Georgia fans, it’s an all too familiar pattern at this point, isn’t it?
Once again, we’re treated to a first half when a large number of players fail to show up mentally and emotionally. When Stafford’s inconsistent mechanics and inability to hit a receiver more than 20 yards downfield make you want to throw items at the TV screen. When the people calling plays (and checking off into plays) on offense repeatedly disregard where the opponent’s safeties line up. When defensive players still can’t line up correctly and can’t play assignment football. Or account for a running quarterback.
And we knew what was coming in the second half. Those fabled halftime adjustments – you know, the ones that make you wonder what the staff was waiting for while the wheels were coming off in the first half – get made. The offensive line play stabilized. Bobo saw the holes in the defensive formations. And Georgia slowly but steadily took control of the game.
And we also could sense what was coming when the Dawgs tied the score in the fourth quarter. A big play by the other team’s offense sucked all the confidence out of the Georgia defense. Another team drove down the field on a Martinez defense looking to pull out a late win.
Fortunately, somebody threw out the script at that point, as the Dawgs forced a key fumble and the offense took the ball down the field for the winning score.
Don’t get me wrong, a win’s a win and all. But last night showed that there are still some serious structural problems with this team. Without the turnovers and Bobby Johnson’s inexplicable decision to throw out most of his team’s offensive playbook for the second half, we are most likely sitting here this morning shaking our heads (or worse) over the first Georgia team to lose back to back games to Vanderbilt in fifty years.
- Knowshon Moreno is the best running back Georgia’s had since Robert Edwards. Let’s just pray his health is better than Robert’s was. With Brown and Lumpkin gone, he’s it at the position for a while. With Stafford struggling for a major portion of the game, Moreno was the glue that held things together last night. At this point in the season, he’s the team MVP.
- Second half adjustments. Yeah, I just mocked the staff for this, but at least they were made. Vandy was shut out in the second half after rolling up 200 yards of offense in the first half.
- Stacy Searels. His task continues to be monumental, but the signs of progress on the offensive line are heartening. Sturdivant bounced back from the worst game of his career to play quite well at times. The line looked dominant for stretches in the second half. If Moreno is the team MVP, Searels is running second.
- Brian Mimbs. Unsung, but he’s been one of the most consistent players on the team this year.
- It was good to see Coutu get the opportunity he clearly wanted after his miss in the ‘Bama game. Of course, I’d rather see him get it in Jacksonville, but beggars can’t be choosers at this point.
- Forced turnovers. Hey, good lookin’. Where have you been all season?
- 5-2 looks a whole lot better than 4-3.
- Stafford’s mechanics. Yes, I know he’s young and his team is young and his line is young and his receivers drop passes, but at some point in time the excuses don’t excuse anymore. He’s got to get over not always having a perfect pocket to throw from. At this point in his career there’s no valid reason for missing wide open guys as badly as he did last night. Until he can become more consistent throwing the ball and hitting receivers 20+ yards downfield, opposing defenses are going to cheat their safeties and press Georgia’s receivers to choke off the line of scrimmage and shut down the screen passes that have been Bobo’s bread and butter.
- Bobo’s playcalling. Perhaps I’m being a little unfair here. I agree that it’s wise to emphasize the run. But he’s seen two straight games where the middle of the field is being left wide open because defensive coordinators are daring him not to run the ball. He got away with it last night because Moreno has an uncanny ability to create yardage after getting bottled up, but that’s not going to work against defenses like Florida’s and Auburn’s. Chandler should be seeing the ball a lot more than he has, especially now that he’s demonstrated he can hold on and catch.
- First half defensive gameplan. What, there was a gameplan? When will someone figure out how to defend a running quarterback?
- Inconsistent tackling on defense. Nothing new, although it was better than the hands of stone we saw throughout the Tennessee game.
- Hands down, it was blown assignments and failure to line up properly on defense. Watching Martinez get in Dewberry’s face about being out of place in the seventh game of the season was disheartening, to say the least. Lomax ran out of plays and lost contain on Vandy’s trick calls in the first half. Jones got burned badly on a pass play in the second half, but was bailed out by a Vandy penalty. Those were just the obvious moments. This is the number one priority to address in the next two weeks – if Georgia can’t take a decent stab at playing assignment football, Florida will be able to name the score in J’ville.
Things could be better; things could be worse. But it’s time for this team to step it up. If it continues to perform at the level we’ve seen since Ole Miss, it’s hard to see where there’s more than two wins left on the slate. But you also have this feeling that if Georgia ever does put together one of those “everything came together” kind of games – and there usually is one of those each year with Richt – that the confidence level will jump and start this team on a good roll.
Maybe the best thing Georgia has going for it is that this is going down as the most unpredictable year I can ever remember in college football, at least since I’ve been following it. A lack of predictability going into the WLOCP is a big plus if you’re a Dawg fan.