The Friday Tailgate. Has Anybody Seen Jesse Palmer's Tricycle Helmet?

Well that's just great. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of freshman safety Alec Ogletree for theft by taking. Taking a $35 moped helmet. Really, Alec? Really? As friend of the blog Darius Dawgberry noted when news of the warrant broke, it's one thing for a college kid to be caught walking down the sidewalk after having one too many beers at a downtown watering hole. Or to not have his paperwork in order after getting a speeding ticket. Those indicate poor decision-making. It's arguable whether they represent genuine character flaws. It's another thing entirely to take things that don't belong to you. Most everyone over the age of 4 is aware of that rule. It's not a technical violation. It's a "Moses came down from the mountain and said, yeah, don't do that" kind of violation.

Of course there could be an innocent explanation. Maybe Alec has a helmet that looks just like the one he's accused of taking (cue the wacky sitcom music and the shrugging of shoulders as everyone in the station chimes in unison "Oh Alec!!!"). Either way, the timing is not good. What a crappy way to start the tailgate. It's gotta get better from here, right?

If you watched the South Carolina game last night you're probably no less worried about next weekend's SEC opener than you were before. I find that when South Carolina does well in their traditional Thursday night opener they follow it with a less than optimal effort against the Bulldogs. However, when the Cocks stink up the joint in week one (witness last season's N.C. State game, an Emmy nominee for worst college football performance by a duo or group) they then tend to come out with their hair on fire against us.

Stephen Garcia's numbers (16 of 21 for 190-ish yards) were terribly efficient. If Aaron Murray did the same thing tomorrow I'd be pretty psyched about it. The big news to me was that Garcia didn't throw a single pick. Not one. That's a little concerning, because Southern Miss brought boatloads of pressure and Garcia was generally unfazed. He did take off on a couple of QB keepers that were ill-advised, and which I would hope Bacarri Rambo would make him pay for. Am I convinced he can do that two weeks in a row? Not entirely, no. I did think that Conor Shaw may be the future at quarterback for South Carolina, which in the grand scheme of things worries me a little more.

I also thought that freshman tailback Marcus Lattimore had a good game, but not as good as Short Tie Palmer and Closet Case James seemed to think. All in all, I was worried about the Gamecocks on Thursday morning, I'm still worried about them, and I'll be just as worried next Friday. Whipping up on Southern Miss didn't really change that.

But enough misdemeanor theft and brahsome Thursday night football. We've got a game to get ready for. Some of you got things kicked off with an awesome impromptu open comment thread which showed up in Thursday's Cocktail post. I have to say, when I woke up at 6:45 and saw 190+ comments on the thread my first thoughts were, in order: a) the goladymall spammers have finally come to carry us away to the land of quality Gucci and Sean John fashions, then b) our Gator commenter from yesterday got through with his shift at the dump and came back with some of his friends whose nighttime options are likewise limited by the need to stay 500 yards away from schools and playgrounds. Needless to say, I was instead pleasantly surprised. Good job, gang.

Five Things You'll See On Saturday

In addition to me testing the outer limits of my DVR's technical capabilities, you'll also see:

  • Hutson Mason. The little rugrat will take his first steps into college football at some point in the second half. He may stumble around and look totally clueless, but he'll be out there because we really don't have much choice other than to send him out there. Coaches Richt and Bobo will not admit this, but the writing on the wall is unmistakable. There is little or no evidence that Logan Gray has taken a meaningful snap at quarterback since April. And there's no way that the coaches leave our starter in for the entire game if we're up big the week before the SEC opener. Imagine the furor that would accompany an injury to Aaron Murray with the Bulldogs up 31-10 in the 4th quarter. Richt. No. Want. At that point you're playing the freshman on terms other than your own. That's not the way to go, and Coach Richt knows it. That's why Hutson Mason will come in at some point with a mandate to hand the ball off, maybe attempt a screen pass or two, and generally not screw things up.
  • Carlton Thomas on the loose. Thomas looks to get more than his usual carries in the absence of Washaun Ealey. While he lacks the "you'll never stop me behind the line of scrimmage" low-end horsepower of a Knowshon Moreno, Thomas brings something else to the table: an incendiary tendency to jitterbug his way into open space if given enough opportunities to do so. A killer case of fumblitis kept him from getting a lot of chances to do that in 2009. But this game should feature at least one signature waterbug-on-crack moment in which the diminuative man from Frostproof leaves 'em grabbing air.
  • Yummy Vanilla. Usually coaches are motivated to play things close to the vest when they open against a school like UL because they don't want their upcoming conference opponents to get a feel for the gameplan. The Bulldog coaches certainly have that motivation, but they have another one as well, especially on defense: we've never even lined up in our base package in live fire action. We have to demonstrate some ability to do that correctly before we get into the meat of Todd Grantham's mammoth NFL playbook. Frankly Grantham's 3-4 probably won't look very different from Willie Martinez's 4-3 pre-snap. At least one of the outside linebackers will probably be near the line of scrimmage in most situations, and will look a lot like a defensive end. The difference will be the assignments after the snap, and it will be interesting to see exactly how much of the package is on display. My guess is, again, not very much.
  • A.J. Green. Seth Emerson touched on this recently. While there's been no indication that A.J. won't play, you can bet the last First Class ticket to Miami International that if he's on the field Saturday, he's in the clear with the NCAA. And while those folks are not adverse to delivering bad news right before kickoff, there's been absolutely no indication that A.J. is anything but in the clear. However The NCAA is not averse to delivering bad news right before kickoff (just ask Coaches Saban and Spurrier), so we'll just have to ride it out. For now, I believe A.J. when he says he's done nothing wrong and never even been to Miami
  • UGA 41, UL 20. The 'Dawgs will come out flat before getting in synch in the running game, getting Aaron Murray comfy and putting up an appropriate number of points. Louisiana on the other hand will take advantage of Bulldog defensive gaffes early and/or substitutions later on to score more points than they probably should. Before the wringing of hands aggravates anyone's carpal tunnel syndrome, remember that it's far better to have our weaknesses exposed this week than next. A win, no injuries, and a chance to fine tune things before heading to Columbia. That's all I'm asking.

Finally, at the suggestion of hailtogeorgia, I suggest you tighten up. Especially your chinstrap. Because football season's coming and you don't want to get hurt. Plus it's harder to have your helmet stolen when it's on your head:


Make it mellow, people. Until later . . .

Go 'Dawgs!!!

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