he is set up for success and probably a head coaching job in the forseeable future, if that's the direction he wants to go. At UGA, he would still be in a very good job, but one that is not near the sure thing that he has by staying put.

My point (and I do have one) is that if these guys don't leave their current job to come to Athens, it doesn't constitute some "failure" on the part of Evans and Richt. What are they supposed to do, club them over the head and drag them back to Athens with them? Chloroform them and throw them in the trunk?

The Dawg fan base has been screaming for us to go in a different direction on the defense for at least the last year plus, some even longer than that. So now that we are, a lot of those same fans are pissing and moaning because we can't talk ambitious guys who are in very good positions to step into a situation that , by these own fans' admission, is going to take a good bit of work to fix.

Can't we at least give whomever the new DC is a chance to see what he can do before we turn on him and rip him to shreds?

And another thing...if people think that recruits and even potential coaches don't read message boards, they're fooling themselves. What kind of message is currently being sent when people are going nuclear on a coach that hasn't even been HIRED yet, much less shown up in Athens?

If it IS Vic Koenning, I'm going to support him with everything that I have. If it's Ty Nix, same thing. If it's Coach X, SAME THING. As soon as they take the job, they become Dawgs, and they will immediately start working on making this team better, and their job will be a lot easier if we aren't scaring potential recruits and assistants away by being jackholes.

By the way, Georgia Sports Blog points out that Koenning has a pretty good track record in the time before he got to Kansas State. And I don't think he has the talent at Kansas State that he would have at UGA, and he hasn't even been in that job long enough to make an educated judgment.

But since when do message board "fans" make educated judgments anyway?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Speaking of rivalries...

I will, of course, be back soon with the recap of yesterday's immensely satisfying win over the gnats...but in the meantime, I found THIS to be absolutely hilarious:



The comments on Dr. Saturday's blog are pretty funny, too...basically a bunch of UCLA fans and other pansies calling Pete Carroll "classless" and other not-so-nice words.

Whatever.

First of all, it's up to you to stop the other team from scoring, PERIOD. But if you want the game to be over, then don't call timeout with less than a minute to go when the other team is trying to run the clock out. By calling timeout, you're basically saying you're not ready for the game to be over. And Pete Carroll said, "Fine...if you want to keep playing, then let's keep playing."

I love college football.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wow

This is better than any sports movie I have ever seen.

Matt Stafford is a MAN.

Click HERE if you don't believe me.

Wow.

And, we're back....(sports edition)

As you can probably tell, I've had a little case of Blogger's Block over the last couple of weeks. Every time I start to write a post, I realize I don't have the energy to say all that I want to say, at least when it comes to my beloved Dawgs. Just know, loyal reader, it's not that I've given up on them, or have "jumped off the bandwagon". No, I've stuck by them through worse times than this. The truth is kind of the opposite...I find it hard to write about them right now because it hurts too much. I am extremely disappointed and frustrated as a fan, not so much by the NUMBER of losses (although five is way too many) as the MANNER of losses. Above all else, right now this team is dumb. We make dumb penalties, commit dumb turnovers, operate with dumb ideas with regards to our mindset in all three phases of the game....we are a dumb team right now, and that frustrates me more than anything else.

And that's all I have say about that.

- As for this week...this week is all about the hate. I think that the entire Dawg fanbase is starting to understand why so many of us still count the trade school as our most hated opponent. One win in 8 years has somehow convinced them all that the tide has turned as far as football dominance in this state. It's like I have always said...there's no team I'd rather beat than Florida, but there is no team I hate losing to more than the trade school.

And, this year, there is even more reason for hatred...their classless, tasteless, and inhumane reaction to the passing of Uga VII (I almost linked a couple of them here, but why give them the traffic. Just imagine the most disgusting, vile, classless response you can think of...and then try to come up with something worse). What kind of person do you have to be to make fun of a lost pet, which is ultimately what the Uga's are for all of us in the Dawg Nation?

I think Bernie said it best...while the Seilers grieved, they laughed. And that is just one more reason why I'm glad to be a Dawg, in spite of whatever this season or any other season has brought or will bring. I could not handle being part of a fan base so pathetic.

I have a hard time coming up with a scenario in which the Dawgs win this game...but if we somehow pull it off, it will go a LONG way towards washing the stench of this season away for me.

- Here's one more reason I have sworn off the AJC for good...yesterday Mark Bradley tweeted a link to his AJC article with this as the message:

Turns out Matthew Stafford, once of UGA and now a Detroit hero, has a heart after all. Fooled me.

OK...now I know that Mr. Bradley works for a particularly pathetic and sickly dinosaur in a business that is on its last legs (and I am NOT going to help by linking to him). And I know that they are DESPERATE for traffic. But what in Stafford's history would lead any rational person to believe that he has no heart?

Was it when he kept getting up and playing his guts out in his freshman season, even when games ended with him looking like this?
Was it the way he kept leading his teams down the field against the trade school last year, despite his defense letting him down over and over again? Was it how he never gave up in ANY game, for that matter, no matter what the situation was? Was it the fact that he never missed a snap at UGA due to injury despite playing some of the toughest and hard hitting defenses in the country?

It's one thing to question somebody's ability. But to question a guy's heart with absolutely no justification, well....it's no wonder that his is a dying business, with that kind of "journalistic" "integrity".

Mr. Bradley, my sincere wish for you and the pathetic rag you work for is that you live up to your reputation and go the way of the DoDo Bird sooner rather than later. Moron.

- I want to get this on record...I know the Falcons are 5-5 right now, and all of us old school Falcons fans are starting to get a serious sense of deja vu. But I think the schedule works out very nicely for the team from here on out, and I say we not only finally see the first ever consecutive winning seasons for this franchise, but we will be in the playoffs...and NOBODY in the NFC will want to play us.

At the same time...can somebody please locate John Abraham and tell him that Aundray Bruce has stolen his jersey?

- If you're not watching the Hawks, you should be...an exciting young team who plays a very entertaining brand of winning basketball. They are really starting to turn some heads, and this is shaping up to be a nice diversion until spring football practice rolls around.

Sorry to have been gone so long...I missed you guys! I'll be back later today or possibly tomorrow with the Non-Sports edition...aka all Geek-TV, all the time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I feel like a proud parent

Full recap to come later, after I re-watch the game, but my initial thoughts are that I couldn't be prouder of this team. There were still a lot of distressing aspects of that game, but the bottom line is that the guys showed tremendous heart and fought like true Bulldawgs.

I admit that when we went down 14-0 early a part of me gave up. Luckily, these Dawgs are made of sterner stuff than I am, because they in NO way gave up, and continued to fight and work and pulled off an extremely satisfying and needed victory.

GO DAWGS!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The You Tube Bowl

I'll say this about the UGA-Auburn games...they have been the source of some of my highest and lowest moments as a Dawg fan, as well as the source of some of my favorite Dawg You-Tube clips...

For example:
















And, I don't know why this one can't be embedded anymore, but it is maybe my favorite video of the Blackout entrance.

Tonight should be a great, well fought game...hopefully some more great Dawg memories!

GO DAWGS!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cool new Pearl Jam song

Actually, I don't know how "new" it is...I admittedly am not really "hip". Yeah, I know, that comes as a shock.

Anyway, I love this, and it's very different from what I expected when I heard "new Pearl Jam song".

Monday, November 9, 2009

Recap - Tennessee Tech

This should be short and sweet…I was actually at the game on Saturday, and I haven’t watched the CSS replay yet, so these are just some random thoughts from the game. Obviously, it’s hard to tell much about the team when the opposition is so blatantly overmatched, but it was still good to see the Dawgs come out and take care of business rather than let a lesser team hang around, as we have been known to do in the past.

- What a great day for football…you could not ask for better weather, the leaves are turning, cool crisp air. Felt great to be at Sanford again.

- The Battle Hymn still makes me tear up. Every. Single. Time. 8-0, 4-4, whatever…I’d still rather be a Dawg than anything else.

- I was pretty impressed with the crowd, actually. Decent turnout for the Dawg walk, and the stands filled in pretty impressively even before kickoff. It was obviously a MUCH quieter crowd than normal, but I didn’t expect anything different due to A) the disappointment of the last few weeks; and B) the opponent. But I was proud of the Dawg Nation for at least coming out and showing support.

- Although the fly-over was late, it was still doggone impressive.

- That was as dominant a first half as I can ever remember the Dawgs having, no matter the opponent. Up 28-0 before TTU even had a first down. Good to see the defense get after it…Montez Robinson and my man Cornelius Washington both had big games. Those guys are going to be the ones we are relying on next year to terrorize quarterbacks.

- The running game has actually looked much better the past few weeks, beginning with the Vandy game. Washaun and Caleb are a very nice 1-2 punch, and the revamped offensive line FINALLY seems to be jelling. (gelling? That always confuses me).

- Branden Smith is VERY fast. I know you knew that already, but…wow. From my seat in in 124, I knew as soon as he took the handoff on the end-around that he was gone…there was nobody on the corner, and I knew as soon as he got the corner there was not a Golden Eagle that was going to catch him.

- Very few times can I watch any college football player and say, “I could do that.” In the case of the Golden Eagles punter…I could do that. That was the worst punter I have ever seen. He had a SIX yard punt that actually went OVER the hedges to the right. Seriously…I could do that.

- First extended play for Logan Gray so far this season. I’m not going to blast the guy, but…I really hope Aaron Murray is as good as advertised.

- I’m not too concerned about the penalties. Most of them came after the game was well in hand (which was by the middle of the second quarter), and I imagine there was some breakdown in focus. I can’t blame them too much, considering the environment and the opposition. It was good to see the coaches holding people accountable, though.

This week will be the true test of our character. Can we come out and play Bulldawg football against a quality opponent when nothing is on the line except pride?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This video makes me ridiculously happy..

If you ever get a chance to check out The Office webisodes on NBC.com (or Hulu), they are well worth the time. The webisodes are a great opportunity to focus on some of the hilarious characters that are often relegated to the background while the focus stays on the "core" group.

Kelly and Andy are probably my two favorite Office characters, and I have been really impressed with how well Erin has fit in to the show as well...and B.J. Novack's arrogant cluelessness is never more on display than it is here:

STRAIGHT OUT OF LACKAWANNAAAAAAAA!!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thank you, Hulk Hogan..

Because you are delusional and pathetic enough to try and start a new wrestling promotion in Australia, the world is blessed with THIS:


Ahh...he's still got it.

"I only THINK I'm the man? Ask your ex-wife! I REEK of being The Man!"

WHOOOOO!!!!

What passes for a Florida recap these days...

By now, I guess almost everything that can be said about the Cocktail Party last week has been said…this will probably be more like my take on the current state of the Dawgs program, and then an “announcement” regarding what you can expect to see in this space going forward…

Once more, into the breach…

- Joe Cox. What a great kid. Loves the Dawgs, bleeds red and black, takes great pride in wearing the G. His teammates love and respect him, the coaches talk about him in nothing but glowing terms.

Unfortunately, all of the admirable attributes that he possesses don’t cancel out some inherent weaknesses in his game. What we heard about Joe from the coaching staff coming out of camp was that he may not have great physical skills, but he makes good decisions with the ball and he is extremely accurate. I can’t tell you that they were lying, because I wasn’t invited to watch practice for some unknown reason, but I can tell you that these reported strengths have not translated to the field once real bullets started flying. Aron White said recently that mistakes are made during games that you don’t see during practice, and maybe that is what is happening with Joe. Whatever the case, he is throwing interceptions at an alarming rate, and for every one that you can point to and say may not be his fault (like a couple of them on Saturday), I’ll point to three more that were thrown into coverage and SHOULD have been picked off but weren’t, oftentimes because multiple defenders are going for the ball at the same time and manage to play effective defense against each other.

We are not the only team that recruited Joe when he was in high school…he was an Elite 11 quarterback, after all. Maybe if he had been in a situation that allowed him to get more playing time over the last four years he could have developed into a big time quarterback. But the weaknesses in his game…locking onto receivers with his eyes, throwing the ball late and high, failing to identify where defenders are in relation to the passing lanes…those are weaknesses you don’t expect to see out of a 5th year senior, until you are reminded that the 5th year senior is also a first year starter.

What I mean to say is that I don’t think it’s fair to label Joe a “bust”…but I think we can say at this point that at best he has been average this year, and at times he has been worse than that.

So, going forward, what do we do about the quarterback situation? Many fans are screaming for the staff to bench Joe and start looking to the future (I may have even been guilty of that myself during the Florida massacre…so much of that day is a red haze, so I can’t say for sure). Coach Richt came out this week and said that Joe is the starter, and I can’t argue with his reasoning.

See, we as fans have the option of chalking up this year as “rebuilding” and start looking to next year…Coach Richt, rightfully so, does not believe that to be an option, as it sends the message to THIS year’s group of Dawgs that we have given up on this season…the season that, for most of the seniors, will be the last time they ever don pads and play a competitive down of football. How can Coach Richt look guys like Jeff Owens, Michael Moore, Geno Atkins, Bryan Evans, Prince Miller, and Joe Cox in the eye and say, “Sorry, guys…I know you have busted your butts and sweat and bled for this team for the last 4 or 5 years. But even though there are 4 (hopefully 5) games left in your Dawg career, we’ve decided those games aren’t that important, so if you’ll step aside it’s time for these young guys to play.”

I couldn’t do that. Maybe if I’m an NFL head coach, but not to these kids. If that makes me some sort of pansy, or “too nice”, then so be it.

So what you’re left with is this: Joe Cox, despite his shortcomings, is the best chance this team has to win right now. Until somebody else earns that away from him, he should start.

And don’t start telling me about what we are losing by not playing Gray and Murray now…if this season had gone like we all hoped it would, they wouldn’t be getting playing time right now anyway, right? So their progress is not being stopped, or even slowed. They are all on the same schedule as they were when the season started.

- Having said all that…why is Bryan Evans still getting playing time over Bacarri Rambo? Again, Evans is a great guy, by all reports, and has willingly played anywhere the coaching staff has asked him to. But, at this point, can anybody give a reason why Bryan Evans gives this team a better chance to win right now than Bacarri Rambo? As physically gifted as he is, he has never shown the ability to cover anybody in man coverage, and is consistently out of position when we are in zone. Rambo is a playmaker…don’t we need those guys?

- Nice to see at least some semblance of a running game. And as good as Washaun has looked, I’m OK with Caleb being the starter, based on his effectiveness in the passing game. It's not like the Evans-Rambo situation where one player is obviously more effective and we are going with the less effective one for some unexplained reason. Caleb being the starter doesn’t mean that we are not going to see a heavy dose of Washaun.

An aside…Washaun has said that when Evans leaves, he is going to ask for his old HS number back. We’ve been trying to find a replacement for our last #34 for 25 years now…maybe a combination of #3 and #4 will be the secret next year?

- Let me get this straight…we have two weeks to prepare, and the best we can come up with against a struggling Gator offense is more of the same soft-zone-give-the-receiver-six-yards-of-space crap we serve up every week? Can we PLEASE find a way to utilize this abundance of talent we have on defense?

To me, what this team is missing on defense more than anything else is ATTITUDE. Any kind of edge or nastiness that is REAL, not contrived. This team is so far removed from the "Junkyard Dawgs" that Erk wouldn't even recognize it.

The defense wasn’t as bad as the 41 points may indicate…but we never showed a consistent ability to slow them down, and they were able to score EVERY time they needed to. Kind of like every other big game we have played the last two seasons.

- Stupid penalties. Turnovers. Continuing to bang our head against the directional kicking wall, when we have a kicker who has more than enough leg to boom the ball into the end zone. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Sometimes, I hate being right.

- So, who is the MVP of this team? Drew Butler or Blair Walsh?

- Brandon Spikes is a low-life, and his hypocritical, lying, sack-of-crap coach is even worse.

- I didn’t forget the stupid, gimmicky, circus-stunt, embarrassing, low-rent, bush-league, desperate, cringe-worthy decision to try and “Blackout” this game. I’m just trying REALLY hard to do so.

- The only thing that can salvage this season for me at this point is to beat the Gnats in Atlanta.

- Bottom line…14 months ago, this team was the number one team in the country. Now, I can’t tell any difference in where we currently are as a program and where we were in the Donnan years. Tremendously talented, but manages to find increasingly stupefying ways to mutilate itself on a consistent basis.

I love Coach Richt, and there is nobody I would rather have representing the University of Georgia. I don’t want him fired, and if you do, don’t bother telling me because I probably won’t even waste my time trying to convince you of what an idiot you are.

That being said, there have to be changes made. I’m glad I don’t have to be the one to make them. Here are two that, as a fan, I want to see:

o Coach Martinez should do the honorable thing and step down. Coach Richt obviously considers Willie to be a good friend. If he is as good a friend as Coach Richt thinks he is, he will not put his friend in the awkward position of having to continually defend why he has not fired the man who has been the overseer of a precipitous decline in output ever since he got the job.
o Coach Richt should at least get more involved in the play-calling, if not take it back completely. Coach Richt made his reputation calling plays for some of the most prolific offenses in NCAA history. I understand the advantages of not having that responsibility anymore when it comes to time management, etc, but I’m starting to think that it may have been too much too fast for Coach Bobo.

This program is not in shambles. There are still a lot of tools in the toolbox. But, without a doubt, there needs to be a change in mindset, and that ALWAYS starts at the top.

GO DAWGS!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Now, for the promised announcement: I don’t know how much “Dawg” blogging I am going to be doing in the near future. Don’t get me wrong…I still love this team, will be pulling like mad for 9-4, and I still live and die with this bunch.

That’s part of the reason why I haven’t blogged as much and may not blog as much in the future. I started this blog for one reason only…to have fun. I write about the things I enjoy. In doing so, I have been lucky enough to gain a (very small) audience and have had this blog added to blogrolls of Dawg fans and linked by the Benevolent Geniuses at Dawgbone. As flattering as that is, I feel like I put pressure on myself to be the type of writer that people who would get to my blog from those links would want to read, so I felt like I had to do a recap of every game, or try and weigh in on every Dawg-related issue, whether I wanted to or not, while at the same time maybe NOT post other things that interest me but may not interest somebody who got here through Dawgbone.

The point is, posting about the Dawgs started feeling like something I HAD to do, rather than something I WANT to do.

On top of all that, some things happened with my work schedule and environment that have kept me from posting as timely as I would have liked, so I felt like by the time I actually got a chance to weigh in on anything, it had already been said (and almost definitely better) by guys like Hale, Bernie, Doug, Mike, DawgSports, etc, etc.

I don’t want to post just to post. I also don’t want to post a lot about the Dawgs when I’m ticked off, because I don’t want to add to what has become a very negative atmosphere at times (not due to the guys mentioned above, btw).

So, here’s the deal…I’m still going to post about the Dawgs, when I feel like I have something to add to the conversation. But I’m probably also going to be posting about a bunch of other, non-Dawg stuff. I watch TONS of television. I read LOTS of books. I love ALL kinds of movies. I have WAY too much stupid, random stuff running around in my head. Hopefully, out of all that, there will be enough to keep you coming back. If not, I’ll just keep firing posts into the blogosphere for my mom to read.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SEC suspends officiating crew - now what?

So, the SEC suspended the Marc Curles crew that has been the talk of the blogosphere (for all the wrong reasons) for the last couple of weeks. Obviously, I applaud the move...anything intended to hold these officials accountable is a definite plus.

Then I got to thinking...what kind of slippery slope is the SEC headed down? If they start suspending crews every time they make ridiculous calls, they may be out of zebras by mid-November.

I'm only half-kidding.

Consider this hypothetical...Would you agree that there is at least a 50% chance that some boneheaded official (let's call him Wynn Pagers) makes a typical stupid call this week in the Alabama-Tennessee game that affects the game? OK, let's say that next week, Wynn is assigned the Cocktail Party, and he calls unsportsmanlike conduct on Caleb King for daring to cross the goal line against the Gator defense. Will not all of us Dawg fans be all over the interwebs and call-in shows calling for...nay, DEMANDING that Mr. Pagers and the rest of his crew face similar disciplinary action? I know I would...in fact, I may take the week off work solely for that purpose.

You see, now that Commish Slive has made a public effort to hold his officials accountable, it is now HIS office that will be held accountable. If he thinks that making this one move will quell the increasing public outcry regarding the repetitive incompetence of his officials, well...that's a sweet notion, but I don't see it happening.

By the way, I thought this particular quote from Slive was just a real side-splitter:
"A series of calls that have occurred during the last several weeks have not been to the standard that we expect from our officiating crews...I believe our officiating program is the best in the country."
So, from that I gather that the commish is busy doing other things on Saturday rather than watch the football being played in his conference, because...that is just RICH. Those calls were EXACTLY the standard that I expect from SEC crews, so I don't really know what he's talking about.

Anyway...what I hope happens is something similar to what I outlined above (except for the penalty against the Dawgs, of course). I hope there is an outpouring of criticism and demands for suspensions every week, and the storm gets so intense that the conference is FORCED to do something about their embarrassing tradition of inept officiating. Make the refs full-time, hold them more publicly accountable, just do SOMETHING.

And, while you're at it, petition the NCAA to stop making rules up that are impossible to enforce, like "excessive celebration". Leave it to the NCAA to outlaw happiness.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Recap - Vanderbilt

I’ve decided I like a more free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness approach to my recaps rather than the “Great-Good-Bad-Ugly” thing I was doing earlier…unfortunately for you, that probably means I’ll be even more long-winded and rambling than normal.

My assorted thoughts from Saturday…

- I’m as guilty of the “it’s just Vandy” meme as anybody else, but regardless…that was a solid effort on both sides of the ball, and maybe the most complete game that the Dawgs have played in over a year. No matter the competition, it was exactly the kind of performance we HAD to have at this point in the season.

Can you imagine if, God forbid, we had lost that game, or even pulled out an ugly win a la ASU or South Carolina? This would have been a LONG two weeks leading up to Jacksonville. Instead, both the team and the fanbase get to feel a little better about things, which I think will help in the ramp-up to the Cocktail Party.

- Speaking of Jacksonville…the Gators sure looked beatable on Saturday, at least until the officiating crew decided to make it 11 on 16. They have not been able to establish any kind of consistent running game, and the only reliable receivers they have are Cooper and Hernandez. Call me crazy, but I ain’t skeered…more on that game coming in the next couple of weeks.

As for the officiating in that Gators-Hawgs game… I almost said “unbelievable” to describe that debacle, but the sad part is that it is all too believable. It’s like I have said for a while now...I’ve been watching SEC football in particular and football in general for most of my life. I don’t think SEC refs are crooked. I think they are too stupid to be crooked. I think that at least one or two times in every game they are going to COMPLETELY screw something up. You just hope that it doesn’t affect the outcome of the game, like it did to us against LSU or against the Hawgs on Saturday. The personal foul call against Arkansas during Florida’s last drive was just egregiously putrid. Basically, the Arky lineman was penalized 15 yards for being blocked, 25 yards away from the play.

The problem with incompetent officials is not that they are intentionally biased…it is that they are far too easily swayed by influences such as homefield advantage and which team is “supposed” to win.

One more point on the officials, and then I’ll move on...something has to be done about the “unsportsmanlike conduct/excessive celebration” rule before next year. If they are not going to take it out completely, then they have to find a way to make the rule less open for interpretation. Apparently, the Dawgs can’t even fart after a play without being called for unsportsmanlike conduct, but the Dores defensive lineman can rip Joe C’s towel off his waist and throw it in the air after a sack with no call. And don’t even get me started on Saint Timmy…if the rule is supposed to prevent players from calling attention to themselves after a play, why is Tebow allowed to stalk 8-10 yards away from everybody else and practically do a rain dance every time he runs the ball for a first down?

Moving on…

- It’s blatantly obvious what all of us have been saying for the past couple of years…a dominating defensive end is absolutely essential for a Willie Martinez defense to be effective. Justin Houston has been a difference maker ever since he came back from suspension, and he continued his great play on Saturday.

Tennessee was able to lessen his impact by rolling Crompton away from him, and we (of course) were either unable or uninterested in making any adjustments.

Other obvious observations (the only kind I’m really good at) about our defense:
  • Bryan Evans, God love him, should not be taking ANY playing time away from Bacarri Rambo. Rambo continues to make plays every time he is on the field, while Evans continues to show up on my television screen trying to chase somebody down from behind who has just burned him in pass coverage.

  • For everything great about Rennie Curran (and there are TONS of great things), there is also this…his weakness is in pass coverage. Way too many of the open tight ends we have seen this year have been his responsibility, at least as best as I can tell…some of them have been so wide open that it is impossible to tell who had responsibility, if anybody.

- A.J. Green. Good grief. What is left to say? That 65 yard TD was a thing of beauty, and the amazing thing about was it didn’t even look like he was trying all that hard.

I’ve said it before…I think he is well on his way to becoming the 2nd greatest football player we have ever had. Feel free to give your own nominations in the comments, and maybe I’ll pull together a list we can go over during the bye week.

- Add me to the list of people who loved seeing Coach Bobo on the sideline. Even when I first heard about it, before we were able to see what effect, if any, it would have on the gameplan or playcalling, I loved the move for one simple reason: It was an acknowledgement that SOMETHING needed to change, that what had happened to this point was not acceptable and something needed to be done about it. Very comforting to see that the coaching staff is willing to change things up.

I have no idea if it helped the playcalling or not, but I do know that I loved seeing the energy that Bobo brought to the sidelines that we never get to see from him in the booth. I also think that it helped to be able to speak one-on-one with Joe and the other players when things weren’t going so well in the first half. Plus, I think it may have helped him get more of a “feel” for what was working and what wasn’t, being down there with the guys.
Whatever…I enjoyed seeing it, and the results seemed to follow, so I would definitely expect to see it again in Jacksonville.

- On the flip side, when it comes to coaching…the fake punt. Ugh. The reasons that was so disgusting:
  • Down-and-distance and field position dictated that it was the perfect opportunity for the Dores to call the fake, and yet we were totally unprepared…AGAIN. I know it’s “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”…what about “Fool me a dozen times”? Is there a folksy little saying to describe that? How about “I’m so stupid I’m surprised I manage to walk upright”?
  • Even worse…we called a timeout right before it happened. What exactly did our staff and players discuss during that timeout, if not the possibility of a fake?

Ugh.

- Blair Walsh is MONEY. Drew Butler is a MACHINE. Never thought I would say this, but thank God for our kickers.

- Prince Miller is a very good punt returner. Logan Gray is not. You would think that would factor into our personnel decisions on punt return. You would be incorrect.

- Brandon Boykin is a true weapon on kick return, and he continues to improve in pass coverage as well.

- Washaun Ealy and Caleb King should be our primary running backs, and we should continue to try and get the ball to Carlton Thomas IN SPACE (NOT BETWEEN THE TACKLES…HE IS BUILT LIKE A SMALL CHILD, FOR GOD’S SAKE! ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL HIM?)

- Welcome back to the linebacker position, Richard Samuel.

I don’t honestly think that’s going to happen, but it’s what I would do. Yet another inexcusable fumble in this game, even though we did recover it. He wasn’t even hit that hard…the ball just came out.

Overall, this was exactly the kind of game we needed at exactly the right time.

My schedule is lightening up a little, so I may be posting a little more often. Try to contain your excitement.

Since it’s a bye week, I may even throw in a few thoughts on the fall TV season to date.

GO DAWGS!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Much better

I know, it was only Vandy...but that was the most complete game the Dawgs have played since beating Arizona State last year.

Justin Houston is a difference maker for this defense, and A.J. Green is making his case as the 2nd greatest player to ever wear the Red and Black.

I'll be back in a day or so with the full recap, but I just wanted to get a positive post up to replace the last one that has been up all week...yeah, I've been busy.

GO DAWGS!!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What are our goals?

Let me preface my thoughts with a couple of disclaimers, if you will. Number one, I have not and will not use this space to call for anybody's job. I have the utmost confidence that the staff that we have has the ABILITY to make the adjustments that HAVE to be made in order to turn this ship around. I love everything that Coach Richt stands for, and I don't think he has forgotten how to coach since winning two SEC championships and averaging 10 wins a year.

Number 2, this is the hardest post I have ever had to write. I have not been posting much the last few weeks specifically because I did not want to post some of the things that I have been thinking. But I also want this blog to be a place to be honest with my opinions....so, here we go.

"Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we will catch excellence."
- Vince Lombardi.

Chasing perfection. Demanding excellence. Expecting nothing but the best from yourself and from those around you. These are the signs of a leader, and part of what leads to the ultimate success as a football team.

This team, as recently as 14 months ago, was considered to be the number one team in the country. Now? We have really good kickers, and we are very dangerous on kickoff return. Other than that, there is not one facet of the game that we are consistently good at, much less excellent.

I am not in the locker room, I am not on the practice field, I am not on the sideline, so I can only go by a) what I see on the field, and b) what I hear from our coaching staff during press conferences and interviews. But, from what I can tell, the biggest problem that our team has is this...our coaching staff does not demand excellence. They are not chasing perfection.

There have been several examples that have led me to this opinion. A few of them (all quotes are paraphrased):

- Coach Richt saying that penalties don't bother him. For two years running, we have been one of the most penalized teams in the country. Many of our penalties have come at critical junctures in games, costing us big plays and/or points. And, despite what Coach Richt has said, many of these do NOT seem to be penalties of aggression. Holding penalties, offsides, false starts, personal fouls AFTER the play, etc...these are penalties of laziness and lack of focus. But, based on the fact that the problem continues and that our head coach is quoted in the media as saying that it really doesn't bother him, our coaching staff apparently thinks there is no work to be done in that area. That is not demanding excellence.

- Our kickoff coverage team is a constant source of embarrassment and big plays for the opposition. And yet, not only do we continue to approach that facet of the game with the same inexplicable strategies and personnel choices, but we as fans are condescended to and basically told that we don't know what we are talking about for questioning those strategies. Former players are quoted as saying that we continue with the same approach because our kickoff coverage coach enjoys the challenge. That is not chasing perfection.

- Over the last several years, our defense has been exposed over and over as a group that can be exploited due to lack of assignment discipline, poor tackling, and a failure to adjust to what an opponent is doing to have success. But the problems continue with no end in sight. Why are these results considered to be acceptable? That is not demanding excellence.

- On punt return, we have been relegated for the last several games to bringing our backup QB to come in and call for fair catches while we defend against the fake, rather than just coaching our punt return team to be aware of the fake and continuing to give our playmakers a chance to make plays. Rather than attempting to be excellent, we instead choose to just give up on that aspect of the game.

- Earlier this year, when the team was 3-1, many of us in the fanbase, as well as many media members, could see these problems and others, but when our coaching staff was questioned about them, the pat response seemed to be along the lines of, "Well, we are winning games...so it must not be all bad."

To me, that is the crux of the problem. From all indications, the goal of our coaching staff is to be just good enough to win. Why should our fanbase, or our team for that matter, be happy that we beat South Carolina at home on the strength of Rennie Curran's fingernail on the last play of the game? Why should it be enough that we beat a 2nd tier Pac 10 team at home on a last second field goal? Are we not supposed to be an elite team? Is that not what we are supposed to be striving for? Excellence?

- Our stated goal every year, according to Coach Richt? Win the SEC East. I get the thinking...win the east, and you are competing for the SEC title, and if you are competing for the SEC title you are in contention for the National Championship, etc...

But here is what I wish our goal was: Excellence. I know it's just a quote from a movie, but I think it is applicable: "We will be perfect in every phase of the game...offense, defense, special teams."

Because, as Coach Lombardi knew, if you shoot for perfection and fall short, then excellence is still within your grasp. But if you aim is just to be "good enough" to win and you fall short, well...yesterday happens. And Alabama 2008, and Florida 2008, and UT 2006/2007, and West Virginia 2006, etc, etc.

One other caveat...I am in no way blaming our players. I know that they work hard, and I think that they will honestly tell you that they are giving everything that they have and trying their very best. It is up to the coaching staff to define what "everything you have" and "very best" means...to set the standard for what is considered excellence.

I want Coach Richt to retire from UGA 20-25 years from now. I can think of no other coach that I want running this program that I love and support. I am not advocating firing coaches...but I do believe that Coach Richt has to change the mindset surrounding this program. To set the standard at "Perfect" and hold people accountable for striving to attain it.

The talent is there for this team to be successful. We have what should be a very winnable game this week against Vandy followed by a week off to prepare for the Cocktail party. It will be very difficult to affect the type of changes I believe that we need in that amount of time...but I do believe it's possible.

On top of that, I believe it is a necessity.

GO DAWGS.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pathetic.

Ugly.
Putrid.
Nauseating.
Horrible.
Ridiculous.
Perplexing.
Depressing.
Terrifying.
Disgusting.
Inept.
Infuriating.

And most of all...embarrassing.

BIG game today

Today's game is huge for both teams, but especially the Dawgs...this could be the swing game between something like 9-3 and 7-5 or 6-6.

I've been busy again this week, but I also am holding off on posting some things that I really don't want to...it's sufficient to say that I'm hoping to see a HUGE change in mindset from this team and coaching staff today.

Here, this should help us feel a LITTLE better...


Check the 0:15 point of this clip... :-)



And, finally, a fellow Austell, GA native:


GO DAWGS!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

LSU recap - sort of

OK, I've been putting this off for three days now...

I still can't really talk about this game rationally. Every time I try to discuss it, the conversation dissolves into a rambling, incoherent ranting session that ends with me in a borderline state of depression.

So, I still don't have it in me to do an organized "Great-good-bad-ugly" post...this will be more of a stream of consciousness thing.

And, yes, I know that I am probably plagiarizing about 50 other bloggers at this point, as surely everything that can be said about this game has been said by now. I apologize in advance.

Maybe it will be cathartic...

- A.J. Green is one of the top 5 players we have ever had, at least in my 30 years of watching this team. Joe Cox would probably have at least 3-4 more interceptions, including the touchdown catch at the end, were it not for AJ bailing him out. Thank God we have him for another year.

- The celebration penalty...oof. That was just absurd. Actually, the whole idea of being penalized for "excessively celebrating" is pretty stupid, especially in a case like that, when you've just scored a touchdown in the last minute of the game to take the lead over the #4 team in the country.

What's happening with things like this and the idiotic rule changes we are seeing at both the college and NFL level (regarding how hard you can hit people, and you can only hit people when they are expecting it, and you can only be happy under certain circumstances, etc...) is that these Rules Committees get together every year and so they feel like they have to do something in order to justify their existence. So every year we get a new rule or a new point of emphasis, whatever. They can't very well get together for a week and then come out and say afterwards, "We couldn't come up with anything...we decided the game is pretty good as it is."

Trust me, from personal experience (and many of you can testify to this as well)...there are few better factories for stupid than "committees".

However...that penalty is not why we lost the game. We lost the game when we managed 49 yards in the first half. And one first down.

- Coach Fabris is a great defensive ends coach. I don't think that can be argued.

But, good grief, we can't seriously consider keeping him on kickoff coverage, can we? Check this out if you haven't, from David Hale's blog. Two years worth of putrid kickoff coverage that just sucked momentum out of the team, either at the beginning of a half or following a Dawgs score.

And yet...we KEEP DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

(By the way...it's usually at this point that my discussion of last week's game dissolves into bitter, spittle-flying rage. Just a warning)

Take another look at that David Hale article...how is this acceptable? Why is this OK? We are supposedly a top tier team, right? How is it that we have one aspect of our team that is consistently, disgustingly awful, and rather than trying to fix it or hold anybody accountable, we get excuses and condescension and more of the same old crap?

Then we get former players that say Coach Fabris likes to do it this way because he likes the challenge.

COME AGAIN?!?!?!

Dude, if you want a challenge, take up sudoku. Learn a second language. Run a triathlon. STOP SCREWING WITH MY FOOTBALL TEAM.

OH!!! And THEN!!! On the MOST CRUCIAL kickoff of the season so far, we decide to get cute and run that stupid bunch formation kickoff, and then we not only fail to cover the kickoff properly (of freaking COURSE), but then we also get a penalty that puts the Tigers in field goal range because we didn't line up properly.

ARRRRGGGHHH.

I ask again....how is this OK? Is it me? Am I missing something?

Moving on...

- Joe Cox is not the problem, and even if he was there is nothing we can do about it right now.

- If you had told me two months ago that our offensive line would not be able to get guys off the line enough for us to have anything resembling a productive running game, I would have laughed at you.

I'm not laughing anymore.

- The difference in the defense now and the first three games is Justin Houston.

- Rennie Curran. There aren't enough words to talk about how much I love this guy.

- The missed tackles that led to Charles Scott's touchdown was probably a blessing in disguise. If we do stop him in the backfield, LSU probably runs the clock out and kicks a field goal to win and we don't even get the ball back. Not that it mattered, obviously.

- I am not counting the interception that Joe threw, since it was a desperation pass that he probably (hopefully) never would have thrown in a normal situation, so we basically had a turnover-free game. Progress.

- I know the reasons that Washaun is not playing more (pass blocking, lack of knowledge of the playbook)...but to me, he looked more like an SEC running back in his eight carries than anything we've seen all season.

Also, did you notice that Coach Richt called out the running backs a little after the game? I don't remember the exact quote, and I'm too lazy to go look it up, but he basically said that our running backs are only getting as far as the blocking and that our guys need to do a better job of doing like Charles Scott did, which is make somebody miss or break a tackle. Make a play, in other words.

Were it not for the broken jaw that Caleb King suffered last week, I would guess that quote would signify the possible end of the Richard Samuel era. As it is, we'll undoubtedly see more of Washaun this week.

And if somebody could put an APB out for Carlton Thomas, that would be nice, too.

- OK, I guess that's all for now. Bottom line is that we lost in the last minute to the #4 team in the country, and we should have a very good chance at being 5-2 going into the bye week before The Cocktail Party. Anybody remember what happened the last time we were in that situation?




I know that this is a totally different team...but I also remember how I felt after the disaster in Neyland in 2007. I'm not saying that the same thing is going to happen for this team, but at the same time I never could have foreseen what was to come the rest of that year...only the most enjoyable season of my lifetime.

GO DAWGS!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I came back for THIS?

Sorry, I've been pretty out of commission the past week...some traveling for business, and then snowed under at work.

And, now....after that game today, I don't really have it in me to write a full recap right now. I feel like I got kicked in the stomach by a mule about fifty times in a row.

So...I'll be back in a day or so with full thoughts. I don't think it's as bad as we all feel right now...but it ain't good.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recap - Arizona State

Let me start by saying this...if you place any money on a UGA game this year (either to win or to lose), you're either much smarter than I am or you deserve to lose your money. Because I have given up trying to figure this team out.

What are we on offense? I have no idea. What are we on defense? No clue. Special teams? Great in some areas, mindblowingly awful in others.

Couple of things I do know about this team...

Number one: every single week, we are going to make costly mistakes by turning the ball over on our own side of the field, committing dumb penalties, etc. I have no faith that this is going to get better...there is too much evidence to the contrary.

Number two: there is no quit in this team. There have been UGA teams in the not too distant past that would currently be sitting at 0-4 if they had faced some of the (mostly self inflicted) adversity that this team has seen. Instead, we are 3-1, unbeaten in the conference, and all of our realistic preseason goals are still within our reach.

The weekly breakdown...

THE GREAT:

- A.J. Green, the receiver. Simply put, the greatest receiver we have ever had in the history of UGA football. Great routes, separation speed, fantastic hands, explosiveness after the catch, etc, etc...there is simply nothing about him as a receiver that is not superb.

And his best catch of the night didn't even count...in my opinion, the replays showed fairly convincingly that he dragged his right toe inbounds on the TD catch that was disallowed in the fourth quarter. To lay out and catch a ball that looked to be at least two yards out of bounds, and still have the presence of mind to drag the toe inbounds...just unbelievable.

- A.J. Green, the blocker. Watching him on downfield runs and plays around the corner, I think he may be the best blocking WR we've had since Hines. And he obviously enjoys it, which makes it even more awesome.

Really, all of our WR do a pretty good job of downfield blocking, but this is yet another instance where A.J. is leading by example.

- A.J. Green, the special teams player. May have saved the game with his Boss Bailey impersonation on the Devils last FG attempt.



My favorite part was his quote afterwards: "That's got to be my best play ever...that tops all the catches."

That is a team player, and a leader.

Thank God we have him for one more season.

- Blair Walsh and Drew Butler. I almost forgot the play of Drew, but he continues to be a huge asset, and has probably won a game or so for us already.

As for Blair, it looks like the late season struggles of last year are behind him...he's still perfect this year, and I have absolute confidence in him to go out and make kicks with the game on the line, just like last night.


THE GOOD:

- The defense. Maybe we are only going to show up against out of conference opponents (Lord, please don't let that be the case). But this looked a lot more like the defense we saw in the opener.

Even though we only got one sack, we were getting very consistent pressure all night, and made tons of plays in the backfield. Justin Houston and Geno Atkins, in particular, were making big plays all night, and Jeff Owens showed up a time or too, as well.

Bacarri Rambo responded to more playing time with a very good performance, including his first career INT...Bryan Evans has probably lost his starting job.

Take away the two turnovers that led to touchdowns (one of which the defense wasn't even on the field for), and the defense only gave up three points. The only thing that kept me from putting them in the "great"category was that we were gashed quite a bit by the "zone read" runs, especially early on, which kept the D on the field and the offense on the sideline for entirely too long.

But overall, a vast improvement...I guess we'll let Willie stick around another week?

- Caleb King. This guy should be our feature tailback. He's running hard, making people miss, and just generally looking like a big time running back.

That fumble, though...that can't happen.

- Rantavious Wootentheballcarrier. Not only was it nice to see him finally get some extended playing time, but he took advantage of it with two huge plays on third and long, including one on the game-winning drive. Not bad for a true freshman.

THE BAD:
- Joe Cox. You know I love The Assassin, but there were just way too many bad decisions in this game. The two interceptions were both horrible throws into coverage, and he was very lucky to not have a couple more...he seemed to be throwing into two or three white shirts all night.

I think this is what we are going to get from Joe all year, honestly...there will be games like last week where he makes all the right decisions and looks great, but there are also going to be nights like this one. He makes questionable decisions sometimes, and he doesn't have the cannon arm to overcome those decisions.

Speaking of which...

THE UGLY:

- TURNOVERS. How long do you think we can continue to be on the wrong end of the turnover margin by tons and still keep eking out wins? I guess we're going to find out, because this team continues to show absolutely zero desire to value the football. As bad as three turnovers are, it could have been much worse...Joe could have had a couple more INT's and we were extremely lucky on the punt that bounced off Prince Miller's chest.

And I guess it just tells you where we are as a team that seven penalties is considered enough to keep penalties off the "ugly" list.

Bottom line:
3-1 is 3-1. Honestly, most of us probably had us at 3-1 at this point of the season in our preseason prognostications.

But our margin for error goes away this week. If we continue to play as stupid as we have so far...costly turnovers, dumb penalties, etc...we can NOT win against LSU, or in Neyland, or against Auburn, the Gators, the trade school, etc.

However...if this is the week that we get smart, and let the talent on this team shine without self inflicted wounds...and if that change takes root, and carries on through the remainder of the season...then I truly believe that this team can still succeed far beyond our expectations.

GO DAWGS!!!