Why do I always seem to have Roger McGuinn’s guitar intro to “Eight Miles High” running through my head when I finally arrive at my seat at Auburn? Before the game, we were joking that we could see the Atlanta skyline from our vantage point.
The walk out never seems as long after a win, though.
Bullet points for ‘ya:
- If you want to make an argument that the game turned on a questionable time out Malzahn called on Georgia’s last series of the first half, well, I won’t argue with you. It felt like Smart was this close to running out the clock, taking his first half winnings off the table and turning to receiving the ball to start the next half. Instead, Swift cranked out a big gain on a nice call by Coley and the Dawgs were off to a fourteen-point lead at halftime.
- Needless to say, Gus’ lucky rabbit’s foot was nowhere to be found Saturday.
- The ballyhooed matchup between Georgia’s offensive line and Auburn’s defensive line lived up to expectations, for the most part. Both sides had their wins and losses. I won’t be sorry to see Derrick Brown go. I will be sorry to see Andrew Thomas go.
- Salyer deserves credit for stepping up and plugging the line after Cleveland and Mays went out.
- One thing the o-line deserves a ton of credit for is discipline. I don’t recall a single illegal motion penalty called on any one of them, and that crowd was loud for much of the game.
- Mixed game for the receiving corps. Cager coming out early certainly didn’t help. Blaylock made a nice adjustment on his TD catch, but also let a pass go through his hands. Wolf had a touchdown catch, but also dropped a pass that hit him right in the numbers at a crucial time in the fourth quarter. There were several occasions when it looked like the receivers didn’t do their best to maintain position on a throw, allowing an Auburn defensive back to make a play on the ball. Downfield blocking was also spotty.
- D’Andre Swift has been Georgia’s most valuable player on offense down the stretch. Over 100 yards against a tough defense clearly geared to stop the run was just another impressive day. His spin move against Pappoe (I think) was sick; so was that patented stop jump of his on his longest run of the day.
- Herrien continues to contribute in every way imaginable (although he really shouldn’t have run that one kickoff out of the end zone).
- Maybe it’s just me, but it seemed like Zamir White preferred running behind the left side of the line. He missed an opportunity on one play when he didn’t see a huge hole Hill and the right guard opened up.
- Still think they could mix in more outside runs for the backs.
- I’ve already mentioned it was an up and down day for Fromm, but it wasn’t all his fault. He did have a couple of misreads, but there were a few occasions when his receivers didn’t help him out. He was also aware of when the pass rush was coming and did his best to avoid costly sacks. (The one he did have was a coverage sack.) He also didn’t turn the ball over, which means South Carolina remains the only game this season when he’s thrown an interception.
- One thing I have to give Coley credit for is how much better the offense has gotten in the red zone, especially close in. Georgia not having to settle for field goals on either of its extended scoring drives made a big difference in the way the game played out.
- With the exception of soft zone mode in the fourth quarter, the defense played brilliantly. When you make a Malzahn offense throw the ball more than it runs, you’ve done your job. (When Auburn’s leading rusher is Nix, ditto.) I continue to be impressed with their ability to step up and make big plays at just the right time; Auburn struggled on third and fourth downs all day.
- It’s pretty amazing to see how much the defensive line has improved over the course of the season. Herring and Clark were great (the latter is this year’s unsung defensive hero, IMO), but almost everyone stepped up at some point and made a crucial play.
- Jermaine Johnson may have played his best game of the season. His strip of Nix was huge.
- Georgia continues to get excellent play from its inside linebackers. Rice is so smart, always in the right place at the right time. Crowder played well, for the most part, and Dean seems to be getting more time with each passing week.
- When the other team throws the ball fifty times, a secondary is going to give up a few receptions, and Auburn did hurt them with slant passes all day long. But the DBs did break up every deep throw — sometimes with the help of the sideline, true — and kept most of the underneath stuff from beating them down the field.
- That being said, I sure wish Stokes could have come up with the interception to stop Auburn’s first scoring drive.
- Tyrique Stevenson is another true freshman coming on. Loved the way he didn’t give up on getting that sack.
- All the youthful contributions were great, but the old guys at safety had good games, too.
- I really hope Kirby junks that soft zone. Not only did it leave open holes in the coverage that Auburn exploited when the pass rush didn’t get to Nix, but it seemed like Georgia’s tackling fundamentals suffered, too.
- Special teams were also a mixed bag. Maybe I didn’t count right, but it sure seemed like most of Georgia’s penalties came via special teams mistakes. Camarda had a career day with eleven (!) punts; his first, a 67-yarder with perfect placement, was as big as any play in the first half. Blankenship was perfect with his kickoffs and PATs. The return games weren’t so hot, though. And how was Georgia not prepared for that onside kick?
- Just a reminder, for those of you waiting, that the officiating is not a subject for an Observations post.
- I’ve been to road games at Auburn before, and a certain amount of in your face behavior in the stadium is to be expected. It seemed like the obnoxiousness was stepped up, though. The PA system blared until the last possible moment when Georgia was on offense and often seemed to drown out the referee’s explanations for calls. They also kept showing plays from previous wins over Georgia, including Nick Fairley’s penalized beat downs of Aaron Murray, and, curiously, a block from Kirby Smart’s playing days.
Look, it may not have been as pretty as we would have liked, but any time you win a rivalry game on the road against a top-15 opponent, you’re doing a lot more right than you’re doing wrong. This team is going back to Atlanta, an outcome many were questioning after the South Carolina loss. It’s also managed to do this without a smoothly functioning offense, which makes you think there’s still room for improvement. I can live with that.