Another draft has come and gone, and Georgia continued to keep its strong NFL pipeline open. The Dawgs ranked #13 in draft player quality, a pretty solid ranking considering its one elite prospect has a torn ACL. The full list is here, and you’ll get a laugh at Florida ranking #4 due to the strength of its….offense…?…having six players drafted. WHO SAID WILL MUSCHAMP CAN’T COACH?!?
Todd Gurley, Rams (1st round, 10th overall): Obviously, most of the strength of this Georgia class lies in the monster RB Todd Gurley. The first first-round running back selected since 2012, Gurley’s landing spot is less than ideal. The Rams are weak on the offensive line (though strong behind Greg Robinson and Roger Saffold on the left side), and have a complete dearth of playmakers on the outside as long as Tavon Austin demonstrates a lack of receiving skills. To add insult to injury (no pun intended), the Rams play in the NFC West with strong defenses in Seattle and Arizona. Perhaps he can eat in two games against a depleted 49ers team, but who knows?
Former Auburn back Tre Mason had a pretty nice second half to his rookie season last year, but Gurley should have no problem supplanting him as the featured back. Fantasy ripoff Zac Stacy, though?
2 days after his angry tweet about the Rams drafting Todd Gurley, Zac Stacy was traded to the Jets for a bag of balls. 973 yds, 7 TD as rook
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) May 2, 2015
In case you missed it, Stacy’s response to the Gurley pick was swift, as he tweeted (and deleted) “YIKES”, followed by a trade request, which the Rams granted for a 7th-round pick.
FIT: D+. Gurley is going to be asked to be the workhorse here, and his career will likely be shortened by Jeff Fisher giving him the Eddie George treatment.
Chris Conley, Chiefs (3rd round, 76th overall): From a pure opportunity standpoint, Conley couldn’t have landed in a better situation. The Chiefs let Dwayne Bowe walk this offseason, and their receivers accounted for ZERO touchdowns last year. With their signing of deep threat Jeremy Maclin, there should be ample space to operate underneath for the combine wonder.
Additionally, Conley immediately becomes KC’s tallest receiver, as 6’3 journeyman Armon Binns and his 27 career catches are likely not to stick on the roster.
FIT: A-. WR was likely KC’s biggest need going into the draft, and Conley joins a 7th-rounder from Northern Illinois as new targets for Alex Smith. Only Smith’s inability to get the ball downfield keeps this from being a home run for Conley.
Ramik Wilson, Chiefs (4th round, 118th overall): The first three Georgia draftees will play their football in Missouri, which is just…odd. SEC country indeed, I suppose.
Ramik has a good chance to stick as a 3-4 inside ‘backer (where he played for his most productive Georgia year), as the Chiefs are a little light there. Derrick Johnson is a stud, and Josh Mauga had 103 tackles in his first year with the team. Depth is a major concern here, and the team’s run defense was not-so-good last year. Wilson should get a shot to move right into a reserve role and join the starting 11 if Johnson’s injury issues persist.
The fear here is that some are listing him as an outside linebacker, where he would be well behind former Dawg (and 2014 sack leader) Justin Houston, as well as aging edge rusher Tamba Hali and last year’s second-round pick, Dee Ford.
FIT: A if he stays inside, F if they see him as an edge guy. We grew to know and love Wilson as an inside ‘backer.
If he can protect the middle of the field like the following GIF (B.S. penalties aside), Wilson will be just fine.
Damian Swann, Saints (5th round, 167th overall): Again, depends on where the team sees him playing. With Keenan Lewis and former Patriot Brandon Browner entrenched as the starting corners, the versatility Swann demonstrated in one year under Jeremy Pruitt is essential to his staying power.
If he is indeed a corner in the Saints’ D, Swann will also be competing with former Florida State corner P.J. Williams, a third-round pick who many mocks saw as a late first-rounder.
Rotoworld lists Swann as a free safety, where he’s clearly behind Jarius Byrd. Career starter Kenny Phillips was signed this offseason for depth as well, but he’s been completely unable to stay healthy.
FIT: C-. Swann’s best hope for a roster spot here is as a special teamer and sub package corner. While that’s all you can really expect as a fifth rounder, the Saints have invested heavily in their secondary over the past two years. On the other hand, 81.3% of 5th rounders at least play their rookie years with the team who drafts them, so he should be in NOLA for special teams and depth in year one.
Amarlo Herrera, Colts (6th round, 207th overall): ‘Marlo is a prototypical run stuffing, old school middle linebacker who may have missed his NFL calling by 10-15 years, but he has a good chance to stick for his first few years. The Colts have been awful against the run in recent years, and a division with Houston, Jacksonville, and Tennessee means that he’s playing almost half of his schedule against teams that aren’t exactly capable of chucking all over the field and exploiting his weakness as a pass defender.
D’Quell Jackson (140 tackles) and Jerrell Freeman (93) are Indy’s inside incumbents (alliteration!). Freeman is on a 1-year RFA deal, and Jackson is entering his 9th year in the league. From a depth perspective, Herrera should be able to find some time on the field.
FIT: A-. There aren’t many better fits for one of my all-time favorites.
Among the undrafted Dawgs, C David “Boss” Andrews to New England is good, because (spoiler alert) Bill Belichick tends to get the most out of all of his players, one way or another. Ray Drew is a Dolphin, Toby Johnson a Titan, and Corey Moore a Texan.
On balance, one feels for Gurley. The rest of the Dawgs’ draftees ended up in very good situations to display their talents.
Everywhere I have been asked (DudeYouPodcasts, mostly), I have been a little down on Georgia’s prospects in this game. The win over Clemson (hey, we spend so much time talking about SEC superiority, right? Clemson shouldn’t have even showed up to Sanford Stadium) is vastly overrated, and I don’t think Georgia’s offense is built to exploit South Carolina’s defensive weaknesses exposed in the first two weeks by Texas A&M and East Carolina.
Defensively, I see Georgia as vulnerable to South Carolina’s two biggest strengths: running the ball with a healthy(ier) Mike Davis, and the deep passing game with Damiere Byrd, Nick Jones, Shaq Roland, and Pharaoh Cooper all able to stretch defenses vertically.
LET’S GET IT!
1) Make South Carolina One-Dimensional: To my point about the Georgia defense, the Dawgs can’t afford to play an ambidextrous South Carolina offense on the road. If the secondary can contain the vertical passing game, great. Mike Davis 4-5 yards at a time, relying on a Dylan Thompson mistake (likely in the short to intermediate range) and playing bend-but-don’t break…that’s a winning gameplan.
Conversely, taking Davis out of the game and taking chances one-on-one with the Cocks’ wideouts scares me a little more. Having spent more time than I want to claim in Columbia, nothing gets that crowd going more than a quick strike score (see also: 2012: South Carolina 35, Georgia 7). Heads on a swivel, Devin Bowman, Damian Swann, and co.
2) Hutson Mason: Efficiency: Spoiler alert, this is going to be a key until Mason has to win a game with his arm. What do I mean by efficiency? I mean keeping enough threat of burning SC with the passing game to keep them from loading the box on Gurley, the clone, and the sprinters.
Tell me Mason throws for 200 yards with no picks and 60% completions and I’m willing to bet Georgia is 2-0.
3) Composure: This is the all-encompassing ‘by far the toughest environment we’ll have to play in’ key. What happened in 2012 was the opposite of composure. Special teams errors, fumbles, picks, taking the first punch and never having a chance. Ugh.
Given the evidence we have thus far this season, the Dawgs should win this game with 200 yards both on the ground and through the air, with a couple Dylan Thompson turnovers to boot.
It doesn’t always work that way.
Labor Day weekend is nice because you essentially get five (six if you include Georgia State/Abilene Christian this year) days of FBS football in some way, shape or form, which is almost overkill. Because the Tuesday and Wednesday after? TORTURE. Its not quite the 231 days that preceded last Wednesday after the Auburn/Florida State game, but its a struggle. We had a taste, now we want more. This is how heroin addictions get started.
Arizona at UT-San Antonio, 8pm, FS1. This game has intrigue to me for three reasons:
1) Arizona has a chance to be a decent football team and darkhorse in the Pac-12 South.
2) Thursday night road games are where claims such as 1 go to die.
3) Larry Coker- still a corpse that coaches football.
This game really doesn’t intrigue me at all.
Pitt at Boston College, 8pm, ESPN: Two teams who will win 5-7 games and play in pre-Christmas bowls. If you haven’t seen Pitt WR Tyler Boyd yet, then maybe it tickles your fancy.
Washington State at Nevada, 10:30, ESPN: Man, the standard is so much lower for Thu/Fri games. This one should at least feature a LOT of points (O/U is set at 65.5, I’m banging the over) and the world’s favorite coach.
Saturday: The Noon Swoon
Lord, this is a pitiful slate. There are three SEC games, with #2 Alabama hosting FAU and Tennessee hosting Arkansas State, somehow both on the SEC Network. #24 Missouri travels to Toledo (that is not a typo) and is the ESPN game for noon (also not a typo). What a world.
On ABC, you get a chance to see #4 Oklahoma, as they travel to Tulsa. And beyond that, in no particular order, #20 K-State in a conference game at Iowa State on FS1, Penn State/Akron on ESPN2, and #23 Clemson’s lack of a run defense against South Carolina State on your local ACC Network affiliate.
3:30- The Football Gods Give Us One
I’d be kinda pissed if I lived on the West Coast and this was a nooner for me, but #14 USC travels to Palo Alto to take on perpetually immovable object #13 Stanford on ABC. USC ran 102 plays in their week 1 win over Fresno State, and Stanford always ruins hurry-up extraordinaire Oregon’s season. CONSIDER ME COMPELLED.
Beyond that, its uglier than the noons. Kentucky will have a competitive game at Ohio on the Collegiate ESPN network, Florida debuts against EMU at 4 on the SEC, and #15 Ole Miss and Vandy come at you from LP Field at 4:30 on ESPN.
Saturday Saturday Saaaaaturday, Saturday Saturday Saaaaaturday, Saturday Saturday Saaaaaturday Night’s Alright
#7 Michigan State at #3 Oregon. 6:30pm. FOX. Be there or be square.
Reeling #21 South Carolina hosts possible-best-team-in-North-Carolina East Carolina on ESPNU at 7 in a game where ECU QB Shane Carden is out to throw the ball more than Kenny Trill’s 60 attempts.
The #5 Barners get a tune-up against San Jose State at 7 on ESPN2. We get to see round 2 of senor Trill as Lamar visits #9 Texas A&M on the SEC Network at 7. Texas gets to try to hold BYU under 500 rushing yards at the same time on FS1. What I’m saying is this: you should have your rotational trigger finger ready to go by now, its week 2.
At 7:30, our favorite game that has no bearing on any titles at all takes place, as #16 Notre Dame hosts Michigan on NBC. So, that’s 6 games to keep an eye on. For #7, how about Virginia Tech at #8 Ohio State on ESPN at 8?
Let’s rank them in order of what you should have on your ‘favorites’ list to flip through:
1) FOX. Sparty/Ducks.
2) NBC, I guess, for you purists out there.
3) ESPNU, because S.C. could seriously be 0-2 with Georgia on deck.
4) ABC. Nobody likes seeing Urban Meyer win anything, even if it means Frank Beamer wins instead.
5-7) Up to you, man. I don’t own you.
Enjoy the games, folks!
Well. That was far and away the biggest stomach punch game of my 28 years. My brain still hasn’t effectively processed what happened Saturday, but I will do my damnedest to get through this with the most emotional detachment I can muster. I can’t promise it will work, but I can promise I will try. All that said, I want to tip my cap to the Dawg Nation; these last few days reminded me of the good things that being a fan can bring as I have not heard the cries of lost season, but extolling of the greatness of those who stayed. Aaron Murray, a constant fixture in “The Good” section of this blog, got a great hat tip from the folks over at Dawg Sports, and if you find yourself lacking some perspective, head over there and give a read. It still hurts, but somewhat less now.
– If aliens have been reading sportswriting over the years, but not seen games, and landed in my
backyard concrete slab that is home to my grill, and asked me what putting a team on your back meant, you know what I would do? First, I would calmly explain colloquial language to them, and then I would run back the tape of the fourth quarter orchestrated by Aaron Murray. From the dart to Woot, to the improbable, impossible, will of the gods fourth down run, THAT is what a quarterback does. That is what a winner does. Damn good.
– Todd Gurley is hurt. He’s been banged up all year, but still does things like plant one Auburn defender through the other as he did on one of those aforementioned fourth quarter miracle drives. I propose that Hurt Todd Gurley still might be the best college running back on the planet, and I’m glad to get to watch him. Please note that Hurt Todd Gurley still amassed 156 yards on 25 touches. Todd Gurley might be an alien.
– This. All of this.
STOP THE EARTH MARK RICHT JUST GOT A PERSONAL FOUL
— Spencer Hall (@edsbs) November 16, 2013
– Fourth quarter fight out of all phases of the game. Down 20 with 12 minutes to play, this team had not one OUNCE of quit in them and bit, clawed and dragged themselves not only back into the game, but into the EFFING lead in front of the stunned and unwashed masses of Jordan-Hare. Things obviously took a turn for the worse, but I don’t think I’ve been prouder of a squad that I wasn’t personally on.
– I know we missed the Auburn podcast last week, but sometimes real life gets in the way. I can however point you to the podcasts previewing Clemson and South Carolina, and Mizzou and my well documented feelings about this defense and read-option offenses. OH AND IF YOU ARE IN MID-NOVEMBER, AND YOUR DEFENSE STILL CAN’T SCHEME TO STOP POWER, THAT’S NOT A GOOD THING, THAT’S A BAD THING. Ahem. For a defense that has shown the ability to take away the run (LSU game), they did a piss poor job against the multiple looks Auburn gave them, and now I’m worried about Tech and no one likes that.
– Pass rush (non-fourth quarter edition) was mostly non-existent, as obvious passing downs where you would think Georgia had an advantage, BUT NO. A lack of pressure and cushions that would let me get first downs led to a helluva passing day for the Tigers…and that’s before we get to the ugly. Speaking of…
– WARNING: The following video is not safe for life, death, children, pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, smokers, non smokers, sitting at your desk and not wanting to cut yourself, and other potentially affected groups. For those of you into disaster porn, join me.
I’m still like:
But life, she goes on. And next week, she goes on through Senior Day as we send off those who have been giants of the gridiron the past few years in Athens. Go Dawgs.
Love this? Hate it? Think I’m an idiot? Don’t just curse at me under your breath, head to the Dude 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 https://twitter.com/dpalm66