My Saturday started way too early. When my alarm went off at 6:15am, it felt like I had just gone to bed 10 minutes ago. It was probably the after-effects of all the strippers and coke from the night before. By “strippers” I mean “wife,” and by “coke” I mean “milk.” I’m 30 and married. What do you want from me?
Anyway, I had no idea what to expect from the Georgia-Auburn game, as I wrote on Friday. When focused, this Georgia team is a genuine top-10 team. When they lack focus, they’re not even top 10 in the SEC. Saturday, they were focused.
The whole “black jersey” thing was pretty cool…I was skeptical (as anyone who knows me is well aware, I’m the most bipolar sports fan there is) but hopeful. When the captains came out in red jerseys, I was certain that the rest of the team would follow suit. When they didn’t, and ran onto the field with their black jerseys on, it was truly a surreal moment. The captains had this sly look on their faces as their teammates helped pull their red jerseys off. It was like something out of a movie. Very neat. Anyway, onto the game…
I have to say I am generally pleased with Mike Bobo’s play-calling this year. Most of the annoying UGA fans (i.e. 85% of them) use Mike Bobo as their punching bag when things go bad. Play-calling is the easiest aspect to criticize, as it’s the most subjective. With all of that being said, I was beginning to grow annoyed at the amount of runs off tackle we were attempting against Auburn. Their highly-ranked defense was eating up the play snap after snap, but we kept calling it.
Here’s where we all should remember why we are not offensive coordinators of elite college football teams. It started working. Thomas Brown had a 53-yard run through the line. Moreno started breaking off his now signature 8-10 yard, 3-spin, 5 broken-tackle runs. It was apparent that Auburn’s defense had been worn down by off-tackle run after off-tackle run. They also had to start respecting Matthew Stafford’s ability to throw the deep ball, as he connected on two long passing plays (I’m too lazy to look up the exact yardage. Yes, that lazy.). This all combined with a rejuvenated Georgia defense enabled the Dawgs to turn what was a tight, hotly contested SEC brawl into a laugher in the 2nd half.
So where does this great victory leave us? Still on the outside looking in, because Tennessee all of a sudden found their scrotum against Arkansas. And we’ll probably remain on the outside, because the Vols would have to lose to either Kentucky or Vanderbilt (they’ve beaten both like a drum over the last 20-30 years), and we’d have to beat Kentucky. I think the latter will happen, but not the former. It’s ironic that the focus and intensity that has vaulted us into the position we’re in right now (the passenger’s seat) is the same thing that we lacked in the Tennessee game–a game that will probably keep us from playing LSU in the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship.
Channeling Jim Mora (no, the other one)…
That over-played and over-used “Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?!?” line of then Indy coach Jim Mora is ringing in my ears right now. The Falcons have now won two straight games, and are just two games back of division leader Tampa Bay, with two games against them remaining on the schedule. Are you kidding me???
I started to think about this over the bye week: “The Falcons aren’t that bad, huh?” As I said earlier, I’m notoriously bipolar when it comes to sports. I wrote them off after the first Carolina game, when DeAngelo Hall won it for the Panthers and the mutiny/implosion began. But after having some time to relax and think objectively about the Falcons, I realized the following things:
1. Their defense is good. Like, really good. I’m not sure where they rank in the NFC, but I don’t need to look at those rankings to tell me how good their D is. I have watched every minute of every game this season, and I trust my own judgment.
2. Their offense is okay…not terrible, and not good…okay. They have had gigantic advantages in time of possession in most of their games this year, but haven’t scored many points. What that tells me is that their red zone offense stinks. They move the ball great between the 20s, but in the red zone they come up empty too often.
3. They’ve been in almost every game this year, and would be 5-4 if they had Mort Andersen before Week 3, and if D. Hall wouldn’t have gift-wrapped the first Carolina game.
It was easy and convenient for the average NFL fan to make Falcons jokes: after the Mike Vick thing, you almost felt like you had to make a joke…and people did. What they failed to realize was this was a team that had talent, but this talent was negated by the fact that over half of their roster was brand new, and they were starting 5 rookies. Now that they have some time to jell, you’re seeing what they can truly do.
After saying all this, I’m fairly confident that the Falcons will lay a big fat turd on the Dome field this Sunday against Tampa. Is this team going to make the playoffs? It sounds so ludicrous to even say “probably not,” so I’ll just go with “no.” But after all they’ve been through the last 6 months, is it not amazing that they’re even this close?