There is nothing that is not glorious about a 27-6 win over a hated rival, especially when it’s ranked in the top ten in the country, so there aren’t many negative impressions from Saturday night to share, but if there’s one takeaway you should have in the aftermath, it’s this: Todd Monken is the real deal.
On that note, on to the bullet points.
- I’ve mentioned it already, but this game was won on the line of scrimmage… er, both lines of scrimmage. And, while it’s not as if Georgia was doing anything new or exotic based on past schemes on the d-line, that definitely wasn’t the case on the offensive line. Matt Luke has his charges moving a lot more than Pittman did. That doesn’t make him a better or worse position coach; what matters is that he was able to get the linemen to execute at a high level all night. But I guarantee you the change in philosophy we saw on display is going to make a lot of defensive coordinators do some scrambling to counter.
- That might have been the best game of Ben Cleveland’s career.
- When you watch Trey Hill block, you realize why the coaches do everything they can to keep him functioning at the center position. He wasn’t perfect on his shotgun snaps, but he was better and there were no disasters.
- My first Monken observation: I can’t remember a single passing play when at least one receiver wasn’t open. If you watched any of the clips I posted back in the winter and spring after his hire, you could tell that one of his strengths was play design and his ability to get open space for his receivers.
- Kearis Jackson had his coming out party and that’s going to make George Pickens’ life easier in the weeks to come. His 17-yard reception on third down to keep the first scoring drive going was the turning point of the game and showed that he’s got excellent chemistry with Bennett.
- Not gonna lie — watching the tight end run the seam route as a legitimate target is sexually arousing.
- That being said, both tight ends turned in monster nights as blockers.
- I think the “Matt Landers has really improved” narrative crashed and burned.
- My second Monken observation: maybe we were too quick to give up on James Cook as an inside runner.
- McIntosh turned in another solid, versatile game. His football IQ is high. My favorite play of his was the catch out of the backfield that victimized Bryant’s hard rush upfield. I bet we’ll see that play a few more times this year.
- How close is Zeus to breaking a big one?
- Best goal line Jumbo Package ever? What made it so great was not just the concept of having Davis and Carter out there, but that they actually blocked their asses off and opened holes for White to run through. I can’t wait to see that against Todd Grantham’s defense.
- Bennett got off to a somewhat rocky start, overthrowing FitzPatrick on the first series for what might have been a touchdown. But that completion to Jackson in the next series completely settled him down. He throws a catchable ball. He showed good situational awareness in the pocket most of the night. Most importantly, he looked ridiculously comfortable running the offense, almost like he was born to run Monken’s scheme. If I have to ding him for a few things, like not being on the same page with his receivers at times and not picking up a couple of blitz situations as quickly as he could have, almost all of it can be chalked up to a quarterback making his first start against a Kevin Steele-coached defense. Bennett is only going to get better.
- If the other team can’t run the ball, then you know the d-line was doing its job. In particular, Davis and Herring kicked some ass.
- Ojulari had a dominant game. Man, did I love the way he blew up Auburn’s last play of the first half!
- Anderson was a dervish, both in a good way and bad. A little more control would have netted him another sack on at least one occasion. Smith had a quiet night, at least for him, better against the run than the pass. And what happened to Johnson, who didn’t play?
- The inside backers played the run well, although they let Nix get free more than I liked. They also allowed Bigsby to get free on a couple of pass receptions.
- Speaking of best games ever, that was Tyson Campbell’s masterpiece. He battled Seth Williams all night and pretty much won. That pass breakup, in particular, was textbook. He looks like the guy I was hoping for when he signed.
- I am somewhat curious about why Daniel played more than Stokes did.
- It was unfortunate that LeCounte got the boot for targeting, but I thought Smith did okay filling in.
- Louis Cine is rapidly improving. He’s got big shoes to fill, but it looks like he’s up to the job, and he’s clearly faster than Reed was.
- Congrats on your first interception, Mark Webb! Webb also forced a fumble.
- Special teams were good, but not as good as they were against Arkansas. Camarda’s first punt, a 63-yarder, went in the end zone, but he did put his other one inside the 20. Podlesny made all his extra points, but missed a 43-yard field goal attempt. They did get another good kickoff return out of McIntosh. Both coverage units were outstanding.
- Lanning had his defense locked and loaded, preparation-wise. I never sensed that Auburn threw anything at him he wasn’t ready for — and that’s with a change at offensive coordinator.
- In case you can’t tell, I’m thrilled with the job Monken did Saturday night. Sure, the offense is a work in progress, but this team put up almost more than 200 yards over the yardage the 2019 team did against the Tigers in only Monken’s second week of work. But forget the numbers for a second. I had the sense the entire night that it was Monken dictating the flow of the game, forcing Steele and the defense to react. It was apparent on a number of plays that Auburn’s defense was confused by Georgia’s sets. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Georgia offense do that.
- Despite all the chatter last week about the slow start at Arkansas and the quarterback situation, Smart had his team ready to play, and play they did. The best part is that they still have plenty of room to improve. I expect they will.
I know it’s tempting to cry, “rat poison!” after a game like that, with an improving Tennessee team coming to town, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all for the offense to feel better about itself, considering the recent track record. When you’ve got a quarterback and a coordinator you have confidence in, that can go a long way. Add to that how physical this team looked all night and we might be on the verge of seeing the triumph of Manball 2.0.