I’m back from one of the best road trips I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking. If you consider yourself a fan of the blues, by all means take in Clarksdale, Mississippi some time. It’s a small, friendly town. I spent Friday night there with some friends and we had a blast. One thing I learned is that every male resident of Clarksdale seems to go by a nickname. We met or heard about Red, Razor Blade (who in turn had a host of acquaintances who went by other sharp object monikers) and Dollar Bill in the space of a short time. For all I know, it may be a city ordinance.
Oxford and the Grove lived up to their reputations. As for the latter, Michael Adams could learn a few things about how to pull off a satisfying tailgating experience for large crowds on campus. I know… in another life, maybe.
Anyway, on to the game.
I have to say I’m a little surprised by how negative a reaction the Ole Miss game generated in yesterday’s message thread. My reaction after leaving the game was that Mark Richt had done the time warp. The game had the feel of so many wins from the 2002-4 era against lesser opponents. It was clear early on that Georgia’s defense was going to have its way against the Rebels’ offense. That had to appeal greatly to Richt’s conservative game-management nature and indeed that’s how the day played out.
Think about this for a minute: Isaiah Crowell carried the ball thirty times yesterday. That should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the game. Was it pretty? Maybe not. But I’ve learned that you never sneer at any SEC road game win. (And if Walsh doesn’t miss those three field goals, it’s a 23-point win. I doubt Richt was expecting the misses.)
It was certainly prettier than any road loss we saw in 2010. And if Mark Richt is in the process of getting his groove back, he’s certainly got an attractive part of the schedule coming up to get the special teams kinks worked out.
As for a few specifics:
- Aaron Murray looked sharp in the first half, although it would have been nice if his receivers had been sharp, too. That deep ball he threw to Malcolm Mitchell was absolutely perfect.
- I also thought Murray did a fine job reading the blitz and throwing the hot route. Now if Bobo can just get him to stop locking in on receivers as he did occasionally yesterday…
- One last Murray bullet point: that scramble to pick up the first down on Georgia’s first TD drive was huge.
- Amarlo Herrera turned in another solid game in his first start.
- The coaches may not have wanted to give Crowell the ball 30 times. Crowell may not have wanted the ball 30 times. But Georgia’s offense sure looked better when he was in there. And his presence helped sell our old friend, the play action pass.
- Crowell kept playing even though he missed an obvious blitz pick up that led to a sack.
- Yes, I know that Ole Miss’ QBs leave something to be desired and there was a touchdown off of a trick play pass. But I was impressed with how much more comfortable Georgia’s secondary appears to be in week four. There were some excellent pass break ups I saw in the second half.
- Punt coverage is a problem (you didn’t need me to tell you that, I’m sure.) The touchdown was set up in part by Butler outkicking the coverage, but there was no excuse for the downfield misses we saw. On the other hand, Butler had two brilliant kicks that were as good as any I’ve seen from him.
- Walsh may be in a field goal slump, but it’s not affecting the rest of his game. Kickoffs and kickoff coverage continue to be very, very good.
- I make fun of Houston Nutt as much as anyone, but give him credit for having his team ready yesterday. I thought he coached as good a game as he could, given how undermanned his squad looked from a talent standpoint.
- I really liked Richt’s decision to go for the late field goal as an opportunity to give Walsh a boost. It’s not like Georgia needed the points by then. But, boy, if Walsh had missed a fourth one…
- To the young man behind me who was complaining that Richt didn’t go for more points when Georgia got the ball back at its 19 with less than a minute to go in the first half, even though the Dawgs were set to receive the opening kick of the second half: dude, you’re a moron.
- After the Ole Miss band played “Dixie” for the first time, I turned to my friend and asked if there were more black players on the field than in the stands. We decided it was about even, but only because the players’ relatives were there watching.
- Loved seeing the tight end involvement in the offense. Both touchdown receptions were great.
- I’m curious about the decision to start Chase Vassar in place of Cornelius Washington. It didn’t exactly get off to a rousing start, either.
- Speaking of time warps, didn’t the draw call to Crowell on third-and-long that jump-started the 99-yard drive bring to mind the draw play with Musa Smith that resulted in a similar gain in the ’02 Auburn game?
- Richard Samuel may not be a great runner, but he’s turned out to be a damned effective receiver out of the backfield.
On to Mississippi State. For those of you looking forward to Dan Mullen’s job interview, I hope you’ll be disappointed.