Daily Archives: November 4, 2019

What winning the Cocktail Party gets you.

Georgia-Auburn gets the 3:30 SEC on CBS slot.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Today, in bless his heart

Because, of course he has.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

Observations from the end zone, Cocktail Party edition

The coaches wanted better execution from the players and the players wanted better scheming from the coaches.

Saturday, everybody got their wish.

I’m not gonna claim that Georgia played a perfect game, but what we got will certainly do until perfect comes along.  The Dawgs never trailed.  They were the more physical team.  The coaching staff turned the pre-game wisdom about Mullen’s vaunted superiority on its head.  Fromm got his mojo back, with a vengeance.

In other words, another satisfying win in Jacksonville, like it was part of Gawd’s plan.  (By the way, those of you bitching about those pesky advanced stats, the game played out pretty much as advertised.)

On to the bullet points:

  • I really have to start with Dan Mullen.  All this week, we heard constant blather about how Georgia may have the talent, but Florida’s been the better team of late, because of coaching.  What we got in reality was a guy who waved the white flag in the running game almost from the beginning — this, in a game where the winning team in the last thirteen games ran for the most yardage! — was forced to burn timeouts because his team wasn’t organized and topped it all by calling an almost seven-minute drive when his team was down by two touchdowns mid-fourth quarter as time became more precious.  As the beneficiary of Mullen’s generosity, Smart had to be pinching himself.
  • Todd Grantham deserves a shout-out, too.  Not just for the inevitable success Georgia’s offense enjoyed on third down, but for being the coach who proved to be more predictable than James Coley.  Everybody on the planet knew Florida’s game plan on defense would be to sell out to stop the Dawgs’ running attack and make Jake Fromm beat them.  Grantham’s problem was that Fromm was more than happy to accommodate the Gators.  Once it was clear Fromm came to play, Grantham had no answers, as the pass blocking stuffed Florida’s rush and Georgia actually had more success against Grantham’s soft zone coverage when the Gators sat back.
  • The offensive line came to play, too.  Pass blocking was dominant, even as Georgia relied less on its tight ends to block than in any other game this season.  I was worried about how Thomas and Wilson would hold up against Florida’s speed rush, but other than one whiff from each, they held up just fine.  Trey Hill chipped in a monster game, which was good to see from him.  It also shouldn’t be underrated how much the return of a healthy Solomon Kindley helped to stabilize the o-line.
  • The passing game is alive!  Led by a dominant Lawrence Cager, Georgia’s pass catchers combined for more yardage on their own than Florida’s entire offense.  Coley deserves plenty of credit for scheming to get players open in space, and, for the most part, was rewarded with big play after big play.  I mentioned the design on Cager’s TD catch already, but the play they ran on the two-point conversion, using Cook to draw off the coverage, was equally brilliant.
  • Is Matt Landers allergic to stretching out and diving to make a catch?
  • Rushing yardage was tough to come by, given the fronts Grantham called, but Swift grinded all day.  (It was a damned shame his TD run was called back, because it felt like Florida was on the verge of getting blown out then.)  He and Herrien made up for some of that with some big contributions as receivers.  They were also terrific picking up the Gator pass rush and giving Fromm time.
  • It was interesting watching Fromm’s body language in this game in comparison with his in the South Carolina loss.  Florida did, at times, get pressure on him, but was never able to rattle him.  He turned a couple of close calls into modest games by scrambling.  His coolest moment came on the game’s most pressure packed play, when he calmly held his ground with a Gator at his feet and converted a third-and-seven with a big completion to Wolf to lock the game down.  What was so impressive about that play, at least as I watched it live, was the sense that both of them knew they had it from the snap.
  • The defensive line played at least as well as the o-line did.  Clark, Wyatt and Davis all made monster plays.  Davis’ sack was the definition of overpowering.
  • The OLBs may not have made a huge number of plays, at least outside of Ojulari, but they did their part in containing Florida’s offense and keeping the Gator rushing attack grounded.
  • I loved the way the defense was ready for Emory Jones’ one snap.
  • The ILBs had a mixed game.  Florida had some success, especially in the first half, exploiting the middle.  (Pitts was a handful, as expected.)  But Monty Rice had a massive game; he’s such a smart, physical player.
  • The secondary game up some receiving yardage, but was largely successful keeping everything in front of it.  Lecounte’s early pass breakup on fourth down was instrumental in setting the tone that Florida’s offense was going to have to work hard for everything.  Daniel played his best game of the season and made me miss Campbell less than I expected.  Stokes was Stokes.
  • Remember that chart I posted last week, when I wrote that “Florida is going to do everything it can to target Mark Webb in pass coverage”?  Well, they did.  To his credit, poor ol’ Webb hung in there, though he did have his struggles.
  • When the worst thing you can say about special teams was that Camarda let one of his two punts go in the end zone, it’s been a good day for special teams.  Blankenship was back to being his usual automatic self, the return games did nothing to hurt the team (I believe Georgia only started one drive inside its twenty all game) and the coverage teams allowed almost nothing.
  • Just as Coley outcoached Grantham, Lanning did the same with Mullen.  Georgia made Florida one-dimensional on offense and worked its ass off on defense to keep the Gators, first in the conference in plays of 60+ yards, from breaking off a big play.
  • Kirby Smart got exactly the game he wanted — zero turnovers, a bend-but-not-break effort from his defense and an offense that was balanced without futilely running into a brick wall.  His staff was ready and so were his players.
  • It’s a good thing I have a self-imposed rule about not commenting on the officiating in an Observations post.

Make no mistake about it, this year’s edition of the Cocktail Party was a big, big deal for this Georgia team.  If you had any doubts about that going in, they were blown away by the reaction of the players and the coaches in the aftermath of the win.  Georgia may not light you up offensively the way Alabama and LSU do, but when focused, these Dawgs are one tough out.

I don’t care if that mindset came about because of the big stage, the realization that the team is playing with zero margin for error, an us-against-the world chip on their collective shoulders, or some combination of all that.  I just hope that they can keep tapping into it the rest of the way.  They’re certainly better for it.

Now, on to Missouri.

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Filed under Georgia Football

TFW points are hard to come by

Is this good?  Asking for a friend…

Looking ahead to the Auburn game (yeah, I know what you’re gonna say), the interesting thing to me is that, while most of us are concerned about how Georgia’s gonna score on that Auburn defense, as of this moment, against FBS competition, Georgia’s D is giving up about a touchdown less per game than is Auburn’s.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

It’s tough making ends meet.

The next time somebody asks you how schools can afford to pay college athletes, show them this:

The point isn’t that college coaches are overpaid.  It’s that your typical AD is lazy, stupid or both and has to spend all that money on something.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Life in the 404

It seems all the sunshine pumping in the world can’t change Georgia Tech from being Georgia Tech.

The announced attendance of 41,219 was beneath the attendance for last year’s homecoming game, an Oct.13 loss to Duke, when attendance was 41,709. That figure was the lowest for a homecoming game since 1994, when homecoming was celebrated on the second-to-last game of a season in which coach Bill Lewis was fired the previous week.

Damn.  When you can’t even match the enthusiasm level the genius generated, that’s pretty sad.

Oh, well.  There’s always Waffle House.

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Filed under Georgia Tech Football

Time to move on

By the way, with Georgia finishing this decade with a 6-4 record against Florida, can we finally put the 3-18 narrative to bed for good?

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

SEC Power Poll, Week Ten

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Pretty cool stretch in the conference right now — the East had its big battle for divisional supremacy this weekend and next, it’s the West’s turn.

  1. Alabama.  I don’t think Nick’s gonna have to castigate the students about staying this week.
  2. LSU.  My question for the game isn’t about Tua vs. Burrow.  It’s whether LSU’s defense is good enough to hold up for sixty minutes.
  3. Georgia.  Order has been restored.
  4. Florida.  Serving third and Grantham for the second straight year.
  5. Auburn.  The defense is really good, but it just feels like this team is going to struggle every week.
  6. Texas A&M.  The Aggies are 6-3, but they’ve lost to every good team they’ve played, and they finish with Georgia and LSU on the road.
  7. Missouri.  Yeah, the Tigers had a bye week, but now they go on the road, where they’re winless this season.
  8. Kentucky.  Another team with a bye week, the ‘Cats host Tennessee, a team that’s starting to feel good about itself.
  9. Tennessee.  It’s November.
  10. South Carolina.  Nice win over Vandy, but the ‘Cocks still have to beat either TAMU or Clemson to make a bowl game.
  11. Mississippi State.  Kicked Arky’s ass, for what that’s worth.
  12. Ole Miss.  Gave Auburn a game, but couldn’t finish.  To make a bowl at this point would require running the table on the last three games, which isn’t gonna happen.
  13. Vanderbilt.  So much for those good vibes after the Missouri upset.
  14. Arkansas.  This is one of the worst SEC teams I’ve ever seen.  The team looks like it’s quit on the season.

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Entitled to gloat

When you’re Lawrence Cager and you come off missing some time due to injury to put up a career game against your hated rival, you get to post some trash talk on Instagram.

Screenshot_2019-11-04 Chris Figgures on Twitter I love Lawrence Cager so much bruh 😂💪🏽💯 https t co zYyiCZP36r Twitter

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

Meanwhile, on the Plains

What do you get when you combine a team that’s essentially eliminated from the conference race with a struggle to beat a mediocre at best Ole Miss team at home?  Something like this:

The game ended up being a fight to the end. Ole Miss’ offense had the ball, down six points, with a little more than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, and it was driving right into the teeth of where Auburn’s student section sits in the northwest corner of Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Except a large portion of those students were no longer there. Auburn announced a sellout of 87,541 fans, but many cleared out by that point of the game, which kicked off at 6 p.m. Central and ended a little after 9 p.m.

The fact that a beautiful 60-degree afternoon turned into a chilly 40-degree night almost certainly played a role in that, but that sort of temperature drop should be expected on the first Saturday in November.

As you might expect, that didn’t go over well in certain quarters.

Man, if Georgia can get on top on Auburn in a couple of weeks, I can’t help but wonder what that place will be like.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands