What a month we’re having!
I’ve thought that the 2003 season was the best coaching job of Mark Richt’s career. Yes, he had a stout defense, but that was offset by a shaky offensive line (and that’s putting it mildly for a group that gave up 47 sacks) and a cobbled together running game. But to this point, what Richt has done this season, considering the schedule, the injuries and, yes, the psychology of getting over the heartbreaking loss to Alabama in last year’s SECCG, surpasses it. For once, it looks like what we heard about this team’s work ethic in the offseason was more than happy talk.
It’s been something else from a fan’s point of view, too. Three games against top-ten schools is a good place to start, and winning two of those games certainly helps the entertainment factor. But all three of those games have been legitimate thrillers with none being decided until very late in the fourth quarter. Yesterday saw the best of the bunch. And I’ve got the bullet points to prove it.
- Any discussion of this game has to start with the game winning drive. All that pressure, and all Murray does is go 4-4, for 55 yards and a touchdown. He was brilliant reading what the defense was giving him. And the hand off to J.J. Green might have been Bobo’s best call of the day, as Chavis clearly wasn’t expecting it.
- The first drive of the day was pretty spectacular, too. And it sent a message that Georgia knew it could score on LSU’s defense.
- The offensive line excelled in pass protection and was solid with its run blocking. In what may have been the day’s biggest surprise, it clearly won the battle against what I thought was the Tigers’ strongest unit on defense.
- Almost as shocking, Georgia’s defensive line more than held its own against the LSU offensive line. Four sacks and Hill getting less than 100 yards is all anybody could have asked.
- If the offensive line’s performance wasn’t the day’s biggest surprise, that’s only because the special teams chose to play their most inspired game of the year. If the worst criticism I can think of was letting Beckham return one kickoff to the 35, that’s a pretty good indication that things didn’t go badly. And in fact things went better than that. Marshall Morgan turned in the strongest game of his career, a 3-3 FG performance, along with several kickoffs that were touchbacks. The 55-yarder would have been good from at least 60.
- Speaking of special teams, the muffed punt – a perfect kick and coverage, by the way – might have been the single biggest play of the game.
- Keith Marshall turned in a workmanlike effort when Gurley went down. With a little better footwork, it could have been a much bigger day for him.
- When Floyd and Jenkins get going, it is really fun to watch.
- Aaron Murray better brush up on his defensive linemen dropping into coverage study, because he’s sure going to be seeing it the rest of the season.
- They defended the wheel route! They defended the wheel route!
- Too bad they couldn’t defend the crossing route.
- Landry’s catch at the six on LSU’s first scoring drive of the fourth quarter was jaw dropping. A great throw from Mett, too, but there was coverage on the play and he took a lick when he caught it.
- I was impressed with Mettenberger’s command of the offense. He’s deadly when he’s given the time to set up and throw from the pocket. It’s hard not to see what a good job Cameron’s done sorting out LSU’s strengths and weaknesses on that side of the ball.
- Georgia wins the battle in the trenches – both of them – gets another killer game out of Murray, outplays LSU’s special teams, more than doubles LSU’s rushing yards, plays the turnovers evenly… and hangs on to win by three. That ought to tell you how badly the secondary played. Way, way too many third down conversions allowed.
- Murray had one sideline throw, to Conley, I think, that I still can’t figure out how he didn’t clip the DB’s shoulder. Just a perfectly executed toss.
- And I think LSU’s secondary is sick of back shoulder throws. They should be, anyway.
- The strangest part of the day was the disappearance of the fullback matchup we were anticipating. LSU looked prepared for the offense when Hicks was in the I and Bobo pretty much abandoned that look after the first quarter.
- Boy, that was a let ‘em play officiating crew yesterday. If pass interference had been called as much as it was committed (by both teams), you might have seen another fourteen points scored.
Mett said afterwards that it was just another game for LSU. Maybe it was, although the sideline looked animated enough when the Tigers scored the go-ahead TD. But it was clearly more than that to Georgia’s players and coaches. And fans. Sanford Stadium was as loud as I’ve ever heard it in more than thirty years of attending games. The reaction when the defense got the final fourth down stop said it all. And after what happened the last time these two teams met in Athens, it was fitting that the Dawgs got flagged then for an excessive celebration penalty that was as meaningless as it was deserved. Simply, the topper to a great game.