Now just a darn minute there…

Nobody does a better job of trashing Stewart Mandel’s Mailbag than Michael Elkon.  So I always pay attention when he does his “Duel of the Jews” thing like this week’s.

In discussing Georgia’s MNC chances versus Florida’s and arguing that it’s not an unreasonable proposition to make that Florida’s are better, Elkon offers this comment:

The Gators’ expected improvement on defense is greater than Georgia’s expected improvement in any area.

In any area?  Georgia in 2007 was 83rd in D-1 passing offense, 74th in total offense and 61st in passing efficiency – hardly the stuff of legends.  That was with an essentially new offensive coordinator, a new offensive line coach, three starters on the offensive line that had never taken a snap in a D-1 game prior to last season, a sophomore quarterback who was still figuring out how to play the college game – oh yeah, and Knowshon Moreno starting out the season as the third string tailback.

Now granted, Florida starts out in a deeper statistical hole in passing defense (#98 last season), but the Gators finished a respectable 41st nationally in total defense.  So let’s just say that if Elkon is correct about this, Georgia will be eating the Gators’ dust in ’08.

I’m not sure I buy that, though.  To me, in looking at the two schools, the biggest potential upside in any area has to be Stafford’s game.  If he steps up to elite status, that’s going to have an enormous impact – far more than Will Hill or Omar Hunter, the potential freshman saviors of the Gator defense, will.  That’s not a prediction that it’s going to happen, of course, but it’s something that shouldn’t be ignored, either.  Especially given that Georgia’s offense should be far better positioned to achieve from the get-go this season than at the start of 2007.

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12 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, The Blogosphere

12 responses to “Now just a darn minute there…

  1. Isn’t that Elkon quote you excerpted just a glass-half-full way of saying “Florida’s defense was so bad last year it almost has to get better by default?”

    I don’t want to start sounding too cocky here, because the Gators certainly will be a hugely formidable opponent, but there’s been a whoooole lot of ass-out-of-you-and-me assumptions made regarding the improvement that they’re “expected” to make on defense. That said, I’m perfectly fine with letting them carry the burden of greater preseason hype, if that’s how the pundits want it.

  2. Isn’t that Elkon quote you excerpted just a glass-half-full way of saying “Florida’s defense was so bad last year it almost has to get better by default?”

    Well, yeah, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad argument.

    It’s just that Georgia’s passing game wasn’t much better, from a statistical standpoint, than UF’s passing defense. So, if that’s the rhetorical tack you’re gonna take, sauce for the goose and all that.

    And I like Stafford’s upside in ’08 a lot more than Omar Hunter’s.

  3. AceG8tr

    Your mistake here is thinking that our improvement on defense will be as a result of our incoming freshman. To the contrary–it will be because of the improvement of young players who were playing their first college ball last year. They were, and are, supremely talented, but last year they were struggling to learn to play at the college level. This year, their play will reflect an additional year of experience–and my prediction is that they will show huge improvement.

    You guys are right–we were so bad last year on D that we’ve *got* to be better this year. But we’ll be a *lot* better. I still say the MNC will be decided in Jax. We will be the two best teams in the country.

  4. Ace, I hear what you’re saying, but I’m not the one that’s been touting Omar Hunter as the Next Big Thing since the moment he signed his LOI.

  5. UgaMatt

    It is July 1st though, I wonder if Urban knows now whether his team will compete for a championship? I’m sure he does, we’ll just have to wait until the season is over for him to accurately tell us what he knew was going to happen back in June.

    Also, why is it that Florida’s freshmen on defense are going to get better, but our two freshmen and one soph. OL and our freshmen RB aren’t?

  6. When I made that statement, I wasn’t thinking so much about the team’s statistical rankings as I was about what the two teams looked like in the final month of the season. Georgia’s offense was outstanding from the Florida game on. If they weren’t passing for a ton of yards, it was only because they could get six yards per carry with Knowshon and there was no reason to air the ball out. Conversely, the Florida defense was bleeding yards and points with regularity. Thus, the Florida defense has much farther to go than any of Georgia’s units. Given that they return a ton of young talent, it’s not unreasonable at all to think that the biggest improvement that any Florida or Georgia units will make will come from the Florida defense.

    And just so we’re clear, I’m not saying that it’s obvious that Florida is going to be better than Georgia this year. I’m just saying that there’s a reasonable case to be made for that proposition and Georgia fans should not be up in arms over it. I still feel like I need convincing that the Georgia team from the Florida game on is the Georgia team that we’ll see this year and the Georgia team from the start of the season to the last two minutes of the Vandy game is dead and buried.

  7. And just so we’re clear, I’m not saying that it’s obvious that Florida is going to be better than Georgia this year.

    Michael, I knew you weren’t. If I didn’t make that clear, I apologize.

    By the way, I disagree with you about Georgia’s offense being outstanding from the Florida game on. By any measure, it pretty much wet the bed against Kentucky.

  8. Sandwich game. I’m willing to overlook one blip, especially when the offense wasn’t called upon to do much because the defense was playing so well.

  9. … especially when the offense wasn’t called upon to do much because the defense was playing so well.

    That almost sounds like HeismanPundit talking about Meyer “holding back” his offense… ;)

  10. SRQDawg15

    If the improvement in Florida’s defense is coming from the young talent they had last year and not from the incoming freshmen, then why didn’t it start to show up at the end of the year? Both UGA and Michigan made that defense, who lost its best player to the NFL, look stupid in 2 of its last 5 games. How is this improvement going to come about all of the sudden? I see no proof of that based on the last time we saw them play.

  11. Chris

    I agree with you, Stafford does touch the ball every snap unlike Omar !

  12. AceG8tr

    SRQ, can’t disagree with you re: Michigan, except to say it was obvious we took them too lightly. An embarrassing game for the SEC. Sorry ’bout that!