Well, other than one teeny, tiny, little thing, the night went about as well as I could have hoped.
Kentucky was sorely overmatched. The consensus around me was that North Texas would have handled the Wildcats and Appy State would have given them a game. I can’t speak to that with certainty, but there’s no doubt that I saw Georgia’s most dominant performance of the season.
Another home season goes in the books, which is always bittersweet, even in a season of disappointments. Here’s what I saw:
- I always enjoy paying tribute to all the seniors. I can’t remember if they did this before under Richt, but I thought it was a nice touch pulling Aaron Murray out of the alphabetic rotation and letting him appear at the end. He’s the face of this team and he’s earned it. The crowd loved it, too. There’s some irony in the missteps of this season making the fan base more aware and appreciative of the career Murray’s had in red and black.
- So much for my worries about a post-Auburn hangover. The players looked loose and energized in pre-game warm ups and came out playing hard. Considering how they’ve gone into an emotional shell in the face of adversity many times this year, it was a welcome change. Maybe they’re starting to learn how to roll with the punches.
- Same thing with the coordinators. Bobo came out, saw the safeties playing run support, and threw, threw, threw. That first series was over almost before it started. And Grantham followed suit by dialing up an all-out blitz on third-and-eight that was successful.
- You saw it emerging in the second half against Auburn, but I think Bobo’s successfully transitioned into calling a game where he doesn’t have a truly consistent deep threat in the passing game. There were tons of screens – Gurley is amazingly successful at selling those – good use of play action to clear space in the secondary for guys like Lynch and Bennett to get open and lots of quick hitting running plays when the safeties back up. I’ll take 600 yards of offense against any team anyway he can get it.
- When’s the last time a Georgia defensive player had so many quietly great games in a year as Garrison Smith has had? We’re always drawn to the Jarvis Joneses (with good reason), but Smith has had the kind of year that deserves more attention.
- Nice bounce back, Josh Harvey-Clemons.
- I still don’t get all the short kickoffs.
- Maybe Reggie Davis fumbled that punt so that Damian Swann wouldn’t feel so bad anymore.
- Safety play was decent all night, except for the long run where it looked like everybody in the secondary wound up out of position.
- Cornerback play wasn’t so strong, as was demonstrated on Kentucky’s first play from scrimmage. Georgia was bailed out by the UK quarterbacks. Let’s hope Vad Lee is as considerate.
- I wasn’t amazed to see Kentucky successfully work a crossing route play against Georgia’s ILBs. I was amazed the ‘Cats didn’t try that more often.
- Better hope nothing happens to David Andrews, because Dallas Lee’s shotgun snapping leaves something to be desired.
- There are times when I have a hard time believing that Todd Gurley is still improving as a player, but he is. Something I expect Mason is going to have a great deal of appreciation for this week…
- Speaking of Mason, he continues to show me that he can handle the offense, at least when he has time. He’s good with his reads, his release, as I’ve mentioned before, has become more compact and quicker and he throws a catchable ball. He doesn’t have Murray’s arm – his long passes look like they hang a little – but with the adjustments Bobo’s made in the playcalling, I think Mason will be okay.
- Speaking of the playcalling, Bobo showed something straight out of the Jim Donnan playbook, with Murray flanked by twin tailbacks in Douglas and Gurley. The play worked, too.
All in all, a very good night. Except for that one, teeny, tiny, little thing, that is.