Every time I sit in the visitor section at bee-you-tee-ful Jordan Hare Stadium, I’m surprised I can’t see the Atlanta skyline from there. Also, I keep thinking one day I’ll need an oxygen tank to help me navigate the trek to my seats.
But I digress. Georgia won!
The Dawgs did, but it was a little different that what we’ve been accustomed to over the past few weeks. Not so much a matter of first quarter shock and awe — hell, they were even sporting enough to spot Auburn an early lead — as it was a case of the more talented team slowly and steadily grinding down its opponent. In its own way, though, that was just as scarily impressive as what the Dawgs had done to the likes of Vanderbilt and Arkansas.
I’ve already said something similar, but the way this team goes about its business, even in its first truly hostile environment of the season, is a thing to behold. Aside from Nolan Smith letting his emotions get the better of him one time (and he was penalized for it), these Dawgs just went out and coldly showed Auburn who was boss. The Tigers and their fans were the college football equivalent of a balloon that slowly, but steadily, had all the air leak out from it.
Have some bullet points now:
- I wish I could say the run blocking continues to show consistent improvement, but, alas, I think the consistency part of that is still missing. At least it appeared that way to me for much of the first half and even in brief, if spottier, moments in the second when Georgia’s offense had clearly worn down Auburn’s defense. Zamir White’s touchdown in the fourth quarter was a perfect example of that, as he was caught in the backfield by a run blitzer the o-line didn’t pick up, but escaped, squeezed through the o-line and scored.
- The pass protection, on the other hand, continues to be stellar. Bennett played almost the entire game without being touched, the one exception coming on a roll out when he didn’t throw the ball away and took a big sack instead.
- That being said, the most pleasant surprise of the day had to be Broderick Jones’ performance at left tackle after Salyer left with an injury. Jones held up well enough that I hope it encourages the coaches to leave him there and move Salyer to left guard.
- If you couldn’t tell from my comment above about the running game, the three backs, White, Cook and Milton all played well. As Smart said in his post-game comments, Zeus is 100% back from his injuries. He may not have elite top end speed, but his vision, balance and toughness are all elite. Cook shows more and more that he’s not just an athlete, but a complete back who can run up the middle.
- Speaking of Cook, how come his catch on the five-yard line that wasn’t ruled a catch wasn’t reviewed? Granted, it was on the opposite side of the field from me, but it looked like he was in bounds and not juggling the ball.
- I cannot say enough what a huge role the three freshmen receivers have played in Georgia’s success. McConkey has proven to be way more than I thought they’d get out of him this season. Bowers, ditto. And Mitchell is going to be a monster when all is said and done. For a true freshman, his route running, as he showed on his touchdown catch, is already at a ridiculous level.
- Welcome back, Mr. Washington. I almost felt sorry for the Auburn defensive back trying to defend you on that sideline pass that resulted in DPI.
- I’m not sure, but I think the offense played a tough road game without committing a penalty. Pretty amazing, if true.
- I don’t know about you, but my sense of déjà vu watching Auburn’s offense run Bobo’s lengthy, scripted first series that wound up only netting a field goal was palpable. Good times!
- It was pretty obvious that Lanning had drilled into the defense’s heads not to let Nix scramble for big gains and for the most part, they were successful in containing him. He’s got to be as exhausting to defend as he is to watch. And, man, does he complain to the officials.
- Speaking of which, while there are gaps in Brini’s game, he is absolute money in end zone pass defense. That fourth down pass break up at the end of the first half was huge.
- I know every week there’s the usual excellent cast of characters to praise, but there’s usually somebody who steps up that I don’t ordinarily note. This week, it’s Quay Walker, who had a monster game. In fact, both Walkers did, as Travon did his best to make Nix miserable.
- Another shout out has to go to Dan Jackson, who had to step in for most of the game when Smith went out with an injury, played without incident and led the team in tackles.
- Dean showed great hands on the interception. He’s everywhere, kind of like Georgia’s version of Roy Kent.
- Special teams were relatively quiet, which in a game like this, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Podlesny clanked a field goal, but Jackson had a nice kickoff return and Camarda was his usual steady self.
- Coaching? C’mon. I’ve already mentioned Monken’s ability to set up the play action stuff and I loved his latest goal line wrinkle, bringing in White at fullback in the I-formation. Lanning, as always, had his defense out there doing what it does best, shutting down the run. Bigsby had that one freakish touchdown, but otherwise he was a non-entity. Cox never looked comfortable in the passing game.
- As for Smart, his teams come out every week and play to a standard. They’re well prepared. Nor are we seeing much in the way of in game decision making that could be called into question. Georgia’s been a well-oiled machine from week to week and that’s to Smart’s credit.
There’s no such thing as a bad Auburn win and this was no exception. The bonus is that the team has now been tested in a loud, unfriendly environment and passed with flying colors. On to Kentucky (in Athens)…