Friday, August 29, 2008

SEC Weekend Games of Interest

Here is a quick look at games involving Southeastern Conference teams this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday:

Alabama vs. Clemson: The preseason darling of opening games, the Chick-Fil-A Kick Off Classic will be one helluva of a way for Clemson to jump start their underachieving ways. Clemson is uber talented and easily the fastest team in the ACC. However, “S” The Coach has had six months to develop a game plan and will have the Tide ready. I honestly expect a hard fought, physical football game. The game’s key match up will be between Clemson’s D-Line and Bama’s O-Line. If Bama can consistently run the ball and take pressure of John Parker Wilson, it could be a long night for the Clemson D as they are retooling at Linebacker. The gut says Bama close and we are going to run with it.

UL Monroe at Auburn: Let’s see if Auburn can do what Alabama couldn’t; beat one of the former directional Louisiana schools at home.

Monroe is coming off of its most successful season in Division 1-A at 6-6 and one would think that they are looking to build upon this. On the other side of the ball, we all know that this will be the debut of Tony Franklin’s new offense. Auburn fans are hugging on this one like Streit waiting for Matt Stafford to start for UGA in 2006. Tommy Tubbs doesn’t let these games get close and likes to take care of business (By take care, I mean Hammer). No matter who trots out at QB, the B’NE Team anticipates a clear Auburn beat down.

Tennessee at UCLA: Richard Neuheisel, Jr. has declared the Southern Cal monopoly over in LA and Tennessee has decided that they would like to walk down Boardwalk. Unfortunately for UCLA, their team looks more like the intersection of Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues. Both teams are breaking in new offensive systems and expect to see some interesting play on this side of the ball for both squads.

"You always want to pick the 8 seed over the 9, and never take more than one 12 against 5 upset"

Neuheisel is a solid coach and will have UCLA prepared, but they return only five starters on defense and lost All American DE Bruce Davis to graduation. If Tennessee can move the ball with Jonathan Crompton and Arian Foster, don’t expect UCLA to consistently keep up as they have had too many injuries on offense to be consistent. Expect a sloppy UT victory here, possibly by 10-14 points.

Kentucky at Louisville: The Battle for the Commonwealth generally puts up large offensive statistics, but this year could be different. Kentucky is breaking in a new QB after loosing Andre Woodson and kicked expected starter Curtis Pulley off the team earlier this month. Rich Brooks has strengthened the Kentucky program and made them very competitive in the conference. This UK defense is fairly deep and has good speed. Expect them to try to stop up the run early and put pressure on Louisville’s Hunter Cantwell. At the same time, Louisville worked hard in the off-season to strengthen their defense, bringing Ron English aboard as D-Coordinator but only return 4 starters on that side of the ball with almost no experience in the secondary. Louisville is equally in-experienced on Offense and looks to struggle this season. Kentucky should face a tough battle, but is at the point where they should walk away with a W.

Hawaii at Florida: Not much to introduce here. Most of us know about Florida and Tim Tebow. Hawaii is coming off of a 41-10 thrashing to UGA and if Urban Myer had been coaching in that game, he would have run the score up to 60-10. Now, he gets the chance. This game will pretty lopsided and it will be interesting to see how new coach Greg McMackin and new starting QB Brent Rausch handle the pressure. Their QB's do have some training at falling flat on their back, which should happen alot tomorrow:

Hey, I've been down here before.

Expect Florida to run the football early and often to see which of their “vaunted” tailbacks can handle the load, even with Hawaii breaking in 3 new starters in the secondary. Florida will try to make a statement BIG and expect all the UF bloggers to come out and say that the Gators beat UH worse than UGA did.

Appalachian State at LSU: I guess you could call this the 1-A, 1-AA Ultimate Showdown, National Champions vs. National Champions. Congratulations Appalachian State, you beat Michigan last year and it was unforgettable:

However, LSU probably hasn’t forgotten either. Expect fantastic ASU Junior QB Armanti Edwards to make some plays, but App. State won’t be able to put more speed on the field against LSU like they did against Michigan. This should be a surprisingly competitive 3 TD victory for the Bayou Bengals. Remember, both teams met in November of 2005 and ASU held LSU to a respectful 24 points. However, the Mountaineers didn't score at all.

Memphis at Ole Miss: Standard Ole Miss Opener with Memphis being a team from their backyard. This match-up has produced some solid games over the years, usually because both teams are middle of the road. Ole Miss is a media favorite to be an upstart in the western division of the SEC and it is my belief that they will be much improved over previous years as QB Jevan Snead and Coach Houston Nutt look to bring a new attitude to Oxford.

STOP, it's Jevan Time!

Memphis is a talented C-USA squad that runs an intricate spread offense with tall, rangy wide receivers and returns an experienced offense line. Ole Miss won by two points last year and expect to see some fireworks in this match up. Look for another Ole Miss victory with plenty of big plays.

Western Illinois at Arkansas: The long awaited Bobby Petrino coaching debut should be pretty uneventful. Arkansas wins by a comfortable margin, even through WIU hangs tough with Division 1-A teams (Lost 21-0 to Illinois last year and 34-10 to Wisconsin in 2006). Michael Boatman, the actor who played the gay, black guy on Spin City, and New England Patriot safety Rodney Harrison are both graduates of Western Illinois University:

That is still more interesting than watching them play football.

Mississippi State at Louisiana Tech: Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs. Mississippi State should be a strong squad this fall. I really admire Sylvester Croom’s disciplinarian approach and old school attitude and it seems like he has gotten his players to buy in. The Bulldogs of Mississippi will come to play in this one and should overmatch Derek Dooley’s squad. Expect solid defense from MSU while LA Tech breaks new QB, Taylor Bennett.

Tailgates, Touchdowns, and Tears: A Thank You Note to College Football

Dear College Football,

On the dawn of a new college football season, I wanted to drop you a note to thank you for the joys you bring to myself and many others. As the dog days of August draw to end, a revival in the South takes place. For the new season brings hope, because on that first day in late August or early September , everyone is undefeated. From the powerhouses of the SEC and the Pac-10 to academic schools of the Ivy League, there is only one true goal: WIN. As Georgia opens the year as the number one team, I am reminded of all the great times we’ve had and excited at the new memories this year will bring.

Thank you college football, for creating the largest outdoor family reunion six (or seven, or in Auburn’s case eight) weekends a year. Everyone is your “brother”, “mom”, “uncle” or “cousin”, and is excited to see you again. Despite the table being a fold up plastic one and the flatware being made of plastic, the food is better than most that can be found on at Thanksgiving dinner. There are plenty of hugs to go around and everyone is amazed at how good you look and interested in every little detail of your life.

Thank you college football, from reminding me to never forget my college years. In the working world, 8 AM is the start of a long day behind a desk. But in Athens on Saturday, 8 AM is the perfect time to crack the first of what will be many beers to come. Where meeting up with friends means seeing them again for the first time since last year, and even your friends who moved out west are back. They call college the best time of your life, and every Saturday in the fall brings me right back.

Thank you college football, for the pageantry that professional football can never match nor understand. Pro football cannot touch the traditions of college. Rivalry games, marching bands, cheerleader, live mascots, there is no comparison. Come this Saturday, when the Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation echoes over the speakers at Sanford, 92,000 fans will the be in the most exciting place in the world.
He was hungry

Thank you college football for characters that fill our airways. There are those we love (Larry Munson, Keith Jackson, Uncle Verne) and those we loathe (Mark May, anyone at Florida), but they all bring a piece of the pie that make college football the best show on television. I may have not yet been born when Lindsay Scott went 92 yards to beat Florida in 1980, but when David Greene hit Verron Haynes in the end zone to beat the Vols in Knoxville, I understood what people we talking about. I cannot imagine either of those calls without the voice of Larry Munson, the greatest announcer I have had the privilege to hear.

Thank you college football for the debates. From off-season recruiting, to spring games, to summer work outs, and finally kick-off, the conversation about who is the best, what decision the coach should have made, and who will win it all never ends. While we may have not made it the National Championship game with 2 losses in ’07, it sure was fun to make the case.

And lastly, thank you college football for the tears. Tears of joy, tears of defeat, tears of sadness, tears of pain, tears of redemption, and tears of triumph. One minute you rip our hearts out, the next you bring it right back. Few things can bring grown men to tears, but you are definitely the best.

Thanks again and best wishes in 2008,


The Countdown: 1

In 1 day... It's Saturday, in Athens. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Dawgs, sic'em!!!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nerds Beating on Cocks

Those pesky cocks over in Columbia aren't the only ones competing tonight. But, you won't see this battle royale on television, my friend.

The North Avenue Trade School has outdone themselves, again. Not only are they playing a Thursday night game, but they're doing it against a Division 1-AA school (that is correct, by the way). Nerd Central will be facing off against the mighty Gamecocks of Jacksonville State University (located in that wasteland west of the State of Georgia).

That's not all folks. Mr. Goodwill Ambassador himself, Ryan Perrilloux, is the current quarteback for the JSU Cocks.

How someone is not broadcasting this game, I cannot understand! I can only imagine the Nerds running aimlessly around the field having failed to understand Coach Jo's wishbone offense, while Perrilloux attempts to destroy what's left of their dignity.

This will be amazing! I want to go watch it live for the pure enjoyment of a potential opening loss for the Trade School, and then laugh at endzone Nerds in yellow wigs.

I have a hunch Perrilloux isn't going to be enough to make my dreams come true. Alas, this will only be the first, of perhaps thousands, of potential embarassing opportunities this season for the Nerds on North Avenue.

UGA Preview: Georgia Southern

Every 4 years our little brother comes to town to catch up. And, inevitably, we get together for a little game of football. Not many large programs are willing to do that for their in-state bretheren. Do you see Alabama playing Troy? Of course not for fear that Troy might hold up 6 fingers one day too. But, at least Bama helps out LSU's in-state bretheren every once in a while. They even gave UL-Monroe enough money to buy a nice, big billboard.

Onto the game at hand...This year's Georgia Southern isn't the same Georgia Southern we've all come to know and cheer for over the years in 1-AA (I refuse to call it FBS or FCS or whatever). When Chris Hatcher showed up from Valdosta State, he was Southern's 3rd coach in 13 months, thanks to our former defensive coordinator. Hatcher has installed a form of the spread offense that is sweeping the college football landscape. On top of the continuing transition from the years and years of option football to the spread, Southern has suspended 8 players for the Georgia game, including 4 starters. Expect Georgia to cover the 31-point or so line in this one, even though we all know that the Dawgs have a hard time covering these kinds of lines.

What to watch for...with inexperience streaming across the Dawgs' offensive line, look for Southern to try to confuse Georgia with their base 3-3-5 defense. The key recognition by Georgia's offensive line pre-snap will be how many Southern defenders are actually in the box. Southern will constantly use its Rover and Bandit positions (Chris Covington and Chris Rogers), formerly the safeties, to roam in and out of the box depending on what kind of offensive look Georgia is giving them.

Georgia couldn't ask for anything better in the opener than a team it can easily handle with a confusing defense. It will give the Dawgs' offensive line plenty of different looks to go up against. But, expect Southern to jam the box with 8 or 9 defenders early trying to create the big play through turnovers.

Offensively, Southern will use two quarterbacks, Lee Chapple, who played high school ball at Greater Atlanta Christian and handed off to Caleb King, and Ohio State transfer, and a Peach County product, Antonio Henton. It will be a spread offense look that will help the Dawgs prepare for other spread attacks they will see this season.

In the end, there's not too much to break down here as Georgia just has too many athletes for Southern to hang around. Hatcher will eventually have Southern back to what it once was in 1-AA, but this isn't the year.

Bama-Clemsa-Dragon Con

Each year the first weekend of college football brings giant crowds of people to small towns and urban metropolises all across the country. Students have spent the summer miserable at home adhering to high-school-age appropriate curfews, partying and experimenting (ahem…studying) abroad, or fetching coffee and donuts for a mid-level manager-in-training at some company offering internship credit in lieu of an actual academic class. For college town locals, their return to campus is like the first eruption of the alarm clock on the Friday morning following a rough Thirsty Thursday out with the guys from the office. Townies in the sleepy college towns have enjoyed a summer of reduced traffic and unimpeded access to the good bars but are now groggily interrupted from that mid-summer’s night dream. Like the second, or third, or fourth god-awful buzzing of the alarm clock after the snooze button has been hastily punched: fall has arrived, students have arrived, and soon football fans will arrive.

Now, you’ll have to forgive my simile comparing perhaps the most anxiously-awaited weekend of the year to a dreadful annoyance which every slumbering sub-conscious hopes will never come. I love college football and I always wait for the first weekend of the season with bated breath. This year has a particularly appealing beginning as the Dawgs sit atop the preseason polls. However, my preceding comparison gains brevity when you think about the nightmare that will haunt Atlanta when the college football season arrives in 2008.

Atlanta’s size and diversity provide some insulation from the startling buzz of autumn’s alarm clock which rouses football towns all over the country from their metaphorical summer hibernation, but the ATL is still somewhat of a college town. The
North Avenue Trade School, Georgia State, Morehouse, Clark-Atlanta, DeVry…with that many “institutions of higher learning” in one city I can’t deny the collegiate presence in Atlanta…not to mention the volume of Georgia grads who make up probably two-thirds of Atlanta’s tax base. On Labor Day weekend the culture clash that takes place here will be intensified beyond the annual struggle of townies to maintain their strangle-hold on traffic patterns and watering holes in other college towns despite the return of students like swallows to Capistrano; this weekend is Bama-Clemsa-Dragon Con.

Coming to a convention center near you this SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! Dragon Con!! The only place men this geeky can get close to women this skanky.

This weekend the Chik-Fil-A Kickoff will provide one more weekend of reprieve from the influx of football fanatics to Tuscaloosa, AL and Clemson, SC; the equivalent of the nine-minute interval afforded by the alarm’s snooze button. But for T-townies and Clemson natives to enjoy a quiet Labor Day without RVs, tailgaters, and ticket scalpers they ostracize their legions of pigskin provocateurs to Atlanta to join forces with an entire army of 11-year olds trapped in the bodies of 34-year old IT programmers. While the game on the field should be an interesting contest, it’s the match up of the misshapen retinas that will expand beyond the gridiron.

The Near-sighted vs. the Far-sighted: Dragon Con attendees are idiosyncratically four-eyed. Whether it’s the hours spent in front of a computer screen playing games involving wizards and manna potions or whether it’s the extremely elaborate costume of the Level 17 boss in Final Fantasy XCVIII who actually has four eyes, the attendees of the Dragon Con can be collectively classified as the near-sighted.

Keep in mind that these clowns are actually adults!

Contrasting the cronies’ ocular deficiencies will be the far-sighted football fans from Alabama and Clemson. Achieving far-reaching visual acuity in opposite directions, the far-sighted football fans can see so far that their vision actually penetrates the time-space continuum. Tide Pride prevents those from Tuscaloosa from actually perceiving the present. As the vision of a T-Rex was thought to be based on motion, the vision of a Tide fan has been thought for years to only work when looking back in time. Alabama football was completely unable to see past the Bear Bryant era for decades. Alabama’s only sight has been hindsight.

Clemson fans and the rest of the ACC are far-sighted toward the future. ACC schools, for the most part, have decent reputations as respectable academic institutions (
North Ave. Trade School, UNC, UVA, VT, BC…not necessarily Clemson) and it is the academic strength that I credit with an ACC school’s ability to defray football pressures by looking toward the future and claiming that “next year will be the year.” This happens to Clemson every single year. Pre-season hype about a possible run to Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, or Charlotte in December inevitably turns into some occurrence of Bowden’s Bengals tripping clumsily over Howard’s Rock. And yet somehow the fans, prognosticators, and athletic association of Auburn by the lake find it appropriate to renew Coach Bowden III’s contract. I swear, if Clemson ever finishes second in the ACC they’re going to erect a statue of Tommy Bowden somewhere next to the lake shore, posing with his hand over his brow shielding his eyes from the brightness of the future he will forever stare into, out over the water.

Maybe Bowden's statue could be forever embronzed with this expression?

Fast forward to 2007 and Tuscaloosa’s attempt to secede from the United States to form the sovereign Sabanation. Now Tide fans have evolved to gain the power to look forward into the future and create unachievable and unfounded high expectations, just like Clemson. There should be some interesting conversations overheard at Dragon Con when an orange and purple Liger asks a hounds tooth Storm Trooper how to over-inflate the legend of Danny Ford to match the posthumous stature of a previous Bama coach who shall remain nameless. How long do you think it will take group of Bama fans to corner a wizard with a chemistry set and threaten to hog-tie him if he can’t concoct some magical spell to reanimate the Bear?

Tasteless, I know...but it makes two strong points. Don't mess with nerds yielding Merlin costumes and chemistry sets...and don't reanimate angry, deceased football coaches.

If Dorothy ever found herself stuck in the middle of the mess that will befall Atlanta this weekend, what with Tigers and Tide fans and Dragons—oh my!—she would click together the heels of her red shoes and think to herself “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…” until she was whisked away in a funnel cloud back to Kansas. My response to the invasion of Atlanta will be to put on my red pants, click together the rim of my glass and the mouth of a Jim Beam bottle, and remind myself why “There’s no place like Athens…There’s no place like Athens…”

Go Dawgs!

By the way: My prediction for the game is that Alabama will win, stealing the hype and praise from an undeserving Clemson squad and placing it squarely upon their unworthy shoulders for four weeks until their visit to the Classic City. The opportunity for Bama to beat a school like Auburn without having to risk their consecutive-games-lost-to-Auburn streak will motivate the Tide.

Addendum: I wrote the comment about Clemson fans bronzing the likeness of Tommy Bowden in total jest; a sarcastic hyperbole intended to point out the tendency of their athletic association to bask in the glory of early season expectations and somehow stave off paralyzing disappointment and dejection over the results of the season. I meant it as a joke…then I found this.

Who's South Carolina's QB Tonight? Jenkins?

That storied South Cackalacky program is playing the Tom O'Briens tonight in the first nationally televised game of the season.
We all know they won't be playing in the LAST nationally televised game of the season. And neither will the purple tops.

The Countdown: 2

In 2 days... It is our time to get one of these!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Countdown: 3

In 3 days.... That dog will bite you!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Apocalypse Was Upon Us...

I just saw Skip Bayless and the 2 Live Stews on ESPN's 1st and 10. Skip Bayless just commented that, without any games being played as of yet, he thinks that UGA is the best team in the nation. What do you do when you vigorously hate someone so much, but you have to agree with them? You have no idea how to react. The expression on your face and the confusion you feel is to similar to when you wake up on your porch, not knowing exactly what happened.

Fortunately, Bayless just brought the universe back to alignment by saying our schedule was too difficult, and Ohio State would win the national title. He also stated his love for Gaytersville. I don't think I've ever been this happy for a pundit to fall in line with the status quo. Please, continue making the same statements as everyone else! You're doubt is what keeps me sane.

Props to Ryan Stewart (one half of the 2 Live Stews) for picking USC to go to the title game and lose to whichever SEC team makes it. You may be a Techie, but you speak the truth. Suck a nut, PAC-10.

Real Tailgaters of Genius

This is dedicated to you, Mr. UGA North Campus, I travel with the team on road games, tailgater. Sometimes you just have to take a break and get some rest:

Maybe that last Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's was one too many, but you were in New Orleans and your love of the team dictated your purchase.

When you set up the tailgate at 7 am, that case of Bud Light and liter of Maker’s Mark is just calling your name and you just hope to make it to the 7:45 game still walking:

When nap time is finally over, you will get back up and get the party started again:

And just in time to celebrate a Bulldawg win:

So here’s to you, Mr. UGA North Campus, I travel with the team on road games, tailgater. May you have a warm and Happy New Year in Miami, Fl:

The Countdown: 4

In 4 days... Munson asks the Dawgs to hunker it down, one more time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Who is poised for a breakout year in 2008?

We start out Kick-Off Week 2008 with a look at players on Georgia’s 2008 roster who are poised for breakout seasons. Each of these players will see the field this season with a chance to have a direct impact on the success of the 2008 campaign. Here are the breakout players for 2008:

Kris Durham, Junior Wide Receiver

Durham came to Georgia as a member of the recruiting class of 2006 after being an all state performer at the Class AA Calhoun. Durham saw plenty of action during the 2006 season, including a critical reception during the Bulldogs’ comeback victory over Virginia Tech in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Durham’s 2007 campaign got off to a blazing start during G-Day, catching 6 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Durham carried this momentum into his sophomore campaign, tallying 11 receptions for 169 yards. Durham was named most improved during the practices leading up to the Sugar Bowl and he responded with a career high 3 catches for 48 yards.

Durham was once again named most improved wide receiver at the conclusion of spring practice in 2008. With the graduation of Sean Bailey, there is an open receiver spot and Durham, along with Kenneth Harris, Demiko Goodman, and freshman A.J. Green, are all looking to make an impact. Kris has displayed good hands and ability to be a valued blocker down field. Look for Durham to be used frequently on quick screens, plays on which he had a lot of success in the Sugar Bowl. I also look for Durham to become a key receiver in the slot this season, particularly in the red zone (similar to how the Falcons have used Brian Finneran in the past) and on third downs.

Richard Samuel, Freshman Tailback

Richard Samuel enrolled early at Georgia in the spring of 2008 as a just-turned 17 year-old college Freshman. In 2007, Samuel played both ways for Cass High School of Cartersville, making plays that would earn him a 5 star recruit status. After arriving on campus, there was debate as to whether he would play running back or linebacker. Samuel saw carries from the back field during G-Day and his role as a running back was solidified. During summer practice, Samuel has entered into competition with Caleb King back up Knowshon Moreno.

There is little doubt in my mind that Richard Samuel will see significant playing time in 2008. Earl and I attended one of Samuel’s games at Cass last season and we saw him make one of the most amazing plays I have ever seen in person. On the last play of the first half, Candy Creek was attempting a field goal from inside the Cass 10. Samuel jumped the snap and hurdled the offensive line. He proceeded to block the kick and after picking up the ball, return it for a 96 yard touchdown. His talent level is amazing, particularly for a kid who will only be 17 during his freshman season. I see Samuel being used in tough situations where his power can be used to gain that few extra yards.

Kiante Tripp, Redshirt Sophomore Offensive Tackle

Kiante Tripp was a force on both lines during his senior year at Westlake High School in Atlanta, picking up numerous honors and rewards. During his 2006 redshirt year, Tripp was used on the defensive line, however lack of depth prompted a move to offense in 2007. Appearing in eight games primarily at right tackle, Kiante was penciled in as the starter at the position for 2008. And then came summer practice.

Tripp continued to impress coaches during the early days of summer practice when starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant was lost for the season with a knee injury. As rumors swirled about who would take over, many media outlets began to cast doubts on the Bulldogs’ #1 ranking. The solution soon became apparent: Tripp would switch from right to left tackle to provide coverage for Matthew Stafford’s blind side. As a true freshman in 2007, Sturdivant had an amazing season opening holes for Knowshon Moreno and giving Stafford plenty of time. Tripp will be that anchor in Sturdivant’s place and will be a dominating member of an experienced line in 2008.

The Countdown: 5

In 5 days... The offense is open for business 24/7