“That can’t happen again.”

So, how close was Deandre Baker to turning pro this year?  This close.

Deandre Baker couldn’t shake the memory.

His team came so close to a national championship. But in his mind, he kept recalling how the title game against Alabama ended. Georgia sacked Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa out of field goal range in overtime, with the Bulldogs believing they were close to the program’s first national championship since 1980.

Then Tagovailoa launched a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith to win the national title.

Baker was on the other side of the field when that play occurred. The fact that his team fell one game short served as the motivating factor to return. On top of all that, it just so happened that Baker was watching ESPN on the Monday deadline to make a decision about the NFL draft. That particular Tagovailoa-to-Smith touchdown appeared again. If there were any second thoughts about turning pro, they were, in that moment, destroyed.

Talk about your dark clouds and silver linings.  Baker’s decision was unexpected, to say the least.

Leading up to the NFL draft early entry deadline, Baker said the feedback he received slated him anywhere in the first three rounds. He added that both head coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker were surprised he selected to come back.

Baker even admitted that if Georgia won the national championship, he “probably” would have entered the draft.

But the fact Georgia fell short was a deciding factor to return.

May he have no regrets after this coming season.

15 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

15 responses to ““That can’t happen again.”

  1. Derek

    Wish we’d have used our TO after the first down sack. Our guys got ahead of themselves there thinking 2nd and 26 was the ball game.

    If we can find somebody to lock things down opposite Baker, we’ll be in good shape. I like the idea of Webb and Campbell on the other side. Hard to win match ups vs. big, athletic and fast.

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    • Macallanlover

      Your 1st statement is probably the most significant, simple, mistake made in that game. Why would we not use that timeout? No need to save it, and letting Tua stew on it couldn’t have done any harm.

      “May he have no regrets”, indeed, Senator. Barring any injury, I think Baker can improve his draft stock by returning, but his reason insures every UGA fan will be pulling even harder for him to enjoy even greater success in 2018. His return could only have been topped by R coming for another season.

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      • Brandon M

        Sorry, I disagree. You’ve got the offense backed up and panicking 2nd and 26 from the 41 with a shaky at best FG kicker. Why call a timeout to let them regroup and collect themselves? Tua was throwing that ball deep taking a shot regardless if it was there or not. All you have to do is not let the receiver run right past you, or if you are the safety, not get caught peeking in the backfield. I think this is pointless hindsight wish talk that would have had no effect on the outcome of the game.

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        • Russ

          Exactly, the TO only benefits Bama in that regard. We had them on their heels, and the kid made a play. Shit happens. A TO wouldn’t have changed that.

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          • Derek

            Second down could have happened the same way after a TO, but it could not possibly have gone worse. I think it might have helped because we lost focus. No other explanation and that was predictable. That’s why I was in the stands making a “T” sign. No one noticed I guess….

            Frankly they may have shied away from taking a shot their fearing that we were looking for it and Tua could have chucked it no matter what he saw.

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        • Macallanlover

          We just have to disagree. Playing a Cover three would have eliminated the critical error and made that a significantly more difficult throw for Tua. We will never know, but they did the most obvious thing, quickly, and we did the exact opposite of what was needed. As with the last UGA/Bama thriller in Atlanta, some like stick, some prefer spray….no harm.

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          • Derek

            I’ve thought about different coverages there but I think it was the right call all things considered. We just weren’t ready to execute it.

            I think they were popping champagne in the heads. I really do.

            Every Georgia fan on the planet went into celebration mode after the sack. Why wouldn’t they too?

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            • Macallanlover

              It could have been the right call after pulling Sanders aside and telling him “in no way do you leave that side of the field to Parrish”. Sorry for him, but that was one atrocious game he played. Saban had no choice but to take advantage of any opportunity to test him that night, and he did so repeatedly. A TO would have settled them down, but mostly it would have gotten some help for the guy having the worst game of his career. Call it Cover 2 with a caveat if you wish, but Sanders had to give special focus to that side of the field.

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              • Derek

                Yep. As it turned out had 24 done his job either: Tua looks to tuck it and 3 is there as always OR he throws it and Dom makes the end of the game pick for the record and the title.

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        • Derek

          Didn’t look to panicked to me. Did they looked panicked when they converted for the GW TD? Really? Sorry, I had a different take.

          I understand that subtlety will be wasted but its more complicated than your “they’re in a tough spot so don’t let them regroup” mind frame will allow.

          The first thing that we have to keep in mind is that if we go to some sort of soft/prevent look we give up something underneath and its 3rd and manageable.

          The second is that if you’re gonna take a shot its on second down. Both 3rd and 4th down had to be plays designed to set up a reasonable FG attempt or keep the ball respectively. The target for Alabama the 20 or the 14 on those downs. It would be dumb to take a shot on 3rd and 26. You have to get yards there.

          So you have to play a vulnerable coverage on a dangerous down right after our kids (and they are kids) think their dreams have came true and they’re flat-footed. They weren’t out of sorts: we were. That’s what we saw. 14 and 24 played Cover 2 like 8th grade DBs with their feet in concrete. They threw a strike for the win.

          We needed a TO. We needed to emphasize that this thing was not over and get across the most important thing: NOTHING DEEP.

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    • DoubleDawg1318

      I think that play is a great example of players failing to execute rather than a play call. Parrish should jam his man and he totally failed while Dom got caught peeking in the backfield rather than locking down his area.

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      • Derek

        You don’t always jam in Cover 2, but he shouldn’t be letting him run free.

        We needed to take a breath. Regroup. Refocus. Understand that nothing can get deep.

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  2. lakedawg

    Hope he gets a shot to play in that game again, but it is darn hard to make it that far. Probably being a pessimist here but think last year was a better shot than this year. Some surprise newcomer will jump up in one of those 4 spots.

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  3. DoubleDawg1318

    He might come out a winner financially by coming back as well. There’s a lot of difference between 3rd round money and 1st round money. Whether or not UGA gets a ring, I think his draft stock will rise as will his earnings.

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  4. Hope he does not get injured and it all pays off for him. Those NFL careers are short and make as much as you can.

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