Thursday, September 10, 2009

If I Ever Get Back To Georgia, I'm Gonna Nail My Feet To The Ground: South Carolina Preview

It’s Saturday, in Athens!!! The Dawgs return home after a tough loss on the road at Oklahoma State to face Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks. Plenty has been written this week about what went wrong in Stillwater, but the time for second guessing is over. This Saturday night, it is time to tee it up Between the Hedges for the first time in 2009.

Who Are These Guys?

Now in his fifth season in Columbia, Steve Spurrier leads South Carolina back to Athens. Georgia won a defensive struggle last season 14-7, and the all time record sits at 45-14-2 in favor of the Dawgs (What a rivalry!).

Thursday Night Pros, much like Boise State. Last week Georgia faced an opponent in Oklahoma State known primarily for its powerful offense. This week, the Dawgs will face a team that in many ways is the opposite. The defense, lead by linebacker Eric Norwood, shined in the Gamecocks’ 7-3 win over N.C. State, allowing only 133 yards of total offense. Norwood had two sacks and was a force disrupting Wolfpack QB Russell Wilson, who couldn’t test South Carolina’s young, talented defensive backfield.

As good as the defense was last week, the South Carolina offense struggled. QB Stephen Garcia, continuing a theme from last year, struggled, completing 13 of 22 passes for 148 yards. Garcia also threw a key interception that led to N.C. State’s only score of the game. Garcia’s targets aren’t as reliable as former WR Kenny McKinley and former TE Jared Cook as this year’s stable is very young with freshmen WRs Alshon Jeffrey and Tori Gurley. WR Moe Brown, who scored the lone TD against Georgia last year, is the veteran of the group.

Against N.C. State, RB Brian Maddox led the rushing attack, running for 66 yards and a touchdown, but averaging just under 3 yards a carry. The offense totaled only 256 yards of offense. Spurrier also had a tough time replacing kicker Ryan Succop (now in the NFL). New kicker Spencer Lanning missed a chip shot 27 yarder and a botched snap on another attempt cost Carolina at least 6 points.

All in all, it was an ugly game against a bad team for the Gamecocks last week. The defense was strong but Garcia remains unproven as a quarterback in the SEC and will need help from his running game if the Cocks hope to have better success against a Georgia D that held Zac Robinson under 200 yards passing last week.

Expect to see the Gamecocks use Jarvis Giles a little more at running back on Saturday. He’s young, but he’s South Carolina’s future at the position. Also expect to see the use of the Wildcat formation with true freshman CB Stephon Gilmore taking the snaps. Gilmore won a starting CB position three days into fall camp and the Gamecocks want to showcase him on both sides of the ball. He leads a young defensive backfield that features some talent but was untested last Thursday night.

What are the Dawgs going to do?

The Dawgs come home licking some major wounds left by the loss at Oklahoma State. After an impressive 80-yard drive to open the game, the Georgia offense went cold and could only muster a field goal the rest of the way. To get the offense back on track, I expect Georgia to come out with a more traditional look on its opening drive this week. Look for a heavy dose of rushing from the combination of Richard Samuel and either Caleb King or Carlton Thomas. Also look for the return of screen passes to the backs and quick outs to the receivers early in the game to help Cox get into a throwing rhythm. Also expect to see the debut of Marlon Brown and Rontavious Wooten at receiver.

On defense, look for the Dawgs to try and bring more pressure on Garcia this week than they did against Oklahoma State. Garcia has proven to be erratic under pressure and does not have the weapons around him that Zac Robinson did last week. Despite the roughing call against Reshad Jones last week, I also expect the safeties to continue to play tough and hit receivers coming over the middle. If the defense is to regain its swagger from years past, it must get strong play from the linebackers and safeties to keep the gains short.

On special teams, it doesn’t look like there will be much change this year on kickoff coverage philosophy as Georgia continued to corner kick the football and give up big returns. In the return game, hopefully Branden Smith has shaken off his first game jitters and will be willing to take a knee. Blair Walsh had a tremendous game last week and if the offense struggles again, his leg may be the difference between a win and a loss.

What is going to happen?

The recent history between Georgia and South Carolina reads almost like a book. The two teams play a close game that is ultimately decided by a mistake made by one team in the second half. Rankings, previous years, and star power matter little in the outcome. The offenses for both teams played horribly in their respective openers, so expect another low scoring affair between these two. I expect that the Georgia offense will not play quite as bad as it did against Oklahoma State and that the South Carolina defense will not fair quite as well as it did against N.C. State (At least I hope). This means that Georgia will score more points than the 10 points it put up in Stillwater last week. The only question is whether Carolina can find a way to create turnovers and help its offense. This game will be close, but I like the Dawgs at home to put the game out of reach in the 4th quarter.

Georgia 24, South Carolina 13 and hopefully a lot of this...

SEC Weekend Games of Interest: 9/12/2009

Welcome to week two of College Football and the opening weekend for almost half of the Southeastern Conference. To recap last week, we went 9-2 with South Cackalacky (wow, N.C. State was bad) and Alabama proving me wrong as the two blemishes on the record. There are five games, excluding UGA, on the menu this week and without any further wait, here is what’s happening in your neck of the woods:

Troy at Florida: No real surprises in this one, just depends on what the Gator coaching staff wants work on in this scrimmage before Tennessee and the Kiffinator come to town on the 19th. Troy was especially bad last week in blowing a 14-0 lead against Bowling Green University, losing 31-14. Levi Brown has some experience at QB for Troy, but that isn’t saying a whole lot when you’re a Sunbelt team playing the Gators.

It is appropriate that Florida, and most of the SEC, plays Troy every year since they were founded as a teachers college. I’m glad that they have settled on the name Troy University and have stuck with it for the last few years, but it probably won’t be long before Southern Cal and the "Men of Troy" come along and sue for that as well.

Florida rolls 56-10 and this is the closest that Tim Tebow will be to a Trojan for quite some time. It’s a shame they don’t play Oregon State.

UCLA at Tennessee: A rematch of one of last season’s most surprising games, if Tennessee loses this one, they really have some issues. The best thing about this match up is that we get to put a picture of Rich Neuheisel on Bubba ‘N Earl for the first time of the year.

"Life is good, I get to coach football and run the UCLA NCAA Basketball Pool. Free admission this year."

The Kiffin experience looked rough the first 5 minutes of the game last week, but quickly got on track against Western Kentucky. Yes, Jonathan Crompton threw 5 touchdown passes, but he also threw 2 interceptions. If UCLA can get a little bit of pressure and frustrate JC, they may have a chance. However, Montario Hardesty and Brice Brown will get the ball a lot and I don’t think it will mater if Crompton has happy feet or not (at least not until next week in Gainesville). At home, UT wins 31-17.

Florida International at Alabama: Alabama looked like a Nick Saban coached team last Saturday against Virginia Tech and ground down a very fast and good defense in the 4th quarter. New QB Greg McElroy had a tough test for his first start and he really settled in as the game went on. Look for the Tide to play physically again this week and it won’t take nearly as long to grind down the hapless Panthers of FIU, Alabama waxes 49-7.

Beware the Sunbelt Bama. People don't forget.

Vanderbilt at LSU: The SEC opener for both squads, LSU is going to want to make a statement in this one after a close win at Washington where the Tiger D was abused for over 478 yards of total offense by the Huskies.

"Wow, Washington's QB is big. Can I buy one of those?"

The Commodores from Nashville had an easy time last weekend with Western Carolina and we don’t know a whole lot about them from that performance. New QB Larry Smith was efficient and he’s going to have to play the game of his life to keep Vandy in the game at Tiger Stadium. I’m not quite sold on this LSU team, but you can’t argue against the talent. While Vanderbilt will play hard for 4 quarters, look for LSU to easily control the line of scrimmage while big back Charles Scott has his first 100-yard game of the year. Louisiana State wins 31-14 and after the game Less (get it) Miles calls Snoop Dogg and says something about candy bars and Mad Hatters.

Mississippi State at Auburn: Mississippi State beat Auburn the last time they were on the Plains and will be looking to do it again in what is usually a strange ball game.

You would drink too after seeing 5 total points scored in one game. It's like the Braves visited the Plains, but without the 5 runs.

This is an intriguing match-up for the weekend and will be a great test for both first year coaches. Both Gene Chizik and Dan Mullen had successful debuts last week, with the Tigers facing a tougher Sunbel.., I mean WAC, opponent in Louisiana Tech. However, for the Western Division Bulldogs, this is a completely different monster than Jackson State. It will be tough for the young QB’s of Mississippi State in this road night game and if Coach Chizik has proven something other than the fact he can lose games at Iowa State, it’s that he can coach a tough defense. Auburn rolls 24-10 making sure that Gene Chizik has a shot and doubling his pre-Auburn career win total next week.

That does it for this week, enjoy the weekend and hope to see you guys on North Campus in Athens Saturday.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This is still football, right?

Remember when football used to be about bone-crushing hits? I guess not anymore.

This hit by Reshad Jones was called for a penalty because of the NCAA's new rules to protect players. I would be okay with the call if Reshad had done the main thing which warrants this penalty, leading with your head. But in this case, you can clearly see him lower his shoulder to make the hit.

Players like Thomas Davis and Greg Blue made a living off these types of hits. I guess the days of tough football are over.

Monday, September 7, 2009

BNE Pick'Em Week 1

Week 1 of college football is over and already we've seen upsets and giants fall. The biggest upset of course was BYU upsetting Oklahoma and former Heisman winner Sam Bradford falling hard on his shoulder, which may be a season-ending injury for Sam and OU.

In other results, our top games and picks showed some surprising results. 82% of you picked against BYU resulting in a lot of lost points. Also, 96% picked the favorite UGA to beat OSU in a disappointing game for the Dawgs. One of the most surprising games was LaTech and Auburn, with Auburn beating the spread and its critics with a decisive victory and over 500 yards of offense. Rounding out the picks, Boise State smacked Oregon and the ducks in the face (or was it the other way around?) with a big win, and the majority of you picked correctly with Arkansas and Tennessee to have big openers.

Based on the results from week 1, here are our leaders:
1. Gen. Stoopangle
2. dawgman81
3. ugaedgar
4. DawgDai
5. ecdawg & calgee
7. Dutch
8. onehairydawg & allyugadawg
10. not accost me while I am drinking! & bcdawg87

Results from the BNE staff:

1. aumaverick

2. BFR

3. Bubba

4. Streit

5. Earl

6. BulldawgJosh (way to underachieve at #48 and the worst record overall)

Remember to submit your picks for week 2. The big games will be Miss.State vs. Auburn, SUC vs. UGA, and USC vs. Ohio State. Good luck!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Thoughts on Oklahoma State


When we came out to open the game on fire I was excited. Samuel running hard, AJ getting open, a little bit of Branden Smith and Logan Gray - it was awesome. And then, the next 3 quarters happened. I could go on forever about everything that went wrong. This is not the way I expected to start the season.

The only real bright spot I saw was the play of the Georgia defense. Holding Oklahoma State to around 300 yards of total offense was a hell of a job. Turnovers and special teams let OSU score 17 points while only having to get 51 yards. That's not the defense's fault. Bryan Evans got burned deep once, but Dez Bryant is one of the best in the country and made a good catch. Overall, the D looked much improved over much of what we saw last year.

On offense, Cox looked erratic and not willing to throw the ball more than about 15 yards down the field. Richard Samuel ran with some consistency and did not fumble, however he failed to break any run over 10 yards and seemed to go down on first contact too much. Once again, we got down in the second half and totally abandoned the run (shades of South Carolina in 2007). I liked getting Smith and Orson Charles involved, but where the hell were Brown and Wooten?

The kickoff team looked horrible again. Short kicks combined with long returns did not help us out either. At least Butler had a few good kicks and Blair Walsh was able to nail a 50 yarder.

In the end, it was just a bad game. We lost the game, we Sturdivant (again), and we lost our confidence. The officiating sucked, the coaching was horrible, and the team looked scared playing at a stadium that only had 50,000 people at it. We better get it together fast.

I usually get made fun of for being too positive, but for once I don't have many good things to say. If Cox can't get it done, let Logan or Murray have a shot.