Georgia still hasn’t lost at Bobby Dodd Stadium in the 21st century. Some traditions never seem to end.
Let’s jump right into the bullet points, shall we?
- You could tell shortly before game time that it was going to be another shades of Notre Dame crowd. Easily 40% of the huddled masses were clothed in red and black. I assume that means the offense didn’t have problems with communication, and, indeed, we never heard much on the illegal movement front all day.
- I have no idea what the officials were up to on the opening kickoff. In the name of player safety, I can actually understand why they might err on the side of caution and rule that the return man’s gesture was a signal for a fair catch. What I can’t understand is why, if that’s the way you go, how there wasn’t a delay of game penalty called when the returner fielded the kick and took it out of the end zone.
- That was just the first of a mystifying series of officiating decisions. In the vast scheme of things, it wound up meaning nothing, but how was that Wims catch not ruled a touchdown?
- Fromm started off shaky. He was damned lucky his second attempt wasn’t intercepted. Once he shook things off, he settled in. He’s still got a way to go with his reads. When he looks back at the tape, he’ll see some guys who were wide open. It’s hard to bitch at a 233 passer rating much, though. And his last toss of the day, the TD to Crumpton, is one of Fromm’s best throws of the year.
- I’m not sure why it felt that way, because I know Wims once again led the team in catches, but it felt like Fromm was making more of an effort to spread the wealth.
- You know what’s fun? Watching Georgia rub Tech’s face in its depth at running back. They run this state. There weren’t a lot of big gains, outside of that one run by Swift, but there was a steady grind that squeezed the life out of Tech’s defense as the game wore on. Georgia wound up with a slight advantage in time of possession and a big advantage in rushing yards, which is how you know you beat Paul Johnson at his own game.
- Credit, too, has to go to the offensive line, which handled the Jackets’ front pretty consistently all game and, with the exception of a sack, also held up on the occasional blitz call from Ted Roof.
- This really wasn’t a game that was won because one staff outcoached the other, scheme-wise, nearly as much as it was about Georgia making sure its superior athletic talent was deployed to keep Tech from doing the things it likes to do. The best examples of that were a couple of Michel runs where he appeared to be bottled up by defenders who were positioned to make tackles for loss, only to juke his way around and convert a long third down and score a touchdown, respectively.
- That was on the offensive side, but it was the defense that really took the athletic difference to an entirely different level. That may have been the best effort I’ve seen a Georgia defense turn in against the triple option. Outside of some first-half trouble defending the wide pitch and the one screw up on Tech’s touchdown pass, the defense checked every box you’d expect to break down that offense: stop the dive, contain the edge and don’t lose the wide receivers deep.
- A lot of defenders played well, but three stood out on the day: R (I don’t need to explain, do I?), Natrez Patrick and D’Andre Walker. Patrick’s play was so good, it made you realize why the staff put up with his marijuana transgressions. Walker turned in the kind of game we’ve always been hoping to see from him, marrying his talent to disrupt the offensive flow with control and discipline. If this game was an example of him being ready to take his game to the next level, look out next season (and maybe for the rest of this one).
- Dominick Sanders appears to need a little more time in the weight room, judging from that one reception it took him an extra fifteen yards to bring down the receiver.
- Special teams were their usual solid self. At some point, that Hardman touchdown return is coming, right? Right?
- My annual observation about the triple option is that for Tech to succeed consistently, it needs a quarterback who can throw the ball just well enough to be a legitimate threat and a great B-back. This year’s team has neither.
- Another good game plan from Chaney. A few new looks, like the first play of the game with a Chubb-Michel backfield, mixed in with the usual stuff. When the running game is there and Fromm doesn’t need to throw the ball more than in the teens, it’s going to be a good day. And it was.
- Meanwhile, Mel Tucker rules, baby. There have been a ton of comments on it, but that wrinkle with stacking the ILBs was absolutely brilliant (and, again, another reason Patrick’s return was a bigger deal that I thought it might be). His players were well coached and ready for everything Johnson threw at them. Adjustments at halftime were effective, to say the least. The outside toss was shut down and that meant the end of Tech’s success on third downs.
- Kirby wanted this game, but went about his business of getting his team ready without too much emotion or without being distracted by the looming prospect of the SECCG. Success on both fronts. Despite that Tech came out of the gate with its usual chippiness (literally, starting with the opening kickoff), outside of that one personal foul on Ridley, his players kept their cool throughout and maintained focus. No turnovers, either. That’s what good teams do. That’s what good coaches get good teams to do.
All in all, denying Tech a bowl appearance while demonstrating that the gap between the two programs is depressingly wide was the cherry on top of what’s been a very satisfying regular season sundae. This team has left itself in a position after twelve games to play for everything an élite program expects to play for. As a Georgia fan, it’s nice to be back in that position. Well played, gentlemen.