For me, yesterday's Georgia-Auburn game was a rarity. I never, ever go into this game without any apprehension. I am never, ever able to eat a fully-cooked meal just prior to kickoff because of the historical nature of this bitter rivalry which makes my stomach churn. Yesterday was different. I just had a feeling that we'd start fast, establish dominance early and cruise. Needless to say, my pre-game meal was divine as was the scoreboard which could have easily read 50 or 60 to nothin'. I've got a few thoughts on this and other happenings in college football.
1. First drive - thing of beauty. Mike Bobo has done a very good job of scripting first and second-half opening drives. Last night was no different. Before Aaron Murray finally threw his first incompletion (I believe on his 11th attempt), he had already thrown the ball to 6 different receivers. What a philanthropist.
2. Tight-Ends: I love to see 'em involved. Love it. Arthur Lynch got some catches early and blocked well on the day. He did drop a 3rd down pass as we were driving towards the end of the first half that would've resulted in a first down, but did well. Jay Rome, with a little more coaching and experience, is going to be All-SEC. What a target. He just needs to trust his QB a bit more and react quicker. There was a great shot of Murray explaining what he wanted Jay to do on the sideline after a missed opportunity in Auburn's end zone. I think Jay Rome learned much in that instant. Check your bank statement for dividends to be posted later...
3. Todd Gurley is a helluva back. He gets the tough yards and I just love his all-round game and attitude. I believe he was about 30 yards shy of breaking 1000, but am glad we pulled him when we did. No need to risk injury and I think he's still a bit banged up.
4. When Keith Marshall broke his 62-yard run, I thought that was his 2nd most impressive run of the evening. To me, his 3rd and 21 yard scamper for a first down earlier in the game is what probably, more than anything, caused the Tiger faithful to head for the exits. Keith Marshall has special speed. His top end gear is reached in a hurry; his body lean tells you all you need to know once he hits his stride. It's like he's trying to reduce drag. Wow.
5. Does Aaron Murray enjoy playing Auburn or what? He has not thrown a pick against the Tigers yet and is to Auburn right now as Chipper Jones was to the New York Mets. He just kills 'em. Three games, 10 touchdowns. Had Richt and Bobo wanted to, he could've thrown for 3 or 4 more during the course of the game.
6. Was anyone a little bit nervous when we still had our front-line guys out there in the 4th quarter? Grantham wanted the shutout. I believe the players did, too. As Chuckdawg mentioned in his post following the game last night, it looked like Auburn really wanted to avoid the shutout, but Bacarri Rambo stripped the ball from Auburn's Emory Blake, who was fighting for yardage inside our 10, and Mike Gilliard provided the coup de grace hit that preserved the goose-egg. First shut-out since '76 (Georgia won the SEC that season). Good omen?
7. Jarvis Jones was all over the field and impressed as always. But the defensive play of the night was Jordan Jenkins 10 yard tackle-for-loss of Auburn's Tre Mason. Jenkins showed great discipline, stayed at home, and executed a play when Auburn was driving the ball early and trying to get something, anything going. My God, a TRUE freshman!
8. I'm glad Ontario McCalebb is a senior. Dude is fast. See ya.
9. Our kickers are beginning to get it. Marshall Morgan hasn't missed a PAT since Kentucky and looks much more confident. Collin Barber punted well, and had a few more quality kicks that pinned Auburn deep. Remember: They're freshman, too.
10. The offensive line started a bit slow in pass-protection once again, but did establish themselves and generally protected Murray. I will say this: Auburn got a roughing the passing penalty early in the game. It was marginal. The very next play, I thought I was watching Nick Fairley all over again as an Auburn lineman pile-drived Murray into the ground with malice. The SEC officiating is mind-blowingly consistent in their inconsistency.
11. Nice catch, Tavarres King! (once you get through the mandatory commercial, it plays at about the 1:02 mark). Malcolm Mitchell made a great adjustment on Murray's 2nd touchdown throw as the ball was behind him. This kid is an athlete in every sense of the word.
12. The hit of the game was supplied by Christian Robinson. Auburn's QB Jonathan Wallace did his receiver no favors by throwing a screen pass in traffic. Not that I'm complaining. Anyway, Robinson blew the backfield receiver up. Even the Ukranian judge gave him a 9.9.
13. Reporter: "Coach Chizik, have you lost your team?"
Chizik: "Absolutely not."
Me: "Of course you didn't lose your team, Coach. They're under 24 hour surveillance."
14. Georgia amassed 497 yards, most of which occurred before the half. There have been more than a few occasions where Georgia could have eclipsed 600 or 700 yards in total offense, but literally shut it down. What we have been able to do this season on offense is pretty impressive. We just aren't going to "style points." Will this hurt us if we find ourselves in the BCS Title Game equation? Possibly. Make no mistake: When this team is on, especially against inferior opponents, we are every bit as potent as Oregon or Kansas State. We just don't flaunt it. I hope it's not to our detriment.
15. Last night was supposed to be a big recruiting weekend in Auburn. As always, there are some kids "on the fence" as decision time nears; some are Georgia leans, some are Auburn. We absolutely didn't hurt ourselves last night and I gotta think that whatever snake-oil Chizik has been selling since his arrival to some of these kids, it's about to be totally moot. Chizik is done.
- Derek Dooley has a very potent offense at Tennessee. He will not be able to justify sitting on the ball with just under a minute to play, 2 time outs, and acceptable field position, letting the clock expire against Missouri in regulation. Maybe, at this point, he's had enough. Vanderbilt's program is in better shape than the one in Knoxville at the moment. That's no lie.
- Nick Saban is not a perfect coach and Alabama could never beat an NFL team. All Alabama really had to do once they got over the initial shock of being down 20-0 was run the ball against Texas A&M. Congrats to the Aggies. I don't know if you're the better team, but you're a damn good team and will be fun to watch. Too bad TAMU doesn't play Texas this season. They'd absolutely butcher them.
- Notre Dame is an undefeated boxer with a glass jaw. I keep waiting for the knockout punch. Hope it comes in a bowl game. It would be awesome if it were against us.
- Tommy Tuberville, you got some explaining to do.
That's it, folks. Jump right on in here and tell me what you think. I've got band practice, so I'll check in a bit later.
Rock and Roll and GO DAWGS!