#1. You Can Still Laugh at Tennessee
I want to live in a world in which Tennessee isn’t much better than average. For the past decade or so we’ve been blessed with that world. And based on what we’ve seen so far (including Saturday), we still live there. Rankings and feel-good-Butch-Jones-Definitely-Doesn’t-Look-Like-He-Walked-Off-The-Set-Of-Beavis-And-Butt-Head opinions be damned, does anyone really think Tennessee is a Top-10 team? Because I don’t. Georgia’s not a good team and Tennessee needed a collapse by a whole unit and a lot of luck to get the win. Make no mistake about it, Tennessee is in the driver’s seat in the East*. But winning the East isn’t the long-term end game here. They’ll get run by Bama or whoever wins the West.
*Believe it or not, Tennessee hasn’t “locked up” the East quite to the extent that people believe right now. They have Texas A&M on the road this week and next week Alabama comes to Knoxville. You can’t quite assume both of those are losses but I think there’s a better chance that Tennessee goes 0-2 in those contests than 2-0. Georgia needs Tennessee to lose at least three to get back in the division race, but Florida just needs them to drop one. And even lowly threats like South Carolina, Kentucky and Missouri (not Vandy) could get scary for the Vols when you consider just how awful Tennessee is capable of being for prolonged periods.
Tennessee trailed App State for 60 minutes. Tennessee didn’t lead VA Tech for the first 25 minutes of play. With 11 minutes left to play, Tennessee was clinging to a 2-point lead against Ohio (University…not State). Florida led Tennessee by 21; Georgia led by 17. This is not a team with a penchant for playing complete games. So the collective “we got this” mentaility of Vol fans who haven’t been to an SEC Championship Game in 3,229 days and haven’t won one in 6,512 days (but who’s counting?) is a bit premature.
#2. Jacob Eason
He’s so much fun to watch. Like…transcendentally fun to watch in the fourth quarter.
#3. It Was Better
A loss is a loss but compare Georgia’s performance on Saturday (a game some would say the Dawgs should have won) with what the team did a week earlier in Oxford (a game some would say the Dawgs didn’t even play) and even lackluster performances against the likes Missouri and Nicholls State. This was better. I’m not sure how you could collectively say otherwise.
#4. Jacob Eason
He’s also not Greyson Lambert. Just wanted to circle back around and hit that one.
#5. Brian Herrien
I love this kid and at this point in the season I think we can safely say this isn’t a one-off success story. He’s good. He’s consistently good, too. Herrien has logged carried in four games this year, he’s averaged 4.9 YPC or better in each contest, run for at least 45 yards in each game and hit a run of 15+ yards in every outing. He’s good. He’s consistent. He’s 18 years old. Get a load of his game log:
- UNC: 7 carries, 59 yards, 8.4 YPC, 1 TD, Long of 19
- Nicholls: 8 carries, 47 yards, 5.9 YPC, Long of 23
- Ole Miss: 11 carries, 78 yards, 7.1 YPC, 2 TDs, Long of 16
- Tennessee: 15 carries, 74 yards, 4.9 YPC, Long of 15
#6. Natrez Patrick
A lack of QB pressure and questionable play in the secondary has taken some of the shine away from linebackers like Natrez Patrick this season. But the NatPat (TM) had himself a game on Saturday. 10 total tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack and another QB hit. Big game. The NatPat leads the team in tackles (both solo and total), is second to Trent Thompson in TFL, tied for first in sacks.
#7. Young Defensive Front
In addition to the NatPat, consider the other players in Georgia’s front seven who are making plays. Trenton Thompson is second on the team in tackles, first in TFLs and tite for first in sacks. Roquan Smith is doing big things. D’Andre Walker is starting to come into his own. Julian Rochester is becoming a force. It’s terrifying to think about what this unit might look like next year. Lorenzo Carter may be tempted to go pro early (though I’m not sure 5.5 career sacks in 31 career games get him there), but if he stays Georgia stands to return everything along the front line.
#8. Jacob Eason
I mean Tennessee DBs stopped running because they thought the kid couldn’t throw the ball that far. He flicked his wrist and that should have been the end of the game. Geez.
9. Kirby Smart
Oh, I’m going to go there. Whether or not he gets Georgia to where Georgia wants to be remains to be seen (and even if Georgia was 5-0, the same sentiment would ring true), but I love the direct, unambiguous language he uses after a loss. “Bottom line is we’ve got to do better’ we’ve got to do better than them,”
Smart is a results-driven dude in a results-driven scenario and I don’t have major beef with anything he’s done so far with the program. Could Georgia be in a better spot right now? Sure. I think we all think the Dawgs could/should be 4-1 and the gap between there and 3-2 seems insurmountable given Tennessee’s sequential wins against the only presumed challengers for the division (Florida and Georgia).
But put all of this in perspective. Georgia’s first loss was to Ole Miss, a team that was tabbed as the 11th or 12th best team in the preseason (by the AP and Coaches respectively). Georgia’s second loss came to Tennessee, a team that was favored in the game and that was ranked in the preseason Top 10 by both the AP and the Coaches. Georgia entered the year ranked 18th by the AP and 16th by the Coaches. Polls don’t matter that much and preseason polls are kind of a joke, but who saw a schedule featuring three top 25 teams in the first 5 weeks (UNC was also ranked by both major polls)—two of which were ranked ahead of Georgia—and said, “We have to be better than 3-2 in year one of a new coaching staff with a freshman QB?” I didn’t.
10. It’s South Carolina Week
We hate South Carolina, remember? Sure, we hate everyone. But right now we hate South Carolina. Night game on the road in Columbia…whew boy, I’m tired of Sandstorm already.
That’s all I got/
Georgia Fans – The Second Annual #FreeBeerTailgate Presented by @DudeYouCrazy and @JasonIsASmith Goes Down This Saturday!
Last year, Andrew (@DudeYouCrazy) and Jason (@JasonIsASmith) graciously organized the #FreeBeerTailgate before Georgia’s home game against South Carolina. Needless to say, it was an overwhelming success. Free beers were had and Georgia curb stomped some Cocks. In the spirit of continuity, THE EVENT IS BACK! And we’re hoping for equally impressive results—both during the tailgate and on the field.
Along those lines, we’re ramping the event up even further this year to include some live broadcasting via Periscope and maybe even Facebook Live if we can figure out what exactly Facebook Live is and how it works. So don’t miss out on your chance to participate. And did I mention Free Beer? That’s kind of the point of the #FreeBeerTailgate. There will be FREE beers.
Here are the details.
- Who: Anybody in Athens for the Georgia / Tennessee Game
- What: Free Beer
- When: Saturday (October 1) from 10 AM until 3:00 PM
- Where: Between the North Campus Parking Deck and the Jackson Street Building (map below)
- How: This is the best part. This is probably the easiest contest/promotion we’ve ever done. Here’s how to win:
- Find Andrew and Jason.
- Give Andrew and Jason a free beer.
- Win all the respect and recognition the internet can afford.
Georgia vs. Tennessee Preview: Football Genius Takes Dawgs Outright, Thoughts on Les Miles and a Weekly Preview
The latest episode of the DudeYouPodcast is now live and ready for action.
Chad Floyd (@Chad_Floyd on the Tweets) is joined by Andrew Hall (@dudeyoucrazy) for a recap of Georgia’s embarrassing loss to Ole Miss, a spirited discussion about the state of Georgia football under new head coach Kirby Smart, a reflection on Les Miles and general college football chatter.
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.