Sunday, October 04, 2009

Al Bell, Meet Charles Scott

Please tell me that I wasn't the only one who thought about this game during the crazy final minutes of the game yesterday:

Two late touchdowns, a critical celebration penalty, the road team winning in Athens after the Dawgs thought that they had won the game. If Blair Walsh wouldn't have missed a chip shot field goal, the final score would have been identical.

What was strange for me about watching the Georgia game after the Michigan game was that the latter replicated the former. LSU, like Michigan State, dominated the first half, such that Georgia fans had to be thinking to themselves when they trailed 10-6 at the half "gosh, we are luck as hell to be in this game." While Michigan waited until five minutes remained before rallying, Georgia came to play in the third quarter and then the second half was an entertaining SEC dogfight (no pun intended). In the end, both the Dawgs and Wolverines (moreso the Wolverines) were fortunate to have a chance to win at the end. Georgia isn't going to win too many games in the SEC running for 44 yards at 1.8 yards per carry.

I have to imagine that that fourth quarter is what CBS had in mind when it paid through the nose for the rights to show SEC football: two good teams full of ludicrous athletes trading punches in front of an intense, well-lubricated crowd. If Georgia fans can divorce themselves of the pain of losing in the final minute, they ought to appreciate the spectacle of which their team was a part.

Another strange feeling I had after watching the game is the sense that LSU should be better than they are. I've always liked Les Miles, but after watching that first half, I came away thinking that LSU has a ludicrous amount of talent and yet they don't dominate like they should. At times, I had the same feeling in 2007. LSU had a great team, they seemed to be motivated, their schemes were good on both sides of the ball, and yet they were playing close games on a weekly basis against teams that they should have been pummeling. I'm not sure what's missing with the 2009 Tigers, other than the fact that their offensive line doesn't do a great job of run-blocking, especially in short yardage. Maybe the difference between this team and the 2007 team will end up being that this team doesn't convert on a couple key fourth downs?

As for Georgia, I'm not sure what there is to say other than that this is a pretty good team with one exceptional player. Joe Cox is a pretty good quarterback who floats in and out of being accurate. (Good lord, that missed pass when A.J. Green was behind the secondary in the first quarter. And what exactly was John Chavis doing putting his team in a defense where Green could get open in the deep middle? Has he not seen Georgia tape all year?) The offensive line is OK. The team is searching for an above-average running back. The defense plays well at times and poorly at others. It wasn't as good as it looked in the opener or as bad as it looked against South Carolina and Arkansas. Overall, the team is this weird mix of decent and good parts (with one extraordinary talent) and none of the parts all work at the same time. Hell, the pass rush showed up better yesterday than at any point since the Sugar Bowl against Hawai'i, but then other parts of the team (see: running game) disappeared.

Other thoughts on the game:
  • When I called my friend Ben (a huge Dawg fan) this morning, I opened the call by asking whether the celebration penalty on A.J. Green was the worst call he'd ever seen or just one of the five worst. I'd guess that the ref just expected some sort of over-the-top celebration after a touchdown of that magnitude and threw the flag in anticipation. All that said, the refs gave Georgia a make-up call by flagging LSU in the same manner. The difference was that LSU had Trindon Holliday running against the Dawgs' poor kickoff coverage. LSU was more able to take advantage of the break than Georgia was. Put another way, the bad call was especially damaging for Georgia because it put pressure on a weak spot.
  • If the Heisman Trophy were worth a damn, Green would be the leading contender right now. He's the best receiver in the country, bar none, and he's putting up huge numbers against quality opponents. The debate as to whether he's better than Julio Jones is over and done with.
  • Jordan Jefferson looked good yesterday. I'll be interested to see how Miles handles having Jefferson and Russell Shepard.
  • What in G-d's name was Les Miles doing not calling a timeout to at least set up a hail mary at the end of the first half? In some instances, he gets football tactics better than most. In other respects, he calls for timeouts after his team has picked off a pass.


Jesse said...

I watched as much of this game as I could stand and it was horrible. I kept flipping back to Washington-ND and FSU-BC just to stay awake. But, I did watch almost every minute of it (my wife is a semi uga fan) and I have to ask, what was that about the ACC having no offense? LSU has more talent than their play has indicated and I have to think that eventually it's going to catch up to them and they are going to lose some game. They are a couple plays away from having three losses (Washington, Miss St, and now Georgia). Miles should stop trying to run that option with players that don't have a clue how to run it correctly. And why would you not call a timeout and go for a TD before the end of the first half?

As for uga, I'm not seeing the immense talent level that everyone tried to portray before the season started. Outside of Green, there's not much else. The RB's are horrible, the QB is a light switch, and there really isn't any other option in the receiving corps. As for the defense, I'll say Curran is clearly the best of the bunch, but I think there are others who might be shadowed by a bad scheme. Or maybe there isn't anyone and I'm just reaching.

Either way, they are in the same boat LSU is in. They are a couple plays away from having three or more losses (SC & ASU added to the two they already have), so unless something changes they are going to end up losing more than they win.

Outside of this specific game, is this a down year for college football as a whole or what? What happened to all the firepower and all the top teams? The SEC has two really good teams in Alabama and Florida, but after that it's looking pretty bad. LSU does not look like a top five team imo. The ACC has a couple of teams that could be great in VPI, Miami, maybe GT, but who knows if any of them will step up and be a front runner. The rest is crap of course. The BigTen has a 5-0 Wisconsin team that's played no one and an Ohio St team that has only played USC in which they lost. Iowa looks to be the front runner there but then again, they almost lost to Ak St this weekend.

Texas in the Big12, USC i the Pac10, and Cincy & USF in the BigEast are all playing well. Maybe it's just me, but there just seems to be a lot missing from this year so far. Parity is a good thing right?

Anonymous said...

The whole AJ Green vs. Julio Jones can't be debated right now because Jones missed a few games with an injury. Green is "playing" better right now, but lets not jump to say that he is "better" than Jones. By the way, I don't have a dog in the fight, I'm a Gators Fan... and Riley Cooper is better than both Green and Jones (OK, even I don't believe that, but I had to throw it in anyway.)

Jesse said...

I'd throw Demaryius Thomas of GT into this conversation as well. He has more yards on less receptions and went for 174 on 8 receptions this weekend against Miss St. He also had 133 on 6 against Miami so he's doing against good defenses as well.

And people said GT can't throw...

Michael said...

Julio Jones went a full season (or thereabouts) without scoring a touchdown. He's a great athlete, but he's not in Green's class as a receiver. And as for Thomas, he benefits from being targeted so much against defenses that are committed against the run. My eyes tell me that Green is a better receiver and I'd bet any amount of money that Green will go before Thomas in the Draft.

Jesse said...

And I would say Green benefits from a system that can't run and where he is the only option in the passing game. I've watched them both and there's nothing in Green's game that make's him better than Thomas. Thomas is bigger and they are probably both the same speed or close. They both benefit from their height advantage, they both run routes well, and I would say Thomas has the better hands, but probably not by much.

Right now, they are both playing on the same level. However, Green did have the better year last year with 330 more yards on about 20 more receptions.

Let's let the season play out a little more before we get into predicting draft status, because at the current rate, their numbers are going to be close.

Michael said...

OK, here's your mission: find me one scout or draftnik who rates Thomas ahead of Green. A.J. is faster and he's better at going over defenders to get balls. I've never seen Thomas do what Green did for the winning score on Saturday.

And how is it good for Green that his team can't run the ball?

Anonymous said...

Jesse, you are such an unbelievable GT homer that it's difficult to take anything you say about college football seriously.

Demaryius Thomas? Yeah right.

Now if you'd debated whether Calvin Johnson was a better player in college, we might give you some credit, but your anti-UGA glasses are blinding you, son.

Jesse said...

Then you should have watched the GT-Miss St game this weekend. There were two excellent examples of Thomas going over defenders for the ball. I've watched both GT and uga every weekend thus far and neither one is outplaying the other, or at least not to the level some of you are portraying here. Green is no faster than THomas as both run 4.3-4.4. And by the numbers, Thomas is the better WR right now (though not by much), which was what Michael stated in his post, right now. In fact, if you want to throw out WR's in non-BSC conferences and WR's who haven't played any team with a defense yet (Jordan Shipley and Dez Bryant), then Thomas and Green are your two best WR's in the nation, by the numbers, right now. How is that being a homer or biased?

That's all I'm saying, that right now, Thomas deserves to be in the conversation for the leading WR's in the nation. Of course I'm not going to find any media type that has Thomas over Green, because it's impossible for Thomas to be better than Green because he plays at GT right? That's essentially what you're saying here.

Both Green and Thomas are both extremely talented and having to deal with QB's who aren't the most accurate throwers and they are both putting up great numbers. They both make some amazing catches. In the end, Green will end up having the better career numbers and yes, will get drafted before Thomas, but I don't see how that immediately rules Thomas out of a discussion about the current WR leaders.

Bourbon Dawgwalker said...

Green v. Thomas:

Green is notably Georgia's only offensive weapon and is the focus of every defensive coordinator's gameplan. A DC goes into a game trying to figure out who they should not let beat them. AJ is that man for UGA opponents, yet he still makes plays.

Thomas is not the person a DC wants to stop when they play Tech. A DC gameplans to stop the option and dares CPJ to beat them with the pass. Thomas has benefited from this lack of attention.

Also, Green has put all his numbers up this year against legitimate D-1 schools, not the case for Thomas (4 for 101 v Jax St)

Last, Green vs. LSU: 5 for 99, TD.
Thomas vs. LSU: 3 for 31, no TD.

Thomas is a great receiver, Green is just on another level.