Honestly, have two parties fit together better since Tim Tebow played for Corch than Bruce Pearl and Auburn?
Some openers are easier to get a handle on than others. The Clemson game isn’t one of those, because of several key departures/suspensions on both sides of the ball for both schools.
- If last year was a battle of the offensive superstars – Boyd! Murray! Gurley! Watkins! – tomorrow’s game shapes up as a battle of the coordinators. No doubt Chad Morris would like to go TAMU all over the Georgia defense’s ass and no doubt we’d like to see Jeremy Pruitt prove that he’s not all about having superstar talent at FSU.
- That being said, Todd Gurley.
- One big reason the line has stayed over a touchdown is where the game is being played. It’s not just about the emotion of the crowd, either. Hopefully the noise will disrupt the Clemson offense and the Georgia offensive line can avoid the mistakes that bogged the offense down at times last year. Not to mention Mason should have more confidence getting his first start in a friendly stadium.
- Gurley may be the biggest name on the field – although Vic Beasley looks like a sure-fire first round NFL talent to me – but this game I think comes down to which offensive line manages to hold its own the best. I have no idea which line that is.
- Another big flip worth keeping in the back of your head is the kicking game. This year, it’s Clemson that has to replace a starting place kicker. Georgia gets to come out of the gate with Marshall Morgan.
- If there was a drinking game for tomorrow, it would have to include taking a shot every time an announcer describes one of the starting quarterbacks as waiting patiently for his turn, wouldn’t it?
- I’m not going to miss Tajh Boyd’s running one bit. But I hope the Georgia defense is prepared for Deshaun Watson’s.
- I know job one for the Tigers’ defense is Todd Gurley, but, barring a turnover fest, can Clemson win this game without being able to run the ball successfully? I don’t think so.
- It’s going to be humid and in the 90s, so I hope all that talk about improved conditioning and substitution wasn’t just talk. South Carolina wilted under the pressure of TAMU running 99 plays last night and you know Morris wouldn’t mind duplicating the experience.
- Boy, would I love for tomorrow night to be Isaiah McKenzie’s coming out party. I don’t think he’ll get a lot of touches, but he’s going to get a few shots in the return game and on offense, too.
- Let’s hope nobody gets hurt celebrating a touchdown this year.
- I don’t think this is going to be a low-scoring affair, because I don’t think Georgia will be able to protect its vulnerable secondary for the entire game and because Bobo worked Venables pretty good in last year’s game. But I’m not expecting a score in the mid-70s, either.
You guys have any other thoughts?
Some random thoughts and beliefs before the opener on what I expect this season (no doubt I’ll abandon plenty of them as things progress):
- Mason brings a different skill set to the table than the one his predecessor did. But I’m pretty confident that Bobo will be very good at scheming around his new QB’s strengths and weaknesses. So I think Mason will put up numbers that will at least be serviceable. What I don’t know yet is whether he can match Murray’s will to drive the team against top opponents in crunch time that we finally saw emerge in the 2012 SECCG.
- Last night demonstrated that there isn’t a complete team in the SEC East this season. What lessons does Georgia draw from that?
- As we saw last season, the offensive line doesn’t have to be dominant for the offense to be successful. But greater consistency would be huge. I don’t think Theus is going to be a step down at left tackle, because Gates never was suited to play that spot anyway. But the other tackle spot worries me. So does Burnette’s departure.
- I think Floyd, Jenkins and Carter are going to be pass rushing beasts. And no one will be happier about that than their mates in the secondary.
- Speaking of the secondary, I assume we’re about to find out that playing fundamentally sound football trumps talent. What I don’t know is by how much.
- Outside of Marshall Morgan, you could tell me anything about Georgia’s special teams and I’d probably believe you. It shouldn’t be hard for the return teams to improve, but that doesn’t mean they will. And I’m not sure Collin Barber has gotten over the effects of the concussion he suffered last season.
- The guys I have the most faith in are Gurley and Marshall (duh). The kid I have the most hope for is McKenzie.
- The change in scheme from Grantham to Pruitt that I think will have the biggest payoff for the defense is the redefining of the role of the Star defender and the associated removal of a linebacker in obvious passing situations.
- I’m really intrigued by how well Quayvon Hicks manages to handle his increased responsibilities this season. I also wonder if we’re about to see the most diminished role for the fullback that we’ve had under Richt.
- As much as I’d like to see a pass rusher emerge on the d-line, I’ll be happier if those guys can do their jobs as well against the run as they did for much of last year.
- I hope Mitchell and Scott-Wesley get back soon, but for some reason I feel strangely pessimistic that’s going to happen. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed as to Jay Rome’s health.
- There are a lot of ifs you can point to, but the if with the biggest upside for Georgia this season is if this team can swing back from being in the hole with turnover margin.
- I think there are at least a couple of losses on the schedule, because it’s hard for me to discount the flaws in too many areas early on. But I agree with Bill Connelly that Georgia has the highest ceiling of any team in the East. If the coaches manage the rehab job faster than I expect, look out.
Anything you guys want to add?
We’re getting closer. Hungry yet?
- CFN sez Georgia 34 Clemson 17.
- Southern Cal is not having a good week. The best thing you can say about it is that it provides a small distraction from this.
- Jesus, Maryland.
- Penn State may have its postseason ban lifted early.
- This may involve Georgia Tech, but it’s still a cool story.
- Notre Dame holds another player out as it investigates its (growing) academic scandal.
- The Alabama quarterback situation remains as clear as mud.
- Leonard Floyd admits he was just winging it about 90% of the time last season. Now that’s a scary thought.
In descending order of interest…
Texas A&M 52 South Carolina 28
"I think South Carolina will be better without Jadeveon Clowney." – Paul Finebaum, 10 hours ago—
LostLettermen.com (@LostLettermen) August 28, 2014
That’s what they pay him the big bucks for, folks.
Many of us were dazzled by the preseason confident Spurrier (“he’s like that when he knows his team is good”). Kevin Sumlin looked at a green secondary and a defensive line that lost its two best players, one of whom was the number one pick in the NFL draft, and decided he wanted some of that. Sixty (!) passes and 511 passing yards later, the rest was history. What’s remarkable is that Sumlin had his own share of first round draft losses on offense to overcome. And he overcame with a vengeance.
The game somewhat reminded me of South Carolina’s epic 2007 loss to Arkansas, when Spurrier’s team moved the ball and scored on offense, but had no clue on how to stop Darren McFadden, who blew up the SC defense for an SEC record 324 yards. Last night was more lopsided, but the feeling of defensive helplessness was equally palpable.
The question at this point is whether TAMU is that good on offense, or South Carolina is that overrated on defense. It’s probably a little of both, but we’ve got too small a sample size to know for sure yet. One thing is for sure, though: if the ‘Cocks can’t find a pass rush in a hurry, it’s going to be a long year for their defensive backs, who were sliced and diced repeatedly by precisely run routes and throws.
There’s also got to be some concern on the other side of the ball, where the run game was anemic. Sure, Davis’ injury didn’t help and Spurrier was forced to abandon the run to try to keep pace, but that offensive line was supposed to blast TAMU’s defense and that didn’t really happen. Nor did Thompson really look any better than he did last season; he’s still hit and miss (although he throws a beautiful deep ball when he has the time). The Aggies’ pass defense was as questionable as Carolina’s, so you wonder what will happen when SC faces a team with a legit pass defense.
For Georgia partisans, it’s hard to see the result as anything but good news on a number of levels. No, it doesn’t translate into a guaranteed win in Columbia in a couple of weeks, but a defense doesn’t absorb a body blow to its psyche like that and shake it off overnight. And the ‘Cocks face another Air Raid attack this week in East Carolina’s. It’s hard to see how Lorenzo Ward is going to have time to game plan for Georgia while he’s trying to devise a way to stop the bleeding in the secondary. The other thing that’s big, of course, is the loss itself. If – and note I did say “if” – Georgia goes in to Columbia in a couple of weeks and steals the win, South Carolina’s divisional hopes may not be dead, but they’ll certainly be on life support.
By the way, Spurdog, 52 points and 611 yards are career marks in Columbia. Now you know a little bit about how we felt after the 1995 Florida game in Athens.
Ole Miss 35 Boise State 13
Mississippi is the scariest team in the Southeastern Conference.
I don’t mean scary in the sense of dominant. I mean scary in the sense of unpredictable. Freeze’s team has talent, especially on defense, and plays with a mean streak, again, particularly on defense. But it’s got depth issues and the talent isn’t spread out across the board. It’s also got a quarterback who often plays with the attention and focus of a pregnant gerbil.
That’s how you wind up farting around for three quarters with a Boise State team that is several notches below the seasoned group that beat Georgia in the Dome a few seasons ago.
In other news, Bo Wallace is still Bo Wallace.
Freeze was baffled by a couple of Wallace’s interceptions, saying the senior threw toward receivers who weren’t even supposed to be part of the play.
Yet he still wound up throwing for 387 yards and four touchdowns.
There’s going to be a game this year where Ole Miss shows up for its entirety and beats a powerhouse in the West. And there’s going to be a game this year where Wallace never shows up and Ole Miss gets smoked. Enjoy the ride.
Temple 37 Vanderbilt 7
How does a team lose by thirty at home to a team coming off a 2-10 season? Seven – seven – turnovers and a minus-five turnover margin will do that for you. We knew Vandy’s offense would be anemic coming into the season; it lived up to the expectation and then some by failing to score. But we didn’t know it would take an active hand in sabotaging the rest of the team like that.
Derek Mason played three quarterbacks. Nothing worked. It’s looking a like a long season may be shaping up in Nashville.