Well, Day 1 didn’t go so well for me, Frumpsters. It’s never fun to start out 0-1, especially when pretty much the exact opposite of everything you expected/predicted to happen happens. Looking to get back on track today with yet another one game lineup: Texas A&M vs. Georgia in the Independence Bowl. 5:00 pm ET, on ESPN.
Current Line: Georgia -6.5, O/U 66.5
So another one game lineup, and yet another game I normally wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole…and for more than just general matters of unpredictability this time; this one actually involves matters of the heart. Nevertheless, for the sake of feature continuity, I’ll tread on and make sure we hit every day of Frumpzilla’s 11 Days of Bowling.
If you couldn’t tell from that Over/Under up there, I’m not the only one that is expecting a bit of a knock down, drag out barn burner in this one. Both teams have struggled mightily on defense this year, but also generally have very little trouble moving the ball on offense when things are clicking even moderately well for them. It goes without saying, then, that you can expect a lot of points, and a lot of back and forth in what should produce a scoreline that looks closer to a 1st half of solid college basketball. It’s a dream to some, a nightmare to others.
While Georgia’s defense doens’t look particularly bad on paper, at least in terms of yards per game allowed (ranked 30th), atrocious special teams play (119th in kickoff return yardage defense, 86th in punt defense) regular lapses in concentration and discipline (110th in penalty yards allowed), and the nation’s 2nd worst turnover margin (119th) have led to them probably being one of the more talented defenses to ever give up 26.4 points per game (70th).
Not surprisingly, the Dawgs made some big changes after their season finale upset of Georgia Tech, firing all but one defensive/special teams coaches, including Defensive Coordinator Willie Martinez. They’ve also yet to fill any of the openings on the defensive coaching staff, which has left Graduate Assistants and, according to reports, head coach Mark Richt assuming the role of organizing the defense for the Independence Bowl. Given that Richt is a QB’s/offense guy, having been the QB’s coach and Offensive Coordinator for Florida State during the Noles’ glory days, this doesn’t exactly look good for the Dawgs. Then again, I’m not sure things could get much worse, and maybe something as unconventional as this approach could pay dividends.
Either way, the Aggies own porous defense (allowing close to 470 yards of offense per game) will probably make sure that Georgia’s O, which gets Sophomore AJ Green, possibly the best WR in the country, coming back off the injury list, will be be able to go blow for blow til the bitter end. Georgia’s ground game has come on remarkably strong to end the season, averaging 225 rushing/game over its last 5 games. This run included matchups against Bowl Bound Florida, Auburn, Kentucky and Georgia Tech, so expect a heavy dose of Washaun Ealey and Caleb King, which may open up the big, over the top plays to the likes of Green, Tavarres King, Rantavious Wooten and Orson Charles.
The question then becomes whether or not Georgia’s defense can do anything to stop Jerrod Johnson and an Aggie team that just hung 39 points and 532 yards of offense on the likes of potential BCS Champion Texas. Vegas doesn’t give us much of an angle, with Georgia and A&M going just 4-7 and 6-5-1 ATS this year, respectively, and there doesn’t appear to be any other particularly strong trends. There are two common opponents, however: A&M got blown out by Arkansas at home, while Georgia won on the road in a shootout against the Razorbacks. Both teams also lost to Oklahoma State in hard fought games, but both games were much earlier in the season, so there may not be much to glean there.
So what does one do when there’s arguably no solid angle to work with? Look at the mascots, of course. Uga VII may have passed away this year (God rest his soul), but I’ll take his half-brother “Russ” up there, brown spots and all, over A&M’s Reveille any day of the week. How couldn’t you? Russ and the Dawgs cover in a nailbiter.