Saturday, September 13, 2014

We didn't lose that game on 4th down.

Not on the 4th down when they didn't get the 1st (but the refs said he did)

Not on the 4th down when Morgan missed that kick (that hooked late, and looked good but wasn't)

We lost that game on 1st down.   We lost that game when our coaches (I'm guessing, but it could have been fearless leader himself, Hutson Mason) decided to throw the ball on a 1st and goal at the 4. 

If you've been reading my blog for years, you know me.  I don't question our coaches all that often.  I defer to them in nearly every single situation because they are good at what they do, and get millions of dollars to do it.  I'm a simple country singer ( and blogger (this site) ... oh, and I tweet, too (@bendukes) ... but at this moment, I gotta say -

The decision NOT to run the ball with Gurley, OR Chubb, OR Hicks, OR Michel on 1st and goal at the FRIKKIN 4 YARD LINE after a HUGE interception and penalty is just stupefying.  I can not imagine what goes through the mind of an offensive coordinator who calls that, or a quarterback who audibles into it.  I mean, it's this moment where i want Johnny Moxon in the huddle so that he can say, "Screw That." and then call a play that puts it in Gurley's hands.  

I just can't fathom it.  Run the ball.  If you don't score, it's second down....and seconds are ticking away.  If you score, you're ahead and your D (who is feeling AMPED) comes back out to shut South Carolina down.  

What the hell, man?  What the hell?

I don't know if Bobo called the pass, or Mason audible into it... but it certainly seems like the whole offensive unit was eating dumbshit sandwiches on the sideline before running onto the field for what could have been the go-ahead "drive" of 4 yards.  

I've been watching UGA football for a while now, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a better display of ineptitude than I did on that series.  

Ugh.  Ok, I've vented.  Suck it up, dawgnation.  We have a playoff run to make.  Go Dawgs.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Williams-Brice - where UGA's offense goes to die

I know, I know...ominous blog title.  But seriously, this is the thing that's been giving me pause this week.  Yes, South Carolina seems to have taken a step back, and UGA appears to be banging on all cylinders.  It looks as though we should be able to ROLL right over the Gamecocks.  We like to believe that Gurley can not be stopped, and that Mason is smart enough and good enough to beat the 'Cocks with his arm if necessary.

I want to believe that too.  I want to believe that we win this game 42-17.

But, here's the funny thing about playing in Columbia.  The Dawgs don't do it well - at least not the Dawgs' Offense.

Richt is 4-2 in Columbia, but only 2-2 since Spurrier arrived, and his last win was 2008.  Now, until this year, South Carolina had posted 18 straight victories at Williams-Brice.  That's pretty much every game in the stadium from 2011-2013.  Solid.

Many folks are thinking, "DUKES!  We're so much better now than we were with any of those teams.  We have GURLEY"  Yes we do.  He's damned amazing, and I hope he dominates against the Gamecocks.  But let's remember... in 2012, we were 6 yards (or 20 seconds) from a National Title Game appearance... and we had Gurley then.  And Aaron Murray.  And a group of wideouts who are currently in the NFL.

I'd be remiss not to paint this picture for you:

In 2006, UGA entered SoCar 1-0.   We scored 48 points in the first game of the season with Stafford, Lumpkin, Brown, Ware, MoMass and Sean Bailey leading the group.  In Columbia, we scored 18 points.

In 2008, We were 2-0 going into the USC game.  Stafford had more seasoning.  Moreno was now the leading rusher in the backfield (with Caleb King).  MoMass and AJ Green were electric on the outside of the offense.  We had scored 45 and then 56 points in the first two weeks.  In Columbia, 14.

In 2010, Aaron Murray made his first SEC start in a VERY hostile environment.  The soon-to-be SEC All-Time Leading Passer brought Washaun Ealey, Caleb King, AJ Green, Tavarres King and Marlon Brown as well as a 55 point week-one offense into Columbia.  That combo put up 6 points.

In 2012, Murray returned to Columbia, hoping to beat the Gamecocks (he was 0-2 against them) just like he had beaten Missouri, Vanderbilt and Tennessee prior.  He brought the freshman phenom tandem of Todd Gurley and Nick Marshall with him.  He threw passes to T. King, Malcolm Mitchell, and Marlon Brown, not to mention big TE Arthur Lynch.  That offense had thrown up no less than 40 points in ANY game preceding.  (45,41,56,48,51) To say they were in mid-season form was by no way overstating it.  That offense, which would go on to the SEC Title game, tallied an amazing SEVEN POINTS in Columbia - in garbage time.

I'm not saying we won't win.  I'm not saying the Dawgs Offense won't explode against South Carolina just like it did against Clemson.  In fact, I surely hope that's what happens, because we need to reverse the recent trend in Columbia.  All I'm saying, is don't be surprised if it's a slugfest where we have to work to win the game in the 4th quarter.   You can NEVER write-off Steve Spurrier before the game has been played.

To Todd Gurley, Hutson Mason, Michael Bennett and the rest I say: Prove me wrong.  Go hang 60 on Spurrier in Williams-Brice.

Go Dawgs.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Desire Versus Expectation

I've been involved with the South Carolina-UGA rivalry for nearly 20 years now.  When I graduated high school, I was a highly scholarshipped individual.  This, of course, was due to my performance in the classroom rather than on the football field.  Still, I had my pick of schools.  I visited, interviewed at, and enrolled in classes at The University of South Carolina in 1997.  I never attended a class.  Instead, I attended my classes at The University of Georgia, which I visited, interviewed at and enrolled in classes a few weeks after my trip to Columbia.  An odd way to end up in Athens, to be sure...but it was my path.

Now, none of that has any bearing whatsoever on the game that will be played on Saturday, save for the fact that the team I played for is squaring off against the first college I almost attended.  I am not a person divided, though.

I bleed Red and Black.

So, I want the Dawgs to Win.  No, I don't.  I want them to ROLL.  I want Gurley and Co to absolutely eviscerate the Gamecocks (metaphorically, of course), and leave their collective pride bleeding out on the field at Williams-Brice.  That's what I want.  I want to see the scoreboard lit up like a UGA Freshman's eyes the first time he sees a tit at a Frat Party.

That is not what I expect.

I want to see us run Gurley, and Gurley, and Gurley, and then Chubb, and then Gurley, and then Michel, and then Gurley, Gurley, Gurley, Chubb, Gurley, Michel, Chubb, Michel, Chubb, Chubb, Gurley ... and then Keith Marshall because why the hell not.

That is not what I expect.

I want to see Mason fake handoffs and hit receivers deep.  I want to see Mason hit Hicks for a monstrous TD along the sideline, where Hicks runs over a Corner, outruns a linebacker and then weaves TO HIT a safety as he crosses the goal line.

I want to see 40+ points on our side of the scoreboard, and <14 nbsp="" on="" p="" theirs.="">
That is not what I expect.

The Georgia faithful have swollen with pride due to the ass whipping delivered to Dabo Sweeney and his Tigers a pair of weeks ago.  People are feeling REAL good about the Dawgs right now.  But, this is where the stars DO NOT align for Georgia.  This game isn't being played in Athens, where we've been able to light up scoreboards against Cocky (even in losing).  No, this is in Columbia.  In Columbia, UGA's points get sucked into the void.

This is Richt's 5th shot at Spurrier in Columbia.  So far, the Dawgs are 2-2 in those contests, posting an average output of a whopping 11.75 points.  During those same games, Spurrier's Cocks have put up 14.25 per.  Neither total is particularly encouraging for either squad.   Sure, UGA blew the hinges off against the Gamecocks in Athens last year ... but that pesky crowd can really turn a fortune in a hurry.

Now, I know many of you would be quick to remind me of the catastrophic mistakes that occurred in that loss two years ago.  But, I've been a Georgia fan long enough to know - those things can and DO happen in big ballgames.  The question is always how the team will respond.

Spurrier would want us to roll over when adversity strikes.  He would want his crowd to get loud, the pressure to come crashing down on Mason.  He would want to see the 5th year senior crumble under the weight of that intense moment.

That is not what I expect.

I expect our team to have better leadership and cooler heads than that.  I think they have come across many miles of maturation since that last visit to Columbia.  I think they have become a more tight-knit unit.  I believe they have developed into a group which will Hunker Down and get the job done when the shit hits the fan.

And that is what I expect.  I expect the fight to be a tough one, but I expect us to win it.  I expect South Carolina to key on Gurley, but I expect him to overpower them.  I expect Spurrier to have an excellent game plan, but I expect ours to outdo him.  I expect most of the nation to say "They're gonna make Hutson win it." And if that opportunity arises, I expect him to do so.

I want the Dawgs to win.  And I expect it.

Go Dawgs.