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Opponent: Kentucky Wildcats
Kickoff: 12:30 PM
I suppose Vegas was on to something that I wasn’t expecting…but I liked it…
About the Auburn game…
Wow. I don’t know where to start on that game. I’ve said all year that at some point the offense and defense would click together and we’d unload on someone. I figured it would happen against UK or someone that didn’t matter all that much but man was I wrong. What we did to Auburn was truly impressive. The 45-7 score doesn’t truly encompass how thorough of a pounding we administered. We attempted all of two second half passes. We didn’t need them.
Despite seeing constant 8 and 9-man fronts, we simply ground the game out, picking up first down after first down. After seeing a first half that produced 35 points off of 7 UGA drives, we successfully ground the game out to the tune of 4 2nd half drives (2 scores, a fumble and the game ender). Our first 3 drives of the half averaged over 10 plays each and nearly 6.5 minutes each. Auburn’s 2nd half drive chart looked considerably more humble: punt, fumble, punt, turnover on downs. They ran 20 2nd half plays to our 35 (again, 33 of which were running plays). It was quite simply the most dominant performance I can recall seeing in Sanford in quite a while. There were only 2 games that were comparable to me were the 2004 game against LSU (also a defending national champion) and the 2002 GT game (not a defending national champion). The LSU game saw us trot out to an early 24-0 lead that got whittled to 24-10 before halftime before we pushed it to 45-10 on the strength of a great day from David Greene. He threw 5 TD passes on only 10/19 passing. A late LSU TD made it 45-16. The 51-7 GT romp was a snoozer early on, 44-0 going into the 4th quarter. This felt like those, but even more absolute. The domination was complete. We simply did what we wanted to and if Richt had had a Urban Meyer type axe to grind after last year’s rowdy contest and wanted to prove a point, we could’ve score 60 easily.
Well, as awesome as the win was, it got us nothing other than bragging rights. This week? That’s a different story, as a hapless UK team stands between us and a trip to the SECC game. A game that’s looking less and less like the long shot it did a few weeks ago.
- We’re going to keep things simple this week and do this quicker than normal. Starting QB Morgan Newton got hurt and Freshman Maxwell Smith has stepped in the last 3 weeks. Leading the Cats to by far and away their most convincing win, a 30-13 win that sealed Houston Nutt’s fate, he’s done a decent job, but doesn’t complete a high percentage of passes and isn’t overly mobile. The Wildcat offense is truly bad, ranking dead last in the SEC in passing offense, total offense and scoring offense. If it wasn’t for Tennessee’s hyper anemic running game, UK would be dead last in all 4 of the major offensive categories. La’Rod King has been the only real offensive bright spot, catching 39 balls for almost 600 yards and 7 TDs. No one else has more than 1 and only 5 guys have TD catches.
- Bottom Line: After struggling early to score points, it appeared that UK had found through groove with a new QB, putting up 30 against Ole Miss at home. Then they went to Vandy and managed only 8 points. In their SEC road games this year, they’ve yet to score more than 8 (7 vs LSU, 3 vs SC and 8 vs Vandy). That’s awful. They are one of the worst teams in the country in terms of protecting the QB, giving up 3 sacks per game on average. Considering UGA leads the conference in sacks per game, I’m thinking we’re going to see a lot of running game from the Cats, trying desperately to avoid mandatory passing situations. If they have to turn to their QB to win this game or move the ball steadily, it might get really ugly. How ugly? Only two teams in the country have a lower team passing efficiency.
- Key matchup to watch when they have the ball: Ogletree is playing at a really high level all over the field, but he’s yet to really add any kind of pass rush to his game, so with that said, I want to really watch Jarvis Jones because he’s really emerged as a consistent pass rush threat in recent weeks and I’m thinking he could have a really big day.
- The UK defense is slightly better than their offensive counterparts. 11th in rushing defense, 8th in passing defense, and 10th in both total defense and scoring defense is hardly anything to get super excited about. The strength of the D is SEC tackles leader, LB Danny Trevathan. They gave up 38 to Vandy last week. They also gave up 54 to South Carolina. They’ve struggled equally against the run and the pass.
- Bottom Line: Usually when offense are clicking like ours is and they go up against a bad defense like this you’d expect a blowout, and there’s really nothing to indicate that won’t be the case, but in my experience, things rarely play exactly as they should on paper. As thoroughly as we dominated Auburn in the first half, it was largely due to the fact that we were 7 for 7 on our first 7 3rd down attempts. When you do that against anyone you’re going to look more effective. I’d hope against UK we won’t have to rely on a similar conversion rate for a win. Look for us to try and establish the run early as we’ve had some issues running the ball on some teams early in games. We take over late but I’d like to see a “We Run This State (GT 2009) level ground game out of the gate.
- Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: Isaiah Crowell versus Danny Trevathan should be a great matchup. Trevathan has led the SEC in tackles the last couple of years and is a tremendously athletic guy that covers a ton of ground. Crowell, despite his considerable and obvious talents, has yet to break a long TD run in his brief career. His long carry on the season is merely 29 yards. Given his speed and quickness, that’s surprising. I’m going to be watching for that big run.
The UK Game Overall
UK is not a good football team. Just ask most anyone, including UK fans. In conference road games this year, they’re averaging a loss of over 36 points and only putting up 6 points. That means that on average, every one of their SEC road games has been almost as bad a beating as we gave to Auburn last weekend. That’s not to say they aren’t capable of some level of decency. They did pull out a win against Ole Miss and they did manage to stay within 12 of Miss State, but both of those games were at home.
This is the type of game that good teams win handily. On paper we should completely roll but we’ve been in this position before and I can’t say it always played out the way we wanted it to. Two years ago this same UK team beat us at home. Granted, that wasn’t a great UGA team by any stretch but after watching some of the relatively close games we’ve played this season against clearly overmatched opponents, I’m not ready just yet to crown ourselves SEC-East champs.
With that said, Richt has a chance Saturday to do something he hasn’t done at UGA and that’s win 9 straight games. He won 8 to open the 2002 season before the loss in Jacksonville but he’s never won 9. Let’s go ahead and lock this thing up Saturday in convincing style.
- Alright, Aaron Murray can now say he’s thrown more TDs in any given season than any QB in UGA history. And he still has at least 3 games left, maybe 4. Although I don’t know how many TD passes he’s going to pick up against an LSU or Bama. He’s thrown 9 TDs in essentially his last 4 quarters (I’m not counting the 2nd half of the last two games because he didn’t play in of them and he didn’t hardly throw the ball in the other). With the exception of the Mississippi State and Florida games, he’s completed a pass of at least 32 yards in every contest. Wow. And now he’s added the scramble game back a bit…watch out.
- I continue to be amazed at how well our LBs are playing this season.
- I’m even more amazed at our WRs. This was supposed to be a weakness this year. Could you imagine if AJ Green has hung around for his senior year?
- Ben Jones will probably go down as one of my all-time favorite UGA linemen.
- The thing about Ogletree that’s so impressive is that he seems to have a real knack for causing fumbles. He did it against Florida and again versus Auburn (against Rainey and Dyer no less) where he just went in for a normal tackle and managed to strip the ball. He must have incredibly strong hands. He certainly doesn’t look weak.
- So, if I had to guess right now, I’d say that if Arkansas beats LSU in the season finale, I’m going out on a limb and saying that the East representative would end up facing…Arkansas. I think they’d likely hop Bama and while they might not pass LSU in the BCS, they only have to get past Bama since the 7th 3-way tie-breaker states that the top-ranked BCS team goes unless the next of the 3 is ranked within 5 spots. All 3 of them could be in the top 5 at that point. Honestly, I think Bama probably has the longest shot of the 3 for the SEC title game. The need LSU to lose and fall behind both them AND Arkansas in the BCS and I don’t see that happening.
- OK Verne, you’ve had a nice run. While your voice is clearly synonymous with big-time SEC football, maybe it’s time to either up the preparation hours or step back from the booth. His performances just aren’t nearly as crisp as they used to be.
- Do you think there’s any chance that if everyone holds serve and Herbstreit draws Bama in the board discussion like they had in 2007 that there’s any chance he pulls the same stunt he did with us and says he doesn’t think they deserve a shot? Nick Saban would have someone take him out with a deer rifle…and Herbie knows it.
- Have you looked at Tennessee’s out-of-conference schedule this year? It’s embarrassing. Montana, Cincinnati, Buffalo and MTSU. That’s as bad a group as I’ve ever seen from any of the typical big boys. Given that those 4 are their only wins to date, I guess it makes sense. They have to sweep Vandy and UK to get bowl eligible. That ain’t a given. If UK is ever going to beat UT, it would be this year but I think I’ve said that each of the last 5 years and it still hasn’t happened. UK has lost 30 straight or something in that series.
- I didn’t think I could possibly get creeped out about the whole Sandusky-Penn St story any more. Then I heard him speak in that Bob Costas interview. Oh man that guy completely embodies creepy old man syndrome. If he’s found guilty, they need to come up with some new punishments.
- Do you realize that if Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma, a distinct possibility, then the likely top 2 contenders to face LSU will be 2 teams they’ve played already (Oregon and Alabama). I would think that things would somehow be arranged so that Oklahoma would jump up to #2 to avoid that. I really do.
- Do you realize how high-scoring the Oklahoma State-Oklahoma game is going to be? That’s the same day as the SEC title game since the Big XII doesn’t have a title game anymore.
Have a safe weekend,