Here is what I’m NOT worried about for this weekend’s nooner:
1) Jack Podlesny is better than our opponents. Some of the shine might have come off Hot Pod, but in the larger scheme of things he’s scoring 9.1 points per game. He did miss 4 field goals, and a point-of-pride point after touchdown. Yet Georgia has only 4 field goals made against them this year in 9 total attempts, and 5 of 6 extra points. His kicking success rate exceeds the teams we’ve played, and he’s scored more points.
You might be enamored with the Junkyard Dawg defense, but they’ve only scored 3 touchdowns all season. I mean, if you let a kicker outscore you, how #elite are you really?
2) 26 and ½ out of 53 ain’t bad. This was the working title before Meatloaf caught a case of brevity, and it applies to the Georgia QB du jour. It is obvious that Bulldog OC Todd Monken is moving the pocket for Stetson Bennett, and utilizing boot legs liberally. And while that might be to keep defenses honest and respect Bennett’s wheels, it also limits the routes he can throw to. Thus he’s only able to use half the field on many of these designed plays. Still, I think its better than sitting in a pocket and trying to see, and throw, over linemen who are 6-8” taller, and D-linemen who can get their arms up and bat the ball down.
So if you consider the limitations of our dear Mailman’s height, then the limitations of using half the field, really it’s been a pretty good run.
3) To be honest, Missouri. This isn’t the Gary Pinkel teams of almost a decade ago, where they threw for 3,500 yards, had 1,000 yard receivers and 1,200 yard rushers, and ranked in the top 20 of most offensive categories. Because they’re currently ranked… (checks interwebs) … 24th in total offense. Huh?!?!?!? I thought this Mizzou team stunk to high heaven? (checks a little deeper)… Oh, it’s their defense that is terrible. As in 124th in the nation. As in giving up over 470 yards a game. And giving up over 250 yards rushing in 6 of their 8 games (UK ran up 341 yards on the ground, Tennessee was a healthy 458 yards).
Their offense might be clicking pretty well, but they also haven’t played very good defenses (aTm and UK likely the best). Their defense can’t stop anybody, so the Tiger offense gets plenty of chances. The problem is that if they don’t score every drive, they can’t keep up with the opposition who does seemingly score every drive.
Now forgive me, as I was weaned at the nipple of Larry Munson’s scratch. So here’s what does worry me about the game versus the CoMo Kitty Cats:
1) Perusing the comments from Tuesday’s Dawg Bites , we have a Gator fan wishing us well and hoping we win a championship. That’s… unusual.
There’s also longtime Dawg Sports member jschooltiger who is already conceding Saturday’s game and wants us to beat Bama. This is 5 days before the game?!? When your rivals, and your next opponents’ fanbase are cheering you on, then I just have no idea what is going on. On the heels of the Atlanta Braves winning the World Series having been under .500 in early August. This is some type of surreal stuff.
2) 4th Down just isn’t our friend. Last Saturday, our first instance of a 4th down conversion resulted in a missed field goal. The second time, Camarda punted for a touchback (honestly I wasn’t crazy about the coverage and thought they had a chance to down it deep). Then we punted again (a tidy 51 yarder), then a chip shot field goal. In the 3Q, after having marched deep into UF territory, a 4th and 1 hard count got the better of the good guys and it became a 4th and 6 which became another Hot Pod FG (mixed results).
And as good as our defense has been, and as stingy at keeping points off the board, our opponents are actually 50% (8-16) against Lanning’s best efforts. In the last 3 games, Auburn converted 3 of 5 fourth down chances, UK was 2 for 2, and Florida 2 for 4. I guess the “bend don’t break” mantra really applies, but it also makes me take more trips to Sam’s Club for the industrial size bottle of Mylanta.
3) I’d rather punt on 4th down, instead of 1st down. Coach Smart responded to questions about the two Stetson Bennett IV interceptions in Jacksonville that they were “like punts”. Both were on 1st down plays. One was after a 32 yard gain to Darnell Washington, and the pick on the subsequent play killed a lot of possible momentum. The 2nd interception was after a couple of good James Cook counters and it looked like the Georgia O-line was starting to wear down the UF front.
And 3rd down ain’t exactly in the good feels either. By my count, Bennett’s passing stats on 3rd down this year are 11 for 19. Not horrible, but they could be better. Yet look a little deeper and those 11 completions have led to only three 1st downs. We know he wasn’t sharp against UF but I count 5 passes on 3rd down, 3 were complete but only 1 resulted in moving the chains. In fact, Georgia’s 3rd down conversion rate in October is only 38%, and that simply won’t get it done in the post-season.
Call me crazy, just don’t call me late for dinner. Sound off in the comments below what worries you about the next to last game of the year in Sanford Stadium for the Bulldogs of Georgia versus the Tigers of Missouri.