Wednesday, September 15
Manic-Depressive Preview: Dawg food or Hog tied?
This past week has been difficult, as even Manic Doug was tempted to take a turn for the depressive after Saturday's loss to the Gamecocks. But hope and dick jokes spring eternal, so he's back to scrap with Depressive Doug over another opponent. Today's debate: Arkansas, whose offense is destined to score a bazillion points on us, right? Well, that's what Manic and Depressive are here to determine.
Manic Doug: OK, dude, just say it.
Depressive Doug: Say what? You can't just ambush me with these things, you're gonna have to tell me what it is you're talking about.
MD: I was wrong about the South Carolina game and you were right. We lost. Offense never quite got going, defense couldn't stop Marcus Lattimore. So go ahead and tell me how wrong I was.
DD: Man, I'm not gonna do that. In spite of what you might think, I don't make these dire predictions just for funsies. This is really how I am.
MD: Really? That's . . . actually even sadder, now that I think about it.
DD: Yeah, it kind of is. But the point is I'd never rag you just for the sake of ragging you.
DD: Of course. Just as a demonstration of good faith, I'll even do the Associated Hottie this week. This is Furonda Brasfield, who graduated from Arkansas and went on to be a contestant on "America's Next Top Model."
MD: Wow, you know what? I'm honestly impressed. Well done, sir. You're finally loosening up a bit.
DD: Yeah, I suppose so. (pause) I still think Georgia's gonna lose this weekend, though.
MD: Oh, for Christ's sake.
DD: What? We couldn't stop Marcus Lattimore last week, what makes you think we're gonna stop the best offense in the SEC?
MD: For starters, they're two completely different offenses --
DD: Yeah, 'cause this one can actually pass.
MD: They can't run, though. Last year's Arkansas running game ended up 81st in the country, and this year's isn't much better, in spite of the fact that they've only played two complete scrubs so far this season. And one of their most experienced running backs is going to be out with a --
DD: Yes, I think everyone's heard of Dennis Johnson's "bowel injury" by now, so let's not go into any more graphic detail about that than we absolutely have to, thanks. But look, we both know what the focal point of this offense is, and it ain't the running game. It's Ryan Mallett, who absolutely torched us last year.
MD: Pfffft. Ryan Mallett.
DD: Are you for real? Best quarterback in the SEC, early Heisman frontrunner, and all he merits from you is a "Pfffft"?
MD: Hey, I won't deny that the guy's talented. But he's got this nasty habit of playing like soft-boiled ass away from home. His QB rating last year in the state of Arkansas: 191.5. His QB rating outside Arkansas: 99.5. They only won one game away from home all year, and it was East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl, and they needed overtime to even manage that.
DD: So you think we're just gonna steamroll a guy who threw for more than 3,600 yards last year, then.
MD: Hey, it could happen! Our secondary's got to be better than last year. And Mallett has no wheels whatsoever. Last week Justin Houston had three sacks against Stephen Garcia, a guy who's way more mobile than Mallett. If we can get any kind of penetration whatsoever on the Arkansas O-line, he's gonna have a field day.
DD: OK, let's say we manage to contain the Razorback offense. Just for the sake of argument. Even if that happens, you really think we're gonna be able to keep up with them on the scoreboard after only managing two field goals against South Carolina last week?
MD: Why do you keep bringing the Gamecocks into this? Their defense and Arkansas' aren't even in the same ballpark. The Hogs have finished last in the SEC in total defense two years running.
DD: You don't think they'll be any better this season? They've gotten a couple guys back who were injured all last year. And at this point it's not looking like we're gonna have A.J. Green for this game, either.
MD: They might be better, but not enough to matter. Even if we don't have A.J. back. The so-called "star" of their secondary, Ramon Broadway, is like a low-rent Deion Sanders -- runs his mouth nonstop but never bothers to hit anybody. Kris Durham's got eight inches on him, so I say we split him out wide and let Aaron Murray bomb away.
DD: OK, Durham did have a couple pretty sweet receptions last week.
MD: And we'll have both Washaun and Caleb in the backfield for the first time all season. I don't think Arkansas' defensive front is gonna be able to handle that. Outside of Jake Bequette on the end, their starting front four has, like, seven career starts between them.
DD: Honestly? You're kind of making a good case here. For our offense, at least. I mean, even I was impressed by what I saw from Aaron Murray last week. You can't deny the kid's got poise.
DD: But I still can't shake this nagging feeling we're about to get ripped a new one by Mallett and the Arkansas offense. I mean, we did all right against Stephen Garcia thanks to our QB pressure, but when he was able to get his passes off, our guys got burned on more than one occasion.
MD: OK, Eeyore, let's hear your prediction.
DD: Mallett tests us deep, early and often. We get some OK pressure from Houston and Akeem Dent, but we don't have enough bodies to pressure him and cover all their receivers, 'cause if we double-cover any of their deep men, he'll just dump it off short to one of their tight ends or running backs, who are pretty good at catching passes out of the backfield, FYI. Eventually they build up a big enough lead that we have to go pass-heavy, and that neutralizes the advantage we've got by having both Washaun and Caleb in the game. It'll be close, but I think they hold us off on a last-gasp drive and win 42-37.
MD: Interesting. Here's what's actually going to happen: They don't score nearly that many points, partly because we manage to keep consistent pressure on Mallett, partly because we can run the ball consistently and keep their offense off the field period. So they're the ones who have to play catch-up in the second half, and since they're only gonna be so-so in the running game to begin with, we know what's coming and can goad Mallett into a turnover or two. They're due for some regression to the mean in turnover margin, and they fumbled it four times against UL-Monroe last week, so they're bound to give one or two back to us. Final score, Good Guys 55, Bad Guys 34.
DD: Good Guys fifty-five? Are you serious?
MD: Hey, we laid 52 on 'em last year in their own house. And there's every reason to believe our offense is better this year.
DD: OK, well, our two predictions average out to . . . a 46-38 Georgia victory. Wow, eight points. Well, all I can say is I hope you're right.
MD: If nothing else, a win that big is simple karma, baby.
DD: "Karma"? For what?
MD: For what Petrino did to the Falcons. If he's gonna show his face in this state, he deserves to get his ass handed to him by a team wearing red and black. That motherfucker shouldn't be allowed to win a game in the state of Georgia ever again.
DD: OK, that sentiment I can get behind.