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...


- 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 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 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.

- 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...


- 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.


Friday, September 25, 2009

The week that was...

Hello, interwebs! Have you missed me?

For my longtime readers (all 2 of you), you may remember that around this time last year my posting schedule became sporadic at best, nonexistent at worst. This is my busiest time of the year at my job, and by the time I get home I tend to collapse on the couch rather than share all my remarkable insight with all of you…for that, I apologize. I’m not sure how you survive without me.

(that was sarcasm, by the way)

So…what’s been going on?

- I guess I’ll be the last Dawg blogger to remark on the comments Coach Martinez made this week regarding the play of the defense so far (h/t to David Hale).

Here’s the thing…I don’t expect CWM to say, “OK, we’ve done this, this and this from a scheme standpoint, and now we are going to do that, that, and that instead.” I understand that his answers are going to be a bit vague, by necessity. However, what I DO expect is for him to say is something like, “This is my fault. Whether it’s scheme or execution, it doesn’t matter…the buck stops here.” Instead, he says that the players are in the right position, they just have to make the play, which is another way of saying, “My scheme is fine, these players are just screwing up.”

I’m not even saying that this is not a true statement…but ultimately, as the Defensive Coordinator, isn’t it his job to make sure these guys are executing the scheme properly? I know that he can’t make the plays himself, these are 18-22 year olds, etc, etc…but this is not a problem that has just cropped up in the last two ball games. Our opponents are AVERAGING over 30 points a game against us the last nine games. Those are inexcusable results, regardless of the competition or any extenuating circumstances like offensive turnovers, etc.

Good news is that the coaching staff is at least showing some sense of urgency this week. Looks like there will be a shakeup in the playing time among the secondary, especially at safety. Bryan Evans, God love him…he’s extremely fast and he can definitely bring a lick, but he is just not blessed with the skills to cover anybody one-on-one.

The talent is there on that defense…I still believe that. I keep thinking that this will be the week when that talent meets scheme meets execution and our defense puts together a performance worthy of their Junkyard Dawg reputation. I still think that this week as well.

- ASU prediction: Dawgs continue to gel on offense, seemingly working new playmakers in every week. This week, I say we get big contributions from Brown, Wootentheballcarrier, and Caleb. And, yeah, I’ll say it again in hopes that this week it will be true...the defense finally gets their act together, aided by big games from the emerging DE tandem of Houston and Washington.

Dawgs 38, Devils 13.


- DawgSports put it best about the Ole Miss – South Cackalacky game last night…it was the huge upset everybody saw coming from a mile away. I’ve been saying for months that Ole Miss was overrated…they got WAY too much hype based on a winning streak at the end of last season.

An excerpt from my SEC Media Days coverage:
It had been 727 days since they won a conference game when they beat Florida. That says a lot about what an impressive performance and huge upset it was, but also...this is the team that so many are picking top 5 and handing the SEC West to? A team that, as recently as last year, had a TWO YEAR conference losing streak going? Excuse me if I don't jump on that bandwagon just yet.

My opinion on teams like Ole Miss is that they are going to have to elevate themselves to elite status…I ain’t putting them there until they prove that they can do it. Add to the massive hype (and pressure that comes with it) the fact that they had played absolutely nobody so far, so their first real game was on the road, at night, in Columbia against a team that had already been through a couple of real games….and that was easy pickings last night.

Oh, and something else I agree with DawgSports about…I miss Erin Andrews’ hot librarian look from last week.

- Big game coming up for the Falcons, on the road against the Patriots. This is a chance to see if we have really stepped up to an elite status. I know, the Pats haven’t exactly looked like themselves so far, but I think that makes them even more dangerous.

I think this game may look very familiar to Dawgs fans…I don’t see us shutting down the Pats offense, so we are going to have to outscore them. I say we do…Falcons win 38-34.

On a related note, how much of an upgrade is Mike Peterson over Keith Brooking? He makes more plays in one quarter than the overrated Brooking made in the last five years…interceptions, forced fumbles, recovering blocked kicks, big hits BEHIND the line of scrimmage (not seven or eight yards downfield, where Brooking made his living). Another coup by Demitrof, this one with an assist to Mike Smith and the seriously-missed-in-Athens Brian VanGorder, who coached Peterson in Jacksonville and convinced the GM to go get him.

- Looks like next year will be the end of an era, as Bobby Cox has announced that he will step down following the 2010 season. Bobby is a very polarizing figure among Atlanta sports fans…you get people saying that he couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag, and you get people saying that he was the key to the extended run of success that the team had in the nineties and early aughts.

I think the truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. I think that for a 162 game schedule, you would be hard pressed to find a manager better suited to be successful. However, as so often is the case, what makes you awesome is also what makes you suck…his even-keel, never-too-high-never-too-low, “that’s just baseball, we’ll get ‘em tomorrow night” attitude always seemed to carry over into the more pressurized atmosphere of the playoffs. After the first couple of playoff runs, I just never really sensed the intensity out of the Braves dugout the way I did from the opposition…not sure how to quantify that, but if you’re a longtime Braves fan you probably know what I mean.

I do, however, take issue with people who say that he had the best team in the playoffs every year and only managed to win one ring. We may have had the best pitching staff every year, but our top-to-bottom roster was usually not the best in baseball. Now, that being said, we definitely lost to teams (Padres, Cubs, Astros, etc) who I thought we were better than, but I don’t know that we were the best team in baseball any of those years.

The one World Series I thought we “should” have won but didn’t was in ’96. Braves got down 3-1 against the Cardinals in the NLCS, and it looked like it was all over. But they swept the next three against the Cards (winning 14-0, 3-1, and 15-0) and then the first two in Yankee Stadium (winning 12-1 and 4-0). For those five games, that was the greatest baseball team I have ever seen.

You all know what happened next, so I’m not going to rip the scab off that old wound.

Bottom line…Bobby Cox is a Hall of Famer and whether we know it or not, we’ve been lucky to have him for the last two decades.

Wow…I’m starting to think I should have broken this up into several posts. To those still reading, thanks for hanging with me, and I’ll be back on Sunday to recap the Dawgs win over ASU!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Recap - Arkansas

Good grief...this team is taking years off my life.

Sorry about the lateness of this post...combo of some weekend traveling and being a bit under the weather today. And also keeping an eye out the window to make sure my truck doesn't float away.

Let's get to it, shall we? This game really didn't have a lot of "in-between"...the good parts were really really good, and the bad parts were putri-riffic.

- Joe Freakin' Cox. If not for The Ginger Assassin, we would be looking at disaster right now. Yeah, he's for real. Just huge throw after huge throw. Every one of the touchdown throws were perfect, and they all called for something different...on the Aron White TD, he made the throw to the outside shoulder, a little behind him on purpose, so that only Aron could get the ball in one-on-one coverage. The throw to Tavarres King was a rainmaker, a high arching 50 yard bomb. The 2nd TD to AJ was a laser, thrown high enough to allow his playmaker to go up and make the play. Etc, etc...

I'm just really happy for the guy, you know? He has waited patiently for his turn, even risking the possibility of never playing a down at QB while at UGA, consistently talks about his love for Georgia, is by all accounts a fantastic teammate and leader. Then, after ONE game as the starter, so many fans were ready to throw him on the trash heap and move on to someone else. So to see him accomplish what he has the last couple of games (including being named the Walter Camp Player of the week and SEC Offensive Player of the Week), couldn't happen to a better guy, and it makes me proud to be a Dawg.

But besides all that sentimental stuff...we have ourselves a quarterback, Dawg fans.

- The WR/TE corps. I could give each of them their own bullet point, but AJ Green, Michael Moore, Tavarres King, Orson Charles, Aron White...we saw examples of every one of them being playmakers like we haven't had in this abundance since....well, ever, I guess. And that's BEFORE we work Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wootentheballcarrier into the mix.

AJ Green is a friggin beast...I'll take him over any other WR in the country right now, bar none. I love his aggression this year...he is playing with a bit of an attitude, but the right kind of attitude.

And Michael Moore is an extremely reliable #2 WR, the kind of guy you have to have on your roster to be consistently successful on 3rd and 7.

- Brandon Boykin on kick return. Better enjoy these plays while we can...I can't see opposing teams continuing to kick to him for very long. Even when it's not blocked well, he is consistently making guys miss and setting us off in great field position.

- Our kickers. Drew Butler bailed us out again with a huge kick with under 5 minutes to go, and Blair remains perfect. These guys are going to end up winning some games for us this year, if they haven't already.

- The running backs. Finally, we got to see what Richard Samuel can do when he breaks loose, and the results were no doubt impressive. However, outside of that big play, he wasn't all that productive, and the fumbled pitch was atrocious. On top of that, the fumble that he recovered could have been a game-changer.

It was great to see Caleb, and overall I think he was the more impressive back Saturday night. As he gets back into the groove, I get the feeling we are going to see why he was the number one back in camp before the hamstring injury held him back. If he can get back to that level, I think the offense is better off with him as the every-down guy and Samuel and Thomas as the change(s) of pace.

- The O-line. Good enough to roll up 50+ points and 500 yards of offense, but too many penalties to be considered "great".

Yeah, we skipped the bad...all of the bad in this game was UGLY.

- PENALTIES. FOURTEEN PENALTIES. FOUR. TEEN. PENALTIES. And I don't want to hear any more "penalties of aggression" crap. False starts, offsides, and holding calls are NOT penalties of aggression. They are penalties of laziness and poor focus, and they are not indicative of a championship team.

- TURNOVERS. We can't continue to be on the wrong end of the turnover margin in every single game and expect to keep gutting out wins. The Joe C interception didn't hurt too bad, as it was as good as a punt, and it was not as much a poor decision as it was a good play by the safety. But the Samuel fumble was inexcusable, and Boykin has to do a better job of knowing where he is on the field so as not to run into his own man trying to field a punt.

The Samuel fumble(s) are even more distressing, as they are a continuation of the problems he had last year. Maybe somebody needs to ask him how many feet are in a mile.

- The kickoff "coverage". Fine, Mssrs. Fabris and Richt. I give up. Kick it out of bounds. Refuse to field a unit that can consistently stop a returner before they reach the 40. Heck, even pooch kick to the 40 when the clock is our friend and we need the opponents to have to drive the length of the field. I just can't talk about it anymore.

- THE DEFENSE. Oh, Willie. Why do you despise me so? Why must you continue to destroy my heart a piece at a time?

OK, some credit first...I went back and watched it again, and honestly the first half performance by the defense was not that bad. They did get put in bad situations due to the aforementioned turnovers and piss-poor kick coverage. Two of the first three touchdowns (the first one and the third one) were actually covered very well...Mallett just made NFL-caliber throws, and his WR made a fantastic catch on the third one. We were even getting good pressure with a nice mix of blitzes and work from the D-line.

But that second half...that was an embarrassment. Opposing receivers running WIDE OPEN, over and over and over again...that can only be the result of either poor schemes or blown coverage. Just a pathetic display of pass "defense". (Just want to make mention of one exception...Reshad Jones is having a very good season, and really seems to have made an effort to improve his fundamentals and tackling).

Similar to what I said last week....regardless of any extenuating circumstances, 40+ points and over 400 yards of passing offense can not be considered anything but horrible.

But here's what REALLY makes it worse...nobody, not Coach Richt, not Coach Martinez, nobody...will come out and say, "This is NOT ACCEPTABLE. This WILL NOT STAND. We are EMBARRASSED by these performances and will not rest until the problems are FIXED." Instead we get excuses and condescension.

I do not call for people's jobs, at least not in a public forum, and I'm not gonna start now. But I can't believe that this poor level of play will be allowed to continue into next year. Something has to change.

So, to sum up...tremendous display by the offense, almost completely overshadowed by stupid penalties and turnovers, along with embarrassingly bad defensive play. For all the offseason talk about how last year's problems would not be this year's, that sure does seem a lot like 2008 to me.

That being said, it's still early in the season...we have a good opportunity to get better this week against ASU, and then we welcome an LSU team into Athens who we hung 50+ on last year. Hopefully, we won't need that many to pull out a win this year.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New name for the Logan Gray Experiment

My friend Brent (you can find his blog on the blogroll to the right, or here - but if you've checked it in the last month or so, don't bother...I can assure you it hasn't been updated) has been bugging me for days to post his idea for a name for the Logan Gray "Wildcat" offense, assuming of course that this particular scheme ever evolves into something other than one play a game. Obviously, we can't call it the Wildcat, what with us being Dawgs and all.

His suggestion? The Dingo Formation.

Get it?

Cause a dingo is a wild dog.

He even has the perfect sign ready for gameday: "Logan Gray is Gonna Eat Your Baby!!"

Yeah, I have weird friends.

To be fair, he also sent me this video of Brandon Boykin's kickoff return as seen from the UGA student section...I like it when it goes all "Cloverfield" when Brandon breaks loose:


Monday, September 14, 2009

Upon further review....

Some leftover thoughts from the weekend....

- Another game, another season-ending injury. Rod Battle tore his ACL and is out for the year. I hate it for him...he's a senior and just never seemed to be healthy the entire time he was here.

As far as the impact on the team goes, we may still be in pretty good shape. Luckily, Justin Houston returns from his two game suspension, looking to build on reportedly dominating performances in spring and fall camp. And Cornelius Washington, the redshirt freshman that I have been predicting big things for since spring camp, got his first extended playing time on Saturday and responded with 1.5 sacks from the D-End position.

All that being said...we are rapidly approaching the point in both the DE and offensive tackle positions where we can not withstand any more major injuries...fingers crossed, everybody!

- OK...I'm seeing several blog posts and hearing a lot of conversation trying to take some of the heat off of the defense after Saturday night's performance. The general opinion of these pieces is that A) the defense was on the field for a ridiculously long time; B) At least Willie brought the heat, which we have been begging for him to's just that Garcia escaped the pressure very well; C) Hey, the scheme worked...we made him make short throws under pressure and took away all big plays; and, D) the red zone defense saved the game.

Well, allow me to retort:

A) It's true that the defense was on the field entirely too long, in large part due to offensive and special teams miscues in the first half...but some of the blame for that goes to the defense itself. The defense didn't force a single 3-and-out all night. Make a play somewhere along the way and maybe you get some more rest.

B) This point is true. This was the most aggressive I've seen us play on defense in quite some time.

C) OK, fine...but when he completely lit us up the entire first half, shouldn't we have adjusted at some point to at least take away the tight end? Obviously, the TE was his security blanket...if you take that away and make him move his eyes somewhere else, maybe he gets a little rattled?

I don't like this argument, anyway...what's the difference between 10 7-yard passes or one 70-yarder, other than that it makes your defense work harder?

D) This point is true, as well...when the field was shortened, our secondary was playing closer to the line of scrimmage, which took away those short passes, and we pretty consistently stopped the run all night.

Bottom line...we let Steven Freaking Garcia throw for 300 yards, and the defense gave up 25 points to a team who only scored one touchdown against NC State (I'm not counting the pick-6, the safety, or the field goal after the Smith fumble)...sorry, that can't be classifed as a good performance, no matter what the extenuating circumstances.

And if we perform the same way against Arkansas, Bobby Petrino will design 75 different pass plays to the tight end over the middle.

- What a great start by the defense, which I was seriously worried about coming into this season. They played like they were PISSED, which is a great sign...the linebackers were playmaking machines, especially Mike Peterson. He made more plays in one game than Keith Brooking has made in the last five seasons, and the hit he made that caused the fumble was BRUTAL. It's at the 1:29 mark of this highlight clip....

- John Abraham. He deserves his own bullet point. This guy is completely unblockable one-on-one, and he absolutely DESTROYED Pro Bowler Jake Long on this play (which I have watched about a dozen times, by the way)..

- Matt Ryan was not sharp, looked a lot like the season opener. Some of those passes he missed will be touchdowns once they get the timing down a little better.

- Tony Gonzalez...believe the hype.

- The Dolphins obviously decided to take Turner away and make Matt Ryan beat them...even on an off day, Ryan managed to do that. This offense is going to be nightmares for opposing defenses.

If only Clemson could have completed the comeback against the gnats Thursday night, it would have been a perfect football weekend. Next chance starts on Thursday night (of course) my house, at least for one night, it will be all about THAT U!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Recap - South Carolina

Wow. That game was exhausting as a FAN. I can't imagine what it must have been like on the field. I don't remember a game with such WIDE swings of momentum and emotion. The Dawgs and Gamecocks always seem to play nail biters...this one was only an exception in that both teams put points up at a Big 12 level.

By the way...there is a reason why there are all of those big beautiful buildings in Las Vegas. Before the game I would have told you there was no safer bet on the board than the under on this was at 39. We surpassed that about halfway through the second quarter.

- Rennie Curran. As if his on-the-field exploits were not enough, David Hale reports that Rennie gave his own version of "The Promise" in a pregame speech to his teammates, promising to give every ounce of energy and heart that he has. And, as usual, he delivered...15 tackles, flying around the field, and for the second year in a row he makes the game saving play at the goal line to beat the Gamecocks. This guy is rapidly moving into my Top 5 Favorite Dawgs of All Time list.

- A.J. Green. Wow. Thank God we played this guy as a true freshman last year, because that's the only reason we're getting three years out of him...he's ready for the Show right now. Last night he made at least three plays that just set him apart: the hang-in-the-air-5-feet-off-the-ground catch he made off the pass that Cox threw into double coverage early, the touchdown catch where he elevated over two guys, made a great catch and was able to tap the left foot before falling out of bounds, and the utter physicality of the play where he broke one tackle, stiff-armed another guy all the way to Winder, and almost took it to the house (and should have had more was THAT play not a penalty, but when Reshad does the exact same thing at the other end it gets called?). As a matter of fact, don't just take my word for it...


- Speed, speed, speed. I mentioned in my post the week of the opener that one of the things I liked about this team was that it may be the fastest we have ever had. Well, we got a couple of examples of that last night. Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith can FLY, and they are game changers. We are adding more playmakers every year, and it is incumbent on the coaching staff to find ways to take advantage of them.

- Special teams. I struggled with how to rank the special teams in this I'm going to cheat a little and mention them a couple of times. But there is no doubt that the special teams made some huge plays in this game. The kickoff return team was so dominant that Spurrier eventually stopped kicking to them. Team records in total return yards, and the longest KO return in school history by Boykin, at a time when the team DESPERATELY needed something good to happen. Blair Walsh continues to put last year behind him and drilled yet another field goal of 50+. And, of course, DeAngelo Tyson made what may have been the most important play of the game by blocking the PAT after the pick-6....without that play, the Cocks only need a FG to tie on that last drive rather than having to go for the TD.

And FINALLY...we started kicking the ball deep on kickoffs, with mostly great results. The Cocks returned one for a long return, which means of course that Coach Richt had to mention after the game as an example of why kicking it deep is so dangerous. WHATEVER. I would buy that argument a lot more if the other strategy was actually working, but the numbers tell me that we are actually MORE likely to give up a big return on the short directional kick.

- Joe Cox. Joe was tons more effective this week, so maybe the flu was the problem after all...that or the fact that he was starting his first game in three years on the road against a quality opponent (well...sort of quality). But whatever the difference, I feel a lot more confident in Joe now than I did this time last week. Only the pick-6 (which was horrendous) and a costly fumble kept him from being qualified as "great" this week.

And the fumble was his fault...he has to recognize that blitz at the line of scrimmage (since we didn't have enough protection on that side to account for it), or at least do a better job of ball security.

- Richard Samuel. He showed just as much improvement over last week as Joe, in my opinion. He ran HARD, breaking tackles and running through guys. Still needs to show the ability to break the long run, and I think that's coming...hopefully soon.

As a side note, where was he in the second quarter? After running so effectively on the drive where he scored the touchdown, he basically disappeared until late in the half. Anybody hear any reason for that, or was that just another weird personnel decision by our coaching staff?

- The O-line. For most of the night, this group gave Cox plenty of time to throw and did a nice job opening running lanes against a very good defensive front 7. They did give up a couple of sacks, and they had WAY too many penalties (more on that later).

- The Defense. Ugh...felt like late 2008 all over again. First of all, there were WAY too many missed tackles. I'm willing to cut them a LITTLE slack on that, since the problem seemed especially egregious late in both halves, when the D had been on the field for what seemed like hours. least part of the blame for that goes on them, because if they could have made some stops they wouldn't have been out there so long.

We also struggled (again) getting to the quarterback. In this game, though, we actually got pretty consistent pressure...Garcia did a nice job escaping pressure, and there were a couple of times that guys just spun the wrong way and ended up missing him.

The biggest problem I had with the defense was this: the problems we had in the first half (middle of the field was WIDE OPEN all night, allowing Wesley Saunders to turn into Tony Gonzalez for a night) were the EXACT SAME problems we had in the second half. Now, I'm not enough of a football expert to tell you exactly what caused those problems...I can only tell you that we apparently did not make any adjustments at halftime to take away what was killing us in the first half.

My friends and I used to always say when VanGorder was here...whatever is working for the other team in the first half, they will need to find something else in the second half because VanGorder is going to shut that down. I have no such faith in this coaching staff.

- The Logan Gray experiment. If you're only going to bring him in for one random snap a game for him to run the QB zone read, don't bother. The only reason it makes sense is to give the opposing team something else to plan for. Right now, I don't think opposing defensive coaches are staying up late wondering how they are going to shut down Logan Gray for one snap a game.

Along the same lines...Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten made it on the field for a combined three snaps last night. Now that we have burned their redshirt years, we better find a way to get production out of them or those years are just wasted.

- Special Teams. Told you I was cheating with this one. For all the good that these units did, there was also this: fumbled kickoff return that led to a SC field goal, a botched snap over the punter's head for a safety, and a fake field goal by USC that brought back nightmares of the Sugar Bowl against West Virginia. So, yes, the special teams might very well be the reason we won this game...but they were also largely responsible for keeping the Cocks in the game at all.

By the way, I've decided Branden Smith is our own version of Forrest Gump...he's now returned THREE kicks from over 5 yards deep in the end zone, which suggests a possible mental deficiency...but, boy, when he does get to run he is FAST. Maybe we need one of those big STOP signs like they used for Forrest to use whenever he fields one deep in the end zone.

- PENALTIES. Speaking of 2008 flashbacks...13 penalties for 108 yards is absolutely unacceptable. This was a problem last year that manifested itself early on and just never got fixed. After all the talk in the offseason about how much more disciplined we were going to be, this was disheartening. Especially since so many of them were just penalties of stupidity...false starts, offsides, blatant holding. This has to stop NOW.

Bottom line:
This was one of the most exciting games I have ever seen, but it wasn't particularly well played by either side. But one of the aspects of this season that I was looking forward to the most was this...NO STYLE POINTS. I will enjoy every win this year, no matter the opponent or the margin of victory. We still have a long way to go, but if we can somehow combine last week's defense with this week's offense and cut out some of the stupidity, this could still be a surprisingly good year.

1-0 in the SEC...I'll take it.



I'll be later (hopefully today) with the full recap, but for now, this will do (and be sure to pay attention to the police officers in the background)...

Oh, and Rennie Curran? Still my biggest man crush.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I gotta be you can probably tell from the light posting, I've had a hard time getting up for today's game. The combination of the disappointment of last week and then the growing frustration as coaches and players speak, double-speak, and triple-speak to the point of embarassment...well, let's just say that this post is probably as much for me as it is for you:

And, as a special bonus just for today...

Ahhhh....that's better.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What Coach Richt should do next

OK, I have stayed out of a lot of the conversation that has been going on since the disappointment of last Saturday. Quite frankly, I did not want to be part of the problem. There is a BAD atmosphere in the Dawg Nation right now, and there is one thing I think Coach Richt can do, and NEEDS to do, in order to help fix it.

Tell everybody...players, coaches, water boys (and girls), training staff, cheerleaders, administrative do one simple thing.



Seriously...stop talking. As bad as the game was, all of the aftermath has been worse. Coach Richt says one thing, and then Coach Bobo says something different. Coach Bobo says one thing, then Coach Richt says another, then Coach Ball comes along and says something else. Joe Cox thinks none of us know what we're talking about. A.J. Green talks about all these things we practiced, and then didn't use in the game for some reason. ARON WHITE, for God's sake, is talking about how we didn't use all the playmakers that we have. Talk, talk, talk, explain, explain, explain, spin, spin, spin....and meanwhile, the blogosphere is jumping on every word, as is our wont and nature.


Coach Richt needs to address the media and say one thing: Nobody else is talking to the media except ME until further notice. We need ONE voice for the program, and unless or until they all get on the same page that one voice must belong to the head man.

Everybody else needs to be under a gag order.

Unfortunately, I don't think Coach Richt will do's not his nature. This is more like something Coach Saban would do, and I think Coach Gundy did something similar leading up to last week...I know he did for the players, not sure if it applied to the coaches as well or not.

Instead, in order to calm this storm, they have to do the one other thing that is under their control...beat the Gamecocks. If we don't, I shudder to think what the state of Dawg Nation will be next week. The lunatic fringe may be crazy, but they are also loud.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Recap - Oklahoma State

Oof...not a good sports weekend. To recap:

- Dawgs lose, and look bad doing so
- Every one of our rivals wins, some (Auburn, UT) looking better than expected
- D.J. Shockley and Thomas Brown get cut from the Falcons
- Braves get swept by a mediocre Reds team at home, the final nail in the postseason coffin

Wow...good thing the Falcons don't start until NEXT week.

Let's get this over with, shall we?

Ummm....not much.

OH! I got one! College Gameday started with Comin' To Your Citaaayyy, rather than that Kenny Chesney abomination. That was awesome.

- The defense. If I were to give a letter grade, I would give them a solid B. That was a very good offense, and outside of the one big play to Dez Bryant we didn't give them much. I honestly believe that if last year's defense had been consistently put into bad situations due to turnovers and putrid special teams play the way this one was, we would have given up 40 plus. Tackling was solid for the most part, and I liked the scheme...I thought we mixed in just enough blitz to make it effective. We held Zac Robinson to 135 yds passing, Kendall Hunter to 75 yds rushing, and Bryant to only 3 catches (granted, two of them were for touchdowns).

The only concerning point to me, and what kept them from going into the "great" category is that we still did not get good output from our defensive end position. No consistent pass rush from there, and not great against the run, either.

The long touchdown to Bryant is directly attributed to lack of pass rush, in my opinion. NO safety is going to cover Dez Bryant one-on-one...that play was made because Robinson had too much time to throw and allowed Bryant to get past the zone and running free down the field. Still took a great throw and catch to score.

Overall, a solid performance, but still a disturbing lack of GAMECHANGING plays. Had the opportunity to make several interceptions early that could have been huge and did not convert.

- Drew Butler. Consistently flipped the field and had several big boomers. His average (57 yards per punt) was also helped by some fortuitous bounces and some bad decisions by Bryant on letting punts drop.

- Blair Walsh. The 53 yard field goal was huge at the time (made it a one score game), and he consistently did what he was asked to do on kickoff (although I don't agree with what he was asked to do).

- At least it wasn't an SEC game.

- Richard Samuel. He ran hard, and I think we should have kept pounding him (more on that later). What concerns me is that he seems to go down at first contact too often. As big as he is, he should be running through arm tackles, and at least occasionally running over smaller guys. I'm no expert, but it looked like at least part of the problem was that every time he got hit, his legs stopped moving rather than continuing to drive. At least that's coachable, though.

- The offensive line. Played very well most of the game, but weren't consistent enough to make it into the "Good" category.

- Joe Cox. Right after the game, I would have put him in the "bad" category, but after watching it again (yes, I am that masochistic) he didn't play as poorly as I originally thought. He suffered some crucial drops on some plays that would have been first downs which may have turned his day around. But...the ball took too long to get out of there, it took too long to get to his receivers, he made some bad decisions at times (like running out of bounds and making it third and long rather than throwing the ball away), and there was no excuse for the fumble. That was not a blind side hit...he saw the guy coming and had plenty of time to either throw the ball away or at LEAST do a better job of tucking the ball and protecting against the fumble.

Couple of things to keep in mind, for all of those ready to bench him:
- He had the flu for three days leading up to that game, and who knows how healthy he was on Saturday.

- That was his first start in three years, on the road against a quality team. It's not fair to slam the book shut on a guy after just one start, especially since his play was only mediocre, not atrocious.

I wonder how many of the people turning on him now were the same guys who thought we would be better off with him rather than Stafford?

- The offensive play calling. I don't pretend to be a football expert...I'm just a fan with about 30 years of experience WATCHING football. So, please, somebody who is smarter than I am...explain why we had a very effective drive to start the game, and then spent the rest of the game going away from the principles that made that drive successful? I thought the opening drive was Bobo at his best...a very nice mix of a power running game and just enough wrinkles to keep it interesting. For the rest of the game, it was like Florida '05 and JTIII all over again.

The Okie State defense never did consistently stop the running game...we shut it down ourselves, and got too cute for much of the second and third quarters. And why did we not see Logan Gray or Branden Smith on offense again after the opening drive? Didn't Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wootentheballcarrier make the trip? Anyone?

- Kick coverage. Game turning 75 yard kickoff return by the Cowboys to start the second half. Way too much room on the punts that they did get a chance to return. Branden Smith's brain fart on the punt that should have been downed on the one. Just a bad day for kick coverage, a continuation from last year.

- Branden Smith on special teams. The previously mentioned disaster on punt coverage, plus returning TWO kicks from 8 yards deep in the end zone. I can see ONE, as a freshman mistake, but to do it twice means I don't want him back there anymore.

- Penalties. Not as many as we had at times last year, but they always seemed to come at the most crucial moments, wiping out first downs or the huge punt return by Prince Miller that would have certainly been another TD.

- Trinton Sturdivant's injury. This one still hurts too much to talk about. Not even the effect that it has on our depth, etc...just what a crappy thing to happen to a really great kid.

- The Reshad Jones "penalty". I've now watched that play about 35 times. That was a GREAT play by Reshad Jones, the kind of play that Dawg fans (including me) have been begging this guy to start making. Great timing, perfect LEGAL hit. There was absolutely NOTHING he should have done differently on that play...if he doesn't hit the WR and jar the ball loose it's a big play and maybe a touchdown. The fact that not one, not two, but at least THREE officials threw a flag on that play makes me very nervous regarding how these plays are going to be called in the future. The sissification of football at ALL levels apparently continues unabated.

- The "fan" reaction. Kit said a lot of what I want to say here, on the Dawggone Blog. But people calling for jobs at this point seriously need to have their head examined. Yes, I'm ticked about the play calling, the substitution patterns, the continued stubborn approach to kick off strategy...but this was one game, on the road against the #9 team in the country. It's going to take more than that to get me to turn on the coaching staff that has produced two SEC championships, ten wins a year, and the longest run of success we have seen in decades.

I could go on a rant here about how message boards, talk radio, and yes, even the blogosphere has produced the sort of fan that only thinks they sound intelligent if they are being negative...but I'm in a bad enough mood as it is.

Let's put this behind us, pound some Cocks, and move on.

In spite of it all, I'd still rather be a Bulldawg.


Saturday, September 5, 2009


Well, it's Saturday in Stillwater, but still....GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wanted to get my prediction on record...

I actually figured out how I felt about this game about a week ago, and I really thought that I was going to be the maverick when it comes to prognosticating the opener against the CowPokes. But, reading other blogs and predictions this week, it looks like I'm pretty much in lockstep with a lot of both Bulldawg Bloggers and national media as well.

I think it will be a back and forth game in the first half...halftime score something like 14-14 or 17-14. Then in the second half the Dawgs better overall talent and depth start to take over, and the Dawgs surge ahead to a 31-21 lead, then withstand a late rally to leave Stillwater with a 31-28 win.

I think the offense will be better than most people think, thanks in large part to the offensive line and A.J. Green's further development. Defense has a chip on their shoulder, and will weather a couple of breakdowns in the young secondary and make just enough plays to pull out the win.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Defense - revisited

Continued from yesterday...going back and looking at my position-by-position breakdown that I did in March to see if my impressions have changed...yesterday was the offense, today is the defense.

Bold = Projected starters (in my opinion)
italics = incoming freshmen
italics*= incoming freshmen whom I project to be a redshirt in '09

Defensive End:


Roderick Battle, Demarcus Dobbs, Kiante Tripp, Justin Houston, Neland Ball, Jeremy Longo, Cornelius Washington, Montez Robinson*

OUTLOOK: No question, this group has a TON of pressure on it. One of the big weaknesses in a defense that underperformed in a major way last year was the lack of QB pressure from the DE position, which is a MUST in a Brian VanGorder/Willie Martinez defense. Rod Battle is a solid piece on one side, but he is really more of a run-stopping defensive end, which is fine as long as you can get consistent pressure from whomever lines up opposite of him. Cornelius Washington is a RS freshman who was touted as just what we need...a fast DE who can consistently get pressure on the QB, so look for him to get early opportunities once he's healthy (By the way, the injury bug continues to rear its ugly head...the only healthy DEs we have in spring are Dobbs Houston, Tripp, and Longo).

Tripp may be the wild card here...he's changed positions more often than most people change their oil, but DE is where he really wants to be, and it appears to be where he has settled. Dude is 290 LBs and runs a 4.7 40. Why can we not find a place to effectively use him?


Battle and Dobbs are still the starters to begin the season. Justin Houston had a huge spring, but is suspended for the first two games of the season…when he comes back, I think he will challenge Dobbs. Battle has had great performances in the fall scrimmages, albeit against reserve offensive linemen.

The coaches also made a move that I wholeheartedly support when they moved Marcus Washington from LB to DE. This is what I wish we would have done with Brandon Miller earlier in his career, and I think Marcus has the combination of size and quickness that he can be a factor on passing downs.

I still think Cornelius Washington may be a dark horse impact player.

I focus a lot on QB pressure when looking at the DE position, but these guys have to show that they are able to stop the run on a consistent basis, as well. With our strength up the middle, teams are going to have to pressure the edges of our defense with their run game.

My grade remains the same, until we see if these guys can improve on the mediocre performance we got out of them last year. But the more I think about last year, in comparison to all of the other years under Coach Fabris and Coach Martinez, the more I think that last year may have just been the aberration, not the new trend. Let’s hope so.

Defensive Tackle:


Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins, Kade Weston, DeAngelo Tyson, Rico Crawford, Brandon Wood, Abry Jones*, Derrick Lott*

OUTLOOK: And we go from one of the unsure areas of the team to probably the strongest part of the team. I challenge anybody to come up with a better 4 man rotation than Owens-Atkins-Weston-Tyson. Losing Owens really hurt last year, both on the field and off...he is definitely one of the strongest leaders on this team, and I can't wait to get him back, hopefully fully healthy.

GRADE: A+ if Owens is 100%, A- if he's not

A+++. Owens is apparently back and 100% healthy, and that means TONS for this defense. He and Geno will be the best DT tandem in the SEC and maybe in the country, and Weston-Tyson could be the starting DT tandem for most teams in the conference. Also, Abry Jones has apparently played so well that Coach Garner is having a hard time redshirting him. Running up the middle against these guys should be a futile effort.

Penetration from the DT position will go a LONG way in helping our DE be more effective.



Rennie Curran, Darryl Gamble, Akeem Dent, Darius Dewberry, Marcus Washington, Akeem Hebron, Marcus Dowtin, Charles White, Nick Williams, Christian Robinson, Chase Vasser*, Michael Gilliard*

Speed, speed, and more speed. This is a deep, athletic group led by The Liberian Nightmare (and my biggest man-crush) Rennie Curran. Rennie has taken a much more vocal leadership role in the offseason, going so far as to call it "MY defense." Good. Nobody better to lead this team than this guy.

Losing Dexter Moody from the '09 class hurt, but this group has depth and I thought that Gilliard was the better pick-up anyway.



Not much has changed, other than Dewberry has at least temporarily jumped Dent into the starting lineup, but that is in part due to Dent missing some time during fall camp with a hamstring injury. Also, as discussed earlier, Marcus Washington moved from LB to DE. There is still a ton of quality depth at this position, and I think we are at LEAST two deep with SEC caliber players at all three LB spots.

And Rennie Curran is still the man.



Prince Miller, Brandon Boykin, Sanders Commings, Vance Cuff, Jordan Love, Branden Smith

OUTLOOK: This group scares me. Prince Miller is really the only guy with a lot of experience...Boykin played some at nickel last year, Cuff was mainly a special teams guy, and Commings was a redshirt who was originally slotted at safety. You would love to RS one of the freshmen, but I don't think we can afford to when we're this thin. Losing Asher unexpectedly has really hurt us, and the sad part is that Asher is probably not even going to get drafted on the first day of the draft.

There is a lot of athletic talent here, but virtually all of it is unproven. These guys are going to be tested early and often, starting week 1 at Oklahoma State, and their ability to handle it is going to go a long way towards determining what this defense is going to be.



Pretty much the same thing I said then, unfortunately. I think Prince Miller is a solid corner, but he is a downgrade from Asher. I am encouraged by the practice reports about Boykin and Smith, but we can’t know what we have until they actually get on the field. Any injuries to the top two here and we are in huge trouble, I think. We could pull Makiri Pugh over from the safety position, but we would still be in a tough spot.



Reshad Jones, Bryan Evans, Quentin Banks, John Knox, Makiri Pugh, Bacarri Rambo, Shawn Williams*

OUTLOOK: This position is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. There is enough talent here that it should be a strength of the why does this position make me so nervous? Probably because Reshad Jones seems to be (at best) not making any improvement or (at worst) REGRESSING since entering the program as the #1 player in the state. His tackling has become a punchline with no punch, and he seems to have an attitude problem as well. Also, Bryan Evans was converted to safety after not playing very well at corner in the early part of last year. Like Jones, he has tremendous physical ability...unlike Jones, he actually improved as the year went on last year.

Both of these guys will be pushed by talented youngsters...Evans, in particular will have to hold off Quentin Banks at FS, after Quentin struggled with injuries most of last year.



I feel a little better about this group than I did, but Reshad is still going to have to prove on the field that he understands what it takes to be great. I think the move to FS is a perfect one for Evans…it allows him to use his speed and instincts without having to play a lot of man coverage on WRs, which is where he really struggled.

Knox has left the team, and Quentin Banks still can’t seem to stay healthy, but Bacarri Rambo has gotten positive reviews to go along with probably the coolest name on the team.

In March, my biggest concerns were DE, CB, and safety…I feel marginally better about the DE and safety groups, but the corners still scare me.

Three more days till we find out!!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Offense - revisited

For those of you who may have stopped paying attention to this blog in the offseason due to the heavy GeekTV/Idol content, you may have missed an actual football post that I did back in March. A couple of them, actually, in which I went position-by-position with my thoughts as the Dawgs were going through spring practice.

I thought I would resurrect those posts and see if my feelings have changed based on what we have now seen in the spring game and heard from fall practice reports.

In case you forgot:

Bold=starter (these are my predictions as to who will be the starters come Opening Day, and may not reflect the current depth chart)

italics=incoming freshmen

italics*=incoming freshmen whom I believe will redshirt in '09.



Joe Cox, Logan Gray, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger*

OUTLOOK: I know that we are going to miss Matt Stafford's talents, and there is certainly no one on this list who can match Staff's arm strength. However, I am excited to see what Joe Cox can do with this offense. From all accounts, he is extremely knowledgeable of the offense, and he has always been very accurate as a passer. I do have a little concern regarding how well he can throw the deep ball, because that is something that we have to be able to do to run our offense effectively. He obviously won't be able to throw it like Stafford does, but it has to be an option in order to keep defenses honest, and also to fully utilize guys like A.J. Green and Marlon Brown. But there is no doubt that this guy is a leader, and is relishing that part of his role, which I love to see.

At backup, I fully expect to see Logan Gray on the field quite a bit as a "change-up" style quarterback. I don't think it will be anything similar to what we did with Shockley/Greene in that I don't expect to see a set timetable to get him in a game (every third series, etc). But I think you have to get him on the field quite a bit, for a couple of reasons. First, I think he's too talented athletically to leave him sitting on the bench, and I think he could be very effective in spot duty with his ability to both run and throw. Second, Joe C is a senior...this guy needs to be ready to take the reins next year, which means we need to get him some looks in real-game situations (not just mop-up duty).

Then you have the two freshmen...I think there is the possibility that they might BOTH redshirt, but if one of them is going to see the field I think it's Murray. Mettenberger is still pretty raw right now, and I think the redshirt year will do him some good. Both of these guys will get a chance to compete with Gray for the starting job next year.


Pretty much the same thing. Joe has apparently had a great fall camp as far as knowing the offense and moving the ball, and he is the unquestioned leader on this team. I’m just really ready to see what he does when the live bullets start flying.

Logan Gray will play this year, in what capacity we don’t yet know, and I still say Mettenberger redshirts and Murray plays. We actually need to get Murray some playing time along the way if at all possible, otherwise we will be going into next year with Logan as the only QB who has seen any live action.

Running Back:


Caleb King, Richard Samuel, Dontavious Jackson, Carlton Thomas, Washaun Ealy*

OUTLOOK: Unfortunately, I think this is a position where we have "quantity over quality." I was not at all impressed with King's performance last year, either as a runner or (especially) as a blocker. Also, reading between the lines of some of the coaches' comments about him, I don't think they have been really happy with the attitude or the effort he has displayed. We know he has talent...hopefully, the chance to be the #1 guy will be motivation enough for him to work to become the guy who was one of the more highly recruited tailbacks in the country.

Behind King, you have several guys looking for playing time. Richard Samuel was somewhat impressive last year as a true freshman, but he needs to work on holding on to the ball. D-Jax put up MONSTER numbers in high school, but was sidetracked by the injury bug last year (and won't be available in spring practice, either). Carlton Thomas is an undersized guy who has coaches raving about his speed and quickness...look for the coaches to try to find ways to get the ball into his hands, maybe at punt returner.

With this much personnel at the position, I think it's almost a lock that Ealy redshirts...and that's assuming he actually makes it to campus this year (academics may be an issue, although the latest reports have been positive).


Well, obviously Richard Samuel is now the starter over Caleb, due at least in part to the fact that Caleb has been sidetracked since the first fall scrimmage with a hamstring injury. Until the injury, all reports regarding the work that Caleb was putting in were positive, so hopefully that part will continue into the season.

Richard has supposedly put his fumbleitis behind him and is running very well, and Carlton Thomas looks like the playmaker we were hoping he would be. Ealy did make it on campus, but may be headed for a redshirt anyway. Dontavious Jackson has not had a good camp, and was actually passed by Kalvin Daniels on the depth chart.

I would still give the same grade…B-, with hopes that Richard Samuel breaks out a la Robert Edwards in ’97.



Shaun Chapas, Fred Munzenmaier

Outlook: I listed Chapas as the starter, but these guys are really interchangeable. We'll miss Southerland, but Southerland missed quite a bit of time last year and there wasn't much dropoff as these guys filled in admirably. Both of these guys can run, catch, and game-changer here or anything, but definitely solid football players.


Exactly the same thing as I said then.


A.J. Green, Michael Moore, Kris Durham, Tony Wilson, Israel Troupe, Tavarres King, Marlon Brown, Rontavious Wooten*

OUTLOOK: There are some nice weapons here. A.J. Green certainly lived up to the hype last year, and gets a chance to prove that he can be the #1 guy. I love what we are hearing about this guy's desire and work ethic...let's just hope he can stay healthy. He was hampered by a groin strain last year, and he is still taking it pretty slow to keep from re-aggravating it in the spring.

On the other side of Green is most likely Michael Moore, although I think there will be some competition for that spot. Moore is one of those guys who seems like he has been on campus forever...he is a 5th year senior who has shown flashes of playmaking ability in somewhat limited time. He had 29 catches for 451 yards and two touchdowns last year.

Moore will be pushed by: Kris Durham (great hands, better than expected speed), Tony Wilson (tough receiver...always seems to pick up extra yards), Israel Troupe (????...lot of talent coming out of high school, has not gotten many chances so far), and Tavarres King (super-quick slot-type guy who showed some potential before going down with an early-season injury last year).

And then there is Marlon Brown...this guy is a physical specimen (6-5, 200 LB, 40 time probably in the 4.55 range) who really came on strong this past year and became one of the most sought after WR in the nation. He will push for playing time, and if he develops as expected he sets up an unbelievable WR tandem with A.J. Green.


Well, we have a lot more question marks here now than we did in March after losing Kris Durham to injury and Tony Wilson to injury/stupidity. We now only have 6 scholarship WR, and two of those are true freshmen. We REALLY, REALLY can’t afford any more injuries to this position, especially to either of the top two. Based on numbers, I would probably bump the grade down to a B…only reason it’s not lower is because AJ Green is apparently even more of a freak than we thought he was.

Tight End:


Bruce Figgins, Aron White, Bryce Ros, Orson Charles, Arthur Lynch*

OUTLOOK: This is a strange bunch...normally, I can get a good idea of what style offense a team runs by what kind of TEs they have on the roster, but this is a mix-and-match group. Figgins is the old-school tight end, who is probably 65% blocker, 35% pass catcher. White is a hybrid type, built more like a big WR than a TE (6-4, 228) who has shown an early ability to stretch the field. Ros is an enigma...he played FB and DL in high school, but certainly has the build (6-4, 242) and the pedigree (his dad Frank was a captain on the 1980 MNC squad).

The trend continues in the 2009 signees: Arthur Lynch is a big blocking TE who has shown some ability to catch (like the white version of Figgins), while Orson Charles is an athletic freak who was actually moved to WR in the recruiting rankings.

So what does it all mean? Versatility, baby. There is a lot of talent in this group, and I'm very interested to see how Coach Bobo goes about getting them involved.


Just like the WR group, this group has been decimated by injury and stupidity. Ros is done with football due to a lingering shoulder injury, and Figgins is out until the Vandy game due to violation of team rules.

So I no longer expect Lynch to redshirt…in fact, he may see as much playing time as White and Charles due to his blocking skills that would have otherwise been provided by Figgins. By all accounts, Orson Charles is a beast, and I expect him to be very involved in the passing game. Aron White is currently listed as the starter…I just hope that the problems he had holding on to the ball in the spring game were an aberration.

I would probably change the grade on this one to an Incomplete…there is just not enough history with any of these guys to really know what to expect.

Offensive line:


Clint Boling, Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones, Chris Davis, Trinton Sturdivant, Vince Vance,
Josh Davis, Justin Anderson, Tanner Strickland, Ben Harden, AJ Harmon, Jonathan Owens, Kevin Perez, Dallas Lee, Chris Burnette*, Austin Long*

OUTLOOK: Yeah, that's right. SIXTEEN offensive linemen on the Opening Day roster. Kudos to the coaching staff for taking a position that seemed to be a liability a couple of years ago and changing it into what I think may be the strength of the team this year. If we can ever keep this group even relatively healthy, then the possible question marks at QB and running back all of a sudden look a lot more promising.

Boling is the MVP of this group, in my opinion. He has been a do-everything guy...he's played every position except center (at least I don't THINK he's played center), and has played admirably everywhere we've put him. If we can ever put him somewhere and leave him (RT is my guess as to where he ends up), there is no telling what his potential can be.

The rest are an impressive mix of size, athleticism, and nastiness.


Well, I nailed the starting 5…after that, things have changed a bit. The good news is that both Sturdivant and Vance appear to be 100% recovered from the injuries that ended their seasons last year. Tanner Strickland is out for the year, Josh Davis has still not recovered from offseason surgery. I don’t think I’ve heard ANYTHING about Harden, Owens, or Harmon…I can only assume they are still on the team.

I’m still very fired up about our starters, and Vince Vance and Justin Anderson are quality backups who provide tons of versatility. We just have to really hope we stay healthy, which we learned last year is certainly no guarantee. Because of the versatility of several of the guys, we can probably withstand one or two major injuries before we see a noticeable dropoff in production…and you know those injuries are most likely going to come, just due to the nature of the position.

Due to some reduction in the depth, especially at the guard positions, I would probably downgrade the position grade from an A to an A-…if we actually stay healthy all year, this is probably an A+ group.

Overall, I would say I feel slightly worse about the offense now than I did six months ago...injuries and suspensions have robbed us of a lot of our quality depth. I think an awful lot depends on how effective Cox can be (duh...that's some hard-hitting analysis right there) and avoiding injuries in the OL and WR positions. If we can stay relatively healthy and Joe C can avoid the bad plays, I think this offense can be more effective than a lot of people are expecting.

Be back tomorrow with the defense!!