It's a big, big week for the University of Georgia football team, and the news and analysis will be all over the internets. But before we move bravely forward, let's revisit the 5 things that I (generally incorrectly) assured you would be on display this past Saturday.
1) Omar Haugabook. On the sidelines. And this, friends, is why I don't gamble. Kudos to the Troy coaching staff for a sandbagging job that only Lou Holtz could dither with (or about. Lou loves him some dithering). Omar Haugabook was going to play all week and they knew it. Well played, Trojans. As usual, he was good for as many interceptions as touchdowns. Hal Mumme is trying to figure out a way to get Haugabook to transfer to New Mexico State as we speak.
As Sweet Lou would put it: Tou-the, Coach Blakeny. Tou-the.
2) Jason Johnson having a career day. It could have been a lot better, but 6 carries for 15 yards is six rib-jarring strolls through the line that counterdancer-in-chief Moreno did not have to endure. Jason allowed Knowshon to get to the sideline a little quicker, which is exactly what we needed. It would have been nice if he could have played the entire second half in relief, but then these things seldom go as planned against one of the perennial gadflies of southern football.
If Thomas Brown is indeed able to go this week, I think that will help keep the miles off of the young man whom Larry Munson now simply refers to as "New Jersey". Though in fairness, Knowshon was probably introduced to Larry as "the kid from New Jersey", Larry probably heard "the kid named New Jersey" and is faithfully calling his name at every available opportunity. The man has pronounced "Mohammed Massaquoi" with surprising ability for the past 3 years. I'm not about to fault him on this one.
The bottom line is that running backs are like bars of soap: you can only lather them up so many times before they get worn down to nothing. Coach Ball and Coach Richt have a delicate balancing act before them for the rest of the season. Do you run the hottest back in the league (and maybe the country) until he's no longer so hot? How many carries do you give the guy whose clavical could shatter into 5 pieces with one well-placed helmet shot? It's questions like these that make me glad my office isn't in Butts-Mehre.3) Demiko Goodman making one touchdown catch. Did I mention that these forecasts are an inexact science? I was shocked that Sean Bailey played as much as he did and as well as he did. His performance was pure gut and grit, and we will need a repeat if we are to beat Auburn. Mike Moore, Demiko Goodman, Kenneth Harris and Kris Durham did all catch passes, as Stafford distributed the ball to 10 different receivers. This is a very good sign. Stafford continues to get a little better as the year goes along both in terms of overall numbers and the ability to make plays when it counts. The interception in the endzone was a headscratcher, but if he can continue to complete 59% of his passes for 7.5 yards per attempt I think we'll be able to muddle through.
4) Leodis McKelvin lighting a fire. Not so much. It's worth noting that Brian Mimbs punted 5 times, and none of them were returned. McKelvin did average 20.2 yards per kickoff return, which made him the fourth most successful kick returner by average in this game. Thomas Flowers, Asher Allen and Ramarcus Brown all gashed the Troy kicking units for one return of 30+ yards.
5) UGA 34, Troy 17. Anyone who's not disappointed that our defense gave up 480 yards of total offense simply was not paying attention. However anyone who's not excited that they created 4 turnovers was equally inattentive. In the end, Troy executed the bubble/tunnel screen game in a manner which would make Jim Donnan weep with joy. The numbers put up by Troy are Cory Phillips-esque in their deception. The truth is that Troy was often close, but never in control. We spotted them 2 turnovers inside the 40 and they came away with 3 total points. They scored a junk TD with 5 seconds left on the clock. I personally was amused by the "we won't get a return invite" junk that Coach Blakeny and his players crowed after the game. Apparently in Troy moral victories are de rigeur. The fact is they were 3 boneheaded plays (two fumbles and an interception in the endzone) from being beaten like a rented mule.
We have a couple of guys banged up, including Kade Weston, Asher Allen, Quintin Banks and Matt Stafford, but nobody other than Chris Gaunder appears out for Auburn.
The bottom line is that we took care of business against a pretty good team. I'm sure you've heard, but Knowshon Moreno is now the only feshman tailback in University of Georgia history not named Herschel Walker to rush for over 1000 yards in a season. And he now has an outside shot at catching Herschel. After his performance in Jacksonville, I went on record saying there's no way that would happen. But when you're busting off 80 yarders, you can run for a lot in a hurry.
After the game, Coach Richt was asked if Knowshon has continued to "get better and better". Coach Richt replied "yeah, and we're blocking better and better." That pretty much sums this team up. Like most of us thought back in July, they started as a mediocre team, progressed to maddeningly inconsistent, and are now teetering on the verge of "pretty good". How fast they get there will make the difference between 10-2 and 7-5.