Unverified Voracity Flew To South Bend

Unverified Voracity Flew To South Bend

Submitted by Brian on September 12th, 2017 at 12:36 PM

Sea of red. Georgia played Notre Dame last weekend and this is what it looked like:

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Old friend of the blog Braves and Birds has an article about this remarkable screenshot, pointing out that this was literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for Georgia fans and they reacted accordingly. Somewhat similar scenes might play out if other fanbases were afforded an opportunity to go see a college football cathedral instead of a sterile NFL stadium that still smelled of Phil Simms:

...the reaction of Dawg fans to the chance to travel to South Bend is a reminder that there is huge, untapped demand among big college football fan bases to see their teams play other elite programs on the road and not at NFL stadiums.

One way to illustrate this point is to look at how the most popular programs have never visited one another. Here are the top 10 in attendance from 2016: Michigan, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Penn State, Texas, Georgia, and Nebraska. There are 90 potential home-and-home combinations among those teams. In over a century of football, 33 of these matchups have never happened. That’s a bevy of road trips that big fan bases have never gotten to take.

I say "somewhat" because Notre Dame is especially vulnerable to this kind of takeover because of the nature of their fanbase and ticketing. Large chunks of the fanbase merely put their names in a lottery for certain games annually. The proportion of season ticket holders is (probably) much lower than other schools due to the national nature of ND's fanbase. Also these fans have a lot to pay attention to, what with the Yankees, Duke, and Manchester United all existing. With Notre Dame at a low ebb it might make sense for a frontrunner in NYC to sell his tickets in a way that it doesn't for someone who shows up to every game every year.

Unfortunately irrelevant. Oklahoma took OSU to the woodshed in their own building on Saturday. This was fun, but as I was watching it I was struck by how irrelevant it was for Michigan's chances down the road. Oklahoma's offense is built to neutralize defensive line advantages by using a metric ton of misdirection and the threat of the QB's legs. Ian Boyd has a breakdown of what happened, nearly all of which is unreplicable by Michigan—at least as they stand now.

Boyd accidentally twists the knife a bit at the end:

It pays to have a senior QB going on four years of starting, with a knack for playmaking off the cuff, when you are trying to get after a top-five opponent on the road.

Michigan can't get their QB to the OSU game healthy about half the time and never when he's a senior.

If it doesn't make sense it's probably not true. Basic advice for basic columnists, but apparently necessary:

SB Nation did a fine job reporting the contents of Lewis' testimony to the NCAA a couple of weeks ago, but it may have buried the lead.

Within the piece, Lewis' mother Tina Henderson told a former Ole Miss assistant that LSU had offered $650,000 for the services of her son.

If even close to the truth, that amount of money changes everything we know about cheating in college athletics. If even close to the truth, this case isn't so much about Ole Miss cheating but the lengths any wrongdoer would be willing to go.

And there is reason to believe $650,000 is close to the truth. I checked with the story's author, Steven Godfrey, and he said confirmed the figure wasn't a typo on his part or the person transcribing the testimony.

Instead we are supposed to believe that Leo Lewis took barely more than 10% of that to play for Mississippi State. The inclusion of the LSU number throws that whole article into doubt, because it makes it look like Godfrey is just repeating what people tell him without sanity checking anything. IE, Godfrey is being Steven Godfrey.

If LSU genuinely offered over a half-million dollars for Leo Lewis, 1) he'd be at LSU and 2) LSU's hypothetical budget for their #5 2015 class is... what, ten million dollars? Of private money? Cumong man.

Some Speight numbers. Tom VanHaaren has some bins to put Speight throws in

Facing blitzes, Speight completed just over 33 percent of his throws, as opposed to completing 61.1 percent with no pressure. On the season, he's completing just over 51.9 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. ...

Through two games when Speight is passing in the middle of the field between the numbers, he has completed 76.4 percent of his passes for 396 yards. Outside the numbers on the left and right side of the field, when out of the pocket, Speight only has completed 10 percent of his passes for 6 yards.

The first paragraph above does help paint a picture of a guy who gets sped up and loses his mechanics; that latter bin is almost all last resort scramble drill stuff, I'd imagine. Also I see "10 percent" in a paragraph with "76.4 percent" and assume that's exactly ten throws. Still very limited data there.

Out. Donovan Jeter will miss the season with an injury. Jeter had bulked up to 290 and was pushing for time at three tech—3-3-5 nose 50% of the time now, I guess. That was the one spot on the front that could sustain a hit with Dwumfour and Marshall providing additional, non-true-freshman depth.

I guess it was the gunners after all. Harbaugh on the DPJ punt follies:

"We got some things fixed there," Harbaugh said. "It wasn't Donovan Peoples -- when we watched the film, these gunners got out too fast. And then they're making their block next to Donovan."

He didn't have an opportunity to field a couple of those punts because of his own teammates. The last one he had an opportunity on was very very bad and on him since there was no teammate in the area; in the stands we speculated that he'd lost it in the sun.

Harbaugh says DPJ will be back out there because he is not a "mistake repeater."

Another pronunciation note. I am bad at pronouncing things, but I can't be held responsible for "McCune" when it's not spelled like that. I am coping. Thank you for your cards and letters. Similarly, Tyree Kinnel:

"It's Kinn-ill," Kinnel said Monday night on the "Inside Michigan Football" radio show. "A lot of people say Ka-nell. It's been like that all of my life, so I'm used to it."

Life is a struggle, and never more so than when you're saying something out loud that you've mostly—or only—read before. Or trying to say Rod Gilmore's name more than once.

Etc.: The Power Rank on randomness. Harbaugh, decorous. Study Hall stat profiles up. Exit 2019 hockey commit Alec Regula to the OHL. He was a midround pick maybe, so not a disaster. Indiana's OL, on the other hand, is a disaster. Mason Cole on his decision to return. If you want some more fun OU-OSU numbers. Booing: for jerks. This isn't an NFL game, jerks!

Jim Delany is absolutely shameless and obviously published this during football season because I'm too busy to eviscerate this jackalope.

Friday Recruitin’ Talks Big Tackles

Friday Recruitin’ Talks Big Tackles

Submitted by Seth on January 6th, 2017 at 5:11 PM

Brian is out sick so this is my first shot at one of these. I’m not as plugged in as the other guys so if I missed something important leave it in the comments. Mostly this is going to be Army Game practice stuff.

No Blind Siding

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Michigan target Chuck Filiaga, with normal-sized humans [U.S. Army All-American Bowl, via USA Today]

Let’s start with the good news: Crystal balls to Michigan are still flying in for 4* TX OT Chuck Filiaga, who’s a 6’6/335 pound shot at a starting left tackle that Michigan desperately needs. Filiaga will be at right tackle during the Army Game because his team is full of LTs. His decision, between Michigan, Oklahoma, and Nebraska is scheduled for noon.

Even if Filiaga enters the fold, Michigan is not done recruiting potential tackles. Next likeliest target, 3* OT Mekhi Becton, told Maize and Brew that Michigan remains “definitely high on my list.” Michigan also make the top three for AL 3* OT Toryque Bateman, though grades and the likelihood of other commits coming/sticking makes that seem unlikely now.

Obligatory Najee Section: We are linebackers

You have been a good recruiting follower so you’ve so far managed to refrain from watching the parade of ankleless linebackers following 5* CA RB Najee Harris to various endzones. The recruiting industry is finding him just as slippery. We are now officially past the Flight Aware segment of the recruitment and on to Flight Plan Aware. 247’s Bart Simmons first wrote yesterday that Army Bowl people said they’re flying Harris back home after the game, but then said a source told him Harris had requested a change to the wrong Birmingham:

Per a source, Harris has requested a flight change — asking to land in Birmingham now, instead of back home in California (Oakland). That would put the running back on Alabama's campus by Sunday evening at the latest as an early-enrollee, ending a dizzying back-and-forth between Alabama and Michigan that's worn on for months.

I maintain that you should ignore virtually everything until Harris is literally on campus at one school or the other on Monday, since that is quite apparently his preferred method of announcement. Bama people seem confident, Michigan people seem confident. Rivals had their national analysts weigh in, with votes going 2-1 in favor of the Tide. Harris has denied everything. Look closely at anyone new in your freshman seminar Monday.

Willie Being Silly?

The last round of interviews from San Antonio with MS 4* OLB Willie Gay have convinced reporters that LSU now leads Michigan and Mississippi State for what would be the first life form to ever escape “the Sip.” For their part LSU is taking Gay’s sudden interest very seriously, with Tigers linebacker commit Patrick Queen rescheduling his official to coincide with Gay’s. Sam Webb confirmed that LSU is the stated leader

"Really all of my schools are even. LSU has probably got a little bit high, a little bit. I don't know where I'm going to go yet but LSU has moved up a little bit higher."

…but reported that Gay’s family is still heavily favoring Michigan, and this doesn’t sound like someone who’s moved on:

"They didn't move down,” he said.  “When I went to Michigan it was like, perfect. Everything I ever wanted in a school… academics, I feel like I was at home still (and) the weather wasn't that bad to me. I was cool with the cold weather. I loved it."

Gay called the report that LSU leads “kind of accurate.” Call me a homer but I think this one has a lot of elements of a guy who’s messing with reporters. Michigan does still have to weather an official visit to down-the-street Mississippi State in addition to that to LSU on the 20th. I doubt it’s done.

Wille a Will? Possibly relevant, according to SEC Country LSU is recruiting him at WLB:

LSU is courting Gay as a WILL linebacker to help pad the team’s depth at a crucial position.

If you remember your Wisconsin previews, Aranda’s 3-4 has a WILL that’s a second middle linebacker—think Mike McCray’s job—so no they’re not trying to make him Vince Biegel, but neither are they calling him a slot overhang guy. Michigan has made it clear he would play the multifarious Peppers SAM spot.

Thinking

Possibly unrelatedly, this got tweeted:

Big Nose Tackle Options are Shrinking

You would think if there is only one word in the English language that an uncommitted prospect can put before “Michigan” to erase any doubt about his intentions, it’s “F---.” Well, 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon dropped just that particular bomb this week in a Periscope to fellow former Michigan commit WR Jeremiah Holloman (now a 4* UGA commit). A day later Solomon apologized on twitter to Michigan fans.

So: we’re done? Not quite. Sam said on his segment today that Michigan is still after him hard, which WTF?

I guess there are two ways to look at it: On one hand perhaps Aubrey was consoling a friend who apparently got pushed out of the class by higher-rated receivers. The other way to look at it is “What is literally the last thing you want to hear from a guy Michigan is recruiting?”. The likelihood of Option B is the likelihood this is officially happy trails. If you’re holding out for the sympathy words excuse, Michigan still has a lot of ground to make up.

That leaves Michigan’s hopes for a guy who can instantly spell Mone next year down to just UT 4* DT Jay Tufele. While Ohio State was a major factor earlier in this recruitment, lately the sense has been that hometown Utah has moved ahead of both Midwestern rivals. Michigan’s former director of player personnel Tony Tuioti leaving to become DL coach at Fresno State could not have helped the Wolverines’ chances. However Tufele told Sam at the Army Game practices today that at least distance won’t be a deciding factor:

“It was never a factor,” he reiterated. “For me going away or going home… it’s either one. It’s just at the end of the day it is going to be wherever best fits me… that’s where I’m going to go.”

While painting the picture of a Ryan Glasgow-like player, Sam noted the relationship with Bryan Mone. Official visits to USC and Utah loom for a now-crucial recruitment that could go a lot of ways. Scout…uh scout Brandon Huffman also chimed in on why Tufele’s a big deal:

Through the first part of the week, Tufele has been the MVP of the defense. He's yet to lose rep in the one-on-ones and when he went against the East interior offensive linemen during Tuesday's practice, he was beating them repeatedly just as he was the O-linemen for the West team. Tufele has a cat-quick first step and grown man strength. Tufele is considering BYU, Michigan, Ohio State, USC and Utah.

While BYU and USC are probably placeholders, Michigan has at best as good a chance as the other two, which equals not a great chance.

At least our scouting works. Once again solid Oregon commit Rutger Reitmaier is making everybody’s lists for top performers at the Army practices. 247’s Bart Simmons’s East team update depressingly mentioned two names familiar to Michigan fans this cycle as standout defensive tackles: Reitmaier, and OG prospect Tedarrell Slaton, who’s expected to commit to Florida. Slaton was also the largest prospect in attendance, weighing in at 363 lbs.

The Sabanification of Georgia is Not a Good Development

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After leading for a year for AL 4* WR Nico Collins, suddenly it appears Georgia has made it a game. Wiltfong:

A source close to Clay-Chalkville Top247 receiver Nico Collins told 247Sports this week he thinks Michigan and Georgia are on top.

He added he thinks will be the Bulldogs and not the Wolverines that ultimately sign the four-star recruit.

That would indeed be an upset of greater magnitude than turning around Isaiah Wilson, since Collins made multiple visits to Michigan on his own dime. He’ll announce on national signing day.

The Dawgs showing some bite on the recruiting trail after Kirby Smart’s first season ended 8-5 in the Liberty Bowl has caused some people in our community to wonder what’s going on down there. The answer is that it was far more extraordinary that Richt had Georgia at merely Lloyd Carr level in the Age of the SEC. Georgia is twice the recruiting ground of any other SEC state save Florida, and in-state rival GT is less of a threat than Michigan State is to us. Plus, Athens is gorgeous, admittedly as nice a town/campus as Ann Arbor; I can personally attest that their gameday atmosphere is unreal. And Georgia's not a bad school either.

I’m sure some Bama stuff is going on there, but the real reason they’re a threat to Michigan now is because Michigan has chosen to invade SEC territory and compete against the best the SEC has to offer.

Scouting Updates on Committed Recruits

Sam Webb did a feature this morning on WTKA on the Michigan guys he’s watched and spoken to down in San Antonio, and while I couldn’t get the Audioboom recording to work  MGoUser ColelsCorky kindly summarized it on our board. Among tidbits in there that weren’t mentioned already, Ambry Thomas looks like an early contributor, Deron Irving-Bey is unrefined but also Young Taco-like off the edge, and Tarik Black has been a “revelation.” Huffman’s scouting report agreed on the last:

The Michigan commit has consistently made plays all week and impressed with his smooth route running for being a bigger framed kid. He has shown good, reliable hands and ball skills as well.

Sam and Josh Newkirk caught up with Black on Wednesday and asked him to name his (homer) pick for top cornerback he’s faced, which offers us a nice segue into MI 4* CB Ambry Thomas:

“I’m not being biased or anything like that cause he’s a Michigan commit. But I do think he’s the best corner out here.”

Adding: “He’s a technician, a long ranging guy and has a lot of speed. You've got to work him to get open.”

Another Michigan recruit who could challenge for early playing time, DE/DT Donovan Jeter got a new eval from Brian Dohn, and it sounds like one of those that could accompany a ratings bump:

Final Thought: Jeter offers position flexibility, which is a great thing for a staff and a player. He can be a defensive end, particularly on the weakside where he can use his length and quickness in his first two steps, or he can add weight and strength and move inside. His body can easily handle 290 pounds, and keeping his quickness is not a concern. His hand speed will also allow him to be successful on the interior of the defensive line.

At 6’6/261 Jeter seems large enough to be in the mix for some standard-down spelling of Chase Winovich as a more Taco-shaped WDE, or Rashan Gary’s backup at SDE immediately. Since Gary is expected to take off some of Hurst’s load at tackle this year, the Anchor position has plenty of snaps available.

The Distant Future 2018

After talking up SEC football 6’6 NJ TE Elijah McAllister told Steve Wiltfong he grew up a Michigan fan and that Michigan has been in contact. I may have posted that just for this quote:

“I liked the SEC culture, everyone is great down South. Growing up in New Jersey, a lot of fast-moving people, not everyone is nice. Down South everyone is nice.

MGoBlog’s official Southern correspondent BiSB reports that “Bless your heart” is actually Tennesseean for “F--- you!”, but as we noted above that doesn’t necessarily mean they hate you.

Unverified Voracity Should Run The Option

Unverified Voracity Should Run The Option

Submitted by Brian on October 17th, 2016 at 12:26 PM

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[Eric Upchurch]

The best quote. ESPN was offered full and frank access to a Wisconsin DBs meeting before the Ohio State game. This was kind of a questionable decision since ESPN published some takes on OSU's personnel that would seem to have a negative impact on Wisconsin's ability to use said takes. For example, Jim Leonhard's take on Curtis Samuel would seem ripe for Samuel to break tendency:

"You watch him, the thing that he gets guys on is if he kind of goes lazy in a route, don't believe it," Leonhard said. "He'll stem you. He's going to break hard as hell. Everything he's going to do, he's going to be patient at the top of routes. But if he starts just kind of bending into something, he's going opposite. Don't fall for the trap."

I almost always think coach secrecy is absurd paranoia but I was shocked Wisconsin let this get published, especially before the game even happened.

Anyway, at the end of the piece there is a quote directly relevant to your interests:

"You just have to communicate, which you've done a really good job of," he said. "Is that nearly as hard as Michigan last week? Michigan was something new every single snap. These guys are almost the complete opposite. You'll watch the game and be like, 'Damn, they did exactly what we saw.' We'll just have to see early recognizing the formations that they're going to be in, then we'll motion."

I can't tell you how many times during the Carr era that we'd be on the other end of that quote, with teams playing Michigan and then stating that M did exactly what they saw on film and nothing else. I love the alternative.

Meanwhile the other side of the ball just got the same makeover. I love that Michigan went out and got Defensive Jim Harbaugh in Don Brown. Michigan's gone from a very simple defense under Durkin to a blizzard of different looks. Craig Ross mentioned on WTKA that a Power 5 offensive coordinator told him that he spent most of BC week just trying to figure out what the hell Brown was doing.

Michigan is now an incredibly difficult opponent to prepare for on either side of the ball.

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Brock Spack's best attribute is his mustache. This is a compliment.

Exit Darrell Hazell. Purdue pulled the trigger on their head coach after nine wins in 3.5 years, and is now on the Lowered Expectations dating scene. Everyone's got a list. Hammer and Rails has one, and here's a sad commentary on where they're at:

Name: Brady Hoke

Position: Oregon DC

Why?: Ya, Oregon isn’t very good right now. Hoke was up and down at Michigan. But, he has head coaching experience and is looking for another head coaching job. Getting back into the B1G isn’t easy, but this could be a chance for him as he could take over a Purdue program in shambles.

Chance: With how Oregon has looked this season, I don’t think we take a chance on him. But his head coaching experience in the B1G makes him appealing a little bit.

At least they're unenthused.

The candidates drawing the most mention seem to be WMU's PJ Fleck, former LSU HC Les Miles, and Illinois State HC Brock Spack. Fleck's probably going to get better offers this offseason and should wait on a less difficult opportunity; Miles is probably a real bad idea since by the time he'd have his players in he'd be close to retirement; Spack hasn't lit it up on the FCS level.

If those aren't the names, Purdue might repeat their Hazell move:

Hazell had been a head coach at Kent State for two years, but he was close to a "close your eyes and throw a dart at the OSU assistant roster" move. It would be uninspiring and very Purdue to replicate their failed process from last time.

Bill Connelly points out that Purdue's only successful coaching hires in the past 30 years have been relative outsiders, and he suggests a selection of creative offensive minds at smaller schools. He's correct. This is the pool Purdue should be selecting from. They need something weird to overcome their talent deficiencies, and they have the financial resources to grab a guy from Tulane or Air Force or wherever.

Personally, I would loathe playing a triple option version of Purdue—never schedule Air Force!—and co-sign this tweet from Jane Coaston:

Ken Niumatalolo may not be poachable after he turned down overtures from BYU last year, but if the problem there was BYU's reluctance to go flexbone Purdue might not have a shot. Connelly mentions Air Force's Troy Calhoun, who's won eight games a year two-thirds of the time at a service academy and gave Michigan all it wanted a few years back, and he seems like a good idea. Willie Fritz ran a deeply weird pistol triple option thing at Georgia State; I mentioned him offhandedly during the portion of Michigan's most recent coaching search where I threw out every candidate who was even vaguely plausible. He'd be a good idea.

In non-option options: Jeff Brohm at WKU has assembled Tiller-esque explosive offenses. I'd at least kick the tires on Chris Klieman, the third-year NDSU head coach who's kept Craig Bohl's train running without a hiccup.

For your sake, Purdue, don't close your eyes and grab a manball retread or an assistant who's operated with an embarrassment of riches. Look to someone scrabbling up from down below.

SLEEPER THOUGH. Charlie Strong.

Michigan assistants? Drevno and Fisch draw mention from Feldman in the Others Receiving Votes section of his list. While I think both guys are good coaches and will be HCs somewhere down the road, neither seems like a good fit for perpetually undermanned Purdue, and both guys can find themselves jobs less likely to end in termination. If Purdue's smart they won't focus on either guy; if either guy is smart they'd wait for something like Maryland or Cincinnati.

Another Endzone excerpt. The Postgame runs a piece from Bacon on Harbaugh's long-term prospects in Ann Arbor:

As one of Harbaugh's closest associates, attorney John Denniston, told me, "Jim doesn't like to recruit. He loves to recruit." If that sounds like hyperbole, you might consider the 22-state, 38-stop satellite tour, which Harbaugh described as "more fun than you can possibly imagine, like a pig in slop."

The only issue on that list that would seem to present a compelling reason for Harbaugh to leave is the health of Michigan's athletic department. When people on the book tour asked me to predict how long Harbaugh would coach Michigan, my answer was simple: It depends on his relationship with the next athletic director.

Quinn on Rahk. MAAR's development is probably the second-biggest key for Michigan this year behind that of Mo Wagner:

"For two years now, I've seen a great evolution in his game," Beilein said. "I want to see much more. He's capable of being a superior athlete."

A few things need to happen.

Abdur-Rahkman's jump shooting needs to improve. He raised his 3-point percentage from 29.3 percent (12-41) to a respectable 36.5 percent (31-85) from his freshman to sophomore year, but another jump could elevate Abdur-Rahkman among the best guards in the Big Ten.

His playmaking also needs to improve. Despite playing in 21 more games than LeVert last year, Abdur-Rahkman finished with 13 fewer assists for the season. His 3.7 assists per 100 possessions ranked below Duncan Robinson and Kameron Chatman. While his 27 turnovers in 1,001 minutes played were impressively meager, they also speak to a lack of facilitating for others.

Ian Boyd on OSU. This piece went up before the Wisconsin game and looks fairly prescient right now. It's SBN's Ian Boyd on certain flaws that OSU has demonstrated so far this year:

So if the Buckeye run game were stopped or slowed?

An opponent that knew how to line up against Urban Meyer’s arsenal of formations and variations on option run schemes would undoubtedly have a chance to force this particular team into some obvious passing situations.

The Buckeyes have had 40 TD drives so far this season and 14 of them (35%) required 10 plays or more. They’re very used to having to grind their way down the field with the run game and if you stopped up the works they’d be forced to rely more on their passing game.

Venturing back up to our handy chart, we notice that against the three toughest opponents on Ohio State’s schedule that Barrett threw 63 passes for 394 yards at 6.3 yards per attempt with five TDs and a sole INT. He’s been good at avoiding turnovers, though that may be partly due to simply not throwing many passes in the first place, but simply hasn’t been that threatening throwing the ball. If not for the four touchdown passes he threw to big Noah Brown in the red zone against Oklahoma, those numbers wouldn’t be too impressive either.

Barrett had a good second half against Wisconsin and managed to get OSU to 23 points in regulation. It was a struggle the whole way, though. Michigan's defense is another level up from Wisconsin's; that game gave me great hope that Michigan can turn the Game into a defensive slugfest.

Illinois week. The Illini probably won't be much of a challenge—they got outgained by Rutgers last week and Michigan is a whopping 35-point favorite. But it is an opportunity to point out Illini Board, which is a good Illinois blog/community. Their take on Rutgers:

Because this is just year one. The idea is 2019, with Michigan in Champaign, with the roster rebuilt, and that defense taking the ball away from the Wolverines and stopping them on fourth and one. I flipped the switch to rebuild mode last week, so watching this game in rebuild mode, it was great to see those plays from Milan and Watson. Bodes well for the future.

Remember the Minnesota game in 2008 when we outgained them something like 550-310 yet we lost because we kept turning the football over? That was a few months before I started the blog, but if I was blogging that fall, that game would have been my first “Turnovers Are Football” post. So many times, being on the wrong end of turnovers cost us.

And today, being on the right end delivered a win.

Lovie Smith is the most credible head coach they've had in a while, but it's going to take a long time to get out from underneath the Beckman denouement.

We've been there. Georgia lost to Vandy and their irritating athletic director hasn't crossed the line to get axed, so Get The Picture is feeling pretty gloomy:

It dawned on me leaving the stadium Saturday that one thing is really missing from Georgia football — it’s not fun to watch.  By that, I don’t mean losing sucks.  It does, of course.

What I mean is that watching a Georgia game feels like more of a chore these days than entertainment.

Man, did I write a column or two like that a few years back. It must be frustrating to be UGA and always be good but seemingly never be great—oh right, we know what that's like too. Throw in the fact that Ann Arbor and Athens are almost the same city and the UGA and Michigan fan bases are the most golf-apparel-friendly ones in the country and the parallels go deep between the two schools.

Anyway, this season is super fun and let's be sure to savor it.

Desmond Morgan gets into coaching. He's a GA at Wayne State:

Q: What are some of your responsibilities at Wayne State as a graduate assistant?

Morgan: One thing that’s been really interesting is that playing at Michigan, I was really used to the Division I level, where there’s resources and funding. There’s almost a paid position for everything.

At the Division II level, the resources are very limited. The money isn’t there. Something that I learned quick is that you’re not just a GA who helps an assistant. You do a bunch of other things on top of it.

Here, I spend 8 to 10 hours a week making sure highlight films are done on Friday nights, and we do all of the importing, editing and transcribing of the film. We help coaches with their daily responsibilities, like making copies, making sure meetings are set up to be run.

Juan Harris is single again again again again. The enormous IA DT decommitted from Indiana after three separate Iowa commitments. I can't wait to see where this rollercoaster goes. Hopefully back to Indiana twice more.

Etc.: The Big 12 probably isn't expanding because the TV networks will pay them not to. This might seem like a fiasco but could it actually be a bit of Machiavellian brilliance? What went wrong under Hazell other than everything. Nigel Hayes visited Gameday to protest not getting paid. Fred Jackson is the head coach at Ypsi High now. Indiana's struggles in the redzone dissected. The playoff looks all but set, so of course things will implode over the next month.

Brian Kelly Blames Things Dot Com. Recommend Go Iowa Awesome's weekly "Hybrid" column. Harbaugh eats a steak.

This Week's Obsession: On the Road

This Week's Obsession: On the Road

Submitted by Seth on July 23rd, 2014 at 12:14 PM

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The question: Of those (if any) you've visited, what's your favorite road venue for a college football Saturday? I don't just mean the stadium but the whole package--the city, the burger, the rival fans, the drive, etc. Or which would you want to do first?

Ace: I'm back from Florida and have way too much nothing planned for the next couple days, so I might as well answer the question...

Between my time at school and this job, I've managed to make it to six road venues, one of which doesn't really count because it shouldn't have ever been a college football venue: Spartan Stadium (2007, '09, '13), Camp Randall ('07), Beaver Stadium ('08, '13), Notre Dame ('08, '13), Cowboys Stadium* ('12), and Ohio Stadium ('13). If you looked at that list and said I should never attend a road game again, you're quite astute, and trust me when I say I've considered it.

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Movie night, or perhaps annoying white guy tryouts.

My favorite, despite the particular game I chose to attend, is Camp Randall. Madison is a gorgeous college town with a phenomenal bar scene—we wandered around so much the night before the game that I can't give a recommendation besides "just go to Madison already"—and while I've heard less-than-complimentary things about their fans, we were treated well despite being a crew of intoxicated students with a couple guys who didn't shy away from stirring the pot. As is the case in Ann Arbor, the campus and stadium are conveniently intertwined with the town, so getting to and from the game isn't a pain like it is in, say, South Bend, where off-campus housing tends to be a very long, boring walk away from the stadium. While the drive to and from Ann Arbor isn't a short one, having Chicago as a stopgap is a major bonus; I'll deal with some extra traffic if it gives me the chance to visit a great city with no shortage of transplanted Ann Arborites and Michigan grads.

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it's impossible to take a bad picture inside Camp Randall

Since I'm not the type to be offended by profanity, I love the in-game atmosphere, as well. Our seats in the visitors' section were at the top corner of the upper deck, where visitors' sections ought to be, and feeling the mass of red-adorned fans below literally shake the stadium during "Jump Around" was outrageously cool, albeit a bit unnerving. Despite our high perch, the sight lines for viewing the game were great, thanks to the steep incline of the seats. They don't play the same two songs over and over and over again, giving Camp Randall a decided edge over Beaver Stadium, and they don't play in front of 100,000 Ohio State fans, giving it a decided edge over Ohio Stadium. Even if the drive is a bit long, the tailgating and viewing experiences alone are worth the trip.

As for my least favorite, it's Spartan Stadium, since I won't pretend that Jerryworld is a legitimate answer here. East Lansing is one of the least charming college towns I've visited, parking there is a nightmare, the stadium is a shrine to concrete insipidity, and an all-too-large portion of the fans don't grasp that trash talking shenanigans are supposed to be cheeky and fun, not cruel and tragic. It's the only place I've been where a total stranger has attempted to forcefully remove me from the sidewalk—I did nothing to provoke this aside from wearing maize—and that occurred even though I was accompanied by a green-clad Spartan grad. At least I went there last year, so I'll get a respite this seas—DAMMIT, POWERS THAT BE, YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.

*The aforementioned "doesn't really count" venue, in case that wasn't painfully obvious.

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After the jump: more things Delaney thinks we'd like to see less than New Jersey.

This Week's Obsession: The Hoke Trajectory

This Week's Obsession: The Hoke Trajectory

Submitted by Seth on June 5th, 2013 at 10:47 AM

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Trying a new feature on here, where we ask a question to the staff each week about whatever Michigan fans are obsessing about at that moment. It's kinda like a roundtable, but just one question. Please feel free to suggest future questions in the comments, and offer any other suggestions. Given the vagaries of our schedules you won't see responses from everyone every time, for example I kinda sprung this on everyone last night and anyone who keeps reasonable sleep hours probably hasn't seen the email yet.

The witenagemot:

Brian Cook: Editor, Lord Commander of the UFR, and Wielder of the Holy Stick of Snark

Ace Anbender: Recruiting Coordinator and Head of the Council on Rhymes

Seth Fisher: Associate Editor, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Handler of the Royal Pig

Heiko Yang: Press Coordinator and President of Al Borges Fan Club

Mathlete: Grand Maester of Charts and Keeper of the PAN

Blue in South Bend: Master of Twitter'ers and Vice President of Social Media Relations

And for this week's question I thought we'd go with a broad stroke:

What exactly is Hoke building here? Is there another program in modern history that it most closely resembles in expectations for annual competitiveness, ceiling, floor, and general makeup?

Brian: You ask as if we know, man. We've had two years of Brady Hoke, and still know little. He inherited a quarterback he would never have recruited, no linemen (okay, question-marktwo linemen), a defense coming off a triple-digit GERG crater. We've had a Sugar Bowl winning year in which horseshoes flew out of everyone's butts and an 8-5 year that could have been a lot better if we hadn't volunteered to get rochambeaued by Alabama and Denard's elbow hadn't gone on the fritz.

You want to draw conclusions from this business? I have two:

1) Brady Hoke would win a poker tournament against the D-I coaching field with ease.
2) He could sell toilets to Ohio State fans.

This likely leads to satisfaction. But, like, am I to declare this to be something else already?

IMG_1312Mathlete: When Hoke came in I think the program really resembled where Nebraska was when Bo Pelini was hired. A program that was used to success and was coming off of a failed attempt to reinvent their identity. Hoke's recruiting the last 2.5 cycles have elevated the expectations beyond that level. If the on field results match the recruiting and those two continue to feed on themselves the best case scenario is a bizarro version of Pete Carroll's USC Trojans. Michigan would mirror USC with a strong program/school identity and coach that embodies it and its history. The definition of that culture will be 180 degrees different in Ann Arbor but the concept would be similar. This season will be critical in terms of timeline. I think the roster is still another year away but if the staff  and team can generate a season similar to Hoke's first, the ceiling will be lifted from the program.

BiSB: In an ideal world, we're looking at the beginnings of 1990s Nebraska. The Huskers were built from the lines outward on both sides of the ball. They featured an aggressive, thumping defense with 72563505_display_imagean all-consuming front seven, and an an offense that was exciting in its face-denting smashmouth boredom. Osborne's teams never lost more than three games, taking advantage of a  low-variance formula and a massive home field advantage. Their prospects on any given year ranged from a mid-teens finish in the polls to a national championship. Of course, projecting anyone to become Lawrence Phillips and the Blackshirts (note to hipster alter-ego: this would be a great band name), or expecting Derrick Green to change his name to Ahman, is asking a lot.

A more realistic range would be the Red River Rivalry from the early-to-mid 2000's. Michigan and Ohio State will play the roles of Oklahoma and Texas, who dominated the Big 12 the entire decade both on the field and on the recruiting train. Their division (the South) was by far the more difficult, yet between the two of them they won every division title that decade (no one else even grabbed a co-championship between '00 and '07). They won eight of the ten Big 12 titles between them, and from '02-'10 only twice did anyone else finish among Rivals top two Big 12 recruiting classes. Each entered most years with national ambitions, with the Red River Shootout serving as an elimination game of sorts. Neither achieved dynasty status, probably because of the less-than-stellar  perception of the rest of the Big 12 and the zero-sum nature of such rivalries, but both teams won national titles, and both hovered around the top 10 more often than not.

Seth: I'm not so sure the Big Two will be able to dominate so much. Consider: two weird losses in a season can make a team full of five stars seem to drop right back to the pack. In 2014 Michigan has to travel to all three rivals (THANKS BIG TEN!) in addition to facing Utah, Penn State, and Maryland at home. Three excusable losses there at the wrong time could drop Michigan well out of the race for the division and produce all sorts of Dynasty talk for Ohio State.

Hedging, I put us closer to Mark Richt's Georgia program, except with far less frequent misdemeanors and without Richt's pious sanctimony.

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Hoke's first three classes are about even with Richt's in star power:

Coach School Recruits 5* 4* 3* 2* NR
Meyer Florida 72 8 41 21 2 -
Meyer* Ohio State 74 6 45 23 - -
Saban Bama 81 7 40 28 5 1
Rodriguez Michigan 73 1 36 32 4 -
Carroll USC 67 4 31 22 8 2
Hoke Michigan 70 3 31 34 2 -
Richt Georgia 77 4 31 28 12 2
Tressel Ohio State 58 2 28 22 6 -
Kelly Notre Dame 63 3 26 31 3 -
Weis Notre Dame 61 3 24 30 4 -
Saban LSU 79 4 21 23 31 -
Willingham Notre Dame 55 1 20 25 9 -
Dantonio Michigan St 67 - 14 35 17 1
JLS Michigan St 79 - 9 44 24 2

*Meyer's two OSU classes are extrapolated into three

Actually it's closer to Carroll's USC. However Carroll and Tressel kept themselves annually competitive by improving the lifestyles of their NFL flight risks. Georgia has been a (mostly) clean program in the Old West of the SEC, usually beating the softer SEC East teams they should and sometimes getting bitten by a pesky obsessive in-state rival. He even had Urban Meyer on his southern border for a time. They also proudly display their "Old Man Football" t-shirts when somebody makes fun of Pro Style offense. Over 12 seasons Richt has gone 118-40, 67-29 in the SEC, and played in three Sugar Bowls, winning one. Now imagine Georgia if Nick Saban wasn't in the same conference…

UPDATE:

Ace: I'm late to the party and BiSB stole my answer, so this is off to a rollicking start...

I've been thinking about the basketball and football programs and their very different approaches in working to get to the top of the Big Ten. John Beilein has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to basketball strategy, and right now the hoops world at large is conforming to his style of basketball—less reliance on big men, more spreading the floor and creating layups or threes (anyone watching the NBA playoffs in the last couple years can see this is happening at all levels). Beilein is arguably better at identifying players that fit this system—and then coaching them up—than anybody in the country, and we all saw the benefits this spring.

Brady Hoke and his coaches, meanwhile, are sticking to a decidedly old-school style of football, especially on offense—this as the rest of the country trends towards high-tempo variations on the spread-and-shred. Like their hoops counterparts, the football coaches are adept at identifying and landing talent—obviously, recruiting is going pretty well lately—and like the basketball team they have a distinct system for which they're recruiting; Beilein's offense is now a Michigan signature, and smashmouth football on both sides is what the football team is hoping to make their hallmark.

Bryan brought up 1990's Nebraska, a program that stuck to an old-school style past its supposed expiration date and succeeded wildly by bringing in top talent—good lord, look at Tommie Frazier film sometime—and running the offense with masterful precision; and, of course, combining that with the famed Blackshirt defense. I think that's the peak we're talking about here, though Alabama has beaten Michigan to the punch when it comes to assembling this kind of team — national championships are still going to be remarkably difficult to win.

The floor? I think we saw it last year, though it could happen again — a key injury to a quarterback here, a couple high-profile busts there, and this team could easily underachieve, especially if Al Borges fails to adapt enough to today's game (with his increased recruiting of tights ends of all sizes, I'm optimistic this won't be the case).

Hokepoints: Am I Living it Right?

Hokepoints: Am I Living it Right?

Submitted by Seth on October 2nd, 2012 at 9:28 AM

It's been two weeks since Michigan's last home game, and for me and the wife it meant two Saturdays at someone else's stadium: Notre Dame and—unrelated to the Great Meeting of the Bloggerati—Georgia. The first I went with my cousin and her kid, who's about the age I was when his father took me up to campus and I got Desmond'ed. The second was with two of my best friends from college, one of whom married a major Bulldog fan and couldn't bring his kid because you don't bring kids to SEC conference games—maybe Florida-Atlantic, but people still look at you strange.

I thought I'd use the bye week opportunity to share the experiences as compared to Michigan.

Notre Dame

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South Bend and Notre Dame du Lac vs. Ann Arbor: If not for the signs (which you should ignore because they tell dirty lies) you wouldn't realize there's a city here. Northern Indiana once you leave the part you pass to get to Chicago is right out of Rudy: small industrial belt homes nooked close together right up to the point campus has to start. We parked (for free) on the south side of Coquillard Park and at this point you notice or somebody informs you that Notre Dame is a fifth of the size of your IMG_1670median Big Ten school. The closest thing they have to a State Street or South University is a one-block collection of chain-ish restaurants in a pair of newer building complexes that straddle Eddy Street.

Their Main Street/downtown is about 2 miles southwest of the stadium and reminds me of Kalamazoo or a smaller Grand Rapids. The College Football Hall of Fame is here but we wanted to tailgate and it's something you rope Greg Dooley into doing with you but probably not a 12-year-old.

Coming from the south you are hitting a collection of buildings constructed or heavily renovated after 2004. The stadium owns this area. Once past (and to the left of) that and the new stuff you're in something a late Bourbon king probably commissioned. And it's here you remember or someone tells you that despite the mascot this started as a French institution, and was designed to French tastes. Having been to Ireland extensively and lived in France, this is a good thing.

On to the stadium and such, after a  jump.

The Full Bray

The Full Bray

Submitted by Brian on October 1st, 2012 at 2:32 PM

9/29/2012 – Georgia 51, Tennessee 44

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[WHAT THIS IS: I took the opportunity presented by the Michigan bye week to head down to Georgia and take in an ESS-EEE-CEE game with Spencer Hall, Doug Gillett, and Michael of Braves and Birds and SBN Atlanta. I'd gone to an Auburn game a few years back because a good friend is an Auburn guy and acquired a taste for college football tourism, which is why I went.]

You go on a plane and get off of it and eventually you end up in the upper deck of a stadium far more vertical than Michigan's and look down at everything and in that moment you get the full weight of college football.

When it's your fandom, you've got a lifetime of dog-kicking and air-walking that tethers you to the larger institution. On Sunday I ended up watching most of the Falcons-Panthers game with a couple of Falcons fans who had mostly contempt for the larger NFL*. When you're just there to catch some football, you can appreciate the thing itself. On Saturday, I wiped the corners of my eye when Georgia put that Herschel Walker run on the screen and saw Orson do the same when they put a solo trumpeter in the corner of the upper deck to play the opening notes of the Battle Hymn of the Republic as Larry Munson said the same thing he always has.

Neither of us gives a damn about Georgia; both of us are pledged to other outfits. Doesn't matter. The weight of the institution is heavy, and genuine, and involves weird things that evoke Ghostbusters…

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…and that Herschel Walker run. There's a dog on the opponent's sideline with an air conditioned house, and Tyler Bray is about to take the field. Football.

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I was pretty sure the guy who would leave the lasting impression would be Jarvis Jones, Georgia's missile OLB/DE. He'd spent most of Georgia's game against Missouri flossing Tiger QB James Franklin's teeth and promised to do so again against college football's leading artillery piece, Tyler Bray. That was not to be the case. Jones did little, and I left thinking "I saw Tyler Bray play."

Bray is not great. He may be good, but it's hard to tell on a Tennessee team that can't run the ball or stop the run or maintain leverage even one damn time in a three-hour football game. This only increases the enjoyment of watching Bray play as he tries to cover up for Tennessee's myriad other flaws. Bray is gonna Bray. We have Derek Dooley to thank for this.

Several times a game you will see Bray decide to unleash the dragon well before it's clear this is a good idea. If you see Bray lean back, the ball is going 40 to 60 yards. He will do this ages before it's clear this is a good idea. Bray don't care. You will see teams of orange-pantsed gnomes wind the kid up as the play develops. He'll sidestep a rusher (or fumble) as the gnomes get a satisfying CHUNK out of Bray and he clicks further back. Once sufficient chunks have been chunked, the ball will zing out of Bray's hand at lethal speeds, destination unknown but awesome.

After Georgia rolled out to a 27-10 lead that was one fluky pick-six away from being game over, they did neutrals a favor by taking a shotgun to their foot repeatedly at the end of the first half. After the first of these, the game became a series of spectacular MMA knockouts. Orson and I ended independently going "OHHHHHHHHHH" and jumping up and down and laughing when Bray would laser a flat-footed pass 60 yards downfield into coverage for a completion, or do the same for an interception, or fumble, or throw a perfect deep ball that Cordarelle Patterson would drop, or chop a linebacker down as Patterson turns a failed trick play into a knee-slapping did-you-see-that winding touchdown run that took him from one side of the field to the other.

By the fourth quarter, the Bray lean was Christmas morning. On Tennessee's second to last drive, he tossed a back-foot laser to Patterson 30 yards downfield (dropped), then leaned back to hurl a spectacular NFL interception twenty yards downfield on a line. On UT's last drive he scrambled around in the pocket, leaning back the whole way until he fumbled, ending the Vols' hopes. Bray finished 24 for 45 with two touchdowns, a third eighty-yarder dropped, three interceptions, and a lost fumble.

I have seen Tyler Bray play football, and it was everything it could have possibly been. He's three hours of jumping up and down and going "OHHHHH" as you feel a stadium you don't belong to lurch back and forth queasily, in a place that puts the weight of Herschel Walker on your shoulders.

*[As they should, since this is a league that looks at fourth and one for the game with Cam Newton at QB and says "punt." Rod Gilmore swells with pride, NFL.]

Obligatory Comparison Bullets

Apparently I only do this when Michigan has two losses. M was 1-2 in 2008 when I went to Auburn.

Auburn test: passed. The weirdest thing about that Auburn game a few years back was preparing to stand and yell on what would eventually be LSU's gamewinning drive, looking around, and having to sit down sheepishly because no one else in the section thought this might be a good moment to yell their throat raw. I really needed "they s'posed to be SEC!" to be invented already to describe that.

Anyway, on two different Tennessee fourth quarter drives to tie, Georgia passed the Fans S'posed To Be SEC test. Auburn, you're on notice.

Bands. For the second straight week I was about as far away from a band as I could be—this time it was Tennessee's—and could hear them loud and clear. Unlike Notre Dame's, this had nothing to do with amplification. They were just loud as hell. Michigan either needs to figure their amplification out or start blasting it as loud as other folks, or they won't recover their lost status. The piped-in music at Georgia was significantly less frequent than it is at Michigan Stadium, FWIW.

I asked Orson, BTW, and he related that virtually all SEC games feature both bands. They're more tightly packed than the Big Ten—or at least were before expansion—but not busing the MMB down to Northwestern or Indiana or Purdue is pretty lame.

Also the MMB should play "Paint it Black," as the Georgia band did.

Chants. Georgia fans are short on them. They have a couple of generic GO X and GEOR-GIA chants but I didn't come away from the game with anything else in my head at all. Auburn was considerably different, and Michigan has a lot of inscrutable student stuff and Let's Go Blue and the wave and whatnot. [Ed-S: They bark a lot. There's also a "Who's that comin' down the line?" responsive chant the students were doing during the walk down to the stadium]

Georgia fans. A collared shirt tucked into khakis is their equivalent of OSU fans wearing jerseys. Median names are "Tad," "Chad," and "Brad." In general looked like a group of folks keenly interested in Ryder Cup updates. Extremely friendly—didn't see anything approximating crap given to Tennessee fans, or vice versa, though there weren't a whole lot of opportunities because Volunteers seemed scarce.

Michigan similarities are obvious.

Athens. Like Bray, everything it was supposed to be, at least insofar as that can be determined in a day. Gorgeous, seemed packed with things to do, kind of like an Ann Arbor that happened to be the best place in the state to catch a show. A college town with adult things in it.

SEC tailgating: great until you turn campus into Fallout. This was also a thing at Auburn I noticed: there's a lot of extremely pretty tailgating going down on the campus itself. The equivalent would be if a large portion of Michigan's tailgating was on the Diag, which is not possible because Michigan's main campus is extremely compact and the football stadium is a hike.

By contrast, a lot of Big Ten tailgating takes place in parking lots. Michigan: golf course or parking lots. Ohio State: all parking lot. ND: parking lot. PSU: not a parking lot because it is an open field. Northwestern: parking lot. Etc.

This makes for excellent tailgating, and a lot of dead grass on campus.

Desire to play Georgia: significantly incremented. I would love to go back to see winged helmets run out of the tunnel. That would be a wow experience.

Spread is dead, part XVIVII. Four years ago at Auburn I watched a guy do this:

Auburn now does the thing where the team doesn't huddle, lines up, looks ready to snap the ball, relaxes, and then looks to the sideline for the call. Whenever Auburn would do this, an elderly Auburn fan was visibly, I-can't-set-the-time-on-this-damned-VCR agitated, throwing his hands in the air in disgust. This obvious discontent seemed to spread to the other oldsters around him as the game continued.

This was during Tony Franklin's brief tenure as Auburn OC. Four years later Auburn has won a national title with a spread option and both of these teams spent a majority of their snaps in the shotgun, refusing to huddle and looking to the sideline for play checks. Now, this spread does not equal a Rodriguez spread 'n' shred or Oregon or the Air Raid or whatever, but I was struck by how much different the conventional wisdom is now. No one had a conniption fit about any of this; it was just natural.

This is bizarre.

That is all.

Elsewhere

Orson on the game:

One scoreboard graphic is the shell game cartoon most stadiums use as interstitial entertainment. In UGA's case, a bulldog puts an order of fries beneath one of three small doghouses, and then shuffles them around quickly while fans scream out "THREEE! IT'S UNDER THREE, Y'ALL!!!"

At one point the cartoon came to a stop, and UGA pulled up one doghouse to reveal a tiny UGA. A guy behind us, in the thickest Georgia accent imaginable, cried out:

"NOOOOOO!!! YOU WANT THE FRIES, NOT THE DAWG!!!!"

B&B:

Maybe it's because Tennessee fans have been beaten down by life, but I did not see a single angry word exchanged between Dawg and Vol fans in Athens on Saturday.  It was really the best that the SEC can be in terms of a passionate crowd that does not spill over into being Philadelphian assholes.

Doug takes the UGA fan POV.