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15 Thoughts Thinks We Need to Make a Statement in 2 Weeks...

The CFP System is largely a beauty contest. We need more than lipstick and concealer to stay hot in this pageant.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Murray State at Georgia
I may have underestimated Eli Wolf

Things I saw, things you saw and things that need to happen really soon. It’s time for another installment of 15 (more or less) Thoughts for your Sunday afternoon.

1. For those of you who watched Coach Dooley’s live interview during the first quarter of the yesterday’s 15-minute delayed thrashing of Murray State, you saw a man who deeply loves his school. As Beth Mowins and Anthony Becht were interviewing a barely audible Coach Dooley (the man has probably given more interviews in the last week than in the last 10 years and his voice was shot), his attention was clearly elsewhere and his narrative on Georgia’s defensive breakdown spot-on when the Racers Preston Rice tossed a slant to Daquon Green, who ran past a broken coverage and scored 60 yards later. This came on the heels of the Racers only sack of the game that forced a punt after we took a 7-0 lead. I just got a kick of out Dooley’s focus and his obvious concern and love of the program. Always coaching. Always.

2. Winning at Vandy last week was critical. Yesterday was a tune-up. Next week will be more of the same against a more capable squad. But when Notre Dame comes to town, style points - and that’s the reality - are going to be important. As it looks right now, there are 6 teams playing for 4 spots and this most likely isn’t going to change. The CFP is largely a beauty contest, especially early on. We weren’t pretty enough to get in after losing the SECCG last December, at least in the eyes of the beholders, which is largely the World Wide Leader.

LSU went into Austin last night, whipped Texas, and temporarily silenced all the “Texas is back!’ talk that should’ve never begun in the first place had we showed up in New Orleans back in January. Texas ain’t out of it, but they’ve got to go through Oklahoma - probably twice - to get in.

Cheer up, kid. That orange you’re wearing ain’t the Tennessee shade.

So, at the moment, LSU is everyone’s darling and a showdown at Alabama (provided the Tigers don’t stumble) is a pretty big deal. Clemson held serve against Texas A&M, Ohio State blew out Cincinnati in a game that many thought would be closer, Oklahoma and Alabama rolled. When Notre Dame comes to town, it will be important to impress. And I can’t wait. I believe whatever we are holding back gets totally unleashed. I’ll be there.

3. The joy I saw in Zamir White’s face after he scored his very first touchdown was a “someone’s cutting onions” moment from where I sat. Yeah, I got a bit misty. I pray for his continued health because this kid is, in many ways, the second coming of Nick Chubb - in how he plays the game, how he runs, how he prepares and his undeniable talent. He could be better and runs with anger. Everyone on the sideline lit up after his score. When he breaks a long one, perhaps next week or 5 weeks from now, the stadium will be worse than bonkers.

4. Last week, I thought Eli Wolf looked almost too thin to play effectively at Tight End. Well, this kid is very good and I really wasn’t paying attention. Yeah, he fumbled fighting for extra yardage and took a pretty good pop (credit the Murray State defender on that), but Wolf has very good hands, above average speed for the position and is effective in the offensive sets he’s in. Wolf finished the day with 4 catches/73 yards and a career long of 24. He had 5 catches for 30 yards all last season with the Vols. You think part of Tennessee’s problem is their staff just doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing? Charlie Woerner wasn’t targeted at all to my knowledge. John Fitzpatrick had the other TE reception on the day, for 22 yards. Wolf is making me feel a whole lot better about our depth.

5. George Pickens should start every game until he’s selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. If Jake Fromm does nothing else in practice the rest of the season but build chemistry with this guy, I’ll be good with it. Georgia has some dudes in the receiving corps. Coach Smart is really happy with his perimeter blocking and all the receivers have bought into this. I saw Matt Landers engaging his guy downfield as well. Dominick Blaylock had 3 receptions for 48 yards, a touchdown, survived a horse-collar tackle and will be special sooner or later. Demetris Robertson caught another touchdown. On the afternoon, Georgia spread the ball around to 9 different players (292 yards total). Good stuff. Jake looks comfortable with this unit and that familiarity will only get better.

Dom Blaylock. He’s got a very bright future in Athens.

6. Seven different backs got touches in this game, and adjusted rushing yielded 292 yards. In a game like this, getting everyone involved is the goal. Zeus led the way with 72 yards total (long of 29) on 8 carries; D’Andre Swift gained 67 yards on 6 carries. James Cook is an eyelash away from breaking a long touchdown at any moment. Kenny McIntosh tallied 61 yards on 9 carries and is a lot bigger (at least on TV) than I thought. Brian Herrien does Brien Herrien things every week and is simply “steady.”

7. I’m not sure if we dialed up more “havoc” on defense by design, but it looked that way. When Kirby stopped chewing ass after we gave up the long touchdown, the defense took note and smacked Racers around pretty good. Georgia tallied 11 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. The defensive bench was cleared and a ton of kids got to play. I was especially interested in watching the freshman. Nolan Smith is everything that is advertised. Thirty five guys were credited with tackles. Latavious Brini got an interception on a fluky bobbled pass that should have been a catch. Georgia and Murray State each fumbled and threw a pick. Our pick was a bit more costly when Stetson Bennett threw late off his back foot for a pick-6. That’ll get coached up. Overall Bennett played well after that.

8. Our defense is really, really fast. Nolan Smith has a David Pollack type “high motor.” Jermaine Johnson notched his first sack as a ‘Dawg. Our outside linebackers can rush, but can cover when asked to do so. As a unit, they’re gelling. The depth is insane. Tae Crowder diagnosed the screen that got blown up resulting in a J.R. Reed scoop ‘n score.

Smith is the name, trucking tackles is my game...

9. Netori Johnson sighting! (Sorry, no picture of gif available. His bull-rush was too quick for today’s camera technology). Could he grow into a legitimate defensive tackle?

10. Special teams were solid. Tyler Simmons has a nifty 42 yard punt return early and Dominick Blaylock got a few reps back there, showing off his sure hands and potential. Rodrigo Blankenship converted all PAT’s and Jake Camarda averaged 48 yards on 2 relatively short-field punts.

12. Jake Fromm was his usual, efficient self. There are no nits to pick regarding his game, unless you want to take issue with the long ball to Georgia Pickens that was just a hair away from being thrown in stride for a long touchdown, not just a highlight worthy grab.

13. I liked what I saw from young Xavier Truss at left tackle during his time in the game. So many kids played, it was hard to keep up with everyone. I don’t know if he’s headed for a red shirt or not, but he moves well for such a big dude and will only improve as he gains experience and builds strength.

14. Arkansas State comes into town next week. This one will be a nooner, folks. Start hydrating now if you’re planning on attending. They just pasted the UNLV Rebels 43-17, and are a team with some weapons. We’ll have a bit more this week on our next opponent.

15. And now, news from around the Conference...

  • I didn’t really watch much of the LSU-Texas game until late. I saw enough to know that Joe Burrow is a very good quarterback and LSU vs. Bama is going to be a different kind of animal this season.
  • I watched Auburn struggle a ton on offense vs. Tulane. Maybe they were hung-over from their victory over Oregon last week. The more I watched, the more I wonder how they beat Oregon in the first place. Auburn had some turnovers, and injuries.
  • I watched enough of Florida to not really worry about Florida. They had a few dings, too.
  • Tennessee. This should get its own “15 Thoughts.” This team is in jeopardy of not winning a single game this season. I don’t know if Jeremy Pruitt can hold it together, although you’d think they’ll win next Saturday vs. UT-Chattanooga. But then again, they’re just bad enough to lose. The Vols had so many opportunities to put BYU away on several critical 3rd and 4th down conversions. Then this happened:

How does a defensive minded coach not emphasize to not let what happened with 16 ticks left happen? Last Saturday’s loss to Georgia State was bad. That was on the coaching staff to a degree, but more on players who quit. Those kids weren’t ready to play. Last night, Tennessee had the game won. Jeremy Pruitt’s forte is supposed to be the defensive backfield. That loss was a collective effort of fail, but more on the coaches. Jim Chaney’s unimaginative play-calling now has the Vol faithful questioning that hire. The Vols had 8 (!) trips inside BYU’s 35 yard line and could only come up with 16 points in regulation. QB play is horrible and the question begs, has Pruitt has lost the fan base.? This could change, but are they willing to start over with yet another coaching search sooner than later? They might start eating themselves if they lose next week.

Hell, maybe all of this is Karma:

I don’t think he’s the right guy to kind of be the CEO of a corporation. He’s really good managing just a defense and being a defensive coordinator. He needs to prove to me that he can handle the whole ship. For right now, I don’t think he can. We’ll see what happens this year. I don’t think it helps that he doesn’t have a lot of talent at Tennessee.

When he was at Georgia, the way he acted, the way he treated Coach Richt I thought was poor. He wasn’t as respectful as I thought a defensive coordinator should be to a head coach. That’s my thing, with authority. - Aaron Murray on Jeremy Pruitt, July 17, 2018

The Zombie Apocalypse is dressed in orange.

Words fail me, yet I chuckle mightily.

That’s all I’ve got. As Always...