Redhead Mondays: Felicia Day.
Redhead Mondays: Nicole Vaunt.
You deserved better, Aaron Murray.
In 2010, you deserved better than what the NCAA gave you, when they forced you to go without A.J. Green for the first four games of your college career. Who knows how different that first awful month and a half would’ve gone if you’d had a future NFL Hall of Famer to throw to. Maybe those games against South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Colorado go differently, and instead of the worst season of Mark Richt’s career, we’re looking back on an inspiring 10-win campaign led by a redshirt freshman.
In 2011, you deserved better than what the fans gave you, when we were rolling our eyes and grumbling about how you “couldn’t win the big one,” completely ignoring the fact that you’d led us from a losing season to 10 wins, an SEC East title and Georgia’s first season sweep of the Tennessee-Florida-Auburn-Georgia Tech rivalry quadrifecta in decades.
In 2012, you deserved better than what fate gave you, when you went up against Nick Saban’s Alabama juggernaut in the biggest game of the season and didn’t blink even once — and nearly led the Dawgs to what would’ve been a comeback victory for the ages, only to fall five yards short. Fifteen feet short of a massive upset, an SEC title and what almost certainly would’ve been a savaging of Notre Dame for the national championship.
And in 2013, you deserved better than … well, everything. You deserved better than a painfully green defense that forced you to pile the team on your back and win shootouts on practically a weekly basis. You deserved better than to have an all-world safety valve like Todd Gurley taken away from you, followed by nearly every one of your top receivers. You deserved better than to have yet another thrilling comeback win stolen away from you, this time by that fluke play at Auburn. And you deserved better than to have your Georgia career end with an ACL tear on Senior Night, for Christ’s sake, turning what should’ve been a wonderful send-off (and our most dominating victory of the season) into a glorified memorial service.
And dammit, you deserve better than what I’m giving you right now, because you deserve to be remembered as something other than the unluckiest quarterback in Georgia history.
Here’s hoping something finally goes your way and you’re remembered for being a different kind of Georgia quarterback — the best one.
You always have been, are now and always will be a DGD, No. 11. Get well soon, and wherever you go next, good luck.
Redhead Mondays: Jessica Weekley.
Is to get a QB who was kicked out of another SEC school for stealing shit.
After a one-week hiatus for the entirely expected (but much appreciated) blowout win over Appalachian State, the Manic-Depressive Preview returns for what we thought back in July and August was going to be another cruise-control win at Auburn. To the entire nation’s shock, however, the Tigers are currently 9-1 and ranked No. 7 by the AP — damn you, Gus Malzahn, you brilliant fiend — so it looks like we might have an actual game on our hands. As for our individual previewers, they’re approaching this unexpected development pretty much how you’d expect. Let’s sit back and see whether they can keep from coming to blows as they hash out the 117th meeting of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
Manic Doug: Hooo, boy, that win over Florida was really something, huh?
Depressive Doug: Yeah, something that probably took 10 or 15 years off my life. I’d really appreciate it if we didn’t have any more games like that this season.
MD: Hey, it was totally worth it. Beating the Gators, whether they’re good or bad, has always been the cure for what ails us. If we can carry the momentum from that game through the rest of the season, we’ll end up 9-3 and in perfect shape for a decent bowl game.
DD: Already predicting us to run the table, huh. Great.
MD: Why not? Under Richt we’re 14-1 in regular-season games after we’ve beaten Florida. Fifteen and one if you count last week’s win.
DD: Sure, you focus on the 15. I’ll focus on the 1 — the 2004 game at Auburn, where we got steamrolled by a Tiger team that ended up going undefeated. A team that bears a lot of similarities to this year’s Auburn squad, I might add.
MD: How you figure? That team had an incredible defense and a QB who could throw. This year’s Auburn squad, good as they are, has neither of those things.
DD: But they have a ground attack that’s averaging 320 yards a game. That’s good for third in the nation — even Georgia Tech is staring up at them in the rushing rankings right now.
MD: So what? Our defense has improved dramatically over the past few weeks — since that week we got lit up by LSU, we’ve decreased the number of yards we’ve allowed every single game. And even though our secondary is still struggling a bit, our front seven is only allowing 3.4 yards per carry, which means our defensive strength matches up perfectly with their big strength on offense.
DD: So Auburn rushing for more than 300 yards a game merits a “so what” from you, but Georgia’s defense looking good against the likes of Vanderbilt, Florida and App State is significant. OK then. Glad you’ve got your priorities straight.
MD: So here’s a question, is it “significant” that Auburn’s pass defense is ranked 81st in the country? And other than Texas A&M and LSU, it’s not like they’ve faced a bunch of juggernaut passing attacks, either.
DD: When you’ve been blowing people out the way Auburn has been the last few weeks, they’re going to pass a lot more to try and keep up, so no, I don’t think that’s such a big deal.
MD: Fine. We’ll see what your reaction is when Aaron Murray is lacing that defense for more than 400 yards this weekend.
DD: Murray hasn’t had even a 300-yard passing game since our receiving corps was wiped out against Tennessee, but sure, have fun believing that.
MD: He also didn’t have Todd Gurley for most of that stretch, either. But with Gurley back to give the Auburn defense something to think about, we’ve got a real shot at putting some points on the board. Against ranked opponents — LSU, Ole Miss and A&M, all of whom have balanced, productive offenses — Auburn’s allowing more than 500 yards a game.
DD: OK, so best-case scenario, we have to win a shootout like we were doing the first few weeks of the season, only without Keith Marshall and the top tier of our receiving corps. You really think we can manage that, particularly with the kind of ball-control offense Auburn’s capable of playing?
MD: I absolutely do, ‘cause I don’t know if you caught the tail end of the Florida game, but we’re capable of playing a little ball control ourselves, and against a much better defense than the one we’ll see this weekend, I might add. Here’s the X-factor, though: While Georgia is relatively healthy and confident for the first time in more than a month, Auburn is looking ahead to the Iron Bowl. To read their blogs and message boards, they’re already counting the Georgia game as a win and just biding their time until Saban comes to town. Well, fuck that. I’m thinking they’re gonna come out a little flat and Georgia’s gonna be on fire, and we’re gonna punch them in the mouth with a few quick scoring drives just like we did against Florida. Auburn’s too good to stay down for too long, and they’ll eventually get their heads screwed on straight and start moving the ball, but that’s when we start giving it to Gurley, Green and Douglas to grind out the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of the Auburn running backs. We’ll salt it away with another one of those long, late-game drives and win by a score of 37-27.
DD: Are you kidding me? A double-digit win over a top-10 opponent on the road? When was the last time we did that?
MD: Hold on, lemme look it up.
DD: Well, trust me, it’s gonna take a while, so while you’re doing that, let me school everyone with the unfortunate truth: All this “motivation” and “looking ahead” talk you’re putting out there is the kind of contrived mumbo-jumbo even Kirk Herbstreit wouldn’t fall for. Yes, Georgia typically gets a boost from a win in Jacksonville, but not enough of one to win when the opponent is markedly superior. And no, I don’t think you can just count on Auburn to be looking ahead, not after we’ve pasted them by 38 points each of the last two years. They’re too well-coached to treat this game as an afterthought, so I think it’s they who will be punching us in the mouth early on thanks to Nick Marshall, who’s a much more efficient passer than you or anyone else seems to want to give him credit for. Our defense may be improving, and good for them, but I still don’t like our chances against a mobile QB. So it’s Georgia, not Auburn, who will be playing a futile game of catch-up in the second half against an opponent that’s extremely good at handing the ball off, moving the chains and grinding out clock. Final score, Auburn 45, Georgia 30.
MD: For your information, we beat a ranked opponent on the road just two years ago. Georgia Tech was ranked 23rd when we played them and we won by two touchdowns.
DD: Seriously? That’s it? Georgia Tech?
MD: You asked a question, I answered it. Now who feels stupid?
DD: Not you, clearly, since you lack both the self-awareness to know when you’re wrong and the ability to feel shame.
MD: I have no idea what any of that means, so since you’re such a smart guy, why don’t you average up our score predictions so I can get over to the liquor store and get on with my day.
DD: Our predictions average out to an Auburn win by a score of 36-34.
MD: They do? Wait, I want to change my prediction.
DD: No, I’m not sitting through another round of this. Nor do I have any desire to have my math checked by someone who cheated his way through trigonometry in 11th grade.
MD: OK, you know that stuff is bullshit. When am I ever gonna need to know any of that?
DD: If the only education you ever received in your life was knowledge you thought you’d “need,” the only classes you would’ve ever taken would be mixology, hairstyling and female sexuality.
MD: That sounds like a pretty awesome slate, actually. You think there are any places where I could actually set up a schedule like that?
DD: Coincidentally enough, I think your best shot would be at Auburn. You could even take a class on fingerpainting while you were at it.
MD: Owwww! Look at you! You may be a total defeatist, but you still manage to keep it frosty!
DD: Hey, I have to figure out some way to have fun this weekend.
MD: Huh. I always thought fun was a foreign concept to you.
Redhead Mondays: Nicole Fox.
Sorry for the delayed Redhead Mondays — Internet issues and whatnot. Here’s Danielle Riley to make up for it.
Manic Doug and Depressive Doug have both had two weeks to stew over Georgia’s disastrous, humiliating loss to Vanderbilt, and they’ve come out the other side of the bye week doing exactly what you’d think they would be doing: Manic Doug is counting victories down the back nine of the season and compiling a list of all the different ways Georgia still makes it to the SEC Championship Game, while Depressive Doug is declaring the season a lost cause and trying to gin up some excitement about National Signing Day. (Yes, he hates himself a little for that. Actually he hates himself a lot for that. Really, he hates himself a lot for a multitude of reasons.) Of course, there’s a little thing happening this weekend called the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, and while the annual neutral-site Georgia-Florida game has lost more than a little luster in terms of national relevance this year, it still holds plenty of significance in terms of the mental health of both fan bases — and both of our Manic-Depressive Previewers in particular, as you’ll see below.
Manic Doug: C’mon, you packed yet?
Depressive Doug: Packed? For what, the gym?
MD: For Jacksonville, thimbledick. You are coming, right?
DD: Why on earth would I do that?
MD: Because it’s Georgia-Florida! World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party! The biggest game of the year!
DD: In ceremonial terms, perhaps. But in practical terms, the biggest game of the year was Georgia-Tennessee, in which our offense got decimated by injuries and sounded the death knell for the 2013 season, even if we weren’t sure of that at the time.
MD: Seriously? Of all the times to be declaring the season dead and buried, you’re doing it the day before Georgia-Florida?!
DD: No, I actually did it the day we laid an egg against Missouri. Haven’t you been paying attention?
MD: Every time I think I’ve witnessed you being as mopey and Eeyorish as a human being can possibly be, you come up with a way to surprise me. Yes, the season has been rocky, and yes, we’ve been a fucking M*A*S*H unit on offense for like a month now. But, and if you’ll forgive me for being glib —
DD: It’s against my better judgment, but I always forgive you for being glib. It’s the only reason I can stand to be within 10 miles of you at any given moment.
MD: — beating Florida is the cure for what ails you! At least, it’s always been for us. Turned around a 2007 season that had been hanging by a thread. Gave us the confidence to make a stretch run in 2011 and hang on to the SEC East title. Helped us bounce back from the South Carolina loss and finish the regular season in dominating fashion last year. Beat Florida and this season will automatically feel a lot better, I promise.
DD: I’d really like to believe that. But even if that were true, what do you think the chances of us beating Florida are, honestly? If we couldn’t hold on to a lead against Vanderbilt, what makes you think we’ll do it against Florida? What makes you think we’ll even have a lead to begin with?
MD: Two words: Todd. Fuckin’. Gurley. He’s going to add the dimension that our offense has been lacking ever since Keith Marshall went down in the Tennessee game. With him as an every-down home-run threat on the ground, Florida can’t just send their back seven out to blanket our receivers, and that’s gonna let Aaron Murray finally let ‘er rip again.
DD: Given the way Murray’s played his first three outings against the Gators, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Just in case you were curious, here’s his line in three games in Jacksonville: 45-of-95, 632 yards, six touchdowns, seven picks. Sure, he’s having his best year yet — or was, until our entire receiving corps got destroyed — but is this really a time when you want to bank on him having a spectacular game? Particularly when Michael Bennett is gonna be our only proven receiving threat on the field Saturday?
MD: Three responses to that. One, as I’ve said, having Gurley back will make a big difference even with the receiving corps decimated. Two, Florida’s almost as badly banged up as we are; Dominique Easley, in particular, is a huge loss for them on the defensive line. That’s going to make things a lot easier for Gurley, and in turn for Murray. And three, we don’t need Murray to have the kind of 400-yard, five-TD performance we’ve needed from him in the past because this game just doesn’t have the makings of a shootout. Florida’s offense was terrible to begin with and they’ve lost Jeff Driskel, Matt Jones and Andre Debose on top of that, plus their starting right tackle. This might be one instance where even our defense can dominate.
DD: Aaron Murray having a good game in Jacksonville? This year’s defense having a good game period? This is supposed to be a football preview, not a short-fiction workshop.
MD: Hey, when they weren’t being put in a terrible position by horrendously shitty targeting calls, the defense actually played pretty well against Vanderbilt.
DD: Oh, good, they can put “Played sort of decently against Vanderbilt’s backup quarterback most of the time” on their résumés. Look, Florida may be almost as banged up as we are, but they’re still gonna put a higher caliber of athlete out there than Vandy did, and if you have anything positive to say about the way our pass defense has played this year, I have to question whether we’ve been watching the same team. Damian Swann, who’s as close as we had to a veteran out there in the secondary, has been an absolute basket case. Quincy Mauger hasn’t been much better. Tray Matthews may or may not play. That means our best defensive back is probably Shaq Wiggins, a 5’10” true freshman. Tyler Murphy might not be the Gators’ ideal option at quarterback, but I’m fairly certain even he could have a career game against our defense.
MD: Who does he have to throw to, though? Solomon Patton, Trey Burton and Quinton Dunbar are all so-so, but beyond that the Gators don’t have a single player with double-digit receptions on the season. They’re a team with no sense of offensive identity right now.
DD: An offense with no identity versus a defense with no confidence. Yeah, this should be one for the ages.
MD: Good lord, listen to you. We have a chance to turn this into a three-game winning streak against a program that owned our asses for the better part of two decades, and you’re more miserable than ever.
DD: Can you blame me? We made it as high as fifth in the nation and then had the rug completely pulled out from under us, and now our team is in a certifiable tailspin. Lose this one and we’ll probably be lucky to crawl to six wins this season.
MD: Then I guess it’s a good thing we’re gonna win it. It might be ugly, sure, but our front seven — which has actually been pretty good against the run this year — is gonna neutralize the closest thing to an offensive threat the Gators have. OK, sure, if they have to go to the air they might connect on one or two long balls against our secondary, but there’s still no way they find any consistency, not with the way their O-line is struggling. I think it’ll be close in the first half but we’ll start to pull away in the second as Gurley pounds away and keeps them from devoting all their time and attention to harassing our receivers, and we walk out of Jacksonville with a 27-16 victory and a three-game winning streak in our biggest rivalry.
DD: You know, that does sound nice.
MD: Doesn’t it?
DD: Unfortunately, it also sounds unrealistic. Banged-up though it may be, Florida’s defense is still ranked fifth in the nation in passing yards allowed, and that’s even after facing several passing attacks more threatening than anything we’re able to throw at them at the moment. I see another mediocre performance by Murray, even with Gurley on the field, just because he still doesn’t have any confidence in our receiving corps and we’re still not using our tight ends effectively for some reason. As for the defense, well, it’s a mobile quarterback and our secondary stinks — enough said. At the moment I have no reason to think this won’t end up looking a lot like the Vanderbilt atrocity, only without us ever having the benefit of a two-touchdown lead to lose in the first place. Which means a final score of something like, oh, Gators 24, us 17.
MD: So you really are delivering last rites for the season then, huh. The day before the biggest game of the year.
DD: Hey, I saw the writing on the wall weeks ago. Not my fault it’s only dawned on you now.
MD: Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Nothing has dawned on me. I refuse to let it.
DD: That’s good. They should carve that on your tombstone.
MD: And our predictions average out to a 22-20 Georgia victory — closer than I’d like, but I’ve managed to foil your defeatist pissing and moaning once again.
DD: Well, enjoy it while it lasts, because on Saturday you’re going to witness the Gators foiling your irrational optimism, and then we’ll all be miserable.
MD: I’m not hearing that. Instead, I’m packing for Jacksonville, which is what your ass ought to be doing right now, unless you want me leaving without you.
DD: As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I want. Why would I spend six hours in a car each way — with you — just so I can witness the most depressing spectacle of the year?
MD: So you’re not even going? You’ve decided?
DD: Nothing gets by you, does it. Yes, that’s what I’ve decided.
MD: I don’t see how you can even call yourself a Georgia fan. I refuse to call you one.
DD: Considering the list of things you have been willing to call me over the years, I’m not sure I’m broken up about that.
MD: Sure, turn it back on me. But you oughta be ashamed of yourself, conceding defeat to our biggest rivals even before the game’s been played. That is a bullshit move if ever I’ve seen one.
DD: Well, maybe it’s because I don’t have the benefit of all the liquid confidence you have. Seriously, are there any clothes in that bag, or are you just packing bottles?
MD: Well, I’m only going down for two nights.
DD: And you’re gonna drink all of that in two nights?!
MD: One, it’s Jacksonville, and it ain’t called the Cocktail Party for nothing. Two, have we met?
DD: Well, what am I supposed to drink when I’m trying to drown my sorrows back here at home?
MD: Sounds like a YP, bro. I’ll see your bitch ass on Sunday. If I even decide to come back.
DD: Yeah, well. Don’t hurry back on my account.