Trying something out here…let me know if you have strong feelings either way. If you’re looking for the pdf version, it’s down below.
Opponent: Vanderbilt Commodores
Kickoff: 12:20 PM
TV: SEC Game of the Week (same as last week)
Oh dear…um…wow…that was as bad as I could’ve ever predicted. The phrase “worst possible outcome” comes to mind. Hopefully the team uses this as a rallying point and gets their collective butts in gear to finish out the season. Up next a struggling Vandy team in a stadium that we haven’t played well in for as long as I can remember.
About the UT game…
The Good: Not much. Boykin’s return. Walsh’s long FG. Rambo’s pick 6. That blocked punt was pretty cool. I’m getting tired of pointing to this, but our punting is outstanding. It’s that kind of year.
The Bad: Pretty much everything. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a UGA team this poor at running the ball. Just bad. Our pass defense looks just awful. We do a decent job against the run but we were so unprepared for the bootleg and seemed to refuse (or were we just incapable) to make adjustments to it. It was painful. Crompton looked like Manning out there. Has anyone figured out why Prince Miller can’t figure out where the 10-yard line is on a punt? Our offense never crossed the 30-yard line of UT and honestly never really threatened. From my recollection of the game (I haven’t been able to make myself rewatch), Joe Cox rarely checked to a 2nd receiver. He’s just locked in when he drops back, and not in the good way. More in the way of I’m going to throw it right here. I’m sure UT was doing some different stuff but if we were 3rd and long you could pretty well count on a 4-yard pass. Generally speaking if your defense scores a TD and your special teams scores a TD, you like your chances. When your offense gets outscored by BOTH of those units it’s a problem.
The Key: Wow. Just one? The key to the game was our knack for making opposing QBs look like all-conference guys. Mallett and Garcia had career days against us…and now Crompton too? #$*^%. Crompton threw the ball incredibly well on the run although not having a defender within 5 yards of most of his WRs probably helped the completion percentage a bit. In the end, our inability to get them off the field killed us. Not that we were going anywhere if we’d gotten them off the field.
- The Vandy offense has struggled this year to put points on the board. More than us even. Seriously. In the 3 SEC games they’ve played so far they’ve yet to reach double digits points scored. While they have a pretty solid ground game they haven’t done well in the air, currently ranking last in the SEC there. Given the propensity of our defense to bring out the best in opposing QBs, I’m thinking Vandy has to be thrilled to play us this week.
- Sophomore Larry Smith took over the reins of the QB position late last season and has carried over to this year. He’s putting up Reggie Ball-esque numbers, only without a Calvin Johnson to throw to. His 46% completion rate is among the worst you’ll see. In conference play his percentage actually drops below 40%. He’s thrown only 2 TDs compared to 6 INTs. He’s mobile though (bootleg anyone?) and his 59 carries are within 6 of leading the team. He’s only averaging 1.7 ypc but that’s largely due to the fact he’s been sacked 14 times.
- At RB, a pair of freshmen have split the carries so far. Quite literally. Both have 65 carries on the season. While they are similarly sized, Warren Norman has a little more breakaway ability and is sporting a tidy 6.1 ypc average. Zac Stacy started off hot but has slowed (ankle injury didn’t help) but is doing well for a freshman.
- At WR Vandy hasn’t really established a great threat, mostly thanks to spotty QB play. Put it this way, Michael Moore would lead Vandy in receptions and would only be less than 10 yards from leading in yardage. Fort Valley native Udom Umoh leads the team in yards and his 1 TD accounts for half of their aerial scores. Wow. Slight freshman John Cole leads the team in catches with 17.
- I mentioned before that the OL has given up 14 sacks of a mobile QB. Not good. Well, color me surprised to see that Vandy starts 4 5th-year seniors and a 4th-year junior. I think two years ago they started an all-senior line. How do they always have that much experience? Decidedly different than our approach of the last decade of stock-piling OL into 1 class and then doing a wholesale replacement every 4 years. I like their idea. Seems we’re headed more that direction already.
- Bottom Line: OK, Vandy isn’t a good offensive football team. Yes, I know UT wasn’t supposed to be either and they just dropped 45 on us but Vandy should be much worse. Yes, they have that whole mobile QB thing that can drive you crazy but this guy hasn’t come close to putting it together this year against defenses with a pulse. Now begin your debate of whether or not we have a pulse. I’m on the fence. Anyway, we’ve been pretty good against the run, awful against the pass and worse against the bootleg. Hopefully we can stop our string of career QB days this weekend. We need it. To give you an idea of how poorly our pass D is playing right now, SEC QBs are averaging right at 100 more ypg against us than their season average. Thank you Jim Garland for that little nugget of depression.
- Key Matchup to watch when they have the ball: Crap, I don’t know. It surprises me to see that Vandy is attempting essentially as many passes on the season as UGA. If they throw 30 passes against us this kid might set personal bests all across the board. He’s completing less than half his passes. If we can slow their run and force them into long throws to convert I really, really like our chances at forcing some stops.
- While the Vandy offense has largely been ineffective, the defense has been quite solid, particularly against the pass. They are 2nd nationally against the pass, yielding under 120 ypg on average. Against the run though they’ve yielded a bit more, managing a poor 90th national ranking. They’ve done a good job keeping people out of the endzone though, giving up under 16 ppg and not allowing more than 23 points in any contest.
- The Vandy DL rotates a good bit. Sr. Greg Billinger, a former UGA commitment, anchors the interior. At DE, lanky senior Broderick Stewart is a pass-rushing threat. They’ve struggled about as much as we have in getting to the QB.
- LB is a spot that Vandy usually does a good job of producing talent. While there isn’t a Jamie Winborn-level player here, they do have some good players who are extremely active. MLB Chris Marve is establishing himself as a force, leading the team in tackles. Sr. WLB Patrick Benoist is a bit undersized but he’s experienced and can make plays.
- The Vandy secondary came into the season knowing they had to replace early departee D.J. Moore at CB (what’s going on with kids leaving Vandy early?). Despite his loss, CB is the strength of the team. Sr. Myron Lewis will likely make it back-to-back seasons that a Vandy CB is taken in the draft. His 6-3, 202 size at CB is a rarity and his 3 INTs show he has the ball skills for his position. Opposite him is So. Casey Hayward, who isn’t the biggest CB in the league but will stick his nose wherever he darn well pleases, 3rd on the team in tackles and an impressive 1st in TFLs with 7.5. The 3-man safety rotation of seniors Trice and Caldwell and sophomore Sean Richardson has been productive.
- Bottom Line: This ought to be interesting. Vandy basically begs you to run against them. We beg people not to make us run. It’s like the movable object vs. the resistable force. Vandy has been excellent against the pass all year, which up until last week was about the only thing we could do well offensively. Teams so far have loaded up to stop the run and made Cox beat them. Some games he’s looked capable, others not so much. Given the likelihood of Vandy keying on the run, we’re going to have to get a good game from Cox. Their secondary is strong so bigger games from Charles and White and our backs against their LBs would be preferable. Who knows, maybe we get that RB breakout performance we’ve been waiting on. Washaun maybe?
- Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: Lewis matches up with AJ Green about as well as anyone you’ll come across. I don’t think they’ll be so bold as to man him up on Green, but if they are able to neutralize Green then we’ll be struggling. He’s our only legit threat right now.
The VU Game Overall
This is the roughest I’ve felt about UGA football since, well this exact same week two years ago. Flash back to 2007. UT had just delivered us one of the more devastating losses I’d ever had the displeasure of sitting through. Complete domination. We had looked largely unmotivated at times prior to that, losing to a bad SC team at home. Yes, I know we had looked good against Ok State, Bama and Ole Miss but that doesn’t fit my analogy. We limped into Nashville, some freshman named Knowshon ran all over everywhere, and we still needed a late fumble from Vandy and a last-second FG from Coutu to pull out a 3-point win. It was the last close game we played that year, going on a roll that saw us win our last 7 games by double digits and finish with a top 3 ranking. While the 2009 team has some serious questions at two of the strengths of the 2007 positions (QB and RB), college football is too weird to truly say the season is done.
That 2007 Vandy game was really no different in terms of meaning. I felt we were going to come out motivated and steamroll a team that was way outmatched from a talent perspective and show just how much the embarrassment of the UT game was behind us. Instead we struggled mightily and barely hung on to win. It wasn’t until the explosion in Jacksonville that we really gelled. I’m hoping we get that kick-started a game earlier this year. We need for Cox to step his play back up to the level we saw in Arkansas. This season can still have some good moments. Sure it won’t likely end with a top 10 finish but there is potential there. This team has talent. They just need to channel it and the coaches, well, the coaches just have to get better, same as the players.
- Joe Cox has to work on his progressions. He doesn’t appear to make any.
- We need to get Akeem Dent back. I know he won’t make everything perfect on our D but he’ll improve it. Looks like we’ll have to wait another week before we get him though. Did they have to reattach his hamstring? He’s been out about 4 times as long as Caleb King and that kid broke his jaw.
- Nice to see Marlon Brown make his first catch. Would’ve been nicer had he held onto that slant pass earlier in the game though.
- Baccari Rambo just seems to be one of those right places right time guys. We need more of those.
- Vance Cuff is suspended for this one on a suspended license/scooter problem. That’s not a joke. We have to lead the country in scooter related incidents.
- Was it just me or did Logan Gray look really small? If we’re going to use him at QB, I hope we use his mobility more like UT used Crompton and less like GT uses Dwyer. I’m a big proponent of bootlegs, run-pass options and such but our runs with Gray seem to be designed zone read things.
- Drew Butler is leading the country in punting. That’s awesome. It’s not awesome that we get to see him so much.
- Given the turn the season has taken, I don’t mind saying that there is a part of me that’s really looking forward to January. Not because the football season will be over then. More because the best show on TV will be coming back on for its final season. That’s right…Lost. As confusing as this football season has been, it holds not a candle to the confusion and mind-scramble that is Lost. Only that confusion is more fun and entertaining than depressing.
- How is it exactly that they waved off the flag for helmet-to-helmet contact against UT when Marlon Brown dropped that pass? I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but the contact did occur. Right? I know the play was dead but does that mean folks can just run around drilling people on incomplete passes?
- Sam Bradford won a Heisman. Sam Bradford was injured in week 1. I’m guessing ESPN spent more time on Tebow in the 2 weeks he was potentially out than they have in the 5 weeks Bradford was out, and it’s probably not even close.
- That explosion from the Falcons out in San Fran last weekend was unexpected. A little much if you ask me. Maybe I’m just saying that because I had San Fran’s defense starting for me in a fantasy league. Do 49er fans feel like UGA fans this week? Do pro fans feel pain like college fans? Not you Pottsie, I know you do, I mean average NFL fans. Is there such a thing as an average/normal SEC fan? I think we’re all crazy.
- How hard are the jumbotron folks going to have to work to come up with highlights to show from these last 2 weeks? You can’t really show AJ’s TD against LSU because of what happened after that. It’s just too painful. Maybe we could just show Tebow’s concussion. It’s fine to say that now since he’s OK, right?
- The more the Dolphins have success with the Wildcat in the NFL, the greater the likelihood some NFL Owner/GM comes after Urban Meyer at some point. If it’s Daniel Snyder in Washington wouldn’t that be interesting (remember he took Spurrier)? If you missed it, Miami used 4 different “QBs” on their winning drive. “Real” QB Chad Henne, a couple of RBs in Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown and rookie Pat White from WVU. I’m not saying I’m scared of Urban Meyer, I’m just saying if he wasn’t at UF I’d be happier about playing them, that’s all.
- I’m not kidding when I say that if Notre Dame wins Saturday over USC that Jimmy Clausen will more than likely be a Heisman finalist and they will play in a BCS game. Seriously. Fight on, Trojans, Fight on.
- I won’t be so homer-ish as to say every single TD celebration I saw was more egregious than AJ’s infamous one against LSU but I will say the majority were at least the equivalent.
- Tulsa, who has yet to beat a FBS team with a winning record, was giving Boise State all it could handle as I typed this. They lost by 7, 28-21. That is your #5 team in the country? Oklahoma beat Tulsa 45-0 without their starting QB.
- Hopefully the next one of these I write is under more pleasant circumstances. These depressing games make for poor writing conditions.
Have a safe weekend,