So James Franklin, after joking about drinking Mai Tais with Todd Grantham at Disney World, went on to note how grown up everyone is.
“I think everyone else is going to talk about it, but I know Coach Richt’s going to focus on playing the game and the fundamentals and that’s what we’re going to do,” Franklin said. “It was an emotional, passionate, great game last year. But we’re going to do what we do every single week and focus on the game, and I would think that’s what Coach Richt is going to do as well.”
Eh, he’s probably right about that. Boring, though.
Now I’m not here to advocate another Celebration moment – although that remains, and will always remain, totally worth it. But there have to be a few more subtle moves with an edge that Richt could take if he wanted to get on Franklin’s nerves.
For example, were it me, I’d name Shawn Williams and Kwame Geathers co-captains. Send a little message right from the coin flip ceremony.
Just curious: what to you figure the over/under is on the number of times Richt, Grantham and Franklin and their players get asked about the motivation factor from last year’s pissing match?
Bonus question: is that number lower or higher than the number of points Vanderbilt scores Saturday night?
UPDATE: There are motivational stones (h/t Charles Grant, forever) dropping all over the place.
But Jenkins heard about Franklin’s signing-day comments that players who decommit after accepting scholarship offers are not “men of honor” or “men of integrity” — uttered shortly after Jenkins’ signing classmate, Josh Dawson, flipped his commitment from Vandy to Georgia — and he knows how the overall succession of events has added intensity to a previously tame division rivalry.
“This might be the game of the year,” Jenkins said after making his first career start in the Bulldogs’ 56-20 rout of Florida Atlantic. “With past reputations and stuff that transpired last year, I’m definitely expecting a four-quarter game. Vandy never gives up. They fight to the death and that’s one of the games I couldn’t wait to play.”
Asked if there is an unusual buzz around the locker room about facing Vanderbilt, Dawson said that is the case for some players.
“Between a couple of us there is — me and Josh Dawson,” Jenkins said with a grin. “He committed there and I said, ‘You’d better turn up because they’re going to be after you.’ I’m just ready for that game and ready for the team to get past that landmark.”
I see that James Franklin and his team are in full excuse mode two games into the season. Generally, that’s not a good sign.
Here’s my favorite part:
“I think we were complacent,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if you could say we got entitled… We didn’t handle what little success we had last year very well.”
When you’re complacent after going 6-7, I think you’ve summed up your problem in a nutshell.
The Vandy game time has been set.
All day tailgating and James Franklin’s first trip to Athens. What could possibly go wrong with that combination?
If the SEC really wants to guarantee a special evening, I’d suggest assigning Penn Wagers’ crew to the game.
Is this the quintessential Vanderbilt moment, or what?
Of course, let’s keep that in perspective: even if the official had flagged Carolina on the play, it still meant Vanderbilt had to cover about half the field in about 100 seconds. That was anything but a given for a team that amassed less than 300 total yards on the night.
Still, it helps make for a nice, warm moral victory.
On to a few specifics:
- The game was closer than I thought it would be, for two reasons, both of which should be troubling to South Carolina. First, the injury to Connor Shaw. It’s funny – all those years we watched Stephen Garcia run recklessly and never get hurt and Shaw, a gamer who runs with a much more organized purpose than Garcia ever did, gets banged up. The Gamecock offense, which wasn’t exactly lighting things up before Shaw was hurt, completely shut down in his absence. And it’s not like Shaw won’t be facing a few formidable front sevens in October. It’s a little scary to consider how much is going to be left of him after the Florida game.
- The second reason, the shocker of the night, was how much South Carolina missed Alshon Jeffery. Especially the threat of Alshon Jeffery. The ‘Cocks gained a whopping 67 yards through the air. Their leading receiver was Marcus Lattimore. Shaw couldn’t throw anything longer than an intermediate-level pass with any authority, even before his injury. (There was only one completion of as much as 20 yards and that was to the tight end.)
- Lattimore wasn’t 100 percent, but he was still the best player on the field. The Vanderbilt defense keyed on him, which allowed Shaw to rack up almost 100 yards rushing, but still, when it came down to crunch time, Lattimore showed he had it in him to take over a game. He’s got some rust to shake off, but he’ll get better. He’ll have to.
- For all the smart-assery we’ve heard from the OBC about the schedule, I bet he’s not too unhappy right now about Georgia not being his week two opponent.
- The South Carolina secondary is definitely the weak link on the defense. And there are some passing attacks that are going to take advantage of that.
- The “SEC – Year of the Quarterback” meme took a hit last night. I’ve already mentioned Shaw’s deficiencies. Rodgers looked like the same erratic passer he was last year. He did have that nice 78-yard hookup with Jordan Matthews, but he had more than his fair share of head scratchers.
- I really, really like Vanderbilt’s coaches. Despite being obviously overmatched on both lines, they did everything they could to scratch, claw and compensate for that. The Vandy defense, in particular, looks like it’s going to be a pain in the ass to deal with.
- And I thought Lorenzo Ward did a competent job masking the weakness of his secondary. Take away that one busted play in coverage that allowed Vandy’s touchdown of the night and there wasn’t a whole bunch else. He’ll do all right this year.
- It sure looks a lot easier to kick off for a touchback.
- Who thought a Spurrier-coached team would be so boring?
For Vanderbilt, it’s going to be a year when everyone talks about grit, determination and being well-coached. Not so much about winning, though. For all their toughness, the Commodores held a 13-10 second half lead against a team with a one-armed quarterback… and lost. There’s still too much of a talent gap in Nashville. Vandy isn’t going to upset a better team without help on the turnover front, and even then, as last night showed, that’s not always going to happen.
South Carolina is a deeper team than it’s ever been and that helped last night. But you have to wonder how far the Gamecocks can go with that passing attack, even if Shaw stays healthy going forward. You also have to wonder if South Carolina’s front seven can do enough to compensate for the back four against a team with a more consistent passing game than Vanderbilt’s. The OBC would seem to have his work cut out for him.
Admittedly, I’ve been a little slack taking you guys through the fever swamps of opposing schools’ message boards lately, but I’ve got a couple of threads you may find amusing.
First from Vanderbilt’s Scout board, someone asks the musical question “Why do we hate UGA so much right now?”. Honestly, I’m still trying to get over the concept of why they hate Georgia at all, but I digress. Winning comment: ”Franklin stood up to them and they were offended. Add on the fact that he’s African American, and you’ve got a lot of hidden racism bubbling to the surface, although the largely white fan base would never admit it.” Unlike, say, Vandy’s largely white fan base…
Okay, if that was surprising, there’s nothing like going home to Stingtalk, where you can always count on whatever amount of logic twisting is necessary to show that anything that happens in Athens is good for Georgia Tech. So you can imagine the wisdom spewed forth over twelve pages in response to this: “Anyone else like that GA SOUTHERN plays UGA the week before us?”. The gist of why it’s good, I gather, is because it will give Paul Johnson a look at how Grantham defends the triple option. It’s not until the seventh page of the thread that someone points out Johnson’s seen how Grantham defends the triple option twice already.
You gotta love ‘em.
James Franklin, at the unveiling of Vanderbilt’s spiffy new unis – at a Barnes and Noble! – took the occasion to throw down a warning to the rest of the conference.
“You guys saw last year, we’re not gonna take a backseat to anybody. You come into Vanderbilt Stadium you better be ready for a fight… Change is happening. The culture has been changed.”
If by “fight”, he means having to deal with a mouthy head coach after things don’t go his way on the field, consider us served.
I’m not sure what I enjoy the most about this story – the blatant “good for me, but not for thee” aspect of Johnson’s poaching on Vanderbilt’s turf in contrast to the vaunted Johnson Doctrine, or anticipation of the inevitable “smoking hot” jokes that are bound to be made at Franklin’s expense in the wake of the news.
“I don’t think Vanderbilt is going to take it too well. They are probably going to come after me to get me to commit to them again…”
Watch out for those coaches on the rebound, Vandy fans. They’ll go out with anyone.
Well, this is one way to pick a staff.
Franklin, in a relaxed mood near the beach, explained, “I’ve been saying it for a long time, I will not hire an assistant until I see his wife. If she looks the part and she’s a D1 recruit, then you got a chance to get hired. That’s part of the deal. There’s a very strong correlation between having the confidence, going up and talking to a women, and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being articulate and confident, than it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling him.”
You’ve got to love this response from one of the Vandy assistant coaches.
I haven’t figured out yet how this gets used on the recruiting trail, but I’m sure somebody will come up with something.
UPDATE #2: Travis goes there.
Let bygones be bygones.
“But to me, again, I’m a very emotional, passionate guy. This is personal to me. But on the same hand I’m a guy who once things happen I move on. I have tremendous respect for coach Richt and that program. I have respect for coach Grantham as well and what he’s trying to do. I think coach Grantham was trying to do everything he could to support his players and show them that he had his back. And I was doing the same. And those things happen from time to time.”
I don’t expect this year’s Sanford Stadium crowd to be so understanding.