I’m about to hit the road for the Classic City, and wanted to leave you in good, but definitely NSFW hands. I should warn you that alcohol enemas are involved.
Enjoy the game and share your thoughts.
One other thing about today’s UT game: it’s the first time the Vols have been on the road this season.
Adding to Tennessee’s challenge is the environment, as the Vols will make their 2012 road debut today. Most of the Vols’ offensive players, excluding receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and left tackle Antonio Richardson, played at Sanford Stadium in 2010, when a 1-4 Georgia team pounded the flat Vols 41-14. Most of Tennessee’s defenders played at Florida, Alabama and Arkansas last season.
“I think the good news is most of our guys have been in these environments,” Dooley said. “It shouldn’t be as overwhelming as it’s been in the past. At least I hope it isn’t…”
Well, they’ve been in them. They just haven’t won in them.
As for the overwhelming part, that’ll be up to Todd Grantham’s defense. He sounds ready, at least.
“I think the matchup’s fine,” Grantham said. “They’ve got some good wideouts, we’ve got some good corners. We’ve just got to understand routes, alignments, what can happen to you and be ready to play. I think we’ll be fine in that matchup.”
And his players sound like they’re ready to get a little exotic on Tyler Bray’s ass.
“Some of the errors that he’s made recently had to do with him not seeing guys dropping out of coverage,” linebacker Christian Robinson said. “We are going to have to bait him into throwing some passes sometimes. If we can change it up while keeping sound coverage and don’t give up any big plays, then I think we’ll have a good shot at limiting them through the air.”
I’m guessing the defensive recipe involves a little heat, too.
The trigger man, Bray, is tied for first nationally with 12 touchdown passes and is ninth with 325.2 passing yards per game. But he has struggled at times against the blitz — he completed just 23 percent of his passes when Florida brought five or more rushers in the Vols’ lone loss — and Georgia knows it must pressure and confuse Bray to effectively defend the pass.
It all begins with stopping Tennessee’s running game. That opens up all kinds of fun for Grantham.
Even some of the guys who pitched in on last year’s SECCG shellacking think the East is stepping up this season.
Certainly, LSU has taken notice of how much tougher its schedule now looks with apparent improvement of the Gators and Gamecocks.
“The SEC is as strong as ever. The last few years it was in the West. This year, we have teams executing on both sides. That’s how it should be,” said LSU offensive lineman Josh Dworaczyk, whose six years (including two redshirt years) at LSU have spanned most of the SEC’s streak of national titles. “This year, it looks like the East is as strong as ever.”
LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo was a major part of the Tigers squad that blew out the Bulldogs in the second half of last season’s SEC title game. He said he would be surprised to see the winner of the West win that contest by more than four touchdowns this December.
“It definitely will be a real game in Atlanta,” Mingo said. “You have Florida, South Carolina, Georgia. Those teams are pretty good — really good, not pretty good.”
We’ll know soon enough if they’re right. After Towson tonight, LSU faces Florida and South Carolina in the following two weeks.
To those of you who’ve never understood why Richt canning Bobo would make little difference with the playcalling on offense, here’s an illustration of why I say that:
Bobo said Richt told him last year against Florida that, when Walsh missed from 33 and 37, Georgia would go for it on fourth down. That changed how he called third downs.
Bobo’s calling plays but he’s doing it within the framework of what Mark Richt wants, both structurally and tactically. Anybody you’d bring in as a replacement would be operating in the same way. It’s worth keeping that in mind, both during the good times and bad.
Over at the DawgPost, Ryan Jordan takes a look at this year’s Florida team and makes an excellent point.
41-3 over FAU
39-0 over UAB
33-23 over Tennessee
48-10 over Kentucky
27-14 over Bowling Green
20-17 over Texas A&M
37-20 over Tennessee
38-0 over Kentucky
Driskel is getting a lot of hype for putting up fewer points than Brantley did against very similar porous defenses. They haven’t played a good defensive team yet and they are still like 65th in total offense. He hasn’t thrown for more than 219yds in any game this year, and has been below 200 twice.
Against their best opponent (Tennessee), Driskel put up 219yds and 2 TD’s this year. Brantley put up 213yds and 2 TD’s on them last year.
Florida went winless in their next 4 games of 2011 against Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia. They’re about to play UGA, SCAR, and LSU in 3 of their next 4 and could be looking at similar results.
I honestly think a lot of people have forgotten they were in this exact same situation a year ago and that’s why I bring it up. This is the same Driskel who couldn’t beat out a very poor John Brantley, and hasn’t shown any improvement on the scoreboard this year either. They’re getting a ton of traction in the polls for 2 wins over what should be teams who finish in the bottom half of the SEC.
I’m not sold they’re any better… YET
I do think Driskel has shown improvement and he’s much more of a running threat than Brantley ever dreamed of being, but I admit my jaw dropped a bit when I heard Andre Ware describe him during the Kentucky game broadcast as playing as well as any quarterback in the SEC. He’s not. The biggest improvement on UF’s offense from last year is the development of a legitimate running back in Gillislee.
Florida is better, but I’m not sure by as much as some of the swooning in the punditry class would indicate.