Monday, September 2, 2013

Dawgs & Tigers: Thoughts on the After

I have spent all day trying to find the words to express the disappointment and embarrassment I feel for picking Georgia to win. Then I came across Derek Webb's new album and I realized this sums up my feelings better than I ever could. The album? "I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry, and I Love You" (you can stream it here).

With that burden off my shoulders, let's take a journey through an amazing Saturday and pull out a few of the random thoughts that floated through my head.

Gameday
Congrats to Clemson, the University, and everyone else involved with coordinating Gameday. Everything appeared to go off without a hitch.

Don't think ESPN will do another 4 hour Gameday. It was too long and required too much fill material. I understand they wanted better numbers, but stretching out Gameday like that doesn't appear to be the answer.

Kudos to the Clemson faithful that stuck it out for the full 4-hours. You guys were great at the beginning and even better at the end, and no one can blame you for taking a break in the 2nd and 3rd hours when there was very little talk about the game itself.

The Lee Corso headgear selection is still fun, but it may be time to make this his main/only segment. He's lost his fastball, and it's become pretty obvious. They crew enjoys the quick hits and the banter, but they can't keep it rolling when Corso is involved (I recognize there may be medical issues he's dealing with, but nonetheless, what makes this show great is the intelligent football discussion).

The Celebrity Guest Picker was terrible. He was not funny, messed up a few times, had no ties to this area, and has very little name recognition. Total fail.

When they come back for the FSU game (yes - I'm calling it), they should bring Bobby Bowden and either Tommy or Danny Ford to be their celebrity pickers.

Corso loves trolling the locals, and I think he makes his selection more on the rise it will get from the crowd than for what he thinks will actually happen.

The Game
I have watched the televised version of the entrance 3 times now, and I have fought back tears each time. The passion, awe, and excitement was palpable in ABC's coverage. The beginning felt very unscripted, and we were experiencing it along with Herbstreit and Musburger. And as the players exited the buses, the announcers went silent and just let the moment speak for itself. Then for Musburger to break the silence with the line about Georgia wanting to sneak a peek was perfect.

The crowd was electric and Saturday will be regarded as one the finest days in the Valley. If I had to list others, I would say the 2009 FSU game (McDaniel, Ponder, & We Will Rock You), 2005 Miami (3OT game), 2000 USC (The Catch 2), and 1999 FSU (Bowden Bowl I).

We predicted some pregame fireworks between the two teams, which nearly came to pass when Georgia tried to interrupt the Tigers' entrance.

Loved the energy at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. One of my biggest issues with the pass out policy is everyone is still scrambling to get back to their seats when the second half starts, and when the opposing team gets the ball to start the half, the crowd intensity suffers.

Death Valley looked stunning from the blimp. It was literally a sea of orange. Well done everyone, well done.

Not sure I dig the pompoms. I know the idea was they would look great for TV, but because Clemson wears so much orange anyway, there was little contrast. They would need to be purple or white to have any sort of effect, and who wants that?

I really wish there was a way to have the announcers let the world know that Clemson fans rush the field after every game. I understand it's a bigger deal after beating Georgia, but I can still remember hanging out down by the wall through most of the 4th quarter, just watching the clock tick down. I also remember thinking I would hate to have these first row seats as the kids would eventually stack up 3-4 deep.

Clemson
My biggest concern coming into the game was the defense's ability to stop the run. And while those concerns materialized early, the defense made enough plays after the 1st quarter to make me feel better.

I would rather have our defense feast or famine than die a slow death. I feel like you can fix blown assignments to prevent them from happening a second time, but it's tough when you're just getting beat. Clemson appeared to have more assignment issues than getting beat issues.

I was pretty down on Shuey coming into the game. I didn't feel his skill set would match up well against the Georgia offense. After Gurley's TD run, the feeling only grew. However, I must give him props as he played very physical after that, and became a key piece of the defense.

I think Anthony will grow into a special linebacker this year. He is really coming into his own.

This D-Line could be the best we've seen in a while. The talent is there, it only needs to continue to grow and develop - and stay healthy.

Bradley Pinion was a true weapon with his kick-offs and punting. With previous Clemson teams having trouble in kick coverage, it was nice to have every kick reach the back of the endzone.


Three quick thoughts on Martavis Bryant:
  1. I remember Brandon Ford having a similar game against Auburn, and he turned out to be a great tight end, leader, and coach on the field, so don't be too hard on him;
  2. He made his most important catch when it mattered on the onside kick, which hopefully will give him some confidence;
  3. He has been nicknamed Featherstone in honor of the speedy receiver from Necessary Roughness (the movie version). I think he'll soon turn into Terrance King, the speedy receiver from Necessary Roughness (the tv show)
The offense will need to develop a second option to Watkins, and Watkins will need to become more of a true every down threat. There were one or two times when Watkins was the target on 3rd down, but in general, he was just another option, not the primary target. But in order for Watkins to become a larger part of the offense, someone needs to truly step into that 2nd receiver slot. Watkins & Brown served in it last year with Hopkins being the primary target. Now with the coaches wanting Watkins to be the primary target, someone else needs to step into the 2nd target.

Hot Rod looked fantastic and Brooks showed great hands. The two are reminiscent of Ellington & Harper, where Ellington was the featured back with the explosiveness while Harper was the bigger back with the sweet hands. And the last time we saw a wheel route that pretty was between Kyle Parker and Jamie Harper at Auburn in 2010.

It really is nice having four returning O-line starters.

This team is Top 10 worthy, but there are still quite a few things that need to get cleaned up before anyone starts thinking more long term than that. The defense must improve, especially the secondary, the offense needs to be more consistent, and special teams needs to be special in all aspects of special teams. The offense had four 3-and-outs and had three straight possessions in the second quarter, including one drive that started near midfield, where they couldn't generate points. Over those three drives, Clemson went from being up a touchdown to being down one. The same issues plagued Clemson last year in Tallahassee.

This was one of the most aggressive Clemson teams I have seen. They pursued the ball hard, finished hits, and generally brought it. Yes there was some poor execution, but this defense was popping. Once they clean things up, they should be much improved.

The secondary still concerns me. We don't have that one guy that brings fear like we had in McDaniel or Carswell or Dawkins, and a really good defense needs to have someone like that. It pains me to say this, but that was one of DJ Swearinger's best attributes - the ability to strike fear into any player at any time.

Georgia
First and foremost, Todd Gurley is a beast. He ran hard, with energy and passion, and fought to the end. He will be a Heisman contender all year, and deservedly so. Despite his school choice, I am pulling for him.

Thought Georgia would take more chances deep, especially with the way the struggles of our secondary.

Thought the Georgia O-line was subpar. The Clemson D-line got decent pressure on both Murray and the backs. Yes, they broke off some big plays, but they also had a number of zero plays. The Georgia O-line doesn't need to be spectacular for Georgia to be successful, just solid. With their QB, backs, and FB, they can create positive plays with just a little amount of time.

Their fullback was the hardest hitting dude on the field. I hope he gets a chance at the next level, if his head is still on straight.

I have always been a Mark Richt fan. In fact, he and Ray Tanner were two coaches we spotlighted last year that were making us think twice about our rivals. However, that image is quickly being rubbed away by some of the postgame remarks and questionable "injury" discussions. I pray it is much ado about nothing.

7 comments:

  1. Down on Shuey? Are You kidding? He was our Defensive MVP last year and will be this year as well.I've been calling his name since his scond year.

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    1. I'm being honest - I really didn't think his skill set would align with what Georgia wants to do on offense. The play-action and tight ends are not his strong suit, but I want to make sure to give him the props he deserves.

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  2. The Miami 3 OT game was 2005. Whitehurst was still playing. The big game in 2006 was Homecoming against GT when Gameday was there when James Davis had 216 on the ground and CJ had 116 plus the double juke TD on the hitch.

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    1. Good catch. The 2006 GT game was fun, but I don't know if it is in the absolute upper tier of games. Maybe because it was over so quickly while the others kept you on the edge of your seat for the full 60 minutes (even more in '05).

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    2. Well,lets see,he had 18 tackles...I rest my case. ;)

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  3. Hot Rod is very similar o Ellington,although he possesses something Ellington never had.Toughness.

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    1. Very good point. Hot Rod had at least another 10-15 yards just in moving the pile. He never gave up on any run and always finished each play strong.

      I also like the way he responded to being slammed by the UGA defender. Just pop up and line back up, ready to attack on the next play.

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