I had two questions going into the game: would Georgia still be suffering from an Auburn hangover? and if so, would it make a difference?
Answers: yes and no.
The team definitely looked flat coming out of the gate, on both sides of the ball. Still, even as it was trying to claw its way out of the fog, the defense gave an early indication it wasn’t going to allow Kentucky to have a big day when it held the ‘Cats to a field goal after Fromm’s admittedly awful interception.
The offense responded to a roughing the kicker penalty called on UK by taking the ball in for its first touchdown, and then added two more before the first half came to a close. When Kentucky came out in the second half with an easy touchdown drive, the offense responded with its own easy touchdown. At that point, I briefly had a vision of one of those shootouts with Kentucky that Georgia seems to have every so often — not that it ever felt like the Dawgs were being threatened — but from there on out, the defense asserted itself for good, Nick and Sony added two more touchdown runs and the game essentially became a rout.
All in all, not a bad way to wrap up the home schedule. Bullet points, maestro.
- I can’t start anywhere else but with the days Chubb and Michel enjoyed, and I mean that in both senses of the word. It became clear when the line play wasn’t particularly effective blocking against Kentucky’s loaded sets that they weren’t having any of that. Both ran hard and on several plays managed to make something out of very little. Two runs in particular were my favorite plays of the day. Michel’s touchdown run to put the Dawgs up 21-6 last in the second quarter was sheer determination; I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Sony run harder on a play than that one. As far as Chubb goes, if you had even a sliver of doubt remaining whether he was fully recovered from the knee injury, that fourth quarter 55-yard TD scoot should have eliminated that for good. He’s never run faster in the open field than he did on that play.
- Jake Fromm has a security blanket, and his name is Javon Wims. Of Fromm’s nine completions, six went to Wims. He’s really come on to become a legitimate weapon, not just a big body to heave a ball to on occasion.
- Fromm’s start was a little rocky, and maybe after what he went through at Auburn, that’s understandable. After a bad pick and a couple of questionable throws, he settled down and had a decent game. Hopefully, he’s got that out of his system for at least a week.
- Godwin only had one catch and Hardman two, but each of them made theirs count.
- Very much a mixed bag from the offensive line. Cleveland was fairly steady in his first start, but Thomas was up and down, while Baker had a rough day (one of those plays where Chubb had to make something out of nothing came when Baker’s man drove him four yards into the backfield and Chubb had to detour around the both of them; a couple of plays later, a clearly rattled Baker was whistled for a motion penalty). It helped immensely that both Wynn and Gaillard had solid games.
- The other thing that helped was that the tight ends, who were largely ignored in the passing game, had their best game of the season blocking, particularly Blazevich and Woerner.
- How amazing is it to have Holyfield as the fifth-string tailback?
- The defense struggled at times early on, but never really got stung badly. The primary reason for that — surprise! — was Roquan Smith, who was doing his usual Superman act. He was the glue that held things together when it looked like the Kentucky offense might get rolling.
- The line play was better than it was at Auburn — a low bar, I know — but it was uneven. Kentucky was able to open more holes up the middle than I expected, although that tightened up as the game went along. Thompson did have a couple of disruptive plays, which is hopefully a sign that he’s starting to round back into form after his injury.
- Outside linebacking was also a bit hit or miss. It wasn’t one of Bellamy’s better games. Carter was consistent, although kind of quiet. D’Andre Walker showed once again that he’s disruptive both in a good sense, forcing a fumble on a savage take down of Johnson, and in a bad one, as he racked up another stupid personal foul. Walter Grant shows me every week that the best is yet to come for him.
- As far as the defensive backfield goes, it was great to see Aaron Davis recover from his poor game at Auburn with one of his best efforts of the season. It’s clear that offenses are going after Malkom Parrish this season; I can’t figure out how he whiffed on that long completion that led to UK’s second field goal.
- I left the game with two concerns about the defense. The poor tackling that marred the Auburn game was still evident, although perhaps not as much. It was also disconcerting to see the defense repeatedly fail to set the edge and hold contain for a second straight week. If that doesn’t get cleaned up this week, the defense is going to get eaten up by the triple option.
- I probably sound a little more harsh about the defense than I should. Kentucky was held to under 300 yards and a lot of those were meaningless. There was a long first half drive where the ‘Cats wound up punting and another first half drive when they turned the ball over on downs. They were largely ineffective on third down all day.
- They also shot themselves in the foot with a bad trick play call when it seemed like Snell was starting to get up a head of steam running the ball.
- Big rebound on special teams from last week’s debacle. Nizialek turned in a terrific performance, averaging 48 yards on his two punts with zero return yards. (He also managed 51 yards on the punt when he was roughed.) Blankenship didn’t attempt a field goal, but hit all six of his extra points and had, I believe, four touchbacks on the day. Hardman continues to develop into a real weapon as a return specialist; it’s a matter of time before he returns something for a touchdown.
- Job One for Tucker was to rein in Benny Snell and his players did a fairly respectable, if not great, job of that. They were much more effective containing Kentucky’s passing game. Take away that one fluke catch Parrish should have broken up, and the ‘Cats managed less than 100 yards through the air.
- I’ve already posted about Chaney’s day. He stuck with what’s gotten Georgia to this point, patiently waited for Chubb and Michel to take over and directed traffic to the tune of 42 points and over 500 yards. Hard to complain about that.
- As for Smart, his main task was to get his team over the funk of the Auburn loss and focused on the task at hand. While that did take a little while to accomplish, his team eventually got there. That’s another good day as far as I’m concerned.
The Dawgs have dominated the East. They’re on their way to the SEC championship game. The mindset this week is a different one to manage — not looking past the last game of the regular season. Somehow, I don’t think that’s gonna be a problem.