Good Sunday afternoon, Dawg fans. Well, nobody expected Appalachian State to be a 60-minute challenge for the Georgia Bulldogs, so clearly the team decided they didn't have to play 60 minutes, either. After HERPing and DERPing our way through the first half, we sufficiently brought the hammer down in the second half, so no harm, no foul.
And since the referees so obviously had put money on App. St. and the points, congratulations to them for cashing in. I suppose I should actually thank them for calling the worst b.s. targeting penalty of the year (of the week) on our defense in the first half, not the second, so we didn't lose anybody for half of the Auburn game.
Therefore, it's time to turn the page and look towards our sternest remaining test of the regular season: The Auburn Tiglesmen. Therefore, I'm letting the following people know that, for Week 12, You're On Notice, Dawg!
In no particular order:
1) Steve Spurrier - Why Steve Spurrier? Because he hates us, we hate him, and because I have it from a very authoritative source inside the South Carolina administration that he's not going to throw their game this week against the Gators, which would possibly save Will Muschamp's coaching tenure and allow him to lead the Sunshine State Saurians onto the field in Gainesville for another year.
2) The Targeting Rule - I dedicated an entire "on notice" article to the targeting rule after the Vanderbilt game this year, but it bears another mention after the shambolic call against Corey Moore this week. Moore's hit against an Appalachian State receiver that was in the process of catching a ball was entirely fair, and was not dangerous. He put his shoulder into the Mountaineer receiver's chest. No head-to-head, head-to-anything, or anything-to-head contact was even made. He hit the guy so hard that he dropped the ball... so, naturally, you throw a flag? And then the replay official says the call not just "stands," but was CONFIRMED?
I mean, I can rail all day on the necessity of changing the rule to make it less draconian (and I would be justified in doing so). But if the officials can't even figure out when a damn play is violating the spirit of the rule (which, for the record, is "avoiding dangerous plays") and when one is just simple, hard-hitting football, then a rule change probably won't even help us.
And for that matter...
3) The Replay Official - 1) They Corey Moore "ejection" play, during which no part of the defender's head touched any part of the receivers body. 2) The Amarlo Herrera interception and "fumble," which was clearly caused by the ground, and therefore was not a fumble.
Both of these calls were announced as being "confirmed" by the replay official. In both cases, the call appeared not just wrong to me after watching the replay, but egregiously wrong. What's the damn point of having a replay official if they're going to make the wrong call multiple times on the review of the tape?
It astounds me how the SEC can consistently put the best football product in the nation on the field, but can't seem to collect a competent, consistent set of officials. Those damn guys have already cost us one game (against Vanderbilt), and if Appalachian State had been a stronger team, all of the calls with which they saddled us on Saturday could have cost us another game. Meanwhile, Nick Fairley just put the crown of his helmet into a QB and drew no penalty (again).
4) The Offensive Line - The inconsistency of this unit confounds me. Against Florida, the line actually blocked reasonably well for much of the game. And earlier in the season, the blocking was very serviceable. Against Appalachian State, though, of all teams, we couldn't run block or pass block. Time after time Todd Gurley was sent into the middle of a line that had exactly zero holes. The fact that he gained 4 yards on most of those runs is due to Gurley's talent, not to any particular effort by the linemen. (And on those same types of plays, backs like J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas were generally held to 2 yards or less.) And our pass blocking left much to be desired. Aaron Murray's 30-yard scramble that ignited the offense in the 3rd quarter was due to the fact that a blitz was not picked up, and Murray was flushed out and made a play happen.
Auburn doesn't exactly have a world-beating defense, but they've got better players on the line than Appalachian State has. If you give our running backs no holes and give Aaron Murray no time to pass, then it's going to be hard to keep up with the scoring that Auburn's offense is likely to be doing. Our O-Line needs to come up big, and they need to be focused for the entire game.
5) Our Run Defense - Against Tennessee, the Tiglesmen only attempted 7 passes, and only completed 3 of them. (Technically, Nick Marshall completed 4 passes, but one was a touchdown for the Vols.) Against, Arkansas, they only attempted 8 passes. A Nick Marshall-led Auburn is a running team. That's their bread and butter, and that's what they'll be doing all day long against us this Saturday on the Plains. This year, our run defense has been better than our passing defense, but we have not yet come up against a team that runs it like this group. Our big uglies on the line had better be ready, and our defensive backfield had better be ready to play assignment football to the letter.
(But, of course, you'd better not tackle those boys too hard, or you'll get your butt kicked out for targeting.)
6) Special Teams - Marshall Morgan has become automatic, for which we're all thankful, but the rest of our special teams units have yet to really solidify. Another thing Auburn did this past Saturday was run a punt back 85 yards for a touchdown. In case I haven't mentioned it recently... they're really good at running the ball.
7) The Guy Sitting Next To Me Yesterday At The Game Who Wanted To Hire Will Muschamp As Our Defensive Coordinator - During the game yesterday, I was perhaps getting a little too excited about the pummeling Vanderbilt was putting on the Florida Gators in Gainesville. The random guy sitting next to me, when he heard that Vandy was ahead 31-10, said something to the effect of, "Good! Now they'll fire Muschamp and he can come back home and be the DC."
Let me be clear, for all who aren't aware of this fact: The coaching profession is, by necessity, a mercenary one. Coaches go to schools which had previously been their rivals all the time. Mark Richt went from Miami to Florida State, and Vince Dooley went from Auburn to Georgia. Greg McGarity, our AD, came from Florida to Georgia. When Will Muschamp accepted the head coaching position in Gainesville, though, he publicly humiliated the University of Georgia by implying that he only came to Athens because Florida didn't offer him a scholarship (note: neither did Georgia, Mr. Walk On). He also referred to his time in Athens by saying, "we all make mistakes in life."
Well, Willie, you're correct. We do all make mistakes in life. One of your mistakes was treating a mercenary profession as a life-calling and committing yourself to a fan base that hasn't, in their entire existence, appreciated any coach they've ever had... not even the ones that have won national championships. You've burned every bridge you ever built in Georgia, and now that your ass is about to be dumped unceremoniously on the curb in rural Alachua County, you'd better not be expecting anybody to take your calls in the Butts-Mehre Building.
I'm more than willing to accept coaches back into the fold that embraced their current school while never denouncing their alma mater, like Pat Dye or Kirby Smart. What you have done, however, is unforgivable. I never wish any personal ill on a person, and I don't particularly hope that you crash and burn in your future endeavors, but I can guarantee you that none of those endeavours will ever be occurring in Athens.
(And all of that is even assuming that Todd Grantham will leave or be fired, neither of which is particularly likely or particularly necessary at this point, in my opinion.)
8) The Hoses at Jordan-Hare Stadium - I'm not saying we're going to beat Auburn. In fact, I'm not even saying we're going to keep it close. Auburn is a top-10 team, and we're probably still going to be unranked when the polls come out later today. They're rolling, and we're really still reeling without most of our best players on offense. (And Todd Gurley clearly isn't 100% yet.) Still, though, I remember another time we rolled into Auburn, Alabama, unranked and playing against a top-10 Tiglesman squad that expected to pound us into the dirt...
Go to about 2:28 for a super-close-up of Uga IV, and the real business starts at about 4:00.
I don't want to see any vandalism by fans, of course... but I wouldn't argue with the same result on the scoreboard.