Sunday, September 28, 2008

At least it's not so crowded on the bandwagon

Since our team needs a healthy dose of duct tape and haywire, I thought a moment of reflection was called for.
The loss to Alabama was brutal, wasn't it? It reminded me of the Sugar Bowl against WVU and a couple of semi-recent Auburn games. Got bitch slapped to start the game, and then finally started to respond after the half. The clock rules seem to make it difficult to do so.
Regardless, I still thought the fans showed a great level of support despite what happened in the first half. The stadium looked full until the end of the game. We got outplayed, outcoached, and caught a bunch of bad breaks- all of which we were severely punished for by Bama. They essentially played mistake-free. Dent's two roughing the QB, shanked punts, missed assignments on defense, AJ Greens bizarre fumble, poor kickoff coverage, dumb penalties, injuries. The list goes on. Is this what happens when you're too amped for a game of this magnitude? The blackout motivated Alabama and it made us press, which resulted in some of the poorest performance and bad luck I've ever seen in a top 10 game like that.
Dannell Ellerbee's injury was huge, expecially since it happened on the third play of the game. Defense seemed to always guess wrong, and not only that, get burned BADLY. Moreno's injury robbed our morale. Not having a tight end (both got injured) is going to be a big deal, but it does mean that the offense will have to adjust and no one else knows how we're going to do that.
But if the battle was lost, the war is definitely not. I still think we could have won the game if we hadn't shown up 30 minutes late. We have everything to play for, and I still think we have a chance at winning it all this year. Consider that we control our destiny in the SEC East (as does UF) provided we can beat UT. The bye week couldn't come at a better time. If we can keep winning, we're still right there. We just have to believe. And quit wearing black jerseys.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The difference

The OSU Beavers pulled of the upset of the media darling, ne'er do wrong USC Trojans. They ran a little running back up the gut right at the defense and linebackers you "can't" run on, and torched them. USC on the other hand played as flat as they have in a long time, and have all but dashed their hopes of vying for a national championship.
UGA might or might not win this thing, but USC was a giant obstacle for us. The rankings don't really matter as long as we're beating quality opponents. We'll be there.
You will recall, of course, that two weeks ago, UGA looked flat and played below their expectations against the other USC.

The difference for us is that despite looking pretty rough around the edges, we won.

Sure, we got demoted in the polls, but for some reason it seemed like some evidence of embarassment that we had been ranked so highly. It's like this: you're on a date with a nice girl, but when the hottest girl in school walks by and hikes her skirt up a little bit, you run off chasing her. As it turns out, the hottest girl in school wears a wig, and it got pulled of last night on national TV. The only good news for them is that maybe one or two people back east didn't stay up to watch it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dawgs' dirty laundry, interesting numbers

I don't believe that everyone has it out for us, just Penn Wagers. I know we commit too many penalties, and it's really going to hurt us badly at some point down the road. But, at least three of these penalties are questionably bad even by PAC-10 standards.

  1. Chop block, Knowshon did it, but why?
  2. Holding, Tripp Chandler tackled a guy after Caleb King goes by.
  3. False start on Boling, gave a little flinch at the goal line.
  4. Offside, Weston tried to jump the snap.
  5. Roughing the passer. Wynn pushed the guy on his right shoulder pad, and gets called for a facemask, personal foul, 15 yards. Now come one, how is that roughing? I think the refs thought he was going to pop him across the had, and he laid off. Gave ASU an automatic first down, and they go on to score a field goal.
  6. Illegal sub, we had 12 men on the field. We're actually lucky this wasn't illegal participation.
  7. Leaping. Demiko Goodman makes a 2 hop high jump to try and block a FG and lands on another UGA player. I've NEVER seen this called like this. He was outside the 1 yard. This was on a field goal that they made, they took the penalty and threatened to score a touchdown. Would have changed the game significantly. "Leaping-a defender running forward and leaping in an attempt to block a field goal or a point-after try lands on other players on either team. The penalty is not called if the defender was within one yard of the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap.
  8. Tripping. Give me a break! Massoaquoi falls down and looks like he accidentally trips up AJ Green a little, but how can this be called a 15 yard penalty? This was a 5 yard run for AJ, would have been 2nd and 5, instead became 1st and 20, we wound up having to punt and they got no points out of it.
  9. Illegal shift on the line.
  10. Defensive holding. Asher's not doing anything that they weren't doing to MoMass or AJ, get an interception, and they call it back.
  11. Holding. I know they say that you could call holding on every play, but when the guy gets a clean block into the QB where you make the play? I know we hold from time to time, but it wasn't so this time. Watch the replay.
  12. Delay of game to back the kick up.

BTW, on the third and goal where Moreno scored and they didn't give it to him, PWD on Georgia Sports Blog points out that ASU had 12 men on the field. The youtube video was pulled (as most of them have this year). I went back and watched the game on ESPN 360 (it's free, and they have replays of every game on ESPN affiliate networks, not CBS though) and sure enough they did. I'm still convinced that Knowshon got in, DESPITE the 12 defenders. Nice NO CALL. I know it's part of the game, and we have with it. It just drives me crazy when bad officiating impacts a game like that.

  1. Four weeks into the season, we've got 43 penalties, averaging just under 43 per game, while our combined opponents have 19 penalties.
  2. The only time we haven't scored in the red zone was last week when the clock ran out.
  3. We're outscoring opponents 17-0 in the first quarter. Bama is outscoring them 64-0. D better look sharp early, because if we have to make a huge adjustment, we may be playing some catchup ball.
  4. We have yet to throw an interception. Stafford still has the highest passer rating in the SEC.
  5. We've given up 183 yards total against the run this season. That leads the SEC.

Next week: BLACKOUT vs Bama. I wouldn't have done it, but I'm not the coach or the players. Regardless, it's going to be a big game and big test for us. Thinking about how they beat Clemson, they forced them into passing and getting away from their running game. Unfortunately, the Tigers couldn't beat them with the pass. I'm pretty sure we can if we have to, but we shouldn't have to or want to.

Monday, September 22, 2008

If you only knew.

Our beloved MCGDawg and his wife made an appearance on the local news in Tempe, AZ. here's the link I have been meaning to post now for several months. Anyway, I think is still ultimately comes down to this: people that are not from the South do nothing but ridicule it. It drives me crazy, but I'm here to tell you that we hardly have the market cornered on stupidity.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lobster Mac & Cheese?

Inspired by the French Laundry Cookbook, I thought I would do a sic...Rachael Ray version of Lobster Mac & Cheese for an easy Friday night dinner. Results surpringly good. Jennifer loved it, I bet you will too.

My mise:
2 lobster tails (BILE-LOW by my house usually has frozen ones on sale, 2 for $9.99)
1 can of lobter bisque
Equal amounts of half and half (equal to the can)
Truffle oil
S & P
1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs

Cook 1 cup of orzo according to package directions, drain, rinse under cold water to stop cooking and set aside. Meanwhile, bring the bisque, half-and-half to a simmer over medium-low heat. Poach lobster tails in this concoction until barely cooked thru (about 10 minutes). Preheat oven to 350.

Transfer lobster to a cutting board and strain mixture thru a sieve into another bowl. Remove lobster meat from shell and coarsly chop. Add enough of the liquid to make the orzo just a bit soupy, then stir in about 1/2 a container of marscapone (softened). Add salt, pepper, minced chives and truffle oil to taste. Stir in lobster meat.

Transfer mixture to your favorite gratin dish, top minimally with bread crumbs and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly. (If your mixture isn't soupy at the beginning, the orzo will absorb the sauce and the result will be dry.)

I served with Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and a salad of mache and parmesean with a simple vinegarette.


Highland Grits Recipe

OG wanted the entire recipe, so here goes...of course this is not verbatim as that would be a copyright infringement...

4 cups bottled water
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 cup stone-ground grits
2 T butter
1/4 cup Parmigiano
White pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 shallots, minced
1 bay leaf
1 dried red chili pepper
2 oz country ham trimmings
1 T heavy cream
1 stick butter, cubed
2 T Parmigiano
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 T olive oil
2 thin slices of country ham julienned
1/2 cup chanterelle or other mushroom cut into 1 inch slices
1 shallot minced
thyme leaves for garnish

For grits: Bring water & salt to a boil. Slowly add grits, reduce heat and cook stirring frequently for about an hour. Remove from heat & add butter, cheese, pepper. Then stir in the egg. Transfer grits to buttered 4 to 6 oz ramekins. Heat oven to 375. Place grits in deep baking dish, pour hot water halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake covered with foil for 15 minutes, uncover and bake 20 minutes longer until tops are GBD

For sauce: saute wime vinegar, shallots, bay leaf, chile, and ham bringing to a boil. Cook until 1 T of liquid remains. Reduce to low, stir in cream, then wisk in butter bit by bit. Strain into sauce pan. (NOTE: I used tasso instead of country ham for the sauce). Keep warm.

Topping/garnish: Heat oil in saute pan over medium-high. Add ingredients and cook 3 to 4 minutess until barely tender.

To finish: Unmold grits onto serving plate/bowl, turn brown-side up. Ladle some sauce around grits and top with topping. Sprinkle thyme leaves to garnish.

You can make grits an hour ahead of time and reheat in a 400 degree oven.



Saturday, September 20, 2008

Goodbye Summer

It seems a shame to have to give up the wonderful tomatoes like these heirlooms that I got from the farmer's market: Cherokee purples, Zebras, and Brandywines. There is no substitution for good tomatoes, and if I can't find good ones, I choose a different recipe unless I can use canned ones (soups, stews, etc.). I mean caprese salad, is so simple with VERY simple ingredients: tomatoes, mozzarella, sweet basil and Balsamic vinaigrette, +/- salt, pepper, EVOO. All the ingredients are raw, so that means the cheese and the tomatoes are critical. Bad tomatoes kill the salad, and it's not worth putting in your mouth.

Caprese salad

2 large tomatoes, the best you can find

Mozzarella cheese

Chiffonade fresh sweet basil leaves

High quality EVOO

Balsamic vinegar

Salt, pepper to taste

I usually will slice my tomates either in rounds or in quarters, salt them, and let them drain some of the water, concentrating the flavor. I don't typically seed them unless the juice is over the top. Cut your cheese however you want (I happened to do little sticks this time), drizzle with balsamic vinegar and EV olive oil (something STRONG). Finish with basil, salt and pepper. Some people don't like pepper on tomatoes, but I do. I also go a little heavy on salt, but it's so complimentary to tomatoes, that I don't mind.

A more classic way to do it is to have round tomato slices, full basil leaves, and round cheese slices stacked on top of each other. The colors are representative of the Italian flag (Margherita pizza?). Then put your finishing touches on it. Either way, it can't miss!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

French Laundry at Home

Haven't posted in some time, largely because I can't seem to find time to use the computer...Recently we had a dinner party at Mike Brown's house (Danny, Meredith, Mike, Laura, myself & Jennifer) where we did Lamb 3 ways and Mike made a dish from the French Laundry Cookbook. Never one to be outdone, I decided it was time to stretch my culinary skills and do some serious cooking at home.

First FL attempt was a relatively easy one, "Pacific Moi with Fresh Soybeans, Scallion and Radish Salad, and Soy-Temple Orange Glaze". I won't bore you with the actual details of the recipe, but would like to give some commentary. First of all, there is no way in hell one could ever get Pacific Moi in Augusta, GA; so I used the only "fresh" fish I could find, red snapper. The cooking was relatively simple, and I think the method for crisping the fish's skin is worth mentioning.

First of all, the FL makes very small servings of food, because they serve tasting menus only where they may serve up to 35 items! I bought a nice snapper filet and cut it into 3 1/2 by 1 inch pieces (I measured with a ruler) leaving the skin on. When crisping the skin, it is important that there be absolutely no water in it. I started by patting the skin dry with paper towels and then refrigerating for about an hour uncovered. When ready to cook, I heated about an 1/8 of an inch of grapeseed oil in my All Clad skillet over medium-high heat. Next, I took the blade of a knife and dragged it over the fish skin, pressing down firmly to force water to the surface, you can then squeegee off the water. I repeated this several times until the skin was dry. To cook, place the fish skin side down for about 2 1/2 minutes, then flip over and "kiss" the other side for about 30 seconds.

To plate, 3 tablespoons of orange glaze went down, topped by the soybean mixture, then the fish, and topped by the radish salad. This dish was awesome, preparation was a pain in the ass, but I would totally make this again in larger portions for a dinner party.

For better details, see the link to the French Laundry at Home. Up next is the awesome Highlands Bar & Grill Baked Grits!

Highlands Baked Grits! Mmmmm!

Frank Stitt's Southern Table is a must have if you want to see what Southern food should and can be. Highland's Bar & Grill in Birmingham is a perinneal top 25 US restaurant, Jen and I had the pleasure of dining there on our anniversary a few years back. Fell in love with the grits!

The recipe is quite cumbersome for grits, but well worth it and the result is almost identical to the restaurant's version. There is an alternate recipe on Epicurious, that has only a fraction of the ingredients used in Southern Table, I would recommend the book version...damn good!

Here's my mise:

I won't give the full details, but basically, you slow cook stone ground grits for about an hour until creamy. Stir in some parmesean and egg. Place the mixture in ramekins and bake for about 45 minutes in a water bath (like a custard or creme brulee). In the meantime, you make a tasty, buttery sauce and make a topping of mushrooms and julienned country ham. The results are phenomenal. My mom requested this for her birthday. I made these with a stuffed pork loin, collards, and molten chocolate cakes for desert. The grits stole the show :)

As in my previous post: if interested, I will forward the whole recipe. JW

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Give them Dawgs a bone!

Why must it be that every year we can't put USC away when we have the chance? I mean, I know the refs do little things here and there to keep games close. But that crew yesterday was as clueless of an officiating crew as I've seen in a while. Not just against us but also against USC. Both teams got gifts and got screwed at some point or another. The standouts were the pass interference call on the crappy pass to Mo Mass (offsetting penalties when they're both by the same team? Really?!?), the late hits by Bryan Evans and Chappas, and the delay of game with the nonfunctional play clocks.

We played ugly, and we won. How bad did you feel last year? That's right, move on. I thought these players won the game for us, though.

Brian Mimbs That was the punt of his life, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Why was Kevin Butler's kid in there punting? Overall, Mimbs had a great day and helped save it.

A.J. Green Whatever he's got on his hands, he needs to give it to a couple of other guys. But seriously, this dude is for real. The long catch on third down was a good catch, but but the short one on third down where he reached pretty far behind in midair was better.

Matthew Stafford He occasionally would help get us in some trouble, but the vast majority of the time, he bails us out. The pass to AJ on the right side was so accurate it was unreal. I bet there are a bunch of pros out there that would like to be able to throw a ball like that but can't. Curiously, I heard Richt talk about how Stafford comes to the line of scrimmage with something like 2-4 plays. If he audibles, he gives hand signals to switch to certain plays, if you watch carefully, you can tell just about what kind of play we're about to run. Let's put it this way: if I can figure it out I'm pretty sure that Tennessee and Florida can. TheQB "choice" zone read scramble for 30 yards, how huge was that?

Blair Walsh Welcome to the big time. 2/2 in his first SEC outing. Without those field goals, it's a different game. I wish we hadn't had to kick them.

Knowshon Moreno The touchdown run as many of runs all night were just will and determination. We're lucky to have him on our side, because I can imagine he's a nightmare to defend.

Reshad Jones It's a good thing he saved the game, because he had a few miscues that were hurting us. Coverage, late hit (nervous refs), missed interception, etc. In the end, he made the play he had to make.

So now, ASU, who is fresh of a loss to UNLV, football powerhouse that it is. Tickets are cheaper than they were, that's for sure! I made the early mistake of looking at the polls, and I need to stop doing it. UGA just has to take care of what it can control, and see what happens at the end. There's a lot of games to be played between now and then. I still like our chances! Thank GOD there's Chik-Fil-A in Arizona, that's all I've got to say.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

By the numbers: rank(ing)

Someone please tell me how a team that doesn't even play increases their number of #1 votes, and a team that comes out and dominates drops a couple of #1 votes in one of the polls? Does it have to do with the fact that NONE of the networks showed more than about 15 seconds worth of highlights in our game? Is it a continuation of the ESPN conspiracy against teams that aren't USC or OSU?
Here's what happened:

Week 1
AP Top 25
1. USC (21) 1-0 1,539
2. Georgia (20) 1-0 1,506
3. Ohio State (15) 1-0 1,497
4. Oklahoma (2) 1-0 1,432

USA Today Poll
1. USC (23) 1-0 1,462
2. Georgia (20) 1-0 1,442
3. Ohio State (10) 1-0 1,385
4. Oklahoma (2) 1-0 1,344
Week 2
AP Top 25
1. USC (33) 1-0 1,577
2. Georgia (23) 2-0 1,525
3. Oklahoma (2) 2-0 1,458
4. Florida (4) 2-0 1,438

USA Today' Poll
1. USC (34) 1-0 1,481
2. Georgia (18) 2-0 1,454
3. Oklahoma (3) 2-0 1,370
4. Florida (3) 2-0 1,306

There's nothing objective about this, and it's an indictment of the voting system. For the AP, 12 of Ohio State's 15 first place votes went to USC, we got the rest. The USA Today poll saw all 10 of OSU's first place votes go to USC and we dropped two votes. Net: gained one vote. Does that make any sense to anyone? And if you say that once you're #1 and don't lose you stay #1, then I would refer you back to last week where we were #1, didn't lose, and fell a spot.
The saving grace here is that voters actually did watch the OSU game and saw that they got a bullshit touchdown on a flag that should have been thrown during a punt return. Meanwhile, they struggled and were down for most of the game, scoring 14 in the final quarter. So, there went the 1 vs 2 matchup that everyone (read: talking heads)was hoping for, which I think is good.
The reason this drives me up the wall isn't about 1 and 2. It's about 2 and 3 and what could happen at the end of the year. It really doesn't matter if you're #1 at all during the season, and I do think it takes some pressure off of us to not be in that spot. I don't understand how or why we lost it, but it happened. The rules seem to change from week to week to justify the results. But, if we win the SEC with two losses (think UF/UT and a team from the west, neither of which are wild estimates), USC remains undefeated, and OSU finishes with 1 loss, where will we be?
If your team never has a chance from the start to do anything, will you keep hoping? Maybe we should ask a Gamecock fan for advice.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

You can't spell suck without USC!

The cluck and duck apparently has one play, and that's throw it to the tight end on a crossing route. If you can stop that and get a little bit of pressure on Smelley, that's a formula that has beaten them. As far as defense goes, a little misdirection goes a long way.
Good for Vandy winning against a ranked opponent at home for the first time in 16 years. You have to wonder about what it feels like to be their coach. Pretty good tonight, at least.
The main thing that got me thinking was the replay of the missed field goal that they had against UT last year. We were a foot from going to the SECCG and possibly playing in the BCS Championship. I wonder if the pollsters (who are fickle women with regard to UGA love) would have vaulted us up there had we won the SEC last year. I doubt it, they probably would have put USC. Just a word about that game: USC didn't sub until 1/3 of the way into the fourth quarter when they were already blowing out UVA. And all these ridiculous excuses about how UVA is in a BCS conference. They're awful. I bet GSU would've given 'em a run for their money, and maybe could have beaten them. No defense. USC had one play for negative yardage. Little offense. They scored one touchdown, and punted all day. They looked worse than UGA at the UT game last year. As if we don't already know it, it's a ratings ploy to get #1 playing #2, like a lot of people aren't already going to be watching that game. I wanna see what happens if we win the SEC with 2 losses, OSU wins the big 10 with 1 loss, USC wins the pac(k) 10 with 1 loss. That's right MFers. Sugar Bowl vs the big east winner or some other at-large mystery.
Ultimately, though, we have to quit playing FCS teams or non BCS conference teams. And the best part is regardless of how well we do or don't do this year, we could be better next year. Think of who's going, who might stay, and who's coming in.
Anyway, if I recall, GSB said it some time ago, "they've got a Jasper, a Casper, a Smelley, and a Succop. That just sucks." Of course, bad karma for me, and they're sure to win, unless we score 15 before they do.