Fan talk: Where do the Dawgs go from here?

Did Mike Bobo not trust his backup players enough against Vandy? (University of Georgia)

Did Mike Bobo not trust his backup players enough against Vandy? (University of Georgia)

Aside from the “Fire Richt!” and “Fire everyone!” laments from some readers, there were more reasoned fan responses and questions in this week’s Junkyard Mail. Let’s check some of it out. …

Joe Burger writes: Hey Bill, Mediocre defense, more special teams errors, the absolute worst called offensive game of the year, just terrible. The whole football program gets an F [against Vanderbilt]. Now, I know there were some TERRIBLE calls and, yes, we’re missing offensive playmakers, but we lost to Vandy. So, would you change your midterm grade for the team after seeing that performance? And even more importantly, but left unanswered in your report card, where is the UGA football program headed in the future? Bill, are we ever gonna win a national championship with coach Richt and his staff? I hate to be the Doubting Thomas, and I’m not gonna scream to fire coach Richt, but at what point do you say, “We need a new leader, we need fresh leadership to take us to a higher level.” These type of morale-busting losses have been too often over the last few years. To open the season the way we did, then to follow it up with these losses, especially against Vandy, is downright embarrassing. As always, thanks Bill …

Joe, I wouldn’t revisit my midterm grade for the Dogs (overall grade B-) because it was based on the first six games. But, yes, the Bulldogs are off to a very poor start on the second half of the season, though I’m not ready to write them off just yet. For the Vandy game, I’d have given the offense a D, the defense a C-, special teams an F and coaching a D. (And if I were grading the officials, they would have been expelled!) As for the future, Georgia returns most of its offensive talent next year (Aaron Murray being the notable exception) and the young defensive players will be a year older, though Todd Grantham’s record as a developer of talent at UGA is mixed so far. Next year also sees a very favorable schedule for Georgia. Good enough to win a national title? Well, barring another year of numerous and key injuries and a flop by Hutson Mason or whoever ends up succeeding Murray, it certainly would be possible. But, frankly, I’d say until Mark Richt adjusts his stubborn attitude on the subject of special teams and figures out a way to keep that aspect of the game from continually dragging down his program, the odds are long against any sort of championship. And I don’t necessarily mean just naming a special teams coordinator. Coordinator or no, what Georgia needs to do is figure out why execution in special teams play is so frequently poor. Do they need to practice more? Do they need to revisit what they do in practice? Do players need to be held more accountable? Would an Urban Meyer approach, where players compete for the honor of playing on special teams led by the head coach, be more effective? I don’t know, but, unless Richt figures out an answer, his teams are going to keep losing games they shouldn’t lose.

Mike Edwards, who attended the game in Nashville, writes: There are many reasons for UGA losing, but the main reason is the coaching staff approached this game with a let’s not lose [attitude] as opposed to let’s play this game to win it. We keep hearing the mantra “next man up,” then ask them to play with their proverbial hands tied behind their backs. Other teams are winning with backup players because they trust them to execute the plays they have been coached to play. Players know when a coaching staff does not trust them to make the plays and they will play to those expectations. If you truly believe in the “next man up” mantra then coach them in a way where you demand and expect them to execute the plays. This loss is on the coaching staff.  Hopefully things can be turned around for the rest of the season. Let’s play to win the rest of them! Still a UGA fan!

I think you make a very good point, Mike, especially when it comes to Georgia’s anemic offensive showing against the Dores. While, yes, you’d expect Mike Bobo to have adjusted his playcalling somewhat in the absence of talent like Todd Gurley and Justin Scott-Wesley, his ultra conservative game plan against Vandy and his refusal to challenge Vandy deep backfired. I think his approach also may have rubbed off on his quarterback, who admitted he already was having “trust” problems with his replacement receivers. The only way for Murray to gain trust in those players is to challenge them to get open and break the big play that has been Bobo’s mainstay.

Josh Cuevas writes: Bill, Undoubtedly the defense is the biggest problem right now, and it hasn’t improved with experience. Last year the defense was porous even with a slew of NFL players-to-be roaming the field. This year with younger players it’s one of the worst in the country. That should never happen with the kind of recruits UGA gets, even if we had to start 11 true freshmen. … With the exception of the 2011 Dawgs, Grantham’s defenses have vastly underperformed every season given the type of talent he has on the field. Even with the rash of recent injuries, Georgia would have still been a Top 10 team this year if the defense had simply been average, instead of terrible, unable to make stops on 3rd and 4th downs even against the worst teams. Certainly the Bulldogs have experienced other problems (special teams, horrible officiating, injuries, overly conservative play calling, etc.), but teams with a talent base like Georgia’s should be able to overcome those sporadic flaws. They can’t overcome a defense that can’t stop 2nd string quarterbacks from 2nd tier programs from marching down the field on every possession.

A tough but fair assessment, Josh. Normally, when an opponent’s starting quarterback goes out, you’d expect a defense to be react like a shark when there’s blood in the water, but against Missouri and Vandy Grantham’s defenders seemed, if anything, to relax. Not a sign of good coaching.

Head linesman Gary Jayroe gets an earful from Mark Richt in the Vanderbilt game. (Associated Press)

Head linesman Gary Jayroe gets an earful from Mark Richt in the Vanderbilt game. (Associated Press)

Jim P. writes: As bad as Georgia’s play was [against Vanderbilt], it was good enough to win the game. But the refs and the asinine [targeting] rule stole the game at that point. People are lying if they say otherwise. The Dawgs had the game under control at that point.

As much like sour grapes as that might sound, Jim, you’re right. That belated second targeting call, in particular, was abysmal and showed every sign of resulting from an official feeling pressure from the Vandy bench right behind him. We probably won’t ever know whether that officiating crew was disciplined or reprimanded in any way by the SEC, but they certainly needed it.

Bubba King (no relation) writes: Bill, Over the summer, I wrote to you regarding my major concern going into the season. You were nice enough to post my email, and in your reply, you scoffed at my concerns. Do you recall what it was? It was long-snapping. My point was that we had been spoiled by the mistake-free play of Ty Frix, and you pretty much told me that there were two players there who were more than capable to do the job and long-snapping should be the least of my worries. How do you feel about that now? LOL, just busting your chops a little.

Consider my chops properly busted, Bubba!

Morton Johnson writes: Bill, Looking ahead at next season, I’m growing very concerned about the fact that the presumed heir to the starting quarterback position will have hardly played in a real game in more than two years. I know Georgia has had a tough schedule up to now that didn’t allow for a lot of second- and third-team players to get in, but shouldn’t the coaches be thinking ahead at least a little bit when it comes to Hutson Mason?

Good question, Morton, and a tough one for Richt and his staff to deal with. On his “Bulldog Hotline” show this week, the coach was asked about the backup QB and responded that he would have expected Mason to have played by now, but noted: “It’s just been one of those kinds of seasons … every single game has come down to the wire.” Unless Kentucky turns out to be a cakewalk, the only game left on the schedule where you might expect Mason to see much playing time is Appalachian State. While I know it might seem unfair to fifth-year senior Murray to ask him to give up any playing time, I think perhaps starting Mason in that game might be good, just to let him feel what it’s like to be the starter. Even if he sits most of that game, Murray is still likely to get the remaining records within his reach. I have a feeling Richt and Bobo wouldn’t be willing to go so far as to start Mason, but I certainly hope he gets the bulk of the playing time against App State. Just as Murray deserves kudos for coming back to play his senior year, Mason is due some credit for taking a redshirt year last season and staying at Georgia when he could have transferred elsewhere. I think he’s owed some playing time for that.

Beach Dawg Living Among Equally Unhappy Gators writes: We all feel the pain and, as you know, the blogs are humming with passionate views on who needs to be fired, what needs to be done, etc, etc. About the only thing that I have not seen recommended is abolishment of the football program! So, Mr. King, if you choose to accept, what are the top three actions you would take at the end of the season if you were the AD and/or head coach.

Interesting challenge, Beach Dawg. OK, I’ll bite. The first thing I would do wouldn’t wait until after the season. I’d tell Grantham now to simplify his defensive schemes and get them in to the players quicker because I didn’t ever want to have to burn another timeout because the defense was confused as to the call. That’s just inexcusable. Same thing goes for whoever is responsible for getting the special teams out on the field; Georgia should never have to burn a timeout for that, either. Speaking of special teams, I’d address that problem as I outlined in the answer to the earlier question. And, lastly, I’d take a good, hard look at what’s being done to recruit and develop players on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Quayvon Hicks is sporting a different style of facemask this season. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Quayvon Hicks is sporting a different style of facemask this season. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Paula Bechtler writes: Hi Bill! Any update on Chris Conley after his injury on Saturday? Can you tell me if there is going to be a Dawg Walk in Jacksonville, and if so, when and where? Also, I have noticed that some UGA players have face masks that look slightly different from the others, with a tighter-knit web pattern. Do you know why that is? Thanks!

Last word on Conley was inconclusive but it didn’t look like he was that close to being able to return to practice. And if he doesn’t practice, he won’t play against the Gators. The grill-like facemask you’re referring to, worn by fullback Quayvon Hicks, is similar to one worn by a couple of NFL players. Before the season, when the players were getting new helmets, Hicks told the equipment manager he wanted something more “intimidating” than a conventional facemask. As for the Dawg Walk in Jacksonville, UGA athletic information chief Claude Felton tells me it will be the same as the last few years. Players unload from the buses near the stadium loading dock and make a short walk into the stadium. It’s scheduled for 1:39 p.m. ET.

Barbara Sarco writes: Hi Bill, is Adrian Scott, a monster senior defensive back out of Valdosta High, on Richt’s radar? Think I should tweet him (CMR)? Scott is leading the defensive charge down in God’s country. Thanks.

Barbara, we won’t really know until the coaches get on the road next month for evaluations what late-bloomers they’re pursuing, but AJC recruiting guru Michael Carvell says he hasn’t heard anything yet about Georgia and Scott. A tweet to the head coach certainly wouldn’t hurt.

That’s it for this bye week. Next time, we’ll talk Dogs and Gators!

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

427 comments Add your comment

VoodooVincent

October 26th, 2013
9:01 pm

a) Richt’s #6 of head coaches with at least 5 years experience in win % at 74%. Saban’s is 75%.
b) Richt has only had 1 losing season, Saban has had a bunch more
c) Grantham has had the defense in the top 25 the last 2 years (36 in 2010, 23 in 2011, 18 in 2012)
d) Offense has only finished top 25 in scoring once in 2012 with Bobo/Murray combination

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:02 pm

Erk – I could have gone all night w/o hearing that, but no surprises there. It’s called SEC fatigue. All the articles, pundits, etc have been drooling to have a non-SEC team in the title game this year. They may get their wish too. But, the way Bama looked today, they are getting better and better every week. It’s coaching folks. That’s the standard. Can we match that? Hell yes if we are willing to make a hard decision.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 26th, 2013
9:02 pm

Would love to see Bama and Ohio St play in the National Title game

maybe after that game we wont have to hear anymore about Ohio St ever playing another National Title until they play some decent competition other than Michigan and the occasional one decent out of conference game every year

and only if everyone else has 2 losses

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 26th, 2013
9:07 pm

Vincent

Lay off the kool-aid

Winning % (how about winning % vs top 25 teams and top 10 teams)

and you are comparing Richt to Saban

LOL

Let us know when Richt decides to make an “”appearance”" to a national title game Saban has “”"won”"” 4

As for Grantham LOL again;; how about his numbers vs the top 25 not 20 unranked teams

VoodooVincent

October 26th, 2013
9:07 pm

A lot of it comes down to turnovers.

Offense has been in the SEC in turnovers lost:
8th in 2010
7th in 2011
9th in 2012

Defense in turnovers gained in the SEC ranks:
4th in 2010
3rd in 2011
1st in 2012

That’s the story.

Murray’s a turnover machine.

Erk Russell's Dog

October 26th, 2013
9:07 pm

VooDoo
What is CMR’s winning % against ranked teams . What is Saban’s winning% in the SEC. B. What is a bunch more ? How is that defense ranked in 2013?

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:12 pm

Are we really going to compare Richts record to Saban. One has 3 NC’s, on the verge of a 4th and 3 in a row. A truly historical and monumental feat. The others legacy is drowned in dissapointment and a 5 yrd play, as some would claim. I’m not seeing it.

LADawg

October 26th, 2013
9:13 pm

Just sayin’. Should Auburn take one loss into the Iron Bowl and come up with some magic to beat Bama, we’ll have the two Tigers playing for the SEC championship. And we’ll have another off season of excuses about the schedule and injuries. If we could only change places with the Buckeyes. For some reason, I believe this staff would still figure out how to lose two or three games even in a weak conference.

Erk Russell's Dog

October 26th, 2013
9:14 pm

Banker
I really hope Bama plays Ohio State in the BCS Championship .It will shut the pundits up and prove that the best football is played in the SEC. But Oregon or Florida State would give Bama a much better game.

LADawg

October 26th, 2013
9:23 pm

Before the season, Bama had two tough games on their schedule-A&M and LSU. The Tide has off weeks before both. Saban owns the SEC, literally.

HotDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:24 pm

Some of you haters, that questioned the loss to MO, need to rethink any thoughts that MO is a second tier team. They’re proving to be very good.
Enough acting as if there was shame in losing to them.
Vandy is the loss that made no sense. Supporters should be a bit more positive and Try to be proud of the wins. And haters are just haters. They have no credibility.

dawgfan

October 26th, 2013
9:28 pm

I wonder if Richt will get the team together to celebrate if South Carolina beats Mizzou. Sounds like something bush league he’d do.

dawgfan

October 26th, 2013
9:29 pm

HotDawg, we’re more than accustomed to losing to good teams under Richt. Tell us something we don’t know.

HotDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:29 pm

The best champ. game, at this point, would be oregon-fsu….may not happen, but then again…..

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:30 pm

HotDog – they played a back up QB against us. He came off the bench a lit us up. They are ranke where they are because they beat us. Again, under Richt, we are the Top 15 team everyone wants to play because we are their best shot to legitimize themselves. Who have they played and beaten by the way? GA? FLA? Hmm.

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:30 pm

Dawgfan – your cracking me up

HotDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:32 pm

He’s beaten plenty of good teams.

HotDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:33 pm

Banker they’re about to take down SC also

HotDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:36 pm

That’s a pretty tough run, regardless of year and records.
beating Ga, Fl, SC back to back to back.
Give mizzou some credit.

cowbulls

October 26th, 2013
9:38 pm

If I could get rid of one coach, it would be Bobo. His play calling has ALWAYS been too conservative and he has ZERO killer instinct. That’s the reason the backups rarely get to play as Bobo goes into his shell way too early and at least once a season it costs us a game such as the Vandy debacle. Consider if Bobo kept his foot on the pedal, a lot more backup players on defense would have got playing time last year and maybe the inexperience wouldn’t be such a problem.

The whole game and really the season turned on one play, Herrera’s roughing the passer penalty. We had Missouri stopped again and all the momentum was on our side. There’s zero doubt in my mind that Aaron would have continued to put up points on the board and we would have never turned back. That penalty opened the door for them and our defense then had a letdown. If Herrera pulls up Missouri punts and we win the game. Amarlo is a junior and should know better. That was a boneheaded play. That play changed the entire season for UGA.

I hope the offense learns something from the growing pains that the defense is going thru by having to play all those freshman and continues to rotate their OL. In addition to keeping them fresh, this will help us in the future by having guys ready to start next year. I see very little drop off when Beard and Theus play tackle and when Danzler rotates in and plays guard. Gates, Lee, and Burnette at least will be gone next year and we will have a new QB for the first time in 4 years. The new QB will need to have some experienced OL guys in front of him. NOW is the time to develop those players.

Hairy Dawg

October 26th, 2013
9:38 pm

Knew Miss-who would chokes. Dawgs is still mathically in it.

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:39 pm

FSU vs Oregon would defenitely be entertaining. By the way, SC (21) just tied up the game on Mizz (5). Again, who have they beaten?

Erk Russell's Dog

October 26th, 2013
9:40 pm

Haven’t beat Carolina yet ,Overtime in Mizzou Shaw leads a 17 point comeback in 4th quarter.

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:41 pm

Here’s to “livin on hope” and backing in HairyDawg

HotDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:41 pm

I’ll look forward to much more success with a healthier team next year. And the 15 yd penalty rescinded from a reversed targeting call.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 26th, 2013
9:41 pm

HotDawg,

Has this coaching staff beaten every SEC East team in the same season??

Nope.

Who should we give credit for on that?

VoodooVincent

October 26th, 2013
9:42 pm

The defense has faced some great offenses, 3 are top 15.

The offense has only faced one top 15 defense, but man, have they struggled, getting worse every week.

Murray had 3 turnovers against Missourri, and a 48 QBR with his 3rd worst worst passing yards total and 0 td’s against VANDERBILT.

A 5th year Sr, and he can’t put the pieces together.

HotDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:44 pm

Banker… if MO somehow loses 3 sec games and we win out….why would that be “backing” in?

HotDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:49 pm

I’m a bit drained from the same old, negativity of most bloggers.
It is absolutely boorish.
Try to be more positive. Life is alot easier and much happier that way.

Hairy Dawg

October 26th, 2013
9:49 pm

If you aint got hope and faith in Dawgs then what us there live for. Faith in Dawgs and Coach Richt is what to do for full life. Having no faith and Doubting Thomas of Dawgs getting new life and overcoming when downs is not way to strengthen beliefs for fan. Dawgs always has chance for believer in good and right for Dawgs.

Hairy Dawg

October 26th, 2013
9:51 pm

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:52 pm

Yes. Any time you need to pull for another team to lose that is backing in. How about taking care of business and controlling your own destiny. Don’t get me wrong Hairy, I they lose 3 then we then, by the rules, are the winner of the East if we can finish strong. Would you say that was a successful season? I don’t. I say it was wishing on a prayer and depending on luck, not achievement. That’s all.
If by some miracle we do make it, I defenitely will be pulling for us to win. But I have a hard time believing we will be ready for another battle with Bama.

HotDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:54 pm

Goodnight fellow Dawgs…happy people, stay happy…all others, quit being so miserable. Nobody likes being around negative people.

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
9:56 pm

I don’t have faith in Richt, Bobo, or Grantham. Let me be clear about that. Nothing positive to hang my hat on there. Can’t say “wow, with all the injuries they’ve really done a great job coaching these guys up and putting their best effort out there”. However, I always pull for the players.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 26th, 2013
10:00 pm

Reality sinks in for Mizzou

Erk Russell's Dog

October 26th, 2013
10:00 pm

Mizzou losing 3 SEC games is only part of the Equation,the Dogs still have to beat Florida, Kentucky and Auburn. Mizzou blows 24yd FG Carolina wins.

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
10:02 pm

I hate the old ball coach, but wow. Hat’s off to SC. They just took down the best in the SEC! Right? Not mid-tier SEC team right? Spurrier coached them to victory. Connor comes off the bench and leads them to upset Mizz-who. Wow!

Hairy Dawg

October 26th, 2013
10:02 pm

Miss-who goes down! Dawgs got good shots now.

RawDawg

October 26th, 2013
10:05 pm

We should move Mark Richt up to Athletic Director. We can keep Ears McGarity as his chief associate. We need Mark representing our beloved University. He is a fabulous man and his character, ethics, values and morals are elite. There isn’t a better man in the entire SEC [the SEC with commissioner Slime and referees like Penn Wagers and the cheaters that officiated the Vanderbilt game isn't exactly a HOT BED of honorable men!]. Mark leading our Athletic Department would make Dawg Nation proud to be the G!
We then hire the best available coach in the nation. There is only one saban and hopefully he will go back to the NFL & fix his previous failure there.
A good hire might be Derek Dooley. He has learned what not to do in the SEC and Orange wasn’t his color. Get him now while his Dad could help mentor him. With Mark & Vince helping him, he could be a natural in the Red & Black [I'm not Barbara in disguise!]. Keep Bobo has QB coach. Hire the Best OC available. Send Grantham somewhere, anywhere but out of Athens for sure [hopefully he will get a job in the SEC like Willie martinez so we can go against his chinese fire drill defense. DUH!!!].
All bets off! South Carolina just beat Mizzou so we might can back into another East title and all conjecture about coaching changes will be moot! GO DAWGS!

doggoneit

October 26th, 2013
10:08 pm

NO excuse! we have the best talent and Ga. still can’t get it done. FIRE the defensive coor. Pathetic job

Hairy Dawg

October 26th, 2013
10:13 pm

It no more backing in than how Bammer won BCS after loosing to LSU or TX AM. That just dont adding up about backing in to belittle Dawgs acheivements of owning East.

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
10:17 pm

RawDawg – I agree with the personal comments you made about Richt. The only way to get rid of Bobo is to get rid of Mark through. If he did become AD he would lobby to give Bobo the HC position. Bobo was a QB coach, so was Mark. Bobo was promoted to OC, so was Mark, and so on and so on.
Nope, that’s putting a bandaide over a bullet wound. There is too much at stake to make the same mistakes again. Go pay some money and get the best it will attract. Unlike others, I believe there are some great options.

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
10:20 pm

What achievements? Winning the East? No championships since 2005 Hairy. Playing for one is a little under the stated goal isn’t it?

Erk Russell's Dog

October 26th, 2013
10:20 pm

I would not consider that the Dogs have owned the East this year. The Vandy loss will likely keep the Dogs out of the Dome.How can you own the east and lose to Vanderdamnbilt?

Erk Russell's Dog

October 26th, 2013
10:31 pm

It is late but I have just thought about something.What if Missouri ,South Carolina and Georgia all wind up 6 and 2 in the SEC EAST who goes to the dome?

BankerDawg

October 26th, 2013
10:32 pm

Owned the East? Am I missing something?

VoodooVincent

October 26th, 2013
10:32 pm

Teams have Aaron Murray and the UGA offense pegged now.

Go zone defense, force Murray to be patient and not be greedy.

He can’t.

Look for Florida to do a lot of zone defense, and Auburn, and GT.

Missourri and Vanderbilt made Murray look like a 1st year guy with their zone defenses.

He’ll see nothing but that from here out.

VoodooVincent

October 26th, 2013
10:36 pm

If 3 way tie breaker, according to SEC Digital Network:
B. THREE (OR MORE) TEAM TIE

1. (Once the tie has been reduced to two teams, go to the two-team tie-breaker format.)
2. Combined head-to-head record among the tied teams.
3. Record of the tied teams within the division.
4. Head-to-head competition vs. the team within the division with the best overall (divisional and non-divisional) Conference record and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken from first to last.
5. Overall record vs. non-division teams.
6. Combined record vs. all common non-divisional teams.
7. Record vs. common non-divisional team with the best overall Conference (divisional and non-divisional) record and proceeding through other common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish within their division.
8. The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the last weekend of regular-season games shall be the divisional representative in the SEC Championship Game, unless the second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranked tied team. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the SEC Championship Game.

Erk Russell's Dog

October 26th, 2013
10:43 pm

The key to the offense is getting a healthy Gurley back. The opposing defenses will not be able to sit back in a two deep zone with Gurley running the ball.They will have to load the box to stop the run and some passing lanes should be there. Florida will be tough on defense even with Gurley back. With two weeks to prepare can the Georgia Defense stop an impotent Gator offense or will the Dogs have to score more than 30 points to win.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

October 26th, 2013
10:45 pm

Did you boys see how an elite team plays Tennessee?
May you should just chant “Alabama’s conference!” instead of “SEC, SEC, SEC.”