Saturday, October 02, 2010

And Apathy Sets In

Somewhere, Jim Donnan is pissed off.

Flashback to the year 2000: UGA is a preseason Top 5 team. They lose All-SEC linebacker Boss Bailey on the the opening kickoff. In week two, South Carolina breaks a losing streak measured in years against the Dawgs as alleged All-SEC QB Quincy Carter completes almost as many passes to the Gamecocks as he does against the Dawgs. The Dawgs right the ship the next few games, and beat Tennessee for the first time in ten tries.

They lose to Florida in Jacksonville again, the third straight loss to the Gators.

The starting QB has an alleged injured throwing hand is out for the final two games of the year; the Dawgs lose in OT at Auburn, and then are beaten at home by Georgia Tech.

The Dawgs are 7-4, Donnan is fired, and all four losses come to bowl-bound teams.

I figure if ol' Donnan's been watching his former team the past few years, he might just be wondering "what does it take for the new guy to get a pink slip?"

UGA began 2008 as a preseason #1 in the land and it's been going downhill ever since.

Ok, that might be harsh. The reality is things have been slipping in some ways before then, and other areas have been exposed since.

Bama came into Athens in 2008 and exposed (among other things) that the strength and conditioning we so praised back in 2001 when mat drills came to Athens, isn't keeping up with the rest of the SEC. We haven't pushed around a non-terrible defense on the ground in years.

Willie Martinez as defense coordinator showed signs of a man promoted beyond his competency level as early as his first year on the job, but I was convinced he needed to go in the second half of the disastrous 2006 Tennessee game.

Now he's gone, and UGA has better defensive coaches, but precious little depth at defensive tackle.

The offense has been running the 90s FSU playbook for years, and when they had Knowshon and Stafford it didn't matter much. Without two 1st-round NFL picks at key positions, the offense is predictable and shut down by a shocking number of defenses.

So, the knee-jerk answer is: fire 'em all. But that's a huge risk. Sure, ditching a coach after a bad year, or even a disappointing year has worked before (notably for Bama and Florida). But there were also obvious upgrades for both schools at the time.

Let's say Richt can't right the ship, and the Dawgs go 5-7 or worse, and McGarity has to can him. Who's better that we can get (meaning: we're not hiring Pete Carroll away from Seattle, and just stop with the Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher talk, please)?

Coach Whitingham at Utah has taken the Utes back to a BCS game and took apart Bama more impressively than Urban's Gators did in 2008, but can he transition seamlessly to the SEC? And would he come?

Would Will Muschamp give up the "head coach in waiting" at Texas--fanbase, financially, and resources/recruiting-wise the best job in the nation--to come to UGA?

How much of Kirby Smart's success is having Nick Saban to tell him "no, that blitz won't work, try this"?

I think the best hope for a quick turnaround for the Dawgs is some smaller coaching changes.
Keep the defensive staff intact (though perhaps Rodney Garnder's time has come.) Bring in some new blood for strength and conditioning. Bring in a runningbacks coach that wasn't in college 5 years ago. And either demote Bobo back to QB coach, or can him outright and bring in a skilled, creative offensive coordinator.

That could buy Richt a lot of time, but I think it might be harder for him than canning his friend Willie was last year, as he'll have to admit "my offense isn't working in the SEC anymore." Only that's not totally true. Play-action passing and a solid running game don't need to disappear, they just need more to be effective: the pistol formation, some 4- and 5-wide spread passing/running, and a playcaller that has the good sense not to send a 160 lb. rb up the middle. Repeatedly.

But things can't continue the way they've gone.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Anyone who claims they know what will happen this football season is likely lying

Hey folks, remember me?

Nothing like football season to get me off my (currently medicated) ass and revive the ol' blog just in time.

Sure, back in December there was no real anticipation for the coming football season on my part.
2008? The most disappointing season for Georgia football in easily over a decade.

And a ton of that was because of the defense--when the likes of Kentucky are scoring 38 points on you, there's a a big problem. And when Willie Martinez wasn't fired...well, there went my crazy hopes of defensive guru (and Mark Richt pal) Tommy Tuberville coming in to be the defensive coordinator.

Stafford and Moreno were gone, and architect of the worst UGA Defense in a decade or more was coming back...oh and the 2009 schedule? Outside of Tennessee Tech, there wasn't a gimmie game on it.

So no, I wasn't looking forward to the season...and that hasn't happened...well...ever.

I did start to get over it though: Other than getting a decent sunburn, I don't remember much about the G-Day game. It felt good to be back in the stadium (and I was still in shock that I was able to get a hotel room the night before the game) and nothing jumping out either way could be an upside.

I still went out and bought a few preseason magazines, but I couldn't obsessively read and reread them over and over because, well, I'm fucking sick of hearing about Florida--especially Tim Tebow. If 50% of the US is going to get the swine flu, I really, really, really hope it gets the Gators around October.

But a funny connection happened too: as good as Florida's D was last year, we forget how porous and sucktastic they were in 2007. Can the UGA D make a similar turnaround? Stranger things have happened.

Until kickoff, we won't know. But the D is the key to a good season.

But I'm not sure even after today's game we'll know what we're going to get out of this season.
Okie State goes wild on the Dawgs? Well, that could mean they're one of the best offenses in the US, it could mean the UGA D hasn't gelled...or it could mean Willie should pack his bags.
UGA rolls? Well, we thought we were the shit after rolling Arizona St. last year: but it turned out ASU just sucked.

Let's keep the goals simple: just don't lose to Tech. That's really all I want out of the season.

But who knows what we're going to get...let's just sit back and enjoy it.
Go Dawgs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Perhaps ESPN CFB Analysts Sleep in Hyperbolic Chambers

Yes, "hyperbolic" as in "hyperbole."

That's one of the few explanations I can find to the utter ball-washing of Tim Tebow.

Because the other explanations all have them as blathering idiots, willfully ignorant of how football actually is played (what with the defense and special teams and all.)

Sure, I'll admit it, I cracked some jokes when Tebow broke into tears after Florida lost at home to Ole Miss. Partially it was a defense mechanism (UGA having had their asses handed to them by Bama that same weekend and all) and partially it was hoping he'd pull a Reggie Ball and Florida would go into a tailspin (I hate Florida.) Also, anyone who is the star QB at their school but proudly admits having a sex life less active than the most celibate Jonas Brother should be used to jokes being cracked their way.

He's a great quarterback though, really. I'll say it. I hate it, but I'll say it.

But here's what pisses me off: this isn't news. He was carving up defenses last year. Florida scored scores of points last year. Tebow had better numbers last year.

But now he's "better?"

No idiots...Florida's defense is better.

Is Tebow playing "with more heart" than '07? Maybe, but that's not why Florida went from a 4 loss team to a 1 loss team playing for a national title.

Florida's defense sucked last season. Looked a lot like UGA's defense this season. Auburn "keeping Tebow off the field" in a close win was the exception. In the UGA, Michigan and LSU losses, Florida just couldn't get enough stops on defense to win. Tebow and co. scored a good number of points in each, but it wasn't enough when the other team can get a score or two more.

And for the life of me, I can't figure out why this isn't being brought up on ESPN (or ESPN affiliated sportstalk radio). Does someone high up in Bristol, CT have money riding on Tebow pulling an Archie Griffin?

Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy have better numbers than Tebow this year. They really should finish 1-2 in the Heisman voting.

So why ignore the defense ESPN?

(And, in a semi-related note, wouldn't it be nice if UGA's D made the same transition from porous sieve to ball-hawking brick wall by '09?)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008



I once was a huge comic book junkie.

I still have, somewhere, a large portion of those comics I once collected (and hell, maybe some were good investments. Anyone know if Wizard is still the go-to source for a comic's value?) likely stored away in bags, with the cardboard backers, in boxes in a storage place.

It was somewhere around 4th or 5th grade that this started. I'd loved the funny pages since I was a wee lad, and vividly remember that I learned the word doubt (and how it doesn't sound a damn think like it's pronounced) from a Garfield collection in 1st grade.

Like most boys with basic TV access growing up when I did, I was a huge junkie for GI Joe and Transformers. Then one afternoon I saw that they had comics too (this was likely at a gas station, and a few years before my attention would be drawn to that rack of magazines wrapped in plastic). I'm not sure if I was able to convince my folks to get one for me on the first try, but it eventually happened.

Throw the kid an allowance, and I was soon blowing the whole thing on comics.
I even drew some of my own (I had better artistic/drawing talent then--it has since atrophied). I had no clue what the actual creative process was for most comics, so I went the difficult direct route of making it up as I went a long mostly, and drawing random layouts on a page before filling them in. There's a reason I didn't grow up to be Frank Miller or Jim Lee or Todd McFarland.

It lasted pretty much until puberty. I'd like to say women replaced comic books, but I was skinny (like "hey, I can see ribs" skinny) about a decade and a half before skinny dudes were "cool". Plus there was the whole braces thing, and the acne. Let's not talk about that.

Guitar (and guitar-related magazines, with interviews I'm damn glad my parents never read--I don't think they'd see Dimebag from Pantera as a good influence) quickly replaced comic books by 7th grade. The comics got boxed up, rarely looked at, and that was that.

Until a few months back.

I saw that there was a "Season 8" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a show I was such an unabashed fan of that I once attempted to write a script, and actually got far enough in the process that I was looking for a way to submit it (and of course, found out that Whedon and Co. don't take unsolicited scripts--damn. I though a special "Spring Break Buffy where the Scoobies get to take on a Chthulu cult was good times.) But the catch to Season 8 was it was in comic form. I passed at first.

Then one day I saw the first few issues collected in graphic novel form at Borders, said "what the hell" and I've been hooked ever since.

It's a great season so far (and I have my own theory about the identity of the masked Big Bad, Twilight, but I'm keeping it largely to myself) and the first 10 or so issues are now in two graphic novels. But this might make me a comic geek again...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Time To Pretend

After the past couple weeks, I don't think I'm that out there in saying maybe we could all use a little less realism in our lives.

What's realism done for us lately? Well, realistically, I saw that I likely didn't have the fuel to make it UGA-Bama. And the Dawgs lost. Realistically, I know those two things aren't related...and yet. Superstitions aside, I know, realistically, I missed many good tailgates that day.

Realistically, my meager 401k lost almost everything that was in it. Realistically, people lost what they'd been saving for decades in the past month. Realistically, economically, things are going to get worse before they get better.

Realistically, it was folly to to think a UGA team that had lost its NFL-caliber Defensive Tackle (and then NFL-caliber middle linebacker on the first defensive play), it's preseason All-SEC Left Tackle, and was without its starting fullback; it was folly to think that a depleted top #5 was still a top 5 team. Realistically, while Willie Martinez has had moments of defensive greatness, he's yet to have a season at UGA where the defense didn't get absolutely torched at least once (Auburn and West Virginia in 2005, UT in 2006, UT again in 2007, 'Bama this year.)

Realistically, even if I finally finish a novel, get an agent, and get a publisher, I won't make that much money from it. Even if I have a cool idea where I'm writing songs to go with the novel, and slowly but surely practicing playing guitar and singing at the same time, so my book tours can be a cross between a normal signing/reading and an acoustic Butch Walker show. Because realistically, I'm not even half the songwriter Mr. Bradley Glenn Walker III is.

So for the game this weekend, I'm saying "nuts to realism". Realism is like a fancy massage parlor: there are no happy endings.

So, with MGMT in your head, let's pretend, get the bad news over quick, and get on with it:

The Cumberland Report:

Well, this one's easy. Look at the last few times the teams played. Moving on...

The Rose-Colored View:

For all the talk about how bad Auburn's "Spread Eagle" offense is (and how many bad jokes can be made at their expense) they still rank higher than UT's not-vaunted "Clawfense". How does a shredded Dawg D get to feelin' good? Matchup against a new QB making his first start on the road, pressure the shit out of him (literally--I want him so scared he loses all bowel control) shut down the running game and shut out the Vols.

And the Vol D has been considered the one bright spot. But we've been there before. They were stout in 2005 too, and we broke them. Line former offensive lineman Kiante Tripp up at TE, let Brannan Southerland knock the hell out of some people, and let Moreno and King go nuts.

This goes beyond revenge for the past two years.

This is about all of us "Dawg People" having something to feel good about. Hope for the future.

Bold prediction: if the Dawgs win big, or shut out the Vols, the stock market goes up next week.

Nuts to realism...

Go Dawgs

Saturday, September 27, 2008

And Now, A Whole New Set Of Problems To Deal With...

First up, a personal Cumberland Report: Atlanta has no gas.

Sonny Perdue, apparently channeling Kevin Bacon from the end of Animal House, tells us "there's plenty of gas," and then boards a plane to Europe, ostensibly for some government business, but I think in reality, to avoid the pitchfork'd masses who will eventually (after walking, or horse and buggy) show up at the Governor's Mansion.

But it's very up in the air whether or not I'll make it to Athens or not. So Sonny, you may be a Dawg, but today: you suck.

The Cumberland Report
Football usually comes down to the play of the linemen, and thus far it looks like Bama's got a sizeable advantage--and not just Terrance Cody, who is so large he has his own gravity (little-known fact: Bama's DEs don't actually do any stunting at the line, that's just a result of their usually rotation around Planet Cody.) Cooler weather could mean more snaps for Bama's Mangino-sized DT: who is going up against a freshman center for the Dawgs. The Dawg OLine in general is really making only its second start in its current iteration (last week vs. ASU was the first). Mismatches like this get your running backs stuffed, and your QBs horizontal (and not the way many female Georgia fans would like).

On the flip side, Bama brings a very experienced Oline up against a UGA front seven that, while they've been strong against the run, hasn't exactly gotten to the QB that much.

If Bama can get a running game going, and dominate on both sides of the line, we could get embarrased almost as bad as Clemson (at least none of our coaches keep the play chart stuffed in the front of their shorts, Al Bundy style.)

The Rose-Colored View
Georgia's had success with poor Oline play before (the 2003 Oline led the SEC in sacks allowed, yet the team won the SEC East) and the current group played much better last week than the SoCar game.

Terrance Cody: huge yes, but is the front seven for the Tide really that much better than Carolina's? If it's not, then we can run the ball on them: which will spell doom for the Tide.

The passing game's gotten better each week, dovetailing with the emergance of AJ Green. If Bama loads up to stop the run, Green (and MoMass) could have big days. Reggie Brown-and-Fred-Gibson-vs.-Saban's-LSU-team kind of days.

And if the Dawgs stop the run, that means it's up to the poster child for Bama Bangs, John Parker Wilson, to beat the Dawgs. And that just won't happen. The DLine has already figured out his secret: as a child, Wilson was very slow to lose his baby fat, and is still sensitive about his childhood nickname "John Porker Wilson." Plus, Bear Bryant is still dead. And Nick Saban is no Bear Bryant. Also, Georgia ain't Clemson.

Who wins? Ask Wesley Snipes about the blackout...

(And our good-luck charms have dressed the part.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Go West, Young Dawgs (and win!)

It may be the worst week in Wall St. and finance since John McCain was in his early teens (sorry, last crack at McCain's age for...well, at least the next few weeks let's say) but I still didn't forget there was a big game this week.

Of course, if I had a 401K worth a damn, it'd be a different story, but I've had almost no spare money for years now, so I'm used to it. If I could make it through my last few years of college on a little more than $100/week without eating Ramen then, I should be fine now (oh, wait. I also had a Platinum card then...hmmm...well this may be a problem.)

So off we go...

The Cumberland Report
What could go wrong here? It's not like UGA has already displayed issues in pass defense and they're going up against the future Pac-10 record holder in passing yards. Oh. Wait. So there's that risk.

Also, it's been great, semi-, almost-not-quite Fall weather in GA this week. Game time temp in Arizona? Expected to be between 98 and 101. Dry heat or not, that's a big jump in climate. Plus, the multiple time zone shift. And risk someone getting arrested for stealing diapers.
Throw an already suspect (at times) pass D in with a team that's out of sorts because of heat and time zone issues and you've got a disaster brewing. Throw in some offensive miscues, and then you've got a recipe for the pollsters to really, really drop the Dawgs.

The Rose-Colored View
On the other hand, the only team worse at protecting their QB than ASU last season was that Yakkity-Sax-bad Notre Dame team. While Rudy Carptenter differs from Jimmy Clausen in that he has both a functioning brain, isn't part cro-magnon man, and isn't going bald in his early 20s (the Clausen Gene: for those who thought The Simpson Gene wasn't that bad!) most of that seive-like OLine is back to protect (sic) him. The Dawg's D should make him hear the dulcet tones of Queen and David Bowie in his head.
And, while much gets written about the offensive firepower of the Pac-10, defense still doesn't seem to exist there outside of USC. If a woeful Maryland team could rough up Cal, and BYU could do things to UCLA that might be forbidden in the Book of Mormon, and UNLV could hang 20+ on the ASU D, this ain't the "Desert Swarm" out there. Stafford, Moreno and company could get well in a big hurry.

Honestly, there isn't too much precedent here. It's warmer, the time zone's different, and the Dawgs haven't done this type of thing before. Flying to Arkansas is one thing, Arizona's another. The first quarter/half is key. There should be a ton of Dawg fans there, and if ASU's offensive gets stymied early, and the Dawg's O returns to pre-SoCar form, it could be a very, very good day for the Dawgs.