Bernie

Bernie

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GDay – what I saw

You win some. You lose some. But only in a spring game can you do both in one afternoon. Here are my casual observations from the Red vs Black scrimmage.


Gameday feeling. Great crowd is what Kirby wants and that is what he gets. The energy gives the young players a taste on what fall Saturdays are like when the games count. And it gives the recruits something more to think about for sure.


Justin Fields is a large dude. I don’t put much weight in spring performances, especially at quarterback. But Fromm sure gets a lot of tipped and batted down balls at the line of scrimmage. Or maybe I’m still just sore over the one that bounced off a Bama’s player’s helmet in Atlanta back in January. 
VIA



Mainly it was nice to see what Fields can eventually bring to the game when he does earn snaps. Lot of zip on the ball and such a fluid runner.


As for Fromm he had a few really nice deep balls. Ridley had one of them ripped out by McGhee on what would’ve been a very nice touchdown. But on a day that saw about 90% of the plays as passes, I thought the best pass came from Fields off his back foot when he lifted a beautiful ball to Landers in the corner of the end zone.


GDay 2018 definitely lived up to Kirby saying it would be a game for the quarterbacks. And since there were so many passes we didn’t get to see much of Holyfield. But I thought he and Herrien looked good in pass protect when they were needed.


Speaking of pass protect, how about Keyon Brown and Brenton Cox showing off that a simple tight end ain’t gonna be able to ward them off. Scary fast dudes with a nose for the quarterback!


Monty Rice definitely eased some of my concerns about losing Roquan. He was adding pressure up the middle and chasing down ball carriers all day.


Ahkil Crumpton had some nice catches, especially the one he caught across the middle in traffic but still snuck around the edge for some more yardage.


That’s some of what I saw. Hope you enjoyed some spring ballin’ as much as we did. Go Dawgs!

GDay – what I’m looking for tomorrow


First of all it will be interesting to see how many folks get turned away. With only 78,ooo seats available tomorrow and record crowds for this event thus far under Kirby’s watch, ain’t everybody gonna get a first hand look at Justin Fields arm and Holyfield’s legs.

Regardless of seating arrangements and availability, I think the first thing I want to see is how well the middle of the field is covered by our defense on passing downs.
VIA
You see, one does not just replace a player like Roquan Smith. It’s impossible. But I have great confidence that the coaches have recruited talent behind him. So I’m confident that we have someone that can blitz through the heart of the offensive protection. Afterall, the name Natrez Patrick comes to mind. And I’m confident we may have someone that can defend the field laterally from sideline to sideline.

But what made Roquan so very special was how well he defended the middle of the field in passing situations. He could cover a tight end. He could take away a slot receiver’s crossing route. And there was nary a team that would dare to throw a middle screen in front of Roquan Smith.

In other words, opposing quarterbacks had a lot to process at the line of scrimmage when they looked across and saw Roquan staring at them. Were Monty Rice and Nate McBride paying close attention? I hope so. And again, I have full confidence that the coaches have recruited the right players.

Because it’s been since before the disgraceful John Jancek linebacker coached era that we could defend that area of the field on any down that effectively. I miss Roquan a lot already. I’ll miss him a lot more if we see a lot of successful seam routes and crossing patterns.

Elijah Holyfield should have himself a day. The fans aren’t the only ones I suspect that want to see how he manages 20 or so touches in a game(like) situation.

Pass protection. Kirby says it is structured to be a quarterback’s game. As nice as it is to have a true sophomore quarterback that lead us within a breath of a National Championship, I think everyone would be thrilled if Justin Fields made some plays. Still, in a spring game it’s hard to gauge things like pass protection. However it will still be something to keep a close eye on.

And not just for the obvious reasons of seeing how the coaches rotate tackles and guards. We lost two absolutely amazing pass protection runnings backs in Chubb and Michel. Holyfield and Herrien have big shoes to fill as (probably) the only scholarship backs available tomorrow. We know Fromm can hurt teams with his arm as well as his legs if need be. And we suspect Fields will eventually be able to do the same to opposing teams’ defense. But we’ll need to have solid pass protection, and that sometimes means a small running back stepping up into the path of a blitzing monster.

Special teams are typically hard to truly evaluate, but Kirby had this to say yesterday:

“Our special teams, we think we’ve got some good competition going on, so we’ll be coming after punts, we’re going to do everything real on kickoff and kickoff return, we’re just not going to tackle live,” he said. “But everything is going to be as real as possible other than that. Same thing with punt and punt return, so we’ll be rushing them and we’ll have punt returners back there trying to return them. We’ve got great competition at punter, great competition at returner. I’d love to see some guys have some pressure on them and have to make kicks and catches.”

So perhaps we can at least see some of these punters under rushed conditions. And those are a few things I’m watching for, in addition to seeing some new guys that have supposedly stepped up big thus far, like Brenton Cox and Cade Mays. What’re you ready to see from some football in April?

Jake Fromm – sophomore slump??…not likely.

Whoever holds the number one quarterback position at Georgia is often under the spotlight, but Jake Fromm may be under more pressure than most in 2018. After beginning last season as a backup, he was thrown into action and stood up tall to serve his team and take them to the Championship game. Despite losing that game, Fromm has earned huge recognition from scouts, coaches, and fellow players for the way he embraced his situation last year.
And this time around there could be a lot more to come from him.

Fromm came from out of the blue after an injury to Jacob Eason, and since then he has never looked back. Coming in with nothing to prove last season, he will face a very different proposition this season when the games get underway. The decision to play Fromm last September when Eason went out in the opener was an easy one. Now, many expect newcomer Justin Fields to challenge for playing time sooner rather than later.
That adds some pressure for the incumbent sophomore signal caller in Fromm. Plus, the expectation will be that Fromm will not only replicate last season’s play, but build on it thanks to that experience, as well as show himself off as being one of the better young quarterbacks in the conference and the nation.
Fromm has shown a penchant for handling the pressure, both on the field and off of it. And all indications are that he’s embracing the role of “seasoned starter” well thus far.
The pressure is on Fromm already, because many people are looking at him as a possible Heisman Trophy winner. The latest betting shows he is 12/1 to lift the Heisman. One reason Fromm is such a big price is that some people still believe that last season was a fluke, and he hasn’t improved enough to be a starting quarterback. Should Fromm go out and throw brilliantly in his opening two or three games of the 2018 season, then he will become a genuine Heisman contender, his price will certainly fall.
The road to where he is now has been a strange one for Jake Fromm, but no one can argue that he has taken advantage of the opportunities given to him. He now heads into a new season where he is being talked about as a potential Heisman Trophy winner, so has a bit of pressure on his shoulders. However, we know from watching him mature so quickly last season that he has a good head on him, and is more than capable of handling that pressure.

Dawgs’ NFL Draft talent preview – one on hold, but ten with eyes on Sundays

Deandre Baker Was All Set for the NFL - Then This Happened
For Deandre Baker, it’s hard to forget: his University of Georgia team came within an inch of winning a national championship. In his head, he continues to recall how the game against Alabama came to an end. Georgia got behind the line to take down Alabama passer Tua Tagovailoa in overtime and take his team out of field goal range. Georgia believed that they were about to secure the University’s first national championship since 1980.

Then it happened. Tagovailoa threw a 41-yard TD bomb to DeVonta Smith to rewrite the Bulldogs’ story.



Baker could only watch as that play unfolded. That his team fell just one game shy of winning a championship was motivation enough to ignore the NFL draft and return to the program. Another factor in Baker’s decision was that he was watching ESPN on the very day of the deadline for players to make a decision on whether or not to declare. Then they replayed the TD. If there was any chance that Baker would change his mind, it had just been blown to smithereens.

In the lead up to the early entry deadline for the draft, Baker said that he had heard that he would be taken anywhere within rounds one to three. Both DC Mel Tucker and HC Kirby Smart had expressed their surprise in his decision to return to the Bulldogs.

Lockdown corner
Throughout last season, Baker, who recorded nine pass breakups and three interceptions, saw a limited number of balls thrown in his direction. Pro Football Focus revealed that the DB went 272 defensive snaps in a row without giving up a touchdown.

When Baker was given a national audience, he appeared to play some of his best football. While the Bulldogs were given a lesson in passing the football by Oklahoma in the first half of the Rose Bowl, he went on to make one of the game’s biggest plays.



On 3-and-12 in double overtime and making his way through traffic, Baker saw that Oklahoma was executing a misdirection play. He avoided any receiver looking to divert his angle and forced Marquise Brown out of bounds and shy of the first down.

This set up a Lorenzo Carter blocked field goal attempt, before a Sony Michel walk-off touchdown put them into the national championship.

In the title game, while Calvin Ridley scored a late TD, Baker held him to just 23 yards on 4 catches.
Baker first came to the fore as a sophomore. He started 2016 as a backup, with Juwuan Briscoe and Malkom Parrish on the outside. After week four’s 45-14 loss to Mississippi, however, Georgia decided to give Baker a chance to start.

It soon became clear that the move was a good one.

With safety Dominick Sanders, DB Aaron Davis, and CB Malkom Parrish all graduating, Baker is now the secondary’s only seasoned veteran.

Bulldogs could make draft history
This year’s draft, however, could prove to be a historic one for Georgia. Some 10 Bulldogs took part in the recent NFL combine. Should nine of those players be picked, it would be UGA’s largest-ever draft class.

The quality of Georgia’s class, however, isn’t just about depth. UGA can refer to a handful of their players as some of the best in the draft and could see up to three players taken in round one: a program record. Two UGA players have been selected in the first round of a draft seven times in the past.

In an NFL.com mock draft, Chad Reuter predicted that three Bulldogs would be selected in the first round: Roquan Smith to the San Diego Chargers (pick 23), Sony Michel to the Pittsburgh Steelers (pick 28) and Isaiah Wynn to the Jacksonville Jaguars (pick 29).



Reuter named six Bulldogs in total that he believes will be selected within the first four rounds of the draft. He predicts that RB Nick Chubb will be selected by the 49ers with the 59th pick, Lorenzo Carter by the Browns with the 84th pick, and Trenton Thompson picked up in the fourth round by the Chargers. If Reuter’s prediction comes true, the Bulldogs would only need to see three of its four players who were at the combine selected to set a single draft record.

How these draft departures will affect the 2018-19 Bulldogs remains to be seen. For a team that was three points away from a national championship, they are only fourth in the betting to win it, with Oddschecker listing bookies that place them at 10/1. On the one hand, Bulldogs fans may feel insulted but, on the other, they may be tempted to take advantage of the free bets available, with such favorable odds on offer. The champions, Alabama Crimson Tide, are favorites to retain their title at 11/4. The Clemson Tigers and Ohio State Buckeyes are both favored above the Bulldogs, at 8/1 and 9/1, respectively.

Different paths
When it comes to two of these players (Smith and Thompson), their paths may have begun in similar fashion, but they’ve since taken very different routes along the way. Both were juniors last year and had one year remaining of eligibility when they make the decision to turn pro in January. Smith, however, is believed to have had a difficult time in making the decision, whereas Thompson supposedly had no doubts at all.



As each sit and wait, with the draft less than a month away, it’s Smith alone who seems to be destined for stardom in the NFL. It’s uncertain as to what will become of Thompson. He’s almost certain to be drafted, but it’s open to debate as to how long he will have to wait until his name is called.

The talk at Georgia’s Pro Day was that the best Thompson can hope for is the third or fourth round. Smith, however, looks likely to be a top-15 pick. He was told as much in December when he completed his underclassman evaluation application form. He claims his decision to enter the draft this year, however, was not the no-brainer that many assumed it to be. Smith, who led the entire SEC in both sacks and tackles for loss, said that he struggled in letting go of his Bulldogs family.

Sony Michel, Davin Bellamy, Nick Chubb, and Lorenzo Carter each returned for their senior seasons last year for largely the same reason. Not one of them, however, was given the same kind of high praise that went to Smith. Instead, they were given similar feedback to that of Thompson.
Such decisions are rarely based on contract potential and draft grades, however. There can be extenuating factors.

Tough time for once top prospect
The 6-foot-4 Thompson has suffered with injuries throughout his collegiate career. He underwent shoulder surgery last year, in addition to struggling with knee injuries. He also suffered a medical episode that led to him being hospitalized and forced to withdraw from school.

While it created health worries for Thompson, it also caused him further trouble, academically. It’s unclear as to whether he would have been eligible for another season, but most felt that it was the right time for him to make the leap to the NFL.

When Thompson arrived in Georgia from Westover High School, he was the top prospect in the country, according to 247Sports composite rankings.

At times, he lived up to his reputation, with 56 total stops in his sophomore year. Between recovering from shoulder surgery and suffering from a knee sprain, however, he saw fewer snaps in 2017. He missed a pair of games and finished with 38 tackles, including 3.5 for a loss.

Thompson seemed to struggle at Georgia’s recent Pro Day, appearing to be favoring his right leg during step-overs and timed runs. Smith’s workout was almost flawless, even though his status indicated that he wasn’t obligated to participate. Only time will tell how each of these players progress from here. For now, at least, it appears that their careers are destined to take very different paths.

Selflessness.

Selflessness. (n) - devoted to others' welfare or interest and not one's own. 

With a dream season in the balance, not to mention a spot in the National Championship game, Nick Chubb knew what his friend and his team needed.
“In the second half Sony Michel, he gets popped right on the ball, fumbles, the guy picks it up and runs it back for a touchdown,” Smart said. “Nick comes over to me on the sideline and gets right in my ear and says, ‘Coach, put Sony back in. I want him to touch it first.’ Well, it wasn’t really his turn. It was Nick’s turn to carry it. Nick wanted Sony to go back in to prove that we had confidence because we knew weren’t going to win the game unless he got back in rhythm, unless he got his confidence back. Sure enough, that next drive, we actually gave it to Nick first but Sony came back and made the run that’ll define that game -- the last run.”
Is it too late to petition for a fifth year of eligibility? With the way the coaches are stocking the talent in Athens, we may not miss their yards and touchdowns. But God, I'm gonna miss their hearts and their passion for UGA.

VIA

When JazzHands turn to pen…

...it gets a little dusty up in here.

Sony Michel asks for our forgiveness and gives humble thanks. And all I can say is, "Same here Sony. Same here."

Mostly, though, I’m going to miss you all. My people. Dawg Nation. You all mean the world to me, and it’s been like that since Day One.
I often think back to when I took my official visit to UGA. Being there for that game against South Carolina, between the hedges? I mean….
I just knew.
I immediately got this feeling that Georgia was the place for me. And it wasn’t even about, you know, Ohhh, these facilities are the best I’ve ever seen. (They were!) Or Wow, this gear is the best-looking college stuff out there. (It is!) It just came down to all the amazing and kind people I met. Georgia fans, and everyone associated with UGA, are just the coolest, most supportive people in the world. You’ve been there for me every step of the way during my four years in Athens.
And now it’s time for me to pay back some of that love you’ve shown me by doing big things in the NFL and making you all proud.

Super Bowl Dawgs

Malcolm Mitchell hasn't played for the Patriots this season as he has been nursing a knee injury. The former Georgia star receiver has been in the NFL for just two seasons. But if New England wins tomorrow night against the Philadelphia Eagles Mitchell could have just as many Super Bowl rings! Regardless, there's no doubt Mitchell wishes he was on the field to help Tom Brady out and everyone back in Valdosta GA wishes the same thing.

Boss Andrews' best 75 meter sprint.
One former Bulldog and now Patriot that will be playing is David Andrews. "Boss" wasn't drafted in 2015, but signed on with Belichick's team and eventually earned the starting spot to start their 2016 season. Like Mitchell, Andrews is a homegrown Georgia boy having graduated from Wesleyan High School. Dawg fans remember Andrews as a consistent starter having played in 50 games as a Bulldog. There's no doubt that Tom Brady and the New England coaches appreciate that consistency as well.

The lone Dawg on the Eagles' side is Dannell Ellerbe. Philadelphia is Ellerbe's fourth NFL team, and this will be his second Super Bowl having won one with the Ravens in 2013. Unfortunately, the former two sport star out of Richmond Senior High School in Rockingham NC has played sparingly this season. But when he does enter the game both Georgia fans and Ravens fans will look for him around the ball. Ellerbe has a knack for creating and recovering turnovers. In fact, his interception of Brady in the 2013 AFC Championship game helped the Ravens slip past the Patriots into SB XLVII.

NetBet Sport currently has the Patriots as a 4.5 point favorite. As an NFL agnostic, I only have those three former Dawgs in the fight. It's even more popular to root against the Patriots in the NFL as it is to root against Auburn in the SEC. And Belichick's team usually enjoys the role so much they simply keep on winning.

Still, I think the Eagles could run away with this one, much like the Falcons last year for the first 45 minutes. But I think Philadelphia closes the deal. Most importantly, I hope my smoked wings turn out as good as last year.

Two initial Tuesday thoughts

First, as well as officiated as the Rose Bowl was, last night was about the opposite. The Tyler Simmons offside call on the block punt missed the fact that he was drawn. Still, in real time that was probably forgivable.

However, when Swift gets dragged down by his face mask and collar right in front of the head official, that’s more than a head scratcher. 

Second, we’ve relied on halftime adjustments all season. Last night we went into the locker room thirty minutes away from a National Championship with a 13-0 lead. Chaney had Pruitt on the ropes after that Hardman touchdown run. And clearly Tucker was having a relatively easy time of making Hurts use his head and his arm more often that his feet. 

But somewhere along the way our offense neglected itself of Sony Michel. He was clearly the player that needed the ball most often and yet we didn’t give him the reins. That’s something that I know will haunt me for a long time. Surely the same goes for Jim Chaney. 

And that Tua kid, you’ve got to give him credit, stepped into the biggest game and delivered. They’d been working Parrish’s side all along. Somehow we failed to close that window. 

Feel bad for you and I. Feel bad for the coaches that had worked so hard and came so close. 

But I’m heartbroken for that team, especially those seniors that deserved that stage and everything that comes with it. 

the Sunday Misery is moonlight through the pines

"Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers..."

Love me some Skynard. But this week, like no other, I prefer just an old sweet song.

My tell-tale Dawg heart
In elementary school, teachers invited us to the front of the room to either show or tell. You had an option to show the class something that was important to you, or tell them something that was important to you.

Can you guess what I usually chose?

In 1972 my parents moved to Athens GA. I was two and a half years old. I didn't move away until I went off to college.

In my grade school years I remember passing the railroad tracks on the east side of Sanford and seeing it full of empty beer and whiskey bottles plus the occasional worn-down recliner on the way to Sunday School.

After the National Championship in the 1981 Sugar Bowl, I remember all of the billboards around Athens featuring the Junkyard Dawgs and the phrase "Hunker Down"!

Somewhere around 1983, I remember the house that was built adjacent to the Dooley's home near the intersection of West Lake Dr and Milledge Cir. The joke was that Coach was building it for Herschel. I was almost young enough to believe it.

Later, I went to Cedar Shoals High School. I was a couple years behind Athens Good Samaritan Bryant Gantt. He's the guy you've seen on the Georgia sideline probably since the Donnan years. As a lifelong fan turned employee of the University, he's on his way to becoming the only contemporary I know that is on a trajectory that legends like Coach Dooley and, dare I say, Coach Magill were on decades ago.

In 1988 I graduated high school at Stegeman Coliseum. The same Steg I used to (occasionally) skip Wednesday night choir practice with Chip to see Durham's Hoop Dawgs play.

In the Fall of 1989 I completed my transfer from LaGrange College and enrolled at UGA. ("Still in peaceful dreams I see, the road leads back to you.) It was what I have sometimes affectionately referred to here on the blog as my "first sophomore year" of college. It was also Goff's first year as head coach.

In 1990 Coach Webber's Diamond Dawgs won the College World Series. At this point I had been to (at least) twice as many baseball games on campus as I had football games. I bet a majority of today's freshman don't even know what or where Foley Field is.

Beauties.
Also in 1990 I went from being on Academic probation to Honor Roll. A feat Coach Goff, unfortunately, could not replicate. I eventually graduated in 1993. He was fired in 1995. After the similar up and down trajectories of our UGA careers, I got a diploma and he got Zaxby's. Since it was Guthrie's that got me through all those years, I still say I got the better separation package.

In 1996, at Coach Donnan's debut they gave out t-shirts. But we lost to Southern Miss 11-7 and I saw a dude take our a lighter and burn his new souvenir before he even left Sanford. Sidenote - I think Kirby was a sophomore on that team.

In 1997 I married Jenn, the biggest, most badass Dawg fan I know. Our first dance was to a little tune called Georgia, by Ray Charles.

Also in 1997 I cried after a football game for the first time when Donnan's Dawgs beat Florida. Well, they didn't beat them so much as they whooped their ass until the rules stated that they had to stop.

In 2000 I went back to UGA to become what we affectionately refer to as a "Double Dawg", so I had a student ID for both Donnan's final season as well as Richt's first.

In 2002 Jenn and I began our lil Dawg family. Nothing cuter than a girl in pigtails wearing Georgia red!

I documented most of the remaining years in this post-Richt firing post. I don't want to bore you down an already beaten path, but I would like emphasize that all the way through the Richt era I strengthened friendships with friends like Nama, Fred, Joe Waterloo, Cord, and their wives and families around Georgia football.
Undefeated Tailgate Crew

Like you I've also made many friends around tailgates like Tanner, Hillary, the Wrangler, Dustin, Doherty, Matt, and their wives and families. Saturdays in the fall just aren't the same without them.

Thanks to social media I got to meet Robert and Kerri plus her husband Barry out in Boulder in '09. I also met Tony on that trip, on a bourbon aisle of a local liquor store of course. On the concourse right before Ralphie ran onto Folsom Field, Ben screamed at me and we yelled "Go Dawgs!" together for the first time.

On other trips, UGA events, and the occasional Drive By Truckers concert I've met other Damn Good Dawg fans like Mackie, Krisi, Jen from La Jolla, Buddy, the Thinking Bulldog, Groo, Kit, Jake & April & Bryan, Sorrow & Trevin, DentalDawg, Chase, Andrew, Brad, Sandy, Angie, Scott from the Boro, Paul Westerdawg, John aka the Oconee River Rat, Tony & Russ, Jason, and of course the Eternal Redcoat Brett.

I've shared a ride to Columbia SC with Salty to share some beers with Ben, only to suffer through the worst beat down I've seen our Dawgs take.

After the Dawgs' win in Jacksonville Derrick, Colby, and Eddie helped me sacrifice my car. Next year we're going to find a different way to celebrate a WLOCP win.

Even through all the ups and downs, the relationships have held me true.

OUR tell-tale Dawg heart
That's a really, really long way of pointing out that we all have a story. It's moments like this, before your team plays its biggest game in decades, that we as fans tend to reflect on how we, personally, got here.

As the old saying goes, it's not the destination but the journey that's important. Today, here on the eve of the 2018 College Football National Championship, I respectfully disagree. It's both the journey and the destination.

It's the moonlight through those Georgia pines. It's the old sweet song that keeps bringing us back each and every August.

We've all worked through our own moments of fear and trepidation to get here. We've all hugged perfect strangers in the stands of Sanford and other stadiums in the Southeast and beyond when some player wearing that most magnificently beautiful helmet made a play. We've all buried our heads in our hands more often than we've raised them to the Heavens.

And here we are. It started in our veins, it coursed through our heart, and brought us to our feet!

Tweet Champs!
We've stood together in agony. We've put our arms around each other in desperation. We've traveled the nation and drank towns dry. We've suffered through coaching searches and injuries and dropped passes and also getting passed on by the national narrative.

But Kirby's team has punched its own ticket. It's been a fabulous ride...

2017's Final stanza
...but it ain't over. This magical season just had to end with Alabama. Like no other the Tide have stood between us and greatness the most often and the most resolute. They held us five yards short. They've beat us down twice in our own stadium in the last nine years.

And you may have heard recently that our coach is their former assistant. While the national media lazily tries to draw similarities, we need to remember that Kirby is quick to point out the differences. Tucker's defense is more like Junkyard Dawgs than Saban Crimson clones.

After all, sheep are for Tenersee "farmers".

Yes, this season has to end with Alabama. And come Monday night (or very early Tuesday morning) there's no reason the winner can't be Georgia. After all, the Tide had to fight their way in. They are still trying to prove they belong. The national analysts keep saying "It's an all SEC final!". But only one of us is the conference champion. They may like the cut of the Tide's jib, but Saban failed to win his own damn division.

Meanwhile some keep saying "well goshdarn whatever happens happens and beyond a Rose Bowl berth this season is just gravy".

Is that you? Are you satisfied? Is that defeatist attitude something our coaches and players would endorse? Is that why Fromm set the edge for Sony last Monday night so that you could post your #RoseBowl excitement on bookface and scream with glee just so he and Chubb and Zo and Bellamy and Dominick could have the chance to friggin' lose their final game of their Georgia Bulldog career? Is that why Lorenzo Carter finally came back down to Earth earlier this week after hovering endlessly over the Rose Bowl turf to block that damn kick?

Dude, your sadness makes Alanis Morisette want to make another starving dog commercial. Get a gotdamn grip!

We're Georgia and we belong right where we are. They're the ones that need to prove they belong. They're the ones that're bringing their cousins to Atlanta...as dates. They're the ones that have a complacent fan base. They're the ones with a coach that's spent 20 years on AARP benefits.

Let's bring this home. Let's complete this journey! Our destination has been the same since we became Dawg fans! Our goal hasn't wavered since Bellamy stripped sacked that Domer in South Bend! Our focus has been steadfast since the blood coursed through the veins into our heart and brought us to our feet!

Truly, I don't know if we'll win tomorrow, but I can't think of one reason why we can't. We've come this far, we've followed our own paths. For 37 years we've turned our heads towards the Southwest corner for the Battle Hymn until we've developed a crick in our neck. We've joined hands and raised our four fingers and most recently a phone's flashlight to beckon our own inner Glory Glory!

I don't know what the future holds, but I know it's bright and I only want it brighter. Like, NOW! I want the confetti to drench and nearly drown Nick Chubb. I want to see Sony make #JazzHands and snow angels on the Mercedes-Benz floor. I want to see that gap in Zo's smile as he hoists the trophy.  I want to see Bellamy holding the ball he stripped from Hurts with two minutes left on the stage as he accepts the MVP award.

I want to hug my kids with a championship hug. I want my wife to know the joy that she's been been screaming and longing for all these years. I want my friends to feel the joy that I know they've all earned ten times over. I want you, my loyal and eager Reader, to enjoy the long and joyous smile of a truly satisfied Georgia Buldog fan.

Glory Glory, let us bow our thankful heads y'all....dear Lord, we thank you for the opportunity to play in Atlanta one more time. Please let Roquan find many a ball carrier and Wynn raise Chubb to your Heavens at least one more time! In the name of Herschel's Separated Shoulder and Munson's Metal Steel Chair, Amen! Go Dawgs!

#KeeptheMainThingtheMainThing

Georgia vs. Alabama – could special teams tilt the balance?

Like many, I expect a pretty even matchup Monday night between Georgia and Alabama. Two complete teams with elite talent going head to head should make for an exciting game.

Not exciting like the Rose Bowl was, where dudes were scoring every time you managed a breath. But exciting as in close, and hard fought. Every yard inch will  matter. So could this one come down to special teams play?

In a word, absolutely.
VIA

The teams are pretty even in punting and place kicking, although Rodrigo puts it in the endzone more proficiently. But there is a decided Georgia advantage in both kickoff and punt return. (via cfbstats.com)

Mecole Hardman, who has been so, so close to breaking a return all season, averages 11 yards per punt return and 27 yards per kick return. Alabama's top punt returner is Trevon Diggs who averages nearly nine yards a return and their top kick returner is Henry Ruggs who averages 18 yards.

If this evolves into a plodding game of field position, there are two things that can turn things - turnovers and punt returns. I glad we have 4 on our side. Even if he doesn't break one - and good God is Mecole overdue for that one last block!! - a nice return from inside the 20 to their side of the 50 can be a HUGE play for us.

Two more days! Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing...Go Dawgs!

Georgia vs. Alabama, a deep look at X’s and O’s

If you haven't already I think you'd really enjoy this National Championship preview podcast from Solid Verbal. Dan chats with Chris Brown of Smart Football, who always has a certain depth to his analysis. He has some interesting thoughts on how Chaney specifically could impact the game. And I particularly appreciated how he breaks down the relationship between Kirby and Saban and the role it could play in terms of each others' understanding and game planning going into Monday night.

Suffice it to say, Brown isn't just giving the the relationship cute lip service like many national analysts. Add it to your podcast feed...soon!



Georgia vs. Alabama, the rushing game

One thing is clear, whichever team has the ball Monday night will be trying to establish the run. The Dawgs and the Tide, respectively, are one and two in the conference in rushing the football.

But how they go about achieving that goal are two vastly different animals.

Georgia uses a variety of sets and looks to get Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, college football's most prolific backfield tandem, into space. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney wants to have the opponent's defense sufficiently worn down in the fourth quarter when he can even insert D'Andre Swift into the huddle with fresh legs.

For a great reference to that point, make sure you've thoroughly vetted this post by The Senator where he specifically points out how Oklahoma's secondary grew tired of being blocked the deeper into the game they got.

By contrast, Alabama uses multiple looks as well, but they rely heavily on the legs of Jalen Hurts, not to mention his ability to make the correct reads in the read-option and run-pass-option.

So when someone tries to tell you that this is just the same ol' Bama, take that with a grain of salt. Because they don't have that heavy bruiser of a tailback that they use to tote the rock 20-25 times a game.

Damien Harris is a strong runner and likes to get downhill. He's also athletic, something usually attributed more to his colleague Bo Scarbrough. But together they really handle most of the handoffs, albeit to the tune of just 19 carries/game combined (via cfbstats.com)

And that's because this is Jalen Hurts' show. He doesn't have as many yards as Harris, but he has the most carries. For the most part he does a good job of reading the defense and determining which run option is best.

However, he ain't perfect. This video of Sugar Bowl highlights gives you an idea of how they utilize the running backs mentioned, but also shows you that Hurts can get flustered. For instance, pay particular attention to the moderate pressure (at best) up the middle Clemson throws at him at about the 2:30 mark when they are able to force a fumble off a bad read and exchange.



That's something, as we discussed yesterday, that could play into Coach Tucker's hands. The Tiger linebacker is really just making a read and playing off of Hurts' eyes. I wouldn't even call it a blitz. Plug Roquan in there on a favorable down and distance and it could definitely lead to a positive result.

That's all well and good. But no matter what anyone (myself included) writes or what any expert on the television tells you this week, we all know from past meetings that this game will come down to which team controls the line of scrimmage best.

In the 2012 SECCG it was practically a draw at the line of scrimmage until late when we had used pretty much the same defensive front the entire game. John Jenkins was gassed and we couldn't stop Eddie Lacy or TJ Yeldon.

Tucker's defense is much more versatile than Grantham's 2012 version. And the point of this post is to highlight the possibility that Alabama's offense is less versatile today than it was then. In other words, stop Hurts and you stop the Tide. They just don't have that one running back that can wear on you from down to down.

Well, to be honest, I think Harris especially fits the bill. It's just that they don't use him that way. Perhaps I just haven't watched enough of them to know that they just don't need him or Scarbrough as much as Hurts. In Harris' best game against Vandy he had 12 carries for 151 yards. In the close game against Mississippi State thogh he was averaging over 11 yards a carry but only touched it eight times. Meanwhile Hurts had 19 carries for two yards a clip (sack yardage included).

Have they been saving 34 and 9's legs just for this game Monday?

In the end I'm going to give Georgia the edge in the rushing game, all while hoping I'm not just seeing what I want to see. Because admittedly, I've watched a lot more of Georgia than Alabama. I just see our rushing attack as much more versatile.

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing...Go Dawgs!

First thought on Alabama

I know. It's so hard not to keep re-living those memories of the Rose Bowl. What an epic win! But we didn't do all that work just to rest on laurels, right?

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The halftime adjustments by Tucker and Smart were what we've seen all season, just on a grander stage. My initial reflection was that Tucker got away from trying to contain Mayfield and squeeze the pocket, and used more stunts and blitzes, especially up the middle.

Well, I was partially right, as this video will show best. It's the back to back sacks on Mayfield in the third quarter that really started prove that the Sooners were going to have a tougher row to hoe in the second half.

The first sack is a coverage sack in my opinion. Tucker again uses four rushers to squeeze the pocket and by the time Mayfield tries to use his legs because there's no where to throw, Ledbetter is in his face with an easy sack.

And then...well, Tucker lets the boys loose!



Those two plays prove that, even though it may not have played out that way in the first half, Georgia had the defense to go up against this high-powered offense.

Okay, but aren't we supposed to be talking about Alabama? Yes, and that's my next point.

Jalen Hurts has a high of 16 completions in one game this season. And that was in the Sugar Bowl. We know he can hurt you with his arm, but only if you don't manage to stop the run.

Both of these defenses Monday night are going to be trying to do the same thing - stop each other's run game. And I think both are built just for that.

But I think Tucker will use similar schemes in containing Hurts that he did in the Rose Bowl's second half. He wants to contain Hurts as much as he can and force him to throw when he's uncomfortable. Stopping Harris and Scarbrough is a topic for later, because that is surely Tucker's biggest headache this week. Alabama has gained nearly a thousand more yards rushing this season than they have passing.

But games like this tend to come down to quarterback play. Hurts is a true winner, for sure. I like his style and leadership. Plus he comes up big in big moments.

But I like our guy. I think Fromm complements his offense in ways Hurts can only dream of. I just hope Tucker and those Savages can minimize Hurts' impact on the game.

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing...Go Dawgs!

Even the little things are The Main Thing

It's taken a while to digest exactly what happened. It's so much more than the game itself. It's the experience and the sheer joy you feel when you see your team come out on top on that kind of stage. After a day of thinking and reflecting I still can't come up with the words. But I highly recommend you read this Tommy Tomlinson piece on his experience and why moments like what happened Monday night are so important.

As for the game itself, it was truly an instant classic. Reminiscent of game like the 2006 Rose Bowl which served as the National Championship game between Texas and USC. But this one was our own Georgia Bulldogs! Two amazing teams with amazing talent, both who clearly wanted to be there and wanted to win.

It was a game full of huge swings in momentum from sideline to sideline, as each big play seemed to be one that would finally turn the tide for good. But then there was another, and then another. And then there was another!

I had wondered a few weeks ago if time of possession would be the key factor in stopping the Oklahoma offense and giving us our best shot. I was right about being able to run the ball effectively, I just didn't take into account how effectively we would run it. Something like three drives that took less than a minute. It was the game we knew Sony and Chubb could and should have. So glad Sony got the chance to atone for that fumble and seal the deal himself. And more on that in a minute...

But there were a couple of smaller things that also became the Main Thing. I'll leave the argument of whether the decision to squib kick it to end the first half up to the Sooner fans. But the heads up play by a former reserve running back turned reserve linebacker in Tae Crowder to instinctively snag that kick and lay on it, was amazing.

Think about how easy it would be to just go out there as a kick return specialist and simply go through the motions. Special Teams coordinator Shane Beamer mostly gives credit where it is due, to Crowder, but I'm sure they had been warned to watch for an "nontraditional" kick off. Still, to be ready to go back to your days as a Harris County HS shortstop and snag that ball ended up being a game changer. It was. We had to have it!

Because with just a few ticks on the clock (and with our offensive coordinator in an elevator on the way to the locker room), we were able to call a quick out to Godwin and grab another nine yards and stop the clock with just a second left.

At this point I'm thinking, "Well, that makes Fromm's heave to the endzone a little shorter." But the coaches had another bold idea and Rodrigo took it from there. And there was never a doubt.

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Another small thing I noticed that was huge was not just the blocking on that Sony Michel 27 yard touchdown trot, but actually who was blocking - reserve wide receivers and Nauta. Of course, Fromm gave his man on the outside all he could handle to give Sony the room to run. But to send out guys like Crumpton and Simmons and Blount, all with fresh legs and bodies in the second over time to lay some wood was a great call, and refreshing to see.

And now it's on to Alabama in the biggest game our Dawgs have been in since 1982. We've had games where we were playing for this chance. It just wasn't until Kirby preached to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing that we actually succeeded in getting it done.

Go Dawgs!

Difference between bowls and actual playoff games

Things shifted when the bowls adapted into the Bowl Championship Series which begat the College Football Playoffs. Similarly things will shift Monday when the mere bowls give way to the real games.

Oklahoma meets Georgia. Alabama meets Clemson, again.

Two epic matchups. And only two winners will prevail.

The real difference between those two bowls and the rest that we’ve witnessed before them is that Oklahoma and Georgia and Alabama and Clemson all are hungry. Teams in mere bowls are subject to changing coaches’ allegiances and seniors eyeing draft prospects and others lacking the hunger.

Every player in the games on Monday are hungry. The playing field doesn’t tilt on the whims of a coaching staff or a running back protecting his draft stock.

It’s almost time to man up.

Go Dawgs!

Rose Bowl Betting Preview: Georgia Slight Favorite vs. Sooners

Georgia and Oklahoma are two of the marquee programs in college football and have been for decades, yet the Bulldogs and Sooners have never met on the gridiron. That changes on New Year’s Day at arguably the most storied venue in the sport, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The Dawgs opened as 1.5-point underdogs but a check of Bovada for latest odds on the game shows UGA as a 2-point favorite for the first national semifinal. Oklahoma has won six of its past seven games as an underdog, however, including both this year.
There are 41 bowl games this season, including the Jan. 8 national title matchup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and there perhaps isn’t a pairing of more polar opposites than Dawgs-Sooners.
Georgia, the SEC champion for the first time since 2005 under second-year coach Kirby Smart, wins with ball-control offense and a ferocious defense. Led by Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, one of the best tailback duos in the country, Georgia ranks 10th nationally in rushing yards per game at 263.5. Smart generally asks freshman quarterback Jake Fromm to manage the game and avoid mistakes – Fromm largely has with just five interceptions. He’ll run occasionally too.
Big 12 champion Oklahoma hasn’t faced a defense near as good as Georgia’s this season as the Dawgs rank fourth nationally in points allowed (13.2) and fourth in yards surrendered (271.0 ypg) behind Butkus Award winner and SEC Defensive Player of the Year Roquan Smith. Georgia allowed more than 20 points just twice: a 53-28 win over Missouri and a 40-17 loss at Auburn. UGA’s final three opponents, Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Auburn in the SEC title game, totaled just 27 points.
Behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Sooners lead the nation in total offense (583 ypg) and are third in passing (367.4 ypg) and scoring (44.9 ppg). Mayfield is No. 1 nationally in rating (203.8) and completion percentage (71.0) while ranking second in TD passes (41) and yards (4,340).
If there’s one quarterback comparison for Georgia this season regarding Mayfield, it’s Missouri’s Drew Lock, who threw for 3,695 yards and an NCAA-high 43 touchdowns. In the Tigers’ 53-28 loss in Athens on Oct. 14, Lock was 15-for-25 for 253 yards, four TDs and a pick. Missouri couldn’t run the ball whatsoever that day. OU has three running backs who have rushed for at least 500 yards, topped by Rodney Anderson’s 960 yards and 11 touchdowns. Mayfield himself has rushed for 310 and five scores.
Of course, it’s Georgia’s first-ever trip to the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma was a No. 4 seed in the playoff following the 2015 season and was routed 37-17 in the Orange Bowl semifinal by No. 1 Clemson.
This will be only the 10th time since 1966 that Georgia will face a Heisman winner in the same season the player won the trophy. It last happened in 2015 when Alabama running back Derrick Henry rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown in the Tide’s 38-10 win in Athens, a loss that helped spur the end of Mark Richt’s tenure. UGA’s last win over a Heisman winner in the same season was in 2007 over Florida and Tim Tebow – the infamous “Gator Stomp” game.
Either Georgia or Oklahoma would be an underdog in the national title game against No. 1 Clemson or No. 4 Alabama. Check Bovada for latest odds on that game. Incidentally, the 2015 Bama-Georgia matchup referenced above was the only time this decade that the Tide opened as a betting underdog. The Dawgs haven’t beaten Alabama since 2007 but have played only three times since. Georgia last played Clemson to open the 2014 season and throttled the Tigers in Athens, 45-21, behind four touchdowns and 293 all-purpose yards from Todd Gurley. Deshaun Watson wasn’t Clemson’s starting QB yet back then.

I’m a Dawg fan, not an SEC fan

Today Missouri opens SEC bowl play in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl against the Texas Longhorns. It will be the first of nine bowls that feature a Southeastern Conference team, and thereby sparks up the annual dialogue about the myth that is "conference loyalty".

Some people like to root for our own rivals. It's a practice that I fail to understand. I am a Georgia fan. Not an SEC fan. I can't stand the other teams in the SEC. I can't stand the referees in the SEC. I can't stand all of the Cracker Barrels in the SEC. And I hate watching those other teams win.

Many of you may know that I graduated from Cedar Shoals High School. Our cross town rival was Clarke Centtral. They were bigger and better at most things as I was growing up. So was I filled with pride when they'd bring home another state title just because I was from Athens?

Hell no. I hated them even more for it. The same way I hated it when Tennessee won the National Title in 1998, and don't even get me started on the Gators during their hey days. My heart skips a beat whenever one of our conference rivals' quarterbacks throws a pick six. Oh the joy!
So, you'd sit next to this and high five it when they scored? (Hypothetically.
since we all know they ain't playing in no bowl game this year.)

I'd root for Russia over Florida and I'd prefer to be friends with JR Ewing over Philip Fulmer. At least when JR'd eventually stab me in the back he wouldn't smell like rank possum meat and gin while he did so.

"But Bernie, what if I picked an SEC team in my bowl pool, or maybe even placed a wager on one of them to win a game?"

Glad you asked. I hope you do well in your pool. I've picked my share of enemies to win some of those games too. But I'll be thrilled if they lose instead. If you placed a bet, I hope you don't lose your money. I really don't. But just because you think highly enough of the Gamecocks to bet $50 on them doesn't mean you need to cheer for them to do well.

And if you show up on my lawn wearing orange it'll be a race between my youngest and my dog to see which gets a hold of your ass first.

I'm a Dawg fan. To root for other SEC teams is a Tennessee Hillbilly kind of sad. Cuz those sonsabitches are sitting at home with nothing to do but live vicariously through the rest of us.

Jeff Schultz is right, this time.

Like you, I’ve been following and subsequently been confused by this Natrez Patrick affair. The facts are: 1) he’s known as much for being in the wrong pot at the wrong time as much as he is for making tackles, 2) the charges following the SECCG were dropped, 3) he subsequently both passed and failed a drug test, and 4) UGA is playing coy about his future.

Yesterday, the AJC’s most prolific pontificator since Terence Moore left town, Jeff Schultz weighed in. Schultz was his usual pompous, arrogant, click bait self. He pretended to know facts that he can’t possibly presume to know. He used the term “Bulldog Justice” with an air of both a thumb aside his nose and another up his ass.
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But, he’s also right.

UGA shouldn’t let Patrick play any more games with a G on his helmet. The dude has a problem and not the least of it is that he puts smoking pot above playing for the University that you and I hold dear. He’d rather continue to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time than increase our team’s chance at winning. Or more personally, he’d rather take chances around random marijuana leaves, however minuscule, than potentially increase his draft stock this spring.

There’s one thing I do know. And that is that Patrick has one game, potentially two games left at UGA. He’s moving on to the NFL regardless after this season. We can pretend that it’s to further his game and play at the next level. But the truth is that, from what we’ve witnessed, it’s more likely that he’s moving on to be able to afford a better strain of weed.

To allow him to play in the Rose Bowl is to give him a pass. He won’t learn and at best he’ll go on to be an average player that continues to put a chance to smoke weed above being a team player. At worst he puts all that above being a good man, son, dad, human being.

Sit him down and the stakes go up. He is forced to answer tougher questions. He is forced to show he can put football above his next toke on the pipe. He’s forced to re-evaluate his life decisions. He’s forced to become a man.

This isn’t a political issue. I’m not for pot legalization and I’m not against it. I’m glad the Barrow county charges were dropped because they were bullshit, to be perfectly honest. This isn’t a football issue either. Life is bigger than football. 

This is a personal issue. Kirby has a chance to help both his player and the program. What does every other player that practices hard and puts the team first learn if Natrez plays in Pasadena?

Yes, we are the new Georgia. We signed on for this and Kirby has us at the precipice of something special. But the truth is we don’t need Natrez Patrick to beat Oklahoma any more than we needed him during the games he was suspended. We can still be bigger than the issue, the lawyers, the newsprint, and the charges that #6 has brought to the spotlight.

We’re still Georgia. We can win with players that truly want to play football. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not convinced Natrez Patrick really wants to play football.

Rarefied air

Now that the bowls have started, have you noticed how much air time Georgia is getting in half-time commentary, ESPN playoff commercials, and general highlights? Although it still feels a little surreal, it also is helping it to hit home that "HOLY CRAP! We're in the CFB Playoffs and have to play Oklahoma y'all!"

We were in Virginia visiting the in-laws this weekend. The wife and I went into a local grocery store and were immediately met by the Salvation Army greeter who gave us a solid and boisterous "Go Dawgs!" upon seeing our red and black attire. He explained that he wasn't a Georgia fan but he'd be rooting for us. It seems fans that have no dog in the hunt still like a good Dawg to pull for.

Then as we were checking out a dude came up behind me and practically screamed "I hope y'all beat Bama!" I turned around and it was a guy wearing an Ohio State jacket and cap. He had strong opinions about how the Tide got in the playoffs despite a weak schedule and subsequently screwed over the Buckeyes.

Funny how he didn't want to talk about Iowa or 2016's version of Penn State getting left out. Anyway, it's cool seeing your team get so much air time. And I bet there are plenty of "Dawg fans in Exhile" enjoying the fact that the Dawgs are firmly in the national spotlight and have had similar experiences to the one we had at a Richmond area Kroger.

It's a fantastic addition to this Holiday season thus far. And a reminder that the coaches and staff are probably more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs about the players losing focus and getting a lot of this talk in their ears.

Two weeks from today!! Go Dawgs!

Rose Bowl – could time of possession be the game’s biggest factor?

If we can agree that this Rose Bowl isn’t likely to be the high scoring affair that Sooners have gotten used to with Mayfield at the helm of its offense, and if we can agree that the Georgia coaching staff is likely to want to slow this game down and limit the Sooner possessions as much as possible, then we might start to look for 2017 games for each team that could serve as a crude, yet convenient barometer for what each team wants to avoid.

Never fear, I did just that last night.

October 14th, the Red River Shootout, Oklahoma 29   Texas 24. (And yes, that’s considered low scoring by their standards.) Time of possession is pretty even with the Sooners possessing the ball for just under 32 minutes. Here’s a recap of the highlights:



What I see is a lot of big plays breaking down (for both offenses really) to the point where the quarterback and his playmakers have to improvise. Both quarterbacks do a remarkable job of moving the pocket, using their feet for both time and yards (points), and simply waiting for the secondary to break down to the point that a receiver was open or there was room to run.

In the end Baker made one more play than Ehlinger. Otherwise it might have been the Longhorns running out the clock at the end instead. And in the end Texas surrendered 174 yards on 39 carries. The Longhorns were essentially beaten by Mayfield’s arm because they weren’t effective enough in stopping Trey Sermon and Rodney Anderson on the ground.

November 11th, Iowa State 38   Oklahoma 31. The Cyclones handed the Sooners their only loss, and ISU too held the OU just below their season average in time of possession. Unlike the Longhorns though, the Cyclones were able use enough screens, score late, or play some defense late to hold off another Sooner rally.

There’s no question that Georgia’s secondary should provide a more difficult task for the Heisman winner and this Sooner offense. But the last thing we want to see is Tucker’s defense struggling to balance when to rush extra men and when to drop them back. Because Mayfield is the type of quarterback that will expose a defense that is playing on its heels.

And he’ll do it with ease.
Baker dominated the Buckeye midfield logo. What a champion!

If 2017’s version of the Red River Shootout and the loss to the Cyclones at home are the types of games Oklahoma wants to avoid playing again, then without question Georgia wants to avoid what happened on the Plains about a month ago even more.

November 11th, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, part one, Auburn 40   Georgia 17. This was, obviously, the Dawgs’ worst game in terms of controlling to game’s momentum and possessing the ball - 26:54 to 33:06. (We only held the ball for 25 minutes in Jacksonville, but that was all you needed to whip the gators’ ass this year, so…)

The Tigers were undoubtedly the more physical team at the point of attack. They gashed Tucker’s defense for 237 yards, and made it feel like double that.

However you feel about the Big 12 being a finesse league and full of soft defenses and cute passes, make no mistake that this Sooner o-line is legit. They’ve got a Heisman winner that has helped them win some awards and gain some recognition. Plus they’d love nothing more than to contain Georgia’s pass rush and open up holes for their running backs in front all those NFL scouts that will be out in full in Pasadena.

I like the fact that our offense could really complement our defense well on this grand stage in the Rose Bowl. Fromm will definitely have to make some throws, but there should be plenty of yards to gain on the ground against a defense that is 40th nationally in rush defense.

Hand the ball off. Tick tick tick tick tick tick...Keep the Baker man cold on the sideline as much as possible.

Go Dawgs!

Your Unofficial Heisman Saturday Evening Alternative Entertainment Guide

The damn thing has been irrelevant since 1980...minus 1982 when they awarded an already twice-slighted Herschel Walker the hardware he'd actually earned three times...but I digress...

I'd like to provide alternatives for your first Saturday evening without football in some time. A word of caution however - depending on your own neighborly environs, some of these could get you a visit from Officer Friendly who also might just be a recently disgruntled Auburn fan. So proceed with caution.

Regardless, you should find something to do rather than listen to Kirk Herbstreit gush over Baker Mayfield. Although the ratings will probably sky rocket if they end up grabbing each others' crotch. At any rate, here are my suggestions:

  1. Eat a big bowl of Captain Crunchberries at 8:00 pm.
  2. Call your mom and tell her you just ate a big bowl of Captain Crunchberries at 8:00 pm.
  3. Find a nice romantic comedy to watch with your significant other.
  4. If you can't find your significant other, watch a nice Holiday film like Die Hard for the 173rd time. YIPPEE KI YAH!!!
  5. Call your favorite Tennessee fan and ask them if Jeremy Pruitt is going to coach them in their bowl...."Aw shit. I'm sorry. Welp, how's your mama n them?"
  6. Start reading a book. Or at least open one up in your lap before you doze off so that it looks like you were doing something important.
  7. Rewatch last week's SEC Championship game and text updates to your favorite Auburn fan as the game develops.
  8. Find a new favorite Auburn fan because your last one just blocked you.
  9. Help your wife with all those Christmas Cards. Or at least refill her wine glass. Stop sitting there drooling in your kid's Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and be helpful!!
  10. Go back to September of 2008 and re-read every post I've ever written. Then translate them into Mandarin for all my homeboys over in Manchuria!
  11. Prepare a large tumbler of bourbon and go door to door singing Christmas carols. Take your dog along for the harmony of it.
  12. Create a fake Baker Mayfield's cell phone twitter account that only tweets random Roquan Smith stats and related facts.
Whatever you choose to do to pass the time tomorrow evening, make it a great weekend Dawgs!

The 8th Annual Bowl Pool – Another Festivus Miracle!


The brain trust at ESPN has spoken and matched all of the teams up for us. So it's time to select the winners and see who comes out on top.


PASSWORD = Festivus

It all starts December 16th with Grambling vs NC A&T in the Celebration Bowl. It ends in The Benz with the Rose and Sugar winners. Should be quite the ride. So gather round the table and let's begin with the Airing of Grievances!



Atlanta by way of Pasadena

Man, what a weekend! Two years ago today we didn’t have a coach. Yesterday we watched Kirby give an interview to Rece Davis after Georgia was seeded third in the CFB Playoffs!

What a time to be alive!

When Joe Waterloo texted me for a prediction before the SEC Championship game I went with 28-17. I knew our offensive line especially would play better than they did in the environment of Jordan Hare three weeks ago. The wild card was Kerryon Johnson. Turned out he was a shell of his former self. I’m not entirely sure he should’ve even been playing at all.

Take away their running game and Malzahn is back to being just a gimmick with no alternate game plan.

Kirby preached before and during his game interviews about “physicality” and “composure”. His team really played with his instructions in mind. We were dominated in the trenches three weeks ago, but Georgia's coaches were able to flip the script on Malzahn & Co. Saturday night. The offensive line was bulldozing jokers and the defensive front was everything we saw in other locations like Knoxville and Jacksonville earlier this season.

We knew it before Saturday, but this team is something special. Now that we've made it in I'm thoroughly looking forward to seeing how they measure up against the nation's elite.

Speaking of which, I really think the committee got it right by bringing in Alabama at #4. I didn't think they would, but it seems they saw what many of us did as well - with Ohio State you have an up and down team. Conference champion or not, on January 1st in prime time no one wants to tune in to see a re-run of Clemson obliterating the Buckeyes.

On the other hand, a rematch of last season's epic battle between the Tigers and the Tide? Yes please.

But there's a lot of time in between now and then. I'll have the 8th annual Bowl Pool up later today or tomorrow. Until then, you can keep pinching yourself until the cows come home. But this is real y'all! Go Dawgs!

via GeorgiaDogs.com

the Friday Misery is not feeling entitled

They blew up the place where your five yards short was born. So I don’t know why everyone keeps talking about it. Are you the kind of husband that gives his wife the same gift every five years? Are you wearing the same shirt today that you wore back then? Did you save the last three cups of milk from December 1st, 2012 to tailgate with tomorrow outside the Benz?


Put your History books down. The bell rang and there’s a new sheriff in town.

The Official SECCG entrance exam
Step off Trebeck! This is my show. Contestants, please remember to phrase your answers in the form of a correct answer.
  1. Which number is greater, Matt Lauer’s creep factor or the number of Auburn mascots?
  2. Which has a bigger mouth, Mr. Ed or Cam Newton?
  3. Celebrity quotation: who said it? … “We beat the dog crap outta them didn’t we?” ...Gus Malzahn or Mike Vick??
  4. Per capita, which city’s teenage boy population takes more cows to their high school prom, Pakistan or Opelika?
  5. Greatest running back of all time….Herschel Walker...or the Goal Line Stalker? (I’m sorry, Bo who?)
  6. What one item do Auburn area Costco’s and local supermarkets stock more frequently than all other items combined?
  7. Is it Plainsmen or Planes’ men?
  8. Eric Ramsey is to cassette tapes as Cam Newton is to _________?
  9. Greater man, Vince Dooley or Pat Dye?
  10. Please spell your name here —-> _____________.


Answers: 1. Ironically, Lauer by a long shot. Congrats National Broadcasting Company Creepshow. 2. Cam. But, have you ever seen the two of them in the same room? At the same time? Hmmmm…. 3. Both answers are correct! But Vick has paid for his crime. Gus, you’re next dipshit! 4. Opelika up until 2010 when there was a sudden surge in goat dates and Pakistan took the lead. 5. Yes, even the Official SECCG entrance exam has a freebie. 6. Toilet paper. What else? 7. Who gives a shit? 8. Church Steeples. Also, bagman is an acceptable answer as well. We’d also accept sleaze bag, laptop thief, panderer of attention (aka attention whore), outfit pimp, Pimp of Cheese, misogynistic asshole, whiny ass loser, eternal three year old, and of course Fairley’s shower partner. 9. Son, it ain’t how you start it’s how you finish! Patty shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as St. Vincent. 10. If yu jist rote a “X” than u cuddint git ntwo UGA. Wur dam eegle!

Comparing apples to some other apples
Of course I considered going back to re-read my post prior to the 2012 SEC Championship Game. It’s still one of my favorite Friday Miserys of all time. Honestly. So it would make sense to at least give it a cursory glance.


But as I reflected back on how I felt back then to be in that position, as well as what I thought I could remember about my words that came forth from my keyboard before that epic GA Dome battle, I realized the vast differences between then and now.


Back then I remember feeling like it was our turn, it was our time. I’d be willing to bet there is an air of “Hey, we’re due!” in that post. I was eager to see our team stand up to the nation’s darling, the straw that stirs the college football postseason drink, the mighty Saban’s minions vs our talented squad of hard working Dawgs.


Yes, I felt it was our time. In other words, I felt that 2012 team was entitled to the national title game as a reward for a hard fought season. I felt those players, and by proxy us as fans, were even destined for it.


I don’t feel entitled to anything today. Sure, that 2012 team came so very close to earning it all. Nothing was going to be handed to them on that field, on that day. We knew that going in. Alabama gave us their best effort, as expected, and the Dawgs nearly stood taller in the end. Nearly.


But despite that near euphoric moment five years ago, I don’t feel entitled to anything today. I certainly don’t think that’s Kirby’s message. In fact, I know so.


"Hey guys, I read the quarterback's eyes, broke on the route,
and this is what I earned!"
We can argue at a later date as to whether the 2017 SEC East champions are better than the 2012 SEC East champions. It’s a little too early to gauge that honestly right now, other than to say that the 2012 team had a more competitive geographic environment to do work in. But at this point in the season, I do feel it’s safe to say that this team has worked harder than any other Georgia team in recent memory.


Some of you may bristle at that last sentence, but bear with me. You have to remember that those 2012 seniors were a foundation that had grown into men together under one regime. They were a group that had been to the SEC Championship game together the year before.


This 2017 team that will vie for the SEC crown against Auburn tomorrow is in their second year under a new head coach. Some of them have had more than three different position coaches since they left high school. They finished last season with five losses.


They lost to Vandy at home. They needed a late field goal to beat Kentucky. They lost to Tech.


Georgia Tech.


And they responded in the off season by lifting more weights, by running more reps, by pushing each other even further, and by buying into what the coaches were selling even more. Then they laid absolute waste to the SEC East this year. From the end of the Georgia Tech game in Athens last year to today, this team has grown leaps and bounds.


After losing to Auburn three weeks ago Kirby said that this team will be remembered by how they respond. Well, they’ve responded by beating two lesser teams soundly. That’s resiliency.


That’s the kind of resiliency that sees its quarterback go down in the early moments of the season and says, “This is just the next obstacle.” That’s the kind of resiliency that finds a way to force a turnover late on the road against the storied Notre Dame Fighting Irish.


It’s focus in the eye of the storm. It’s taking a punch and steadying yourself instead of falling. It’s not just Georgia. It’s the new breed. It’s not preparing yourself for the professional Sundays. It’s facing the here and now with a low growl and leverage against the man in front of you.


You want more? You need more?


Well, the pressure is on Auburn. They set a bar I don’t think they can continue to clear. Their coach used his mouth to write a check that his team can’t cash. Gimmicks are cute, but just like two-ply shitpaper dangling from trees, mall Santa candy canes, and Bobby Lowder’s checkbook, they’re a dime a dozen.


The pressure is on Auburn. Compared to three weeks ago, they’re trading in roughly 40,000 fans for a nice dinner in Buckhead and what they hope will be a front row spot on Finebaum’s show. They’ll bring their Walmart jeans and anti-Bama signs/slogans/chants, still clinging to the only bowl they truly care about.


Bless their hearts. We beat our state rival and calmly boarded the buses for home. Auburn fans will still be talking about beating Alabama last week when the cows’ calves’ calves come home in 2028.


Erk telling his captain Ros the best way to GATA!
Georgia knows their mistakes. Tucker and Pittman and Chaney have taught and coached and revamped just for this moment. Bellamy and Dom and Zo didn’t come back to lose to the same plain men twice in one season. Chubb and Sony can shoulder the reins; their thighs only get heavier as the fourth quarter wears on. Then, “Oh hey there Mr. Swift! C’mon in!


Georgia has the talent. We also have the depth. And both are rested and ready. While Bama was separating shoulders Saturday evening, Swift and Herrien and Clark and Muckle were iced and ready for Monday’s practice. Fromm, perhaps the only player to show his true composure in the fourth quarter three weeks ago, has been patiently waiting for a moment to shine on this kind of stage.


Tomorrow is time. It’s not time to go through warm-ups and stand there ready to be handed a trophy. Tomorrow is time to earn every yard, fight for every first down, challenge every ball carrier. Tomorrow is only our time if we make it our time. Kirby’s crew ain’t coming to claim what we believe is rightfully ours. He’s coming to put his players on a field for the opportunity to prove they’re worthy, prove they’re ready.


It’s “your time” if you wait in line during recess for a swing on the playground. It’s “your turn” if you have successfully traversed the queue before finally getting to ride Space Mountain at Disney World. You’re entitled to take a seat and say “WEEEE!!!!”


I don’t want a swing and Space Mountain is just turns in the dark at a high rate of speed, like an Indy 500 during a solar eclipse. I’m ready to see to the finish what these Dawgs started Labor Day weekend. Are you ready? Are you going to just stand there with your hand out, or are you going to shove it into the turf, bend your knees and get your hips set to drive through whoever, whatever is in front of you?

It's SEC Championship weekend baby! And these Dawgs weren't bred to be hunted. Now bow your heads...dear Lord, please don't let these tigersmenplaineagles hoard our Charmin over the weekend. And may our Savages run as rampant as our running backs run free. In the name of Uga V and Auburn's own four sport letterman, the late, great Erk Russell! Amen!

Sunday Thoughts on Roquan pulling ol’ Turkey Neck’s pants down

Seriously, last night #3 knew what Coach Johnson was going to have for dinner before the Johnson’s party was even seated.

If you like that, here’s a few more:

- I was both elated and afraid to see Trenton Thompson come back in. Seeing him writhe in pain really took the wind out of my sails early on. Glad he’s okay.
- I’m also conflicted on seeing #1 and #27 on the sidelines so much of the fourth quarter. Gonna miss seeing those guys run for the G. But glad we can keep them fresh. We’ll need that on Saturday at the Benz.
- Hard to say who was worse, the refs (although they closed the game strong) or the ABC play by play guy (name = ???). There were times I had no idea what he was referring to, except that it seemed to not be in the Dawgs’ favor. I mean, he actually made McIlroy sound intelligent...at times. (But not Luginbill.)
- That field goal at the end of the half was huge. In the end it wasn’t even needed, but I thought the fact that the coaches were game for using the timeouts instead of taking a knee really shifted the momentum in our favor.
- And once again the adjustments on both sides going into the second half were key. Tucker had the answers and Chaney’s crew took it from there. I haven’t even stopped praying for that Tech defender’s ankles that Sony broke!
- Hello Akhil Crumpton! Can we haz mor plz!
- If you take a step or two back, it’s interesting what’s happening along Techwood drive, other than the local drug deals. I mean, Paul Johnson just keeps doing just enough. So many of their fans are tired of it, but he seems to get a pass. How long can it last?

For me, I hope he retires there in around 15-20 years. For now, we’re 11-1 heading back to Atlanta! What a season! Who woulda thought that!

(Lastly, Coach Paul Johnson was at the nearest Subway because he can’t get enough $5 foot longs.)
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