Here is what I’m NOT worried about as we host the Redbirds at high noon:
1. Our play-calling. Between a first career start for the quarterback, not having #84 and #1 split wide, and not having #30 behind you (which you know they’ve developed chemistry over the years), it is understandable that things wouldn’t click quite as well as desired. The offense did what was expected of them: mostly stayed in front of the sticks, got some points, and took care of the football. If you feel good about your defense, and are facing a lesser-on-paper opponent, that’s all you need.
And if you weren’t crazy about the run game, Georgia had some less than exciting rushing games early in 2022 as well – after the first 5 games of the season, UGA averaged 179 yards on the ground (159 last Saturday). A contributing factor was losing Zamir White and James Cook – both NFL backs. Those 5 games include the supposed stinkers against Kent State and Missouri. And after winning a 2nd straight national championship, the season average was only 138 yards/game. This year, we’ve lost Kenny McIntosh and were without Daijun Edwards. Not to mention a new offensive line combination, which will take a little while to nail down all the assignments and communication. I think the run game will be fine in the end.
2. They aren’t giant killers. Ball State is a good program, and a contributing member of an exciting football conference. But they haven’t had the Georgia Southern/App State kind of signature win over a Power
5 4 program the last few years. They weren’t very competitive against a 2021 Penn State team, and were blown out in the opener against Tennessee last season. They haven’t fared well recently against Peach State teams either, having lost to Georgia Southern last year and to Georgia State the year before that.
3. Who names their bird “Charlie”? The Ball St. mascot smiles a little too much anyway, but where is the aggressive look meant to instill fear in your opponents? You want Charlie to do that? You’re behind the 8-ball using a diminutive North American songbird – at least add some armor. Maybe carry around a morning star or something.
Now forgive me, as I was weaned at the nipple of Larry Munson’s scratch. So here’s what does worry me about facing the Mighty Muncians:
1. It’s always the backup. Sure enough, in Saturday’s opening game at Kentucky, Ball State benched their starting QB, veteran Layne Hatcher, in favor of true freshman Kadin Semonza. Not having watched the game, there are some questions I have about all this. Is Semonza a true “change of pace” or displays a different skill set than Hatcher? As macondawg detailed, Hatcher is a 24 year old veteran of multiple programs, and has arm talent. Plus, he was 6 of 8 passing in the first half, only down by a measly field goal against an SEC team on the road. Then disaster struck. On the final 2 drives of the opening half, UK defenders caused fumbles on completed passes by Hatcher; one was a long scoop and score and the other netted UK a FG which opened up the big lead. It doesn’t seem to be Hatcher’s fault, so why was he benched? Semonza did deliver a solid 15-21 for 165 yards and a touch in the second half. Either way, Georgia will have to prepare for more than 1 guy, and watching a backup come in against the Bulldog defense still causes me involuntary shudders.
2. Creating havoc. Now all defenses claim to emphasize creating havoc plays on defense, but depending on the actual players, coaching staff, and the opponent... well, that might be some coach speak. When Kirby Smart says it, you can bet he means it. And in advance of the Cardinals coming to town, CKS said that the Bulldogs need to be creating more havoc: batting down balls, forcing turnovers, etc. He did not see enough of that Saturday evening against the Skyhawks.
A strong factor in that lack of havoc is how fast Georgia opponents are getting rid of the football. Teams have recognized you can’t hope to sit back and pick apart the UGA defense. They’re running quicker routes, shorter throws, and getting the ball out before the front 4 have a chance to do damage. This is normally what an offense would do when sensing a blitz, but we’re seeing it every play. I wonder when Schumann/Muschamp will start to dial up more pressure or rush from the corners. I think if the game gets tight, we’re going to see more schemes from the ‘Dawg defense.
3. You know what really grinds my gears? When something happens that is somewhat common, but usually not affecting me, actually affects me. These corporate standoffs usually bore me, because I am usually immune to them: I either don’t use the service, live in another area, or have an easy replacement strategy. But this Disney/Spectrum tiff is starting to tick me off. Yes, I still have cable – I personally like how quick it boots up, and how all the choices are easily accessed. 99% of the time I don’t even think about it. But as I flipped to ESPN last Thursday at 8:00 pm for the Florida/Utah tilt, I was met with the black letterbox of scapegoating instead of paid-for entertainment.
The argument for both sides have merit. And without insider information, I can empathize with each of them. Except this is putting a crimp in my normal TV watching schedule, especially during football season. So that’s where it changes. I like to catch a little SEC Now, and some College Football Live during the week. Not to mention replays of the most recent games. Heck, I couldn’t even easily catch the Sunday morning replays of College Football Final (I won’t miss GameDay for reasons already discussed on this website). If I want to do those things now, I have to swap inputs, choose an app, scroll to Live TV or search, then hope it spools. And I can’t channel surf with any efficiency. I find myself huffing, cursing, and generally being put out. Don’t they realize they have created quite the inconvenience for yours truly? Somebody needs to lock these people in a room and force them to watch Butch Jones’ halftime speeches until they get the contract ironed out. I almost want to say You’re On Notice, Spectrum!*
Call me crazy, just don’t call me late for dinner. Sound off in the comments below what worries you about the Bulldogs of Georgia versus the Cardinals of Ball State. And as always…