If it's Friday and there's college football on the horizon, then it's time for the Friday Tailgate, that thing we do until the 5 o'clock whistle blows and Tino Sunseri is allowed out of the concussion ward.
Maestro, cue the soundtrack. . .
Warning: NSFW lyrics, Buddhism, poor grammar choices, and Lil Jon references (Yay-uh!):
And because it wouldn't be an SEC game without hypocritical stereotypes denigrating our conference coevals:
Now that that's out of the way, and speaking of corrosive forces, did anyone else watch that Pitt/Cincinnati game last night? I actually tweeted about it, and even saw another Dawg Sports writer who shall remain nameless doing the same. However, like Baptists bumping into each other in a liquor store, I agreed to forget I saw him paying actual attention to a Thursday Big East game if he'd forget he saw me doing the same.
At least ESPN didn't waste good announcers on this one, which frankly ending up being much less of a kitten-bludgeoning than it initially looked like. Watching Big East football is generally like getting a prostate exam. No one wants to watch, but we all agree that it's ultimately necessary. That being said, we can also all agree that having Jesse Palmer narrate the experience only makes it worse.
Lets talk about real football. I've had a few random thoughts about this weekend's Georgia/Mizzou game rattling around in my head. In no specific order, these are they:
Marcus Murphy returned two punts for touchdowns last week for the Tigers against Southeastern Louisiana. I can't imagine anyone who watched the 2011 WLOCP not being terrified by that. It's truly staggering how many road games won by the visitor involve big special teams plays. I think that sometimes this can bridge the gap when communication issues prevent your offense from firing on all cylinders in a hostile environment.
Speaking of hostile environments, Mizzou fans seem to be under the impression that Faurot Stadium is going to be like Thunderdome, but with better concessions. Call me crazy, but I don't think a veteran Georgia squad that's played on the road at Auburn, Tennessee, and LSU (and in some cases Oklahoma State) is going to be that intimidated. I actually kind of wish the SEC wasn't enforcing its "pass out" rule. And can't imagine being intimidated by a place where people would actually leave the stadium during a conference football game. As the Sicillian said, "inconceivable!"
I will be keenly interested to see how Todd Gurley handles this trip. It's been quite a week for the freshman, with lots of media attention, congratulatory calls, and backslapping. In a way I'm glad this game is on the road so he and the other freshmen we'll be counting on can get out of town and get focused.
In case you missed it, Tyler Dawgden has a great synopsis of the Mizzou offense up over at the Georgia Sports Blog. He's right that perhaps the most important thing we can do on defense is to disguise coverages effectively. I would add, however, that Missouri does a great job of using motion from the receivers to uncover those hidden coverages. Keep an eye out for that, especially early when the Tigers are figuring out the keys to Grantham's D. You'll often see Mizzou with 4 wides (and rarely fewer than 3) on one side. James Franklin will motion those receivers across to figure out if he has man coverage. I anticipate that we'll play a fair amount of zone, and that we'll force Franklin to stand in the pocket, find the holes, and be accurate.
I like the mismatch of our D line on Mizzou's inexperienced interior O line. They'll be starting a true freshman and a former walkon at the guards. But then again, we'll be starting former walkons at safety and fullback. The best way to pressure a QB, especially an inconsistent one like Franklin, is to get right in his face, up the middle. If we can do that, we can create some turnovers. If we do that, I like our chances.
In the past I've compared being an offensive coordinator to playing golf without ever stopping to line up your shots or take practice swings. You call a play with the short term goal of moving the sticks, but also with the long term goal of setting up other plays down the road, or concealing something you'll do in two weeks. And while you can meditate between holes (or series) about what you'll do next, when you're in the moment you just have to hit the shot.
I'm hoping that last week when Mike Bobo was calling quick sideline screens to Tavarres King and having Rantavious Wooten throw double passes to Keith Marshall that he was setting Missouri up for something this week (like King faking the "sprint screen" then cutting it up the sideline when the corner bites). In reality the chances are just as good that he was just calling plays at random. That's the thing about the Boboffense. It's like being in a taxi driven by an orangutan on mescaline. You may end up in Vegas, Bora Bora, or Kate Beckinsale's living room. Or a muddy ditch outside Wetumpka. Your awesome/tragedy odds are always about 50/50.
Prediction. The closer I get to this one the better I feel. I've seen quarterbacks who you could count on to put the team on their backs and carry the squad to victory. It's convention season, so let me put this in political terms. I have seen Cam Newton. And Tim Tebow was no friend of mine. But you, James Franklin, are no Newton or Tebow. The margin of defeat for Missouri in this one is a Franklin interception. Final score: UGA 38, Mizzou 34.
As Bill C. notes, the Sunday narrative on this one could break in some interesting directions. If Mizzou looks good in a win, they automatically become a contender in the SEC East. If Georgia wins cleanly, the "Mizzou's not ready for ESS-EEE-CEE FOOTBALL PAAWWWWLLLLL!" crowd will be out in force. Combined with the 3:30 Florida/Texas A&M tilt, this one will generate the discussion that Mike Slive and the boys in Birmingham were looking for. I have to admit, if eyeballs were what they were after, it's eyeballs they got. Until tomorrow . . .