Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. So said John Lennon. He was right in that I had planned to post the Five Things Revisited last night. But life intervenes sometimes. But with it being an offweek, I don't think Tuesday is too late to look back at what was this weekend in Georgia football:
The screen game. I thought it would be one way for us to get around Auburn's strength on the front four. In fact, we used the screen game to A.J. Green for some nice gains, and completed one to Knowshon Moreno for his first career touchdown catch. I'm calling this one a correct prediction. I'm also thinking we'll see more of this against Georgia Tech, but more on that next week.
A Kodi Burns fumble. Indeed. Burns' fumble at the Georgia 24 in the second quarter came as the Tigers were driving and could have gone up by 2 touchdowns at home. This was a critical one in the grand scheme of things.
An Asher Allen interception. Wrong. Didn't happen. Again, this is why you don't want me picking out your lottery numbers.
A big play in the kicking game. Sometimes I just wish I was wrong. Coach Fabris says that a lot of our problem is that we're playing young guys and walk-ons on special teams. But Prince Miller and John Knox are neither at this point, and they were responsible for our biggest gaffs in the kicking game that didn't involve actually putting the ball in the air. I give Blair Walsh something of a pass on the kickoff that went out of bounds because of the winds in Auburn. The better question is why with the winds swirling and field position at a premium we were asking him to directional kick in the first place. Anybody got an answer for that one?
On the field goal attempt that was blocked, there was some pressure. Walsh however really should have gotten that kick up. It's been a while, but I remember as a kicker that when you're rushing to get the kick off, it's easy to impact the ball too high up, thereby creating a low trajectory. I remember this mainly because I once had an extra point blocked, then followed it up by rushing my next one and hitting our longsnapper right in the butt. Let's just say it was a low point. The larger point is that Walsh has been under fire for the past month or more, and it looks to me like the kid is rushing it a bit. But that's coming from a guy who was once a whisper away from castrating his snapper with a poorly kicked football. So take that for what it's worth.
Georgia 34, Alabama School of Remedial Tractor Repair 24. I said "The Aubies will get a big play on special teams and keep it close into the second half. But the Georgia offense just has too much firepower." While I got the number wrong, the general tenor of the prediction pretty much sums it up. We were a couple of plays in the kicking game away from a much more comfortable win, and Auburn was only a couple away from a big upset. So my record for the week looks like a pedestrian 3-2. It's not gonna get me in the BCS, but it beats Rich Rodriguez right now. A few random notes:
Some Auburn fans might try using this week to brush up on the "uncatchable ball" portion of Rule 9(c)(1). Some might also try not sounding like a bunch of petty little whiners. Penalties were not the difference in this game. Seriously. The rest of us are busy laughing at you, just like you laughed at the Georgia Bulldog fans who said the same thing two weeks ago after the Cocktail Party of Which We Do Not Speak. Waaahhhhhhh.
To those of you in orange and blue who instead owned up to the fact that your team played some of its best football in weeks, but ultimately came up a little short, bravo. That's a nice display of class. And to those Auburn fans who pointed to this performance as evidence that this team might be a lot better next year and hasn't given up on this one, triple bravo. Your optimism in the face of defeat exhibits what college football is all about.
This year we've beaten Tennessee and Auburn, survived Vandy and Kentucky teams which will almost certainly go bowling, and won our first true road test west of Baton Rouge in decades in front of a national TV audience. We are quietly in position to bring in one of the top 5 recruiting classes in the country, including arguably the top player in the state of Florida (a huge coup given that he is a mobile quarterback). Our losses came at the hands of, in my opinion, 2 of the top 4 teams in the country.
If we beat Georgia Tech, then play in and win the Capitol One Bowl, we have an excellent chance to finish in the top 5. And we would have done so without arguably our best defensive player (Jeff Owens), or our best offensive tackle (Trinton Sturdivant), but with a rag tag O-line full of freshmen and sophomores, and a freshman placekicker who's gone through an incredible slump on the road in coference play. Paul is correct, this is not what misery looks like, folks. I remember the period from 1993 to 1996, and the attendant 22-22-1 record. I remember losing at home to Southern Miss and thinking "same old, same old". That was misery.
This year is merely moderate disappointment. We've had one of the roughest schedules in the country, more serious injuries than I recall ever seeing, and youth and inexperience in all the wrong places. At this point, 10-2 with another win over Tech and heading to Orlando to play Ohio State in the Capitol One Bowl sounds pretty darned good to me. Winning the National Championship takes an obscenely fortuitous combination of talent, experience, and plain old luck. This year we didn't have it. Bobby Bowden coached at Florida State for 17 years before he had it. Mack Brown walked the sideline at Texas for 8 before things finally broke his way. The fact that Mark Richt may well have us in the top 5-8 teams in the country given what's transpired isn't evidence that he "doesn't have what it takes" to win it all. On the contrary, it's strong evidence that he does.
Matt Stafford is quietly within striking distance of his 63% preseason completion percentage goal (he's at 61% now) and will pass for over 3000 yards barring calamity. Knowshon Moreno is within shouting distance of 1500 yards rushing. While we've had stupifying redzone difficulties, the offense has not disappointed in terms of explosive yardage. I don't know if either will be back next year. But if they are, along with a more seasoned offensive line and A.J. Green on the edge, I like what our offense could accomplish. Perhaps they could do the defense a few more favors than they have this season.
I'll be back later to talk basketball, whether you like it or not. Until then . . .