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September 11, 2006

Rambling Thoughts on the Game


First off, huge congrats and kudos to the UGA offensive line. Our QBs had all day to pass most of the game, and we ran for almost 200 yards. I certainly didn't expect that going into the game. In particular, Nick Jones and Chester Adams absolutely mauled their counterparts all night long.

Also, the UGA defensive line completely stuffed the Gamecock run and let us keep the passing game in front of us. Charles Johnson played extremely well, Jeff Owens made some huge plays and even Dale Dixson blew up some early running plays.

Other Items of Note:
  • Matt Stafford (The Good) - He wasn't rattled by the moment, the crowd, Joe T's injury or his own mistakes. He just went out there and performed as best he could. And his best is pretty impressive.

    At FSU, Richt made liberal use of the crossing patterns over the middle to create big plays. We haven't really seen that at UGA with Greene or Shockley. Some of that has been due to our WRs consistenly falling down after the catch, but it also may have to do with Shockley and Greene's ability or inability to hit WRs in stride. Stafford threw two lasers in this game across the middle. One to Martrez, who caught all his passes, and one to Mohammed Massaquoi. Both were big plays because Stafford has the gun to hit them on the run. This threat opens up huge possibilities for our offense. Yards after the catch might finally become a reality for this offense.

  • Stafford (the bad) - Obviously a 3 INT and 0 TD stat line won't win many games. However, it was enough to win this one, and for a debut start it was enough to beat a Gamecock squad that will struggle to win seven games.

    On the brightside, he's all upside. He'll get the vast, vast majority of first team snaps for the next 4-6 weeks while JT3 heals. If Tereshinski is out until the Florida Game, Stafford will have taken almost as many 1st team practice snaps as Joe T has taken in his entire 5 year career. Plus, Stafford will have started twice the number of games as Joe T by the time Joe comes back.

  • Spurrier Shutout - Never saw that coming. No better tribute to Erk is possible. GATA defense.

  • UGA DBs - I know Sidney Rice struggled with cramps late, but you can't say enough about how well our guys played against Rice. All of Chris Smelly's 64 yards came after UGA had already gone to a prevent defense aimed at letting the Coots have short screen plays while chewing up the clock. You take away that last drive, and the defense gave up 156 yards passing to Spurrier. Nice.

  • Michael Turner's Injury - It will be interesting to see what happens here. He played a very good ball game, and we need him to keep Shack and Inman fresh.

  • Coaching / Motivation - It seems that we sleep walk into this game most of the time. We seem to show up in Columbia with a far lesser degree of passion than the Gamecocks, and the outcome is closer than we'd like. This wasn't the case on Saturday. Maybe it was Erk's death. Maybe it was something else, but we gave the Gamecocks all the wanted from the jump.

  • The Talent Gap - Staggering. The Gamecocks simply don't have the talent along either line of scrimmage to compete with UGA. The offensive line talent is particularly weak in Columbia. The Gamecocks only started 3 seniors on offense or defense in this game. That would suggest that in 2007, they should be loaded.

    However, I would argue that if you return a half dozen starters who aren't SEC caliber, that's not a recipe for success. They must dramatically improve their recruiting to take any meaningful steps forward becauase along the lines they aren't anywhere close to being a big boy SEC program. That said, their talent at the speed positions (WR/DB) is very good.

  • The Schedule - (as I posted on David Ching's Blog) Stafford, Richt and UGA all caught a HUGE break with the schedule this year.

    South Carolina isn't very good. Neither is WKU, UAB, Ole Miss or Colorado.

    Maybe Stafford didn't play well enough last night to beat UF or UT. But we didn't play them. And he should get better every week. He's got 2 more home games and a light weight SEC road game to get more of the kinks worked out before we play UT.

    It's on Stafford, Bobo and Richt to ramp this kid up as quickly as possible, and the schedule is certainly in our favor.
I'll post some SEC thoughts tomorrow. I'm exhausted.



Anonymous said...

I would say, at least, that Spurrier wasn't kidding when he said originally that he didn't think this team was good enough to win a championship. At first I thought he was just laying it on, a-la Lou Holtz, but it seems he generally believes he needs much, much more recruiting before he can compete. I never pegged the ball coach for an honest man, but he didn't lie, they need help.

Anonymous said...

Well put. Stafford did what it took and hopefully he will grow into that person that beats UF and TN. He does bring an awful lot to the game. BTW, did everyone see how big the hole was on the third down when Stafford ran from th endzone? The gap opened so quickly Stafford didn't have time to fake. Good job O line. GATA!

SmoothJimmyApollo said...

I don't mean to be the jerk, but I always thought that Spurrier was being serious when he said his teams at USC could not compete.
I am a UGA fan who spent the last two years in Columbia. It seemed to me that eveyone but Spurrier called the 2005 season an unequivocal success. Such strangers to joy are the Gamecocks, seven wins looks like the promised land. Much as I hate him, only the Ol' Ball Coach, (G*d what a horrible phrase) seemed to have his head screwed on correctly.
South Carollina fans are the most delusional in the country. Beat one top fifteen team, and suddenly, they are a national power for years to come.

Darth Scooter said...

Did anyone else think Mohammed Massaquoi had a terrible game? Those two interceptions in particular were more his fault than Staffords. On one Massaquoi slowed up and on the quick slant in the endzone he didn't look like he was ready for the ball, granted it looked a lot like pass intereference too.

I've also not been impressed with Thomas Brown. The other two backs have done more with fewer carries. And that break away speed everyone talked about preseason has been MIA. I'm starting to wonder if Brown isn't a good practice back, but just isn't able to do the same during the game.

Just the same I thought the Dawgs looked good. Our defense in particular looks good. I couldn't believe they were able to deny Carolina twice inside the 5. The next couple of weeks should certainly be interesting as we find out just how good Stafford is.

Anonymous said...

I have been really impressed with Charles Johnson. Besides the obvious plays that he stood out (sack, safety, trick play bust-up), the guy has a motor that runs like Pollack. I saw him several times running players out of bounds 10-15 yards downfield. Even plays that were away from him he was hustling to get in on. I am looking for big things out of him the rest of the year if offenses continue to key on Q. Moses.

Anonymous said...

Mo Mass didn't have a terrible game at all. The INT near the goal line wasn't Mo's fault at all. Stafford threw it too soon, too hard and at Mo's back while the DB was interferring with him.

The deep ball INT was poorly thrown, but if Mo plays a little DB on that ball he has a shot to break it up.

Mo's reception over the middle where he booked it to deep in the redzone was a gem. We haven't had a WR take a crossing route that far since Mo had one called back against ULM last year.

Separately - Harris blocked his man's pecker into the dirt on one of Thomas Brown's longer runs.

And yes...Ware and Lumpkin are out playing Brown right now. But it's not about speed. It's about finding the hole and being patient enough to hit it properly. Something all of our backs have been less than stellar at.


Anonymous said...

Hey Kool-Aid! Keep drinking it up Cock fans. Delusional? Indeed. Kudos to Spurrier (did I just say that?) for going for the TD late in the game instead of being the opposite of a Cock and kicking a FG to avert the shutout (see Mike Stoops vs. LSU).

C. Paul said...

Enjoyable as always. I can't understand why people can't be excited (and rational) about Stafford's performance. For a first start, around a bunch of screaming Cocks, I thought he did very well. You can just see he has "it" - whatever "it" is. Now, that doesn't mean he'll be perfect, and he made a few bad decisions and passes (the dump to Des Williams was terrible) - but we are in good hands for years to come.

Other thoughts:

* K. Johnson looks fantastic out there and the depth in the secondary is deep and wide
* Nick Jones will play on Sunday's next year
* Kregg Lumpkin looks great in the 1st quarter and then disappears - did he miss an assignment?
* UAB is going to be a tough game for the guys to get up for - it will be close.

Anonymous said...

Disagree about the ints, Paul. I think the deep int was one that MoMass had a chance to catch if he doesn't slow down.

Also, Stafford is not to blame for throwing to a receiver that, if he's not being held, is open.

Anonymous said...

Best line that I read about Stafford's first throw: He got it to Milner so quickly he didn't have time to think to drop it.

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