I didn’t know he was that good.
Daily Archives: September 26, 2017
It’s basketball, but it’s also Auburn, so follow the bouncing tweets.
And in the understatement of the day…
Finally, Ole Miss finds somebody to hold its beer. You sure are running a clean conference these days, Commissioner Sankey.
UPDATE: You want somebody to draw you a road map? Okay.
UPDATE #2: Auburn is “angry”.
An entire division makes ESPN’s Bottom 10 list.
How do I love an entire division in the Coveted Fifth Spot? Let me count the ways. Vandy lost to Bama by 59 points; Mizzou lost to Auburn by 37; Kentucky fell to Florida for the 31st time in a row by blowing a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead. Then Florida had nine players tagged in a fraud case. And the team that had just lost to Kentucky last week, South Carolina, had to kick a late field goal to win 17-16 over Louisiana Tech, a team that came in the day ranked 94th in the nation in points allowed. Am I missing anyone? Oh yeah, Tennessee message boards have been filled with eleventy-billion #FireButch complaints after being in this spot solo last week and then narrowly escaping UMass. So, how many ways? All those other numbers added to eleventy-billion.
Yeah, that’s not a good look. But you know what would make a worse look? If Georgia can’t top this bunch.
In my Power Poll post, I joked about Jim McElwain being in possession of Gus’ ginormous rabbit’s foot, but it’s no joke that Florida’s two game-winning touchdowns came on throws where the opposing defenses were missing defensive backs.
On the one hand, I feel pretty good that Georgia won’t get caught short in that department, but on the other hand, as my inner Munson likes to remind me, it’s not wrong to worry about Florida pulling something out of its ass to win. Rather be lucky than good, if you know what I mean.
The Dawgs are twentieth defensively in that category, at 40%. There are two things to say about that. First, while you may like that ranking to be higher, considering where they finished last season, that’s one helluva lot of improvement. Second, that win in South Bend is looking better and better. We may have to say plenty of nice things about the Irish as the season rolls on.
I’ve already mentioned where Booch’s mind was at yesterday, but I want to return to the subject at least tangentially, because one of the most fascinating things about Saturday’s game is what both teams bring to the table on the intangibles front.
If it’s an exaggeration to suggest that Jones is coaching for his job these days, it’s probably not much of one. What does seem likely at a minimum, though, is that if Tennessee loses to Georgia, its hopes of winning the SEC East are snuffed. 0-2 in the conference and on the wrong side of tiebreakers with Florida and Georgia isn’t on the road map to Atlanta. Any way you look at it, then, the Vols are under a tremendous amount of pressure to win at home.
Meanwhile Kirby Smart has to thread a needle delicately between making sure his team plays with the confidence it takes to win an SEC road game while avoiding the overconfidence that can be the expected product of an unexpectedly dominant win over a ranked opponent. As I posted on Sunday, the good thing is that Smart’s been there and done that plenty while in Tuscaloosa; the not-so-good thing is that he’s in Athens now and that’s behavior that has to be learned.
Add in the wrinkle of the bizarre ending to last year’s meeting between the two…
The penalty was assessed on the ensuing kickoff, meaning Georgia kicked off from its own 20 rather than the 35. The Volunteers took over at the Bulldogs’ 43 after UGA was flagged for being offsides on the kickoff. That left Tennessee with 6 seconds, which was just enough time for quarterback Joshua Dobbs to lob a Hail Mary pass to Jauan Jennings, who was remarkably open in front of several Georgia defenders in the end zone to secure a 34-31 win over the Bulldogs.
It made for one of the most drastic 10-second turnarounds in the history of college football ― certainly in Georgia annals at Sanford Stadium.
… and you really should have all sorts of emotions swirling around the field in Knoxville. How each team reacts to the baggage they carry in will tell us quite a bit.
Todd Blackledge’s soft “oh, boy” at about the 1:20 mark when he sees all three Georgia receivers break open for what turned out to be an easy touchdown throw to Isaac Nauta is worth the price of admission.
Oh, yeah, the other two hours are a fun watch as well.
Seth Emerson has a good story on how Smart and Tucker have built Georgia’s secondary, which as we sit here right now sports the 18th-best defensive passer rating nationally, despite only having two interceptions to its name. One big reason for that is it’s doing a ridiculous job of limiting the big play: it’s fourth in yards per attempt with a paltry 4.9 average.
Anyway, what’s interesting about the starting secondary is that even with Smart’s deserved reputation as a great recruiter, it’s populated by guys who weren’t recruiting blue bloods.
Aaron Davis was one of those rare, literal walk-ons. Four years ago, then-Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham might not even have known who Davis was during their one season together.
“Probably not too much,” said Davis, who redshirted in 2013, Grantham’s final year season the team. “I didn’t spend too much time with him.”
… J.R. Reed came to Georgia last year after a nondescript first year at Tulsa. The general thought was Georgia accepted his transfer to get his cousin, 4-star recruit Deangelo Gibbs. Instead, it was Reed who earned a starting spot and might turn out to be one of the great finds in recent Georgia history, leading the team with 10 tackles against Mississippi State.
“He did a good job on the scout team last year. Coaches saying, ‘Hey man, J.R. Reed’s going to be a good player,’” coach Kirby Smart said. “Then when the spring came, and it was like, ‘This guy’s a starter.’”
So are Deandre Baker and Dominick Sanders, two 3-star recruits who each had an interception Saturday.
I continue to marvel at the season Reed is having, but he’s just one of several overachievers back there. You can’t chalk all of that up to luck. All in all, the secondary is a testament to the staff’s skills in talent evaluation and player development. Pruitt probably deserves some of the credit for planting seeds, but it’s exciting to see where this is headed.
Maybe the best part is reflecting on what they’ll be able to raise out of the next bumper crop, considering a lot of those kids were highly sought-after recruits.
I mentioned in yesterday’s Power Poll that Bert currently possesses the most constricted sphincter in the SEC West. That being said, I’m not sure they make a pin slender enough to drive up Booch’s ass right now.
At yesterday’s presser, someone in the media asked him about a story that one of Tennessee’s players was hurt in a scuffle with another teammate. That brought this bizarre, epic response.
“I think we have to understand what do we want out of our media? This place, with the drama — and again, these are kids, and I think we all have children and we’re all adults. Are we focused on Tennessee football from a recruiting standpoint, from all the positive things we’ve done, from all the positive things this football program brings to the community, this great fan base … are we in the reality world of TV?
“And I think all of us as human beings have to self-check ourselves. And you may not like that answer, but I’m a father. I have three boys. And I think we sometimes have to put ourselves in a role of a parent as well. And I understand you all have jobs to do. My expectations as the head football coach, I’m the caretaker of Tennessee football. I’m here to develop and grow the football program, recruit the best possible student-athletes to represent the University of Tennessee and win football games and graduate our players. That’s my responsibility. I take that very seriously.
“But also, I love our kids and I’m going to protect our players and I’m going to protect our program. And sometimes the negativity is overwhelming. If everyone is Vols fans, how do we let our opponents use this in the recruiting process with fake news? And sometimes, again, we have to check ourselves. What are we here for? What’s our values and principles that guide our life every single day?
“And I appreciate everyone in this room. You guys have a job to do and I’m respectful of that. And I’m friends with a lot of you guys in the room and I appreciate it. But also there comes a certain time where enough is enough. So, thank you. You guys have a great day. I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday. Go Vols.” [Emphasis added.]
Evidently what Booch wants out of the media is a recruiting assist. That’s gonna happen.
Although I do think “What are we here for?” has some real potential as the next big catch phrase for Tennessee football.