Daily Archives: October 29, 2018
If you’re trying to make plans for the Auburn game, good luck with that.
SEC scheduling, it just means wait.
I think it’s safe to say nobody saw this coming.
It is for the SEC East title, but Saturday’s game in Lexington is, for Georgia, only the third-biggest of this calendar year – and maybe only the fifth-biggest, depending on where you rate LSU in Baton Rouge and Florida in Jacksonville. For Kentucky, it’s merely the biggest in this native Kentuckian’s lifetime, and I’m as old as the Appalachians.
Bradley’s stiffy is likely going to last all week, but I digress.
There’s going to be a lot of “hells, yeah, Kentucky’s got a chance” talk all week. To their credit, the ‘Cats have earned it. They’re experienced, physical and well-coached. Bennie Snell may not be the next Herschel Walker, but he’s a tough runner who’s leading the conference in rushing. On the other side of the ball, Josh Allen leads the SEC in sacks. Both players are going to be handfuls for Georgia.
Kentucky is good defensively and, just as importantly when you’re having what’s turning into a magical season, they’re getting their share of breaks. (Just go back and look at the play that set up the winning score against Missouri.) That’s not a knock; it’s what good teams do. The ‘Cats are also thin, although they’ve been fortunate on the injury front.
So, it’ll be a challenge, especially in front of what should be a crazed Lexington crowd.
That being said, Kentucky is one-dimensional on offense, although they’ve been very smart about not leaning on the passing game any more than necessary. They’re first in the SEC in scoring defense, but tied for last in scoring offense. They aren’t built to win shootouts and, somewhat surprisingly, aren’t anything special with regard to turnover margin.
Both defenses are good at limiting big plays, so there will be a premium on execution. Given Snell’s prowess, that may be a closer thing than we’d like (certainly than Mel Tucker would).
Still, if there’s something to take for comfort going in, it’s looking at how both have done against common opponents. That’s a tale of the tape that favors Georgia.
Georgia isn’t favored by that much, but the general point stands. The Dawgs will need to keep their composure against a team that will have two of the best players on the field and a crowd solidly behind it.
Georgia got back to being Georgia in the second half of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party on Saturday, and that was more than enough to brush aside Florida, 36-17, and remain in the national title hunt.
The Bulldogs had two weeks to ponder an ugly loss at Louisiana State, two weeks to consider how their wiggle room in chasing a second consecutive playoff berth was gone. Then, on Saturday, they had a little more than a half of Florida hanging around. The Gators even snagged a 14-13 lead on the first possession of the third quarter.
And from there? Running back D’Andre Swift had six carries for 66 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Jake Fromm was 9 of 13 for 143 yards and two scores. The Bulldog defense surrendered just four more first downs and allowed the Gators to run just four more plays inside Georgia territory.
“Georgia got back to being Georgia” is as good a summary of the game as anything I could come up with. The Dawgs may not have been perfect — okay, they were far from perfect — but if this season has demonstrated anything, it’s that they have the recipe to play a winning hand against any conference foe not named Alabama: stick with a bruising running game, even if it doesn’t pay off in the early going, pop a few big plays and play bend but not break defense.
That’s exactly what they did to dispatch the Gators. By nineteen points. I’ll take that all day long.
On to the bullet points.
- Actually, the bruising running game did pay off in the short run. Georgia ran the ball effectively on its first series, and even if it did eventually sputter and result in a field goal, it forced Grantham to dial up run blitz after run blitz to slow down Holyfield and Swift. It took a little while for the Dawgs to adjust, but eventually they did make Florida’s defense pay for that.
- Swift still doesn’t look 100% to me, but, damned if he didn’t pull off two of his niftiest runs of the season. He’s not running at full speed, but his cutting ability is back and he used that to big success. Great time for the first 100-yard game of his career.
- Holyfield bore the brunt of Grantham’s scheming to clog the middle, but still managed over seventy yards on twenty tough carries. He was stout.
- I’m still trying to wrap my brain around watching four straight completions to Isaac Nauta. That did happen, right?
- Big catch by Charlie Woerner, too, but it’s worth noting that he’s found his legs again blocking.
- I heard some complaining about the offensive line after the game, largely because of the failure to punch it in from the one-yard line, but that aside, I thought the unit turned in a decent game. Fromm was only sacked once, on a linebacker blitz that came clean up the middle, but for most of the day, he had time to throw. The line may not have consistently overpowered the Gators defensive front on the run, but some of that was due to Grantham overloading the box with run blitzes. Where the line was most effective in response to that was cracking open running lanes that Swift in particular was good at exploiting, as he did on his touchdown run. (Gaillard really manned up on that play.) With the constant run blitzes, there was space on the second level when the backs reached it.
- Andrew Thomas played a really gutty game. Really gutty.
- Georgia may have found its big possession receiver in Jeremiah Holloman, who responded nicely in being awarded his first start.
- I don’t feel like I mention Riley Ridley enough, sometimes. He may be Georgia’s best route runner and he’s an excellent, consistent downfield blocker.
- I’ve already posted a couple of things about Fromm’s day, but he really did impress. We’ve talked about how the team needed to step up and play a full sixty minutes; well, Jake sure did.
- As the Post quote indicated, the defense finally took control of the game late, but, while the secondary wasn’t challenged much, the front seven had issues early on with Florida’s running game. The line didn’t do much to stuff the Gators’ offensive line, which meant the inside linebackers were often taking the brunt of bigger linemen getting to the second level and finishing. That was bad enough, but made worse by some subpar tackling. Jordan Scarlett broke what looked like five tackles on his run that set up Florida’s first touchdown.
- That wasn’t the only mechanical issue of concern. Early on, Georgia’s front seven struggled with contain. (Hey, there, Brendan Cox.) There were several plays were linemen and ILBs ran themselves out of position. Patrick had one nice tackle, but really seemed to struggle in that regard.
- Jordan Davis is going to be a player with a little time. I’m starting to feel that way also about Tae Crowder, who turned in an excellent second half.
- My favorite defensive play of the day was turned in by D’Andre Walker, who (I think) came in late, was still running to his position when the ball was snapped and was bailed out when Florida ran the play right to where his momentum was taking him. He didn’t miss his tackle.
- Speaking of which, I was a little surprised Florida didn’t do more with pace after seeing what LSU did with it to disrupt Georgia’s defense.
- Admittedly, Felipe Franks is far from an elite quarterback, but for the most part Georgia’s secondary did well limiting the Florida passing attack. (It didn’t hurt that Franks overthrew a wide open receiver on the first play of the game, a flea flicker that was Dan Mullen’s nifty tribute to the way Georgia opened last year’s Mississippi State game.)
- Reed was the defender on that play, along with Franks’ 36-yard scoring toss. Both times he appeared to be a step slow, probably because he was keeping an eye on the run.
- LeCounte bounced back to play a solid game. I just wish he had broken a split second sooner on that TD throw; he just missed tipping it.
- Everybody throws at Deandre Baker. Once.
- Tyson Campbell busts ass, although there’s certainly room for improvement. (That’s not a knock on a true freshman.) His pass interference call was one of the smarter penalties Georgia’s taken this year, though, as that was six if he lets it go.
- Tyrique McGhee turned in a solid game, although admittedly he was the recipient of one of the worst passes I’ve seen on his interception.
- Special teams were, once again, a mixed bag. Rodrigo was almost perfect on the day, but on the one kickoff it appeared he didn’t hit solidly, Florida got a big return on a play where Georgia’s downfield players appeared almost lackadaisical in coverage. Camarda started with a couple of weak punts, but, boy, did he recover with two big ones. Hardman turned in a few good returns.
- One underrated, but very smart play: Herrien’s decision to fair catch the pooched kickoff from the Florida 45.
- Chaney got some criticism and no doubt some of it was certainly merited. Playing Mongo ball on the one-yard line was an act of futile stubbornness, and for two reasons: one, it played right into Grantham’s natural tendency to sell out and, two, Georgia had done well in short yardage situations earlier in the game running out of its regular formations. Also, if they can’t do any better running the jet sweep, it’s time to junk it. Saturday marked another game where the defense appeared to be ready for it, so there’s something either in the formation or the personnel group that’s tipping things off.
- On the other hand, Chaney won the chess match with Grantham. The early success on the ground forced Florida to jigger things and while it took a couple of series to figure things out, Georgia, with the final possession of the first half, started finding the holes in the defense and continually exploited them for the rest of the game. Georgia scored 39 points, gained over 400 yards, won the time of possession battle (a bigger deal, since both teams wanted to dominate in the run game) and first downs. In my book, that’s a good day.
- Mel Tucker did what Mel Tucker wants to do with what he’s got. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I think Florida only managed one play over twenty yards on the day. Tucker made Florida work for everything it got and forced the Gators to execute in order to score. That’s a good bet with Franks’ shortcomings. Tucker was rewarded with three turnovers. I’ll take that, too.
- Kirby’s day wasn’t perfect, either — why not use one of the two timeouts available when Georgia stopped Florida and forced a punt with about a minute to go in the first half? — but it was certainly good enough. Unlike LSU, he took the points that were available. His call to punt the ball in the third quarter inside Florida territory led to some grumbling in the stands, but was vindicated with a perfect punt from Camarda and a forced turnover at the Florida one.
- More importantly, he had his team ready to bounce back after a disappointing loss, facing a ton of noise from the media and his own fan base. And they proved to be resilient. They answered Florida taking the lead in the third quarter by taking it right back. They could have deflated after failing to punch it in from the one. Instead, they forced the Gators to settle for a field goal in return and scored two touchdowns while not allowing Florida to cross midfield for the rest of the game.
In the end, it was Florida settling for the moral victory while Georgia left Jacksonville with the real thing.
The Dawgs beat a bitter rival by nineteen points and didn’t play their best. Which is why I’ll let Jake Fromm have the last word, seeing as he certainly earned it.
“Teams are getting better,” Georgia quarterback Fromm said Saturday night. “We still haven’t played our best football yet, either. We still have that in the back of our heads. When we play our best game, it’s going to be scary.”
Dan Mullen fanboy Mike Bianchi has some advice for Georgia.
Enjoy the 19-point victory, Georgia.
With Dan the Man in charge, you’re not going to be Dogging the Gators like this for very much longer.
Hoo wah! That’s the kind of wishful thinking I read after Georgia broke through and won the 1997 Cocktail Party game. How’d that turn out?
It’s not the bullshit that’s notable here — that’s pretty much Bianchi’s stock in trade — but the mindset. Georgia has won back-to-back games in Jacksonville by more than 15 points for the first time since the 1940’s. The Dawgs have won five of the last eight games in the series. And now, even Florida cheerleaders like Bianchi have to acknowledge that Georgia has the upper hand.
Georgia has finally emerged from the post-1990 Spurrier framework, in other words.
Richt deserves credit for righting the Auburn and Georgia Tech series. What Kirby’s done with the Gators is easily in the same class. It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog these days, no?
Not too shabby, Jake.
He was calm, cool and collected. He missed one blitz read early in the game, but after that was totally in command. The pass protection was solid, too.
Helluva game, in other words.
An alert reader emailed me the link to this, and all I can say is, what else is there to do in Columbia, South Carolina?
So many drunk University of South Carolina students are being transported to the emergency room during home football games that stretchers line the hallways of Palmetto Health Baptist, emergency services are strained and drunken antics slow nurses who are trying to tend to the truly sick.
“They try to run away, fight people, pee in the corner,” said a nurse at Palmetto Health Baptist. “It’s been that way the whole time I’ve worked there.”
Young, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, kids, Columbia, or no Columbia.
Welp, it looks like one move is still in the Gators’ playbook.
Elijah Holyfield had three carries and didn’t gain a yard, and Fromm had two, though he said he thought he cross the goal line.
“I thought I did, both of them, or at least one of them,” Fromm said. “I know I was getting my eye gouged out on the first one, and I don’t know if I could see too good to see if I got it in on the second one.
I’d say “stay classy, Gators”, but history says I’d be wasting bandwidth.
From start to finish, if Georgia ran a better executed play this season than this…
… I must have been in the bathroom when it happened.
Everything — and I mean everything — went right. Fromm read the coverage and knew he had the pass, the offensive line gave him a safe pocket, the receivers did a marvelous job clearing out the secondary, Godwin ran a perfect route and Jake delivered a beautiful ball for the touchdown.
Exactly how you draw it up, right?
We’ve reached the point in the season when trying to use transitive wins to justify a ranking order is madness. Just one obvious example: Florida, which beat LSU, just lost by 19 to Georgia, which lost to LSU by 20.
So, don’t do it. Accept that there’s an obvious number one, an obvious number fourteen and let the rest of the chips fall as they may, depending on who’s tossing them.
- Alabama. Is there a conference team that could stay within two touchdowns of ‘Bama at a neutral site?
- Georgia. Back to the script.
- LSU. I’m not going to ask if the Tigers can beat Alabama. I just want to know if they can keep the Tide out of the end zone on the first series of the game.
- Kentucky. A 7-1 team with the 74th-ranked offense in terms of yards per play — you’ve really got to work hard to make something like that happen.
- Florida. As hard as I tried, I really couldn’t move the Gators any lower.
- Mississippi State. It seems like every time I’m ready to write this team off, the Bulldogs pull themselves back from the abyss.
- Texas A&M. Now 3-2 in conference play despite being minus-21 in points differential. This is when I begin to realize how mediocre the middle pack of the SEC is.
- Auburn. With four games left, all that’s left for the Tigers is to play spoiler against Alabama and Georgia, both of which may clinch their respective divisions (if the oddsmakers are right) before the Gus Bus arrives.
- South Carolina. Another team in negative points differential territory that doesn’t have a losing record in conference play. Quality!
- Missouri. It took eight games, but the genius of Derek Dooley finally showed through.
- Vanderbilt. The ‘Dores have to win two of their last three to become bowl eligible. Those three games are against the nos. 10,
1112 and 13 in this week’s Power Poll, so I’m saying there’s a chance.
- Ole Miss. Mississippi is thirteenth in scoring in conference play. It’s fourteenth in defensive scoring in conference play. Generally speaking, that is not a recipe for success.
- Tennessee. Fortunately, the clock is about to strike November.
- Arkansas. Vanderbilt had managed to score only 61 points in its first four conference games. It scored 45 against the Hogs. Yeah, this is a bad team.