Author Archives: tardawg1014
I am not making light of Hurricane Matthew, and am not (intentionally) showing my bias.
As has been discussed throughout SEC country this week, Florida and LSU failed to play a football game last weekend. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley mandated that the Georgia/South Carolina game not happen on Saturday, and it was played on a beautiful Sunday. Notre Dame/N.C. State and Virginia Tech/UNC were played in torrential downpours. And every model had the games right in the Carolinas by Saturday.
So why didn’t the Florida/LSU game happen, and what happens if it (likely doesn’t) happen later?
It is abundantly clear that LSU was down to play this game. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they moved a game from Baton Rouge to Tempe. The Tigers had a game with Tennessee move to a Monday to avoid another storm. Oh, and just last year, they agreed with South Carolina to play a game in Baton Rouge and donate all proceeds to flooding relief victims. Suffice it to say, they’ve been down this road before.
Florida, too, has been in this situation, as lightning caused their 2014 showdown with Idaho to be delayed, delayed, and finally cancelled. That’s fine, LSU cancelled a game with McNeese State for similar reasons last year.
BUT LSU MADE EVERY EFFORT TO PLAY THIS GAME.
Tigers AD Joe Alleva came out on the offensive in the wake of Thursday’s cancellation, stating that overtures had been made to play the game in Gainesville earlier or later in the day or week. No dice. In Baton Rouge? No, Florida found that unfair. In Mobile? Birmingham? Nashville? New Orleans? No, no, no, and no.
Even from an outside (and again, unbiased) perspective, Jeremy Foley stonewalled until arrangements to play this game wouldn’t happen.
Ironically, safety was the issue. I say ‘ironically’, because his solution kept his players in Gainesville, and because his ‘solution’ is to have LSU play three straight road games in 12 days at the end of the season.
Oh, and in the process take away the home game revenue of LSU’s last home game, Nov. 19, against South Alabama. You may recall that Baton Rouge had some flooding this summer, and their economy is in need of a home game. From Steven Godfrey’s article on the matter:
“I’d say for restaurants like ours in the community, it’s upwards of a $100,000 loss in sales compared to a normal Friday through Sunday,” said Ruffin Rodrigue, a former LSU player and owner of Ruffino’s restaurant in Baton Rouge.
“Of that number, a lot of that is money going directly to our employees, most of whom are coming off the flood. We’re trying to catch up right now. This is the last home game of the season. It’s senior night. That means it’s a homecoming for a lot of fans and families.”
His Ruffino’s location took on no water in the flood, but the Lafayette location did. A 9 p.m. post-flood curfew killed business across the city for almost a month.
“We were open for those three weeks, but no one could get here. The streets were flooded. Our sales went down 80 percent. But hey, still gotta pay your taxes and insurance, except there’s no cash coming in. So, everyone got really, really hurt. We need these home games to make good,” Rodrigue said.
“These home games are critical to getting our head above water, so to speak.”
So, we’re all in agreement that Florida has the egg on its face here, right?
Well, so does the SEC.
Mike Slive was critical in getting the aforementioned games to happen, as the SEC rules state that the commissioner can act as a facilitator to make agreeable concessions in incidents such as this. Greg Sankey? 0 for 1. By not taking a hard stance with Foley on LSU’s reasonable compromises, a failure in leadership up top throws the whole SEC season’s validity into question, because…
What could this impact?
The. Whole. Damn. SEC. Race.
As currently constituted, Florida and LSU will finish with 7 SEC games each. At 2-1, Florida’s remaining path includes Mizzou, Georgia, Arkansas and South Carolina. Logically played out, Florida should finish that schedule at 6-1, with a lone loss to Tennessee.
Tennessee, you ask? Oh, they play Bama this week. They finish with an easier schedule than that, but one can assume they finish 6-2.
Your SEC East champion based on the SEC’s rules? The Florida Gators.
You could run a similar hypothetical in the West, but its hard to see LSU going through Ole Miss, Alabama, Texas A&M, and Arkansas unscathed. (Although, COACH O!)
With its most daunting challenge ahead, and its starting quarterback out, Florida made zero effort to make this game happen. Until it was cancelled. Then, they leaned on Sankey to make something happen. These things included:
- Asking Georgia to move the Cocktail Party up a week so they could host LSU on Oct. 29. Jacksonville declined.
- Asking Texas A&M to move their Thanksgiving tilt with LSU to Thanksgiving Saturday, thus giving LSU a week’s rest between three tough road games. Both A&M and LSU declined.
- All of this, too, assuming that LSU would sacrifice its Senior Day game, pay off South Alabama (guarantee: $1.5 million), and come to Gainesville on Nov. 21. Florida’s guarantee for Presbyterian, by the way? $500,000.
To Foley’s credit, he is going out with a bang. He has yet to make one concession that would risk the Florida Gators football team, which I guess is his job. In so doing, though, he has undermined the SEC offices and pissed off every member institution in the conference.
Goddamnit, I hate Florida.
Sunday college football should be a thing.
First off, major MAJOR props to the South Carolina Governor in helping facilitate this game by taking a hard line on state support for the crowd in Columbia. By stating that there would be no emergency personnel available, she immediately took Saturday off the table, and allowed Greg McGarity and Ray Tanner to quickly narrow their options. The other game of note moved to a time not yet known? Another post for later today.
Anyway, the fallout was positive for yours truly. I got to watch this game in wedding recovery mode, after a painful four-hour drive from Atlanta. Playstation Vue, which I needed due to a lackadasical TV plan that does not include the SEC Network, worked like a charm for you hesitant cord-cutters out there.
Okay, two grafs in and nothing about the football game. Let’s go.
South Carolina is a TRASH football team. This was a game that I was nervous about due to all the outside circumstances, but between the sidelines was a game Georgia was supposed to win. The defense was extremely opportunistic, as they knew the Cocks weren’t going to push the ball down the field much. When you don’t have to account for a vertical passing attack, you can play a little more instinctively, and the Georgia defense played downhill for the entire time the game was really in doubt.
In the first quarter, Georgia held South Carolina to an 11% success rate (where a successful play is one which keeps an offense ahead of the chains) while Georgia was at a whopping 63%, thanks to Nick Chubb’s reminder that he’s awesome. The game was basically a Will Muschamp battle of attrition from there, with teams exchanging body blows and punts (it warrants mentioning: Georgia was good on Special Teams on Sunday!)
There’s no sugarcoating how bad Jacob Eason was in this one. He had two overthrows back-to-back on the second possession, missed an open Jayson Stanley touchdown in the second, and sailed a few more guys in the second half. If Georgia had lost, we could talk about Greyson Lambert coming back to salvage something from this season…butttttttt… THE GROUND GAME WAS SPECTACULAR!
- Chubb 21/133, 6.33
- Michel 16/121, 7.56
- Herrien 9/82, 9.11
You’re not going to lose many games when you damn near have THREE 1oo-yard backs. All three rushed for at least 5 yards on over half of their runs, so a BIG hats off is due to the offensive line. They manhandled South Carolina’s defense, which is not a huge accomplishment, but is no less notable.
Lorenzo Carter is showing signs of life. He had a drive-killing sack in the second quarter, and was in the backfield throughout the day. He overran some plays, as an athletic freak is wont to do, but to see him constantly appearing and forcing plays out of their design is a welcome sign. One that will likely see him get paid this offseason, unfortunately, but one that bodes well for the Dawgs going forward.
The season comes down to Georgia winning some games where something isn’t working– Eason is awful, the running game steps up in this case. Against Vanderbilt, the run D may show some signs of weakness, but the ‘Dores won’t be able to pass. Hopefully that is the case for Florida, too.
Taking an early lead and holding an opponent at arm’s length is a new development for Georgia, and in their most ‘complete’ game of the season, they did exactly that.
We don’t know if these games will happen, we won’t know when these kick times (or locations) are accurate, and I’m missing them all for a wedding anyway!
This has happened since I pulled up the ole WordPress to post this:
BREAKING: #LSU‘s game against Florida has been canceled, a source tells The Advocate.
It will not be rescheduled. #Gators
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) October 6, 2016
CONFIRMED: Georgia and South Carolina will play at the @GeorgiaDome Saturday. Coverage at 8:30. Kick at 8:41. Ticket email forthcoming.
— UGA Special Teams (@UGASpecialTeams) October 6, 2016
Word to the wise: don’t believe any scheduling tweets til Brett McMurphy or someone posts them, although UGA Special Teams has never let us down before…
What should you be watching for this weekend?
Definitely Watch This
- Texas vs. #20 Oklahoma, noon, FS1: BRING BACK THE GOLDEN HAT! This should be a 55-45 game, so naturally it’ll be a low-scoring and weird affair at the Texas Fairgrounds.
LSU at #18 Florida, noon, ESPN: COACH O……nope.(see above)
- #9 Tennessee at #8 Texas A&M, 3:30, CBS: Step 1: listen to the DudeYouPodcast. Step 2: build up the Tennessee hate. Step 3: GIGEM
- #25 Virginia Tech at #17 UNC, 3:30, ABC/ESPN2: Va Tech is still very sneaky good, UNC has Mitch Trubisky and no defense, and this game will be played in a monsoon (as of now).
- #5 Washington at Oregon, 7:30, FOX: Oregon has won 11 straight in the series, and has a chance to end the Pac-12’s CFP hopes before the weather gets consistently below 80 degrees. And, Washington is good.
- #23 Florida State at #10 Miami, 8, ABC: Big game Mark Richt. We’ll see. This is your appointment watch of the day– either as a self-hating Georgia fan or a curious Georgia fan.
Maybe Keep an Eye On It
- #3 Clemson at Boston College (Friday), 7:30, ESPN: If Deshaun Watson keeps turning it over, this could get…weird?
- Indiana at #2 Ohio State, 3:30, ESPN: Indiana, as #teamchaos, beat Michigan State on a “leaping” penalty last week. They had a reasonable shot at both OSU and Michigan last year. Ohio State hasn’t been challenged. Just sayin’, keep an eye on it.
- #1 Alabama at #16 Arkansas, 7, ESPN: Am I the only one who thinks Arkansas is WAY overrated? Here’s hoping not!
- Georgia at South Carolina, 7:30, SECN: May or may not be played as of the time of this posting, but a monsoon bowl guarantees a 7-2 win on a botched shotgun snap for somebody.
Other things of note
#21 Colorado visits USC in a weird game of “is Colorado legit/is USC shit”–played on the impossible-to-get Pac-12 network.
Purdue and Illinois both lost to Western Michigan (do NOT watch this), and Vanderbilt and Kentucky play the SEC’s version of that exact game at 4 on SECN (do NOT watch this either).
#6 Houston has a tough task at Navy if you get CBSSN.
Your late-night #PACtion special? A good one, as Washington State travels to #15 Stanford in a game of COMPLETELY 180-degree contrasting styles.
Its taken me all week to feel up to writing this one, and I know it won’t make sense or do these people justice.
The past week in sports has been one with a lot of things to celebrate, and a lot of things to bemoan.
Tennessee fans learned that a Duck CAN pull a truck as they beat Florida for the first time since the first W administration. Georgia fans learned that the Kirby Smart era is a major work in progress. NBA teams opened camp with (insane unless you’re Golden State or Cleveland) optimism, and Notre Dame lost to Duke. In football.
Everything mentioned above is a petty reminder of why sports really matter: they are a great diversion from the realities of life. Age, the passing of time, unrest, and outright tragedy are all realities of life, and sports provided great lessons in each this past week.
If you don’t like Les Miles, you either hate LSU way too much or are blinded by your team’s colors. Miles is a man who navigated Katrina-devastated LSU through abject tragedy before coaching his first game in 2005, who told us to have a nice day after some careless reporting on the day of the SEC Championship Game, who constantly ate grass, and played it fast and loose with clock management to a terrifying extent for his 11 1/2 years in Baton Rouge.
Miles got fired on Sunday after an 18-13 loss at Auburn, when his Mad Hatter tendencies finally backfired and LSU’s last-second miracle touchdown was overturned.
Miles, escape artist that he is, was not fired because of that one result. He was fired because, as AD Joe Alleva put it (paraphrasing), “we didn’t want to start winning and go through this cycle again.” If you’ll recall, Miles was all but fired before triumphing in his ‘last’ game against Texas A&M last year. Boosters and administration still wanted him gone, and they got rid of him because they KNEW he’d survive again if they didn’t take swift action.
I’ve luckily never been fired from a job, outside of one where the North Carolina ABC threatened to shut down a pub at which I was pouring drinks at 16 years old. Les Miles was fired from a job he truly LOVED, and was able to handle it with grace I can’t imagine having.
From the Dan Patrick Show on Monday:
How were you told you were fired?
Face to face. Joe Alleva said we’re going to have to make a change. And I’m for the tigers. Anything they see that makes the Tigers better, I’m for it. I accepted the outcome and will support that decision and these Tigers going forward
Did you try to fight it?
It was beyond fighting. The enjoyment of being here, the enjoyment of community, the experiences that my family’s had, it’s too important to fight over. It’s history. It’s what we were are. If they see a change makes the tiger better, I’m for them.
If you beat Auburn, would you still be employed?
I want you to know something. How that game ends, with the Tigers fighting for their breath, maybe there’s a way the coach could’ve got them a second more. I would argue that I made those moves. One second. It’s certainly a decision that was made more appropriately over more than a second.
Was you being fired an undercurrent there or lingering?
If it was there, I went beyond it. I enjoyed going into my room and enjoying seeing the young men I recruited and I coached. If there was an undercurrent, it did not exist in the that building. What goes on inside the building just didn’t matter.
I’ve never had an opportunity to meet Les Miles. But Les Miles humanized a sport in a conference where robotic, calculated decision-making, soulless enterprises of football excellence, and canned, cold coachspeak are absolutes. He was the opposite of those things, and showed a humility, a reality, and a grace seen far too little in his profession or on this planet.
Whether he coaches again or not, I am more a Les Miles fan than on Saturday– I was already a big one. With the way he handled his exit, I hold that you should be, too.
My sports fandom began in 1995, as the Atlanta Braves won their only World Series. At 7 years old, I was conditioned to expect such success from all of my teams, and have been disappointed more times than I can count. Part of the draw of sports is the hope for triumph, but the overwhelming odds that disappointment will be the outcome. Again, the outpouring of human emotion for something that has no direct effect on your life is why we care.
Kevin Garnett started his NBA career in the same year, meaning that I have watched him toil, dominate, get close, toil, get traded, and finally succeed over the exact same lifespan as my fandom. He was the prototype of the modern power forward in the NBA, yet a tragic figure who could never get the supporting cast to get over the hump in the NBA.
Garnett was, by all measures, a freaking psychopath on the court. I think about how much I care about sports, and it feels trivial compared to KG. A 6’11 behemoth of athleticism routinely headbutted basket stanchions, give primal yells in meaningless December games, and wore his emotions on his progressively-broader shoulders– and he did so for 21 years.
Garnett played in the league for 13 years before reaching the top. To this day, there is no greater example of exuberance or joy in reaching the pinnacle, giving one’s blood, sweat and tears for a happy ending.
As KG’s skills regressed, he returned with much fanfare to Minneapolis, and in one year passed the torch to a cast of Timberwolves who may well represent the future of the NBA.
Kevin Garnett: the gift that gave nightly through his antics, for 21 years, and may continue to give through his leadership. Despite unrealistic expectations of more, the above clip shows that 1 out of 21, in sports, is not bad.
I really didn’t know what to do with Arnold Palmer’s passing in this piece. To live a full life of 85 years, be by FAR the most-well liked of many legendary contemporaries, and have a delicious drink named after oneself…anyone can hope to live to that, and in passing, be a cause for celebration, not grief. I know no less than 25 people who met The King, and no less than 15 who posted pictures with him on Facebook on Sunday night. I struggle to think of a single negative thing I’ve ever read about the man– he was gentle, courteous, patient, and universally beloved.
That fits more into ‘grace’ or ‘finality’ than it does tragedy, but for the world to lose such a revered soul is always a tragedy.
The other sports death on Sunday was much, much harder to stomach.
Due to the waning popularity of baseball in my age demographic, I don’t know how many of my contemporaries got a chance to marvel at Jose Fernandez, or even knew who he was. Fernandez was a Cuban pitcher, 24 years old, and a Miami Marlin. From a team standpoint, a Cuban superstar in the heart of Miami was a marketing coup for a team always finding itself on the wrong side of the PR battle. Fernandez was certainly that and more on the field, compiling a 29-2 record with a 1.49 ERA in Marlins Park over his career. His career ERA of 2.56 was also remarkable given his age– better than Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Pedro Martinez, and countless other legends.
For his exploits on the mound, Fernandez was more an embodiment of what contemporary Bryce Harper so callously claims to do– “make baseball fun again”. Jose Fernandez epitomized that with his actions on a daily basis:
His story? Oh, one where he tried to defect from Cuba FOUR times before making it to the U.S., saving his mother from drowning on the successful journey. One where his grandmother, the most influential person in his life, sat on a tin roof in Cuba to listen to his starts. One where his girlfriend just last week announced she was pregnant with his child.
SBNation’s Grant Brisbee said it best about Jose: he was pure joy. Nobody knew to fully appreciate him until it was far too late, until baseball and sports reminded us why we can channel human emotion through the exploits of millionaires playing a child’s sport:
— Chad Floyd (@Chad_Floyd) September 26, 2016
— BeatinTheBookie™ (@BeatinTheBookie) September 26, 2016
The magic of sports: withdrawn from our personal lives, from the tribulations of the world, but still something that allows us to feel. We’ll see an all-too-soon 30 For 30 on Jose Fernandez, and it’ll be excellent. Billy Corben will be able to funnel all of the emotion of the past 72 hours and put it in a digestible format….and it won’t do the human Jose Fernandez was justice. One more snippet into that:
But he also had a big heart, McGehee said.
“The toughest part for me has been having to tell my son,” McGehee said, choking back tears.
McGehee’s son Mack has cerebral palsy and formed a close bond with Fernandez.
“I think everybody knows about my son and some of the struggles that he deals with,” McGehee said. “A lot of people don’t really know how to treat him. But for some reason, Jose had a heart for him.
“I’d get to the field and it wasn’t like, ‘Hey Jose, do you mind keeping an eye on him while I hit?’ It was, Jose coming to grab him and they were together from the time I got to the field to the time my wife came to pick him up. I think that really says a lot about what was truly in his heart and what kind of a guy he was.”
Sport, in the context of life, really should be less of a priority than it is for me, or anyone digging this deep enough into the internet on this Wednesday morning for a diversion– but that’s what it is, a diversion that humanizes us by allowing us to feel raw human emotion without having to experience it directly.
As Jim Valvano once said, “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s one heck of a day.” If you remembered the goofy, appalling, and downright hilarious exploits of Les Miles upon his firing, you laughed. If you reflected on KG’s or Arnie’s legacy, you had a chance to think. And if you reflected on the passing of Jose Fernandez, you are either a robot or you cried, at least a little bit.
I guess that’s why sports are important. We get to live and die by the actions of complete strangers in the name of what’s on the front of the jerseys. We fall in love with brands, individuals, and in some cases shape the human experience based on triumphs and failures. And we are provided an escape to express emotions– good or bad, jovial or furious– in a safe haven that, if done responsibly, allows us to grow emotionally without any real consequences to life.
If only life could be so inconsequential.
Rest in peace, Jose and Arnold.
Consider this your September report card.
There’s not much to say about the Ole Miss fiasco that took place on Saturday. In my preview, I wrote that the Black Bears had two distinct advantages: their passing game and their D-line. Turns out I was, for once and quite unfortunately, spot on.
With that being said, any sane Georgia fan would have been okay with a 3-1 start in Kirby Smart’s “year zero” in Athens. Working with a green quarterback, a terrible receiving corps and offensive line, injured stars at running back, and a front seven decimated by graduations, anything more than 8 wins would have to be considered a miracle.
Not to make excuses, Georgia can still accomplish its most lofty reasonable goal: winning the SEC East. Yes, they have to beat a suddenly-formidable-again Tennessee team to have that in play past Saturday, but considering what we’ve seen on the field through four games…that’s a nice prize to still have on the table.
What went wrong?
To be honest, a lot:
- a negative point differential through four games;
- bad luck with fumbles: the Dawgs have lost 4 of 5, opponents have lost 3 of 6. Those numbers normalize to around 50%.
- an opposing passer rating of 135.77 despite six interceptions. Said another way, a passer rating 31 points WORSE than 2015’s.
- Jacob Eason has been objectively worse in 2016 than Greyson Lambert was in 2015.
- Special teams still being incredibly clunky. Recspecsdrigo Blankenship could’ve stopped the bleeding early against Ole Miss. William Ham made the Mizzou game very uncomfortable by shanking multiple opportunities. T.J. Logan’s kickoff return in the opener should’ve been the difference in UNC’s favor.
- The running game, for all we bemoaned Brian Schottenheimer’s inability to coach the offensive line’s new schemes effectively, that is MUCH worse than in 2015.
- 2014 (Bobo) 6.04 YPC, 8th nationally
- 2015 (Schottenheimer) 5.44, 18th nationally
- 2016 (Chaney) 4.55, 61st nationally
With all of that being said, if we replay this schedule with similar results, Georgia is probably 1-3 more than half the time.
Consider the following on a game by game basis:
- Mitch Trubisky was 0-7 on passes of 20+ yards against Georgia, as his adjusted QBR for the game was 52.3. Since, he has gone 78/97 (80%) for 1150 yards, 10 TD’s, and 0 picks. At least four of those deep balls were flat misses by the junior QB. Georgia benefited from a shaky first start and a ground game that made its sole appearance in September.
- Nicholls State: Jesus Christ.
- 1st half: 324 yards passing from Drew Lock, which exceeds any single GAME from a year ago.
- 2nd half: good defense, and the worst performance in taking advantage of scoring opportunities presented to the offense I’ve ever seen. Currently Georgia is averaging 4.21 points per “scoring opportunity”, which FootballOutsiders.com defines as 1st downs inside the opponent’s 40. That is 97th in the country.
- Ole Miss: Jesus Christ, round two.
A sampling of teams ahead (and just behind) where Georgia ranks in S&P+:
Wake. Western Michigan. Georgia Southern. Western Kentucky. MizzouColoradoMarylandTempleCal.
It’s bad right now, guys.
What went right?
Despite all of those disgusting stats above, Georgia is 3-1, 1-1 in the SEC (with an all-important road win under its belt), undefeated in the East, and as I said: still has an outside shot at the East.
The Dawgs did the right thing in letting Jacob Eason learn on the fly. The WR corps have to get better, the offensive line has to get better, but for Georgia to reach its potential in 2016, and especially the next two years when the Honeymoon is over, Eason has to be the guy.
On defense, the young guys are stepping up. Trent Thompson, Roquan Smith, and D’Andre Walker are all true sophomores, and all have multiple tackles for loss through four games (Thompson has four). This bodes well for the future. No seniors have even half of one, yet. On the whole two-deep, only Maurice Smith and Chuks Amaechi are set to graduate.
The freshman running backs, Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield, have outperformed Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Herrien has been explosive, with 7.1 YPC and 3 TD. Chubb is at 5.08…but at 3.92 after North Carolina. Michel is at 4.61.
I used the term “year zero” in the lead in, and that’s exactly why. There is a significant youth movement on this team, and to have checkmarks in the boxes of “neutral site game vs. ranked opponent” and “SEC night road game” this early in the season is a significant achievement, given the raw numbers on the Dawgs.
Probably a loss to Tennessee this week. However, a rowdy Sanford Stadium crowd, a CBS kickoff, and a key rivalry may be just what the doctor ordered (sorry for the cliches) to get the team’s focus on track.
Schematically, I’ve liked what I’ve seen. They’re allowing Eason to throw the ball downfield, the defense has been ballhawking and aggressive…the young guys on both lines just have to grow up. Outperforming your numbers is better than the inverse.
After Saturday, we will know what to expect from this team the rest of the way. A 9-3 season is not out of reach (although their cumulative projected wins now sits at seven). If the team grows up fast, we can get back to talking about a return to Atlanta next week. If not, get prepared to enjoy watching a young team grow up, take its lumps, and fall in love with the next group of championship level Georgia Bulldogs.