Tuesday, April 15, 2014

G-Day Thoughts

-A great day for football. You could tell that this year's edition was all about evaluation- especially in the passing game. Coaches got a good look at our quarterbacks and defensive backs Saturday.
-Some thoughts on the offense...
-I thought Hutson Mason looked sharp. He's got a good handle on our offense and I'm comfortable having him as our starting quarterback. He's accurate and gets the ball out quickly, and I was surprised to see some pretty good athleticism, too. He put up solid numbers despite some big-time targets being out (Mitchell, Scott-Wesley, Rome, Marshall, etc.) and most importantly took care of the football (no turnovers).
-One of the most interesting things about G-Day was the battle for the backup quarterback position. I think anyone that watched the game saw that Faton Bauta had the better day. Bauta ended up being the leading passer on Saturday and showed that he was a lot more than a poor man's Tim Tebow. In the second half he threw two beauties back-to-back. One long one to Kenneth Towns and then another to Uriah LeMay for the score. That was an impressive drive by #10.
-Brice Ramsey, on the other hand, struggling a little bit. He definitely missed a bunch of throws and had trouble with his accuracy. That being said, the pecking order won't be determined based off of one scrimmage and according to reports he has enjoyed a solid spring overall. He's still got the most talented arm on the roster and could very well be the QB of the future.
-I thought freshman Jacob Park looked great for a guy that just got to campus. He made one throw on the run that I was really impressed with.
-Todd Gurley looked like the old Todd Gurley, which is great. It's been said often but I'll say it again: if he stays healthy, he's the nation's best running back and a potential Heisman winner.
-Brendan Douglas and A.J. Turman also looked good. Douglas was his usually hard-running self and really hit the holes hard on Saturday.
-I was looking forward to seeing Turman for the first time and he didn't disappoint. Like Douglas, he's a guy that runs hard and with great pad level. He can play.
-Chris Conley gets my vote for player of the game. He had a great day and looks all-SEC to me. Both he and Michael Bennett showed off great hands and ran their routes well. Once Mitchell and Scott-Wesley get back I can't imagine a better wide receiver corps.
-How 'bout that one-handed grab by Bennett? Wow.
-Reggie Davis is making strides. Speed is his game and he's learning to use it better. It appears he's put on a couple pounds, too. He got some quality experience last year and could become a regular part of the rotation.
-I was hoping to see another big G-Day for Jonathon Rumph but it just didn't happen. Both he and Blake Tibbs kinda struggled with concentration and had some drops. By all accounts, both had been having good springs though.
-Coach Ball isn't afraid to play non-scholarship players and walk-ons Clay Johnson and Kenneth Towns made good impressions Saturday. You could see one or both of them make a Rhett McGowan-type impact next season.
-One of the catches Johnson made was just incredible. There were two or three defenders in the vicinity and he came out of nowhere to snag it. I like the way he goes up and gets the ball.
-Coming out of the spring, I think my biggest concern is the tight end position. It's unfair to expect too much out of Quayvon Hicks considering he just moved, although he did look pretty good with his route running. Jay Rome has experience and is certainly talented, but he hasn't proven he can stay healthy and didn't play at all this spring. The other scholarship guy- redshirt freshman Jordan Davis- has yet to play a down of SEC football and his extremely important spring was cut short by a leg injury.
-Overall the o-line did pretty well. I think our defensive front seven should be one of the best in the SEC, and the big guys held their own for the most part. David Andrews, John Theus, and Greg Pyke seemed to be the standouts. Kolton Houston looked bigger and improved from last year so at this point it's a question of who's going to step up and be that 5th guy. Could be Brandon Kublanow or Mark Beard.
-I really like the depth we have on the defensive line. We can go three deep at each spot and all of the guys had their moments on Saturday. Toby Johnson and Ray Drew may have been the most impressive and they didn't even start. I thought Chris Wilson (now at USC) did a great job with our d-line last season and Tracy Rocker seems to be picking up where he left off.
-Leonard Floyd is a beast and I fully expect him to be all-SEC this season. His length and explosion give tackles fits and it looks like he's put on some good weight, too. He's a gamechanger.
-Davin Bellamy probably didn't show up much on the stat sheet, but he was a guy that just looked good. He consistently got in the backfield and seemed to move well for a guy his size. There's been some talk about trying to get him on the field along with Floyd and Jordan Jenkins and I can see why.
-Amarlo Herrera had great timing on his blitzes. He had at least two sacks that I can recall.
-The secondary definitely has a ways to go, but I think everybody knew that going into Saturday's scrimmage. The offense put up some pretty big passing numbers and they could have been even bigger if not for a few overthrows.
-It's a shame we didn't get to see J.J. Green. The former tailback was performing very well at the star position throughout the spring and I was looking forward to seeing him in action. Tray Matthews (whom many project as a starter at safety) and cornerback Reggie Wilkerson were also held out.
-Partly because of the injuries, there was a lot of mixing and matching going on and to say the positions in the secondary are wide open to say the least. Don't be surprised if an incoming freshman ends up atop the depth chart.
-Walk-on Lucas Redd got the start at safety and looked good. I was especially impressed with his tackling: he took down both Todd Gurley and Quayvon Hicks in the open field which is hard to do (other than Douglas, they're probably the two guys I'd want to tackle the least). And in general, there was better tackling from the defense as a whole. Gurley broke a few but overall much better than last year. The D did a pretty good job of keeping the yards after contact to a minimum.
-Another walk-on, Aaron Davis (CB) also had a good day. He had a nice pick in the second half and played physically. Some people questioned whether these walk-ons playing significant minutes in the secondary was just talk or a motivation ploy (for the other scholarship players) but I think Davis and Redd in particular showed they can make plays out there.
-Corner Shaq Wiggins had a hit-and-miss day. He had a nice pass breakup and blew up a receiver screen but followed it up with a couple pass interferences. He shows a lot of fight out there but closer to the goalline his size can become an issue.
-In general, there were a lot of pass interferences out there but I'm not overly concerned. I like seeing aggressive play in the secondary and prefer close coverage over large cushions. I think Pruitt is making a difference and the secondary will continue to get better. There didn't seem to be as many busted assignments...
-All-in-all it was a successful G Day. As expected, the offense was a little ahead of the defense. Our front seven looks pretty stout, however, and that should help take the pressure off of a secondary that has a good amount of improving to do.
-I think this team is very capable of getting to the SEC Championship but as always the offseason and summer workouts will have a big impact. The team had a solid spring but it will mean nada if they don't build upon it. GATA guys.
-Go Dawgs!!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

2014 Class Breakdown - Defense

You gotta be impressed with the defensive signees UGA nabbed considering the complete overhaul of the defensive staff right before signing day (and one assistant wasn't hired until after signing day). We filled needs in the front seven but you can see that the defensive backfield was the focal point in this class. Expect several of these guys to play significant roles on August 30th.  

DE Keyon Brown 6'3 240 Hardee HS (Wauchula, FL)
Many call him this class's most underrated players and it's hard to disagree. He's not talked about often, but as you can see from his film he's an extremely talented pass rusher. He has great speed off the edge and plays with good leverage. I'm also very impressed with his array of pass rush moves (high school players usually don't have so many). He gets by tackles by beating them to the edge, swimming, ripping, spinning, bullrushing, going inside, and going outside. He uses his hands well, which is another skill many guys don't have coming right out of high school. A good comparison for Brown may be Jarvis Jones- and he could make a similar impact before his time at UGA is done.

DE Lorenzo Carter 6'5 230 Norcross HS (Norcross, GA)
If there was a must-get in this class, it was Lorenzo Carter. The athletic 6'5 pass rusher had offers from all over the country and recruiting services had him ranked as the state's top prospect. Thankfully he chose to represent his state and don the red and black. Although he was productive at the high school level, his top ranking and intense recruitment were due in large part to his immense potential. His raw skills and measurables (speed, length, overall athleticism) are off the charts and many are already calling him a future NFL player. He'll need to bulk up before he becomes an every-down player in the SEC, but he has the explosiveness off the edge to make an impact on passing downs immediately.

LB Detric Dukes 6'0 232 Tucker HS (Tucker, GA)
A former Louisville commit, Dukes made a quick switch to the Dawgs after receiving the in-state offer he desired. Another bigtime player from the Tucker pipeline, Dukes was a tackling machine in high school and has the look of a future team leader. Despite not having prototypical size (around 6 feet tall), Dukes makes up for it with effort, instincts, and good athleticism. He's like a heatseeking missile and takes great angles to the ball. He's a classic inside linebacker in that he's at his best in the running game, but his highlights in pass coverage and as a tight end show that he brings more to the table.

CB Shattle Fenteng 6'2 185 Hutchinson C.C. (Hutchinson, KS)
The lone junior college signee in this class, Fenteng played his high school ball at Grayson. One of the most impressive things about his game is his size/length. You don't see 6'2 cornerbacks that can run like him. He also plays with good instincts, reacts to the ball well, and has good hips/change of direction ability. There's a reason ESPN ranked him as the #4 JUCO prospect in the country and it's hard to imagine him not playing early. Cornerback is a position of need and he's a guy that can match up with bigger wideouts.

DL Lamont Gaillard 6'2 320 Pine Forest HS (Fayetteville, NC)
Gaillard's commitment was in jeopardy (despite getting a Bulldog tattoo) after the exodus of Grantham and his staff, but thankfully the new staff smoothed things over and were able to keep him on board. Gaillard is an interesting prospect in that his rankings on the recruiting sites varied greatly. Some had him has one of the top d-line prospects in the country, while others had him further down the board. From what I can gather, he's a guy that had a huge junior season but his play dropped off as a senior due to weight issues (his higher rankings were probably based off his potential/junior film). The good thing is that weight can be corrected with a few months in a collegiate weight program. Despite his massive size, he has unbelievable explosion and athleticism. He has the ability not only to clog up space but to penetrate as well. With Gaillard, he's got a lot of natural ability and he just needs to put it all together. I think he'll be a good one.

CB Shaquille Jones 6'2 175 Merritt Island HS (Merritt Island, FL)
Shaq Jones was a former Louisville commit who switched to the Dawgs late. It was obvious he was a guy Pruitt had his eye on, and once he was hired Jones quickly started trending towards UGA. Like Fenteng, he's a longer cornerback that has great length to go along with good speed/athleticism. My favorite thing about his film is the way he goes up and gets the ball. As both a defensive back and receiver, he attacks the ball at the highest point and always seems to come up with the ball in traffic. It'll be interesting to see what position he ends up because he has the athleticism to play corner but the frame to end up at safety or star. Stay tuned!

DB Malkom Parrish 5'10 190 Brooks Co. HS (Quitman, GA)
At the end of the day, I think this guy could end up being the MVP of this class. Guys like Carter, Chubb, and Michel get most of the publicity, but Parrish deserves to be mentioned too. He's coming in at a position of need and has the look of an all-SEC player. He reminds me of Brandon Boykin and did it all for his high school team (including playing quarterback). He's probably the best pure athlete in this class and has the speed, hops, agility, toughness, and physicality to play significant snaps at any position in the defensive backfield.

DB Dominick Sanders 5'10 175 Tucker HS (Tucker, GA)
Another Tucker prospect, Sanders got a late offer from the Dawgs and jumped at the opportunity to play for his in-state school with his teammate Detric Dukes. His brother Chris was a former player for the Dawgs who ended up being kicked off the team (along with Nick Marshall and others) but that didn't seem to impact his decision. Thank goodness for that, because Dominick looks like a sleeper prospect. He wasn't heavily recruited but I can't understand why after watching the film. He's probably a bit raw as a cornerback, but he is a playmaker, pure and simple.

Friday, February 7, 2014

2014 Class Breakdown - Offense

Offensively, this a great, well-balanced class. With this group, Georgia is building high-quality depth and a few of these guys could be immediate impact-type players. This offensive class is high on star power- headlined by Chubb, Michel, Blazevich, and Park- but also has several sleeper/developmental prospects (Atkinson, Baker, Johnson) that could end up paying off bigtime.


TE Hunter Atkinson 6'5 250 West Hall HS (Oakwood, GA)
The surprise of this year's class, Atkinson (who wasn't heavily recruited) was committed to Cincinnati but abruptly switched to UGA once he got the offer on Tuesday night. He then inked with the Dawgs on Wednesday. I honestly hadn't heard much about this guy, but after watching his film on Wednesday I believe we got a huge steal (sorry I couldn't find a vid on youtube; he looks like Gronk!). He's a big guy at around 6'5 and 250 pounds but he moves quite well. He shows a lot of ability with the ball in his hands and even ran a little wildcat in high school. A lot of people of projecting him as a tackle (and he very well could end up there depending on how he grows and the weight he puts on), but I'd be shocked if he doesn't at least start out at tight end. His size, hands, and athleticism combined with a lack of depth at the position could mean playing time as a freshman.

OL Kendall Baker 6'6 297 Marist HS (Atlanta, GA)
As a Marist grad, I'm excited to see a fellow alum playing ball in Athens. A defensive lineman under Coach Chadwick, it was announced on Signing Day that Baker would begin his collegiate career as an offensive lineman (likely tackle). While it may take some time to adjust to the new spot and SEC football, I think this is a move that will pay off for him down the road. His film is largely on the d-line, but he shows good strength and footwork which should translate well to O. He also has the size and length you can't coach.

TE Jeb Blazevich 6'5 230 Charlotte Christian HS (Charlotte, NC)
At least one service rates Blazevich as the #1 tight end in the country, and it's hard to disagree. He played well in the all-star game/practices and is a more accomplished route-runner than most receiver prospects. He's got a good frame and length and shows solid hands. With oft-injured Jay Rome and Jordan Davis (who has yet to play a down) as the only scholarship tight ends on the roster, both Atkinson and Blazevich have a great shot at PT. How much Blazevich plays will likely depend on how much weight he can put on (at this point, he's likely not big enough to handle some blocking duties) but he should make an impact as a receiver right away.

RB Nick Chubb 5'11 220 Cedartown HS (Cedartown, GA)
The gem of this class. Chubb is a complete running back and ran for well over 2,000 (!) yards this past season. Everybody knew Cedartown would just hand him the ball on every play but he still couldn't be stopped. At a compact 220 pounds, his body is ready for the rigors of SEC football now and he has it all: speed, power, vision. I never get tired watching his film. He's strong as an ox and will be a leader in the weightroom. While there is already decent depth at RB (Gurley, Marshall, Douglas, Green, and Turman), Chubb and Michel may be too talented to keep off the field. It'll be interesting to see how all of these guys get touches.

OL Jake Edwards 6'4 280 Heard Co. HS (Franklin, GA)
Edwards is one of my favorite guys in the class. He got his offer the old fashioned way: he earned it. He was told by the coaching staff at one point that he needed to put on weight and perform well at camp for them consider an offer. He showed up at camp bigger and stronger and was a standout in the o-line drills and one-on-ones. Once the offer came through, he committed on the spot. As you can see on film, he's got the attitude you want in an o-lineman: he finishes his blocks and plays till the whistle. He's got the size and footwork to contribute on virtually any position along the line, but I predict he'll find a home at guard.

WR Gilbert Johnson 6'4 190 Homestead HS (Homestead, FL)
Johnson is a bit of an unknown. There isn't much film out there on him and many thought he could have been a possible decommit because his up until signing day none of the recruiting sites were hearing from him. That being said, I'm glad we ended up getting him. He has a unique skill set that should be a nice compliment to the smaller speedsters we have on board (Rico Johnson, McKenzie). While he's no slowpoke, his game is going up and getting the ball and beating defenders using his body/length- a "basketball receiver." No doubt he has a bright future under the tutelage of Receivers Coach Tony Ball.

WR Rico Johnson 5'11 185 Swainsboro HS (Swainsboro, GA)
Like Edwards, Johnson is a guy that bleeds and red and black. It took him longer than you'd like to get here (was actually part of last year's class but was not able to enroll due to an academic issue). For a while it was looking like he had lost his chance and would end up elsewhere, but he stayed patient and in the end got re-offered. He has incredible speed and will likely be the fastest guy on the team the moment he steps on campus (he is FAST). He can certainly take the top off a defense and should challenge fellow signee Isaiah McKenzie for some looks in the return game.

WR Isaiah McKenzie 5'8 170 American Heritage HS (Plantation, FL)
A signing-day addition, McKenzie (like Atkinson) received his offer late but still chose the Dawgs. You know having a teammate already committed (Michel) played a significant role and thank goodness for that, because McKenzie was a big pickup. He's a small, quick jitterbug type that is expected to make an immediate impact in the return game, and boy do we need help there. His highlight filme dubs him the "human joystick." Just watch and you'll see why. He's as elusive as they come.

RB Sony Michel 5'11 205 American Heritage HS (Plantation, FL)
Most teams would be happy to sign Chubb or Michel but somehow Georgia got both. It's truly an embarrassment of riches at running back for the dawgs. A consensus five star recruit, Michel has been a standout in the Miami area for several years and to nab him from deep in the sunshine state was quite a coup. While many want to call Chubb and Michel "thunder and lightning" both guys are really balanced. Chubb has more speed than people give him credit for, and Michel has more power than people give him credit for. Looking at the film, Michel is reminiscent of Knowshon Moreno; he's got great vision and cutting ability and lowers his pads for extra yards when needed. It's worth noting that the stats and highlights he's put up have come against some of the best competition in the country.

QB Jacob Park 6'3 205 Stratford HS (Goose Creek, SC)
You won't see Park on the field for a few years but he's still a guy a fans should be excited about. Bobo and Richt are the best in the business at developing QBs if you ask me, and while Park is a little rough around the edges, he's got all the skills to become a star. A cannon for an arm, quick release, and the ability to pull the ball down and make plays with his feet.

OL Dyshon Sims 6'5 280 Lowndes HS (Valdosta, GA)
Josh Harvey-Clemons' cousin, Sims may end up being one of our most important signings. Heavily pursued by FSU and Alabama (among others), he has the look of a future all-conference player. Great athleticism for a guy his size and while many services still list him at around 260, he's working hard and will be closer to 300 by the time summer rolls around. It's going to be hard to make an impact year one, but I think he'll be part of the rotation sooner rather than later.

WR Shakenneth Williams 6'2 195 Rutland HS (Macon, GA)
Rico Johnson and McKenzie are the smaller speedsters and Gilbert Johnson is a taller/possession type guy. Williams looks to be a nice blend of both. He's a well-built 6'2 1and has the length and strength to outfight defensive backs in close coverage, but he also has enough speed to get separation deep. No doubt it'll take a little time to learn the intricacies of the college game and hone his route-running, but at the end of the day he's going to be a solid player. Lots of upside.

OL Isaiah Wynn 6'2 270 Lakewood HS (St. Petersburg, FL)
One the top guards in the country, Wynn's measureables don't wow you but he's actually a very long 6'2. He's an accomplished run blocker and showed in the all-star game he can beat guys that are bigger than him with regularity. He possesses great footwork and like Jake Edwards, he also got that "nasty streak" you like to see and drives defenders into the ground early and often. While he could stand to put on a few more pounds, he may play the earliest out of all the linemen in this class. He's athletic and his technique is very advanced for guy at this stage.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jeremy Pruitt, UGA Defensive Coordinator

I'm getting more and more excited about this hire, and to be honest I don't know how we pulled it off (and did it so quickly). Love the fact that he has a background in the defensive secondary and that he is widely regarded as one of the top recruiters in the country. The speed in which he's risen up the coaching ranks speaks for itself. Kudos to Richt, Will Friend and the others involved for nabbing one of the hottest DCs around. They've fired up a pretty bummed out fan base, and have built a ton of momentum and excitement for the offseason.
So what kind of defense can we expect under Pruitt? I certainly like the look of the highlight seen above. We don't have the same players as the national champion Seminoles did this past season (or played the same teams), but I will say that our athletes are comparable in terms of speed and athleticism. Hopefully, he can get our guys to play with the same aggressiveness seen in the video above. As you can see, 'Noles are running to the ball on every play and are attacking. It definitely looks like he's one who likes to bring the pressure, and I love it. It's obvious he likes to bring heat from the secondary, but I'll be interested to see how he uses our talented edge rushers- Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Look Back: My Favorite Plays From the 2013-2014 Season

1. The D Hunkers Down (South Carolina)
The Gamecocks were down 11 with about 8 minutes left to play. They had gotten the ball down to the one yard line at that's where their drive stalled. On fourth and inches, Spurrier decides to go for it. Mike Davis had been a big player for the 'Cocks all day, and they decide to go to him again. Shaw took the shotgun snap and it was an option play to the right. It didn't look like Shaw had any intentions to keep the ball, and he flipped it out to Davis quickly. With a UGA defensive back to the outside, Davis made a cut inside as he's bringing the ball in. Amarlo Herrera is "Johnny on the spot" and met him head-on right at the line of scrimmage. He stood Davis up, and then waited for the cavalry to come. With a face of disgust, the 'Ol Ball Coach threw his clipboard into the turf and the game was pretty much over. Biggest play in what may have been UGA's biggest win of the season.
2. McGowan Gets The First (Florida)
With about 8 minutes left in the fourth, we took over at about the 20 yard line. Only up by three, from the outset you knew the coaching staff wanted to make it the final drive and leave the Gators no time to score. The chains moved past midfield thanks to several tough short yardage carries by Todd Gurley. But at around the 40 yardline, the offense found itself in a third and seven situation. It was too far to run the ball, and the dawgs needed another first to run out the remaining 2 minutes. So, Murray went to the air. Out of the gun, he rolled to the right and quickly shot a pass to former walk-on Rhett McGowan who was running an out route towards the sideline. McGowan, a senior, must've known exactly where the marker was. A Gator DB had an angle on him, so instead of running straight up the sideline, he planted his foot and turned inside. Thanks to the move, the Florida player couldn't make a solid hit and he was able to extend the ball past the first down marker as he was being taken down. Clutch. 
3. Floyd Takes Over (LSU)
Up by 3 with 1:00 left, Georgia's much-maligned D had to step up and step up they did. The hero of the drive was undoubtedly freshman outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. On the first play of LSU's potential game winning/tying drive, Floyd lined up outside and upon the snap of the ball swung around to the inside. His speed was too much for LSU's right tackle too handle and he flew upfield almost untouched, sticking Zach Mettenberger in the turf for a big loss. That really set the tone for the drive and also was big in terms of the time/clock. I don't know if I've heard Sanford Stadium louder. In the words of Larry Munson, everybody went "bonkers" after that play! Later on fourth down, Floyd would get after Mettenberger again, helping cause a final incomplete pass. This play/the final series of the LSU game was really the high point of the season, as the Dawgs had rebounded from a disappointing Clemson loss to defeat two top 10 sec conference foes back-to-back.
4. Aaron Ties It Up (Auburn)
It was fourth and goal from the 5 yard line and we were down by 6. With less than 2 minutes on the clock it was score or game over. Somehow, the dawgs had fought back from a huge deficit and had an opportunity to take the lead late. Bobo decided to go to the air for this one. Murray took the snap out of the gun and had four wideouts running routes. All four were immediately covered up, and hemmed in by 4 blue shirts it was looking like Murray was would have to throw it into coverage or get swallowed up by the pressure. At the top of his drop, he made a quick decision and sprinted upfield. Auburn players were everywhere and Dee Ford (their star defensive end) actually got his hands on him right at the line of scrimmage. Stumbling towards the goaline, he somehow broke the plane despite 4 defenders converging on him right at the goalline. That was the kind of run you see in the movies. We were out of time, out of downs, and nobody was open. Murray put the team on his back and willed his way into the endzone. I don't know how he did it. Gutsy. This is the play I'll remember Aaron Murray for, and it should be the play we remember the 2013 UGA-Auburn game for.
5. Aaron Answers (Tennessee)
Things sure were looking dicey in Knoxville. With half our starters injured and Tennessee with a ton of momentum (they had just tied it 17 all; about to go into the fourth) we needed a big play desperately. We got that play in a way no one could've expected. On our own side of the 50, Aaron Murray took the shotgun snap on an apparent passing play. Not so fast- it was a run! Actually a designed run, the middle of the field parted like the red sea and it looked like Murray (who many fancy more of a pocket passer) would be able to slide safely for a nice gain and a first down. Fortunately for the dawgs, he decided not to. Despite two Tennessee defenders with good angles converging on him about 15 yards down the field, Murray decided to keep running. Somehow he split the two Volunteers and slipped free of their grasps simultaneously. Breaking into the open field, Murray took it all the way down to the two or three yard line. Such a big play by #11. A 60 yard quarterback draw! 
6. Brendan Douglas Introduces Himself (South Carolina)
After the aforementioned goalline stand, we were still nursing an 11 point lead with a little over 5 minutes remaining. In went a little-known freshman Brendan Douglas. Needing to melt some time of the clock, it's pretty obvious the youngster was gonna get a carry. Taking a handoff inside, he followed a pulling Dallas Lee into the teeth of the Gamecock defense. It doesn't look like much of a hole but somehow he squirted through and quickly found himself in the open field. A safety came up quickly and tried to tackle him low about 10 yards down the field. Douglas got lower, and with his shoulder knocked the guy on his back. He finished off his 20 yard jaunt by running over another defender near the sideline. This play wasn't a score and probably wasn't as important as some of the others on this list but it's definitely one of my favorites. Man, I loved that play. His teammates did, too. The sideline sure was animated after that one!
7. Gurley Up the Middle (Georgia Tech)The Dawgs had to fight back from a big deficit to get this game into overtime, and overtime is when Todd Gurley took over. Tech scored and Gurley answered after several handoffs. On the very first play of the second period we went to #3 yet again. Hutson Mason handed it off out of the shotgun and our o-line opened up a big hole (nice seal block by Kenarious Gates). Gurley dashed right up the middle, jumping over a Yellow Jacket defender right at the goalline. The emphatic score set the tone for the defense, who were able to get a stop on fourth down and finish off our in-state rival.
8. Murray Finds Scott-Wesley (South Carolina)
It was early in the fourth and we're up by 4. Things weren't looking good as it was 3rd and 13 on our own 15. Murray took the snap out of shotgun and both of South Carolina's defensive ends (including that Clowney guy) got the better of our tackles from the get-go. With the pocket on the verge of collapse, Murray scrambled to the outside and chucked it on the run to a surprisingly wide open Justin Scott-Wesley. Using his trackstar speed, Scott-Wesley flew to the endzone for an 85 yard score.
9. Gurley Returns (Florida)
Already up 7-0, the Dawgs got the ball back and on a third and five near our own 30 yardline Murray dumped it off to Gurley in the middle of the field. It ended up being the perfect call. With the Gators blitzing, linebackers had vacated the middle of the field and once Gurley caught it he was all by himself with plenty of room to run. Despite having a bum ankle and not being in game shape (he had missed the two games prior and hadn't been practicing) Gurley found a way to outrun a couple of Gator defensive backs and find paydirt.  
10. Conley One-Handed (Tennessee) 
It was second and goal and Bobo decided to go with the corner-of-the endzone fade. The coverage was good, and Murray had to throw it seemingly out of the reach of Chris Conley. Key word "seemingly." With one arm outstretched Conley made an incredible one-handed fingertip grab. He gathered it in as he was falling and somehow he held onto it despite hitting the turf hard. No question it was the most impressive catch of the season.
11. Gurley to the House (Clemson)
The dawgs didn't win the game, but this play makes my list anyways. First quarter in Death Valley and Clemson hit paydirt on their very first drive. On our own 25, we tossed it to Gurley. With great blocks from David Andrews and Quayvon Hicks, a big hole opens up and Gurley took it 75 yards to the house. A safety actually had an angle on him, but around midfield our star running back hit another gear and left him in the dust. The stadium was rocking after Clemson's initial score and Georgia's quick answer made everything turn quiet (pretty cool). At that point, everyone in both Red and Orange knew it was gonna be a great game with a lot of points scored. 
12. Marshall Morgan...Ice Cold (Tennessee)
You gotta love a game-winning field goal. After Pig Howard fumbled the ball into the endzone on the Vol's possession, UGA just needed a field goal to win it. A 42 yarder from the far left hash, Marshall Morgan lined it up and knocked it through. Just like he's supposed to. A dawgpile ensued. This was the highlight of what ended up being an excellent season for our placekicker.
13. Davis Goes Deep (North Texas)
This play was one for the history books. On our own two, Bobo called a risky play-action pass. The fake was executed well and Davis, a freshman speedster from Florida got behind the Mean Green secondary. Seconds after the catch he was at the goalpost, virtually untouched. 98 yards! 
14. Barber's Onside Kick (South Carolina)
Fresh off a great touchdown drive with the score 7-3, Richt went into his bag of tricks and pulled out an onside kick midway through the first quarter. The play was executed perfectly as Collin Barber kicked about 10 yards and Blake Sailors (a special teams standout throughout his Bulldog career) was there to scoop it up. The ballsy call by the Head Coach certainly caught South Carolina's return team by surprise. This play gave the Dawgs added momentum and more importantly took away an offensive drive from the Gamecocks. 
15. Busted Play (Clemson)
Another Gurley run in the Clemson game. Down by a TD midway through the third, we have the ball around the 10 yard line. There's some miscommunication on the play as Murray ran into fullback Quayvon Hicks before he's able to hand the ball to Gurley (as he's falling). Once #3 has the ball he's facing a wall of solid orange and it looked like the play is going to be a disaster (and Gurley actually runs into Hicks too). A couple quick cuts and all of the sudden he had some room. After breaking a couple tackles he high-stepped into the endzone for 6. Reminiscent of a play he had in 2012 against Florida, Gurley somehow got a redzone score out of a play that had no business being successful. He made his own hole and took the play inside when it was supposed to go outside. Incredible run.

Friday, January 3, 2014

POSTGAME THOUGHTS: UGA 19, NEBRASKA 24

-Disappointing game to say the least. We definitely had our chances to win but just didn't get it done.
-Despite the poor performance, we were in it until the very end. I'm sure I've said that before this season haha.
-I was telling somebody that Nebraska had "the easiest 24 points I've ever seen." That's a bit of an overstatement, but the Huskers' had a 99 yard TD on a blown coverage certainly looked easy and they also cashed on short fields (muffed punt, interception).
-The reason for the loss wasn't Artie Lynch dropping a ball. It was the fact we had four field goals instead of putting the ball in the endzone. The aforementioned mistakes didn't help, either.
-Our offense moved the ball fairly well throughout most of the game (416 total yards) but sputtered in the redzone. I remember redzone scoring being an issue earlier in the Mark Richt era but this year we've been solid in that regard. Settling for all of those field goals was certainly a surprise.
-Hutson Mason threw the ball well except for the pick (which looked like it could've been some kind of miscommunication with the receiver). The conditions were far from ideal and there were a few dropped balls but he still ended ended up throwing for 320 yards. At the end of the game he gave us a chance to win. Keep in mind this was his second career start. Not bad.
-It was interesting to see Faton Bauta go in for a zone read play. He only got a yard but I thought it was a nice wrinkle. Wonder if we'll see more of that next season.
-Gurley wasn't himself. I think that was obvious. He made several big plays (especially in the passing game) but on several occasions he went down on tackles he almost always breaks. There were injuries galore this year, but you gotta wonder if this season would've turned out differently had just Gurley been healthy for every game. At 60-70% he's still one of the nation's best, but at 100% there's no one better.
-J.J. Green and Douglas came in and did well with the few touches they got. Man, Green hits the hole hard.
-Give Nebraska credit for sticking to our receivers like glue. Bennett and Conley got loose a couple times but for the most part our wideouts were extremely quiet.
-People will remember the final dropped pass, but Arthur Lynch had a solid game and outside of Gurley (who had almost 100 rec. yards out of the backfield) was our biggest receiving weapon. He had several important third down grabs.
-The offensive line had an inconsistent day. What else is new. Having two senior guards getting knocked out (Burnette, Lee) didn't help.
-There was one drive in the third or fourth (can't recall exactly when) where the o-line seemed to completely fall apart- as in a missed assignment on all three downs. I remember seeing Coach Friend incensed on the sideline...  
-Kublanow did an admirable job filling in though. I saw him put a defender on his back a couple times. I think he'll be a good one (and should win a starting gig next season).
-If you take away the 99 yard catch, the defense actually performed decently. I was pleasantly surprised when they strung together a couple three and outs. They also shut out the Huskers in the first.
-Can't get that particular play out of my head though. What was it? 3rd and 14? On their own inch line?  Unacceptable.
-From what I saw, it looked like we were in cover 2. Wiggins basically turned his man over to Mauger, who appeared to have the deep zone. Mauger was late getting over. TD.
-It's frustrating because it was just a two man route. They needed 14 yards so you know they had to throw a deeper ball. I'm not a coach so I don't know who was at fault, but I feel like in that situation both guys should have been on their receiver and a pick, breakup, or a throw away by the quarterback should've been the result. Maybe we were expecting them to run and give their punter a couple more yards to work with. But the secondary's #1 concern is the receiver lined up across the line of scrimmage. He got behind the coverage and that's happened on more than one occasion this year.
-It looked like our secondary still had trouble lining up. Don't know if it's a communication issue between the players or if the calls from the sideline just weren't coming in fast enough but it's disappointing to see in the final game of the season.
-I was surprised to see that Nebraska's running back had over 120 yards. Thought we did a solid job against the run.
-How many muffed punts have we had this season? I feel like that happens (or some other kind of punt team special team snafu) every game. 
-For all of the mishaps on special teams this year, Marshall Morgan has been great. He was automatic against the Huskers and you couldn't have asked for more field goal wise.
-Kickoff coverage did well, as did J.J. Green on his returns. His 48 yard return was probably the longest of the season, and he could have placed himself near the front of the line for next year's gig with that play.
-Can't believe the Nebraska player who nailed McGowan coming across the middle didn't get ejected. He was going for McGowan not the ball (intent). He also led with his helmet and hit McGowan up high. Was the hit as bad as Ray Drew's against Vanderbilt? Absolutely. In fact, it was much worse in my opinion. The inconsistency in these targeting calls is maddening, especially for me (a Georgia fan).
-I also wonder about the intentional grounding called against Brendan Douglas. He couldn't have been more "outside the pocket."
-Sorry, I am an no way blaming the loss on the referees. Just had to vent about it a little.
-This has been written on many other sites I'm sure, but this game was kind of microcosm of the season. Our guys fought hard and played well at times but recurring mistakes in the secondary and special teams killed us. We had to deal with injuries and there was a targeting call that didn't go our way too!
-Balls didn't bounce our way this year and these guys dealt with more adversity than any other team I can recall (especially the injuries- GEEZ!). But these guys never gave up and always fought. That's what I'll remember this team for. It was a heartbreaking season but we were in every single game and made some epic comebacks. Oh what could've been!
-A BIG shout out to the seniors: thanks for strapping on the G and doing us proud.
-Go Dawgs!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

BOWL PREVIEW

Here are my picks for some of the notable bowl games this year...

FRESNO STATE VS USC
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
Score Prediction: USC 28, Fresno State 27
USC, like a couple teams mentioned below, is in the midst of some coaching changes. Distraction and uncertainty comes along with that (and being in Las Vegas will be a distraction for both teams). USC fields a more talented team, but Fresno State and future NFL quarterback Derek Carr pose a big threat. 

BYU VS WASHINGTON
Fight Hunger Bowl
Score Prediction: Washington 31, BYU 24
Washington just lost their coach to USC but still have one of the best offenses in the entire country. Keith Price (QB) and Bishop Sankey (RB) will make enough plays to win.

RUTGERS VS NOTRE DAME
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Score Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Rutgers 17
Rutgers has a bit of a home-field advantage in this one, but I'd be surprised if Notre Dame didn't win considering the Scarlet Knights' coaching situation (several assistant coaches just got canned).

MIAMI VS LOUISVILLE
Russell Athletic Bowl
Score Prediction: Louisville 35, Miami 28
In what will likely be his last game as a college player, UL quarterback Terry Bridgewater will face off against his hometown team in his home state. He'll show out in front of his friends and family.

MICHIGAN VS KANSAS STATE
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Score Prediction: Kansas State 20, Michigan 17
I, like many Dawg fans, would've loved to have seen a UGA-Michigan bowl matchup. Instead, they're heading to Tempe to face Kansas State. The Wildcats have a ton of momentum, winning five of their last six.

OLE MISS VS GEORGIA TECH
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Score Prediction: Ole Miss 27, Georgia Tech 24
As a Georgia/SEC football fan, this game is certainly of interest. Ole Miss has a pretty dangerous spread attack and it'll be interesting to see how the extra practice prepares them for Tech's unique triple option offense. One things for sure: there'll be a ton of of Rebel fans in Nashville.

VIRGINIA TECH VS UCLA
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Score Prediction: UCLA 28, Virginia Tech 23
Virginia Tech has had a bit of a down year, while UCLA was one of the hottest teams in the nation earlier in the season. UCLA seems to have the clear advantage on paper, but their coach (Mora) has been mentioned as a candidate for a lot of jobs recently. That could be a distraction.

RICE VS MISSISSIPPI STATE
Autozone Liberty Bowl
Score Prediction: Rice 30, Mississippi State 27
Mississippi State barely snuck into the postseason, winning the Egg Bowl in dramatic fashion to reach 6 wins. Rice, on the other hand, had a great year and won their conference's championship. I think it'll be a great game- could go either way.

DUKE VS TEXAS A&M
Chick-Fil-A Bowl
Score Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Duke 20
I expect Johnny Football to have a big day in what will likely be his final collegiate game.

IOWA VS LSU
Outback Bowl
Score Prediction: LSU 24, Iowa 21
LSU will be without Zach Mettenberger, which hurts. That being said, there is a talent disparity here and I see them eking out a win by running the ball early and often.

WISCONSIN VS SOUTH CAROLINA
Capital One Bowl
Score Prediction: South Carolina 30, Wisconsin 23
In what should be a close game, Connor Shaw is a guy that will the make plays in crunchtime. 

STANFORD VS MICHIGAN STATE
Rose Bowl
Score Prediction: Michigan State 23, Stanford 21
If you like old-fashioned football, this is the game for you. Lots of carries for the running backs and solid defense. Should be a close, low-scoring affair.

CENTRAL FLORIDA VS BAYLOR
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Score Prediction: Baylor 43, UCF 27
UCF almost blew it their final game of the season against SMU (squeaking by 17-13). They won't be able to fool around like that against one of the nation's top offenses and get away with it.

OKLAHOMA VS ALABAMA
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Score Prediction: Alabama 31, Oklahoma 17
Despite all of the Saban rumors flying around, I expect the Tide to be dialed in for this bowl game. That's bad news for Stoops and the Sooners.

OKLAHOMA STATE VS MISSOURI
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Score Prediction: Missouri 33, Oklahoma State 31
An old Big 12 matchup. Both squads ended their season on a sour note (Ok St losing to their in-state rival, Missouri falling in the SEC Championship) but boast potent offenses. I expect this to be a close, entertaining game.

CLEMSON VS OHIO STATE
Discover Orange Bowl
Score Prediction: Clemson 30, Ohio State 28
I feel like it was kind of "Championship or bust" for the Buckeyes. It'll be interesting to see if they can rebound after a disappointing loss. 

VANDERBILT VS HOUSTON
BBVA Compass Bowl
Score Prediction: Vanderbilt 33, Houston 20
Vanderbilt quietly had an excellent season, and under James Franklin they have been very good in the postseason. I see them winning by a couple scores.

FLORIDA STATE VS AUBURN
BCS National Championship
Score Prediction: FSU 34, Auburn 31
This one is tough to pick. FSU has been very impressive this year, blowing out every opponent they've faced. But what if this one is close? Auburn certainly is experienced in those situations, but do they have any magic left? Looking forward to seeing these questions answered!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

WEEK 15 PREVIEW

It's conference championship week! Here are my picks...

BOWLING GREEN VS NORTHERN ILLINOIS (MAC)
Score Prediction: NIU 33, Bowling Green 27
This Friday night matchup features one of the nation's top players in NIU Quarterback Jordan Lynch. Many are mentioning him as a darkhorse Heisman candidate. A big performance from him against the Falcons will certainly improve his stock and put his team in a BCS bowl game.

OKLAHOMA AT OKLAHOMA STATE
Score Prediction: Oklahoma State 31, Oklahoma 27
I expect this year's edition of "Bedlam" to be close throughout. Oklahoma State is having the better year and is the home team, but in a rivalry game like this anything can happen.

MARSHALL VS RICE (CONFERENCE USA)
Score Prediction: Rice 28, Marshall 27
Marshall is favored, but I was awfully impressed with Rice the one time I saw them play this season (vs Texas A&M).

TEXAS AT BAYLOR
Score Prediction: Baylor 45, Texas 27
After a torrid start, Baylor hasn't looked all that good the past two weeks. I expect them to turn it around now that they're back at home.

MISSOURI VS AUBURN (SEC)
Score Prediction: Auburn 27, Missouri 24
Wow. Who would've picked these two teams to play in the SEC Championship preseason? Not me! I'm rooting for Missouri in this one, but it's hard to predict them to win considering the roll Auburn is on. How are they going to win this weekend?

STANFORD VS ARIZONA STATE (PAC 12)
Score Prediction: Stanford 24, Arizona State 21
Arizona State is currently favored by 3, but I like Stanford here. I think they'll play ball control football and get enough defensive stops to eke out a W.

DUKE VS FLORIDA STATE (ACC)
Score Prediction: FSU 45, Duke 20
With or without Winston, the talent gap is too wide to pick Duke here. They've had a great year and have several "upsets" this year, but the Seminoles simply have too much size and speed.

OHIO STATE VS MICHIGAN STATE (BIG 10)
Score Prediction: Michigan State 28, Ohio State 27
Strength against strength in this one. Ohio State's offense is averaging nearly 50 points a game. The Spartans have one of the best defenses in the country, giving up around 10 points a game. Go Sparty!