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Georgia Bulldogs 38, Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 0: Yes, But . . .

It was a sunny yet crisp day in Athens. The usual homecoming pushover allowed for a 1:00 kickoff and a relaxed atmosphere, which made it a good day for me to take my six-year-old son to the stadium. Having Thomas with me invariably colors my view of any outing for the better, so I probably came away from the experience feeling better than average, but, on the whole, I have to acknowledge in all candor that any extended review of yesterday’s triumph over Tennessee Tech would be much ado about not very much.

The best that can be said---and this is better than we usually are able to say in such circumstances---is that the Georgia Bulldogs performed like they were supposed to perform against a lesser opponent. Rather than letting an inferior visitor hang around for a fair portion of the afternoon, the Red and Black slammed the door at the outset and continued to hold it closed while generating enough offense early to put the team on cruise control in the second half and get some younger players some needed experience. Beyond that, any praises have to be qualified with, "But it was just Tennessee Tech . . ."

From where I sat, the crowd looked more numerous than I expected, although it was as lackluster as I anticipated. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I know I was not on my feet on every down and hollering like usual because I had my son with me. Logan Gray’s interception on an underthrown pass into the end zone caused me some concern (and made me wonder once again why we are so insistent upon protecting Aaron Murray’s redshirt at this stage of the season), but I am more bothered by the fact that the Bulldogs were unable to tally so much as a single takeaway when facing a Division I-AA opponent between the hedges.

Too much is being made of the penalties. Yes, it hurt that a first-quarter holding penalty nullified a Prince Miller punt return for a touchdown, but that was the only flag of the first fifteen minutes. The Georgia possession in question still ended in a touchdown. Likewise, Brandon Wood’s six-yard offsides penalty on third and nine came during a Golden Eagle drive that still ended in a punt, the false start on first and ten in Georgia’s ensuing drive did not prevent the ‘Dawgs from producing points on the series, and the false start on second and one didn’t stop the Red and Black from converting the first down. Those were the only four penalties of the first half. When a 31-0 halftime lead enables you to clear the bench after intermission, second-half penalties are more or less meaningless, and the coaching staff responded to them with an impressive level of severity.

Washaun Ealey is the future at tailback and, as David Hale noted in the postgame observations linked to above, there is a lot of young talent on this team that is going to make some noise in the SEC in the next couple or three years. However, several impediments are preventing those young men from reaching their full potential, and the top two roadblocks standing in their way are these:

  1. Willie Martinez, who proved yesterday only that he would make a darned fine Division I-AA defensive coordinator, as long as he had substantially more talent at his disposal than the opposing coaches.

  2. A ridiculous double standard regarding redshirting. Urban Meyer said a year or so ago that there was no longer such a thing as a redshirt year at Florida. He was right to say so, for two reasons. First of all, recruits are induced to come play for coaches who tell them their youth will not be held against them if they demonstrate sufficient dedication and ability. Secondly, when you’re recruiting at a high enough level, redshirting is counterproductive. Georgia gained nothing by redshirting Knowshon Rockwell Moreno, and Georgia is gaining nothing by redshirting Aaron Murray. That foolhardy decision virtually guarantees that we will be going through the same learning curve next year with Murray that we have had to go through this year with Joe Cox. That is a shame, considering that we all know that next year is A.J. Green’s last year in a Bulldog uniform. 2010 should be a banner year for the Red and Black, but obstinate decisionmaking regarding the Georgia quarterbacks makes it likely that it will not be.

At the end of the day, a 38-0 win over a Division I-AA opponent at homecoming is what it is, which is what it was supposed to be but nothing more than that. I got to spend the afternoon in Athens with my son, but he was a little worn out by the trip and the mild fever he had before we left worsened when we got home. I got to see a cousin I haven’t seen in a while, but that was only because, even though we missed each other inside the stadium, he called me on my cell phone while I was leaving town and told me his truck had been towed and he needed me to circle back and pick him up to take him to the wrecker service where his vehicle had been impounded.

There was a lot that was good that could be said of yesterday afternoon in Athens. Every good thing that could be said of it, however, has to be followed by a "but . . ." of one sort or another. It was that kind of day, I’m afraid.

Go ‘Dawgs! Auburna delenda est!