John Sommers II
The Dawgs are in need of a bounce-back. Come to think of it, the Manic-Depressive Previewers are, too. Are the Wildcats the cure for what ails them?
You haven't heard from our Manic-Depressive Preview team in a couple weeks, which is just as well considering what happened in (and immediately after) the South Carolina game. Depressive Doug had to have a rotating team of friends and co-workers around him for four solid days just to keep him away from sharp objects, while Manic Doug . . . well, let's just say the phrases "three-day bender," "liquor store," "shoulder of I-75" and "no pants" figure heavily into the story. Luckily, both of them have (mostly) recovered in time to hash out what should be a bounce-back opportunity for the Dawgs in Lexington, Kentucky, this weekend.
Depressive Doug: You're a good person and people respect you. They respect your team, too. Sometimes not everything goes the way you want it to, but that doesn't mean that you're a bad person or that you root for a bad team. You're a good person and people respect you . . .
Manic Doug: Come on, dude, I gotta use the bathroom. What the hell are you doing in there?
DD: I'm doing my daily affirmations. My therapist says it'll do me good to pump myself up a little each morning and remind myself that my team doesn't totally suck.
MD: What, is this all about the South Carolina game?
DD: [voice wavering slightly] YOU'RE A GOOD PERSON AND PEOPLE RESPECT YOU. THEY RESPECT YOUR TEAM, TOO. SOMETIMES NOT EVERYTHING GOES THE WAY YOU WANT IT TO . . .
MD: Dude, get the hell out of there so I can pee. You don't need to be bothering with this hippie psychobabble "free to be you and me" crap, either. You know what you need to feel good about the Dawgs again? Watching them whup Kentucky all up and down the field for four quarters.
DD: Why would that make me feel better? Kentucky's terrible.
MD: Exactly! We'll watch Georgia utterly dominate someone, it'll remind you of all the things we're still really good at, and it might lift your spirits a bit before we head down to Jacksonville for the Cocktail Party.
DD: OK, number one, blowing out Kentucky would mean absolutely nothing with respect to how we're going to perform against the Gators. Number two, what makes you so convinced we're going to blow them out at all?
MD: Have I not mentioned they're terrible?
DD: Yeah, but they were terrible last year, too, and we screwed around for nearly three solid quarters before putting the game away. Two years before that, we lost to Kentucky at home. The year before that we got stuck in a shootout with the Wildcats that wasn't decided until the very last play.
MD: You don't understand how bad the 'Cats are this year, though. Yeah, they're usually pretty mediocre, but they have one win so far this season — against Kent State — and just got finished getting blown off the map by an Arkansas team everybody figured had packed it in for the season. Actually, let me correct that: They didn't get finished getting blown off the map by Arkansas, because they called the game due to weather with five minutes left in the third quarter. At that point Kentucky had already given up 49 points and 533 yards of offense. What makes you think we can't match that?
DD: For one thing, because we're going on the road. For another, we've had two weeks to stew about how bad we looked in Columbia and how our SEC title hopes are now hanging by a thread.
MD: So you think we're going to carry such a "woe-is-me" attitude into Lexington that we're actually going to get played close by a 1-6 Kentucky team that has nothing better to look forward to at the end of the season than firing its coach?
DD: It could totally happen. Look, I'll make one concession here: I don't see Kentucky stopping our offense, or if they do, they won't do it consistently. They've only picked off two passes all season long, so Aaron Murray will pretty much be able to decide how many yards he wants to throw for, and they haven't stopped the run all that well either, which means their defensive front is going to be raw meat for Gurley and Marshall.
MD: See, now you've got the right attitude.
DD: But it won't matter as much if the offense doesn't spend enough time on the field, and the offense won't spend as much time on the field if we can't get our defense off it.
MD: So what are you saying? That our defense is gonna let Kentucky go wild or something? You're talking about a team that's in the bottom 20 in every statistical category on offense except for passing yards, in which they're 93rd. You're talking about a rushing attack that's only rolled up 748 yards, as a team, all season — Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall alone have more than a thousand.
DD: Weren't you the one telling me a couple weeks ago how South Carolina's offense was so conservative that we'd have an easy time stopping them?
MD: I don't know what you're talking about.
DD: Color me shocked. Look, no, Kentucky doesn't have a good offense. Neither did Buffalo or Florida Atlantic, and you saw what they did to us before we got our heads screwed on straight. The fact is, our defense just hasn't performed up to its billing this season, and now we're going to be headed to Lexington without Jarvis Jones, whom we're resting because of his groin injury. Without him, where does our pass rush come from?
MD: Who cares! For one thing, Kentucky's line isn't protecting their QB all that spectacularly to begin with. For another, they're starting a true freshman, Jalen Whitlow, at quarterback this weekend. Against that sieve of a pass defense at Arkansas, he completed two passes in ten attempts. And statistically, that was his best game of the season!
DD: One of those completions did go for a 61-yard touchdown, though.
MD: Yeah, after Kentucky was already down 49-0 — to Arkansas, might I remind you, a team that had given every indication of having packed it in just a few weeks ago.
DD: It's not Whitlow's arm I'm primarily worried about, it's his legs. Our 3-4 defense, which supposedly was going to put us in a better position to defend against all those spread offenses that have been popping up in the SEC, is once again getting gashed by mobile QBs. It happened against Buffalo, it happened against South Carolina . . .
MD: Dude, we're talking about a true freshman quarterback. You can't ask me to start quaking in my boots about this kid. It just ain't gonna happen.
DD: Fine. As usual, I'll do the worrying for both of us so you can just go on being irrationally confident.
MD: It's not irrational to think that a Georgia team in need of taking out some frustration is going to hammer a Kentucky team that hasn't won an SEC game all year. Murray's going to tear their secondary to shreds, both Gurley and Marshall are going to rack up 100 rushing yards apiece, and we're going to crack the half-century mark for the third time this season. Meanwhile, Jordan Jenkins will pick up right where his roommate Jarvis Jones left off and terrorize that poor kid playing QB for the Wildcats. We'll have the spread covered by halftime and go on to win 52-13.
DD: If we played up to our talent level rather than down to theirs, I'd almost be inclined to agree with you. But we've been sleepwalking on defense all season long, particularly in the first halves of games, and there's no reason to think that's going to stop now. I think we'll rack up some impressive yardage, but Kentucky will keep it close thanks to a mobile QB and injuries to our defensive front, and once again we'll be sitting scratching our heads at halftime wondering why we aren't ahead by more. We'll start pulling away in the second half once depth starts to take over, but not decisively, since everyone's going to start looking ahead toward the Florida game once they decide this one's more or less in hand. I'm gonna say we'll only be ahead by six or seven at halftime, and we'll come out with a win by the score of 38-27.
MD: Eugh. Well, you've described an ugly game, all right.
DD: Wow, Georgia playing an ugly game against an overmatched opponent. There's certainly no precedent for that, is there.
MD: Yes, Captain Sarcastic, I see what you did there. Well, in spite of your attempts to harsh my buzz over a game Georgia should win going away, our predictions still average out to a 45-20 Georgia victory. I think we can do better, but I guess I'll take it.
DD: Very gracious of you. I'm sure the team is thrilled to receive your validation.
MD: Thanks, but they're not gonna need it. You'll see. They're gonna roll this weekend, and with that victory under their belts, they're gonna have plenty of momentum heading into Jacksonville.
DD: Oh, God. I don't even want to think about that game right now.
MD: Why? Because Florida is soooo good this season? Don't even get me started on how we're going to shock the hell out of them in a couple weeks.
DD: YOU'RE A GOOD PERSON AND PEOPLE RESPECT YOU. THEY RESPECT YOUR TEAM, TOO. SOMETIMES NOT EVERYTHING GOES THE WAY YOU WANT IT TO . . .