There’s plenty of post-game analysis around and about the Georgia territory of the blogosphere: Kyle’s, Groo’s and Quinton’s, for starters. It’s time for me to add my two cents, using everyone’s favorite format.
That would be the offense, of course. 520 yards gained on only 57 touches – and Georgia needed every inch of them. You have to praise the play calling, red zone execution, the receivers – but most of all, Stafford and Moreno. Given the brickbats thrown their way after the Florida game about not caring/lack of effort, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see them mail it in yesterday. Instead, they essentially carried the team to the win yesterday. Moreno’s job was especially tough, given the spotty support he received from an increasingly crippled (hard to believe it could get worse, but it did) o-line’s run blocking. But Matt deserves a lot of credit, first of all for his judgment (no interceptions!) and second for his execution. You just have to hope there’s more where that came from for the upcoming weeks.
The Raycom broadcast team was baaaad. Dave Neal is an idiot – maybe you can confuse A. J. Green and A. J. Bryant once, but the number of times Neal did that is an indication of a less than first class mind. Dave Archer is the most bland, least insightful color (there’s a joke of a term) guy out there. It would have been OK to have flat out acknowledged that Georgia’s defense was playing terribly for much of the game. Camera work was fairly shoddy at times, to boot. I’m not sure why people are going to miss these guys after this season. As long as ESPN doesn’t move Pam Ward to SEC broadcasts, it’ll be an improvement.
It’s stunning to see how much Georgia’s defense has regressed in the past three games. That was the 99th ranked team in total offense in the nation the Dawgs faced yesterday. That was a freshman quarterback making his second career start the Dawgs faced yesterday. And Georgia managed to make them look dominant for almost the entire game. The defensive line was manhandled in the running game; that’s the most I’ve ever seen Rennie Curran have to take on offensive linemen in a game (not a battle he’s going to win consistently, either). UK ran 76 plays and controlled the clock for almost 10 minutes more than Georgia. Generally you can’t do that unless you’re doing a good job on third downs. Guess what? Kentucky, which entered the game dead last in the SEC in third down conversions, converting less than 30%, managed to convert half of its third and fourth down conversions yesterday. Kudos should also go to Willie Martinez, who mixed in a significant amount of soft zone coverage against a quarterback who averaged a mere 5.3 yards per passing attempt, for reasons that I’m unable to fathom. The topper to the day, though, had to be the inevitable hands to the face penalty that kept UK’s final drive alive – on a fourth down play, no less. The defense does deserve a little credit for managing stops on Kentucky’s last three series. And Dobbs’ interception was terrific. Still, these guys are in a deep, dark hole. They also face running quarterbacks in the next two weeks.
Late in the fourth quarter, a very disturbing thought crept into my mind: what if Blair Walsh would have been called on to kick a field goal to send the game into overtime? I wasn’t thinking so much of Walsh’s play in the Florida game (although that didn’t help, admittedly) as I was the overall special teams play earlier in the game. There wasn’t a single redeeming moment from the special teams yesterday. Shockingly bad play from every component directly led to three UK touchdowns as a result of short fields. These guys ought to be buying the dinners for Stafford, Moreno and the receivers for a week. At least.
Obviously, much of the team was still engulfed in a miasma of funk from the Florida blow out. But that’s just an explanation for the bad play, not an excuse. This team still hasn’t played a complete game this year and time is starting to run out. They ran on an exceeding thin margin yesterday and barely escaped. You hope they learn and get back to playing the kind of football they’re more than capable of, but after you read some of the quotes that have become fairly typical from the coaches and the players after a game like this, you have to wonder if they will.