A half-assed end to a half-assed game in a half-assed season… I hate to say it, but what I felt more than anything else when the clock hit zero was a sense of relief. 2013 was a goddamned Bataan death march of a season and I hope I never see its like again. It wasn’t the worst year Georgia has had under Richt, but at times it sure felt like it.
However, I’ll save the post mortems for the year, the players and the coaches for later, in the offseason. Right now, it’s time to look at loss number five. And I have to say I’m a little disappointed in you guys. Amidst all the vitriol I saw in the game day comment thread, where’s the praise for how I called the game in my preview?
This wasn’t a game in which we saw suckitude from start to finish. Instead, it was more a case of sucking just enough at just the right moments to lose a winnable game to a mediocre opponent.
As always, on to the bullet points.
- Turnover margin for the win… er, loss. Over the course of the second half of its regular season, Nebraska bled turnovers and didn’t force many. So naturally, the ‘Huskers finish the day +1 in that department as the Dawgs gifted two beauties, both of which resulted in touchdowns. That’s how you undo a game in which you outgain the opponent by more than 100 yards, run, I dunno, at least 20 more plays and dominate time of possession. Nebraska’s second half drive chart is almost more comical than pathetic. But in the end it was good enough.
- There’s something really, really wrong with the passing game when Georgia doesn’t complete a pass to a wide receiver until there’s three minutes left in the first half.
- Either we got fed a lot of swill during practice week about Todd Gurley’s improving health, or something happened just before game time, because he wasn’t anywhere near even 80%. If he had been, we wouldn’t be bitching nearly so much right now, because he would have scored the winning touchdown the last time he touched the ball. Despite his obvious laboring and despite that Nebraska’s defense was geared to stop the run, he was still magnificent, leading the team in rushing and receiving yardage and scoring Georgia’s only touchdown.
- It wasn’t the worst I’ve seen the offensive line play, but it wasn’t the best, either. Some of that can be explained by injuries, field conditions and some poor decision making by Mason. But some, like the first sack of the game, was nothing but the same old, same old. I saw nothing to make me reevaluate my opinion of Will Friend.
- It wasn’t Hutson Mason’s finest hour. There was a long stretch when it seemed like the only person in the entire stadium he trusted was Todd Gurley. His best attribute is supposed to be his ability to lead his receivers with his throws, but that came and went all afternoon. He got rattled in the pocket often, particularly in the red zone, which led him to miss seeing a wide open Michael Bennett a couple of times. At least two of the sacks could be attributed to him holding the ball too long. It’s clear he lacks Murray’s arm strength (remember that one completion on the sideline that came off a pass that seemed to hang in the air forever?) and that, along with Georgia lacking a deep threat at receiver, meant that Nebraska could clamp down on Georgia’s receivers and shovel defenders towards the line of scrimmage without much concern. (I noticed several times that Nebraska deployed ten defenders within eight yards of the line of scrimmage.) The interception was just a bad throw, which is going to happen sometimes. What’s going to need real attention in the 2014 preseason is what felt like a lack of chemistry between Mason and his wideouts and between Mason and Bobo.
- In his defense, Mason didn’t get a lot of support from guys dropping the ball on the last two series, but some of that can also be chalked up to receivers not being led with a pass in the way they used to expect from Murray.
- I suspect Bobo knew what he had to work with before the game started. He had to stick with the run game, even though Nebraska was geared to stop it, because he needed it to sell play action to give Mason time to set up and throw. It wasn’t the most inspired playcalling we’ve seen from him, but it was at least serviceable. Most of the red zone breakdowns, which were the difference in the game when you get down to it, could be chalked up to Mason’s inexperience and the inability of the offensive line to get much of a push run blocking.
- Special teams were for the most part what we’ve come to know and love. Marshall Morgan was money on field goals. The coverage teams played well on both punts and kickoffs. Erickson did a good job placing his kicks inside the 20 and, of course, fielded the snaps cleanly. Green, sad to say, turned in Georgia’s only decent kickoff return of the season, aided by some good blocking for once. But the ongoing shuffle at punt returner paid off with another crucial mistake that led to a Nebraska touchdown.
- That was Leonard Floyd’s best game of the season. He did an excellent job on edge plays, which in turn meant the defense did a good job shutting down the option stuff. Jenkins looked good, too. (If only his sack had been three inches deeper.) It was the quietest game Ramik Wilson played this year, though.
- Defensive line play wasn’t bad either. Abdullah got his 100+ yards, but I can only think of one long run Nebraska had all day, when the quarterback broke contain and ran for 24.
- I said yesterday that we’ve seen little improvement over the course of the season from the secondary and that continued. True, Armstrong was 6-14 passing, but much of that was due to the fact that he’s not very polished throwing the ball. Swann and Wiggins battled, at least, which is more than I can say for Corey Moore, who was back in his interested observer mode. The suspensions really hurt.
- As for the 99-yard touchdown pass… I barely had time to think “Georgia throws the ball in this situation” in response to Ed Cunningham’s idiotic observation about what to do there when Armstrong was dropping back and loading up to throw deep. Then I barely had time to think “oh, shit” as the broadcast shifted downfield to show a badly beaten Shaq Wiggins waving his arms as the receiver gathered in the pass. However, I did have plenty of time to formulate my thoughts as he ran for a touchdown after Mauger’s feeble attempt at a kill shot instead of a tackle failed. ESPN’s best camera work of the day was capturing the look on Grantham’s face after the score. I’d like to think he was cursing Lakatos in his head there, but that’s just the romantic in me. In the end, call it another moment when you wish they’d have called a time out to remind every defender what he was supposed to do in that situation.
- Grantham wasn’t the problem yesterday. He called a pretty good game, with some timely blitzing. The front seven was prepared for Nebraska’s run game. Even the 99-yard debacle wasn’t the result of poor scheming; it was just two knuckleheads not doing what they were supposed to do. The biggest fault I can lay at his feet is how discombobulated his defense looked after the two turnovers. I’m really getting tired of watching Herrera pointing fingers and calling fellow defenders out for not being in the right place after the opponent scores on a fairly open play.
- I don’t know what was a bigger joke, the field conditions or the personal foul thrown on Garrison Smith for tackling the quarterback on an option play.
- And you knew that if there was helmet-to-helmet contact involving a Georgia receiver, targeting wouldn’t be called, right?
Adios, 2013 season. You won’t be missed.