The naming ceremony was a nice tribute to a man who deserved that. Plenty of Coach Dooley’s former players showed up to honor him. Barbara’s attire was appropriate. Things were capped off with the playing of “Dooley’s Junkyard Dawgs”. All in all, well done.
Best of all, nobody on the field fainted from the heat. No, it wasn’t third level of hell hot like that 2010 Arkansas game, which still stands as the most miserable I’ve been at Sanford Stadium, but it was oppressive until the fourth quarter, when the sun finally was blocked by the scoreboard. September is definitely the month to have a seat in the South stands for day games.
Speaking of the heat, kudos have to go out for a couple of things. First, the athletic department deserves credit, and plenty of it, for having the foresight to allow fans to bring in unopened water bottles and then having the water stations available for refills. Speaking personally, that was a lifesaver. Second, I was impressed that no Georgia player had to come out of the game for cramping. Some of that’s due to conditioning and some probably to all the players who were rotated in, but either way, that’s notable.
On to the bullet points.
- I know it was Murray State, so I’m not going to go overboard here, but Saturday was a clear reminder that this is the deepest Georgia football team I’ve watched. Ever. There was a play in latter part of the fourth quarter when the Racers’ quarterback was sacked by Channing Tindall and his body language when he got up was all “that ain’t fair”.
- You can count me in the group that is no longer worried about the receiving corps. Aside from Pickens’ coming out party that I’ve already posted about, it seemed like there were guys everywhere making plays. Robertson and Blaylock scored touchdowns. Eli Wolf had four (!) catches (and a fumble due to a failure to secure the ball after he caught it). Lots of talent that just needs more seasoning.
- Saturday marked the second straight game where the team got off to an easy start and relaxed. They paid for it too, as Murray State managed to do something that Vandy failed to do — get to a 7-7 tie in the first quarter. Plenty of things went wrong, largely due to effort. Fromm was sacked when the offensive line whiffed on picking up a blitz/twist combination that left a clear path for a linebacker to nail the quarterback. Webb and Reed combined to allow a 60-yard touchdown on a slant. Then came the aforementioned Wolf fumble.
- That being said, unlike the Vanderbilt game, Smart’s ass chewing woke up the team and Georgia went on a five-touchdown blitz in the second quarter, fueled in part by Webb forcing a fumble that Reed picked up and scored on. Things got out of hand so quickly that Bennett engineered the last touchdown drive of the quarter. That may be the earliest removal of Fromm’s career.
- Running back depth is sick. Zamir White still has some rust to shake off, understandably, but he’s already showing the speed and power that makes him special. (He also had a nice blitz pickup on one play, which surely warmed the cockles of Smart’s heart.) Cook is deadly on plays to the outside. I’m not even sure Swift worked up a sweat, as it appears the coaches are saving the tread on his tires for a certain big game coming up in a couple of weeks. McIntosh is the best fifth-string running back in America (I keed, I keed. I think.) Herrien showed improvement from the Vanderbilt game in terms of being more patient waiting for his blocking to open holes.
- Aside from one incompletion and the sack, Fromm’s day was basically perfect. He did seem to use more of the field than he did last year. His reads were effortless — of course, when you’ve got the protection he’s got, and the experience he has, they should be. More importantly, you can see the chemistry developing with his receivers.
- As far as Bennett goes, he’s got some rust to knock off, too. He was picked once and should have thrown another interception. Both were the result of not reading the defense correctly. On the other hand, he showed good mobility in the pocket and, while he doesn’t have Fromm’s arm strength, he’s generally accurate and throws a nice, catchable ball. I don’t know that he’s an SEC starting caliber QB, but that’s not his role.
- We got a lot more havoc this week out of the defense; honestly, given the level of opposition, it would have been troublesome if we hadn’t. I really like what I saw out of Johnson and Smith. The latter’s two sacks came as a result of power rushes. What he’s going to be capable of after a year in the S&C program is scary. Clark played a terrific game, as well. Lots of sacks and tackles for loss. I only hope they keep it up when the level of the opponent steps up.
- The good and bad of Tae Crowder: fantastic instincts, a guy who always seems to be around the ball, but also a guy who has some trouble wrapping up his tackles. In his defense (sort of, anyway), he wasn’t the only defender who whiffed on a tackle or two.
- Monty Rice, still nasty.
- The secondary was okay, but it was a little surprising to look up and see that Murray State’s quarterback went 20-25 on the day, despite the havoc. It would appear there’s some cleaning up to do back there.
- Special teams were clean and effective. Blankenship is a touchback machine and Buce came in and didn’t miss a beat. Camarda boomed his two punts. The punt return game, behind Simmons and Blaylock, was productive.
- Coaching? Well, really the only item of note there was getting the team to wake up in the first half. That was accomplished, and then some. The coaches also did a good job getting backups into the game as early as they could in order to spread the experience around, something that should pay dividends down the road.
- One amusing point — one of the promotions was accompanied by “Atomic Dog”, and I got a kick out of seeing a couple of Murray State players grooving to it. I still say UGA is missing the boat by not adopting the hell out of that George Clinton number.
All in all, mission accomplished. Georgia, once it really got going, steamrolled a team that it should have, got tons of players in the game and managed to avoid injury. I doubt the game plan for Arkansas State is much different. Now, if the coaches can get the players’ attention for a full 60 minutes, they’ll really have something going in time for Notre Dame.