Nashville, Athens (Branson and Austin, even)

Never, ever cheer for a player to get injured but looking at the Show Me State studs’ remaining schedule, for the SEC East (2-0 in conference) leading Mizzou Tigers, it’s to Georgia’s significant advantage that Maty Mauck has been forced to replace James Franklin. They must lose twice in the SEC while we sweep for us to get into the truly huge SEC football game, in Atlanta. So, we are cheering for the hated Gators, Vols, Cocks to take two-of-three in Columbia, MO over the next three weeks. It would not happen if a healthy Franklin was playing in America’s middle but may now.

Off topic: Nashville, the Music City, came in a distant third in a national travel magazine reader vote for best music cities. My birth city of Austin edged my college town of Athens, GA in a tight vote for the top. We are a bit like Texas, now, a big state flagship school from a power conference, just playing for a conference crown we have not worn in some years, after early-season wishful thinking about a defensive rebirth which was pure fools gold. We are not there.

Didn’t happen at Texas during bad losses to BYU and Ole Miss. Didn’t happen for the Dawgs. We’ve given up 29 true D points per game this season, while also giving up three special team touches and a big minus 7 on offense. That’s four undisciplined scores in just six games, for a team which has only taken the ball away four total times, after back-to-back big takeaway years. Four turnovers over a half football season. Heck, Murray gave three away Saturday, two clearly his fault at the worst time, with the team gifting a full four. 41 the Mizzou score said, just like LSU put up Between the Hedges, but with no explosion guys left on offense we didn’t get close to 44 this time around. The longest home winning streak in the SEC (15) came to a close Saturday, and our fans made nowhere near enough noise in that game. It was “early” and we were down 28-10 at the half, but so what. Be true to your school and team or sell your tickets. Make noise every game or stay home.

In a game we were favored by ten, we lost by a full fifteen. That’s right: we underperformed versus not just our fans’ but Vegas’s expectations by a total of twenty-five. That’s bad for our lasting national reputation. Which matters way less than getting back to ATL.

Was talking to some fellow Dawgs fans after the game Saturday evening. Folks I didn’t know but loved, you know. We were hurting. All of us. And I said, “Only good thing is we don’t know any Mizzou fans.” It’s not like Florida or Tech or Auburn or Tennessee or Carolina, where everybody lives near each other or all works together in Atlanta.

Last time I was even around a big Mizzou fan was when I was in another good live sound town: Branson. Traveling Missouri and writing about it. Dude thought my ‘G’ hat was a black Green Bay Packers lid. That’s far removed. That would never happen in the World Capital of College Football. Atlanta awaits only if we get a whole lot of ifs: If we get BEAST running, and if we insert a healthy 6-5 Rumph at wideout, if Bennett comes back better than ever, if our D suddenly matures, and if we stop those glaring special teams gaffes, where the coaches remain acting faultless with no single man stepping up to be solely responsible for our special teams. Imagine, no special teams coach and it a glaring, glaring program weakness. Nobody gets fired and yet nobody fixes this mess!

I was planning to be in Nashville to see our DAWGS with my wife. Then, her work needed her Saturday AM, and we realized her best friend’s 40th was Saturday in ATL. So, I’m off to Athens Friday night to cover a local act called Of Montreal for Art Nouveau magazine, and then back to the only real big urban center of the South to watch us play on a screen. Been tough up there.

It’s been tough, period! We were 12-2 and #2 in the world in the eyes of the public…And we are 5-3 in our last eight games, a play away versus UT or LSU from .500 over that stretch. Glass half-full — glass half-empty.

Everyone on offense is hurt, basically, as far as big play guys go. They went. We miss our top wideout Malcolm Mitchell almost as much as we miss the best player in all of college. Like I said in the preseason, what we know is not what we know. We didn’t know this would happen to our playmakers, but it has. We didn’t know the gelling of the youngest D in our modern era could be this bad. It is. We give up 30 plus total points every week. Usually more. Every stinking glorious week. It’s entertaining, at least. But we want to win big at GEORGIA.

JWB. Just Win Baby. Regressed Ole Miss and upstart Mizzou have already won at Vandy. They lost to a South Carolina team we beat by double digits and are 3-3 and desperate to get to six wins for a third straight bowl. They won nine early-1900s twice, and they, only one other time ever won nine, last year, with 8-of-those-9 victories coming after UGA killed them 48-3. Jordan Matthews is one of the best wideouts in the country, but they replaced their top runner and QB from a school record setting offense of last season. This ain’t last season, though, is it Dawgs fans? I’m afraid not, and if we don’t play better now as a whole team we will lose much more than twice. GO DAWGS!

CBS doubleheader this week, DAWGS-‘Dores at noon EST and then my radio partner Wayne Gandy’s Auburn Tigers take on my grandpappy’s school, at Texas A&M and #JohnnyFootball at 3:30. Full report before and after on all things SEC on SPORTS JOC COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRE-VIEW every Friday at http://www.thesportsjoc.com – Thanks for reading and listening. DAWGS #1, #HanVance