Friday, October 3, 2008
We will come back from this bye stronger than ever to finish out this season.
So, keep you're head high and pick yourself back up during this bye week with Joey Scarbury's "Theme From Greatest American Hero (Believe It Or Not)," live edition on Solid Gold! This catchy little gem hit #2 in 1981 and is a one hit wonder masterpiece!
Florida at Arkansas: The Gators have been very inconsistent on offense so far this year and Tim Tebow has looked confused at time. They are lacking an identity on that side of the football and everyone seems to be looking around for someone else to make plays. This will definitely be a week where UF can put up some positive statistics and big plays after last week’s shocking loss to the Ole Miss Rebels.
As discussed in previous posts, Arkansas is not very good this season. Casey Dick has made some very questionable decisions while under pressure and has given up more pick sixes (3) in the last two games than Arkansas has scored offensive TD’s (2). It also doesn’t help that the Razorback defense seems to have a lot of things in common with the French Army, as they are both always on retreat.
Florida wins this game fairly easily, 41-13 and will jump 4 spots in the polls as a result.
South Carolina at Ole Miss: This should be a good football game. LB Jasper Brinkley looks to have lost a step and the added weight is not helping his game. However, Eric Norwood has become increasingly comfortable at the linebacker position and I feel like he has been the most impressive of the two stud SC defenders this season. Carolina has been anything but overwhelming against Wofford and UAB, but South Cackalacky has a strong, physical defense that will definitely put pressure on the young Jevan Sneed. Carolina needs to make a strong statement on the road, especially after their early season road loss to Vanderbilt.
"Steve, I saw you lose to Vandy, don't be Acting like you didn't lose to Vandy!"
Ole Miss is coming off of their first major road win in close to 5 years and their upset of Florida was truly unexpected. However, they were also a victim of Vanderbilt's 4-0 start and have plenty of issues themselves. Look for the Rebels to come out motivated at home against the Gamecocks and push for an early lead. Both squads have been susceptible to the turnover and whoever wins this pivotal battle will pull out the game. Our pick, in an upset, is South Carolina 24-21.
Kentucky at Alabama: CBS has picked this as their SEC game of the week as two of the final four undefeated SEC teams look to battle it out in Tuscaloosa. The majority of our readers saw first hand what Bama did last week so we don’t have to dig too much into their 41-30 destruction of the Dawgs. Alabama looks to be the strongest team in the conference at this time and won’t try to do anything in this game that they haven’t done all year. This formula involves strong, fundamental defense, domination of the line of scrimmage, and ball control on offense. While Kentucky has a very strong defensive unit, surrendering only 5.5 points per game, they have faced very little in the way of strong competition and have struggled to create offensive consistency. Kentucky will challenge the Alabama offense, but expect a solid game plan from Crimson Tide OC Jim McElwain to keep pressure off of John Parker Wilson. Alabama should get another victory here, 31-14 and improve their lead in the all time series against UK to 34-2-1.
Auburn at Vanderbilt: College Game Day makes its long awaited debut in Nashville and no, there is not another game going on at LP Field. They are setting up camp on the beautiful campus of Vanderbilt University in anticipation of an actual tackle football game and to tell the truth, I’m jealous. Not only will Vandy play a better game than UGA did last week (I think anyone can), but the College Gameday crew will get to visit the World Famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge, a B’NE personal favorite.
"Chris, They call it a Holler and a Swaller, give me a Holler and a Swaller!"
As far as the game goes, expect a fairly low scoring affair. Vanderbilt is last in the SEC in both Total Offense and Total Defense and API has been less than stellar, as we all know by now, on offense. The Tiger defense is built for speed and swarms to the ball, which will give Vandy problems as they are not particularly big or fast with their option running game. The Commodores are extremely opportunistic and if Chris Todd and the Auburn offense start to flounder, Vandy will take advantage of the opportunity as they lead the SEC in interceptions (10) and turnover margin (+9). The key to this game is Tommy Tubbs taking more control over the Auburn offense, going back to more of a conservative, under center game that suits their personnel. Look for a physical Auburn victory in the range of 21-10 or 24-14.
Northern Illinois at Tennessee: It is pretty easy to reopen the QB competition between Jonathan Crompton and Nick Stephens when you are playing a 2-2 Northern Illinois squad. Early prediction for Phil and Mr. Clawson, Nick isn’t going to fair much better than Jonathan.
"Peyton, You know You want to go in there and put on that #3, Stephens Jersey."
N. Illinois started the year by losing two close games to Minnesota and Western Michigan and has followed that up with a pair of blowout wins over Illinois State and Eastern Michigan. Truthfully, we don’t know too much about the Huskies. I can tell you that former Notre Dame QB Demetrius Jones found DeKalb, IL so appealing that he transfered to the University of Cincinnati on 9/27/2007 immediately after transferring to N. Illinois on 9/12/2007. In our random pop culture factoid of the week, the legendary Dan Castellaneta is a Northern Illinois University graduate.
"Hey Phil, I saved you a piece, DOH!"
UT should come out early and dominate this game but tends to play soft against weaker out-of-conference competition. At some point Dave Clawson will remember that he has a huge O-Line and Arian Foster and he can use these weapons to his advantage. Dave, please ignore these comments until after the UGA game. The pick here is Tennessee, 38-17.
That sums it up for this week. Like most SEC fans during one of their off weekends, I will be at a wedding. So have a bourbon and coke and watch as much SEC football as you can.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Shockley, just after the ankle injury against Arkansas in '05
Losing DJ in '05 for the Florida game completely changed that season. We lost to Florida without DJ and to Auburn with a still recovering Shockley a few weeks later. The full potential of that team was on display against LSU in the SECCG. Who knows how that season would have finished without the injury.
While losing a defensive lineman is not quite the game changer that losing a quarterback is, I am beginning to think that the loss of Jeff Owens really has shifted the way early 2008 has gone. Without our senior leader in the middle, teams have been able to crack down on Geno Atkins and our ends to keep pressure off the quarterback. Willie's system of soft coverage works well provided you are pressuring the quarterback, but without that force in the middle, QBs like John Parker Wilson and Chris Smelley have had ample time to make their reads. The loss of Ellerbe early last week only exemplified this for Bama.
This off week should allow us to heal some and hopefully we get a full strength Brannan Southerland back for the Tennessee game. We need to send a message that the Alabama game was a fluke and we still are a team capable of playing in a BCS bowl.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
As most fans in Atlanta, when the Braves fell out of the playoff race for the third straight year, my attention turned entirely to football. Little did I know that I would be missing some of the best playoff race action the sport has ever seen. The Twins held a lead over the White Sox with a weekend to go, but the Sox pulled out a win over the Indians and then finished off the Tigers in a Monday make up game to force a tie-breaker with the Twins. The game ended with a 1-0 victory for the White Sox, sending them to the playoffs as AL Central champs. Here’s a brief wrap up of the 2008 season and my preview for the playoffs.
2008 has marked the return to reality for home runs and some record breaking performances. Ken Griffey Jr. became the sixth member of baseball’s 600 home run club and John Smoltz reaching 3,000 strikeouts were some of the career milestones that were reached. Remember the days when the home run leaders had numbers in the 30’s and not the 50’s? Well those days are back. Only two players in the Majors hit at least 40 (Ryan Howard, 48 and Adam Dunn, 40) and the leader in the American League, Miguel Cabrera, had 37. Chipper Jones flirted with .400 for much of the first half and held on to win his first batting title (.364). Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels broke Bobby Thigpen’s major league for saves(57), setting the bar now at 62. Former heroin addict Josh Hamilton put on a show at the Home Run Derby and led the American League in RBIs. Perhaps the most amazing year was put in by Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians. Lee was nearly left out of the Indians rotation after spring training, but ended up dominating the American League with a 22-3 record and 2.54 ERA.
In terms of team performances, 2008 was all about two teams: Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs. Chicago won the central division and has become the new darlings of the baseball world. Everyone seems to be pulling for the Cubs to break their 100 year World Series championship drought, and the team looks good enough to do it. In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays dropped the “Devil” from their name and finally found a way to make all of their young talent successful. Here are the match ups that begin today.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Philadelphia Phillies – Bats vs. Bats. These two teams are loaded with firepower, each lead by an oversized slugger (Brewers – Prince Fielder and Phillies – Ryan Howard). This may come down to pitching and with Ben Sheets out, Philadelphia may be able to pull this one out.
Chicago Cubs vs. LA Dodgers – The Dodgers got hot after Manny left Boston and took his circus west, but come on. This Cubs team is one of the most complete I’ve seen in a while. Look for the Cubs to sweep the Dodgers.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Chicago White Sox – The Sox sneaked in the playoffs, but they won’t have enough to carry them past the Rays. Tamps gets Carl Crawford back in center and at the top of the lineup, and the bats led by Evan Langoria put it on the Southsiders.
LA Angels vs. Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox have won two of the past 4 World Series for good reason. They have a mix of veteran stars and young players making contributions. That being said, this Angels team is that much better. The one two punch of Vlad and Tex should help the Halos put up enough runs to get to their bullpen, where Rodriguez and his 62 regular season saves await.
League Championship Series:
Cubs vs. Phillies – Once again, no one will stop the Cubs in the NL.
Rays vs. Angels – The miracle year for the Rays ends here. Angels will romp and move on to face the Cubbies.
Cubs vs. Angels – Look for this one to go 7. Two balanced teams slugging it out. I’ll take Chicago in seven, with Kerry Wood recording the final out, ending 100 years of Chicago heart break.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Matthew Stafford is awesome. Even with the trouncing we received from Bama, Stafford showed why he is a true leader that still has even greater things to accomplish.
Stafford gave it his all, especially in the second half on Saturday. Given an absolutely flawed game plan in the fourth quarter, Stafford kept us scoring and made some great passes. His poise and determination to salvage something out of this beating was outstanding.
Thank you for your performance and your leadership on the field. I wouldn't want anyone else leading our team into battle.
It is also necessary to give a shout out to the fans, particularly the student section. Even as the game was lost and the clock running out, our student section was almost entirely intact. They stayed until the very end and cheered the team as they left the field.
It's moments like these, in the face of defeat and embarrassment, that I am most proud to be a Georgia Bulldawg.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Yeah, we lost. Bad. Real bad. Yeah Bama, you beat the hell out of us. I can't really defend our performance because the first half was unimaginably awful. My brain did melt at your supposed greatness, and the Heisman will in fact be re-named the J&J trophy after last night's clobbering.
However, as expected, Bama fans waited until about just before halftime to start claiming things they did not yet have.
Let me bring your ego in check: You are a good, even a great football team. You deserve you're new high ranking in the polls.
However, despite your believed birthrights and statements from some that I heard after last night (although the Bama fans around us at the game were great), you have not won the SEC and the national championship yet. You are certainly in the hunt and as of this week you're at top of the contenders for those titles. But, you haven't even played LSU or the rest of your schedule for that matter.
So, congrats on your win, you earned it, you deserve it. But, you might want to hold off on your claims to winning it all before you actually do it (take a lesson from USC).
As for my fellow Dawgs, do not be too disparaged. All is still even in the SEC east with both Floriduh and the Volz losing. Hopes to make it to the SEC Championship are still alive and well, and that's always the main goal of our program.
Week 5 of the college football season has passed. Here are my thoughts:
Georgia - Alabama
- The tailgating was awesome, the fans were fired up, and the field looked great. And then the game happened. The worst half of football I have ever seen in my life unfolded before my eyes. Penalties, a fumble, a shanked punt, a non-exist rushing attack (how do we only run the ball 9 times - didn't we learn anything from Clemson???), constant pressure on the quarterback, the list goes on and on.
- To their credit, Bama is good. Real good. they were dominant on the lines of scrimmage, Wilson did exactly what he needed to do, they didn't make penalties or turnovers, and looked like a top 5 team.
- For all the things that looked right coming into the season, injuries have seem taken the biggest toll on the Dawgs. After Sturdivant and Owens, it now looks like we are going to be without Ellerbe and Durham for a few games. Stafford suffered a head injury and Knowshon hurt his elbow as well, but thankfully they will be alright.
- The bye week couldn't come at a better time. We've got to lick our wounds and get ready for Tennessee, who played a close game with Auburn this weekend. We're 4 -1, there's a long season ahead of us. Let's put this one in the rear view and move on.
Florida Upset by Ole Miss
- I've said it before and I'll say it again, when you're only running threat is your quarterback, eventually it will bite you. Down 1 at the Ole Miss 31 on a 4th and 1, Meyer sends Tebow back on the field. The entire Ole Miss team knew what was going to follow and they stacked Tebow up. The loss by the Gators, coupled with the Georgia loss, leaves Vanderbilt alone atop the SEC East standings. My god, Vandy is in first place...alone.
Wake loses to Navy
- If they couldn't stop Paul Johnson's old team, I wonder what will happen when they play his new one with better athletes. I really liked how Wake was playing this year and this one really surprised me.
Shake Up in the Top 5
- When the polls come out later, here's how I expect they will shake out:
1. Oklahoma - No questions. They should be #1 after thumping TCU.
2. LSU - Solid win over Mississippi State. They've got some big tests coming up.
3. Alabama - They can claim two wins vs. top ten teams and they were solid.
4. Missouri - The stats are impressive.
5. Texas - Colt McCoy has regained the magic he had as a freshman.
- This will be the last mention I make of the Alabama game. In the end, this is the one game on our SEC schedule we could afford to lose. If we take care of business in the East, we will be in the SEC championship. There is a lot football left to be played. Dawgs, get some rest, get healthy, and get ready to take it to UT in two weeks.