Overreaction Monday: Georgia may be 4-0 but season starts now

Georgia is 4-0 but Mark Richt knows the first big test for his team will come in the next game against Alabama. (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Georgia is 4-0 but Mark Richt knows the first big test for his team will come in the next game against Alabama. (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Georgia is 4-0 but Mark Richt knows the first big test for his team will come in the next game against Alabama. (Brant Sanderlin / bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Welcome back to another edition of “Overreaction Monday,” where the Georgia Bulldogs and Atlanta Falcons are ready to take over the world and Georgia Tech just inadvertently tied its shoes together again.

GEORGIA (4-0, defeated Southern 48-6)

Overreaction narrative: I don’t care if they’re 4-0. Nothing matters until the Alabama game!

Reality check: Well, yes. I don’t want to diminish anything the Dogs have accomplished but, well, OK, let me diminish what the Dogs have accomplished. The four teams they’ve beaten are Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt), Vanderbilt (1-3, 0-2), South Carolina (2-2, 0-2) and Southern (FCS). The best of that group is South Carolina, and it’s clear the Gamecocks are a mess. Composite computer rankings of FBS teams have Georgia ranked fifth in the nation behind Ohio State, Mississippi, UCLA and LSU. The same rankings have Louisiana-Monroe 98th, Vanderbilt 78th and South Carolina 54th. Georgia coaches will remind their players, as delicately as possible, this week that they really haven’t done anything yet. The season starts against the Alabama game.

Georgia is a 2-to-2½-point favorite in most Las Vegas sportsbooks. This is a winnable game for the Dogs. They’ve had some occasional hiccups in the secondary but their defensive front is strong, their running game is arguably the best in the nation (for a pro-style offense) and quarterback Greyson Lambert is settling into the starting position. But this is Alabama. The Crimson Tide has had its own problems but it’s still a top 10 team and a program that smacked Georgia the last time it came to Athens in 2008. This week’s game is a major test for: 1) Lambert; 2) The defense. Lambert doesn’t have to throw for 250 yards. He just has to complete enough key passes on play-action when Alabama brings up eight defenders to stop Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Also, he can’t afford turnovers. The defense also needs to get a pass rush on Alabama quarterback Jake Coker in hopes of forcing him into mistakes, which was the case in the Tide’s loss to Mississippi. Georgia is 4-0. But let’s take a pulse again after Saturday.

Roddy White (84), Andy Levitre (67) and Levine Toilolo (80) celebrate a touchdown by running back Devonta Freeman during the Falcons' win over the Dallas Cowboys. (AP photo)

Roddy White (84), Andy Levitre (67) and Levine Toilolo (80) celebrate a touchdown by running back Devonta Freeman during the Falcons’ win over the Dallas Cowboys. (AP photo)

FALCONS (3-0, won at Dallas 39-28)

Overreaction narrative: “We’re going 27-0 baby! Wait, how many games do we play?”

Reality check: The logical side of my brain says: Something will go wrong at some point. But sometimes the logical side of my brain is just a rumor. At the outset of the season the first three games against NFC East teams (Philadelphia, at New York, at Dallas) looked like the toughest part of the Falcons’ schedule. This will change, but as of today: Of the remaining 13 opponents on the Falcons’ schedule, only three currently have winning records: Minnesota (2-1, Nov. 29) and Carolina twice (3-0, Dec. 13 and 27). Indianapolis, whom the Falcons face Nov. 22, figured to be one of the better teams this season but opened with two losses before outlasting Tennessee 35-33 Sunday. The Falcons’ next two games are home against Houston (1-2, only win over Tampa Bay) and Washington (1-2). So at the risk of jumping ahead, they could be 5-0 going to New Orleans on a Thursday night (Oct. 15). This team’s strength isn’t in any particular area as much as it is resolve and a belief that it can come back and win in the fourth quarter. It’s a refreshing change from the last two seasons. There are offensive line and defensive front issues still to be fixed but to be 3-0 when those problems exist exceeds what most expected. (I was thinking 1-2 or 2-1.)

Duke defenders stuff Georgia Tech's Patrick Skov on a crucial play on fourth-and-short late in the fourth quarter on Saturday in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Duke defenders stuff Georgia Tech’s Patrick Skov on a crucial play on fourth-and-short late in the fourth quarter on Saturday in Durham, N.C. (Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

GEORGIA TECH (2-2, lost at Duke 34-20)

Overreaction narrative: The Jackets’ offense gagged against the only two good opponents they’ve faced (Notre Dame, Duke) so it’s clear everybody has caught up to the option.

Reality: No. I don’t think everybody has caught up to the option. But I do think Tech is in trouble. I mistakenly dismissed getting punched in the mouth at Notre Dame as an aberration for what I thought to be a really good team. Now I’m not sure they’re a really good team. To respond the week after the Notre Dame game — when players should be angry, driven and focused — by getting outscored 19-3 in the first quarter at Duke sets off alarms. The Jackets suddenly can’t run block, which is something I never thought I would see in the Paul Johnson era. Quarterback Justin Thomas, universally admired, now is trying to do too much to make up for the weaknesses and is failing woefully (6 for 21 passing with an interception at Duke). The Jackets got better as last season went on, so I’m not going to predict they’ll go 6-6. But against Notre Dame, they didn’t look like a major bowl contender, and against Duke they didn’t look like an ACC contender. If they lose next week to North Carolina, they’ll be 0-2 in the conference going into a stretch against Clemson, Pitt and Florida State. If Tech doesn’t wake up, the season could be over before Halloween.

KENNESAW STATE (3-1, lost at Dayton 31-27)

Overreaction narrative: They smoked their first two opponents, then got cocky!

Reality check: I picked the Owls to win two games and that blew up when they started 3-0. But it’s easy for some to forget this is a new program that’s going to have some growing pains, particularly when it goes against teams that have been together for more than five minutes. Kennesaw State nearly lost to Division II Shorter last week. Then they lost at Dayton. So maybe this is the market correction after overwhelming East Tennessee State (56-16) and then Edward Waters (58-7). This week’s game against Point (NAIA) likely will be easier than the following week (Gardner-Webb, which is in their conference, the Big South and has been playing football since 1970). But nobody should expect any easy game for a first-year program.

Recent ramblings
Dawgnation: Georgia now can prepare for opponent that matters most: Alabama
Dawgnation: Short takes on Georgia’s win over Southern
AJC: Weekend Predictions: Lilly takes the lead and likes Falcons
MyAJC: Falcons’ fourth-quarter fizzles absent so far under Dan Quinn
AJC: Braves have been more adept at building off field than on it
AJC: Overreaction Monday: Are things as they seem with Falcons, Dogs, Jackets?
Dawgnation: Georgia chases away Spurrier demons with dominating performance
Dawgnation: Short takes: Lambert says, ‘I just had to go through a rough patch’
Dawgnation: Georgia can’t blow game, Tech can’t blow chance
AJC: Weekend Predictions: Tech over Irish, Georgia over South Carolina (but not by 17)
Dawgnation: Tech has something Georgia would like — comfort at quarterback position
MyAJC: An impressive opening by Dan Quinn’s new Falcons
AJC: Short takes: Gruden praises Falcons’ defense after win
Dawgnation: Georgia looks like a shaky 2-0 with its passing game
Dawgnation: Short takes: Another Georgia win but QB issues continue
AJC: Weekend Predictions: I can’t block this Falcons’ upset from my brain
AJC: Poll: I say 9 wins for Falcons, national media mixed, what say you?
MyAJC: Falcons’ late roster scramble not a good sign
AJC: Fredi Gonzalez needs to make more of his losing hand
Dawgnation: Lambert good but didn’t do enough to cement starting job
Dawgnation: Lambert, lightning and the joy of Keith Marshall
MyAJC: Kennesaw State’s little startup off to a dazzling start
AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets roll, Spurrier escapes, Petrino goes down
AJC: Falcons won Julio Jones trade but would like to forget 2012 draft
Dawgnation: Greyson Lambert’s big test won’t come in opener, it will be later
AJC: Hello, football: Thoughts on UGA, Tech, Kennesaw, both GSUs
Dawgnation: It’s Lambert over Ramsey for now, but assume nothing for future at Georgia
AJC: Falcons were never going to let Julio Jones get away
 

 

Reader Comments 0

246 comments
RBR
RBR

This game will come down to the kids and their emotions.  Bama is backed against a brick wall and has to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.  UGA is riding high off an easy schedule and hasn't really faced the talent of a Bama team.  Who will be able to fend off those momentum shifts that typically happen at the beginning of each half?  Who will minimize turnovers?  Who will come to play and who will be big eyed and running with their head on a swivel?  Both teams are evenly matched, so this only comes down to execution and being in the right frame of mind once the whistle blows.  


-sting-
-sting-

tech? thought highwater mark this season to be the ole 7-5 and low water mark at 5-7. if they dont win this week low might go lower.


uga, the season is on whether they win these next two games they dont relax. anything less than a one loss season is a failure. it is time to put up or shut up for CMR. no excuses. hope the steam roll one of them plays tight to beat the other. 


falcons should have been 3-4 games better win wise last year. too much faltering at end either with fading bodies or coaching faltering in decision making category. this year by coaching alone that should be made up. think it has been shored up. schedule is a boost as well. 11 games in win column is not beyond reach. get crazy and 13-14 possible with protected ryan, healthy julio, a faster d and a coach managing the game a step up from pop warner against this crip schedule. yeah, i know, "any given sunday in the nfl". that saying is for losers.


i am a tech fan. sorry tech fans. anything like my bro i will be called a hater. last years team is gone with an easier sched. this years team is still to be coached up with a tougher sched. hope we all dont look back at the anomaly run last year and weep for one more foolish long term contract. happened at uga in their bball program. cant say it is not a possibility. 


KSU? MEH!!!

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

Q: How do you neuter a Buckeyes fan?
A: Kick his sister in the jaw!

OH:IO
OH:IO

@TrueFan1


You ought to be worried about the terroristic threat dude McKenzie

OH:IO
OH:IO

If the dog's season starts against Alabama, what have the first four games been?


CUPCAKES! 

Grant1296
Grant1296

Acorn filled....Ooops....I mean Alcorn...

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Falcons: Which defense will show up? They should accumulate wins up to the break week, then they have a gauntlet of tough road games and home opponents. Keeping Jones and Ryan and at least one of Coleman/Freeman healthy is the key.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Dawgs: We really haven't seen Lambert and the defense perform under sustained pressure and without a clear talent advantage. Not saying they can't handle it, just they haven't had an opportunity to prove they can. Conversely, unlike some prior years we have seen Alabama and their QB succumb to sustained pressure and physical beating. This should be a GREAT heavyweight slugfest and turnovers will be huge.

FlatTire
FlatTire

202 comments


That might be more comments than the new Dawgnations site has had since they changed the way you post  comments about 2 months ago



Seems like someone at the AJC would realize the new design is a failure

OH:IO
OH:IO

@FlatTire


A complete failure. 


Chip's happy even though he has lost major eyeballs. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@FlatTire @OH:IO I think it's an ego thing now.........some folks can't admit when they are wrong...........like wives.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@TOJacket  Im thinking the same thing; 


its hilarious when they have to ask people on the radio to go look at the new site.

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

On the phone with Ga. athledic director.  Given him Ohio States'. blue print for winning.... Cupcakes cupcakes cupcakes.... Maybe he'll take note like he did at Florida. :)

OH:IO
OH:IO

@swb7


Explain, then, how Northwestern outranks the ENTIRE SEC! SEC! Least except the dogs and that doesn't include the cupcakes?


We'll see who plays the big boys at the end of the season, like Ohio State did. 

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

@OH:IO yes Ohio st you do play ssooooooooooooooooo many cupcakes.... Don't worry though, my goal is to play cupcakes every game in a few years so as to make it to the playoffs like ya'll.....  OHIO ST RULES!!!!

tennDAWG
tennDAWG

Somebody needs to wake up Pat Dye and have him challange UGA's O-Line.They were not very good in last weeks first have at all.Chubb had to tell them to " Get Their Act Together ".He should not have to tell the mostly Sr.group that.If they just stay on their blocks,UGA should have have good chance.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@DawginLex  true;  I miss all the hilarious comments; stupid comments; arguments; good points; excuses; etc

tennDAWG
tennDAWG

and P.S. Thanks Jeff for not forcing people to do the facebook crap to post on your blog.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@DawginLex


I don't care what your name is. 


I'll stick with "know it all"

TOJacket
TOJacket

@tennDAWG Pat Dye is the biggest cheater at Auburn isn't he?..........does he give UGA tams motivational speeches now?

TOJacket
TOJacket

@FlatTire @DawginLex @OH:IO OH-IO is very entertaining.......still haven't gotten all the dawg posters back that were here pre 30-24?.......if the dawgs win...they will come.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Good luck to Chubb trying to break 34's record............tough team to have to break it against.

Eric_C
Eric_C

Alabama showed a stifling defense in their game against ULM, and it's obvious the Dawgs aren't going to score much on that unit.  I see a lot of punts coming.  On the other hand, Coker looked shaky at times vs ULM, and I believe the Dawgs' aggressive D should be able to get a couple of picks and perhaps a sack/fumble.  That is going to be the best hope for the Dawgs to win this.  I'm still waiting to see the defense live up to the hype - there have been too many breakdowns for what was supposed to be an elite group.  This needs to be a statement game for the Dawgs' DEFENSE...just like 2008 was for the Tide. GATA 

Hairy Dawg
Hairy Dawg

Dawgs season starts on Sat and Bammers season ends on Sat with 2 loosing games in SEC.

We need teach Bammers that whenever they come in this state we own them like we own state. Then they learn to never again try come in here and think they can compete with Dawgs or try steal recruiting players.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Hairy Dawg What an amusing post...........how is the finger-painting coming along?

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

as far as the 'Coons, I think there must be locker room fireworks at halftime...if we can sustain a running game, we will be dangerous...I would say "rise up", but I'm not a Samuel L. Jackson fan...go dogs

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

of course you'll diminish what the dogs have done Jeff...truth be told, no one I talk to has said anything about "winning them all", "winning a "natty"", or even "winning the SEC"...too early for any of that...truth be told, not many teams have played more than one capable opponent thus far...looking forward to a good ballgame Saturday...we could win by 2 touchdowns, Bama could win by 2 touchdowns...hopefully the crowd will be loud and the dogs will play within themselves...if they focus and do that, we have a good chance of winning...it will be won or lost in the trenches...I think we're capable on D...man up  time for our veteran OL...let's see whatcha got...go dogs

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Dewnsav Welcome back Dew...........well said, I couldn't agree more.......y'all might win by 2 TD's and you might lose by 2 TD's.........shrewd?

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Bama will be a pretty good team weeks from now but not Saturday. Nick and staff failed to recruit or prepare a QB.



UGA 24 Bama 13


Roll Tide

JeffersonDavisHogg
JeffersonDavisHogg

I wish my confidence level in UGA was as high as your lack of confidence. Bama is playing a team in the Dawgs that mirrors themselves and that scares me. The delayed handoff up the middle won't work against your front and I'm still not sure how good Lambert is yet. I know one thing, he's not mobile and the mobile QBs have given you guys fits a few times. Really interested to see what new wrinkles are in the playbook. I see where Bo returns this week which will help you guys a ton.

If CMR doesn't have a brain lapse I thing the Dawgs can win. No predictions here.

Dawg-Gawn
Dawg-Gawn

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie 

Fast (UGA) vs Big (Bama) - Fast should beat Big... but no guarantee... like a wounded animal,  Bama can not afford to lose again...  week 5 = playoff game quality football = all out SEC WAR... but I'm afraid I have to pick Bama.... yeah I pick Bama to lose... knock-em out early... show no mercy and take no prisoners.. Dawgz sitting at 85 schollies & this time are REDDY!


"BELIEVE" in the G

Eric_C
Eric_C

@JeffersonDavisHogg Lambert may not be as mobile as Murray, but he has had a couple of nice runs...he's definitely not a standing in quick sand

TOJacket
TOJacket

@JeffersonDavisHogg JDH, I feel kind of like you.........biggest difference I see between Bama and who they are playing is the size and muscle on the Bama players........UGA looks as close to there size as I have seen, them and Ole Miss?.......Wish you guys luck, that's a tough first real test of the season!