Everything about Saturday was good. At least once a year I am reminded how beautiful Athens is, what an incredible atmosphere Sanford is and how hungry this fan base is to be great. 2013 was LSU, 2014 was Auburn, 2015 was South Carolina and 2016 was this Saturday. It’s the type of games that leave you wanting to stay in the stadium until they close it down. What an unbelievable game day experience to present to recruits that will one day bleed for this University. The more I watch the Dawgs this year, the more I am reminded of 2006. It ended as a 9-4 season with a talented Freshman QB and young defense. 2007 was unbelievable. I won’t anoint this team as a possible Sugar Bowl contender next year just yet, but the young talent that continues to emerge is so fun to watch. Keep recruiting Kirby.
Look who’s bowl eligible. I know some people may laugh at that sentiment. But as miserable as being a Dawg fan can be, I am truly thankful for one thing. We have not had a losing regular season since 1996. Good thing I was four years old and had no idea what was going on because I would have been in a dark place. 2010 wasn’t pretty and we finished the season with a losing record following the worst bowl game I have ever been to. But we consistently avoid truly embarrassing seasons. We avoid an Auburn 3-9 season, a Florida 4-8 year and we avoid 3 straight Tennessee seasons of 5-7. And yes, I would probably trade 10 3-9 seasons for the assurance of a national championship. Until then, we have established a program that refuses to hit rock bottom. So…..take that however you want. The bigger point is that hitting bowl eligibility is huge for your program, especially for one led by a first year coach. It provides Kirby an entire extra month to practice with his team, develop young players and continue to identify weaknesses to address in the coming recruiting season. I also can’t tell you how important a getting a win in a bowl game can be for a program. In 2014 we won the Belk Bowl when I was on staff and the way we celebrated made it feel like we won the damn Sugar Bowl. The victory and the guys around you are all you have after everyone has ended the semester, gone home and forgotten about your practices over Christmas. Bowl victories, no matter how insignificant bring a team together for a long offseason.
As I’ve said before, Coach Pruitt would pretty consistenly start defensive meetings after a big win or loss with “Youre never as good as you think you are and you’re never as bad as you think you are”. So after an incredible weekend and a rosy intro, let’s get into the negatives of this weekend.
· Stop Playing “Game Breaks”- I will never understand why we distract from our product to play highlights from another College game. If I am on a Delta flight, I don’t expect to see a United ad on the seat back entertainment system. You are constantly fighting other programs for the best the country has to offer. We were shown the Clemson game this weekend. I bet 75% of our recruit visitors have a Clemson offer. Coach Pruitt would blow a damn gasket every time they played on of those in game. If you are part of the TV over going to a game culture and administration is catering to you to keep ticket sales up, do us all a favor and sell your tickets. Because I know Dawg fans that will pay for them and really only give a sh** about one team on gameday. I am surprised Kirby has not put an immediate stop to this.
· Gameday Music- saw a great article this week by Rivals with some opinions from Markaviest Bryant. Bryant feels that Auburn’s music at home is far superior to Georgia’s. I 100% agree. Everything from our speakers, music, video board and in game entertainment is awful. When I worked for the team, we actually had a member of our staff graduate and move up in the Athletic association. He promised us he would make it his number one priority to improve gameday music because we heard from multiple recruits that it was terrible. It did get better that season but it has totally regressed. Nobody wants to hear Don’t Stop Believin’ or Sweet Caroline. If you do, go to Bourbon, I have it on good authority that they play it every night. Here is an idea, take a damn poll at the beginning of the day from the guys that are going to shape our program for the next 4 years and play whatever the hell they want to hear. I don’t really care if some old rich donor is bothered by rap music or the volume in Sanford. Guarantee you that old guy would listen to Migos on repeat if it meant our gameday atmosphere brought us the players to win a national championship. If Nate McBride wants Cotton Eyed Joe or Malik Herring wants Mary had a little Lamb, I don’t really care just take notes. Take a poll, play whatever they want and crank it. (**As I write this I am listening to “Clap, clap, clap your hands” at the UGA basketball game. Kill me now**)
· Offensive Line- yeah we have complained about it all season. They didn’t play terribly on Saturday. Loved continuous toss sweeps at a tired Montravius Adams in the 4th. But overall, it has been a rough season on the offensive line with constant mental errors and physical deficiencies. We are going to graduate 3 of these guys and the lack of a true SEC level tackle left on the roster is very alarming. If a freshman can come in an fill a tackle spot, great! But there is no way we can count on it. The way I see it, Georgia has to sell out to hook either 5 star Walker Little or 5 Star Isaiah Wilson. Even if we can land one of those longshots, we still may have to go get a JUCO to fill the age gap in the roster. This could be the group that keeps Georgia from having a truly great 2017 team if it is not aggressively addressed.
Let me know in the comments if I am crazy or if these are legitimate concerns. You’ll notice that all three of those negatives related to recruiting. As this season winds down, it’s time for Kirby to prove why he is such a trusted recruiter. For those of you unfamiliar with Migos, go ahead and wet your whistle.
And then for those of you asking what “Pipe it Up” means:
II. By Position Auburn Breakdown
I said Eason needed his best game to get a win. I didn’t give our defense near enough credit. Eason certainly had a good game and his ball protection is truly impressive. I wouldn’t say this was his best performance simply due to the lack of a TD pass and the inability to hang onto a ball that would have put it away. But the kid has got it man. I’ll say it, Eason looks better than Stafford in comparing freshman year performance. I think Eason has a grip on the offense evidenced by playing time in game 1 and being named as the starter ever since. He does not turn the ball over. Even some of his picks were not totally on him. Several were under intense pressure and the South Carolina pick was tipped. Stafford was a INT machine in his first year on campus. The throw Eason made to Mckenzie on the sideline after a beautiful route by 16 was an NFL ball between two defenders. Good things to come.
Another solid performance from two guys that are winding down their days as Dawgs. If you think either of them are staying you are crazy. Sony and Nick are two of the best Dawgs there are but these days RBs have to get to the league as soon as possible. The first rookie contract is something nice to sit on but the real money comes in your second contract in the league around year 4. Another year in college for two proven backs does not provide anything of value and only puts another year of tread on the tires. Great game by both on Saturday. Just waiting for Chubb to break another long run that we haven’t seen since week 1.
Young guys are emerging quickly. If Jayson Stanley and Michael Chigbu want meaningful minutes they need to get healthy and solve the drop problems because Riley Ridley wants all of their playing time. That dude is going to be the real deal. Guys I still know on staff say he is a dude you don’t mess with. He is very similar to Calvin, a tick slower but much bigger and just as elusive. Tremendous hands. If you’ve compared him to AJ Green, I hate you. But no question he could be a 3 year type player from a potential perspective. Javon Wims has finally gained knowledge of the offense and has proved to be the physical specimen he was out of JUCO. The catch he made that ended up being called back was a play I haven’t seen a Georgia receiver make in quite a while. The ability to track the ball, contort the body at full speed and make the catch was tremendous. It’s a shame he only has one more year. Mckenzie was consistent. His jet sweep action is now feast or famine as coaches have more film to prepare for it. He also seems to be required to muff 1 punt per game. Yikes
We covered it but I will quickly summarize. Tyler Catalina, thanks for your service but won’t be sad to see you go come season’s end. Just not an SEC level player and skilled rushers are exposing him. It may not have been a hold on the pass to Wims but freshman Marlon Davidson completely y put Catalina on his back. The guard play for Georgia is strong (I hope so considering we start 4 guys who should be guards on the line) and should improve next year.
Another position group, another Freshman who is excelling. It is unbelievable that Nauta is a fast as he is carrying that much weight. It’s clear he’s the best player in the room. Charlie Woerner is another solid player who is a great blocker with active hands. Feel good about this group for a few years to come the way we always do. I feel for Jackson Harris. He probably starts at most SEC schools. I said it last week, but he has a real opportunity at Tackle if he wants it and can put it together. Transitioning TEs with size usually find a lot of success at tackle.
Yet again, more Freshman. Damn Kirby maybe your recruiting is the real deal. Doesn’t hurt that Pruitt held the ship together until the main man tookover. Tracy Rocker is an ace recruiter and excellent DL coach. The progression of many of these players is due to his coaching. Rochester, Clark, Marshall all have exceeded expectations and been excellent. It is crazy to me that we held a rushing attack as strong as Auburn’s to one TD with a DL as young as this. When you look at Ledbetter, he looks like the players that Georgia should have been getting on the DL for years that somehow slip away. His neck is the 8th wonder of the world. Dude is thick and has been playing so well since his return. Trent Thompson has my vote for Georgia’s player of the year so far. It has to be him or #2. He is so disruptive and has completely lived up to the 5 star billing. This DL is going to be a damn force next year. Add Aubrey Solomon, get Devonta Wyatt to play as an athletic hole filler and keep Rocker and the defense has a chance to be special.
So many things have gone Georgia’s way to allow them some great players on Defense. Maybe none bigger is the shocking signing day saga that saw Roquan Smith switch a commitment to UCLA to a signature for Georgia. There are certain players that can be described as “can’t miss”. Roquan was one of those guys. His Macon County film was unreal and showed how athletic he played at LB. After taking some time to put on weight and learn the system, Roquan is in full stride. Combined with another can’t miss guy in Natrez, the inside Linebacker class is as solid as it has been in a while at Georgia. What was truly amazing was the fact that the defense was able to perform the way it did against Auburn without Natrez. Reggie Carter played his best game as Dawg and can you believe it Johnny O’Neal got snaps . Johnny was a guy who had amazing film and then I saw him move around day 1 of fall camp in 2013 and knew he could not play. Credit him for putting himself in a position to play backup minutes in his final year. Hearing rumblings that Bellamy may head to the NFL. Something to keep an eye on.
The only player that could challenge Trent for player of the year is Mo Smith. Isn’t it amazing that we grab a player from Bama and he immediately becomes your best player? Truly speaks to the talent discrepancy and gives you an idea of how last year’s game could get away so quickly. Mo is such a smart player. He has a damn killer instinct. His ability to get the ball into the endzone of his pick likely won us that game. This was a Parrish and Mauger kind of game. Physical players at the line and not many deep threats to cover. I think Deandre Baker has a lot of potential at corner. Another Pruitt grab from Miami.
III. Quick ULL Preview
Don’t slepp on ULL now. They are probably a better team than Nichols with a bunch of D1 and SEC transfers. Former LSU QB Anthony Jennings will run an offense similar to Auburn. I don’t expect this to puzzle Kirby. Both he and Pruitt have gotten very good at defending that offense and the recent Bama and UGA scores against Auburn prove it. Bama will destroy Auburn in two weeks. It will not be close. So there is your ULL preview, mainly focused on other SEC teams. I already told you, I don’t study lower level FBS teams anymore. My time as a student assistant expert on North Texas is over.
IV. SEC Predictions
V. Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week
Now we are rollin’. 3-1 last week. Overall record stands at 26-18. Double Down Dawgs, I’m looking for a big week.
Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week Portfolio Value: $800
VI. Previous Volumes