That was The Fifth Quarter Show’s A.J. Bryant’s Dickensian comment about last nights 20-17 win over Arizona State.
I know just how he feels. This is a team that looked like for the first time all season it was getting its act together early in the game, marching out to a 14-3 lead, only to watch its offense wilt and allow an inferior opponent to take a 17-14 lead and then be given an opportunity to take a late lead as a result of a miscue.
Of course, from there it was no problem. Three defensive stops, an A.J. Green field goal block (!) and a 36-yard completion to Green set up Blair Walsh’s game winning kick with two seconds left on the clock.
This team is driving me crazy.
Speaking of A.J. Bryant, it was on that show a couple of weeks ago that he and Kelin Johnson mentioned that Fabris favors directional kicking even in the face of its ineffectiveness because the man likes a challenge. Unfortunately for Dawgnation, I think this team has taken on an identity. It’s Fabris’.
Think about it. Georgia is 3-1, despite having gone through a September slate of nothing but BCS conference opponents and having racked up a mind-boggling -9 turnover margin. That’s close to impossible.
This team has no quit in it, and as someone who’s despaired over the occasional absence of any field presence that cropped up over the previous three seasons, I love those guys for that. But they’re also squandering what looks like immense talent advantages – there’s no question about which team had better athletes overall last night – and leaving themselves in a position in every game to struggle to a win.
This team is talented enough to win any game on its remaining schedule. But it’s also flaky enough to lose almost any of those games. Sure, it’s impressive that Georgia stands at 3-1 right now, considering what it’s gone through. But where do you think those Dawgs would be today if they had merely broken even on turnover margin in those four games? Likely 4-0, with at least two easy wins and a top ten ranking.
A few specific observations from the 35 last night:
- Spare me your arguments for Benn or Bryant or Jones. Right now, A.J. Green is the best wide receiver in the country. Arizona State tried every trick in the book to come up with something to stop him. The end result? Eight catches, 153 yards, one touchdown and a crucial catch to set up the game winner. I’d almost call the blocked field goal icing on the cake, except that with the way things were going at the time, it was the clutch play of the night. Just a spectacular performance.
- The understatement of the night was uttered by Willie Martinez about Bacarri Rambo: “I should have been playing him more.” No kidding.
- Speaking of Martinez, he coached last night as if he’d been reading every message board comment and blog post anyone had ever made about him. You wanted personnel changes? Brother, he was moving players in and out of the game like he was being paid by player appearance. He zoned. He went man-to-man. He stunted. And granted, that was one crappy passing attack he went up against, but still, 204 yards yielded is 204 yards yielded. And peel off the first two turnovers, it’s doubtful ASU scores 10 points. So he lives to fight another week.
- Anybody wonder how last night would have turned out if the Sun Devils’ starting kicker hadn’t been out with a groin injury?
- The two players on defense that look like they’re coming on: Justin Houston and Branden Smith.
- How did the officials miss that face mask penalty?
- I don’t know what Mark Richt was thinking on that fourth-and-one. Skip the fact that ASU was stuffing Georgia’s power running game. Given the way ASU’s offense was playing, how do you not take the three points in that situation?
- Which reminds me – that was a pretty weak job we saw from the offensive line last night. Back-to-back false starts, no push on short yardage plays and blitzers that were getting past the tackles – something tells me that Stacey Searels wakes up an unhappy man today.
- Who would have thought that the key to Georgia’s season so far would be to hold the turnover margin under -3 in a game?
- Mike Bobo, trust me: everybody knows what you’re going to run when Branden Smith lines up as a wideout and when Logan Gray lines up at quarterback.
- In the credit-where-credit-is-due department, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the kickoff team didn’t give up a single long return last night.
- Joe Cox was one stubborn hombre last night. And I don’t mean that as a compliment. Both of those picks were ill advised throws that went right into where ASU ran its coverage. And he’s lucky he didn’t get intercepted on another throw where Orson Charles was triple-covered.
- On the other hand, he didn’t get much help from Caleb King, who dropped two perfectly set up screen passes. I don’t know what you do about King, who also fumbled inexplicably, but had a couple of beautiful runs without the benefit of much blocking help from the offensive line.
- And I don’t know what’s going on with Shaun Chapas, but his game was sure off last night. Especially mystifying as the upback on kickoff returns, he’s lucky one of his moves didn’t result in a fumble.
- When ASU took that 17-14 lead, that may have been the quietest I’ve ever heard a Sanford Stadium crowd get.
- The third quarter/fourth quarter turnover implosion was awful, but it was set up by the general farting around on offense in the second quarter. It was Bobo at his worst – after calling two brilliant scoring drives that had ASU on its heels defensively, he seemed to call plays at random as if to see what somebody could do, instead of sticking to what was working. Just like the Oklahoma State game, in other words.
- Did I mention A.J. Green?