The weather was magnificent. The company was great. The beach was beautiful. The food was delicious. The beer was cold.
Oh, wait… there was a football game this weekend? Damn, why’d you have to harsh my mellow, man? Just for that, here are your bullet points:
- First and foremost, this game was about field position. That was almost entirely driven by poor blocking on offense, unimaginative playcalling and a horrendous day punting.
- The other factor that played a part was a defense that played mostly well, except on third down and in the red zone.
- The end result was that Florida controlled the clock and limited the amount of time Georgia’s offense saw the field, although one could argue that was an act of kindness, given the ineptitude on display most of the game.
- I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the notion that a team with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel on the roster could be held to less than 20 yards rushing in a game that wasn’t a blow out. (Then, again, I’m still trying to figure out how South Carolina held Georgia t0 less than 30 passing yards.)
- Yes, the offensive line play was abominable. Yes, it hasn’t improved in the slightest over the course of the season. What isn’t getting much attention, though, is how much Christian Payne has regressed over that time. He was a non-entity against the Gators. One of the two moments from the game that stuck with me was Chubb pounding the ground in frustration after being tackled by a defender who Payne couldn’t be bothered to block. Really, if he’s not going to get his primary job done, it’s another strong reason to abandon the power running sets that aren’t fooling anyone.
- The other moment? The second Reggie Davis fly sweep that was stoned because the play was designed to run in to the defensive lineman that Blazevich momentarily blocked and then released. I guess if you look at it that way, it was perfectly executed.
- Speaking of Blazevich, given the results we’ve seen the last two seasons, the next time Georgia is in the market for an offensive coordinator, I hope it’s somebody who cheerfully admits he has no idea how to use tight ends.
- It’s hard to criticize Eason’s game, considering he had zero support from his surrounding cast, so I’m not going to waste my time doing that. I will say that the touchdown pass was one of those rare moments where it was fun to watch a play when things clicked perfectly: the line did its job well enough that when Eason rolled out he wound up in what amounted to a RPO situation that left the Gator defensive backs on that side in no man’s land and an easy throw resulted.
- I don’t want to be unduly harsh about the defense. Given how poorly the offense and special teams played, it was left in a rough situation most of the day and held up pretty well despite the hand it was dealt. Unfortunately, it seemed like almost every time it was in position to make a key stop to shut down a drive or prevent a score, there were just enough missed tackles, misalignments or freak plays (like the one when Del Rio somehow managed to get off an awkward pass completion while being dragged down by a Georgia player) for things to go wrong.
- That being said, it’s clear the defense has improved from the Ole Miss game — a low bar, I know. There’s reason to be excited about the defensive line’s future. Baker is an improvement at one of the corner spots. And I continue to like what I see from the inside linebackers. There’s enough going on that if the other areas of the team were merely competent, it would probably be enough. Unfortunately…
- I am not going to waste my time discussing the special teams play, other than to say it’s criminal to watch McKenzie’s talent as a punt returner go to waste. I have yet to see a single punt return properly blocked this season. The yardage he managed to gain on his two returns was entirely of his own making.
There’s really no point to breaking things down further than that. It was a joyless four quarters for the most part that reflected what’s gone on all season.
Perhaps the saddest thing of all is the realization as I was watching that Kirby wants what Jim McElwain already has, a competent team that is coached well enough to stay out of the way of the defense when it’s winning the day. I can only imagine what the future holds for the Cocktail Party when Smart gets there.
I said to my friends afterwards that for all his talk about wanting to establish an identity, Kirby has a team with less of one than any Georgia squad I’ve seen in a while. Upon further reflection, I don’t think that’s right. The Process is the identity. The identity is the Process.
Enjoy the rest of the season, folks.