Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Game week

Still too busy to write much alas.

Georgia at Tennessee (a winnable game I just don't feel like we're going to pull out), Braves versus Stros. Georgia is going to have to do some damage in the red zone, and probably with some big plays through the air, to pull this one out. They can do these things. But will they? And are they ever going to block Mahelona?

Good news for Braves fans: we're not going to lose another game 5 at home. Alas, that's the only good news I expect and we lose the series in 4. I desperately hope I am wrong.

Monday, September 26, 2005

UT Looms

[b]The Dawgs:[/b]

A typical Mark Richt win? Some form of that phrase is likely to appear all over the papers & Internet this week I'd imagine. The Dawgs played an inferior opponent, moved up and down the field mostly at will, and managed to make the final score look closer than it was in reality. They did this on the strength of 4 trips into the red zone yielding 6 9 points. Yikes.

There was good. That's the best Lumpkin has run all year. Shockley was solid – got off to a blazing start and then was a touch inconsistent (and doubtless the weather played a role here). MSU actually did a solid job of keeping him bottled up, so he wasn't much of a threat to run. Mohamed Massaquoi is starting to look like a player. I'm starting to feel better about the corps as a whole as well. The defense played well, and got pretty good pressure on Jacobs.

There was bad. Coutu missed 2 field goals. One was from 56 yards, true, but it wasn't really that close. Affected by a gust of wind? It was impossible to say for sure and the announcers didn't really discuss it. Speaking of the announcers – a dreadful job by Curry and what's his name. I woke up screaming last night just thinking about them. More importantly though – I'm slightly worried about Coutu. I'd hoped we were finding a kicker, but the Jury appears to still be out. I'm not sure Thomas Brown was 100%, and it certainly didn't help that MSU did a good job against the run. The interior of our line – primarily the centers – had a tough time with MSU. Given who they're going to have to face in two weeks in Knoxville, this is particularly troubling. Shockley did have a few misfires – it happens. He was also sacked 3 times. We're going to have a rough time of it against UT I think.

Where is Sean Bailey? I saw him in the game (he got thrown to a couple of times to boot). He's had some injuries, yes. But it seems as if his season is derailing. McClendon seems to have more of a rhythm with Shockley,a and since we throw to both Tes now that limits how many balls the Wrs get. I'm not ready to call his season a disappointment, but I'd like to see him become a factor again. GATA Sean.

Some more untimely penalties (though one was made up, to be sure; it didn't matter though because the Dawgs got away with one a few plays later). A turnover inside the 10 is a bad thing. The Red Zone offense was terrible.

Still, it's an SEC road win. Nice to have one under our belts. On to Knoxville.

[b]The Georgia Institute of Technology[/b]:

Hey, I think VaTech just scored again.

But seriously – ouch.

[b]Louisville:[/b]

What the hell just happened? This is a particularly troubling game because that's my fantasy QB. How do you lose that badly to South Florida?

[b]Dirty Birds:[/b]

Well, they needed that one. A nice win, all in all. The Defense played pretty good, Vick had a nice (and injury free) day. They really pounded Buffalo on the ground.

[b]Braves:[/b]

Better. Now stop with the comparing Francouer to Vlad, for the love of god.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Weekend quickie

I'm swamped at work right now, unfortunately. Doesn't look like it's going to clear up in the near future either.

What to make of Mississippi State? I'm just not sure. Their opponents to date have been Murray State, Auburn, and Tulane. They only surrendered 320 yards to Auburn, and 7 of the Plainsmen's points came on a fumble-darter. Auburn is a team still finding itself, so I don't know what to make of that either. Mississippi State only managed 207 yards against what should be a pretty good defense. They gave up 293 against Tulane but only 14 points and held on for the win despite only getting about 220 yards in that one as well. Jerious Norwood is a good running back but I'm not sure this offense is very good. The conditions Saturday's night could be ugly as well – 72% chance of rain.

Mississippi State needs to run to win but I'm expecting Georgia to prevent that. If they don't, well it could be a long fall. Starkville is not an easy place to pay, even when their fans are sans cowbells (Georgia fans traveling to the game should thank g_d for that). But this State team is not cut from the same mold as the tougher teams from the 90s. Dawgs under Richt are allergic to large spreads, so I'm inclined to say take the points.

What I'd like to see is Georgia really take care of business. The team under Richt has tended to have a very methodical approach and performance in games. This has generally been helpful against good/better teams, but not so good against teams of lesser talent. The game was moved to ESPN's prime time slot thanks to the UT-LSU game being moved. So, hopefully Georgia will feel like coming out and playing well, and look good in front of a sizable TV audience doing it.

The Braves – it's too painful for me to talk about.

The Dirty Birds – I'm terrified about this game in Buffalo. The schedule is not easy and I don't want to start 1-2. But we might be doing just that.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Weekends are supposed to be for relaxing

I've had worst weekends, but this one wasn't fun. Georgia flops on a day it nets 543 yards of offense, only allows 211 on defense, and nearly covers a 38 point spread. The Falcons take the first half off and come up just short, not to mention a potentially alarming injury to Vick. The Braves are comatose. My pro fantasy teams are falling off cliffs. My college team has gotten off to a decent scoring start but finds itself in 6th and the top half of the league is looking to run away.

Obviously Vick wasn't 100% for that last drive. No offense to Vick, but I'm not so sure we shouldn't have just sent Schaub out. What killed me though were two plays in the first half. Michael Jenkins let a big play slide through his hands – something that might have sparked the Falcons and possibly turned the tide of the game. Instead, the went down 14-0. And then later in the second, on forth and maybe an inch from their own 26, Mora punted. I realize that's deep in your own territory. But the Falcons hadn't really stopped the Seahawks all day and weren't getting any pressure. I was absolutely certain Seattle would move down the field like a knife through butter and get points. Jerramy Stevens made a great diving grab – reeling in a tougher to catch ball than Jenkins had – to make it 21-0, and those two plays kind of mirrored the day. Seattle was crisp in execution, the Falcons were not.

As for the Dawgs – it was ugly and it was a tad bit disappointing. They only led 20-7 late in the third. The play until that point was often a bit listless. Georgia needed to run a little more often I think – the rushing stats are nice (29 for 280) but 7 carries and 66 yards came on the final drive of the game. The passing attack was on – when Shockley wasn't misfiring - so the balanced play calling isn't really a surprise and I'm not one of those people who played football in high school and thinks you have to hand it off 70% of the time to win.

But it's more than a little weird to see a team like ULM, even when it gets only 211 yards of offense, run 19 more plays and have the ball for 13 more minutes. One issue early in Richt's tenure was how bad the Dawgs were getting beat up in time of possession, even in lopsided winds. Things got a little better towards the ended of 01 when Veron Haynes became the go to guy, and 2002 continued to see some improvements. It's something Richt has corrected in his offensive game plan, so I don't think this is a return to old form; just an anomaly.

Shockley played pretty good but boy he sure missed a couple of open guys, leading to the dawgs squandering a couple of nice drives and only getting 3 points on two field goal attempts. I don't him to be perfect. I do think that to beat the better SEC teams, we are going to have to make some big plays in the air.

Milner's fumble, and the two misfires on those drives, put a damper on what could have been a very high scoring half. Still, Milner played pretty good and I hope the fumble doesn't hurt his confidence. Coutu's miss was quickly forgotten after his booming 58 yard make. Georgia may have found itself a good kicker, so hopefully the miss was just one of those things.

The Dawgs got a look at an offense that is similar to what Urban Meyer runs. How closely it mimicked Meyer's attack I can't say. A couple of times Georgia's ends badly bit on play fakes and opened up big running lanes. Against the Gators that's not going to cut it. Staying at home is going to be critical come the last weekend of October.

Still, they did win 44-7. Nobody is fretting nearly as much about the offense nearly as much if Shockley hits one of those two post routs, and Coutu makes the field goal. On to Mississippi State!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Weekend Thoughts

Dawgs win and probably cover. It's a lot of points. But then I think ULM lost to a 1AA or DII school in their previous game. I'm excited that quite a number of backups should get extended time.

The Dawgs welcomed their 20th verbal commitment of the recruiting season yesterday - LB Darryl Gamble. I see speculation that he'll be playing safety in college. Georgia's class is off to a strong start, though as they say nothing is set in stone until they ink on Signing Day and then graduate from highschool. Rumor has it that Georgia will be getting 6 or so kids from this class in this December (including Corry Moon - who came up just short on the SAT last year). Kids who get in for winter count against the previous year's scholarship total, so all of those non-qualifiers might not be as problematic for Georgia as everyone made them out to be.

Thank Gozer the Philly series is over. I think it was kind of a depressing preview of October, but hopefully I'll be proven wrong. Smoltz via Pedro should be a fun one to watch tonight.

Chipper Jones really is having a terrific season. I think had he not gotten hurt (and played hurt for a few weeks), he'd also probably be hitting over .320 or higher (I have no evidence to back this up; just a hunch). He's on pace for something like 45 doubles, 30 homers in a full season. I wonder if this years BB/K ratio (61/47 - and it got worse during the stretch he played hurt; I think he was pressing) is a sign of what to expect from him healthy in the next few years. A step forward if you will, after two years mostly spent unhappy in the outfield. I think this winter is going to be particularly interesting - and I'm sure Chipper to First is going to be a hot topic of discussion. I like LaRoche but I see logic in the move. And if we're not going to hit LaRoche against lefties, he's never going to get a chance to prove himself. Maybe he's better off going somewhere that he'll get 550 ABs.

In any case Andy Marte had a fine season at AAA, and I don't think he was as overmatched as his stats look in his brief time in with the Braves earlier this season. Whether Chipper will want to go to First is another matter entirely (I suspect he might take this differently from the move to the OF, but we'll see).

I still think Kelly Johnson has a future, but something is going to have to happen with he and Langerhans. One of them needs to play everyday. Langerhans has the defensive edge, which makes me think Johnson's future with the team might not be long. Though it's possible the Braves won't bring back Hollandsworth (letting him leave via free agency or trading him), I don't like the idea of either Johnson or Langerhans as an extra outfielder. They're both young, and have growing to do as players. They can only do that playing. With Francouer seemingly entrenching himself in RF, this will not be a situation to watch this Winter as well.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Win is a Win is a Win

It was ugly, no doubt about it. South Carolina had their chances, but dropped interceptions and critical penalties helped steal away the upset chance. There was some encouraging things to take from the game, I think. Carolina was better than they thought I would be. I wasn't expecting a blowout but I wasn't expecting the game to be that much in doubt either.

1)Blake Mitchell really impressed me. He made some great throws under pressure. He must have been knocked down at least 10 times. The Georgia pass rush was somewhat effective, and the reason it wasn't “really” effective was Mitchell. I cringed as soon as I saw the safety blitz was on during that SC scoring drive in the second half (but I also thought Blue's rush was poor) because Mitchell had done such a good job.

2)The Georgia secondary has some questions. Tra Battle has impressed me, and I thought Jennings played pretty good. Paul Oliver got badly burned on a play that might have been a touchdown had the ball been well thrown (OTOH, Mitchell was on the run, and it's not easy to throw on the run, particularly for a non scrambler) – he had no reason not to follow the receiver there and I'm not sure why he stopped. Blue had some big hits but right now I think he's been ok and no better. The Cocks didn't run that much so he didn't get a chance to play to his strengths.

Carolina had a number of big pass plays, which is worrisome. But it wasn't always for lack of pressure (see above). Overall, I think it was a pretty good effort by the Defense. And there is still time to improve. Ely-Kelso had a good game, and I think if necessary Richt will be able to lean on the defense as in years past. I'd prefer we not have to do that, of course. The tackling on the first touchdown drive was atrocious but good outside of that. I'm not sure what happened; in fact Ellerbe should have made a play to end the drive during the first series on 3rd and 7. But he went high and slid of Turman's back on a screen (I think it was Turman; might have been the Davis kid). Go for the legs, Johnny.

3)The O-line played pretty well. However, I'll be curious to see how they perform against a deeper, more talented, defensive line that doesn't employ the “gaggle of chicks at a frat party” defensive formation. So the O-line hasn't really faced a true test yet. Shockley was pressured some but I think the line did a good job overall keeping Carolina out of his face. Brown was awesome, and Ware pretty good. The running game was excellent for the most part. Outside of one play that the staff stopped calling, and the awful busted play to start the game, the ground-attack pretty much had its way with Carolina. We just needed to recognize that earlier in the game, perhaps.

4)I'll credit the staff for recognizing that the delayed hand off, against-the-grain, play out of the shotgun was not working and they abandoned it after a couple of attempts. It was a pretty effective play for us last year, but it didn't work well against Carolina. They definitely had it scouted, but I think their defensive style doesn't lend itself well to counters/misdirection. They don't over pursue, and running right at them is too effective to need to run a play like that. And I'll credit Bob Davie for making this point, though it pains me to do so.

5)On the other hand, it would have been nice had the staff realized that going right at the Cocks was the best option. DJ Shockley had some nice completions on the first drive but he did not play well. He made some awful throws (sometimes following an awful decision to throw), and what looked like some poor decisions to run at times. A decent throw at the end of the second half nets Georgia 7 points. Also Carolina had the QB sweep bottled up after the first touchdown.
6)It's kind of spooky to think that DJ very nearly had a repeat of Q-balls awful game in 2000. But I think DJ will be fine. Unlike Q-ball, whom I was terrified of for the rest of the season.

7)Lou Holtz' prediction almost came true, but I suspect it would have been similar to someone with little knowledge of the sport who went to Georgia saying “The Dawgs will kill Boise” in week 1 and then being “correct”. He never really offered up much in the way of meaningful co0mmentary as to why Georgia would win that I saw (note that last part, please). His biggest assessment that came across my table: “Georgia has DJ Shockley and nobody else”. Nice call Lou. I suppose you missed Thomas Brown shredding the Carolina defense. And how badly Charles Johnson and Quentin Moses man-handled that O-line. Or Jarvis Jackson being all over the field. Or. . .well, it's not really worth getting into. I like having Granny Holtz around because he's good for entertainment. He's shit for football commentary. Also, he's really old. Old people are creepy, and smell vaguely of cabbage.

8)It will be interesting to see Georgia's ranking in the blogpoll this week. The blogpoll has a chance to correct some of the problems that normal polls have. I suspect there will be more people willing to drop a highly ranked team because they looked bad, even if it means putting another team in a position that seems too high.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Cocks are Coming to the Classic City

And I have absolutely no idea how to feel about the game. The spread seems high - I don't think we've been a good bet in games like this in recent years. There's quite a bit about UGA we still don't know after last weekend. And the same is true of the Cocks, who struggled with a UCF team that is probably better than most people realize (though not necessarily that good).

The lopsided series has had a number of hotly contested games, particularly in recent years. For reasons unknown to me, South Carolina is expert at getting up for the Dawgs. Always has been. SC has viewed Georgia as a stepping stone in the east since the SEC went to the divisional format. Dawgs win; I have doubts about the cover though.