Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
That’s what an onslaught looks like. Notice how short most of those possessions were: 0:49; 1:11; 1:58; 1:03. The Dawgs aren’t built to withstand onslaughts like that. Hell, nobody is.
The rest of the game was the struggle between two good teams I expected. And, yes, that and five bucks will get me a Starbucks latte.
I’ll give you some bullet points, but there really is one bottom line to the game: you can’t go minus-2 in turnover margin against a great team like Alabama. You just can’t. All the rest is commentary.
- I thought the offensive line, after some very early struggles, got traction and played well. Bennett was only sacked twice, had decent pockets to throw from more often than not, and Georgia’s running game, while not dynamic enough to carry the offense alone, was sturdy enough to be a contributor.
- Speaking of the running backs, White bounced back nicely from a poor game against Tennessee. Milton ran well again and had obviously been coached about ball security. I’d love to know why McIntosh seemed to disappear in the second half after he had a couple of effective runs in the first half.
- James Cook had a helluva night, didn’t he?
- The receiving corps had something of a disappointing night. ‘Bama went into the game looking to make Jackson something of a non-factor and succeeded. You would have thought that would have made life easier for Pickens, but Surtain did a nice job limiting him to three catches. That left Burton playing a bigger role than expected and he was hit and miss in it. It’s hard to get upset at a true freshman for that. He’s one I’m hoping really grows from the experience.
- I’ve already talked about my frustration with Bennett. My concern from here is the coaches not repeating the same mistake with him that they did (well, substitute Coley for Monken) after Fromm’s disastrous turnover fest against South Carolina last year.
- If Bennett’s performance was crucial, right behind it in that regard was the defense’s failure to get much pressure on Jones after the first play of the game (talk about your false hope). You can count the number of incompletions he threw as a good indicator of how often he was under pressure. In other words, not nearly enough, as he was allowed to sit in the pocket and pick Georgia’s pass defense apart.
- My perception — and I know there was talk after the game that Lanning brought pressure about as usual — was that after Georgia got burned on the corner blitz that led to Alabama’s first TD, the defense was a bit more wary about that. I also had the sense that there was more focus on stopping Harris, not that that did much good.
- That in turn led directly to a brutal night for the secondary. Campbell, Stevenson and Stokes all gave up touchdowns and were whistled for penalties when they couldn’t keep up in coverage. I expected Alabama to score. I didn’t expect to see DBs fall down, misplay passes and bust coverages as much as I did. LeCounte has certainly had better games in run support.
- Linebacker play, supposedly the Georgia defense’s greatest area of strength, was just so-so. Dean and Johnson played well. Ojulari had his moments, but didn’t take over like we’ve seen him do so often this year.
- Assuming a rematch in the SECCG, please don’t put Monty Rice in a position to cover Jalen Waddle again.
- The defensive line was a major disappointment. It’s the first time in a while I’ve seen them wear down physically, as they were dominated by Alabama’s o-line. Najee Harris may not have busted a lot of big runs, but it felt like he could have gotten five yards a carry all night long. Come to think of it, he basically did.
- Special teams were pretty damned good. Camarda turned in another faultless performance, both punting and on kickoffs. When you limit Waddle to a total of something like 25 return yards on the night, you’ve done your job. (Obviously, that also applies to Georgia’s return teams.) Kickoff returns continue to be productive. About the only flaw was Podlesny’s miss, and, let’s face it, by then, the game was already out of hand.
- As far as coaching goes, it’s not a good game when your head coach, who has a big hand in running the defense, admits he got schooled by the opposing offensive coordinator. Blame Monken for not running the ball more all you like, but Georgia wasn’t going to win this game giving up 41 points. I also thought Georgia’s soft coverage at the end of the first half, allowing ‘Bama to sprint down the field for a field goal, was inexcusable.
This was a frustrating game, to say the least. Georgia led at the half, and, in fact, well into the third quarter, before everything fell apart. Maybe it’s the SEC West road game jinx, maybe it’s Alabama, but it’s certainly an act we’ve seen before.
The good news is I saw nothing Saturday night to make me think Georgia’s three-year run atop the SEC East is in serious jeopardy. The bad news is all that means is another trip to the SECCG to face the Tide again. There’s a lot to fix between now and then if the Dawgs intend to put up a full game challenge.
I have to admit I’m sort of happy the bye was moved up.