Life after the crayon box

Jeb Blazevich haz a sad.

Jeb Blazevich searched his memory, but he couldn’t quite remember when and how he heard the news two years ago. Yes, his offensive coordinator leaving was a big deal, but at the time it didn’t seem like a seismic, far-reaching event. Georgia was coming off another record-setting offensive year, there was talent all around, and even Mike Bobo told everyone on the way out that his team would be just fine.

There was no reason for Blazevich and other Georgia players to think anything else.

“They said we had the best offense in Georgia history my freshman year,” recalled Blazevich, now a junior tight end, on a year when Georgia scored the most points in school history. “I said, well shoot we’ll break it again next year.”

Blazevich laughed.

“It’s interesting how naïve I was, I guess,” he said.

The struggles since then of Georgia’s once-mighty offense have cost one head coach his job, resulted in wholesale turnover on the offensive coaching staff, and generally been a source of constant consternation among the fan base.

If Georgia doesn’t score 40 points in Friday’s Liberty Bowl, it will be the first season in 16 years that the Bulldogs haven’t reached 40 in a single game. After setting records in Bobo’s final few seasons, the numbers have cratered the past two years under Brian Schottenheimer and Jim Chaney: The Bulldogs enter the bowl game ranked 89th nationally in total offense and 104th in scoring, and will need to score 40 points to avoid the lowest scoring output for a Georgia team since the schedule expanded to 12 games.

Now I’m sad.

Seth Emerson does a good job of cataloguing the reasons for Georgia’s offensive decline.  Two of those in particular caught my eye.

One is the blocking scheme, which we’ve discussed before.  There has been a change of approach from Sale to Pittman.

Sam Pittman, the respected line coach hired by Smart, instituted a scheme predicated on blockers moving forward. Rob Sale, the line coach last year, focused more on a “lateral” technique, according to lineman Dyshon Sims.

“It’s the same concept, but every position coach teaches it different,” said Sims, a junior this year. “And I think as you happen to do the lateral stuff last year and then trying to transform it into going straight downhill took some time for us getting some used to. But I think now that we’re comfortable with that scheme it’s going to be a lot better.”

Sims was asked what the biggest challenge was with the change.

“Just not getting into the old system anymore,” he said. Because you train yourself into trying to do that for so long, for over a year, and then you have to change everything, pretty much. So sometimes you can find yourself going into the old stuff a lot.”

Brandon Kublanow, a starter the past three years, also acknowledged that you sometimes “fall back on habits”, but you have to use practice to avoid that.

“I think every offensive line coach will tell you they have their own style, what kind of footwork they want, what kind of steps they want, how far the steps will be,” Kublanow said. “So everyone’s different. New year, new coach, so a lot of different things.”

Old habits die hard.  (Although that doesn’t explain Catalina’s struggles.)

Two, transitions have been a way of life for three seasons now.

There’s a reason that Blazevich, Chubb and the other soon-to-be seniors are looking forward to next year: Continuity.

“This’ll be the first time I had a strength coach and offensive coordinator both coming back,” Blazevich said. “So just to have that consistency. I mean, I don’t even know what it’s like. Just to take that next step, because everything’s always been intro.”

Not only have there been three coordinators the past three years – four if you count John Lilly’s successful play-calling stints in the two bowls – but there have been three offensive line coaches, three running backs coaches, three receivers coaches, and three strength and conditioning coordiantors.

“The consistency of ‘This is how it’s going to be, this is how it was, now everybody’s on board and everybody knows,’” Blazevich said. “It’s not, ‘Oh we need to figure out this offense, we need to figure out this weight training.’ Now it is what it is and we can just go.”

Chubb echoed that.

“I think it has been overlooked. You can get by with it one year, but then the next year you change, and it kind of gets complicated,” Chubb said. “Hopefully we can get some kind of stability here and make things better.”

Yeah, I can see how that would lead to a bit of a mess.

Both points lend themselves to an argument that there is reason to be optimistic about improvement on the offensive side of the ball next season, but that’s something that remains to be seen, obviously.  It’s also probably the strongest reason for giving Chaney another year.

Purely as an aside, boy, does this comment come off vastly different in hindsight:

Obviously Mike did great things here,” Schottenheimer said when he was introduced at Georgia. “He will do great things at Colorado State. I’m not gonna try to be Mike, certainly…”

Mission accomplished.

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68 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

68 responses to “Life after the crayon box

  1. Granthams replacement

    The difference in blocking philosophy is apparent in the type of offensive linemen Kirby/Pittman are recruiting. Some of the “old habits” were getting knocked 4 yards into the backfield and lateral movements were an o la like a matador.

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  2. Russ

    Another “the first time since…”. There have been a lot of them this year.

    Chaney and Pittman certainly didn’t impress on the field this year, but I agree with keeping them around for another year or two just for some semblance of continuity. If things don’t improve significantly in the next two seasons, it will be clean house anyway. Start firing OCs now and we will definitely move into Boom 2.0 territory.

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    • Macallanlover

      I get the continuity point, felt it had benefited us for many years, but I am still very uneasy about using that to justify another year with Chaney, who just seemed inept this season….and I mean all season long. We were beyond bad after the UNC game. I just feel like it is a Fram deal, pay me now, or pay me later. I really hope I am wrong, but hope and change hasn’t worked for me so the glass looks half empty. I would hate to waste another year getting the pieces in the right places. Starting over in year three would be really, really bad, I saw enough in 2016 to convince me this isn’t a jimmy and joe problem. Again, would like nothing more than eating these words next fall.

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  3. Heyberto

    Glad to know it wasn’t just the size that was the issue on the O Line. Never having played organized football, I Assumed there were more universal fundamentals to line play than rehearsed technique, so now I’m a little more optimistic for next year.

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  4. CB

    “’He will do great things at Colorado State. I’m not gonna try to be Mike, certainly…’
    Mission accomplished.”

    Well, if that’s your bar then all that’s left to do is get blown out in our bowl game and finish 7-6.

    Now, I don’t doubt that Bobo would have done a better job with Eason this year than Chaney did, but remember Brice Ramsey would be the starter if Bobo was still in Athens (assuming we didn’t get a Joe T/Stafford situation, which I suppose is pretty likely). Ramsey is a terrible qb as evidenced by his high int rate and the fact that he sat the bench behind the likes of Huston Mason, Faton Bauta and Greyson Lambert.

    If anyone really thinks that Georgia would be able to repeat or even come close to the “2014 anomaly season” with Ramsey under center then you have a level of optimism that the Dali Llama would envy. Imagine Brice Ramsey under center with no Nick Chubb to hand the ball off to in 2015. Would have been a disaster. On the other hand perhaps Jacob Park would have emerged because he ain’t lookin half bad at Iowa State.

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    • Rocketdawg

      You have a skewed view of the Bobo years as OC if you think 2014 was an anomaly. The offense had been on fire for 3 years prior setting a record each season.

      This year would have probably looked more like 2011 but still a productive offense.

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      • CB

        I’ll reissue the Mike Bobo challenge. Give me any year outside of 2014 and I’ll give you 3-4 games where the offense was anywhere from subpar to a complete no show.

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        • Charles

          Cool non sequitur, bro.

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        • James Stephenson

          2012, give me 3-4 bad games of offense.

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          • CB

            SC, Florida, failure at the end of the SECCG.

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            • “failure at the end of the SECCG” = game?

              LOL. Why don’t you just say Bobo was overrated because every drive he directed didn’t end in a score.

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              • CB

                You’re right. Screwing up the entire culmination of chance at a title shot in one fell swoop is no big deal. Heck, he did his best. Forget I said anything. Let’s bring him back to Athens and make him head coach.

                The dude had more bad seasons than good. Period. If you think it’s a coincidence that Georgia stopped winning SEC Championships when Bobo took over play calling then I only ask that you bring me some of Captain Hook’s rum when you return from Neverland.

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                • He directed a drive that had the offense down to the ‘Bama five with a chance to win the game. The last call was sound; it failed because a defender made a great play. In any event, you were asked to provide examples of bad games. Last time I looked, one drive a game doesn’t make.

                  It’s hilarious you can blame the loss on him. My worst memory of that SECCG was the defense giving up a two-point conversion on a running play up the middle. Damn that Bobo!

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                  • CB

                    They’re not even in the game if not for a block fg TD. Either way, I’ll concede the SECCG. That still leaves 6 out of 8 years that I can give you 3-4 games where the offense failed under Bobo. Not to mention the fact that the east has been complete trash since 2010.

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                • RCBRick

                  According to CFB stats, here were Bobo’s finishes in conference for offensive yards/play:

                  2014: #1
                  2013: #5
                  2012: #1 (also #1 in the entire nation)
                  2011: #4
                  2010: #4
                  2009: #6
                  2008: #2

                  Not a single finish in the bottom half of the conference. Which are the bad seasons again? There are at least 3 good ones there by any definition.

                  But because we have the dumbest fanbase in the conference, that wasn’t good enough, so we canned a great coach. And because we are also fortunate enough to have the dumbest AD in the land, we went out and replaced him with a good ol’ boy alum and retreads at both coordinator positions. And now we’re paying the predictable price, in large part thank to an Offense light years worse than anything Bobo ever gave us even in the darkest days.

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                  • CB

                    “There are at least 3 good ones there by any definition”

                    3 out of 8 isn’t even 50%. I don’t dispute that Bobo better than what we have now. But it seems like we’ve gone from mediocre to bad.

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                    • RCBRick

                      For the period covered by cfbstats, Bobo’s combined yards/play were the best in the entire conference. #1. The best. All other teams were worse. Every single one.

                      But you are correct that you think it’s mediocre, and a lot of UGA fans agreed with you. Here’s the reality: we didn’t go from mediocre to bad. We went from the best to the worst.

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                    • CB

                      Last time I checked you don’t get points for yards per play.

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                    • RCBRick

                      Yes, you do. It correlates better to points scored relative to your opponent than any other simple metric. Simple points scored does not account for pacing, which obviously impacts how much your opponent scores just as much as you, so it’s a shit statistic. It also doesn’t account for field position set up by your D/ST. Yards/per play is independent of both of these factors, which is why it also correlates highly to actually winning games.

                      And that’s why Mike Bobo was an excellent coordinator, in spite of our dumbass fanbase’s hysterics to the contrary.

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                    • CB

                      “Simple points scored does not account for pacing, which obviously impacts how much your opponent scores just as much as you, so it’s a shit statistic. It also doesn’t account for field position set up by your D/ST.”

                      Neither does yards per play. Your explanation while deep, is complete nonsense.

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                    • RCBRick

                      Yards/play does not need to account for those factors because it is almost entirely orthogonal to them, other than a modest depression from exceptional field position putting a lower ceiling on big TD plays. You are welcome to declare that to be nonsense but an actual, you know, reason would be nice.

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                    • CB

                      I’m not totally discounting yards per play as a metric, it just doesn’t prove that Bobo was good. First, it doesn’t take into account quality of opponent. Bobo gained a lot of yards (ans scored a lot of points) against bad defenses. That skews the numbers to make him look better than he is especially since the East has been horrific since 2010.

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                    • Charles

                      “Last time I checked you don’t get points for yards per play.”

                      Annnnnnd… another non sequitur.

                      Moreover, YPP is strongly correlated with points (and a better barometer of offensive production due to the variation in starting field position resulting from taking possession after turnovers, special teams play, etc.). But, hey, you’re Mike Bobo-challenged so I doubt that’ll influence your opinion.

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                    • CB

                      Dude, you clearly have no clue what a non sequitur is.

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                    • Charles

                      RCBRick beat me to the punch; and was much more persuasive in doing so. What he said.

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                    • CB

                      “much more persuasive in doing so”

                      You’re not setting the bar too high.

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    • Jp

      Don’t worry guys CB got his degree but he can’t count .

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  5. HVL Dawg

    Our fans are shocked, shocked to learn that we’ve had three OCs in the past three years. Who can we blame it on?

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  6. Red Cup

    I was not happy with our offensive production this year for sure but do not want to make a change either. We need some continuity. I also wonder how much of the offensive stubbornness was due to Kirby. I am hopeful it was and he has learned some lessons and we open it up some.

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  7. Squatchdawg

    You mean transitions and multiple coaches over a short period of time impact performance? This would almost indicate that a coaching change should warrant a certain amount of time for the new staff to settle in, install their program and get their own recruits in place before fans start bitching about production.

    And all this time I thought CKS just sucked at coaching.

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  8. AthensHomerDawg

    …blocking scheme.

    I gota chuckle outta that. I bet sher3lock did too

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    • Sh3rl0ck

      Sam Pittman, the respected line coach hired by Smart, instituted a scheme predicated on blockers moving forward. Rob Sale, the line coach last year, focused more on a “lateral” technique, according to lineman Dyshon Sims.

      “It’s the same concept, but every position coach teaches it different,” said Sims, a junior this year. “And I think as you happen to do the lateral stuff last year and then trying to transform it into going straight downhill took some time for us getting some used to. But I think now that we’re comfortable with that scheme it’s going to be a lot better.”

      Emerson is using the phrase “blocking scheme” incorrectly as that refers to something very specific. Dyshon Sims used the more proper term, technique. There have been very different philosophies amongst the last four offensive line coaches. Stacy Searels and Rob Sale both believed in the “Rumsfeld Doctrine” of OL blocking. Like akido, the goal is to use the defenders momentum against them and to open holes by expanding gaps with lateral movement. Will Friend and Sam Pittman are proponents of what is called “drive blocking”. Like sumo, the goal is to kick the other guys ass and drive his dick into the dirt.

      To say that there was a change from a zone blocking scheme is erroneous as the blocking scheme is determined by the play. Every dive and every sweep are zone blocking. Every iso is a man scheme. Every power play is a gap scheme. To say that there is a change in blocking philosophy / technique is completely true. I understand that we are getting into semantics and are talking about the definition of the word “scheme”. The thing that triggers me is the false statement of changing from a zone scheme. Sure, Schotty called zone based plays a hell of a lot more than Bobo or Chaney, but that isn’t a change in schemes.

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  9. Charles

    A few days ago, some guy was on here bagging on Aaron Murray because he “turned the ball over in every game” or something like that.

    Moreover, if y’all think back to that 2014 season, y’all might recall that the message boards and blog comments were chock full of remarks about Hutson Mason’s “noodle arm.” “Free Brice Ramsey!” they bleated with reckless abandon!

    Enjoy the wilderness, y’all.

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    • CB

      As for Mason’s arm. Gurley threw the longest completion in the 2014 season and that stood until this year. You’re comments are full a lot of emotion and little substance. Do better or head to Field Street.

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    • CB

      “Some guy”

      You know who it was. It was your daddy.

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      • Charles

        “As for Mason’s arm. Gurley threw the longest completion in the 2014 season and that stood until this year. You’re [sic] comments are full a lot of emotion and little substance. Do better or head to Field Street.”

        And, yet, that bum Mike Bobo and Ole Noodle Arms helmed the most productive offense in the conference. Try and reconcile THAT, “Daddy.”

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    • CB

      “’turned the ball over in every game’ or something like that.”

      Murray threw 41 int’s in 52 games. His fumble numbers aren’t readily available but he had quite a few over his career. As such it’s entirely possible that he literally averaged one turnover per game. For all that he did well, that is really bad and often killed us.

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      • Charles

        “Murray threw 41 int’s in 52 games… As such it’s entirely possible that he literally averaged one turnover per game.”

        That’s because he was second in SEC history for career passing attempts (1,478), you irredeemable moron.

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        • CB

          Ha, wow man. That is a lot of emotion for a blog comment. Disclaimer, you will still be wrong no matter how creative your adjectives get prior to your insults.

          The nature of Murray’s interceptions were the worst part about them. He always either got passed tipped (a direct result of staring down receivers) or threw it into heavy coverage (made bad reads). Plus, how do his pass attempts explain all the fumbles? I’m a moron so help me figure it out.

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        • CB

          On separate note. I’m starting to think you have a thing for me. Initially you sub mentioned me as if you didn’t recall who I was and then proceeded to respond to all my comments today. Getting a little weird.

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  10. Watching CSU play in their bowl game the blocking scheme was obviously different. The linemen sort of let the defenders come up field then turned them to create lanes. And there were big lanes to run through compared to the scrums we saw this past year.

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  11. so this continuity that is soooo important with a mediocre coach was somehow what was keeping us from making it to the next level when we had a Coach winning 10 a year. I’m really confused, the players and stats say continuity/longevity is important but our big liquor dealers/donors and the very loudest of fans say that change is what we needed……what did the anti-Richt crowd know that I didn’t? O yeah nuffin. Change and Hope suxs. Senator needs to be the head coach,Bobo the highest paid OC in America and I hear Vangorder and his porn stash are available for DC.Problem solved…..on to the middle east.

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  12. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    This whole business of hiring coaches and firing coaches based upon short term results is insane as this article shows, and leads me to think that ADGM isn’t really making decisions so much as he is responding to pressure from big money donors to ‘make something happen’. We as fans need to lighten up a little bit if we really want to see success. Battleship analogies aside, let’s hope for a coaching staff that can maintain a little unity over a couple of seasons, and that will make their decisions rationally a priori instead rationalizing what happened later, and then see where we are.

    Whether we have a process or not, a process is necessary to succeed consistently:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prospect_theory

    Anything else is just luck. I’m looking at you, Auburn.

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  13. W Cobb Dawg

    Hiring new coach = bad. Retaining underachieving coach = good.

    I say that’s bullshit. It depends upon the quality of the hire. When Pruitt was hired the defense improved immediately and continued to improve. And that was with a heaping helping of mediocre talent.

    The two coaches in question, Pittman and Chaney, didn’t show improvement as the season progressed. Expecting them to improve next season is heavy on wishful thinking and light based on performance. These are not 2 guys who’ve shown continued upward improvement as their careers have progressed. Eight wins is about as good as it gets with them.

    Kirby should take a hard look at the candidates out there before deciding to bring these 2 back. One would think he’d do that as a part of the process anyway.

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    • Pittman is very highly regarded, so I’m not sure where you’re getting the negative assessment from as to his career.

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      • W Cobb Dawg

        I checked his bio, short stints at No. Illinois, Hutchinson CC, Kansas, UNC, WMU, Cinci, Mizzou, Arky and ut. A couple truly awful losing years at Oklahoma!

        Why does Pittman merit credit for a few players getting drafted if he only coached them for a year, maybe two? Doesn’t appear he was anywhere long enough to actually recruit and develop a player from enrollee to nfl draftee.

        I’m far less impressed now than I was before checking! Now I’m wondering why Kirby hired him in the first place. Highly regarded?! No HC with a winning record wants the guy.

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    • Dog in Fla

      I do not like green eggs and ham.
      I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.
      But both Bert and Bama wanted Sam.

      https://blutarsky.wordpress.com/2016/07/13/i-kind-of-stuck-my-tongue-out-wiggled-my-nose-and-i-felt-good-about-it/

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      • ElectroM

        Finally, somebody is posting at a level we can all understand. I could be having a senior moment, but aren’t pittman and chaney big buddies and it was a sort of a package deal? We had to hire chaney to get pittman?

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        • Sh3rl0ck

          That is what many of us originally thought, but Smart has confirmed that he hired Chaney first and that Chaney is the one that recommended Pittman.

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  14. MGW

    We didn’t hire an “out coach em regardless of talent” kind of guy. We hired an “out recruit em and beat em to death” kind of guy. Such is life in the first year of such a regime.

    Watching the inevitable knee jerk reactions to each week of the season in the comments section here has been hilarious.

    You know who looked great his first couple of years making the most of what was on the roster? Paul Johnson.

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  15. CB

    “Some guy”

    You know who it was son. It was your daddy.

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    • Charles

      A retort so nice you posted it twice!

      No worries, bruh. Totally understandable error. The commenting system is much more user friendly over at the AJC’s site.

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  16. pcpup

    How about a first-year starter at QB in three consecutive seasons?

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  17. lakedawg

    Did Chili change his handle to CB.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Jp

    CB once told me that he lived in my head rent free . I didn’t have the heart to tell him back then but here is the skinny. The only place CB lives rent free is in his parents basement , because you can’t make a living when you have a blog with one reader, you can’t count , and you can’t understand that UGA had no defense when Murray was there. Hell we had to score 44 at home to beat Lsu and Bama threw less than 5 passes in the entire second half of the Sec title game. See in football the team that scores the most points is the winner CB. Just remember that and this entire thing gets easier.

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