The annual migration of Georgia fans down to the coast and greater Jacksonville area has begun. How are you feeling about this game? It’s Jacksonville, so even though on paper Georgia should win, some fans are a bit nervous, as we find out in the latest installment of Junkyard Mail. …
Stewart Smithwick writes: I can’t remember the last time I was this nervous for a game. Especially against UF because I haven’t felt this confident in a win against UF in quite some time. We have a ton of momentum going into this and UF has literally zero momentum. The players seem to be playing with confidence, the D specifically. They seem to have a little bit of that swagger back that they used to have a few years ago. I believe that if we play a complete game on both side of the ball we should come away with a W. The D has been one of our biggest problems when it comes to this game and now I am more confident in the D than I have been for years. Is the D what wins the game for us this year or is it just me?
I’m not sure it’s possible, considering the trend of recent years, for Dawgs fans to ever feel confident going into Jacksonville, no matter how the two teams look on paper. But I think you’re right about defense being the key to a win for Georgia. I expect the Dogs’ offense to move in fits and starts (probably starting out slowly, as has been Aaron Murray’s unfortunate habit of late). But no matter who is at quarterback for the Gators, Georgia has to control Florida’s running game. So far this season, the Dogs have been pretty stout against the run, though they didn’t do that well in that department against Vandy. I’m hoping that was just an off night caused by a) overconfidence and b) losing a bit of their composure. Having Cornelius Washington and Alec Ogletree back is very big for Georgia.
Allen Kennedy writes: Bill, if you remember, I responded to you last week about our special teams … how we had our 3’s and 4’s out there? Here is a quote from Richt: “Every time guys get healthy, that does give you more depth in your special teams. Not to say [Alec] Ogletree couldn’t run down and cover a kick too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of that. Even Shawn Williams, as that Vanderbilt game was going on and he knew what was at stake every time the ball was being kicked, he was personally taking younger guys off the team and putting himself on the team to help us win, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see that.” It’s hard to stay behind this guy when he says things like this and it’s a prime example of how he just dismisses the importance of our special teams. Special teams is a huge part of the whole game.
You’re preaching to the choir on that here. One thing that I noticed in watching that video about the 1980 team that I wrote about yesterday is that the Dogs had a lot of starters on special teams that year. I’ve never been a big fan of Urban Meyer in most things, but his approach to special teams — making them truly special and an honor to serve on — makes a lot more sense than filling out the special teams with freshmen and walk-ons and only those upperclassmen who feel like jumping in. It’s definitely one of Mark Richt’s blind spots.
Matt McGahee writes: Hey, this isn’t neccessarily Jacksonville-related but it has been a question that has been burning a hole in my brain. Why has Bobo abandoned the fullbacks? I remember many of great runs by Brown, Lumpkin, Ware, and Moreno that were led by fantastic blocks by Brannan Southerland. Or giving it to [Shaun] Chapas for a solid 4 yard gain when trying to kill the clock. Or being in the red zone and running up the middle on the first two downs and then play action and send the fullback out to catch the TD pass. I mean, someone needs to ask Bobo or Richt why we are not using the fullbacks to assist the run. It has been very successful in the past.
Some fans suspect that the Georgia coaches have been keeping use of the fullbacks in their pocket up to now so they can spring that aspect of the game as a surprise, but I’m not so sure about that. I think it’s more likely that the coaches don’t have confidence in senior Bruce Figgins and sophomore Zander Ogletree as runners, though both have done some stellar work this season as blockers. What’s more puzzling to me is why Mike Bobo hasn’t had Murray throwing to Figgins more out of the backfield. That’s definitely a barely used weapon in the Dogs’ offensive arsenal.
OkieDawg writes: Bill, I hope you know the answer to this very important Bulldog sports-related question. How do they determine when and where alcohol will be sold at a college football game? For example, beer was sold at the Liberty Bowl and in Atlanta for the Boise vs. UGA game. But in Jacksonville, TWLOCP, they close the taps. What gives?
Generally, alcohol isn’t served at most college games, especially the ones held in on-campus stadiums. Exceptions crop up at noncampus sites such as the Georgia Dome. But both schools have been trying to steer the image of the Jacksonville game away from the “Cocktail Party” reputation in recent years, so that probably explains the decision there. Frankly, I don’t see the problem since I go to a football game to watch the game, not to drink. But I know there are many others who feel differently.
Beach Dawg Living Among Gators writes: Bill, help me understand the disciplinary program within the SEC, if understanding anything the SEC does. It is obvious that they intently scrutinize, with some exceptions (Fairley), personal foul penalties and administer punishment. However, it does not appear that the same level of scrutiny is applied to situations of failures in personal behavior, e.g. substance abuse. Cornelius Washington, UGA, was suspended two games for a DUI but the three LSU players were suspended for only one game. Is the SEC again favoring (Auburn 2010) a national contender or is there a lack of consistency in substance abuse cases (and yes I consider DUI to be substance abuse)?
While the conference weighs in on discipline for on-field infractions, it’s up to the schools to decide punishment for substance abuse, arrests and so on. Obviously, Georgia’s idea of punishment for such things is a bit tougher than LSU’s.
Paul Suttles writes: Bill, since it seems that the media has not started talking about this topic in earnest, I figure it’s time Georgia fans begin making their feelings known. On ESPN and in other national sports media outlets, some calls are already being made for a rematch of the Alabama-LSU game for the BCS title. The justification is that these two programs are without a doubt the two best programs in college football this season and one game in the regular season should not prevent the loser from having a shot for the BCS title. Even Tony Barnhart has an article on CBSSportsline.com mentioning this possibility. What they all fail to mention is that the loser of that game on Nov. 5 will have not only failed to win their conference, but will have failed to win their division. Think back to 2007. One of the main reasons given for Georgia being leapfrogged by LSU for a spot in the BCS title game to play Ohio State was that Georgia failed to win their conference and failed to win their division … and no team that finishes third in their own conference deserves the right to play for the BCS title game. This reasoning was put forth by some of the most well-known members of the college football media landscape, including one Mr. Kirk Herbstreit. Coach Richt pleaded his case to the media by claiming that since the #2 and #3 teams ahead of Georgia (who, at the time was ranked #4 in the BCS) lost, then logically speaking and despite not having won the SEC East or playing in the SEC championship game, Georgia should move up to the #2 spot to take on Ohio State for the BCS title. A large majority of the media turned their noses up at Coach Richt and trotted out the “win your own division/conference” talk while they jumped another 2-loss team ahead of Georgia into the BCS #2 spot. Now, some might say that the difference between that year and this year is that both Bama and LSU far outclass any other program in the nation. While I do agree that those two teams are playing the best football of any team right now, at the end of 2007, Georgia and Southern Cal were playing better than any team in the nation. If a team has no business playing for the BCS title if they do not win their own division or conference in 2007, then the same should hold true in 2011.
I agree with you completely, though I think the Bama-LSU rematch scenario is highly unlikely. But if it comes down to poll voters choosing between a one-loss SEC team and an undefeated Boise State, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. I think the TV honchos would do all they could to prevent an all-SEC BCS game from happening, however. And generally TV rules college football these days.
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