As I alluded to in yesterday's Cocktail Thursday post, I have trouble conceiving of a world in which the Georgia Bulldogs fall to 1-5 overall and 0-4 in the SEC, and drop one to Coach Dooley's own son in Sanford Stadium all in one wretched afternoon. The fact that I have trouble conceiving of such a dumpster fire of a day does not make it impossible, of course. As this year's squad has shown, no act of gridiron bed-wetting is impossible if you really, really put your mind to it. Let's recap shall we?
- The skid began with a loss to South Carolina in which we were hampered by a touchdown killing turnover inside the 5 yard line and the utter refusal to stop a true freshman tailback from going for nearly 200 yards.
- Then against Arkansas we had the ball at midfield in the waning moments going in for what could have been the winning score before giving up a crushing sack and a TD going to the other way to clinch the loss.
- At Mississippi State we again gave away easy points inside the 5 with a poorly timed fumble and lost momentum when a punt bounced off Bacarri Rambo's foot, before again having our defense dominated on the ground in the second half.
- Finally, we gave away the lead in the second half only to once again squander a chance to win it when we fumbled on the opponent's side of the field . At which point a herd of half-baked buffalo stampeded the field and trampled every 'Dawg who wouldn't get out of the way.
I can't hep but have the feeling that at some point this team puts it all together and really goes off on somebody. As Year2 pointed out over at Team Speed Kills, there's nothing that this team does regularly that it fails at consistently. All of the Bobo-called plays we've pulled our hair out over (Thomas up the middle, the A.J. fade, etc.) have worked at least occasionally. The defense has gotten great pressure at times, then disappeared when it mattered most. The problem isn't talent. The problem is consistency. The silver lining is that in order to be inconsistent you have to have done something right to begin with. The heedless optimist in me believes that eventually, if for but one day, it will all come together. Things may fall right back apart the next week, but at some point this team will play a complete football game. It might as well be at home against Tennessee in front of a crowd that will be absolutely desperate to see such an effort, and which I believe will respond positively if they see it.
There are some things about this Tennessee team that worry me. One of those is the guy who will likely start at tailback for the Vols, Tauren Poole. I thought when Tauren Poole was coming out of high school in Toccoa that we should have recruited him harder. He was a power back, which I thought we would need to have on the roster at some point in the post-Knowshon era. Now he's wearing orange and ready for Saturday, while we're sending Carlton Thomas into 8 man fronts. Poole isn't flashy, he's just effective, averaging 5.3 yards per carry so far in 2010. Running behind a young and porous offensive line, Poole racked up 109 yards on 24 carries against an LSU run defense that was better than what we'll trot out on the field tomorrow. He did this while Bryce Brown was busy filing damning affidavits. Kiffin-era recruiting FTW!!!!
Of course Poole may be running behind an offensive line that starts 3 true freshmen, which may help. While Georgia's run defense has been bad, especially late in games (when we've uniformly looked less conditioned than our opponents . . . passive-aggressive rant about S&C checked off the list). I am somewhat less worried about Matt Simms taking off and running like a scared gazelle, an offensive strategy with which we have been totally unable to cope. I only hope that we figure out how to spy a quarterback on 3rd and long before Camasaurus Rex shows up in November.
For all the talk about Mike Bobo's performance, I have to ask: why aren't more people questioning Bryan McClendon? I don't think I've ever seen an offensive coordinator leading ball security drills. And he's not primarily responsible for covering blitz-pickup during position meetings. Those two tasks fall on our running backs coach, and they have been the two things our running backs have done badly enough to cost us football games this season. Both are correctable, but I'd love to know if they will be.
Again, this may be the week that the Bulldogs get fed up with the criticism and decide to show what they're made of. I get the sense from some of the media quotes this week that the coaching staff has a little bit of a chip on its collective shoulder. I think that's a positive. It's generally better to stay cool under pressure, but at a certain point a sense of urgency should kick in. I also think that having A.J. Green and Kris Durham on the field at the same time won't hurt.
Tennessee kicker Daniel Lincoln, on the other hand, may well be unable to go for a second straight week. If this one comes down to special teams, and we can avoid fumbling away Blair Walsh's opportunities, we should have an advantage in that phase of the game.
My prediction: UGA 34, UT 27. I won't be making the trip to Athens, so I want to see you in the morning for the open comment thread:
And because I told you it was coming:
And because I made it to college just in time for the Peyton Manning/Tee Martin/Jim Donnan era and that little ember of pure hate will never quite go out:
As usual, your thoughts, predictions and musical suggestions are welcome in the comments. Until tomorrow . . .