I Hate My Left Brain
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.
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 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.
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.
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!