SEC Week Four: Can Georgia Stop The Tide From Rolling?

SEC Week Four: Can Georgia Stop The Tide From Rolling?

Week Four of SEC Football brings us the most anticipated matchup of the season. Georgia invades Tuscaloosa this Saturday. 

Even without the news today of Nick Saban testing positive for COVID-19, this game had everyone’s interest.

While not having the best football coach (college or pro) on the sideline will be a change, Alabama’s accountability system shouldn’t miss a beat. I’m certain knowing his greater access to critiquing their mistakes might help inspire his players.

#3 Georgia (3-0) at #2 Alabama (3-0) 8:00 PM EST

Strength vs. Strength

The highest-scoring offense (51.0 PPG) squares off against the nation’s second-ranked defense (236.0 YPG). Can Mac Jones and his elite group of offensive weapons achieve the same success against Azeez Ojulari, Monte Rice, and Eric Stokes? 

Azzez Ojulari was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week with his performance against Tennessee.

Ojulari, who plays the “Jack” position on Georgia’s defense (a combination of OLB and DE), helped key the Bulldogs second-half domination in their victory over #14 Tennessee on Saturday. Ojulari won SEC defensive player of the week, registering two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. Georgia held the Vols to just 71 total yards in the second half.

Offense vs Defense
2020 Stats
Alabama OffenseGeorgia Defense
Yards PG560.3236.7
PPG51.0>>12.3
Rush YPG175.338.3
Pass YPG385198.3
Turnovers37
SEC Rank21
National Rank32
>>First in Nation

Alabama erupted for 723 yards of total offense in their win over the Rebels (the most since putting up 833 during a 77-6 win against Virginia Tech on October 27, 1973). Mac Jones leads the nation in passer rating (220.3) and yards per completion (13.3). Equally impressive is his 79.5 completion percentage while registering over 13 yards per completion.

Alabama’s offense has not missed a beat under Mac Jones.

There isn’t enough space to write about all of Alabama’s offensive weapons, so rather than deal with the endless amount of individuals (Najee Harris, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, John Metchie III), I’d rather focus on the offense as a whole.

Key Notes 

Alabama has won 27 straight games against SEC East opponents (their last loss came at South Carolina on October 9, 2010).

Overall, Alabama is 35-3 against SEC East opponents under Nick Saban (14-1 at home, 14-1 on the road, 7-1 on neutral fields) 

Since 2007 (Saban’s first year at Alabama), Alabama and Georgia own the two highest win percentages in SEC play.

SEC Standings Overall
Since 2007DivisionW-LWin Pct,
1AlabamaWest92-150.859
2GeorgiaEast76-310.710
3LSUWest73-340.688
4FloridaEast70-370.654

Alabama has won five straight against Georgia (One National Championship, two SEC Championship Games, and two regular-season games).

Nick Saban is 21-0 against former assistants, although he will not be on the sideline this Saturday against former assistant Kirby Smart (0-2 vs. Saban).

Najee Harris vaulted over Ole Miss for a career-high 206 rushing yards and five TD. He has scored a TD in 10 straight games.

Key Questions

Can Georgia finally put Alabama away if they hold a late lead?

In three of their last four meetings, Georgia failed to hold a second half lead. In the 2018 SEC Championship, Alabama closed the game on a 21-0 run. In the 2017 National Championship, the Bulldogs failed to hold a 20-7 second-half lead in a 26-20 loss in OT. In their 2012 regular-season matchup, Alabama outscored Georgia 22-7 after the Bulldogs opened up a 21-10 lead in third quarter.

Georgia Blown Leads
Second Half vs Alabama
Georgia LeadFinal Score
2018 SEC Championship28-14L, 35-28
2017 National Championship20-7L, 26-20 (OT)
2012 Regular Season Meeting21-10L, 32-28

Can Georgia score enough to compete with Alabama?

Georgia ranks 7th in the SEC in total offense (420 YPG) and 5th in PPG (36.0). Their opponents rank 5th (Tennessee), 7th (Arkansas), and 8th (Auburn) in the conference in total defense. 

A definite weakness Georgia could attack is Alabama’s run defense, which allows 150 YPG (Georgia averages 172 rushing YPG).

Can Georgia stop Alabama’s offense?

Stop? No. Control by keeping it off the field by dominating the time of possession? Maybe.

I will attempt to explain how good Alabama’s offense is in an easy to understand manner. For those critical of Alabama’s defense, their offense’s success plays a small part in that.

Since the start of 2018 (Tua’s first full year), Alabama has 45 TD of 30-yards or longer on plays from scrimmage. That’s an insane statistic. They score quickly and from anywhere on the field. 

Over that same span (since 2018), they average two fewer offensive plays per game and six more defensive plays per game than they did from 2009-17. It’s not the main reason, but it is a small part of why Alabama’s defense is more vulnerable than earlier in Saban’s tenure.

Alabama Offense vs Defense
Average Plays Per Game
Since 20182009-17
Offense Plays – SEC Games66.869.2
Defensive Plays – SEC Games69.163.7
Offense – Overall6668
Defense – Overall6862

Since 2018, the Crimson Tide totaled 500 yards or higher in 23 of their 31 games. They have scored 35 or more points in 15 consecutive games, tying the longest such streak in major-college football history (Oregon scored at least 35 points in 15 straight games from November 5, 2011, through November 17, 2012).

Can Stetson Bennett raise his game enough to achieve a result Jake Frohm nor Andy Murray (much more accomplished QB) failed to do?

The Junior QB is producing so far this season (229.7 Pass YPG, 5 TD, 0 INT), but playing at Alabama is a different level. If the running game takes some pressure off him, he will fare a lot better. 

NFL Week Five: Five Interesting Stats

NFL Week Five: Five Interesting Stats

Tuesday night’s game between the Bills and Titans was the second Tuesday game in the last 70 years. As we finally say goodbye to Week Five, here are five interesting stats to review. (*NFL.com research).

Steelers Rookie WR Scores Four TD

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie WR Chase Claypool scored a rushing TD followed by three TD receptions (32, 5, and 35 yards) in a 38-29 win over the Eagles. Claypool’s 110 receiving yards were the fourth-most for a rookie scoring four TD in NFL history.

Most Receiving Yds, Rookies To Score 4 TD
Single Game, NFL History
DateTeamRec. YdsTD
9-23-1979Jerry ButlerBUF2554
10-31-1954Harlon HillCHI2144
12-3-2006Reggie BushNO1314
10-11-2020Chase ClaypoolPIT1104

Steelers WR Chase Claypool joined Franco Harris as the only Steelers rookie with a receiving and rushing TD in the same game.

Steelers: 4-0 for first time since 1979

Despite winning six Super Bowl titles, the Steelers registered four wins without a loss to start the season for only the fourth time in franchise history. In two of those seasons, they went on to win the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Starting 4-0, Team History
PPGSacksTO Forced
202029.5207
1979>>23.81411
1978>>23128
197332.81117
Won Super Bowl

Pittsburgh is off to their fourth 4-0 start in franchise history.

Kyler Murray Run & Throws Cards to Victory

In the Arizona Cardinals 30-10 win over the 0-5 New York Jets, Kyler Murray threw and ran for a TD for the fourth time this season. Murray joins Cam Newton in 2011 and Kordell Stewart in 1997 as the only players with five touchdowns rushing and throwing in the first five games of a season.

Five TD Rushing & Throwing
First Five Games, NFL History
SeasonPass TDRush TD
Kyler Murray, ARI202085
Cam Newton, CAR201175
Kordell Stewart, PIT199776

Kyler Murray ran and threw for a TD for the fourth time this season in the Cards win over the Jets.

Lamar Jackson Throws 50th TD

The Baltimore Ravens rebounded from their loss to the Chiefs last week, defeating the Bengals 27-3. Lamar Jackson owns the fewest interceptions of any QB at the time of his 50th TD pass.

Fewest INT Thrown
At Time of 50th TD Pass
INTGames
Lamar Jackson1036
Patrick Mahomes1317
Russell Wilson1830
Colin Kaepernick2148

Russell Wilson leads another game-winning drives for Seattle.

Russell Wilson Leads Seattle to Victory Again

Seattle defeated Minnesota 27-26 on Sunday Night Football to start 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. Wilson culminated their win with the 30th game-winning drive of his career. Wilson has the most for any QB since joining the NFL in 2012.

Most Game-Winning Drives
QB, Since 2012
Russell WilsonSEA30
Matthew StaffordDET29
Drew BreesNO24
Matt RyanATL22

Gerrit Cole Must Lead Yankees to Game 1 Win

Gerrit Cole Must Lead Yankees to Game 1 Win

Much of the talk prior to Game 1 of the Wild Card Series between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians was the pitching matchup of Gerrit Cole and Shane Bieber. Cole wound up outlasting the A.L. Cy Young favorite, by tossing seven stellar innings of two run balls, racking up 13 strikeouts in the process.
(Courtesy of NJ Advance Media)
On Monday night he will take the mound against a Rays team who have simply had their way with Cole this season, a trend that the Yankees’ ace surely wants to halt in the first game of the ALDS.

In 2020, Cole faced the Rays three times, going 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA in those starts. In his career against Tampa Bay, the Yankees ace has yet to win an appearance, pitching to an 0-3 record to go along with a 4.07 ERA in seven starts.

Diving further into the matchup, Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi has owned Cole over the course of his career. Choi is 8-for-12 against the right-hander, with six XBH, three home runs, and eight RBI. Despite a mediocre career average of just .245, Choi has been a continual thorn in the side of both Cole and the Yankees.

But this is October, and Cole’s regular season numbers, both in 2020 and his career, can be tossed aside. In 2019, Cole and the Astros squared off with these Rays in the ALDS, ousting them from the playoffs. There, Cole went 2-0, boasting an immaculate 0.57 ERA to go alongside a whopping 25 SO, 15 of which came in one outing.

(Courtesy of Getty Images and Yahoo Sports)
The Yankees are optimistic that Cole from last year’s ALDS will be the pitcher that shows up again this year against Tampa Bay. He will have to continue his dominant ways in the postseason for the Yankees to come away with a victory in Game 1, as the Rays stellar staff seems poised to stifle the Yankees bats.

In what I fully expect to be a hard-fought five game series, winning Game 1 is of the utmost importance. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has the chance to prove his worth with a brilliant performance against New York’s bitter rival.

Wrong on Brodie, Again

Wrong on Brodie, Again

A way back in July I had written an article called “Wrong on Brodie,” where I said it was too soon to judge the job BVW has done building the New York Mets in his image, and asked fans to have patience by waiting to see what Brodie Van Waganen will do with his year two before determining if he’s a failure as a GM.

Well, I waited. And it only took a mere three more months to see that as a GM? He’s a failure.

What made me change my mind in a mere three months?

It probably started with the roughly one week span where Yoenis Cespedes decided to quit baseball rather than be paid a paltry few million dollars for two months of work. This was predictable based on the renegotiation of the contract Cespedes signed and never lived up to, up to the end.

The Cespedes situation was a debacle, from the Mets announcing during a game against the Atlanta Braves that Cespedes was missing, as they knew entirely where he was. It was a weird way to throw a player under the bus, and will probably affect how free agents see the Mets organization.

A few days later Marcus Stroman had earned enough service to be a free agent, and was suddenly afraid of COVID 19 and left the Mets for free agency. Which made me think of Anthony Kay, who is 3-0 in the majors for the Tornoto Blue Jays, and Simeon Woods Richardson, who is working towards the Toronto rotation for 2023. Specifically I was thinking about who Stroman would be pitching for that aren’t the Mets while those two guys were playing for other teams that also aren’t the Mets in the majors.

Edwin Diaz was inconsistent, untradable at the deadline, and is eligible for arbitration next year, and free agency two years after that. Yes he showed improvements over the course of the short season, so I guess we wait another year to see what the Mets have on their hands. And the Seattle Mariners are waiting to see what they have in their hands with 21 year old Jared Kelenic. They already see what Justin Dunn can do as he’s already on their roster.  

The Mets moved young pitcher Jordan Humphries for base stealer Billy Hamilton. Hamilton hit an amazing .054 before the Mets waived him. The Chicago Cubs picked him up, where he promptly hit .300.

The Jed Lowrie contract wasted tens of millions of dollars for what, 7 at bats? Who the fuck was his agent?

The mishandling of the Zach Wheeler contract situation ended up really biting the Mets on the ass. Man, wouldn’t Wheeler have looked good instead of the Wacha/Porcello experiment? And who didn’t even give him the respect of giving him a call to discuss the Philadelphia Phillies offer?

There’s also the situation where he threw the Commissioner of Baseball under the bus for suggesting the Mets and Miami Marlins play a game despite the players wanting to join the growing “Black Lives Matter” protests in all of sports. BVW later found out that it was the owners’ idea to take the field, walk off, then take the field and play, when the owners put out their own statements, including misspelling the name of the GM.

Looks riveted

The Atlanta Braves released many of their scouts. It would seem that if Brodie was doing his job, they would be working for the Mets already, as the Braves player development is light years ahead of the Mets, and having weapons from a rival organization would be a smart move. Smart move and Brodie? Pfft.

The significant regressions of JD Davis and the often futile at bats of Pete Alonso makes me wonder if going with Luis Rojas as a rookie manager was the best move a team looking to contend for playoffs could have made.

But I guess the coup de grace, at least for me, are results. This roster was constructed by BVW over two years. In a shortened sprint of a season, half of the entire sport made the playoffs. Then there’s Brodie’s Mets. Come get us? More like come on us.

Clearly Brodie needed seasoning somewhere else before he took the reins in a major market like New York. I know the new Mets owner, Steve Cohen, has deep pockets, but I’m sure he doesn’t want to waste millions of dollars by just letting an asset go to waste.

So how can the Mets be creative on the two years left on Brodie’s deal? The organization can demote him, maybe to an assistant to the general manager. Kind of like a secretary. Treat him like Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello treated Generally Useless Garth Snow? BVW’s draft philosophes aren’t exactly crazy despite no results so far, but is it a case of a guy who thinks he’s the smartest in the room always taking high school kids and injured college arms? Can he be a subordinate with an ego that attakcs the Commissioner of Baseball? Would he be content with negotiating contracts against other agents in the second half of his Mets career?

The Mets have experienced in house candidates. They can easily promote Omar Minaya as GM for a year or two. Minaya has a proven record with attracting free agents, of which there are some quality ones coming up for 2021, such as J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, Liam Hendriks, and Alex Colome. Minaya has had success in the past with free agents, especially ones with Latin surnames, so that’s something to seriously consider.

The Mets have already begun reshaping their front office. Sandy Alderson is already slated to come in as team president. And time may be on the Mets side as far as potential culture changes? Why? Because BVW’s remaining two years match up with two extremely interesting replacement candidates.

Rumors are Theo Epstein may be done in Chicago. Epstein is in the last year of his contract as Team President and at $10 million for the year, the Cubs may be willing to let him go, as it’s rumored that current Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is ready to step in as his replacement. Even if they let his deal ride, it’s over by October 2021. The question here would be if Epstein would take a GM job, or would he want organizational power that Alderson already has, unless Alderson is a placeholder and a move to get owners approval, as some have suggested. That would mean that roughly by this time next year. Theo needs a job. He sure has one hell of a pedigree in ending title droughts.

Across town, Brian Cashman has 2 years left on his deal at $5 million per year. I assume Cashman will want to complete the deal which would make him the longest tenured Yankee General Manager in the teams’ history. This would also make him a free agent around October 2022, and due for a huge raise above that $5m he makes. Cashman as Mets GM would create a more accountable culture than the Mets presently have, and is a very hands on GM, almost making the coach an unthinking position.

Maybe the Mets go for both? Neither? Only time will tell. Whatever their plans were, I’d strongly recommend that those plans involve removing Brodie Van Waganen from his current job as general manager. He has shows us who he is, and what he does. It’s unimpressive. It’s not what New York deserves. It’s certainly not the results that a guy who just dropped two and a half billion dollars on a team should want. And even if his draft picks hit? It’ll be 2024 before that happens. You want to wait around for that?

And more importantly, do you want to wait around for success? The Wilpons were able to deliver 3 successful teams in the last 18 years. Do you trust their judgement in who they hired that got the Mets and their fans to that point? I was OK saying I was wrong on Brodie after last season. And I’m OK saying that I was wrong at being wrong now. Brodie Van Waganen needs to be removed as General Manager of the New York Mets.

Who needs it more the Lightning or the Stars?

Who needs it more the Lightning or the Stars?

With the 2020 Stanley cup final being one of the most exciting sporting events of the year it is only fair we look at the two teams involved and see who deserves to be crowned the 2020 Stanley cup champions? To see who needs this championship more we will take a look at the last title from both franchises and see if their last Stanley cup deserves to be overshadowed by a new one.

First from the western conference we have the Dallas Stars. The last time they won a sanely cup was 1999. The Stars were led by captain Derian Hatcher, head coach Ken Hitchcock and goaltender Ed Belfour. The Stars defeated the Sabres four games to two to win their first Stanley Cup, becoming the eighth post-1967 expansion team to earn a championship, and the first team based in the Southern United States to win the Cup.

The series ended with a controversial triple-overtime goal in game six, when replays showed that Stars forward Brett Hull scored with his skate in the crease. Although the Sabres protested later, the league stated that the goal had been reviewed and was judged as a good goal, since Hull had maintained possession of the puck as it exited the crease just before he shot it. So, in the end good goal and the first Stanley cup for Dallas.

Next from the east the Tampa Bay Lightning. Back in 2004 the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Western Conference champion Calgary Flames in seven games, becoming the southernmost team to win the Stanley Cup. It was Tampa Bay’s first-ever appearance in the final and was also surrounded in controversy. In game six there was a dispute over a Martin Gelinas redirect that appeared to have gone in off of his skate. A review from one camera angle appeared to show the puck crossing the goal line before Khabibulin’s pad dragged it out, though some argue that the puck had not only been knocked several inches above the goal line making it seem like it was in the net when it wasn’t.

Both of these teams have a very tampered victory that gave them their only Stanley Cups up to that point but that can all change this year as both of them have a chance to become the 2020 Stanley cup champions. But which one needs to overshadow the old title from history and that would be the Dallas stars as they actually broke a rule at the time to win the title so they deserve the 2020 Stanley cup title.

Does the NFL work with no fans?

Does the NFL work with no fans?

With the largest fan base in all of north American sports. How does the NFL work with no fans? For months fans have wondered how an NFL game would feel without fans. After week one fans where honestly surprised since the first game on Sunday everyone forgot that nobody was in attendance. Sure, it makes a difference for players to be used to feeding off a live crowd, but for the rest of the fans they had a solid experience was more or less the same.

How did it all work so well? It is fairly simple the on-field performance stays the same the players still give it their all. There are not much the players can do to improve the game for the fans than just to play the game at a high level. Credit where it’s due to CBS, FOX and NBC for making a few small adjustments that made fans forget the crowd wasn’t there. Production leaned on tighter shots of players, rather than cutting to fans in the stand. It was so subtle you probably didn’t even notice unless you really combed over the games. The natural camera angle we’re used to see plays cuts out much more of the crowd than the NBA or NHL, where we’re more accustomed to seeing the fans behind the play. Yes, we still miss a little of than fan-fueled flavor, but the experience of seeing a game at home was basically the same.

When compared with simulated crowd noise it felt extremely similar to every single game any fan has seen in the past few years. What could be improved? Just because there’s a lack of fans doesn’t mean the fans at home has to lose their love for the game and their personality. The big thing missing that the NFL needs to get on top of and what they really want to sell the idea of is virtual fans. We have seen this at the draft with simulated cheering, they should accept the full fan experience and make things more contextual.

For instance, the simulated crowd never booed a referee. They cheered big plays on both sides of the ball. This is all pretty silly they can accept that no home fan is going to cheer for an away touchdown, or be silent during a critical pass interference call. It doesn’t matter if the call is right, that zebra is getting booed. It comes with the territory. With that change the NFL should be good in this new unknown time.