Daily Archives: September 9, 2018

Observations from the armchair, UGA-South Carolina edition

No, it wasn’t the key to the game, or the moment when the game turned, but in terms of message sending, Andrew Thomas’ injury was huge.  A preseason All-SEC candidate at left tackle goes out on the first series of the second half, is replaced by a true freshman and the o-line blocking gets better.  The recruiting, the depth of talent and the coaching it takes for all of that to come together is something that very, very few teams in the country can boast of.

South Carolina, unfortunately for the ‘Cocks, isn’t one of those teams.  But they, along with the rest of the SEC East, got a demonstration of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a divisional team that is.

And with that, it’s on to the bullet points.

  • You want my key moment of the game?  After Carolina scored on a trick play, Fromm throws a terrible interception that’s returned to the Georgia 35, and with all the momentum in the world in front of Sandstorm-loving fans screaming their collective heads off, Georgia’s defense forces a turnover on downs on a series in which SC didn’t gain a yard.  Georgia to that point wasn’t playing that well — at least not consistently well — took the Gamecocks’ best shot and… nothing.
  • What a game from D’Andre Walker!
  • All of the coaching attention Kirby’s lavished on Richard LeCounte is starting to pay dividends.  Not only did LeCounte lead the team in tackles, his display of in-game smarts by pulling up on what could have easily been a penalized downfield tackle during SC’s last possession of the first half is an indication of a young player whose figuring out how to best use his skill set.  (And that was an interception.)
  • Campbell had the kind of game you’d expect from a talented, true freshman quarterback cornerback:  some good moments, some not-so good ones (he was the victim of Deebo’s TD pass and got baited on the play).  He stuck with it, though, and got some valuable experience on the day.
  • Who was that number 18 kid, anyway?  Thought he had a decent game.
  • The run defense was stout and that started with the defensive line’s play. Crazy number of times the line batted down passes, too.
  • I thought McClendon did a decent job exploiting my biggest concern in the wake of Roquan Smith’s departure, pass coverage by the ILBs, at least in the first half.  Though the inside backers stepped things up after halftime, in what I hope is a promising sign for the future.
  • In the bigger picture, that didn’t matter much because Georgia’s run defense made South Carolina’s offense one-dimensional.  Nor did the ‘Cocks take many downfield shots.  The Dawgs were able to leave their safeties back and the safeties were able to clean up everything in front of them.
  • Heads up play, Juwan Taylor.
  • J.R. Reed is one of those players who doesn’t necessarily dazzle you, but whom you realize after the day is done turned in a really solid football game.
  • I don’t know what Mel Tucker came up with in the locker room at halftime, but whatever it was, it worked to perfection — literally, as in three straight three-and-outs to start the second half when the Dawgs buried Carolina for good.
  • I think we can stop worrying about the offensive line.
  • On the other hand, what’s up with the tight ends’ pass protection?  Woerner, in particular, got abused several times and was a significant factor in the interception and a sack.
  • Downfield blocking by the wideouts has gone to another level this season.  I assume Hankton deserves some credit for that, but you can tell there’s a lot of pride and desire on the players’ part, too.  I loved it when Ridley got on someone’s case for cutting the wrong way on the man he was blocking.
  • Anybody still worried about who would be the go-to receiver after Wims?  Mecole had a monster day.
  • No Chubb, no Michel, yet when the dust settled, Georgia gained another 271 yards on a South Carolina defense.  The running game was stronger than it was at home last year.  And that was with Zeus injured and Cook suspended for a half.
  • Fromm was inconsistent throwing in the first half and then came the one-minute drill in the last series to set up the field goal that put Georgia up by ten again.  Fromm went 3-3 and ran for another seven yards.  He carried that over to the third quarter.  He did have a pick, but on the day only had three incomplete passes.  I can live with that.
  • Chaney didn’t panic after the offense sputtered in the first half.  He knew what he had and what his offensive game plan would eventually do to the Gamecocks.  And it did.
  • How obscene is it to watch what Georgia trots out on offense when it calls off the first-team dogs?  This obscene:  Demetris Robertson didn’t get a single touch in the game.  Ridiculous depth.
  • Blankenship accomplished Job One, which was to deny Deebo Samuel the chance to do any damage with kickoff returns.  The field goal to end the first half (shades of the Rose Bowl!) had another ten yards on it, easy.  Camarda did well enough.  I’ve still got concerns about the blocking for Georgia’s punt returns, but that’s kind of carping, I admit.
  • And here’s a nod to the S&C staff.  There was no question which team was better conditioned to deal with the heat, at least not to anyone who watched Georgia players routinely shed blocks and carry Carolina defenders several yards after contact.
  • Why were they still playing the crowing cock on the PA late in the game?
  • If you’ve done your job, studied the game tapes, prepared the troops and know yours is the better team, from there it’s a matter of getting your team to execute the game plan cleanly, not screw up and grind the other team down.  Kirby did his job.

It’s tempting to call this game the answer to the 35-7 embarrassment in Columbia a talented Georgia squad suffered through in 2012, except that wouldn’t be fair to this year’s team.  After all, the 2012 Dawgs bounced back to play in the SECCG, while Spurrier’s group was about to begin its steady decline that led to his retirement.  This season’s loser doesn’t look it’s bouncing back this season.  The winner looks like it’s just getting started.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Name that caption, Boom’s got the clap edition

This time, you don’t get a shot of enraged Muschamp, but weirdly enthusiastic Muschamp.

muschamp_to

Awkward, not to mention out of character. I can see how the ref was confused.

Have at it in the comments.

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One dominating conference win doth not a season make…

… but check out what Georgia’s projected percentages per FPI look like today.

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UPDATE:  The Dawgs also made a move in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

The opposite of Nick Saban’s Coke bottle

Mike Gundy was feeling pretty loose after yesterday’s win.

There’s more than one way to plug a product, peeps.

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Filed under Big 12 Football

The easy fix

Ah, the things people say after giving up another 270+ yards on the ground…

… Steven Montac pointed out the easy fix, making the Gamecocks’ inability to do so even more frustrating.

“They’re a good team and they have good players, so missed tackles are definitely gonna hurt. But that can be fixed by just running to the ball,” he said.

Junior linebacker T.J. Brunson, a leader of the defensive unit, said the problem was that some of his teammates lost their edge after the halftime break.

“I think during the second half a lot of guys just didn’t understand the grind of the game,” Brunson said. “It’s hard to win, especially playing against those guys. It’s always going to be a dog fight, but it’s the second game of the season. We got a long way to go.

“We just didn’t line fast enough, weren’t urgent. That’s all it boiled down to — urgency, being vocal, getting the calls every down.”

The issues with tackling came with that lack of urgency, Brunson said, as poor focus led to poor execution.

“I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but I just want those guys to understand that it’s a long game,” he said. “It’s always a long game. We battled, we fought the first half and made it to where it was manageable, and you just gotta keep that same energy throughout the whole game.”

Montac was just as blunt in his assessment.

“We just gotta tackle better. That’s it,” he said. “What happened today was … lack of execution. We just gotta focus way better, play better.”

Bless your heart, Steven.  I don’t think you’re grasping what happened yesterday.

Kirby Smart knows.

Said Smart: “You’ve got to be able to take the crowd out of the game. You do that by being physical, dominating the line of scrimmage. When you do that, the stands will be empty in the fourth quarter.”

Even with Thomas out, Georgia (2-0, 1-0 SEC) scored on its first three offensive possessions of the second half, rushing the ball 15 times for 111 yards, averaging 7.4 yards per carry behind its mammoth offensive line.

“We thought if we were able to run the ball early and pound away that it would take its toll in the second half and I think that showed through,” said Smart whose team finished with 271 rushing yards on 52 carries.

It’s not that Georgia was clearly the more talented bunch yesterday.  The Dawgs were just as clearly the more physical, and that took its obvious toll on South Carolina as the day progressed.

Speaking of fourth quarters, how about these apples?

Ain’t no easy fix to that.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy, Georgia Football

Don’t cry for McElwain, Gainesville.

Hard times in Florida:

Here lies the remains of Power Five football in the state of Florida. Time of expiration: 10:09 p.m. EDT. That’s when Florida completed its dismal home loss to perennial foil Kentucky — yes, Kentucky, which hadn’t beaten the Gators since 1986. The Wildcats outplayed Florida in The Swamp all night, and for once didn’t self-destruct with a chance to beat the Gators in hand.

At the same time Florida was losing that game — and running its losing streak against Power Five opponents to seven — Florida State was trailing FCS Samford in Tallahassee. The Seminoles, favored by 31 points, would trail for 52 minutes and 20 seconds before finally taking a lead with 4:03 left. It was the first time FSU has led this season, after being housed 24-3 at home by Virginia Tech last week.

The Seminoles pulled out the victory, but it was a night of endless embarrassments. They were outgained by 71 yards, their secondary ripped by a Samford quarterback, Devlin Hodges, whose previous claim to fame before Saturday night was winning the Alabama state duck calling championship. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Hodges lobbed some ducks to the Florida State secondary — his four interceptions were instrumental in FSU rallying to win. For Samford to be minus-four in turnovers and have its top defensive player ejected for targeting in the third quarter, and still have a great chance to win, is a stark condemnation of the Seminoles’ execution and preparation.

These were the second games for new head coaches at both schools — Dan Mullen at Florida and Willie Taggart at FSU. There was the usual fresh-beginning optimism in both locales. That optimism is gone now, replaced by a sobering return to the reality of 2017: both programs are pretty bad.

Combine that with the defrocking of Miami last week against LSU — the Hurricanes’ fourth straight loss, dating to the end of last season — and the malaise is statewide. From the panhandle to the Keys, the state that once ruled the sport has fallen hard. The combined nine national titles between Florida, Florida State and Miami aren’t getting any younger.

The indisputable fact: Central Florida, its winning streak now at 15, remains the best team in the state by a wide margin. South Florida might be second best. The traditional powers are in no position to argue.

I get how this Florida team could lose to Kentucky — the ‘Cats at one point were 8 for 9 on third-down conversions and the Gators defense got whistled for having too many men on the field coming out of a timeout, both examples of peak Grantham — but how in Gawd’s name does FSU go +4 in turnover margin and still struggle to put away Samford?  Their end of the year meeting is shaping up as one for the ages.

Bonus snide remark:  Mike Bobo has more SEC wins so far this season than Dan Mullen.

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Filed under ACC Football, Gators, Gators...

Envy and jealousy, Gamecock schadenfreude edition

Denial.

“We just didn’t have our best day,” safety Steven Montac said. “They aren’t any better than us. They just executed.”

Reality check.

That’s what South Carolina’s players have to say, what they have to believe, but it’s not what happened on the field. Take Mecole Hardman, for example. Georgia’s sophomore wide receiver, a former five-star recruit, had six catches for 103 yards and one carry for 30 yards on plays that were no more schematically complex than, “Throw it over there to Hardman and watch him run past South Carolina defenders.”

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Filed under Envy and Jealousy