After watching yesterday’s game, I confess that my mancrush on Todd Grantham is in full flower. Georgia’s defense played well enough that I got over my pre-game anger at the NCAA by the middle of the second quarter.
Here are a few things that caught my unprofessional eye on a day when the game was as sunny and pleasant as the weather:
- I understand why the coaches are so high on Christian Robinson. He rarely makes a mistake at anything. All I saw from him all game long was a player who lined up right, stepped up at the right time to make a play and made picture-perfect tackles. Just a solid, solid game.
- Justin Houston is a beast. By the third quarter, he was the focus of ULL’s offense – either getting double-teamed, or having the quarterback roll away from him on every play.
- The jailbreak blitz that led to the Dent sack was an absolute thing of beauty: two delayed blitzers, perfectly timed.
- How could you not love that Mason to Gray touchdown pass? (By the way, Mason’s release is quick.)
- I saw it at G-Day, but again, it’s striking how well coached the secondary is in terms of spacing.
- Linebackers that cover backs and tight ends in the flats – what a novel concept.
- Carlton Thomas looks quicker. He’s also taken a step up in pass protection. He may be carving himself a valuable role as a third-down back.
- It’s almost getting boring watching Blair Walsh kick 50+ yard field goals. Almost.
- If anything, Drew Butler’s gotten better. His punts are gorgeous to watch; there’s almost no wobble when his kicks are in flight.
- Cordy Glenn seemed like he was still recovering from the effects of having mono. Early on, he got blown up on a couple of running plays.
- The offensive line didn’t consistently dominate on the ground, but some of that was due to ULL running eight and nine guys in the box on almost every play. On the other hand, there was a pass play in the first half when I looked up and noticed that every Louisiana lineman was on the ground, so those guys had their moments.
- +2 in turnover margin. Regression to the mean, baby!
- Derek Owens threw the block of the day on one of Branden Smith’s good punt returns and was rewarded with a stadium-wide “Ooh” for his effort.
- Grantham’s reaction after Boykin’s interception was priceless – yanked off the headphones, rumbled down the sideline and gave the first down gesture in dramatic fashion.
- Even in recovery mode, Akeem Dent still had a fine day.
Overall, you could sense that something was back for the players – not so much a swagger as a pleasure in getting out there and seeing what they were capable of doing and a rise in confidence as they saw success. Yes, it’s early, and yes, it was against a Sun Belt Conference school… but put it this way: if you went into the game worried about the quarterback situation and how the defense would play, nothing happened yesterday that made you pessimistic, did it?
For the first time in a while, I’m really looking forward to seeing what this team can do. I’ll probably have some more thoughts on that after I watch the replay.