Sunday, August 31, 2008

First game memories . . .

Seemed to be a lot of folks dropping out like flies at the GSU game Saturday. The heat and humidity were terrible, and with the 12:30 kickoff, it could be that a lot of our "tailgain' brethen" didn't have didn't have enough time to get properly hydrated (some may call it lubricated) before they entered the stadium. I've heard that many swooned in the stadium and that both the North and South concourses were lined with heat prostrated victims before halftime. This problem was compounded by the fact that our concessionaires ran out of ice at halftime.

Thank goodness we didn't have an opponent that required our full attention and support to secure the win.

Such was not the case back in 1965, when both yours truly and Vince Dooley were sophomores - I, as a student and Vince, as the head coach. On opening day, Georgia, coming off a remarkable 7-3-1 campaign including a Sun Bowl victory over Donnie Anderson's Texas Tech team, was playing the reigning National Champions, Ala-damn-bama coached by the legendary Bear Bryant. Just a year earlier, the crusty Bryant had welcomed young Vince to the SEC with 31-3 shellacking in Tuscaloosa.

It was the custom, back in the day, to come to the games in your "Sunday best". I was looking good in my wool herringbone sport coat, wool slacks, and white starched shirt with red/black striped tie. I was also sweating like Percy Sledge writing a love letter before kickoff, because that beautiful opening day back in 1965 was much like this past Saturday. My date for the day was my current wife (the lovely Ms. 'fish) who I don't remember speaking to me after the second quarter. Then again, I don't remember much of anything after the second quarter.

My running mate for the day was the infamous Dorsey Hill (you might recall Lewis Grizzard later making him an institution as "The World's Greatest Bulldog Fan" in his many articles and books). Since Hill was two years older and I was still a pledge, my main job was to first, get the whiskey into the stadium, and secondly, keep our cokes liberally blended from kickoff until the final gun. I did a good job . . . I think.

It was a great game. UGA took an early lead. Alabama came back and tied the score in the second half, 10-10. Reality set in when Alabama, led by Steve Sloan, took a 17-10 lead with three minutes left in the game. It was about that time that Hill suggested we might need a fresh drink with which to leave the stadium, since this one looked like it was about over. On first down, I missed a two yard gain to our own 27 yard line pouring the bourbon in the cup. I then missed the second most famous play in UGA history with my head between my knees stirring the drinks . . . Kirby Moore to Pat Hodgson to Bob Taylor - the Flea-Flicker play. I looked up in time to see Taylor cross the goal line. I then kicked my damn drink over seconds later when Kirby hit Hodgson in the back of the endzone with the two point conversion to win the game, 18-17.

True story . . . that was the last drink I have ever had at a UGA football game. EVER. I'll drink before and celebrate afterwards, but old 'fish will never run the risk of missing history again while mixing a drink :>)

Lot of similarities between that year, 1965, and this one. Naysayers have groused for years over the fact that we haven't played a regular season, non-conference game more than 200 miles from Athens (GT, Clemson, and USC). We did in 1965 - two weeks after the Alabama game we traveled to Ann Arbor to defeat Michigan, 15-7. This year, 43 years later, we shut the critics up by traveling to Arizona State. That was the first time in history UGA played a team with a black athlete . . . I've got a few humorous stories about that game from my good friend, Doug McFalls, who was the Captain of the '65 team. As usual, Erk was the master motivator. I'll share 'em later.

Thanks to the moderators for allowing me to share a few thoughts and memories to this forum. Look forward to talking to y'all later.

'fish

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Game Thread: #5 Clemson vs. #25 Alabama








Feel free to respond with your comments as you watch the most compelling match-up of the opening weekend.

Uga VII: Tradition Continues.

UGA VI
"A BIG DOG FOR A BIG JOB,
AND HE HANDLED IT WELL"



Uga VII

Chilli Dawg

Friday, August 29, 2008

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 1 Day

Well, the season is upon us once again, this one (at least on paper) brings more expectation than any I can remember. I was 7 years old when the Dawgs' kicked off a season that had anywhere near as much promise as this one will, the 1982 campaign when the Dawgs won the opener over the defending National Champion Clemson Tigers. Since I can barely remember what I felt like last week, hard to say what I remember about 26 years ago. The schedule is tough, but we have the most deep talent we've ever seen in Athens. If you had to pick a roster to withstand a tough schedule, this is the one I'd want. These are the coaches I'd want. Really couldn't ask for more.

I've enjoyed writing the countdown this season, with alot of help from other folks along the way (Bop, Bear, Worm and Otto.) I know it hasn't always been 100% accurate or well-written (at least when I've been the one doing it), and thankfully there have been a few loyal readers that made sure to point that out to me. There was a time in my life when I was much better at doing these. Then you start getting old and responsibilities come up, and your priorities get thrown all out of whack. But that's life. (That's a joke if my wife happens to be reading.)

In any case, hope you enjoyed it, and maybe by some odd chance I threw out a nugget about a player that gave you some insight you wouldn't have otherwise had. I look forward to doing it again leading up to the 2009 season.

#1 Mohamed Massaquoi, FL
6-2, 200, Charlotte NC (Independence HS), Sr.
Massaquoi followed high school teammate Joe Cox to UGA, choosing the Dawgs over Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina and NC State. He was considered one of the top high school prospects that year, compiling over 3,400 yards and 55 touchdowns in his final 2 years at Independence.
His first season at UGA was very good for a true freshman, with 38 receptions for 585 yards and 2 touchdowns, including 6-108-1 in the classic against Auburn. He suffered through a true sophomore slump the following year. production waned and he had a nasty case of the drops, although no one will forget the regular season finale against Georgia Tech, where he caught the winning touchdown and the ensuing 2 point conversion from Stafford. He really got back on form at the end of last season, with big touchdown receptions against Florida and Auburn, and he was also the team's leading receiver against Georgia Tech and in the Sugar Bowl vs Hawaii. He looks poised for an outstanding senior season, and has been named preseason All-SEC (mostly 2nd team) by most publications.
Depth Chart Analysis: Mohamed is one of the senior leaders on the team (even if it isn't vocally), and the firm starter at flanker ahead of true freshman A.J. Green, who Massaquoi has also been a mentor to. The dropsies from 2006 are long behind him. He was one of the best in the weight room this offseason, and really appears determined to make his senior year a good one, not only for himself and his future, but for the Dawgs to realize their own high expectations. #1 has been a great Dawg in his career in Athens. Expect a huge senior season.

The Whigs

Here are a couple of video's of The Whigs performing "Right Hand On My Heart". Probably the most well know performance is this one on Letterman:


courtesy TheWhigsband

Here is an acoustic version:


courtesy thetripwiredotcom

See Also:
Forces Worldwide... Rebel Forces
Last Night::Whigs... Aquarium Drunkard

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Game thread: #21 South Carolina vs NC State








Feel free to respond here with your comments as you check out the first SEC kickoff of the year.

2008 College Football Conference Predictions: Southeastern Conference

I'd be remiss not to get up my thoughts on the SEC this year, although admittedly they are being written after two SEC teams have already kicked off their season. (A pretty underwhelming first 10 minutes from South Carolina, at least on offense. Meanwhile Vanderbilt is putting the screws to Miami, Ohio in a game they were actually the underdog in - I'm guessing Bobby Johnson pulled out the Rockne speech before that one.)

Anyway, no reason not to expect this to be another competitive and exciting year in the SEC. There isn't much I need to offer in the way of analysis of who will be good and who won't, you've already read it ad nauseum. I will say that I went through this backward and forward, tried to play devil's advocate inside my own head, even went out of my way to figure out a way to pick against UGA. I couldn't do it. If the Dawgs were kicking off in any of the 12 games on their schedule this Saturday, they'd be favored. Does that mean they'll run roughshod through the schedule? Absolutely not. I believe the Dawgs will lose at least one game in the conference. But I do believe Georgia wins the SEC in 2008.

The Dawgs will have plenty of competition for the title. Tennessee is a scary team in the East, and the Vols are the defending Eastern Division champs. As much as I hate to admit it, Florida should be very good on offense, perhaps even unstoppable at times. LSU and Auburn should stage a tight battle in the West. I give a slight nod to Auburn because they get the Bayou Bengals at Jordan-Hare.

The rest of the conference pecking order should be similar to what we usually see. But make no mistake, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi State, and maybe even Ole Miss this year, have more than enough firepower to scare one of the top teams in the league, and probably will at some point.

Predictions
Eastern Division
1. Georgia Bulldogs (Projected Overall Regular Season Record: 11-1, Projected Overall Conference Record: 7-1)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Arizona State 9/20
Key Conference Game: vs Florida 11/1 (Jacksonville)
Key Players: RB Knowshon Moreno, WR Mohammed Massoquoi, DT Geno Atkins, CB Asher Allen
If you need to know about UGA's personnel, check the archives to your right and click on any of the last 98 days. What I can tell you is that I do not expect the Dawgs to make it through the mid-season "gauntlet" unscathed. I can't quite put my finger on which game it will be, but I know it won't be the Cocktail Party. Let's go with the game in Red Stick. Dawgs lose one, make it to Atlanta needing a win for a trip to south Florida in early January.

2. Tennessee Volunteers (10-2, 6-2)
Key Non-Conference Game: at UCLA 9/1
Key Conference Game: vs Florida 9/20
Key Players: RB Arian Foster, OG Anthony Parker, LB Rico McCoy, S Eric Berry
If Crompton is halfway decent, this team could be hell on wheels. A stud backfield, very good and experienced set of recievers, and plenty of the usual talent along the offensive line. On the other side, their secondary is going to be very good, led by Berry, who might be the best in the nation. They have an issue or two up front, and need to replace Jerod Mayo in the middle, but this group should be solid. The trip to Athens may be the key to both teams' seasons. I expect the Vols to handle Florida in late September, setting up what is always the Vols' game of the year in Athens. If they can get through that one, the schedule sets up well for UT to make a run at a conference title and perhaps even challenge for a BCS berth. Keep your eye on Tennessee.

3. Florida Gators (9-3, 5-3)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Miami FL 9/6
Key Conference Game: vs Georgia 11/1 (Jacksonville)
Key Players: QB Tim Tebow, WR Percy Harvin, LB Brandon Spikes, KR/PR Brandon James
Florida is going to be hell on wheels on offense. Tebow and Harvin are very good. The offensive line, although it has to replace 3 starters, should be good. Losing TE Cornelius Ingram is bigger than anybody in the free world seems to want to admit. Biggest question mark for the Gators is at running back. They had nothing back there last year other than Tebow and the occasional burst from Harvin, but that gameplan almost got both of them killed. USC transfer Emmanuel Moody and true freshman speedster Chris Rainey may be the answer, or maybe Urban Meyer's style just isn't what it takes to run the ball down anybody's throat. Regardless of the offense, it is the other side that will keep Florida from doing what everybody else thinks they will. This group was atrocious last year. They didn't give up a ton of yardage (although a few opponents actually lit them up through the air), but they couldn't keep anybody out of the end zone. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but I don't see Florida doing much better than the 4 loss season in 2007.

4. South Carolina Gamecocks (8-4, 5-3)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs NC State 8/28
Key Conference Game: vs Tennessee 11/1
Key Players: WR Kenny McKinley, TE Jared Cook, LB Jasper Brinkley, LB Eric Norwood
South Carolina is always very good in certain areas, very bad in others. Put it all together and you have a mediocre team with mediocre results. This year will be no different. The good areas: wide receivers (McKinley, Cook), linebackers (Norwood, Brinkley), and they probably have the best kicker in the league (Ryan Succop.) The bad: quarterback (who knows), running back (Mike Davis is serviceable but not exactly a feature back), and defensive line (decent pass rush but lousy against the run.) South Carolina's season should follow its usual pattern: start out strong (could easily be 6-1 when LSU comes to Columbia in mid-October), and will fade in the end. More of what we're used to seeing, although the 8 wins I'm predicting will be greeted favorably from the Cock faithful.

5. Kentucky Wildcats (5-7, 2-6)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Louisville 8/31
Key Conference Game: vs South Carolina 10/11
Key Players: WR Dicky Lyons, OT Garry Williams, CB Trevard Lindley, DE Jeremy Jarmon
UK had (by their standards) a magical season last year, getting into the Top 10 midseason and pulling off one of the upsets of the season in beating LSU in Lexington. The Cats will be competitive this year, but don't expect a repeat of last year's 8 wins. UK returns only 4 starters on offense, and now really has quarterback issues following the dismissal of Curtis Pulley. The defense brings back 8 starters, but will still likely rank near the bottom of the league. They really had trouble stopping the run at times in 2007. A tough road slate in the conference (Alabama, Florida, Miss State and Tennessee) combined with a trip to Lexington from Georgia, could mean trouble for Rich Brooks.

6. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-10, 0-8)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Miami OH 8/28
Key Conference Game: at Ole Miss 9/20
Key Players: QB Chris Nickson, QB MacKenzi Adams, CB D.J. Moore, S Reshad Langford
After one of the best 3 year runs in school history (14 wins across those seasons), Vandy looks to be headed for a rebuilding year, with just 9 starters returning, only 3 on offense. The 'Dores have to replace their entire offensive line and most of their defensive line as well. Not good. On the bright side, the secondary is one of the best in the league, but shouldn't be enough to help Vandy to duplicate the win totals of the last 3 years. The schedule gives no help. South Carolina, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee come into Nashville. Not many winnable games on this schedule, but this team is young. 2009 and beyond look better for Vandy.

Western Division
1. Auburn Tigers (9-3, 6-2)
Key Non-Conference Game: at West Virginia 10/23
Key Conference Game: vs Georgia 11/15
Key Players: OT Lee Ziemba, RB Ben Tate, DE Antonio Coleman, DT Sen'Derrick Marks
Auburn installs a new spread offense this season with OC Tony Franklin coming in from Troy. They bring back 9 starters on offense, including possible addition by subtraction with the graduation of QB Brandon Cox. The entire offensive line returns. If everyone picks up this offense, Auburn will be very tough. Alot of talent comes back on defense as well, although a new scheme comes in on that side of the ball as well, with former Pittsburgh DC Paul Rhoads. The front 7 are terrific, and the secondary will be fine if they can replace starter Aairon Savage at cornerback, out for the season with injury. Auburn gets LSU at home, which should be the difference in determining the Western Division representative in the Georgia Dome. I think this is the year Alabama breaks the streak in the Iron Bowl.

2. Louisiana State Tigers (10-2, 6-2)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Appalachian State 8/30 (Seriously. This may be their toughest non-conference game.)
Key Conference Game: at Auburn 9/20
Key Players: WR Demetrius Byrd, OG Herman Johnson, DE Tyson Jackson, DT Ricky Jean-Francois
LSU has developed as much depth as any program in the country in recent years. It rarely matters how many starters they return. Same goes for 2008. The difference for LSU this year is the situation at quarterback. Before dismissing QB Ryan Perrilloux, this may have been the #1 team in the country. The fact that they are now a borderline Top 10 team, tells you how much the impact of the QB situation may have on this squad. It looks like Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch will start against Appalachian State. Cornerback is a bit of a concern on defense, but once again, Les Miles just plugs in another blue-chipper, puts on his non-fitting hats, and acts like a crazy kook. Look for LSU to lose at Auburn and drop another one along the way due to the quarterback deficiences.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (8-4, 5-3)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Clemson 8/30
Key Conference Game: vs Auburn 11/29
Key Players: OT Andre Smith, QB J.P. Wilson, LB Rolando McClain, S Rashad Johnson
Wilson returns for his 14th and final year under center in T-town. I see this year developing for him much like Mike Bobo's senior year at UGA, when things finally click for him. Whether that translates into more wins for Alabama remains to be seen. This group needs to find a go-to receiver, and true freshman Julio Jones might be that guy. 4 offensive linemen return, this unit should be a strength. Believe it or not, the defense may be a weakness (not what you usually expect from Alabama or a Nick Saban coached team.) If they can come together and perform with what you typically expect from an Alabama defense, this squad could challenge for a West crown. The schedule isn't favorable (Clemson at a neutral site, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU all on the road.)

4. Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-5, 3-5)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Georgia Tech 9/20
Key Conference Game: vs Arkansas 11/22
Key Players: RB Anthony Dixon, QB Wesley Carroll, S Derek Pegues, LB Jamar Chaney (former UGA signee)
2007 was a great year for Sylvester Croom and the MSU program. It bought Croom the time he deserves, and now he can work on taking the next step. It won't be easy, but with a more experienced backfield in Carroll and Dixon, along with a serviceable defense (the secondary is easily the best in the conference), should equal another bowl bid for the Maroon Dawgs. If MSU can upset Auburn in Starkville early in the season, this could be a better year than I'm predicting.

5. Ole Miss Rebels (5-7, 2-6)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Memphis 8/30
Key Conference Game: vs Mississippi State 11/28
Key Players: OT Michael Oher, RB Enrique Davis, DE Greg Hardy, DT Peria Jerry
Houston Nutt takes over in Oxford, and some experts actually think the Rebs could make some noise in the West this year. He gets 16 returning starters, including 9 on defense. Those numbers don't even include incoming Texas transfer Jevan Snead, who has been very impressive in offseason drills. Davis is a former Auburn signee that will fill in admirably after the loss of BenJarvus Green-Eliis, who went for over 1100 yards last year. The schedule doesn't do them any favors with trips to Florida, LSU and Alabama, but this team should get close to their first bowl since 2003. Nutt is going to have Ole Miss moving up the SEC standings in the coming years.

6. Arkansas Razorbacks (4-8, 1-7)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Tulsa 11/1
Key Conference Game: vs Ole Miss 10/25
Key Players: C Jonathan Luigs, OG Mitch Petrus, DT Ernest Mitchell, LB Freddie Fairchild
Bob Petrino's first season in Fayetteville could be a struggle. Petrino is an offensive genius, but even he won't be able to work enough magic to make this offense potent. Quarterback has long been a question mark for this program, and while Casey Dick should be better in his senior year, he still isn't exactly what Petrino needs to make things run to his liking. The Hogs also have to replace about 3500 yards rushing from last season with the loss of McFadden, Jones and Hillis. The outlook at receiver isn't much better, with 5 of the top 7 WRs gone. This defense should struggle, having to replace all but one starter in the back 7. Ole Miss looks like the best (and maybe only) chance for a conference win. Non-conference games with Tulsa and Texas could mean the wins are hard to come by in Petrino's first campaign.

In case you haven't read the following post

From GumpForHeisman: This is the funniest post I have possibly ever read pertaining to college football. Warning: Content and language in the post could get you in trouble at work. If you are offended by certain content, please don't open. Plus you might get fired for laughing so hard.

I was directed to it from Hunker Down Dawg (great site btw) who was directed to it by Hey Jenny Slater.

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 2 Days

#2 Asher Allen, CB
5-10, 200, Tucker GA (Tucker HS), Jr.
Allen came into UGA in 2006 after choosing the Dawgs over Georgia Tech, Michigan, Notre Dame and Auburn (although UGA was an easy choice for him.) He was "game-ready" from the start, and enrolled at UGA in time to participate in practice leading up to the 2006 Sugar Bowl game against West Virginia. It was clear from his first time on the field at Sanford Stadium that Allen was going to be a special player. As a true freshman he appeared in all 13 games, recording 24 tackles, and returning 19 kickoffs for a tidy little 22 yard average, and returning 4 punts at an excellent 14 yards per. He was named the UGA Defensive Newcomer of the Year and Biggest Defensive Surprise the following spring. Last season, he started 10 games and was extremely productive - 55 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 pass break-ups, and one interception. He also returned 27 kicks and almost set a single season UGA record for return yardage. Coming into his junior season (which could possibly be his last in Athens by the way), Allen finds himself on the Lott and Thorpe watch lists, and was either 1st or 2nd team All-SEC in the preseason on most lists. Allen is the rock of the UGA secondary.
Depth Chart Analysis: Allen will probably be on the field for as many plays, if not more, than any other UGA defensive player. He's had a terrific fall camp and appears ready to live up to the high expectations that come with being UGA's best cornerback. He's also UGA's best kick returner (although many believe that Ramarcus Brown has the potential to be a little better because of his sheer speed), and will be back there again this year, at least early in the season. I expect to see him take one to the house this year, either on a kickoff or a punt return (where he is also currently listed on the depth chart as the #1, although Richt has said the decision for that spot hasn't been set in stone yet.) Expect Allen have an enormous year and start to rocket up draft boards all over the NFL.

ESPN Thursday nights and college football programs

I've been thinking of this for some time now....What programs would NEVER play on Thursday nights? Now some kind of old tradition doesn't play into this question (an old Thanksgiving tradition game for example). I'm talking about what teams would laugh at ESPN and never give in to be a Thursday night ESPN game. Recruiting...don't need it! Extra exposure...don't want it! But coach, we are slipping as a program...don't care!

100% sure:

Tennessee
Georgia
Ohio State

All others I can honestly say I'm just not sure. The teams that would probably never do it are Alabama, Michigan, Penn State and Florida (although if CUM thought he could get Aaron Murray by doing it...). I just can't put those with Tennessee, Georgia and OSU with 100% certainty. No matter how good or bad things are for each individual program, I just don't ever see it happening. There is just a tad bit of doubt for me with Bama, Mich, PSU and Fla for some reason.

All Big East and ACC teams are out. They all have or will do it. I think all PAC 10's would under certain circumstances (even USC)....Maybe I'm wrong there though.

The two teams I can't decide on, therefore can't put them on the list are Texas and Oklahoma. Maybe it's just an old SWC thing that keeps me from pulling the trigger on naming them. For instance, when you are at a road game at Arkansas and you occasionally think to yourself "can't put my finger on it, but something here is just a little bit different."

This is the crap that goes through my mind while sitting in a deer stand or fishing a farm pond, and yesterday a good buddy and I started discussing it. Anyhow...any thoughts? Who am I missing or wrong about?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Double L Ranch

WEEK 1:

Schlitz Bolshivik here! Glad you could tune in for the week 1 "Lock's of the Week". Let me begin by saying that these selections were not as easy as Week 1 matchups in the past. However, with a little cash slipped under "Coaches" door... Wa La! It just got a whole lot easier.

I'm currently reporting from "The Swamp" where things are off to a great start. I got fuzzed beyond belief last night at one of the local dives called Big Mama's. They we're having a special on fishbowl Margarita's which was cleary to my delight. The girls were rockin, however, I was perplexed at the young lads. You've never seen jean shorts so well pressed and hemmed! The starch held the crease down the front like the bow of the USS Alabama. Awesome sight... Anyhow, I wound up in a sorority house when I awoke for brunch and the best part is that the lady at my side was none other then the house mother of the girls. At 63 you'd be suprised how well she carried herself. I'm looking forward to continuing my streak daily. I figure if I can't get any down her, I ain't gettin any. So here goes.

5 Benjamin's
Take Oklahoma State -6 over Washington State.

This spread is a joke. I talked with Boone last week at the dove shoot in Perry, OK and he said that if Pistol Pete and crew don't win by 3 touchdowns it'll be a disappointment. Right then, I had heard enough. This man knows where to put his money and now, so do I.

4 Benjamin's
Take Idaho +28 at Arizona.

Idaho sucks, yes, but Airzona couldn't beat the school for the blind by 28. You got to take those points and then just check the ticker to confirm your transaction. The game sure as hell won't be worth watching.

3 Benjamin's
Take Tennessee -7 at UCLA

UCL "gAy". They suck as bad Arizona. Actually, those pretty boy teams would make a decent match up sometime, especially if you like flag football. Anyway, UT should be ashamed of itself after last year and undoubtedly they are. I look for them to beat the piss out of the baby blue and gold (how queer). This game won't even be close.

2 Benjamin's
Take Clemson -5.5 over Bama

I hate to say it, but I can only speak the truth. I'd gladly give $200 to see Bama beat the stew out of Clemson, but it ain't happenin. The Tigers will run over Alabama and leave Tide fans as frightened about their season as a bull in a butcher's shop. But fear not, Bama will rebound, it's just Clemson IS that good.

1 Benjamin
Take Florida -34.5 against Hawaii

I really don't give a shit, but seeing as how I ended up down here to do my analysis I might as well put a spin on it. Florida is used to being the team most highly regarded out of the SEC of late and will be out to prove a point. Not sure what that point is seeing as how beating Hawaii can be done with The Schlitz under center. In any case, the pathetic Gator's will do all they can to put up 60 points and by golly, I think they'll do it. They can't stand being out of the spotlight.

Well, here's a toast to your good fortune and I'm off to chase some tail. See you next week where I'll be sure to double your money yet again!

Schlitz

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 3 Days

#3 Bryan Evans, CB
5-11, 190, Jacksonville FL (Ed White HS), Jr.
Evans signed with UGA in 2005 as one of the top cornerback prospects in the country, and chose the Dawgs over the likes of LSU, Maryland, Tennessee, Florida and Florida State. After a redshirt season (primarily to figure out whether he'd end up as a corner or safety - although he also got experience on the offensive side of the ball), he entered 2006 as a 2nd string cornerback and wound up starting 4 games (including the last 3 of that season.) A nagging hamstring in August 2006 cost him the starting spot he had earned the prior spring. He was primarily the 3rd corner most of that season, but did manage to start 2 games, and even got his first career interception in the blackout game vs Auburn. He battled some nagging injuries all season long in 2007, including a really bothersome knee injury that hampered him throughout his career, but last season in particular. Evans is the undisputed "fastest man on the team" (he consistently runs a sub 4.3 forty), but at times he has struggled covering the deep ball, perhaps because of the lower body injuries he's had throughout his career. With a shutdown corner like Asher Allen on the opposite side, Evans could see a great deal of action from opposing quarterbacks, and UGA needs more consistency from him. Hopefully a full season of clean health will give Willie Martinez just that.
Depth Chart Analysis: The latest depth chart was released yesterday, and Evans is now listed as the starter at wc. He's being pushed hard by Prince Miller (previously listed as the starter) and Vance Cuff, but for now it appears we'll see Evans out there for the opening defensive play against GSU. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that his health was a key contributor to some of his past struggles. If he can stay completely healthy in 2008, it would be absolutely enormous for Martinez and the UGA defense.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2008 College Football Conference Predictions: Big 12

In the past few years, the Big 12 has been in the process of transforming itself onto the college football landscape as the clear #2 football conference in America, behind the mighty SEC. The emergence of Missouri and Kansas in 2007 only cemented that further. This year looks to be another competitive season of Big 12 football, with more of the usual suspects showing up in the BCS race. Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Kansas, and Texas Tech are all poised to have very good seasons and with a few breaks here or there, any of them could find themselves representing the Big 12 in a BCS bowl game, either as the conference champion or as an at-large. There really isn't much difference between any of these teams. Oklahoma has National Championship aspirations and a favorable regular season schedule, getting Texas Tech at home and not having to play Missouri. But the Sooners can't avoid the Tigers in the Big 12 Championship, and that is where I expect to see Missouri win the Big 12 Conference. OU beat Missouri by 3 touchdowns in the game last year, but I expect to see Chase Daniel and the Tigers take the Sooners this December.

There is clear separation between the top 5 teams named above, and the next 5 - Nebraska, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Colorado. Iowa State and Baylor should hover around the bottom all season.

One observation: the quarterbacks in this conference are ridiculous. Chase Daniel of Missouri, Graham Harrell of Texas, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, Colt McCoy of Texas, Zac Robinson of Oklahoma State, Todd Reesing of Kansas and Josh Freeman of Kansas State, are all among the best in the entire nation.

Projections
North Division
1. Missouri Tigers (Projected Regular Season Overall Record: 12-1, Projected Regular Season Conference Record: 8-1)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Illinois 8/30 (in St. Louis)
Key Conference Game: at Texas 10/18
Key Players: QB Chase Daniel, WR Jeremy Maclin, LB Sean Witherspoon, S William Moore
Daniel and Maclin are the top QB/WR combo in the conference (although Mike Leach probably would disagree), and should put up monster numbers in their 2nd season together. The offense gets all the hype with this team, but the defense may actually be their strength this season. They were one of the top turnover producing groups in the land last year and return 8 starters. The Tigers avoid Oklahoma and Texas Tech in the regular season, and get Kansas at home.

2. Kansas Jayhawks (9-3, 6-2)
Key Non-Conference Game: at South Florida 9/12
Key Conference Game: vs Missouri 11/29 (Kansas City)
Key Players: RB Jake Sharp, QB Todd Reesing, LB Joe Mortensen, LB Mike Rivera
Alot of folks out there are expecting a drop off from the Jayhawks this year. While I certainly don't expect to see them back in a BCS Bowl again, I don't think it is out of the question that they could end up near the top of the Big 12. The defense flew under the radar in 2007 but was one of the best in the country. 9 starters return from that side of the ball. The offense returns 6 players not even counting Sharp, who ran for over 800 yards and 7 touchdowns. The non-conference schedule is light with the exception of the trip to Tampa, but the Big 12 schedule isn't kind at all. A trip to Norman and home visits from Texas Tech and Texas, along with the neutral site meeting with Missouri, will be very tough to get through.

3. Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-5, 4-4)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Virginia Tech 9/27
Key Conference Game: vs Kansas 11/8
Key Players: RB Marlon Lucky, OG Matt Slauson, S Larry Asante, DE Zach Potter
Expectations have returned again to Lincoln thanks to first year head coach and former LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini. Not only will he try to instill a more defensive-minded program than the Husker fans were used to under Bill Callahan, but he'll also be running the ball alot more, much to the delight of the Nebraska-faithful. Lucky is a workhorse back, and should be asked to do a great deal of work this season. Quarterback is somewhat of a question mark, although senior Joe Ganz got significant work last season. The defense will probably struggle at times, but Pelini's aggressive style should work well eventually.

4. Colorado Buffaloes (5-7, 3-5)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Florida State 9/27 (Jacksonville)
Key Conference Game: vs Oklahoma State 11/15
Key Players: RB Darrell Scott, OT Ryan Miller, DT George Hypolite, S Ryan Walters
The upset of Oklahoma last year bought coach Dan Hawkins some mileage, but this year the folks in Boulder will be looking for better results. Unfortunately the Buffs don't have quite the firepower on either side of the ball this year to expect much more than we've seen under Hawkins, at least not this year. Scott is the top recruit of the Hawkins era and should be the starter, if not right away certainly later this season. Hawkins' son Cody is the starter at quarterback, and has been solid if not spectacular. There are issues along the offensive line. Defense returns 8 starters, but gave up a ton of points in some big games last year. The schedule is brutal, with a home date against West Virginia, the trip to FSU, and in-conference trips to Kansas, Missouri, Texas A&M and Nebraska.

5. Kansas State Wildcats (4-8, 1-7)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Louisville 9/17
Key Conference Game: vs Nebraska 11/15
Key Players: QB Josh Freeman, WR/PR Deon Murphy, DE Ian Campbell, PK Brooks Rossman
Some prognosticators see Freeman as a potential 1st round draft pick in 2009. He has terrific size and has put up solid numbers during action as the Wildcats' starting quarterback. He gets a good bit of his offense back this season, although the Cats need to find a go-to running back. Campbell is the only returning starter on the defensive line, and this entire unit was just flat-out bad in the second half of 2007. It is tough to imagine KSU with a winning record in 2008, but Freeman is certainly good enough to surprise me.

6. Iowa State Cyclones (3-9, 1-7)
Key Non-Conference Game: at UNLV 9/20
Key Conference Game: at Baylor 10/11
Key Players: OG Reggie Stephens, DE Kurtis Taylor, CB Allen Bell, S James Smith
The Cyclones were more competitive in 2007 than the 3-9 record would indicate, especially playing in Ames. They lost by 10 to Oklahoma, and actually beat Iowa, Kansas State and Colorado. Unfortunately they were drilled in pretty much every other game they played in the conference. 14 starters return, but this group was generally bad last year and they shouldn't be as lucky at home this year, with Missouri and Kansas coming in town.

South Division
1. Oklahoma Sooners (12-1, 8-1)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Washington 9/13
Key Conference Game: vs Texas 10/11 (Dallas)
Key Players: RB DeMarco Murray, OG Duke Robinson, DT DeMarcus Granger, DE Auston English
There isn't much more you could look for from an offense. The Sooners have a top-flight quarterback, a stud tailback, go-to reciever, stud tight end and return 5 starters on the offensive line. And this is a team that averaged 42 points per game last year. They lost their top 4 tacklers from last year's team, but still return a great deal of talent and should be plenty good. It is hard to find a loss on the regular season schedule, but a matchup with Missouri in the Big 12 Championship might be too hard to overcome.

2. Texas Tech Red Raiders (10-2, 6-2)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Nevada 9/6
Key Conference Game: vs Texas 11/1
Key Players: QB Graham Harrell, WR Michael Crabtree, CB Jamar Wall, DE Jake Ratliff
Mike Leach's best team yet returns 18 starters, including 10 on offense. This team may put up numbers that we've never seen in Division 1 college football. Harrell will make a run at 6,000 yards passing and 50 touchdowns, and Crabtree will shoot for 2,000 yards receiving. Tech has gotten better on defense in recent years, and should continue that trend this year. The 2nd half of the schedule will be very tough, and will be the difference between the typical 2nd tier bowl that we find the Red Raiders in, and a potential BCS bowl.

3. Texas Longhorns (9-3, 5-3)
Key Non-Conference Game: at UTEP 9/6
Key Conference Game: vs Oklahoma 10/11 (Dallas)
Key Players: QB Colt McCoy, OG Cedric Dockery, LB Jared Norton, CB Ryan Palmer
Texas is the "forgotten" team in the Big 12, but I actually believe this group has a great chance to be very good. They have to replace alot of talent, especially on defense, but this program always has talent to burn, and this year is no different. McCoy had a terrible year by his standards in 2007, but should be better this year with 2 good WRs (Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby) and an experienced offensive line. The defense will bring in a number of new starters but will fill those spots with experience. The schedule is tough but manageable. Expect the Longhorns to challenge once again in the Big 12.

4. Texas A&M Aggies (8-4, 4-4)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Miami FL 9/20
Key Conference Game: vs Texas Tech 10/18
Key Players: RB Mike Goodson, FB Javorskie Lane, P Justin Brantley, CB Jordan Pugh
Former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman inherits as good a set of running backs as you'll find in the Big 12, but not much else on offense. QB Stephen McGee struggled through a shoulder injury in 2007, and may struggle through a new offense in 2008. Little production returns at wide receiver, and the offensive line has to replace 4 starters. Things won't be much better on defense for a group that gave up about 400 yards per game in 2007. A pretty favorable schedule should get the Aggies to a pretty good bowl, but this program has a ways to go to get where its fans want to see it.

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-5, 3-5)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Washington State (Seattle)
Key Conference Game: at Colorado 11/15
Key Players: C David Washington, WR Dez Bryant, CB Perrish Cox, LB Andre Sexton
This team was terrible at times last year, pretty good at other times. This year should bring more inconsistency, but head coach Mike Gundy is moving things on the right track. QB Zac Robinson had a great season, rushing for almost 850 yards and throwing for almost 3,000. He gets 4 offensive linemen back, and one of the better tight ends in the conference in Brandon Pettigrew. The defense should be much improved but still is in the lower half of this conference.

6. Baylor Bears (1-11, 0-8)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Washington State 9/13
Key Conference Game: vs Iowa State 10/11
Key Players: WR David Gettis, OT Jason Smith, LB Joe Pawelek, S Jordan Lake
The Bears have averaged 1 conference win per season in the last 3, and this year could be a struggle to get even that. This team was fairly lousy in all facets last season, and will probably experience more of the same. Their identity last year was as a passing team, and new head coach Art Briles will look to do the same going forward. He'll do so with either last year's starting quarterback in Blake Szymanski, true freshman Robert Griffin, or Miami FL transfer Kirby Freeman. As of today he still hasn't name the starter yet. If they get consistent play from whoever runs the show, they'll likely improve on their 18 points per game. Defense is likely to be the biggest problem, with just 6 starters returning from a group that gave up 37 points a game last season. Wake Forest and Washington State come to Waco, and the Bears travel to Connecticut. The conference slate looks brutal.

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 4 Days

#4 Caleb King, RB
5-11, 215, Norcross GA (Greater Atlanta Christian School), RS Freshman
The tales of King's athletic prowess and his football potential reached legendary status in his first couple of years in high school (then at Parkview High in Lilburn GA.) The numbers he put up as a junior were staggering - almost 2800 yards (the best total for a high school junior in state history) and 19 touchdowns - all while playing the highest classification of football in the State. He transferred to GAC for his senior year (his brother was an assistant coach there), and was putting up more impressive numbers until breaking his leg halfway through the season. Conventional wisdom early in his career was that he might be heading to Auburn, although LSU, Florida, USC and Virginia Tech were also in the mix. He was unquestionably a Top 10 prospect at his position when he committed, but the luster seemed to drop off slightly after his injury. Still, his signing was met with extreme excitement among UGA fans and was a big coup for Richt, Garner and Bobo (who was his primary recruiter.) King was considered one of those "borderline" redshirt candidates who would have to navigate his way through a crowded backfield with Thomas Brown, Knowshon Moreno, and Kregg Lumpkin in front of him. He always seemed to have the redshirt half-way off during the 2007 season, and after Brown went down with an injury in early October, there was talk that King would see his first action, perhaps even in the Florida game. Then Knowshon showed himself to the world, Brown got better, and King remained on the scout team. All the while he packed on about another 20 lbs, and entered spring practice in 2008 with more of the same - high expectations.After a great G-Day game, King appeared ready to do more than just spell Moreno in 2008.
Depth Chart Analysis: King has not had the best fall camp. He's been hampered with a hamstring injury, and he just had the green jersey removed yesterday for the first time in a while. In the meantime, most people that have seen practice over the last 3+ weeks think that Richard Samuel may have passed him for the "official" #2 spot. King is still an outstanding talent, but the fact is that he hasn't played in a competitive game in almost 2 years. He may be a tad gun-shy from the broken leg, and some game action might be all he needs to get the mojo back. He's 100% again by his own assessment, so expect to see him get at least 8-10 carries on Saturday, and try to work his way back up toward the top of the tailback rotation.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A few last questions and thoughts before the season...

If Urban Meyer loses 4 games again this year what will the excuses be? I still contend that he is a bit of a fraud. The '06 team was LOADED on defense. That title had nothing to do with him being such a great coach, it was the best defense in the country (which he inherited) carrying that team. The "...it's time for you to go. But just because you're a senior doesn't mean you have any value" quote after losing the bowl to Michigan just blows my mind. He would have never said that had they won. He's the ultimate sore loser. I mean some of those kids are the reason he got a title in '06. Plus the top 1% of 1% crap he spews. I think parents over time will see through him. With the recruiting coup of getting Aaron Murray(you just know this is driving CUM crazy) out of his back yard, if Meyer gets whipped by Richt this fall how will Gator Nation react?

Am I crazy to be so worried about the Bama game? Revenge game at South Carolina followed by huge OOC game at Arizona State followed by Bama at home. Even looking forward to the off week before Tennessee that follows the Bama game plays into this. Put it this way, I'm no where near as worried about Auburn on the road as I am Bama at home. Maybe I'm just crazy.

I don't care at all about the wonderful leg strength of Blair Walsh. Hitting 60 yard fg's means nothing to me. The accuracy under pressure from 4o yds out with the game on the line is all I care about. I'm praying this kid is consistent from 35-45 yds. Georgia has been spoiled with Bennett and Coutu. Here's hoping Walsh (or some walk-on on campus) is as accurate as those two. I'll take Bennett straight out of a music studio right now to win a game from 50 yds in. Kid was special. I hope Walsh has that "clutch gene" of his predecessors, especially the one pictured above.

Ok get ready to flame away...Who is the best player in the SEC East? Tebow? Stafford? Knowshon? Harvin? .... I say Eric Berry. Seriously. And Lord knows how I hate all things UT. He is the next Champ Bailey. Oh how I wish his daddy didn't play in Knoxville so that Georgia would have him right now. All of those players mentioned are special in their own right, but my vote goes to Berry. Start hating...

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 5 Days

#5 C.J. Byrd, SS
6-2, 195, North Augusta SC (North Augusta HS), Sr.
It has seemed like a quick 3+ years for Byrd in Athens, after coming in as one of the top prospects in America, and picking the Dawgs over many of the top programs in America. It was a little unclear coming in which side of the ball he'd end up on, but it was evident pretty early that defense would be his best bet. The 2004 South Carolina Player of the Year saw action quickly in Sanford Stadium, playing in all 13 games on special teams, and winning the Special Teams Newcomer of the Year Award. He began seeing some significant time on defense as a sophomore, and scoring a touchdown on a Prince Miller blocked punt against UAB. As a junior he became the starter at safety and stayed that way all season, picking up 44 tackles and an interception.
Depth Chart Analysis: Byrd has played both free safety and strong safety during his career, but thanks to the development of now fellow starter Reshad Jones, he's settled in at strong safety full time and will be the starter in 2008. Byrd is probably one of the last guys you think about on this defense, given the superstars that line up elsewhere (Atkins, Owens, Ellerbe, Allen, etc.) He is as important a starter as UGA has on that side of the ball. He's extremely intelligent and has as much game experience as anyone on defense except perhaps Owens. He quietly goes about his business, mostly unnoticed, but you hardly ever see him getting lost out there, and he makes most every play he's asked. Coach Martinez loves him. Possibly the most underrated player on defense, perhaps on the entire roster.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

2008 College Football Conference Predictions: Big Ten

99.9% of the college football world expects Ohio State to roll through the Big 10 this season on their way to a 3rd straight BCS Title Game berth, and with good reason. The Buckeyes bring back 19 starters from last year's BCS Title Game loser. They may have as many as 5 1st team All-Americans, and a head coach that many college football fans outside of Norman OK, Los Angeles, and the entire Southeast might believe is the best in America. Throw in the fact that they are 22-2 in the conference over the previous 3 seasons, and you come to no other conclusion that Ohio State should be your Big Ten champion. Unless you are me. Contrary to popular belief, Ohio State's biggest road test won't be a trip to LA on September 13th (a game that I actually expect the Buckeyes to win, as the collective universe seems to be throwing their attention toward that one. Imagine how the Buckeye players are feeling about it.) 3 weeks later, Ohio State travels to Madison WI for a date with a Wisconsin team that seems to me to be primed to take the next step toward a BCS berth. Count me among the few, maybe the only, that likes the Wisconsin Badgers to win the Big Ten in 2008.

The Badgers return 17 starters of their own, including RB P.J. Hill and an always-stingy defense. While I'm predicting a loss in Ann Arbor the week before the OSU matchup, Wisconsin gets a really favorable schedule in the Big 10, and should be able to get through the season with no more than one loss. They haven't lost a game at Camp Randall in over 2 years, and I don't see this year being any different.

Penn State and Illinois should battle for the 3rd January bowl slot that the conference holds. Iowa, Northwestern and even Michigan will all be better than most people think. Indiana and Minnesota have such weak non-conference schedules, they may actually challenge for winning seasons and possible bowl bids, even though they are likely to finish near the bottom of the conference.

Projections
1. Wisconsin Badgers (Predicted Overall Regular Season Record: 11-1, Predicted Conference Regular Season Record: 7-1)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Fresno State 9/13
Key Conference Game: vs. Ohio State 10/4
Key Players: RB P.J. Hill, TE Travis Beckum, DE Matt Shaughnessy, LB Jonathan Casillas
The same night that OSU travels out to Los Angeles, the Badgers will be just down the road in Fresno for a game that won't carry top billing, but should be very interesting. Wisconsin gets Ohio State, Penn State and Illinois at home, and other than Fresno State, they get non-conference tilts against Akron, Marshall and Cal-Poly. That's a formula for a bloated record, and perhaps a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1, 7-1)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Southern California 9/13
Key Conference Game: at Wisconsin 10/4
Key Players: RB Beanie Wells, OT Alex Boone, LB James Laurinatis, CB Malcolm Jenkins
As mentioned above, the Buckeyes have it all. There really is no reason they shouldn't win the league, but I just have a feeling. For all the grief they get, this actually looks like as talented a team as there is in the country (including Athens, GA.) Their downfall in the BCS games has truly been their unpreparedness to play a team as talented as Florida and LSU were the past two years. They'll get a better taste in L.A. in mid-September, but this time they won't have the chance to win it all.

3. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2, 6-2)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Oregon State 9/6
Key Conference Game: at Wisconsin 10/11
Key Players: C A.Q. Shipley, WR Derrick Williams, DE Maurice Evans, S Anthony Scirrotto
Joe Pa's boys are good enough on defense to be a Top 10 team. Pretty good on the offensive line as well. The issues this year are at quarterback and running back. Senior Daryll Clark only attempted 8 passes last year. Trips to Columbus and Madison will keep the Nittany Lions from making waves toward a BCS berth.


4. Illinois Fighting Illini (8-4, 5-3)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Missouri (in St Louis) 8/30
Key Conference Game: vs Ohio State 11/15
Key Players: WR Arrelious Benn, C Ryan McDonald, LB Martez Wilson, CB Vontae Davis
Where offense carried the Illini to 9 wins last year, they should be a little more balanced in 2008. Behind Ohio State and Penn State, Illinois should have the top defense in the Big 10, although they do need to replace a few key guys. The offense should be pretty good again with the return of QB Juice Williams and Benn, but replacing RB Reshard Mendenhall will be a key.


5. Michigan Wolverines (6-6, 5-3)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Utah 8/30
Key Conference Game: vs Wisconsin 9/27
Key Players: OT Stephen Schilling, RB Carlos Brown, DT Terrance Taylor, LB Greg Jones
With Rich Rodriguez bringing in the spread offense and having no quarterback to run it, defense will be the difference in whether or not the Wolverines get to a bowl this year. They have everyone back up front and should be pretty good in the secondary. Georgia Tech transfer Steven Threet is the leading candidate to run Rich Rod's spread this season. He'll need 4 new offensive linemen to get it going quickly.

6. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Pittsburgh 9/20
Key Conference Game: vs Wisconsin 10/18
Key Players: OG Seth Olsen, TE Tony Moeaki, DT Mitch King, DT Matt Kroul
Hard to believe that just 3 years ago Kirk Ferentz was a trendy pick to get some available NFL head coaching jobs. He might be on the proverbial hot seat in 2008. The Hawkeyes are 19-16 since a Capitol One Bowl win over LSU in 2004. Thanks to a light non-conference schedule, Wisconsin and Penn State at home, and not having to face Ohio State at all, this looks like a good year to get back to a bowl after missing the postseason last year. There are some issues on offense, and it comes down to quarterback play, where they need production from Jake Christensen. The defense should be good enough to stay in the middle of the conference. The two tackles mentioned above are undersized but experienced.

7. Northwestern Wildcats (7-5, 3-5)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Duke 9/6
Key Conference Game: vs Illinois 11/22
Key Players: RB Tyrell Sutton, TE Eric Peterman, DT John Gill, CB Sherrick McManus
I might pick the Wildcats as a surprise in the conference if they didn't have to replace 4 starters along the offensive line. Sutton was the 2007 Big 10 Freshman of the Year, but he'll probably have to work hard to get his yards this season. This was a pass-heavy offense last season that returns a senior quarterback and a couple of decent senior receivers. The defense returns 8 starters from a group that averaged 31 points a game last year. If they can be a little bit better we'll see Northwestern in a bowl in 2008, and perhaps even pull off an upset in the Big 10.

8. Michigan State Spartans (6-6, 3-5)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Notre Dame 9/20
Key Conference Game: vs Purdue 11/8
Key Players: RB Javon Ringer, OG Roland Martin, LB Greg Jones, LB Eric Gordon
Offense is usually the calling card in East Lansing and this year should be no different. A senior quarterback in Brian Hoyer and a very good running back in Ringer, along with an experienced offensive line, should produce some good results. Defense could be a problem (seems to be a theme for the bottom feeders in the league.) They haven't won 8 games in a season since 2003, although last year could have been much different with all 5 losses coming by 7 points or less. Still, with only 13 total starters returning, I see this team finishing about where it does every year. Around .500 overall and in the Big 10.

9. Purdue Boilermakers (4-8, 2-6)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Notre Dame 9/27
Key Conference Game: vs Michigan 11/1
Key Players: QB Curtis Painter, WR Greg Orton, LB Anthony Heygood, PK Chris Summers
Sadly, Joe Tiller's last season in West Lafayette might be a rebuilding year. He's got one of the better quarterbacks in the country, so the offense should be OK. The defense on the other hand, could be an issue. This group gave up points in bunches at times last season, including about half a hundred to Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl. The real issue for Tiller is a brutal schedule, which includes Oregon in West Laf, a trip to Notre Dame, and a visit from Ohio State. Trips to Northwestern and Michigan State, and a visit from Michigan, will likely be the swing games that get Purdue to a bowl or not.

10. Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-7, 1-7)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Florida Atlantic 9/20
Key Conference Game: vs Indiana 10/4
Key Players: WR Eric Decker, OG DJ Burris, LB Steve Davis, LB Deon Hightower
The good news is that this team returns 15 starters. The bad news is that those 15 starters were also part of a season that resulted in 11 losses in 2007. The Gophers remedy that by playing one of the weaker non-conference schedules I could possibly imagine, even by Big 10 standards. Northern Illinois and Montana State visit the Metrodome, and the Gophers head to Bowling Green. The Florida Atlantic game won't be a cake walk, but Minnesota should be able to squeak that one out. The Gopher defense gave up over 6,000 yards of offense in 2007, so they can really only get better you'd think. I don't expect them to be much better in conference, but the non-conference slate should prop the overall record up to be better than usual.

11. Indiana Hoosiers (5-7, 1-7)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Central Michigan 11/1
Key Conference Game: vs Northwestern 10/25
Key Players: QB Kellen Lewis, WR Ray Fisher, DE Greg Middleton, PK Austin Starr
Lewis was one of the more dynamic quarterbacks in the country last season, throwing for over 3,000 yards and rushing for over 700. He was suspended this spring, and hasn't won the starting job back yet. He is without a doubt the best rushing threat on the team. WR James Hardy will be tough to replace. The defense should be good, but not great. Replacing both cornerbacks will be a key.

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 6 Days

#6 Logan Gray, QB
6-2, 180, Columbia MO (Rock Bridge HS), RS Freshman
Gray was a Top 10 quarterback prospect from Missouri that chose the Dawgs over Florida, in-state Missouri and Auburn. He played at Rock Bridge with current UGA WR/TE Aron White, and his head coach was former Missouri and NFL tight end A.J. Ofodile. Even though the Dawgs already had Matthew Stafford for 3 more years, Gray came to Athens with the mindset that he'd consider another position if he needed to, although the coaches have been adamant that they'd like to see him stay at quarterback. After a very impressive true freshman season running the scout team offense, Gray pushed Joe Cox for the #2 job this spring. He is the best running threat of the 3 scholarship quarterbacks the Dawgs have on the roster, and showed a surprisingly strong arm in the G-Day game, with a nice 12 yard touchdown pass to Mike Moore. He may be too good of an athlete not to put somewhere on the field this year.
Depth Chart Analysis: Gray may be listed as the #3 quarterback on the official depth chart, but in actuality he is probably #2b. Much has been made of the speculation that he might also return punts. He also stands a very good chance of being one of the punt team gunners, and perhaps even a safety on the kickoff team. Expect to see Gray on the field somewhere this season. There are probably 75 teams in Division 1 college football that would love to have him as their starting quarterback.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 7 Days

#7 Matthew Stafford, QB
6-3, 237, Dallas TX (Highland Park HS), Jr.
Stafford amassed a number of records and accolades in his time at Highland Park. Throwing for almost 9,000 yards and 92 touchdowns in 3 seasons as the starter, he was named Texas Player of the Year by many publications, and even National Player of the Year as a high school senior according to EA Sports. Upon arrival at UGA in 2006, he was widely regarded as the #1 quarterback prospect in America, and expectations were high. Those expectations haven't subsided since. While he competed for the #1 slot at quarterback heading into the 2006 season, senior Joe Tereshinski III ultimately won the job. After mop-up duty during the opener against Western Kentucky, Stafford burst on the scene when Joe T was injured in Columbia and was impressive in flashes during his road debut, although he did throw 3 interceptions. He didn't really start to show flashes of brilliance until the Auburn game that season, leading the Dawgs to a major upset (in a blowout) over the Top 5 Tigers in Auburn. During that freshman season, he completed 53% of his passes for 7 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The numbers were much better as a sophomore. While there were a few bumps in the road, the efficiency and game management really began to show itself in Jacksonville during the 2007 pasting of the Florida Gators. He finished his 2nd campaign by improving his completion percentage to 56%, and the TD/INT ratio to 19/10. His critics (of which there are many) point to his career being void of any 300 yard passing games. Most Dawg fans know that the emergence of the UGA running game (mostly Moreno) and the fact that Stafford has only played 2 seasons in Athens, are the biggest contributors to what some might perceive as "lackluster" numbers. Stafford should continue to improve by leaps and bounds heading into his 3rd season between the hedges. A 60% completion percentage, combined with another 2 to 1 TD/INT ratio should do just fine for the Dawgs to achieve what everyone expects (although his goals are much higher.) Stafford is on the preseason Davey O'Brien watch list, is just about everybody's 2nd team All-SEC selection in the preseason, shows up on a few Heisman Trophy lists, and is a likely 1st round NFL pick whenever he decides to come out.
Depth Chart Analysis: The unquestionable #1 at the quarterback position for the Dawgs. Richt believes that this is the year Stafford makes the next step, and he hasn't been shy to talk about it. "The Truth" (as the Georgia coaches have nicknamed him) may have actually had the most impressive fall camp of anyone on the roster. His incompletions have been few and far between during the scrimmages UGA has held thus far in August. Stafford has not only improved on the field, but he's become one of the vocal leaders of the program. Of course, every game hasn't been a highlight reel since he's been at UGA, and he'd probably be the first to tell you that. The loss of Sturdivant was huge, as we all know. But if the offensive line can play at the same level they did in 2007 (or better), expect Stafford and the Dawgs to have a very good year and "The Truth" will begin to silence his detractors.

Friday, August 22, 2008

AJ Green Video

I know, I know...most everyone has seen this highlight video of AJ Green. Have you seen it today though? Been about a year since I watched it. Figured it needed to get posted to go with today's countdown on AJ (great read btw)....8 days!!!


courtesy jschwitzke89

Welcome to The Double L Ranch (double L is “latest lines”)

Published every Wednesday throughout the season:

Well football fans, the highly anticipated start to the season is finally upon us. I must first commend that JJ character for some first rate analysis on this years “Silver Britches” and bringing our engaged audience the youthful exuberance displayed on the U Tube flicks. Though factual and enlightening, it’s now time to strap on the ol’ jock strap and start making some C notes. For those of you who like to dabble in the lucrative business of gambling on 18 year old kids on Saturday afternoons, such as myself, this could be your chance to rake in some Benjamin’s.

My name is Schlitz Bolshivik. I make residence in numerous hotel resorts around the world depending on the season (usually Dubai), but come September I’m on location making weekly stays at what I feel is the college football “Lock of the Week”. Originally from Bora Bora, I began life orphaned and living with my cousin’s friend’s uncle. He named me Schlitz because he used to love this commercial where a bull would break thru the backdrop. He would laugh aloud and then mumble something like, “bolshivit” which meant to get him a beer. The name stuck. Anyhow, I helped Uncle Olama with the cactus farm until we had cornered the market on cacti and sold the farm for $500,000,000. I never saw Uncle Olama again after that, but before he parted he gave me $10,000,000 and told me to get lost. Since that moment in life I’ve spent most my time playing golf, gambling and chasing women. I did attend college (bars) across the nation for 7 years, which clearly is why I stake claim and loyalty to Athens and the Bulldawgs (note: any debating this will not be worthy of a response). I have been successful to say the least in my journey’s, and now choose to share my secrets and insight with those patrons of Catfish and Cornbread, my world news source when overseas.

As for my gambling abilities, I have been preaching my gift of knowledge to a fledgling few through the years and though they have never contacted me again in the seasons to follow, I can only assume they made their fortunes and moved on to greener pastures. Now, you too will share in the wealth that is to be made from illegal gambling operations. I can’t tell you how I’m able to bribe teams for my financial benefit, but I can tell you it works. Every week I’ll share with you my thoughts and picks on the top 10 college games to wager on. Hopefully by seasons end, with your fruitful winnings in hand, we can sip on some fine bourbon’s, sail my yacht to Dubai with the Hooter’s girls and take in 18 holes.

Look for the Double L’s beginning this Wednesday for Week 1 analysis. I will be on location in “The Swamp” throughout the week and this weekend to scout the Gators against “a BCS Championship team”…. Meyer is such a dumb ass (luckily he can be bribed with the best of them and usually for pennies on the dollar). Looking forward to a great season and lining your pockets with the cold stuff.

Govern yourself accordingly,
Schlitz

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 8 Days

#8 A.J. Green, FL
6-4, 190, Summerville SC (Summerville HS), True Freshman
The long-awaited arrival of Green is over, as Mark Richt's most anticipated recruit (only Matt Stafford could be argued as equal) is now in Athens and ready to see the field. Green committed to UGA early in his junior season at Summerville, although many believe that he was a silent commitment going back all the way to the Athens Nike Camp the previous April. He was the consensus #1 or #2 wide receiver prospect in the land coming out of high school, depending on which recruiting service you look at (Alabama's Julio Jones was the other WR), and chose UGA over South Carolina, Auburn and Clemson, although none of those 3 actually had a good shot at him. As a junior at Summerville he caught 65 passes for 1,203 yards and 14 touchdowns. As a senior, over 80 balls for over 1,500 yards and 24 touchdowns. He returned 9 punts his senior year, and took about half of them to the house. Green doesn't dazzle you with fancy 40 times and vertical leaps. He makes plays (and highlight reels) when the pads are on and the whistle is blown. It is that simple. You hear coaches sometimes talk about "football speed" as opposed to "track speed." That may be Green in a nutshell.
Depth Chart Analysis: While he hasn't cracked the "official" starting lineup yet, most of what you read so far seems to indicate it is just a matter of time. (He's currently right behind Mohammed Massaquoi on the depth chart.) It is worth noting that minor hip flexor has kept him from going full speed every day since fall camp began, but that appears to be completely behind him now. Mark Richt isn't a guy that is prone to talking his players up, especially a true freshman. But even Coach has a hard time containing his excitement. Let's keep an eye on how fast he picks up the offense. He's already a become a crowd favorite before he's even stepped on the field in Sanford Stadium, and the first time he trots out next Saturday, alot of folks will be on the edge of their seats. It is tough for freshman to live up to those kinds of expectations, but this is a player that you have a hard time believing won't do it early and often. Green and Tavarres King are going to make a nice WR corps in Athens for the next few years.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Conference predictions to resume soon

For anyone that might be stopping by tonight for a look at the next round of conference predictions, I'm putting them on hiatus for a day or two. Ole' JJ is dawg-tired, not to mention I think he's in the early stages of carpal tunnel.

Next week should be busy 'round these parts. Here's the schedule between now and Aug 30th (in addition to the last 8 players of the Countdown):
-Big Ten and Independent Predictions
-Big 12 Predictions
-SEC Predictions
-Preseason Top 25 and Bowl Projections
-Week 1 Game Predictions (will include ATS picks from our resident handicapper, who will be making his C&C debut next week. I highly recommend you stop by to check this dude out.)

Countdown to UGA-GSU: 9 Days

#9 Reshad Jones, FS
6-2, 205, Atlanta GA (Booker T. Washington HS), RS Soph.
One of a handful of 5-star recruits that Mark Richt has accumulated during his time in Athens, Jones came to Athens as a wiry but lethal safety prospect, that has since become a machine who mostly carries bad intentions with him all over the field. After choosing UGA over just about every college in the country, Jones reported to school and promptly took a redshirt to make sure he got himself up to the proper weight to survive as a safety in the SEC. After gaining about 30 lb, he started 2 games in his redshirt freshman season, but was very productive as a backup with 57 tackles, many of them bone-jarring. He has a nastiness that can't be taught, keeping in the legacy of the great UGA safeties of the past few years (Jermaine Phillips, Sean Jones, Thomas Davis, Greg Blue.) Jones is also a fine bowler.
Depth Chart Analysis: Jones is the starter at free safety, and I expect to see him have a breakout season, perhaps even an All-SEC season. Compared to the great UGA safeties I mentioned above, Jones has a great opportunity to be the best of that group, which is saying something. If you had to find one area he needed to improve, it would be in pass coverage (much like Davis and Blue early in their careers at UGA.) He gets a little lost at times and has shown some trouble making plays on the ball (see '07 WLOCP on Tebow's TD pass to Louis Murphy.) That will no doubt improve with time. One thing you can expect are some highlight reel hits. That is a given.

Athens band Dead Confederate (and many others) in Rolling Stone

I'm proud to report that my long time buddies Dead Confederate are featured in the September issue of Rolling Stone magazine as one of the "Six Artists to Watch who are defining Rock and Roll in 2008". The boys put together a little video last Wednesday night during Popfest and submitted it to Rollingstone.com, and sure enough they included it in the online issue. The video was shot by my old high school friend Jason Jacobson (owner of Athens' Fossil Lip Productions) and hosted by the one and only J.J. Bower of the local band Blue Flashing Light. I think it sheds a pretty good light on the ol' Athens music scene and features cameos from many different Athens bands, including Andy from The Dumps, Matt and Aimee from Twin Tigers, Hunter, Brandon and I from our band Gift Horse, Hank from Kuroma, and Ben and Tim from Dark Meat. There's also an unedited version that will be up soon (hopefully) on the Rebel Forces page. Things have really been steam rolling for them, and after years of hard work they are releasing their first major label full length EP, Wrecking Ball on TAO. They were recently signed to the label by Gary Gersh-an ex David Geffen Co. dude who also signed Nirvana and Sonic Youth among others. Watch the video and check em out.

If you are in the Atlanta area tomorrow (Friday, August 22) you can see what all of the fuss is about for yourself by coming to:

Dead Confederate, Gift Horse, Kuroma, Balkans. The Drunken Unicorn. 9 p.m. $7. 18+. www.thedrunkenunicorn.net/.

or if you are in the Athens area on Friday September 19th:

Dead Confederate, Gift Horse, Twin Tigers, Kuroma. The 40 Watt. 9 p.m. $FREE! ($2 under 21). http://www.40watt.com/. (Official concert release of Wrecking Ball).

This 40 Watt invitation is, of course, intended for those of you who will not be spending the weekend in Tempe. If you qualify, wake up on the 20th with a slight hangover and enjoy watching the Dawgs take on Arizona St. on the Georgia Theatre's big screen. Sounds like fun.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2008 College Football Conference Predictions: Pac-10

6 straight conference titles for USC have left everyone wondering if the Trojans will ever relinquish the league crown. It isn't so much that the rest of the conference is lacking in talent, but USC's talent top to bottom just dwarfs everybody else in the league. So much so that in a few preseason All Pac-10 lists, you'll actually find USC players that probably won't even start for the Trojans this year. With the talent that Pete Carroll has brought to L.A., it is hard to believe that this team only has one outright National Title (2003.)

This year shouldn't be much different for the Trojans, and they'll certainly be right in the middle of the National Title talk. It all comes down to the Sept. 13 matchup with Ohio State, a game which I happen to believe they'll lose. I still believe that Southern Cal will run through the conference slate undefeated, and win the Pac-10 in 2008. Arizona State will be the only team to stay within striking distance of USC, but the trip to L.A. on October 11 will be too much to handle. California and Oregon will hang around the top half, with UCLA and Arizona battling for bowl berths.

Projections
1. Southern California Trojans (Projected Overall Regular Season Record: 11-1, Projected Conference Regular Season Record: 9-0)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Ohio State 9/13
Key Conference Game: vs Arizona State 10/11
Key Players: OG Jeff Byers, WR Patrick Turner, LB Rey Maualuga, DT Fili Moala
The Trojans luck out and get the Arizona State, Oregon, and Cal all at home, not to mention their most difficult non-conference game against Ohio State. The injury bug has struck since the beginning of August, and as a result QB Mark Sanchez, and RBs Joe McKnight and C.J. Gable are all questionable for the first week or two of the season. If they aren't full strength by mid-September, I see an Ohio State team hungry to prove themselves to the nation ready to pick the Trojans off. I know, it sounds silly. Just a hunch.

2. Arizona State Sun Devils (10-2, 8-1)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Georgia 9/20
Key Conference Game: at USC 10/11
Key Players: QB Rudy Carpenter, RB Keegan Herring, PK Thomas Weber, DE Dexter Davis
Carpenter figures to blow away the school's career passing records this season, but defense will be the area that ASU looks to improve if it wants to take the next step toward the Top 10. In its 3 losses last season, the Sun Devils gave up almost 44 points per game. They are a senior laden defensive squad, but very small across the defensive line. However, they were surprisingly good against the run last year (probably more because not many Pac-10 teams run the ball.) Replacing 3 starters along the offensive line will be of paramount importance to head coach Dennis Erickson.

3. California Golden Bears (8-4, 7-2)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Maryland 9/13
Key Conference Game: vs Arizona State 10/4
Key Players: RB/KR Jahvid Best, C Alex Mack, LB Worrell Williams, LB Zack Follett
Cal tanked badly in the 2nd half of 2007, losing 6 of their last 7 (the only win in that stretch being by a FG at home over Washington State.) They had big problems stopping the run at times with a very inexperienced defensive line. This season should be an improvement on defense, with 8 starters returning. The offense may not be quite as good as we're used to seeing under Jeff Tedford, as they'll focus more on the run this year with a speedy sophomore RB in Best. Florida transfer Nyan Boateng may be the go-to WR. The offensive line is probably the best in the Pac-10.

4. Oregon Ducks (9-3, 6-3)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Boise State 9/20
Key Conference Game: at Cal 11/1
Key Players: C Max Unger, RB Jeremiah Johnson, SS Patrick Chung, DE Nick Reed
The Ducks are another team that faded down the stretch last year, although the loss of QB Dennis Dixon was the primary reason. The returning QBs have less than 400 career passing yards. The most experienced of the group is Buford native Justin Roper, but sophomore Nate Costa, who missed last season with an ACL injury, is right there. The battle may go right up to camp. The defense in Eugene could be very good, especially up front. Teams struggled to run on the Ducks at times last season, and that could be the case again.

5. UCLA Bruins (5-7, 5-4)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Fresno State 9/27
Key Conference Game: vs USC 12/6
Key Players: TE Logan Paulsen, OT Micah Kea, LB Reggie Carter, WR/PR Terrence Austin
Rick Neuheisel takes over for Karl Dorrell, and he has some talent as his disposal, although it is pretty young. JUCO transfer Kevin Craft has been named the starter over Ben Olson. He'll have his hands full with 4 new OL starters. The Bruins were very good against the pass last season, especially in the latter half. They lost some key players in the secondary, but should be pretty good yet again. A brutal non-conference schedule may be the difference between a bowl berth, and December tee times for Neuheisel.

6. Arizona Wildcats (7-5, 4-5)
Key Non-Conference Game: at New Mexico 9/13
Key Conference Game: vs California 10/18
Key Players: WR Mike Thomas, OT Eben Britton, LB Vuna Tuihalamaka, LB Ronnie Palmer
The Wildcats were a disappointment in 2007, as some thought maybe they'd be an 8 or 9 win team. They lost 7 and failed to make a bowl. The culprit was largely a weak rushing offense that didn't even gain 1,000 yards as a team. The 'Cats prefer to throw the ball, but they'll need a better rushing attack if they expect to improve. Head Coach Mike Stoops is a defensive guy, and he'll have a monumental task ahead of him this season with just 3 starters returning. Stoops is very much on the hot seat, and even a lower tier bowl might not be enough to save him.

7. Oregon State Beavers (4-8, 3-6)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Utah 10/2
Key Conference Game: vs California 11/15
Key Players: WR/PR Sammie Stroughter, OG Jeremy Perry, CB Brandon Hughes, S Al Afalava
The Beavers' have had winning seasons in 5 of the past 6, but are in danger this year of missing a bowl game. Only 3 starters return on defense (all in the secondary), and more than likely OSU is going to struggle on that side of the ball. Stroughter is a great WR, but missed most of '07 due to injury. If he can stay healthy, he'll be someone to keep an eye on.

8. Washington Huskies (2-10, 2-7)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Notre Dame 10/25
Key Conference Game: vs Oregon State 10/18
Key Players: QB Jake Locker, OG Casey Bulyca, LB E.J. Savannah, DE Daniel Te'o-Mesheim
Locker is as dynamic a player as there is in the conference, and he'll need to be on his game this season for the Huskies to stay in most games. UW was one of the better rushing teams in the country last year, thanks largely to Locker's 1100+ yards and 13 touchdowns. Defense will be a problem this year as it has been in recent years. A sick non-conference slate consisting of BYU, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame will keep UW near the bottom of the league and out of postseason play.

9. Stanford Cardinal (2-10, 1-8)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs San Jose State 9/20
Key Conference Game: at Washington 9/27
Key Players: C Alex Fletcher, RB Toby Gerhart, DT Ekom Udofia, LB Clinton Snyder
Despite the incredible win over USC last season, the Cardinal still only won 4 games and suffered some very disappointing losses toward the latter half of the year. 16 starters return, including 9 on defense, so you'd expect there to be further improvement. Games at Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon and Cal will keep things from getting much better, and you know USC will be looking for revenge. Don't expect this to be the season for Stanford to get back to a bowl game.

10. Washington State Cougars (2-11, 0-9)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Oklahoma State 8/30
Key Conference Game: vs Washington 11/22
Key Players: WR Brandon Gibson, RB Dwight Tardy, DT Fevaea'i Amhu, DE Andy Mattingly
The Cougars won a surprising 5 games in 2007, including big wins over UCLA and Washington. But head coach Bill Doba was fired and replaced with former Eastern Washington coach Paul Wulff. He inherits 14 starters. The Cougars threw it well last year, but break in a new QB this season in Gary Rogers, who only threw 26 passes in 2007. He won't have much to work with at the skill positions, but he does have 4 returning offensive linemen to protect him. The defense, which gave up over 500 yards of offense 4 times last season, should struggle again, although it is a pretty experienced unit.