R.I.P. Erk. There's a blog for you coming, but it cannot be today. I'm not writing well enough right now to pay the respects that I should be able to pay.
There's one time a year where it is OK to shout out loud "I'm going to choke the Chicken" and/or "Let's go beat Cocks" and it's the weekend UGA plays USC. A good friend of mine named Ray Porker used to love weekends like this just so his extremely loud self could scream it from the rafters.
The Dawgs played lights out on Saturday. I can't remember a time where the UGA/USC game was so one sided, but the balls, calls, and offensive stalls worked in our favor on Saturday. USC looked flat, uninspired, and overmatched by UGA's speed on both sides of the ball. So let's not keep anyone waiting. Here is your review:When UGA had the ball:1. O-Line play
-- The boys up front REALLY stepped it up on Saturday night. Great pass protection, blocking downfield, picking up the blitz (when there was one because there wasn't that many), and just being the hosses up front kept us in a position to win. Velasco had a few great downfield blocks from what I remember (and trust me, after shutting out Spurrier, my friend Jack made sure I don't remember much), the lanes opened up in the running game really kept the game in our favor. It's really exciting to see a group of guys play above their level and that is exactly what happened. It's quite scary to see two of our folks go down, but from what I'm reading right now, Turner is questionable and Seth Watts is probable for UAB (shout out: Dawgbone.net
). That is not terrible news given we get our two suspended kids back (Ian Smith and Dan Inman) for UAB. We didn't get too banged up here against a quality opponent, so expect everyone healthy for the Colorado game barring any injuries during UAB.2. WR play
-- Not too great here because there were times where we should've fought for the ball more (I.E. Stafford's under-thrown pass that the receiver should've came back for), but the blocking was solid and that is the trademark of Tony Ball's influence in the passing game. You have to believe that even though he is a running back's coach here at UGA, his knowledge of downfield blocking and special teams have found its way into our other coaches' game plans. I'd like to see our guys get a bit more physical, but for the most part, we held on to the ball (shout out: Martrez Milner) and we made decent plays to help the running game.3. RB play
-- Fantastic here. I have never claimed Danny Ware as my favorite back and to be honest, my favorite has always been Kregg, but CMR has proven he likes to go with the hot back in the given situation. For the past two games, the hottest of the three headed monster has been D. Ware. Kregg made some good runs up the gut to keep the chains moving, but to hear so much about Thomas Brown in the offseason (a recurring theme) he hasn't shown me that much in games (also a recurring theme). Thank goodness we're so deep here. Also, thank goodness for good blocking because we didn't break that many tackles and/or make guys miss. When we get up against a more physical defenses like UT, this might be an area of concern. But for now, it's still early and we're still doing the major things right. It's just time to start fine tuning.4. QB play
-- Here's the $1,000,000 question...Is Joe T. ever going to see another snap of football? My guess is no. Big props to Matt Stafford who came in and should flashes of GREAT poise, but the biggest props go to CMR for keeping it simple for the kid. Now we can start getting him polished to get him ready for the bigger games upcoming. Rookie mistakes like the throw at A.J. Bryant downfield instead of a wide open Danny Ware 10 yards closer will correct themselves under CMR's tutelage. One thing's for sure, he's got a helluva arm. He's big, he reads the defenses as well as possible given his experience, and he could possibly emerge is the Freshman of the Year should he keep up play like he did Saturday night. He's the next big thing, but not right now. Let's give him time and work with the first team and we'll see what he becomes. These next few games are NOT going to be cake walks.When USC had the ball:1. D-Line
-- Not much to say here other than we looked fantastic. USC's O-line was overmatched and undersized compared to our big boys up front. CJ and QM had a field day back there giving Mitchell and Boyd fits all day.2. Linebackers
-- B. Miller had a great play to possibly save a touchdown, but that's really only the highlight I can remember. That really tells me two things...1) Not much got past the D-line and 2) We didn't bring a lot of heat. I'd still like to see Martinez blitz more because I felt a Spurrier QB to be able to eat up the zone better, but it just didn't need to happen in order for us to win the game. Only one more game and we get Ellerbe back, which will be a speed boost for our guys. He does stupid things in the offseason, but I think he's an Odell Thurman type of LB and could really emerge as a great cover guy on top of his tackling ability.3. Cornerbacks/Safeties
-- There were some blown coverages that never got taken advantage of due to the D-line play, BUT we did some things right. Kelin still looks good and we made some really nice tackles when the time called for it. Hopefully we can become more disciplined in regards to the play action and out and ups. If we can play the receiver until the ball gets there, then we'll become a helluva unit. Right now, we're playing the QB and getting burnt on play actions and pump fakes SOMETIMES. When UT rolls into town, please understand that we must be better in zone coverage in order to win that game.Special Teams:1. Brandon Coutu
-- The kid can kick the ball a country mile and he doesn't do that whole "missing the uprights" thing too much. Not much more you can ask here.2. Gordon Ely-Kelso
-- Another solid performance, but he didn't see the field much, WHICH IS A GOOD THING. The less I see of the kid, the more excited I am.3. Kick Returning
-- Not that great but mainly because of USC's style. Hopefully Mikey can get healthy so we can get our speed back there. Asher Allen is a great talent, but I don't think he's ready yet.Intangibles:1. Nerves
-- Let's face it. USC was more nervous than we were for this game. They looked horrible on offense and I'll guarantee you that the Old Ball Coach woke up this morning thinking he probably watched his team play the worst game since he was at Duke. They just looked pitiful. I don't know if they took themselves out of the game, but it seems like they were hoping for a break to gain momentum. Mitchell seemed frustrated and there were times you could see him taking it out on his team. That is a no-no. He lost his poise and so did his players. USC's defense tried to keep them in it, but once they realized they couldn't stop the run and that the offense wasn't going to give them any help, they quit trying too.2. Crowd
-- The crowd just couldn't get amped up about horrible play from their team. I don't think I blame them. Our guys responded well to the pressure and it looks like the team-marching-out-arm-in-arm-on-the-road thing is here to stay. I really like that. Hell, I jumped out of my seat when I saw them coming out. Without a star to rally around this year, we needed team unity in a bad way.3. Erk
-- I like the "ERK" on the back of the helmets, but I honestly wanted to see them come out with "JYD" patches or initials to really emphasize what Erk established. If anything good can come from the death of a great man like Erk Russell, it's that our team might play a little meaner just to do it for Erk. I think that's being evidenced by an impressive shut out on the road. Here's to us staying physical, fast, and mean.
Well, there you have it. The next few weeks should be interesting and I'll be glued to Dawgbone
, Ching's Blog
, and Dawgsports.com
to see how our team is shaking out with its new look under center. Just wait until we get everyone back and healthy. We might just have a solid run at this.
Until next time kids.