Daily Archives: December 1, 2012

He didn’t win the game, but he kicked ass in the presser.

If you’ve ever wanted to hear Mark Richt tell Chuck Oliver to eff off in so many words, dial this bad boy up to the 13:20 mark, sit back and enjoy.

(h/t Michael Carvell)

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

We just broke our face with a hobnail boot.

Heartbreaking.

Toughest loss I’ve sat through since…. ’92 Florida? ’82 Pitt?

Proud they left everything on the field.

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On my way to see the Dawgs play.

In my thirty some-odd years of following Georgia football, I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of the great moments in person.  I was at the ’80 Florida game.  I saw Georgia win its last national title a few weeks later.  I went nuts watching Kevin Butler kick an insane field goal to cap an improbable comeback against Clemson.  I was there when the Dawgs pulled it off late against Auburn in 2002 to win their first SEC division title under Richt.  I’ve seen Georgia grab its two SECCG wins.

So here’s hoping I can put another notch on that belt today.  Unlike last year, they’ve got more than a puncher’s chance.  It’s all about GATA.  I can’t wait.

Which is why I’m heading downtown now.  Consider this your game day thread.  If Verizon cooperates, I’ll see if I can pitch in.

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Final SECCG thoughts: clean, old-fashioned respect

In my humble opinion, Mark Richt’s biggest task this afternoon is to find the right button to push.

Georgia’s played its best in four games this season:  Vanderbilt, Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech.  What all those games had in common is that Richt’s team found a way to channel its emotions into focused effort.  But unlike Alabama, every one of those teams faces Georgia season after season.  And every one of those teams had created conditions that got Georgia players’ blood up.  Georgia’s not angry at Alabama, so where does Richt find the motivational lever that gets his team playing maximally?  Damned if I know, but he’d better figure that out.

I’ve been trying to get a handle on how to explain the difference between the two defenses.  Ole Miss’ offensive coordinator, who saw both, has the answer I’ve been looking for.

Ole Miss offensive coordinator Dan Werner, whose Rebels were among the few SEC teams to play both Alabama and Georgia this season, said the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs were “by far the best teams we played defensively.”

“Against Georgia, we actually moved the ball a little bit early and they just got in a base defense and outmanned us,” Werner said of the Bulldogs, who beat Ole Miss 37-10 on Nov. 3. “Every play we called, it just looked like it was well-blocked and all the sudden the hole would close and it would end up being a 2-yard gain.”

Werner said Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who leads the SEC with nine sacks and 14½ tackles for loss, is “as good pass rusher as I’ve seen in a long time. We actually had a couple schemes put in just for him, to slow him down.”

Alabama, meanwhile, is tough to scheme against because the Crimson Tide doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses, he said. “I never had a good feeling that, ‘Man, this is something we can exploit,'” said Werner, whose Rebels fell 33-14 to the Tide on Sept. 29 . “They’re so solid, so well-coached, and they’ve got great players, too.”

That’s good.  Bobo’s got to defeat a well-managed scheme.  Alabama has to figure out a way around players like Jones and Ogletree (who’s been Georgia’s best defender the last two weeks).  And that’s going to be a lot harder to do if Richt’s got his guys fired up and ready to go.

Richt’s second biggest job today is making sure his quarterback is on and not overly amped.  As Pat Forde notes, you don’t beat Alabama without your quarterback playing well.

For anyone to beat Saban over the past five seasons, it has taken exceptional quarterback play. There have been just seven Alabama losses in that time, and the common denominator has been an opposing quarterback playing about as well as he can possibly play.

The list of quarterbacks who have beaten ‘Bama in that time includes some Heisman-quality guys: Tebow, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel. And it includes some unlikely guys who played a great game: Utah’s Bryan Johnson, South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia, LSU’s Jordan Jefferson twice.

I think Richt does one of the best coaching jobs of his career today in that he accomplishes both.  That’s why I like Georgia to cover the spread.  My problem in going further with the positives is that Georgia’s offensive line is, at least on paper, the weakest unit trotting out on the field today.  I’m not as freaked out about it as I was watching the mismatch between last year’s o-line and LSU’s front seven, because unlike last year, the Dawgs have a running game that Alabama is going to have to respect going in and because Alabama lacks the physical freaks on the defensive line that the Tigers kept sending.

But Alabama’s as good as I’ve seen at steadily grinding you down until you can’t hold up.  I don’t expect to see much blitzing from the Bama defenders.  I do think we’ll see them doing everything they can on defense to bottle up Gurley and Marshall, as well as playing physical press coverage on Georgia’s receivers in the hopes of forcing Murray to hold on to the ball too long.  And honestly, that’s got a good chance of succeeding, because I question whether the o-line can stand its ground all game against that.  So Bobo is going to have to stay one step ahead of Saban/Smart, much like he did in the first half of last year’s SECCG, and his players are going to have to make the plays he calls, unlike much of what they did in that same first half.  They’re under more pressure, I think, than Alabama’s offense is because of that.

I’m not saying Georgia has to play perfectly to win today – who really plays a perfect game in an environment like this against an accomplished opponent like Alabama? – but it will have to play a complete game.  LSU had Alabama for 58 minutes… and lost.  Texas A&M jumped out to a three-TD lead… and needed a last-minute turnover to hang on for the win.  So a great defensive first-half effort like we saw last year won’t get it done.  And taking the foot off the gas to protect a late lead isn’t likely to work.  They really do have to finish the drill today.

I’m sure the Alabama players will tell you today is just another game.  And maybe it is for them.  But it shouldn’t be for Georgia.  Games like today’s don’t come along too often if your heart bleeds red and black.  Georgia hasn’t won an SEC title in seven years.  It hasn’t played for a national title in thirty.  The trick today isn’t to act like you’ve been there before.  It’s to take that hunger to grab the brass ring that’s been out of your grasp for so long and channel it into playing as ferociously smart as you’ve ever played.  Would that be enough to overcome whatever shortcomings in the offensive line Saban might expose?  Could be.  Although a +2 turnover margin sure wouldn’t hurt.

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Random, swirly bits about you-know-what

This is just a series of thoughts I’ve had this week about today’s game that I couldn’t fit into a post.

  • It’s funny that one of the biggest concerns before the season started – the number of scholarship players on the roster – never really bit the Dawgs in the butt.  And now they face their polar opposite on roster management.
  • Speaking of which, how does Georgia lose two starting receivers, plug in other guys on the roster and keep on keeping on, while it’s Alabama that’s talking about taking a redshirt off a kid today to replace a wideout who’s lost for the season?
  • The biggest difference between ‘Bama and Georgia this season is consistency.  Georgia knows what it’s going to get from its opponent.  But which set of Dawgs – defensive in particular –  shows up, the first half of the season team, or the second half?
  • To all the pundits who’ve decided that Alabama’s superior to Georgia at running back because of the offensive line play – aren’t you really saying that Gurley and Marshall are better?
  • Aaron Murray isn’t going to stress the ‘Bama defense the way Johnny Manziel did.  But he’s gonna have to match Mettenberger’s success against the Tide for Georgia to have a good chance today.
  • Really hope this game doesn’t turn out to be a field goal duel.  One good thing working against that possibility is that Georgia is actually the better team at converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns.
  • Any Dawg happier not to be playing a triple-option offense today than Jarvis?
  • When anyone says Alabama has the coaching advantage today, what specifically is that about?  Preparation?  In game adjustments?  I’m not arguing with the assessment, mind you, just wondering where it shows up.
  • You’d think the biggest impact roster numbers would have in a game like this would be on special teams.  So I’m hoping that the improvement we’ve seen over the past few weeks in Georgia’s kickoff and punt coverage work doesn’t turn out to be a mirage today.  Especially when I look back at what the Honey Badger did in last year’s SECCG.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but I sense the pundit class is willing to concede the possibility of a Georgia win far more this year than last year.  I wonder how much of that is due to Bama losing to TAMU at home and how much of it is due to Georgia having one less regular season loss than it did in 2011, thus making the SECCG equally meaningful to both teams.

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