Another career move I hope takes off so splendidly that he bids farewell to Finebaum…
Daily Archives: September 11, 2014
A little sonic break from all things chicken with the reunited Replacements, doing “Alex Chilton”.
That is effing magnificent. If you disagree, you have no soul.
(Yes, I know it’s only Westerberg and Stinson from the original group. It doesn’t matter.)
I understand it’s taking place in the same venue and against the same coaching staff, but I’m having a hard time understanding all the angst this week over the stinker Georgia laid against South Carolina in 2012. Shaw is gone. So is Lattimore. Ditto for Clowney, Quarles, Taylor, Ace Sanders and any other big name who made that night so miserable. It’s one thing to tell yourself that you can’t take any opponent, under any conditions, lightly. It’s another thing to carry that worry into a game two years later.
Don’t beat yourselves up, guys. Learn from the experience and move on.
By the way, one other thing. Andy Staples hints that the loss that year in Columbia affected the team more than the loss in the SECCG.
Anyone who saw the subsequent Alabama-Notre Dame game knows that means the ‘12 Bulldogs came five yards away from winning the national championship. But that night at Williams-Brice Stadium might haunt them more than their missed chance at the Georgia Dome. “It was just like a nightmare come true,” Gurley said.
He’s talked to the players, so maybe that’s true. But how do you feel about that? Yeah, the blow out sucked, but to lose to ‘Bama that way, after scratching and clawing back to have a last chance to win and play in a national title game that had eluded the program for decades was as gut wrenching as anything I’ve ever sat through as a Georgia fan. But maybe that’s just me.
You will no doubt be shocked, shocked to learn that Jeff Long is totally fine with the idea that Pat Haden’s partisan behavior at the USC-Stanford game has no bearing on his ability to serve dispassionately on the playoff selection committee.
“Well, you know, Bill Hancock from the College Football Playoff issued a statement. But my view is very similar. You know, we can all get passionate about our teams, and you know, I’m passionate about the Arkansas Razorbacks. Matter of fact, I was at the volleyball game last night, and I was excited about some calls. But, you know, the Pac-12 handled it as they should. I think that it doesn’t affect the way that Pat Haden’s going to evaluate teams, make tough decisions when we come down to making tough decisions in the selection process. So, you know, I don’t think his actions affect his ability to serve extremely well on the Playoff Committee.”
Even if he did, I doubt he’d tell us. In any event, once you start questioning one athletic director’s impartiality, where will it end? Not at volleyball games, that’s for sure.
Maybe it’s just me, but a defense that’s admittedly having tackling problems taking on a back who rushed for 102 yards after contact in his last start sounds like it may be in for a challenging day.
Mark Richt was impressed with what Texas A&M did to South Carolina’s defense, but doesn’t see it as an offensive template for Georgia this Saturday.
“We’re not going to try to look at Texas A&M’s game plan and mimic it. There are some things we may be able to use, but we don’t have the stable of receivers they have and we have these running backs that we need to get the ball in their hands.”
Mike Bobo, however, sounds more open-minded about what he might take from TAMU’s success.
“You’ll see us do that some,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “You’ll see us in three-receiver sets. You probably won’t see us in four-receiver sets or five like we might’ve done a couple of years earlier just because of depth at receiver. There will probably always be a tight end on the field. But we’ll try to give them multiple looks and see how they line up.”
In truth, they both sound like they’re getting to the same place. And why not? As Bill Connelly points out in his game preview, South Carolina’s pass defense has been noticeably weaker than its run defense this season. The question is whether Mike Bobo and Hutson Mason can take advantage of that. Bill thinks that Georgia will have to open things up down the field more than the Dawgs did against Clemson.
The last time these teams played, Georgia won because of the passing game. Gurley averaged just 4.4 yards per carry, but Aaron Murray completed 17 of 23 passes at 18.2 yards per completion. He found Justin Scott-Wesley for a game-changing 85-yard score. He found Michael Bennett for a 32-yarder. Keith Marshall had a 48-yard catch-and-run. Hutson Mason averaged seven yards per completion against Clemson, but only six of Murray’s 17 completions last year gained seven or fewer yards.
I’m not quite so convinced of that. Will Georgia need to throw more than it did against Clemson? Most likely. But TAMU ripped the ‘Cock defense with short and medium range targeted throws that took advantage of sloppy fundamentals. SC hasn’t shown that it plays well in space or tackles well (or at least not until the fourth quarter against ECU). If Mason and his receivers are on the same page, there’s no reason to think they can’t have success in the passing game without having to go bombs away.
As far as the running game goes, Todd Gurley’s right about one thing. With the way South Carolina deploys its safeties, if a Georgia running back manages to break through the first level, there’s room to roam. If that means pounding away until the opportunity presents itself, I don’t think Georgia would have a problem with that, at least as long as the scoring is under control. If South Carolina can open up a lead, that may change Bobo’s strategy.
Which brings us to the other side of the ball. Can Georgia slow Mike Davis down? If so, we saw what happened against Clemson when Pruitt forced an offense into one dimension. Whereas Carolina’s defense has been generous on third downs, Bill points out that Dylan Thompson isn’t nearly as good when he’s forced into passing downs. Bill describes what the Gamecocks need to do:
With Davis’ skill and Georgia’s secondary issues, South Carolina should have the advantage on first down, second-and-short or medium, and third-and-short. Keep it in that range.
From here, it looks like the biggest key to the game may be Georgia’s pass rush. Keeping Thompson off-balance would be big. Mike Davis is a terrific back, but he’s not gonna beat the Dawgs by himself.
Harvey Updyke has paid a whopping $99 of the $796,731.98 he owes in restitution to Auburn.
Maybe Finebaum could sponsor a fundraiser.
Can you say “balanced”, Mike Bobo?
“Our goal is still to be balanced,” Bobo said. “I don’t think you can line up and run the ball every play for four quarters against anybody in this league. You’ve got to be able to throw it and run it to keep teams off balance. That’s what we’ll try to do Saturday.”
Good! I thought you could.
How about you, Hutson Mason? Can you say “balanced”?
“You can’t be naive. Teams are going to understand that Todd is our biggest weapon,” Mason said. “We would’ve liked to throw the ball a little bit better against Clemson, but I felt like we were pretty balanced and did a good job when we did throw it. When we get those one-on-one opportunities against South Carolina, we’ve got to take advantage of them.
Good! I thought you could.
It seems to be a given that South Carolina, in a determined effort to stop Todd Gurley, will load the box with as many defenders as it takes and force the offense into Hutson Mason’s hands. I can’t say I’d blame them for adopting such a strategy. But I also can’t help but wonder what the ‘Cocks were doing last year while Gurley rushed for 132 yards (on 30 carries!) and scored two touchdowns. Yes, Aaron Murray had what was arguably the finest game of his career that day and that may have taken the pressure off somewhat, but Gurley enjoys a much deeper running game behind him (remember, Marshall got hurt during that game) Saturday.
I do think that Georgia will throw to set up the run early. But I also remember that last drive in last year’s game. One key throw to Hicks – a throw that is certainly in Mason’s game – and a bunch of crushing running plays that wore out a Carolina defense that was loading up the box play after play. With Clowney, by the way.
The big thing Georgia needs to do on offense to succeed is to stay out of third-and-long scenarios. A deep running game and a quarterback who’s shown himself to be good at avoiding sacks are two good ways to make that happen. That’s my kind of balance.
Georgia is Brian Fremeau’s SEC team with the best chance at emerging from the regular season with an 11-1 or 12-0 record (42 percent). Part of that is due to the likelihood that the West will cannibalize itself more than the East, to be sure. Anyway, if Georgia wins on Saturday, expect the national attention already being paid to the program to intensify significantly.
And not everyone minds “Sandstorm.” Georgia junior linebacker Jordan Jenkins said it actually got him fired up.
“During the game I was like, Shoot this is gettin’ me hyped I don’t know why they keep playing it,” Jenkins said. “It doesn’t bother me as much as Rocky Top does.”
There’s a tried and true way to keep that tune from being played, Jordan.