Saturday, November 8, 2008

ESCAPE! from Lexington. Now with lots of other words about the state of our program.

I am one happy, unsatisfied Dawg.
When you look at it within the confines of this season, good enough for a win is good enough.

We're not winning any titles this year. All that matters is winning out, and Kentucky may well have been the best team left on our schedule.

At least, I hope so.

At any rate, I'm glad to have gotten a little practice against the option. Stafford played a gutsy game, and we over-matched them with offensive talent by a long shot.

In the larger context of the state of our program, I'm not sure where this victory, this season and the trends we've seen in strong relief this year leave us. I do know it takes a special breed of fan to worry in the face of our successes.

And yet the problems are there, despite the likelihood of another 10 win season in, if not the nation's strongest conference this year, at least home to two of its best teams.

There have been periods this year when the offense was downright unstoppable. And times when we ran plays and it was just like, "What?" And times where it was like, "Oh, yeah. The O-line's not very good. I forgot."

I'm inclined to attribute that to talented youth. And that goes not only for the line, but for Coordinator Mike Bobo as well. Remember, he hasn't hit the two year mark yet as a full-time play caller, having been promoted in late 2006.

Hopefully, that's all solvable by the passage of time. And don't forget how huge it was to lose Trinton Sturdivant to injury this year. We didn't just replace him, we shook up the whole offensive line.

And then there's the defense. You know we started a walk on at defensive end today? How does that happen for the pre-season No. 1 team in the nation?

I was talking to my buddy Dan today about the quality of our defensive ends. I asked if the problem is that we just didn't recruit studs to that position the last couple of years.

He said we were probably too busy recruiting offensive linemen to make up for our amazing inability to recruit and enroll quality linemen a few years back. I'd never thought about that terribly, terribly frustrating phenomenon affecting the team outside of the line itself, but it makes sense. You only have so many scholarships.

But it's not just a problem with the line in my mind. Ellerbe hasn't been the same since his injury. Rashad's just not bringing the wood like you'd expect from a 5-star, all-world specimen in his junior season.

Rennie Curran makes a lot of tackles, but my buddy Joe thinks "we need an Odell Thurman" to enforce things out there.

"We need a guy who might commit a crime on the field," Joe said. "Someone who can bring the wood AGAINST KENTUCKY."

It's no surprise that the defense lacked focus against Kentucky. I don't know about you, but I didn't have my finest days at work this week after the beat down that was the Florida game.

But we got owned by the Wildcat offense, man. Our offense might have killed the D with field position against Florida last week, but this week Kentucky Qb Randall Cobb killed it. (Albeit with a healthy hand from the special teams this time. Basically T. Kyle says you can't just blame the defense, but watch me.)

And how the hell does TE Maurice Grinter get wide open when Kentucky's got the ball and the game is on the line in the 4th quarter? Hell, I don't even think he was the only Wildcat open on that play. What was that, Auburn 2005?

Willie Martinez has some questions to answer, my friends. Someone called the local sports talk show the other day about the number of games Martinez's defenses have given up 30 points or more compared to the number of times the defense gave up 30 when Brian Van"I've got a new job again"Gorder was the coordinator.

That's a little unfair, because Martinez was there to help Van"Am I still with the Falcons?"Gorder. But in the four years Brian Van"Georgia Southern loves me"Gorder ran the defense, we gave up 30 once: the 2003 SEC Title game against National Champion LSU.

With Martinez calling the shots, we've given up 30 or more 10 times in less than four years.
2005 (SEC Title year): Auburn (31, loss); West Virginia (30, loss)

2006: Tennnessee (51, loss)

2007: Tennessee (35, loss); Florida (30, win); Troy (34, win)

2008: Alabama (41, loss); LSU (38, win); Florida (49, loss); Kentucky (38, win)
What happened between 2006 and 2007? Well, Mike Bobo became the full-time offensive coordinator in December 2006. I'm not sure where to look for average drive time statistics, but we do seem to be more of a quick strike offense these days.

At any rate, the points allowed by Martinez's defenses is something of a bottom line. I don't care how good the offense is, or isn't. I don't care if the special teams screw you on field position. I want a shut-the-door defense.

But there are other bottom lines, too. With this victory, Coach Richt has won 80 games in less than eight years. According to the Dawgs' 5th Quarter show, only six other coaches have done that.

And in your weekly context alert, I thought Penn State was pretty damn good, but they lost to Iowa today. Clemson was supposed to be good this year. Notre Dame is 22-17 since they extended Charlie Weiss' contract through 2015. LSU is struggling this year, mostly because they don't have a quarterback.

And consider how Kentucky feels tonight. They thought they could win.

So I'm willing to trust Coach Richt's thoughts on who should run Georgia's offensive and defensive squads.

So, basically, quit worrying about all that bullshit and watch us whip Auburn, beat Georgia tech and go to a reasonable bowl. Then tell Stafford and Moreno they need to come back to be legends, and win the Titles in 2009.

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