We've got Commodores to prepare for, goats to roast, and hammies to heal. It's a busy week and we need to get cracking on it. Before we do, however, let's take a look at the things we need to take care of before moving on from the week that was in college football. Among other things, we need to:
1) Get Isaiah Crowell and Malcolm Mitchell healthy. Halfway through the 2011 schedule it has become clear that the Bulldogs' best weapons on the ground and through the air are a tandem of freshmen. That's great, because it means a minimum of two more years of Crowell and Mitchell keeping defensive coordinators up at night. It's bad, because freshman college football players often hit the wall around this time of year. They've taken a pounding greater than they took during a 14 game high school season in which some of them didn't have to play a single 4th quarter. Momma isn't there to tell them to go to bed and eat their veggies. They have academic obligations and media obligations and (we are talking college students here) social obligations.
Unfortunately, it appears that this season will be like every recent season of Georgia football in that Bulldog Nation's assessment of its success or failure will hinge on the "Amen Corner" series of games that includes rivals Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech. While the Gators are beaten down, the WarPlainsHeavyBackpackFinders are inexperienced and the Yellow Jackets are as usual tearing up the SoCon and that crappy conference they play in (I forgot what it's called), none of these games is a sure thing. This week will require Mark Richt and Mike Bobo to walk a delicate balance between resting their two freshman sensations and having the horses to beat a Vandy team that always plays the Dawgs tougher than they logically should.
2) Stop bellyaching about how we haven't played a "complete game" yet. There's a tendency among a fanbase like ours, one that's been repeatedly slapped around and disappointed over the course of two seasons to refuse to believe that things are really turning around. And there's also a temptation to fret that things simply have never been like they were in the "good old days" of the Mark Richt era. But in fact, the 2011 Bulldog defense compares favorably from a statistical standpoint to many of Brian Van Gorder's units. And I fear some members of Bulldog Nation have forgotten that those halcyon days of yore included more than a few days where the end result was an ugly "W", much like the ones we've seen over the past month. If anything, most of the games summarized in the links in that last sentence were uglier than what we've seen in 2011.
But no one remembers those games for some reason. They've been glossed over. The bottom line is that there are no ugly road wins in the SEC. Every SEC road win is a thing of absolute beauty. Every one. We've got 2 of them. We're 3-1 in the conference and any one of a number of boneheaded moves in the South Carolina game from being the only undefeated team in the SEC East. I'm not satisfied with where our team is, but I'm damned sure pleased. Given where we were on September 11, 2011, how could you not be?
3) Go ahead and continue ignoring the Florida State fans boasting about the Seminoles' "return to glory." Who knew that glory consists of starting 2-3 and 0-2 in the
SEC ACC (silly blogger, SEC's are for teams that beat Wake Forest! H/T GShock) after losing to Wake Flippin' Forest for the fourth time in six seasons. It was one thing to lose competitive games to a dominant Oklahoma or a solid Clemson squad. But with Saturday's crapulent effort against the Demon Deacons we learned that the new Florida State looks a lot like the old Florida State, which is to a say a bunch of talented players running around the field making boneheaded mistakes while they wait for the underclassman evaluation committee to discuss their NFL Draft standing.
4) Fear the Hat. I've been talking up the LSU defense all season, but if they're finally starting to get their offensive house in order then that team may be going from tough to downright unfair. Seriously, find me a guy on the LSU starting defensive 11 who you can tell me with a straight face won't be playing in the NFL. They are big, fast and extremely physical. They don't beat offenses. They beat them up. Now I've watched the Bayou Bengal offense drop 453 yards of total offense on a Florida defense which I believe to actually be pretty darn good. Again, I cannot stress how closely I will be watching LSU's November 5th showdown with Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Even assuming one of those teams drops a game in the interim (a bet I would not take if I were you) it should still be an archetypical SEC defensive battle. A true classic.
Laugh at Taylor Martinez. Every time Nebraska's multi-faceted QB takes off running, I think it looks like a rabbit set loose in Grand Central Station. He has no idea where the hell he's going, why all these people are chasing him, or what he'll be doing three seconds in the future. And he usually ends up getting splattered on the tracks. But he gets up every time, and I admire that. He's also not Ohio State's Joe Bauserman, who I truly suspect must have grown up watching and aping Mr. Bean comedy sketches. That's really the only explanation.
6) Ignore all talk of Texas's "youth." Texas didn't get carpet bombed by Oklahoma in Saturday's Red River Rivalry because of youth. I mean, it didn't help. Freshman quarterbacks almost never help anyone other than opposing defenses. And the Texas defense that gave up points in buckets to Landry Jones and crew doesn't include a single freshman starter. Youth, schmouth. Texas lost to Oklahoma because they have copious amounts of physical talent that has not been coached up to its potential in the past couple of seasons. As a Georgia fan, it's a syndrome I recognize all too well.
7) Invite you to come to the Second Annual Dawg Sports Sacrificial Goat Roast. It's this Saturday evening at the Blind Pig Tavern in Athens. While I'd love to meet all of you, that's not my only motivation. We'll again be raising money for the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, which provides meals for those in need. So come on out, drop a little cash in the hat, and help us cheer on the 'Dawgs to a victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores.
That ought to keep us busy for a while. As always drop your lists in the comments, along with any other random thoughts regarding the weekend in college football. Until later . . .