Hot, hot heat

Here’s something to chew over.

In the estimation of first-year defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, the 6-4, 230-pound Floyd was the most under-utilized talent on Georgia’s defense last season. Even so, the sophomore from Eastman managed to start eight games and collect 55 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Pruitt wants more out of Floyd.

Hopefully that will start with Pruitt not having Floyd drop into coverage, where he looked like a fish out of water last year.

Now, it’s drool time.

[Lorenzo] Carter, as it turns out, may allow the Bulldogs to do just that. Carter’s incredible physical prowess and 4.6 speed has allowed Georgia to put him into situations in which they’d normally be counting on Floyd. That, in turn, allows the Bulldogs to move Floyd around and play a game of “Find 84” with opposing offensive lines.

That’s not to mention Jenkins, who at 6-3, 252 has lost 20 pounds since the end of last season and is moving around better than ever. He plays the new “Jack” defensive end position that usually lines up opposite the Sam.

“He looks like a totally different player from the spring and some of last year’s game to now,” Sherrer said. “He’s a lot quicker, he’s a lot more explosive, he’s made a lot more plays. He struggled to finish some before; he was right there but just couldn’t finish. Now he’s finishing some plays. He’s playing with more confidence and he’s had a sensational camp.”

If you’re Pruitt – hell, if you’re me – you know the best way to protect a shaky secondary is to generate a fierce pass rush.  Given that the best rusher on the d-line seems to be in the coaches’ doghouse, where do you turn to generate the heat you need?  So, will Pruitt get creative with the deployment of his OLBs?  Does he have a choice?

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Filed under Georgia Football

Les is so Miles.

Honestly, I wouldn’t put it past him.

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Filed under Wit And Wisdom From The Hat

A Stewart Mandel teachable moment

Interesting hypothetical from this week’s Mailbag, which riffed off an earlier prediction of his that this year’s predicted playoff field would be comprised of No. 1 Florida State, No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 Georgia:

Of course I will admit the UGA/Auburn scenario might be a tad far-fetched. While we know it’s entirely possible, if not likely, that two SEC teams will get in, we assume they’d come from the same division. In this case, I’m picking the Dawgs and Tigers to both get in after meeting twice. I have Georgia winning the Nov. 15 meeting in Athens, then Auburn winning the Dec. 7 rematch in Atlanta.

If this were the BCS, Georgia would be done. In the playoff, however, if the committee feels the Dawgs are still one of the best four teams, then so be it. They’d have a strong case, too, having beaten three preseason Top 15 teams in Auburn, Clemson and South Carolina. They probably would have to be undefeated going into the SEC title game, though, and maybe that’s a stretch. But hey, the committee’s going to pick the best four teams; as of today I think FSU, Auburn, UCLA and Georgia are the best four teams.

That’s really the big question we have right now, isn’t it?  What kind of selection committee do we have?  Is Mandel being realistic here?  I have my doubts, even if Auburn and Georgia both finish with only one loss, because that SECCG result is going to be fresh on the minds of a number of people who are going to be prone to spreading the playoff slots around to the power conferences.  Not to mention that if the committee let both in, it could be setting up a potential third meeting between the two in consecutive months.

I’d like him to be right, even if the two schools are from another conference.  I suspect his buddies from Montana would agree.  But none of us are serving on that committee.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Well, if it worked once

Swann figures Clemson will target the unproven guys in the secondary.

“It was the same thing last year,” he said.

Who’s proven in the secondary?

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Filed under Georgia Football

It’s time to celebrate toe meets leather.

Since D-1 football of a sort kicks off tonight – tickets are still available on StubHub, believe it or not – it’s time to bring out this GTP chestnut to welcome the 2014 season.

A Brit who knows next to nothing about the sport, two programs I don’t care about and I still love that clip.

And, yeah, I’ll tune in and watch some tonight.

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Filed under College Football

Tennessee decides one meteor game a year isn’t enough.

On the other hand, at least a Jancek-Martinez defense has an even chance against the genius.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Tech Football

Not your regular SEC preseason predictions, 2014 edition

Once more into the breach, dear friends.  As I’ve done for several seasons now, I’m sticking with this format as follows:

Rather than give you my predicted records, I’ll list the schools in the order they finished in the conference last year, look at areas of potential improvement and decline and assess in what direction I expect each to go by comparison to 2010.

In other words, pure seat of the pants BS.

So starting with last season as the baseline (teams are listed in their 2013 conference order of finish), here goes nothing.

SEC WEST

AUBURN (12-2, 7-1)

  • Pros:  Coaching stability; great offensive system with good personnel; Nick Marshall; excellent recruiting
  • Cons:  Defense not dominant; reset on special teams; challenging schedule; can the good fortune continue?
  • Outlook:  Historically, Auburn doesn’t do well when it’s a preseason front-runner, but I don’t foresee a huge drop off from last season.  On the other hand, there’s got to be some regression to the mean, luckwise.  No worse than two, maybe three conference losses.

ALABAMA (11-2, 7-1)

  • Pros:  Skill position talent; team depth; Nick Saban; unparalleled program stability; dream schedule
  • Cons:  Less experience on defense; losses on the offensive line; inexperience at quarterback
  • Outlook:  Weirdly, I didn’t change a single word in the pros or cons from what I wrote last year, except to note the quarterback situation (and I’m not sure how much that’s gonna matter, to be honest).  If anything, Alabama’s schedule is even more favorable in 2014.  Let’s say the Tide will slip up and lose a regular season game, but there’s a reason everyone is putting them in Atlanta and the new CFP.  If they don’t make it, I’m blaming Junior.

LSU (10-3, 5-3)

  • Pros:  Solid personnel; coaching stability; Alabama at home
  • Cons:  Losses on defense; incredibly green at the offensive skill positions
  • Outlook:  My default position on Les Miles – pencil in two regular season losses – feels right.  This is a very talented team, but the Tigers have a lot of experience to replace, especially at the offensive skill spots.

TEXAS A & M (9-4, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Great recruiting; coaching stability; weak non-conference schedule
  • Cons:  Huge losses on offense; Auburn and Alabama on the road; shakiest defensive team in the SEC
  • Outlook:  I guess the question to ask is if TAMU is at the point where it reloads.  They’ll likely be okay on offense, but I’m still not thrilled with that defense.  I’m seeing a similar number of regular season losses in 2014.

MISSISSIPPI (8-5, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Rising talent level; lots of returning starters; coaching stability; defense; favorable cross-division games
  • Cons:  Still lack depth in comparison to top teams in West; special teams
  • Outlook: Defense should be excellent; offense, not so much.  With that schedule, I think Ole Miss is probably looking at a four-loss regular season.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-6, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Coaching stability; quarterback stability; one of the most experienced teams in the conference; favorable cross-division schedule; defense
  • Cons:  Mediocre special teams; Prescott needs to prove himself against top teams
  • Outlook:  I still think this is the hardest team to handicap in the SEC.  I can’t help but be impressed with what MSU brings on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense makes me nervous, mainly because of the quarterback situation.  If Mullen can coach Prescott up to the next level, the Bulldogs could be the surprise team of the West.  But I’m seeing four losses in the regular season at present.

ARKANSAS (3-9, 0-8)

  • Pros:  Offensive line; running backs
  • Cons:  Defense; special teams; schedule
  • Outlook:  Can it get better in Bielema’s second year?  It can’t get worse.  But I’m having a hard time figuring out where the Hogs grab that fourth win.

SEC EAST

MISSOURI (12-2, 7-1)

  • Pros:  Coaching stability; offensive line; schedule
  • Cons:  Losses at receiver and defensive end; questions in the defensive back seven
  • Outlook: The schedule shapes up to be Missouri’s biggest friend, with only three preseason ranked opponents.  Pinkel knows what he’s doing and Mauk is a promising quarterback.  But depth is a concern in several areas.  Four regular season losses wouldn’t surprise me, although I think three is a more likely result.

SOUTH CAROLINA (11-2, 6-2)

  • Pros:  Steve Spurrier; linebacking; offensive line; Mike Davis; Georgia at home
  • Cons:  Replacing Shaw and Clowney; cornerback; special teams
  • Outlook:  Hard to see the ‘Cocks doing worse from a win/loss standpoint than they did last season.  But will another two-loss regular season be enough to win the division?

GEORGIA (8-5, 5-3)

  • Pros:  Offense; skill position depth; renewed health; defensive front seven; Marshall Morgan; Todd Gurley
  • Cons: Secondary; offensive line; special teams; early season schedule; loss of Aaron Murray
  • Outlook:  The record will be improved because the Dawgs will be healthier, but the season will come down to competence in the secondary, on special teams and turnover margin improvement.  I expect this team to improve over the course of the season, but there will be two or three regular season losses, depending on how they get out of the gate.

VANDERBILT (9-4, 4-4)

  • Pros:  Respectable defense by SEC standards; improved depth; schedule
  • Cons:  Offense; loss of Jordan Matthews
  • Outlook:  People don’t realize it, but Franklin did Mason a big favor by redshirting a ton of kids from a very good recruiting class.  That’s going to help, although not as much as the softest schedule in the SEC will.  Vandy’s biggest problem is that the offense won’t be very good.  I can’t see anything close to another nine-win season, but bowl eligibility is certainly a realistic goal.

FLORIDA (4-8, 3-5)

  • Pros:  Defense; improved health; soft early season schedule
  • Cons:  Passing game; third offensive coordinator in four seasons; brutal cross-division schedule
  • Outlook:  Yes, the Gators will improve from last season’s record.  But with six preseason ranked opponents on the schedule, I’m looking at something in the neighborhood of 8-4.  And that’s only if Driskel stays on his feet.

TENNESSEE (5-7, 2-6)

  • Pros:  Receiver; improving talent base
  • Cons:  Quarterback; complete replacement of offensive and defensive lines; schedule
  • Outlook:  I’m having a hard time finding a sixth win on this team’s schedule.  But they upset South Carolina last year, so who knows?

KENTUCKY (2-10, 0-8)

  • Pros:  Improving talent base after a solid recruiting class; coaching stability; pass rush; early schedule isn’t too daunting
  • Cons:  Secondary; overall depth
  • Outlook:  As the Beatles once sang, I have to admit it’s getting better.  But not that quickly.  Overall win total can improve a little from 2013’s, but without Arkansas on the schedule, the ‘Cats are going to have to steal a win from the likes of Vandy or Tennessee to get off the conference schneid.

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