With the Mark Richt Victory Watch safely updated for another week, it's time to look back at the five things I said you'd see on Saturday when the Classic City Canines took on the Bayou Bengals from Baton Rouge:
A first half to remember: I had a feeling that the tenor for this one would be set early. But even I had no idea how early. Daryl Gamble's interception on the first play from scrimmage helped set the tone. But more important in my mind was the fact that Georgia was able to score touchdowns on its first two drives. And that after LSU cut the lead to 21-17, the defense responded with a pick and points (albeit a field goal) . That's the kind of counterpunch we will need next Saturday in Jacksonville. Because if you lay off the gas against the Gator offense, they'll pass your ass like Warren Wallace, son.
Warren Wallace: refers to himself in the third person, walks around looking like someone ran over his puppy, and points and stares at you. Have we checked to make sure this kid's birth certificate doesn't say "Meyer"?
30 Matt Stafford Passes (or more): I think that Stafford will find success against this defense. . . Coach Bobo will use the pass to set up the run. Ok, so Stafford only threw 26 passes. But wow were they effective. Stafford was 17 of 26 for 249 yards, 2 TD's and no interceptions. That equates to 9.6 yards per attempt, perilously close to the magic 10.0 per attempt average at which a quarterback's game goes from "very nice job, son" to "passable impersonation of Jason Bourne, covert assassin". In addition, he may or may not have autographed a picture for Gary Danielson after the game.
Charles Scott in the 4th quarter: As the old saying goes, "quick guys get tired, but big guys don't shrink." I'm a little worried about our thin defensive line corps if we need to get a stop late to get the ball back. Even if we have the lead late, LSU has shown an ability to get the ball down the field fairly quickly on the ground. Boy howdy, did they move the ball late on the ground.
Admitedly, we helped the Tigers out by tackling in a way that probably would have made Kevin Ramsey say "Dude, I know from bad tackling, and that's some bad tackling." Charles Scott had 56 rushing yards from the 4:00 mark of the third quarter on. Keiland Williams had 105 total yards in the fourth, including a 66 yard reception on which he literally ran by Rennie Curran. Substitute Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey and I imagine you'll see that play in every single quarter this coming Saturday.
The "Smash" route: If LSU is vulnerable anywhere on defense, it's at the corners. Bonus prediction: While A.J. Green and MoMass will get plenty of chances, look for at least three other wideouts to get a catch (I'm thinking principally of Mike Moore, Tavarres King and Kris Durham). Stafford torched the LSU corners early and often. Short outs, posts, everything but the bubble screen. I also note that the part of Tavarres King in my prediction was instead played by Kenneth Harris (who, frankly, I probably would have picked instead if I remembered that he wa still on the roster).
UGA 27, LSU 20. But as Kyle wisely pointed out in his prediction, LSU has its own flaws. The Tigers beat South Carolina by the same margin that we did. They looked just as bad (or worse) against Florida than we did against Alabama. . . I think that we have enough weapons to win, and LSU just enough warts to lose. Let's be realistic here: there was a lot in this one to worry about going forward. Atrocious tackling. Trouble stopping a big downhill runner. Missed open deep balls from Matt Stafford. Just enough penalties (7 for 59 yards) to keep things dicey. But if you'd told me before the game that we'd score 14 defensive points, I'd have said you were nuts. If you'd told me we would break 50 in Death Valley, I'd have said you were nuts and probably made some bet I would have lost. (HT: Hey Jenny Slater).
I really thought there was a viable chance for us to lose this game. And could you blame me? Coming in LSU had not lost a Saturday home game since 2003 (they had lost on Thursday, but that was probably some sort of divine retribution for playing an SEC home game on Thursday . . .). But this is definitely something to build on.
We're up to #6 in the BCS and will be playing a showcase game against the team that Herbie the Highlighted Lovebug proclaimed this weekend is still the best in the country. We match up very well against Florida for a variety of reasons I'll get to later this week, and after this game we play three teams who all look exceptionally beatable.
I don't think I'm overstating things when I say that this win has put some swagger back in the Bulldogs' step, and revived belief that, with a little luck and a lot of effort, this team could still do some very special things. That all starts againthis weekend in Jacksonville. Kyle and I will both be around this week to help get you ready for the Cocktail Party. Until later . . .