Observations from the armchair, UGA-South Carolina edition

No, it wasn’t the key to the game, or the moment when the game turned, but in terms of message sending, Andrew Thomas’ injury was huge.  A preseason All-SEC candidate at left tackle goes out on the first series of the second half, is replaced by a true freshman and the o-line blocking gets better.  The recruiting, the depth of talent and the coaching it takes for all of that to come together is something that very, very few teams in the country can boast of.

South Carolina, unfortunately for the ‘Cocks, isn’t one of those teams.  But they, along with the rest of the SEC East, got a demonstration of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a divisional team that is.

And with that, it’s on to the bullet points.

  • You want my key moment of the game?  After Carolina scored on a trick play, Fromm throws a terrible interception that’s returned to the Georgia 35, and with all the momentum in the world in front of Sandstorm-loving fans screaming their collective heads off, Georgia’s defense forces a turnover on downs on a series in which SC didn’t gain a yard.  Georgia to that point wasn’t playing that well — at least not consistently well — took the Gamecocks’ best shot and… nothing.
  • What a game from D’Andre Walker!
  • All of the coaching attention Kirby’s lavished on Richard LeCounte is starting to pay dividends.  Not only did LeCounte lead the team in tackles, his display of in-game smarts by pulling up on what could have easily been a penalized downfield tackle during SC’s last possession of the first half is an indication of a young player whose figuring out how to best use his skill set.  (And that was an interception.)
  • Campbell had the kind of game you’d expect from a talented, true freshman quarterback cornerback:  some good moments, some not-so good ones (he was the victim of Deebo’s TD pass and got baited on the play).  He stuck with it, though, and got some valuable experience on the day.
  • Who was that number 18 kid, anyway?  Thought he had a decent game.
  • The run defense was stout and that started with the defensive line’s play. Crazy number of times the line batted down passes, too.
  • I thought McClendon did a decent job exploiting my biggest concern in the wake of Roquan Smith’s departure, pass coverage by the ILBs, at least in the first half.  Though the inside backers stepped things up after halftime, in what I hope is a promising sign for the future.
  • In the bigger picture, that didn’t matter much because Georgia’s run defense made South Carolina’s offense one-dimensional.  Nor did the ‘Cocks take many downfield shots.  The Dawgs were able to leave their safeties back and the safeties were able to clean up everything in front of them.
  • Heads up play, Juwan Taylor.
  • J.R. Reed is one of those players who doesn’t necessarily dazzle you, but whom you realize after the day is done turned in a really solid football game.
  • I don’t know what Mel Tucker came up with in the locker room at halftime, but whatever it was, it worked to perfection — literally, as in three straight three-and-outs to start the second half when the Dawgs buried Carolina for good.
  • I think we can stop worrying about the offensive line.
  • On the other hand, what’s up with the tight ends’ pass protection?  Woerner, in particular, got abused several times and was a significant factor in the interception and a sack.
  • Downfield blocking by the wideouts has gone to another level this season.  I assume Hankton deserves some credit for that, but you can tell there’s a lot of pride and desire on the players’ part, too.  I loved it when Ridley got on someone’s case for cutting the wrong way on the man he was blocking.
  • Anybody still worried about who would be the go-to receiver after Wims?  Mecole had a monster day.
  • No Chubb, no Michel, yet when the dust settled, Georgia gained another 271 yards on a South Carolina defense.  The running game was stronger than it was at home last year.  And that was with Zeus injured and Cook suspended for a half.
  • Fromm was inconsistent throwing in the first half and then came the one-minute drill in the last series to set up the field goal that put Georgia up by ten again.  Fromm went 3-3 and ran for another seven yards.  He carried that over to the third quarter.  He did have a pick, but on the day only had three incomplete passes.  I can live with that.
  • Chaney didn’t panic after the offense sputtered in the first half.  He knew what he had and what his offensive game plan would eventually do to the Gamecocks.  And it did.
  • How obscene is it to watch what Georgia trots out on offense when it calls off the first-team dogs?  This obscene:  Demetris Robertson didn’t get a single touch in the game.  Ridiculous depth.
  • Blankenship accomplished Job One, which was to deny Deebo Samuel the chance to do any damage with kickoff returns.  The field goal to end the first half (shades of the Rose Bowl!) had another ten yards on it, easy.  Camarda did well enough.  I’ve still got concerns about the blocking for Georgia’s punt returns, but that’s kind of carping, I admit.
  • And here’s a nod to the S&C staff.  There was no question which team was better conditioned to deal with the heat, at least not to anyone who watched Georgia players routinely shed blocks and carry Carolina defenders several yards after contact.
  • Why were they still playing the crowing cock on the PA late in the game?
  • If you’ve done your job, studied the game tapes, prepared the troops and know yours is the better team, from there it’s a matter of getting your team to execute the game plan cleanly, not screw up and grind the other team down.  Kirby did his job.

It’s tempting to call this game the answer to the 35-7 embarrassment in Columbia a talented Georgia squad suffered through in 2012, except that wouldn’t be fair to this year’s team.  After all, the 2012 Dawgs bounced back to play in the SECCG, while Spurrier’s group was about to begin its steady decline that led to his retirement.  This season’s loser doesn’t look it’s bouncing back this season.  The winner looks like it’s just getting started.

57 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

57 responses to “Observations from the armchair, UGA-South Carolina edition

  1. 92 grad

    Man, I’m so relieved that our dawgs dominated in the way that they did. What a beautiful display of speed, power, discipline, and execution. One never knows if they’ll win them all but if they get beat it will be by a very solid team.

    Like

  2. dawgtired

    Campbell had the kind of game you’d expect from a talented, true freshman quarterback:

    Quarterback?

    Like

  3. Dawg1

    Woerner got destroyed, often. Maybe he is just a big bodied receiver?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gastr1

      Fromm’s pick was almost certainly Tyler Simmons’ fault. Maybe he is a big bodied blocker (he is).

      Like

    • The Dawg abides

      I think so. He and Nauta both, except they aren’t getting too many receiving chances. We’re missing Jackson Harris as the second, primarily blocking TE. That was his and Blazevich’s role last season.

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    • siskey

      Which is odd because last year our bread and butter play was with Fromm in the shotgun and Woerner motioning in and leading in between the guard and center blocking for the running back. Maybe he is still feeling the effects of his injury?

      Like

  4. Biggen

    Woerner either tripped and fell on his ass or just got manhandled with poor leverage. I can’t tell…

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  5. Utilization of the TEs is still messy, but that’s nit picking.

    Walker was probably the most impressive and surprising guy to me. He seems like he’s going to be a dynamic pass rusher as the year goes on.

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  6. dawgtired

    “J.R. Reed is one of those players who doesn’t necessarily dazzle you”

    True, but that intercepting on the quick slant in the end-zone was pretty dazzling…

    Like

  7. I wonder if the Gamecock program woke up this morning with a swollen backside from the woodshed job the Dawgs applied yesterday. I think I’ll watch it again tonight.

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  8. SEB Dawg

    Really appreciate your observations! It’s my favorite post game analysis.

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    • dawgtired

      Can’t wait for the SEC team ranking analysis this week. With UK beating UF and Clemson needing luck to beat TAMU, should be some shake-ups in the order.

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  9. Greg

    Can only imagine what a BIG, fast running back would do for this offense….a Herschel Walker, Todd Gurley type. Maybe a fellow like “Zeus”, but I guess I am just being greedy.

    Can’t wait for that fellow to get healed.

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  10. dawgtired

    “Chaney didn’t panic after the offense sputtered in the first half”

    For so long I’ve had conversations with other Dawg/SEC fans where we talk about how Saban doesn’t panic because he knows his team is built better for 60 mins than any other. I feel like we are there now. Our coaches know that it takes the full process of the 60 min game before the outcome is decided. We will steadily gain the upper hand as the game goes on. No one will start as talented as us and will decrease in talent as the need for the depth to be substituted. By the 4th Qtr, it will be like an SEC team vs a FCS team…or a mid-major at best.

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  11. Bulldog Joe

    Compared to their first season, I love how much better this staff manages the play immediately before and after halftime.

    Clock management, play calling, intensity, adjustments. and kicking improvement mean very few wasted possessions. Light years ahead of where they were.

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  12. W Cobb Dawg

    I was pleased with the backup defensive linemen. Marshall, Carter, Barnett and Hayes all turned in solid performances.

    And we go into another game next week where our young backups can continue getting ample playing time.

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  13. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    There is so much to comment favorably on, but for me the biggest thing is the secondary.
    1) J. R. Reed – great game, solid tackling continuing to improve his prior good work. Gary Danielson seemed to have a man-crush on him. Said (I think I heard this) Reed was the best overall football player in the country. Well, he is good in virtually every phase.
    2) #18 – who is that guy? 😉
    3) LeCounte – answered a lot questions for us in this game. Physically as gifted as we thought when he was recruited, and also seems to have bought in to what Mel and Kirby are selling.
    4) Campbell. Raw, but what do you expect? With McGee hurt he was just exactly what we needed today.

    SC took lots of shots against this group with what they think is the best QB and WR combo in the country, and while they got a little more than bupkis, it wasn’t much more.

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  14. My observation, and a minor quibble at that: Why is USC fooling with their helmets? The chicken inside the “C” was a great logo.

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  15. Derek

    I would add that the wr corps is doing a great job of being physical after the catch. They are not letting the guy covering them just take them down. They are fighting like mad to get the marker or in 4’s case dragging them to the ez if necessary.

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  16. NashvilleWest

    Agree with all above. Another little thing I loved was Hot Rod’s last kickoff. Debo goes 9 yards deep to try to get something to return and Hot Rod sneaks it through the left front corner. Awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sanford222view

    I am curious to hear what others think about how Fromm played. He seemed off to me despite his stats. His passes didn’t look like they had the zip they normally do. They looked like they were floating or not coming out of his hand right. I thought he held onto the ball too long on several occasions when he could have thrown the ball away. The receiver may have pulled up on his route but the interception appeared Fromm just threw it up for grabs.

    I’m not calling for Fields to start or anything but Fromm looked off to me. Did anyone else think he was off throwing the ball yesterday?

    Like

    • illinidawg

      Dude is a baller, he does what it takes.

      Like

    • Derek

      He rallied in the second. First half was pretty bad. Didn’t seem comfortable.

      Like

    • Salty Dawg

      Fromm was off in the first half and I guess we won’t know why, but it was uncharacteristic of him for sure. That first half put me in agony even though we were ahead. The second half made me feel much better. I was disappointed that SC made a second touchdown but, oh well! GO DAWGS!

      Like

    • The Dawg abides

      He seemed to really settle in during the hurry-up just before the half to get the FG, and that rhythm carried over to the second half. He took full ownership of the interception saying it wasn’t a decision he usually makes, and it won’t happen again.

      Like

    • Cojones

      Last I saw, he was 6/6 in the second half.

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  18. Austin Cope

    Black jerseys? I kid, I kid. Well perhaps.

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  19. The Dawg abides

    As far as punt return blocking, I don’t recall a single time when we had a return on and weren’t in punt safe. In fact, on the one that Crumpton did return, Kirby chewed him out when he got to the sideline. I know I lip read “PUNT SAFE!”

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    • Timphd

      Totally agree. I think most of their punts were on third and short and Kirby was worried about a fake, so no one left the line to block. I saw him rip into Crumpton too. Maybe third and long we can see more aggressive returns.

      Like

    • Cojones

      Keep posting those. I suffer from poor lip-reading comprehension as well.

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  20. Jared S.

    Honestly this game reminded me of our loss to Bama in 2015. Except were Bama this time.

    Wooooooooo!

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  21. Cojones

    Bluto, since you mentioned him in the next bullet point, Mecole was the guy that Ridley was directing down the right side of his block, but guess you purposefully feigned recognition with the heavy snark today.

    And just who the hell was #18?

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  22. Cojones

    Cade Mays – ten yard road grader/down.

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  23. Confirmation to the rest of the country that last year was not an anomaly and we have a badass program.
    I was getting random texts from people all around the country that have never texted me about the Dawgs.

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  24. artful codger

    cocks crow at dusk …win or lose

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  25. Gurkha Dawg

    The first 30 minutes was the weakest half of football I have seen Fromm play. Of course he straightened things out and played another very good game. That’s what great players do. When things just aren’t going their way, they recover and get the job done. I have even more respect for Fromm. We really need better competition to find out how good we are.

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  26. Macallanlover

    Holloman’s catch and power after the catch, dang! Need zo see him on the field more, imo. I think the reason DRob isn’t in on passplays could have to do with KS’s insistence that you don’t get to play catch until you learn how to block downfield for the others. May not have been a requirement/emphasis at Cal. Details guys, details.

    Like

  27. CB

    As a general rule, if a team is manufacturing touchdowns with trick plays in the first half it usually doesn’t bode well for them in the end. I took solace in that TD.

    Like