Yesterday I had a nice, detailed breakdown of our recruiting needs which remain unfilled for the class of 2008. Until my computer put on its red and black and started partying like it was September 8th all over again. All I really needed was Steve Spurrier standing over my shoulder saying, "Heck, it shouldn't be a surprise. He hasn't really posted anything worth reading for five days now. . . " Alas, another great game plan ruined by a drop in the clutch. I'll retrieve that for posting on Friday (Thursday means cocktails around here, just like Sunday and Monday do in Morgantown, West Virginia). Today, there are 5 things you need to know that you will see during Saturday's game against Western Carolina.
1) No backing down. Western Carolina has lost 11 games in a row and is 0-2 this season. They opened with a 52-6 shellacking in Nick Saban's debut at Alabama, then fell 45-21 to Eastern Kentucky. LSU, they ain't. But Western Carolina Coach Kent Briggs did say a couple of interesting things during Tuesday's Southern Conference teleconference. One was that a lot of the guys who will play on Saturday played in the Catamounts' loss to Florida in Gaineville last year, and at Tuscaloosa two weeks ago. They are used to major college stadiums and while they may be outmanned, they won't be intimidated.
Briggs was also asked about whether playing SEC teams takes a physical toll on his charges. His response: Whenever you are playing the game of football, the physical aspect of the game can take a toll on your team. Every team gets beat up through the course of a season and it's something you have to be concerned about. I feel that Georgia will be the most physical team we have faced since I've been here at Western. They appear more physical on film than was Alabama, so this week will be a big challenge for us this weekend."
Now, Briggs could be saying that this year's Georgia team appears more physical on film than last year's Alabama team. God, let's hope so. But if he's saying that this year's Georgia defense looks more physical than the team they played in Bryant-Denny on September 1, that's a little different. It means that he's spending this week convincing his players that they'll have to play the game of their lives to even stay on the field with us. He's asking them to put it all out on the field. If they buy in to what Briggs is selling, it could be an uncomfortable afternoon.
2. Mmmmm. . . Vanilla. Football coaches have a trick they use to start getting ready for a big future game without distracting their players from the task at hand. In practice, they install some new looks, wrinkles and gadgets. But they never mention that those plays will not make it onto the field this week. Of course, players always know that the new looks are for, say, Alabama, not Western Carolina. But they don't say it. It's simply understood. I think our coaches will be putting in some things for the Alabama game this week. But you'll never get them to admit it. And none of that stuff will see the light of day at Sanford Stadium this week. It's going to be a close to the vest, no frills kind of game. This will have the added benefit of giving our young offensive line some chances to improve on the basic schemes. It will also give Knowshown and maybe Shaun Chapas a chance to get more game reps on blitz pickup. Don't expect to see anything too darned exciting.
3. Your game program. You'll spend a large part of the afternoon running your index finger up and down the roster page. There will be guys playing who you haven't seen that much of. Fred Munzenmeier, Quintin Banks, Kevin Perez and a host of other guys will hopefully see garbage time snaps. This will help because people get hurt in the SEC, and when they do, you have to replace them. This weekend we begin building the depth we'll need in Jacksonville and against the WarPlainsTigerSociologists.
4. No. Closure. At. All. Playing one of the worst teams in the Southern Conference after a sour loss is a little better than having an off week. The players absolutely want to get back out on the field and atone for their mistakes, and probably would have played before church on Sunday morning if allowed to. But games like this are really a no-win proposition because you are expected to win 84-0. If you win 84-14, people say "They gave up two sustained touchdown drives to Western Carolina!". If you win 31-0 they proclaim "this offense couldn't even hang 40 on a 1-AA doormat!" Plus there's the chance that somebody gets hurt, which adds a whole new dimension of danger. We really won't see anything on Saturday that will make us feel any better next Saturday in Tuscaloosa. You have another week of foreboding and self doubt ahead of you. Plan accordingly.
5. UGA 41, WCU 13. The fact that your 4th cousin who's the sophomore captain of the UGA chess team will see snaps at will linebacker prevents me from forecasting a shut out. Sorry. I also think that we'll have at least one or two losses of focus that will set up Catamount scoring opportunities. However, look for the offense to spend the first three quarters trying to remember how to throw, catch and block, and hopefully gaining a little confidence back. I've always felt that you want a young team to feel confident, and an experienced team to feel disrespected. This will be a good chance for the youngsters to gain some confidence anf perhaps some focus before heading into a critical road game in which we should be the underdog.
That's it for now. I'll see you tomorrow with a cocktail designed to wash the bitter taste of defeat from your mouth. Until then . . .