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?