OK, per usual, couple of thoughts on Vandy first, then UT…
- Umm, I can’t recall our offense ever looking so balanced. Maybe 1992? I’m anxious to see how they perform against some of these better defenses they’re going to face later though.
- Rome appeared to get more meaningful PT against Vandy than he had to date. I’m thinking that goes up even more with Lynch’s easy drop on his only target. With as well as so many guys are playing, you have to make the most of your chances and on the season Lynch has a clear drop and a fumble in only handful of targets.
- Vasser is playing better than I had imagined he could. I loved his comment about the progression under Grantham. Year 1 was learning where he was supposed to be. Year 2 was learning where everyone else was supposed to be and understanding how his role was supported by the rest of the D. This year he said everything has slowed down enough and he feels comfortable enough that he’s able to focus on the details of playing LB. The results are clearly working.
- How the heck did Vandy leave Jarvis Jones, the best pass rusher in the country, completely unblocked on a 4th down passing situation?
- Maybe the most impressive thing about that whole performance Saturday was the fact that we did it only causeing 1 turnover. It wasn’t like one of those games where Vandy couldn’t do anything right and kept giving us a short field to work with…no, we just flat beat them up on both sides of the ball and dominated series after series. Nice effort.
When UT has the ball:
- Tyler Bray is as good a QB as we’ll face all year. Strong arm, quick release, accurate, tall…he’s got a lot of traits you look for in a top level QB. One of the only issues he has is decision making. Both on and off the field he sometimes doesn’t think everything through. Todd McShay had a great stat from Bray’s effort against UF. When UF brought 4 or less, Bray completed 62% of his passes but when UF blitzed a man and brought 5 or more, that rate dropped to 30%.
- Bray’s skill set pairs well with the 2 stud WRs UT sports. Both guys will play in the NFL, and likely it will be next year. Justin Hunter is a long, lanky AJ Green type guy that has shown no ill effects from his ACL tear last year at Florida. Cordarelle Patterson was considered a UGA lean for a long time last year but might have made the right call going to UT as he’d be one of a bevy of weapons in Athens for his likely 1 season versus being one of only two guys in K’ville with the departure of Da’Rick Rogers. Patterson has speed to burn and isn’t afraid to get physical with his considerable size. Both of these guys accentuate Bray’s positives.
- UT doesn’t sport a very strong run game. Raijon Neal leads in rushing but is averaging a mere 4.5 ypc (less than half of Gurley’s avg…just sayin’) and if you drop the two cupcakes they’ve played, his stats get worse (drops to 3.11 ypc in those games).
- The UT OL is large but pass blocks better than they do run block. Look for lots of false starts as they struggled with that a lot against Florida…at home. They’ve only given up 2 sacks all year but that’s probably a function of Bray’s quick release more than it is their ability to stop the rush. That’s further supported by Bray’s 30% rate on blitzes.
- UT is dangerous on offense when you boil it down. They can strike quick and deep with those two weapons outside. UGA has struggled this year giving up big plays and even in our most solid performance of the year against Vandy last week we gave up some passing yards in chunks. Bray is at a whole other level than Rodgers. If we give him room he’ll torch us. I fully expect us to bring heat early and often. At the same time, I expect UT to try and neutralize our rush with passes into the flats, draws, etc. to keep us guessing. They’ve shown very little effectiveness in the run game and with all of our guys finally getting back, I expect to see a different level of defensive effort. Ogletree returning at ILB should greatly improve our running defense, which wasn’t bad to begin with. The big plays we gave up against Missouri should be rectified by the fact we’ve added 4 starters back since that game.
- I’m excited about the flexibility the reutrn of Rambo adds to the team also. With him back, we can slide Commings over to CB again. This allowed Mitchell to spend more time on offense which is good because he struggled at CB last week and is clearly an impact guy on offense. Rambo coming back is huge versus the pass though.
- Look for a big game from: Jarvis Jones. I know it’s a cop out but that guy is having a special year. He’s one of those rare players that just seems to be around the ball every play. He’s going to cause some havoc getting after Bray and forcing him into a bad throw or two. He showed in Missouri that he’s also capable of making plays in coverage. Look for Grantham to have some fun bringing guys from all over and making Bray think his way down the field.
- Key to the game: Early heat. If we bring stuff early and don’t get to Bray and he gets a little rhythm going, it could feed his considerable confidence. This will only be his 4th start outside of the state of Tennessee and one of those was UK, with another being a UT-filled GA dome. This is UT’s first game in an opponent’s stadium this year. Expect some chaos. This will be a hostile environment similar to the one Bray saw in Gainesville last year where he barely completed 50% of his passes. I expect to see a lot of pressure early but how often it gets there and disrupts the play is the key.
- UT isn’t nearly as daunting on defense as they are on offense. In their 3 games against FBS opponents, they’re giving up an average of 28 ppg. Keep in mind that one of those teams was Akron and another was an NCSt team that only managed 10 pts against the other FBS team they played (UConn). They’ve begun to switch to a 3-4 a la Saban, which makes sense as new DC Sal Sunseri came from Saban’s staff last year. UT just doesn’t have the horses right now to be effective and they’re working through some of the issues in converting from a 4-3 to a 3-4.
- Florida wore UT down and used a combination of a solid ground game and the fact that Driskel could extend plays with his feet to find guys down field to ultimately put 37 points on the board. That was with a QB that hasn’t really done much at all prior to that. With Murrays’ considerable experience, I expect to see him continue his high level of play as UT struggles to get after the QB, ranking in the 90s nationally in sacks and in the 80s in tackles for loss.
- The days of UT having dynamic playmakers in the secondary, fierce linebackers roaming everywhere and NFL DLs lined up waiting to play are long gone. The talent level just isn’t the same as it once was. Sunseri is a hard-nosed no nonsense kind of guy but he’s probably a year or two from getting the results Dooley wants. Last week’s effort against Akron was better but they still gave up big plays, evidence that their guys are still trying to figure out where to be, who to cover, etc. If UGA has shown anything this year it’s the ability to strike a lot of different ways and for big yardage. I think we lead the country in plays of either 20 or 25 yards or more. That’s impressive.
- I can’t wait to see Gurley and Marshall against an SEC defense. They may not be the UT defenses of the 90s but they’re a step up from Vandy. Those two have cleared every hurdle that’s been laid before them so far but I want to see how they respond to a little adversity. UT has considerably more size along the front than we’ve faced to date so I want to see how our OL and RBs respond. I think we’ll find a little less space to gallop, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- Look for a big game from: Todd Gurley. Gillislee at Florida rushed 18 times with a better than 6 ypc avg against UT, and that was without much threat of a pass. Gurley is more suited to the pounding of a bigger SEC defense than Marshall and could be poised for a breakout game in his first CBS action. His stiff arm last weekend on that TD run was a thing of absolute beauty. He’s got great balance and his lower half is already so developed that he’s able to sustain impacts and keep going. He’s special but I want to see it Saturday.
- Key to the game: Aaron Murray staying calm early. I have no reason to expect he won’t, as the guy is playing with considerably more, well, everything, this year. When he’s struggled, it’s usually out of the gate early and he typically settles in. If he comes out and connects early like he did last week and is able to keep those safeties peeled back, then the running game explodes and Bobo has the full playbook at his fingertips. Murray’s ability to pick up blitzes could be key.
- OK, so the only team that presents a hurdle of any significance for FSU the remainder of the season is Florida, who could very well finish 3rd in their division (and are currently ranked as such). Yes they still have to play Miami and VT on the road but neither one of those teams are currently ranked. FSU knows they’re going to be on the outside looking in at whoever wins the SEC and Oregon (although they still have a pretty tough slate left in a pretty good Pac 10), so expect to see them put up numbers as much as they can. They could also very likely get passed by one of the remaining unbeaten Big XII teams (KSU, WVU and UT). I expect FSU will run up some gaudy stats from here on out…and it might not matter.
- The NFL has always been something for me to watch on Sundays. I enjoy seeing the game played at such a high level. I’m a Falcons fan but their wins and losses register far lower on my impact scale than UGA. Regardless, watching these replacement refs has taken whatever joy I took from watching the NFL. As much as they struggled with adding replay years ago but it messed with the flow of the game, you’d think they’d have gotten this ref strike handled in week 1. It’s embarrassing.
- With that being said, I’d love to be lead counsel in the negotiations for the Ref’s union. Talkin’ about bargaining from a position of power…wow.
- I can’t wait to see that 4th quarter video with AC/DC playing about the Chapel Bell when the crowd has reason to be excited and amped. To date all the home games have been laughers by that point, but there’s no doubt that it would get a different response in the right environment. I’ve been pretty critical in the past of some of the quality of videos that we’ve seen and the general inflexibility and unwillingness to update but they’ve stepped it up this year with highlights of most recent games, etc. Top notch. I loved the Missouri highlights pre game and hope to see a Vandy montage this week. There’s certainly plenty of clips to pick from.
- We are currently 14th in the SEC in net punting. It took me a while to wrap my head around that. First off, I had kinda sorta forgotten that the SEC now had 14 teams. Then I realized we were dead last. Nowhere to go but up I guess.
- I don’t know if you saw the clip of John L. Smith referring to his team as “the state of Alabama football team” or not. It was pretty sad. You may recall he’s the coach of Arkansas…not Alabama. Might explain that 52 point drubbing they took to Bama though.
- While the home slate isn’t exactly a list of the top games to see in CFB this year, it looks like we’re going to have the best weather year in a while. Yeah, the opener was scorching, but I was in the shade the whole time. These last two games have been absolutely pristine and Saturday looks no different.
- So, with a baby girl on the way any week now, if these things stop showing up, wish me luck.
Until next time…
Have a safe weekend,