Observations from the end zone, Cocktail Party edition

From the Washington Post:

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.”

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45 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

45 responses to “Observations from the end zone, Cocktail Party edition

  1. Biggus Rickus

    I was fine with Smart’s reasoning for not using the timeout before the half. Hell, I was fine with it in the moment. Either Georgia was going to hit a play and get a drive going, in which case 50 seconds is plenty of time, or they were going to stumble through another series and not give Florida enough time to do anything before the half. If Fromm gets the ball up on the fade, they get the TD instead of the field goal. My only complaint was not trying the fade one more time before kicking the field goal.

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    • tbia

      The time to use the TO was when Nauta caught his third ball with about 27 seconds.

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      • Biggus Rickus

        Maybe. They may have wanted Florida still on their heels. Whether that’s worth the six or so seconds wasted, I’m not sure.

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        • Macallanlover

          Good point, I think that was the thinking by our coaches. As Danielson pointed out, several times, the time to use the TO was on defense. Too many ways/opportunities to stop the clock on offense. May have cost us four points, turned out that wasn’t a key issue.

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          • Biggus Rickus

            Like I said originally, i was fine with not using the timeout on defense. This was one of those times where I found Danielson continually harping on something to be annoying. He actually has a lot of those.

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            • Macallanlover

              Sorry, meant that to tbia. I felt we missed out using the TO as well. Danielson was right to point that out, and I feel it was shown pretty clearly he was right. Small point now, maybe not in the future. Kirby has been pretty weak at last minute drives before the half, but seems more aggressive this season.

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              • tbia

                I see the argument. I too was fine not calling on defense. My thought is we had gotten to scoring territory, and now needed to maximize plays. I truly wonder how many teams use 2 times out in under 15 seconds.

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              • Biggus Rickus

                And if they threw three incompletions, punted and Florida had kicked a field goal to tie it, it would have bitten them. If he’d used it on defense, I would have been fine with it, too. This seems like a pointless quibble that Gary went on about for no good reason other than he has to talk about something.

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    • nightnthebox

      Totally agree…
      with 50-60 seconds, if you don’t hit a play, you can kill the clock easy
      with 90 seconds, you have to try to kill it…
      And we were coming off of 3 consecutive 3-and-outs, I think?

      I thought we were gonna try another fade… but I understand Kirby not wanting to miss the opportunity for 3 points… considering…

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  2. Uglydawg

    I grumbled. I grumbled before Camarda’s punt in the third qtr..
    I had already done the math and, with a touchback, it was going to be a 17 yard differential.
    Who else?
    I (we) were happy to be proven wrong.
    It was a great punt, Camar!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bulldog Joe

      It was a wise call in a field position game with the wind blowing.

      Need to work on getting lower leverage on short yardage plays. Also, back side pursuit blowing up our plays has been a problem all season. The Georgia toss sweep has been on the shelf for a while. Would love to see it reappear in Lexington.

      If the weather is decent, a good passing game should work well against Kentucky. They don’t get to see it much in practice.

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    • Salty Dawg

      Yes! I grumbled and had just texted my brother complaining about how bad Camarda had been two weeks ago and he needed practice! He must have heard me! lol

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  3. Bright Idea

    No reason not to call a timeout before the punt. That’s simply the mentality of a defensive coach. Fromm and the offense have proven themselves in the 2 minute drill so trust them.

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    • Macallanlover

      He is as good at the 1, or 2, minute minute drill as we have had at QB. Loves the fast rhythm, knows the defensive weaknesses, and throws accurately.

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  4. gastr1

    On the jet sweep on third and inches– a dumb call, yes, because away from the goal line like that, a sneak will do it– Hardman actually outran his blocker and ran right into the defender. If he cuts behind the blocker and falls forward he gets the first down. That’s the kind of thing that happens when using a WR to carry the ball on a running play.

    Liked by 1 person

    • RandallPinkFloyd

      Yeah, tough to blame Mecole there. We tried the same thing in a 3rd and 1 against LSU and it failed. The play call itself is fine, the timing of when we call it at times is puzzling.

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    • Russ

      The problem with that jet sweep is we have Herrien in at RB with Mecole sprinting down the line. Of course we’re giving it to Mecole because Herrien isn’t moving that line.

      If we persist in running the jet sweep at least run it with Swift or Holyfield in the backfield to give the defense something to think about.

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  5. Joe Schmoe

    Why not put Fields in for the goal line stand? Go spread and let him punch it in. His has 20 lbs on Fromm if I’m not mistaken.

    Overall a great game and I never tire of beating UF. However, our d-line really isn’t very good. We get absolutely no pressure without blitzing and our soft on the up the gut runs. That really puts a ceiling on how far this team can go this year. Hope we fix that this recruiting cycle.

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  6. Will Trane

    Are Edwards and Holloman the go to receivers now?
    Say it again, Holloman was huge in that game. Started the game and finished the game. Sorta like a Steve Pearce moment for the Red Sox in the World Series, MVP.
    Short yardage situations will no doubt get special attention this short week before the young oline travels. Been an issue all season, just not against the Gators. I do not like how they come off the ball together. The line bends back on both sides from the center, and they allow edge players to come back down the line for tackles on the back side. That is all blocking, and not getting a quick push, after the oline should get the first push. Some of it is due to youth, not enough game experience, practice, and being slowed by nagging injuries.
    But there was some signs against the Gators other than in those very short yardage. First time Swift went over a hundred but with 33 coming with less than 5 minutes…and the Gators had given up, whipped.
    No other team in the SEC is as disrespectful as Florida. The worst sportsmanship, a team that likes to put their fingers thru head gear to get to the eyes. You can lay all of that on Mullen!!

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  7. MDDawg

    Everybody throws at Deandre Baker. Once.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Harold Miller

    As frustrating as it was not to score from the 1 after that fumble, we forced the Gators to spend all the defensive energy they had left on stopping us. We man handled their line on ensuing drives. My wife, not a big football expert, commented on the next drive that they looked tired. She was so right.

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  9. Bill Glennon

    Kirby and the players did a great job of dealing with adversity, not just after the LSU loss, but within the ebbs and flows of this game. They had faith in their plan, and stuck with it. Kirby seemed to be most pleased about the psychological growth of the team, rather than the X’s and Os. This type of win will pay dividends next year too, when the team is more loaded.

    One thing that Kirby dosen’t seem to be addressing are challenges to spots. It seems every other team in football has a guy watching the TV broadcast and communicating when to challenge. LSU successfully challenged several plays and we didn’t challenge any spots. We had a first down it looked like Saturday, and again we didn’t challenge it and then got stoned on the jet sweep. I can’t figure out why someone as detail-oriented as Kirby is not addressing this.

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    • Russ

      Agreed. We’ve been screwed in the last two games on spots, but no challenges. It seems like one of the eleventy assistants in the booth can call down, or just have someone on the sideline streaming the TV broadcast.

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    • WF Dawg

      You’re thinking of the Cook play, IIRC. Yes, we definitely should have challenged that spot. Worth a TO, esp. since we took 2 into the locker room with us.

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  10. William (the other one)

    My lone complaint regarding the goal line stoning, was leaving #92 unblocked on every try. He made saving tackle after saving tackle. We should have done something to negate his first step, to give our RBs a chance. Line up like your going to try pounding it once again, and sneak the FB out for a pass on the wing. Something. Two QB sneaks and another shot up the gut was embarrassing.

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    • Normaltown Mike

      Let me add a little salt to that wound…#92 is from Marietta and played at Sparkleberry. It appears we never recruited him. I know that not every player pans out and some mature after HS, but that kid was a beast.

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    • tbia

      With the way Grantham was defending there, the Fullback was a waste. Should have moved him to wingback and cut that out.

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  11. Russ

    The failure to contain and poor tackling make me really worried about Tech.

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    • Jim

      I’ve been saying this all year

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    • Ricky McDurden

      Seconded. Tech game gives me the creeps because it flies right in the face of what we seem incapable of doing defensively. All I can do is hope that we have it figured out by then because boy would that be piss in the punchbowl should we make it through Kentucky and Auburn over the next two weeks.

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  12. Macallanlover

    I have had that same concern about kickoff coverage since game one. Our coverage team is complacent due to the performance of Hot Rod all year. Suspected it would bite us, and man did it.

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  13. 92 grad

    There better be full time tackling going on all week long. I volunteer to go let my black lab run around and tell our LB units to tackle her 10 times. Ever try to get an angle and tackle a dog? It’s hell

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  14. S.E. Dawg

    The jet sweep should also employ a double reverse. At least it gives the option to keep it or pitch it

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