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Season 2 Volume 12: Fight Back, Finish Strong

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NCAA Football: Georgia at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Intro

Man, I’ve seen a lot of people jumping off the bandwagon this week. This weekend’s loss was a brutal beat down that got away from us quickly but the way some folks have been mailing it in is pretty shocking. I think it’s time to consider a little perspective. We are way ahead of schedule. Kirby has taken a roster made up of half of his players and shaped it into a contender. Meanwhile, two very highly ranked recruiting classes wait in the wings. Even though we took a beating, we are in the same position as every other team within the top 7. Win and you’re in. There is no wiggle room for just about anybody in the top 7 at this point. In the middle of year 2, we are in the same position as Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma. So shake it off, just because we dropped a game on the road to a top 10 team does not mean all is lost. At this point in the season, with the record we have, it could be just beginning.

Rematch

It was a perfect storm of misery. The atmosphere was electric at Jordan-Hare (as it should be in any stadium when you play the #1 team in the country). We made a ton of mental mistakes. Turned the ball over and racked up 75 yards of penalties in some crucial spots. There were coaching head-scratchers, blown calls and obvious nerves. It all started to snowball and eventually, the game was out of hand and beyond repair. It’s really tough to ask for a rematch after losing by 23 points. But given the choice between a rematch against Auburn or a matchup with #1 Alabama, I’ll take my chances with Auburn all day. It’s really tough to beat a team with equal talent twice in one season. Add in a neutral field, more disciplined play and (god-willing) a different set of refs and you have a much different game on your hands. I think the coaches will have a ton of adjustments should we play Auburn again. Protecting the perimeter on defense will be a priority. We did not play with good edge discipline and often let Auburn outflank us with motion and WR crack blocking. We were also extremely predictable on offense which allowed Auburn to pin their ears back and pressure Fromm relentlessly. Playing Alabama would be like playing a mega version of ourselves with much deeper talent, elite team speed and more refined coaching. I think we would really struggle defending their power run game as the game entered the 4th quarter. I fully recognize we were overpowered in a 23 point loss last weekend but I have a ton of confidence that a December 2nd matchup would yield much different results.

Coaching Miscues

“Miscues” may be too kind. Our coaches flat out did not put us in a good position to win the game.

· Before the Half- This was straight up terrible. I get that we were having some struggles protecting Fromm but you’ve got to take at least one shot after a stagnant offensive half. Let Javon Wims do what he does best and go up and grab a ball. Instead, we put Rodrigo in a high pressure long FG situation in a very loud stadium. Doesn’t take a physic to predict what would happen there. Don’t run the damn ball with 22 seconds left and no timeouts after a momentum shifting punt return. That is not who Georgia should be.

· TE and Screen Game- when Jeff Holland is headed for a straight shot at Fromm every 3rd down, you’ve got to mix in something to slow the pass rush. Sony Michel and D’andre Swift are likely two of the best ball catching backs in the entire country. If you have a young QB, in a hostile environment, don’t put it on him every time to go pick up 8 yards on 3rd down. Let your elusive dudes go work in a screen game, make a man miss and pick up a third down. It then slows the rush on the next 3rd and 8. It all comes back to being unpredictable

· Defensive Pre Snap Adjustments- this was undoubtedly the most costly and frustrating coaching miscue throughout the game. There were multiple plays where we gave Auburn a pre snap look at our defensive pressure. On several of these occasions, Stidam checked with the Auburn sideline and either called a new play or received confirmation on the original play. That is absolutely lazy defensive play calling. If you give them a look at a pressure and they change the play, get your ass out of that pressure and call something else immediately. The final blow came on a 32 yard screen pass to Ryan Davis. Stidam recognized the clear two man pressure from the wide side of the field, checked with the sideline and then threw to a wide open Davis, right where two blitzing secondary members had begun the play. This was the same pressure that had worked in producing a sack fumble on Felipe Franks. The only difference was that Franks didn’t stare it in the face and check the sideline for confirmation before running the play. When I worked for Coach Pruitt, if we gave the QB even a momentary look at a pressure, we immediately checked out of it and into something completely different to skew the pre-snap read. It was truly infuriating to watch us run our initial play call regardless of offensive adjustment. If we don’t have enough awareness to check out of the pressure, we should not be running the pressure to begin with.

Auburn Playmakers

Last week I mentioned three players that made me nervous. All three had big games. It’s guys like these that make me nervous to call for a rematch because I am not sure there is a really good way to game plan around them.

· Darius Slayton: 2 catches, 43 yards and one long TD over Malkom Parrish

· Jeff Holland: 5 Tackles, 1 Sack, 3 QB Hurries and made Fromm uncomfortable all night. Andrew Thomas was exposed for the first time this season by the best OLB we have seen

· Eli Stove: 55 yards rushing, 14 yards receiving and a constant threat to think about as their eye candy motion man

Auburn (along with Alabama and LSU) is one of the only teams in the SEC that can match Georgia’s on field talent level. I know I expressed confidence in an Auburn rematch above, but these three guys would keep me up at night if a rematch becomes a reality. Kirby better have a plan for these three and Kerryon.

Kentucky Preview

I expect Georgia to get all of their confidence back this week. This one will not be close. We will have laser focus on discipline and physical play. I think this game is huge for our defensive line. We have taken steps back in recent weeks along the defensive line. Trenton Thompson has gone quiet and our perceived depth has not looked up to par. I think the get an important ego boost this week and shut down Benny Snell and the Kentucky run game. Jim Cheney will reestablish the power run game while testing some extra firepower for an SEC championship matchup. The dawgs get ahead early and rest up for a tough test in Atlanta following Thanksgiving. Dawgs 41 Cats 13

Bucky’s Easy Money of the Week

Overall Record 51-51-1

Last Week: 2-3

Further proof that Vegas is never wrong in the long run and no one man is a betting genius. In fact, I would argue that animals are the superior betting species. After a slump to start the season, one of my friends entrusted a donkey at a local goat farm to make the remainder of his picks for the rest of this season. Every Friday, my friend picks blades of grass representing teams of the best games of the week and holds them equal distances from Donktari Poe’s face. Whichever delicious blade Donktari should choose will transfer full confidence to the respective team. AND THIS DONKEY IS ON A DAMN HEATER.

Donktari Poe against the spread: 10-2-2

Donktari Poe straight up: 14-1

So every time you think you're a great gambler, just remember there is an ass out there whose appetite and collegiate football knowledge would put you to shame.

Just to emphasize, this is a very true story. With that, here are my worthless picks. I’ll get you the Donkey’s picks for next week