A few final thoughts from last Saturday’s craziness:
- Georgia’s defensive game plan is unlikely to be repeated the rest of the season. Per Richt, “I think if we had played press man all night long with those big, tall, fast, athletic receivers and the quarterback that can get the ball to them, we might have given up a bunch of big plays. I think it was wise to try and not get run by. We did play a little tighter coverage one time and Cordarrelle Patterson ran right by us and hit him right in the hands and he dropped it. If he caught that one, who knows how that game would have finished up.” Dooley noted that Grantham lined his safeties up deeper than he’d seen anyone play them. The thing is, that might have worked but for two things: (1) the offensive/special teams meltdown in the second quarter that allowed Tennessee to get back in the game and (2) the excellent play by the Vol offensive line that kept the running game viable.
- David Ching points out that one positive play from the special teams came from a player being smart: “Speaking of that play, credit Deas for recognizing a tendency by Tennessee wingback Moore on the play and taking advantage of it. He told me after the game that Moore had been overstepping on his drop as he blocked and that left a crease for Deas to attack the punter. Sure enough, Deas started out on the far left on this punt, Moore dropped too deep and Deas cut inside him toward punter Matt Darr. Moore got a piece of Deas’ left shoulder, but he was still able to get his right arm free to block the kick. Very well done.” Maybe Deas can return punts, too.
- Also from Ching, this was the other big problem on defense: “The final score and the way things played out makes this an obvious statement, but this was a really sloppy game by Georgia. It seemed like I was consistently writing down about so-and-so blowing a blocking assignment or covering the wrong receiver or dropping a pass or not making an interception that was there for the taking. They can’t afford to make this many errors at South Carolina or it won’t work out so well.” You can’t blame the defense’s entire showing on the game plan. If Wooten catches that perfectly – and after watching the broadcast, I do mean perfectly – thrown ball from Murray there at the end, the game is over. And don’t get me started on the special teams play (besides Deas, of course).
- Speaking of Murray, check out his completion percentage from game to game this season. We smiled when Bobo targeted a 65% completion rate as Murray’s goal this season. We snickered when Murray said he was aiming for 70%. Maybe we should stop chuckling about it.
- While I think what happened during the second quarter meltdown was that the team simply relaxed after racing out to a seventeen-point lead (that would have been bigger but for a tipped pass), that doesn’t explain why the offense disappeared in the fourth quarter. Bobo is right to be concerned about that.
- Say what you will about how they were in that position in the first place, but the fact remains that when they had to, a number of players on defense stepped up on Tennessee’s last three series of the game and forced turnovers. Late game plays like those suggest that something good is happening with strength and conditioning.
There is a bottom line here, and it’s a positive one. Georgia has played plenty of games against Tennessee in the last few years when it didn’t play its best and got embarrassed. Saturday night saw a rusty defense, an offense that committed three brutal turnovers and failed to execute at key times in the game and some pathetic special teams play, but the team still came away with the win. Obviously, it’s not a formula that you want to see the Dawgs repeat again, but survive and advance sure beats Beyond Crompton in my book.
UPDATE: Jay Rome was prepared for the defensive look on his great reception.
“With the coverage they were running, a Cover-3, they were rolling the front-side safety down, the one on our side of the field. I knew that if I could get a clean release off the defensive end and keep it wide, there was only one safety in the middle of the field. And if I kept it wide, then Aaron would have a chance to put it on me. So when the play got called, I was sitting there in my stance and I looked up to start surveying the defense, and I saw the safety start to roll down, and my eyes got kind of big. I was like, ‘Oh, I think I’m about to get this one.’ So I made sure I got a clean get off the end, ran my route out wide and once I turned back, I saw the ball in the air and went up and got it.”