Every Monday during colege fotball season we here at Dawg Sports take a few moments to take inventory of what needs doing. Oh sure, there's checking the email, and answering the phones and turning in those all-important TPS reports. But here are also a lot of things to do with regard to the weekend that was in college football. We'll get down to business after the jump . . .
1) Move Bama to the #1 spot on my ballot. I suspected coming in that Michigan might be a tad overrated. But even assuming the Fighting Hokes are only the 20th best team in the country that was still the worst ass whipping a 5'5 control freak has laid on a traditional power since the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt
2) Move Oklahoma down. Way down. I had my doubts about the Sooners after they suffered significant offseason injuries. And I've never been quite sold on Landry Jones's ability to consistently deliver Heisman-quality play at the quarterback position. But after rewatching the Sooners' opening 24-7 win over Mike Price's UTEP squad, I've decided it looked worse in the light of day than it did around midnight when I briefly wondered if I had fallen asleep and was dreaming the whole thing. The Oklahoma offense never really got on track. Jones finished 20 of 35 for 204 yards, 68 of which came on a single touchdown strike. That won't get it done during the meat of the Big XII schedule.
3) Come in off the ledge, but just a little. My language during Saturday's UGA/Buffalo game was atrocious. I swore early and often watching Alex Zordich take off for big gains. The zone defense that the Bulls repeatedly picked apart was also pretty frustrating. In rewatching it I was less concerned. For one thing Todd Grantham's blitz schemes were about as vanilla as possible, which I attribute partially to a lot of young guys playing a lot of snaps, and to the desire to play it close to the vest before starting the SEC schedule. The latter explanation is now history. The former is going to be with us for a while. And that worries me.
4) Get optimistic about the Bulldog backfield, but just a little. Obviously Todd Gurley was the story of the weekend. And while the 100 yard kickoff return was electrifying, it wasn't the thing that most excited me. What made me really happy was watching him run through arm tackles and squeeze the last 2 yards out of a couple of runs. Knowshon Moreno was probably the last tailback we had who consistently ran downhill and fell forward rather than getting stood up and pushed back. That's sometimes the difference between 2nd & 8 and 2nd & 5. That's a huge difference. The other really exciting thing Todd Gurley did? He left the game after getting banged up, went to the locker room, then came back in the game less than a quarter later. So Not Crow.
Aaron Murray, as has been his habit throughout his Bulldog career, came out a little too amped up and overthrew a couple of sure touchdown passes. I have come to refer to this particular move as the "Air-On Murray Special" and it frustrates the heck out of me. Three years in, I think it's safe to say that this isn't going away.
Keith Marshall also showed good toughness running the ball, but never really got the chance to showcase his speed. He and Gurley also had moments when their pass blocking wasn't spot on. But all told the Bulldog offense had zero turnovers. None. To me that was the best offensive stat of the day, especially on opening weekend.
5) Get pessimistic about the Bulldog offensive line, but just a little. Aside from one false start on John Theus they played a clean game. Aaron Murray was sacked 3 times, but in fairness, at least 2 of those were his error for not getting rid of the ball. The Bulldog offense churned out 227 yards on the ground (5.8 per attempt), which is pretty darned respectable, even against a MAC defense. Some of that was Todd Gurley shucking tacklers like raw oysters, but most of it was pretty good blocking. If I had to find something to worry about (and, come on, it's me, so you know I do . . .) it would be that Ken Gates looked a little uncomfortable in pass protection at times, and Dallas Lee got beaten inside a couple of times. I also got the sense that the communication on the interior among Lee, Burnette and Andrews was not spot on at times. But that will come, I hope. Until later . . .