Observations from the 35: Georgia-LSU edition

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.

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47 Comments

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47 responses to “Observations from the 35: Georgia-LSU edition

  1. Heathbar09

    Hate being a tax accountant. Sucked not being able to be there. Still, my man cave was rocking! That game was as exciting as the SECCG last year. And much better given the outcome!

  2. AthensHomerDawg

    Game yesterday was a great BD present for Larry!

  3. RomeDawg79

    A good jump in the polls. 6th in both.

  4. Yah, punditry wants us to beat Bama in the SECCG so they can put Oregon in against a non-SEC undefeated team.

    Damn the strength of schedule; writers and ESPN don’t care…

  5. tuckerdawg

    Did I see Brandon Harton playing safety yesterday?

  6. Gene Simmons

    I have a feeling we will be playing LSU again in Atlanta in December.

    • Dolly Llama

      I feel like we’ll be seeing Bama again if we make it back to the SECCG. And that’s still a fairly big “if.” Lotta meat left on this bone. Perhaps I’m just a Negative Nelly, but after yesterday, I’m afraid we’re going to sleepwalk into a game against Tennessee or Vanderbilt or Auburn or Florida (and, yes, I’m including FLA in the list of teams we ought to kick the hell out of) and blow it. If we REALLY deserve to be in the National Championship game, then we’ll destroy every single team left on our schedule up through the SECCG. We do that, and win the conference, by God I don’t think there’s any valid argument for denying us our chance.

      • Sanford222view

        Georgia has to lose twice in conference to not make it to Atlanta.

        • Dolly Llama

          Call me a pessimist, but if we screw around, that’s possible. This team CAN beat any other SEC out there. There’s a huge difference between CAN and WILL. That difference is why we’ve not been in a championship game in the Richt era.

        • The984

          Not if we lose to UF (or possibly Mizzou).

        • hailtogeorgia

          Not if Florida goes undefeated or has just one loss in conference…

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Mizzou and FU are still undefeated in the conference. If we lose to either of them and they win out the Dawgs stay home from the SECCG. Plus, any more losses, even one, and the BCSNCG is likely out of reach for the Dawgs, even if UGA wins the East and wins the SECCG.

  7. Dolly Llama

    Does anyone have a reliable update on Gurley’s injury? I know he left on his own power and came back out wearing a boot and all that, but even if he’s, say, 75 or 80 percent healed by next Saturday – or even the Saturday after that – I say you let him sit, let it heal all that way, let him play when he’s hitting on all cylinders. To do otherwise is to keep it aggravated and him running at 75-80 percent all season. We’ve got enough talent to win without him. Get that damn beast all the way well for the home stretch and (hopefully) the postseason.

    • Darrron Rovelll

      This + road game = smaller roster. If coaches are not planning to use Gurley as anything but an insurance policy for Knoxville, I would think we start Marshall and work in Green & Douglas. Give him the week off to heal and see how he is for Mizzou.

      • Dolly Llama

        Exactly right. We’ve got talent enough to throw into the breach while he gets back on his rails. That’s true gainst Tennessee for sure, and probably Mizzou. Against Vanderbilt for sure, too. Florida? Lord, I hope he’s back right for that one. I think we could probably win that one without him, given the state of Florida’s team this year, but I’d sure love to go into that one with the peace of mind he’d bring if he’s in the backfield and ready to rock.

      • Jeff Sanchez

        Can you ever remember a trip to Knoxville basically being treated as a breather in the schedule?

        My, how far have the Vols fallen?

    • uganeveryway

      I guess AJ Turman is a redshirt? He might as well transfer then. Chubb/Michel aint gonna redshirt.

  8. Matt Reed

    Grown men cried at the glorious ending yesterday

  9. I Wanna Red Cup

    I cried, you did too. I can think of one other home game that rivals the excitement: the Buck Belue debut v Ga Tech. The stadium in Red looked fantastic.

    • heytogoober

      That was a hell of a game! Amp Arnold!!!

      And nice Munson reference to another great Belue moment, “I gave up, you did, too!”

  10. There were lots of great things that happened, but secondary play was not one of them (by either side). UGA is still tentative and don’t seem to attack the ball. From what little time Shaw Wiggins played, though, he seems to have the best coverage instincts. I believe he’ll take over as starter before the year is over.

    The Dawgs were awesome yesterday, and I hope they enjoy the heck out of what they did in September. 3-1 and 2-0 in conference is a helluva place to be. Is the Murray v Mettenberger thing settled yet? Where’s arod?

  11. uglydawg

    There is one positive thing to say about the defensive backfield’s work yesterday…they delivered some bone-jarring hits that caused receivers to drop a few balls , while Georgia’s receivers hung on to the ball very well..
    AND HOW WRONG was I , on Friday, I said that I expected LSU to have the advantage on the LOS?…I’m so glad I was wrong.
    This team will get better and better. After watching that game, every other game on TV seemed boring. If Georgia faces A&M, it will look a lot like this game….except Manzel can run it and Mett couldn’t or didn’t.

    • One other positive to take out of what was clearly weak secondary play. They adjusted to what the refs were NOT calling The Senator was absolutely right about there being 5 or so unflagged pass interference calls but the first 4 were LUS being permitted to literally keep our receivers from reaching up or out to catch the ball(pretty much the textbook definition of pass interference) but the last two were ones we got away with. I believe Danielson had the right analogy on the 4 and out series at the end of the game when Harvey-Clemons clearly interfered with No.80 and Danielson said”That hasn’t been a strike all day” What I take from this is either our players or our Coaches saw the no calls and adapted ….good for them …..Damn good DAWGS.

  12. wileycopy

    My son and I went. He’s 3. He was ready to leave at the start of the 4th. Lots of trickery involved in keeping him at the game. We wandered throughout the stadium and finally settled outside of section 124 where my buddy Flounder and I watched the final portion of the game. Once the dawgs defended the 4th and 10 pass we went running about like mad men. Oh the joy that was felt. Loudest I’ve ever heard Sanford save for maybe Blackout vs. Auburn. Hopefully my boy will pride himself in being able to tell his friends he was there later in life.

  13. hailtogeorgia

    Did Hicks see the field in the first half at all?

    I didn’t see us use the I in the first quarter at all – I could be wrong, as I was watching the game on WatchESPN app and it was malfunctioning occasionally, so I could have missed some plays.

    I didn’t see us in the I at all on the first drive and didn’t notice it until later in the second quarter – even then, it was Merritt Hall who was on the field, not Quayvon.

    I didn’t see Quayvon play until the 2nd half.

    • hailtogeorgia

      …and by WatchESPN app, I meant CBSSports app. They were both giving me issues.

      • He was tidying up himself after Copeland strewed him about on a 1st half kickoff.

        • Dawgfan Will

          I THOUGHT I saw Quayvon get pancaked on a kickoff.

        • ETennDawg

          I had to watch the replay that just to make sure my eyes werent playing tricks on me. Truly remarkable.

        • hailtogeorgia

          Interesting – I was watching the game from Hong Kong via the CBSSports app (which is truly pathetic) and it kept cutting out on me, so I must’ve missed this play.

          I switched to the CBSSports website stream and never had any issues. Strange.

          • Charlottedawg

            staying up until 3:30AM to watch a game. that my friends is loyalty. You don’t work in finance where you’re frequently working around that time anyway are you?

    • Noonan

      First play of the second series we were in the I formation. I think we ran for a loss and then got right back in the shotgun.

  14. The Lone Stranger

    Am I the only one who believes that the muffed punt may have been abetted by the same glorious Sun that messed with that Cocks’ receiver?

    • D.N. Nation

      The sun was behind LSU in the 3rd quarter.

      • Athens Townie

        Exactly. He wasn’t facing the sun. But it was an end over end kick, rather than a spiral (harder to field).

        Either way, something might have happened to his concentration because the ball hit him right in the facemask.

        He’s as sure handed as Logan Gray — something went wrong.

        • hailtogeorgia

          Is he? I saw more than one LSU fan who referenced repeated issues on punt return and asking if they couldn’t have someone who could just fair catch the ball. I don’t know either way, but it seemed like this wasn’t the first issue.

  15. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Random questions:

    Why do I think that a targeting penalty is going to determine who wins the SEC this year? And why do I think that Georgia is a candidate to be on the wrong end of one of those calls at the wrong time? Not a conspiracy theory, just pondering the intersection of historical officiating precedent and hard-hitting, young DBs anxious to assert themselves.

    If the SEC continues this trend of emphasizing point production over point denial, how long will take Bobo’s and Grantham’s paychecks to reverse as well?

    How in God’s name did Bama shut out Ole Miss? I know they went for it on 4th a few times, but there is now way Bama’s secondary holds down Moncrief and Treadwell all game. Except they did. As a result, I think Bama edges LSU for the West.

    Will the points explosion continue, or will the defenses grow up by November? It will be interesting to watch.

    • hailtogeorgia

      Ole Miss was terrible in the red zone…that’s pretty much what it came down to in that game.

    • Dawgfan Will

      Apparently Bama had a former Ole Miss staffer in the OC’s box with a pair of binoculars, and while he couldn’t help with their signals, he was able to expose their tendencies.