In which we take a quick look at how our 2011 opponents fared the preceding week
Well, as summed up by Kyle, some felt better after the loss to South Carolina and worse after the win over Ole Miss, which prompted me to realize that if there's one thing this blog needs, it's more Cole Porter. "The world has gone mad today, and good’s bad today, and black’s white today, and day’s night today."
As we should, we're gearing up for the Bizarro Bulldogs around here, but let's take one more look at the weekend that was.
Mississippi St. Bulldogs (2-2, 0-2 SEC) defeated Louisiana Tech, 26-20 OT. Louisiana Tech is 1-3. All of their games have been decided by six or fewer points, two in overtime. I’d feel really bad for a team with a losing record made up of close losses if I wasn’t worn out from 2010. I don’t want to judge Mississippi State too hastily for being so close to losing to a mid-major because, well, you know. But the WAC Bulldogs held a pretty good statistical advantage over the SEC West Bulldogs: more offensive yards, longer time of possession, fewer penalty yards, better third down efficiency. But they also committed three times the turnovers. Mississippi State couldn’t get their ground game going. I still think taking that away is key number one for Georgia. Is it wrong to think that if WAC Bulldogs can do it, maybe SEC East Bulldogs can do it?
Tennessee Volunteers (2-1, 0-1 SEC) were off this week, licking their swamp-inflicted wounds and preparing for next week’s contest against Buffalo.
Vanderbilt Commodores (3-1, 1-1 SEC) lost to South Carolina, 3-21. Vandy is an intercepting machine, apparently. They picked off Ole Miss five times last week and followed that up by pulling in four Stephen Garcia passes this week. Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you this, but I quietly say to myself, "Take care of the ball," right before almost every snap Georgia takes on offense. I’ll be doing that faithfully come 15 October. Turnovers notwithstanding, the Commodores produced an embarrassingly low offensive output: four yards on the ground and 73 in the air; one of fourteen third down conversions; five first downs. Five. Ok. Now I’m starting to feel a little bad about our Ole Miss win, since Vandy managed to hang three more points on the Rebels than we did. And guess who’s defense the ‘Dores get to take on next after they take this Saturday off? Bama. Has anyone ever won a game by alternating touchdowns and safeties all day?
Florida Gators (4-0, 2-0 SEC) defeated Kentucky, 48-10. I watched the first half. In no way am I a football expert, but I’ve watched the game all my life, and I tend to get a certain feel for games. This game actually felt pretty even through most of the first half, even while the score got more and more out of hand in favor of the Gators. My overall impression of Florida based on what I saw is that they have two superhuman speedsters in Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps and an opportunistic but not dominating defense. I think Bama’s gonna slaughter them next week. In the Swamp. At night. Delicious. Of note: QB John Brantley left the game in the first half with some kind of injury, vaguely disclosed as "upper extremity". He returned and played a little in the second half, but shared time with backup Jeff Driskel. Claiming dinged QBs in less-than-stellar seasons is an integral part of the Florida way, so everything’s going according to plan.
New Mexico St. Aggies (1-3, 0-1 WAC) lost to San Jose State, 24-34. The Aggies’ QB, Matt Christian had a respectable day, throwing for 238 yards on 17/28, 120 of which were to WR Taveon Rogers, but when your opponent’s running back is able to run for over 200 yards on 33 carries, as San Jose State’s Brandon Rutley did, you’ve got a problem. Last week, the Aggie offense was vulnerable to sacks and pressure; this week, their defense was soft on the run. The quick and dirty preview so far says we should do all right when we meet them in November.
Auburn Tigers (3-1, 1-0 SEC) defeated Florida Atlantic, 30-14. The Plainsman sputtered to a 16-point win on two second-half interceptions. Michael Dyer got only 68 yards. Next up: @ USC, @ Arkansas, Florida, @ LSU, and Ole Miss, before they take a week off and come to Athens. I expect the Gamecocks and Razorbacks to go out of their ways to put a hurting on the Tigers. This somehow does not bother me in the least.
Kentucky Wildcats (2-2, 0-1 SEC) lost to Florida, 10-48. The Wildcats weren’t ever going to win this game, but they could have made it closer early but for some very costly turnovers in the first half. The Wildcats managed to put together one nice drive in the first quarter, 69 yards on 11 plays that ended in a field goal, before their souls got crushed by the onslaught of Gator points. Kentucky’s brightest spot is OLB Danny Trevathan, the conference’s leading tackler. He knocked Florida QB John Brantley out of the game for a bit and brought the hurt a few times. He can’t do it all by himself, though.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-0, 1-0 ACC) defeated North Carolina, 35-28. For the first time this season, Tech failed to score a touchdown on its opening drive, settling for a field goal instead. The Jackets eventually found themselves with a two touchdown lead at the end of three quarters before the Tarheels tied it at 28-28 midway through the fourth. A 28-yard kickoff return gave Tech good starting position, and they kept it on the ground from there, reaching the end zone in just four rushes, including a 48 yard dash by every Bulldog's BFF Roddy Jones. Carolina had two more possessions, but couldn’t come back. I continue to be very surprised and very impressed by Tech's offense. I continue to think (or hope) the defense is way behind.
Boise St. Broncos (3-0, 0-0 MWC) defeated Tulsa, 41-21. The Broncos rolled, building a 34-0 lead until late in the third quarter, but the Golden Hurricane comeback was too little too late.
South Carolina Gamecocks (4-0, 2-0 SEC) defeated Vanderbilt, 21-3. The Gamecocks’ defense came through on a day when Garcia threw four interceptions and Marcus Lattimore was held to 77 yards on 20 carries. (Take care of the ball.) South Carolina is beatable. I wish we’d done it, but now we’re stuck needing at least a couple of others to do it. Unfortunately, @ Arkansas is the only candidate I feel pretty good about. Florida certainly is opportunistic enough if Garcia continues to hand out opportunities.
Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (3-1, Big South) defeated N Carolina A&T, 31-14. Of course this has no bearing on Georgia the rest of the way. But in case you were wondering, yes, the Chanticleers can score points. They bounced back nicely from being shut out in Athens for a road win.