If your college football team of choice is about to hit the road for its first conference game of the season you could probably use a drink. I can help you with that.
Let's be honest. Vanderbilt is an actual SEC football team, composed of actual SEC football players, many of whom have beaten this Georgia Bulldog team on the very same field where this year's matchup will be contested. Yes, since then they've turned in a disappointing 2014 season. And lost to Western Kentucky while scoring a scorching 12 points. So if you told me you can't really take Vanderbilt seriously I would have to admit that the weight of recent evidence is tilted in your favor.
But I know a few things, some of which we discussed in the most recent episode of Committed To The G, that give me pause about this year's Commodore team. For one, both Derek Mason and new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig have been very good at their jobs over the years. These are guys who know what they're doing and, while they may not have all the players they need to do it really effectively, are better at their jobs than last week's effort implies. Ludwig in particular has a history of putting excellent offenses in place at schools from Oregon to Wisconsin. My suspicion is that as this season goes on the Vandy offense will continue to improve and be better than they were last season (which was, again, really tragically awful).
I don't think that everything will come together this weekend, but I could see some things coming together. And that alone could be enough to give the Bulldogs some fits. In particular, tailback Ralph Webb worries me. He's a tough runner who doesn't go down easy, has nice vision, and is patient running the ball. I'm also worried that Ludwig is going to get a little better at utilizing QB Johnny McCrary. McCrary seems fairly talented but he has a lot of work to do in terms of reading defenses, keeping calm under pressure, and generally managing tough in-game situations.
I'm worried that this is the week Ludwig starts figuring out how to get McCrary into good situations. Situations in which the game slows down and he can make plays. One way to prevent that? Get to McCrary early and often. Pressure him, harass him, hit him. It also wouldn't hurt if the Bulldog defense hemmed McCrary in when he does run. Last week against Western Kentucky McCrary had 8 rushes for 58 yards with a long of 19. If he takes off it will fall to Georgia's outside linebackers to bottle him up, and to punish him for straying from the pocket.
One guy well-equipped to do that is sophomore Lorenzo Carter. Carter has NFL-level physical gifts, and he had a very promising freshman campaign. But he still has work to do before he lives up to his potential. This is one of those games in which a guy like Carter could really excel. I'm looking for him to have a big game, and when he does, I'm going to celebrate with a Lo' Gin Fizz.
The gin fizz is among the most classic of American cocktails. Countless variations have arisen since the drink began appearing in bartenders' books in the 1880's. This one uses the namesake spirit but adds a whiskey twist that I think makes it unique.
Start by pouring 1 ounce of soda water over ice in a Collins glass. Separately in a cocktail shaker filled with ice shake together 3/4 of an ounce of Drambuie, 1 ounce of gin, 3/4 of an ounce of ginger syrup, and 1 ounce of lime juice (key lime is best). Pour over the soda and ice and enjoy. Until later . . .