Let's be honest: we didn't really learn much about Georgia from our week 1 contest. The Dawgs pretty much did what they were supposed to, and that's about it. Still, though... when I see a fully-operational Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Keith Marshall all racking up the yards out there... oh baby. It's enough to get a lifelong Munsonite all hot and bothered about the potential of this offense.
With that said, even though we only played a little more than 3 quarters of football last Saturday, there are plenty of nits on which I can pick as the Georgia Bulldogs prepare to open their SEC schedule on the road in Nashville this coming Saturday. Therefore, I'm letting the following people know that, for Week 2, 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 actually coached the third quarter of the USC/UNC game from the cash register line at Arby's. It takes 'em a long time to customize your order, after all, when you ask them to "make one o' them Jamogre shakes with a real Ogre in it this time."
2) The Injury Bug - Fortunately, ole' Lady Luck smiled on us yesterday and kept the nasty injury bug away from our team. And let me tell you how amazing it felt to see Keith Marshall and Malcolm Mitchell both score touchdowns and get some highlight-reel plays during the day. For a team to achieve great things, sometimes they need a little bit of luck, and that includes keeping your best players injury-free. We've had some astonishingly bad luck in this area over the past 2 or 3 years, and we've still been pretty good, anyway. I'm thinking we're due for a little good luck on the injury front, and I can't wait to see Mitchell and Marshall get more screen time while celebrating in the endzone.
3) Brian Schottenheimer - We all knew that Schotty was probably only going to go 1 or 2 pages deep into the playbook against ULM. Still, though, I was somewhat disturbed by Schotty's apparent lack of aggressiveness after the Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the back of mistakes made by the Warhawks in the first quarter. I saw a lot of NFL-y type play calls after that, and I don't mean in a good way. And if you'll remember, we actually punted from the ULM 40 yard line on the 3rd series of the game. Punting from the other team's 40 is a decidedly NFL-y play call, Schotty. Well, either that or the B1G... and neither of those things is a good thing. We picked it up later in the game and found our offensive rhythm again, but there were flashes of poor play-calling, no doubt about it. Just remember, Schotty, ultimately all you have to do is look at your running backs and offensive linemen and tell them this:
4) Greyson Lambert - Our sorta-kinda-won-the-competition starting QB did pretty well during his first outing Between the Hedges, going 8/12 for 141 yards, 2 TD's, and no INT's. After re-watching the game, though, I think I see both why Richt and Schotty chose him and also why he didn't "pull away" from his competition at the QB spot. To his credit, Lambert seemed to always make a "safe" throw yesterday. Even when he was throwing into coverage, every ball he threw was only catchable by his man, if it was catchable at all. The lone exception to this was on his TD pass to Malcolm Mitchell, though in that case his "jump ball" pass was still perfectly thrown, and was thrown because he knew that Mitchell was good enough to make that play. (And it was also thrown to a location where it was likely to only be a TD or an INT for a touchback, so that's still a pretty safe-ish pass.)
On the negative side, though, Lambert repeatedly seemed pretty slow to make his decisions when passing the ball. He likes to hold the ball and "think," and that's not usually a good thing when you're playing against teams who will regularly get a lot of pressure in the backfield. Also, Lambert didn't seem particularly able to make plays when he was scrambling, so that's something to watch when we play against a defense that will actually challenge our pass protection. (Let's hope Vandy is not one of those teams.)
5) The patented mid-game midlife crisis - I know, I know, it's the first game, and it was against a team that isn't as much of a weakling as, say, UT-Martin or Southeast Missouri State. Still, though, whether it's just perception or reality, we have a history of "taking our foot off the gas" when we get a bit of a lead. In this game, we came out fast and took a 14-0 lead, and kind of sat on the ball. Then, we managed to extend it to a 35-0 lead in the 2nd quarter, and then get let ULM march down the field in the 2 minute drill to score right before halftime. Then, we let ULM march down the field on the first drive after halftime, too, and boom, we went from a 35-0 game to a 35-14 game without even touching the ball on offense.
(As a side note, this is why coaches frequently choose to defer when they win the toss. Scoring last in the 1st half and getting the ball 1st in the second half gives you a huge boost of momentum and a 14-point swing in your favor, without having the opposing team get a single snap on offense.)
It honestly looked like ULM was making a push on us... and then the lightning delay happened. The delay worked out for us, as we managed to kill the Warhawks' momentum and parley that into a blocked-punt safety when the action resumed. After that, neither team really looked back as they traveled in opposite directions. We won't be able to spring for a magic lightning machine to have at the ready, though, since we're already laying out tons of dough on a new indoor practice facility, so we're just going to have to figure out a way to stop these mental lapses that let the other team back in the game.
6) The entire defense - Again, this was just ULM, so it's difficult to be too critical, and what I'm doing here is splitting hairs. Still, though, our defense wilted a little bit after starting the game extremely strongly. During the second and third quarters, particularly, ULM used that QB option to great effect, opening our defensive backfield up for a deep pass a couple of times.
/pauses, looks at that passage again
... used that QB option to great effect, opening our defensive backfield up for a deep pass...
(I presume I don't need to explain any further why defending well against the option is a must.)
7) People who will go into this game being completely dismissive of the Vanderbilt Commodores because, and I quote, "It's just Vanderbilt." - Yes, Vanderbilt lost to Western Kentucky. Yes, the Commies looked absolutely horrible while doing so. I shouldn't have to remind you, however, that Nashville never seems to be an easy place for us to play. We lost the last time we played in Nash-vegas. And remember that 2007 team that was so good? They nearly lost in the country music capital of the world, too. The 2003 team that was the media's preseason pick to win the SEC actually trailed Vandy 2-0 at halftime before going on to beat the Weaklings of West End.
When we tee it up at Vanderbilt Stadium, it's never a cake-walk. It's also never glamorous, but you gotta go into town and take care of business. Fortunately, this will be the 3:30 CBS game and Uncle Verne will be in town, so hopefully the Dawgs will get a sense of the occasion and show up looking like the team we have the potential to be. Let's all hope so, anyway.
8) All goats in the proximity of the Blind Pig Tavern in Athens, GA - This week is the 6th annual Dawg Sports getogether that we plan during the week of an away game, which we call the "Goat Roast." The name comes from a dark time (about, uh, 6 years ago) when all of our best players seemed to be getting injured over and over, and a commenter suggested that "somebody needed to go sacrifice a goat at the arch or something." Well, we don't actually sacrifice any real, live goats, but we do always have a nicely-decorated cake in the shape of a goat... and that, my friends, we do sacrifice.
Our lovely housemother/person-who-reminds-us-to-watch-our-mouths-during-the-gameday-threads Podunkdawg will probably be along later this week with a reminder/logistics post , but the key info you need to know is that it's a great opportunity to get together with some other Dawg fans in Athens, watch a game together, and generally hang out and have a good time. Also, since we're the 3:30 game this year, you won't be driving into or out of downtown Athens at any crazy times of day, so that's a nice plus, as well. I've been to 4 of the previous 5 goat roasts, and they've all been excellent. Even when we lose (as has happened twice during a goat roast), you can commiserate with your fellow fans in person, without having to worry about being "officially warned" for using too much profanity. :-)
I'm looking for a great turnout at the Goat Roast! I hope y'all decide to come up and hang out with your fellow Dawg fans and Dawg Sports regulars. For everyone else, y'all have a great week; let's enjoy watching Gary Danielson try to convince us that Vandy doesn't suck as much as they really do, and...