It’s been a pretty consistent pattern for about the past 4-5 years. The talent (or perceived talent) of the Georgia roster warrants a top 15 preseason ranking and Georgia fans establish lofty expectations. At some point in the first half of the season, Georgia drops a game to a talented non-conference or SEC opponent. Sometimes it’s even two games. But the Dawgs always seem to take a deep look at themselves and repair both the record and expectations before heading to Jacksonville. Georgia seems to be right back in that position with a new man at the helm. The nail in the coffin for Coach Richt without question was the Florida game last year. He won every single game that followed and still could not save his job. Not to overlook Vanderbilt by any means, this is a solid defense with a noon kick on a short week. But I fully expect Coach Smart will get his first taste of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party following the old Georgia pattern. It will be his first shot to differentiate himself from his predecessor in the game that means the most. Whether he is able to win these matchups in the future will determine the long term success of both his head coaching career and the direction of the football program.
With that said, you’ve got to be excited about this group. I’m not going to sunshine pump y’all but the young talent that is emerging could be huge for Georgia. Not only are freshman cracking the depth chart and playing, but they are playing with confidence and physicality. I saw a tweet from Barrett Sallee this week mentioning Georgia’s Defensive line, Kirby Smart’s most important position. One upperclassmen on the three deep and these young guys are 100% holding their own. Add Ledbetter back to the fold this week and the DL may become a quiet strength for the Dawgs. To stay relevant in this league you must always be hunting high school talent that will translate to the next level and the Dawgs look to have that in place.
I wanted to quickly comment on the quote made by former UGA ILB coach and Current North Texas DC Mike Ekeler that some of you may have seen.
“I’ve worked at some of the greatest schools history-wise in the game,” Ekeler said. “But what it boils down to is people. You can be at the University of Georgia and be miserable if you’re working with shitty people. I really enjoy my work environment and the players here.”
He later went on to thank Coach Richt and unmistakably narrow his “shitty people” list to one man. Jeremy Pruitt. What a bad look for Ekeler.
I worked under Coach Pruitt and Coach Ekeler in 2014. Jeremy Pruitt is absolutely no angel to work for. If he doesn’t agree with your work, he has no qualms about letting you know. He demands perfection from every aspect of his unit. It’s not hard to see why Georgia had a top 10 defense in 2014 and why Alabama has scored 6 defensive TD’s this year alone. Pruitt demands it. And he especially demands excellence from his assistant coaches. That type of pressure and assertiveness does not sit well with a lot of people and Coach Ekeler is one of them (Greg McGarity was another). That’s why you will find him in Denton, Texas where the pressure is relaxed while Jeremy Pruitt leads the best team in the country to possible back to back championships.
Look, I’m in the same boat as Ekeler. I didn’t continue to pursue coaching and I’m not ashamed to say I called my mama for some support after a few rough fall camp days filled with Pruitt MFs. But I also wasn’t making $250,000. Money isn’t everything, but if you are making that much of it, it may be a good time to suck it up and take your MFs in stride. And if you just can’t take it anymore and you have to move to Denton, Texas to escape the wrath of Jeremy, be a professional and let it lie.
II. South Carolina Recap
The Guarded Optimism
· Chubb- back to full strength. The backfield is unreal
· Tyler Clark and young DL- Clark had a solid game. Clark was not as heralded as fellow commit Michail Carter so it’s good to see him get significant playing time and make plays. Add Ledbetter back to the mix. Get David Marshall healthy again. Trent keeps doing what he’s doing and a preseason weakness becomes a mid-season strength
· Herrien- I am going to keep saying it until he does something that justifies being taken off the list. Unbelievably hard runner with great ball protection. I’ve always had a saying “freshman fumble” but Herrien has tremendous awareness about the defenders around him. So look out for Herrien to put the ball on the ground against Vandy now that I’ve mentioned it
· Maurice Smith- pure vet gamer. Brings knowledge and consistent playmaking to the D
· Malkom Parrish- still short, still making plays. He will get beat deep again for a big play at some point this season
· End of the First Half- yikes. This was not good. There is photo evidence that Kirby wanted a timeout but he has to be more aggressive with it and take 100% control of an opportunity to score
· Eason- horrible game. The worst of his career so far. Misread coverages and missed a wide open TD to Mckenzie as he forced a ball to Wims and gave up a pick. Inaccurate balls all day. His deep ball touch is not good right now. His throw to Ridley at the end of the Tennessee game is the only time you’ve seen him step up and let a deep ball rip. I guess he is used to throwing to 5’7” receivers that run a 5.1 instead of Reggie Davis. Let it rip kid
· Brent Musberger- this one speaks for itself. It’s time Brent, it’s time
· Offensive variability- You can tell as a fromer DC why Kirby wanted Chaney running his offense. Chaney gives defenses so much eye candy to prepare for. You’ll see Mckenzie motion on maybe 20% of plays and maybe get the ball 2-3 times on a jet sweep throughout the game. This is just another tactic to open up Georgia’s run game
· Draw game on aggressive downs- saw more of this Sunday on 2nd and long
· You pull, we pull, everybody pulls- interior power game with typical guard and center pulls. Perimeter runs putting Catalina on the outside as a lead blocker for backs. TE blocks down and Pyke pulls on Jetsweep. TE’s from across the formation coming across to block at the point of attack. Georgia is getting more comfortable blocking 1 on 1 and allowing free lineman to act as a lead blocker. When you can’t physically move people out the way, give them eye candy to worry about and vary your lead blocker. Chaney is playing to the strength of his offensive line and his backs
· 31 Personnel- saw the dawgs taking advantage of solid blocking by Elijah Holyfield split out as a WR in a 3 back 1 TE personnel. Also had Payne at fullback and Herrien as the deep back. Just more to think about with Holyfield split out as a receiver, a back on a reverse or jet sweep or a blocker
IV. Vanderbilt Preview
Vanderbilt is not a good team but this will be a difficult week for the Dawgs. You definitely will not see Georgia in Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week. Too many factors that could slow the Dawgs, whether that be a short week, a noon kick or a solid Vanderbilt defense. I think Georgia wins but they will get a test. Ralph Webb gets to prove if he should be in the same conversation with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel as far as SEC backs go. I take the Dawgs at 13.5 but 14 makes me uncomfortable. Important to get Eason back on track before his first trip to Jacksonville. I expect short passing game early and if Georgia gets up a few TDs do not be surprised to see Chaney let him rip it some.
V. SEC Predictions
VI. Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week
Been pumped about this one all week. 4-0 last week baby. Overall record now stands at 15-9 against the spread. I told you to double down and I damn sure hope you listened. I am really going to start putting more into this section because my friends are degenerates and I think it’s fun. What I’ve learned in my picks this season is that I don’t know nearly as much as I think I do about Big10 and Pac12 football. Expect to see more locally focused SEC and ACC picks and expect to double down Dawgs because we are about to get into it and pick a fight with Vegas.
If you bet $100 ($2400 total) on every game I projected this season, your profit would be $600
If you invested the same $2400 in the S&P since the season started, your profit would be an infuriating -$34.56
This is the real American Dream my friends
Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week Portfolio Value: $600
Go Damn Dawgs