Archive for November, 2012

Looking at Aaron Murray In Big Games

First off, I think the whole “big game” meme is overblown.  When you are playing for SEC Championships in a tight Eastern Division or even in contention for a National Championship, every game is a “big game”.  Hell, the Georgia Tech and Auburn games were big games, though no one on ESPN or the media will tell you that. 

Georgia has struggled in big games recently, but it is not just all of Aaron Murray’s fault.  Now, he does deserve some blame for losing some of the games, but he is not the only one at fault.  I said after the Florida game that even though Georgia won and Murray threw the game clinching TD pass, one game against the #2 wouldn’t change the perception. 

But, to tickle the fancy of the pundits, let’s just see if it is Aaron Murray’s fault that Georiga hasn’t won a big game recently.

Well, in 2008 Murray was a senior in high shool, coming back from a broken leg to lead Plant to a state championship.   I guess it was somehow Murray’s fault that Stafford and company lost to Alabama and Florida.  In 2009, I guess that, even though he was a redshirt, it was Murray’s fault that UGA lost to Oklahoma State and Florida (and Kentucky, and Tennessee, and LSU).   I think all SEC games are big, especially in 2011 and 2012, but I will humor the pundits and look at their definition of a “big game”. 

But in 2010, Georgia played three really big games against ranked opponents and then the Cockatil Party:


South Carolina:  Murray went 14/21 for 192 with 0 TD and 0 INT.  Didn’t have A.J. Green and was asked to not do much.  Didn’t make any plays, but didn’t make any mistakes, and was not put in a bad situation in his first start.  Verdict:  South Carolina was the better team, but I guess if we are assigning blame, you blame Richt here.  Murray was handled with kid gloves; but that strategy was their perogotive, and who am I to argue with their QB development?

Arkansas:  15/27 for 253 and 1 TD and 1 INT.  Murray led a late comeback and a game tying drive in the final moments.  Verdict:  Took a big sack that hurt us, but overall this was a defensive stinker. 

Florida:  18/37 for 313 and 3 TD, 3 INT.  Murray deserves some credit for leading a comeback, but wouldn’t be in that mess if he was better.  And, he threw a pick in OT that sealed the loss.  Verdict:  Under 50% completion percentage and 3 INT, yeah I’d say Murray didn’t play well.

Auburn:  15/28 for 273 and 3 TD and no int.  Against the eventual National Champions and he got the hell knocked out of him.  Verdict:  I’d say he played his ass off.


Boise State:  Murray went 16/29 with 236 and 2 TD and 1 INT.  Nothing spectacular, nothing great.   Verdict:  Very mediocre performance, but I wouldn’t say Murray’s play cost the Bulldogs the game.  I think you can point the blame a lot on the defense on this one.

South Carolina:  Murray went 19/29 for 248 and 4 TD and 1 INT (and one fumble).   Verdict:  Well, there were a lot of reasons Georgia lost this game.  Murray didn’t help with the fumble and scoop and score that sealed the deal for Carolina, but I mean, dude still threw for 4 TD and kept the game close.  Special teams screwed the pooch here, and though the defense played well enough, it couldn’t stop Lattimore when it counted.  But Murray’s turnovers (and Crowell’s fumble) were costly also.

Florida:  Murray was 15/34 for 169 and 2 TD and 1 INT.  Murray had a very forgettable 2nd half, missing like 8 or 9 in a row, but played well enough when it counted to seal the deal.  Verdict:  Played mediocre, but the Dawgs won, so it really doesn’t matter.

LSU:  16/40 for 163 and 1 TD and 2 INT. Verdict:  The stats look bad, but the special teams and the lack of running game here is what got the Dawgs.  Once LSU realized there was no running game threat, they teed off on Murray.  Murray actually stood strong and had some recievers open, but the recievers just couldn’t make plays.  I really honestly believe that you can’t blame Aaron for this game.  He played as well as  you could possibly play against the best defense in the country with absolutely zero help from anyone else around you.

Michigan State:  20/32 for 288 and 2 TD and 1 INT (1 fumble lost)    Verdict:  Decent game.  Again, like with LSU, there was no threat of a running game and Michigan State had one of the top defenses in the country.   Murray’s three turnovers hurt, but to me this game was lost by the defense.  Michigan State drove down the field with a minute and half left and tied it up.  Murray hit Boykin with a TD to go up by 7; the defense screwed the pooch here.  He didn’t play outstanding, but the play calling got very conservative in the 2nd half until we need to get back in it, and his performance didn’t cost us the game either. 


South Carolina:  11/31 for 109 with 0 TD and 1 INT.  Verdict:  Murray played pretty pitiful, but wasn’t helped out any by the defense, special teams, or play calling.  An all around poor effort, and I don’t think you can single handidly blame Murray.  But, he did not play well. 

Florida:  12/24 for 150 and 1 TD and 3 INT.  Verdict:  Murray didn’t play that well.  He did have a strong 2nd half, but his first half was forgettable, and this game shouldn’t have really been that close.  He didn’t play well, but managed the game well in the 2nd half and was poised on the final drive to seal the deal for the Dawgs. 

So, in 2 big games this  year, Murray has not played well.  In two last year, he didn’t either.  I think the games in 2010 he played pretty well.  I still think it is BS to say he doesn’t show up in big games, becuase every game is a big game.  He has struggled in some big games, but also consider the defenses he has struggled against.  I think it is more fair to say that he has struggled agianst elite top level defenses rather than in the “big game”.  In 2011, he faced the the #2, 3, 6 and 16  teams ranked in total defense.  In 2012,he struggled against the #5 and #13 defenses.  Alabama has the #1 defense, but I honestly feel like Alabama’s defense will be the 3rd best defense UGA has played all season.  I know the stats and rankings, but going on the eyeball test, I would say Florida’s secondary and South Carolina’s defensive front is the best in the nation. 

Aaron very well could struggle tomorrow.  And the pundits will say he continues to struggle in big games. That is easy if you just look at the W-L records, but take a closer look, and you will see that the big games Georgia has lost, he deserves some blame, but it is not entirely his fault.  

Why isn’t anyone talking about Todd Grantham’s unit in big games?  Why does he get a pass and Aaron Murray doesn’t?


Keys to a National Title Berth

1.  Don’t be too emotional.

One of the concerns I have about Saturday is UGA coming into the Georgia Dome overhyped and too emotional.  This leads to personal fouls, excessive celebrations, roughing the quarterback penalties, and losses in big games.  Bama has been in this moment often under Nick Saban while this is Georgia’s first opportunity in 30 years.  Expect Bama to play disciplined and within themselves.  The Dawgs have to match this same discipline.

2.  Murray Can’t Kill Georgia

Bottom line Aaron Murray has played awful against great defenses since he’s been at Georgia.  He single handledly cost us the South Carolina game in 2011 and tried to cost us the Florida game this season.  Murray also gets severely rattled when he gets hit often (see 2011 SEC Title Game and 2012 South Carolina game).  Murray needs to take the pressure off himself.  He doesn’t have to go out Saturday and throw for 300 plus yards.  Murray just needs to be smart, hit a few 3rd and 5-8 yard throws, with one or two big passes down the field.  If Murray gets through Saturday without turning the ball over, Georgia will beat Alabama.

3.  Employ the Cocktail Party Gameplan

Georgia’s defensive gameplan against Florida was a thing of beauty.  Georgia pressured Jeff Driskel all night for 60 minutes.  This is how you beat Bama as well.  If you watch the 2nd half of the Alabama-LSU game, the Tide had no answer to John Chavis’ blitz packages.  McCarron was beat up and extremely frustrated.  Only when LSU implemented the soft zone late in the 4th quarter, did Bama capitalize.  McCarron is less mobile than Jeff Driskel and Bama doesn’t have any dynamite receivers. UGA must get after McCarron.

4.  Be Physically and Mentally Prepared for the 4th Quarter

To beat Nick Saban, Georgia is going to have to be physically and mentally tough in the 4th quarter.  It’s been over two seasons since the Tide was blown out of a football game, so Georgia will have to out tough a Nick Saban coached football team.  This means dealing with Bama’s massive offensive line, and stopping runs late against the most physical lrunning back in college football Eddie Lacy.  Saban put the ball into the hands of TJ Yelton late against Texas A&M and the freshman made a crucial fumble.  Saban won’t make the same mistake twice.  Georgia will have to stop Lacy.

“Our Team, Our Time, No Regrets!”  We are 60 minutes away.  Can you imagine what it will be like to be a Bulldog on the Saturday night of December 1, 2012?

Go Dawgs!


Three reason why Georgia wins, and three why it won’t

Honestly, I think Saturday goes either way. My contention all week has been that if it’s a blowout, Georgia loses. But if its close, Georgia wins.

Why Georgia Might Win

1. Airing it out

If there’s a weakness in Alabama’s defense, it’s its defensive secondary. If Murray gets protection, he could exploit that.

2. This team smells destiny

Since January, the goal for this team is being in Miami for the title. When a team of destiny is that close to a goal, it’s tough to stop it.

3. Gamechangers

Georgia has a more talented defense, and it starts with playmakers, Bacarri Rambo, Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones. Alabama has a talented defense, but it doesn’t have the playmakers who can turn a game on a play and take it over all by themselves.

Why Georgia Might Not Win

1. Aaron Murray

It’s funny. Murray is why Georgia may or may not win. If Murray presses too much and makes early mistakes (see Florida last year), Georgia is fighting uphill right away and will be in a hole that’ll be tough to dig out of. Georgia’s hopes of winning hinge on what Aaron Murray shows up.

2. Getting Personal 

If there’s been a blight on Georgia’s defense the past month, it’s been the amount of senseless personal fouls. Georgia CANNOT afford these against Alabama. If Georgia comes out wanting to carry its pre-game trash talk onto the field, it will lose, because it’ll result in either personal fouls or players trying to make too big of plays early with the result being busted players on defense.

3. The Line

Georgia’s offensive line has looked good recently. It helps a lot that it hasn’t faced a good offensive line in that stretch. It’s easy to break big plays against Ole Miss, Tech and Auburn. It’s harder against great defenses, and Bama has a darn good defensive line.

How much is the recent offensive success due to lack of competition? We’ll find out Saturday afternoon.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Student Attendance Woes Not Limited to UGA

Multiple times in this space, we’ve been over the support, or lack there of by current UGA students. Hardly a game goes by that at kickoff there are gaping, unfilled seats in the upper deck of the student section. 

Turns out, it’s an issue for students at Bama too. 

Road Tripping: SEC Championship Edition

What: Southeastern Conference Championship
: University of Alabama
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
Stadium: Georgia Dome,   seats 74,515,    FieldTurf
Record: 11-1
Distance: 71.3 miles from Sanford Stadium
How to get there: 316 to I-85 all the way downtown or MARTA.  MARTA is my choice of transportation but only if you are brave enough to handle the crowd at the station when you leave the Dome.  It works best if you are meeting up with friends who are tailgating at the dome so you have a spot to go to.  You can take your cooler on the train but on the way home I’d recommend leaving it with your friends because it’s very difficult to squeeze on the train yourself, it’s much worse if you have a cooler in tow.   There are also some pay lots around the CNN Center and the Dome if you want to brave that. 

Corbindawg:  I have been to Los Angeles and and D.C., and have taken their subway system.  I have only been on MARTA once.  I had no quams about blindly hoping on L.A.’s subway system.  Something about MARTA doesn’t sit right with me.  I’d rather park and fight traffic. 

In Atlanta:

Corbindawg:  I have been to the Dome 5 times in my life.  One was for Women’s basketball in the 1996 Olympics (Brazil vs. China baby!).  The other four times were for football games that involved UGA.  Never been to a Falcons game, and that really doesn’t bother me.  Maybe one day.  For the 2005 SEC Championship game, we just parked at a lot somewhere and sat in the car and drank.  When we went to the 2005 Sugar Bowl, we got there mid afternoon and tailgated for a little bit with someone else, then went to CNN Center and ate supper.  Fast food Chinese, if I remember.  The best tailgate experience was last year for the Boise State game.  We parked in a lot a good hike away from the Dome on Peachtree, then went to eat lunch at Ted’s Montanna Grill.  I am a big fan of that place.  It is very, very good.  I have been twice, and one time I saw Ted Turner in there eating a steak.  He came by our table and spoke to us.  It was pretty cool.  If you don’t mind spending some cash, the steaks there are excellent, but you can’t go wrong with a burger.  From Ted’s we went to the car and got our coolers and walked a country mile to the Dome to tailgate.  Walking so far lugging chairs and coolers sucked big time, but once we got there we had a blast. We just had styrofoam coolers, so we could leave it and not worry about it during the game. 

It really does suck tailgating around the Dome, so I would recommend going to a resturant and having lunch and some drinks there.  My brother lives in Atlanta and we have gone to some very good places.  My favorite has got to be Manuel’s Tavern on the corner of North Avenue and Highland.  Good atmosphere and lots of TVs to catch Gameday.   On the Weekends they have Brunch, so you can go by earlier and get some Bloody Marys.  Other favorites:  Felini’s Pizza, Everybody’s Pizza, Fox Brother’s BBQ, Daddy D’z BBQ, and of course, The Varsity. 


Maybe some of our more Atlanta-savvy readers can offer a suggestion on where to eat or go.  If you have a better suggestion, leave it in the Comment section.


This Takes the Cake

Of all the stupid shit that the AJC puts out-and there is a lot-the five reasons why they say Nick Saban is overrated is the dumbest. 


Lewis Grizzard Wednesday: Lewis Holds A Press Conference

Leave Pulitzer Out Of This

I have called this press conference to announce I am not going to retire.

“Why not?”

I need a job.

“But there must be other reasons?”

I don’t have $46 million in the bank and I need the company health insurance are two that come to mind.

“But you have to sit around trying to think of column ideas all the time. That must really become a grind.”

Sometimes. But I don’t have to do any heavy lifting.

“But what about all the pressure?”

What pressure? If I mess up, nobody dies.

“But what if you write a lousy column? All those readers see it.”

They can always read “Dear Abby.”

“Aren’t you being a little callous here?”

Of course not. I’m just saying for 50 cents, how much insight do you expect to get? If Michael Jordan has a bad night, there’s always Scottie Pippen.

“But what about your health?”

Doctors say I can type all I want to.

“Let’s talk about burnout. You have been in the league for 16 years. ”

That’s nothing. My mother taught first grade for over 30 years for a lot less than I’m making and I don’t have to convince 6-year-olds to sit down and shut up.

“But what about living in the spotlight? Your picture is in the paper. You’re a celebrity.”

So I’ll get a gun.

“You’re referring, of course, to Atlanta Falcon receiver Andre Rison, who says he carries a gun because of his celebrity status as a pro football player.”

If I were Andre Rison, I would carry two guns. He’s not only a celebrity, he also plays for the Falcons.

“But don’t people often harass you in public for what you write?”

Yo. I don’t mind that as long as they don’t challenge my manhood.

“Still, there must be other things you would like to accomplish. As they said about Michael Jordan, there’s a lot more to him than just being a great basketball player.”

Yeah, like the 46 million in the bank.

“You wouldn’t like to, say, go into teaching?”

I can’t convince my dog to sit down and shut up.

“How about television?”

Too many have already tried to out-Andy-Rooney Andy Rooney.

“What about acting? You did an episode of `Designing Women.’ ”

In one scene I had to hug Delta Burke. Like I said, heavy lifting isn’t my bag.

“Some say Michael Jordan is retiring because he’s already won three league championships and several most valuable player awards. Is one of the reasons you’re not retiring the fact you’ve never won a Pulitzer?”

Winning the Pulitzer has never entered my mind.

“Oh, come on. The Pulitzer is the highest prize in journalism. Surely you must covet such a prestigious award.”

Awards are nice, but I didn’t get into the profession to win awards.

“What did you get into it for?”

To get mentioned favorably on the Rush Limbaugh radio show. That was enough for me.

“Michael Jordan retired in his prime. You’re telling us you don’t think you reached your prime yet?”

No. I just said I still need a steady job.

“That sounds like a cop out. How much more money do you need before you feel secure enough to retire?

Forty-five million and change.

“One more question. What primary goal do you hope to attain before you finally do retire?”

Outlast Beavis and Butt-Head.

“How long might that take?”

November 1996, if we’re lucky.

Why Georgia Beats Alabama

I had lunch with Ucheedawg Monday, and prior to our lunch, I tasked him with a homework assignment:  Give me a reason why Alabama will beat Georgia for the SEC Championship.

He gave me 18.  His first four were: Nick and Saban, and Mark and Richt.  His final 14 were the 14 days that Alabama had knowing it would face UGA in the Georgia Dome.    You don’t give Nick Saban two weeks to prepare for something and it not be perfect. 

I have four simple reasons why Georgia will beat Alabama for the SEC Championship on Saturday, and go face Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship on January 7.

1. Destiny

I have gone on to the nth degree on this blog how based on bad luck and not taking advantage of opportunities, Georgia has not won their National Championship under Coach Richt.  In 2002, Georgia had a near identical record to LSU in 2003, Florida in 2006, and still didn’t play for it all.  UGA in 2005 was near identical to LSU in 2007; by and large, in college football, you need a certain amount of luck to win a National Title.  Georgia has been unlucky in previous seasons.  Other teams have been lucky.

Some years, Georgia hasn’t been lucky.  Other years, the defense was weak but the offense was strong.  Then vice-versa.  Some years the schedule wasn’t favorable.   We have the right team, the right schedule, and this is the right time. 

Things have lined up too perfectly this season.    Not only do we control our fate, but the breaks have finally gone our way.  It is our time.  No regrets.  Commit to the G.

2. Intangibles

Last time UGA played Alabama, they whipped us.  The Blackout Game II will live in infamy.  It is time for revenge, just like in 2004. This team is very similar to the 2004 team.  Defense with an All-Star cast.   Two really good WRs.  Two really good freshmen running backs.  Throw in a seasoned, veteran quarterback who is breaking all sorts of records and knows what it takes to win.

Nick Saban’s LSU team whipped Georgia in the 2003 SEC Championship game en route to Saban’s first BCS Title.  The next September, the Bayou Bengals game into Athens, not as strong as the year before.  Richt and company avenged the 2003 loss, and then some.  

Nick Saban is without a doubt the best coach in college football.  But, our Mark Richt is no slouch himself, despite what you might read on the Dawgvent or hear from Bill Shanks.  Richt knows, as he put it in Macon at a speaking engagement in 2011, what the hell he is doing.  You don’t have sustained success for 12 years in the SEC if you don’t. 

Richt knows a chance like this doesn’t happen very often.  He also knows respect is earned, not given out.  Mark Richt’s job is not on the line in this game, but his legacy might be.  He knows that this might be his best chance to ever win a National Championship at Georgia.  Saban will put a lot in this game, no doubt, but Mark Richt will put his heart and soul in this one, too.  Our team and coaching staff will be prepared for this game.

Also, look at the confidence level.  One team is boasting loud (a little too loud for my liking) that they have talent and have been playing well.  Another team’s head coach is already complaining about what will happen to the loser of the game. 

3. Improved From a Year Ago

The UGA defense at this point in the season is at least as good, if not better, than the defense from a year ago.  The defense a year ago held LSU to 0 first downs in the first half of the SEC Championship game.  

The UGA offense is vastly improved from a year ago.  Last year against LSU, the offense had some success against LSU in the first half.  In the 2nd half, LSU and John Chavis knew along with everyone else in the Georgia Dome that Georgia was not going to run the ball.  Our offense was one dimensional, thanks to Isaiah Crowell.  Now, the UGA offense is dynamic with Murray and Gurley/Marshall hitting on all cylinders. 

4. Favorable matchups

I have been saying all season long that Alabama’s secondary is their Achilles Heel.  I watched the Michigan game, and saw Michigan receivers running open.  Denard Robinson just couldn’t hit them.  I watched the Alabama-Arkansas game.  With Tyler Wilson hurt, Rs. Freshman Brandon Allen came in and was not very good in his first career start.  But I saw that Arkansas had recievers open, the young quarterback just couldn’t make a play.  I said here on this blog that Alabama’s secondary was weakness.  I thought at the time, that the only team that could exploit this weakness Alabama could play would be UGA and Aaron Murray.  Well, I didn’t figure Zach Mettenberger would have that much success, and I was wrong (24/35, 298 yards).  I also didn’t know that Johnny Manziel would do what he has done.  He went 24/31 for 253 against the Crimson Tide. 

Now if you go to, you’ll see Alabama has the best secondary in the SEC.  But you want to talk about Georgia’s weak schedule?  Let’s talk about Alabama’s.  These two teams have shared 5 common opponents-42%.  If you want to discredit what Georgia has done because of the lesser opponents, you need to equally discredit Alabama.

Georgia has the passing game to exploit the aggressive Alabama defense.  Georgia now has a running game to keep this defense honest. 

I feel like our defense can stop the Alabama offense.   Georgia’s best player is Jarvis Jones.  In the defense’s worst performances this season-Florida Atlantic, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky-Jones either didn’t play or was not at 100%. 

The defense is at full strength and is now playing rock solid.  Since the Florida game, Georgia has given up a TD to Ole Miss, two TDs to Georgia Southern, and a TD to Tech in Garbage time.  Pretty dern good.  Grantham has shown he is adept in making 2nd half adjustments.  If our defense can come out and slow down the Tide in the early going, just like they did against LSU a year ago, then look out.

I posted last year at this time 3 keys to victory over LSU.  One was throwing the ball downfield and having a running game to keep the  LSU  defense and their secondary honest.  We tried passing, but as I outlined in this post following the game, that didn’t happen.  The second key to victory over LSU was our defense, as I said I didn’t think LSU could move the ball on our defense.  I think I got that one right, as many of their scores were set up by their dynamic athletes not on offense.

Last year, the key was to have a balanced game plan and not be one dimensional on offense.  Crowell’s head pats are a distant memory now.  The defense and Coach Grantham will do their part.  We have the horses to compete with the Crimson Tide.  It’s time to ride these thoroughbreds to victory.


Dawgs vs. Clubber Lang

I’m one of those people who, whenever they are on TV, I can’t turn away from watching a handful of movies.

One being The Karate Kid (the original, not the Jaden Smith travesty) and pretty high up on the list as well are the first four Rocky movies.

Personally, I’m hoping that Saturday we’ll see the rematch of Rocky vs. Clubber play out in the Georgia Dome.

The more I think about it, this team has a lot of similarities to Rocky. This program, around 2007, was on top. It may as well have been untouchable. Then, through various reasons, it lots its way, it lost sight of the big picture and got caught up in things that’ll throw any championship contender off-balance, and it paid a high price, with the 2008 Blackout game being this team’s version of the first Rocky vs. Clubber fight. Georgia lost its ‘eye of the tiger.’

Now, here we are in 2012. If you listen to the experts and Bammers who ‘grew up a Bama fan’ but never admitted it until late 2008, Georgia may as well not show up Saturday. The Dawgs are just wasting everyone ‘s time – this is a coronation for King Nick, we’re all just spectators.

If you ask that crowd, Georgia has no chance.

But here’s why Georgia has a chance. I’ve seen it with the post-game celebration at Auburn and again after beating Tech. This bunch is focused. While in the past you have seen players leap into the stands and dance among fans, you have not seen that this year. The post-game celebrations have been very business like. Enjoy it, but there are much bigger things ahead.

That’s what sets this team apart from others. It knows what it has to do, and seems intent on not letting any outside, fringe noise distracting.

Win or lose, I actually feel somewhat good about Saturday. Not enough to guarantee a win, but enough to think we have a shot at this deal.

And as Munson/Dooley raised pessimist, that’s a bit intriguing.

Go Dawgs

Lugnut Dawg

Steve Spurrier and Revisionist History

That mascotsucker Spurrier is at it again, bitching about Georgia and Alabama’s schedules (h/t Blutarsky). 

I respect Spurrier.  He has done a great job at Carolina and has built up a legitimate top 10 program.  He has polished the proverbial turd.

But come on.  Let it go.  Last year, Steve, the difference between UGA and South Carolina was the hapless Auburn team.  If the Gamecocks had beaten Auburn, they would have won the right to get blown away by LSU.

South Carolina won their first ever Eastern Division title in 2010. Up to that point, only Florida, Tennessee and Georgia had represented the East.  What Coach Spurrier fails to mention is that for the first time ever, a SEC East champion had 3 conference losses.   South Carolina won the SEC East in 2010 with a 5-3 record and they were the only SEC East team with a winning conference record, and only one other East team that year had a winning record period (Florida:  4-4 conference, 8-5 overall).   As top heavy as the SEC East is in 2012, it was even more bottom heavy in 2010.  In fact, if you went by old school SEC Standings, South Carolina would have been 4th behind Auburn, LSU and Arkansas. 

So, Coach Spurrier, did you win the SEC East in 2010 becuase South Carolina was so good, or becuase the other traditional power teams in the Division that year (UGA, Florida, Tennessee) were that bad?

Let’s call a spade a spade.