Yeah, I watched the replay. All the way to the bitter end. Because you want me on that review. You NEED me on that review… um, sorry.
Let’s try some bullet points, shall we?
- Bobo really outdid himself in the second half. He not only had to scheme against Ellis Johnson, but also against his own offensive line. And he pulled it off.
- Aaron Murray helped. Some of those throws he made were as good as a college quarterback can throw. Add to that his toughness and you’ve got a quarterback who should be getting a lot more credit in certain quarters than he’s getting. Is he the best Georgia quarterback of the Richt era? Put it this way – if AM played with a consistently decent defense, we wouldn’t even be debating the question.
- One of those quarters, by the way, is not Gary Danielson, who was as effusive in his praise of Murray as I’ve ever heard him.
- Has anybody considered the possibility that one reason scoring in the conference is on the rise is because nobody calls holding on the offensive line anymore? I just shook my head over what didn’t get called on either team Saturday.
- I will say this for Grantham – his kids may not absorb what he’s telling them, but they do play hard for him. His biggest tactical error was playing too soft in the first half. He got way more aggressive in the second half, not just with blitzing, but also with committing his safeties in run support earlier, and it paid off. Up until the play (you know the play I’m talking about), Georgia had held Auburn to 146 second-half yards.
- Auburn ran 50 plays in the first half. That’s as much on Georgia’s offense as it was on Georgia’s defense.
- Some of the defense’s shortcomings were clearly matters of execution as opposed to coaching. The Dawgs stopped that frickin’ sweep twice; both times Leonard Floyd stayed home as he was supposed to. Swann gave up a long completion because he and Moore were confused about coverage and Auburn snapped the ball a split second before he was ready (Moore wound up completely lost on the play.) Herrera got sucked in a step too far to his right and was blown up by the fullback on one of Auburn’s rushing touchdowns. And, of course, there’s Harvey-Clemons’ inexplicable batting of the ball on the play (you know the play I’m talking about).
- Swann really did play well on those pass break ups, but Marshall’s not that great a passer, honestly. He’s got a strong arm and he can hit receivers who are open, but he lacked accuracy throwing to the sidelines downfield and he didn’t show that he could lead a receiver in a tight space, like the end zone.
- I really like Malzahn’s scheme, marrying power running to the spread. With a running quarterback and patience, there were plenty of opportunities to exploit individual matchups. As Danielson noted, without an athletic defense, it’s hard to handle. (The same thing can be said about an uncertain defense, it seems.)
A frustrating game, and not simply because of the ending. The team I saw play in the fourth quarter and will itself into a lead was a team that could challenge any other team in the country. But that’s something I’ve seen in other games that were either losses – the third quarter against Missouri comes to mind – or came in wins that were much closer than they should have been, like the first half against Florida. The problem, as it’s been all season, is consistency.
When this team plays like its collective hair is on fire, when the coaches are aggressive, when the players are focused on their assignments, Georgia is a dominant force, good enough to challenge for that national title game sights were set on at the beginning of the season. But when the coaches succumb to their more passive sides – and there’s a part of me that admits it’s hard not to want to rely on Gurley, even when the other team run blitzes like a sumbitch, or to play soft zone to protect a bunch of green defenders who aren’t up to speed – you get first halves like we saw on Saturday. That, plus injuries and special teams ineptitude, is how you get a very talented team to 6-4.
I dunno. Maybe Richt should tell his coordinators to coach like Georgia’s down by twenty with twelve minutes to go in the game all the time. I don’t see how things could turn out much worse.