We all thought going in that yesterday’s game could go either way. Fortunately, it was the motivated, take-no-prisoners approach that marked wins in three of Georgia’s last four games that we got. The team came out blasting, with McKenzie’s touchdown return on the game’s first play igniting things, and quickly ran out to a 21-point lead. In a stretch somewhat reminiscent of the second half in Arkansas, the team lost some focus on defense in the second quarter and let Kentucky close the margin to eleven before the half.
But that was all she wrote from there. The coaches got the defense to reboot its attitude (the Wildcats only gained 110 yards in the second half). Corey Moore picked off a pass on UK’s first play after half time, and the Dawgs scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter in different ways. The entire fourth quarter was garbage time and the Dawgs walked away 32-point winners.
Except for the defensive lapse in the second quarter, it was an efficient – 8 for 8 on third down conversions – dominant – Georgia scored touchdowns on every offensive possession except for the two that came at the end of each half, when it ran the clock out – performance.
On to the bullet points:
- The most exciting thing to take away from yesterday? All the major contributions Georgia got from true freshmen players. Chubb, Michel, Blazevich, Lorenzo Carter and, of course, McKenzie all excelled in significant ways.
- The second-most exciting thing was the return of Malcolm Mitchell as an offensive threat. He’s still not 100% physically, but he clearly looks comfortable out there again. Not only did he look smooth catching passes, but he also contributed a couple of nice blocks on some of Chubb’s runs.
- It’s really impossible to find fault with an offense that ever missed an opportunity to score a touchdown, so I won’t. But let’s just say it started with the offensive line, which played its best game of the season. Kentucky’s team is upper team in the conference in sacks and was shut out. It did manage five tackles for loss, mainly on overloading run blitzes, but as Georgia’s record on third down conversions indicates, that never slowed the offense down.
- It was great to see how comfortable Mason looked running the offense. When he trusts his offensive line, his footwork is noticeably improved. He had several throws that were as good as anything he’s tossed this season. He’s still got a little ways to go selling play fakes sometimes, but even there, he looked better.
- Bobo kept his foot on the gas. Yay!
- Jonathan Rumph, ladies and gentlemen. Jonathan Rumph.
- The defense played solid ball in the first quarter, but seemed to relax, particularly against the run as the first half wore on. The ILBs struggled with runs up the middle and the outside guys had some problems setting the edge. The Florida problems, in other words. To me, it was as if they were frustrated the ‘Cats wouldn’t abandon the run once Georgia pulled out to a 21-0 lead, but given the way Georgia’s run defense played, it’s hard to blame Kentucky for sticking with the run game. Again, there was a sea change in the defensive play once the second half got underway and once Georgia recaptured the big lead, Kentucky did in fact back off on the run.
- Maybe the weirdest special teams game I’ve seen. McKenzie was incredible, particularly on the punt return, and benefitted from terrific blocking on the first kickoff. And Georgia never had to punt. But Quayvon Hicks was in his own little world, cost the Dawgs on a mishandled kickoff and blasted his own teammates on a couple of others.
- As far as the coaching goes, there’s nothing to criticize there. Bobo’s game plan was… well, perfect. He got a ridiculous amount of production out of only sixty plays. Pruitt deserves a nod for getting his guys to step up emotionally in the second half. And Richt deserves a tremendous amount of credit for turning his team’s attitude around after the Florida debacle. All around, just a very well coached game.
- ESPN’s broadcast crew blew chunks. I know the game got out of hand in the second half, but there’s got to be something besides Tom Luginbill’s boots to discuss. And nobody seems to have a clue how good Chubb’s foot speed is, even as he was outrunning people in UK’s secondary.
- I didn’t notice the officiating crew. Thanks, fellas! Steve Shaw should give you a promotion.
- Brice Ramsey continues to show a nice arm. But as his second touchdown throw showed, he’s still got to work on that whole judgment thing. That’s what the offseason is for, I guess.
So the road schedule comes to an end. Todd Gurley’s suspension does, too. Georgia comes into this week’s game outscoring Auburn by more than four points a game and holding opponents to about a point less a game, too. Tell me you saw that coming before the season got underway.
Kentucky was something great to build on, but building takes an effort. It’s up to the coaches to prepare the players accordingly. I can’t wait to see what’s in store this Saturday.