Allow me to repeat myself. Sigh. No guarantees, but I’ll do my best to avoid gallows humor. It won’t be easy.
One thing about a blowout like Saturday’s is that it’s easy to dispense with nuance. Georgia lost the game because Auburn dominated both lines of scrimmage. The Dawgs got smoked because sometime shortly after scoring first, they lost their hearts and their heads.
When you bring your “D” game (yeah, I’m probably being generous) and the tenth-ranked team in the country brings its “A” game in front of the home folks, the results are pretty much guaranteed to be ugly. Georgia, in fact, is a little fortunate that the score wasn’t even more lopsided than it turned out to be.
Honestly, there really isn’t much need to say more than that… not that I’ll stop there.
- I should have known it was an omen when Auburn trotted out Nick Fairley for the pre-game festivities.
- This may sound strange, but looking back, I think the game turned on Jeff Holland’s sack. You had the sense that the staff freaked out over how easily he abused Thomas on that play. One thing’s for sure: Georgia essentially abandoned the pass from that point in a vain attempt to protect Fromm until it had little choice otherwise.
- Unfortunately for Georgia, volunteering to make itself one-dimensional proved ineffective, largely because it turned out that Auburn was able to defend the run consistently with only seven men in the box.
- All those games when Georgia showed it could pass early and then stayed with the run made Chaney and Smart believe it would work again. This turned out to be the time when continuing to throw on first down after the first series was the smarter move.
- It’s hard to blame Fromm for Georgia’s offensive ineptitude, seeing as he was running for his life for much of the night. I sure wish he’d have been able to hit Ridley fully in stride on what should have been an easy touchdown, though. (Not to excuse Ridley on the drop, of course.)
- The flea flicker would have been another easy score, except for the minor detail of what appeared to be the entire defensive front’s penetration of the line of scrimmage before the ball had been returned to Fromm’s hands. Definitely Jake’s deer caught in the headlights moment of 2017.
- I can’t overstate how bad the offensive line’s play was. Blame Chaney all you want, but when your offense is structured around the run and your linemen can’t get out of their own way to block, it’s going to be a long day no matter what you call.
- To its credit, the defense didn’t come apart at the seams as quickly as the offense did — in fact, early on, it did a credible job of putting pressure on Stidham — but after the two special teams’ snafus, unravel it did. As the second half progressed (regressed?), resistance wasn’t futile. It was non-existent. Auburn was able to gash Georgia up the middle and embarrass Georgia with misdirection plays and two of the prettiest screen passes you’ll ever see.
- Then again, when a defense can’t even get itself aligned properly to defend three receivers deployed on a bubble screen, it ain’t hard to look pretty.
- The deep ball that Stidham threw for Auburn’s first touchdown was set up by having what seemed like an unlimited amount of time to throw against a four-man rush, which was a sign the game was getting away from the defense on every level.
- Special teams were more bad than good. Two major screw ups on punt returns led to two Auburn touchdowns, which is not supposed to be how that works. Between putting the Tigers up by sixteen and taking the heart out of the defense after it managed a stop on Auburn’s first drive of the second half, Hardman’s fumble essentially settled the game. That was a real shame, because up to that point, he was one of the few bright spots for the Dawgs.
- The vibes were bad enough that I called the missed field goal and the fumbled punt before they happened.
- Has there been another game when Georgia wasted as much good field position as it did Saturday?
- Another reason I don’t want to watch the replay is that I didn’t notice if Roquan played badly and I don’t want to discover whether he did.
- There is no excuse for this team ten games into a season like this to lose its composure the way it did. None. Especially with so much of the most egregious actions coming from senior players who know better. I don’t know if they were baited on the field, overly amped up, overwhelmed by the moment, or what. I do know that’s on the coaches for not getting the players settled mentally.
- Which leads to the last point — the coaching was a complete disaster. They tried to approach this game like they had every other game this year, which is understandable. However, when it became apparent that wasn’t working, rather than adapt and fight, they chose to retreat. That isn’t how number one teams are supposed to react, and you’d think given Kirby’s extensive experience in Tuscaloosa, he’d be the first guy on Georgia’s sideline to know that. Tremendously disappointing, to say the least.
- I guess it’s only natural that when a hot seat cools, the first thing you do is show your ass, right, Gus? (Then again, when your team kicks some righteous ass in front of the home folks, you’ve got to give them a little something extra.)
To his credit, Smart forthrightly took the blame for the debacle fully on his shoulders. That’s a good place to start, but if he can’t fix what was broken (which was pretty much everything, admittedly) and fix it quickly, it’s not going to amount to much. Unfortunately, the Kentucky game just got a lot more interesting than I anticipated it would be.
Shake it off and move on, Dawgs. That may not be as inspiring a message as GATA, but it’s a good beginning.