Saturday, September 2

I've been wondering why I'm feeling down . . .

In the four and a half years since I packed up shop in the ATL (or, rather, had it packed up for me) to seek my fortune elsewhere, I've been surprised at how few times I find myself missing various aspects of Atlanta life. Really there are only three main things that I find myself missing on any kind of consistent basis: a decent selection of independent movie theatres, good pubs, and of course an overwhelming UGA-alumni presence. As of this past weekend, though, I'm trading out one of those things for something else. For lack of a better way to phrase it, in Atlanta there's enough variety of distractions that you don't necessarily have to act like the silly stuff is important. This was brought home to me by a semi-exhaustive discussion of the impending Alabama-Hawaii game on the leading local sports-talk station. Over in Atlanta, had that station's counterpart been discussing another football game of comparable local interest -- oh, let's just say the Georgia-Western Kentucky game, for poops and giggles -- they would've simply mentioned the fact that Georgia was playing the Hilltoppers, laughed and made some condescending remarks, then gone on to something of greater significance, like how are the Falcons going to do this year or are the Braves ever going to get to a point where they can consistently find their asses with both hands and a map. In Birmingham, however, without a similar selection of more-momentous alternatives, the guys on 690 had to pretend that Alabama-Hawaii was actually worth giving a flip about. It was an admirable bit of method acting on their part, but still, you had to feel a little sorry for them.

It goes without saying, of course, that Georgia-Western Kentucky barely rated a single mention whatsoever, though in this case maybe that was a good thing. I don't think I've ever felt less enthused after a five-TD victory than I did after Saturday's game, though my frown has turned slightly upside-down since right after the game, when I was fully prepared to write a paranoid, ulcer-informed rant about where our team is headed. On the plus side, our defense showed that, like the Wu-Tang Clan, they ain't nuthin' ta fuck wit, and the running game looked solid -- in particular, it was nice to see Danny Ware's face on something other than a milk carton for once. I even got over the fact that we only had like 280-something yards of total offense, which is a tad more explicable when you remember we began nearly every drive within loogie-hocking distance of WKU territory.

The ulcers came from the fact that my two main predictions from yesterday were taken out back and beaten to death with lead pipes before I'd even polished off my third beer. I said Joe Tereshinski would perform well enough to earn a lock on the starting job; JoeT3 did indeed keep from making any major game-killing fuckups, but while a line of 7-for-17, 90 yards, 1 TD, no picks might be good enough to get you an extra helping of Kraft mac and cheese with cut-up hot dogs in the Reggie Ball household, it's hardly going to cement you atop the depth chart in Athens. I also said Matt Stafford would end up redshirting this season and, well, so much for that.

"No blow-drying, just a tiny little bit of d:fi pliable molding cream. That's how I do it."

Tereshinski, 7-for-17, 90 yards, TD; Stafford, 3-of-4, 40 yards, TD. Cue every Georgia fan south of Chattanooga saying that Stafford should be the starter and the other three QBs should be left to sweep up the stadium. I'm assuming that Mark Richt wasn't intending to blow an entire year of Stafford's eligibility just so that Staff could make the sorority girls swoon in garbage time against the fricking Hilltoppers, so apparently CMR and the fans are at least on similar wavelengths, if not quite identical. This is what caused me to have PTSD-like mental images of Phil Fulmer during the 2005 season, fresh off his regular pregame bowl of pork cracklin's, feverishly shaking his Magic 8-Ball to within an inch of its life to figure out which QB he should start that day. Know how they say if you have two quarterbacks, you really have none? Well, Georgia now effectively has four, so if you extrapolate that out it means we have . . . well, half of none. Which may be mathematically impossible, but either way, it ain't good.

And like I said, I was prepared to flip out over this, but then I did a strangely therapeutic thing and went to check out the Georgia-fan commenters over at the AJC's blog on the game. Every team has its Monday-morning quarterbacks; Georgia has Saturday-evening quarterbacks -- hell, we have people who don't even wait for a play to be blown dead before declaring it a shitty coaching decision. And other than maybe that Glenn Beck knob who got a show on Headline News that precisely nobody is watching, perhaps no single group of people has more to say to fewer people who are actually listening. A substantial group of these folks were insisting that Stafford should be made the starter forthwith, end of sentence, based on four passes against a D-IAA team with H.R. Pufnstuf's illegitimate son as its mascot, and it reminded me of . . .

Last day of August, 2002, Georgia facing Clemson at home to open up the '02 season. David Greene was having a serviceable but unspectacular day -- a few minutes into the second quarter he'd completed most of his passes but had also thrown an ugly pick that led directly to Clemson's first touchdown. Dawgs up 14-7, nine and a half minutes before halftime, Clemson punter Wynn Kopp -- formerly a Georgia player, and we thank God every day for the "formerly" -- booted a ridonkulous shank that ended up with Georgia at Clemson's 15. Richt put in Shockley. Musa Smith rushed for no gain; Shockley rushed to just inside the 10; next play, Shockley finished the job with a nine-yard touchdown run. And the guy behind me says, I shit you not, "THERE'S your starting quarterback!!!"

Yup. Shockley hadn't thrown a single pass, much less completed one, and here's this guy already willing to anoint him the starter over the cat who would lead the Dawgs to 13-1 and an SEC title that year and later become the winningest starting QB in Division I-A history.

Anyway, my point is twofold: 1) We Georgia fans are, quite frequently, retarded, and 2) Mark Richt, to his credit, seems to do a pretty good job of not making team decisions based on what we say, or post to the Internet, or bellow out drunkenly from section 112.

So -- well, I won't say I've stopped worrying, but I'm worrying less. Tereshinski's struggles, after all, were due less to Tereshinski throwing bad balls and more due to the fact that our receivers continue to treat the ball like it's covered with hobo urine. I swear, one more dropped pass by Martrez Milner and he's ending up in a pit in my basement, hearing my voice high above him telling him to put the lotion on his skin. Stafford looked good, but I doubt Richt is basing his life-changing decisions on stuff that happened against a directional I-AA school. I'm guessing 'Shinski starts against the Gamecocks, but I'm man enough to admit it when I'm wrong, and honestly I don't care if our starter is Matt Stafford, Joe Tereshinski, Nastassja Kinski or Zbigniew Brzezinski, I just don't want to be playing spin-the-wheel-o'-quarterbacks for the next two months.

Point is, as I said a few weeks ago, it is time to trust in our great leader Richt. As for this weekend: Georgia won, they were never even remotely challenged, and now it's time to focus on the next task, which is giving the Mensa candidates over in South Carolina another game they can brag they "almost" won.

And as for Mikey Henderson . . . well, sure, kid's a dumbass, but I daresay he won't do that ever again. In my newfound Zen state of contentment, I choose to look at it as a beautiful redemption story.

"I don't care how much you beg me, I'm not gonna fumble this thing again."

St. Elsewhere:

· All you Texas fans happy that we can go another few weeks without hearing Oklahoma touted as a national-title contender . . . well, you have UAB to thank. You're welcome. Man, talk about your "almost" games. But my question is twofold: First, how much additional talent do you suppose we would've needed to close that one-touchdown gap against the Sooners (or even last year's against Tennessee) and get over the top? Second, how much money would it take in terms of improved facilities, fancier recruiting visits, etc. to get that? Are you telling me that the McWane family or the Ingalls family or somebody couldn't write the UAB Athletic Department a big enough check that we actually beat Tennessee or Oklahoma the next time around? I'd sure as hell rather have Birmingham be known as the home of a bona fide giant-killing football team than "Where Idols Are Born," and yes, there really is a billboard just a few blocks from my apartment that says that.

Sam Hunt, choppin' heads, boy. It ain't safe no more.

· Speaking of Tennessee, yes, I'm as impressed as anybody that the Vols won the way they did. Even more impressed that they finally came in under the salary cap this year.

· I know everyone's disappointed that the Irish didn't get upset yesterday, but come on -- when ND scored that touchdown right before halftime, did anybody seriously think Tech was going to hold on and pull it off? With Chan Gailey, whose playbook is evidently the size of those safety-information cards they put in the seat-pockets on commercial airliners, you pretty much know by halftime what's going to happen, whether it's an upset win or a crushing loss. And when Brady Quinn barreled in from the five, that was God slapping his forehead and saying, "Shit, that's right! Tech knocked off Miami last year! Well, I can't let that happen again."

Here's lookin' at you, kid. We'll always have DragonCon.


ctrosecrans said...

so i wasn't the only one saying, 'jesus christ they look like shit. they're just going to be awful this year. they're gonna be 8-4!'

Doug said...

I guess one of the main problems is not so much that Georgia looked particularly bad on Saturday, but that so many of our opponents looked really good. Tech's defense held down ND way better than I thought they would. Ainge looked fucking amazing for Tennessee. Even Auburn, a team I figured would be pretty good this year, beat Wazzou by a lot more than I thought they would.

Based on that, you may be right that our ceiling, with JTIII at least, is 8 wins. So the way I see it is, do we take a "guaranteed" 8 wins with 'Shinski, or do we roll the dice with Stafford, who could give us 10 or, being inexperienced, just as easily give us 6? That's the $64,000 question Richt has to answer.

Being a (probably overly) cautious guy, I lean toward 'Shinski in that scenario, but ultimately I don't have a dog in that fight and, like I said, I trust Richt's judgment. If it's Stafford I just worry that, knowing Georgia fans, all those people currently on his bandwagon are going to be leaping off en masse the first time he throws an interception.

GDawg34 said...

I'm glad you called out some of our so called fans... as a die- hard, Athens born and raised in the Greg Talley-era Dawg, I will always be one of the first ones to point out what an abundance of dumbass and/or fairweather fans we have.

Some of em just can't wait to get back to their hole, dial up AOL and bad mouth Joe T when by my estimation he really only made 2 sub-par throws all day, and there were at least double that many right in the bread-basket drops. Some of those same loudmouth fans are also now ready to demote Thomas Brown to 3rd string after one game! LOL...

And obviously Mikey didn't watch the winter olympics either, particularly women's snowboarding... ugh. I mean everyone will make bad plays, but there's just no excuse for that kind of mess, ever.

As for our rivals, I'll admit that some of em looked pretty darn good, even Ole Miss tonight... but before I annoint Tennessee as being officially "back," I simply cannot stress enough that the majority of new heisman candidate Ainge's TD tosses were of the 5-10 yard variey with an ASSLOAD of YAC-action. And cmon Cal... I haven't seen tackling that bad since Tennessee's spring game! And thank Dawg for that, because I woulda had to bring up the Sugar Bowl had I not witnessed parts of the former atrocity on CSS replays...

Kathy said...

Okay, you're making me nostalgic for Manuel's Tavern back before they put the boiled peanuts on the menu.

Birmingham Blues

Bill in Birmingham said...

Thanks for the comments about 690. I'm glad I'm not the only person in Birmingham who thinks the word "sports" is not defined as Alabama football, Auburn football, Hoover High football, NASCAR, Alabam spring football and Auburn spring football.

Jordan said...

My two cents:

The thing I don't think you're considering gdawg34 is not so much the stat line with JTIII, but how he looked passing the ball. While I'm not one of those fans Doug was talking about, I trust Richt, but Joe's throws were very unimpressive. By that I mean they were slow passes that had trouble getting to their reciever fast enough before the defense could react, and this is WKU. Imagine if we're playing a defense that is faster and can actually make JTIII's lob passes into huge mistakes. The way Joe was throwing, and it might've been first game jitters or something, it seems to me SEC defenses are going to be picking these off and knocking them down all day. He puts no heat on the ball what-so-ever, and I'm not saying he has to be like Mike Vick and kill people, but Stafford's arm strength and accuracy seemed considerable even given the little amount of time he was in.

Again, not bashing Joe, want him to do well. From what I saw, and I rewatched the game a few parts, Joe's ability can only take him so far. UT, UF, USC, Auburn, and Tech will all make us pay for some of the passes JTII threw, WKU didn't. So if Joe looked that mediocre against WKU, and not the stat line, but his physical ability, then I think its safe to say we're in trouble. And if Joe is better choice than Stafford in Richt's decision than this season is truly what it is, a rebuilding season.

GDawg34 said...

I don't think anybody has ever really questioned which QB has more raw talent or the better tools, Joe T or Stafford. But that being said, all MS earned today was more playing time, that's it... Joe T certianly did nothing to lose his starting job.

I want whoever is best for UGA under center. It will eventually be Stafford, no doubt... but right now, like Richt, I'm just not sure it is... we were up 30+ pts against a glorified HS team when #7 saw his first action.

Xon said...

I only really saw 2 balls that were just improperly thrown by JT3, jordan. One was low and behind the receiver (and no defender could have picked it off, unless that defender had already been burned by the receiver, in which case you can be sure that JT3 wouldn't have put the ball behind the receiver...he might have missed by leading him too far with the ball, though), and the other was that deep ball to Bryant which was, admittedly , frighteningly underthrown and likely would have been picked by a competent DB. But every qb underthrows balls sometimes. It's not as though that 30-yard route was the limit of JT's arm strength. He could throw the ball much further, I'm sure; but he just didn't put the right touch on it. Every qb does this some time.

JT made several EXCELLENT passes where the receiver had a defender on his back and JT had to put the ball right in there over the receiver's shoulder. These passes require some zip, or the defender can cut in front and pick it off. The receivers didn't hang on (and it had more to do with tight coverage and first-day rust, I think, than "omg here we go again why can't they catch the ball"), but JT3 made the throws quite well.

Now, Joe Cox's INT, if we want to name names, looked more like the kind of ball where you just don't have the strength to zip it out there and so you float it instead. Not that I have anyway of knowing exactly what happened there, of course...