“I’m not sure about Georgia yet. I’m still in a wait-and-see deal,” he said. Nessler also isn’t sold on the Bulldogs running game. “They don’t have a dominant guy there I don’t think. I think their receivers are still learning. I think their defense is as good as anybody’s in the country, maybe better than all of them, I don’t know. To answer your question, Florida impressed me. I thought it was just going to be hands down all right, Georgia’s going to win the East. Last year I thought Florida would win the East and they did. … I’m more impressed with Florida. I think Florida can hang with Georgia and be a threat. More than I did when I was heading to Gainesville last week.”
Nessler isn’t exactly impressed with quarterback JT Daniels either. Even though Daniels came in at the end of last season and won all of the games he started, Nessler said, “Who did he beat?”
On the one hand, statistically, Georgia has shown steady, week by week, improvement running the ball. Against South Carolina, the Dawgs managed almost six yards per rush, which is not bad.
Also not bad is this:
UGA's ground game had no trouble dealing with the Gamecocks. Aided by a 3.2 yards before contact average, a quarter of the Dawgs' runs went for at least 10 yards with half finding situational success. Only 2 tries went for less than 3 yards. https://t.co/eg7p36GTrppic.twitter.com/ZJiAEBBSmo
3.2 yards before contact? That’s an o-line that got more traction than I thought.
That being said, averages can be a bit misleading, or at least feel that way. The run blocking doesn’t appear to be as consistent as you’d like. Some of that I continue to chalk up to a change in blocking scheme. Luke and Monken clearly favor linemen who can pull and when that works, it’s a real thing of beauty, as it was on James Cook’s first touchdown against South Carolina.
But some of it, I suspect, is more about personnel. Ericson isn’t the puller at right guard that Tate Ratledge was before he was lost for the season. I hate to say it, but he’s been something of a weak link on the o-line. With the talent Georgia has on hand at the position, I’m doubtful the coaches should settle for weak links.
So, I wouldn’t say I’m panicking, just acknowledging that there’s room for improvement. I would like to see Luke experiment with moving Salyer inside this week (not that I have any inside info such a move is in the works). With the SEC’s 14th and 8th best rushing defenses on the slate for the next two games, it seems like now would be a good time to tweak before facing the conference’s best in Auburn’s.
You have to admire the stick-to-it-ivness of the folks at Roll ‘Bama Roll, who remain resolute in refusing to consider the possibility that Kirby Smart’s team is no worse than the second-best team in the country. This week’s rationale is dawgrading.
Georgia has looked great the last two weeks, but that Clemson game is becoming less impressive.
Damn. Give it a couple more weeks and somebody’s bound to say that Clemson’s the weakest team the Dawgs have faced this season.
Meanwhile, Bill Connelly’s stats are crapping all over the narrative.
(Résumé SP+ = your scoring margin compared to what the avg top5 team would be projected to do against your schedule. You'll only ever have a few teams above 0 because of where the bar's set.)
I read this Nick Saban quote, assessing the performance of his defense in the Florida game, and came away wondering if, in this one particular area, the pupil has surpassed the master.
“What concerned me most is that we could not sustain our intensity, especially on defense. We had a lot of mental errors. And they did a good job, they did a really good job. They had a good plan, and when you’re playing the option, everybody’s gotta be disciplined. Somebody’s got the quarterback, somebody’s got the pitch, and we weren’t doing that correctly. I think we were afraid to do a lot of other things that we had planned in the game. But we didn’t get off the field on third down either. We had several opportunities, especially in the fourth quarter, to get off the field on third where we created long-yardage situations.”
What it really means
Saban would go on to say after the game that he will consider rotating more players on defense in the future. It certainly appears the Tide’s coach believes they were tired in the second half, which led to issues on defense, particularly on the edge, where the Gators found success in the running game…
One thing you can say about Kirby Smart is that he’s close to obsessive when it comes to rotating players on defense. And another thing you can say is that, based on the scheme he came up with the last time he faced Paul Johnson, he knows how to coach against an option attack.
I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying Florida will be facing a different sort of animal come the Cocktail Party, although I suspect Dan Mullen knows that. What he schemes in reaction to that should be interesting to see, as will what Lanning and Smart come up with to counter that.
In the here and now, though, it’s a little amusing to hear Saban talk that way.
The next most porous pass defense (Alabama!?!) is 12.5 percentage points better.
The only thing I don’t understand is why opposing offenses weren’t throwing the ball more often than they did, especially considering Auburn’s tops in the conference in rush defense. In any event, I assume Monken will be on the mother three weeks from now.
Nearly six months after he sustained a torn ACL in practice, star Georgia wide receiver George Pickens is back on the practice field running routes and catching passes.
It’s unclear how long the junior has done what reporters saw him doing Monday afternoon during nine minutes of viewing time since it was the first time practice was open to the media since 2019.
Pickens, wearing a non-contact black jersey and a brace on his right leg, lined up as the third outside receiver on one side behind freshmen Adonai Mitchell and Jackson Meeks in the practice in the team’s indoor facility on a rainy day.
Pickens ran routes in a drill without any defenders, catching three passes thrown his way including one he cut over the middle. No photos or video were permitted to be taken. That was the only practice period the media was able to see.
… from a health standpoint, it’s even better to recognize it from an attitude standpoint.
“He’s rehabbing every day,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said two weeks ago. “He’s lifting every day. He’s going to school and doing all his school work and he’s done a good job of doing that.”
It would have been easy enough for Pickens to check out, but mentally, he’s stayed committed. And that’s good, because it sounds like he’s still got a ways to go.
Smart was noncommittal then on if Pickens might be able to return this season, saying he has monthly visits with renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. He tore his ACL on March 23 in practice.
“He’s working hard and he’s straight-line running but I have no idea of a date of return,” Smart said. “That’s just too far out right now.”
When word of the injury first came out, I assumed we’d never see Pickens play in a Georgia game again. There’s still a decent chance that’s the case, but if he’s working that hard, you have to believe he’d like to prove that assumption wrong. I hope he gets that chance.
Folks, I have been to the Great Wall of China. I have seen the Pyramids of Egypt. I’ve even witnessed a grown man satisfy a camel. But never in all my years as a blogger have I witnessed something as improbable, as impossible, as what we’ve witnessed here.
Dabo Swinney on his radio call reiterates just how unprepared Clemson's offense was for Georgia Tech's surprise defensive structure: " We absolutely were not prepared for what we saw. Did not spend one minute preparing. Give them credit. They caught us off guard."
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