Thursday, September 18, 2008

Q&A with Catfish and Cornbread

The picture above is what pops up in Google Images when I searched "catfish and cornbread."

Before, I was hungry. Now I'm starving.

But we're not here to talk about food. The fine Georgia blog Catfish and Cornbread and PFN traded questions yesterday. My answers went up on their site yesterday and now we bring you their tremendous answers to my well thought out questions.

On a side note, I've encoutered several Georgia fans while out and about this week and I've found all of them to be incredibly nice people, so big ups to Dawg Nation for being gracious visitors and great people so far.

Here's our interview with C&C (no...not the Music Factory...the blog...factory).

PFN: What was the reaction in Georgia to the Bulldogs 14-7 win over a suddenly pesky South Carolina team?

C&C: The majority of Georgia fans recognize that any game that pits Georgia and South Carolina (much less when that game happens to be in Columbia) is going to be a battle. While UGA has about 6 or 7 true "rivals" on its schedule every year, the Gamecocks really only have 2 that they think about year-round: Georgia and Clemson. With Georgia being the first big game South Carolina plays every year, their players (a good number of whom are from the state of Georgia) spend a lot of the off-season thinking about nothing but Georgia. Add in the Steve Spurrier effect (the evil nemesis of the UGA program), and you have a formula for a tight game. It is also quite possible that the Dawgs were "peeking ahead" just a bit.

PFN: Plenty of great players have come through Athens, but when all is said and done, where do you think Knowshon Moreno will fit in with the best of all time?

C&C: First of all, every highly-touted tailback that wears the Red and Black gets unfairly compared to the great Herschel Walker, who most Dawg fans happen to believe is the best college football player of all time. That is an impossible legacy to live up to. Knowshon is an outstanding and unique talent in the game college football today. He possesses an amazing blend of strength and quickness. He's probably the most beloved player to play in Athens since at least David Pollack, and maybe the most exciting since Herschel himself. That said, when you look at his body of work, we're still only talking about a little over a year from which to draw your conclusions. If he continues on the same pace for the rest of this season, he could put himself right behind #34 in UGA football lore. (Although, that might also mean that this will be Knowshon's last year participating in amateur athletics.)

PFN: Plenty has been made of Georgia's problems off the field this past off-season. What was the perception of the state of the program away from the Hedges down there?

C&C: Well, most UGA fans will tell you that local law enforcement tends to target football players. Whether that is true or not is close to impossible to know for sure, and the reasons for that would be even more impossible to comprehend. Truth is, the issues in Athens are probably not much different than what takes place at most other high-profile programs in the country, and it certainly isn't any worse than about half of our own SEC brethren.

PFN: Describe Matt Stafford's development as the Bulldogs quarterback and tell us how he turned into the QB he is today.

C&C: Stafford is probably the most polarizing player on the UGA roster today as far as national reputation is concerned, and even among the UGA fanbase. A good number of UGA fans believe that he is among the best signal-callers in college football today. Others think that he hasn't come anywhere close to where he should be given the hype that surrounded him when he signed with the Dawgs. One thing that we all agree on is that Matt has every tool in the shed from a passing standpoint. His arm strength is unmatched at this level, and his accuracy gets better every week. But where he has improved the most (in my opinion) is his leadership position on this team. Never was that more evident than last week in Columbia. His numbers weren't spectacular (they rarely are), but he was in total command of that game. He's always going to make four or five throws per game that make your jaw drop, and a couple that make you want to pull your hair out. But most Dawgs wouldn't want anyone else under center.

PFN: The secondary has taken a bit of a hit this week after Chris Smelley and the Gamecocks were able to get down the field a couple times in the 4th quarter before making a couple big plays to swing the momentum. Is there a weak link to the Georgia defense or was this just an aberration?

C&C: The problem this year hasn't been the secondary, although the cornerback spot opposite Asher Allen has been a little bit of a concern. There have really been two issues contributing to UGA's problems (at times) against the pass. The most glaring is the lack of what UGA fans have come to expect in the way of any semblance of an outside pass rush. It has been a long time since defensive end has been a weakness for UGA, but this year's rotation is simply young and inexperienced. There is major talent in place, but they are still finding their way. A player to watch this weekend might be #42 Justin Houston. He was one of the standouts in off-season camps, and started to show some strides in the 2nd half of the South Carolina game. The 2nd issue that skews the passing numbers against the defense is the fact that the Dawgs have been nearly impossible to run the ball against this season. That doesn't necessarily explain why Smelley went down the field with relative ease in the 4th quarter (see: lack of pass rush), but the point is that the numbers don't tell the entire story.

PFN: We paid special attention to the untimely death of Uga VI earlier this summer and the introduction of Uga VII. How has the new mascot been received by Bulldog Nation?

C&C: Among beloved mammals within the Bulldawg Nation, the UGA lineage has no rivals (other than perhaps long-time play-by-play announcer Larry Munson.) There are very few dogs (if any) in the world that receive the level of attention that UGA gets. VII was introduced before the opener against Georgia Southern, perhaps to the biggest ovation of the day. Thus far this season, the best we can tell is that he isn't a fan of warm weather (he has spent the majority of each game sleeping in penthouse-style quarters.) The UGA lineage isn't measured in years as much as it is measured in victories, and we look forward to VII living and long and prosperous life.

PFN: Most of us will be returning the trip next year around this time. How should the desert dwellers here in Tempe prepare for our trip to Athens?

C&C: A trip to any SEC campus on a fall Saturday for a big game is an experience that every sports fan should take in. Athens is unique in that regard. The stadium literally sits in the lowest point right smack-dab in the middle of, by all accounts, one of the most beautiful campuses in America. While our tailgating practices have been somewhat restricted in recent years thanks to progress (construction), we still have as grand a time as ever. Like just about anywhere else, you'll run into your share of the unruly opposition. But the majority of Dawg fans you meet will be gracious (especially to the Sun Devil faithful that make the long trek over to God's country.) The later in the day the game takes place, the more raucous the stadium tends to be (imagine that.) The bars in Athens are unmatched, and within an easy walk from the stadium and campus. If you're able to make the trip over, you won't be disappointed.

1 comment:

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