Tough

When Rodrigo kicked his last field goal of the night, giving Georgia a 23-10 lead over Notre Dame, I turned to my friend and said something to the effect that it appeared my game projection — the Irish hanging around until the fourth quarter and Georgia then putting the game away and comfortably covering the spread — was on track.

Kirby Smart had other ideas, though.  He decided he had about seven minutes left in the game to play not to lose.

The defense, which had played lights out the entire second half to that point and given up a total of 21 yards, relaxed and let Ian Book drive his offense 75 yards for a touchdown.  The offense ran the three most predictable plays you could imagine (not that it really took much imagination), gained a yard.  A shanked punt followed, leaving ND just a tick under two minutes (111 seconds in Munsonese) to win a game that looked like it was in the bag not too long ago.

Then Georgia’s defense bowed its back and shut the game down.  I’m sure some are going to compare last night to the back and forth struggle in South Bend a couple of years ago, but my mind went back to the Auburn 2013 game, when Murray and Gurley led an incredible comeback, only to be let down by a couple of chuckleheads out for personal glory instead of a team win.  Instead, what we got last night was a defense that did the fundamentals right and knocked Book’s last gasp down.

The weird thing is that I think somehow what Kirby got in that fourth quarter was exactly what he wanted, maybe even planned for.  His team found itself pushed by a gritty, well coached opponent, bent some, but finished standing.  Georgia’s inner constancy hadn’t been tested in its first three games; such is no longer the case after last night.

It may not have been pretty, but I suspect Georgia’s head coach loved the finish of that game as much as any game he’s coached here.

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71 Comments

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71 responses to “Tough

  1. mwo

    I know this means nothing and I am fos but when Kirby opted for the field goal instead of going for it on 4th and a foot I had a flash back to both Bama heartbreak losses. His offense was rolling and Fromm had just ran 11 or 12 yards on a gutty keeper that came up just short. Grow a set and show your offense you believe in them. A potential 17 point lead after eating more clock seemed better to me than a 13 point lead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ben

      It was closer to a yard, right?

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      • gastr1

        No. A half-yard at most.

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        • Greg

          Kirby, on what happened:

          “Yeah, I wanted to. I didn’t realize how far it was. When they went back and reviewed it, I thought it was inches. Then we looked up and saw it was a full yard,” Smart said. “We felt like, hey, we were playing good defense, they would have to score two touchdowns to beat us, and that ended up being the difference.”

          Liked by 1 person

          • mwo

            It’s Kirby’s world but I would have tried to score a touchdown, that way 2 touchdowns and 2 2 point pats still wouldn’t have beaten me. I know it’s petty but I believe if UGA gets a td there the Irish fold completely.

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            • Greg

              Understood, my first reaction also. But he also took risks in the Bama and LSU games. Didn’t work & got criticized.

              No guarantees it would work this time either if he went for it (also see UF game). Even if we did make the yard…is it guaranteed we score a TD??

              He made the low risk decision & took the points. We win….I’ll take that any day.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Salty Dawg

                I’m with you on that, Greg. Quite frankly, I didn’t have a lot of confidence that we would make it. I’ll take the 3 points. It worked out in the end and we got the W. Sweet!

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                • Greg

                  Yep, a win is a win…they all count the same.

                  Thought we played a pretty solid game with the exception of the muffed punt and shanked punts.

                  Two corners out, a starting guard….receivers getting mugged (interference), game stalling by ND (faking injuries). Could have been a whole different game.

                  We get better as we go imo…and that is a good thing.

                  Liked by 1 person

        • Scorpio Jones, III

          Kirby said he thought it was less, then looked at it again, and it was at least a yard. FWIW

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    • CB

      ND stuffed Georgia’s offense on the last drive of the game before the shanked punt, so hypothetically if they stuff us on 4th and inches they would have had the ball at the end of the game with a chance to kick a FG and force OT.

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      • Uglydawg

        This is true, CB and it’s an aspect that the posters on here (of which I am one) who think Kirby missed a golden opportunity to put the Irish away have not thought of or have chosen to ignore. Also, what if we get a penalty on that fourth down attempt (and I believe those refs would have scoured the field to find one) and it took us out of FG range? Still, these are ifs and buts and I thought and think that CKS after preaching “impose our will” should have followed up doing it.
        It’s also true that the FG required ND to play for six instead of 3 on their last drive. Much easier to do the 3. So I admit it’s a double edged sword and things did fall our way after much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
        Another HUGELY under appreciated aspect of ND’s late comeback attempt is that the crowd had forced them to use two of their timeouts early in the half. That was huge and without the crowd..I think Georgia loses.

        Liked by 1 person

        • CB

          Georgia converting 4th and 1 and scoring a TD is still an “if.” I actually wanted to see Kirby go for it too, but doing a little self scouting, I don’t have 25 years of coaching and playing experience in the SEC and I’ve never led a top 3 ranked college football program so I’m trying to stay in my lane. Kirby has an army of support staffers breaking down film for him and analyzing all possible outcomes. That being the case I’ll leave the decision making to those who are paid millions to make them. That said, Georgia should have blown that game open. That’s indisputable imo.

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  2. Legatedawg

    I honestly don’t know what to make of it. Especially the way that our D’s pressure on Book could simply go missing for lengthy periods – like someone’s uncle on a bender, or a Jim Chaney O in a 4th quarter against Alabama – only to show up in the final series had me equal parts mystified and frustrated to the point of yelling at the set. Also didn’t buy the announcer’s defense of taking the final FG instead of going for it on 4th and less-than-1, which looked totally makeable.

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  3. If the defense doesn’t let that tight end get loose on that TD drive, the Irish may have still scored, but they would have taken so much time off the clock that they would have been forced to onside kick. Assuming we recover it, we would have had field position and the clock.

    The busted coverage gave them the crack they needed when we were trying to exchange yards for clock.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Got Cowdog

    That game had the vibe of the Boise State game. ND’s o and d line rosters were all Jrs and Srs. In pregame their size and fitness impressed me. After a couple of series it was very clear they showed up to play. Point is? UGA has lost that kind of game bunches of times in the past. This team kept their shit together and overcame some self inflicted damage and some help the zebras gave the Irish. I like the fight in this bunch of Dawgs.

    PS: Thanks Kirby for making me hope ND wins out to qualify the win. Damn. Just damn.

    😎

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yurdle

    Last play was Smith, Johnson, and a new CB all making the intelligent play. While some vets also played great—looking at you, Mr. Reed—it was very encouraging to see young guys making the plays that count in the end, too

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  6. Gurkha Dawg

    I haven’t seen anyone mention this, but did y’all see when Wilson made that pick and fumbled the ball? He fumbled because after he made the pick he tucked the ball and LeCounte reached in and knocked the ball out! I mean: What the fuck! Somebody needs to tell LeCounte to only strip the ball when the other team has the ball, not your teammate.

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  7. Agreed. I’ve thought what this team needed was a Dark Night of the Soul moment, and ND was the perfect place for it to happen.

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  8. ApalachDawg

    I could rant about the FG try instead of going for it. But I also see the logic of taking three points and putting your faith in the D.
    Kirby wins on all points- – –

    close win over top 10
    faith in D
    faith in HotRod
    Keeps this team on edge and can say to them…”you got the win but we need to work on…”
    Allow gayturds to think they have a chance

    I dropped some f-bombs on the following…

    Grow a pair and get 10” and make a first down.
    Why the fuck are we squib kicking?!?!
    Those Referees suck mule plow assholes after a working 12 hours on a hot southeast georgia august day.
    Does anyone else from the Univ of GA football program see #84 for ND…

    But we won, we are 3-0 against the Irish, and we are moving on to the hillbilly dumpster fire to get another sec Win.

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  9. Erk's Forehead

    Agreed – – the young guys stepped up and played with level heads in a scary situation. (See: Divaad Wilson, et al.). When Campbell didn’t dress and Stokes went down early, I had a queasy feeling. But replacements showed we are building great depth. (Can’t recall the exact number, but the radio call noted that, on one drive late in the 2d qtr, 8 or 9 of the 11 UGA defenders on the field were underclassmen.) Hopeful sign for the weeks to come.

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  10. Down Island Way

    Nd’s qb is one of those guys that you don’t wish any ill will towards …you do want him on the sidelines with some kinda’ thing when the going gets tuff

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    One thing that I was thinking all last night was that we were supposed to have one of the better special teams units in the country. Not last night. One muffed fair catch, couple of shanked punts, one good punt that Cook couldn’t down where it hit (I miss you, Mecole), and speaking of Cook, trying to run a kick from the end zone and coming up short of the 25. Stupid decision under the current rules. I think you could lay the blame for 10 of their points on special teams’ regression to the mean. But hey, we survived it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Busta

    So glad we kicked the FG, took away the possibility of OT and put all the pressure on ND to go for another TD…one dimensionally at that.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ian Book played a hell of a game. That said, they had linemen downfield all the bleeping time.

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    • Milledge Hall

      Damn straight, gatriguy!!
      Only called once. As a former offensive lineman, I watch that on teams that run RPO’s. Notre Dame could have been called for linemen downfield three more times. It’s like a lane violation in basketball.

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    • Russ

      Yep, saw that several times. Nessler even mentioned once.

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  14. CosimoMedici

    That game was an unmitigated disaster that feels like a loss. Our coaching staff had 6 months to prepare and players and coaches appeared to be clueless. This offense is easy to defend and several players I saw should never see the field again in a big game. Tight ends can’t block but our OC continues to dial up plays that assumes they can. Just an epic fail all around last night

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    • Busta

      I personally don’t feel anything sort of a losing effort. The amount of screens in the 1st half were maddening, but you have to give ND a lot of credit for the sure tackling. Also the DB play as well the non PI calls would’ve otherwise busted this game open sooner. The muffed punt, shanked punts and letting Gregor Clegane catch for over 100yds being my biggest eyesores.

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    • Nashville West

      I guess that Kirby was telling the truth during the Arkansas State interview when he said that no one on his staff was looking at notre dame film. Unfortunately that was all too apparent from the coaching or lack of same.

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    • Pump the brakes. ND is a really experienced team that was exceptionally coached. We were sloppy at times, but still won.

      Our coaches know what they’re doing. I think they underestimated a) how well ND would tackle, and b) didn’t anticipate our ST (outside of Rod) shitting the bed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • illinidawg

      to you maybe

      Like

    • I’ll take 11 more of your epic fails if the results on the scoreboard are Ws.

      We beat a top 10 team (who’s still a top 10 team after the loss) … some must have to complain.

      Liked by 3 people

  15. Dawg19

    I’d like to apologize for pointing out one player. With that, I hope Jake Camarda takes this week off to do some serious practicing. The two shanked punts were inexplicable for a guy with his experience. Then there was another one where he had a great chance to get some good hang time and pin them inside the 15. Instead, he booms it into the end zone. Kicks like that will lose us a big game against a team with more depth (See: Bama or Clemson). There’s a reason Dooley was very serious about special teams. Last night the bad kicks and the muffed punt nearly killed us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CB

      Camarda needs some serious work, our corners need to get healthy bc McGhee can’t hang, and Simmons needs to take a seat as does Landers. Experience be damned our best pass catchers are Cager, Pickens, Blaylock, and Robertson in no particular order.

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      • The Truth

        Every play Matt Landers is on the field is a waste. Don’t know if Kirby thinks he owes him but he needs to sit. Spot on about the quartet of receivers who we need to feed.

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  16. Reverend Whitewall

    I HATE 13 point leads late in the game. It’s just enough of a lead that psychologically, it makes the team in the lead relax – but 2 scores will still beat you. I’d have rather gone for it and failed, a 10 point lead keeps the defense still focused and on edge.

    Also, Coley’s gotta quit being so in love with the east-west playcalls. He handcuffed our offense most of the first half. He got away from it from most of the 3rd and 4th quarters and our offense finally got in sync – then we got the ball back for the final and could have sealed the game with a first down, he calls a sweep (again) that hasn’t worked all game and loses yardage, leading to the poor punt. Overall we were out coached last night, but we out-athleted them and the fans rattled their offense.

    Still, we got the win, and HOPEFULLY learned what not to do against good teams going forward.

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  17. Bat City Dawg

    This game was a classic example of why you have to finish drives. We left 12 points on the table due to stalled drives that resulted in field goals. You obviously can’t get six every time, but I have never seen a team that can roll like we can between the 20s only to just totally stall out. It is usually due to getting too cute on first down.

    We are not going to be able to kick our way out of the Plains, the Benz, or the playoffs

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    • Uglydawg

      Drives killed by untimely penalties, fake injury time outs by ND, running the Wild Dog for some crazy f’ing reason, and uncalled PI.

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  18. TN Dawg

    “The weird thing is that I think somehow what Kirby got in that fourth quarter was exactly what he wanted, maybe even planned for. ”

    Old n’ busted: ND can’t stop the run, has no 5 stars, can’t compete, and will fall to the mighty Bulldawgs going away.

    New hawtness: Kirby Smart actually wanted and planned to nearly lose the game as part of his 11th dimensional chess strategy!!!

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  19. Biggen

    I think ST was the real issue last night. We gifted them a TD with a muffed punt catch, didn’t catch one at the 30 which rolled to the 15, and then shanked the last one. They beat us in field position quite a bit last night because of real bad ST play.

    I’m not saying everything else was great (what was with the poor TE coverage on D?) but if special team play (other than Rod) hadn’t been such an abortion, would it have been that close?

    UGA brought its B game, came back from a deficit, and beat a top 10 team. That ain’t half bad.

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  20. Uglydawg

    CKS owes a HUGE Thank You to you guys that went to the game and made all of that noise.
    Without that crowd, ND has two more time outs (not counting fake injury timeouts) to use on that last, desperate drive.
    They also have more first downs (how many procedure penalties did the crown noise cause?)
    Way to go Georgia Fans!!!
    Without the crown, Georgia would be sporting a “L” today.
    I know coaches (except Saban) always thank the crowd, but this time, it was the difference in the game.

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    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Kirby raved about the crowd in his post game….called them the 12th man….if you have not seen the press conference Ug, its worth a watch. And there is a subtle reference to the idea he liked seeing the team tested.

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  21. Bob

    Couple of other things. I gained some respect for Brian Kelley last night. Nothing but praise for Georgia after the game, especially Fromm and Georgia’s physicality. There was none of the Saban excuse making. That was really pretty classy and something I didn’t necessarily expect.

    And huge kudos to both fan bases. Couldn’t have been prouder to have been a Dawg fan. Every single Irish fan I met raved about Athens and how they were treated and my ND buddy Brian got high fived by dozens in Red and Black as we made our way down town last night. Said he had never been treated that way before.

    These type games are what make college football so freaking awesome. Nothing else remotely comes close. Thank the Lord that Kirby has pushed UGA and some others in the SEC to do more of these type of home and home games. Neutral site games are great for bowls. Nothing beats games in Notre Dame Stadium and Sanford Stadium. Go Dawgs.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. sniffer

    As many have said and most have alluded to, we were out coached. My takeaway is that Kelly and staff said “their punter isn’t used to pressure, lets pressure him.” Those kinds of things. ND is a poised, experienced team thats used to playing in hostile environments. They may have been entertained by the light show (I sure was), but they were not awed by anything in Sanford last night. They had heard all week that UGA was going to win, maybe win big. Their pride and ability was called out and they were having none of it. This win will grow in stature and when the CFP sits down to make their decision, they’ll remember this game as a positive for Georgia.

    I have no words for them pregame light-show and video presentation. Then the 3rd quarter ended. Oh my gosh! I’m guessing Blutarsky will address this, but good luck, Senator. If you’re able to describe it, you have my respect. Much of the game, in row 5 of Sec 333, my son and I couldn’t hear each other standing side by side. Loudest place I’ve ever been.

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    • Normaltown Mike

      I think Kelley did a great job on calling those pass plays with the TE dragging or sitting down. He was wide open time and again.

      We are in our 2nd years since Roquon era and still searching for the linchpin LB.

      I expect Dan Mullen and Gus will be trying to exploit that same mismatch.

      Also, on there first TD, both an RB and TE were open. QB seemed to target the RB and that TE jumped up and grabbed it. Were was our D?

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      • MDDawg

        I think there was a late shift by the offense that confused our D. Much like the play right before it where Kirby recognized the confusion and called a timeout, but we didn’t do it on the TD play.

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  23. ASEF

    Imagine the belly aching if Georgia comes up short on that 4th on the play call. Kicking the FG is a Kirby decision. Making it on 4th is a Kirby decision. Failing on 4th would have been a Coley failure. That’s crazy, but that’s how sports fans and sports talk ticks.

    The risk of putting your new play caller squarely in the Finebaum Crosshairs before October 1 was probably a part of the overall thinking as well. Not saying it was the #1 thing on Kirby’s mind – winning the game was – but I remember thinking in the moment that he definitely let Coley off the hook with that decision.

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  24. Normaltown Mike

    Does Camarda seem to be lined up too close to his 3 up backs? Or conversely, are they too deep?

    Maybe I’m crazy, but he seemed to be doing a 1 step quick kick right into their backsides. Is this b/c our snapper can’t get it deep enough? I have no idea, but am curious if anyone noticed that being off.

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  25. Mayor

    Where did the game officials come from?

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    • Russ

      ACC. Personally I thought they did a good job. I would have liked to have seen PI called but they were consistent and let them play. I believe they only called one on us, and that was blatant (or it would been a TD)

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  26. Bob

    ACC. Visiting team has officials from their conference. In South Bend it was SEC officials. I believe that is the way most conferences handle intersectional power 5 games now. Since ND has the affiliation ACC handles that for them. Face it officials in all of college football are bad. Come to think of it, watch NFL and they are not any better. And replay has not helped one iota.

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