I know I’ve harped on this a little, but I can’t help but observing that Saturday gave the lie to the narrative that the Georgia Tech rivalry means little in this day and age. Students were out on Thanksgiving holiday, the weather wasn’t particularly pleasant and it was a nooner — all things that would suggest a flat day in Sanford Stadium.
Instead, the place was jumping with energy from the opening kickoff. The crowd was loud, especially when the defense needed it, loud enough that Tech was forced to call a timeout on offense to gather itself. The team was as focused as it’s ever been this season. You’d think it would be hard to stay pumped defending the grind that is the triple option, yet the defense played with high energy all game long.
And if you had any doubt about how much Kirby wanted to mash Tech, just consider that the first string on both sides stayed on the field through 45-7, or less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
If that’s an example of no big deal, then I hope Georgia plays a lot more teams it doesn’t care about. And with that, here come the bullet points.
- There were so many superlatives that emerged from the game, I hardly know where to start, but I’ve got to say that few things surpass watching Tech’s offense, down 45-7, run a 15-play drive that ate up nine minutes on the clock, gained less than forty yards and wound up turning the ball over on downs.
- Although there was the bizarre decision by the genius to go for it on fourth and six inside Tech territory when it was still possible to pretend the Jackets were in the game, watch the offense get stuffed and then have the Dawgs drive the dagger into GT’s heart with the bomb to Hardman.
- By the way, on that play, what do you think was going through the minds of Chaney and Fromm when they saw Tech’s defense line up an inside linebacker in single coverage on Mecole?
- When I play offensive coordinator in the stands, it usually involves the game of counting the box to call run or pass, but after doing so for a few series, I quit because it really didn’t matter. At one point, Tech committed ten men to the box, Georgia still ran the ball and came up with a decent gain.
- I get that there’s a significant talent disparity, but making matters worse is that Georgia was the better conditioned team and by a noticeable margin. Tech can try to pretend that its poor tackling was purely a matter of bad execution on the part of its defense, but I routinely saw Georgia players simply outmuscle Tech’s. Similarly, there were plays where it appeared that the Jackets had the outside sealed to prevent a gain, only to see a much faster Dawg outrun the defense.
- What can you say about Jake Fromm over the past five weeks? He’s been nothing short of brilliant. The bomb to Hardman was perfectly thrown, with no break in the receiver’s stride. An even better touchdown pass was the one to Holloman; that one was so good I almost didn’t realize how good a catch the receiver made on it. Fromm was 13-16 on the day and really could have dictated whatever passing numbers he wanted. Crazy good.
- Fromm also could throw the ball to whomever he wanted. By my count, those thirteen completions went to at least seven different receivers. Interestingly, I don’t remember a single completion to a running back. (Not that it mattered.)
- Fromm’s passing day came with zero sacks. Another great performance from a patched up offensive line that saw a true freshman start at right guard.
- If I were a defensive coordinator calling plays against Georgia’s two-minute drill, I’d make sure to have somebody cover Isaac Nauta.
- Is there anything that really needs to be said about Holyfield and Swift at this point, other than Swift’s return to health makes them such a dangerous duo?
- It’s nitpicking, I know, but why do they run James Cook so much up the middle? It’s like Carlton Thomas redux. Maybe with another year of S&C it’ll be better.
- As much fun as it was to watch the offense have its way, the defense’s performance was nothing short of stunning. I’ve never seen a Georgia defense handle the triple option better. Never.
- That started with the defensive front, which executed at a high level all game long. Ledbetter, Walker and Herring were particularly dominant. Two things were noticeable: one, the line did a fantastic job keeping its feet in the face of constant cut blocking, and two, showed real discipline in maintaining assignment football. (When you’ve got a true freshman like Adam Anderson kicking ass with containment, you’ve done your job, coaches.) There were so few misses that it was almost a surprise when a Georgia player didn’t execute properly.
- Jordan Davis had a freakin’ sack!
- They weren’t under any real pressure to pass defend, so it was reasonable to expect a decent day out of the inside linebackers. They did better than decent; in particular, Crowder had an excellent game.
- It’s got to be hard being a defensive back going up against the triple option — long stretches of nothing but being blocked by receivers broken up by the occasional attempt to catch you sleeping on the pass — but the secondary did its part, as well. Campbell got in on a sack, Baker had a nice tackle on a running play, but more importantly when Marshall tried to throw the ball on the first string secondary, there was never anything there. (Marshall’s definitely mastered the sideline out of bounds throw, though.)
- The offense and defense were fantastic. Special teams were anything but. I’m not sure what is going on with Blankenship, but that makes for a second straight week of poor early kickoffs before he settled in. The kickoff returned for a touchdown was the result of the right side of the coverage team losing contain. That was followed by an offside call on Rodrigo’s first kick that was a touchback. He also clanked a field goal attempt that was within his range. The one bright spot was another strong Hardman punt return. I’m not sure why there’s been a slide in special teams this season, but they’d better get that fixed before the SECCG. Just sayin’.
- Georgia scored touchdowns on its first five possessions, a field goal on its sixth as the clock ran down to end the first half and another touchdown on its next possession. If only they’d replace Jim Chaney with a real offensive coordinator…
- Defensively, Smart and Tucker painted their 2018 masterpiece. Focus, discipline and execution were all off the charts. Let’s hope they keep it coming.
- I guess I can’t let a couple of special moments with the genius pass without comment. First, he pretty much lost it when his B-back was flagged for a downfield block below the waist. The reason I say that is because he was still bitching hard at the refs about it three plays afterwards. He topped that later, though, when he had to burn a time out because he hadn’t sent a player in with the next play call.
- Is there a more dick move than calling a timeout with 44 seconds left in the game, down 45-14? I suppose Johnson hopes a few weeks from now everyone will look at the score and figure it wasn’t as much of an ass-wuppin’ as it really was.
- The Jackets knew early on that they weren’t going to be in a good place at game’s end to do any hedge harvesting, so they settled for cheering on the sidelines when the replay booth didn’t flag one of theirs for targeting on Beal, who, I might add, left the game with what looked like a concussion. Nice.
Really, season-enders don’t get much better than that. Now, on to bigger and (hopefully) better.