Can Georgia replace ‘The Human Joystick’?

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The Human Joystick. The guy that moved through opposition players like they were nothing, with the screams of joy emanating from the fans behind him. The human highlight reel. The one-of-a-kind for that season.

And now, Georgia fans, Isaiah McKenzie is gone. And with him will be his numbers.

Georgia fans will talk about reloading after McKenzie’s decision to opt for NFL riches after his junior year, but it’s going to be really, really difficult.

McKenzie not only brought a receiving threat to the table (663 yards, 7 TDs on 44 receptions, going for an average of 14.4 yards/ reception), but also brought a running threat too (134 yards, 2 TDs on just 19 carries, averaging 7.1 yards/play). He also returned 23 punts (for 245 yards and a touchdown).

If you want to take this as total, the hole that McKenzie will leave will be even bigger. He accounted for 26% of all total receiving yards, 20% of all receptions, and – this is the most galling – 43% of all total throwing touchdowns. Thanks to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, his loss won’t be felt hugely in the Georgia backfield, but still.

For a moment, take away the fact that the Dawgs have a young offensive line, and this could be yet another season where red-clad fans see opposition linemen run through their line, and let’s just look at the talent coming back to Sanford….

WHO FROM THE RETURNERS REPLACES HIM?

  • Sony Michel (RB): We liked how he was used out of the backfield over the last couple of years. He’s a definite game-changer. Had 149 yards receiving on 22 receptions. The problem for Georgia will be whether they can keep Michel healthy. He’s had injury problems for the last two years. Which is unfortunate, for a man of his talent.
  • Terry Godwin (WR): Underimpressed in just about every game last year. He had 38 receptions for just 397 yards and no touchdowns. That’s hardly a massive return for the five-star recruit. His averages from 2015 to 2016 barely improved. But Godwin’s going to be the No.1 receiver in Athens next year – and will have to prove it.
  • Riley Ridley (WR): Ridley’s freshman season in Athens was a pretty productive one. He had 238 yards on just 12 receptions – although we’re a little worried that he was actually targetted 22 times. He’s also injured his foot, so he’ll definitely not play the Spring Game and probably be out until mid-summer.
  •  Jeb Blazevich/ Isaac Nauta (TE): Smart’s use of the TE is very Saban-like, and the increasing use of them continues bring a new dimension to the attacking game.
  • Javon Wims (WR): The former JUCO transfer started only 3 games but still had 190 yards on 17 receptions. And no fumbles.

WHAT ABOUT THE FRESHMEN?

There are things to be excited about for the Bulldogs. 6ft 2 incoming freshman (and four-star recruits) Jeremiah Holloman and redshirt freshman Mark Webb ought to bring in some size out wide for QB Jacob Eason, and both Matt Landers and Trey Blount are both considered to be a little raw.

SO IN OTHER WORDS….

McKenzie will be pretty much irreplacable in 2017 with what he brought to the offense. There aren’t a lot of players that were a three-headed hydra of offense like he was. We expect UGA to go more towards the run this year – despite having Eason’s cannon. The reason? The offensive line. We’re not sure if he’ll be as lucky in his second year to survive as he was in his first.

 

 

Georgia star RBs, LBs return for senior year

Georgia star running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will return for their senior years, giving second-year head coach Kirby Smart a massive boost going into the 2017 season.

Added to that is the news that Smart’s defense will be boosted by the announcement that offensive linebackers Lorenzo Smart and Davin Bellamy will also return.

Last year Chubb had 988 yards and 7 TDs on 207 carries, averaging at nearly 5 yards a carry. Michel had 753 yards on 137 carries with 3 TDs.

Carter had 37 total tackles including 17 solo tackles, while Bellamy had 49 tackles and 4 sacks and one pass defended.

Georgia 2015 Preview: Roaring Bulldogs?

 

 

 

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People laugh at Clemson for managing to choke the big games away, but let’s be honest, Georgia’s as bad as Clemson is. They lost to South Carolina and Florida despite being overwhelming favourites, and didn’t get to the SEC Championship Game, thanks to Missouri – a team they beat – managing to only lose to….(you guessed in) Georgia. 

Despite losing Todd Gurley to the NFL, hopes are high, thanks to Nick Chubb. But there are a lot of things for Mark Richt to do before that….

LAST SEASON

Georgia beat Clemson handsomely at the start of the season, and the sold-out Sanford Stadium swore that this was going to be their year – especially after seeing The Devil Spurrier get shellacked at home to Texas A&M. Well, they played badly in a quagmire. And lost. They then rebounded with wins over Tennessee, Vanderbilt, a shut-out win at Missouri and an impressive win at Arkansas – despite Todd Gurley getting suspended for four games over signing autographs. They walked into The Cocktail Party with the arrogance of a frat boy senior who knows everything, and left with their red pants round their ankles. After smashing Vanderbilt, Auburn and (gasp) Charleston, they then – in true Bulldogs fashion – lost inexplicably to Georgia Tech in a game uglier than One Of Them Heifers They Talk About Huntin’ On A Tuesday Night.

OFF-SEASON

Key NFL and graduation departures included running back Todd Gurley, WR Chris Conley, WR Michael Bennett, C David Andrews, DE Ray Drew, and LBs Armando Herrera and Ramik Wilson. In short, a pretty fair amount of talent.

Spurrier said that it was an advantage to play Georgia early because so many people were suspended. Well, we are stunned to tell you that with two weeks to go – no Georgia player has been arrested. Of course, that’ll probably change as soon as I put this out there, but that’s the pain of getting stuff like this out early.

Anyway, offensive co-ordinator Mike Bobo took over Florida-bound Jim McElwain’s position as head coach of Colorado State, and Brian Schottenheimer – formerly the St Louis Rams’ OC – came to Athens.

IN CHUBBSTER WE TRUST

Georgia girls are now proud of saying that they are “Chubby Girls” and Georgia boys are proud of saying that they are “Chubby Boys”. Yes, that’s what this kid Nick Chubb’s done to a campus after a 1,547 yard, 14 TD season where he took over from Todd Gurley and did quite well, thanks. People are using him in the same word as ‘Heisman’.

But it’s the running game that’s going to make Georgia dangerous, because if Chubb comes off the field, then he’ll be replaced Keith Marshall (who, if he stays healthy, is pretty damned good) and Sony Michel, who’s had his own injury problems, but if he stays healthy, is a human joystick.

SO WHO’S GOING TO WIN THE QB BATTLE?

God only knows. Brian Schottenheimer’s keeping it under his hat as to who’s going to be the QB – or doesn’t know. It’s a pretty straight fight between Brice Ramsey, UVA transfer Greyson Lambert or Fauton Bata. I think it’ll be Ramsey, because he knows the UGA system better than the other two, but everyone’s new in a new system.

The problem for UGA will be playing teams that are really good at shoring it up against the run (like Alabama or Florida), because Malcolm Mitchell and freshman Terry Godwin are the Dawgs’ only WRs of note at the moment, what with Isaiah McKenzie’s not-particularly-great hamstring and Justin Scott-Wesley’s screwed knee. Scott-Wesley’s not going to need surgery, but he’s not going to be 100%, is he?

DEFENSIVELY….

Jeremy Pruitt did a pretty good job, with Georgia 17th in the country in yards/game and 16th in points/game. If you take out the blow-out against Florida, they actually were better than that. Still, how did they ****-up against Florida?

Anyway, Georgia returns just five defensive starters – and a lot will be expected of LBs Leonard Floyd (6 sacks 55 tackles in 2014), Jordan Jenkins and Lorenzo Carter, who are freaks. Trent Thompson will help to shore up the D-Line, and the secondary – as is always the case with Georgia – is going to enrage at times. Step up, Dominik Sanders, Quincy Mauger and freshman Reggie Wilkerson.

THE SCHEDULE

Sep. 5 – Louisiana-Monroe
Sep. 12 – at Vanderbilt
Sep. 19 – South Carolina
Sep. 26 – Southern
Oct. 3 – Alabama
Oct. 10 – at Tennessee
Oct. 17 – Missouri
Oct. 31 – Florida (In Jacksonville, FL)
Nov. 7 – Kentucky
Nov. 14 – at Auburn
Nov. 21 – Georgia Southern
Nov. 28 – at Georgia Tech

Otherwise, they should be 4-0 to start the season, with their only SEC games a rebuilding South Carolina (at home) and a still-poor Vanderbilt team.

Then there’s a small game at home to Alabama on Oct 3 that no doubt we’ll be hearing through the dulcet tones of Verne Lundqvist and Mr. Irritating Gary Danielson on CBS. We think they’ll lose in a thriller. 

Georgia will then slide through at Tennessee, beat Missouri, get revenge against Florida, beat Kentucky and then lose to the super-speed of Auburn in a heart-breaker, because that’s how Georgia loses games to Auburn. They then rebound to smack Georgia Southern and beat Georgia Tech in another wild game in a full town of nerds (their words, not mine).

In other words, Georgia ends up 10-2 and winning the SEC East.

 

 

 

Texas A&M and Arkansas match-up highlights Week 5 SEC plate: Preview

We’ll be honest. This SEC schedule on paper looked pretty strong when the season started, but right now, it’s actually pretty week. Look, we get that the match-up Texas A&M and a suddenly-reborn Arkansas in JerryWorld is pretty cool. South Carolina’s got College Gameday coming to its doors for the visit of Maty Mauk and Missouri, and if Tennessee trip to Georgia’s as good as it was last season, the game’s going to be a treat. But otherwise? Kentucky’s actually got a GOOD CHANCE to get its first SEC victory, when it hosts Vanderbilt. Could be your sleeper SEC game of the week.

Anyway, here are our previews for Saturday.

For the record, I’m tipping Oklahoma State to beat Texas Tech pretty comfortably at home on Thursday night, and Arizona State to beat UCLA in a thriller in the late game, which SEC people will celebrate (makes their conference look great) and Pac-12 people will celebrate (makes their conference look great). 

Anyway, back to God’s conference….

TEXAS A&M (4-0) VS ARKANSAS (4-1) (JerryWorld)

Here’s some fun facts: The teams started their rivalry in 1903. They’ve played each other 70 times (so this rivalry’s not exactly new (and it’s pretty cool to have it back). Arkansas leads the overall rivalry 41-26-3, but A&M won both SEC games 58-10 and 45-33. And the Aggies are odds-on to win this game. On the SEC Football Blog’s Twitter feed, there’s been some great crap-talking between both sides. Arkansas fans are pretty excited because they went on the road and beat Texas Tech on the road pretty comfortably, while Texas A&M fans are also pretty excited because they are not only 4-0, but they beat the living daylights out their biggest opponent thus far on the road, South Carolina. And they’ve got a quarterback who could well be the next Johnny Manziel in a year or two’s time in Kenny Hill (Did we mention that we saw him play in High School down in Texas?). Arkansas probably has the better running backs in Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, and their own QB in Brandon Allen hasn’t exactly been awful, hitting 61.4% of his passes for 552 yards and 8 TDs on what is the usual Bret Bielema offense of run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run. Anyway, this is going to be more fun than people think….even though we’re not great fans of the fact they are playing the game at JerryWorld. We’d rather it was a home-and-home, but Jerry Jones’ money speaks more volumes than anything else in this day and age.

PREDICTION: A&M is a 9-point favorite in Vegas. We’ll take the Aggies to win by 14 in a game that’s close and high-scoring almost all the way through. Arkansas will look very improved from previous years though, people.

MISSOURI (3-1) AT SOUTH CAROLINA (3-1)

If you believe what Steve Spurrier said after the Vanderbilt game, the Gamecocks have no hope of winning another game, let alone another SEC game. He HATES his team right now. He’s pissed, he’s angry, and we KNOW that he’d rather be watching or attending the Ryder Cup in Scotland than hosting Missouri in the ‘Battle of The Columbias’. Why’s he so pissed? Because at the moment, the Gamecocks can’t tackle. His team ranks 109th in the nation in points against (even though they’ve had one of the tougher opening schedules – which includes a win against Georgia), and 119th in passing yards allowed. That doesn’t exactly bode well for the visit of Missouri’s spread offense, with QB Maty Mauk, who is coming off a mediocre game against Indiana. But the kid can still pass, and Missouri’s wide receiving corps is still pretty good, despite the off-season departures. Listen, Spurrier’s still got a strong running back coalition of Brandon Wilds and Mike Davis, although some Carolina fans believe Mike Davis could lose a few pounds….and the team could use a team leader. Maybe Dylan Thompson will scare the life out of Missouri’s 40th-ranked defense…which lost against the first ‘good’ team that it played this year in Indiana.

PREDICTION: South Carolina’s a five-point favorite. While we’ll take Carolina in a shoot-out, we’ll also take the over of 62 points, too. We think it could get to 80. 

TENNESSEE (2-1) AT GEORGIA (2-1)

At the moment, Georgia’s got an 0-fer in the SEC after losing to South Carolina in controversial circumstances, and Tennessee’s 0-0. Mind you, Tennessee’s last game was against Oklahoma, where it lost by 24 in a game that they looked completely outclassed. Then again, this Volunteers team might be talented, but it’s exceptionally young. Georgia, by the way, blew out Troy 66-0, which was no surprise. Sony Michel’s apparently the next coming of Herschel/Knowshon/Todd after his tremendous opponents, but CALM DOWN FOLKS, IT WAS TROY. TROY IS TERRIBLE. Anyway, Georgia will giving the ball a lot more to Gurley in this game, because Tennessee might not be that good, but it ain’t Troy. Tennessee lost in a great game last time these two played in Neyland, and this game could actually be pretty good. The biggest factor in this game might be Georgia’s dreadful secondary, which is 45th in the nation in pass yards allowed. UGA safety JJ Green was ejected in the Troy game for targetting, but he’s not going to suspended for the Vols game. How he and the rest of the secondary will compete against Tennessee WR Marquez North, one of the best receivers in the SEC, will be interesting. This could well turn into the battle of the QBs. We’re not great fans of either Georgia’s Hutson Mason or Tennessee’s Justin Worley, although Worley does have better weapons. But Worley has a less experienced offensive line.

PREDICTION: Tennessee’s a 17-point underdog. We think Georgia’s going to win, but win by 14 in a close game. Why? The secondary, stupid! 

VANDERBILT (1-3) AT KENTUCKY (2-1)

Vanderbilt wasn’t awful in its loss to South Carolina, even though the gap in talent was plain to see. Vandy’s Darrius Sims’ will be fun to watch after housing two kick-off returns. Otherwise, the biggest factor in this game will be this: History. At the moment, Kentucky’s got a SEC losing streak of 17, which is pretty horrible (They’ve still got some Vanderbilt history to beat – the ‘Dores currently hold the record for SEC loser at 23. And they’ve also lost 22. South Carolina is third with 18). Anyway, this Saturday Kentucky is something that people don’t expect: A favorite. Maybe it’s because Mark Stoops is doing some good things at Kentucky. They lost at Florida in a three-overtime war (they maybe SHOULD have won that game if the SEC refs knew what a delay-of-game penalty was) last time out. Or maybe it’s because Vandy has been simply terrible for most of this season (Listen, when you celebrate a win over UMass with the joy that Derek Mason did, you know your team’s pretty lousy). UK soph QB Patrick Towles is a really good young QB and has already thrown for 900 yards this year, and Stoops knows how to spread the receiving love out: Five WRs have over 100 yards receiving.

PREDICTION: Kentucky’s a 17-point favorite. We’re taking KENTUCKY! WE’RE TAKING KENTUCKY! WE’RE TAKING KENTUCKY! By 21. 

And the rest of the games? Urgh.

OLE MISS (3-0) will beat Memphis (2-1) by more than the favored 21 points. Why? They are at home, they are red-hot at the moment, and they’ve got too much talent. Sure, Memphis frightened UCLA early on in the season, but as we’ve seen, UCLA really ain’t that good.

—- AUBURN (3-0) will WHIP Louisiana Tech (2-2) by more than the 33-point spread. If only to make the crowd happy.

—- LSU (3-1) will CRUSH New Mexico State (2-2), although by less than they are favored by (43). Why? Because Les Miles is probably going to give Anthony Jennings another chance to prove himself at QB. Even though everyone in their right mind thinks that Brandon Harris should be given the job.

Alabama rolls, LSU and Missouri toil – Week 4 SEC Review

This college football season’s been nuts so far. But there’s nuts, and then there’s SEC nuts. There’s a shifting of power in the SEC. Teams that spent time in the shadows are back up, and punching giants in the mouth. It’s fun. It’s really fun. Unless you’re from Baton Rouge. Or Columbia, Missouri.

Anyway, here’s our SEC rankings (more important than the overall college football rankings). Here we reward strength-of-schedule over record, so if your team has moved down a bit, then that’s why.

Oh, and while we’re here we’d like to note that we watched a crapload of football yesterday. It wasn’t all SEC football. But it was all fun.

1. Alabama (4-0)

Suddenly the win against West Virginia – who gave Oklahoma a hell of a fright in Morgantown on Saturday until the Sooners found their feet – is looking more impressive. What ‘Bama did against Florida – putting up 645 yards against a proud defense – was even more impressive. Blake Sims is definitely looking like the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback. Sorry about that, Jacob Coker. We will say this, though: If Alabama was playing Texas A&M and they overturned the ball 4 times, they would have been punished worse than the Gators managed.

2. Texas A&M (4-0)

Texas A&M went to No. 2 and Bama went to No. 1 because A&M really hasn’t played anybody apart from South Carolina (which looked horrible at Vanderbilt). But you can’t stop that goddamn offense, which put up 58 in a romp against SMU. We can’t wait for the Alabama game. We really can’t.

3. Auburn (3-0)

War Eagle was really lucky not to get defeathered at Kansas State on Thursday night. Still, the Gus-train is still rolling, although we’re not as convinced as before that this is a play-off team. Still gonna be fun to watch, though.

4. South Carolina (3-1)

Really managed to piss off Steve Spurrier by giving up a junk-time TD….and 379 yards. “It’s embarrassing sometimes the way we play”, he said. HBC added that the win was one of the worst of his career. Well, a win’s a win. And while the team couldn’t tackle, QB Dylan Thompson still threw for 279 yards and 4 TDs (including 1 TD he ran in himself). Listen, we don’t think South Carolina’s that good, but it’ll get better.

5. Georgia (2-1)

Sony Michel played Troy for 3 TDs and 155 yards on just 10 carries. Todd Gurley didn’t play after the first drive because he really didn’t need to. Still, the Dawgs managed to lose two safeties during the game – one for targetting and one with an injury. The fun just keeps on coming in Athens.

6. Mississippi State (4-0)

They didn’t just beat LSU at Death Valley. They completely outplayed them for 58 minutes. Still, the madness this LSU football meant that it all came down to a Hail Mary at the end, but that’s because it’s LES FREAKING MILES. This is a really good, really motivated football team. Particularly with Dak Prescott (#DakAttack) as its QB, who was incredible, going for 268 passing yards and 105 passing yards, with 3 total TDs. Oh, and Josh Robinson, their RB, is pretty useful, too.

7. Ole Miss (3-0)

Did nuthin’ this week but watch Mississippi State win on the road at LSU and suddenly git worried about this year’s Egg Bowl. Which should be amazin’, by the way.

8. LSU (3-1)

LSU fans, when your quarterback’s as shitty as Anthony Jennings, and your young defense can’t tackle worth a crap, is it really that much of a surprise that you lost to Mississippi State? Oh, and we’d like to add that Les Miles needs to start Brandon Harris. The freshman’s goood.

9. Missouri (3-1)

This is how bad Missouri was in its loss to Indiana: If it HADN’T been for Maty Mauk, who seemed to spend most of his day flying around like Michael Jordan to try and catch his center‘s snaps, Missouri could have lost by a lot more to an Indiana offense which might be from the Big Ten, but it’s fast, yo.

10. Arkansas (3-1)

I’m not about to give Bret Bielema Coach Of The Week because his team put up 50 on a Jordan Lynch-less North Illinois, but it was another 200 rushing yard performance from the Razorbacks. They didn’t need Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams to light up the Huskies, because QB Brandon Allen did a mighty fine job of doing it himself, throwing for 199 yards and 2 TDs (and running in 1 more). Suddenly, the Texas A&M game on September 27th looks like a game worth watching.

11. Florida (2-1)

Florida really did make a statement in their schellacking at Alabama. The statement? We’re not going to be very good this year.

12. Tennessee (2-1)

The Vols and its talented wide receivers had the week off before Georgia next week. If their offensive line can keep Worley from getting killed, they might be favorites to win a few games this year.

13. Kentucky (2-1)

MARK STOOPS IS STILL PISSED AT EVERYBODY. AND TO STOP BEING PISSED, HE’S GOING TO CONCENTRATE ON THE VANDERBILT GAME.

14. Vanderbilt (1-3) 

The special teams was awesome for Vanderbilt last night. The rest of it? Notsomuch. This could be the team that Kentucky beats for its first SEC victory since God was a boy.