It was with the third failed extra point attempt of the day that I realized the game had lost its damned mind.
I mean, how many Georgia games have you seen with three blown extra points? Later, I started worrying that Tennessee would tie things up and send the game into an overtime that would never end. It was that screwy. Momentum changes that were both so frequent and sudden they caused whiplash, hair pulling mistakes and killer play making – basically, you couldn’t afford to look away or you’d miss something big. And the way it turned out, every bit mattered.
In thirty-plus years, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a crazier game between the hedges. But in the end the Dawgs did walk away with the win. It could have been worse.
And now, on to the post-mortem.
- Bobo saw what a lot of people saw Florida do successfully – attack the perimeter of the Tennessee defense – and went after that with a vengeance. That first drive was masterful in making UT have to worry about defending the width of the field.
- I really wish Burnette hadn’t been flagged for a false start on Georgia’s next series, because I really wanted to see where that play, with a fly sweep run one way and Gurley going the other, was heading.
- The pure joy that Marc Deas, who quit the team earlier this year and then came back, showed after his punt block was great to see.
- Seventy or so passing plays and not a single penalty for offensive holding? How is that possible?
- The increase in athleticism on Georgia’s defense with the return of Ogletree and Rambo was noticeable (that first interception, for example). But so was the rust and uncertainty that comes with adjusting to the repositioning. Way, way too many busted assignments. And on Tennessee’s last touchdown of the day, Rambo was still facing the sideline looking for instruction when the ball was snapped.
- Yeah, take out the special team snafus and turnovers that turned the last five minutes of the first half into a nightmare and the defense doesn’t look so bad. But that’s no excuse for the shoddy tackling I saw throughout the game. And it doesn’t explain Tennessee’s success on third downs.
- I’m not sure Georgia ever successfully defended Justin Hunter. Fortunately, Bray either ignored the short, easy stuff Georgia was giving him, or overthrew Hunter a few times.
- Catch the damned ball, Woot. Especially that last drop.
- There was no excuse for that Patterson touchdown. None.
- I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Malcolm Mitchell’s career as a punt returner is at an end.
- I’m willing to cut Aaron Murray a little slack on his two turnovers. The pick-six came on a tipped pass and the fumble came on a well-timed delayed blitz when the offense was in Predictable Bobo mode. But the main reason I’m generous is that he played so well the rest of the time. Outside of looking out of sync on a couple of throws intended for Bennett on one of those fourth-quarter series that went nowhere, he was totally in control of his game.
- Great play from the tight ends, both blocking and catching.
- I think people are more impressed with Tyler Bray’s arm than with Tyler Bray, the quarterback. He loves the deep ball and you can count on him throwing a few balls every game that make you go wow, but he deserves his reputation for not handling pressure well. Three straight series with Bray turnovers to end the game testifies to that.
- Sanders Commings, of all people, with two interceptions. And both were tough catches. If he can hang on to the ball like that, I like the secondary’s chances to do a lot more ball hawking this year.
- That being said, the most misleading stat of the night had to be Georgia finishing +1 in turnover margin. All three of Georgia’s turnovers led to Vol touchdowns. Only one of the Dawg recoveries led to a score.
- I’m running out of superlatives for Gurshall. But I get a kick out of Marshall’s one-armed windmilling while he gets his balance. And when it stops, look out.
- The o-line performed pretty well. They dominated early, but got a little overwhelmed late when UT started sending the house. And I didn’t notice any painful moments from Theus.
- I think Grantham was a little surprised by how well Tennessee’s offensive line played. He almost waited a little too late to start applying extra pressure.
- And I also think that Tennessee’s pace on offense proved difficult for Georgia to handle. That combined with some of the defensive rust that came from the rejiggering the defensive personnel left the Dawg defense on its heels in the second half too much for comfort.
- I didn’t like Bobo pulling in the reins when the field position went against Georgia. He made it too easy for Sunseri to gamble by loading up the box. But he deserves a lot of credit for pushing the drive that led to the tying field goal at the end of the first half. That turned out to be a huge score.
- Speaking of which, how do you screw up two extra points (sure, one was blocked, but the trajectory on it looked low) and nail a clutch fifty-yard field goal?
- After the first drive, did Georgia’s offense ever hold the ball for three minutes or more on any series the rest of the way?
I said after the Buffalo game that the Dawgs bringing their “C” game could beat a MAC team by three TDs. It looks like their “C” game was good enough to win a nail biter at home against a mediocre SEC opponent. It’s obviously not going to get the job done against a top ten SEC team on the road.
When it’s not screwing up or pulling in the reins because of field position concerns, the offense looks pretty unstoppable. But special teams are shaky, to say the least. And while I think the defense will sort things out as things settle in, you wonder if that will happen quickly enough. South Carolina’s offense presents very different problems from Tennessee’s and another week of getting up to speed could prove fatal.
On the other hand, it’s not like the ‘Cocks have faced a team with as many threats on offense as Georgia has, so they’ve got their own concerns.
I dunno, I’m starting to think that Columbia may come down to how many times Georgia’s offense has to start inside its own ten.