Monday Down South: Bama’s offense can’t contain itself … and nobody else has, either

I resolved from the outset not to read too much into Alabama’s performance this season until the LSU game, at the absolute earliest, and nothing about a routine outing against an unranked opponent playing without its starting quarterback is about to change that.

At the end of the day, Saturday’s 47-23 win at South Carolina was about as by-the-book as it gets: The Crimson Tide jumped to an early lead, never trailed, outgained the Gamecocks by more than 100 yards of total offense, and barely missed covering a 25-point spread when Carolina tacked on an otherwise meaningless touchdown in the final seconds. If we learned anything new in the meantime, it was only that Najee Harris’ physical gifts have somehow been undersold.

Harris was the unlikely star on a prolific afternoon for Bama’s passing game, which set a new Saban-era high for yards (495) on the strength of a steady diet of big plays from its resident big-play makers — Harris and live-wire wideouts Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and Jerry Jeudy combined for 7 receptions of 20 yards or more, 4 of which ended in the end zone. Standard business, as far as that bunch is concerned.

Tua Tagovalioa hardly broke a sweat on his way to setting personal bests for completions (28), yards (444), and touchdowns (5) in a little more than 3 quarters’ worth of work. Altogether, the Tide scored on 8 of 10 non-half-ending possessions, including a late garbage-time drive piloted by backup QB Mac Jones, punting just once. You know, the usual.

Compared to the gonzo aerial attack that took the league by storm last year there was only one way in which it was not usual: The complete absence of the kind of deep shots that made Tua a star.

That play covered 81 yards, matching the longest completion of Tagovailoa’s career. It also continued a trend in the early season of relying less on his tank-worthy arm to torch secondaries deep and more on his decision-making to distribute the ball to his dynamic skill players in space. In the season-opening win over Duke, Tua racked up 336 yards with 4 TDs despite completing a single pass that traveled more than 10 yards in the air. On Saturday, again, he put up career numbers with minimal downfield effort:

Tagovailoa capped the game’s opening possession with a 24-yard TD strike to Harris on a wide-open wheel route out of the backfield that covered most of that distance in the air; from that point on, it was exclusively a YAC party. The average distance of those 15 completions in the air was just 6.1 yards (well below last year’s pace), compared to a staggering 18.6 yards on average after the catch. In contrast to the home-run mentality that kept opposing secondaries in a perpetual backpedal in 2018, the most consistently productive staple through the first 3 games — the quick slant on the backside of a run-pass option — is a low-risk throw designed (on paper, anyway) to keep the chains moving.

It’s just that in Bama’s case, when it’s Ruggs and/or Smith on the receiving end of a bullet that hits him moving upfield in stride, it’s turning out to be a safe, efficient way of running up the score.

And why not? So far, Tua’s reluctance to unleash the dragon is the most obvious consequence of trading in last year’s offensive brain trust for prodigal OC Steve Sarkisian, whose mentality veers much closer to the risk-averse stylings of the 2017 play-caller, Brian Daboll. (Not coincidentally, it was Daboll who took the job that was supposed to go to Sarkisian that year before Sark opted to call plays in the NFL instead.) But Tua is not Jalen Hurts, and this offense bears very little resemblance to the screen-heavy, spread-to-run attack that prevailed before Tagovailoa emerged as the starter.

For one thing, unlike Hurts, Tua’s track record as a downfield passer precedes him; defenses fear and respect his arm at all times whether he bothers testing them or not, helping to open up more of the underneath stuff. For another, Alabama appears to be perfectly content to shift the burden of making up for an underachieving ground game onto its once-in-a-generation quarterback, rather than vice versa. Incredibly, the offense has put the ball in the air more often than it’s run it this season in every down-and-distance situation except obvious short-yardage downs.

In other words, it’s debatable in the year 2019 to what extent Bama really needs to run the ball at all, at least at the level it’s accustomed to. Saturday’s output on the ground — 94 yards on 4.1 per carry, not including sacks, much of it coming in garbage time — was dismal, marking just the second time the Tide have failed to crack 100 yards rushing in the past 6 years. With the firepower at their disposal in the passing game, though, it was also largely an afterthought.

The top 2 backs, Harris and Brian Robinson Jr., each rumbled for bigger gains on a single short reception out of the backfield than they earned in rushing yards the entire afternoon. (Note that Harris’ instant-classic Beast Quake moment in the 2nd quarter came on a well-designed 4th-down pass that gave him plenty of room to build up steam in the open field, not a run.) The steady diet of RPOs functioned as an extension of the running game, forcing Carolina to commit bodies against the run and making them pay for it. Tagovailoa never put the ball anywhere in the vicinity of risk.

Eventually the old, bombs-away Tua who stole the show as an underclassman will have to make a few appearances for the Tide to be the best version of themselves against Playoff-caliber competition. The offensive line will have to protect him, too, which right now is a legitimate concern as the 3 interior OL positions remain in flux; at one point in the early going Carolina came right up the gut to record 2 sacks in 3 plays to force Bama’s only punt. But that’s still looking far ahead. In the meantime, Tagovailoa looks as much as ever like a next-level quarterback surrounded by next-level weapons. Even reined in, they’re still as explosive as they want to be.

Notebook

Around the conference.

Alabama 47, South Carolina 23

South Carolina gained 459 yards of total offense, a relatively big number by Bama standards

, and it could have been a lot closer on the scoreboard than the final number indicates, too: 8 of the Gamecocks’ 10 offensive possessions before garbage time ended in Alabama territory but yielded just 16 points. Their failure to finish a 13-play, 77-yard drive just before halftime was the point of no return in a competitive game. (I agreed with the official call that Rico Dowdle’s knee was down short of the goal line on the most controversial play of that sequence; your mileage, like Will Muschamp’s, may vary.)

In addition to some coverage issues, youth and injuries continue to stand out as pressing concerns for the Crimson Tide defense — especially at inside linebacker, where true freshmen Shane Lee and Christian Harris are still growing into their roles after being thrust into the lineup a year earlier than anticipated. Harris, who Saban said needed to “get settled down,” was replaced at WILL in the second half by sophomore Ale Kaho, who had some lapses of his own against the run. Even highly touted blue-chip freshmen are going to be freshmen.

On the injury front, Bama got more bad news on Sunday with word that junior DE LaBryan Ray, a former 5-star recruit getting his first crack as a starter, has joined the list of long-term casualties due to an apparent ankle/foot injury. His likely replacement: Yet another true freshman, Justin Eboigbe, which would give the Tide 4 full-time rookie starters in the front 7 — only of whom, nose tackle D.J. Dale, actually earned the distinction outright.

Florida 29, Kentucky 21

Three weeks into the season, the SEC East race behind Georgia is already defined by devastating injuries to starting quarterbacks. In Week 1, it was South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, done for the year with a foot injury. In Week 2, it was Kentucky’s Terry Wilson, victim of a season-ending knee injury. This week, it was Florida’s Feleipe Franks, who was carted off the field on Saturday following an ankle injury that looked ugly enough in real time that ESPN declined to show a replay. He’s not expected back this season, to put it mildly.

The backups in Lexington were predictably uneven. UK’s Sawyer Smith looked fine for most of the night, completing his first 9 passes and accounting for all 3 Wildcat touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) en route to a 21-10 lead in the 3rd quarter; he also committed 3 turnovers, which Florida converted in 17 points. (That doesn’t include a last-ditch Hail Mary that Florida picked off on the final play, but does include a ghastly INT early in the third quarter that led directly to a UF field goal.)

Florida’s Kyle Trask led the comeback in Franks’ absence, rallying a couple of late touchdown drives to put the Gators up by one, 22-21, with just over 4 minutes to go. Even at that point, though, it still felt like Kentucky’s game to lose, and after the Wildcats moved within range of the go-ahead field goal as the clock ticked under a minute remaining the math largely agreed:

That’s a huge swing on the foot of unfortunately named UK kicker Chance Poore, who pushed the would-be game-winner wide left with 55 seconds to play. One long, only-meaningful-in-Vegas touchdown run later, Florida had covered the spread.

Having watched them twice now rally to erase 4th-quarter deficits against ostensible underdogs, it’s hard to say much more about the Gators than the fact they’re 3-0. Trask, a redshirt junior slated for his first career start this weekend against Tennessee, outperformed Franks on Saturday night in a tough situation but doesn’t offer nearly as much potential upside against the likes of LSU and Georgia.

Dan Mullen said on Sunday that Trask will share snaps going forward with the heir apparent, redshirt freshman Emory Jones, and let the chips fall where they will. Regardless, the next time this offense plays like it’s one half of a top 10 outfit will be the first.

Kansas State 31, Mississippi State 24

There’s a litany of ways that Mississippi State brought this loss on itself, not least by committing 3 turnovers (one of them leading directly a short-field touchdown for K-State) and following up a go-ahead touchdown in the 4th quarter by immediately allowing a 100-yard kickoff return the even the score. But the fact is that Kansas State was just as sloppy: The Wildcats also committed 3 giveaways, including a pair of muffed punts that led directly to 10 MSU points. Don’t forget the fumble recovery that went from takeaway to giveaway when the KSU defender fumbled the ball right back to Mississippi State’s offense.

Once all the miscues cancel one another out, the Bulldogs are left with the fact that they were largely outplayed and out-schemed by the same team that they thumped last year, 31-10, on the road.

The box score doesn’t quite reflect it, in part because K-State ran just 52 plays — one aspect of the Bill Snyder era that remains very much intact is the glacial pace on offense — but for much of the afternoon MSU’s defense seemed to struggle to adjust to the Wildcats’ versatility in terms of formations and personnel.

It was the first concrete reminder for Bulldogs fans that the defense is almost certain to regress in the wake of mass departures for the next level. Airborne quarterback notwithstanding, unless the offense takes a significant step forward in the passing game the record in the SEC West is likely to go in the same direction.

Superlatives

The best of the week.

1. Alabama RB Najee Harris + WRs DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs III

The Tide’s top 3 targets against South Carolina accounted for 345 of Tagovailoa’s 444 passing yards and all 5 of his touchdowns, more than 2/3 of that output coming after the catch. Harris’ death-defying trek to the end zone on 4th-and-2 is the highlight of the year and will soon be immortalized in Bama lore.

2. Georgia CBs Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes

Arkansas State targeted the Bulldogs’ starting corners a dozen times, with meager results: Between them, Campbell and Stokes broke up 5 passes and allowed just 1 completion for a 1st down in a 55-0 shutout. Campbell, a former 5-star recruit, left the game in the 2nd half with an apparent foot injury – severity unclear – but still posted a sky-high coverage rating according to Pro Football Focus.

3. Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa

Tua has yet to post the kind of highlight-reel throw he made last year on a weekly basis, but his decision-making and accuracy have been impeccable even as the struggles in the running game have made his job harder. No other active college QB has a firmer grasp of his offense.

4. Kentucky WR Ahmad Wagner

The former University of Iowa small forward hauled in 3 receptions for 70 yards against Florida, including a juggling, 26-yard TD catch that confirmed his status as one of the most unique and overlooked weapons in the country. He also drew a pass interference penalty in the 4th, extending a frankly incredible ratio: On just 18 career targets, Wagner has come down with 9 receptions and drawn 8 (!) pass interference flags against smaller DBs overwhelmed by his size and ability to box them out on jump balls.

There’s no evidence yet that it wouldn’t be worth the Wildcats’ while to attempt to replicate those numbers by heaving it up in his direction 18 times every time out.

5. Missouri K/P Tucker McCann

Mizzou didn’t need a perfect kicking day to annihilate SE Missouri State, but it got one: McCann was 3-for-3 on field goals, averaged 55.4 yards on 5 punts (downing 2 inside the SEMSU 20), and drove all 9 of his kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. In the process, he became the first FBS player since at least the turn of the century to hit 3 40-yard field goals and 4 50-yard punts in the same game.

Honorable Mention: Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill, who continued his stellar September with 111 hard-won yards on 24 carries in a losing effort. … Florida LB David Reese II, who racked up a career-high 16 tackles against Kentucky, 13 of them solo. … Alabama DB Xavier McKinney, who recorded his first INT of the season in addition to a team-high 9 tackles in the win over South Carolina. … Alabama LB Anfernee Jennings, who had a pair of TFLs including a sack that forced the game-clinching fumble in the 3rd quarter. … Missouri LB Cale Garrett, who had 5 tackles and a pick-6 in a shutout win over Southeast Missouri State. … Georgia QB Jake Fromm, who had another near-flawless afternoon against Arkansas State, hitting 17-of-22 attempts for 279 yards, 3 TDs and no turnovers. … LSU QB Joe Burrow, who extended his white-hot start to the season by torching Northwestern State for 373 yards and 2 TDs on 21-of-24 passing, adding another TD as a runner in a 65-14 rout. … Arkansas QB Nick Starkel, whose solid debut as QB1 gave the Razorbacks at least a sliver of hope behind center. … South Carolina QB Ryan Hilinski, who distinguished himself in his first SEC start by passing for 324 yards and 2 TDs in a no-win assignment. … Auburn DE Marlon Davidson, who had 3 sacks in the Tigers’ win over Kent State. … And Auburn’s offensive line, which paved the way for 467 yards rushing against the Golden Flashes with 3 backs eclipsing the century mark — the first time that’s happened on The Plains since Bo Jackson was a sophomore.

View Comments

  • The Gators win a road game vs a tough UK team and instead of being gritty or "knowing how to win", they get ridiculed. I think the Trask injury will help this offense as he gets rid of the ball a bit quicker which helps with the line.

    • That's because UK missed a short field goal, which would have most likely won the game. They are gritty, but likely wouldn't have won without some ejections and injuries. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

      • UF also missed a chip shot fg. I don't think anyone who objectively watched the whole game would call UF lucky. Either team could have won though. UK played well.

      • Weagle99, the field goal would've most likely won the game? Not sure how you make that claim. There was 54 secs left on the clock after he kicked it and the Gators had 1 timeout. They scored the final TD in 21 secs. That's besides the fact that they didn't need a TD to win. All they would've had to do is kick a field goal. Obviously up to that point UK wasn't stopping Trask, so no reason to believe he couldn't have gotten them in field goal range in 54 secs with 1 timeout.

        • UK would have been playing a completely different scheme with a lead. There's no way that long TD happens. Could UF have still won? Possible, but the odds are not favorable. That's why I said "likely".

    • Sure winning conference road games is hard and all, but I don't think we can realistically look at our body of work so far this season and think we're ready to compete with GA or LSU. To me that performance from the #9 ranked team in the nation warrants a bit of ridicule.

    • UF just isn't going to get credit for any wins this year unless they beat LSU or UGA. Less than 2 years from a 4 win season and we're already supposed to beat everyone on the schedule but them. The ranking is seen as high but who would deserves to be ahead of them? UK is probably better than people think. I would guess in the top 25 by season's end

        • Agreed BT. That being said I gotta admit that’s the best group 1 to 4 of receivers I’ve ever seen. And then throw in Najee coming out of the backfield...visions of baker and BoomerU come to mind. Very impressed with Booger Eaters offensive calling so far...

        • There are lots of yards available if they would run counters sometimes rather than running into the pack 100% of the time. Incredible.

        • I think it's both. It's smart to take what the defense is giving but I also know Saban hates having his defense on the field for 86 snaps. The best the OL can be, especially in the run game, won't show itself until after Brown returns. That being said, the talent on the line right now should be more efficient in the run game. Imagine all the OL is trying to learn though. There's the RPO game, the progression "pro-style" passing game, and the power running game Saban loves. Add in all the stunts that have been thrown their way by opposing defenses and there's just a ton to learn. The OL will eventually settle and begin to gel and in the meantime all of them are getting valuable reps. Now, a month from now, if we're still struggling in the run game, we've got a problem. I'm doing my best to stay optimistic knowing Saban roams the sideline with far more knowledge than any of us here. You can imagine, if we as fans are seeing issues, he's already seen them, worked on a plan to fix them, and addressing issues we don't even know about. Trust the process, as we always say.

        • From what I seen it appears as if teams are trying to load the box to stop the run and blitz to put pressure on Tua...

          Bama is using the short passes as an extension of the run game. Sure it’s not a handoff but it works just the same..

  • The big question that I had about Alabama this year was about the high rate of turnover at the coordinator positions and whether or not that would affect play on the field.

    So far so good but it's the games against TAMU, Auburn, LSU, and the SECCG that will of interest.

      • I believe the writers on SDS prevent us from editing comments so that their own mistakes seem less by comparison. What they forget is none of us pay proofreaders. That or it costs too much to have an edit feature.

    • Their offense is as good as expected, however that defense...yikes! Injuries are starting to take their toll, but that's part of the game. I wish the offense could establish the running game, limiting the time the defense is on the field, but good gawd that offensive line stinks.

      I think Bama handles the Aggies, winning by 17 or so, but LSU will be a tough out. Auburn may be as well, but I'm still not sold on that offense; they struggled running the ball against Tulane, and from what I have seen of Bo Nix, he's only good for a quality throw here and there, a reflection of his youth. He has potential, but he's not elite right now.

      Georgia's path to the SECCG is pretty clear, where as Alabama and LSU, who are neck and neck, have some hurdles to overcome.

      • The OL stinks? That's an overreaction three games into the season. Have you not noticed all the shuffling? Or that the best run blocker is out for the first four games? Or that they're only showing 1 sack per game? Or that they're learning entirely new concepts/schemes? And it's not just the OL but the TEs missing blocks as well. The schedule sets up nicely for them to grow and learn. It's not as if we've got the Miami OL so "stinks" is far too harsh.

  • Tua deadly efficient except under duress but with that group of receivers rarely under duress. Najee in space scary good. Running game Oline and LBs/secondary not good enough. 3 more weeks before they play their first game...plenty of time for goat to fix

    • This. We were getting to him all day...just not in time. He was getting rid of the ball in a hurry, and outside of a few times early, we were not gonna stop it. When he can consistently hit that slant to the WR/RB in full stride with that talent, it's going to be a long day for your defense...and it was.

  • Worrying about Alabama's running game this season is the equivalent of concerning yourself about Tom Brady's rushing attack. It doesn't matter. His running game has been the Julian Elderman, Wes Welkers of the NFL for decades. Tua is special and Bama is running a lot of New England elements in their offensive scheme as well.

    All these article today still talking about the special talent that is Najee Harris. Hey, they aren't talking about his rushing from scrimmage, now are they?

    • Sure it matters...Tua is a little more fragile than Tom. If TrunksnorterU is 1 dimensional I don’t see Bellychik results in Tuscaloosa

    • @Bamalicious:

      Yeah but you are only going to have Tua for what, 12 more games? What then? Taulia isn't as good as his brother and neither is the other backup. Florida built their entire program around Tim Tebow. You saw what happened to them when Tebow left, right? It is better to have a system where the likes of Greg McElroy and Jake Coker can win titles, and Blake Sims would have were Lane Kiffin more concerned about winning the game than promoting himself for a Pac-12 or Big 12 head coaching job.

      • LMAO.. So you already know what Taulia and Tyson can do? GTFOH...

        Bama has adapted their program constantly under Saban.

      • The one thing that used to (pre-dabo and kirby) set Goat Saban apart from the rest was his uncanny ability to adjust to his team’s strengths. With the group of receivers he has this year it would be suicidal not to exploit that strength. Just like Oklahoma two years ago, until someone can stop what brought ya to the dance, keep on dancing.
        Florida faded after Tebow because the replacement cards they had to choose from weren’t as good. Goat has maintained a decided advantage in stacking his deck with elite talent for many years. That way no matter what he was dealt he was sure to still have a very strong hand. That advantage has shrunk drastically since Kirby departed...and Dabo has taken that philosophy to another level. Hate to say it but ww are all bearing witness to the last few years of Spurrier all over again in Tuscaloosa

        • LegHumperU (lol), explain how we are all bearing witness to the fall of Saban when he is still recruiting at a high rate, winning nattys and is 5-1 vs Georgia and 2-0 vs Kirby. You do realize in the last 2 1/3 years (2017-19) that Georgia has lost 5 games? 4 of those loses are to the SECW and Texas. You act in your comments as if Georgia has “owned” Bama which is not the case.

        • My basis may be slightly biased (; but here goes...
          In the past 2 years I’ve watched a team with less elite talent depth wise shove TrunksnorterU around for 118 of 120 minutes and if not for an elite coach lacking the head ball coach experience of his more seasoned competitor it easily could have been 120 of 120 minutes... nothing another year of elite recruiting and on the job experience can’t fix...
          In the past 3 years I’ve watched a much less elite talent depth level team with an equally experienced equally talented coaching staff go toe to toe with a team that ranked at the top of recruiting for the preceding 6 years, not only winning two out of three, but clearly demolishing them in all aspects of the game in the last go round...
          And once again I witnessed a mass exodus of assistant coaches leave immediately after the demolition...
          And now I see not only LeghumperU and ClemgooberU winning more and more 5star recruiting battles against TrunksnorterU but now we all bare witness to BayoucatU doing the same.
          This doesn’t mean Bama is not going to continue to be elite level competitive and even dominant at times but the days of the goat standing alone at the top of the heap are drawing to a close more rapidly than trunksnorterU fans care to realize. But kudos to the goat, It was one hail of an unprecedented run! Sir Nick will always be one of the greatest of all time but in the not to distant future I see him rocking on the heavenly porch with that other Bama goat known as a bear...looking down and admiring the efficient processes of Dabo and Kirby as they battle for another national championship. And deep down inside I can see Nick pulling hard for his dear friend Kirby, whispering over to the bear and saying “that’s my boy!”
          That’s the way I see it anyhoot. It’s a cool dream...(:

        • And my dear friend BT...while I give kudos to ...Richt 1.0 for stabilization of the LeghumperU program, Richt 2.0 is clearly leap years ahead at year 3.5 of his career...I’d be more prone to calling Kirby SirNick 2.0 if anything...it took Nick 8 plus hbc years (11 if you add in the Cleveland years) to garner his 1st natty...plenty of time for Kirby to surpass that...

        • “In the past 2 years I’ve watched a team with less elite talent depth wise shove TrunksnorterU around for 118 of 120 minutes and if not for an elite coach lacking the head ball coach experience of his more seasoned competitor it easily could have been 120 of 120 minutes”

          So you watched them lose two years in a row. Congratulations on such an accomplishment...

          If that was the only loss UGA had it could mean something but in true Richt UGA fashion UGA got blasted by Auburn, LSU and Texas on top of the losses to Bama...

        • I’m comparing the accomplishments of two coaches at the start of their career at the same school..

          They have more in common then trying to compare coaches across different programs... Richt and Kirby has been almost identical for the start of their career at UGA...

        • When you’re done arguing with yourself just remember, it’s opinion so no one can be wrong. That being said this is my tale so I’ll tell it...I prefer to compare Kirby to Nick since that’s his mentor. I compare Richt to Bowden since that was his. Either way, the end of the beginning started on December 1st 2018 and the beginning of the end of the Saban era started January 7th, 2019 opinion sayin of course

        • First of all LegHumperU, don’t use the old adage we led 118 out of 120 minutes. The end of the 120th minute (00:00) is all that matters. I’d be willing to bet most people remember Bama winning 26-23 than being down 20-7 and Bama winning 35-28 than being down 28-14.

          So Saban has to win another natty this year to get back to glory? Going 14-1 last year and losing badly to Clemson has sunk the ship? If Dabo doesn’t win a natty this season has he lost his edge? Absolutely not! He WILL be back again and again.

          LSU is doing very well this season but have not beaten Bama since 2011. Pump the brakes a little on that one.

          I think we can safely say (even by your comments) that the SECE is a one bid team and the SECW is pretty much wide open. The West is overwhelmingly stronger than the East and it’s not even debatable.

          In the CFP era Bama and Clemson are 2-2. Bama winning the first and third 45-40 and 24-6. Clemson winning 35-31 and 44-16. Pretty much even.

          Saban will turn 68 in October and he is in excellent health. He still has a fiery passion for the game, can recruit at a high level and could retire in a few years or go for another ten.

          Are Georgia and Clemson a great team and competing with Bama in recruiting? Absolutely! Are they competing for nattys? Absolutely! Are they great coaches? Absolutely! I think your premature in writing Saban off as your “beginning of the end started last January.

        • “When you’re done arguing with yourself just remember, it’s opinion so no one can be wrong”

          Oh ok... So you’re not right since it’s an opinion....

          “Either way, the end of the beginning started on December 1st 2018 and the beginning of the end of the Saban era started January 7th, 2019 opinion sayin of course”

          Remember no matter how many times you state your opinion it doesn’t make it correct... Fact is, under Kirby UGA is 0-2 against Bama. Same ole song and dance.

        • Nice response sds67...like I said as a rival fan...it’s a cool dream!
          And like you said Nick is 68 and is growing tired of having to fill key staff openings every year. It wore down Spurrier and it’s wearing on Nick but for now he’s still the goat. However staying on top of the mountain isn’t getting any easier and the fall is steep. Enjoy what you guys have right now for time is ticking and it ain’t Nick’s ally. But in my opinion (YES BT that means it’s neither right or wrong) Coach Saban will forever be remembered as the goat of goats...

        • LeghumperU, your opinion would be more credible if it were backed up by facts. Opinions can, in fact, be wrong. Facts are facts. Alternative facts are false statements. Plenty of people have the opinion that Tom Brady sucks. However, the facts tell a different story. You can have the opinion that evolution isn't real. The facts tell a different story. Children can have the opinion that there's no reason to go to school. The facts tell a different story. Point is, opinions can absolutely be wrong. The facts in this case are simple: Bama continues to be the top recruiting program in the nation, as backed up by facts. One year winning the recruiting battle does not place Georgia ahead of Bama in that regard. Bama continues to put more players on the NFL than any other program, by a mile. In fact, Florida, Texas, and LSU fighting over which programs is DBU is cute when you look at the facts that Bama has more DB in the NFL than any other program. And lastly, Georgia has not beaten Bama since 2007. Until Georgia can beat Bama on a consistent basis, claiming Georgia is about to take over Bama for top program is laughable. Georgia will get a win against Bama one of these days but it'll be just that, one win. The fall of Saban will not happen because of one win just as it hasn't happened with Clemson's two wins. Until the public's mindset changes, as in Bama isn't perceived as the favorite year in and out, Saban and Bama are still the mountain and everyone else is still trying to climb it.

        • I can appreciate what you’re saying Cody and I sure wish I had my WarBuzzardU pal to explain it to you, he’s so much better at explaining but here goes...
          a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge is the first definition of opinion.
          Further, An opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or statement that is not conclusive therefore it cannot ne right or wrong. Ask wiki.
          A given opinion may deal with subjective matters in which there is no conclusive finding, or it may deal with facts which are sought to be disputed by the logical fallacy that one is entitled to their opinions.

          Distinguishing fact from opinion is that facts are verifiable, i.e. can be agreed to by the consensus of experts. An example is: "United States of America was involved in the Vietnam War," versus "United States of America was right to get involved in the Vietnam War". An opinion may be supported by facts and principles, in which case it becomes an argument.

          Different people may draw opposing conclusions (opinions) even if they agree on the same set of facts. Opinions rarely change without new arguments being presented. It can be reasoned that one opinion is better supported by the facts than another but getting back and contrary to your initial point made that opinions can be wrong, Cody...I stand by my opinion backed up by factual definition that opinions on their own can never be right or wrong. Hope that helps...

        • As for your example of the opinion that Tom Brady does or doesn’t suck, on its own that opinion is neither right or wrong. I’d need more information, are we talking water thru a straw? Or perhaps beer thru that small opening in a can? are we talking his QB skills? With more fact that would certainly kick us out of opinion space and into multiple argument space at which point we could probably reason out right and wrong. See the difference?

  • Allow me to be the naysayer.

    So ... it looks like Alabama, LSU and even Auburn have taken to recruiting all those 4 and 5 star RBs just to have them standing around or to be used as blockers and outlet receivers in the passing game? So the SEC is going full on Big 12 now? As if the Big 12 has won anything since embracing Mike Leach ball?

    Well this is good news for UGA. They can let 5 star RB recruits know that they are the only program left that will let them put up big stats and develop the all around game needed to be first round draft picks and rookie starters in the NFL. I wonder if John Emery at LSU - who has 9 whole carries through 3 games - regrets his decision to back out of his UGA commitment and go to the Tigers.

    I wasn't rooting for UGA to win the SECCG before, but if it means rescuing real football in this conference then let them win this year and the next 2 years also. I don't know why people think that you need to go air raid to score points. Those David Cutcliffe Tennessee teams with Peyton Manning and Tee Martin scored plenty using a pro-style offense. So did LSU when Jimbo Fisher was the OC. So did USC when they had Leinart/Bush. So did FSU during the Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke eras. So did Miami the Ken Dorsey years. LSU did also when they had JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn. Auburn did under Jason Campbell. Georgia did with Aaron Murray (they didn't win a title because of the OL and defense, not the offensive scheme). And yes Alabama did with AJ McCarron.

    Once you give up the running game everything else goes soft. The defense. The line play. Recruiting. EVERYTHING. Proof of this? The Big 12. They - and the Big 8 and SWC before them - used to be the epitome of power football, with just enough speed on the edges. They still had this going on in 2004 with Texas having a 6'5", 230 lb. dual threat QB, a huge OL and a future Pro Bowl NFL tailback (would have been 2 but sadly one of them decided to go the narcotics route) and a secondary that featured 3 future NFL starters and 2 future NFL backups (plus some pretty good players at DL and LB) which was the last Big 12 team to win a meaningful postseason game. And look at that conference now.

    So go Bulldogs! Here's hoping that Swift and company put up 350 rushing yards against Bama, and that "the master of the pre-snap read" Jake Fromm does his thing also. If that's what it takes to save SEC football so be it.

    • I’m king negan and I wholeheartedly agree with this one in an old school manner of speak...10 point deduction for failure to use cAPs!
      All kidding aside I think you naysay some very good points, nice opinion piece...my opinion is I love old school battle in the trenches football...

    • My opinion is most won’t read that as soon as they see who posted it..

      You’re already the “naysayer” with all your posts..

    • Talking about how college football was 10 plus years ago doesn’t mean a lot today. LSU couldn’t score when it mattered most, so they adjusted. You can be the guy that keeps banging his head against the wall and getting the same results if you like, but smart people adjust. Burrow is the same qb LSU has last season, but LSU is putting up way more points this season. Neither Clemson or Bama is playing old school football now, but they have combined for the last four national championships. That’s the goal. LSU is working to perfect this new offense and doing a pretty good job of it. The nfl has been a QB league for a long time. The teams that win there can throw the ball. Running backs need to be able to block and catch passes out of the backfield, along with carry the ball. Emery is learning that and his time will come. I doubt he has any regrets at this point.

      • Huh? You are missing what I wrote, probably purposefully. Why?
        First off, Clemson IS NOT playing true air raid. They run the ball plenty and everyone knows that they could run it even more if they had to. Clemson has the threat of the run game in their back pocket, and that makes the passing game more effective. Against Bama Etienne was getting over 6 yards per carry and had 2 TDs, but they only gave it to him 14 times because throwing it deep was more fun.

        But forget Clemson ... what about Alabama? They beat Clemson in 2015 and 2017 with power running games including Derrick Henry and his 2000 rushing yards. So they lose one game and all of a sudden what they were doing was outdated? Oklahoma has been failing with Mike Leach ball since 2003! All they have done in response is change coordinators a million times and ultimately change the head coach but no one in that conference has ever stepped back and asked themselves whether the air raid is the problem.

        Even if you MUST run the spread, there is also the power spread. That is what Texas won the title with in 2005. It is what Auburn won the title with in 2010. Ohio State won it - against Bama - in 2014 with Ezekiel Elliot running over everybody. But ultimately, the inability to run the ball and throw at the same time is a peculiarity that afflicted only LSU. (And lately Stanford I guess). Everybody else - Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Clemson, Ohio State, FSU during the Winston era - has been able to manage it just fine. If Joe Burrow needs the air raid to be effective then there is a reason why he couldn't beat out Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State because Dobbins and Weber came within a hair of both having 1000 rushing yards (Dobbins 1050, Weber 950).

    • You seem to lump anything not pro-style in the same bucket. Hell, even the people running pro-systems are using the shotgun and RPOs. You want to see ground and pound? Look at Auburn in 2013. The only thing keeping Gus from running that system this year is not having a capable OL.

      • My favorite team ever was Nebraska in 1994-95. Regardless of what goes on at the pro level - which is becoming increasingly unwatchable - running the ball is what leads to titles on the college level more often than not. In recent years the QBs with their flag football schemes have been winning all the Heismans while the schools that play real football have been winning the titles. Yes I include Clemson in the "real football" thing because they are generally able to run the football when they need to, and what's more do so with guys who weren't exactly parade all-american 5 star recruits at tailback.

      • I like it! Kirby is 0-2 against Nick and Bama. got blownout by Lsu.Kirby cant beat Nick, Nicks in his head.His record against his assistants speaks for itself.What good does it do the dawgs to have all the 4 and 5 stars if you don't win a championship.Recruiting will fall off in a few years.Kirby's selling all these kids on Natys right now.Fact is if dawgs cant get one in next year or two is what 4 or 5 star is going to sign up just to win the East.

        • I couldn’t agree with you more lizardjimbo...I see mass exodus of 5star talent leaving Georgia for GatorbaitorU, don’t you? After all, Dandy Dan Mullet has won division, conference and national championships where ever he’s coached at, yes?

        • If any fanbase should know about making wishes it has to be UGA fans...

          The problem is the house falls on the dawgs every year...

        • That problem is being addressed every recruiting year...this year is no different. Lots of stars staring back at you in Tuscaloosa next year...more than ever assembled by a visiting team...

        • It was impressive how UGA with all those stars performed against LSU and Texas... I mean UGA had more stars then those teams but managed less points when it was all done...

          All that talent to finish with 3 losses... If making excuses and crying resulted in Championships UGA would be #1 at the end of the year every year...

          Instead it’s the same ole UGA..

        • Thought you would like to hear this update for Saturday LeghumperU visiting list..
          At least seven prospects with a 5-star rating
          7 4 and 5 star UGA commits for 2020
          At least 21 prospects who rate among the Top 10 prospects for their position (247Sports Composite ratings)
          At least 18 Top 100 prospects
          1 UGA commit for 2021
          5-star UGA commit Kendall Milton will also be in town from California
          James Williams, a 5-star safety target
          And oh, by the way Theo said he wants to drop in also.
          End of an era I tell you!

        • Again LeghumperU, recruiting a bunch of 5* and then proceeding to lose 2-3 games a year and constantly coming up short, means nothing. Georgia can keep bringing in elite talent but if the results continue not to reflect it, that talent will begin to drop off. In fact, Georgia has seen more 5* talent transfer in the past two years than either Bama or Clemson. It's hard to take the "end of an era" proclamation seriously when Bama continues to bring in higher rated classes each year. Georgia beat Bama once since Kirby took over. And Saban has translated that to playing in the past four NCG, with two wins, and by sending more players to the NFL than any other program. Kirby has translated his recruiting success to 2-3 loss seasons and constantly coming up short. Saban has handled the negative recruiting tactic of Kirby with aplomb so far while Kirby has taken his recruiting wins and fallen short multiple times. The "end of an era" is a "cool dream" but it's just a dream not reality.

        • I hear you Cody but it’s the constantly coming up short opinion part in your response that ain’t registering with this thick skulled bulldawg...former ELITE DC of TrunksnorterU has only been the HBC of LeghumperU for 3 years so that hardly qualifies as constantly. I’m willing to give him the same amount of time it took Sir Nick to win his first one before I can agree with that harsh assessment, especially in light of the fact that our new young HBC has almost as many Natty rings to show recruits that Nick has...
          You want to know what I see when Kirby’s pups are on the field with Nick’s pachyderms? I see a young Dabo trying to figure out a way to beat oldd man Spurrier...how about you?

        • So now you’re bragging about recruits visiting UGA...

          AlwaysnextyearU is hanging onto any straw they can grasp with Richt 2.0

        • U meant Nick 2.0 but I hear ya BT. It’s quite an impressive list AGAIN. We LeghumperU fans rarely, more like probably never had the opportunity to witness such Nick Sabsnesque elite STAR power potential recruits on our side of the field until the last few years under Nick 2.0...I’m stoked, and I don’t mean measily 3 Star prospect Eric Stoke(d)s, the elite DB that joined us last year that Kirby and crew have molded into the next Deandre Baker... you probably remember Stokes, he was the one that made Ruggs irrelevant last year...but anyhoot, moving along...in the words of GREAT WALL of LeghumperS architect Samuel Pittman....yesssss sirrrrreeee we looking good at nextyearU!
          7 5star visitors to mingle with the 3 or 4 already committed...can I get a Go Dawgs from ya BT?

        • The more recruits Kirby got the worse he did... He did better with Richts recruits....

          A 3 loss season and not making the playoffs is about a Richt as you can get...

        • May want to go for the tampon super supersize this month BT ... you’re coming across a tad bit testier this period

  • Hold the applause until after they play LSU and Auburn. That thud you just heard is the Alabama O.Just like Clemson last year.

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