but given today’s game, felt it was appropriate…
Download this week’s Writeup as a pdf here.
Opponent: Florida Gators
Kickoff: 3:30 PM
Am I really mentally ready for this? Another year, another trip down to Jacksonville that has me all optomistic again. Florida’s had a rough year so far while we’ve been on a roll. Dare I dream?
About the Vandy game…
The Optimist Saw: Um, not much. Marlon Brown stepped up but probably won’t be that open again all year. Murray played well and was efficient, including adding that little bit of scrambling back into the repertoire.
The Pessimist Saw: A lot. A run defense that had played so well going up against one of the worst offenses on our schedule and getting torched on the ground. Our running attack was anemic. A defense that had opportunities to close the game out and just kept leaving the door open.
When the Game was Over: When Vandy got tackled at the 10 with no time left. This game was so reminiscent of the 2007 game it’s scary. After that game, we proceeded to destroy everyone else on our schedule. I’m hoping we pull that off again.
- In the first year of the Charlie Weis offense in Gainesville, things aren’t going according to plan. Granted, he’s working with a group of players recruited to play the spread, but Brantley was widely regarded as a pro-style QB stuck in the spread, so he should’ve fit in easily. With him out for the last few games, their offense, which looked so solid against FAU, UAB, UT and UK has put up an average of 9 points in the subsequent 3 weeks. 41st nationally in rushing offense and a lowly 100th in passing offense, they are in the bottom half of the SEC in most categories. Of course, Brantley’s return throws everything up in the air, so who knows.
- Brantley’s high ankle sprain isn’t the type of injury you want your QB to have. It’ll affect planting and stepping into throws as much as it will his pocket mobility, which wasn’t spectacular to begin with. Prior to injury he was completing passes at a nice clip and had thrown 5 TDs to 3 INTs. He was throwing lots of short passes with the occasional shot up top. They weren’t working that 10-20 yard section much at all. If he can’t go, look for a combination of a few guys, all of which are more of a threat on the ground than through the air at this point. While he hasn’t seen much action behind center this year, Trey Burton killed us in the wildcat last year so I’d just as soon Weis not go there.
- The UF RB tandem of Demps and Rainey seems to have been recruited by Spurrier. You can debate for a while which one is faster. They can both fly. Demps has been hurt some and Rainey’s productivity has declined drastically in recent weeks but these guys have the pure speed that makes them a threat to score from anywhere. They also play a huge role in the passing game, where Rainey leads the team in catches and yards receiving. Jr. Mike Gillislee has been very good in Demps’ absence.
- The Gators don’t have the luxury of an Ike Hilliard, Jacquez Green, Chad Johnson, Reche Caldwell, etc. group this year. Former top recruit Andre Dubose provides excellent deep speed and playmaking ability but only has 9 catches on the year (2 for TDs). The closest thing they have to go-to WR is Deonte Thompson, who at 6-0, 200 is a solid target.
- The Gator OL is big but hasn’t played all that great this season. They consist of one senior (a transfer from ND that played for Weis), 3 sophomores and a freshman. They’ve done a decent job of protecting the QB when you look at the stats but they’ve attempted over 40 fewer passes through 7 games, testament to their reliance on the running game.
- Bottom Line: It’s hard to say what you’ll see this week as, even if Brantley plays, I don’t really see them going to the pass early and often. They’ll want to establish the run or the short passing game early to make us respect it so they can try a big play up top if they need it. With Brantley being a little gimpy, I really can’t see him going all game if we’re able to get pressure. Considering the firepower we get back on the defensive side of the football, I’m thinking you’ll see a lot more fire from our guys. My greatest concern on this side is that whatever Vandy was doing up front uncovered something that Weis will try and exploit. If Vandy’s RBs were able to find a crease and our LBs got sucked into another lane it’s one thing. You give Rainey or Demps that hole and odds are you won’t be tackling them.
- Key matchup to watch when they have the ball: Rainey and Demps have plenty of speed to the edge, but our defense is pretty fast too, what concerns me the most, like I said above, is the thought of them gashing us up the middle with a quick hitter that gets into our 2nd level and past it before our LBs get set up. I’m not completely convinced that Brantley will be playing Saturday, but even if he does, I’m not entirely sure they have the type of passing game to exploit anyone to this point. Without Brantley they managed 6 points against Auburn, a team that gave up 34 or more to all but 2 other teams on their schedule (FAU and SC).
- The UF defense has been solid so far. They’ve been particularly strong against the pass (6th in the country). They’ve been decent against the run, giving up barely 120 ypg, good for 4th in the conference (behind us and two somewhat decent defenses from the SEC West). Scoring-wise they’re giving up less than 19 ppg which is really solid.
- The UF DL is just eaten up with talent. I mean they have 5-stars backing up 5-stars. They are technically a 4-man front but former uber-recruit Ronald Powell will stand up and occasionally drop in coverage, which he’s comfortable with after seeing some time at OLB last year in a 4-3 anyway. At 6-4, 250 he’s got as much athletic ability as anyone in the SEC. The other 3 DL are all big and mean, with Dominique Easley and Shariff Floyd both nailing down starting spots in their true sophomore seasons (same as Powell). They were the top 2 DTs in that class and Powell was the top DE. Talk about a dream team. While this group has all the potential in the world, they haven’t been the dominant unit you might expect. They’ve been very, very good, but with Will Muschamp’s rep and all of their press clippings, I was expecting a lot.
- The Gator LB corps is led but Jonathan Bostic at MLB. At 6-1, 243, he’s that Mike Singletary type thumper in the middle. Jelani Jenkins outside was another former 5-star recruit who was always a little small but has finally bulked up to 230. Lerentee McCray has blossomed in the new system, producing as well as anyone despite being considerably less heralded.
- The Gator secondary has been a strength. Like the first two levels, it’s loaded with former HS super recruits. They sport 3 very solid CBs in Marcus Roberson (a true freshman), and Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins (both true sophomores). Riggs is smallish but the other two are both 6-0 and all three can turn and run with anyone. Former 5-star Matt Elam is starting to play like one this season. Although not the biggest safety out there, he’s got a nose for the football. The Gators have gone back and forth at the other safety spot between the surprising freshman De’Ante Saunders (who’s made some mistakes) and Jr Josh Evans who hasn’t been able to win the job outright.
- Bottom Line: The Gator defense has as much talent as any team in the SEC on paper but it’s all still really young. They only start 1 senior (Jaye Howard at NG) and 2 juniors (and that’s if you count Josh Evans as a starter). If anyone knows what a defensive scheme change can do to a team, we do, as our switch to Grantham’s 3-4 last year was a decidedly mixed bag of mostly bad news. Couple in a really, really young team and the stats they’ve put up become more impressive. Of course, while they’ve held all the really bad teams they’ve played to low scores, the 2 good teams they played lit them up pretty good (Bama scored 38, LSU put up 41). They’ve really struggled getting to the QB so far, ranking 8th in the SEC at barely 1.5 sacks per game. If UF can’t pressure Murray Saturday it might be a long day as he’s probably the best QB they’ve faced all year with the lone competition coming from Tyler Bray who lost his best WR during that game and still put up 288 yards and 3 TDs (to go with 2 INTs). If we can keep their safeties and LBs occupied with a noticeably absent Orson Charles and Aaron White, Crowell could go off in a big way.
- Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: Sure it’s easy to go with the easy ones like can the OL protect for Murray or can they open holes for Crowell, but I think the early drives are going to set the tone. The last two times we beat UF (2004, 2007) we opened the game with statement drives, scoring early and consistently. More importantly though, I want to see an offense that’s got control of its emotions. Murray has a tendency to get amped up early in games and misfire. Last year’s first half in Jacksonville was probably the worst half of his career. Add in a mercurial guy in Crowell who clearly plays with his emotions on his sleeve and I want to see a fired up team that isn’t so fired up it interferes with their productivity.
The UF Game Overall
This game is huge for us. A loss will get the hot seat questions roaring back up. An ugly loss would be a death knell. As important as this game is for UGA, it might be even more important for UF. Muschamp walked into a program expecting to win. The cupboard was stocked and even though they’re somewhere south of 75 scholarship players right now, the fans are already starting to get restless. The fact that they lost to some pretty good teams while playing without their starting QB doesn’t really register. They expect to win and a loss to UGA would something that could be seen as a turning point, and that’s something Muschamp can ill afford.
Many of the losses we’ve incurred down there in recent memory have been marked by spectacular examples of self-immolation. Like the SC series, our games with UF typically have some form of defensive score by UF or catastrophic failure by our offense or defense in a key moment. Heck, even our 2007 win saw Stafford throw a pick-6 while getting sacked in the endzone.
What it boils down to is can we as a team exorcise whatever demons we have created down there. The only guys on the team right now who have beaten UF were redshirt freshmen when it happened. Most of the upperclassmen were part of two massive blowout losses in 2008 and 2009. This team has a good core of leaders but none have tasted a win over UF. For the seniors it would mean going out on top, for the underclassmen it would mean a chance to turn the series back the other way and give us a 3rd win over UF in 8 years. For Murray, going home to Florida, it would be a statement win that he desperately needs.
One thing that I feel absolutely confident saying is that we simply aren’t a good enough running team to be able to start trying to grind out the clock really at any point in the game. We’ve proven that over the last 4 games. We just can’t do it. Against Vandy, after Rambo inexplicably kneeled following his late INT, we not only didn’t manage to gain a first down, we lost yardage on all 3 plays. If we are lucky enough to get up on this team, we need to go for the throat as we’ve proven that our attempts to shorten the game only manage to somehow keep the opponent in it.
- I’m excited to see what happens with our LB group this week. Yes, Cornelius Washington returns from his 2-game suspension to bring our best pass rushing threat onto the field but I’m most excited to see the return of Alec Ogletree at MLB. ‘Tree was arguably our top defender this summer (behind Jarvis Jones) and has only played about 3 defensive series so far. With his return and the development of Gilliard and Herrera inside, our LB corps has depth and flexibility that we could only hope for at the start of the season.
- It appears that Malcolm Mitchell will be at best limited Saturday. The hamstring tweak he suffered against UT resurfaced and unless Richt for the first time in his tenure in Athens is playing the media, the kid will likely not see much PT. Mitchell was clearly our best deep threat and Murray seemed comfortable with him underneath too. Hopefully the emergence of Marlon last week will help. Tavares King had a big game down there last year but Charles was even bigger. Hopefully they all just step up.
- Shawn Williams being out for the first half means Commings slides inside and Boykin and Smith start at CB, which isn’t bad. Love will likely get the nod at CB in the nickel, which we probably won’t be using as much as we have in recent weeks given UF’s scheme.
- Geathers missing the first half is probably not that bad of a thing as Jenkins as really been playing well at the NG spot. Having a fully rested Geathers coming on the field in the 2nd half ain’t the worst thing either.
- Malcome getting some snaps with the 2nd team is interesting. Maybe he’s finally got his head on right and ready to contribute after that transfer talk. Lord knows we need him. After a few strong runs last week, Samuel went back to looking like a fullback and Carlton Thomas just disappeared. We need a someone to step up behind Crowell.
- Speaking of Crowell, our offense goes as he goes. When he’s ripping off those fluid, gliding runs, it just opens up so much more for offense. We don’t have anyone else capable of bringing that to the table. I’m still waiting for us to get him involved in the passing game. He clearly doesn’t have the best hands on the team but Murray hasn’t exactly given him the best catching opportunities either.
- After being banished to the hinterlands of college football TV, it sure will be nice to get back to CBS and the big game slot. Verne, I’ve missed you.
- OK, so how does LSU get several guys busted for an illegal substance and they sit just 1 game? 1 game? We’ve got guys missing half that much time for reacting to chop blocks. For the record, I’m pretty sure that “punch” that Geathers threw against that scumbag Vandy center (has anyone ever said that before?) could be called in pretty much every game at some point.
- Speaking of LSU, you know you’re pretty good when the backup to your Heisman candidate DB manages to not only play well but also score a TD on a pick-6.
- I’m pretty bummed I missed the Michigan State-Wisconsin game. The ending looked incredible. I couldn’t stay awake. Racing overnight does that to you.
- Given that it appears Walsh is in a sincere funk kicking, and given that it appears it’s going to be windy down there, can we just go ahead and score a bunch of TDs to take the drama out of it? Awesome. Thanks, guys. Walsh, we’ll get you right against NMSt next week.
- So, is anyone else as completely tired of ESPN just saying “sources say” all the time and not really just reporting? Do they think that excuses them from having to be accurate? I say that because I’m about sick of them reporting that “sources say” Team X is moving to Conference Y every other day only to find out none of it has really happened yet or maybe ever will. Hey ESPN, I know it doesn’t work with your blather driven means of reporting and speculation but I’d prefer my news to be definitive. My sources are saying ESPN needs folks going on the record.
- James Franklin is whiny.
- Seriously, how huge is that LSU-Bama game going to be? With it being at 8 and our game being early, I can make it back in time for that one. That’s awesome, assuming this weekend’s game doesn’t reach deep and rip out every ounce of desire I have to watch college football for a while like it seems to do most years.
- So, the mighty Bama’s halftime score against UT was…6-6. Same score we had only we were facing Tyler Bray, not the last (and least) of the Simses. Interesting stat…against UGA, Bama and LSU, the Vols have been outscored 42-0 in the 3rd quarter. Ouch. C’mon UT, we need you this week and I think we can all agree that if anyone ever needed a win right now it was Derek Dooley. I can say that because it’s totally self-serving. He can go back to losing next week.
- I hope Mr. Grantham has read up on his Shakespeare this week. “Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war” Mr. Granthem. I’m not the best lip reader but I’m pretty sure Grantham slipped a “havoc” in there when discussing the game with the aforementioned Franklin. I’m pretty sure there were other words but maybe they were all Shakespearean.
Have a safe weekend,
Alright…Download Vandy Writeup in pdf
Opponent: Vanderbilt Commodores
Kickoff: 7:00 PM
Another week, another SEC win. We’re not even close to clicking on all cylinders but we’ve managed to rattle off 4 straight wins and 3 in conference. Not bad. Far cry from week 2 for sure.
About the UT game…
The Optimist Saw: A dominant defense stifling the SEC’s top passing offense. Glimpses of a balanced offense built around young talent that will only get better. An OL that kept Murray clean and safe. A win in Knoxville for the first time since Shockley was manning the helm.
The Pessimist Saw: An offense that couldn’t grind out a couple of first downs late to ice the game and aside from a few huge plays struggled to move the ball consistently. A defense that gave up a late game TD drive to a backup QB to cut the lead to a single score. A QB in Murray who struggled to hit the deep ball with any consistency. A RB in Crowell who can’t seem to stay on the field.
When the Game was Over: When that onsides kick went out of bounds. Despite having a 2 TD lead, our offense wasn’t able to really take over at any point in the 4th quarter given the opportunity to really ice it. This inability was completely epitomized by the point where we actually entered FG range and ended up punting from deep in our own territory. 3rd and 56s tend to do that.
- Vandy’s offense hasn’t been great. How not great? Out of 120 teams in FBS, they are 117th in total offense at just below 250 yards per game. Equally bad on the ground (100th in rushing) as they are through the air (114th in passing), this group is really scraping, managing only 3 points in their last 2 games (Bama and SC) after starting the season 3-0, to fall to 3-2.
- At QB, Sr Larry Smith is like a less gifted Chris Relf, which is to say Vandy doesn’t have much at QB. Completing 58% of his passes by far bests his stats coming in, as he was a sub-50% completion guy prior to this season. He’s a mobile guy that can buy time with his feet but he doesn’t have a super cast of characters around him. Think Reggie Ball without Calvin Johnson, but with a much better attitude.
- As is typical of most Vandy offenses, they are paced by a few smallish, quick RBs that are fairly interchangeable. Jr. Zac Stacy is sporting a nice ypc of over 7 on the season. He’s splitting carries almost dead even with Freshman Jerron Seymour, who at 5-7, 190 is Carlton Thomas-like.
- As a further testament to how much they’ve struggled throwing the ball, no Vandy player has more than 108 yards receiving on the season and their leading yardage guy is a RB. They don’t have much that serves to separate any one from the others. Their TE is averaging about 1 catch per game.
- The Vandy OL is smallish, with only 1 guy listed over 300 pounds (and that only 305). They only start one senior (RT). Their 2nd unit is even smaller. Their struggles to pass the ball have been compounded by their inability to protect the QB, ranking 111th in sacks allowed on the season, giving up over 3 per game.
- Bottom Line: This group has struggled mightily since they hit the tougher part of their conference schedule. Their 30 points against Ole Miss in week 3 sticks out when looking at their offensive output to date. That was skewed somewhat by an INT run back for a TD and 4 other non-scoring INTs that saw them getting the ball all day. Their last 2 games have been disasters in terms of offensive production. They managed a FG against SC but that game was one of the more pathetic offensive performances you’ll ever see, with only 1 drive going for more than 9 yards (including 5 drives that went for negative yards and 8 3-and-outs) and that was a 9 play, 37-yard drive that ended in a punt. Their scoring drive was 4 plays for 6 yards following a Stephen Garcia INT. It didn’t get much better against Bama (shocking) where they maxed out their drives at 7 plays twice. Both ended in missed FG attempts. With the way our D has been playing, particularly at LB where some young, inexperienced guys have stepped up, I don’t see Vandy really being able to take it to us unless Larry Smith has a career day. I’m not saying it can’t happen, I just don’t expect it to.
- Key matchup to watch when they have the ball: We got pressure last week without Washington in the lineup but it wasn’t early and it seemed to come on MLB blitzes late. I’d like to see another OLB (I’m looking at you Ray Drew) become that edge rusher that we could use to spell Washington, replace him, or put opposite him on occasion. Vandy has given up sacks this year and I’ll be watching to see what Grantham comes up with.
- Defensively is where Vandy makes games much closer. 29th nationally in rush defense and an impressive 15th in pass efficiency D, they have been pretty dang good at times this year. They held SC to 21 points despite having 3 turnovers. They shut down a bad Ole Miss team, same as us. Bama put up 34 against them but 20 of those came in the 2nd half. This group is solid, not spectacular and probably, surprisingly, a step up from what we faced last week in Knoxville.
- The Vandy front 4 is small but experienced. DE Tim Fugger paces the group with 3 sacks and 7 TFLs but is closely followed by DT Rob Lohr, whose 3 sacks and 6.5 TFLs make him the best interior DL we’ve faced since SC.
- At LB, Chris Marve is the heart of the D and he’s got two all-SEC seasons already to prove it. The senior is a load and leads the team in tackles (again). He’s all over the field typically. Vandy has a LB named Archibald Barnes. Only Vandy. I’ll bet he wears an ascot.
- Vandy’s secondary has sported some stellar individuals in recent years, sending Myron Lewis and DJ Moore to the “league” recently. The ‘Dores’ 14 INTs pace the SEC. CBs Casey Heyward and Trey Wilson have 7 between them and the upperclassmen both have decent size and the experience you want in your CBs. Not much to say about their safeties really other than there are 2 of them.
- Bottom Line: Vandy plays some disciplined defense. From what I’ve seen of them, they don’t do anything crazy, just play sound D out of a base 4-3 and make you execute your offense all the way down the field, not giving up huge plays. It’s the kind of defense we could struggle with if our running game starts to bog down. With Mitchell out this week, I wouldn’t be surprised to see those safeties take a step closer to the LOS and force us into tougher run situations. Vandy has had some good success with big plays defensively. They are 3rd in the SEC in both sacks per game (2) and tackles for loss (7.4). I have to admit I was a little surprised to see UGA was tied with them in sacks and ahead of them one spot (2nd in the SEC) in TFLs per game.
- Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: I’m going to be closely watching Crowell’s wrist. He’s a beast when he’s 100% but he can look pretty pedestrian at times too. While it’s clear his conditioning isn’t where it probably needs to be or where it will be by the time he leaves Athens, it’s also clear he’s playing hurt and that wrist is causing enough discomfort that it’s impacting his running. Normally with a freshman, I’m all for getting as many reps as possible but I wouldn’t mind my man Ike getting some extra rest if we get a big lead. I just want to see that he can help us get that. I also want to see some more successful uses of him in our passing game, particularly the screen game. Do we tip our screen calls with Ben Jones yelling screen pre-snap or something? We’ve had almost no screen passes this year and that’s always been something we could rely on.
The VU Game Overall
Halfway through the college football season and I don’t feel like I know that much more than I did a couple of weeks ago. We were so bad in week 1. Week 2 we looked better but made enough boneheaded plays to lose to a pretty talented SC team. Then we rolled over a weak FCS team and have steadily knocked off three straight SEC teams handily. The games were solid wins but each of them was close enough that we weren’t just sitting around playing 3rd stringers in the 4th quarter. We won, but that was about it. We showed signs of being a really good team, glimpses of what could happen but we’ve yet to come out for 4 quarters and just stomp a team. Defensively I feel like we’ve come pretty close but offensively, we’ve been inconsistent enough that we can’t afford to overlook anyone at this point. We’ve got to prepare for Vandy just as hard as we did for the last 3 opponents. The fact is they may be better than any of the last 3 we’ve played. Sorry Vols, it’s true.
The beauty of how we’ve played though is that we’ve managed to get solid wins yet still have plenty of room for coaches to make corrections, add wrinkles and make use of this young talent that’s finding its way. By making mistakes in games we win by 2 TDs, we’re able to get the benefit of coaching opportunities while not having to sacrifice wins. Had we been playing Bama and LSU the last two weeks I think we would’ve had different mindsets and different gameplans that maybe our young guys weren’t ready for (like the first 2 weeks). With that in mind, maybe the offense starts to click for 4 quarters (it hasn’t come close yet) and we absolutely steamroll someone. If I have to pick a week to click, I’m choosing Jacksonville in a few weeks but I wouldn’t mind putting some thoughts in their heads early either.
- MLB has been such a welcome development with the play of Gilliard and Herrera. It’s to the point now that when Ogletree, arguably our best defender coming into the season, returns for UF, I’m not entirely sure what our lineup will be. Maybe we move him around some and try him out at OLB a bit too.
- Ray Drew is a super talented freshman but we saw last week what the difference is between HS and SEC. He’s learning a ton of stuff right now and will clearly benefit from this experience but I’m waiting for that big breakout play where he just dominates someone. Just one play.
- Hats off to the secondary. I’ll admit I was worried about safety depth coming into the season with ‘Tree moving to LB and Hitman not playing but Rambo has played really well and Shawn Williams has been solid. Add in really, really good CB play and this secondary in year 2 of the Grantham era looks awesome.
- More big kudos to Carlton Thomas, who I didn’t expect much out of when he got suspended for the opener. He’s become an excellent backup and change of pace guy, which is huge given the major struggles for Richard Samuel.
- The WR unit continues to get bit. Wooten will miss yet another game. Mitchell pulled his hamstring and will hopefully be back for Florida. Marlon Brown has made it back into the lineup but still looks a little gimpy. King and Bennett should get the bulk of the looks but I’m thinking Charles is going to bust out in a big way soon here.
- Well the whole country is buzzing about the Bama-LSU game later this year already and they really should as those two teams look really, really good but honestly if I’m an LSU fan I have to keep looking over my shoulder and wondering when Jarrett Lee is going to go all Jarrett Lee on them. They have to know it’s coming. As good as LSU’s D is, I’m wondering when Lee unravels the whole thing…and getting Jefferson back is hardly reason to exhale Tiger fans.
- Garcia is out at SC as Spurrier invokes the rare 6th strike and you’re out rule after his backup QB looked solid in his 2nd chance at starting. You get the feeling if Shaw had that outing in the opener (when Spurrier started him to prove a point to Garcia) then Garcia might’ve been gone then.
- Not sure how you’re spending the off week next week but I’m thinking it won’t be the same way I do. I’m heading to Kentucky for the Checkpoint Tracker Adventure Race Nationals where we’ll be out in the woods biking, orienteering and paddling for 30 hours in the Land Between the Lakes area of SW Kentucky starting Friday morning and finishing late Saturday. Looking forward to it. If you’ve never done one of these, it’s probably for the best. It’s takes a special kind of moron.
- Hey, remember when FSU was top 5 and playing OU in the first “game of the year”…what happened there? Giving up 35 to Clemson isn’t bad as they look pretty darn good on offense, but giving up 35 to Wake Forest to move to 0-2 in the ACC? Wow. I remember when they lost their first conference game and how big a deal that was. It took like 6 years.
- OU-Texas always seems to be played the same day we play Tennessee every year, so every other year (when we’re at home) I miss most of the game. It seems like every time I’ve watched that game it’s been a completely lopsided affair. Being that early in the day and my recollection of rarely seeing close-fought games makes that game have a lot less luster than I feel like it should…for me anyway.
- So, I’m assuming TA&M’s addition to the conference will result in a rescheduling of the SEC games for next year and moving forward, correct? I have no idea how that gets shaken out. A 13 team conference? Ugh. For the record, I think I’ve come full circle on Missouri and think they bring more to the table than I originally thought. Also, Missouri to the East isn’t as dumb as I originally thought either.
- UT without Bray could be really bad. I’ve never seen us hold a team of the reputation of UT to -20 yards rushing but when you say UT has no running game, it’s legit. The fact they have to play LSU and Bama the next two weeks, followed by SC is just downright brutal. I’m hoping they get their stuff right to take down SC though. Watching the pressure get to Spurrier has been more interesting than I thought it would be.
Have a safe weekend,
Sorry guys, no formal writeup this week. Had some things come up that meant I wasn’t able to get to it this week. I’ll be back next week. Until then, here’s a few thoughts.
1. Tyler Bray is good, but without a ground game, I’m not sure how good he’ll be against an honest-to-goodness SEC defense (that we now appear to have). UF made them one dimensional and it crippled their offense. Without Justin Hunter to pair with Da’Rick Rogers, their WR corps looks a lot easier to handle. Bray is a very good, very accurate passer but our defense has been on a roll. Should be interesting. You don’t throw 14 TDs to only 2 INTs and not be pretty darn good. Granted, both INTs came in the only SEC game he’s played all year, but still, the kid is good. Brash, but good. Rogers is a weapon but without a consistent ground threat, he probably won’t see a lot of man looks.
2. UT’s front 4 on D is small. They start 2 freshmen at LB. If Crowell can stay healthy and ready to go, we should be able to run the ball on them. UF completely owned the line of scrimmage against them and gashed them all day. I’m not saying we’re that level good, but we don’t necessarily know we aren’t either. Crowell has incredible patience and can flat rip off yards in chunks. The announcers were right last week in that he needs that long signature run. It’ll certainly happen at some point this year. Why not this week?
3. We haven’t won in Knoxville since DJ Shockley was QB. It’s a tough place to play for a reason and I’ve got a boatload of bad memories about that place. I’m hoping we get an early stop and put points on the board quickly to take that crowd out of the game. They are starting to believe they are good and desperately want to feel like they are. The longer they stay close, the louder that place gets. I don’t think we’re even close to being Bama level good where we can give up a huge passing play TD on the first play of the game in a rabid environment and then proceed to stomp on some faces.
4. I hate orange or whatever yellowish color that is they’re passing off as orange.
5. Someone please tell Cornelius Washington that when you’re in one of the premier places in the country to hang out as a college kid, there’s really no reason to drive to Commerce. Especially when we’re about to face a pass happy offense with a young OL on primetime on national TV in the follow up to your breakout game as a pass rusher.
6. No, I have no idea why our 2nd half offense bears absolutely zero resemblance to our first half one. It makes no sense to me either. What does make sense is back to back 2 TD wins in the SEC. Much needed. Now if we could just produce for 4 whole quarters, or at least 3, then I can flush that sinking feeling earlier than the last 3 minutes.
7. Aaron Murray has always struck me as extremely coachable and seems to learn from his mistakes pretty well (as evidenced by his incredible maturation over the season last year). Assuming that’s the case, I’m hoping some of those eggs he threw last week are behind us, never to be seen again.
8. Thinking back on the big wins in Knoxville that marked the Richt era, they were all highlighted by a HUGE specials teams or defensive score. 2001, Damien Gary’s punt return for a TD. 2003, Sean Jones 98-yard fumble return for a TD. 2005, Thomas Flowers punt return for a TD. 2007 and 2009, not so much. With Boykin back returning kicks, we could easily score any time we touch it on a return but honestly, our D looks ready to score on someone. We certainly missed a few chances this past Saturday.
That’s it for now. Sorry about the short report. I’ll make up for it later…maybe…
Have a safe weekend,