Monday, November 29, 2010

Keanefirmed: Dawgs in the Liberty Bowl

I don't think it will surprise anyone, but I have it on good authority that you can stop considering the Bulldogs to be likely Liberty Bowl invitees and go ahead and plan that trip to Memphis.

The folks who handle those sort of plans for the university already are.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'll sure take it, but we played dumb football

Groo's got as solid a metaphor as you're likely to find on this one:
Yes, Georgia still runs the state. About as efficiently and wisely as a third world military dictatorship runs their state. Georgia maintained their hold on power as any despot does – through sheer dumb luck, the resistance being even more inept, and the exploitation of a wealth of natural resources.
In other words, the only thing dumber than the way we played last night was Georgia Tech. And the only thing dumber than them was Bob Davie. And the only thing dumber than Bob Davie is asphalt.

No need to revisit specific mistakes here, though it would be nice to get into a fourth quarter of a big game with a timeout or two one of these days. This season is what it is. We need to get recruiting, and develop a dominant player at the interior for every level of the defense. We need to get stronger and hungrier and meaner.

And we need to find a new AJ Green, preferably at running back.
Joe: I don't care. We beat Tech today. It's always good. It's always good.
To win a national title, you often need luck, and you almost always need to win a close game, even against a lesser opponent. It's the same with great coaching careers. Sometimes you need to go 9-1 against a rival, instead of 8-2, on the strength of a little luck, and just out-surviving your opponent.

It'd be nice if we did that against Florida from time to time, but I digress.

Coach Richt has my confidence, even if it's shaken. I'm not ready to pile on Coach Grantham, though I'm not going to shout down those who do, either. The same goes for Mike Bobo.

Grantham has been once through the SEC meat grinder now. He's seen Tech's option. He, like Richt, should know what has to be done.

Now it's time to do it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Could ESPN force a playoff?

I know it's past time to hate tech in this space, but The Senator broached an issue this morning that's worth considering.

He points to a blurb from Tim Tucker, which lays out the changes eight different teams had to make to accommodate our 2011 season opener with Boise State.

Apparently ESPN played a big role in making it all happen. Asks Blutarsky:
If the WWL really wanted a D-1 football playoff, how long do you think it would take for it to get its way?
Good question.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Scheduling philosophies: Let's get right

As we continue to shift our scheduling strategy, doing away with long-distance home and homes against BCS schools and very likely adding a Georgia Dome game against Boise State next year, allow me to put my 2 cents in on our overall scheduling methodology.

Scheduling is not a simple thing, but where possible, I'd like to see us add games with teams we have a losing record against. My long-term goal would be to more than balance the ledger.

From our media guide, here are the schools we have a losing record against:
Chicago: 0-1-0
Cumberland: 0-1-0
Fordham: 0-0-1
Harvard: 0-1-0
Holy Cross: 0-3-0
Houston: 1-2-1
Maryland: 2-3-1
Miami of Ohio: 0-1-0
Navy: 0-2-0
Nebraska: 0-1-0
Penn State: 0-1-0
Pittsburgh: 0-3-1
Rice: 0-1-0
Savannah A.C.: 1-2-1 (don't think they exist anymore)
Sewanee: 5-7-1
Southern Cal: 0-3-0
Stanford: 0-1-0
Syracuse: 0-1-0
Texas: 1-3-0
Texas A&M: 2-3-0
Wake Forest: 1-2-0
West Virginia: 0-1-0
There are a few patsies there, no?

Incidentally, we lead Oregon, who we canceled a future series with, 1-0-0, having played them in Athens in 1977. So, as much as I hate to miss a trip to Eugene, I don't mind denying them a chance to even that up.

CORRECTIONS: Couple of errors pointed out in the comments have been corrected. Thanks for setting me straight.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More and more, the finger points at talent

Seth Emerson looks at the last 10 years or so of Bulldog drafts and sees more than a correlation to our performance on the field.

You can read the article for the numbers, but here's the sentence that struck me:
Offensive lineman Clint Boling is the Bulldogs’ most draftable senior, according to Detillier, who thinks Boling is a late fourth or early fifth-round pick.
The biggest problems, though, have been on defense, where we haven't had a player taken in the first two rounds since Tim Jennings in 2006.

Buck Belue was talking about this issue, going forward at least, the other day:
Let me be as honest as I can be about the Georgia defense. We had 9 guys out there that wouldn't be starting at Auburn, LSU or Bama. Only Houston and Boykin are capable of starting elsewhere. Wonder when Grantham realized that?

The personnel should be better in 2011, with Jarvis Jones, Richard Samuel, and Alec Ogletree plugged in. But it's the D-Line that has me concerned looking ahead. Who are the impact dudes; like Auburn's Fairley. Don't see any.
I don't know how much stock I put into Richard Samuel as a starting linebacker next year, since he hasn't cracked the depth chart at all this year. But, then, I had the same concerns last year, when Aaron Murray didn't beat Joe Cox out for the starting job, and look how that turned out.

The bottom line is that we're going to have to find impact players for every level of the defense, and particularly in the middle of the defense. If Buck says we've got that covered next year at linebacker and safety, I'll allow myself some cautious optimism, though I think Jones is an outside linebacker - a position more crucial in the 3-4.

But destructive nose tackles ... you don't usually just pluck one of those off a high school football field.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Auburn: Not my friend, and that hasn't changed

I realize some people are calling Auburn "classless" in the wake of Saturday's game. I'm not one of them. That's not a boomerang I throw, because it always comes back.

I'm saying Nick Fairley shouldn't be allowed to put his helmet into someone's back when they don't have the ball or use his facemask to cut someone. I don't understand why we can't all agree on that.

Still, this is funny:

"You are the epitome of a sore loser. I hope your children have nightmares about Nick Fairley until they are 18 years old."

Fair enough.

I also know some have seen this game as a turning point in our rivalry, transforming it from a relatively friendly affair to something more hostile.

I have no idea what those people are talking about. We have never been friends.

I've always seen Auburn as a lesser cousin. Not too much different in circumstance, but a little poorer, a little dumber and a little uglier.

And, yet, somehow, he still ends up sleeping with your wife. None of that has changed. It's just been re-affirmed.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gene Chizik is either blind, or a liar

Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik Sunday, per
"That's not what we do here,'' Chizik said. "Everything we're going to do is with great effort. Are we going to make a mistake with effort? Yes. But I can assure you we're not going to do that on purpose.

"That's not what's in the heart, and that's not the intent, of our players."
Bullshit. This video ain't great, but how can you look at it and see anything but Nick Fairley purposefully putting his helmet into Aaron Murray's spine?

It's a dirty hit. It's a dangerous hit. Nick Fairley's a dirty player. And, as a head coach and an organization, if you don't do something about it, you enable it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Auburn clinches west

Would have loved to title this post "Aaron Murray is made of Iron."

I actually think he might be made of that stuff Robert Patrick's character was made of in Terminator 2.

But I went with a Rocky IV reference, even though I think Aaron's first half strategy was more along the lines of the second Clubber Lang fight in Rocky III. As an aside, A.J. Green is probably made of dark matter, but Cam Newton is made of gravity, and gravity always works.

Auburn was the better team and won the football game. If we're drafting Qbs from an all-time pool in the SEC, chances are I'm taking Cam Newton and you can have Peyton Manning.

Now, repeatedly Saturday Nick Fairley led with his helmet and speared Aaron Murray, often after the ball had been thrown. Aaron changed his jersey at one point, to get the blood off it.

And yet, of Murray and Fairley, I only saw one of those guys leave the field with an injury while the game was in doubt, and it wasn't Aaron Murray.

Images: AP via AJC and CBS via Youtube.

To Continue:

Except there's a second half.

Actual ad for staying asleep on this page.

We lost ... an Auburn game. And I feel better about a defense that gave up 49 points tonight than I have about the defense all season long.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Folks, it's not 2006

I hate to rain on our little parade of hope, and I'll happily eat my words Saturday if needed. But anyone looking for a repeat of the 2006 upset on the plains is begging to be disappointed.

This year's Auburn team does not have Brandon Cox at quarterback. This game does not kickoff at 11:30 central, an hour or so before Auburn's players actually wake up.

We don't have Charles Johnson, Ray Gant, Jeff Owens and Quentin Moses along the line of scrimmage. I think we're making upgrades, but I'm not convinced we've even got a Tra Battle at safety, so three interceptions in the first half ... unlikely.

Yeah, I think Auburn, outside of Cam Newton, is over-rated. Yeah, I think Cam Newton's father probably tried to trade his son's services for money. No, I don't think Auburn's defense can stop A.J. Green.

But quarterback play is so important in college football. And I haven't seen anything from our defense that makes me think we can stop a competent offensive attack, much less hold back the obvious Heisman front runner.

So I think this game ends up like a lot of Auburn games this year. High scoring for both sides. And then Auburn gets a stop or two in the fourth quarter, and suddenly you look around and Cam Newton's whipped you 62-40.
"Yeah, I think if Cam plays, the way our defense tackles, they're going to beat us like we're the ones who stole something."

- Gary Battles
Update: All that said, let it be known that "we're going to get crushed," is far from a unanimous opinion on the l.i. editorial board.
Dan: You see this latest comment from Auburn, about whether Cam Newton's going to play tomorrow? They say no comment. He can't be sleeping well at night. I think we're gong to get them tomorrow.

Me: Uh, yeah. I just put a post up, basically saying that anybody who says that is an idiot. And I wouldn't read to much into a no comment. Still, I know we've got this history of screwing each other, of ruining one another's great seasons, and it'd be nice to keep that going.

Dan: It would be nice to tie up the series.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Anonymity does not engender truth

There isn't a single sentence in this story that contains new news and doesn't also contain the phrase "according to the source" or "the source said."

I'm not saying it's not true. I'm saying there are good reasons, as a reporter or news organization, not to print accusations based solely on the word of one anonymous person.

And Thayer Evans, who wrote the story, is not without bias:
So listen closely, Heisman voters: Do not vote for Newton.
Update: So.Much(anonymously sourced but hard to doubt).Smoke.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why aren't we blocking them?

After this, I promise to move past the Florida game, and stop watching the highlights over and over again. But below is a screen grab from about 3 seconds into our last offensive play in overtime - the one Will Hill intercepted and almost ran back for a touchdown.

See all those guys in red, kind of standing around in a cluster and looking for something to do? Why aren't they blocking Florida's three man rush?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Optimism: Not just for August

Joe: When you're not good, you also have bad luck

Me: So all whammies are self whammies.

Joe: If you are good, Ben Jones flies right through Kris Durham.

At the 1:49 mark Ben Jones does NOT fly through Kris Durham.

I listen to my friend Dan Starnes when he talks about football because he's been one of the more reasonable people I know on the subject. For example, before 2008 he did not chant "Fire Mark Richt!," unless it was meant in satire.

In more recent years his plan that Coach Richt remain our coach, but coach differently, advanced. He became less fun to talk to. But, two days ago, he left me a message that was not so pessimistic:
You know I'm actually not that down. That game hurt. But I think we've got a lot of positive things happening. Obviously we'll know better after the Auburn game, but I don't know.

I don't I think it's all gloom and doom. I think we could be in good shape. That's hard to say when you're 4-5, but we'll see. If we can get by the Auburn game without the one thing happening that's happened every season since 2006, including 2006, where we've been blown out in games — that hasn't happened this year. Freshman quarterback, new defense, I think we could be OK.

Just got to keep getting better. And you know Richt's going to have to do something different. And he can't fire Mike Bobo. That ain't it. You can't go with a new offensive coordinator next year unless you fire him and Richt becomes the offensive coordinator, which might not be a bad idea.
Dan also says to remember the last time we played at a top 5 Auburn team "with a freshman quarterback in the midst of an unbelievably shitty season."

So it can happen.

Me: Any scenario that doesn't involved Cam Newton missing that game ...

Joe: I don't have a lot of memory of Auburn games, honestly. Generally speaking, I remember those less than others. Oddly I remember the blackout.

The blackout's a good point. I guess what Dan, and to a lesser extent, I, are saying, is anything happen.
Joe: No. Not against Auburn. Not this year, my man. Unless they can play someone this week who can injure Cam Newton. Unless they play the fucking Steelers. And that's probably against the rules in the NFL anyway now.

Dan makes a couple good points. There are some positive things. But at the same time, I talked to my dad last night, and he's like, "I blame the coaches." Whatever reason, they just suck.

But Dan brings up a good point. You fire Mike Bobo, you bring in a new guy, he's got to run pretty much the same things. Because next year Richt's out of time.
Joe: Right?
BoldMe: Right.

Joe: The bottom line is you were supposed to be good on the o-line, and you're not. I think your strategy is you try to stop Cam Newton from running, and if he throws 7 touchdowns, so be it. Everybody runs for Cam Newton, every time. Isn't that your approach?

Me: It's as good a plan as any.

let's try to say fewer foolish things

Folks, very few things in this world are "so far over the line that it can’t even be debated."

And when you start using that kind of language to describe a hand gesture in a football game, you discount your own opinion.

Monday, November 1, 2010

dark season

Me: What do you think Cam Newton is going to do to us?

Well, the good news is he'll only play two quarters.
It is worth looking through the annual post-Jacksonville pain to the rest of the season, which I can only hope includes two straight weeks of trying to stop Cam Newton, and a win over Georgia Tech.

I'm sure you're aware we're 4-5 right now, but there's something to saying it out loud, and to writing it down, and to staring at it.
Joe: So say we beat Idaho State and lose to Auburn. That's 5-6, with bowl eligibility on the line against Tech. That makes for a dark off season.
So that is where we're heading, into a dark off season. One where Coach Richt has to make tough decisions, then defend them for nine months.