Ugly Duckling Turns Into Beautiful Swann

One of the most shocking things about the 2013 defense was the lackluster play of Damian Swann.  I pegged Damian Swann to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Thomas Davis and other elite defensive backs.  Last season, the entire defense was disappointing, specifically the secondary, and specifically Swann.

Remember back to 2012, Jarvis Jones was the playmaker and superstar.  But it seemed that whenever Jones or Rambo weren’t making a big play, it was Swann.  It felt like he was always falling on a fumble, causing a fumble, or getting a timely pick.  In 2012, he had 4 INT and 2 fumble recoveries, with 2 forced fumbles.

Last year, we needed the big play pop from someone since Jarvis Jones had left, and Swann was the logical choice to be that playmaker on defense.   Instead Swann was quiet as a church mouse.

Fortunately for the Georgia defense, and Swann himself, he is having a big senior year.   He already has 3 INT through 6 games and 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.  The playmaker from 2012 has already matched his impact from that season…and we are only halfway through 2014.

In a league filled with defensive stars, it was announced that Swann was awarded the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

The kudos and recognition for Swann are very much deserved.  If the defense continues to play well, we should look back at the end of the year and place a lot of credit on the role #5 is playing.


SEC Races Will Go Down To Wire

With all due respect to South Carolina, Kentucky or Florida, who aren’t technically eliminated from the SEC Eastern Division race, I think it is very safe to say that  Missouri and Georgia are the only teams who have a chance to make a return trip back to Atlanta.

Georgia has three conference games left-vs Florida, at Kentucky, and Auburn.

Missouri has five conference games left-Vanderbilt, Kentucky, at Texas A&M, at Tennessee, Arkansas.

While Missouri is capable of losing one or two of their remaining 5 games, Georgia is capable of losing one or more of their remaining three games. So to say the East is locked down is still quite premature, although either Missouri or Georgia will be playing an Alabama or Mississippi school in Atlanta.

At this point, I think I give the nod to the Georgia Bulldogs. I think it is safe to assume victories against Florida and Kentucky, with Auburn being the tossup. I can assume Missouri victories over Vanderbilt and Kentucky, with A&M, Tennessee and Arkansas being toss up games. The latter group of teams all look beatable for Missouri. However, Missouri could lose any number of those games. If Missouri wins out, and Georgia loses again, Missouri goes back to Atlanta. It is just too murky to tell.

Over in the Central Time Zone, things are even more muddled.  Auburn looks the least likely to make it to Atlanta. The Tigers have road tests against Alabama, Georgia and Ole Miss.

Ole Miss has to play at LSU, Auburn, at Arkansas and Mississippi State. Ole Miss should dispatch the Bayou Bengals this weekend.

Alabama has to get by LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn. Don’t cout out the Crimson Tide to run the table.

Mississippi State has Arkansas, Auburn and Ole Miss.

So really, at this point, it is still up in the air.

If you had to put a gun to my head and make me offer a prediction, I would say that it will be Georgia and Ole Miss in Atlanta. Ole Miss can lose to Auburn and beat Mississippi State and still get in. Of course, Mississippi State can lose to Alabama and still get in by winning the Egg Bowl. Based on their athletic defense, I will give the nod to Ole Miss. Slightly.

Two things are certain. Nothing is for certain and this is going to be an exciting final 6 weeks of the season. Holy Cow!


Tip Of The Cap To Missouri

We shouldn’t think Missouri is as bad as they looked against Georgia-wrong time for anyone to play the Dawgs. Georgia was fired up to play with a chip on their shoulder and unfortunately Missouri was the next victim in line. I am not sure many teams would have beaten the Dawgs in that spot. Likewise, while Florida did in fact beat themselves, so we shouldn’t get too carried away with ourselves with Missouri’s win against Florida. The Gators just flat out imploded, and Missouri was the fortunate beneficiary. One week, wrong place at the wrong time. The next week, right place at the right time.

That is what makes picking games so difficult, and this season has been that way on steroids. You have two options for football-the homogenized style of the NFL, or the emotion-fueled college game.

This example shows why I’d take college every single time.

But Missouri deserves some credit here. Yes, their offense has looked very pedestrian against South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. But they are 2-1 in those Conference games. Missouri has beaten Georgia, Tennessee (2x), South Carolina and Florida. They have won in Knoxville, Athens, Columbia and Gainesville. In the SEC Championship game, they played good enough to win most years. Auburn was just too strong at that point in the season.

Missouri and Gary Pinkel have turned into a relevant player in the SEC in a very short time. Who would have thought they would be a more legitimate threat in the SEC than Texas A&M, especially after both teams’ inaugural SEC campaigns?

You can say that Missouri was again at the right place at the right time when some of the other programs were either riddled with injuries or not playing well. But I will still give all the credit in the world to what Missouri has done so far. Kudos to Coach Pinkel and his staff.


A Last Look at Arkansas

I wanted to go back and look at Arkansas’ losses in their current 14 game SEC losing streak.  Their last SEC victory came almost two years ago against Kentucky on October 13, 2012.  It was a 49-7 win.  Since then…


South Carolina, 38-20

Mississippi State, 45-14

LSU, 20-13


Texas A&M, 45-33

Florida, 30-20

South Carolina, 52-7

Alabama, 52-0

Auburn, 35-17

Ole Miss, 34-24

Mississippi State, 24-17 (OT)

LSU, 31-27


Auburn, 45-21

Texas A&M, 35-28 (OT)

Alabama, 14-13

Arkansas currently sits at 3-3 and 0-3 in the SEC.  They still have both Mississippi schools, Ole Miss, LSU and Missouri in SEC play and UAB in non-conference.

Realistically, if Arkansas wants to go bowling or show any improvement from their 4-8 and 3-9 seasons, this is a game they have to win.

2013 was a rough year, but I see a team that got better in Bret Bielema’s first year and they are playing better so far this season.  They hung with Auburn for a half, should have beaten A&M and gave Alabama fits.

One thing that gives me pause is Georgia’s rushing defense.  Yes, Georgia is 2nd in the SEC in run defense.  But the teams we have played haven’t really run the ball like Arkansas does, and most teams have been pass first teams.  This is opposite than what we have typically seen-UGA has not done well against the spread offenses and have had better success against the pro-style teams.  We have done well against the spread offenses this year; can we still do well against the pro-style teams?  We haven’t seen a team that is going to run the ball like Arkansas so we the jury is still out there.

But talking out of both sides of my mouth, I am not sure how good Arkansas running game truly is.  Yes, they run the ball for an average of 278 ypg, first in the SEC ahead of Georgia’s 275 ypg.  But their rushing numbers are inflated:

Auburn, 29 attempts, 153 yards

Nicholls St, 40 rushes, 495 yards

Texas Tech, 68 rushes, 438 yards

Northern Illinois, 45 rushes, 212 yards

Texas A&M, 47 rushes, 285 yards

Alabama, 39 rushes, 89 yards

Yes, they have gaudy stats, but a lot of it was inflated due to their competition.  By comparison, Georgia has been successful running the ball against everyone they have played, and Clemson and Missouri have really good defensive lines.

Teams comparable to talent to what Georgia has-Alabama and Auburn-have been able to slow down the Arkansas rushing attack.

So while I am not completely ready to buy in to Georgia’s rush defense ( think we’ll get a good idea tomorrow), I’m not sold 100% on Arkansas’ running game.  Basically, tomorrow afternoon something has gotta give.

This is going to be a tough game. This feeling was further enforced when I saw the line. Arkansas has been money this season going 5-1 ATS. So the 3 points Vegas is giving us doesn’t give me much confidence.

I think we will win because even without Gurley, UGA has better talent and better coaching.  But I hope Georgia fans don’t be like Alabama and cry foul for a close win.  Because this will be a close one.



What the UGA Athletic Department is Like

When you are driving in Atlanta and you get on the Connector, the speed limit is inexplicably 55 mph.  And as we all know, no one ever drives the posted speed.  Everyone goes 75 or 80.  But there is that one car that is going the speed limit and it pisses everyone else off.

Georgia is that one car.  Georgia is the plain white 2003 Toyota Camry.  An efficient and suitable car that gets good gas mileage, but isn’t too flashy.  Georgia is that Camry that is driving in the center lane on I-75 going the posted speed limit.  Sure, it may get to where it needs to go, albeit slower than everyone else and watching all the other cars pass you by.  Florida, FSU, Auburn, Alabama, LSU, etc. are going to go 80 and run the risk of getting a ticket, but they probably won’t.


If You Are Traveling To Little Rock

If you are going to Little Rock today, and are driving, you probably are already hitting the road.  Safe travels and cheer us on to victory.

When you are stopping to make a pit stop, and if you read this becuase I know you wouldn’t while you are driving, make sure and stop in Memphis for a meal or snack.  Gotta stop at the BBQ Shop in Memphis either on your way there or on your way there.

Uchee and I went there several years ago, and it was awesome.  Worth the stop for sure.  Some of the best ribs you’ll ever have.

Go Dawgs!


What you missed on Thursday afternoon


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