Category Archives: Blog

#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.

Dude’s Top 10: No. 3 – The Injury Bug in Knoxville


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.

Georgia’s 2013 overtime victory at Tennessee was the single-most dumbfounding sporting event I’ve ever witnessed. Injury after injury after injury derailed the Bulldogs on an otherwise normal day and all I could do was sit helplessly by and wonder why bad things happen to good football teams.

After the game I ate cold pizza in the press box of Neyland Stadium and wondered what the meaning of life was. After that, I walked by the Volunteer Navy as orange-clad fans celebrated a near victory and blasted “Royals” by Lorde. I boarded a ferry across the Tennessee River to the condo my sister and brother-in-law lived in and drank rum for the first time since college. As I type this (some 21 months later), memories of that night could not be more vivid. That game wrecked me to my core. I tore an emotional ACL that day.

A few days later I managed to put my fingers on the keys and brain-fart this article. This article makes the Top 10 not for its content (that game still hurts) or its penmanship, but because it captures the agony of being a fanatic—even after a victory.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

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

 

Dude You Podcast: Football Comin’


And it can’t get here quick enough. Until it gets here, the Dude You Podcast will be here to rescue you from America’s zombie pastime, one podcast at a time.

We take a look at Georgia coming out of Media Days, and get warmed up for the season. We’re damn excited. How excited?

That excited.

Listen on Spreaker.

Listen on iTunes.

Subscribe for free, and leave a 5-star review to hear your words on the air.

Email us at tips@dudeyoucrazy.net.

Love this? Hate it? Think I’m an idiot? Don’t just curse at me under your breath, head to theDude You Podcast iTunes page, and leave a 5-star review to make sure I know it, and have your voice heard on the air. Follow me at @dpalm66.

 

#SECPreviews- East: #7 Vanderbilt Commodores


I cannot begin to explain how painful it has been to research and write this one. Let’s get through it quickly so we can move back to the ‘intriguing teams’ category.

What Happened Last Year?

James Franklin proved, by moving on to Penn State, that he had done about as much good at Vanderbilt as possible. His replacement, Derek Mason, oversaw a 30-point home loss to Temple in the first game of his career, and was quoted at Media Days two weeks ago with the following statement:

I assumed we’d play like an SEC team…but we didn’t.

Not exactly confidence-inspiring stuff from the head man. The one SEC team they did play like? Historical Vanderbilt, but maybe a little worse. Their three wins came against UMass, Charleston Southern, and Old Dominion…by a combined 18 points. They saw four QB’s get starts and significant game action. They were outgained by 380 yards early against Ole Miss, 245 by Kentucky in the middle of the season, and 274 late against Mississippi State.

There is nothing to indicate that things will be any better this year, as 18 returning starters to a crap team makes a crap team just slightly better.

Three Key Games

When you’re this bad, they’re all important.

Sept. 5, Western Kentucky: Yeah, I’m serious. This, Austin Peay (Sept. 19), and at Middle Tennessee (Oct. 3) are the only truly winnable games for Vandy, and I’m including a trip to Houston and home dates with Kentucky and Missouri in the ‘sure loss’ category.

Oct. 17, at South Carolina: Hey, maybe they can get lucky and grease the wheels on Steve Spurrier’s departure.

Nov. 28, at Tennessee: Prediction is that this’ll be Mason’s last game before being canned.

Five Players to Watch

You know that scene in Breaking Bad where Lydia meets Mike at the diner and they don’t have any of her usual drinks? This is the Vanderbilt roster.

Enjoy your hot water, Lydia.

Ralph Webb, RB: The sophomore is the team leader, according to linebacker Nigel Bowden. Can’t tell you if that’s a good thing or not.
Johnny McCrary, QB: Something I notice in looking at this roster: there are 7 true sophomores listed in bold and caps, meaning they’re returning starters from last year. So…Mason took something that worked, recruits that were GREAT for Vanderbilt…and started his own guys instead? 31 of them? Yeah, 3-9 is starting to make more sense.
Nigel Bowden, LB: The sophomore (yeah, Mason brought two to media days) led the team in tackles with 78 in 2014.
Colby Cooke, P: Hall and I accurately predicted that Cooke would win the Vanderbilt punter battle on last year’s preview podcast, and his efforts made absolutely no discernible difference.
Stephen Scheu, TE: He’s a name I recognize, as the senior was the Commodores’ leading receiver last year, as well as– get this– a 2nd-team All-SEC performer! How about it?

In closing, I’m done. Yuck.

 

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