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Cocktail Thursday: Arkansas Edition.

If it's two days until gameday, your team's star receiver is still waiting in NCAA purgatory, and you're sweating the possibility of an 0-2 start in conference play, you probably could use a drink. Allow me to help.

I've been an avowed pessimist these past few months, and i think I've had plenty of reason for that stance. Defensive turnover, quarterback inexperience, an offensive line that should be a whole lot more offensive than it is. Forgotten middle names, suspended drivers' licenses, female undergarments in all the wrong places.

And now, at the most unexpected of moments, I'm going optimist. I'm not only seeing the glass as half full, I'm seeing it as half full of the best damned water I ever drank. I know. It's practically insane. Ryan Mallett is acclaimed as the best quarterback in the conference, and he shares the backfield with a bevy of talented tailbacks. Our defense just had the South Carolina Gamecocks assert their will over our players with impunity.

But here's the thing: we actually may match up very well against the Razorbacks. Mallett is no Stephen Garcia, in that he won't be taking off downfield at the first hint of a pass rush. And if there's one aspect of our team that I have confidence in at this point, it's that pass rush. Justin Houston is tied for the NCAA lead in sacks. As a team the Bulldogs are tied for 4th in the nation in sacks (the Razorbacks check in at #26). Mallett has thrown for 6 touchdowns, but has also tossed 2 interceptions. That's the same 3:1 TD/INT ratio that Aaron Murray boasts.

And while those tailbacks are talented, they haven't been very productive. Knile Davis leads the team with 86 yards rushing, good for 163rd in the country (though his 7.8 yards per attempt is more impressive). Arkansas has only tried to run the ball 59 times in 2 games, displaying Bobby Petrino's customary loyalty to the running game. In other words, I'm not confident that Petrino would know how to run the ball down our throats on Saturday even if he wanted to. I'm a bit worried about stopping 6'2, 248 pound Broderick Green between the tackles, but I doubt we will do worse against him than Marcus Lattimore.

Put all this statistical window dressing in a martini shaker, mix thoroughly and you get this prognostication: the key to this game will be Georgia's pass rush getting to Mallett in time to disrupt the downfield passing game and force turnovers. Combine my weird, unwarranted optimism with a berserker pass rush and you get the Justin Time. Named for Justin Houston, it goes like this: combine 4 oz. of peach nectar (you can usually find it canned like a soft drink in the Hispanic food section of your local Mega Grocer) and 3 oz. of bourbon over ice in a tall glass, then top with Sprite (usually takes about a third of a can, 4 oz.). It's sharp, it's quick and it will knock you on your rear end. It's like Justin Houston in liquid form.

I'll be back tomorrow to M.C. the Friday Tailgate. Until then . . .


Go 'Dawgs!!!