Ed. note: I’m torn about the outcome of Saturday’s game with Auburn. So instead of doing my usual analysis, I thought I’d turn this post over to a roundtable discussion between two of my favorite body parts, Head and Heart. Have at it, fellas!
Heart: So what do you see as the biggest concern going into the game?
Head: You mean besides the “blackout”? (Rolls eyes.)
Heart: You got a problem with that?
Head: Not with the seniors asking – they’ve earned that. It’s just that all the hyperventilating on the message boards this week over it and the speculation about whether the team will wear black jerseys is borderline silly. I know I’m being an old fart here, but let’s focus on the game.
Heart: Does that mean you won’t wear black on Saturday?
Head: I will if you will. Now let’s move on.
Heart: You’re the one that sidetracked things. Go back to the original question. What’s your biggest concern?
Head: Honestly, it’s the history, the trends. Literally everything going in points in Auburn’s favor. The Tigers are the lower ranked road team. Auburn has thrived with a senior, experienced QB at the helm. And Tuberville does a fantastic job coaching against teams in the Top 10.
Heart: And don’t forget that Georgia hasn’t beaten Florida and Auburn in the same season in 25 years.
Head: True ‘dat. But that’s the kind of stat that’s gonna be there when you have a 2-15 stretch against Florida. The Dawgs haven’t had such a bleak run against Auburn. Still, overall, if you believe in the power of trends over time – and I do – all of that has to take you somewhat aback. Or a lot aback.
Heart: Well, Georgia spit in the face of the trend in Jacksonville a couple of weeks ago. And maybe Richt is using this blackout talk as a distraction from all that history.
Head: Maybe. After Florida, I’m not going to question Richt’s skill as a motivator this season, that’s for sure. But let’s turn the question back your way. What’s your biggest concern?
Heart: The defense, although not perhaps in the way you might think. I believe that Auburn wants to control the clock against Georgia in much the same way that it did against Florida. So long ball control drives are going to be the game plan du jour. Unfortunately, Martinez’ tendency to play bend but not break football plays right into that. And I want the Dawg offense on the field, because I think good things are going to happen when it’s out there.
Head: Wow, you’re not concerned about that eighth ranked defense that Muschamp coaches?
Heart: Don’t be silly. Of course I’m concerned. But when you look at the teams Auburn has played this year, there are only three schools it’s faced that are talented offensively. And Auburn had the benefit of playing Arky when the Hogs were pretty much a one trick pony. The big thing with Auburn this year has been controlling time of possession. That’s one reason its defensive stats look so good. Borges does a super job of keeping Muschamp’s guys off the field. And LSU did put up 500 yards of offense on those guys.
Head: Aw, c’mon. You aren’t comparing Georgia with LSU here, are you?
Heart: Of course not. I’m just saying that it’s not like the Auburn defense is impregnable. Don’t forget that Stafford did just fine against it last year.
Head: Speaking of Stafford, isn’t he the biggest key on offense Saturday?
Heart: Absolutely. It’s obvious now that Moreno has given the Dawg offense an identity and focus that it’s lacked for a while. Muschamp has to account for him. Which means that Matt is going to have the opportunity to make some plays in the passing game. It’s crucial that he steps up.
Head: Well, if he does, it won’t be a surprise after last year.
Heart: Yep. He’ll have confidence going into this game based on how he performed in last year’s win. And his coaches are more confident in his ability, too. All that stuff about Auburn’s success with senior quarterbacks aside, I really think Georgia has the advantage here.
Head: Maybe. You can get inside Cox’s head, as the ’06 game proved. I’d feel a lot better about this game if I knew Georgia would be at least +2 in turnover margin. Or that Georgia would be even in time of possession. Anyway, I think you’ve pretty much indicated this, but, for the record, what do you see as the biggest positive going in to this game?
Heart: Knowshon, Knowshon, Knowshon. You?
Head: No doubt. I’m sort of surprised nobody’s started calling Thomas Brown “Wally Pipp“. You hate to make hay out of one kid’s misfortune, but it’s obvious that the offense has made noticeable strides since Moreno’s become the featured back. He makes it easier on Bobo, on the offensive line and on Stafford.
Heart: It’s been a while since Georgia’s gone into this game with the best tailback on the field. I like that. OK, we’ve rambled enough here; it’s time to get to the bottom line. Who do you like in this one, and why?
Head: To me, the game comes down to turnovers. Had they not turned the ball over the way they did against MSU and South Florida, the Tigers would be rolling into Athens 9-1 right now and would be the higher ranked (and more likely favored) team – which, ironically, would make me more confident about Georgia’s chances fighting the trends. But if Georgia can’t get some takeaways, I just feel like there’s too much history for the Dawgs to overcome here. I look for a final score much like the one Auburn got in the Swamp. How ’bout you?
Heart: Too much Moreno and Stafford for Auburn and Cox to overcome. I think Georgia scores more points than most people are expecting and look for the Dawgs to prevail something like 31-24.
Head: Well, as Mom used to say, from your lips to God’s ears. I gotta get up and stretch.
Heart: No problem. While you’re up, could you get me something to drink?