Well, Saturday was a landmark day. No, not because of the 66 points scored or cracking 700 yards of total offense.
They played “Dooley’s Junkyard Dawgs” on the PA system. It had been so long since I’d heard it in the friendly confines of Sanford Stadium that it took a couple of seconds to register. Gracias! (Also, Jimi Hendrix!?!?! Didn’t see that one coming.)
Georgia didn’t cover, but not because the Dawgs went into a shell offensively in the second half, as I anticipated. Instead, they played gracious hosts on defense and let UMass rack up plenty of second half points.
No reason to get too deep into the weeds, but let’s do some bullet points.
- I think the points and yardage speak for themselves. Georgia made it clear from its very first possession of the day that it could name the score. You knew it was going to be a special day when the Dawgs converted on first and goal from the five. (Yay, sarcasm.)
- Really, any discussion of the offensive explosion has to start with Justin Fields, who had a remarkable day both throwing and running the ball. It’s not every day the same player leads the team in rushing and passing yardage. His first touchdown throw came under pressure and he threaded the needle beautifully. He showed a nifty spin move to score on the ground and tossed in a couple of longer runs. He also should have had another deep touchdown toss, had Robertson held on to another perfectly thrown ball.
- That being said, it was Massachusetts. He basically out-athleted the Minutemen defense all day long. I didn’t see a lot of checking down from Fields on his pass attempts (and he got sacked one time when it appeared he was trying to go through progressions), so he’s still not ready to take Fromm’s starting job away. That being said, he’s showing lots of improvement. There should be little doubt of his value as a contributor now and when he really learns the offense, look out world.
- By the way, that Fromm kid was perfect throwing the ball. (344.08 passer rating. I had to look it up.)
- Tyler Simmons was onsides all day long and had himself a career game. Man, that receiving corps is deep.
- Over 400 yards of rushing and Holyfield and Swift had maybe 15 carries, combined. They’ll be fresh for Tech, or at least as fresh as running backs can be in the twelfth game of the season.
- James Cook in space is fun to watch. More of that, please.
- I sure thought Nauta was going to score on that catch. In any event, it was a beautifully designed play that left him wide open in the middle of the field.
- Defensively, things certainly could have been better, but when you realize your offense can score when it wants, it’s got to be a little harder to maintain an edge. I imagine Kirby and Mel are more than a little miffed at the three big yardage plays the D gave up.
- Stokes wasn’t perfect, but you saw on his pass breakup why he’s earned the start over Tyson Campbell. Unlike Campbell, he turned to face the ball when he made the play.
- Rice was missed on run defense. That wasn’t too much of a worry Saturday, but…
- Mixed bag on special teams. I don’t know if Rodrigo was channeling his inner Jon Fabris or if his mechanics were off early, but those were some ugly directional kicks. He did settle down. James Cook turned in a nice kickoff return. (Any idea why he wore Godwin’s jersey number on that play?) Godwin inexplicably botched fielding a punt, which led to UMass’ first score of the day. Overall, not the kind of results that you’d want to see against Tech or Alabama (duh).
- Coaching? Well, it’s hard to fault Chaney for much (not that some won’t try, of course). As far as the defensive play goes, it certainly wasn’t Georgia’s A-game, but I have the feeling that the defense spent more time working on the triple option than it has in recent weeks — and reportedly, the defense practices against the TO every week.
- I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the warm welcomes for Sony and Nick. They looked happy being back.
It was fun to watch the offensive fireworks and good for Fields to experience a confidence booster like that. But if one of your primary keys to the game was coming out of it injury-free, Rice’s situation has to be a major concern.
In any event, it’s Hate Time now.