I'm just gonna put this video right here:
No particular reason. Just like the song.
First things first. The only Nick Fairley hit I was really teed off at was the late hit into the ribs which was clearly an intentional spear. You could actually see him align his helmet at the last moment to drive it right into Murray's spine. If Ben Jones is suspended two quarters for a chop block, Fairley should be suspended two quarters for that hit. Admittedly, I'm a little uncomfortable with the SEC handing out NFL-type player conduct suspensions to begin with for all but the most obvious transgressions (thrown punches, intentional contact with an official, etc.). I think it's a slippery slope and risks the appearance of favoritism, which is of course the last thing the SEC office needs at this point. But Fairley continues to be the subject of these kind of inquiries (he's also demonstrated himself to be a fair body slammer, by the way), and the SEC continues to turn a blind eye to it. Of course, if he were still at Williamson High in Mobile, the officials could just go back in time and change it to a clean tackle around the waist.
It looks like Aaron Murray is fine this morning despite being the subject of Fairley's consistent attention. With Cam Newton in the NFL next season, one assumes that Vern Lundquist will require another young SEC quarterback to be the focus of his unwavering and occasionally creepy affections. You heard it here first, my money's on Aaron Murray. Did you know that he and Orson Charles played together in high school? That he came back from a broken leg to lead his team to a win in the state championship game his senior season?
The Georgia offense is averaging 33.5 points per game, 29 per game in SEC play. Assuming that Nick Fairley doesn't come out from behind a dumpster and beat him with a baseball bat (because Fairley's a finisher that way), Aaron Murray has progressed to the point that he will likely garner some preseason All-SEC votes this summer. Of our 11 opponents, 8 have surrendered more points to the Bulldog attack than their season average. South Carolina has been the only opponent to hold us more than 6 points below their season average. In other words, the vast majority of defenses we've played against, including SEC defenses, have given up more points to our offense than they gave up to their other opponents.
I repeat: could those of you who want to get rid of Mike Bobo please give me a good reason other than "unimaginative and/or predictable playcalling?" Because I could give a tinker's cuss if the other team suspects what's coming, as long as they continue to be unable to stop it. Auburn was pretty darn predictable last night. On 3rd down Cam Newton was going to take off and run. But I don't think their fans are complaining about that this morning. Misdirected hostility: it's what's for brunch. If we're unable to plug the leak after A.J. Green leaves then get back to me. But based upon the overall returns this season, Mike Bobo's offense has kept us in more games than they kept us out of.
Cam Newton is the best college quarterback money can buy. If any signal caller in the SEC other than Ryan Mallett were wearing the blue and orange, I think we win that game. But we simply had no answer for him. Say what you will. Call him a thief in his dorm room, a cheat in the classroom, and perhaps bought and paid for everywhere he goes*, but the guy is a heck of a football player. And Gus Malzahn has done an extraordinary job of maximizing his gifts. This cannot be fairly denied.
This was the first game in which Brandon Boykin looked tentative returning kickoffs. Auburn's coverage team flew downfield on kicks in the second half, and after that it appeared that Boykin didn't really want any more of them. For everything else that's been talked about from this game, I'd submit that our starting field position following Auburn's last three kickoffs to Boykin, (the 8,14 and 13 yard lines, respectively) may be the one most overlooked.
We looked gassed in the second half. Again. Whereas the Bulldog offensive and defensive lines really seemed to be in control in the first half, by the 4th quarter it seemed that Malzahn sensed blood in the water and was really putting the screws to us with the pace of play. Throughout this season our second half effort has been very good. We've fought to come back and/or stay in games. But our players' spirits are clearly writing checks their bodies can't cash. I could care less what Cornelius Washington and Vance Cuff's fictitious 40 times are. I want to see them playing faster than the guy across the line in the 4th quarter. That's been rare this season, and somebody needs to ask why. Thus begins the broken record portion of our prgramming.
We're hitting that part of the season at which most of the story has been written, and we can begin to see this team for what it is, rather than what it could be. Like Kyle, I've seen enough this season to believe that this year's Georgia squad is actually better on a play-to-play basis than last year's iteration, record notwithstanding. The defense is decidedly improved, and It's frustrating that the wins aren't there. We're a Caleb King fumble in Boulder and a pass protection breakdown against Arkansas from being 7-4, and I imagine we'd look at this season a lot differently if that were the case. That's to say nothing of close losses to Mississippi State and Florida that could have easily gone the other way.
But they didn't. We need a victory over Tech just to get to a lower tier bowl game, where we can hopefully focus long enough to truck some mid-tier Big East or Conference USA team to get to 7-6. That sucks out loud, and I hope that none of us lets Mark Richt forget that over the next few months. You can never say what record a coach has to achieve in any given season to be "successful" or "on the hot seat" or "likely to be burned in effigy and/or stuffed and displayed at Bass Pro Shops like a red fox." There are just too many variables. But I will say this: a third consecutive season with fewer than 9 regular season wins and another loss to Florida might just about do it for Mark Richt's good will with me. I don't think that's going to happen. But if it did, I could see myself coming unhinged.
I support Coach Richt. I care about more than winning football games, and maintain that winning football games is not the only component of his job description. But it's a big part of the job description and over the past two years we've won an unsatisfactory number. Jim Donnan was 16-8 during his last two seasons in Athens. Mark Richt is 13-11 in his last 24. If I wanted to root for a team that is competitive in losing SEC games and perennially finishes just above .500, I'd be a South Carolina fan. Oops, maybe not.
I think we'll be better next season assuming a) no one sells his jersey to an agent's runner during the offseason, b) the receiving corps figures out how to take up the slack of losing A.J. Green (one of the biggest ifs in recent college football history given the guys behind him), and c) somebody steps into Justin Houston's shoes. I don't feel any worse about this team than I did before yesterday's game. We lost, I thought beforehand that we would lose. But I am sick of losing to good football teams right now. Just sick of it.
*Allegedly. The allegedly is strongly implied here. Except for the thieving part. Because pretrial diversion doesn't mean you didn't do it. It just means that you got another chance. Law degrees: Helping bloggers be snarky since 1999!!!