I Hate My Left Brain

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Saturday 8 October 2011 | 7:00 pm EDT
Neyland Stadium | Knoxville, TN | ESPN2.
.

Georgia (3-2) on a 3-game win streak come a-callin’ for a game that is understatedly crucial for both sides.

This year’s edition of one of the more entertaining rivalries in the league is being billed as Georgia’s moment to secure SEC East favorite status. The Gators and Gamecocks have QB problems. Nobody is taking the Vols seriously. A win over Tennessee could be followed with Bulldog victories against Vandy, the Gators, Auburn, and Kentucky.

A loss in Knoxville on Saturday could be a significant nail in the coffin of Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt. Photo courtesy of the Palm Beach Post.

That’s a run-the-table type schedule.

But, if Tennessee puts it together and embarrasses the ‘Dogs as is becoming a commonplace result in Neyland Stadium, Georgia will find themselves, once again, right behind the eight ball.

We all know what a win over Georgia could mean for the Orange and White. It would be Dooley-icious.

That outcome would also be a significant stake in the heart of Mark Richt’s efforts to escape the hanging gallows.

So, let’s peek at some interesting tidbits before getting down to the nasty business of game prediction.

***

The inimitable Senator Blutarsky led me to Bill Connely’s Football Study Hall where Dr. Bill has compiled the season’s targets-and-catches data thus far.

The Bulldogs have had 13 players as “targets” on passing plays, with 4 of them – Malcolm Mitchell, Orson Charles, Tavarres King and Michael Bennett – targeted for about 70% of Georgia’s pass plays. Notable is that Mitchell has a 76% catch rate (22-for-29 for 312 yards).

For the Vols who are still standing, the leading targets have been Da’Rick Rogers (39 throws his way), Mychal Rivera (21), DeAnthony Arnett (14), and Zach Rogers (14). Arnett leads the way with a 79% catch rate (11 of 14). The pain of losing Justin Hunter is evident in the numbers – he had a catch rate of 85% (17 of 20), including his grab in the first quarter of the Florida game when he came down awkwardly on his left leg and ruined his (our?) season.

///

Oh, and before I forget, the good Senator implored me to invite all of you to take part in the Mumme Poll, about which you can get all the information over at Get the Picture. If you registered as a voter last year, you’ll need to re-register this year.

///

T Kyle King at Dawg Sports is gracious to inform his Georgia readers that the Vols lead the SEC (and tied for third with Wisconsin nationally) in 3rd down conversion percentage (62%; the next best in the SEC has only 46%), with the caveat that Tennessee has the league’s second-fewest 3rd down attempts. That’s because we make our first downs on first and second down.

***

Some additional notable items (courtesy of csbstats.com)…

Georgia’s FG “specialist” Blair Walsh has missed half his FGAs (6 for 12). He seems to have his problems on artificial turf with a tally of only 2 for 6 (against Boise State and at Ole Miss). On God’s Green Grass (well, so far it’s Sanford Stadium), Walsh is a little better (4 for 6). Let’s hope Shields-Watkins’ version of the real stuff provides lots of opportunities for scuffs.

Vol fans who are old enough to remember are hoping Freshman Bulldog RB Isaiah Crowell doesn't have a Neyland Stadium debut like another Georgia freshman did 31 years ago. Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Opponents of the ‘Dogs have a whopping 8-for-9 red zone success rate. This sounds like opportunity for the Vols to continue that good vibe from last week’s 7-for-7 against Buffalo.

Georgia is only 3-for-9 on 4th down attempts. A 33% rate sounds somewhat encouraging for us, but the fact that Georgia has gone for it 9 times on 4th down should raise eyebrows.

The Bulldogs have been in a turnover turnstile so far this season. The ‘Dog defense has 8 picks (no returns for TDs), but the QB has thrown 6 INTs and the offense has fumbled the ball 12 times (but have only lost 3).

Freshman ‘Dog Isaiah Crowell from Columbus, GA is the leading rusher, averaging 20 runs and 103 yards per the first 5 games. But on 3rd and short situations (1 to 3 yards to go), Georgia has a substandard 3 for 8 success rate.

Georgia’s most notable successful situational stat is when passing on 3rd and medium yardage (4 to 7 yards to go). The ‘Dogs are 11-for-14, with all 11 completions being for first downs. Sophomore QB Aaron Murray from Tampa, FL looks a bit bipolar. He has a decent tally of 13 TD passes (with an average of 220 yards per game) but has also thrown 6 INTs, 3 of them coming last week at home against Mississippi State.

***

So, as usual, all these factoids are amusingly hypnotic but shaky as predictors of future performance.

This atmosphere can be a significant part of the Tennessee ammunition.

Nonetheless, I think it’s clear what Georgia will try to do. Run the ball, dominate the time of possession to keep the ball out of the hands of Tyler Bray as much as possible, and pass judiciously in a way to minimize Aaron Murray’s penchant for picks.

Good, ol’ fashioned SEC football.

I’m not sure what Tennessee will do, but I know what they have to do: (1) run the ball successfully, or (2) throw the hell out of the pigskin to seven different recipients for a total approaching 500 yards. That and being far on the plus side of the turnover ratio might be the Orange blueprint for success. Seeing how both teams so far like to give away possession, this could be a wild one, especially if a couple or more turnovers turn into quick TDs.

***

In a nod to RockyTop78, my right brain has been totally out of control all week as if it has been out drinking and womanizing to all hours of the night. I get down right warm to the toes thinking about how the first sellout of the season could propel the young Vols to an upset.

But, as you readers know by know, my left brain wields a pretty stout stick to keep the right side from slathering edible oil all over itself in a narcissistic, self-indulgent orgy of sentimentalism.

And that, is sadly to where my eternal internal war has come yet again.

In a game where Tennessee has a real shot and a lot going for it, this will be a goose-pimply game for the most part. But against my manly urges, I believe the outgunned Vols will fall a tad short.

I hate my left brain.

Georgia 37  Tennessee 31

Go Vols! Kill my Left Brain!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 responses to “I Hate My Left Brain”

  1. rockytop78 says :

    Your picture of Mark Richt makes me think that he is imploring the Heavenly Father to righteously smite the Vols this Saturday, and help him keep his job!

    My left-side brain, sadly, also thinks that Georgia will smite the Vols, to the tune of: Georgia 34, Tennessee 31.

    No “hob-nailed boots” from Georgia this year, though.

  2. Orangebobber says :

    I would like to think this game to be a tossup but the3re is one inequality where I have to give Georgia the edge. Special teams for Georgia are head and neck above the volunteers. We have a special teams coach and I don’t see where it has made the difference. We are still not getting the job done on punting, field goals, kick offs except for kickoff coverage and punts. For this reason I have to give Georgia the edge for this game and I hate it. But TN has not proven that at
    they can win the big game yet. Ga 34- TN 31.

  3. tk says :

    ill be so glad when you all get past this left brain, right brain crap and just predict the football game score!!!! GA-TN ………this series has had some quirks over the years.. georgia wins when tn is favored, and vice versa. this is not a good series to bet the spread on. i remember a georgia blowout in athens…….walker running over bates in knoxville…..even the growls when the tartan turf appeared…….and the subsequent tie, after the clock expired. so saturday should be more of the same and this saturdays quirk should be the fact that the vols upset the dawgs……32-28

  4. scoop says :

    ready…….got your tickets to the air show to be held at the neyland stands on sat nite at seven??? vols win this one in A FLYOVER 31-28.. no hot beverages needed on this saturday evening!!

  5. Sandy and Billy says :

    We are at Disney this week and living in total fantasy land… in spite of my left brain we’ll go with Goofy and pick a Big Orange upset. Tennessee wins 35-32.

%d bloggers like this: