Observations from the armchair, (belated) Belk Bowl edition

Hey, did you hear that Georgia faced its former defensive coordinator in the bowl game?  And that Louisville’s defense is really, really good?  And that Georgia’s long time offensive coordinator left for a head coaching job before the game, leaving the TE position coach to call the plays?

It turned out none of the Xs-and-Os talk mattered nearly as much as Nick Chubb did.

On to the bullet points:

  • The early surprise for me was how well Louisville’s offensive line played.  I thought Georgia’s defensive front got pushed around a bit early on, although UL wasn’t able to maintain that level as the game wore on.
  • What wasn’t surprising early on was Georgia pounding the Louisville defense with the run.  The steady, short gains on the ground seemed frustrating, but they were straight out of the Mike Bobo playbook and paid dividends in the second half.  And forcing Grantham to sell out against the run – something that grew, especially after Mason went out – led to one of Mason’s best throws of the season, a gorgeous 44-yard TD pass to Conley off of a play action fake that sucked in the safety who should have been in deep coverage.
  • Lilly did make a nice adjustment in the first half by throwing the ball on first down more to counter Grantham loading the box.  Again, though, it was only temporary.  Georgia had to beat what Louisville was doing defensively by grinding them down with pressure from pounding the run.
  • Mason really benefited from Lilly mixing more of the pass in on early downs.  He got into a nice groove throwing the ball in the second quarter.
  • Lilly also had to get Grantham’s defense out of its comfort zone, and that he did by going with some hurry up.  He really caught Louisville’s defense disorganized on Chubb’s TD scamper in the second quarter – the last guy Chubb blew past ran onto the field late and never got in the right spot.  Nick Chubb is tough enough on an eleven-man defense; effectively playing with one less man is almost unfair.
  • I’m not sure what was most satisfying to watch, third-and-Grantham all game or Georgia digging itself out of a first-and-ten at its own three with a monster 82-yard run by Chubb.
  • Georgia having a feel for how to match Grantham wasn’t a surprise, but the way Pruitt settled down and handled Bobby Petrino was, at least a little.  One key was that Georgia’s pass rush pressure improved as the game went on.  Another was Petrino’s decision to alternate quarterbacks.  Bonifant’s decision-making was questionable and led to some inevitable turnovers.  (Although it would have been nice for Georgia to have taken better advantage of some of those, they did have the effect of stalling Louisville’s offense at a time when the game was still within reach.)  And Bolin looked much less comfortable after the quarterback shuffle commenced.
  • Did Georgia see a better receiver all year than DeVante Parker?  Pretty impressive kid.
  • Mason’s injury sucked for a number of reasons.  I hate seeing a starting quarterback’s career at Georgia cut short for the second straight season.  And it led to an ill-advised throw by Ramsey, who was rushed in with no time to prepare, that was intercepted after Petrino’s other genius idea of the first half, a fake punt from his own 31, didn’t work.
  • If you don’t think Mark Richt was trying to send a message to Todd Grantham when Georgia sent Nick Chubb back out with a little over four minutes in the game and a sixteen-point lead, I don’t know what to tell you.  That was Evil Richt at his best.
  • Great play out of Georgia’s secondary all game.  Swann went out well, Sanders was terrific, Aaron Davis did his best against Parker… but it was Mauger whom I enjoyed watching the most, because the game illustrated how far he’s come under the coaching change.  It was a shame his play ended early, too.
  • My goodness, did Lorenzo Carter play his ass off.  It was fitting he got to put the exclamation mark on the end with that sack to close it out.  He was all over the field all day long.  I cannot wait to see what Pruitt gets out of him, Floyd and Jenkins next season.
  • Best special teams call of the day?  Keeping Hicks off the kick return team when the inevitable pooch kick rained down.  (In fairness, Hicks was an excellent blocker in the run game on the day.)
  • I’ve saved the best for last, mainly because I’m almost at a loss for superlatives when it comes to Nick Chubb.  Which, when you get down to it, is how I felt many times describing Todd Gurley.  I can’t think of any higher praise than making that comparison, unless you want to note the statistical company Chubb is now keeping.  As Munson might say – my Gawd, a freshman!  Chubb, Marshall and Michel is the other trinity I’m geared up to watch in 2015.

There are those games where it’s a mystery how Georgia wins.  (Sometimes the losses are even more inexplicable, right?)  This wasn’t one of those.  Georgia was better prepared than Louisville, as well as more talented.  Both showed.  The result was inevitable.

You hoped going in that the Dawgs would play well enough to wipe the bitter taste of the Georgia Tech loss from their mouths, and maybe ours.  Overall the season was a disappointment, but I think at least that was accomplished.  At the least, it’s the basis from which to prepare for the next.  So, when does G-Day get here?

20 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

20 responses to “Observations from the armchair, (belated) Belk Bowl edition

  1. heyberto

    Always love your analysis, Senator. I had assumed you’d taken this one off, so thank you.

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  2. We’ve had several amazing backs here and it seems like we just reload. I felted cheated not getting to watch the Gurley Man for an entire season. Wonder if there is another RB that they are bringing in that can compare to what we have been spoiled with to date? Looking forward to watching Marshal catching passes out of the backfield again.

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  3. I was really happy that Carter got the sack on the last play. While it may have been a response to sending Chubb back out there with four minutes to go and I honestyl don’t care about whether a coach is “classy” or not, I wasn’t particularly a fan of Petrino calling timeouts with his first team offense on the field just trying to get one more score. I’d understand if it’s backups and he’s trying to get them experience in that 2 minute drill situation, but it just seemed a bit cheap to me to call the timeouts for a score that would make ZERO difference in the outcome.

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    • Russ

      Yeah, Penetrino is a jerk and sacking the QB on that last play was just the cherry on his turd float. Loved it.

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    • Macallanlover

      That is the way I feel also, a coach that is calling TOs with the first team offense in has no reason to complain about another team simply executing their offense with running plays. Had we called timeouts, used trick plays, etc., that would have been over the top to me. Petrino should go to his DC and asked why he didn’t have an answer with that top-rated rushing defense. No harm, no foul, but that sack to the end the game was a nice exclamation point to a fun night.

      I wouldn’t characterize the season as an “overall disappointment” as the Senator did, because we stronger than I thought we would be on a macro basis, but there were head-scratching moments that we would all like do-overs on….how many teams don’t have those. Onward and upward.

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    • Keese

      What surprised me the most about the last play was how FAST LoCarter closed in on the QB. He’s a much better pass rusher I think than Floyd

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      • HahiraDawg

        Whoa there Big K. Floyd is a fast, really fast rusher. I do believe LoC has a higher upside because in addition to being fast, he is so big and strong. This gives LoC options in technique as a rusher. But don’t dismiss Floyd as a truly elite collegiate rusher. Floyd’s speed makes him a great weapon, and when he plays with intelligence, as I believe he was taken to school by UF and Pruitt afterwards, makes me give the nod to him for now over LoC.

        I know Floyd has shown ineptitude as a drop into coverage pass defender, less so this year than under Grantham, but his speed and athleticism I believe makes coaches want to employ him with this versatility. Put LoC on the line, one-on-one with a tackle, and let him be a true duel threat presence both against the run and rushing the passer.

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        • Keese

          I really like Floyd…but I just don’t understand the “game changer” type label he received last season. I think with more playing time, Lorenzo would fit that role better coming off the edge than Floyd

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  4. Slaw Dawg

    Great analysis, as per usual. But, Dude, there ain’t no way “to wipe the bitter taste” of any Georgia Tech loss from my mouth.

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  5. DL got pushed around pretty much all year but our LBs, and, to a lesser extent, our secondary mostly covered that up. Even worse, I don’t see that changing much this year. Maybe Thompson can somehow come in as a true freshman and help shore things up but that’s expecting a LOT. Hopefully one or two of our underclassmen can get it done but I haven’t really seen much from some of them. They’re good ball players but seem better built/suited for 4 down. I actually think making up for this is where Pruitt mostly earned his raise.

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    • RocketDawg

      I think that big Trent and Lamont Galliard are going to be big time run stuffers up the gut this year. Hell with Pruitt’s defense he might have 1 DL and 5 LB’s on the field at certain times (Clemson).

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  6. Yeah…the hurry up really Granthamed the hell out of their defense. It was nice seeing flailing arms and looks of confusion on the OTHER side of the field.

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  7. Chubb! I’m not usually the “I told you so type” but…..

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  8. McTyre

    Well, Petrino’s fake FG gambit was merely an unmolested catch away from being genius. Here’s to the new ST Analyst helping the coaches in-game with play formation against punts and FG, getting ST units ( all 11) on in a timely manner, ensuring guys who can’t field a pooch KO aren’t given pooch zone spots in Poochable KO situations and punting is limited to guys who can get off under the stopwatch.

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  9. simpl_matter

    I would like to think Bobo had a smile as big as any of us when that game was over. Lilly did him proud and Grantham’s D was pantsed by our run game, it was a fine send-off.

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  10. paul

    I loved seeing Chubb go back out at the end.Somewhat shocked I have to admit. But I loved it. I wish we had this mentality a little more often. Like Mark Knopfler says “If they’re gonna drown put a hose in their mouth.” Couldn’t have happened to a couple of more deserving guys.

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  11. Coweta Dawg

    I think I enjoyed the Auburn game the most all of all this year, but watching us shut down Petrino and roll up Grantham’s D was a real close second.

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  12. Spike

    Although he was ineligible for the Belk Bowl, don’t forget about Isiah McKenzie and his speed and moves!

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