Observations from the end zone, Notre Dame edition

It was a great game.  What else is there to say?

Okay, okay, I keed a little.  It was the perfect capper to a wonderful football weekend, if you’re a Georgia fan, and there was plenty to take away from the sixty minutes of action.  On to the bullet points.

  • It’s only fair to start with the defense this week, since that’s where the game was won.  There’s this feeling I’ve gotten on occasion — the 2002 Florida game, the 2011 Mississippi State game, the second half against Clemson in 2014 — where the defense has settled in to the extent that it’s almost a relief when they step on the field.  I’m not gonna say I wound up exactly in that place, but that may be more a case of me needing to overcome my natural skepticism than how they played and were coached.  I do know that over the course of the last two defensive plays of the game, the seventeen-yard completion and the sack and fumble recovery, my emotions ran the gamut.
  • I can see why Kirby was happy Carter and Bellamy elected to come back.  If those two keep it up, they’re probably going to be just as happy with their rising draft stock.  Notre Dame’s tackles are good, but they were simply unable to handle the speed rush from those two.  Nice to see an opponent struggle with that for a change.
  • Another tremendous game from Roquan Smith, who seemed to be everywhere.  That Reed wound up leading the team in tackles ought to tell you how well he played.  Every week I watch Reed, I grow more impressed.
  • While Smith may have seemed to be everywhere, Lorenzo Carter actually was.  I didn’t focus on him every play, but I did notice that he lined up at either end, at the star position guarding a slot receiver and at middle linebacker.
  • Notre Dame’s longest run of the day was eight yards.  That doesn’t happen without a front seven playing relentless run defense.  I’m not missing Tracy Rocker, in other words.
  • If there’s one area to criticize, it’s that the pass rush needs more consistency.  Wimbush did pretty well when he had time to throw, because he was able to find the soft spots in the zone defense.
  • Okay, maybe two:  Georgia should have had at least one interception on the night, and maybe more.  Admittedly, that’s quibbling to some extent, but, still.
  • I have never seen an offensive line hold more consistently than Notre Dame’s.  Still, if the refs are going to let you hold, why wouldn’t you?
  • Special teams play was not as pristine as it was opening week, which isn’t to say it was awful.  Nizialek was bailed out on his weakest punt by a great roll and did manage excellent hang time most of the game, which helped manage coverage.  Blankenship missed one field goal attempt, which loomed large for much of the second half, and only managed one touchback, which seemed largely by design, but also led to one big return.  Godwin botched a punt return.  Holyfield had a great kickoff return nullified by a holding penalty.  That being said, I had the feeling all night that Hardman was this close to breaking a return.  He’s turning into a special teams weapon.
  • As far as the way the offense played, it was definitely a mixed bag.  I heard plenty of grumbling about Chaney’s playcalling, and while I wouldn’t absolve him of blame, it wasn’t realistic to expect smooth sailing with Fromm’s first start.  The freshman quarterback played like one.  The fumble was the result of two mistakes, mishandling the read option hand off and failing to fall on the ball when it hit the ground.  You could see the interception coming.  Notre Dame’s defense didn’t respect the pass much of the night.  That being said, Fromm didn’t lose it.  He hit three big passes, none bigger than the 30-yarder to Wims, to set the last scoring drive.  He continues to show nice touch on his throws, especially that lovely back shoulder toss that brought back Aaron Murray memories.
  • And while he got help from his receivers at times, he should have gotten more.  There were a few passes dropped that shouldn’t have been, the most prominent of which belonged to Hardman, on what should have been a big touchdown.  (That play also demonstrated that Fromm’s range, while decent, isn’t on the same level as Eason’s.)
  • The offensive line was up and down.  Baker was inconsistent at left guard, throwing some great blocks, but also allowing penetration on the Payne run in the fourth quarter that got stoned on third-and-one when they were trying to salt the game away.  Tackle play was pretty decent.  I did think that when Kindley was in the game, run blocking was improved.  Hope his ankle heals soon.
  • The receivers show promise, but lack consistency, both in catching the ball and in creating separation from the defensive backs.  Some of that went into Fromm’s less than stellar night passing.
  • A quiet night from the tight ends again.  Maybe I read too much into the moment, but it sure looked like Nauta was frustrated walking off the field after one failed third-down conversion attempt.
  • Speaking of which, Georgia was bad on third down conversions all night.
  • On the other hand, red zone play was pretty good.  In fact, you can argue that ultimately it turned out to be the difference in the game, as the Dawgs converted two red zone series into touchdowns, while Notre Dame converted only one.
  • Speaking of which, that screen pass to the back that Notre Dame completed for a big gain to set up their touchdown was the best playcall of the night, I thought.  Beautifully executed, too.
  • Question for Jim Chaney:  How do you go an entire quarter without giving Nick Chubb the ball?
  • Observation for Jim Chaney:  When you’re giving Jake Fromm the opportunity to throw the ball more than you’re giving Chubb and Michel the opportunity to run the ball, you’re doing something wrong.
  • One developmental item worth noting is that Chaney is clearly invested in getting the ball in Mecole Hardman’s hands.  It may be frustrating at times in the short run, as Hardman isn’t a polished receiver, but you’ve got the feeling it’ll pay off in the long run.
  • D’Andre Swift looks like a keeper, doesn’t he?  With Georgia’s willingness to rely on freshman running backs, can you imagine what kind of year he might be having if Chubb and Michel hadn’t come back for their senior seasons?
  • Like pretty much everyone else, I see little use for the wildcat.  With no passing threat, defenses are able to key on the run game.  Even worse, on one play Chaney managed to give up its one standard advantage of having an extra blocker, by lining it up with three backs in the backfield.  Right now, it looks like a wasted formation every time they run out of it.
  • As far as Chaney’s playcalling went, it ranged from the great — the first touchdown drive, for instance — to the execrable, like the last series of the first half.  (Fortunately, the Notre Dame series that followed was even worse.)  I get that he’s got a lot of moving parts that aren’t meshing yet, but I’m not gonna lie and say it wasn’t frustrating to watch at times, especially because he shows at other times that he clearly knows what to do.
  • Tucker, on the other hand, painted a masterpiece.  When you take a great game plan and great preparation and wed it to fast, talented players, you get nights like Saturday.  The trick now is consistency from week to week.
  • I’ve already mentioned in a prior post how Smart impressed me this week.  There is still work for him to do, though, as there was plenty of sloppy play that needs to be cleaned up.  Twelve penalties for 127 yards in a game where offensive yards were hard to come by could have been fatal.  Undisciplined play may be understandable to some extent from a young team early in the season; the problem was that some of the more egregious penalties were coming from players who weren’t seeing their first action.  We’ll see how Smart works to eliminate that.
  • The post game scene, with the players and Smart acknowledging the fans, was terrific.  One only hopes it’s far from the last time we’ll get to experience that this season.  (***Cough***Cough***Jacksonville.)
  • SEC refs gonna SEC ref, baby.  Really a poorly called game on the field that without a decent replay official would have resulted in a Georgia loss.
  • As far as the venue goes, recently renovated Notre Dame Stadium is a pleasure.  Wide concourses that are easy to navigate, clean efficient bathrooms and terrific sight lines are exactly how you do it.  No advertising clutter inside and the sound system, while loud, didn’t assault the senses.  Friendly staff, too.  My only knock is that seating, while not down to Knoxville standards, was a little crowded.
  • To add to that, the Notre Dame fans were great and definitely deserve to have their classiness returned when they visit in a couple of years.
  • One kudo Kudos to NBC, as well:  your in-game commercial interruptions seemed less time consuming than ESPN’s or CBS’.  Much appreciated.

All in all, while tense at times, a grade-A experience.  (A more consistent team would have won by ten, so no plus sign, guys.) It cost a small fortune, but I regret nothing about the outlay.

We’re still another week away from the conference opener, with a game this week against Samford.  It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect something of an emotional let down, but I’d like to see a business as usual attitude.  A repeat of the Nicholls debacle from last season is the last thing this team needs right now.

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71 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

71 responses to “Observations from the end zone, Notre Dame edition

  1. I thought NBC did a darn good job with their coverage. It seems that because the check only goes to Notre Dame that the TV timeout regimen looked much more like an NFL game with fewer commercial breaks. I thought Mike Tirico was excellent (and balanced) on the play-by-play, and Flutie was ok.

    Your thoughts on the game itself was in line with what I saw from home. From the sounds of it, I probably need to drop ND on my hate list at least below our SEC rivals and pull for them against teams in the SEC rather than hoping for a meteor or other natural disaster.

    Like

    • 3rdandGrantham

      They did a great job and were very complimentary of UGA, even though they are supposed to have a ND bent. In fact, I thought they wouldn’t mention or show much of the huge UGA crowd in effort to save the embarrassment, but they harped on how many Dawg fans were in the house throughout the game. Tirico as usual was phenomenal; Flute was actually better than I expected, but certainly no Todd Blackledge or Gary Danielson.

      There were far less commercials than a typical CBS or ESPN game – in fact I missed quite a few plays as I assumed they were going to a break as accustomed, but instead I would return after a punt to suddenly find it 3rd and 7 or whatever. This, obviously, was my favorite part of NBC’s coverage, and I’d guess there were approximately 10 minutes less of commercials overall; maybe more.

      Like

  2. Aladawg

    Wasn’t it nice to see ONLY one commercial logo(NBC) inside? We weren’t assaulted with the “Irish Spring” scoreboard or the “Palmolive Soap” clean delivery. Kudos for the commercial restraint ND. We definitely felt, like you, that commercials were shorter and less numerous.

    Like

  3. JasonC

    As MaconDawg noted about Cheney, it was a bit reminiscent of some early Bobo- some good, some maddening and the appearance of being balanced meaning equal pass attempts to running plays.
    I was a little dumbfounded at the number of passes versus feeding Chubb and Michel.

    Like

  4. 81Dog

    The ND fans were awesome, by far the friendliest of anywhere I’ve ever been. They were nice in New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl, but we had them outnumbered about 10 to 1 on the road then. I’m already concerned about the jackass element of our fanbase for the return trip, but based on how everyone treated us everywhere, ND fans deserve nothing but southern hospitality on the return trip. And hopefully an on the field ass kicking.

    The trip to South Bend exceeded all my expectations. Perfect weather, an historic venue, beautiful campus, cool traditions, unfailingly kind home team, and a UGA win. Good to see you and MB on the road!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 81Dog

      home team fans. Sheesh. I’m still road trip lagged.

      BTW: My only real beef was not against ND fans, who were awesome, but against the monkeys up there controlling the PA system. I was told that they crank the PA (kind of Auburn-ish levels of assault on your eardrums, bush league), which was true. What I didn’t expect was that they continually cranked in while the Fromm was standing over the ball, stopping only when he seemed to be on the snap count. I thought that was kind of bush league. Everywhere else (even Auburn) they seem to stop once the QB steps up to the line of scrimmage.

      I don’t mind the crowd roaring, that’s part of the game. I just thought the piped in stuff is fake juice, but that’s on the clever folks in the athletic department. Maybe even a classy place like ND has a few knuckleheads. And I cant overemphasize how classy and nice EVERYONE up there was. Quite a contrast from rolling into Auburn or Clemson or Knoxville or Jacksonville or Columbis, n’est pas?

      Beats the hell out of a road trip to Starkville.

      Like

      • Will

        I echo everything you said 100% Fans and venue were incredible, but I was consistently whining about the PA system impeding our ability to make a call. I wonder if the sound on the field was much less, because it never seemed to bother Fromm (not that anything seems to bother Jake).

        Like

      • Russ

        I wondered about the piped in noise and band while the team was trying to call plays. I thought there was a rule against that, but obviously not.

        Otherwise, very polite place.

        Like

        • 92 grad

          I dunno if the rules have changed since the early 90’s, us redcoats were always told that if we continued playing when the ball gets set by the umpire our sideline would get a penalty. We routinely played up until the whistle and really got quick about getting silent at the last possible moment.

          Like

  5. KornDawg

    Re: commercial breaks, I switched over to the Clemson game for a minute and nearly missed an entire series. So yeah, the commercial breaks were shorter.

    Like

    • bulldogbry

      Ditto. I switched to the OSU/OU game after a ND punt and by the time I got back we were 3rd and 10.

      Like

    • Russ

      I haven’t watched the NBC broadcast yet, but the game didn’t seem overly short there. That said, I don’t remember many long waits for action either.

      However, I went to the Falcons game and was shocked at how fast that moved, even with in stadium commercials. The game barely reached 3 hours, and minus some random timeouts at the end (and associated commercials) could have been over in 2:45. The NFL seems to have the game flow down.

      Like

  6. Athens Dog

    Was a great experience except seating. As the Senator noted, it was almost Knoxville……………….

    Like

    • Russ

      As for seating, I thought it was normal. Wrigley Field was built for malnourished immigrants of 100 years ago. It clearly doesn’t fit the average fan today.

      However, (here I go giving credit to the NFL again), Soldier Field had these nice, “midwestern sized” seats, meaning lots of room for all the heavyweights. I was amazed at how much room I had, but as a Bears fan pointed out, in the winter they fill those seats up with clothing.

      Like

  7. St. Johns Dawg

    Fabulous trip. Great win. ND fans were awesome. And I have to admit, I was very impressed with the behavior of all the Dawg fans, too. I get that our bad actors usually give what they get (and everyone is in agreement the ND fans were incredibly cordial). But I didn’t see anybody acting a fool toward our hosts before and after the win … and I was grateful for that. We must show ND visitors similar class in 2019.

    Like

    • The jackasses probably can’t afford a trip to South Bend, excuse me North Athens…….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mike Cooley

        So having money means you dont act like an asshole? Plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise.

        Like

      • Macallanlover

        That is actually true, our fans on road trips are always better behaved than the children in Athens. Of course, every fan base has their share of bad actors, but we are among the worst for visiting fans. Granted, it is usually the younger fans, but when I was attending games regularly almost every single game I saw Dawg fans have to intervene to stop a fight from occurring because of aggressive behavior by fans in Red and Black. And it often involved a family with wives and children simply walking by. Seems to occur on campus and near the stadium, not downtown. Also, not usually bad with OOC cupcake opponents. I hope we return the friendliness when ND fans come to Athens in 2019.

        Like

    • Timphd

      I only witnessed one Dawg being a bit of an asshat. Yelling loudly on the way into the stadium and annoying even Dawg fans. Other than that the tailgating was well represented with respectful but enthusiastic fans of both teams. Our section was 80% Dawgs but we had nice conversations with several Irish fans. Begrudgingly, I have to change my opinion of the Domer fan. I heard “Welcome to Notre Dame. Enjoy the game” more times than I could count. We really need to treat them well in 2019, except don’t sell them as many tickets!

      Like

  8. We flew in and out Detroit. I knew we would show well when I saw a few fellow Dawgs at the Casino in Canada on Thursday night. ND knows how to host like no other and I hope we do the same in 2019.

    Like

  9. Jared S.

    The 127 penalty yards were maddening. Did half of them come from hands-to-the-face/facemask calls? I couldn’t believe how many times we were called for that (not to mention all the times I saw us doing it when we WEREN’T called). Good grief.

    Is this an anomaly or a coaching/technique problem?

    Like

  10. Uglydawg

    Great effort and showing up by Dawgs and fans..
    We got the Zebra’s “Best Shot” and still left with a “W”.

    Like

  11. DawgPhan

    great win for the good guys.

    Sony and Nick combining for less touches than the freshman QB is an issue. Especially when they were averaging more yards per touch than the QB was.

    Agree with the wildcat formation needing to go.

    Like

    • Russ

      Wild Dawg should go, or at least make it a point to try one pass per game. Otherwise, it’s pointless.

      Same for the zone read with Fromm. I get not letting him get hit, but he should keep at least once or twice, run for 5 yards and slide just to keep the defense honest. Multiple times Saturday he had 20+ yards if he kept it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agree 100%. Don’t need to risk an injury BUT if your running the zone read at least let the QB keep it once or twice just to keep the defense honest. A real bone of contention while watching the game. But a win is a win.

        Like

  12. Snoop Dawgy Dawg

    Rather than improve the actual television feed to High Definition, they simply downgrade the feed and have fewer commercials. Some of the game feed looked like grainy, dial up video at points. There was one pass I remember where the ball left the QB’s hand, and the TV didn’t have brown pixels anywhere on the screen, then the ball appeared downfield.

    it was remarkable how bad the feed was on my comcast NBC channel. flipping to other games just reinforced it.

    Like

    • ChiliDawg

      Might be something with your equipment – game looked perfectly fine in HD on my end.

      Like

      • ChiliDawg

        Or there was a problem with your local affiliates relay.

        Like

        • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

          wasn’t my set up. looks crystal clear on ABC/ESPN for the other games. Mine was bad HD for most of the game, with bouts of was like a youtube video buffering with lots of pixelation. I’m in sandy springs, so can’t imagine Comcast has issues. I’ve felt for years that the NBC broadcast quality was inferior to ABC/ESPN. CBS is a step below the others.

          it was really weird how bad it was at times.

          Like

    • OhioDawg

      That’s odd. People in my group were actually talking about how clear the picture was, and that was even though we were getting it over the air through an antenna.

      Like

  13. Bright Idea

    My only complaint of the whole trip is all the toll booths between Chicago and South Bend. Drove the lake coast in Michigan going over but still got caught a bunch. Their highway Dept must be in bad shape. Didn’t mind paying but damn the delays. Roads were good though.

    Like

  14. Derek

    1) all this Notre Dame love-fest is disgusting and it needs to stop. I don’t care how nicely they took their whuppin’ 2 days ago or 37 years ago. They needed that whuppin’. Going 3-0 in 2019 is an absolute must. You can’t lose to those guys ever. Never ever allow losing to ND to be acceptable because they were “nice.” They’re Tech but with a superiority complex.

    2) https://youtu.be/nWE730vnEmc

    3). A couple of dropped picks and a couple more catches and some decent refereeing and that’s the beat down they needed to take.

    4). How come you can only afford to take these damn trips when your too old to survive them? I feel like I need to sleep for a month…..Rose Bowl 2025!!!!

    Like

  15. DawgFlan

    Great observations, Senator. Well put. Excited to see this team come together.

    Like

  16. ApalachDawg

    Maybe Sony and Nick should have a post game meeting with Chaney to remind him that they didn’t declare for the draft and that they were still very interested in toting the rock for the Dawgs on Saturdays.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. BassCatSC

    Swift is a game changer. Looking for him to get more touches.

    Like

  18. Great win. Would have been a bitter pill to swallow walking off the field with a loss considering our (brief) history with ND and the average Dawg/SEC fan considers ND to be an overrated program.

    We are going to need Eason to come back and play well if this is going to be a special season. Will be interesting to see how Qb duties shake out when he is back.

    Ga seems to have a great season every 5th year- 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012 so hopefully this is our year. Also, hope Kirby continues to recruit and work the roster like they have so we don’t have to wait every 5th year for a great season.

    Nike is doing us no favors. Can they not make us some real silver pants- not light grey? On tv against the white jerseys the pants looked even lighter than usual. We have badass uniforms but between the pants and the stupid “Bulldog Bold” font I’m all for moving to Under Armour.

    Like

  19. AusDawg85

    D line in the trenches not getting enough love. They stuffed the running game and let our backers play fast and loose.

    After seeing the RB by committee approach through the 3rd Q, I really though Chaney was teeing-up a rested and ready Chubb / Sony punch to put the ND defense away. Wrong…that was Bobo circa USCe 2014. How he can’t figure-out how to turn Chubb loose is shocking, and Sony was getting the hot hand…I would have left him in for a lot more carries with some PA to (dare I say it…) our TE’s. If our OC has a philosophy, I’m missing it. But he is in love with the iMac/Hardmann model of a speedy small guy getting the ball. Interesting obsession there.

    I do give him a ton of credit for using Payne at fullback and was thrilled to see us use the old dive play…twice!!!…with success. The gutsy call (and the type championship teams make IMHO) would have been to fake the dive the third time and hit Nauta on a seam route…no way he’s covered by more than a safety coming up to support the run. Maybe he’s saving that for Florida.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AusDawg85

      Pollack…perhaps not the greatest analyst of all time…said on College Radio today that he can’t understand what Chaney’s philosophy is either and would like to see us establish an identity. Found that funny and interesting from someone who has been in the arena. Or he just reads GTP.

      Like

  20. DacDawg

    Senator, according to a ND stadium guy we talked to on the field, part of their re-model was reducing the capacity to approx. 78K seats by adding 2″ to every seat. Glad we came after that! Also – why some of you guys on here get so mad at them for being polite. Show some class!

    Like

  21. None

    Thanks for your observations, Senator; always great to read, especially after a win! Quick question: what’s up with the trippin’ Notre Dame players? And I don’t mean trippin’ like the kidz say these days. I’ve made a couple of gifs to demonstrate (hope they work).

    Early in the game, their linebacker, Tranquil, lunges at Sony’s feet to prevent what should have been a nice reception for a TD:

    It happened again later, when ND was on offense. Wimbush is flushed and while Roquan is pursuing, their running back, Adams, just straight up trips him:

    Neither of these plays were flagged. Maybe on the first play you can argue that Tranquil wasn’t trying to trip Sony and the camera angles just made it look like he did. I dunno. But the second play where Roquan is tripped is plainly obvious. Even Tirico mentioned it.

    Anyway, glad these plays didn’t affect the outcome. But they could have done! Go Dawgs!

    Like

    • Derek

      I’ve seen the first in on replay and one of the announcers said that Sony wasn’t touched and that’s why there was no flag.

      Like

    • Watching in person, I could not believe no flag was thrown on the Smith tackle. Blatant.

      Like

    • Russ

      I saw both. The first one I thought could have been flagged interference. The second one was horrendous. Penn Wagers approves.

      Like

    • Jared S.

      My theory is the SEC crew wanted to make damn sure they were not accused of being biased toward UGA. Hence them coming right out the gate on that first drive throwing flags all over UGA.

      Not to say most if not all of our 12 penalties weren’t deserved. I just think the refs were determined to call a tight game and slant away from UGA in general.

      Crews normally favor a home team anyway. Give them the benefit of the doubt anyway.

      Which means I’m still in shock that they reversed the Godwin call and made it a TD. I think it was the right call to reverse it…. I believe he controlled the ball after he pulled it in and pinned it against his shoulder….and his foot touched down after that….

      … all I’m saying is that I was afraid at the time they would consider the replay inconclusive. And I’m grateful they didn’t. It was an amazing play.

      Like

      • Mayor

        My theory is that Matt Austin is an anti-Dawg asshat and that he and the rest of his stinking crew were trying to fix the game. But hey.,.that’s just me.

        Like

  22. Mary Kate Danaher

    For those of you who enjoy the sweet, sweet taste of our opponents’ tears, spend a little quality time at irishenvy.com. It’s a slightly more literate version of Stingtalk, and are they unhappy about the Dawg invasion of South Bend. Priceless.

    Like

  23. Mayor

    I would like to share this observation about the UGA-ND game which I hopes comes to be true: In future years I believe we will all look back at this game as a watershed moment for Georgia football. In recent years this is the exact type of game that the Dawgs would have lost–particularly at the end. The fact that they won bodes well for the future of our program. Kirby Smart has won me over. I am now 100% a believer. He is changing the culture and it is palpable. Way to go Kirby!! GATA!!!

    Like

    • Aladawg

      I’m glad you drank the Koolaid. I’m with the Senator. Let’s wait a bit. Remember we managed to BLOW 3 close games with the same coaching staff a year ago. It was a great win on the road, but we will have to play better to get to our goal.

      Like

    • Macallanlover

      Yeah, I don’t know what that BS was with time management before the 1st half ended and us trailing by 3 points but he did that some last year as well. Does he know it is legal to score within the last two minutes of a half? Jeez.

      Like

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