We are a few short weeks away from another 3-4 month stretch of glory. This upcoming season could be absolutely...glorious.
A couple of post-and-pre season thoughts:
1. About the Natty. Time is slowly healing the heartbreak and I guess we have all moved on, right? I honestly haven’t re-watched much of the 2nd half of that game, except for a few highlights here and there. I am confident the coaching staff and the guys who are returning are highly motivated to do better. By better, I don’t mean change much. Just learn from the last play of the last game. Perhaps, ask a few questions, like “why did we stray away from the speed/edge game in the first half to a more power game in the 2nd half.” That will always perplex me, but there it is. My biggest disappointment for not winning it all...?
2. ...If we had won, Rodrigo Blankenship would have gone on the late-night talk show circuit, would have had drinks, and babies and a few state parks named after him with a statue in front of Butts-Mehre by now. They were going to rename Lake Blackshear, “Lake Blankenship.” It’s a Fact! In the moment when his overtime kick split the uprights, I was honestly thinking, “this kid is going to be on Jimmy Kimmel next week, sitting on a couch, in full gear including his spectacular spectacles and helmet and it is going to be awesome.” What a kick. And what a game. Turn the page.
3. We’ve mentioned it before in previous threads and it bears repeating. I am astounded at how this current coaching staff evaluates, targets and then secures commitments from the best of the best. Sure, we’ll miss out on a few, but even with the recent surprise “flip” of D.J. Daniels, you have to wonder what the staff has up their sleeve as numbers get tight.
4. The new hot taek! amongst a goodly portion of our rivals is that we cheat. No, we don’t. We are implementing the model of success from our neighbor to the west. It is a model that our current head coach, to a large degree, is a co-architect of. We now have a comprehensive plan on how to evaluate kids. Gone are the days of granting a scholarship to guys who probably won’t pan out under the current systems and accompanying demands. The talent base allows us to target the very best.
5. Kirby Smart will not waste a single scholarship. And not every kid will not quite reach his potential, or end up not contributing at all. In the prior regime, for every Aaron Murray, there also seemed to be a Christian LeMay. We had some “bodies” on the sidelines and a bad percentage of those guys were never going to contribute. We had excellent first line talent and a few quality reserves in spots, but never had the kind of depth it took to be consistently great from year to year. Now, for Every Jake Fromm there is a Justin Fields. For every Andrew Thomas there is a Jamaree Salyer. We are still trying to build at every position and defense is not on par on offense, but after this next recruiting cycle I think it will be.
Simply put, we have a roster unlike any roster I’ve ever seen. This is going back to 1973. I’m old.
5a. Strength and conditioning. We are doing it right. Some schools are not. Tragic.
6. We have caught Alabama’s size and talent level on the offensive line in less than 3 years. We might even be better, and ought to know in a month or so. I honestly thought this was impossible, especially after watching Alabama bulldoze our defense at home in the rain in ‘15. That was a Come to Jesus moment for me and truly understanding how behind we were as a program. When I speak of depth, I’m not talking about guys who might be good, but guys who are good. Some are/will be great. A few of our 3rd team guys will be pushing for a starting spot by the middle of the season. A.maze.ing. Sam Pittman is a Dawgnational treasure.
7. South Carolina fans seem fairly confident in their ability to beat us on September 8. I get that. They had a solid year in ‘17. From what I gather on the interwebs, their confidence is rooted in what Georgia has lost and not necessarily what South Carolina currently is. This is flawed. They seem pretty certain that their receiving corps is better than ours; that they will be able to block our rush ends and that they will establish some sort of running game that will open up their passing game despite the fact that they don’t really have a home-run tailback, an offensive line anywhere close to ours, and their all-world tight end is gone to the NFL. Confidence is fine. I only know that we are showing up with 5 running backs that would/could start anywhere else in the country, a cadre of experienced receivers who are absolutely flying under the national radar grid, a aforementioned mammoth offensive line that is build to grind you down into chicken feed late in games and a speedy defense that is probably better in the secondary despite some youth than they were a year ago. I’ll go on record now. This game will not be close.
8. With the addition of Demetris Robertson, Georgia has added an exponential deep-ball threat that will open up the middle of the field. Safeties will have to play back and running backs will exploit the void beyond the line of scrimmage. The buzz coming out of camp at the moment is freshman RB James Cook and his ability to make anyone miss in space. Check out our friend Murf Baldwin’s take if you haven't already:
Good stuff, Murf Baldwin
9. I have never been more excited about the potential of our offense than I am today. I think we’ll average 40+ points/game.
10. Two years ago, the Southeastern Conference was completely lopsided. It was the 1+13, with Bama and then everybody else. A pre-Nick Saban Conference (prior to 2007) featured Florida more often than not, with a dab of LSU and maybe a visit from Georgia here ‘n there. Depending on how active the bag man was, Auburn won a couple of championships. Tennessee had not been truly relevant since 2001, and hasn’t won a Conference championship since 1998.
Today, it is 2+12, with Auburn vying to crack into the top 3. This hierarchy may hold for a few more years. Beyond that, who is positioned to become the one? It’s Georgia, folks. Kirby Smart obviously breathes football. All of it: recruiting, X’s and O’s, research, and detail. No one is going to sleep less. No one is going to out-recruit him. I wish I had his energy. I don’t think anyone, including Nick Saban, can match his level of burn right now. I don’t think anyone in the nation can, either. Tom Crean, perhaps?
Demographics, folks. We got it.
11. Kids love brands. We’ve got a great one. I’m seeing more Georgia shirts down here in the 954/305 than I ever have since I relocated in 1993. I don’t know if these people are dyed-in-the-wool Dawg fans or not. I suspect most are. I also think it’s just cool to don the red and black because we are winning. Anyway, it’s real and it’s spectacular.
12. Does the Mizzou game concern anyone yet? Kickoff time is TBD, and a night game (would be our 3rd in 4 visits to Columbia -West) might fire up their crowd a bit. Of all our early season games (despite what I said in my preview piece), this game does concern me a bit. Florida @ Tennessee is probably the default 3:30 P.M. CBS game. TAMU @ Alabama could be the nooner or late afternoon or evening ESPN game. Mizzou opens with Tennessee-Martin, Wyoming and Purdue before our visit, so they could conceivably be undefeated making this a much more attractive matchup. It’ll be a business trip.
13. Okay, so I can’t quite let it go. Saban had no other play but to insert Tua. Had he not, we would’ve won that game going away. Give Tua credit. The kid played great. But Nick Saban didn’t make some type of damned genius move here. It was the only option he had (dammit). Why didn’t Tua get the lion’s share of snaps vs. Auburn?
14. Look, we don’t have a perfect team. I’m a little concerned about our interior defensive line (depth), but a slightly bit more concerned about replacing Roquan Smith. I do think guys like Brenton Cox will be playing more and the secondary will be fine. But you just don’t replace Smith in a season, and some guys will have to step up sooner than later. Otherwise, confidence is high. I think these guys are focused and will be ready to go off in a few weeks. It should be fun to watch. I do know this: We’re gonna score bunches of points. As in, a lot.
15. Okay, folks. What’d I miss? Punter concerns? New scoreboard not big enough. Back end of the schedule have any landmines? Am I underselling South Carolina? Is LSU going to be better than expected? Will Dan Mullen find a quarterback to threaten us between now and Jacksonville? Does Paul Johnson have the ability to beat us at home again?
Anyway, thanks for reading. It’s good to be back...and
What is your biggest concern heading into 2018?
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"Quarterback Controversy" (Hint: There ain’t one).
Cornerbacks and Safeties
This is really just a dream...pinch me.