(Edit note: I forgot the 2005 JoeT Florida game; probably because I have effectively blocked that game from my memory for five years now. I just remember sitting in my cubicle at work that Thursday, minimizing my IE window so I could sneak my tri-hourly peak at espn.com, and staring in horror as Tereshinski's pic emerged as the main picture on the front page. Safe to say that I could assume, even back then, that would be the last time that happened.)
Alot has changed since the early aughts, and those items need not be rehashed here. However, I can say with certainty that during last week's opening kickoff I did not expect the Dawgs to win. Okay, truth be told, during last week's kickoff I was rolling around in pain on my couch and popping asprin like Jelly Bellys trying to work off the after effects of the fact that Tin Roof is seemingly the only bar in the greater Atlanta area where last call prior to 5a.m. does not exist. But still, I am neither shocked nor appaled at the outcome of last week's game in Columbia.
Before the season, I was on the record saying that these Dawgs would finish the regular season 10-2 with losses to South Carolina and Florida. So far, so accurate. (Would have felt inappropriate to write 'so good' there.) And now, because the other 94 Georgia blogs are doing it, here are some more bullet points on the Carolina game, as well as the look ahead to this weekend's contest:
- I was nowhere near as horrified by the effort on the defensive side of the ball. Allow me to take the easy way out and let the numbers explain:
2009 Garcia - 313yds passing, 31-53, 2TDs, 1INT, 49 rushing
2009 total yards allowed - 427
2009 points allowed - 37
2010 Garcia - 165yds passing, 12-17, OTD/INT, -4 rushing
2010 total yards allowed - 354
2010 total points allowed - 17
Is that good? No, not really. Is it improvement? Yes. I'll take that less than a week after Labor Day.
- Look, the right move was to go ahead and force the true freshman running back playing in his first SEC game to beat you, rather than the veteran QB who torched you last year. The Dawgs dared Marcus Lattimore to beat them. It just so happens that he took their dare, laughed at it, threw it back at their faces, and proceeded to deficate on it. Too bad.
- The defense wasn't all roses, obviously, and we knew there would be some growing pains. To run a 3-4 effectively, your nose tackle needs to be able to take on two offensive lineman. With DeAngelo Tyson unable to do that for much of the game, SC's guards were able to quickly pick up and destabilize our interior linebackers. The big difference between this year's and last year's game was Carolina's 3rd down conversions (and of course, Lattimore). Last year: 6-17 on 3rd downs. This year? 9-14.
- Therefore, there was not much surprise this week when Richt announced that Justin Anderson and Kwame Geathers would see more work at NT this week against a large Arkansas offensive line.
- With their big receivers, accomplished QB, stellar offensive line and possibly the best SEC back since Knowshon, giving up 17 points to SC isn't the end of the world. Anyone comparing the tackling errors on Saturday to the Willie Martinez era should be forced to re-watch the 2nd half of 2008 UGA-Tech on a consistent loop, Clockwork Orange style. Let's just be happy SC was without (and will continue to be without) TE Wesleye Saunders and move on.
- So...the offense. This is what really dissapointed me. Believe me, I have come to expect the conservative Richt/Bobo offense early in the season with limited personnel. So it didn't shock me at all that Murray was handed the JoeT playbook last week.
- However, as the game proceeded, and it was evident that Murray could handle the offense, and that Ealey's effectiveness was two quarters past, I would have liked to have seen the playbook opened up and Murray allowed to send the ball downfield a bit more often. I know Georgia's TE's weren't playing up to snuff (by far and away, the biggest disappointment of the game, IMO), but between them and Brown, you have the horses. Running Ealey between the tackles for two-yard gains was clearly not working.
- Alas, losing AJ Green on Thursday really destroyed the offensive gameplan. I'd imagine the Dawgs were able to spend this whole week of practice devising an offensive blueprint based around AJ not being in the lineup. Thanks again, NCAA. If you could wait until 8pm, instead of 8am, to announce you are upholding the suspension, that would be great, as well as completely fucking expected. I'd really like to know how you were able to get through Jeremiah Masoli's transcripts and police reports so quickly, really.
- Moving forward, it's Arkansas week. The Hawgs seem like this season's SEC team du-jour. A squad that is overrated at the beginning of the year, feasts on cupcakes early, celebrates a semi-big win in September (let's hope not) before coming crashing down in October and eventually limping to a 2nd tier bowl. South Carolina usually fills this role nicely, last year it was Ole Miss.
- Arkansas has beaten two cupcakes by a combined score of 75-10. They have Heisman Trophy "candidate" (read: he has no shot) Ryan Mallet quarterbacking the offense. Mallet has the speedy Joe Adams and the huge Greg Childs as his wideout targets, but the offense passing game really centers around the best TE in the SEC and maybe the nation in DJ Williams, a true beast over the middle. If the conventional wisdom is that the secondary is Georgia's defensive strength, we will find out if that CW is remotely true this weekend.
- I had this game penciled in as a win all summer. Wthout Green, I think it is a bit closer to a tossup. Having Caleb King back will be huge, as Georgia can not afford the 3-and-outs that plauged them against the Gamecocks. Allow Arkansas to control time of possession and this game is kaput. Likewise, we cannot afford to get in a shootout with the Hawgs. This game will make or break how Todd Grantham is viewed early in his Athens tenure, for better or for worse. Let's give it to the Dawgs on a late field goal (as we all know Richt loves to), 27-24.
- Two years ago, when Sue's had 9 readers (two of whom were OBJ's girlfriend and dad), we bashed the ACC incessantly, week after week in this space. This year, we will let every other blog and even the mainstream media to steal our thunder.
- Boise State fans: start booking your hotels in Tempe...just for a week earlier than you were expecting.
- I think the Heisman is a meaningless and idiotic award, as evidenced by all the handwringing over Reggie Bush having to give back a trophy that is probably the 785th most important keepsake in his life right now. That said, Terrelle Pryor has the look that a clear-cut Heisman "I'm the fucking man" candidate has (much like Bush had in 2005, or Charles Woodson had in '97). If this were a basketball or hip-hop post, swag would have been the word I was looking for. I think it is his award (as well as BCS national championship game) to lose.
- If Tech loses to a ravaged North Carolina squad this week, it will be safe to say that the honeymoon period for Paul Johnson and The Perfect Option is over.
- Sorry...just one ACC dig that I haven't seen elsewhere. How telling is it, that for their conference game of the week at 3:30 on ABC, the broadcast will be live from...Duke. As they take on Alabama. And by take on, I mean 'get slaughtered by.'
- Remember when the Florida-Tennessee game was actually anticipated each year, as well as a lock to host gameday? Seems like eons ago.
- It may not be this weekend in Baton Rouge, but Mississippi State will upset a ranked team or two this year. Book it.
- Speaking of upsets, I was ready to pounce all over Texas Tech +7.5 over Texas....now the line is down to 3 in some sports books. As if bookies driving around in Benzes and 7-series' wasn't enough of a reminder, now would be a good time to mention...don't fuck with Vegas. This is now offically a stay away game...just don't be surprised if/when it comes down to the final possession.
OBJ will be in tomorrow with some picks and maybe a paragraph or two on Steve Nash.