Damn, I hate mornings like this.
So, there it is late in the game. Georgia comes up with a big play and seemingly has a win within reach. As the offense comes out with the ball on the Gamecock four, I’m struck by an acute sense of déjà vu. It’s just like last year’s Auburn game after Murray completed the big pass to Bennett to set up the go-ahead score: how is this team in position to win this game? That thought was instantly succeeded by the obvious: Gurley, Gurley and more Gurley. You’ve got the best back in the country, who’s played the game with more heart than any other player on the field. If you pound away, the worst that could happen is that you go for it on fourth down, fail and leave the ‘Cocks with terrible field position. It’s a no-brainer.
Well, evidently, Mike Bobo’s definition of no-brainer and mine were different. Georgia didn’t win the game. In fact, Georgia couldn’t even convert the situation into a tie. As a result, Georgia is back in what seems like the SEC East version of Groundhog Day.
Damn, I hate mornings like this.
- No, Mike Bobo isn’t a moron. Nobody who opens a game with those two perfect play calls the way he did is a moron. But that first and goal on the four call was a major brain fart on his part. What I am most curious about is the motivation behind the call. In any event, given that he was dealing with an offensive line that had its ups and downs and a quarterback who had his share of timing/communication problems with his receiving corps, both of which contributed to red zone breakdowns, it’s hard to get too upset with another night of 35 points and 400+ yards of offense.
- Calls for Jeremy Pruitt’s head? Seriously? Face facts. This is the least talented secondary of Mark Richt’s tenure. Take Aaron Davis, for example. He’s fundamentally sound. He knows how to tackle. But he’s never going to be a consistent cover corner. He got burned early and was moved inside to safety for most of the night. If Georgia doesn’t generate a pass rush out of its four-man fronts, the DBs are going to take it on the chin. They aren’t talented enough to play man-to-man extensively and with time, any decent passing attack is going to find holes in zone coverage. And that’s what we saw. Add to that poor games from Mauger and Moore and that’s how Dylan Thompson looked all world in the first half. Keep in mind that when Georgia had to get a stop to have a chance late, Pruitt dialed up enough to get a stop and a turnover.
- If you want to bitch about a coach, how about looking at Will Friend? The offensive line looked like the same inconsistent mess we saw plenty of last year. They got bailed out by Gurley’s play and Mason being quick on the trigger to some extent, but overall did not enjoy a very good night. Part of me wonders if that’s what was behind Bobo’s ill-fated first-and-goal call.
- Gurley’s run to pick up a third-and-sixteen in the third quarter was one of those I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it moments. But for sheer determination, it might have been bettered by his nine-yarder in the next series. How big were they? Georgia scored touchdowns on both drives. Gurley probably drops out of the Heisman conversation for now, which is a shame, because he put on a show against a defense that keyed on his every move.
- I think Herrera and Wilson are playing better this year than they did last year. But they’re still liabilities in pass coverage.
- Quiet nights from Floyd and Jenkins. Georgia couldn’t generate consistent pressure on Thompson without blitzing. That hurt, because Thompson is a different quarterback when he’s pressured. Jenkins also had a hard time defending the run. (He wasn’t alone in that; the line struggled big time in the second half with alignment against the run.)
- The one exception on the line when it came to pressure was Ray Drew. It’s a shame Atkins couldn’t come up with the pick the time Drew forced a bad throw, because fat guy touchdowns and all…
- Keith Marshall is the invisible man at tailback.
- What a great one-handed catch from Blazevich!
- How do you go +2 in turnover margin and still lose? Only getting three points total from the takeaways will do that. It really bites that Swann’s interception went for naught.
- Marshall Morgan setting the SEC record for consecutive field goals and then missing two seems like the perfect metaphor for Georgia’s special teams play, which, after all the promise from the Clemson game, didn’t make much of a contribution last night. Morgan did start out with four touchbacks, but the kickoff team was gouged for several big returns late. Barber was serviceable, nothing more. Brandon Douglas did get to throw a shoulder last night; unfortunately, it was into Todd Gurley on a kickoff return. South Carolina did a good job of making Gurley a non-factor in the return game.
- What was up with all the huddling on offense? And why didn’t McKenzie get more touches?
- So much for Steve Spurrier grinding it out. It was clear from Carolina’s first play from scrimmage, a sideline screen, that the OBC had studied the Clemson game and decided to go after Georgia’s pass defense. Thompson is a good quarterback, given time, and he’s got a good group of receivers to work with, guys who know where to find the open spaces in the zone. He got a bonus when the running game began clicking in the second half. Spurrier also deserves credit for having his team ready to play.
- I’m not sure why there’s so much carping about Williams-Brice. I thought it was one of the better venues for visitors I’ve attended. The sight lines are good from the upper deck, it’s fairly easy to get to your seats (for both, try Auburn as a comparison) and – wonder of wonders! – the benches have seat backs. What I thought was a little overrated was the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, it was raucous. But not any more so than your typically rabid SEC home crowd. Maybe the weather had something to do with that. And, yeah, I won’t miss hearing “Sandstorm” for a while.
- The officials? Poor, but not biased. The holding call on Gurley’s TD run that was called back sucked, of course. (I don’t think they called the penalty on the right lineman, though.) But what really bothers me about holding calls is the inconsistency, which was there in spades all game. But to be fair, I thought at least one of the chop block calls was questionable.
Okay, Georgia isn’t out of any of its goals. And the East is anything but settled. But from here, it’s hard to see how Georgia’s defense matches up with Auburn and maybe Missouri without some improvement. (I’m leaning towards the latter defending its division title now.)
Did I mention that I hate mornings like this?