Saturday was not one of those days when you could cut the tension with a knife. A bit of a letdown was inevitable after the team left everything it had on the field against Auburn and subdued was the tone set for the day. Not even black jerseys could save things.
Bullet points coming at you now:
- The crowd was um… let’s say not into it for the most part. Lots of empty seats and only a few moments when they really got pumped up and into things. Not that it stopped the playing of “Seven Nation Army” on the stadium PA about a thousand times.
- In the first half, the Dawgs scored a touchdown on the first offensive play of the game, McKenzie returned a punt for a touchdown, the defense garnered three interceptions… all of which added up to a less than the sum of its parts 21-7 halftime lead. Meh.
- Part of the problem was that they were only able to convert one of those turnovers into a score. The first interception led to a punt from the ULL 30-yard line. Meh squared. (At least it was at a point on the field where a Georgia punter could do some real damage.)
- McKenzie’s first score came as a result of a really nifty play design that showed a flow to the left, but a toss to the right. McKenzie’s speed did the rest, but he had plenty of space to operate. Nicely done.
- It’s a real shame that Eason didn’t have the same consistency on the deep ball against ULL that he displayed against Auburn, because he had receivers open downfield quite often. The wind may have played a part in that, although it didn’t seem to affect that gorgeous throw he made to McKenzie on the first scoring drive of the second half.
- If you want to understand why Georgia is starting a true freshman quarterback this season, compare the 60-yard toss Eason made to Godwin towards the end of the first half with Lambert’s sideline throw late in the game. The lack of velocity on the latter pass was literally startling by comparison.
- It’s also nice to see Eason slow down when he realizes he’s got pass protection and work through his progressions, as was the case with his touchdown pass to Chubb.
- On the other hand, he still forces things a little too much for his own good. The interception was off a pass he tried to force in to Nauta, who was covered, when he had Ridley wide open on the play.
- Good to see an effort made to get Terry Godwin the ball, although I wish they might have taken a shot or two with him downfield.
- They ran that meshuggeh short-yardage play with McKenzie lined up behind Chubb in the I again, but at least this time the ball was handed to the right guy.
- It’s heartening to see another solid game out of Chubb, who looks more and more like he’s got his speed back. It wasn’t one of Sony’s better games, so let’s hope he got it out of his system.
- I hate to keep saying it, but Payne simply hasn’t been the consistent blocker he was at the start of the season. Don’t know what’s up with that.
- The line did some good things — no sacks were nice — but they’re not a bunch you can count on for power blocking in short yardage situations.
- Special teams again wound up as contributors, even if Blankenship wasn’t the player of the game. He dealt with the wind on kickoffs as best he could, and was aided by what may have been the best coverage work of the season. Reggie Davis had a nice kickoff return. And McKenzie, of course. The blocking on that was excellent, but there was also a little juke he put on mid-play that made the return. I have to admit Beamer isn’t ticking me off as much as he was earlier this year.
- The defense was a little disappointing, to be honest. The good work we watched against Auburn — no third down conversions and no gashing with outside runs in the second half — largely dissipated, as ULL was able to convert a number of third downs and had a good bit of success with perimeter runs. Gap integrity and assignment football kind of came and went. On a positive note, the defense bowed up on fourth down, shutting down all three conversion attempts. That and the turnovers are what saved the day on that side of the ball.
- Pass defense was, for the most part, good. I’m not sure how much of that was due to the defensive effort and how much to Jennings’ erratic day throwing. It’s fair to say, though, that all the interceptions came off athletic plays by the DBs. Parrish’s pick was the most intriguing of them, in that it seemed he baited Jennings into the throw by letting the receiver get a little distance between them.
- Trent Thompson is a beast. That is all.
- As far as the coordinators went, it was a day for vanilla game plans and an uninspiring atmosphere. They weren’t great, but it could have been a whole helluva lot worse than it was. That being said, Chaney’s play calling during the last two minutes of the first half flat out sucked.
In the end, a win’s a win. And in the year of close calls and disappointing losses, you could do a lot worse. Then again, maybe Kirby’s plan all along was to demythologize Georgia’s black jerseys by pairing them with a ho-hum game. If so, he succeeded admirably. On to Hate Week.