Category Archives: SEC
Of all the almost-ness in the SEC East, the almost-ness of Florida should be the most alarming. Georgia fans won’t like hearing that any more than I like writing it, but the Gators really aren’t that far off. But the narrative around the program is somehow lumped into that of Georgia and Tennessee despite more cause for optimism.
Will Muschamp was not a great coach. No one (except maybe the administration at South Carolina) would make that argument. But he took his team to a BCS Bowl in his second season at Florida. He went 5-3 against his two biggest rivals (Georgia and Tennessee). He never lost to the Volunteers (I guess we’ve already decided that Florida’s 11-game winning streak in that rivalry is just finished?). He beat the tar out of a top-10 Georgia team just weeks before getting fired. He drew an insanely difficult schedule. He played 18 ranked opponents during his tenure. LSU is on the schedule every year; Alabama was on there twice; FSU was peaking; etc.
Did he succeed at the level Florida fans expect? Obviously not. But he had more success than he gets credit for. He averaged seven wins per season at Florida. Tennessee has had exactly one season with more than seven wins since Fulmer was canned.
But I’m not making a case for Muschamp’s Gators. I’m (reluctantly) making a case for Jim McElwain’s Gators. Because guess what: that guy won 10 games in his first season and won the division in question.
It was rarely pretty, but he found ways to win ugly ball games in the same way Butch Jones finds ways to lose them. He won on the road in a close game against Kentucky. He won at home in dramatic fashion against Tennessee. He beat the ever-living tar out of Ole Miss (ranked third in the nation at that point). He crushed Mizzou on the road. He embarrassed Georgia and all but ended Richt’s tenure. He survived against Vanderbilt and South Carolina.
The wheels came off late in the year. No denying that. Getting blown-out by Florida State, losing to Alabama in the conference championship game and losing a bowl in embarrassing fashion is no way to go out. But know what’s worse than losing an SEC Championship game? Not appearing in one. So score that one to Mac’s tally.
Of the three teams in contention in the East, Florida was the best last season—by record, by divisional finish, by head-to-head competition, you name it. And coaching staff stability should benefit Florida where it might hurt Georgia. And a relatively recent history of winning (2012 BCS Bowl, 2015 SEC Championship Game) is something Tennessee players can’t relate to. Seriously. The last time Tennessee went to a BCS-caliber bowl (not sure what they’re called now) was the Fiesta Bowl on January 2, 2000.
Florida is almost almost a good team. And compared to the rest of the East, Florida might actually look good.
That’s all I got/
First and foremost, this song from
Sony Michel Flyguy2Stackz is awful.
Some observations from this abominable production:
Roughly 30% of the song is comprised of an A/A rhyme scheme in which the first A is “feelins” and the second A is “feelin.” My dog writes better lyrics than that. And I’m talking about my literal canine.
The words “trippin'” and “millions” do not rhyme. Don’t tell
Sony Michel Flyguy2Stackz I said that though.
I think I get what he’s getting at with the repeated line “You just keep doin’ your dance; all this money in my hands.” But at the end of the day, this just makes
Sony Michel Mr. Stackz seem like a stingy strip club attendee. Why is the money still in his hands? That seems atypical. And he doesn’t just say it once, he repeats these phrases back to back. So it’s kind of like, “Yo I’m stingy at strip clubs, this money is staying in my hands but you keep dancing.” And then, “No for real, all of this money is in my hands, not on or around your person. I promise this status will not change.” I don’t think that’s the reputation one wants when releasing a rap song on SoundCloud. There’s just an inconsistency here. I can think of hundreds of places in which fiscal responsibility would be rewarded, but this isn’t one of them.
“I ball on them and then I dab,” is something I would say if I was trying to sound super boss…that’s how I know it’s not very hip. Do people still dab? Everyone in my office dabbed during a staff photo shoot last week, which made me think the dab was dead. We’re the embodiment of “Stuff White People Like” crossed with “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” with a side of Financial Analysis. If we’re doing it, it’s not cool. #RIPDab. Or did
Sony Michel Flyguy2Stackz resuscitate the dab? Or did we remind him that the dab is worth keeping alive? Maybe this song is pretty great after all.
This entire song is cliches.
- I’m out here grindin’; people trippin’.
- People actin’ fake. They hungry, they starvin’, they killin’.
- A lot of people out here lyin’.
- Every day I gotta get it; every day I gotta live it.
- I hit my dog up when I come to the crib (side note: I also hit my dog up when I get home; shout out to DogYouCrazy a.k.a. FlyDawgNoStackz).
This is not good music. You don’t have to like it. Seriously. Take a deep breath and remember that you like Sony Michel the
student-athlete and maybe (hopefully?) you even like Sony Michel the human being. That doesn’t mean you have to like Sony Michel the rapper Flyguy2Stackz.
But you do have to like this:
That’s all I got/
This is the first in a series of posts examining the state of the SEC East and its collective almost-ness. I’m going to look at every team in the division, because as a Georgia fan every team in the division merits consideration as an annual opponent. But, I’ve chosen to start with the Tennessee Volunteers for two reasons: 1. According to most national polls, the Vols are the most relevant team in the division; and 2. I can always count on Tennessee fans to get upset, ignore context and say, “Well what about Georgia?” Georgia’s next. Tennessee fans won’t notice that I just typed that. But Georgia’s next.
You may have heard it said that hope is not a strategy. You’ve also probably heard that almost doesn’t count. In Knoxville, Tennessee, it appears that the combination of hope and almost is the winning ticket—at least this offseason.
The hope, to a pretty thorough extent, is understandable. Consider the recent context of Tennessee football. Since Phil Fulmer’s canning in 2008, the Volunteers posted 7, 6, 5, 5, 5 and 7 wins respectively from 2009-2014. Over that period Lane Kiffin (ha!), Derek Dooley (haha!) and Butch Jones (ha? maybe?) roamed the sidelines. Firing Fulmer, who just one year prior to being kicked to the curb won the division and 10 games, looked questionable at best. Then 2015 happened and along the way several recent records were established.
- Tennessee posted a winning regular season for the first time since 2009 (Kiffin’s first year).
- Tennessee posted a winning conference record for the first time since 2007 (Fulmer’s last full year)
- Butch Jones became the first post-Fulmer coach to reach a fourth year in Knoxville.
There is certainly cause for optimism for the Tennessee Volunteers. I’m not being facetious, insincere or otherwise troll-ish with that statement. Tennessee football looks better now than it has at any point in the post-Fulmer era (with the possible exception of right after Kiffin’s first year – remember, he won 7 games in year one).
I have no beef with the hope in the equation. However, take issue with the value pundits and fans alike place on almost.
Beyond the arguments that Tennessee seemingly always claims (strong recruiting, passionate fans, unbridled optimism), the two leading arguments for the return of Glory Days Tennessee Football focus on some variation of almost. After all, Tennessee almost beat some good teams last season, and Tennessee beat the tar out of a team that was almost good in a New Year’s Day bowl game.
Tennessee Almost Beat Some Good Teams
Tennessee lost to two of the College Football Playoff’s four teams by a combined 12 points. Toss in a one-point loss to SEC East Champion Florida, and all of a sudden Tennessee’s four losses seem awfully insignificant.
The problem here is that four losses are always meaningful—especially win those four losses reflect your best season in nearly a full decade and you’re positioned in preseason Top 10 polls.
The Amway Coaches Poll ranks Tennessee 10th. The nine teams above the Volunteers posted an average 2.11 losses in 2015. Three teams ahead of the Vols combined to lose a total of three games. You have to go to #17 to find a team with more losses than Tennessee (Southern Cal coming off a tumultuous 7-6 campaign). The top 15 schools (outside of Tennessee) are comprised of four 1-loss teams, five 2-loss teams and six 3-loss teams.
The recently released AP Poll is even higher on Tennessee (a #9 ranking). The eight schools above the Volunteers in that poll averaged exactly two losses in 2015.
In reality, Tennessee’s winning percentage in 2015 was closer to what it has averaged over the past 10 years than it was to a Top 10 finish (as measured by average winning percentage of Top 10 teams each year).
Going from four losses directly into the Top 10 seems odd by logic of “almost” for two reasons. First and foremost, Tennessee hasn’t been “almost” in the Top 10 recently. This isn’t a team coming off a lone rebuilding year or a team just breaking in a new coach or replacing a star quarterback. This is a team that’s been wandering in the desert for 40 years. Secondly, College football is an extremely competitive sport—especially when traditional powers are involved. If we’re going to count close losses this is gonna get real ugly really quickly. I, for one, refuse to give merit for Tennessee’s most narrow losses.
Tennessee willed itself to defeat against Oklahoma in overtime last September. It was incredibly impressive and hard to forget. And I can’t give Tennessee credit for that. Tennessee lost narrowly to a Florida team that frankly wasn’t all that good (1-4 vs. ranked opposition, outscored by more than 10 points per contest in those five games). Tennessee lost narrowly to an Arkansas team that lost five games. I give no points for that defeat. Tennessee played Alabama incredibly well, but still lost. We didn’t knock or elevate Alabama for losing that game (the Crimson Tide rose from 8th to 7th in the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll as two higher-ranked teams lost that same week) so why would we give credit to Tennessee for that?
Further, if we’re giving Tennessee props for games that it almost won, then we need to give Georgia and South Carolina credit for almost beating Tennessee (and I don’t think we need to do that!).
Sure, Tennessee turned things around beginning October 31 against Kentucky, South Carolina, North Texas, Missouri, and Vanderbilt, but think about that collection of teams for a minute:
- Kentucky: 2 Power Conference Wins (both on this list of crappy teams – South Carolina and Missouri)
- South Carolina: 2 Power Conference Wins (North Carolina and Vanderbilt)
- North Texas: 1-11 record, lone win was a 7-point victory over the University of Texas San Antonio.
- Missouri: 1 Power Conference Win (South Carolina) + Win vs. BYU
- Vanderbilt: 2 Power Conference Wins (both on this list of crappy teams – Missouri and Kentucky)
Again, those five teams (Kentucky, South Carolina, North Texas, Missouri and Vanderbilt) combined to win one game against a Power 5 Conference opponent not named Kentucky, South Carolina, North Texas, Missouri or Vanderbilt.
These were not good football teams. They weren’t even almost good football teams. Tennessee should have and did beat all of them.
Tennessee Demolished an Almost Good Football Team
In a bowl game.
This game means next to nothing.
Northwestern is a 3-5 SEC team at best. Guaranteed.
Northwestern lost to Michigan, Iowa and Tennessee by a combined margin of 107 points. Good football teams don’t do that. So ignore the 10-3 record and the time spent ranked in the Top 25. Just know that no self-respecting good football team loses three games by an average of nearly 36 points per contest.
So What Do We Make of Tennessee?
I honestly don’t know. Given the weakness of the division last year and the amount of talent in Knoxville, Vol fans should have a hard time loving Butch Jones knowing that he failed to win the SEC East when Florida was breaking in a first-year coach, Georgia was firing its coach, South Carolina’s coach was quitting mid-season and Missouri was boycotting football for a minute and its coach was stepping down.
Does that make sense? Sure, Tennessee has been down for some time, but things couldn’t have lined up better for the Volunteers than they did in 2015.
- Florida went through prolonged periods of offensive refusal as its quarterback was suspended for PEDs. Simultaneously an entire new coaching staff tried to pick up the shambles of an 11-13 two-year stretch of football in Gainesville.
- Georgia fielded three quarterbacks (one who only knew how to pass against South Carolina, one who didn’t know which arm to throw with and one who settled as a punter) and lost its best player to injury while treading water to such an extreme extent that the most-tenured coach in the league was finally drowned.
- South Carolina’s coach quit mid-season. People forget that happened.
- Missouri’s protests were the most noteworthy facet of the Tigers’ season.
But despite those factors in Tennessee’s favor, Jones manufactured enough losses to miss out on the SEC Championship Game.
And yet, Butch Jones is not only tolerated in Knoxville; he’s validated as the coach of a Top 10 program.
I think Florida will be better this year, and based on head-to-head competition and record, Florida was better than Tennessee last year. I think Georgia will be better this year (even a healthy Chubb should secure that prediction) so that could shift the outcome of that matchup. I think South Carolina will be better (though still not better than Tennessee). I think Missouri is still Missouri. But the point is this: I’m not sure why we’d expect such a drastic jump up for the Volunteers.
Further, much has been made of Tennessee’s talent, but it’s hard to give the Volunteers a decided advantage against the likes of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Texas A&M (all of which are on the schedule in 2016).
Tennessee has almost as much talent as these schools based on average recruiting class ranking and a coach that almost beats good teams and often beats almost good teams. But is that enough for a Top 10 ranking? I say no.
Obligatory Joshua Dobbs Commentary
In closing, this would not be an article on Tennessee football if I didn’t properly pay homage to Joshua Dobbs, the lord and savior of Tennessee football (the Vols are 14-10 in games in which he plays). Dobbs can do things with his arm and with his legs, the problem is the things he does with his arm still leave much to be desired. For context, let’s compare his passing to that of Georgia
placeholder starting quarterback Greyson Lambert.
|Category||Joshua Dobbs||Greyson Lambert||Advantage|
Greyson Lambert was not a good quarterback. If he is the starting quarterback in 2016, it is unlikely that Georgia is a good team. But there’s a gap between good and great. So the question becomes this: Can Dobbs improve enough as a passer or do enough with his legs to take Tennessee from being good to great? I’m skeptical. He didn’t do that (in my opinion) in 2013, 2014 or 2015.
So what’s my prediction? I guarantee Tennessee won’t end the season in a Top 10 position. My gut is the Vols lose 3 games prior to Bowl Season and miss the SEC Championship. If 10-3 (bowl win) gets them a Top 10 ranking, I guess I might eat some crow. But I’m not banking on “almost” counting come January.
That’s all I got/
A quick run down on every Georgia Bulldog currently (August 22, 2016) listed on NFL rosters…sorted by division:
New York Jets
- Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Rookie – 4 Total tackles, listed as starter
- Fernando Velasco, C, 7th Year – 2nd team
- Cordy Glenn, T, 6th Year – listed as starter
New England Patriots
- Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Rookie – 4 catches, 55 yards and an injury in debut. Out for several weeks with elbow injury but looking strong.
- David Andrews, C, 2nd Year – Listed as 2nd team center
- Reshad Jones, SS, 7th Year – Total boss.
- Shawn Williams, SS, 4th Year – One tackle in preseason, listed as starter at SS.
- A.J. Green, WR, 5th Year – One of the best receivers in the game. 5 catches for 48 yards in limited preseason action.
- Geno Atkins, DT, 7th Year – Another monster and staple of this team. One sack in preseason.
- Michael Bennett, WR – 2nd Year – Deep in a position battle for a roster spot. Of note: bio has the wrong Michael Bennett – not a great sign.
- Clint Boling, G, 6th Year – Starter at LG.
- Ben Watson, TE, 45th Year – Listed as starter at TE
- Jarvis Jones, OLB, 4th Year – Listed as starter at ROLB.
- None. Though Isaiah Crowell is listed as the starter at RB.
- Ben Jones, C, 5th Year – Starter at center.
- Amarlo Herrera, LB, 2nd Year – Herrera just arrived after getting cut by the Colts (where he appeared in 3 games as a rookie). He’s not on the depth chart, but that’s probably just a timing thing.
- Abry Jones, DT, 4th Year – Jones went undrafted in 2013, but has appeared in 39 career games and made two starts. He’s listed as 2nd on the depth chart.
- Corey Moore, DB, 2nd Year – 6 total tackles in two preseason games, listed 3rd on the FS depth chart.
- Akeem Dent, ILB, 6th Year – 4 tackles in preseason play, listed 2nd on the depth chart.
- Starling Bailey, DE, Rookie – Totally forgot about this guy. but he’s logged 4 tackles in preseason play and listed as second on the depth chart at LDE.
Kansas City Chiefs
- Ramik Wilson, ILB, 2nd Year – Wilson has logged 6 tackles this preseason and is listed 2nd on the depth chart.
- Justin Houston, OLB, 6th Year – Preseason is for suckers not named Justin Houston.
- Aaron Murray, QB, 3rd Year – Murray is in a fight for a job with the addition of Nick Foles, but he’s 8 of 154 passing for 110 yards. 3 Fumbles (one lost) in week 2 won’t help, though.
- Chris Conley, WR, 2nd Year – Conley is competing for a starting spot.
San Diego Chargers
- Keith Marshall, RB, Rookie – Not a great start for the 7th round pick. Marshall has 15 carries for 25 yards. He got plenty of shots last week though (10 carries, 26 yards, long of 10). He’s also added three catches for just seven yards. Practice Squad might be the best hope, but he is currently listed as 3rd on the depth chart so who knows?
- Kedric Golston, NT, 11th Year – Listed as starter.
New York Giants
- Tavarres King, WR, 3rd Year – King has one catch for eight yards. He’s listed as third team at the WR1 spot which puts him in contention for a roster spot.
Green Bay Packers
- Matthew Stafford, QB, 8th Year – Stafford will be the starter in Detroit; you heard it here first.
- Orson Charles, TE, 4th Year – Insane that Charles hasn’t caught on more securely. But he’s showin’ up in Detroit – six catches for 55 yards. Injuries to guys in front of him have him in position to make the team.
- Jake Ganus, LB, Rookie – Ganus has logged three tackles in preseason play and the Vikings are undefeated so he might be the key to that. He’s listed third as his position and should at least get a spot on the Practice Squad.
- Blair Walsh, K, 5th year – Walsh is 2/3 on FG this preseason. He’s the starter and only Kicker listed on the depth chart.
- Toby Johnson, DT, 1st year – Listed fourth on the depth chart and struggling for PT.
- Cornelius Washington, DE, 4th year – 3 tackles and a sack in week one.
- Leonard Floyd, OLB, Rookie – 4 total tackles in preseason play and half a sack.
- Brandon Boykin, DB, 5th year – He’s in Chi-town now, apparently.
- Chris Mayes, DT, Rookie – Listed 4th on the depth chart.
- Arthur Lynch, TE, 2nd Year? – Really would have pegged Lynch as a solid NFL TE. Alas, he’s been on several rosters (Dolphins, Jets, Broncos, Falcons) and yet to make headway on a roster. No catches this preseason.
- Charles Johnson, DE, 10th Year – 1 tackle this preseason, starter at LDE.
- Ray Drew, DE, 2nd Year – Fourth at his position with no logged stats.
- Thomas Davis, OLB, 12th year – 2 tackles this preseason, starter at WLB.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints
- John Jenkins, DT, 4th Year – 2nd on the depth chart.
- Damian Swann, CB, 2nd Year – 1 Preseason tackle, third on depth chart, battling concussion issues.
- Dannell Ellerbe, LB, 8th Year – 6 tackles in last week’s preseason game, listed as starter.
- Drew Butler, P, 4th year – Starter at punter position, he’s licking well.
San Francisco 49ers
- John Theus, OT, Rookie – Listed 3rd on the depth chart. Will at least garner Practice Squad time.
- Garrison Smith, DT, 2nd year – 7 tackles and one sack in strong preseason play, he’s listed as 3rd on the depth chart but has a real shot this year.
- DeAngelo Tyson, DE, 4th Year – A utility d-lineman, Tyson should make the roster.
Los Angeles Rams
- Todd Gurley, RB, 2nd year – Best RB in the game?
- Alec Ogletree, OLB, 4th year – Locked-in starter at OLB.
There you have it. That’s the crew. Nearly 50 damn good Dawgs. I’ll check in later in the preseason with an update.
That’s all I got/
If you read this blog, you probably follow other Georgia sites, and know by now that Jacob Eason took all of the first-team reps at Wednesday’s practice. This comes on the heels of Kirby’s self-declared “huge” scrimmage early in the week, after which he said the quarterback competition was still wide open.
Jacob Eason will take the first snap of the season in Atlanta in two weeks, and will probably take every meaningful snap for Georgia for the next three years. Prepare yourself for some growing pains and some AMAZING upside.
If you put a gun to my head, I’d say rolling with Eason for North Carolina is the right call. One needs only to look back to the 2014 opener, when Clemson started a senior stud named Cole Stoudt while some scrub named Deshaun Watson came off the bench and led some nice drives in his first collegiate appearance at Sanford Stadium, of all places. Watson was CLEARLY the better option, but came on too late to make a real impact on the 45-21 Clemson loss.
North Carolina, Georgia’s opening day opponent, will put some points on the scoreboard. Allow their explosive offense to establish some momentum and it could be a long day. Eason, freshman jitters and all, gives Georgia the best chance to win the opener. Here’s why:
- Besides maybe Brice Ramsey (I’m assuming his decision-making is still less than ideal), Eason is by FAR the best option to push the ball vertically. North Carolina’s biggest weakness is the run defense, and they relied on safety help vs. the ground game a ton last year. S Donnie Miles led the team with 128 (!!!) tackles last year. Pushing him into pass coverage is a good thing for the Dawgs, as it’ll open running lanes for whoever the hell is going to be running the ball.
- UNC straight up lacks a pass rush. DE Mikey Bart led the team with 6.5 sacks last year, but the report is that he’ll be missing the game. EVERY other Carolina defender with more than one sack last year is gone, or injured. (UNC’s DL, their biggest weakness, is currently missing 3 of 4 starters from fall practice injuries). Eason is going to have a comfortable pocket.
- More subjective, but: This is the most meaningless game (from a W/L perspective) on Georgia’s schedule, but…Georgia just sold its soul for Kirby Smart. Mark Richt won 50 games over his last 5 years in Athens. Even in the honeymoon phase, Smart needs to get off to a good start to justify the move.
- Re: the last point: get Eason reps against a real team. Georgia follows with a nice, easy win against Nicholls States, which will net some valuable experience. Then, the grind starts: at Mizzou, at Ole Miss, Tennessee. If Georgia goes 2-1 in those (with a Tennessee win, preferably) the SEC East is Georgia’s to lose.
Is starting a true freshman in Week 1 a good idea, though? Being an early enrollee helps. Stolen from an article written in 2013, though, only six starting freshmen had a national-average quarterback rating. Terrelle Pryor, Matt Barkley, RG III, Braxton Miller, and Teddy Bridgewater are the notable names on that list– and Eason certainly has that pedigree. Check the article, there’s an AMAZING correlation between recruiting rankings and performance– 21 other true freshmen in this sample were downright bad. If Georgia were playing for 2017, well:
But that project lumped in redshirt freshmen with the guys coming directly from high school, and the subsequent years have dramatically widened the gap between those two categories. (Future quarterbacks can thank Andrew Luck, Kellen Moore, Taylor Martinez, Aaron Murray, Johnny Manziel, Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota for wrecking the redshirt curve.)
Georgia’s not playing for 2017. Not after the Richt firing. Eason is going to play, as well he should.
Eason has comps since that article was written, as Brad Kaaya and Josh Rosen have a) high-profile jobs; b) started their first games barely after starting fall classes; c) were heralded recruits; and d) were early enrollees.
Kaaya: at Louisville (L, 31-13): 17-29, 174 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, adjusted QBR of 40.6
Rosen: Virginia (W, 35-14): 28-35, 351 yards, 3 TD, 0 picks, adjusted QBR of 90.1
A reasonable expectation is for Eason to land somewhere between these two. Rosen’s performance was patently absurd, but he didn’t match that QBR for the rest of the year. Kaaya improved, but was inconsistent.
If Georgia fans are prepared for some uneven performances (and its not actually about the fans), the 2016 season will be volatile yet exciting. Eason will follow Kaaya (2017) and Rosen (2018) as likely top-5 draft picks, but he’s not going to be a Heisman contender from jump street.
All told? I like the move. Go all-in with the future, take some lumps, profit in 2017.