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A different meaning of the Georgia-Auburn game

For a long time, especially as a result of calling the Peach State home, the Auburn game was usually circles on the calendar. When you live in and around Auburn fans and other supporters, it’s hard not to get your blood going for The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.

Georgia and Auburn is like two siblings going against one another. The thing about siblings is, you don’t always have to like them. That’s the case with the Bulldogs and the Wartiglesmen.

But for me, the Auburn game means a lot more, and something different.

It all started back two years ago, really in the final minutes of the game.

On the late-game pass thrown by an Auburn quarterback that Georgia had the audacity to dismiss for stealing from his own teammates (I refuse to refer to the fluke play by name), when the ball was deflected in the air, I just knew…maybe from the perpetual heartache of being a Georgia fan, that it would not end well. And course, it didn’t.

Now, like everyone else, I was devastated. Our dog, a 45-pound pit mix, was probably also nervous from all the yelling at the TV from the late-game turning of events.

So, of course, a few minutes go by. And then, Mrs. Lugnut Dawg decides that something is needed to make me feel better. At that moment, she tells me that we’re expecting our first child. All I know is that if Georgia would have won and our daughter would have been born a boy, his name would have most likely been Aaron!

Flash forward to 2014.

On the Friday morning before the game, I was primed and ready to go, already making plans for what time to head to Athens on Saturday for not only the Auburn game, but Todd Gurley’s return. That all changed around 2 p.m.

While at work, I got the call that few want to receive. It was one informing me that our daughter’s trip to see her pediatrician was much more serious, and that the next stop was a trip straight to the ER of the local Children’s Hospital.

21 or so days later, she was out of the hospital and has improved in multiple areas since then.

The funny thing is, when telling Georgia fans about the initial trip to the hospital, usually say, ‘well, it was the weekend of the Auburn game…”

In a way, our daughter has been defined by the Auburn game.

Either way, she’ll be decked out this Saturday from our home in red and black cheering on the Dawgs with us!

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

This Ain’t The Movies

I don’t like sports movies.  They aren’t very realistic, and they follow the same kind of plot in all them.  There is usually an underdog that faces some sort of adversity against an unbeatable opponent, then the protagonist either wins triumphantly in the end, or painfully lose in the closing seconds but learns all sorts of life lessons along the way.  The star quarterback/point guard/pitcher usually has some daddy issues.  It is the same formula in all of them.

Now, all movies of a genre follow certain patterns.  The big bang action movies are all the same, romantic comedies are all the same, horror slasher movies, etc…  But what drives me the most nuts about sports movies is in real life people cling to hope for their team because of what they see in the movies.  In real sports, the underdogs seemingly always have a chance because of the movies.   Motivation a lot of times is rooted in fiction.

We don’t see that in other parts of life as it relates to other genres of movies.  When you go camping, you don’t actually think a lunatic in a hockey mask is going to get you.  Or when you go to a wedding, that the bride is going to run off and fall in love with the janitor.  But in sports, because of what movies tell us, we think the underdogs stand a chance or that there will be this great story, and that is hardly the case.

We are going to see that Saturday.  It is now being rampantly reported that Faton Bauta is going to get the start on Saturday.  While no one can say that Greyson Lambert has done well enough not to warrant benching, having your third string quarterback who has hardly ever played, and never played any meaningful snaps go up against one of the best defenses on the schedule is not a recipe for success.

But it is something you’d see in a movie, isn’t it?  The back up works hard, gets his number called, goes back to his home state, and provides a lift to the team to rise up against a formidable opponent.

Unfortunately, this isn’t Hollywood.  These storybook endings don’t happen in real life.


A Rivalry Built On Hate

The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is something that is very unique in college football.  Annual neutral site games are a rarity.  It is truly a sight to behold.  Regrettably, I won’t be making the trek down.  Getting down to the Golden Isles, seeing old friends you haven’t seen since the last year’s game, and reliving your youthful college days for a weekend is a blast.   The game falling on actual Halloween and a two year old is keeping me at home.   I’ll look forward to getting back down soon.

I did a personal ranking of the best SEC rivalry games a few years ago, and ranked the WLOCP in at #3, behind LSU-Alabama and the Iron Bowl.

Georgia (in)famously lost 3/infinity at one point, but to Mark Richt’s credit (and Will Muschamp’s discredit), Georgia won 3 in a row in the Cocktail Party.  Though Coach Richt is still a meager 5-9 in this rivalry, and is 5-6 in the last 11.  the narrative of Georgia losing so much in the 1990s is finally gone the way of the Dodo.

This rivalry is not built on a quest for championships.  Only three times-and I am counting this Saturday but only loosely- in Mark Richt’s tenure has the Cocktail Party directly decided the winner of the SEC East, or rather I should say the team that would control its own destiny.  Sure, Florida has played the role of spoiler (2014), or Georgia needed to win the game to survive and advance (2011) to keep its Division hopes alive.

In 2008, Georgia got whipped by Alabama, Florida lost to Ole Miss, and both teams came in with one loss with the Florida game as the deciding game for control.  In 2012, Florida was undefeated (and had actually helped UGA out by beating Carolina), Georgia lost badly to the aforementioned South Carolina and pulled out a gutsy win to be in the driver’s seat.

And finally, this Saturday.  Georgia comes in with two conference losses.  Florida comes in with just one.  If Georgia wins, they still have to get past Auburn and Kentucky, while Florida just has Vanderbilt and South Carolina.  Even losing this game, Florida has an easier path to Atlanta, but would require scoreboard watching.

And while I publicly have jumped on the anti-Richt bandwagon, I am not going to cheer against the Dawgs or hope we lose for the sake of making change easier.  If we win, I’ll be as happy as anyone!

This is different than the recent LSU-Alabama games or the Tennessee-Florida games of the 1990s and early 2000s. When LSU and Alabama play, the division and National Championships are on the line.  The Tennessee-Florida game was the de facto SEC East Division Championship game for many years.

The Georgia-Florida game hasn’t had championship implications for both teams many times recently.  Yet it is still a heated rivalry game.  Why?

I hate Florida.

We as a collective Bulldog Nation hates Florida.

Florida hates Georgia.

This game is built on a foundation of pure hatred.  I’ve said before that hate is a strong emotion, and it is something we shouldn’t hold in our hearts.

But I make an exception for the Gators.

This rivalry is about more than championships.

It is about hate.  Pure and simple.


Will We See Something Different?

If there was one thing I was concerned about from day 1 with Schotty’s play calling, it was if the offense got to a point where it was struggling, could his NFL mind be creative enough to figure out a way to mix it up?  I said so before fall camp, and even the day he was hired.

Here is what I wrote on January 8:

Can a NFL mind have the capacity for abstract thought?

Look at Sony Michel as an example. He is a special back. I think Chubb is the man, but Michel is a special, unique talent. He is not the kind of back you want to run behind a fullback between the tackles every time he touches the ball. But he is a dangerous weapon. Bobo found ways to utilize his talents-giving him sweeps in motion, Wildcat runs, lining him up as the slot receiver and throwing him the ball, etc.

Will Schotty know how to use guys that aren’t the cookie cutter ‘pro-style” guys he finds in the pros?

….I don’t know if that will be the case with Schotty. Time will tell. But I saw enough of LSU play to know that an NFL offensive mind can have trouble changing things up to make the offense work.

Georgia has been very secretive with the media this year.  All we heard last week was that Georgia was going to get back to the basics last week, and wait until yesterday to install the Florida plan.  But in the bye week, can our offense put in a few wrinkles to mix it up?

Clearly, with Lambert struggling and Nick Chubb injured, something needs to be different.

Like I said back in January, and we have seen this to be true, Sony Michel is a special player.  But he is not built to be an every down between the tackle back.  Sure, he can break a long run up the middle, but considering his injury history, he is just not built to run the ball up the middle 20 times a game. That is not a knock against him, that is just the truth.

It has been ten years since Georgia went to Jacksonville and lost to Urban Meyer’s first Florida team.  If you’ll remember, Florida was struggling the first year under Meyer’s spread offense.  What did Florida do against us?  They used the bye week, incorporated the tight end and full back, and zoomed out to a quick 14-0 lead.  And that was all the offense the Gators needed with an injured D.J. Shockley.

Florida has a top 20 defense nationally in total defense, scoring defense and is #21 in rushing defense.  The good news is that Georgia’s defense isn’t far behind.

I always go into Jacksonville thinking we are going to win.  This year, I am skeptical. I am going into the Florida game with as low expectations as I’ve had twice, one time being the 2009 game when they had Tebow, Harvin, Spikes, etc. and we had Joe Cox.  The only other time I thought Georgia would be run off the field was 2007.

The reason Georgia has lost, more often than not, is because the inability to score touchdowns and settle for field goals. Couple the fact that Georgia has not kicked well in Jacksonville, and Marshall Morgan’s erratic kicking (9/14 this year), this does not bode well for Georgia and an offense that is struggling to find its way. Settling for field goals in Jacksonville, and making them, has been a struggle throughout Richt’s tenure.

Year Kicks Made/Kicks Attempted
2014 0/1
2013 3/3
2012 1/2
2011 1/3
2010 1/1
2009 1/1
2008 1/3
2007 0/1
2006 0/0
2005 1/3
2004 1/1
2003 2/3
2002 2/4
2001 1/2
TOTAL 15/28-53.6%

So if Georgia has to settle for 3 instead of 7, and then doesn’t make the 3, it will be a long afternoon on the Banks of St. John’s River Saturday.

So this goes back to my original point-Georgia will have to do something different on offense.  I don’t know what that will need to be, but hopefully some imagination and creativity has been sparked during the bye week.


Good, Bad and Ugly From Missouri

I am doing this from my phone, so apologies in advance for typos…
I’ve been in a negative place for the past week, so let’s start with the good. After all, we did win. 
The Good

You can quantify this with “Yeah, but, it was Missouri and their offense stinks.”   Yeah, but, the defense played very well. Missouri’s offense does suck, but Georgia looked like they should against that team. Anytime you hold a team to 21 yards rushing that is a good thing.  Missouri completed a few big passes over the middle but that is par for the course. Very pleased with the defensive effort. 

Terry Goodwin had a nice day catching the ball and returning punts. 

We’ll get to Greyson Lambert in the bad and ugly parts, but he did complete 71% of his passes. So there is something nice. 

And the offense converted third downs and won time of possession. 

The Bad

Special teams is a mixed bag, again. 

Lambert is just not comfortable. He stares at his receivers like a teenage boy looking at a Playboy for the first time.  Georgia got beyond lucky the pass wasn’t ruled an interception, because it should have been one. 

The play calling didn’t help much. If he receiver screens weren’t working, don’t do it. That is textbook definition of insanity. 

Having Branden Douglas run east to west doesn’t work. And when he was running hard, you then mix it up and lose 5 yards. 

The Ugly

I ran into a few Missouri fans after the game and over heard them say “I was hoping we didn’t get embarrassed, but that was worse.”
I felt like I was watching an Iowa game. Look, from time to time-especially in the SEC-there are going to be low scoring defensive battles. Especially with teams that have good defenses and questions on offense and specifically at quarterback. But damn.  With that said, in the context of everything  else we’ve seen this season, that was just an ugly game. All the way around. 

One group to be very happy for

Sure, Saturday night’s game was probably only fun to watch for people with a football appreciate like Gene Stallings, and Georgia very likely set offensive back to the stone ages, but there was a very important group within the program to be extremely happy for.

The defense.

I don’t care who you play. Any time that you hold an opposing offense an entire game without a score – especially when they START a drive at your one-yard line? That’s a heck of a night.

As much as this team’s offense has been maligned as of late, the defense has bore a heavy load of it as well. Except in their case, they were supposed to be a cornerstone of this team along with its now-injured potential Heisman Trophy Candidate.

It hasn’t been fun for this defense the past two weeks – and two pretty good offenses exposed some weak spots during that time. And yes, I know Mizzou’s offense is not on the same level. But a game without a TD is a game without a TD.

Going into an off week, momentum is everything. This group has it on defense.

I’m not guaranteeing they will slow Florida down…but they’ll at least head to Duval with a strong wind at their back.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Keys to Victory

Look at what happened on offense, defense and special teams the last two weeks, and do the opposite. 



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