Dude’s Top 10: No. 2 – Mark Richt and the Three Types of Georgia Hurt


This series focuses on my favorite posts of all time. Lest I be labeled as overly arrogant, please note: 1. This was new DYC Editor-in-Chief Chad Floyd’s idea. 2. These are my “favorite” posts not my “best” posts. I don’t have “best” posts, because that would imply that I had better posts and good posts to begin with. For the rest of the Dude’s Top 10 Countdown, click here.

Ah, #RichtDickPics. I’d been threatening to bust that bad boy out for years to get some eyes on a post. After an exasperating loss to Florida in 2014 I had my chance.

In this article I examine the three types of Georgia hurt that Bulldog fans are all too familiar with. I’m a masochist, so of course I like this article.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

For the rest of the Dude’s Top 10 Countdown, click here.

The Blackout Freakout of 2015: UGA Fans are Still Desperate for a Curse


At 9:44 PM on August 1st the rumor dropped.

It was from a beatwriter at the Tidewater News named Andrew Lind. He had a source within Nike that a series of T-Shirts, which looked to be nothing more than ugly t-shirts, were actually real life jerseys that would be worn this season by the teams’ whose insignia they bore. This meant that nine teams (NINE) would be wearing alternate black jerseys this season. Here’s the tweet:

The fact that these designs would be pretty fugly as uniforms does not keep the rumor down. Nor does the fact that Charlie Strong straight up denied that Texas would have black jerseys days before these images were said to be uniform designs. As even Lind notes:

But, hey, we’re UGA fans so, in spite of reasons to the contrary, we’re gonna lose our damn minds. So several UGA blogs along with Saturday Down South run a story about the tweet from Lind. Most assume that UGA will be wearing black jerseys against Bama — the Bama Blackout Part 2: Electric Bugaloo.

Logan Booker, a very good journalist whose work I enjoy, tweets out the strongest of the takes I’ve seen. He both supports the comeback of black jerseys and basically says that Richt already told the media that black jerseys were coming this season for sure:

Booker’s certainty about the imminent return of a Blackout is confusing. Either he is revealing a stronger statement from Richt that never appeared in print or he is just reading too much into Richt’s comments after the 2014 Kentucky game. That night Richt said that Aaron Murray and the seniors wanted to wear black jerseys for the game, but the black uni’s simply weren’t there for the team to wear. He then dropped the famous “maybe next year” line that set the stage for this wild maelstrom of sartorial speculation.

Either way the UGA-internet storm builds and pushes Seth Emerson of the AJC to call one Greg McGarity and confirm the rumor.

McGarity denies the rumor, insisting that UGA will not wear an alternate uniform this season:

That seems to be that.

….Unless McGarity is setting up one of the best okey-doke’s in UGA history, but we’ll leave that aside for now.

___________________________

Still, what strikes me the most about this story is the undercurrent of UGA fans still ravenously policing the black jerseys.

Now, you could argue that there is something to that. The 07′ season’s alternate jerseys looked to be the beginning of a beautiful tradition at UGA, one that I’m proud to say I was a part of as a student. But then the 08′ Blackout was such a disastrous result that many soured on the idea. The Old Guard could wail about changing uniforms but the idea of a ‘curse’ or a ‘jinx’ didn’t really have a foothold yet. Most assumed the black jerseys would be back, even if they didn’t like the idea.

But the solid black never did come back.

What came afterward was a series of uniform changes that brought even deeper humiliation to the fanbase, both on account of the results they heralded and because they were pretty awful looks.

There were the all-red-all-the-time “power ranger” uni’s of the Boise State opener. Then the black helmets and pants for the Florida game. Both losses. Both embarrassingly so.

At that point the hope of a Blackout becoming tradition was done in by the merging of the Old Guard with the True Believers. Suddenly any uniform change was not just a slight to the tradition but a tempting of fate, a calling forth of the dreadful Curse.

Now, Booker is obviously right. Uniforms don’t lose games. That’s obvious.

What’s even more obvious to me, however, is that the UGA fanbase is desperate for some type of curse to explain away the glaring underachievement of the program since 2007. That’s why every year around this time another rumored Blackout surfaces and the fanbase loses its collective sh*t over the idea.

The East has been just about as down as it can be and UGA has not only struggled to challenge for the SEC Championship (and along with it a National Title) they’ve struggled to even challenge within their division. Couple that with the slew of downright superstar caliber players that have worn the red and black since 07′ and you have a great recipe for the True Believers to begin crying “CURSE!”

Sadly, the Black Jerseys never had a chance. They were always going to be the symbol of our fated doom, the harbinger that foretells another New Years Eve spent in f***ing Tampa playing the Big Ten.

The idea that’s tougher to stomach, however, is that there is no curse.

UGA is simply a program that has underachieved and done so in the window of its greatest opportunity. When UGA should have been and, frankly, finally could have been winning Mark Richt a National Championship it failed, spectacularly so in many cases. Freaking out about Black Jerseys is a nice distraction. Actually wearing Black Jerseys for a game might be an even better one. But what will not go away is the nagging question that I’ve asked myself many times since that magical night in the Fall of 2007: was that as good as it gets for Georgia under Mark Richt?

I sincerely hope not. For my part, I’m in favor of a Blackout home game every year. I think it’s a good thing. I hope they’ll do it soon.

Mostly so we can stop the Freakouts once and for all.

xoxo

js

#SECPreviews- East: #3 Tennessee Volunteers


I watched “SEC Coaches’ Corner” over Cinnamon Toast Crunch this morning. This is what I learned from Maria Taylor’s one-on-one time with Butch Jones: he thinks Tennessee is back. There were a lot of program building-oriented questions, and Jones kept using a phrase very familiar to SEC fans– “the process.”

Kill me.

What Happened Last Year?

Tennessee did what I expect Kentucky to do this year: win enough games to play an extra game! The Vols opened 0-4 in the SEC, which is fairly misleading. They may have been a Justin Worley injury away from pulling a massive upset at Georgia, then the following week lost a 10th straight to Florida in a 10-9 barnburner. They proceeded then to get blown out by Mississippi and (though the scoreboard won’t indicate it) Alabama.

Then, at South Carolina, a funny thing happened: they won! Then they beat Kentucky! Perfect, they’re going to save Georgia’s season by beating Mizzou at home! Well…nope. Effing Vols. They then beat Vanderbilt and are generating hype from beating a sad Iowa team in the TaxSlayer (erstwhile Gator, I think?) Bowl.

So now, they’re the East’s ‘sexy’ pick. For comparison’s sake, the West’s sexy pick is Arkansas.

There is nothing sexy about Butch Jones or Bret Bieleima.

Three Key Games

Sept. 26, at Florida: They’ve somehow lost 10 in a row to Florida. That’s crazy. They may get them early enough (as they always do) to take advantage of a new coaching staff/scheme/QB, but the same could’ve theoretically been said last year. By not having listed Florida yet, I hereby implicitly expect the streak to go to 11.

Oct. 10, Georgia: Though I don’t think Tennessee is going to win the division (West opponents: Arky and Bama), this game scares the living bejeezus out of me. 2010 was the last time Georgia won by more than one possession, and ‘exploding ACL day‘ as its known on this website still lingers in my mind.

Nov. 21, at Missouri: IF they’re in position to win the division, the Vols are going to have to end another streak. They’ve yet to beat an SEC Mizzou team.

Five Players to Watch

It should be noted that they bring back their entire offense, including the offensive line and a patently absurd group of skill players who have yet to fulfill their high school rankings. If they come into their own, they may very will win the division.

– QB Josh Dobbs: In addition to somehow being the most-accomplished returning SEC QB, he’s responsible for keeping all of these guys happy. Included among them are top 9 returning receivers from last year– names to know: Marquez North, Pig Howard, Josh Malone, Von Pearson, Jason Croom. Those are just the receivers.
– RB Alvin Kamara: Kicked out of Alabama, hit the junior college ranks, and should be a more svelte fit for the offense than incumbent monster Jalen Hurd.
– DE Derek Barnett: This is a new name to me, honestly. All he did as a true freshman was 10 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, and an absurd-for-a-DE 72 tackles. I’d say he’s a primary reason that they doubled their sack total from 2013.
– DT’s Kahlil McKenzie/Shy Tuttle: The only spot on the DL two-deep vacated was the rush tackle spot, and they brought in two five-star replacements.
– CB Cameron Sutton: The anchor of the secondary has made an All-SEC team in each of his first two seasons.

 

The more I wrote here, the more I realized that Tennessee has the POTENTIAL to be great this year. I may pick them #1 next year.

#SECPreviews- East: #4 South Carolina Gamecocks


This could be beautiful. Their returning quarterbacks have a combined 8 career passes, and that guy (Connor Mitch) is apparently in the doghouse. The defense, after rumors of Will Muschamp and Gene Chizik, ended up with some dude named Jon Hoke, last seen as the Chicago Bears’ DB coach. Unexpected departures from the receiving corps leave Pharoh Cooper the sole focal point of the passing game.

On the other hand, Steve Spurrier is still the Ball Coach in Columbia. His presence alone should make Dawg fans (and the rest of the SEC East) nervous enough.

What Happened Last Year?

Still a vexing question. After the unprecedented (and still SEC title-less) run of three straight 11-win seasons, Spurrier’s Cocks fell off the map. The defense, upon losing Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles, and more, gave up 10.1 points and 83 yards more per game than the 2013 bunch. The offense lost a major pain-in-the-rear-on-third-and-six-or-less dynamic in Connor Shaw, and the team just looked lost.

As cathartic as their opening loss at the hands of Texas A&M was, we as Georgia fans didn’t know quite how much the Gamecocks’ 38-35 triumph over the Bulldogs was going to hurt. They followed that win with an unconvincing 14-pointer at Vanderbilt, losses to Missouri and Kentucky, more losses to Auburn and Tennessee, an OT win at Florida, and another loss at Clemson.

While this year’s iteration returns a lot more on D, it loses anyone with significant QB experience, bowling ball Mike Davis, and four of last year’s top five receivers. One places them in the middle of the pack because Spurrier is still a damn good coach and…well? I guess we’re calling last year a moderate fluke.

I hope I’m wrong.

Three Key Games

Sept. 19, at Georgia: Unfortunately for me, I don’t see a neutral-site game against UNC in the opener as a loss for the ‘Cocks. Our first chance to really learn if they’re going to bounce back from last year is in Athens. I’m counting no chickens (I swear to God no pun intended) as the Sandlappers have won 4 of 5 against the Dawgs.

Oct. 31, at Texas A&M: Last year, SC fans made asses of themselves by starting fights at A&M’s ‘Midnight Call’. I hope the bad karma continues to carry over, and the Ags establish dominance in this crossdivisional series. Aside from Georgia, games at Mizzou and home against LSU and Vanderbilt give S.C. a chance to still be in the hunt for the East at this point.

Nov. 7, at Tennessee: Carrying over from the week prior, a 1 or even 2 loss S.C. team is still in the hunt against a team I (spoiler!) haven’t previewed yet.

Five Players to Watch

– WR Pharoh Cooper: Cooper is going to do everything for this offense– he was 5/8 with 2 TD as the Wildcat QB last year, ran for 203 yards on 27 carries, and had 1136 yards receiving. #11 is the one guy who’ll make SC worth watching in 2015.
– LB Skai Moore: Somewhat of the defensive equivalent of Cooper. Moore has 7 interceptions in his career from his SPUR spot, and led the team in tackles last year (for whatever that’s worth).
– DL Marquavius Lewis and Dante Sawyer: What do you do when your defense, lacking the NFL’s #1 overall draft pick, struggles the next year? You hit the JUCO ranks. Lewis is 6’3 266, Sawyer is 6’3 280. Not bad size for two guys who are slated to start from day one.
– S Isaiah Johnson: What do you do when your secondary allows 62.1% completions and you can’t blame it all on the D-line? You take a two-year starter from Kansas– yeah, I don’t know if this is desperate yet.
– RB’s David Williams/Brandon Wilds/Shon Carson: Wilds and Carson are seniors, and neither has ever really lived up to their respective hypes. Williams is listed as the starter by Phil Steele, but he only went 45/265/2 last year…South Carolina, in a departure from Spurrier’s Florida Fun ‘n’ Gun, has relied heavily on a featured back during its successful era. Someone needs to emerge.

 

 

#SECPreviews- East: #5 Kentucky Wildcats


The words ‘fun’, ‘Kentucky’, and ‘football’ don’t normally belong in the same paragraph, let alone sentence. But I’m here to tell you: they were entertaining and explosive last year. They return enough on offense (and possibly enough competency on defense, outside the loss of Bud Dupree) to compete for a bowl.

What Happened Last Year?

Mark Stoops’ second season saw continued improvement from their year 1 results, as they snapped a 17-game SEC losing streak early against Vanderbilt and followed it up with a shootout win against South Carolina. Matter of fact, they took Florida to triple OT in The Swamp before those two successes, so they just narrowly missed a 6-0 start.

The wheels then came off in a 41-3 loss at LSU, but they held their own in the SEC’s weirdest possible 3:30 CBS kickoff: #1 Mississippi State at Kentucky. The 45-31 loss was more competitive than the final score would indicate. They were then competitive in road losses to Mizzou and Louisville…but not so much against Georgia and Tennessee.

Put it all together, and you have 9 games in which the Wildcats were competitive. They return 7 starters on each side of the ball, including a much-improved QB Patrick Towles.

Three Key Games

First off, their nonconference schedule includes Louisiana-Lafayette, Eastern Kentucky, and Charlotte in the 49ers’ first power-5 game. Find three wins between the SEC and Louisville, and the ‘Cats are bowling for the first time since 2010.

Sept. 19, Florida: Fresh off taking the Gators to triple OT last year, Kentucky has the good fortune of drawing the Gators early, before their new offense is battle-tested.

Sept. 26, Missouri: Had this as a key for Mizzou as well, but it should shape up as a shakedown for middle-of-the-pack versus towards-the-bottom in the SEC East. That’s right, if Kentucky holds serve in September, they should be able to comfortably hit the 6-win plateau.

Nov. 28, Louisville: Assuming losses at South Carolina, home against Auburn, and at Mississippi State and Georgia, the two above and Tennessee become their swing games. They played the fighting Petrinos close in Louisville last year, and both the four-game losing streak to their rivals and the dangling carrot of 15 extra bowl practices should serve as proper motivation.

Five Key Players:

Melvin Lewis, DT: He held his starting NT job over the very large and very hyped Matt Elam last year, and responded as a pretty good two-gap stuffer. If he fails, the nose grows from 342 to 365 in this form:

Jon Toth, C: The only Kentucky OL among 4 returning starters on any of Phil Steele’s All-SEC teams, Toth has anchored the line for the entire Stoops era.
Patrick Towles, QB: Already the best offensive back at Kentucky since Andre Woodson, Towles started strong but finished with relatively pedestrian numbers: 14 TD, 9 Int, 57.3% completions. Given the fact that the team had its highest scoring output since 2010 with those numbers, any improvement should prove huge for the Wildcats.
Josh Forrest, MLB: Takes over as the most recognizable defensive player on the team, and they’re going to need his production. He actually led the team (Dupree included) with 7 tackles for loss and 110 total.
Dorian Baker/Garrett Johnson, WR: Slated to take over two of the three starting spots, both put up around 20 catches for 200 yards and a couple TD’s as true freshmen. If one of them can step up opposite leading receiver Ryan Timmons, the O should take the next step.

 

In case you haven’t noticed, Kentucky’s success in 2015 will be defined strictly by whether they’re playing a 13th game. I think it’s time for them to do just that.

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