Finally got around to watching a replay of the game. What struck me more than anything else was just how dang methodical the whole thing was. It wasn’t one of those games that the Dawgs seem to enjoy once a year where everything goes off-the-charts right (Auburn ’06, LSU ’04). Rather, Georgia simply and steadily used its superior depth and talent to grind out a solid victory.
Most impressively, there were no killer mistakes. Stafford played within himself the entire game. Georgia never turned the ball over. There was really only one penalty that inflicted damage – the clip that nullified a decent gain by Moreno on a swing pass – but even that wasn’t too harmful. (And be honest here: how many of you were expecting out of habit to hear Inman’s number called on the first offensive penalty of the game?) The offense only allowed two sacks. All in all, for a team as green as Georgia is, that’s about as good a performance as you can ask for.
Here are a few specific observations I picked up from the replay:
- It may not be a world beater, but Oklahoma State ain’t that bad a football team. The Cowboys don’t have the overall talent and depth that Georgia possesses, but they trotted out a number of good (and in the case of a few, very good) players Saturday night. Pittman may be the best TE that the Dawgs see all year. Bowman looks smooth as silk. OSU’s secondary was the weakest part of the team; the rest of the problems it had on defense were related to fundamentals – not surprising in a first game with a new defensive coordinator. They look like a better than average group, a seven or eight regular season wins type team.
- There is no question that this is the fastest team that Georgia has ever fielded, especially on defense. Especially from the front seven on defense. OSU wasn’t prepared for it. The speed and aggressiveness the Dawgs showed on defense covered up a number of mistakes.
- While I’m still worried about how Howard holds up against any offense that emphasizes more of a power running game, the depth on the defensive line is noteworthy – there were at least eight guys being rotated that made plays.
- Although he was far from perfect, it was the best game of Brandon Miller’s career.
- I may have been a little more taken with the offensive line than I should have been. Velasco was a rock, Cheese played well for the most part, but Sturdivant played about as you’d expect a talented true freshman to play and the guard play was disappointing. I suspect the coaches are hoping that someone is able to step up at right tackle sooner rather than later and allow them to move Adams to one of the guard spots. Play calling and effective blocking from Sutherland helped Saturday night. The good news is that this unit should do nothing but improve over the course of the year.
- Sean Bailey looked like the five star player Georgia thought it was getting when he signed. He’s a big key on offense, in that he’ll force defenses to respect the deep ball which should help keep the short passing game effective.
- There isn’t a throw under twenty yards that Stafford can’t make accurately. And when he sets himself, he’s pretty deadly on the longer throws, too. But I’m more impressed with the improvement he’s made mentally, even from the last three games of ’06. With consistent line play giving him more time, he’s going to be scary good.
- Only one drop was great, obviously, but what also stood out with the receivers was how much better they blocked as a group than last year. Massaquoi in particular looks like a completely different player in that respect.
- If there’s a tougher player that’s ever worn the Red and Black than Thomas Brown, I’d like to know who he is. From the very first time TB touched the ball, he played all out all game.
As I posted before, I thought the OSU game was one of the keys to the season. The Dawgs passed that test with ease.
If Georgia beats South Carolina this week, I like Georgia to win ten in the regular season and move on to the SECCG. But the ‘Cocks will present a different challenge than did the Cowboys. For one thing, SC has a much better idea of Georgia’s strengths and weaknesses than OSU did. For another, SC has Spurrier instead of Gundy running the show. We won’t see any grandiose predictions from their coaches or players (unlike the SC message boards) leading up to the game.
That being said, there are a lot of positives to take from that first game into this Saturday night. There hasn’t been a dropoff in talent in Athens, just one in experience. And this coaching staff looks to have stepped up. We will see if the cliché about the greatest improvement in a team coming between the first and second games of a season holds true for this bunch.