Saturday, September 15

Now it almost seems incredible, we've found ourselves back where we started from . . .

Demiko Goodman makes a Delta-worthy landing in the end zone.

Frustration even after an easy-peasy D-IAA win -- does it seem like this is becoming a pattern? I said before that if Georgia actually tried against Western Carolina, they'd win by 50; if they half-assed it through the first quarter or so, as has been known to happen in early-season Georgia gimmes, they'd only win 44-17. I think we all know which one the final score ended up being closer to, though I have to say that for a win that met the stipulated legal definition of half-assed, we managed to do some refreshingly whole-assed things. Knowshon Moreno? Still a man-beast -- I don't care who the opponent is, a 7.2 ypc is still something to get excited about. The defense? Held WCU to just a tick over 200 yards, the vast majority of which was rolled up in who-cares time, and only 63 yards rushing. The receivers? Had some drops, but also had some nice grabs too, in particular Demiko Goodman's 34-yard TD in the fourth quarter. And Mo Massaquoi, bless his heart, seems to be a man on a mission this year, with the mission being redemption after a sucktastic '06.

It goes without saying that the margin of victory could've been a lot larger than it actually was -- couldn't it always? -- and I wonder if things might've been a bit more appropriately lopsided if not for that weird Stafford sack 'n' fumble in the first quarter that, in retrospect, seems almost singlehandedly responsible for letting the Catamounts hang around for a lot longer than they had any right to. Actually, "weird" isn't the right word for it, because there wasn't anything weird about it at all. No, there was a perfectly logical explanation -- Trinton Sturdivant just pretty much stood there and let his guy blow right fucking past him. Trinton, I know that "Statue of Liberty" play has been real trendy ever since Boise State pulled it off in the Fiesta Bowl, but generally offensive linemen aren't the ones called upon to execute that play.

Statue of what? No, I don't believe I called that.

The fortunate thing is that that's the kind of thing we can do against WCU and not get too badly burned by it, but it's not going to work against Alabama. Honestly, aside from the running of Moreno and Brown, not much that we did against WCU is going to work against Alabama, which is why I hate these games so much -- even if we'd laid 70 on the Catamounts like I requested, it wouldn't mean much in terms of the Alabama game, but conversely, it's a pretty safe assumption that if you're not able to get something done against Western Carolina, you're not going to suddenly figure it out in Tuscaloosa.

Partly for that reason, then, I think the WCU cakewalk was only the second most significant game of the weekend in terms of gauging Georgia's presumptive strength this season. The most significant game happened 250 miles or so to the Southwest, according to Mapquest, and ESPN recaps it as follows:

TROY, Ala. (AP) -- Omar Haugabook passed for a career-high 371 yards and a touchdown and ran for 49 yards and two scores as Troy upset Oklahoma State 41-23 in a dominating performance Friday night.

It was only the second win in 10 tries for the Trojans of the Sun Belt Conference against a Big 12 opponent. Led by Haugabook's passing and running, Troy outplayed the Cowboys throughout, gaining 562 total yards to 432 for Oklahoma State.

If you'll forgive me for doing even more quoting of other people's material, this is the scene that immediately popped into my head when I first read that bit of news Saturday morning. It's from David Mamet's immortal play Glengarry Glen Ross, and it comes right after office manager John Williamson (played by Kevin Spacey in the also-excellent film adaptation) realizes that salesman Sheldon Levene (Jack Lemmon) is the one who had broken into the office the previous night:

"You've got a big mouth, and now I'm going to show you an even bigger one."

LEVENE. Where are you going, John? . . . you can't do that, you don't want to do that . . . hold, hold on . . . hold on . . . wait . . . wait . . . wait . . . (Pulls money out of his pockets.) Wait . . . uh, look . . . (Starts splitting money.) Look, twelve, twenty, two, twen . . . twenty-five hundred, it's . . . take it. (Pause.) Take it all . . . (Pause.) Take it!

WILLIAMSON. No, I don't think so, Shel.

LEVENE. I . . .

WILLIAMSON. No, I think I don't want your money. I think you fucked up my office. And I think you're going away.

LEVENE. I . . . what? Are you, are you, that's why . . . ? Are you nuts? I'm . . . I'm going to close for you, I'm going to . . . (Thrusting money at him.) Here, here, I'm going to make this office . . . I'm going to be back there Number One. . . . Hey, hey, hey! This is only the beginning. . . . List . . . list . . . listen. Listen. Just one moment. List . . . here's what . . . here's what we're going to do. Twenty percent. I'm going to give you twenty percent of my sales. . . . (Pause.) Twenty percent. (Pause.) For as long as I am with the firm. (Pause.) Fifty percent. (Pause.) You're going to be my partner. (Pause.) Fifty percent. Of all my sales.

WILLIAMSON. What sales?

LEVENE. What sales . . . ? I just closed eighty-two grand. . . . Are you fuckin' . . . I'm back . . . I'm back, this is only the beginning.

WILLIAMSON. Only the beginning . . .

LEVENE. Abso . . .

WILLIAMSON. Where have you been, Shelly? Bruce and Harriett Nyborg. Do you want to see the memos . . . ? They're nuts . . . they used to call in every week. When I was with Webb. And we were selling Arizona . . . they're nuts . . . did you see how they were living? How can you delude yours . . .

LEVENE. I've got the check . . .

WILLIAMSON. Forget it. Frame it. It's worthless. (Pause.)

LEVENE. The check's no good?

WILLIAMSON. You stick around I'll pull the memo for you. (Starts for the door.) I'm busy now . . .

LEVENE. Their check's no good? They're nuts . . . ?

WILLIAMSON. Call up the bank. I called them.

LEVENE. You did?

WILLIAMSON. I called them when we had the lead . . . four months ago. (Pause.) The people are insane. They just like talking to salesmen.

Got that, Georgia fans? Forget that Oklahoma State win. Frame it. It's worthless. They just like getting beat when they go on the road, and not to piss in the Trojans' Cheerios or anything, but if a Sun Belt team can blow out Okie Dokie, it's officially not something that an SEC team should be bragging about. Yeah, I know, getting involved in the whole common-opponents thing is a fool's enterprise, but completely leaving aside hard stats such as the fact that Omar Haugabrook and the Trojan offense -- whom I am already prepared to admit I have drastically misunderestimated -- rolled up 186 more yards on OSU than we did, I think it should be pretty obvious that the Cowpokes ain't anywhere near the team we thought we were playing back in week 1. They're certainly no kind of useful yardstick for a team that's developed a taste for East Division titles under Mark Richt.

So what have we got, then? One convincing win over a so-what opponent, one teeth-gnashing loss that may not look nearly as bad by the end of the season, and one gobbled-up cupcake -- in other words, pretty much the same trifecta with which we started Richt's first season back in 2001. And with that in mind, I think it's time to do some scaling-back of our expectations for the Dawgs this year. Or maybe it's just me: My collective game-by-game predictions had Georgia sitting at 10-2 and potentially in a tie for first place in the division at season's end, a product mainly of falling a little too much in love with Matt Stafford and jumping the gun on how quickly the young offensive line had progressed over the spring and summer. Yeah, Stafford had an impressive turnaround in the last few games of 2006, but even then, his hard stats weren't anything to get too excited about, and the fact remains that he's still a true sophomore who's going to be tossed up against SEC defenses all season. Yeah, the offensive line is probably a little better than we thought it would be given their inexperience -- think Auburn wouldn't pay cash money right now to trade lines with us for a game or two? -- but there's still a long way to go. And with a four-week rope-a-dope of consecutive SEC games coming up, three of them on the road, we don't have a whole lot of time to pick up that slack.

Step one: Keep him upright. I'm talking to you, Trinton.

I'm not conceding anything to Alabama or Tennessee just yet, but yeah, I'm a little apprehensive. If nothing else, the coaching staff has done a pretty consistent job of getting the most out of their players in what should be the toughest circumstances. But almost ever since the clock hit 00:00 in the Georgia Dome last December 30, I'd been operating under the assumption that this season simply had to be better than last year almost by default, and I think I'm having my eyes opened to the fact that that isn't necessarily the case. It could certainly end up better than last year's, but nothing's going to be handed to us between now and the last Saturday in November. Batten down the hatches, Dawg fans, and get behind the team now, because boos don't inspire progress; they certainly don't score touchdowns.

Other crap I been thinkin' about:

· I officially hate the new kickoff-from-the-30 rule. Today during the Georgia game alone, there were at least three fair catches on kickoffs -- WTF? I'm fairly certain I read at Sunday Morning QB or somewhere else recently a statistic that said the rule had had only a negligible effect on KO returns and starting position through the first week of play, but I still hate it. It seems like we've really reduced kickers' opportunities for touchbacks, thus robbing them of one of the major weapons a kickoff specialist has at his disposal, and it also seems like everybody's starting at the 30 or beyond these days. Not cool, I says. Can anyone explain to me why the NCAA mucked with this in the first place?

· I guess now is as good a time as any for the Weekend Cavalcade of Teams I'm Glad I'm Not, and guess what, Auburn, it's your turn in the dunking booth. There's not a lot you can say about their stunner of a loss to Mississippi State -- well, except for the fact that it wasn't exactly a stunner to my homeboy Stanley -- so I'll simply ask this question: How would you, dear reader, handicap the point spread on a mano á mano Brandon Cox vs. Reggie Ball matchup?

"Whatever, dude -- I'm not the one who threw three picks against Duke."

· I was pretty surprised to see Boston College hold Tashard Choice to just 31 rushing yards in Atlanta on Saturday night, but I was shocked -- shocked -- to see those polite, classy Georgia Tech fans, the ones who practically need to break out the fainting couches every time we nasty, classless, violent Bulldogs come to town, get called out by the refs and specifically asked to stop throwing objects onto the field. Given that BC is a Jesuit institution, did anyone check to see if any of the objects were fish?

· Notre Dame's grand total through three games: 13 points (0 by the offense), 345 yards (-14 rushing), 22 sacks, one quarterback with stupid hair. Because I'm a race-card-lovin' limousine liberal, I gotsta ask, one more time -- this is what you booted Ty Willingham for? At the very least, doesn't it seem like Charlie Weis did a lot better with Ty's players than he's currently doing with his own?

Wow, when he's beaten-down and miserable, he really does look like Casey.

· On that note, congratulations to the Michigan Wolverines, who disembarked the schneid and saved my pals at The M Zone from lying down on the train tracks for at least another week. In fact, I'd say rainbows and unicorns qualify as positively giddy.

· And finally, my UAB Blazers also got their first win of the season. So for one week, at least, they have the same record as Michigan and Tennessee and a better record than the Domers. Bring on Tulsa!


Anonymous said...

Stafford got himself blown up, smart guy. He changed the protections schemes at the line.

Anonymous said...

1. "Can anyone explain to me why the NCAA mucked with this in the first place?"

This would be speculation on my part, but I think TV was behind it, wanting to jazz up the possibility of an electrifying return that will keep people pasted to their TVs through the commercial breaks (don't kickoffs come right after commercial breaks? aren't people still getting beer, peeing, etc. until after the kickoff which resulted in a touchback?) I might be paranoid, but I blame everything on TV these days.

2. Stafford/O-line/Offense in general issues are real, and have been for a while. I think anon @1:35 is right about this last game, at least that has been reported by people on the staff. And there were plenty of times when players zigged but Stafford zagged. Who can say who was wrong there? It doesn't matter; it shouldn't happen. And then there are all the administrative things like too many men on the field, not knowing what play to call in a given situation, and things like that which should be laid at the feet of the coaching staff. Still, the good news is that there isn't anything intrinsically wrong or defective about the talent, and all we have to do is get our act together. This would be a good week to do that.

Anonymous said...

Do you even know what the University of Florida is going to do to UGA this year? Are you willing to put yourself through that?

blackertai said...

God, he does look like Casey!

Universal Remonster said...

TOthat anonymous fucking gator fan I say, "Yes, please." I've been doing it for the last fourteen years anyway.

Anonymous said...

FYI, Stafford sack & fumble was his own fault - not Sturdivant. Stafford called the wrong protection...his own damn fault.