I don’t think there’s any doubt about what last Saturday’s highlight is. And thanks to the officiating crew for milking the drama by getting the touchdown call wrong to start with.
As for the rest of the day, let’s whip up a few bullet points.
- The weather was threatening, but unlike the Alabama game, it held off. Much appreciated.
- The crowd was better than expected, to be honest, given the weather and turmoil. There were a fair number of empty seats at kickoff, but things filled in to the extent I’d say the crowd was in the mid-eighties. The mood was supportive; the closest negative moment I can recall was after the Morgan missed field goal. But even that was more of a collective groan than a boo.
- Speaking of which, special teams continues to be its usual mixed mess. The coverage units were solid, but the return team play is still awful. There wasn’t a single time when a Georgia player had a clean field in front of him on a return. I called the onside pooch kick before it happened – and really, why wouldn’t you? The one clear area of improvement is perhaps the most unlikely, the emergence of Brice Ramsey as a weapon at punter. (Barber, meanwhile, continued to be dependable at delivering the wrong type of punt at the wrong time.)
- I know it was against Kentucky, but the defense turned in an excellent effort. Basically, it was one Isaiah McKenzie fumble away from pitching a shutout.
- DeLoach played his best game of the season. Parrish just played another great game, period. He’s really come on this year. Sanders did well, considering one of his interceptions turned into a mere four-yard loss for Kentucky. But it’s hard to get too upset about that, considering he’s playing with a bum hand right now.
- The downers on defense? Without blitzing, there wasn’t a consistent pass rush. That’s been a problem all season. And Towles burned both Davis and Briscoe on bad technique when neither turned around to see where the pass was.
- How many of you got a sinking feeling after Georgia’s first series on offense? Probably about as many of you as got a chuckle watching Godwin score Georgia’s first rushing touchdown in what seemed like a decade after fumbling the ball.
- I know I’ve already hammered away on this, but it’s hard to describe how poor Georgia’s passing game is right now without watching it. (Lambert throws a ball off the helmet of his own lineman, who’s three inches shorter? Really?) It’s almost as if they’ve given up trying. Shocking, really. And I feel really bad for Malcolm Mitchell, who’s playing his guts out game after game, with less and less to show for it.
- That being said, it was good to see what Michel can do when he gets into a rhythm and gets a little blocking support. Ditto Keith Marshall. It would be nice to see a few plays drawn up now with both in the formation, giving Michel a chance to operate in space, where he excels.
- The performance of the offensive line was a mixed bag. Run blocking was improved, but pass protection was inconsistent, even when UK wasn’t blitzing. A consequence of spending more practice time getting the wildcat down? Perhaps.
- Er, coaching? Pruitt’s gameplan was solid and his players handled it well. For the first time in ages, he even had the luxury of playing second teamers late in the game. Nice.
- Schottenheimer must have discovered a chapter in the Georgia playbook he hadn’t noticed before. Marshall’s score came on a perfectly designed screen pass, the kind of thing Mason executed routinely last season. The fullback even got a carry out of the I-formation. Once. Needless to say, I didn’t leave the stadium overly impressed.
- And as for the head man? Well, no doubt this last week was as tough a week as he’s ever had in Athens. He did manage to have the team ready to play, which a lot of people doubted he was capable of doing. There’s also a sense that even though he denied it during the week leading up to the game, he did have greater input in fashioning the offensive gameplan, and maybe even some of the play calling.
I don’t want to take this too far, though. It was a solid win, something this team really needed, so in that sense it was certainly a good one. But it’s certainly not any evidence of a major turnaround on the season. The defense is solid, but the special teams and offense still look deficient. Basically, this appears to be a team that will go as far as its running game will take it. That’s why it’s not worth throwing a parade over Saturday’s win.