Daily Archives: January 5, 2023

Observations from the armchair, Peach Bowl edition

Welp, Georgia got Ohio State’s best shot.

My biggest question going into the game was whether Ryan Day had it in him to go against his natural instincts and call an aggressive game.  It turns out he did, and then some — until the final two minutes of the game.  Combine that with Stroud turning in a career performance, the best I’ve seen since Joe Burrow carved Georgia up in the 2019 SECCG, and they came within a hair’s breadth of having the formula for being the first team to top the Dawgs this season.

That the Buckeyes didn’t is a tribute to the resilience of this Georgia team.  Every time it seemed like the Dawgs were about to go down for good, somebody or some group stepped up to right the ship.  In the first half, they found themselves down by fourteen and the defense managed to force two straight three-and-outs, allowing Georgia to grab a lead at 24-21.  In the second half, down fourteen again at the start of the fourth quarter, the Dawgs finished on an 18-3 run, fueled by a remarkable Stetson Bennett fourth quarter performance that snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Whatever lessons you may take from Georgia 42, Ohio State 41, none is more significant than this one:  yes, Virginia, Georgia can win a shootout.  We should send Coach O a birthday card thanking him for forcing Kirby Smart to rethink his coaching philosophy.  This team has been rebuilt over three seasons (including the COVID outlier) to withstand offensive assaults in the modern era in a way that, quite frankly, didn’t seem all that possible when we watched that constipated 2019 offense struggle, and that is all to Smart’s eternal credit.

And with that, on to the bullet points.

  • Start with the offensive line.  You don’t rack up 533 yards of offense without the line doing its share of the work, and such was the case Saturday night.  No, it wasn’t a perfect night, as they struggled with run blocking in the second half when Bennett’s game took a powder and the OSU defense realized they could focus on stopping the run.  But the Buckeyes only turned in four tackles for loss and a couple of sacks and weren’t able to pressure Bennett as much as Georgia pressured Stroud.  And I’ll say it again — you will never see a more perfectly blocked play than what we saw on the Dawgs’ first touchdown, the screen to McIntosh.
  • Sort of repeating the above, Georgia’s top three backs all averaged better than seven yards per carry, but most of the damage on the ground came in the first half.  Milton was something of a victim of Georgia having to chase OSU leads most of the game, as he only had three carries (one was for a TD, though).  McIntosh had a spectacular game running and catching the ball to the combined tune of well over 100 yards, although I suspect he got his fair share of razzing from his teammates for tripping in the open field en route to a sure touchdown (just ask Chris Fowler).  He also deserves a little credit for working over his pass pro diligently during his college career; he certainly wasn’t a liability in that regard this game.
  • Some, no doubt, may have been the result of a convergence of events the coaches didn’t have complete control over — Washington’s injury, Mitchell’s return to health — but it’s still clear that Todd Monken was all in on testing OSU’s secondary with some legit deep pressure and that paid off handsomely with a clutch Mitchell TD catch and Smith’s career game.  Also not to be ignored were some key grabs from Blaylock, Rosemy-Jacksaint and Jackson.  Georgia had to have its receiving corps contribute big time and that’s exactly what they got.  Considering the game pressure they were under, that might have been the group’s finest performance of the season.
  • A game as close as this was, every play is of consequence, but, in particular, how big was McConkey’s gutsy catch for the two-point conversion?
  • Washington’s injury sucked.  That, combined with the better part of two quarters of Bennett’s inconsequence in the passing game, really put a damper on the Georgia running game.  Delp in relief didn’t have a catch (I don’t think he was a target, for that matter), but did manage to contribute on the blocking front, although, again, with Georgia in chase mode for much of the night, we didn’t see as much 12-formation stuff as usual.
  • I still haven’t gotten my head wrapped around Bowers’ sideline balancing act.  As heady, athletic plays go, that’s about as extreme as it gets.
  • Which brings us to… Stetson Bennett.  For him, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times and then it was the best of times in the nick of time.  The game winning drive, in particular, was nothing short of legendary.  The completion to Bowers was bonkers (Sidearmed?  Really?), but the 35-yard completion to Jackson may have been the finest pass of Bennett’s career.  People talk about NFL-level throws — that baby was an NFL-level throw if I ever saw one.  Throwing Mitchell open for the touchdown was his third brilliant pass in a mere five-play drive.  That’s as high a performance level as I’ve ever seen from a Georgia quarterback.  Now, if somebody can coach him to keep his head out of his ass the way it was in the third quarter (and the end of the first half)…
  • One funny thing about the offense — even with the dry spell, the Dawgs only punted twice on the night, both early in the third quarter.  And that came despite a 2-10 performance on third down!
  • Something a little wild:  Georgia’s first touchdown drive consumed five minutes on the clock.  None of the four others took even two minutes.  No wonder OSU won time of possession comfortably.
  • Also, Ohio State ran six more plays on the night than did Georgia.  That’s not how Kirby’s playbook is supposed to work.
  • Did the defense have a rough night?  Is the Pope Catholic?  Still, it’s fair to point out that neither comeback on the night could have occurred without the defense stiffening at key points.  Ohio State punted more than Georgia did.  And the Dawgs weren’t the only team mediocre on third down, as OSU was 4-12.  And perhaps most importantly, after the Buckeyes scored with over ten minutes left in the third quarter to go up 35-24, the Dawgs kept them out of the end zone for the rest of the game.
  • Smart had a quote after the game about how they tried everything to slow the OSU passing attack down, zone, man, combo, you name it.  What seemed to do the trick in the end was simply throwing the kitchen sink at Stroud in terms of blitz packages in hopes of slowing him down. (Per Seth Emerson, Georgia’s blitz rate was 45.5 percent, its highest of the season.) That did have an effect, as he was sacked four times and pressured often.  (Seth also wrote that Georgia’s pressure rate was the highest OSU allowed this season.)  In the end, it was barely enough.
  • The downside to that, of course, was allowing Stroud to run freely, which wasn’t great.  Still, I’d rather see him burning them running than throwing.
  • I’m not really in the mood to rehash the pantsing we saw of Georgia’s secondary, but it’s worth reiterating that it was hardly Ringo’s fault alone, as he had plenty of company trying to keep Ohio State’s formidable top three receivers in check.  In a sign of what kind of night it was for them, Christopher Smith led the team in tackles, with eight, without a single pass break up.
  • You know who had a really good night, though?  Smael Mondon turned in a monster game.  Right behind him was Mykel Williams, who picked an excellent time to turn in his best game of the season, topped by his sack when he went right around an offensive tackle who’s going to be a high draft pick in a couple of months.
  • Quiet night for the most part from Jalen Carter, which can happen when you get your ass held for an entire game.  And, man, it had to suck when you manage to break away, come this close to sacking the quarterback and then watch him dodge you at the last moment for a completion.
  • How long do you figure the whining about Bullard not being penalized for targeting will last?
  • As for coaching, I give credit to Muschamp and Schumann for finding a way to get just barely enough to work, although I suspect they were just as dumbfounded by Day’s playcalling at the very end of the game as I was.  Still, you take what you can get.
  • Monken called a great game, in my humble opinion.  I’ve seen some criticism of his playcalling in the third quarter, but when your quarterback is having a crisis of confidence throwing the ball, you’re down a key player in the run game with Washington’s injury and you’re having to react to the defense bleeding points, your options start to become limited.  I wouldn’t say Georgia became exactly one-dimensional in the second half, but during that 18-point run to close out the scoring, a running back carried the ball on exactly one play.  42 points, 500+ yards — I’d call that a good day’s work at the office.
  • I wouldn’t describe the game as Kirby Smart’s masterpiece, but Georgia doesn’t win that game without his coaching performance. And I’m not just talking about the fake punt timeout (like The Celebration, I keep thinking I should start referring to it as The Timeout).  Georgia is the resilient team it is because it’s the way Smart has built it.  That’s why they’re 14-0 right now and getting ready to play in their second national championship game in a row.

So here we are, on the precipice that just a few short years ago nobody, and I mean nobody, could have anticipated.  Helluva ride, Dawgs.  Go ahead and hunker down one more time, you guys.



Filed under Georgia Football

Hello, guv’nor.

I don’t always see eye to eye with Brian Kemp, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s walking with the angels on this.

A ban on tailgating outside SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles for the college football national championship has drawn the wrath of the state’s most powerful Georgia Bulldog fan: Gov. Brian Kemp.

“While California may not know this, in the South a tailgate with friends & family is the only way to prepare for a big game,” the Republican tweeted of the restriction ahead of Monday’s title game between Georgia and TCU.

“When Georgia hosts the 2025 #NationalChampionship,” Kemp added, “we’ll make sure fans are able to tailgate! Even if it’s at the state Capitol!!”

Not that it’ll make a damned bit of difference Monday.  Still…

Who’s ready to tailgate at the state Capitol in 2025?


Filed under Georgia Football, Political Wankery

“It’s kind of the way it’s always been, and there is nothing you can do about that.”

All I can do is laugh about this:

That the only thing the NCAA can come up with to address the problems schools face as a result of NIL is to keep begging for an antitrust exemption from an institution that can’t even get its shit together to elect a House Speaker is about as NCAA as it gets.


Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

It’s go time.

The Athletic’s David Ubben ($$) surveyed a bunch of coaches who faced Georgia and TCU this season to get their impressions of what the two teams might be facing when they play Monday night.  For my money, these were the two most revealing nuggets:

  • “Ohio State learned a lot from LSU’s game plan (in the SEC title game). They went out and put together a more complete game plan,” one assistant coach said. “They saw LSU’s stuff and I think that helped them. They got into seven-man protections and threw the ball down the field. They used tempo to try and tire them out. That was the biggest thing. And if you don’t give 88 (Jalen Carter) a lot of one-on-ones against a guard, that helps.”
  • Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken spent five seasons in the Big 12 at Oklahoma State over two stints with the Cowboys. This week, he’s already placed calls to coaches around the league looking for some insight into how to attack TCU’s defense, a coach told The Athletic.

Both OCs were among the finalists for this year’s Broyles Award.  Riley won it, and although I’m sure he’d never admit it out loud, I have little doubt that Monken would like to show everybody who the real boss is.

That being said, I doubt it comes as a surprise to Georgia’s defensive brain trust for TCU to take that approach on offense — hell, it’s what I thought Day would have to do for OSU to have a real shot in the Peach Bowl — surely this time around they’ll have some better answers.  At least I hope so.

Also, this:


Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Look who’s getting serious about NIL.

Well now, this is somewhat unexpected.

Georgia Tech’s latest fundraising initiative will exceed $9.5 million, surpassing its original goal of $2.5 million, according to information provided by the Institute’s athletic department Tuesday.

The “Competitive Drive Initiative” raised $4.8 million to accelerate funding for athletes. The Georgia Tech Foundation pledged a dollar-for-dollar match, resulting in the final total of almost $10 million.

The fundraising effort, spearheaded by Tech, the Georgia Tech Foundation, the athletic department and the Alexander-Tharpe Fund, was announced Oct. 27, with the goal of raising $2.5 million. That goal was reached Dec. 5. A new goal of $3.5 million was set. More than 1,700 donors contributed, according to the Institute’s athletic department.

And if that wasn’t clear enough, here’s a letter the AD sent out(h/t waltergeiger)

Batt cut his teeth raising money at Alabama, so you probably shouldn’t scoff at this.  It’s certainly a more fundamental way to build a football program than having your head coach running around with a cup of Waffle House coffee.

And I don’t think it’s an alarming development for us.  There likely isn’t a large enough amount of money to tempt a high-profile recruit away from Athens to the Flats, but that’s probably not so much the case with some other SEC programs.  If Tech can keep a kid or two away from the likes of some of the conference’s mid-range programs, that’s a good thing.


Filed under Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting

“He really just got more opportunity to do what he’s been doing.”

Statistically speaking, how crazy good was Arian Smith’s 3-catch, 129-yard performance in the Peach Bowl?  This crazy good.

Entering Saturday’s game, Smith had a ridiculous career reception average of 31.8 yards. That rose to 34.8 after Saturday’s performance.

Once again, the story here, as it often is for Georgia, is the “when one door closes, another one opens” team depth.

Smith, a sophomore receiver, was running back and forth behind the line of scrimmage in motion for the Bulldogs. The fastest player on Georgia’s roster – and maybe on any football roster in America – Smith often has lined up in the slot, but that simply was to get him matched up on the inside of the defense against a safety that he could run past on a deep route.

However, Saturday against Ohio State was the first time in a game that the 6-foot, 185-pound speedster was seen doing the full range of motions and alignment resets that Georgia typically utilizes with Ladd McConkey and Kearis Jackson in the slot. Smith, it seems, was staying busy during the four-week lead-up to the College Football Playoff semifinals.

“We had to have somebody ready,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said this week. “You can imagine over 28 days of preparation, there’s a lot of days that Arian was repping and doing things because Ladd wasn’t able to.”

There’s a lot more I can imagine if Smith stays healthy.


Filed under Georgia Football

Always with the one-liners, our Todd.

Shot ($$).

“For the next year, I’m going to play football. I’ve got a decent amount of years. Hopefully I live until at least 80. So we’ll say 60 years to not play football. I’m going to play football this year. We’ll see where. We’ll see if I can trust the decisions that are made by the staff and see where I’m going to play. But right now I’m enjoying this national championship. The next part? Who knows? I really couldn’t care less about a free drink.”

— Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who appeared to have had several drinks — be they free or purchased — in the hours before NFL star-turned-“Good Morning America” host Michael Strahan asked him what would come next during an interview the morning after Georgia beat Alabama for the national title.


“Although he was drunk, he was right in a lot of ways in terms of what it was going to be like,” Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken cracked before last week’s Peach Bowl…

I know Kirby keeps his assistants away from the media for the most part, but I really think he needs to make an exception in Monken’s case.


Filed under Georgia Football

Okay, Aggies fans, fess up.

Monkey paw - Wikisimpsons, the Simpsons Wiki

Which one of y’all was holding the monkey’s paw when somebody wished that Jimbo wouldn’t call plays next season?


Filed under Fall and Rise of Bobby Petrino

Better living through vicariousness

Did you wonder how the folks at Stingtalk are handling the prospects of Georgia going back to back natties?

What that lacks in contrived statistical analysis — normally a Stingtalk speciality — it makes up for in pathos.


Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football

Today, in lies, damned lies and statistics



Hey, I could live with that tradeoff come Monday night.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!