Observations from the 10, Urnge edition

As Georgia walked off the field at halftime Saturday, trailing 21-17, I wasn’t worried, but I was frustrated.  The Dawgs were clearly the better team, but had just enough misfires on offense, defense and coaching to make Tennessee competitive.

You don’t have to be a program insider to know that Smart chewed some major ass in the locker room then. (I wonder what he said to himself about the decision to go for it on fourth down at the Georgia 36.)  And he clearly lit a fire under the defense, which stormed out of the gate in the third quarter and never let up.

It took the offense a little longer to get going, though.  The play that felt like it unleashed the hounds was Bennett’s 20-yard completion to Jackson late in the third quarter when they finally seemed to re-discover the middle of the field.  Even though they promptly followed that up with consecutive miscues, those didn’t slow them down as Jackson scored his first collegiate touchdown on the drive, giving Georgia its first two-score lead of the day.

And so the formula continued for a third straight week — stifling defense, great special teams play and just enough offense to make for a comfortably successful second half.

On to the bullet points.

  • Let’s get the most unpleasant aspect of the game out of the way first:  the o-line struggled, no ifs, ands or buts about it.  Hill’s bad snap put the team in a hole on the game’s second play.  The interior of the line couldn’t run block worth a flip for the first three quarters, and what made that even worse was that Pruitt didn’t load the box.  Pass protection was decent, but had the occasional issues with blitzes (to be fair, Pruitt, as we all know, is one of the best at designing and calling those).  Things did stabilize later in the game, some of that no doubt due to conditioning.  Moving Salyer to right tackle and bringing in Truss, who is one large human being, to play left tackle also seemed to help.  In any event, whatever good feelings I had about the line after the Auburn game dissipated last Saturday.  Right now, this is the weakest link in need of shoring up.
  • Although it didn’t make up for the bad snap, Hill’s hustle on the play where he recovered Burton’s fumble was admirable.  You like a player who doesn’t let one horrid play affect his effort.
  • The play of the o-line had a ripple effect.  Because UT’s front was able to get traction without bringing up safety help, the Vols were able to defend the run and the pass well.  Georgia’s offense stagnated for much of the second and third quarters.  Bennett hit a wall then and Monken’s play calling became noticeably more conservative.  The running game wasn’t much help, either.
  • Speaking of the running game, it wasn’t Zamir White’s best day.  He missed seeing a few holes and never came close to breaking anything.  On the other hand, he did pound the hell out of the UT front and that probably did contribute to wearing them down as the game went on.  McIntosh continues to make a case for more playing time.  Milton ran hard — that one play where it seemed like he broke the tackles of every player on Tennessee’s defense was electrifying — but has some ball control issues that need fixing before he can be counted on for more.
  • Tre McKitty had a nice debut in a Georgia uniform.  He was the tight end on the seam pass recipient of the week.  As a group, though, the tight ends didn’t do as good a job blocking as they had in the previous two games.
  • Tennessee came out doubling Pickens and no doubt that contributed to his quiet game (on the field, at least).  But it served to open up the middle of the field, which was most noticeable on a completion to McIntosh and a couple of throws to Jackson.  The frustrating thing to me was that Georgia didn’t take greater advantage of what the Vol defense offered.  I don’t know how much of that was on Bennett and how much on Monken, although I suspect the former more than the latter, but again, there were open receivers on almost every pass play I saw.  Burton is clearly ahead of the rest of the true freshman receivers.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that the TD pass to Jalen Carter was a most satisfying experience, both for the call itself and the target.
  • Outside of his dead spot in the middle of the game, I thought Bennett had another solid day.  He didn’t turn the ball over, although he came close on the end zone pass to Pickens, ran just enough and at the right time to keep Tennessee’s defense on its toes and did his usual good job of anticipating his receivers coming open.  He’s not a liability and his teammates clearly respond to him.
  • Of course, the defense was the story of the day — in four decades of watching Georgia football, their second half was the most dominant effort I’ve ever seen from a Georgia defense — and that started with stellar line play.  Georgia’s defensive front exposed the myth that UT’s offensive line was dominant.  Jordan Davis drew double teams all day and Wyatt, Herring and Walker feasted as a result.  Tennessee couldn’t run the ball all day.
  • The outside linebackers weren’t exactly slouches, either.  Ojulari and Anderson did their usual job of wrecking havoc.  Anderson’s sack, in particular, was satisfying as he beat a too slow Cade Mays, who had been shifted to right tackle for some reason.
  • That might have been the best game of Monty Rice’s career.  Other than his slip on a reception over the middle that turned into a Tennessee first down, Dean played brilliantly, too.  Also noteworthy was the effort Channing Tindall turned in late; no doubt he deserves to play more, but who would you sit to make room for him?
  • Stokes turned in another superb day.  The other side was marred by two long touchdowns, although it appeared the first was aided by a well-executed push off, and the second was the result of a pass and catch that were virtually impossible to defend.  Campbell did have a nice pass break up to go with that, though.  Stevenson played well, all over the field.  LeCounte and Cine may be the fastest safety pair in the country.  All that being said, if the offensive line is the biggest general concern I have about this team, the secondary’s tendency to give up the occasional deep pass is my biggest specific concern going into a game against Alabama’s passing attack.
  • Special teams play was special again for the third straight week.  With the exception of one errant kickoff, Podlesny was perfect in his place kicking duties.  His 51-yard field goal would have been good from at least five yards further out, and he still managed a touchback with his kickoff from the 20.  Camarda only punted twice, but he made them count.  His 64-yard blast was mechanically perfect and you could argue that it might have been the key play of the game.  McIntosh turned in another great kickoff return, and while Jackson didn’t have anything to show in punt return yardage, he saved a bunch by fielding several punts instead of letting them roll.  Outside of one kickoff return, the coverage teams were solid.  All in all, I don’t expect we’ll see Roll Bama Roll mocking Kirby this week for hiring Scott Cochran.
  • Smart has certainly called better games.  I hated the decision to go for it on fourth and short inside Georgia territory when he made it and I expect he’s not too thrilled with it in the aftermath.  The failure to score on the goal line was unfortunate, but I don’t question the decision to do so.  (And it’s worth mentioning that he did a great job with clock management leading up to those runs.)  The half time adjustments were effective, admittedly, but that makes two out of three games where the team looked sluggish coming out of the gate early.  That’s not something you want to do this week against the best offense Georgia has seen since last season’s SECCG.

I don’t think Georgia’s play in the wins against Arkansas and Tennessee would be good enough to garner a win Saturday, but if the team plays Alabama the same way it played Auburn, I think Georgia can go into Tuscaloosa and play the Tide punch for punch.  Let’s get ready to rumble.



Filed under Georgia Football

30 responses to “Observations from the 10, Urnge edition

  1. We’ll have to play our best game of the year on offense to win. Because Bama’s perfectly capable of putting up 35 points on is. 21 from their offense and 14 from their defense.

    Can we score 36? Might be a question (again) of whether we can play for 60 minutes. Or just 58.


  2. Previously Paul

    Hopefully we can learn a few things from the Ole Miss film.


  3. Your first sentence summarized my feelings as well. We had gifted them 14 points and were only down by 4. The defense was controlling the game, and we still should have been ahead (how do not score a TD inside the 1?).

    When the defense started harassing Guano on every snap in the 2nd half, I knew it was only a matter of time. I loved how Baby Mays seemed to get abused pretty much the entire day. Then Kirby hugged him after the game (some toxic environment there, huh?).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Greg

    Excellent notes!!….it will be interesting to see how our secondary and linebackers match up with Bama’s receivers. They could be the best in the country (receivers), but I feel we are build to give them some fits.

    Feel like we will get to the QB…..


  5. biggusrickus

    I wouldn’t say the team looked sluggish early. They controlled the game after the bad snap, and before the dumb 4th down call gave Tennessee some life.

    On the Monty Rice slip you mentioned, if it’s the same play I’m thinking of where the running back jumped backward after the catch before running for the first down, it was Dean who fell down.


  6. ginnys2008

    Even at half time, I knew that depth would eventually win out. And it did. The issue now is that Bama has as much if not more depth than we do.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A running back with better vision probably scores on the goal line. Zamir is just 1000 mph heads down and if there’s no hole then there’s not much hope. I’m no expert so no idea if that’s correctable, but some better vision would help the run game.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sam Johnson

    McIntosh is starting to look Michel – slippery, fast, nice hands and decent size/ strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Agreed on pretty much all your points.

    I told my dad at halftime that if we’d just get out of our own way, we’d win by 3 TD’s. Lo and behold, we got out of our own way and won by 3 TD’s.

    Zeus just isn’t going to be a star. He’s a good battering ram, and he would be a fantastic RB2 or RB3, but he’s just not ever gonna reach the level of what we’re used to seeing from our top RB’s. McIntosh is the better all around back, though I understand why Zeus is still getting the start. I think Milton might well be RB1 by the end of the year though, he’s gonna be special.


    • tenesseewasnevergreat

      Zeus was the highest rated RB prospect that I can remember. He scored on one out of every four carries in HS. He made Auburn LBs look silly last week… He just had a bad game. I actually think he strained a quad or something early in the game. I saw him struggle to stand up after his 1st or 2nd run of the game.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Just to clarify, I’m not saying he’s bad. To say a guy isn’t going to reach the levels we’ve seen with Gurley, Chubb, etc isn’t necessarily an insult. Few guys do. Like I said, if he was the 2nd or 3rd guy coming in, that would mean we had a guy even better than him, which would mean we’re in great shape. But I stand by what I said, he’s never gonna be star like we’re used to seeing. But I admit we’ve been spoiled, most schools never get a string of RB’s back to back to back like we’ve had.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tony BarnFart

          I agree with you. It’s too straight ahead and not the wiggly smoothness we’re used to. A little too much Kregg Lumpkin and not enough Sony Michel.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Random Kregg Lumpkin nugget, my brother-in-law is a volunteer firefighter in Oconee County, and they had a training session a couple of weeks ago where Kregg was one of the instructors. He randomly sent me a picture and told me who it was. Lumpkin is still in dang good shape, too.


      • It happened when he was fallen on going for the errant snap on the second play of the game. One of those hefty UT Dliners plopped onto his legs in the EZ.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. charlottedawg

    Couple random additional observations
    – Whatever monken is calling is resulting in usually at least one receiver open
    – we have 3 tight ends and they’re all security blankets for stetson
    – if we get some more consistency and production from burton and DRob to go with KJ and pickens we have a legit passing attack

    – stetson has had 3 sure TDs where the receiver got behind the coverage but he just couldn’t throw it far enough (Jackson against Auburn, big completion but KJ had to slow down a ton to make the catch, the PI down the sidelines to Pickens, and another throw down the sidelines to KJ late against UT). I’m sure DCs have seen this and you never want them to think they don’t have to defend more than 45 yards down the field, also due to the fact he has less arm strength you really notice when the throw is late.
    – offense looks better but the lack of explosive plays (like 25 yard plus runs or 40 yard plus passes) is concerning and a lingering issue from last year. We will need to go blow for blow with Bama because as good as our defense is (and it’s really good) bama is going to score. Whether or not we can score will determine if this is the rose bowl or the 2019 seccg.

    I think we can beat alabama but our offense will have to be running on all cylinders for the full 60 minutes and by default our ground game will have to be effective. If Stetson has to throw it 40 times we ain’t keeping up with Jones, harris and Smith.


  11. Pretty good observations. Appreciate giving Rice some love. I was talking him up big last year. He has some very nice natural football IQ the way he can pause and then attack. And getting a sack, tackle, fumble, strip, scoop and score all in one is the stuff. What amazing awareness and being in the moment.


  12. Can the offensive line problems be fixed? Very concerned about the lack of push…


  13. originaluglydawg

    As they walked off the field at halftime, I was worried as well as frustrated. We imagine that the second half will be better, but my inner-Munson whispers that if we can play bad the first half, then we can possibly do the same the second..(ref UGA vs USCe, 2019).
    I do expect the Dawgs to come out and play the whole game as well as possible against the juggernaut they will face in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
    I think getting a run/deep throw QB in the game is going to be necessary and would love to see Dwan and Stetson on the field together for much of the game. This to keep Bama honest (they’re going to try to bury Stetson) and off balance. I love Stetson and hope he marries my grand daughter, but we’re going to need Dwan to help take the pressure off of him some in this one.


  14. FlyingPeakDawg

    Two keys I can only give us a 50/50 shot at right now:
    – Can we stop the Bama running game?
    – Can we score early and let the Dawgs loose against Jones?

    We pull both of those off and we win.


  15. ugafidelis

    They Trey Hill fumble recovery/snatched the ball from the defender was my favorite play in recent memory. That’s what you call 100% effort until the whistle blows!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. TripleB

    Reading these bullets, along with listening to Blackledge on the radio this morning makes me think there’s a path to beat Alabama, but only if the O-line has it’s best game. Our defense is elite, but Bama is going to score. We have to keep up. Alabama’s d-line is big, but they are not as quick and dominant as in years past. It may seem crazy, but being able to run is the key I think. That opens up pass you plays in the middle and keeps it from being a track meet. Ole Miss showed you can run on them. Hope we can.

    We can play with them, but we have to score. The O-line is the key.


  17. RangerRuss

    I always look forward to and enjoy the Observations post. Great assessment.

    Liked by 1 person