I got exactly what I was worried about yesterday, as Butch Jones tossed out the kitchen sink. A lot of it worked, like going 3-3 on fourth down. And no question that injuries had an impact on Georgia’s psyche and Jones did a good job jumping on and riding the second half momentum swing for all it was worth.
There’s stuff to fret about, no doubt, and the injuries are a legitimate concern going forward, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that a young team was looking at a pretty dire situation with less than two minutes to go in a road game and managed to find a way to pull out the win. Remember how we’d argue that a Boise State couldn’t survive the grind of an SEC season? Yesterday is what we’re talking about, peeps.
On to the bullet points:
- I’d really, really like to quit typing that special teams were a mixed bag. But damn it, Dawgs, I need a little help here. The 56-yarder, a stadium record, was remarkable, and kudos to Morgan for drilling the winner as visions of the Michigan State fiasco flashed through my head. But the clanger to end the first drive of the second half was the psychological turning point of the game. And there simply is no excuse for a top ten team giving up two blocked punts for touchdowns in five games. Yes, somebody whiffed on the protection, but I’m also coming around to the idea that Barber is a little too deliberate with his punts. In any event, you can bet that every coach facing Georgia for the rest of the season will be playing for the block when the Dawgs are punting from inside their 20.
- Days like yesterday make me sympathetic to why Mark Richt prefers to play it safe on punt returns. Why has it become so hard for Georgia to find a competent returner who can be an occasional weapon, like Damian Gary or Thomas Flowers?
- There is no truth to the rumor that in honor of yesterday’s results, they’re going to start referring to the Neyland Stadium turf as “the 12th man”.
- Anybody got an explanation for Butch Jones’ clock management at the end of the first half?
- The weirdest thing about yesterday is that Murray completed passes to eight different receivers, but none to a tight end. This, against a Jancek-Martinez defense.
- How ’bout Ray Drew coming on?
- Woot, with six catches, two for touchdowns, including the one they had to have. Every week, it really does feel like somebody else steps up in the receiving corps.
- So this week they decided to call pass interference. Hmm.
- I think we’re overreacting to Justin Worley’s day a little bit. He made one nice throw, on the TD to North, and didn’t self-destruct. But he was 17-31 and averaged less than seven yards per pass attempt. Stuff of legends that ain’t.
- All the way around, it’s hard to get a handle on the defense’s game. On the one hand, there’s the second half meltdown. But the first half might have been their most consistent effort of the season, as they held the Vols to three points and less than 120 yards. (In fact, I kind of wonder if that lulled Richt and Bobo into a false sense of security with some of the second-half playcalling/strategy.) They were fairly stout up the middle – Herrera and Wilson both played well – but they got embarrassed on the outside as the OLBs and safeties continually lost contain. And they got suckered on misdirection so much I thought Cornelius Washington had returned. I’m not surprised that UT was able to throw with some success. Georgia plays zone and a quarterback with time is going to find holes. Tennessee’s offensive line is above-average and won its share of pass protection fights. But five games in, some of these kids should be showing more discipline than they are.
- The offensive line continues to lower my anxiety. Another solid run blocking day. Pass protection was a little shaky here and there, and Beard was awful on that sack he allowed, but overall serviceable.
- Let’s hope JJ Green can get his pass blocking skills up quickly, because it looks like they’re gonna need him in the backfield for the rest of the season. Great game.
- Bobo was a little too conservative for my taste on occasion, but going back to Douglas on that last drive in regulation with that swing pass was a ballsy call, especially after Douglas had dropped a pass on the previous play. And the man deserves a little credit for helping to make Aaron Murray the cool customer he was on that drive.
- There’s really not much left to say about Aaron Murray, other than that his clutch play is at such a level now that the Hutson Mason jokes aren’t funny anymore.
- And Chris Conley has gone from being the guy who shouldn’t have caught the pass in the SECCG to Georgia’s number one guy at the position. It’s a good thing he looks up to the task.
Do I have the feeling that the game would have been much different if the offense had managed to put the ball in the end zone on that first drive of the second half? Absolutely. But survive and advance, baby. It sure wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t smooth, although, seeing as this was the seventh straight game Georgia’s played in which it’s faced not having a lead in the second half, that’s something I’m getting used to. There are plenty of Richt-coached teams we could point to that wouldn’t have the resiliency to mount that tying drive. It says something about the day that Aaron Murray’s going to be remembered more for what he pulled off to save the game than that he set the new conference career yardage record.
In the end, metaphorically speaking, Aaron Murray did what Casey Clausen bragged about hoping to do. He won the Georgia-Tennessee game with one arm tied behind his back.