Monday, September 26, 2016

Week 4 Football Recap

RIP Arnold Palmer.

Losing is painful, but goodness gracious, Georgia's loss at Ole Miss Saturday afternoon wasn't the end of the world like so many Dawg fans are making it out to be. Any knowledgeable fan knew beforehand, if not long before the season began, that this would be a loss. Sure it hurts, but if you learned something from that game that you didn't already know, then you're not paying close attention. Callers to sports talk radio are showing their lack of knowledge.

While falling behind big in the first quarter was frustrating, what galled me was the lack of effort in the second quarter. Georgia players quit giving it their all. Two or three Dawg defenders would stop the ballcarrier's forward motion, but the other defenders would just stand around instead of joining the scrum, Had the ballcarrier broke free, the other defenders weren't ready to make the tackle.
After the three straight dropped passes turned the ball over on downs to Ole Miss, later on at least three more Bulldog receivers made halfhearted efforts to catch quite catchable passes. Had they gone all out and dived for the ball they could've made the catch, and probably inspired their teammates to give more effort as well. Look for Jacob Eason's TQBR to drop - thanks to his teammates. Hope he's not the transferring type.
How can any self-respecting defensive back let a white quarterback run for a 43 yard touchdown? Perhaps at halftime the UGA coaches persuaded the players to give more effort in the second half. The Rebels may have taken their foot off the gas, pulling Chad Kelly late in the third quarter, but the Dawgs played Ole Miss even in the second half.

Not good when you have to go for it on fourth down because your kicking game is so unreliable. Still, Blankenship's wide right miss of the 36 yard field goal (at an angle) wasn't that bad. No use complaining about the kicking any more - what can change in the middle of the season? A kicker may be worth at least one or two scholarships every four years, but maybe this year with a bare cupboard Kirby didn't have that luxury. He had to load up on position players and hope a walk-on kicker could get him by. Might've backfired this season, but it wasn't like the Dawgs were expected to go undefeated anyway (except in the minds of the rabid, unthinking fan base).

My own revisionist history: take away the pick six and the long TD pass (that should've been a sack - or more brutal pass interference). Make the field goal and catch the touchdown pass, and the score is a much more palatable 31-24. The score could have been 10-10 with 6 minutes remaining in the second quarter.

Tiger fans like to point out that Clemson just like last year, Clemson scored 134 points in winning their first four games without a loss. But things are not the same. If the Tigers were as good as last year they would've scored more points against weaker teams. Last year Clemson's first four games included hard fought wins at Louisville and at home in the rain against Notre Dame. The first four opponents in 2015 were ranked higher than the first four this year (not sure how Auburn was ranked as high as they were). Much more impressive than this year's games: moribund Auburn, a tough Troy team, woeful SC State, and a weak Georgia Tech team

Last year Louisville was far less dangerous. Last year Deshaun Watson was playing much more impressively, ranked near the top of the Total QB Ratings. This year he's ranked much lower, and missing receiver after receiver. Some throws are too high, others down at their feet. He'll have to be on target for Clemson to have a chance. Spin it any way you want, but the numbers won't mean a thing when a much improved Louisville team takes the field Saturday night.

2016 avg opp rank = 43 or 58
1 Auburn 19-13 (15)
2. Troy 30-24 (64)
3. SC State 59-0 (100)
4. Georgia Tech 26-7 (51)

2015 avg opp rank = 34 or 51
1. Wofford 49-10 (100)
2. App State 41-10 (57)
3. Louisville 20-17 (35)
4. Notre Dame 24-22 (11)

Keep winning games, not matter how close or ugly, and at the end of the year you'll get a spot in the playoff. But in 2015 the Tigers were trending up, now they're almost treading water. The Tiger defense contained the Tech running game Thursday night, but Louisville's passing game is much better than Tech's. Can Clemson defend the run AND pass at the same time? Can Deshaun and the offense outscore the Cardinals? After comparing 2016 to 2015, my confidence in a Clemson win Saturday continues to erode.

North Carolina lost a close one to Pitt. The Panthers might be good (look out GT) but maybe the Heels ain't so hot.

Tennessee did the unlikely: coming back to beat Florida. Perhaps the Vols will ride this emotional high into Sanford Stadium next week and get hit by a Bulldog sledgehammer.

South Carolina lost to Kentucky. Bodes well for the Dawgs, except the Wildcats are no slouch.

Duke beat Notre Dame. Bad news for the Jackets - and the Notre Dame defensive coordinator who was fired after the loss.

LSU head coach Les Miles didn't survive the weekend either. Some think the Auburn coach won't last the season either.

Unlike Georgia State, Michigan State wrapped the game with a bow and gave it to Wisconsin. With LSU struggling, perhaps the Badgers aren't that good as everyone thinks.

NFL: Carolina Panthers lose to Sam Bradford and the Vikings, bring Minnesota to 17-3 against the spread. Dak Prescott continues to impress in Dallas. No way the Falcons win on a Monday Night in New Orleans.

At least I didn't hear of anyone dropping the ball before they got to the end zone this week.

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