OK, I can honestly say I thought we’d win that game. I can’t honestly say I felt like we’d win by 3 TDs. I was impressed by Missouri’s fight and spirit early and I think we got their best punch, unfortunately for them it was a 4-round fight and not just 3. Our superior athleticism, size and general talent level coupled with a clearly improved strength and conditioning program really manifested itself in the 4th quarter as we were able to enforce out will on both sides of the ball. It felt good. Like 2002/3 kinda good.
Points from the game:
- Jarvis Jones is a complete stud and is rapidly shooting up my list of favorite players to don the red and black. Do yourself a favor and read the great story on ugasports.com (it’s free) that’s an interview with Jones about playing hurt and being a leader. Man crush. The fact that guy put on that kind of performance with an injured groin makes me feel bad for opposing OLs once he gets healthy. All of the concerns of week 1 about our lethargy on defense have seemingly been wiped away. Add a couple more potential all-Americans and the concerns lessen even more.
- I get some of the frustration with Aaron Murray as he missed a couple of passes, but folks have to remember no QB in the country is perfect. ESPN currently has Murray 2nd on their Heisman predictor. The two knocks I’ve heard consistently are that he’s flustered early and can’t win the big game. At about 7:30 Saturday night, you’d have a hard time finding anyone that would say that game wasn’t a big one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a TEAM effort that wins or loses games. Murray’s played well enough to win several games that we didn’t and has played poorly in a few we’ve won. Now, as to the settling down thing, I think of our guys make a few grabs on those drops, we’re probably not having this conversation at all. The INT was tough because with our insistence on running play action, Murray has about 1/2 second to make that read and it’s largely dependent on the predication that the LB has taken at least a step up. He didn’t. The pass to the FB that was missed is tough too as it hit him in the hands. Yes, it wasn’t ideal, but I assure you if you ask any of the guys on the team if that catch should’ve been made they’d answer affirmatively. Is the kid perfect? Nope, but he’s as close as this conference has right now and there aren’t many in the country playing at a higher level. The two TDs to Marlon Brown were as good a throws as you’ll see at this level.
- Speaking of…Marlon Brown looked like a different guy completely. Reminded me a bit of Michael Johnson against Auburn in that he was just so clutch out of seemingly nowhere. Just think if he hadn’t dropped two easy ones. Along those lines, I’m thinking whatever nagging injury Michael Bennett was going through was causing him some lack of focus (talk to him Jarvis). His drops were highly uncharacteristic. Back to Brown, it’s nice to see the guy who was getting so much talk in the offseason actually live up to it.
- My concerns about Mitchell at CB in his opening game were realized early when he got thrown on a couple times right out of the gate. I figured it would take him some time to get acclimated to the speed of the game out there at a new spot. My hopes for him at the position were realized shortly thereafter as he showed really, really good break on the ball and some surprising physicality. Might need to get someone to talk to him about celebrating over an opponent he’s drilled though. That’s not ideal. Especially when they’ve already picked up a first down.
- I’d like to think that Bobo was feeling out Missouri and the coaches’ gameplan was to keep it close, stay basic and open it up when we needed to. When you think back, every time we needed a score to answer, we did so with relative ease, I’d just like to see us do that to start games so we can close things out a little quicker. I guess it all boils down to execution though. If we execute what gets called, I feel like we’ve got a puncher’s chance against anyone.
- Gurley is legit.
- Marshall Morgan is going to make things interesting. Don’t assume anything. Get your popcorn ready.
- I’m thinking John Theus’ ankle was impacting his lateral mobility. He tweaked his left ankle and that’s his push off leg to kick out and seal the edge and he didn’t seem capable of kicking out and anchoring. I can safely say that Jadaveon Clowney had to have been licking his chops watching that performance though. I’m thinking we’re going to see considerable improvement out of our young OT though as the season goes along. We’re going to need it.
- They’ve not done much this year. They won their opener 7-3. Over Wagner. Wagner has moved on to 0-2 after falling to mighty Georgetown. FAU is bad on offense but they somehow have a big senior QB who has completed almost 80% of his passes, hasn’t thrown an INT and has accounted for all of the FAU TDs on the season. As bad as they are (a notch behind Buffalo even), it wouldn’t shock me to see them move the ball a little and score 14-17 points again due to a combination of lack of focus/scheme and liberal substitutions late. I don’t expect our A effort Saturday and I don’t expect we’ll need it. I think we’ll see the last opportunity for several guys on the fringe of contributing on D to audition and make an impression. As Commings and Vasser get back this week and we add ‘Tree and Rambo at some point, it’s going to be harder and harder for some of these guys to get an opportunity so I’m hoping our reserves come in with some fire in their belly.
- If Rambo doesn’t go, I think we’ll see Commings at safety alongside Williams. He’s got the size and has played there before and honestly, with the play of Swann, Mitchell and Smith, we have some skill at CB right now and the more Commings can provide some schematic flexibility, the more dangerous we become. Just another toy in Grantham’s toy box.
- Look for a big game from: Jordan Jenkins. As he starts to get a feel for the speed of big time football, he’s got a chance to position himself as the heir to Jarvis’ playmaker spot. He was on the field in key moments last week but is still young enough to need the seasoning and will likely play more than the starters.
- FAU is coached by Nebraska HC Bo Pelini’s brother Carl. That sounds like I just made it up. Anyway, given his brother’s status as a defensive guru, I’m thinking Carl probably is cut from similar cloth. I’d expect that we’ll score more than MTSU’s 31 from last week though.
- Gurley has shown a considerable knack for breaking the big one. I want to see Marshall get one this week. He hasn’t shown the same suddenness that Gurley has, but I think he’s still working through the added weight and getting used to carrying that. He’s got some serious wheels and I think we get him open this week.
- The main thing I’m hoping to see this week is improved OL play. Pelini will likely bring some interesting looks but out young OL should have the athleticism and discipline to handle them. Should. Protect Murray. Open holes for the RBs. Should be a big day. I think we hit 40 for the 3rd straight game.
- As good as our WRs have generally looked, I’d like to see more snaps from Conley. Great hands and size but he’s not seeing the field a lot. Our rotation seems pretty set with King, Bennett, Brown and Wooten. Not bad, but Conley can help. We saw it last year.
- Look for a big game from: Tavares King. He toasted the Buffalo secondary several times but only got the one long TD to show for it. I’m thinking he’ll have a couple of shots this week and Bobo would love nothing more than to establish King as an even more legit downfield threat (a la Mitchell) going into the meat of the SEC schedule. Anything to help peel those safeties back and open up a little more running room.
- So, Todd McShay has 4 UGA defenders in the top 29 of his NFL draft for next year (Jones at 4, Jenkins at 5, Ogletree at 22 and Shawn Williams at 29). That’s pretty darn impressive and reminiscent of the talent level of those 2002-2003 Dawg Ds that featured future first rd picks like Pollack, Sullivan, Davis, Thurman, Johnson, etc. What might be most impressive is Ogletree at 22. Consider for a second that he didn’t move to LB until after his true freshman year, missed nearly half of last year with an injury and hasn’t played at all this year due to suspension. So he’s managed to earn that high of a rating in about 8 games? Impressive…and scary for opponents when this D gets that kind of talent added back. Ogletree also happens to sport one of the smaller helmets ever relative to body size. Seriously, watch him.
- When’s the last time Uf and UT entered their early season matchup undefeated to as little fanfare as they are this week? No one really has them in the top 2 in the east. UF looks pedestrian at best on offense. No one knows what to make of UT at all yet. They have no running game but a QB that can sling it and some serious talent at WR but can they stop anyone on offense? I’m not entirely sure we’re going to know much more about either team even after this game unless one team really clocks the other one but I honestly don’t see it. Sadly, one of those two teams is going to be in the top 15 after this weekend.
- Um, Auburn? They’re 0-2 and facing the team that just beat #8 Arkansas. Granted, Tyler Wilson missed the 2nd half, but the reason he did was because he got rocked. Down goes Frazier? Vegas ain’t buying it, installing AU as a 17-pt favorite. That should be interesting. What’s really surprised me is how bad they’ve been on defense. Van Gorder hasn’t had the impression I (and a ton of others) were expecting.
- I have to say I’m pretty surprised that GT is going to roll (apparently) with the hive helmet deal for the whole season. In talking to the GT grad I work with, he didn’t seem pleased by it but acknowledged that given how often they change the shade of yellow and the uniform in general, it wasn’t like they were putting Bama in plaid or something. Good point.
- Bama still looks pretty beastly, but what’s probably scaring me most about them is that it appears their offense has finally started to play at a high enough level that they can afford to take some chances on D (if they wanted to). They have the best OL in college football, a bevy of bruising backs and those things aren’t really knew. That passing attack and their willingness to use it is new though. They really are a balanced team. I think the debacle in that first matchup with LSU last year forced Saban to at least prepare his offense to open it up some. Having an OL like that certainly helps.
- I’ve always sort of been against SEC expansion in the back of my mind because I think it starts to endanger some of the traditional matchups if we continue the expansion to 14. I’m hoping we stay here. The only positive I saw was the decreased likelihood that we’d have to endure a Penn Wagers refereed game. The problem here is that I’m assuming whatever jackleg they hire as the new group (which I’m assuming they’ve done for this year obviously) would be an improvement over Wagers. While I think I’m pretty safe in that assumption, the SEC office hasn’t actually done a whole lot in the past to make me feel all warm and fuzzy about that.
- Speaking of officiating, they might want to go over with the boys what a horse collar tackle is. The only way that Missouri DB was bringing Gurley down on his scamper out of the shadow of our goal line was a perfectly executed horse collar tackle. That’s one of those “go ahead and tackle the WR and take the pass interference call when you’re beat, at least you don’t give up the TD” deals for the last defender. How the crew missed it I don’t know. Probably the same way they missed Blake Sailors’ clear halo violation.
Until next time,
Have a safe weekend,