SportsCrack Blog

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Look I'm all for a little overhyping college football expectations in August but went completely off the deep end today with putting Georgia at #3 in the nation. Ahead of Florida (last time I checked Florida owns Georgia). Ahead of Boise State (shut up Georgia fans, they are better than you, deal with it). Ahead of Texas and Oklahoma. Ahead of Iowa? Come on Scout. Let's get serious. Here is their reasoning:

Predicted Record:: 10-2
Why Georgia Should Be No. 1: Don’t be fooled by last year’s slide. The loss of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, along with a laughable array of injuries, kept Georgia from being Georgia, but this year’s team should be back to form thanks to a deep offensive line that will be among the best in the country (if everyone stays healthy), a phenomenal linebacking corps, a strong backfield, and a future NFL star in WR A.J. Green. Throw in the best kicking game in college football, and shhhhhh … here’s your sleeper for the national title.
Why Georgia Isn’t No. 1: Aaron Murray. The Georgia quarterback situation wasn’t exactly settled this offseason with Murray the best of a mediocre lot. Murray has the tools and he has the talent, but he has to prove he can navigate his way through the SEC wars. On the other side, unlike last year, the defense has to play up to its talent and athleticism.
Key to the Season:: Turnover margin. Georgia, with enough talent and speed to hang around with anyone in the SEC, forced two fumbles and picked off ten passes, while the offense gave it away 28 times. Alright, so takeaways aren’t necessarily indicative of success (Florida and Cincinnati only recovered three fumbles and Alabama came up with seven), but the knucklehead streak when it came to penalties didn’t help. The Bulldogs were flagged 105 times; only five teams got hit with more penalties.
Relative Strength: Offensive Line, Linebacker
Relative Weakness: Quarterback
What to watch for on offense: The health of the offensive line. There were a slew of injury problems throughout the line last year, highlighted by a second knee injury to OT Trinton Sturdivant, and there was plenty of scrambling. The starting combination was rarely the same with the right starting five not set until halfway through the year. Even with all the drama, the production was still solid. Now, with talent, depth, and plenty of experience, the line might be the best in America if everyone stays healthy and the skill players will get plenty of time to work.
What to watch for on defense: The 3-4. Grantham will install a pro-style defensive scheme taking pass rushing star Justin Houston off the line and making him into a hybrid. The idea is to put three sides of beef up front, and the Georgia linemen are quick enough to get into the backfield, too. The four linebackers will be turned loose to be disruptive, swarm around the ball, and fly to the quarterback from a variety of angles.

You gotta realize that Georgia is starting a quarterback in Aaron Murray who has never taken a snap in college. If you remember Matthew Stafford's first season you will recall how painful that was. And that team was much better talent wise than this years team. Listen, Georgia's defense should be better but that isn't saying much. They were completely awful last year. To say they are a top 5 preseason team means they have a great to good defense and an offense that will score a lot of points. Georgia has proven neither. Their offensive line should be strong with plenty of experience and depth coming back but I don't see a talented back in the mold of Knowshon or Herschel or even a Garrison Hearst who is going to lead you past Florida.

I see Georgia going 9-3 at best during the regular season. South Carolina in Columbia is always tough (50/50). Arkansas the next week in Athens could see Ryan Mallett throw for 300 plus yards (50/50). They should beat Tennessee but then again the Vols always seem to play their best game against the Dawgs especially in Athens. Florida could again crush them in Jacksonville. Auburn on the road is not easy and history tells you the last time the Bulldogs won 5 straight against the Tigers was in the 1940's so expect a close battle. And then you got the home state battle with Georgia Tech who under Paul Johnson can hang with Mark Richt scheme wise. So you are telling me that Georgia could possibly lose only one of those games Scout? Highly doubtful.


With senior running backs Armando Allen and Robert Hughes (with his size he should be like Ray Zellars) and talented underclassmen such as Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood (hearing similar reports on the redshirt freshman as Knowshon Moreno had before his breakout season in Athens) the Fighting Irish should be able to run for at least 230 yards against a rather weak Purdue front 7. It looks like at this moment according to practice reports that the Notre Dame offensive line will consist of Taylor Dever at right tackle, Trevor Robinson at right guard, Dan Wenger at center, Chris Stewart at left guard, and Zach Martin at left tackle. If you are counting that is two new starters at the tackle spots. Dayne Crist will of course be the starting QB and his first option at tight end will be All-American Kyle Rudolph and at wide receiver it will be another All-American in Michael Floyd. Freshman WR TJ Jones looks like he will get starting duties as does tailback convert Theo Riddick (think Golden Tate in the slot with Riddick). The offense should be explosive and Brian Kelly's teams at Cincinnati routinely put over 40 points a game on the score board. The offense has a ton of experience and depth at key positions but the key will be the offensive line meshing especially at the tackle spots and keeping Crist healthy. Without Dayne this offense will struggle to form an identity in my opinion.

The defense remains a different story and something I will dive into tomorrow. The whole front 7 returns with plenty of talent among the starters but do they have the depth to shut down teams running games? We will see.


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Now that is what I was talking about yesterday. The Cardinals and the Reds just now officially moved into a heated rivalry worth talking about. Brandon Phillips opened the floodgates the day before with his "little bitches" comment and the Cardinals responded when Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (most overrated catcher in the game) did not take kindly to Phillips before the first pitch was even thrown. Phillips hit Molina's shin pads with his bat (Phillip's ritual which is bull shit anyways) and Molina flipped out. Of course Molina being the pussy he is didn't throw a punch. He just started screaming at him and then of course the benches cleared and a whole bunch of pushing and shoving and crying ensued.

Eventually ordered was restored and the only ejections were the managers. Tony Larussa and Dusty Baker have a history that dates back to 2000 in which both guys have had heated exchanges. This was no different. And you know what? This is great for baseball. Right now is about the time people like myself start to forget about baseball because football is right around the corner. The major network and MLB love to shove that AL East rivalry down our throats and talk about it like it is the only thing that matters. Clearly it doesn't. And now with the Reds and Cardinals feuding for first place in the Central it's bound to get more interesting and we can actually focus on other teams. It shows the fans that the players care and it was great seeing Scott Rolen (future Hall of Famer) muck it up with ex-teammate Chris Carpenter. This is what rivalries are about. No more buddy-buddy bull shit. It's about fighting till the last pitch.

As much as I loathe Molina (the guy just gets on my nerves for some reason) I was actually smiling when he hit the home run yesterday. You could see how much it pissed off the Reds team and you could also see how good it felt for Molina with his slow trot around the bases which was very Phillips-like. This is good theater my friends. Finally.