“Todd Gurley is just another running back in the SEC we’re going to have to tackle.”

Vanderbilt may have the 11th ranked rushing defense in the conference, but you have to admire Caleb Azubike’s approach.

Of course, that approach is part of the reason the Commodores are ranked 11th in rushing defense.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“It’s not the place that it maybe was once.”

(Photo via Colonel Reb Foundation/Saveolemiss.com)

Ole Miss:  making the effort to escape the unsavory part of its past, but holding its breath over what signs or flags might show up on GameDay this Saturday.

Faulkner smiles wryly.

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“Back in the day, going to a football game used to be the biggest thing you did in the fall.”

Another area of haves/have-nots concern for college football is attendance.

Through five weeks, announced attendance in Football Bowl Subdivision games is down 1 percent compared to this point in 2013 and nearly 7 percent from three years ago.

The average FBS home crowd this season is 44,997, according to a CBSSports.com analysis of NCAA attendance data. That is down from 45,596 through five weeks in 2013, 47,181 in 2012 and 48,279 in 2011.

The good news for the game’s attendance health: Crowds are up 3 percent among the top 25 attendance leaders, due in part to some expanded stadiums. Seventeen of the top 25 attendance leaders experienced an increase through five weeks compared to 2013. Only 12 of the top 25 leaders in 2013 at this point had an increase from 2012.

The bad news: Many other FBS schools continue to struggle to fill seats. Outside of the top 25 attendance leaders, crowds for the remaining Power 5-conference schools are down 3 percent from 2013.

TV is a culprit, of course.  So are neutral site games, which, as Solomon notes, “are continuing to increase and can produce more attractive games than season ticket-holders sometimes pay for on campus.”  You’d think that would be a pretty clear hint about what the problem might be, but expecting athletic directors to use logic about the problem is evidently too much to hope for.

Besides, why worry about scheduling when you’ve got Mickey Mouse?

Increasingly, athletic departments are turning to Mickey Mouse for help on how to create a magical football experience.

Numerous schools have used the Disney Institute to reassess their football game experience. The Disney Institute is the professional development arm of The Walt Disney Company that gets hired by many industries, including healthcare, aviation, government/military, food/beverage and retail. The Disney Institute declined to identify or list the number of athletic departments that have worked with the company.

Mickey on the front end and ESPN on the back end.  College football, you’re doomed.

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Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

Vanderbilt: first key, revisited

Patton Robinette ain’t playing on Saturday.

Robinette did not attend practice on Wednesday while he recovers from a concussion suffered in a Sept. 20 loss to South Carolina. On Tuesday, Mason said Robinette was “still doubtful,” but he confirmed Wednesday night that he will not play.

“Patton is out. He is out,” said Mason following practice.

Enter Wade Freebeck, who may have been ineffective against Kentucky (8-of-25 passing for 85 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions), but isn’t nervous about playing Georgia.

“No, I’m not nervous. But I wasn’t nervous the first time either,” Freebeck said. “I guess there were a little bit of nerves leading up to it. But at the end of the day, you’re still putting on cleats and playing football with good guys. I got 10 guys that got my back through whatever, so there’s nothing to be nervous about.”

Let’s see how he feels after a few bouts with Georgia’s pass rush.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The “C” word

Man, this sends a little chill down my spine.

Ekeler also coaches the Bulldogs’ kickoff coverage team, and he was less pleased with its performance against the Vols. Georgia did not have a touchback, Tennessee averaged 40.6 yards on the field-position swap, Georgia fell to eighth in the league in kickoff coverage (40.3 ypr).

Ekeler took the blame for that as well.

“Last game, we stunk it up,” he said. “I believe in this: As a coach, you don’t point a finger, you point a thumb.”

Vanderbilt features one of the best kickoff returners in the SEC. Sophomore defensive back Darrius Sims already has two returns for touchdowns, both of them coming in the same game against South Carolina.

Ekeler indicated the Bulldogs aren’t planning to pooch or directional kick to counteract Sims’ returns.

“We’ll kick it deep and we’ll challenge ourselves,” he said. “We’re not going to back away from anybody.”

What is it with special teams at Georgia and challenge?  At least Ekeler isn’t going down Fabris’ directional kick road.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The other side of don’t get too comfortable, Hutson.

So this quarterback controversy? meme is a thing, I guess.

If I might offer a “whoa, hoss!” before it goes scampering off in the sunset, consider the following:

  • The defense, while no great shakes, isn’t any worse than it was last year.
  • Special teams, the other great black hole of 2013, have improved and to the extent that other teams are having to game plan around Georgia’s return game.
  • Even with an anemic passing attack, Georgia is scoring at a pace better than eight points a game more than last season and is eighth in the country in scoring offense.

Put that all together and what have you got?  You’ve got a remaining schedule for which ESPN projects Georgia will be favored in every game for the rest of the regular season.  That’s not a situation where you say screw it, let’s get one of the back up quarterbacks ready for next year.

Hutson Mason had a bad game… check that, Mason had a bad half.  You don’t toss him to the side on such a slight body of work.  You work to get his game fixed.  If it can’t be fixed, well, then, it’s not like the back ups are going anywhere this season.  But the idea that a change needs to happen now, damn it?  In the immortal words of Mike Tyson, that’s ludicwus.

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Dave Brandon’s finally found something to energize Michigan students about the football program.

Unfortunately for him, it’s Dave Brandon.

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Filed under Big Ten Football