Well, winning is better than losing, so in that sense the Dawgs had a good night on Saturday. But they sure didn’t make it easy on themselves or us along the way.
- Boy, that first series Georgia ran was a pleasure to watch, wasn’t it? Obviously scripted, and nicely set up by a 40-yard kickoff return from Reggie Davis, the offense looked crisp and confident. Lambert even managed to hit Chigbu on what looked like his third read. There was also a good throw to Malcolm Mitchell where Lambert took advantage of very soft coverage. The fly sweep with McKenzie was marked by perfect timing on the hand off and great downfield blocking (although it could be argued that Mitchell got away with a wee bit of holding).
- It would prove to be the offense’s best series of the night, unfortunately. The next series saw the blocking start to break down and a resulting sack of Lambert. That was salvaged by a Ramsey punt downed at the GSU one. After forcing another three-and-out, Georgia looked to be in business, setting up in Southern territory, only to see things fall apart when Mitchell fumbled the ball after Lambert read the defense well and hit him on a quick slant.
- And that was pretty much how most of the night went for the offense – moments of good calls and execution eventually hamstrung by untimely turnovers, ineffective play calling, bad line play or inconsistent play from Lambert.
- In particular, third down plays continue to be sad things to watch.
- The offensive line had a rough night. The main culprit was Hunter Long, who struggled with run blocking and pass protection, but there were misses by almost everyone. The unit appeared to lack cohesion and did a bad job communicating who had responsibility in the face of GSU’s stunts and blitzes.
- Lambert was his usual self, some good, some bad, some luck. He should have been intercepted twice, but skipped both throws. (And, no, it wasn’t on purpose.) He continues to miss open receivers frequently and has a hard time deciding to throw the ball away when the play isn’t there. To his credit, he had some nice passes out of play action, where he looks comfortable, and did check down on occasion.
- Bottom line, the offense continues to look discombobulated. It was no surprise that it failed to gain 300 yards in regulation for what has to be the umpteenth time this season. After eleven games, and against another defense that, while physical and well-coached, isn’t going to be confused with Alabama’s or Florida’s, that’s a little depressing.
- The defense, though, continued its good work, although it took a little time after some early success. After shutting the Eagles down in the first two series, the defense struggled with contain on the outside option stuff and was burned by a couple of good plays by the quarterback. There were a few missed tackles that contributed to GSU’s success, too.
- Pruitt’s halftime adjustments were effective, as they’ve been for the past few games.
- While Floyd and Jenkins had monster games, some of the credit for that has to go to the defensive line, which turned in one of its best efforts of the season. Georgia Southern struggled to run up the middle all game – something the triple option has to do well to flourish – and on plays that were flushed to the edges, Georgia’s line did a good job of engagement so that the linebackers were free to roam and make plays. All of that with Trent Thompson out of the lineup.
- It’s getting routine to say this, but Ganus and Parrish turned in another set of solid performances. Ganus is one tough son of a gun.
- I can’t say how big Bellamy’s sack was, since it still left GSU with what appeared to be a makeable field goal, but it certainly didn’t hurt. And he deserves credit for playing that right, especially considering he got yanked the week before for overpursuit.
- Special teams play? Well, Ramsey did his part, helping Georgia maintain field position early on (not that it amounted to much). Davis, as I mentioned, managed an excellent return to get the game off to a good start. Morgan was shaky, missing one field goal and banking an extra point. The coverage teams didn’t allow anything damaging to speak of.
- Richt continues to squeeze what he can get out of this team. The Dawgs survived their usual second quarter swoon, didn’t panic after the McKenzie fumble that led to GSU’s second touchdown, or after the Eagles took a fourth quarter lead and then stepped up and took the game away in overtime. You can bitch about his being conservative with the calls at the end of both halves, but with the way the offense was going, what exactly could he have done with it? It’s not like he’s got Aaron Murray back there directing traffic.
It was a game that felt like early on Georgia was going to dominate (and it would have likely gone in a different way if Mitchell doesn’t fumble and they take it in to go up 14-0), then felt like it was sliding away in the second quarter and for much of the third. At least the Dawgs managed to find their footing in time to pull it out. It should have been a comfortable win, but that’s not the way this team rolls.
In other words, this season in a nutshell. Don’t expect anything different this week.