Seats weren’t bad for this one – two sections over from the band, next to the players’ families, about 25 rows up. Which means I got to see the third quarter meltdown up close and personal.
This Georgia team simply can’t stand prosperity. A shame, because that first half was the most balanced play we’ve seen from the team the entire season. The third quarter was the mother of all dumpster fires. The fourth quarter was just bizarre, as the Gators closed to within three, stopped a fourth-and-one conversion attempt, played themselves out of field goal range with a dumb personal foul, got a gift penalty – illegal substitution coming out of a time out! – to convert a fourth-and-two and then wound up losing even more yardage as a result of Corey Moore’s biggest play of the season… at which point, Florida punted and Georgia did what exactly nobody in the stadium expected, which was to run out the last eight or so minutes of the game, aided by a meaningless, but enjoyable, dumb personal foul.
I am, of course, exceedingly grateful for the win (did I mention it was the third in a row over Florida?), but for once I’d like to see the Dawgs grow up a little and roll with the punches. Yes, the Lynch drop and what ensued were deflating, but at some point you’ve got to deal with crap that happens sometimes instead of falling apart. This was a game that Georgia was this close to winning by three or four touchdowns that instead turned into a nail biter.
On to the bullet points.
- Gurley, you magnificent bastard. Honestly, words fail me at this point. It’s obvious he wasn’t in anything close to optimal condition, yet still managed to dominate much of the game. Watching a 232-pound man who hadn’t played in three weeks outrun the entire Gator defense was one of the most awe-inspiring things I’ve watched this season. And as big as the early runs and catches were, it may have been even more impressive watching him gut it out on that last drive picking up two first downs when everybody in the stadium knew he was getting the ball.
- Lost in all the Gurley greatness was the fine game that Aaron Murray turned in. The throw to Gurley for the touchdown was perfect. Best of all, Murray gave his teammates exactly what they needed from him, a game where he stayed under control and avoided mistakes. He picked an excellent time for his first game against Florida without an interception. And he leaves with the rarest of records, 3-1 against the Gators. Well done, sir.
- As disappointing as the Lynch drop was, and even more so his reaction after the drop, what really killed me was that it ruined a perfect call by Bobo and terrific execution by Murray, who held onto the ball until the last possible second. Lynch had only one Florida defender on his side of the field and three linemen downfield to block for him. At a minimum, that sucker should have gone for 20 yards.
- I’m not sure why there’s so much criticism directed Bobo’s way. He called an almost flawless first half, as Georgia scored on five of its six possessions. The last series in particular was as good an effort in clock management as you’ll see from this staff and the points they got turned out to be the decisive ones. I don’t think it’s fair to accuse Bobo of being overly conservative in the second half either, as the two calls that resulted in disaster were both aggressive. Even with Gurley back, this offense is still missing one of its staples, a legitimate downfield threat – the back shoulder throw that Murray made to Reggie Davis that Davis couldn’t set up properly to catch was the most revealing play of the game – and Bobo did a pretty good job of scheming around that. (I loved those back-to-back throws to Lynch and Rome on the drive that finished out the first quarter.) Georgia had more yardage yesterday than it had against any Florida defense under Muschamp despite still missing several weapons.
- Quayvon Hicks threw some monster blocks in the first half.
- When he doesn’t fumble, Brendan Douglas sure is fun to watch.
- The offensive line played about as you’d expect, holding its own when facing off against the Gator defensive line, but struggling when there were more numbers to defend. Florida run blitzed a lot more in the second half, with good success, and the corner blitz on the play that turned out to be the safety was as well-timed a call as you’ll see, aided by a complete failure on that side of the line to pick it up (Murray’s blind side on a play action… not good, fellas).
- Welcome back, Michael Bennett. You were missed. Especially by Aaron Murray.
- Two plays I want to review on the replay: the lateral to Lynch and the bobbled Wooten catch.
- Amazing to type this, but Marshall Morgan’s place kicking has become non-eventful.
- I still don’t understand why he can’t kick off into the end zone, though. Then again, I don’t understand why Florida didn’t come after Barber on his two punts.
- Todd Grantham lives to fight another day. I’ve got no problem with bend but not break tactics, but he should have been more aggressive with his blitzes when Florida’s offensive line started getting some traction in the second half. It was disappointing to see the lack of resistance on Florida’s last scoring drive. And there is simply no excuse for 12 men on the field after a time out (didn’t get why that was called, either). On the other hand, Florida was held to 20 points, which is a lot less than the doubters expected.
- Monster game from Garrison Smith. Others who looked good: Ramik Wilson, Ray Drew, who gets held more than anyone else on the defense, and Jordan Jenkins. The Dawgs also got serviceable performances out of Mauger, Moore and Swann. One of the sacks was the result of coverage.
- I was a little surprised at how half-assed Florida looked on occasion. It’s one thing to draw penalties as a result of aggressive play. It’s another to draw several out of stupidity. And speaking of stupid, I enjoyed the Gator defender who went down in the fourth quarter and then got up and left the field. Sure, it stopped the clock, but Georgia got the benefit of having the 40-second clock reset, which allowed the offense to bleed off even more time.
- That last drive was impressive. That’s twice this season Georgia’s offense has run out the game with drives of over eight minutes. Maybe Joe T and Company deserve a wee bit of credit for that, eh?
No, it wasn’t pretty. But if you’d have asked me or any other Georgia fan five years ago if we could have foreseen a three game winning streak against Florida any time in the near future, we’d have laughed sadly at the suggestion. That Richt has broken the psychology of the series after a 21-year drought is one of the biggest achievements of his career. I tip my cap to him for that. You should, too.