Download the pdf version of the Writeup here…UT Writeup pdf version
Opponent: Tennessee Volunteers
Kickoff: 12:21 PM
TV: SEC Network
Once again, the nightmare continues…man, this is getting old in a hurry.
About the Colorado game…
We showed signs of life, then reached over and pulled our own plug. We successfully executed our gameplan of keeping an overmatched opponent in the game by letting them get up early and after completely turning the game around we managed a meager 3 points in the 2nd half. If it wasn’t on the heels of such an abysmal performance I’d be disgusted, as it stands I’m merely disappointed.
The Good: AJ Green is even better than I thought he was, which is saying something. Too bad he couldn’t play by the rules this offseason or we might be 3-2 or so right now, maybe better. CU couldn’t cover him. Good lord, I’m wishing we were 3-2, what has happened to us?
The Bad: What’s up with the Jekyl & Hyde defense? I’ve never seen a defense have more 3 and outs and more sustained drives against them in my life. It just makes no sense. On offense, when AJ got injured, we went in a complete funk. We have more talent than that. When you have two RBs average over 8 ypc and one average under 2, I don’t understand why the 1 continues to get the bulk of the carries.
The Interesting: Not much, other than AJ Green being a human highlight reel. That catch he made on his first TD was literally jaw-dropping.
- There’s something to be said for having a balanced offense. UT is currently ranked exactly 78th nationally in both rushing and passing offense (they’re also ranked exactly 78th in total defense, which is weird). While that means balance, it doesn’t mean they are good. The little I’ve been able to watch them I would’ve guessed they are a better running team than passing but they are actually 11th in the SEC running the ball and 8th passing. In their 3 games against BCS opponents they’ve managed to average under 15 ppg, with their 17 against UF being their high.
- Matt Simms starts at QB for UT which has to be weird after his brother Chris spurned the Vols to play for the other UT (in Austin) way back many moons ago. He’s not nearly as physically gifted as his older brother, but he’s played better than expected behind a makeshift OL. 6/3 TD/INT ratio isn’t too bad although 4 of his TDs and none of his INTs came against UAB and Tenn-Martin. 957 yards through 5 games isn’t great but he’s not killing the offense and has shown a knack for making plays when his OL can keep him upright.
- Georgia native Tauren Poole returns to Athens as a starter after spending years behind some pretty talented backs. Averaging over 5 ypc and racking up 4 TDs on the young season, Poole has been a bright spot on a rough offensive season. The thick junior has shown surprising burst and earned the starting nod over the much more heralded David Oku who will get some touches as well.
- DeNarius Moore has had a breakout season this year, with 16 catches for 240 yards but most importantly 4 of Simms’ TD catches. He’s bookended by fellow senior Gerald Jones, who has been an explosive player for UT for years. Most UGA fans will want to follow the play of defector Da’Rick Rogers closely in his return to Georgia. So far this season he’s had nearly as many rushes (2) as catches (3). TE Luke Stocker is as good a TE as you’ll find. A huge target at 6-6, 253, he reminds you of former Vol TE Jason Witten, mainly because he’s big, white and catches passes.
- The UT OL is about the youngest OL you’ll see this side of the 2003 UGA line that featured no upperclassmen and 3 freshmen. They’ve given up 19 sacks through 5 games. They’ve got pretty good size but they are very, very young. Two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior make up the first 5. The 2nd unit consists of 3 freshmen and 2 sophomores. The youngsters aren’t necessarily playing because they are that good, they’re playing because if they don’t, it’d be someone that young in their place.
- Bottom Line: Honestly, this is the weakest offense we’ve played since the opener. They aren’t spectacular at anything really and it all starts at the OL (if anyone knows that, we do). This bunch is gritty and they’re doing better than I thought they would but it’s tough for them to string together effective drives. They aren’t physical enough to assert themselves in the running game. They struggle keeping Simms protected in passing situations, with UAB causing them considerable grief. Couple that with the fact that Simms is a JUCO transfer that’s still getting comfortable playing in big games and it’s a wonder they’ve been as moderately productive as they have. This is a team we should be able to stop, but so was MSU. Our defense hasn’t shown an ability to dominate an opponent yet and our trend of allowing opening drive TDs to 4 straight opponents seriously needs to end this week.
- Key Matchup to watch when they have the ball: We have to control the LOS. UT doesn’t feel good enough about their passing game (protection and actual passing) to try and throw it and will want to establish the ground game with Poole. They have a particularly methodical approach on offense. Our defense has struggled to develop an identity as well but without a mobile QB or the threat of a Mallett-style passing attack, we might just see a stout run defense this weekend. Please?
- Back to the consistency thing, UT is 75th nationally in rush defense (157 ypg) and 73rd against the pass (220 ypg). Total defense is 78th and scoring defense is 70th. I’ve never seen a team with a closer dispersion of those basic stats. It’s weird. They’re 11th in the SEC in total D. They lost some talent last year, namely Eric Berry, and got hit by injuries and legal trouble, so this isn’t quite the stout UT defenses that they trotted out every year under Fulmer or last year under Monte Kiffin.
- Not much depth along the DL, especially at DT where grades and injuries hit hard. Montori Hughes is a player at NT with serious size and strength. Neither of the two starting DEs has recorded a sack on the season.
- LB is the strength of the D. MLB Nick Reveiz is a solid, hard-nosed LB, but at 5-10, 224 isn’t the biggest in the world. He’s still leading the team in tackles by a large margin though. SLB LaMarcus Thompson is 3rd on the team in tackles and solid all over the field. The unit is good, but doesn’t have the Kevin Simon, Al Wilson, kinda guy that always made the big plays.
- The secondary took a hit when Eric Berry declared for the NFL. It took another one when Darren Myles (projected starter at safety), struck an officer in that whole weird club fight that ended with a policeman in the hospital. Myles was removed from the team. Current starting safety Janzen Jackson was involved in the club fight as well as last year’s armed robbery but has managed to stay on the team and is probably the most talented DB they’ve got. Jr. Art Evans will likely draw the task of trying to cover AJ this week. I don’t envy him.
- Bottom Line: This offense is a whole world of different with AJ Green on the field. He draws double teams and keeps safeties out of the box. He doesn’t have to touch the ball to make an impact but I think it’s safe to say we prefer him to be touching it. Once we established that Murray could get the ball to him, our whole offense opened up. It’s what we wanted all year. We’ve just managed to get it for half a game after suspensions and injury. If we can get Green established early, then Bobo’s running game will have a much easier time getting on track.
- Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: I’m going to be watching AJ Green’s hamstring all game long. They said cramps in Colorado which shouldn’t carry over but if he tweaked his hamstring that could linger for a while. If he pulls up at all our firepower goes down big time.
The UT Game Overall
What is there to say? We’re 1-4. We need a win in a bad way. So do they. Last year, Kiffin embarrassed us in Knoxville in a game that he said after the fact they had circled all offseason (that was convenient). Dooley still needs his defining win. He nearly had it last week in Baton Rouge but got caught up in Les Miles’ late game madness. Given as poorly as our season has gone so far no one knows what to expect from us but Vegas certainly thinks UGA is ready to get right, installing us as 12 point favorites on some lines. As poorly as we’ve played, UT has been just as bad. I wouldn’t care if we had played well to this point though, after the throttling we were handed last year we’ve got all the motivation we need to come out fighting.
This game used to be one of the biggest games of the year for us because we could never quite get over the hump against them. They were at the top and were, along with Florida, the block we couldn’t get past. Once Donnan finally broke through against UT in 2000 there was a run there where it seemed we couldn’t help but beat them, including Richt’s defining win against them in Knoxville in his inaugural season. We passed them for a stretch there, then faltered. It’s been back and forth over the last six years, with the Dawgs dropping 4 of the 6. Now we find both programs in a rut, a combined 3-7 on the season. A game that was once a lock for the CBS 3:30 slot has now been bumped all the way to the 12:21 SEC Network slot. The national media views this game as an afterthought. I sure as hell don’t. I spent the better part of my undergrad years watching Peyton Manning prance around untouched, watching Reynoch Thompson cheap-shot Michael Greer, watching Jamal Lewis and Deion Grant celebrate another win… The euphoria of P-44 Haynes went a long way towards healing those wounds, but the first time I hear Rocky Top Saturday they might reopen and I don’t think I can handle another loss at their hands. Not after last year with that smug punk Kiffin (even Vol fans can admit that now) gloating. Saturday might not mean a whole lot in terms of conference chases but don’t for a second think this game doesn’t mean anything.
- Interesting news on the OL where Kenarious Gates, the OL we offered last minute when Da’Rick Rogers backed out, is apparently slated to start at one of the OG spots along with Trinton Sturdivant manning one of the OT spots. Interesting. Gates must have been impressive to supplant Strickland inside. Is that ironic that Gates will be starting against the guy whose scholarship he took? Ironic gets way overused and as a result I’m particularly hesitant to do so.
- AJ comes back and the rest of the WR corps falls apart. Durham is now 50/50 and Marlon Brown, who caught his first career TD pass in Boulder, is out. Maybe now Wooten will get more action than just end-arounds. I still want to see AJ, Tavares and Durham all healthy together. They can stretch the field a lot.
- Going to be interesting to see who gets the nod at RB this week. Thomas was largely ineffective and missed at least one key blitz pickup Saturday. Sure, Ealey and King have both had huge fumbles this year but to me it’s a no-brainer for King to get the nod. Ealey hasn’t shown the ability to consistently protect the QB and King showed a burst last week that reminded me of last year’s GT game…which was nice.
- Nick Williams must be horrible in coverage if he’s still not getting any snaps at safety given the play of Rambo and Hamilton.
- With Branden Smith suffering his 2nd concussion of the year (or close to it) he’s probably one away from being done for the season. Scary stuff. With him out, I’d hope that Logan Gray would get a shot returning punts as he seems to have a knack for it, but it looks like Carlton Thomas will get the first shot.
- I know Garner sees Geathers every day in practice and feels like he hasn’t earned more PT based off of his practice results but good grief it seems like that guy just makes plays when he gets in there.
- We had a TE sighting in Colorado. Maybe we can see them again this side of the Mississippi.
- I guess UGA still has some clout. Colorado stormed the field after knocking off a 1-3 team. Man Colorado is awful…and we just lost to them.
- So apparently Satruday will be Russ’ last game as interim mascot. After coming out of the gates hot in wins over GT and A&M last year, Russ has really struggled this season. I blame Russ and I’ve hardly heard him mentioned as an excuse.
- Denard Robinson is one of the more explosive players in college football and he certainly seems perfectly suited to play the QB spot in Rich Rodriguez’ offense. It’s just weird seeing it at Michigan though, home of so many future NFL QBs. Tom Brady, Elvis Grbac, Jim Harbaugh, Chad Henne, etc. Now you see a highlight and you see this short, fast guy with predator hair running around like, dare I say, Armanti Edwards (the QB for App St that knocked off UM in the Big House). My how times change.
- I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m really enjoying Boardwalk Empire on HBO. Since the UGA season hit the crapper particularly early this year I’ve been able to broaden my fall horizons a bit.
- Is Boise State really shocked that they got leap-frogged by an Oregon team that has run roughshod over everyone they’ve faced this year, especially when that list is considerably stouter than VT and Oregon State? Oregon has looked as dominant as anyone to date, excepting the first half against UT.
- Is Achim K-bob’s still open in Athens? That was a unique place. I can’t remember if I liked it though. I think I did. I know I liked the fries and I think I liked some (most) of the sauces. I remember the sandwich was some sort of stuffed thing…I think. Kind of like if you jammed a gyro into a pita slice. There was a time in my life where I didn’t think I could forget stuff like that. Is this what getting old feels like?
- Speaking of Athens establishments, now that Sons of Italy is closed (sorry, the 5-points location), Allen’s, Guthrie’s, etc, it’s getting harder and harder to go back and see anything just the way it was when I was there. I left Athens in 2001, so it’s not like I was up there pre-Dooley. As shocking as the closure of Harry Bissette’s was, I was even more floored to discover that Gumby’s is no more. What? Is the economy that bad that a place that makes $8 pizzas that can’t fit through a door and can’t be pronounced in front of children goes under? Really? The only late-night pizza delivery place in Athens now is apparently Papa John’s, at least according to the front desk at the Hilton Garden Inn. Wow.
Have a safe weekend,