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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Live Blog: UGA-Vandy


-- Just in case you were wondering, the Lady Bulldogs cross-country team tied for 16th at the NCAA Pre-Nationals.

-- I defy you to listen to "Baba O'Riley" and not get fired up.

-- Stafford throws to Michael Moore short of the first down, thus undermining the excitement provided by The Who.

-- This game is frighteningly reminiscent of the last time Vandy was here. It's just setting up way too much to come down to a last-second kick. If it comes down to Georgia needing that kick, fans better hope Walsh is feeling a bit better than he looked on his first try.

-- Huge three-and-out for Georgia. Reshad Jones with another good play on the coverage. That was Vandy's 11th third-down play compared to just five for Georgia.

-- Stafford hit as he throws on first down. Georgia has 161 yards rushing so far -- why don't you run on first down? You're trying to run down the clock and you need to stay out of third-and-longs, which of course is what the Dawgs end up in after Moreno loses a yard on second down.

-- Stafford tries to hook up with Green on third down but throws low and incomplete. Georgia ran a whopping 45 seconds off the clock on that drive. Mimbs gets nice hangtime on the kick, but it's a short punt and the
Commies will start at their own 38.

-- I always enjoy the pregame "Livin' on a Prayer" and the mid-fourth-quarter rendition of "Raise Your Hands" is fantastic, but I would like to see UGA work in "You Give Love a Bad Name" at some point, too. Actually, why not just play the whole "Slippery When Wet" album. Consider all the Bon Jovi to be a nice tribute to fellow Jersey boy Knowshon Moreno.

-- Hawkins makes a big run on third-and-short, picking up 15 to Georgia's 39. It is astonishing the way the last two games have played out. Georgia has had so many chances to put this thing away, but just not happening.

-- Flea-flicker by Vandy that Georgia sniffed out quickly. The pass was incomplete, but Gamble was shaken up again on the play.

-- Georgia Tech wins. Not a great start to the Dabo Sweeney era at Clemson. I say they start Jon Richt next week. At least they'll have Georgia fans rooting for them then.

-- Gamble walks off the field under his own power. Might have just had the wind knocked out of him a bit. Georgia is in the nickel on second-and-10 anyway, and Corvey Irvin snuffs out the draw quickly for a loss of a yard.

-- Another nice play by Irvin who provided tons of pressure to force the incompletion. Vandy backs Georgia up inside its 10 to start the drive though.

-- You run on first down, and look what happens: A 13-yard gain by Knowshon. I don't get how last week, your offensive line led you on an 11-minute drive against a bigger, stronger, more physical defensive front to basically kill the clock in the fourth quarter. A week later, when you are dominating in the running game, you don't go right back to it. Made no sense. Bobo/Stafford seem to have wised up this drive though, as Moreno follows with another 15-yard run. He's up to 20 carries and 154 yards on the ground.

-- Three plays, three first down. Stafford to Chapas for 13 yards. Chapas has really stepped into the role of the underneath receiver Georgia used to use the tight ends for. Still, I'd like to see a throw to go Figgins or White at some point.

-- Four plays, four first downs. Caleb King goes for 12. Hmmm.... running the ball works? I never would have guessed.

-- Uga VII is sound asleep in his doghouse, drawing "awww"s from the crowd. Seems unfair. If I were to fall asleep in the press box right now, I'd be in trouble. I wonder how much I would have to pay to bring Uga out with me tonight.

-- Wow, nice run by Chapas for eight yards. He rumbled over and/or through a half dozen defenders. He was solid the first five games, but he has been really impressive since Southerland returned. Caleb King follows with a first-down run.

-- I know I've been arguing against passing on first down, but now that the Dawgs are ramming it down the Commies' throats, this might not be a bad time to take a shot at the end zone.

-- Under pressure, Stafford throws the ball away on third-and-five. Walsh is on for his second field-goal try -- this time from 37. He doinks the upright with 2:50 left in the game -- and Vandy still has a chance.

Hate to leave you hanging in a close game, but I'm going to head down to the sideline. I'll have a post-game summary, and you can keep an eye out at or for my game stories and notes.


-- Ramarcus Brown gets his first kick return since the Alabama game and takes the second-half opener to the 26.

-- Knowshon follows Brannan Southerland out of the backfield and picks up 19. Moreno has been a beast today. If the Dawgs are smart, they'll keep running him often.

-- Oh my -- Stafford threaded one to A.J. that the freshman picked out of the air as he hit the ground. Green was shaken up a bit on the play, but looks fine. That's A.J. seventh catch of the day -- his 15th in the past two games. Thirty-three yards on the play.

-- Knowshon goes 11 yards for the score, but a review showed his knee was down rounding the end. Second and 11 for UGA. No biggy though. He just goes the other direction for a score on the next play. Shockingly, that's Knowshon's first TD in 109 minutes of action (the last came late in the third quarter against Alabama). SCORE: Georgia 21, Vandy 7.

-- Of note: Darryl Gamble is back out on the field and looks fine.

-- Vandy's offense has actually looked alright today, and they've had their share of missed opporunities, too. They definitely have moved the ball a lot better with Adams than they had been with Chris Nickson running the show.

-- The
Commies take their first time out of the half. Wonder if that will come back to bite them later on.

-- Congrats to all the fans who successfully identified Uga VII was hiding between McDonalds fries No. 2 on the Jumbotron. Nice work, folks.

-- Another bad snap, and Adams is tackled in the backfield after recovering the fumble. Vandy will be forced to punt, and Miller is deep for Georgia. Really nice punt by Vandy and Miller inexplicably calls for a fair catch at the 5. Just let it go into the end zone at that point -- if they down it before it rolls in, what's it cost you? Yikes.

-- Georgia goes three wide on third-and-8. Stafford fails to connect with Massaquoi, but it was clear pass interference. Speaking of flags -- Georgia has just three today.

-- Here's how Vandy wins ballgames. Stafford's second-down pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Myron Lewis to set the
Commies up at the Georgia 26. Asher Allen had a perfect chance to return the favor on the next play, but the ball bounced off his hands and out of bounds.

-- George Smith beats Prince Miller to complete a third-and-8, setting Vandy up with a first-and-goal at the 8. This sounds like a repeat of last week, but there is no reason for this game to be so close.

-- Adams hooks up Jamie Graham on the exact same play they scored on the first time, and Evans looked just as lost. I can't figure how a receiver does that good a job of getting behind you when you only have 19 yards of field to cover. SCORE: Georgia 21, Vandy 14.

-- While Georgia is bungling what should be a big lead, let's look at some other scores: Maryland continues to be great against top-25 teams while being terrible against bad teams -- Terps lead 19-0 over Wake. So much for that Syracuse upset -- South Florida 35, Cuse 13. Please, can we fire Greg Robinson already? A&M is giving Texas Tech a game -- Tech leads 30-23. A loss for TT would be nice for Georgia following BYU's loss earlier this week.

-- Third-and-2 for the Dawgs and Knowshon isn't on the field. It's King in the backfield and he's stopped for a loss on a toss sweep. Please explain to me why he's handling that play. This is a tie game waiting to happen. Mike Bobo reminds me a lot of Andy Reid, who I follow closely as a devout Eagles fan. He makes some brilliant plays, but surrounds them with way, way, way too many calls I can't possibly explain.

-- Vandy sets up shop at its own 38. Given the closeness of this game the past two years, this has to look pretty terrifying to Georgia fans right now. Adams just threw to Smith and Prince Miller had brilliant coverage -- so, of course, the refs flagged him for pass interference. That was a garbage call if I've ever seen one. I'm not much for conspiracy theories, but I really have to wonder if the refs haven't had it in for Georgia following the celebration at Florida last year.

-- Adams goes deep again, but Asher had nice coverage this time. Teams really have not attacked Asher often this year, although he attributes it to the strong play of Reshad Jones and Rennie Curran, who also play on the short side of the field.

-- Vance Cuff becomes the 943rd Bulldog have a ball hit them in the chest and not come up with the interception. That ball looked like it was thrown directly to him, but he didn't make the grab. No real harm done as Georgia got a touchback and starts at its 20. Need a score here.

-- Stafford hits Knowshon for 10. That's the first time I've seen Moreno out on a designed pass route in a while. Caleb King followed that up with a nice run on the toss sweep for 13 yards. King tries to go up the middle on the next play and finds nothing. This is why Georgia struggles on third-and-short and goalline --- they just don't get the hard yards between the tackles.

-- Josh Davis in on the offensive line with Chris Davis coming out. Aron White is in the game, too, on third-and-8. Georgia has not thrown to the tight end in weeks. A false start flag backs Georgia up another five yards. That'll end the third quarter with Georgia leading 21-14.

HALFTME: Some numbers of note from the first half:

Stafford 9-of-14 for 130 and two TDs (plus a pick)
Moreno is averaging 8 yards a carry on 11 runs so far. Overall, UGA has 98 rushing yards on just 15 plays.
Green has six catches for 98 yards and a TD
Brian Mimbs' lone punt went for 50 yards
Vandy has 10 first downs -- including 3-of-7 converting third downs
Adams is averaging just 4.6 yards per attempt
Vandy has nearly as many rushing yards (89) as Georgia. That's unexpected following a week in which the Dawgs held Tennessee to 1 yard on the ground.


-- Adams had Jake Bradford open for a first down put threw it just beyond Bradford's outstretched hands. Prince Miller was back for the return this time, but the punt rolled dead at the UGA 22 without a return.

-- So I don't think Syracuse has much of a chance, but here's a few upsets I could see happening today: BC over Va. Tech, Mich. St over Ohio State and South Carolina over LSU. I must say though, I don't know if Georgia wants to play LSU coming off two straight road losses. Also, I told a radio station during an interview earlier this year that I thought Michigan State had a chance to win the Big Ten and they asked if I was on crack. First off, they should know I can't afford crack on my salary, and secondly, if Sparty wins today, my prediction's gonna look plenty smart.

-- First catch of the day for Mo Mass. Over/under on catches for Green and Mo today is 13.

-- Beautiful run by Moreno. Richt said earlier this week that Moreno has been just as good as last year, but is having to make too many of his patented Knowshon moves behind the line of scrimmage instead of five yards downfield. Not the case on that run, which picked up 13.

-- Of course, Stafford followed that up with a dreadfully underthrown ball to Massaquoi to give the
Commies the ball at their own 2.

-- Reshad Jones continues to have a great game with a nice open-field tackle. Jones is one of the Georgia players we haven't heard a ton from this year that I think can really step up in the second half and have a very nice season.

-- Vandy goes four wide, the snap is bobbled and Adams gets off a pass that is dropped. That's two straight third downs where the
Commies had a man open for a first down that was poorly thrown or dropped.

-- Georgia opens its drive at its own 49. Vandy hasn't blitzed as much as they usually do, but when they have, they've gotten decent pressure.

-- Say what you want about Kenneth Harris, but he runs onto the field waving his arms for a substitution as good as anyone in the league.

-- Patrick Benoist had an easy pick-six but had the ball bounce off his chest as he fell down. On third down, Stafford threw it dead between Benoist's numbers, and the Vandy LB had no one in front of him. Mimbs places a beautiful punt that was covered nicely by Brandon Boykin. Vandy starts its second straight drive inside its 10. Asking around, almost every Bulldog says Boykin is ready to break out -- he's just waiting on an opportunity.

-- OK, I take back what I said about Adams. He's had open receivers, but he's just not making it happen.

-- The
Commies finally pick up a first down on a quick dump off to Jared Hawkins out to their own 21. Georgia's nickel package has struggled at times to pick up those quick underneath passes this season.
-- The pressure got to Adams and he threw the ball up for grabs. Darius Dewberry intercepted the ball -- a big play from a guy who has worked his tail off to get on the field this year. Good to see.

-- Know-shon! Fifteen yard run for Moreno, who is up to 70 on the ground so far. So much for struggling in the SEC.

-- And he followed that up with 18 more. As a side note, that run puts Moreno over 2,000 for his career.

-- A 13-yard pass from Stafford to Green sets up a first-and-goal. Green and Moreno are both pushing the century mark in yardage already. Not sure how that can be true and it still be a 7-0 game.

-- Well, not for long. Stafford to Massaquoi in the back of the end zone. SCORE: Georgia 14, Vandy 0.

-- Another low snap followed by a near interception. It hit Asher Allen dead in the chest, but he let it bounce off him. He won't hear the end of that one for a while.

-- Adams keeps it and picks up a first down. The Commies have converted three of their last third-down plays.

-- Asher has another ball bounce off his hands, but there's a flag on the play. He's flagged for pass interference, which puts Vandy in field-goal range. So much for the fans not being into the game this early. The "Bull-Sh*t" chant after that one really went well.

-- Gamble shaken up on the next play. Dewberry nearly picked off his second pass of the game but let it get away. Gamble ran off the field holding his hip or lower back. Didn't look too serious.

-- Timeout Vandy with 34 seconds left. Adams has found some running room, but has yet to really connect on any big passing plays. Georgia doesn't have a sack yet, but the Dawgs have gotten good pressure so far. More over, there are probably six different times they could have an INT --- and they actually came up with two of them. Third down coming up.

-- Adams is leveled as he throws and yet again, a flag on the play. Pass interference on Bryan Evans gives Vandy a first down at the UGA 18 with 28 seconds left. Adams follows that up by completing a TD pass to Jamie Graham over Evans. That is an awfully ugly way to end the half. Once again, Georgia has looked pretty dominant but leads by just seven. The fans are not happy -- but the anger is directed a lot more at the refs than the Dawgs. SCORE: Georgia 14, Vandy 7.

FIRST QUARTER: Blair Walsh kicked a deep bullet to start the game, but there was no hang time. Vandy starts from its own 27. Walsh was seriously ill before last week's game and battled symptoms all week this week. We'll see if the early start and the weather has him still feeling bad, but with any luck, Georgia won't need to rely on his leg quite as much this week.

As a side note, if you get bored with my running commentary on the game, feel free to check out the
live blog from the Albany Herald's Paul Dehner, too. It's Paul's birthday, so you can leave him a birthday message in the comments section on his blog. More over, Paul thinks "Commies" is a much better nickname for Vandy than "The 'Dores." I agree. What with our government nationalizing banks and all, I think communism may be making a comeback in pop culture.

-- Logan Gray was the opening punt returner. For the 9,314th straight game, Matthew Stafford throws an out to A.J. Green to open Georgia's first drive. Moreno's first big run -- 12 yards for a first down. I think Moreno's struggles against SEC teams are a bit overblown, but it will be interesting to see if he can up that 3.8 ypc average against conference foes today.

-- Well, I guess we can consider that question answered. Knowshon loks like a beast today, picking up 22 yards to take Georgia down to the Vandy 26.

-- Looks like Georgia will settle for three. Again, Knowshon's big runs were outside, and there was nothing doing up the middle. I know Georgia runs the toss sweep well, and the line is very athletic and able to move well, so those things all lead to running to the sidelines more, but sometimes you need those tough yards, and they just haven't been there for Georgia. A reader this week brought up a great point that may help explain it: The UGA tight ends have done NOTHING this season. For the first time in a decade, the TEs just aren't a big part of the offense, and that allows linebackers to key in more on the run, which may be hurting Georgia's ability to run between the tackles. Just some food for thought.

-- Speaking of food -- I give the press box lasagna a 3 stars out of 4 today. I've worked with better, but not many.

-- As it turns out, Georgia didn't even settle for 3. Walsh missed from 40 -- his first miss inside 50 this year. Maybe he really isn't feeling well.

-- Vandy hasn't looked too bad moving the ball so far. Georgia's run defense that was so tough a week ago has given up a couple moderate-sized runs to the Commies and Mackenzi Adams has looked pretty good so far.

-- INT Reshad Jones. The ball was tipped, and Jones had to make a diving grab to come up with it. It's about time the Dawgs came up with one of those. They had tons of chances last week. This is probably a very good sign.

-- My good friend Brian Perkins of the Fox station in Albany, Ga. is a fellow Syracuse graduate. He thinks Cuse will upset South Florida today. I said he was crazy. Ten minutes into the game, 14-3 South Florida. Some people just don't learn from history.

-- Stafford hit a wide open A.J. Green on the sideline for a gain of 49. There was no one near Green, and if Stafford had led him a bit further downfield instead of to the sideline, that was an easy six. Still, Georgia fans just have to be giddy watching the two of these guys work together. I made the case in a story earlier this week than Green and Massaquoi are the best WR tandem in the country, and I'm not sure there's really a valid argment against it. As I type this, Green comes up with a beautiful TD catch, sprawled out near the front left pylon. Man this kid is good.

SCORE: Georgia 7, Vandy 0.

-- Regardless of the outcome of this game, I think going with Adams was the right call for Bobby Johnson. The kid is pretty athletic and looks like he's definitely added another wrinkle to the Vandy offense so far.

-- That's the end of the first quarter. Vandy will have a third-and-3 when the second quarter starts. The one thing I think we can take from the first 15 minutes is this: A.J. Green is a bad, bad man.

PREGAME: We're an hour from kickoff. It's cold, it's early, and I haven't had enough coffee. Judging by pregame warmups though, the Dawgs seem to have a bit more energy than I do.

Post any pregame thoughts, comments and questions you have here, and I'll have another update about 15 minutes before kickoff, then twice per quarter after that.

Ten minutes to kickoff. They just introduced the three alumni who have traveled the farthest to return for homecoming. No. 2 was a guy named Ron Valdez from Columbia. That made me laugh. Speaking of, coffee is really hitting the spot.

On the subject of people coming back for the game today, Larry Munson is in the press box, which is good to see. I imagine it has to be pretty strange for him to be here and not working though.

The stands are still a little bare -- well, by Georgia standards anyway. I'm guessing there are more than a handful of flasks that have been smuggled in today. I went to University of Delaware for undergrad, and the homecoming games were always 12:30 start times, which was awful. It's hard enough to start drinking at 7 a.m., but to have to head into the game that early and stop drinking means you're inevitably sleepy by halftime.

Georgia has won the coin toss and will defer to the second half. Corvey Irvin, Matt Stafford, CJ Byrd and Knowshon Moreno were the captains for the Dawgs this week.

Three keys to the game in my opinion:

1.) Let's see more of Knowshon. In my preview story today, I wrote about how the Dawgs have really relied on the pass early. They've thrown on 19 of 26 total plays on their opening drives over the past four games. I think they really need to establish Knowshon early. I'm very curious to see how the O line builds on last week's excellent effort.

2.) Cash in in the red zone. That was a problem last week. I think Georgia likely wins this game easily, but how the Dawgs do in the red zone will determine whether it's a close score like last week or a truly dominant performance.

3.) Avoid turnovers. That's the only way Vandy has a shot.

Alright, we're ready to go. Update again midway through the quarter. Enjoy the game.


Odell's BBQ said...

Why not go for deep with 1-second left on the clock before halftime?

Why take a knee when the defense jumps offsides? That's twice that I can remember that the opposing defense wasn't offside but Stafford took a knee instead of taking a chance downfield (this game and the Florida game last year when a DL popped Stafford and got a 15-yd penalty).

Also, is it me or are Stafford's mechanics still lacking for a top-10 NFL pick? He underthrew Green and MoMa deep with the MoMa throw picked off by Moore on what was otherwise a solid drive.

Total domination for the second week in a row in the stats but the score doesn't reflect it.

Chris said...

"Georgia has just three today."

Thanks for jinxing it. I think we've gotten 4 pass interference calls in the third quarter along.

Brian said...

Thanks, David. I really enjoyed the commie links, especially Red Dawn.

I don't remember Bryan Evans getting on the field after the second TD. Cuff was in for all the nickel coverages after Vandy's second and last score (just a coincidence?). Was this coach's decision (fingers crossed - I feel bad for the guy, but I haven't seen any improvement in 3 years) or was he banged up?

David Hale said...

Brian, I'm not 100 percent sure on that, but my guess is a coach's decision. Richt said that -- other than the dropped INT -- he was very happy with how Cuff played. I'll talk to him this afternoon about Evans as well and maybe we'll get an official answer. I'm with you in that I really like Bryan Evans -- he's a great kid -- but he has just looked really bad too many times this year.