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Final Thoughts About Massive Showdown Tomorrow

Some final musings about tomorrow’s game…

  • I have been going back and forth all week about this game, but I finally came around to UGA winning about Wednesday. I thought that Georgia had too much speed.  Nick Chubb can break away, Sony Michel is explosive, and our receivers are fast.  Alabama isn’t as good as they have been in recent years.  They are still very good, but not the invincible juggernaut we’re used to seeing.
  • Then the rains came.  The rain shouldn’t hurt the home field atmosphere, despite University administration trying their best to.  But, the fact remains I am worried about the ferocity of the crowd in a hurricane.  I hope I am wrong.
  • And the wet weather might neutralize our biggest strength, the aforementioned speed.  If this game is going to be a slobber knocker, I tend to like Alabama’s chances.
  • What can Georgia do to win?  The same as what Alabama has to do:  stop the run.  Stop Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake.  If Alabama has trouble establishing their running game and placing the burden on Jake Coker to make plays, I like our pass rush to put pressure and force mistakes.  That is it.
  • This game is the biggest game of Georgia’s season so far.  Then, the Tennessee becomes the biggest game of Georgia’s season.  Then Missouri.  Then Florida.  Then Kentucky.  Then Auburn.  Then Georgia Tech.  Then what comes after that.  This is a HUGE game. But the talk is Georgia NEEDS TO WIN THIS GAME FOR LEGACY REASONS.  I can buy that, to an extent.  But this game is a game against a top 15 team.  We have played these games.   The 2012 South Carolina, Florida, Alabama games. The 2013 Clemson, South Carolina, LSU and Auburn games.  The 2014 Clemson and Auburn games.  In these past 9 games, Georgia is 5-4.  So it wouldn’t be the Jacksonville State over Auburn level of upset if Georgia does win.

The point is, Georgia has played in monster games recently.  Coach Richt has been around and has the scars to show victories and defeats.  The memes and narratives might lead you to believe that Georgia is new to this stage and Coach Richt needs to prove something.  Georgia has won big games before.  Georgia has lost big games before.  Mark Richt has led his team to close victories, close losses, blowout wins and blowout losses in similar situations.

I don’t want to downplay the importance of tomorrow’s game.  I am not attempting to hedge my emotions in case we lose.  If we win, we have to beat Tennessee-Georgia Tech.  If we lose, we have to beat Tennessee-Georgia Tech.

Tomorrow is the biggest game of the college football weekend, one of the biggest games of the 2015 season, and one of the most important games in Sanford Stadium in quite sometime, and one of the most important games Georgia has played-since the last time a game was must win.  Which if you believe the internet, was the Belk Bowl.

Let’s stick to a narrative about tomorrow.  But let’s stick to the right one.

The correct narrative is Georgia has a chance to be the new top dog in the SEC by beating Alabama…for the next week. It would make a huge statement to win, but this is one game in early October.

Show up early.  Wear a rain coat.  Wear rubber boots.  Be loud.  Cheer on our beloved Dawgs to victory.

Most importantly, BELIEVE!!!!!

Final prediction:  Georgia 28, Alabama 17 on a Nick Chubb TD late to seal the deal.  

Corbindawg

A PSA About The Weather

Let’s be candid for a moment, shall we?
The weather Saturday is going to suck.
So what? If it is rainy, cold and dreary, I hope our fans still show up and GET LOUD!
A big key to victory Saturday is going to be a raucous home field advantage.
Georgia has done better in the big home games, and the improved environment at Sanford Stadium has assisted that improvement. South Carolina and LSU in 2013, Clemson and Auburn last year, and South Carolina two weeks ago were great environments.

Now, the University is going to try their best to dampen the mood. Shutting down tailgating on campus locations to protect the turf is ridiculous. PLANT MORE GRASS! Laying sod isn’t exactly rocket science. I’ve done it.  And not that expensive. Encouraging fans who don’t have tickets not to come to campus? Wanting fans to take Athens transit buses? Have you ever?

It’s gonna rain. Prepare accordingly. It’s called a raincoat. I bought a pair of duck boots yesterday. Been wanting to get some for a while and this pushed me over the top.

Wipe the sand out.

Anticipation for these kinds of games is what gets us through the cold days in February.

Get to campus. Drink booze. Be loud.

Rain be damned.

Corbindawg

Another Big Game

Usually, when Alabama and Georgia meet up, it is a huge deal.
In 2002, we all remember Georgia being “man enough” to get their first ever win in Tuscaloosa. This game featured one of many spectacular David Greene-orchestrated game winning drives.
2003, Alabama was feeling the effects of their probation, and a Coach Fran had one foot out the door and was just overmatched. Not exactly a classic.
The 2007 game was a big game. Though Alabama would eventually go on to go a disappointing 6-6 in Saban’s inaugural campaign, they were better early in the season. They had just upset Arkansas earlier (trusting my memory-the week before perhaps?) and College Gameday was in town. This was my last college semester we took a road trip there and had a helluva time. Great game, too, with the overtime win.
2008 was another mammoth game, and unfortunately we all know how that’s game went. It was the game that vaulted Alabama to the National Stage, and the game that literally cast a “black” shadow over Georgia’s program for many years to come. That day was the day when the warts on Mark Richt’s program were on full display, and honestly have been fighting ever since to remove.
2012. What can I say? I still haven’t had the heart to watch the replay of that game. 
Saturday will be another big deal. Unlike others, I am not using hyperbole to say this is MOST IMPORTANT GAME EVER FOR MARK RICHT’S LEGACY CLICK HERE AND READ WHY, but it is huge.
It doesn’t happen often. But when Georgia and Alabama square off, it is a big deal. Saturday is no exception.

#Pruittaffect?

Jeremy Pruitt was associated with Alabama football from the time Nick Saban arrived until the end of the 2012 season.  From 2007-2009, he was director of player development, whatever that means.  I think it means he was an assistant coach, but not really an assistant coach.  In 2010 he became the secondary coach, until he became Florida State defensive coordinator in 2013.

We know about him since then.

A lot has been made of the impact Jeremy Pruitt has made on the Georgia football program, from helping push facility upgrades, to details as specific as routines for practice and game days, and even big picture aspects such as the overall culture of the program.

If you hear some people talk, he is basically the head coach, and Mark Richt is the figure head.  I think that is overblown, and Richt does deserve some credit, if for the very least not letting his ego get in the way of stopping the changes.  Being willing and able to adapt and change is the reason Mark Richt is still head coach at UGA today, and not forced to depart after 2010.  That is why Mack Brown, (soon to be)Steve Spurrier, Phil Fulmer and others are no longer coaching.

However, I believe Jeremy Pruitt has had an immeasurable impact to this defense and this program.

You notice how the defense is changed.  Yes, I know last season there were some ups and downs.  In the three losses, the defense was shaky. I will say, though, that every coordinator struggles the first time they see Georgia Tech’s triple option offense.   Even with their struggles so far in 2015, I’d suspect that the Georgia defense will do better against Tech in Year 2 of Pruitt.

Since Jeremy Pruitt’s departure from the Capstone, in three seasons Alabama’s once invincible defense has given up 40+ 4 times, only winning one of those games (Auburn last season).

Also, is it a coincidence that since Coach Pruitt left, Alabama has had a rash of player arrests in recent season, including 5 in the past calendar year, while Georgia has seen that problem all but disappear?  I believe the last player to run afoul of the law was Jonathan Taylor, who was also infamously admitted (and famously dismissed) by Alabama.

But the defense has really made the biggest strides.  You can see the big difference.  I told someone I was sitting with during the Louisiana-Monroe game that the defense plays with disciplined aggression.  You don’t see stupid penalties (except in Nashville where BS targeting calls appear), but they are fast and hit hard.

Could you imagine how much better this unit would be if Shaq Wiggins, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tray Matthews and the aforementioned Jonathan Taylor would have had their heads sewn on straight?

If you want to know the difference of the game this Saturday, the Pruitt affect will be it.  For as good as Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Malcolm Mitchell, the offensive line and the others on offense are, even without Jeremy Pruitt Alabama still has a great defense.  Sure, they have been susceptible to give up big plays and a lot of points in recent years, but that says two things.  One, offenses in college football are just better than they were 5 years ago.  They just are.  It is an offensive-centered game now.

But the teams that Alabama has struggled with defensively are teams that run the spread or have a mobile quarterback.  Texas A&M, Ohio State, Auburn, Ole Miss-these teams present a different look compared to what Georgia likes to do.  Against comparable pro-style teams, Alabama still plays good defense.  Against LSU, Arkansas, Wisconsin, etc. they continue to play very well.

Now, I don’t think it is entirely fair to put a once size fits all pro-style label on Georgia’s offense.  For those of us who follow the Dawgs closely, and watch a lot of other college football, that is oversimplifying it.  We have speedy play makers, go up-tempo, and quite frankly Nick Chubb is unlike any other running back in America, with apologies to Leonard Fournette.

But to expect Georgia to score 30 points against this Alabama defense is living in the clouds.  If they do, I will dance an Irish Jig all the way back to the car.

Conversely, Alabama’s offense is good.  Really good.  They have problems at quarterback, but against Ole Miss, even with 5 turnovers, they scored 37 points and ran 100 plays!  Lane Kiffin gets a lot of the attention, mostly negative, much like Mike Bobo.  But Kiffin has done a hell of a job there, and while I don’t think Alabama’s offense is as good this season as it has been, don’t be fooled.  They can still score points.

It is hard to gauge this early in the season because the level of competition has been so weak across the board.  Last year, for all the different narratives, Alabama’s offense still scored 37 ppg.  That was the same as Mississippi State and about the same as Auburn and Texas A&M.  Matter of fact, it was more than everyone else in the conference other than Georgia’s 41 ppg (Blame Bobo!).

So you want a key to the game this Saturday?  I think it is easy.

Of course, you get the stock answers like turnovers, special teams, blah, blah, blah.

The intangibles are even.  Georgia is at home, has revenge on its mind, and will be fired up to prove it belongs among the elite of college football.  Alabama will be fired up to prove it deserves to stay among the elite.  Win or lose for either team, and I think both are still really good teams.  Although Alabama does have a much smaller margin for error.

No, the key to the game will be Georgia’s defense against the Alabama offense.  It will be if Georgia can put pressure on Coker, force him to make mistakes, stop the run and not let the dink and dunk passes move the chains.  If there has been a weakness in this Georgia defense since Pruitt’s arrival, it has been getting gashed in the running game and being exposed in the passing game.

Alabama’s defense is still good.  Georgia will have a hard time moving the ball, I think.  I think they can, but it won’t be easy.

But can we stop this offense?

The Pruitt affect will decide if Georgia wins or loses.

Corbindawg

South Carolina Preview

I didn’t watch the South Carolina-Kentucky game last week. I was watching the Michigan State-Oregon and LSU-Mississippi State games because I had a, err, vested interest in those games’ outcomes (and I came away half-happy).

Skip to the bottom after the bold type if you want the nuts and bolts.

At any rate, it is hard to gauge most teams out there, because for the most part, the level of competition has been sub-par. I love www.cfbstats.com, but this early in the season, it is hard to get an accurate read on most teams.

That is not necessarily the case with South Carolina. They have played two Power 5 teams, and are lucky to not be 0-2.

Georgia has played two inferior opponents, but I think time will prove the Vanderbilt defense is quite competent.

With that said, here we go looking at the matchups…

First and foremost, I hope for a win. If we win every game ugly, I’ll be bitching and moaning with a smile on my face 12 weeks from now.

Based on watching South Carolina attempt to defend North Carolina’s running game, I just don’t see how they stop Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. I just don’t see it happening. The Gamecocks are (with a small sample size) giving up 200 rushing yards per game and are nearly giving up 6 yards per carry. Georgia has gotten 262 yards per game on the ground at this point, at almost 7 yards a carry.

Georgia has the capability to, and should, run all over South Carolina. Seeing how none of the offenses South Carolina has faced have backs like ours, I feel this is a very safe assumption to make.

And I don’t see how South Carolina will score on our defense. Georgia may not have the best defense in the country. Hell, they probably don’t have the best defense in the SEC (we’ll see on that). But what they do have is several elite linebackers that can stop the run and rush the passer.

While Georgia doesn’t throw the ball well, South Carolina’s passing threat isn’t much better. I think it is fair to say Georgia’s biggest weakness on defense is the secondary, which has shone chinks in the armor. I think poor Perry Orth will be hit one time by Jenkins/Floyd/Carter and that will be all she wrote.

So South Carolina’s defense won’t stop what we are good at, and Georgia’s defense is really good. Offensively South Carolina won’t be able to exploit our weaknesses on defense.

Sounds simple, right?

It should be. But it never is.

If Georgia doesn’t turn the ball over and give South Carolina free points, and doesn’t have disasters on Special Teams, this should be a rout.

 At some point, the above is going to happen. Every running back fumbles. Even great backs. It happens. Every quarterback, from Grayson Lambert to Joe Montana, will throw an interception. It will happen.

Every team has at some point a bad snap on a punt.

If just one of those things happens, we can recover. If we decide to make all our mistakes in one game, like Georgia has been known to do, it will be difficult to win.

It is really that simple.

I think we’ll have a pretty good idea by halftime, one way or another.

Corbindawg

Need To Beat Spurrier

If you read the tea leaves and think like I do, Steve Spurrier is on borrowed time at South Carolina.  Much has been made of his age.  He is quite sensitive to it, as Mark Bradley well knows.

Combined with his age and the downturn of success at South Carolina, I think he only has a a year-maybe two-left there.  They have lost to Kentucky back to back seasons, and if Georgia takes care of business Saturday, they should start off 0-2 in SEC play.

The rest of their schedule plays out like this :  at Georgia (they should lose); Central Florida (not a gimmie game by any means); LSU (loss); Vanderbilt (Win); at Texas A&M (should lose); at Tennessee (should lose); Florida (toss up); Citadel (Win); Clemson (loss).

South Carolina could very easily have a losing record this season.

I am not going to question Spurrier’s ability to coach.  He is best coach in school history at two SEC programs-only Bear Bryant can claim that-and could arguably be considered the best coach in the history of Duke football also.  He took South Carolina to unprecedented heights from 2010-2013.

But remember, Spurrier left Florida because they weren’t appreciative anymore.

Even if he does stick around after 2015, I doubt he will be back to Athens in 2017.  So Saturday probably marks the last time Spurrier visits Sanford Stadium.

We all know that Steve Spurrier has been a thorn in our side forever.  He revels in beating Georgia.  He loves it more than golf and Arby’s.

Due to the neutral site Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, Spurrier hasn’t been to Athens too many times.

1995:  Famously wanted to hang “half a hundred” for the first time in Sanford Stadium

2005:  Second game at South Carolina, lost in a close one 17-15.

2007:  Painful game that helped keep Georgia out of the BCS Championship.

2009:  Close win for Georgia in an exciting game we had no business winning.

2011:  Close loss for Georgia in an exciting game we had no business losing.

2013:  Big win for Georgia, 41-30 with a stout goal line stand and a 8 1/2 minute drive to close out the game.

So, for those keeping score at home, Spurrier has been to Athens 6 times.  He has a 3-3 record Between the Hedges.

If this is in fact his last visit here, he doesn’t need to have a winning record in Athens.  Spurrier is a petty man.  He will remember that, and be damn sure he will remind you of his winning record here.

SEC Championship race be damned.  Playoff aspirations be damned.

Sometimes, pure hate is the most important motivating factor.

We need to send Coach Spurrier home a loser Between the Hedges.

Go Dawgs!

Corbindawg

Why The Angst?

Judging from Twitter and private conversations, there is considerable angst out in the Dawgnation.

Why?

I have realized I have become schizophrenic when it comes to my UGA Fandom.  I have the two Corbindawgs on my shoulder.  One is the positive, upbeat one that you’ve come to know and love.  On the other shoulder is a bitter, salty, negative Corbindawg.

Think to the episode of Seinfeld with the two, um, “Jerrys” playing chess.

Allow me to explain my frustration, and hopefully this is true of you, reader.

First off, let’s get this out of the way.

We won Saturday.

Winning is the most important thing.  An ugly win sure as hell beats a close, dare I say it, “good” loss.  Would you had rather won on Saturday, or came up just short like Oregon or Mississippi State?

I am grateful for a win.  Especially in a place that has been a shop of horrors.  This team can win everywhere in the SEC.  Columbia, SC has been difficult, and so is Nashville.  But  Baton Rouge?  Check.  Tuscaloosa?  Been there, done that in back to back trips.  Auburn?  Knoxville?   No worries.

But up in Nashville, weird things happen.  So I am glad we won.  The national pollsters didn’t penalize Georgia for the poor showing, either.

Georgia is 2-0 and in the top 10.  Would you rather trade places with Mississippi State, Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Florida, South Carolina, or even LSU right now?  On LUS-at least our quarterback throws the ball.  LSU almost lost to Mississippi State because they went Ted Cruz conservative Saturday night.

Georgia has a blemish at quarterback, but seems to be the least blemished of many other teams in the SEC.

Winning ugly beats losing pretty.  I am glad that social media wasn’t around in 2003 after beating UAB 16-13.  I am glad that it wasn’t around during the magical run in 2002 when every game seemed to be an ugly, ugly game.  Ugly games that Georgia won.

And I’ll go a step forward and say this kind of game was probably a game Georgia would lose a few years ago.

So Georgia won.  Why the angst?

Because it is just the same old, same old.

The general angst today is similar to the angst after the Tennessee game last season.  Remember that one?  We won.  We beat Tennessee.  Tennessee was a team that dominated Georgia for an entire decade prior to Mark Richt’s arrival.  With the victory against the Volunteers last season, Mark Richt moved to 10-4 against Tennessee, and won 5 consecutive games.  Shouldn’t that had been cause for celebration?

It wasn’t.  Because the devil is in the details.  I was at a low point after the Tennessee game.  Georgia had just lost to South Carolina and narrowly squeaked by Tennessee.  Then, some 12 days later, the Todd Gurley news broke.

I was near despondent.  The season felt like it was going in the crapper, and we’d be a 7-5 team.  If you say you didn’t feel that way,  you are lying.

Things turned around, and Georgia ended up having an OK season.  Sure, the annual bed wetting occurred against Florida and that hurt, and the sting of the Tech loss is still felt.  But the Georgia team that ran out on the field against Missouri, Arkansas and Auburn wasn’t the same team that needed a fumbled recovery TD to ice the game against Tennessee.

Maybe Georgia beats South Carolina.  Maybe, just maybe, they beat Alabama.  But what is so frustrating is the shit we saw on Saturday is the same shit we’ve seen before.  It is the same problems we’ve seen game after game, year after year.

Georgia beat Vanderbilt by 17 points.  It needed three interceptions, one of which was in the end zone and another that was run back for a score, to do so.  It needed a punt return for a touchdown.  It needed Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd to play out of their minds.

The devil is in the details. 

Does anyone on the team know how to competently field a pooch kick?  How many times have we seen that similar situation play out?   Just off the top of my head, I remember doing the same thing against Kentucky (twice, if not mistaken) and once against Tech.

3 FUMBLED KICK OFF RETURNS IN THE PAST 7 GAMES.

How many times have we seen other mistakes?

This team can be great.  This team should be great.  Is it too much to ask for them to be great all the time?

That is where I get back to.  The angst out in the Bulldog Nation is this is same story we’ve seen over and over and over again.

We won this time. Will we win again?

Paul Westerdawg used an analogy of a pregnant women looking for cupcakes to describe the quarterback situation.

I feel like Georgia is that pretty girl you knew in high school (or to prove I’m not a sexist, that good looking guy).  They got by because they were pretty, and they let the smart kids do the work for them.  They simply just got by for no other reason than they were able to and no one challenged them.

When it comes time for them to do it themselves, how do they do?  They usually fail.

You’re on Facebook.   You know the folks I’m talking about.  How many people did you go to high school with that seemingly had it all-the looks, the popularity, the cool car, the cool parents that let them do whatever they wanted?  I bet a lot of these same folks in your friend list are probably not doing much these days.  When they were tested in life, and had to get by on something other than superficial talents, they stumbled.  I had my 10 year reunion a couple of years ago, and many of these “cool kids” hadn’t grown up or developed into productive adults.

Screwing around against Vanderbilt won’t cause you to face any consequences because you have Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins.

When the Ole Ball Coach and Alabama come to town, you better be ready.

Am I despondent like I was last season?  No, not yet.

Am I frustrated?  Yeah, I am.  Why?

Because I’ve seen this story before.

I hope this one has a different ending.

Corbindawg


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