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Does Spurrier have anything up his sleeve for Dawgs?


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Does Spurrier have anything up his sleeve for Dawgs?

By Tony Barnhart | Thursday, September 11, 2008, 07:51 AM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Five burning questions as we head into the weekend:

1. Does Spurrier REALLY have anything up his sleeve for Georgia? In years past Steve Spurrier has been at his very best as an underdog. Just when people were starting to count him out, the Head Ball Coach has been able to come up with something to confound the opposition and find a way to win a big game. Two years ago at Florida, for example, his offense rolled up over 400 yards against a defense that would eventually lead the Gators to the national championship. South Carolina had the potential winning field goal blocked on the last play of the game and the Gators survived 17-16.

It’s Thursday, and there is still this nagging sense that Spurrier, who loves to beat Georgia more than anything in the world, will figure out something to keep this game close on Saturday.

The problem is that his best offensive option, wide receiver Kenny McKinley, has a pulled hamstring and might not be able to play. The South Carolina defense looks good on paper but was a little slow/tired in the second half against Vanderbilt.

A year ago Spurrier sandbagged the Bulldogs by praising them early in the week and then beating them 16-12 in Athens. But does he have any real options for this game?

2. Can Georgia Tech find more road magic in Blacksburg? More than anything, the Yellow Jackets were impressive for their sheer persistence last week at Boston College. It’s early, but there appears to be a mental toughness to this team that is going to serve them well.

But here is a word of caution, Tech fans. Going to Virginia Tech this Saturday will be a totally different and definitely more intense experience. Virginia Tech has gotten out of the gate slowly (1-1) and looks to have some real issues. Fans are complaining openly, something that has been rare under Frank Beamer. As our Thomas Stinson reports this morning, the Hokie Nation is not happy.

Beamer is going to rally the troops this week as the conference season begins. The Hokies need something to jump start their season and a win over Georgia Tech would do just that. I’m anxious to see how Josh Nesbitt and his offense react to what will be a much rowdier crowd. In short, Chesnut Hill, Mass., ain’t Blacksburg, Va. The Jackets will have to take it up a notch.

3. When is Clemson going to catch a break? The offensive line was already greener than the field turf at the Georgia Dome. Now comes word that sophomore offensive tackle Chris Hairston will miss Saturday’s game with N.C. State because of an accident on a motor scooter. That means Clemson will start three freshmen on the offensive line. Thanks to some research by Tim Bourret, Clemson’s sports information director, we now know that the last time Clemson started three freshmen at the same time on the offensive line (1943), FDR was president. There is some good news on the Clemson front. It looks like DE Da’Quan Bowers, a big time freshman recruit, is going to get his first career start. It also looks like veteran DE Ricky Sapp, who tweaked his knee against Alabama, may come back and play a little bit. But more than anything, this is a statement game for Clemson. The Tigers are a better team than N.C. State. They are playing at home. You don’t put the Alabama loss behind you by beating The Citadel. Clemson needs to play well or the questions continue.

4. How good is North Carolina? Georgia Tech fans should be tuning in tonight as the Tar Heels travel to Rutgers. Because if the Yellow Jackets win at Virginia Tech on Saturday, it looks like North Carolina and Miami will be the biggest remaining hurdles in the ACC Coastal. North Carolina was less than impressive in its opener with McNeese State, a 35-27 win. But I have to believe a part of that was Butch Davis keeping some of his cards close to the vest. We’ll learn more tonight when the Tar Heels take on Rutgers. Davis is looking to get his team ready for next week’s visit by Virginia Tech and he needs to make a statement about where the program is under his leadership. This would be a statement game for North Carolina because the Tar Heels have lost 20 straight games outside of the Tar Heel state dating back to a 38-35 victory at Arizona State on Oct. 5, 2002.

5. Will Tennessee get back to basics against UAB? I’m not real smart (as many of you remind me from time to time). But I do know this: If you’re averaging over six yards every time you run the football, you should probably keep doing that until the other guy figures out a way to stop it. Tennessee’s Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty rushed for 162 yards on 25 attempts against UCLA while rookie quarterback Jonathan Crompton threw the ball 41 times in the 27-24 overtime loss. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think a team from the SEC should be throwing it 62 percent of the time against a team from the Pac-10, especially with a new quarterback.

Florida comes to Knoxville next week. Tennessee’s best wins over the Gators have come when the Vols have run the football. So will Tennessee line up and play smash mouth against UAB in order to get ready? Just asking.

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3. When is Clemson going to catch a break? The offensive line was already greener than the field turf at the Georgia Dome. Now comes word that sophomore offensive tackle Chris Hairston will miss Saturday’s game with N.C. State because of an accident on a motor scooter. That means Clemson will start three freshmen on the offensive line. Thanks to some research by Tim Bourret, Clemson’s sports information director, we now know that the last time Clemson started three freshmen at the same time on the offensive line (1943), FDR was president. There is some good news on the Clemson front. It looks like DE Da’Quan Bowers, a big time freshman recruit, is going to get his first career start. It also looks like veteran DE Ricky Sapp, who tweaked his knee against Alabama, may come back and play a little bit. But more than anything, this is a statement game for Clemson. The Tigers are a better team than N.C. State. They are playing at home. You don’t put the Alabama loss behind you by beating The Citadel. Clemson needs to play well or the questions continue.

I'm sure the image of a 315 lb lineman on a scooter is an interesting sight. It sucks to miss a game for it. He should have taken driving lessons from Duane Coleman. That guy flew in and out of traffic everywhere on that scooter while multi-tasking (cell phone, eating, yelling at girls).

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