Greek Literature, Anthropology......or NFL Combines...??
Decisions, decisions. Tick, tock...
We gotta start with the defense. We all realize that this match up set up well for Coach Willie Martinez's unit. There wasn't much mystery in what the Dawgs would do to combat Ringer.
But my oh MY!
I'm very well aware that I have hopped over the fence a few times on the Dawgs' DC, but the Capital One Bowl was a prime example of how the beleaguered defense has been the scapegoat this year.
The game itself was billed for its offensive stars. Javon Ringer and Knowshon Moreno as the Doak finalists, Matt Stafford as the star quarterback, and AJ Green and MoMass as the Georgia receiving duo that could become the second and third receiver in Dawg history to surpass 1,000 yards in a season.
All that offensive pub and it was 6-3 at halftime. Spartans.
The Dawg O turned it over twice, Mimbs gulped a Slurpee too quick before a fourth down and had a brain freeze, and the Spartan offense continually punched the Dawg D in the mouth (as predicted by their tight end, more later). And yet Martinez's crew kept fighting.
Spartans take over on the Dawg 6-yard line, no problem. Completely irresponsible roughing the passer call, sobeit!
The defensive responses came in the form of passion and intensity. Given the opportunity to tuck tail and make plans for the week leading up to Spring classes, Allen, Atkins, Ellerbe, Jones, and Curran snapped the strap a little tighter and went to work.
Sacks, brutal hits, jarring blows and relentless pressure. The only reason Stafford was awarded the CapOne MVP was because the officials didn't have enough hardware for the entire Dawg defensive unit.
In fact, so inspired was the Georgia QB by his defensive compadres' level of play that his best play of the first half was...a tackle. It saved a Spartan touchdown after a tipped pass and interception. The Dawg D took over from there and forced a field goal. What else?
Coach Mark Richt admitted that it was probably not a good decision to scale back the tackling during practices earlier this season as the injuries mounted.
Looking at a sideline Thursday that was littered with black wind pants in lieu of silver britches, I'm not sure he had much of a choice. However, the defense clearly tackled better after more physical bowl preparations.
That and they played a whale of a game for their coaches.
And speaking of coaches, it appears Garner is seriously considering a move to Knoxville to join young Kiffin's staff. I hate to see him go, but CMR could be put in a position where he is unable to ask Evans to compete with the serious coin being thrown around up there.
The elder Kiffin will make seven figures...as a coordinator. Their D-line coach and recruiting coordinator will make more than most coordinators. It appears it may be time for Garner to fly.
And if so, look for Coach Lilly to take over recruiting duties. As far as the Dawgs' D-line coach position, Garner has interviewed enough lately that I would suspect Richt has a well developed short list.
- Ol' Willie, for reasons already stated.
- the Capital One Bowl for the gift bags that included the thunder sticks; somehow Conner and Ainsley's both disappeared before our 8 hour trip home...??
- section 327 for representin' down in Orlando.
- the nine teams in my pool of picks this year who covered for me (Bama - that obviously excludes you). Safe to say I'm not winning the dough this year. It's all yours, Brenda.
- An anonymous blogger somewhere out there (I've forgotten where I read it) that submitted this joke for the blogosphere's enjoyment: What's the difference between Alabama football and a dollar bill? You can still get four quarters from a dollar.
- All of the seniors (and any juniors that choose to declare next week) for another 10 win season and four (or so) years of of dedication. You're welcome back anytime.
- Coach Mark Richt for 82 wins in eight seasons. ReMARKable. Anyone who doesn't appreciate what you have done for UGA Athletics is either too young to remember the Goff years or too ignorant to complete a coherent thought.
- And lastly, my reader. Go ahead and give your own shout out to your first grade teacher.
T. Namaman correctly answered Bernie's Burning Question last week. MSU tight end Charlie Gantt commented that the Dawgs would back up a little bit when they were hit in the mouth every play. You're obviously dying to see it, Trivia Master. Here it is...
So another victory (seventh in as many tries) over a Big Ten team in a bowl caps off a weird, yet successful season for our beloved Dawgs.
We started out on top and will finish...somewhere lower. We average two season-ending injuries a week and still manage ten wins.
Head trainer Ron Courson deserves some time off, don'tcha think?
We'll see how much potentially losing Garner will hurt what is shaping up to be another great recruiting class for the Dawgs, especially Marlon Brown. Coach Kiffy has quite the man-crush on the star receiver.
Lilly, you may recall, accomplished quite a lot at FSU coordinating recruiting and Bobo has quickly established himself as a force in mama's living room.
Speaking of recruiting, Branden Smith is scheduled to announce his college choice in tonight's Under Armour All-America game. A smattering of 2009's early enrollees are arriving on campus as we speak, including Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger.
Check back early and often Dawg fans, and others who are so inclined. There's coaching and recruiting news/analysis to follow. We'll call it BDB's version of mat drills.
Peace and goodwill to men.