It's Friday here in middle Georgia and the morning weather has gone from utterly unbearable to mildly uncomfortable, which means that it is definitely, without question college football season. With two weeks in the books we're beginning to get a little context to work with, so it seems like a good time to start examining what's going on around the country.
I listened to Paul Finebaum for about 10 minutes on the way home from Atlanta yesterday, which was long enough to hear him say both a) that he doesn't think there's any chance that Mark Richt won't be coaching in Athens next season and b) that he'd rather be hated than ignored any day. Which got me thinking, a) that's not what you said before, Paawwwwlllll, and b) it's too bad he hasn't been listening to Tony Barnhart, because then he might realize there's no either/or proposition to be found there.
I watched about as much of the NC State/Cincinnati game as I could stand, and my impressions were these: I still wish that Michael Lemon had been able to straighten up and stay in Athens. I'm not sure whether he'd be playing end or linebacker, but either way we could use some veteran depth. You have to work pretty hard to make a Tom O'Brien-coached team look like an offensive juggernaut. Congrats Bearcats! In the next round of conference realignment N.C. State should be sent to the Big East whether they want to go or not. They'd be in the top 4 in football, and they haven't been the basketball power some Wolfpack partisans fancy themselves to be in a long time, anyway. If ACC roundball were Premier League soccer they would have been demoted and replaced with Miami long ago. Also, our siberian husky was really confused by that wolf howl NC State kept playing. Poor thing couldn't sleep because every time she heard it she'd lift her head and look around. I like to think this was because the wolf howl translates to something absurd like "Dana Bible was the playcaller on the grassy knoll" or "We paid off Chuck Amato in S&H green stamps."
I've hard a few commentators opine that Texas Tech may have a chance to upset Mack Brown's Texas Longhorns this weekend. I respectfully disagree. One reason Mike Leach's teams played so well against the big boys of the Big XII (R.I.P.) was that they never got sucked into playing a physical war of attrition against them. The Red Raiders are not as deep as Texas or Oklahoma, and they likely never will be. While Tommy Tuberville is historically a good big game coach (just ask the legions of Florida Gator fans who curse his name to this day), he wants to run the football, and he will not be able to do that against Texas. Look for Tech to keep it close against a still embryonic Longhorn offense, but ultimately fall behind in the second half.
Dabo Swinney is taking his Tigers to Auburn to face that school's football team. I don't know what their nickname is, and frankly they aren't so sure, either. I think Cam Newton is the X factor in that one. Watching Auburn slog it out against Mississippi State last week brought back bad memories of Cocktail Parties past, in which we would have an excellent defensive call on 3rd and 4, cover every receiver and back, then watch Tim Tebow lumber for the 4 yards the Gators needed. If Newton can hold onto the football while running and throw it to the right guys when passing, Auburn should be fine in that one.
Looking at the Georgia Bulldogs' upcoming matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks, I continue to engage in blissful and baseless optimism. I have come to the conclusion that holding Arkansas below 28 points would be a tremendous accomplishment, but one which we could pull off. During last season's matchup in the Natural State it became clear that there's only so much a defensive secondary can do to stop Ryan Mallett if he's given time to throw. Many of his downfield completions in that game were simply perfectly thrown passes over defenders who couldn't get any closer without committing pass interference.
My biggest worry, in my occasional breaks from giddily focusing on the positive is that we could see just the opposite of last week's result. A defense that only gives up 17 points on the road in the SEC should stand a decent chance of being on the winning side. I'm now worried about our offense putting up 28-31 points, which should usually be enough to win an SEC home game, yet still losing a shootout. The key is going to be getting to Ryan Mallett, who has a cannon for an arm, but when pressured sometimes has the kind of feet that would make Gregory Hines proud.
I'm also a tad concerned about tailback Ronnie Wingo, Jr., not for any particular matchup reason (250 pound battering ram Broderick Green should be more of a concern), but just because he seems like a very complete back who's dangerous running inside and outside, and as a receiver.
While I don't encourage gambling (except on defense, where we'll have to gamble extensively on passing downs) I figured this might be a good week to dust off the old "Over/Under" feature we've all grown so fond of. So I ask you, over or under:
1) Ryan Mallett will pass for 319.9 yards on Saturday.
2) Mallett will throw 1.9 interceptions.
3) Young Aaron Murray, allegedly newly freed up, will throw 1.9 interceptions.
4) Georgia tight ends not named Orson Charles will catch 2.9 passes. (Note: this season non-crystal trophy smashing tight ends have caught exactly 0 passes for the 'Dawgs. That's a touch frustrating for me.)
5) Caleb King will carry the ball 7.9 times.
6) King will contribute 2.9 receptions out of the backfield.
7) Justin Houston will sack the Arkansas quarterback 1.9 times.
8) Georgia kickers will deliver 0.9 touchbacks on kickoffs.
9) Bobby Petrino will toss his name in the soon-to-be-vacated hat for the LSU job within 5.9 weeks.
10) Marlon Brown, Georgia's second leading receiver*, will snag 1.9 catches.
I put out the call last week for your muscial selections for the tailgate, and you responded with a passion. So much passion that I really can't pick just one from your suggestions both in the comments and via email. So, it's a musical triple feature here at the tailgate.
We begin with one offered by BulldogBite. It's by the guy who in the battle for crazy-ass celebrity fans allows me as a Bulldog partisan to look at almost every other fanbase and simply reply "scoreboard." The Godfather of Soul would like you to get on the good foot, people. And if you could keep the highway chases to a minimum, that'd be cool too:
Speaking of Bulldog fans, AllyUGADawg offered one from fellow 'Dawg Mac Leaphart. Though I've never seen a man at my tailgate actually wearing silver britches, I can't argue with the general sentiment of the song:
Finally, continuing the Georgia music theme, how can we have a tailgate in Athens without some R.E.M.? It's almost time to go to work. You need a work song. Preferably one recorded live in front of thousands of people, like this:
I first saw R.E.M. on the second night of the Monster World Tour's final stand in Atlanta at the old Omni. As a high school senior I'd seen some live shows at that point, enough to recognize the difference between a good live act and a bad live act. But from that night on I realized that the difference between R.E.M. live and most other bands live is analogous to the difference between catching a lightning bug and catching a lightning bolt.
As always your answers to the over/under, comments on the coming weekend's games, and musical suggestions for your cohorts are encouraged in the comments. Have a great weekend, and. . .
This is as good a time as any to remind you that over the summer I asked who our #2 receiver would be and __ of you nominated one of L.A.'s premier former drug addicted male prostitute/rappers. Either I'm impressed that so many of you knew who Mickey Avalon is, or I'm concerned that he has just as many receptions this season as Aron White.