I'll dispense with a lengthy introduction because life is too short for lengthy introductions. Here are 15 (give or take) Thoughts on what was yet another baffling, enigmatic, "what the hell" game for the 2012 edition of the Georgia Bulldogs. I'm only going to touch on the obvious, with hopefully a few unique insights...but you guys absolutely feel free to jump in and fill in the gaps because there will be many. Anyway, here it goes...
1. Lexington Kentucky is a difficult place to play, especially at night. October cold fronts have a funny way of sweeping out of Canada with enough ummph to cause quite a chill in the air. I hear that's horrible football weather. Last night's effort against a bad...no, wait: Epically Bad Kentucky football team (who, to their credit, played with fire all night long) was a victory in the win column, but a defeat in our collective confidence.
2. Some Positives:
a: Kyle has a great take on our receiving corps and Aaron Murray's play in general. When he wasn't getting sacked, he was carving up a very young Kentucky secondary to the tune of 427 yards with no interceptions. That's a passer rating of 208.7. Congratulations on surpassing David Greene as Georgia's all-time touchdown passing leader.
b: Ken Malcolm gained the tough yards late in the game when Connor Norman decided do something about an attempted on-sides kick that, given our defensive tendencies all evening, would have been a disaster had UK recovered. We didn't turn the ball over. Uga IX didn't need a bag of ice and we had a great crowd. Jordan Jenkins played a fine game, although he appeared a bit gimpy at times. But this kid is 'as advertised' and has all the tools to become an All-American before his time is over in Athens. Let's see...anything else? Nope. I believe that covers it.
3. Seventy-seven yards rushing. That's it. Every-single yard was contested by a Kentucky defense that giving up an average of 184 per game. Todd Gurley had to drag, twist and pull his way through every single inch he gained and that's a credit to his ability. Keith Marshall was essentially a non-factor. Ken Malcolm ran tough in the final drive as Georgia essentially ran out the clock. Point is, we had no offensive line push for the 2nd week in a row. Suddenly, we cannot run between the tackles against a
4. Meanwhile, Kentucky, a team that ranks 100th nationally in rushing offense, ripped us for 206 rushing yards at a 4.8 per carry clip. Kentucky's best scenario was third and long, where they simply ran a draw or the quarterback broke contain because no one was home in the middle and it worked. I thought I was watching the 2010 game in Lexington all over again. The tone was set from UK's opening kickoff when they ran inside, outside and methodically marched down field for an early 7-0 lead. Again, it took an entire half to make somewhat of an adjustment...
5. ...but the point is our run defense looks like it's playing 10-foot gaps. Someone asked a question during the game-thread that essentially asked "when did we stop playing run defense" and someone brilliantly answered, "the 2nd half of the SEC Championship game." Truth. I'm beginning to wonder about this whole 3-4 thing. It's regressing, and we supposedly have the ideal personnel to effectively run it.
6. Shorter point 4 and 5: We've lost the battle on both sides of the lines of scrimmage for the second week in a row. Two weeks ago, I could reconcile this. Last night, I cannot.
7. We lack a distinct physicality, particularly among some of our corners. This isn't an earth-shattering revelation, but when you have to corner-blitz to stop their run, that's a big problem; and even then our tackling remains tentative. We currently have no one on our roster that bears any resemblance to Brandon Boykin.
8. Discipline: Don't ever get chippy in front of the other teams bench. Actually, let me rephrase this: Make your play, shut your mouth and get off the field. Late hits out of bounds are usually the by-product of frustration. Good coaching mitigates this. I'm not seeing it right now. You can (barely) get away with this kind of crap against a Kentucky, but this had better get fixed in a hurry.
9. Announced attendance was 54,553 in Commonwealth Stadium (capacity 67,542). This seems a bit high, but good representation from our fanbase who made the trip. Another positive. Good on 'ya.
10. I realize that Abry Jones and Jarvis Jones did not play. Should it matter when facing a team that has had great difficulty moving the ball on anyone this season? I think not, but it did and the fundamental question is: why? If anyone says they have an answer to this, they're lying. Coaches included. Too harsh?
11. Aaron Murray is too kind. Really. He's a great kid and doesn't have a disparaging thing to say about anyone, especially to the media. When asked about his performance last night by the Fox sideline reporter, he gave genuine kudos to his offensive line, which is admirable.
12. I realize that Kentucky jammed the line of scrimmage and pretty much sold-out to stop the run and paid the price 427 passing yards later...but damn.
14. Special Teams. In the off-season, if this aspect of our total philosophy as a program isn't properly addressed, I'm going to seek out my relatives in Romania, move in with them, and go into glass-blowing. I plan on specializing in bongs.
15. South Carolina did the same thing and more against Florida as we did to ourselves in Columbia two weeks ago. Florida had 29 yards and two first downs in the first half but led 21-6 because of Gamecock mistakes. In the second half, Spurrier benched Connor Shaw and Carolina's offense, largely ineffective because Lattimore is clearly injured again, was done. Are we to take away anything from this going into next week? Probably not. I've always been a glass half-full kind of guy because I was raised in an optimistic family and because my glass is literally always half-full. I do love me some Maker's Mark. But if we can't stop Kentucky...and I don't care what time of the year, how cold it is, how many folks we have injured, etc...we're not going to stop Florida. What ails our defense at this point simply cannot be remedied in a week. Florida smells it. Right now, we just smell...
15a. ...Still, I'm going to Jacksonville. There's no escaping the fact that we still control our destiny in the SEC East. This team is still way too talented to be playing this poorly at this junction of the season. Maybe Florida has an off-game? Maybe we finally play a complete game. I'll be there to find out. More than anything, it gives me a chance to reunite with my family if just for a brief weekend. And that's more valuable than any football game.
That's all I have, folks. There's so much more to say, but at this point we all pretty much know where are deficiencies lie. I want to again congratulate Aaron Murray on his milestone in last night's victory. And the operative word is victory. We won, are heading into Jacksonville with a punchers chance of knocking off Florida and perhaps doing something we haven't done since the late 80's: win two in a row from the Gators. If this scenario was presented to us back in July, we'd be all over it and pretty much thrilled about it. I just hope two things don't happen between now and then: Gameday doesn't show up and we don't get a #5 ranking.
Thanks for reading. Go Dawgs!