Thursday, October 21
Manic-Depressive Preview: Preparing for anarchy in the UK.
Considering how miserably the first month-plus of the season went, it's been a downright giddy household for our Manic-Depressive Previewing duo the past couple weeks. Manic Doug has been calling the Tennessee state capitol every hour on the hour asking when Mark Richt's title deed will be arriving in the mail, while even Depressive Doug managed to say something positive (and unqualified) about the Dawgs the other day. Granted, it was about Uga VIII being a fine and appropriate heir to the mascot bloodline, but still, that was a big step. Now they take on what probably counts as the Dawgs' biggest challenge in a month: a road trip up to Lexington to face a Kentucky Wildcat team that's been quite a bit more dangerous than many people thought they'd be.
Manic Doug: Eighty-one, eighty-two, eighty-three . . . ergh! Eighty-four!
Depressive Doug: You on an exercise kick or something? What's with the push-ups?
MD: One push-up for every point we've scored over the past two weeks. And I'll add one for however many we get against the Wildcats this weekend.
DD: OK, I was watching you the entire time, so I heard you skip from "twenty-seven" to "sixty-eight."
MD: Whatever. You try doing 84 push-ups right after you've shotgunned three beers in a row.
DD: Thanks, I'll pass. You gonna do a push-up for every point Kentucky scores, too, or are you gonna leave that to the Wildcat cheerleaders?
MD: Why the hell would I do push-ups for their scores?
DD: Might be a better workout, the way Kentucky's been playing lately.
MD: Oh, please. We just shut out an SEC opponent and you're gonna give me some woe-is-us speech about how much our defense is going to struggle?
DD: Our defense is getting better, but come on -- it's easy to show improvement when you're going up against Tennessee and Vanderbilt. You have to admit Kentucky is a completely different ballgame.
MD: All right, so other than Randall Cobb, who do I have to worry about?
DD: What do you mean, "other than Randall Cobb"? That's like saying other than World War II, the '40s were a pretty peaceful decade.
MD: Man, you know I don't understand half the historical references you use.
DD: I'd say it's more like two-thirds, but OK, since you asked, who else does Georgia have to worry about? How about Mike Hartline?
MD: Is that a joke? Mike Hartline, who got yanked for a true freshman midway through last year?
DD: . . . And who leads the current number-two passing game in the entire conference, yes, that guy. Laugh at him if you want, but he's got some good receivers and his line protection has been way, way better than anyone predicted. The guy's got some skills.
MD: OK, but look at the defenses he's been going up against. Ole Miss? Akron?
DD: Or how about 349 yards and four TDs against South Carolina last week?
MD: That was against a Carolina team that was clearly due for a letdown after knocking off the number-one team in the nation the previous week. And let the record show he pretty much had to throw for that many yards because they were down 28-10 at halftime. And had Marcus Lattimore not gone down with an ankle injury on South Carolina's very first series of the second half, they probably would've stayed down by that much.
DD: Just saying, our defense has had it fairly easy the last couple weeks. This weekend is going to be anything but. And I haven't even gotten into the fact that Randall Cobb catches passes and runs out of the backfield and throws passes . . .
MD: How long am I gonna have to sit here for this? I'm meeting people later on tonight.
DD: . . . and returns kickoffs and has a punt return for a TD this season. How are we supposed to defend all that?
MD: That's a fascinating question. My guess would be the same way we defended Warren Norman last week, who does all that shit but didn't do anything against the Dawgs.
DD: Warren Norman doesn't throw passes.
MD: Semantics, motherfucker!
DD: OK, I'm not convinced you used either of those words accurately.
MD: Whatever, I still stand by my point: Kentucky isn't going to beat us with one guy, particularly since they're probably not gonna have Derrick Locke back for this game. And here's another question: What kind of Dawg fan are you when you'll launch into the praises of Kentucky's offense before you even mention word one about our own?
DD: A realistic one?
MD: A shitty one, more like. In the first place: Mike Hartline may be good, but he's not as cool or composed as Aaron Murray, nor has he played the kind of competition Aaron has. For his receiving corps, Hartline has Randall Cobb and a bunch of other guys you probably couldn't pick out of a lineup; Aaron Murray has the best receiver in the country, along with Kris Durham and Tavarres King, both of whom have been playing balls-out the last couple weeks, and a fantastic group of tight ends.
DD: Well, Murray's a baller, I'll grant you that.
MD: But did you also know that our running game is averaging only eight yards less per game than Kentucky's? They've been trending downward ever since Derrick Locke got hurt, we've been headed in the right direction since Stacy Searels started tinkering with our O-line personnel. You doubted whether Washaun Ealey and Carlton Thomas would be able to carry the load by themselves last week; they combined for 163 yards and three TDs. They're gonna have Shaun Chapas in the game to block for them this weekend, and they're going up against the second-worst run defense in the conference. It was actually the worst before we shredded Vandy last week.
DD: Hey, I'll even grant you that we're going to score a bunch of points. I just think it's going to be incredibly hard to keep up with Kentucky on the scoreboard.
MD: You want to hear something that'll shock you? Georgia's actually ranked 14th in the nation in total defense right now.
DD: You made that up.
MD: Nuh-uhh! Look!
DD: OK, I'm actually kind of stunned that you knew that.
MD: When are you going to stop underestimating me, dude?
DD: Maybe when you stop calling me at work to ask how to use the DVR.
MD: Fuck you, dude, that thing is complicated.
DD: At any rate, yes, Georgia has been improving a lot more than most people have been giving them credit for, perhaps myself included. But again, a big part of that improvement has been getting to play Tennessee and Vanderbilt in back-to-back weeks. Vandy was the first team in more than a month who we didn't let convert third downs all over us, and I'm sorry to break it to you, but Kentucky has exactly the kind of offense that's capable of doing it again. Unless we can find a way for those young guys in the secondary to cover all those Kentucky receivers out there, Randall Cobb first and foremost among them, it's going to be a long night.
MD: So you're saying we lose?
DD: I'm saying it's a shootout, not a blowout, but yes, we lose. They pick us apart with Randall Cobb on the wheel route for as long as it takes to build up a nice little lead, then they go conservative with Cobb and Donald Russell to ride things home to the finish. Final score, oh, I don't know -- Kentucky 37, Georgia 29.
MD: As Sir Charles would say, turrble. Turrble. You should be ashamed of yourself.
DD: That's a pretty safe bet. What do you think is going to happen?
MD: It's a close game at first, we let UK put up a couple early scores, but over the course of the game our guys gradually figure out that they should just double-cover the shit out of Randall Cobb and leave the rest to the defensive front. Meanwhile, Kentucky never quite figures out how to both neutralize A.J. Green and stop the running game now that it's gotten back on track. Another banner day for Aaron Murray, another hundred-yard performance from Washaun, Dawgs win, 41-27.
DD: A two-touchdown victory in enemy territory, huh? Why, because we've been that good on the road this season?
MD: No, because Kentucky is coming off a big victory and they're due for the same letdown South Carolina was last week. Plus Cobb has been running his mouth all week about lack of fan support, and it's gotten written up in all the papers. That's one distraction for them, zero for us, unless you think Uga VIII's cuteness is going to distract us on the sidelines.
DD: No, I think Uga VIII will be the least of our worries this week. Tallying up our score predictions, and it looks like they average out to . . . a 35-32 win for the Dawgs. Quite a squeaker, it looks like -- you'd take a game that close?
MD: And be able to ride a four-game winning streak into Jacksonville against Florida, who, might I remind you, apparently can't keep from tripping over its own shadow these days? Hell yes, I'll take it.
DD: Well, good for you. I hope you're right, of course, it's just that looking over the matchups gives me the sneaking suspicion that . . .
MD: Yeah, blah blah blah, matchups, whatever, just admit that you're a pussy and get over it. Can we get to the Associated Hottie now, or would you like to write a few more love letters to Randall Cobb?
DD: I have never written a love letter to Randall Cobb.
MD: Jeez, and you're annoyingly literal to boot. Here's Emily Cox, graduate of the University of Kentucky in 2008 and Miss Kentucky the same year.
DD: Wow. Hockey, huh?
MD: Yeah. Even if she's rooting for the wrong team, there's something about a girl in a jersey . . .
DD: Particularly when she's proving the stereotype that Kentucky fans pretty much care about every sport other than football.
MD: Wow. Wow. I don't know whether to be ashamed of you for so glibly blowing off a girl in a jersey and no pants, or proud that you actually snuck some trash-talk in there. Well done.
DD: You might as well be the first, because I'm already kicking myself for even that bit of trash talk. I'm sure I've jinxed us already.
MD: Well, while you say a Rosary asking God for forgiveness for that tiny bit of hubris, I'll be composing the posts I'll be plastering all over the Kentucky message boards Sunday morning, busting on them for losing to us in football and for cheating at hoops. Which we're catching up to them in that, too, by the way.
DD: Wow, have you ever met a chicken you wouldn't count before it had hatched?
MD: Have I ever "met" a chicken? What, like exchanged pleasantries with one?
DD: Forget it. I already don't like where this is going.
MD: That makes two of us.