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?
- 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?
- 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.