College Football Week 5 – Georgia Faces Tennessee

todd_gurley_tennesseeRocky Top Calling The Bulldogs
Bulldog Nation plays host to the Tennessee Volunteers this weekend.  UGA is coming off their most lopsided win in more than five decades, while Butch Jones and the Vols seek to prove they can be competitive in the Southeastern Conference.  The contest is the conference opener for the Vols, whereas the Dawgs need a win to get back to .500 in SEC play.

2013: Georgia won the Battle, the War Took A Toll
Last year, the trip to Knoxville was a nightmare averted for Georgia.  Though they left Neyland Stadium with an overtime victory by a final score of 34-31, the 2013 Bulldogs were never the same.  In fact, Georgia lost their next two games following the close call in Rocky Top.

Dawgs Running Free
Georgia’s rushing attack ranks among the most lethal in the country this year.  Led by Todd Gurley, the Bulldogs have run over and through the competition.  In an era where the no-huddle spread offense is dominating college football, the Dawgs pro style, run first approach is a breath of fresh air.

Under Pressure – Bulldogs must bite Justin Worley
Georgia’s secondary has had trouble finding the football throughout the first month of the season.  To make matters worse, injuries have caused the defensive backfield to become a revolving door of healthy bodies.  While Tennessee is a young team, their most experienced player is at quarterback.

Bulldogs and Volunteers Hurting at Receiver
According to Sports 24/7 UGA head coach Mark Richt has stated pass catcher Malcolm Mitchell will not return this weekend.  In addition, Jonathon Rumph is still dealing with a hamstring issue, and Justin Scott-Wesley remains suspended For Tennessee, the Kingsport Times is reporting the Volunteers are preparing to be without at least two receivers between the hedges.

Volunteer head coach Butch Jones has indicated both wide outs in question are dealing with a high ankle sprain.  Junior-college transfer Von Pearson is not going to participate in Saturday’s contest, but fellow Volunteer Josh Smith is still hoping to suit up.

Georgia – Tennesee: Picking a Winner
Bulldog Nation has won the last four contests in this storied rivalry.  Tennessee football has yet to recover from their quick hook of Phillip Fulmer, which should serve as a reminder to those UGA fans who seem to want a new head coach every time the wind blows in the wrong direction.

As with most pigskin parties, this game will be won at the line of scrimmage.  If Georgia succeeds in imposing their will at the line of scrimmage, this one could get ugly.  On the other hand, if Justin Worley is allowed time to throw, Tennessee has just enough talent to mount a balanced offensive attack.   Prediction: Dawgs 31, Tennessee 21.

Georgia Versus Tennessee – October 5, 2013

uga_tennesseeGood Ole Rocky Top…
Well, not really.  Times have just been tough lately in Rocky Top, and the Tennessee Volunteers football program is adjusting to its third head football coach in five years.   Tennessee has some players at the skill positions on offense, but they have yet to find a quarterback capable of getting them the football since Tyler Bray left at the end of last season.

Butch Jones is tasked with being the architect of the rebuilding project in Knoxville.  The new head coach has his Volunteers at 3-2 after the Vols held off the South Alabama Jaguars to win 31-24 in week five.  Tennessee’s next three opponents are Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Welcome to the SEC, coach.

Aaron Murray, Conquering Hero
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray’s college football career has been chalked full of twists and turns.  Rewritten record books, legacy defining moments, and possibly a championship await Murray at the end of his journey in Athens.  The fifth-year senior will need help from the defense, as well as a healthy Todd Gurley to accomplish all of his goals, but the victory over LSU had to vindicate Aaron Murray’s decision to come back to UGA for his final year of eligibility.

The Georgia Bulldogs: Avoiding a Massive Letdown
The last time Georgia won a regular season home game at home against LSU in 2004, they followed it up with a loss to Tennessee the very next week.  There is nothing to indicate that history is going to repeat itself.  Unless the Dawgs decide to roll over and play dead, the longest thing about the trip to Knoxville will be the ride down there.

Tennessee does not have the talent on either side of the ball to compete with Georgia for four quarters.  One of Tennessee’s biggest assets is their offensive line, but it is a work in progress according to what coach Butch Jones told the Times Free Press, “I need more in terms of a level of physicality and finishing plays.  We’re working on that each and every day.”

Taming the Tigers Altered the Course of Georgia’s Football Season
Georgia’s four sacks on LSU QB Zack Mettenberger cast a silver lining on a poor defensive performance against the Tigers.  The Dawg secondary must feed off of the pressure created by the front seven, such as outside linebacker Floyd, to help create opportunities to stop the opposition.

No opponent should be taken lightly based on how big their reconstruction job is. However, The University of Tennessee has some work to do before they can be competitive in the Southeastern Conference again. Rocky Top Talk points out that coach Butch Jones is doing well in recruiting.  His new job is a marathon, not a sprint.

Prediction: Tennessee will play well early on defense, but the Dawgs’ veteran offense will settle down and take the crowd out of it early in the second half.  The Volunteers do not have enough offense to chase down the Dawgs even with home field advantage.  Georgia 34, Tennessee 17.

Georgia Will Win The SEC East in 2013

national_cgampionship_trophy

Will this be the year that Georgia wins it all?

The Third Time is the Charm
Georgia will win the SEC East for a third straight year.  The Bulldogs are led by fifth-year senior signal caller Aaron Murray, and the Dawgs look to have a bad bark on the offensive side of the ball. With five starters returning on the offensive line and three more lineman with college football experience, Georgia figures to have one of the best lines in the country.

Furthermore, we are entering year number two for the dominate rushing duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall who together ran for 2,144 yards last season. It is safe to assume that Georgia will have no trouble putting points on the board.

 An Examination of the Competition (In Order of Projected Finish)
The final SEC East standings will look exactly the way they did in 2012. Florida will finish second because Will Muschamp will give his roster nightmares with his terrifying glare if the Gators lose too many games. An example of this (hilariously) horrifying look can be seen in the video below.  Along with the motivation of the Muschamp death stare, the Florida Gators have a very talented defense that will leave the opposition afraid to enter the swamp.



Nothing to Crow About
Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks will finish third, because the Ole’ Ball Coach will not have enough bullets for his fun n’ gun offense. Despite welcoming back the fearsome Jadeveon Clowney,  South Carolina will be without Ace Sanders and Marcus Lattimore, who are now both in the National Football League.

Vanderbilt is Improving
The Vanderbilt Commodores finished 2012 with nine wins, which is the Dore’s highest total since 1915.  The Commodores may very well open the season ranked in the preseason polls. Even so, Vanderbilt simply does not have the athletes to defeat the top teams in the Southeastern Conference. James Franklin is a good coach, not a miracle worker.

The Tigers Have Been Tamed
The Missouri Tigers attempted to make a splash in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers were roaring when Sheldon Richardson called out Georgia for playing “old man football.” But, after a 2-6 finish in Southeastern Conference play, the Tigers have yet to make a ripple in the SEC pool. The Tigers figure to have another sub-par campaign this year, as the transition from the Big 12 has proved difficult. Missouri finishes fifth in the East, and the biggest question in the “Show Me State” this year may be whether or not Gary Pinkel keeps his job beyond the upcoming season.

Tennessee is Going to Hit an Iceberg
New Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is about to set sail on his maiden voyage as the captain of the Volunteer ship. But the boat has taken on water before it can even leave the dock. The leak that I am referring to is Tennessee’s schedule this year. The Vols play Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Oregon in a six week stretch that may be one of the most difficult schedules in recent memory.  The folks in Rocky Top have not had much to sing about on the gridiron lately, and that will not change in 2013. Tennessee will finish sixth in the SEC East.

Another Rebuilding Year in Kentucky
Finally we come to the bottom of the barrel in what is a very top heavy division. The Kentucky Wildcats have brought in Mark Stoops from Arizona, but the new head coach inherits a team that lost ten games in 2012. Mark Stoops is the brother of the Oklahoma Sooners head coach nicknamed “Big game Bob.” That pedigree will not save him from the Bluegrass blues.  Kentucky is a basketball school now and forever.

Hail to Georgia.



The SEC Coaching Carousel: Familiar Faces in New Places

mike_slive

Mike Slive, the godfather of SEC football.

Since the SEC coaching carousel has stopped spinning, we thought it would be appropriate to welcome some (sort of) familiar faces into their new Southeastern Conference home.

Pig Sooie
Arkansas: Bret Bielema- The former Wisconsin head coach spent seven years watching Badger fans at Camp Randall Stadium jump around.  Bielema helped Wisconsin become a perennial BCS contender by beating up on the Big Ten. Former Arkansas head coach John L. Smith did little to make Arkansas seem like an attractive destination, but consistent winning will help coach Bielema get more Razorbacks in the hog pen. As documented by Sports Illustrated, the new Grand Poobah of Pig football has been accused of being a bit of a jerk when he gets a big lead.

War Damn Malzahn
Auburn: Gus Malzahn- What a kick in Gene Chizik’s ass this hire had to be. After watching Chizik flounder in two seasons without Cam Newton, Auburn decided to give Gus Malzahn the keys to the War Eagle mobile. In 2010, Gus Malzahn was the offensive coordinator for Gene Chizik when the Tigers rode on Cam Newton’s back all the way to the top of college football and captured the national championship.

Much to Auburn’s chagrin, “Chiz” has completely totaled the War Eagle car since then, prompting Auburn to take away the keys. Hiring Malzahn should prove to be a wise choice for Tiger nation, but anything is better than that prick Bobby Petrino landing another SEC gig. More on Bob-O next week.

From A Joker To A Stoop
mark_stoopsKentucky
: Mark Stoops- The younger brother of Bob and Mike finally gets his opportunity to be a head coach as the Stoops family tree branches to the SEC. Unfortunately for coach Stoops, he takes over a Kentucky program that is unquestionably a basketball school. However, when Kentucky Wildcat fans are not encouraging coach John Calipari to take full advantage of the one year rule to win a championship in college basketball, they are delusional enough to expect Kentucky football to compete in a bowl game on a yearly basis. Good luck, coach Stoops. You are going to need it.

The Ghost of Phillip Fulmer
butch_jonesTennessee: Butch Jones- Butch Jones says goodbye to the Big East, and hello to the Southeastern Conference. Jones will be the third football coach to attempt to scare away the ghost of Phillip Fulmer. We are certainly not Tennessee fans, but it has been fun watching the Volunteers continue to fall after being so impatient with coach Fulmer. Tennessee has the passing game to compete with anybody in the country, but the Vols’ suspect defense and lack of a running game has prevented them from being a factor in the SEC for the last several years.

Will Butch Jones have any better luck in Knoxville than Derrick Dooley or Lane Kiffin? Consider this: Butch Jones never won the outright Big East title at Cincinnati with talent that Brian Kelly recruited. He now finds himself in the best college football conference in America, in the SEC East coaching against three potential top ten teams moving forward. The rocky road is likely to continue in good ole’ Rocky Top.