kittens n puppies
Han Vance on Georgia football: Georgia has an inept and predictable offense. There is no other way to honestly describe it after a full nine football games have been played. I wanted to be way more positive coming off a shutout win, but watching the replay last night got me nervous.
James Coley still squarely looks like the wrong man for the offensive coordinator job, a bad Kirby Smart hire, resting at 8-1 in the world of “players not plays,” (Coley in the preseason) which deflects the problems onto the youngsters instead of shining the glaring spotlight where it belongs: on a professional play caller not getting the job done. A resolutely arrogant head coach who promoted him instead of bringing in a fresh-minded talent with his own offense-minded football ideas…like say LSU did.
Sure, Georgia hit a decent 27 versus the SEC’s number two defense Saturday night – which would have been 30 if Rodrigo Blankenship hadn’t had another rare missed kick – as I hosted my 4th-annual iteration of the ATHENS LEGACY PARTY, this time (and next year I’m going same venue for the first time ever, for the Auburn game) at “That Bar.” Many thanks to the awesome bar staff, especially co-owner/operator Evan.
But, safety Richard LeCounte had also taken an interception 70+ yards, almost all the way to the house. So that’s basically almost a touchdown right there. And Missouri, starting yet another backup quarterback getting his first career start, couldn’t maintain any drives all game (27-0 final), so the Bulldogs had the ball as much as they wanted it. Pretty much another 20 points type of game for the offense, which is what they do. …It won’t be enough, I’m afraid.
Richt’s last team resembles this team. A good running game with a good back, switch Sony who started when Chubb went down, for Swift who everybody knows is getting the lion’s share of the key touches. A game manager at QB who point-blank can’t make all the throws. A lack of production at the wideout spots. A very good and well-coached defense that keeps the team winning, most weeks, and a coach unwilling to change his ways no matter what. Richt and Kirby have quite different issues but there’s a key similarity. Richt was blindly loyal to a fault to the individuals he loved and saw God’s fate overarch. Kirby trusts the system and thinks his way or the highway is the best bet, until impostor syndrome creeps in again.
Recent history: Mark Richt’s last team won 10 games behind a Jeremy Pruitt defense that was a good bit better than Kirby’s first defense in Athens the next (8-5) season. Sure, they were fine the next year (13-2), when Roquan Smith personally took over the football season.
This team is a team without stars, has a defense most often in position to make tackles. You have to like how Kirby has the defensive backs playing. And the best guys on the defense are all 3-star guys, not so-called key recruits. I like gritty guys, like that. Playing with heart is the key to further success. If defense can still win championships…Georgia has the best defense in the SEC and has given up no rushing touchdowns. Opponents have scored just 31 total points in second halves all year, bye-bye blue-n-orange top 10 Florida getting 14 of those in JAX.
Back to the analogous past: Pruitt’s final side had the number one passing defense in the nation, as quick example, while Kirby’s side with mostly the same defensive backs couldn’t cover guys consistently in space, lost too many 50-50 balls and even trailed 45-0 at Ole Miss in the first big cross-divisional road test of the Smart era, as my face melted in the Oxford sun. He’s 0-3, each a different type of ugly blowout, in his career, in such contests; here comes another chance…in “The Jungle” on the Plains, in the prettiest little village on the plains, versus the Tigers, the War Eagles, the Plainsmen, versus the Family, the Gus Bus.
Our old sister school southwest sure has a whole lot of marketing concepts for an also-ran.
Well, they did win it all once, lest we forget, in modern-ish history, when Auburn out-paid Miss State, when the Maroon Pups had offered, on the record, $CAM Newton $100,000 (not him per se, his daddy, a preacher from The ATL, by a booster not the school, per se). The NCAA changed the rules to address this my-family-did-it-not-me loophole, too late. They, the righteous Newton family decided that was not enough money and the huge QB and ahem snappy dresser, went to AU-barn…for wink-wink “free” – to get the greatest education on the plains. Cam stayed one year, was suspended within, Auburn appealed, he got to play against Georgia. Trailing 21-7, he rallied and won pretty big. He had the Cam-back (more genius Aubie marketing minds at work) and beat mighty BAMA after being in another hole. He edged an overhyped Oregon Nike-Ducks team in the national championship game, winning me a whole bunch of money…not like a hundred grand, though.
$CAM is one of my least favorite athletes ever: I don’t like that guy. He is a mentally weak fake. He was only at Auburn and available on the open market to Miss State prior because he had been kicked off Florida for stealing. That Florida had more than a few bad apples…and very nice guy Tim Tebow.
Tebow got and deserved a statue, after winning the SEC only once as a starter but accomplishing a lot, overall. At least we made him cry on TV…once. Without his heir apparent, Florida quickly came back to the pack. Auburn won their second ever national championship and placed Cam’s statue on campus. While in Athens, Stan Mullins’s amazing Herschel Walker statue is still in the Pulaski Heights Historic District off downtown, where I used to live and will have friends park us for home games.
I met Gus at Lenox Square mall two weeks after he lost the national championship. We had a mutual connection (Wayne Gandy), and he and his wife are nice people. I liked Gus as a guy. His offense is gimmicky – a junk offense predicated on too much movement. If you just stay in your lanes, it’s easy to stop, unless they have a truly great running back or an incredible running QB. Gus’s best team at Auburn lost the (7 year-) SEC national championship streak, to Jimbo Fisher and FSU. Before that, they got unusually lucky twice, at home. It was dumb luck. Old lady luck really hurt us.
At Aubie, they have lost each year going back: 5, 4 (won the SEC West), 5, 6, 5, 2 (won the SEC), 9, 5. I have Ol’ Georgia, the superior program, winning this game at 3:30 on CBS Saturday, barely, 24-20. I have Auburn getting four or five losses again and Gus leaving for Arkansas, where he has coached and they’d love to lose just four or five games per season. Aubie held LSU to 23, by the way, at Death Valley.
The Auburn folks at the top complained so vehemently (they can look that word up) about the schedule being such that they get Georgia and Bama every year so late. That was the only chance they had to ever do anything of note, never doing much in years they went on the road for those their two biggest rivalry games. Starting next year, Auburn is not near the back of Georgia’s SEC schedule. And in a baby steps first move by the league, Texas A&M is coming to Athens after Aubie this year.
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry was first played in Piedmont Park of Atlanta in the winter of 1892. Prior, Georgia hosted the first football game in the Deep South – and it’s pretty big down here – at Herty Field in Athens, Ga., the Classic City, beating Mercer. Auburn has traditionally been Georgia’s last SEC game, with many league championships for Georgia (we have 13, tied with Tennessee for the second most in the SEC, behind the Evil Empire) won or lost in the key rivalry game.