Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013 Looking Back … Passing Offense

There is no lack of documentation showing the love-hate-love affair I’ve had with Aaron Murray.  I was a skeptic, and a detractor, and a begrudging accepter…and then, as his Junior and Senior years progressed, a full-blooded appreciator of the man and the player who was Aaron Murray.  After he lost against UF in 2010, I told my friends…he won’t lose to them again.  Then, in the latter part of 2012, I felt he had finally shaken the “big game” bullshit off his back.  The bowl game would go on to prove it, as he turned around a lousy first half and lay a gutsy performance out on the ground, bringing us the win.

So, I came into 2013 very optimistic.

Then, the first play at Clemson.    Ugh.

Then, Tennesee.  Double Ugh.

So many guys went down, our sideline became a trauma center the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Superdome after Katrina.

But, we had some guys stand up and play some pretty good football.  We also got some guys back who were our leaders coming into the season.  Arthur Lynch returned from being banged up and finished the season strong, earning All-SEC honors.  That’s the guy we thought he’d be when we signed him.

Still, if you’d told me we’d lose Mitchell and Scott-Wesley for the season, as well as Conley, Bennet, Lynch and Rome for multiple games each - and yet we’d still finish as the Nation’s 16th ranked passing offense (and tied for 10th in yards per attempt), I’d have called you nuts.  In fact, I definitely wouldn’t have thought our passing game would drop by only 226 yards over the course of the year - and given our schedule strength, that’s pretty amazing.

So how’d we do it?

For starters, we added more throws to the running backs.  Last season, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for a 27-208-1 line.  This season, Gurley himself improved on that greatly with 30 catches, 344 yards, and 5 TDs (with one game still to go, and no SECCG stats).  Also, by spreading the ball around (lack of experienced deep threat), we had more receivers in the 200-399 yard range than previously.  

Jonathan Rumph was much slower to come along than many had anticipated.  In fact, Reggie Davis far outproduced him in catches, yards, YPC, as well as games played.  Reggie may have shown himself to be one of our quality Deep Threats of the future. 

And of course, receivers need QBs to toss them the ball.  UGA had two very good signal callers this season.  

The sample size and competition was vastly different, but you have to love that from a Completion Percentage perspective, there was absolutely zero drop-from Murray to Mason.  Not a tenth of a percent.  Nada.  Not bad when you’re replacing the SEC’s all-time leading passer.  

Sadly, Murray never hit a 65% season…but 64.8 was an improvement on his 64.5 from 2012.

Overall, with a patchwork receiving corps and two very strong passers, Georgia had a very serviceable passing attack which bodes well for 2014 and beyond.  As we look to the future, in fact, we see that our top two producing receivers (Conley, Bennett) are back, as will be Davis and Malcolm Mitchell, providing deep threat opportunities for the vertically-minded Hutson Mason.  Receptions out of the backfield should continue to be a big part of our passing game, and the ol’ bread-and-butter play action looks to be there as well since our RB stable only gets stronger with the return of Keith Marshall and the addition of Chub and Michel.  

Even with the loss of Murray next season, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Richt/Bobo offense will continue to build on what it has done recently, and bring even more wins in 2014.  If only that defense will catch up……..

Go Dawgs.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

2013 Looking Back… Rushing Offense ...

At the outset of the season, the Dawgs were set to have the most potent rushing attack in the nation.  The only question mark was the big boys up front.  With Gurley and Marshall (this season forgoing the silly “Gurshall” nickname that just smacks of fans living in the past) primed and ready to go, a hopeful Dawgnation screamed from every peak that we would “Run This Conference.”

Didn’t quite work out that way.

Now, the YPG average of 176.08 is only 6.49 YPG than UGA’s 2012 total that was good enough for 4th in the conference.  But, in a year when rushing was UP across the conference, you certainly didn’t expect the Gurley-Marshall tandem to underproduce in the way that it did.

Of course, I suppose that’s what happens when your Starter goes down with an ankle injury, and Captain Change-of-Pace tears his ACL.

Some out there in the net-o-sphere believe UGA didn’t run as much this year as last (due to injury), but that’s not really the case.  In 2012, UGA averaged 37.5 Att/Game, and in 2013, the # dropped minimally to 36.9 Att/Game.  Or, in essence, we had less than ONE fewer attempt per game in 2013.  Still, the drop off from Todd Gurley to just about anyone else is pretty substantial.

Here’s a snapshot of how the BallCarriers for UGA fared this season:

Gurley going off at 100 ypg is pretty nice.  We’d love to see it over that, of course…but if your star running back is averaging 100 ypg, and he’s not 100%, well - that’s pretty damned good.  After Marshall went down, you had Green and Douglas splitting the load, and they were fairly neck-and-neck with productivity.  Both scored 3 TDs, both have their strengths and weaknesses.  Green is more of the big-play guy, but Douglas hammers out the tough yards a little better.  For two freshmen to come in and be able to do what they do, well, that was a bright spot for the offense (The fumbles notwithstanding).  

With another year of seasoning on these guys next year, Georgia will set itself up to have a very potent rushing attack.  Perhaps Nick Chubb and/or Sony Michel will get the opportunity to LEARN for a season before being thrown into the fire.  I’m a big fan of the 4-tailback system..but 6-tailbacks?  Jeebus.

Overall, I’d have to say that our running game this season has been serviceable.  It was supposed to be one of the brightest spots on the team, but injuries prevented it from being that.  As good as Brendan and JJ may turn out to be, they aren’t Gurley and Marshall.  Also, there’s no statistic for battles lost at the point of attack.  At times, our offensive line seemed to lack the PUNCH it needed to truly take advantage of opposing teams' lines, and thus open the roadways for our backs.  Then, at other times, there were holes big enough for Gary Danielson’s ego to run through.  Look, the fact is, you’re not going to blow everyone off the ball all the time.  Somebody’s gonna nut-up against you, and you have to fight through that.  Sometimes your kids are going to get hurt, and you have to fight through that.  Georgia having to rely on 3rd and 4th string running backs leaves us in the bottom third of rushing in the conference.  It’s not a huge surprise.

You ask yourself…how can the running game improve next season?  There are two very obvious answers - 

Don’t get hurt.
Get more consistent line play.  

Do those two things, and I think you see UGA vault back up to the top 4.

Go Dawgs.

Now that the season is done...

I’m always an opponent of judging the performance of a team before all the games have been played.  Often, we jump on the team early in the season and compare the Dawgs to some midwest team that seems to just be smoking everybody…when in actuality, the competition is nowhere near similar.  We all fully expect the team to get better as the season goes along, but then again…so do our opponents.  And then, there’s injuries…

But, all of that is what makes up a college football season.  2013 has certainly been a memorable one.  For my dollar, I don’t recall a season which has entertained me nearly as much as this one has…even though the Dawgs finished 8-4.  I didn’t see the Kentucky or App State games, but literally every other game was a thrilling one.  How often does that happen?

Don’t get me wrong - I want to see our team win titles, I do… but at the end of the day, that does nothing for me.  My life doesn’t change.  I don’t really care too much about what the other SEC fans at my job say about championships and all of that.  I work with Bama, FL, and LSU grads (and we live in Los Angeles…go figure).  They can talk all day about “their” championships, but really…they did nothing to earn them, and it doesn’t do any damage to my manhood to hear them talk about it.

Except the Auburn folks.  Screw them.

Seriously, though - I wish fans at large would really take hold of the notion that the ENTERTAINMENT is what is important.  For me, it’s getting together with other Dawg fans and enjoying an afternoon of beer, bad food, and camaraderie while a bunch of 18-22 year olds play a game.  It’s seeing guys I went to high-school with 8-10 times a year.  It’s taking a couple prilosec in the morning so I can gorge myself on Hot Wings with impunity.  It’s the passion, and the spirit…it’s climbing up on a barstool and cheering “What’s that coming down the track?!?!”  It’s jumping for joy like a kid on Christmas when Murray dives head-long into the end zone…and it’s sitting in stunned disbelief when a deflected pass gets carried into the end zone for a touchdown.   But, when it’s over, no matter the outcome, I go back to my life…and all I have is the experience, win or lose.  See, if the Dawgs win the title, they don’t send me a ring.  They gave me a ring for what I did when I was there…and that’s it.  I won’t receive any more.

That’s the fandom I have, and I would love for the rest of the fan base to come along with me on that.  Understand that the team is there to play its games, and pursue its goals…and you’re along for the ride.  Understand that the team plays its collective guts out, and wants EVERY victory very badly.  Sometimes the chips don’t fall like they need to, and they lose the game.  I know, It weighs heavily on the souls of the fans…but the players don’t get that “luxury” - they have to shake the loss off and get better.  They have to shake the wins off, and get better.  Every game has a lifespan of about 48 hours, and then it’s gone.  It has to be.  That’s football.

But now, at the end of the season, we can look back and really examine what this UGA team did…and who they were.  That’s what my next series of blogs will be.  I hope you’ll read.  I mean, it’s not like there’s any more football to watch.

Go Dawgs.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dawgs find new life while riding the couch this week

50% of Dawgfans out there have written off the season. The other 50% are looking for a miracle.  In a season like this, that's kinda what you have to do.  The injury bug has been a mothra-sized pain in the, well… pain in the everything really.  The training room looks like the casualty tent in Apocalypse Now.

Yet, we stand 6 days from a game in Jacksonville with greater light at the end of the Atlanta tunnel than many believed possible going into this morning.  We all knew Connor Shaw was injured.  Things were setting up oh-so-well for Mizzou, as they were facing their third straight team with MAJOR injury issues.  Sure, for Cackalacky it was only one guy - but it was THE guy.  Don't believe me?  Compare the 0 points South Carolina had prior to Shaw to the 27 points they scored with Shaw in the game.  For those who didn't watch, and haven't read anything, USC won 27-24 in 2nd OT.  The first half of the second OT was the first time in which South Carolina led the game.  See, Spurrier called on Shaw in the 3rd quarter, and he led the Cocks back from a 17 point deficit to a 17-17 tie and then an OT win.

The win kept South Carolina's hopes for a possible trip to Atlanta alive.

Of course, it also kept UGA's same hopes alive.

So now, UGA will head to Florida with something to play for.  UGA will head to Florida with Todd Gurley back in the lineup.  And, UGA will head to Florida with a defense that has definitely seen its share of improvement over recent weeks.

For those who, like me, think we can still make it to Atlanta, we need Mizzou to stumble twice more. With Tennessee, Ole Miss and TAMU on the schedule, 2 losses are possible.  Mizzou loses two more, and UGA loses no more…and we're in Atlanta.

But it all starts on Saturday for UGA.  We have to put Florida away for the 3rd time in as many seasons.  With Gurley back in the lineup, I think we have a damn good shot at that.  Despite what a number of mailbag trollers and gut-feeling bloggers will tell you, this defense is getting better.  It's taking time, and it certainly isn't pretty…but the defense is getting better.  They're making stops.  They're causing turnovers.      They're doing what they have to do.

Will it be enough?  Only time will tell.  The next two offenses Georgia faces aren't the best.  If they can continue to improve, and gain more confidence, the Dawgs will have a nice opportunity to beat their 3rd top 10 team this season (Auburn) and they'll need to if they want to go to Atlanta.

And Mizzou will have to lose 2 more games.

Who's ready for a fun end to the season?


Saturday, October 12, 2013

You Want to See A Championship Team

2013.  The University of Georgia.  National Champions.

That's what you want to see.  That's why you watch the games on Saturdays.  That's why you scour the blogosphere for the rest of the week.  That's why you dig through the numbers in my blog.  That's why you dare to click on a Bleacher Report article.  That's why you follow every link The Senator puts on his board.  You are a Dawgfan, and you want to see our team as National Champions.

We lost the first game.  Your pride was hurt.  But still, you want to see us as National Champions.  You listened to the experts when they told you that it's ok for Georgia to lose that game.  If there was gonna be one, it had to be that one.  It had to be the Non-Con game that was against a great football team.  You want to see our team as National Champions, so you keep tuning in.

Though the game was tight, we BEASTED South Carolina.  Normally you get excited when The OBC throws his visor.  This time, he threw in the towel.  He went to the locker room with timeouts in his pocket, an 8.5 minute drive having pounded all the fight out of him.  Our defense was less than stellar, yet still you believed.  Because you want to see our team as National Champions.

We struggled against LSU.  We were able to pull out a gutsy, emotional win...but we looked bad on defense doing it.  The kid who was too salty to be a Dawg almost cooked our goose.  But we have faith in a player who has done nothing but do everything right since day 1.  He played out of his mind, and we beat the second #6 team we'd faced.  In the waning moments, when our defense faced Mettenberger, you thought we might lose.  You've "seen too much Georgia football" - maybe you've just been a fan of sports in the state of Georgia for too long.  The Braves.  The Falcons.  The Dawgs.  They'll give you heart attacks.  So, when Metts got into the shotgun, you put your hands over your eyes....but you split two fingers, because you just had to watch.  Because you want to see our team as National Champions.

Then we went into a "trap" game.  A team with nothing too lose, playing against a team with everything to lose - except its starting Tailback, who'd already been lost - in one of the largest, loudest stadiums in all of college football.  We'd come off an emotional win.  We were wounded and tired.  Player after Player went down to injury.  You couldn't believe it.  You thought "this is where it all ends.  This is where "living dangerously" finally catches up to us.  We gave up a fourteen point lead in the second half.  You wanted to hurl your remote at the tv, and shut it off.  But you didn't.  You watched, because you want to see a Championship Georgia Team.


You know what a Championship Team is?  They're a team that's been through the ringer.  They've faced it all.  They've seen adversity, and had to fight through it.  They've stared down the barrel of  a painful loss, and laughed at the next bullet in the chamber.  The "easy road" does not make a champion.  A Championship is unlike anything else in competition.  You look back, and you have to think "Just how in the hell did we get here?"  A Championship Team is special.  They are unified.  They have one goal, and they will push themselves - and each other - to the brink in order to succeed in that goal. They do not make excuses, but learn from their mistakes.  They take ownership and responsibility, and when the chips are down, they buck up.

Just watch this afternoon.  Watch these Georgia Bulldogs.  See if they have what it takes.  They face a confident 5-0 Missouri team.  They're missing a TON of starters.  They're missing leadership.  They're missing talent.  They're missing production.  The defense is learning on the job.  The offense is patchwork at best.  They are looking up at Everest, and realizing they left their boots on the plane.  They have no time, no room, no need for excuses.  They have to adjust.  They have to survive. They have to fight through the adversity and the pain and every surprise that comes at them, and they have to win.  They have to do that, because You want to see the 2013 Georgia Bulldogs as National Champions.

Go Dawgs.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

About that Offensive 3rd down success rate...

Seen a lot this week about how bad UGA is at converting on third down, and I thought folks were talking about DEFENSE.  But then I saw people saying we were uncharacteristically bad on 3rd down on offense.  So, I decided to look into it.

UGA's 36.92% is indeed 83rd in the country.  That sounds really really bad.  It's even worse when you look at the fact that we've converted only 24 3rd downs all year, good for 101st in the country.


Of course, then you have realize that Georgia also is tied with the 100th most 3rd down attempts (65).  Or, as some would say... 22nd best.

Oh, and at HOME, we're at 42%, which is good for around 50th in the country.

We've run on 27 of the 65 3rd downs.  We've converted 4 FD.  We have 1 rushing TD on 3rd down.

5/27 is 18.5%.  We convert on 18.5% of 3rd downs by rushing.

Our best down-to-go distance?  3 or less.  We're average 2.22 yards on third 1-3.  On 3rd and 4-9, we're averaging less than a yard per attempt.  On third and 10+, we're averaging 5.17 YPC...but that's not great, considering the to-go is 10+.

We've passed on 38 3rd downs.

Again, we do well on 3rd and 1-3.  We're completing 83.3% on 3rd and 1-3 (5/6 with 3 FD and 1 TD).
3rd and 4-9 we're 11/19 with 6FD and 2 TD.   On 3rd and 10+, we're 6/13 with 2TD, 2FD and 1 INT).  Murray's completion mark of 57.9 on 3rd down is his lowest on any down (2nd down %age of 70.6 is his highest).

Interestingly enough, Murray is better on 3rd and 7-9 (63.6) than on 3rd and 4-6 (50).  But, 3rd and 10+ is downright scare.  Murray's only completing 46.2%.

So, we're seeing what we know - while "GEORGIA FOOTBALL" is power running and built on being able to blow folks off the ball, on 3rd down, they're dropping the ball.  The passing game is where we succeed on 3rd down.

Also, here's a fun one for you - we've made a 1st down on 1st down 47 times.  38 times we've done it on 2nd down. 21 times we've made a 1st down on 3rd (3 more by penalty).  We've scored 10 TDs on 1st down, 9 TDs on 2nd down and 6 TDs on third down.

We can see that Georgia's offense is at its best on 1st down.  We get the most 1st downs, and we get the most TDs.  3rd down is our worst down.  We've made less 1st downs, and less TDs.

Of course, that's all based on raw numbers.  When you start to break down all of them by percentages, you find that our "Success" percentage (either scoring or getting a first down) on 3rd down isn't that far off from our other downs.

47/175 = 26.85%
38/114 = 33.33%
21/65 = 32.30 % (I'm guessing we've converted-by-penalty 3 times, since we have 16 passes and 5 runs which have converted)

So, while we put so much stress on 3rd down because its our "Last chance" (before our actual "last chance") to get a 1st, the 3rd down Offense is not, from a %age basis, lacking so much from the rest of the offense.

Ok, that was exhausting.

Go Dawgs.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

About that second half defense...

So, now hopefully you've seen that the defensive backs WEREN'T God-awful in the first half.  I mean, seriously...I HOPE you understand that by now.  Now, let's take a look at the second half.

LSU's 1st possession

1st and 10, LSU 25.  I formation Normal - Base 3-4.

Mettenberger Play-Action to Landry, 10 yards downfield.  Langley plays the ball perfectly, makes a hit right as the ball gets there, and knocks it away.

1st and 10, LSU 36.  Offset-I right, Twins Right - Base 3-4.

They bring Landry in motion in from the sideline to just inside the other wideout. Play-action.  Landry drags across the formation and Mettenberger hits him at about 5 yards, on the opposite hash.  Langley was covering on the play.  Now, people are gonna say Langley wasn't "Tight enough" - but what those people apparently didn't see is that Langley had to run around Jordan Jenkins to stay on Landry.  That's what created the space.  That's how the offensive play was designed.

3rd and 2, UGA 21.  Shotgun Empty Doubles, TE left.  We look almost like we're in a 4-3.  It's 3-4 personnel, but we have 4 with hands in the dirt, and three LBS standing back about 4 yards.  

We rush 4, but the pocket holds well.  Metts throws it to goalline for Beckham, but misses him.  Tray Matthews was defending on the play.  Danielson goes on about how "Swain" (Swann) is signaling for "where is my safety" - which he wasn't.  See, he wasn't saying that, because the safety was lined up just inside of him, and had man coverage on the slot receiver on that side.  But, Danielson is a grade-A idiot when it comes to saying stuff that will make our fans go crazy, and that's exactly what happened.  I can't tell you how many times I've read about THAT EXACT PLAY when people are referring to our D not knowing what's going on.  Oh, and by the way, that play WAS AN INCOMPLETE PASS.

They kick a FG.

LSU's 2nd possession

2nd and 7, LSU 23.  Offset I.  TE left, FB right, 2 WR stacked right.  Base 3-4, both Corners playing on the L side (due to apparent man coverage)

We rush 5, but the pocket holds.  Landry runs a drag.  This looks very much like the play from their first possession, except Landry never came in motion.  He started in the back of the stack.  Also, Swann is covering him, and instead of tracking around Jenkins, he bumps Jenkins over into coverage on Landry.  Jenkins doesn't keep up as Landry crosses the formation.  Harvey-Clemons misses a tackle, and Landry gets up the sideline a bit before being brought down by Tray Matthews.

2nd and 9, Georgia 49.  I Formation, Twins Left.  Base 3-4

The throw a quick-WR screen out to Landry.  Beckham cuts Swann, taking him out of the play.  Langley takes a rough angle at first, but adjusts it and makes the tackle.

1st and 10, Georgia 40.  Offset I Formation, Twins Right.  Base 3-4.

Play Action.  We rush four, and just miss on getting there as the ball is thrown.  Mettenberger throws a strike down the middle to Kadron Boone at our 10 yardline, but Tray Matthews lays the lumber, and knocks the ball loose.  Incomplete pass.

2nd and 10, Georgia 40.  Shotgun Trips Right, Back Left.  Base 3-4.

We rush 4, and they screen it to Hill.  It was read well by Chris Mayes, who lunged to trip Hill.  Sterling Bailey (credited as Garrison Smith by Verne and Gary) makes the final tackle.  

3rd and 4 - False Start.

3rd and 9, Georgia 39.  Shotgun Trips Right, Back Left.  2-4-5

We look like we're in a deep cover -3 here.  It's hard to know for sure, but I think Swann is dropping to the right third, Matthews has the middle third, and someone else has the left third.  Harvey-Clemons appears to have Landry 1:1.  Landry beats him with a good route, and Metts puts the ball on the money.  Swann and Matthews can't get over in time, and Landry scores a TD.  Danielson proves again that he's an idiot.  He says GA didn't know what defense they were running because the WR to the left is uncovered.  Apparently, we're even good at disguising defenses in INSTANT REPLAY, because we had a safety up on the line, who immediately falls out to cover that receiver.  Most likely, we're hoping Metts makes the wrong read and throws a quick slant to that receiver, which would likely have been picked off.  Metts doesn't bite on that, and instead is able to hit Landry over the middle.

LSU's 3rd Possession

1st and 10 LSU 41.  I formation, Twins right, TE Left.  Base 3-4, both Corners to Twins side.

Play-Action.  We rush 4, drop 7 into zone.  He throws a 10-yard comeback route to Beckham.  Swann makes the tackle after another 7 yards.  Pretty basic stuff there.  Not a back-breaker.

- end of third quarter -

2nd and 5 from UGA 37.  I Formation, Twins Left, TE Right.  Looks like a Base 3-4.  CBS was late getting back to the action as they were holding on a shot of Verne a nd Gary for some reason.  Metts throws it quick out to Landry in the flats.  Beckham cuts Langley, but Langley stays on his feet and hits Landry.  Matthews meets him to assist on the tackle, a yard behind the 1st down line.  Brings up 3rd and 1.  

I haven't been talking about running plays, but the next play is an Option out of the I-formation, and we shut it down for a 1 yard gain.  Unfortunately, they only needed 1 yard.  But, Tray Matthews came up and made a hell of a good stop.  Our line got good penetration, and we made a stop on the edge.  Important.

 1st and 10 from UGA 32.  Ace formation Twins Left with a TE right, and an H-back (wing) right.  Base 3-4.

Metts drops back.  They call it a play-action, but it looked pass all the way.  Our DE gets cut on the left side, and Jenkins rushes too wide on the right.  No pressure.  Mettenburger sees his TE break open behind Leonard Floyd, who is playing a hook-zone.  What Metts doesn't see is Harvey-Clemons coming over behind him.  He hits his TE in the hands...JHC hits him in the chest.  Incomplete pass.

2nd and 10 from UGA 32.  Shotgun, Trips Left, Single back right, single W/O right.  Base 3-4.

Harvey-Clemons shows blitz, but bails at the snap.  Herrera also fakes a blitz.  Mettenberger gets confused when we don't blitz.  We rush only three, and flush Metts.  He steps up, and Ramik Wilson runs straight at him, forcing a check-down throw which is very nearly intercepted by Jordan Jenkins.  Sadly, the pass is simply incomplete.

3rd and 10 from UGA 32.  Shotgun Twins Left, TE left, HB right, single w/o right.  2-4-5 defense.

This is the "Mettenberger hits Landry on an unbelievable pass" play.

We have two deep safeties, both who stay near the middle of the field.  Landry is covered well by Josh Harvey Clemons.  Harvey-Clemons is playing underneath, because he has help over the top.   Mettenberger throws into triple-coverage anyway, and places the ball perfectly.  There's simply nothing you can do on that one.  Our guys were in position, and played the ball correctly...Mettenberger and Landry just got the better of them.

2nd and Goal from the 2.  This is where we give up the TD.

What happened?  Well, basically, we lost our edge defense.  We're playing 6 on the line, 4 behind them, and one corner out against their only wideout.  Basically, they outmaneuver us when Ray Drew gets sealed by BOTH the TE AND the FB.  None of our LBs nor JHC come down outside.  We basically gambled that they were coming up the middle, and they went to the left.  Because we didn't have anyone scrape the edge, it was a walk-in score.

LSU's 4th Possession

1st and 10, LSU 25.  Offset I-Right Normal.  Base 3-4.

Pre-snap, Swann shows blitz, then backs off, then shows blitz, then backs off...then blitzes at the snap.  The tackle steps wide to pick him up, allowing Jordan Jenkins to run right inside him, straight to Metts for the sack.

This play was actually a double-corner blitz with Jordan Jenkins also rushing.  Langley came from press coverage on a blitz on the other side.  Nasty.

2nd and 17, LSU 18.  Offset I-Left, Twins Left, TE Right.  Base 3-4

Fumbled snap.  It looks like we had 3 LBS coming on a blitz, but it could have been two LBs, and then Wilson just reacted to the fumble.  I really don't know.  Either way, they covered it up, and it brings up third down.

3rd and 23, LSU 12.  Shotgun Empty-Doubles.  TE to the left.  We're in 3-3-5 personnel, but no one is in the camera view other than the down linemen.

This is the play.  This is the one that has our genius fanbase screaming for the heads of our DBs.  This is the play that people are saying defines Todd Grantham's mediocrity.  This is the play, more than any other, that I wish wouldn't have happened, because it gives idiots some form of self-imposed legitimacy.

What happened?  Well, we actually get a decent pass rush, forcing Metts to step up in the pocket.  Unfortunately, no one is there to clean him up.  From what I can tell, the offense is running 5 vertical routes.  Everyone just go for the first down line, and Metts will throw to whomever he thinks is open.  In this situation, he decides to throw it to Beckham, between Wilson and Floyd and in front of Mauger, who made the tackle.  Floyd and Wilson were both in zone, and Beckham simply split it.  Mauger was in a deep zone, and came up to make the tackle, just as is his assignment.  He actually was giving our Corner help on the widest receiver who was headed up the sideline.

This play pissed our fanbase off because many of them wanted us to blitz.  Of course, many of those same people were asking why we were blitzing earlier in the game when a blitz got beat for a big throw.  So, you know, genius fans.  Here's the 17-beers and three quarters of a game-in logic: "It's 3rd and 23! You have to trust that you won't give up the big play.  You have to put the pressure on and force the QB to throw a bad ball.  That's what you HAVE to do."  Of course, this exact same playcall worked 3-4 times against South Carolina.  The fact is, you're much more likely to give up a huge play on a blitz than you are on a deep drop.  Did it suck to give up the first down?  yes.  Would our fanbase be even more rabid if we'd been hit for a bomb TD there?  Yup.  But, I'm not here to talk about what if's.  I'm telling you what happened.   Moving on.

2nd and 9, LSU 39.  I formation, Twins Right, TE left.  Base 3-4.

Playaction.  We rush four.  They drag Landry across the formation, and hit him for a decent gain.

1st and 10, UGA 47.  Offset I Right, Twins Right, TE left.  base 3-4.

Play-Action.  We go Corner-Blitz, and Langley takes a bad angle.  He pushes upfield instead of cutting underneath Jenkins, who was rushing outside.  Something he'll learn from in the film room this week.  Metts hits Landry on the same "Drag" (which is being called an "Over" route by Danielson, so maybe it's an "Over").  They get about 12.

1st and 10, UGA 35.  Offset I-Right, Twins Right, TE left.  Base 3-4

They go play-action, and run a zone-buster combination of routes.  Hurts us, because we're running a zone.  Beckham comes from the outside, running a Post.  Swann can't go with him because he has to cover the back coming to the boundary...I think. It's possible that Leonard Floyd should be following that back into the Flat.  It depends on the specific zone call.   We have three LBs between the hashes, so it looks like that may be a bust.  Either way, there were two deep routes, and 3 short/intermediate routes.  The way the play was designed, we would definitely be in trouble if sitting in zone.

We have two deep safeties, and they converge for the tackle, but the damage is done.   Harvey-Clemons was assisting Langley with the deep route on that side of the field.  From what I can tell, Matthews had the responsibility of defending that pass, and he had to stay deep until Beckham cut off his route.  At the moment Beckham turns, Matthews moves on him, but he's not faster than the football moving from Metts.

1st and Goal at the 8.

They line up in a Heavy I formation, with one wideout to the right.  Exact same formation as on their previous TD.  They run the same play.  We still don't set the edge.  Actually, Drew does a better job of setting HIS edge.  He takes on the widest guy on the line, and stones him.  This play is supposed to go up the middle, but Hill cuts it to the left when he sees no space.  Leonard Floyd is still looking inside, and doesn't pick up on Hill bouncing.  By the time he sees it, it's too late.  They score.

LSU's 5th possession

1st and 10 LSU 24.  Shotgun Trips Right, HB left, single wideout L.  2-4-5

We rush four, Floyd runs a twist and takes Metts down immediately.   Mettenberger got smashed so hard, they called a timeout.  Gave up their only timeout with 1:30 to go, and on their own 18.

2nd and 17 LSU 18.  Shotgun Twins Left, TE, HB, WO right.  2-4-5

They send their back in motion, pulling Swann to the boundry and getting him off Beckham.  We rush four, their protection holds.  Mettenberger hits Beckham crossing into the middle.  Linebacker on Beckham is just a bad matchup.

1st and 10 LSU 35.  Shotgun Twins Left, TE left.  HB,WO right.  2-4-5

We rush 6.  Metts tries to hit Landry crossing the middle, but can't.  Harvey Clemons defending.

2nd and 10 LSU 35.  Shotgun Trips Left, HB, WO right.  2-4-5

We rush 5, with stunts.  Ray Drew deflects Mett's pass.

3rd and 10 LSU 35.  Shotgun Twins Left, TE left.  HB, WO right.  2-4-5

We send five, with two over the center.  The halfback picks up the 2nd guy, and Metts gets the throw off to Landry.  Harvey Clemons defends, and whether he knocked Landry, or Knocked the ball....it was incomplete.

4th and 10 Shotgun Trips left, Bunched.  HB, WO right.  2-4-5

Metts motions his Hback in from trips to the backfield.  Jenkins rushes outside, attempts to jump this back, but gets tripped up.  Floyd runs a twist, and even though he doesn't come clean, he forces a bad throw by Metts.  The ball sails over the head of Beckham, and is nearly picked by Matthews.  But, since it's 4th down...we don't even need the turnover.

We kneel the ball, we win the game.

So there it is, every single pass attempt against our defense, and a few other plays as well.  So, in re-watching the game, and in breaking it down, there's no way in hell I can agree with the dominant attitude out there that our team is not any good in pass defense.  It's simply not true.

Did we lose on some plays?  We sure did.  We have a couple of pass-rushing beasts in Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd.  We have a solid Defensive Line.  We have some very talented young DBs who are going to have to grow up, but who played very well over all in this game.

For the most part, what we saw in this game was an NFL OC, and NFL QB and two NFL wideouts who executed a gameplan against a very young secondary.  I don't think the majority of Georgia fans understand that.  Cam Cameron was calling plays in the NFL last season.  The plays he diagrams are very high-level plays.  The guys starting in our defense are very young.  Still, they played their assignments well for the most part.  They gave up more points than we wanted to, yes.  But, they definitely don't "suck" as many fans and bloggers are attempting to put forth.

Mettenberger is a pro talent in his fifth year at LSU.  He makes throws that 95% of college quarterbacks are not going to make.  Those receivers make catches that 95% of receivers are not going to make.  You basically saw two NFL offenses take on two college defenses this weekend.  And ours won.

Future is bright.

Go Dawgs.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

We're terrible on defense? I don't buy it.

I've been reading so much CRAP about the game yesterday, that I thought I'd rewatch it and see if I had seen a different one.  See, I saw us beat the #6 team in the country, perennial power LSU.  But from what I'm reading, you'd think we barely squeeked by Savannah State.

Because everyone is tinkled pink with the offense, I'll skip watching us play O.  I mean, we scored in bunches.  What everyone is pissed about is the play of our defensive backs.  So, let's just see how they did...

LSU's 1st Possession..

3rd and 10 on the LSU 34

Offsides on Jordan Jenkins (mistimed snap count on blitz)

3rd and 5 on the  LSU 39

LSU lines up in Shotgun-Trips-Left

TE goes in motion almost to the far sideline, pulling Ramik Wilson out of the box and down to the sideline with him.  The motion was mainly to find out if we were in Man or Zone.  Because Ramik, and not the Corner, went out with the TE, Metts knew he had man coverage.  Landry ran an inside-out route, and our Safety came down to make the tackle after the reception.  Not much else he could have done since he was inside of Landry to begin with.  We were in our base 3-4, sent 4 at the QB and didn't quite get there.  So, LSU First down.

2nd and 7, from the UGA 48.

I-Formation, 2 TEs, 1WR split right.  Metts fakes the handoff, rolls right.  He fires to Odell Beckham.  Damian Swann hits him as the ball gets there, and it's incomplete.

3rd and 7, from the UGA 48.

We're in our Base 3-4, LSU in a shotgun pro-set with twins to the right.

We send our Safety on a blitz, and Metts sees it.  He knows he's gonna have single-man on his wideout (Boone), and knows where to throw the ball.  Damian Swann falls as the ball gets there, LSU gets an easy score.  Upon review, it looks like Swann was attempting to undercut the throw to defend it, but lost his footing.  Also, our Freshman Safety didn't take the best route to Mettenberger on his blitz.  He ran it a little too wide, and as a result he was just a hair late in getting to the QB.

So, that's what happened on the "Oh my God, our defensive backs are so terrible!" first touchdown.

Georgia's 2nd Possession...

Ok, I was gonna skip offense, but I thought this bared discussion.  On our second Possession, on a 3rd and 10, Murray had a pass intercepted.  Because Verne and Gary said something stupid in their commentary, people are talking about how Murray missed a D-Lineman dropping into coverage for the 2nd time.  People are hot about Murray not recognizing the same thing that happened at Clemson.  The problem is, the D-Lineman DID NOT DROP INTO COVERAGE.  The D-Lineman was rushing the passer, was shutdown completely, so he did what you're supposed to do...he made space from the Center, and watched the ball.  Usually, this gives you a chance to deflect a pass...this time, he was able to pick it off.  But, he was not dropping into coverage.  He got ridiculously lucky that Marshall was coming right behind him for a check-down throw.  Oh well.

LSU's 2nd Possession -

2nd and 8 from our 12.

 LSU is almost in a Wishbone formation.  They have 2 wideouts, and three running backs.  One back is set deep, as in the ACE.  The other two are astride Mettenberger.  I've seen this in the Pistol, but Metts is under center.  Anyway, it plays into what they need...as they go Max-Protect, and send only two receivers out.  Beckham, Jr runs an 8-yard stop...but it doesn't matter, because he's the 2nd read.  The primary read is Landry, who runs a 5-yard in.  Swann plays press coverage, but Landry makes space when he cuts.  Harvey-Clemons is coming over to provide help, but because he's running toward the sideline, and Landry is cutting into the middle, he overruns it and can't make a good play on Landry.  As a result, Landry gets a few extra yards down to our 3.

3rd and Goal from our 4.

LSU in Empty, 3 out left - the TE is all the way outside, pulling our LB (Wilson again) out there as well.  We're in a 2-4-5 with Harvey-Clemons in at Star.  I can't decide if the bust here is on Shaq Wiggins misplaying the ball, or on Harvey-Clemons for turning his back and vacating space.  Basically, what happens is that Harvey-Clemons hits Landry coming off the line, to disrupt his route.  He then follows Landry, and has help from the safety.  The problem is that because he bails out of where he was, Mettenberger has a clear path to throw the TD to Boone behind him.  Now, had he NOT moved, it's quite likely Mettenberger would have hit Landry for the TD.  We did have someone else there who could make a hit and possibly jar it loose...but we'll never know what woulda and coulda...only what dida happen.  In that one, it's really just another great playcall.  The TE pulling Ramik out of the play opened up the lane for Mettenberger to have an either-or read.

LSU's 3rd Possession -

1st down at the LSU 27  Offset I-Right, Twins Right, TE left.  We're in base 3-4.  We bring 4, they go play-action.  We have a bunch of guys at the Qb when he throws, perhaps the reason he one-hops it towards Beckham.  Swann was actually the closest person to catching it, but would have had to make a hell of a play.

2nd and 15 at the LSU 22 (after penalty)

Shotgun Pro Set Twins Right, TE left.  They send a Back in motion to the left, again pulling Ramik out that direction.  This time, there's no WR there to dive inside.  Instead, the TE runs a drag, pulling Herrera to the middle of the field, and they isolate their TB Hill on our LB, Floyd.  Now, Floyd is a hell of a player...but he's a freshman pass-rushing OLB who isn't that well-versed in coverage just yet.  He is on an island, and drifts too far to the outside as Hill cuts underneath him for the catch.  He gets a big first down, and is eventually cut down by Tray Matthews at the LSU 45.

And then, like a Douche, Verne says "Tray Matthews made the mistake of tackling air" - of course, Tray is the one who actually tackled Hill.  Eat it, Verne.

3rd and 8 from the LSU 47

Shotgun - Left, Trips right.  We're in a 2-4-5, and I can only see 9 players on the screen...so two of our Safeties are playing very deep (maybe 12-15 yards).  At first glance, it looks like we send 6, but we don't.  We only send 4.  Wilson and Herrera both have reads on the two running backs.  Wilson follows his coming underneath across the middle, and Herrera drops back as his flares around the line to come to the seam.  Amarlo knocks the Mettenberger-Falling-back pass away (Floyd Pressure).

LSU's 4th Possession -

2nd and 7 from LSU 40

I-Right-Normal.  We're in Base 3-4

Leonard Floyd beats FB block, comes around and forces an awkward throw, which the TE is unable to hold onto between Wilson and Herrera.

3rd and 7 Shotgun from LSU 40

Split-backs, twins left.  We're in 2-4-5 again, 2 safeties deep.  Swann is up on Boone, playing bump-run.  Our other two DBs on the screen have a 5-yard cushion.  We rush 5, only Wilson drops into coverage, and it's basically just a mid-zone.  Ray Drew gets through for the sack!  They sent 3 WR out, we had 5 to cover them - Metts couldn't get rid of it before The Preacher called down the forces of Heaven on his arse.

LSU's 5th Possession

2nd and 6 from LSU 29.  Offset I - FB right, TE Left.  Wideout to each side.    Base 3-4

Metts drops back, pocket holds, he hits Beckham on a 10 yd stop route.  He gets about 4-5 after the catch.  So what happened?  Looking at the coverage I see Floyd dropping into a Hook-Zone at about 5 yards.  He's basically shadowing a RB in the backfield, to be ready for a flare-out.  Swann is in coverage on Bekham, but It looks more like zone than man.  If i had to guess, I'd say we were playing a Cover-2 Robber look, where our safety comes down and covers the middle zone, while the Corner drops deep.  It's also possible that we were running a Man-Zone Cover 2, where the Corners were in man, and Swann simply overran the bailout when Bekham stopped.  Either way, we made the tackle, and it's hard to place a "blame" without knowing precisely what was called.  Harvey-Clemons moved over as soon as the ball was thrown, so it was a good reactionary play.

2nd and 6 from LSU 47.

Shotgun Trips Left, bunch Formation - Base 3-4

We drop 7 into zone coverage.  Our guys put pressure on Metts, and he checks down to his RB.  Floyd and Herrera combine for the tackle.  2 yard gain.

3rd and 4 from LSU 49

Shotgun Split Backs, Twins right.  We're in 2-4-5

Timeout.  Damnit.

3rd and 4 from LSU 49

Shotgun, Empty.  We're in 2-4-5 again, very spread out.

We rush 4.  Jordan Jenkins gets a hit on Metts, but he's a touch late.  Swann is in bump-run, but he doesn't get a hit on the Beckham.  As a result, Beckham runs by him and makes a grab as Swann catches up.  Swann makes the tackle, but Beckham gets the first.

1st and 10 from UGA 34

Offset I-right Normal.  Base 3-4

Play-Action.  We rush 4 - Chris Mayes gets the sack.  Metts had to hold the ball too long.  Guess the receivers were covered.  All of them.

3rd and 7 from UGA 31

Shotgun Split Backs, Twins Right.    2-4-5

They send one back in motion left, to pull our backer.  Herrera bumps Wilson out onto that back.  We rush four.  Swann in bump and run...actually presses hard on his receiver, taking him out of the play.  They try to sneak a back out to the space vacated by Wilson.  Mett's pass bounces off the RB.  It wouldn't have mattered, as Herrera clobbered him anyway.  Either Herrera recognized the same type of motion play, or Grantham made that adjustment.  Either way, nice to see LSU go to what had been working and see it fail.

They get a field goal.


After that, we drove down and scored another TD to take a 24-17 lead at halftime.

I'll take a look at the second half later.   But, looking at the first half, I certainly don't see that "terrible" secondary that I've been reading about.

Go Dawgs.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Get Ready for the Sacrilege ...

... or, shut up about Erk Russel and Vince Dooley.

I'm just tired of reading stupid posts about how great our defense was "back in the day."  Yeah, Erk's defense gave up few points.  In 1980, his defense was 9th in the nation in scoring defense, with a now-unimaginable 11.4 points per game surrendered.  To me, that sounds like horseshit.

Regular readers of my blog know, of course, the love-hate relationship I have with numbers.  I look around the SEC landscape today, and I see touchdowns being scored in bunches...and I have to ask myself, is it that the SEC defenses suck now...or were we simply 3 decades behind in offensive firepower?  We've prided ourselves on being a defense-first league...but that seems to be no more.  Surely we didn't just throw in the towel.  What the hell?

Well, that got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, our glory defense of old wasn't all it was cracked up to be.  Maybe, just maybe, the COMPETITION had something to do with it.  So, I decided to peek into the holiest of holies.  I decided to investigate the crown-jewel of the UGA history book.  I decided to, dare I say it, consider debunking the MYTH that is the Great Georgia Defense of Erk Russel in 1980.


For those of you still reading, I applaud you.  Now, let me admit that I dig into this with absolutely no sense of irony, as in 1980 I was not a Georgia fan.  In fact, I wasn't a fan of any team at all.  In the fall of 1980, when Herschel was running roughshod over linebackers and diving into endzones, I was toddling around my parents' split-level home in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  I had never heard of the Georgia Bulldogs, and definitely didn't know that 19 years later, I'd be strapping on a red helmet emblazoned with a Black G on the side.  So, let me go ahead and say that for me, as for many fans, the 1980 season holds no mystique.  As such, it is fair game for fire.  

Here we go.

Richt and Company take a lot of flack for their record against top 10 opponents.  So far in 2013, they have already defeated as many top-10 opponents as the 1980 team did.  That's right, Notre Dame (7), was the sole top-10 team to be defeated by the "great" UGA team in 1980.  National Championship resume's just weren't all that demanding back in the day I suppose.

Of the 12 games Georgia played, only 3 were true road games.  The first was a 1-point victory over Tennessee to open the season.  UGA 16-TN 15.  By the way, Tennessee was a 5-6 team in 1980.
UGA also beat UK (27-0) and AU (31-21) at their homes.  AU was 5-6 that season.  UK, an impressive 3-8.

Georgia won the Cocktail Party against #20 Florida, who would go 8-4 that season, 26-21.

I suppose curent fans would look at UGA's 42-0 whipping of TA&M and think that's pretty good... right up until they realized that A&M was in the "Southwest" conference, and 4-7.  Oops.

A 4-point victory over Clemson sits better with us than our 3-point loss this season, of course.  Then there's the nasty fact that the tigers were a 6-5 team that year.  Ugh.

We beat 3-8 Ole Miss 28-21.  Wow.  3-8.  They put up 21 on the vaunted Erkster.

Even State-Rival Georgia Tech put up 20 points that season, and they were 1-9-1.  

YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY.   GT had ONE victory in 1980, but they put 20 on the board against UGA.

Sure, the goose eggs against UK and TAMU feel good.  And of course, the one against 2-9 Vandy as well.  But still...all this hootin' and hollerin' about the amazeballs Erk Russel defenses starts to sound a bit childish when you look at the offenses that defense faced.  

TN                     5-6    (1 pt MoV)
TAMU              4-7
CLEM               6-5    (4 pt MoV)
TCU                  1-10
MISS                 3-8
VANDY           2-9  
UK                    3-8
USCe                8-4     (3 pt MoV)
FL                     8-4     (5 pt MoV)
AU                    5-6    
GT                    1-9-1
ND                   9-2-1

So, Erk's defense was able to go undefeated and sit 9th in the nation in scoring defense against a schedule that featured eight teams who posted sub-.500 records.  In fact, there were more teams with 3 or less wins, than there were with 6 or more wins.  

Please, shut up about the amazing Championship Defense and the Junkyard Dawgs and all of that.  Understand that there were four teams, who were middling at best, who could have upset that apple cart.  Things came together just as they had to in that season, and there was a fair amount of luck involved as well.  

The Georgia defense of 2013 is very talented.  They have faced MUCH STIFFER competition than that 1980 crew could ever have imagined.  They've given up more points, yes.  Luckily, on the other side of the ball is an offense that is lightyears ahead of the 1980 one (Herschel notwithstanding).  So now they face another top-10 opponent in LSU, and it's time to see if the D has improved from its first few games out.  

I've seen marked improvement every week.  I hope you have, too.  And I hope we all see it today.  

We need it.... because the teams we play this season are much better than those that made up the "Championship Schedule" back in the day.

Go Dawgs.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Specifically for "Rick W"

Rick W threw up a healthy retort to my last post, saying that Grantham had all offseason to prepare for Clemson and South Carolina, and we gave up 68 points.  He says Grantham "doesn't have a clue" and that we're the 5th (or so) best defense in the conference.  He says we're closer to Vanderbilt than we are Alabama defensively.

Hey Rick, tell me again how awesome that Bama defense is....

628 yards and 42 points surrendered to the team that beat them a year ago...

A year ago.

Saban and Smart had a full year to get ready for that game, and they gave up 628 yards and 42 points.

I guess they don't have a clue either.

Or maybe, just MAYBE, as I said before ... when you face TOP teams, you simply need to be able to make one more stop than they do.

Those "total defense" and "Scoring defense" stats sure are great stuff for bloggers and fans to discuss.  They sound fabulous coming out of Gary Danielson's increasingly slurred pie-hole.  But, in actuality, they mean nothing.  nada.  zip.  zero.  zilch.

What matters is whether or not your defense can make that one final stop they need to make in order to win the game.   That's what UGA did against South Carolina.

Go Dawgs.

Friday, September 13, 2013

All that "This just isn't a top-10 defense" horseshit

First off, let me say that the titular statement is completely asinine when said in week 2 of any season.  Take a look back in week 8, and you may have some data from which to make that claim.

Just FYI...the nation's top 10 "total" defenses right now:

10. Penn State
9.  Alabama
7. Marshall (tied)
7. UCF (tied)
6. Duke
5. Florida
4. Virginia Tech
3. Michigan State
2. Arizona State
1. Wisconsin

(Georgia #100)

The nation's top 10 "Scoring" defenses are:

9. Marshall (tied)
9. Louisville (tied)
9. Duke (tied)
7. Arizona (tied)
7. Oregon (tied)
6. Washington
4. Oklahoma (tied)
4. UCF (tied)
1. Georgia Tech (tied)
1. Arizona State (tied)
1. Wisconsin (tied)

(Georgia #95)

So I guess you need to ask yourself if you truly believe a few things.  First of all, do you believe that Duke has one of the best defenses in the country?  Second, do you believe that Georgia has the 95th-100th best defense in the country?  

I don't think anyone would argue that out of the 10 teams at the top of the polls, Georgia has faced the toughest two-game stretch of any.  Out of the 10 teams at the top of the polls only TWO currently have defenses ranked in either top 10.  Alabama at #9 in total defense, and Oregon at #7 in scoring defense.  Oregon drew Nicholls State in week 1 (and a bad Virginia team in week 2) and Alabama had week 2 off.  So....yeah.

Of course, for every defense, there is an opposing offense, right?  After the past two weeks, people have been pretty happy with the play of our offense.  The O-Line faltered for a quarter and a half, but putting up 35+ on back-back top-10 opponents is seen as pretty damned good.

Well, here's some info:

UGA scoring Offense - #38 in the country
UGA total Offense - #20 in the country

Who out there believes we're as low as #20 in offense?  I'm pretty sure most of you believe we have the BEST RB tandem.  Many believe we have one of the top QBs.  (Some ignorant folks still argue he just can't win the big one and isn't clutch.  Read: Shut up.)

Simply put - there's too much football ahead of us to make any solid judgment calls on what we've seen thus far.  I'll bet you this...Clemson is going to light up MANY teams for more than 38 points.  I'll also bet South Carolina tops 30 a few times.  

Is this defense a "shut down" defense?  Not at the moment.  Is it good enough to win a championship?  I'd say yes.  Why would I say yes?  Because at the end of the day, a Championship defense need only to make one more stop than the opposing team can make.  That's it.  We'd all love to see 14 shutouts a season.  Realistically, though, the competition is just too damned good for that to happen.  I wouldn't doubt we'll see one or two.  As the playmakers get settled in and gel, I think you'll see the defense's numbers improve greatly.  The important thing is this - the offense is potent enough that even if the defense is fairly pedestrian, it could be good enough to win a title.

Basically, Georgia is in the top 10, so you're damned right this is a top 10 defense.

Go Dawgs.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Aaron Murray - the best "Bad" QB in NCAA history

...Or, Football Players don't listen to Fans.

17-23 309 yds 4 TDs.  0 Picks.  0 Fumbles.  0 horrible misreads.  0 brain farts.  0 reasons to look for any approval from a fanbase that has called him out as being "unable to win big games."

After a 3-point loss in a hostile environment (read: my 55-10 dream-based prediction is why I don't get paid for this), a multitude of "Dawgfans" heaped the trash-talk onto Murray.  "He just can't win big games" was the common consensus.  They point to the less-than stellar mark against ranked opponents during his tenure.  Readers of this blog know full well the stock I DON'T put in that.  Why?  Because every game is its own experience.  Every game is its own little universe.  The way that UGA played Alabama in the SEC Championship game had no bearing on how it would play Nebraska in the bowl.  Likewise, the UGA beatdown by USCe in Columbia did not show us how the Georgia offense would play for the majority of last season.

It's long been said that a quarterback has to have a short memory.  If he throws an interception, he has to forget about it when he gets back on the field.  He has to just go out there and play.  Most great quarterbacks do just that.  When they make a mistake, they just say "Screw it" and play on.  Why?  Can't change it.  All you can do is play the next play.

Unfortunately, fan bases do not have to master that same skill.  They dig and research and try to find every piece of evidence to predict how a quarterback will/won't perform in the future.  ... OR, they don't Analyze ANYTHING, but instead simply look at W-L numbers (read: Chest-thumping hillbilly screaming "It's the only thing that matters!" - shortly after having a 3-hour argument with a Florida fan about how closely we played them in so many losses that could have gone our way, so Florida obviously wasn't the better team) and claim the quarterback is held responsible for all of it.

Against Clemson, Murray didn't have a banner day.  His two turnovers were definitely part of what prevented a victory.  He had 1 TD on the ground.  He threw another one, but it was taken away.  I don't get to see the wide-angle tape, so I don't know if he had other open receivers for TDs on the day, but Bobo was a bit critical (as Murray was of himself) of some COMPLETED passes that could have gone for more, had they been more accurate.  Still, when your offense gets 35 points, its hard to blame the QB for the loss. It just is.

But, Murray could have listened.  He could have agreed with the rabid fanbase and thought, "They're right.  I just can't do it.  I just can't beat ranked teams.  I just can't win big games.  I mean, there was the Nebraska game last year where I bounced back after throwing a couple of INTs in the 1st half, and there was Florida last year...won that one, and of course the way I sliced up Missouri in their first SEC game, after we had fallen behind..that was pretty good.  And then there were those two pesky top-25 wins against Auburn and Tech my sophomore year.  But yeah, the fans are right.  I should just quit football."  Fortunately, he didn't do that.  Nah, he just went out, led a great game, threw for 300+ for the 9th time in his UGA career.  He tossed 4 TDs for the 9th time in his career.  He beat a top-10 team for the second time in 2 seasons.

I've been critical of Murray in the past.  I've expected more.  After the Clemson loss, I told a friend of mine that his stats and performance aside, a 5-star recruit, 5th year senior, 4th year starter, 2-time SEC Champion can't have simple mental mistakes like NOT WATCHING THE PLAYCLOCK in a game against a top-10 team.  You just can't do that.  But, I have never questioned Murray's courage, tenacity, or ability to make plays.  I HAVE questioned his ability to make decisions.

As he has matured, his decision making has improved.  Bobo and Richt are now allowing him to get out of the pocket more, and we saw against USC how GOOD that can be for UGA.  They trust him to make the right decisions.  As fans, we should as well.  Barring injury, Aaron Murray will hold quite a few UGA and SEC records.  He may even get to hold a Crystal Football.

If that moment comes, I'm sure he'll be willing to start listening to fans.  Because if that moment comes, they'll have nothing but praise for him.  And, many will say, "I've been with you the whole time."  And he'll believe them - because as a Good Quarterback should, he'll have a short memory.

Go Dawgs.

Friday, August 30, 2013

What the hell am I thinking?

I don't know.  It just keeps popping up in my head.


I can't escape it.


There's no logical reason to believe that we will walk into Death Valley tomorrow, and walk out with a landslide victory.  Even the most chest-thumping of SEC fans have to agree that Clemson has enough offensive firepower to put that kind of talk to rest.  Even those who fall in the "Richt can do no wrong" camp have to question the ridiculousness of that score prediction.  There simply is no way we can dominate Clemson like that.


Still, it rings in my head.  Unending.  I've looked at the stats, at the personnel returning, the personnel departing.  I've read countless blogs going back and forth about who has what and will have learned what from whom...and the paper match up keeps returning fairly even.  And yet, there it is.


It's absolutely insane to think that we could do that to them.  I mean, score 55?  Possibly.  This is a team that gave up 99 points in a 3-game stretch last season (FSU 37, BC 31, GT 31).  Our offense IS better than those three.  But hold them to 10?  There's just no way that could happen.  I mean, only three teams kept Clemson under 30 points scored last season.  Those teams were South Carolina, LSU, and Auburn.

Wait a minute.  Auburn?  Auburn?  Auburn who gave up 26 points to Clemson, then gave up 28 points to ULM a week later, Auburn?

Still, just because the only SEC defenses Clemson faced last year all held the Tigers to under 30 points doesn't mean their offense isn't as awesome as everyone seems to believe it is.  There's just no way.   We have too many untested, unproven names on Defense.  We can't possibly stop them like that.

And besides, LAST YEAR is LAST YEAR.
Georgia's motto: "New Year.  New Team.  One Dream."

That holds true for our opponents as well.  They're not the same team anymore.  They could be much, much better than they were.  That's the goal of every program, right?  Get better every year.  Win a championship.  Georgia's thinking it.  Clemson must be thinking it.

What in the hell am I thinking?


go dawgs

Sunday, August 25, 2013

About that "Big Game" nonsense

I was reading a blog this morning.  The blogger was going over reasons why the Dawgs would/wouldn't win the Title this year, and one of the primary why nots was Murray's inability to come through in big games.  This blogger pointed to the 4-10 record the Dawgs post in the Murray era.  So, let's break that down, shall we?

I don't think anyone would pretend that our team in the 2010 season was one worthy of any kind of national ranking.  You lose 7 games out of 13, and you're just plain sub-par as a football team.  That's all there is to it.  We faced 4 ranked teams that year, and lost to all 4...including #25 UCF in the bowl game.  (A low point in modern UGA football history).  Murray was a freshman who couldn't lead his offense to paydirt against South Carolina, and who couldn't keep up the pace when eventual National Champion Cam Newton Auburn came roaring back to beat the Dawgs.

So, you take the crappiest year of UGA football out of the equation, and you're looking at a 4-6 record against Ranked Opponents.

So, then what?

2011 - The Boise Debacle in which Connor Norman (walk-on soph) had to try to hold up in coverage against one of the nation's better passing attacks due to suspensions/injuries in our secondary.  Follow that up with a SC game that featured A punt-fake-td, and a shower of points-by-mistake by the Cocks.  We also notched two Top 25 wins in 2012 over Auburn and at GT.  Then, after playing the best defensive half in SECCG history, the levee broke and our defense got railroaded by LSU.  The Michigan State Game?  Damnit.  Just Damnit.

So here we are, going into the 2012 season looking at 2 more wins, and 2 more losses.

One loss was horrible.  It was the worst game of football I can remember watching UGA play in quite some time.  The Dawgs simply were firing on ZERO cylinders as South Carolina ran us out of the building.  The other loss, though...it was 5 yards and 6 seconds from being the victory that finally put Georgia over the hump.  

So, to put it simply...when you're summing up how Georgia "can't win the big one" with Murray at the helm, you need to look at the past and see that he went

0-4  (0%)


2-4  (33%)


2-2  (50%)

And very nearly 3-1 (75%).

The first month of the season will give Murray and the Dawgs three shots at Top 25 teams.  There's a fourth in November against Florida.  It's possible that Vandy will be ranked in the Top 25 by the time we play them.  And, if the Dawgs win the East, they'll be facing Top-25ers in the SECCG and any Bowl game we reach (Nat'l Title or otherwise).

So at the end of the day, 7 out of our possible 14 games this season could be against Top 25 teams.  Or in other words, if you don't think Murray and Company can "win the big ones" against T25s, we're screwed.

As for me, I think we go 14-0...but hey, don't I always say that?

Go Dawgs.

It's Finally Game Week, Y'all!

This was my best offseason ever.  I sat idly by while a number of stories (Houston's reinstatement, the 2014 SEC Schedule, Harvey-Clemons' suspension, Secondary injuries, Manziel's Shenanigans) permeated the fanbase.  I didn't speak up. I didn't admonish bloggers for writing about these in the offseason.  I didn't whine about the worthless of conjecture nor the lack of any real FOOTBALL to talk about.

I simply sat down, and shut up.

But, as football season approaches once more, I find myself unable to contain my mirth.  In six short days, we will once again see our boys strap on their white jerseys and their red helmets and go play this fabulous game against a team that many have seen as an 'up and comer' for nigh on a decade.  I'm tired of the hype, I'm tired of the guesswork and the analysis and the x's and o's.  I'm ready to see some damned football already.

I'm ready to see Theus drop someone on his ass.

I'm ready to see Gurley hit a hole harder than John Holmes.

I'm ready to see Mitchell outrun the wind.

I'm ready to see Artie plow a SS into the ground as he scores on a skinny post.

I'm ready to see the Windmill!

I'm ready to see Jenkins start his own march into Georgia Lore.

I'm ready to see Swanny haul in balls like his namesake.

I'm ready to see the Reverend instill the fear of God into some hapless runningback.

I'm Ready.

Go Dawgs.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Dog is a DAWG

Previously, I posted about our dog destroying my beloved UGA hat...

Now, normally I might be enraged by this - and perhaps I should be - but this dog really can't piss me off too badly.  First off, he looks like this:  

And secondly, he DAILY decides to do his "business" in the yard of a neighboring FL Gator Fan.  

Now, I've never really bought into the "I'm a Georgia fan, so I have to hate all other SEC fans" thing...but I gotta say...something in me just loves the fact that even our dog understands what a FL Fan is worth.

Go Dawgs.

Btw...if anyone knows where I can get a replacement for that hat (apparently The Game stopped making them in 2011), I'd be very grateful.  

Go Dawgs.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Calling all Dawgs ... and Tracking Hounds

Hello Dawgfans.

Once again, it's summer...and once again, I'm very quiet.  But I need to share something with you.  

Last week, a tragedy struck my home.  Upon entering, my girlfriend found the house in an awful state.  There were signs of a struggle, foreign substances on the couch, floor, carpeting, etc.  There was a sign of forced exit... forced exit from a kennel...by our American Bulldog, Moo.  Moo broke out of his cage and in the process of destroying the living room, made short work of my favorite Georgia hat.  

To describe the hat, it was a brown leather trucker style hat with a slide closure.  The Front of the hat was embroidered with the UGA - University of Georgia BAR-style logo.  The closure on the back simply said:  GEORGIA.

I'm looking to replace it, but the reps at TheGame told me that they haven't offered that hat since fall 2011.  I don't know if anyone out there owns a Campus Spirit, or a Hibbets, or a Lids, or anything like that...or if you maybe just happen to have seen one somewhere... but I'm calling on all who'll listen.

If someone can help me replace my hat, then you would indeed hold a special place in my heart.   

Below are a picture of me wearing the hat at a recent performance...and one of the hat in its current state.  

Can anyone help?


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Not all UGA stars will sign today.

National Signing Day.  Far too many men in their 30's-70's are drinking coffee, following the activities of 17 and 18 year old boys today.  Get Chris Hansen on the phone.

Today is a day for college football fans to be excited, naturally.  Today is the day when the future stars of their team put pen to paper and sign declare their allegiance to a college (until they decide to transfer, quit, or in the case of Bama, until Saban decides there's a more talented kid who needs that spot).  But, there are many kids who WON'T sign that letter today.  They weren't contacted by many D-1 schools, if any.  They were contacted by lower-tier schools, passed over by the bigs for not being athletic enough, or not being big enough, or maybe just because their position is one where there happen to be too many great recruits this year.  Those kids won't get the hefty scholarship offers.

They will walk-on.

They will attend a University of their own volition.  They will be scholarshiped academically, or they will work multiple jobs to pay for tuition, or they will sign themselves to decades of student loan payments just to walk on the campus of their dreams, and attempt to earn a spot on a football team.  They will be looked over at every possible chance.  They will be deemed "Not as worthy" as the scholarship players on the team.  They will not be invited to every meeting.  They will not dress out to every game.  They will be forced to earn every shred of respect and recognition they receive.

And some will fail.  But some will prosper.  Some will use the experience as a challenge.  They will wake each day with a rabid desire to be better than the day before.  They will work tirelessly to impress their coaches.  They will be absolute beasts and will NOT allow themselves to be outworked by anyone.

Some will earn scholarships.  Some will earn Starting Jobs.  And a few, very few of these walk-ons, will end up in the National Football League.  One or two may even wear Super Bowl rings for the rest of their lives (Shout out to my boy Verron!!!).  Above all else, they will learn that you NEVER give up on a dream.

I was a walk-on.  I learned that lesson.  At UGA I was a letterman, was twice honored by the SEC and was twice honored by my own team.  I don't give up on my dreams.  For the past 11 years, I've been in Los Angeles, chasing a new dream - that of being an entertainer.  A year ago, I received a call offering me a chance to perform on television.  Since then, I have gone on to more pro gigs, started work on an album, and this year, in 2013, I will go on tour.  I am playing in Austin at SXSW.  I am playing Georgia.  I am playing in Nashville.  I am playing in Alabama.  I have finally realized my dream - and it all began, by NOT signing a piece of paper to a lower-tier school, but instead by walking-on at Georgia.

For the next 3 days, you can still be a part of my adventure.  I am looking for support for my upcoming tour, and I'm giving awesome rewards to those who back me.  I'm pushing for $10K and we're nearly there!!!  You can find out more here: