I’ll get to the bullet points in a minute, but do you know what first blew me away watching the broadcast? How clearly and how loudly the Georgia fan contingent and band came through. If I didn’t know any better, I’d have sworn they were playing the game in Athens. When ESPN did start panning shots of the crowd, I wasn’t surprised in the least at the amount of red dominating the stands.
Between Nashville and South Bend, our fans have really shown out this season. That’s something I imagine will be in the back of some heads come bowl time.
Anyway, on to the aforementioned bullet points.
- Any discussion of the game has to begin with the dominant performance of the offensive line. The difference was due to the interior of the line showing up with its best effort since Sam Pittman’s arrival. That was Gaillard’s best game by far; he was a real factor in run blocking all day. Kindley’s already shown himself to be good in that department — it really sucked to see him go out again — but Kendall Baker played quite well on the left side. Wynn has had a great year, so that may not have been a surprise, but Andrew Thomas kicked some serious ass as well. His pulling effort that led to Sony Michel converting a first-and-fifteen is as athletic an effort as you’ll see out of an offensive lineman.
- It’s a pleasure to watch Fromm grow ever more comfortable running the offense. There were maybe — maybe — a couple of passes that were off, but I can’t recall a throw that made me cringe, even though it’s clear he’s still not expected to read defenses much after the snap. He does a great job getting the offense lined up and ready before the snap. The touchdown throw to Godwin was his best pass of the season. And, again, Eason’s health allows the risk to be taken for him to keep the ball on the read option occasionally, to great result (plus, it keeps defenses more honest).
- That being said, coming up short misreading the yard marker, getting some ass chewed by Kirby on the sideline during the time out and then converting the third down on the read option is easily my favorite two-play sequence of 2017. I’ll bet you money Fromm doesn’t make that mistake again.
- I’m ready for the Mecole Hardman patented drop a catchable pass moment to go away.
- For those of you wondering what Georgia is doing better in the red zone this season, watch the Swift touchdown catch. It’s set up by a nifty route Nauta ran to free up the back.
- How enjoyable is it to see Chubb’s and Michel’s decisions to return justified? And how great a season will D’Andre Swift have next year?
- Speaking of Sony, that was an impressive balancing act he put on to score on that long TD run.
- It was great to see Holyfield’s first career touchdown.
- Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way right now: Roquan Smith.
- I do think the missing defensive players were a factor in Georgia’s early issues on defense. Webb’s long run of the day came because Juwan Taylor didn’t hold his position. But Taylor settled down as the game went on and played quite well in the second half.
- Georgia’s depth at linebacker is ridiculous. It seems like every game I see D’Andre Walker make a great play and wonder why he’s not out on the field more. Then I remember why he’s not out on the field more.
- I know playing soft coverage is the strategy to take when you’re up by 21 and there are less than two minutes to go in the first half, but if you aren’t getting a pass rush, a decent quarterback like Shurmur can make you pay. He did, too.
- Though it was easy to forgive that, given how lights out the defense was in the third quarter. I also loved the fight the defense showed in trying keep Vandy out of the end zone after Eason’s fumble.
- Special teams weren’t perfect, but they were certainly good enough. I wonder if I’m starting to get spoiled, because I’m disappointed when Blankenship doesn’t generate a touchback.
- I will say this, though. Hardman may still be a work in progress as a receiver, but as a punt returner, he’s hell on wheels.
- I grow more impressed with Tucker’s tactical skills from week to week. On one play, he showed blitz by overloading the right side of Vanderbilt’s line; as the play went away from the pressure, he dropped Atkins (!) into coverage, right into the line the pass took. The end result was that Atkins tipped the pass away, forcing a punt. Just a beautifully designed call. Tucker also did well juggling personnel in the wake of missing three key players.
- As far as how Jim Chaney’s day went, I’ll take 400+ rushing yards and a quarterback who wound up with another 200+ passer rating and a couple of key runs himself without complaint. Chaney’s mixing sets and formations and the offense has been coached well enough that it’s been handled close to flawlessly. Even the Wildcat has been effective. Add to that the way Fromm’s been managed and it’s hard to criticize the job he’s done (not that it’ll stop some people).
- You can add Sam Pittman to the list of coaches who are getting it done. As nice as it’s been to see the improvement this season, to think where things may be headed is kind of exciting.
- Whatever Kirby said at halftime worked.
- If there’s ever a Tommy Tuberville drinking game, “going NASCAR” will have to be a key component. It takes a lot for me to sympathize with Mike Patrick, but Tubs got me close. It’s not that he’s ignorant; he has enough insight from coaching that every once in a while he manages to offer an observation of value. Unfortunately, he’s also lazy and comes across as lacking any interest in being in the booth. If I’m lucky, he won’t be calling any more of Georgia’s games this year.
This marks three straight weeks of Smart’s team doing what a team should do facing inferior conference opposition. Vanderbilt, moreover, offered a nice measuring stick for Georgia, given that the Commodores played Alabama, Florida and the Dawgs three straight weeks. Those results pretty much confirmed a pecking order that we have in mind for Georgia right now: not at Alabama’s level, but better than Florida’s.
There’s one point worth consideration, though. ‘Bama is ‘Bama. It’s already occupying a lofty plateau. Georgia is improving. The team may not be ready to look the Tide in the eye today, but who’s to say what things might be like by season’s end?
I know, I know. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Still, this season grows ever more fun to watch. Come on down, Missouri.