Honestly, if it had been anyone else, I would have demanded an investigation.
Daily Archives: September 6, 2016
More evidence of what the incredible shrinking class of 2013 hath wrought:
If you thought you saw a lot of freshmen on the field for Georgia this past Saturday, you were right. The Bulldogs played 11 true freshmen in the season opener against North Carolina. They also played two redshirt freshmen and two graduate transfers, so there were a lot of new faces on the field for UGA.
Tight end Charlie Woerner and punter Marshall Long were the only true freshman to start. The others that played were quarterback Jacob Eason, tailback Brian Herrien, defensive back Tyrique McGhee, defensive tackle Julian Rochester, receiver Riley Ridley, tight end Isaac Nauta, linebacker Jaleel Laguins, defensive end David Marshall, defensive tackle Tyler Clark and defensive tackle Michail Carter.
Graduate transfers Tyler Catalina (left tackle) and Maurice Davis (Nickelback) also started. So Georgia got some immediate impact from its 2016 recruiting class.
“To me, (that) is a lot,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “… (Twelve) true freshmen playing in that kind of game is pretty unique in my opinion. It was a tight game, back-and-forth. We knew it was going to be that way. We knew the guys that played were going to play.”
That’s further validation of just how young Georgia’s 2016 team is. Consider that the Bulldogs played a total of 22 true freshmen last season – including 19 in the first game — which was the most in the nation, according to UGA. In all, 33 Bulldogs played the first snaps of their careers last season.
Expect that number to go up this week. Tailback Elijah Holyfield and defensive back Mecole Hardman are among several newbies expected to get their first action against Nicholls State, which visits Sanford Stadium on Saturday.
It would have been easy to chuckle over Kirby’s post signing day scavenging for players, but considering the contributions he got from Catalina, Herrien and Smith Saturday, he’s getting the last laugh. Just don’t forget this team has a lot of growing up to do this season.
Christian Payne, for the win.
We actually heard very little about Nicholls State – or just Nicholls, as they prefer to be called – from Smart or the players. That’s because the Colonels have not played yet this season. Turns out their off week was the first week of the season.
“They are fast on defense,” according to fullback Christian Payne. “They have a lot of returning starters and they are a young team. This will be their first game so you know they have spent all fall camp preparing for us. You know they will give their best against us.” [Emphasis added.]
Okay, he let the word “shot” slide, but he’s got a real future in poor mouthing.
UPDATE: Seth Emerson has the big news.
Nicholls State, or Nicholls, or the Colonels, had a bye last week. They went 3-9 last year, falling in their only Power 5-conference game, 48-0 at Colorado.
The upshot: Eighteen starters return, counting the punter and long snapper.
Georgia is doomed, I tells ‘ya.
Greg Sankey knows what kind of week it was for his conference. To the spin machine, Batman!
“What’s the old cliché? Teams show more improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 than any other point of the year,” Sankey said. “I don’t think it’s a rough week. It’s a week in college football. We’ve played some great games and challenged ourselves the first week. That’s good for college football.”
And that was his take before Ole Miss’ meltdown against FSU. Guess he’s gonna need a bigger cliché.
Yes, I’ve already watched the replay once. No, it won’t be the last time.
A few observations, in no particular order:
- Christian Payne. Fullback’s gonna fullback, y’all. He had some devastating blocks Saturday night.
- D’Andre Walker. His blow up play on the kickoff was even more fun to watch on the replay than live.
- Tyler Catalina. His run blocking, for the most part, was fine. But he’s got a way to go in pass protection. I know I said that in my Observations post, but it’s even more apparent watching the replay.
- Maurice Smith. He was Georgia’s best and most consistent defensive back. Thanks, Saban!
- Terry Godwin. I get that having him and McKenzie out on the field together didn’t fit with the game plan, which was essentially run block first and let Chubb sort them out. But he’s got to play more — he’s too quick and his hands are too good to waste too much time on the sideline.
- RPO plays. Georgia’s defense struggled with those most of the night. North Carolina should have run more out of those. And, yes, the refs made a bad call with that illegal lineman downfield penalty, something I never thought I’d say about a penalty like that favoring the Dawgs.
- Aaron Davis’ overruled touchdown. On the other hand, I’m not so certain the replay official got that call right. Trubisky’s body language sure suggested he thought he’d fumbled the ball.
- Greyson Lambert. You can shoot me for writing this, but he didn’t play that poorly. It’s just that he didn’t play well enough to hold off Eason for much longer.
- Malkom Parrish. He had some great plays in pass coverage, but I have no idea what was running through his head on that fair catch. (Yes, even live, the signal was clearly made.)
- Lorenzo Carter. The replay showed he had a much better game than I thought. No sacks, sure, but plenty of pressures.
- Roquan Smith. Following his play that led to the safety showed how well coached that kid is… and how high his football IQ is.
- Brock Huard. Boy, did he sure sound eager to bench Lambert. He’s actually a decent color guy, or at least he’d be one if he talked a little less and kept a few opinions to himself.
UPDATE: Jason Butt’s review is worth a look. Some good catches there, like this:
Eason’s pros and cons: There was a lot to like about freshman quarterback Jacob Eason’s performance.
He was able to lead Georgia down the field on his first two series of the game, although the first ended in a Brendan Douglas fumble. The second drive resulted in a touchdown, which featured a shovel pass on a jet sweep to Isaiah McKenzie and four runs.
But of course, there were some freshman mistakes as well. One came on his third play of the game, which followed a short completion Terry Godwin took for 23 yards. Eason took too long to get his team lined up and almost drew a delay of game penalty.
The Bulldogs were forced to call a timeout as a result. Smart touched on that during his Monday news conference, saying that Eason still has to improve in this area. It’s one reason why a rotation will continue with Greyson Lambert, until Eason can be trusted to run the entire show.
Jeez, check out these passer ratings for every conference quarterback who threw at least fifteen passes in anger in the first week of the season. Except for Drew Barker — who lost, by the way — the rest range from mediocre to abysmal.
Alabama and Georgia didn’t have a quarterback with fifteen attempts, which is why you don’t see theirs listed. But their leading passers, both true freshmen, would be second and third on that list if included.
If you’re looking for reasons to explain the SEC’s early struggles, that’s not a bad place to start.
UPDATE: In case you’re wondering, the QBR story isn’t any prettier.
I tweeted during the first half that I was concerned about Georgia’s apparent lack of a pass rush. Kirby’s response was not to sweat that.
“(North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky) is going to scramble if he wants to scramble. The big thing for us was stopping the run, making them one-dimensional. We really didn’t do that. They had some long runs that broke out on us. We tried to force them to be one-dimensional. There’s certain coverages that we wanted him in the pocket, we wanted him to stay in there because we were man-matching behind it. So much of our rush is tied to our coverage. I think there’s a misnomer out there that people think, ‘Oh, they don’t get any pass rush.’ Some of that is never by design, but when they have seven people blocking three, you’re not going to get a lot of pressure. Sit down and we might be covering. When we bring pressure, we usually get pressure. It’s just a decision of how many times you want to do that in the game. How susceptible do you want to make your guys outside? It’s something we’ve got to progress at and we’ve got to do a better job of conversion, meaning when they do pass the ball the defensive linemen convert into pass-rush mode. Look, guys, we don’t have the same rushers we had last year. There are some guys who could really rush the passer that are gone. It’s going to be a key for us to try to manufacture that in other ways.”
Honestly, I get all that. Georgia doesn’t have the d-line yet it needs to do what Smart wants. He’s not going to watch his defense get burned by a running quarterback, either (although that’s gonna get tested by better runners than Trubisky, I’m afraid). And, to be fair, I thought the pass rush was turned up in the second half.
The good news is they’ve got a couple of weeks before they’ll face a similar matchup again. The bad news is that Ole Miss has a more dangerous quarterback than North Carolina and better depth at wide receiver, too.
I promise I won’t tweet about the pass rush again, though.