Daily Archives: November 24, 2013

How is “Gator football: it can’t get any worse” as a sales pitch?

We’re about to find out.

The University of Florida has no plans to fire Will Muschamp, even after a monumental loss to Georgia Southern, a source close to the program told the Sentinel on Sunday.

However, significant changes to Muschamp’s coaching staff are expected after Saturday’s season finale against Florida State.

Should be a fun offseason for Boom.  And Foley.

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Because they can’t help it.

I’m having a hard time coming to grips with the depths to which Florida has sunk this season after its first loss ever to a 1-AA opponent.  Every time I think I’ve got it figured out, I see something else that makes me start shaking my head again.

You want to blame it on the injuries?  Fine, but Florida wasn’t the only banged up team playing in the Swamp yesterday.

You want to blame it on an inept offense?  Fine, too, except you may not understand how inept that offense is.

The Gators are so mixed up they’re blocking themselves.  That’s how you lose to a team that doesn’t complete a single pass on the day.  Unbelievable.

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Who do we blame for this?

Despite the incredible run of injuries it suffered and the tougher schedule it played, Georgia’s conference scoring in 2013 increased over its 2012 total.

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Observations from the 35, Georgia-Kentucky

Well, other than one teeny, tiny, little thing, the night went about as well as I could have hoped.

Kentucky was sorely overmatched.  The consensus around me was that North Texas would have handled the Wildcats and Appy State would have given them a game.  I can’t speak to that with certainty, but there’s no doubt that I saw Georgia’s most dominant performance of the season.

Another home season goes in the books, which is always bittersweet, even in a season of disappointments.  Here’s what I saw:

  • I always enjoy paying tribute to all the seniors.  I can’t remember if they did this before under Richt, but I thought it was a nice touch pulling Aaron Murray out of the alphabetic rotation and letting him appear at the end.  He’s the face of this team and he’s earned it.  The crowd loved it, too.  There’s some irony in the missteps of this season making the fan base more aware and appreciative of the career Murray’s had in red and black.
  • So much for my worries about a post-Auburn hangover.  The players looked loose and energized in pre-game warm ups and came out playing hard.  Considering how they’ve gone into an emotional shell in the face of adversity many times this year, it was a welcome change.  Maybe they’re starting to learn how to roll with the punches.
  • Same thing with the coordinators.  Bobo came out, saw the safeties playing run support, and threw, threw, threw.  That first series was over almost before it started.  And Grantham followed suit by dialing up an all-out blitz on third-and-eight that was successful.
  • You saw it emerging in the second half against Auburn, but I think Bobo’s successfully transitioned into calling a game where he doesn’t have a truly consistent deep threat in the passing game.  There were tons of screens – Gurley is amazingly successful at selling those – good use of play action to clear space in the secondary for guys like Lynch and Bennett to get open and lots of quick hitting running plays when the safeties back up.  I’ll take 600 yards of offense against any team anyway he can get it.
  • When’s the last time a Georgia defensive player had so many quietly great games in a year as Garrison Smith has had?  We’re always drawn to the Jarvis Joneses (with good reason), but Smith has had the kind of year that deserves more attention.
  • Nice bounce back, Josh Harvey-Clemons.
  • I still don’t get all the short kickoffs.
  • Maybe Reggie Davis fumbled that punt so that Damian Swann wouldn’t feel so bad anymore.
  • Safety play was decent all night, except for the long run where it looked like everybody in the secondary wound up out of position.
  • Cornerback play wasn’t so strong, as was demonstrated on Kentucky’s first play from scrimmage.  Georgia was bailed out by the UK quarterbacks.  Let’s hope Vad Lee is as considerate.
  • I wasn’t amazed to see Kentucky successfully work a crossing route play against Georgia’s ILBs.  I was amazed the ‘Cats didn’t try that more often.
  • Better hope nothing happens to David Andrews, because Dallas Lee’s shotgun snapping leaves something to be desired.
  • There are times when I have a hard time believing that Todd Gurley is still improving as a player, but he is.  Something I expect Mason is going to have a great deal of appreciation for this week…
  • Speaking of Mason, he continues to show me that he can handle the offense, at least when he has time.  He’s good with his reads, his release, as I’ve mentioned before, has become more compact and quicker and he throws a catchable ball.  He doesn’t have Murray’s arm – his long passes look like they hang a little – but with the adjustments Bobo’s made in the playcalling, I think Mason will be okay.
  • Speaking of the playcalling, Bobo showed something straight out of the Jim Donnan playbook, with Murray flanked by twin tailbacks in Douglas and Gurley.  The play worked, too.

All in all, a very good night.  Except for that one, teeny, tiny, little thing, that is.

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And at Stingtalk, there was much rejoicing.

The denizens at everyone’s favorite Georgia Tech message board have greeted the news of Murray’s injury with all the sensitivity you’ve come to expect, combining passive-aggressive wishful thinking with a cocky, yet deluded assurance that people taking offense at their boorishness are simply proving their intellectual inferiority to a bunch still internally distressed over their acne not clearing up during their college years.

As you read it, you realize this is all they’ve got.  Murray’s absence doesn’t improve Georgia’s chances this Saturday, of course.  But it’s not as if Mark Richt hasn’t proven he can successfully deal with adversity in a game against Tech. He’s beaten the Jackets with a converted fullback playing tailback.  He’s beaten the Jackets with a quarterback with an injured hand.  He’s beaten the Jackets with Calvin Johnson, repeatedly.  (Okay, Reggie Ball helped.)  He’s beaten the Jackets with Joe Cox throwing for 76 yards.  He’s beaten a seventh-ranked Georgia Tech team with the worst team he’s fielded in Athens.  He’s beaten the Jackets with Willie Martinez and he’s beaten them with Todd Grantham.

Murray’s absence, then, doesn’t concern me.  It does, however, fill me with regret that he won’t be able to pad his stats one last time against a team he’s absolutely owned.  Here are his passer ratings against Tech:

  • 2010:  250.86
  • 2011:  177.14
  • 2012:  227.40

And as a bonus, his passer ratings against Ted Roof’s Auburn defenses are 170.83 (2010) and 255.74 (2011).

So, yeah, that’s a shame, but otherwise I’ll take my chances.  Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, Hate Week has officially commenced.  FIAR,B!

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Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football

When orange turns to gray

Amidst the chaos and craziness that’s characterized the SEC East in 2013, I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks, Tennessee, you’ve been a rock.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

Learning experience, for the win

I couldn’t help but chuckle reading this:

Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, who tipped that game-winning touchdown pass against Auburn, had six tackles and a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
“I asked him if he learned anything, he said, `Yes,” Richt said of their talk during the week. “I said `What was it? He said ‘Bat the ball down.’

Woe be unto the next football heaved in desperation against the Georgia defense.

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No mas.

In retrospect, maybe we should have seen it coming.

It’s not like the 2013 season hasn’t already been a cruel bitch on the injury front.  And stuff like this was just inviting the football gods to intervene.

Still, something seems extraordinarily wrong about timing what may be a college career-ending injury on senior night.

But then, in the second quarter of that game, he suffered a left knee injury, after which the UGA medical staff sent him to St. Mary’s Hospital for an MRI. Though the results of that test are pending, it would seem Murray’s shot at playing another game as a Bulldog now appears to be serious doubt.

“He got hurt on the [28-yard] run,” Bobo said. “He said he was fine and wanted to go. I tried to put Hutson [Mason] in, basically [Murray] wouldn’t let me. He said I’m fine, I’m playing. I said I need to see you moving around out there and he moved around pretty good.”

Handed a comfy 28-10 lead, backup quarterback Hutson Mason filled in for Murray and performed admirably, going 13-for-19 as a passer for 189 yards and a touchdown.

But even Mason admitted that his feelings on the entire situation were difficult to pinpoint: his happiness at the chance to play had been inevitably bogged down by the sadness of seeing a senior go down on senior night.

“It’s like a fairy-tale gone wrong for Murray,” Mason said. “You hate for something to end like that on senior night at home at the end of the season. You know, he’s about to start training for the draft. It’s very tough because I know how hard he works. I’ll call him, see how he’s doing. Right now I’m just waiting to hear what the injury is, will I be playing next week.”

Indeed, the sight of the team’s emotional leader – its Cal Ripken-esque worker at the quarterback position – painfully wincing all the way way into the locker was an unsettling sight for those present at Sanford Stadium. The exit cast an undeniable shadow on an otherwise joyful night for the UGA football team that became difficult for even head coach Mark Richt to shake off.

“It’s just sickening. I really had a hard time enjoying the rest of the game,” Richt said. “It just was hard to have a lot of fun. I’m glad we won and I’m glad we played the way we did but it’s just a crummy feeling right now when you think about what Aaron’s going through.”

I suppose it could have been crueler.  Murray did get his fourth 3,000 passing yardage season before he was lost for the night.  And Mason certainly stepped in and played credibly in relief.  But you can’t help but feel that Aaron Murray’s deserved better than what this season’s doled out to him.

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UPDATE:  He’s done at Georgia.

Hope this doesn’t negatively impact his pro chances much.  He’s a tough kid who’s overcome serious injury before, so he’s got that going for him.

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