Obviously, just like everyone else in the college universe, I had no clue what was in store for us fans last night. That was one of the wildest, weirdest games I’ve ever lived through at Sanford Stadium. How weird? Weird enough that the concept that the game would come down to a defensive stop – something that ordinarily would have been just that in this series – seemed out of place, almost.
And just how big did that blocked extra point turn out to be?
A few other observations:
- If that wasn’t the longest first half I’ve ever experienced, it was damned close. It wasn’t just the sheer time it took to play, but also the frustration from that ridiculously long stretch in the first quarter when the Dawg offense couldn’t get its hands on the ball.
- The crowd needed lithium. The mood swings were significant and intense. The place went dead after the early turnover and South Carolina score, only to erupt with the Boykin return. It then got quiet as the Cocks took a ten point lead, only to build back up emotionally as Georgia went on its second quarter run to take the lead back. And so it went the entire night. On the last two defensive plays, it was as loud as I’ve ever heard the place. Rennie’s play was cathartic, literally.
- It bears repeating: I heart Rennie Curran.
- Say what you will about the OBC, but he’s still one of the best ever at calling a game. He basically ditched everything that wasn’t working on offense and took what Martinez would give him. It went a lot farther than I would have thought, mainly because he got the best game of Garcia’s career last night. But it didn’t go far enough because he doesn’t have enough talent.
- You may mock me for saying this, but I thought Martinez’ game plan was pretty sound, 400+ yards yielded or not. The tough part was that it’s very clear that the South Carolina offense loves it some zone defense. The problem for Martinez was that the rest of the game – the turnovers in particular – never allowed Georgia to put the game on a footing where Spurrier would have been forced to abandon the short passing game to keep up.
- On the other hand, I still can’t figure out what Mike Bobo is up to.
- The run that the Dawgs went on when they were down 17-7 to take the lead was fueled by the best blocking I’ve seen out of the offense and special teams in a while. Nobody laid a finger on Branden Smith on his big TD run.
- Given that, the timeout Carolina called after the pass to Charles after the interception was very effective. Georgia’s offense seemed to lose some of its energy and focus after that and wound up settling for a 50-yard field goal.
- Speaking of which, Blair Walsh looks like he’s starting to come into his own. Two long, clutch field goals and some depth on his kickoffs all impressed.
- As for those kickoffs, I, like everyone around me, noticed the success of abandoning the directional kicking game. But you almost felt like the coaches were waiting for one bad “I told you so moment”, which they got. So you got this little finger shaking moment from Richt post-game: “… I do want the fans to understand this: The one kick they returned the farthest, he drove it trying to drive it in the end zone the way everybody wants, kick it as far as you can and don’t worry about hangtime – he drilled it flat, and they returned it to the 50. If you drill it far enough, it’s great, but if you come up short and they decide to return it, that’s the result and we’ve got to understand that.” Gee, it was still better than what they got out at Oklahoma State – and that game only had three kickoffs, Coach.
- The player who took what happened in Stillwater most noticeably to heart was Richard Samuel, who ran tough and did a much better job of keeping his feet against a good defense. And I loved the emotion he played with. He ran like he was pissed off.
- And that’s how AJ looked when he got going, too.
- Yes, it sucked to see that Houston-OSU result on the scoreboard during the game – the 45 points Houston racked up against that vaunted Cowboy defense stung even more than the fact that OSU lost.
- Joe Cox? Well, he certainly looked healthier this week. And he didn’t fade the way he did in the opener. But he lacks a certain field sense that’s both surprising and troubling for a fifth year senior, mainly in holding the ball waaaay too long in spots – the sack/fumble and the intentional grounding plays being the most obvious examples of that. And the pick six was inexcusable. I thought he simply didn’t see Norwood when he made that throw, but his post-game explanation was even worse: “I knew we were going to throw the ball, and it was one of those things where I could work either side. I kind of saw Norwood and was like, hmmm, but I decided to throw it anyway and he made a good play.” Next time you get a “hmmm” feeling, Joe, throw the ball some place else, OK?
- I said after the OSU game that Georgia wasn’t special enough to survive a -3 turnover margin against a quality opponent. So last night it won despite a -2 turnover margin and a special teams snafu that led to a safety. I guess they’re just calibrating the margin for error.
The biggest impression I came away with from last night was how much talent, speed and athleticism there is on Georgia’s squad. But it’s also clear that a lot of it hasn’t meshed for a variety of reasons and that the coaches are still feeling their way around because of that. Georgia is a work in progress. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this team finds itself somewhere in the middle of the season and really takes off. But it wouldn’t surprise me if there are a few more wild games in store for us, either.