It’s finally here. The stimulus package St. Simon’s has been waiting for. The Cocktail Party. Georgia Florida.
There are a few things that will come out of this game depending on the outcome. If Georgia pulls the upset, it could legitimately push them into a fantastic season. We’d have wins over the top team in the country, a win robbed from us against another top ten team (LSU), and the win against South Carolina who’s currently sitting at 22. Not bad. Plus, all the momentum that will come from such a huge win would hopefully propel us to finish the season strong, and beating Tech would be another win against a ranked foe. 4(ish) wins against ranked teams is BCS worthy. Would we get it? No, because wittle Boise State needs their shot. Whatever.
But the more realistic situation is a tough game between the two enemies in which the more confident team who plays defense* ends up on top. So what does this mean for Georgia football? We’ll be sitting at 4-4 with no chance at the SEC title, no confidence and little left to play for. It makes the Kentucky game look daunting. I’d call for a few changes.
(*Defense is defined as the action of preventing an opponent from scoring. This concept may seem foreign to many Freshman and Sophomores who came here under the Willie Martinez-in-full-force era.)
First, Joe Cox would have to sit. Next season, Georgia loses three seniors offensively, Cox, Mike Moore (not a loss in my book) and Vince Vance. Our offense has a chance to do some big things next year with such depth and experience. However, you can only go as far as your quarterback takes you. Getting Logan Gray or Aaron Murray game time experience is vital to next season’s success. I’d much prefer Murray based on what I saw at the G-Day game. Either way, whoever comes in will get a cake walk in the first game against Tennessee Tech, the home crowd for a rivalry game against Auburn, a chance to improve at home against Kentucky and gets valued road experience against Georgia Tech. That is a lot to build off for next season, especially as there won’t be much pressure for the rest of this year. Lets face it, expectations are low.
I’d also sit Mike Moore. Or at least make a concerted effort to get Marlon Brown or Israel Troupe some more time. And throw the ball to Orsen Charles regularly. This season it’s been AJ Green or bust in the passing game. When in doubt, throw the ball over AJ’s head and he’ll probably reel it in somehow. 2 defenders, 3 defenders, it really doesn’t matter. You can learn a lot from this Gator team, but one of thing that sticks out is why you shouldn’t rely on one player too often. Percy Harvin was the go-to guy for Florida last season. He ran the ball, caught it and stretched the field. Without him, Florida’s offense has struggled, particularly in the red zone. As teams start to double or triple up on Green, it makes Cox’s job all the more difficult. Next year, teams are going to force someone else to make plays. And we’re going to need someone who’s capable.
There is something to be said for not “giving up” on a season. But when your defense is “giving up” 37 points or more in 8 of the last 16 games, it’s hard not to. But I think we have the talent to compete with any of these guys even with a new quarterback. Georgia can rely on the running game, which it needs to improve anyway, and set up the deep ball to AJ Green. It’s a strategy I think we should have employed all along. But even if we do lose a few more, I think a more prepared team next year with a legitimate shot at an SEC title would be better in the long run than winning a couple more games this season.
With that said, lets get to the picks. I rebounded last week with a 4-1 effort bringing the total to 24-14. Not too shabby. This week may be the toughest week to pick. Yep, makin’ excuses already.
The first game is the battle of the Nerds: Georgia Tech travels north to Vanderbilt. This is a very tricky line as Tech is favored by 12. Vandy gave up over 100 yards to Georgia, you’d think this would be no problem for Tech. They should smash this little team. Paul Johnson is hard-nosed enough to keep his team from looking ahead to the vaunted Wake Forest next week. And going to Vandy isn’t exactly intimidating. There seems to be little reason to pick Vanderbilt. The lone aspect that tips me off is the rain. Will Nesbit hang onto the ball? It affected him early against Virginia. I’ll take the points. Vandy +12
Ole Miss and Auburn is a major game for both teams. Ole Miss looks to have regained focus and direction by winning a few in a row. Auburn has gone completely the opposite way losing the last 3. Can Auburn stop the bleeding? Will Ole Miss keep going? As I mentioned last week, I like Houston Nutt and Gene Chizik has done nothing to prove he can turn this ship around. Could he even turn a row boat around? No one knows. Ole Miss -4
Mississippi State goes to Kentucky in a game that has me back and forth like Brett Favre. Kentucky has been playing pretty well since my suggestion that they play Randall Cobb at quarterback again. At the same time, Mississippi State has played pretty well the last few weeks. When in doubt take the points. But I really don’t want to. I already gave up on Dan Mullen and State will be getting a couple of points here due to the national exposure they got last weekend. Yep, I’ve talked myself into the home team, Cats -3.5
South Carolina at Tennessee should be a thriller for those who enjoy ugly offenses. Tennessee is getting a lot of hype for their play in recent weeks and they’ve covered a lot of spreads, especially after the UCLA disaster. South Carolina also covered against Alabama and spent last week focusing on this game, judging by their 4-point squeaker against Vandy. How will Tennessee respond from such a tough loss? I’d imagine Knoxville will be pretty wild. And South Carolina has won once in the last 14 tries in Neyland Stadium. I imagine Rocky Top will be sung 43 times in a victory, but not by 6 points. South Carolina + 6
And finally, the big game in Jacksonville. Georgia is 15 point underdawgs as they take on the number 1 Gators. There’s been a lot of talk about how poor Florida’s passing game has been this season as well as the red zone offense. But as Jonathan Crompton will tell you, the best way to turn around a passing game is to play Georgia’s secondary. Still, Willie Martinez’s “defense” is built to last in the red zone. The Gators could be kicking a lot of field goals in this one. And if Georgia can score a special teams touchdown or force a pick-6, they could sneak out of there with a win. I’ll take the 15 points*.
Until next time, Ball Hard.