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Georgia Bulldogs 32, Georgia Bulldogs 31: Reflections on the 2012 G-Day Game

Because I was sitting in Sanford Stadium throughout the G-Day game, I did not participate in, and I have not reviewed, the comment thread, though, on more than one occasion, I turned to vineyarddawg and said, "RedCrake just cussed," or: "Tankertoad just threw something at his TV!" Consequently, I suspect that much of what follows is not novel, but, even so, here is what I took away from the Red team’s 32-31 victory over the Black squad during the G-Day spring scrimmage game:

The Black team got on the board first, as Adam Erickson connected on a 46-yard field goal with three and a half minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Red squad answered in the second period, taking a 10-3 halftime lead on a six-yard Ken Malcome scamper and a 26-yard Jamie Lindley field goal in what to that point largely had been the anticipated defensive struggle.

The Red appeared at first to have broken the game open when Tavarres King hauled in a 33-yard touchdown strike from Aaron Murray, but the Black responded with 22 unanswered points to build up a 25-17 edge on a seven-yard TD toss from Hutson Mason to Rhett McGowan, a two-yard Richard Samuel run to paydirt, and a bizarre sequence featuring a fumble recovery in the end zone by Garrison Smith followed by an uncontested Erickson two-point conversion.

The Red tied the game with a ten-yard Malcome rush and a successful two-point throw from Mason to King, then the team wearing the home jerseys went out in front by seven when Reuben Faloughi batted the ball away from Parker Welch and into the waiting arms of fellow outside linebacker Ricky Lowe, who plucked the pigskin out of midair, David Pollack-like, and returned it 62 yards for the go-ahead score.

Lowe’s improbable touchdown with 100 seconds showing on the game clock appeared to snuff out the intriguing prospect of an overtime G-Day game, but that possibility seemed to be revived when Christian LeMay found Jay Rome for a 66-yard score with 59 seconds remaining. Instead of playing for the tie, though, the Black went for the win, and LeMay’s aerial attempt for the two-point conversion fell incomplete to award the Red a 32-31 victory.

The Black enjoyed a 16-12 lead in first downs in a contest in which each squad held the ball for 54 snaps; the Red rushed 28 times for 61 yards, while the Black had 29 carries for a paltry 18 yards. The Black connected on 16 of 25 passes for 273 yards and two interceptions, whereas the Red completed twelve of 26 aerials for 174 yards, but no picks. Isaiah Crowell, whose blocking appeared much improved, seemed more confident and durable with ten carries for 39 yards. LeMay---to whom I mistakenly referred in the stands as “Curtis LeMay,” confusing him with the general who wanted to bomb North Vietnam back into the stone age---led all passers with 154 yards over the top, strengthening his bid to be the backup signal caller and raising the intriguing prospect of a 2002-style David-Greene-and-D.J.-Shockley quarterback rotation with Murray and LeMay in 2012.

That said, it is clear that, as goes Aaron Murray, so go the 2012 Georgia Bulldogs. In fact, most of what we thought going in---both good and bad, and especially on the defensive and offensive lines---more or less was confirmed as correct, so we were given neither new causes to panic nor fresh reasons to refrain from panicking about that which already was causing fretting.

An intra-squad scrimmage, by definition, is an invitation to view every aspect of the contest simultaneously as half-empty and as half-full, so it is fair for fans to come away from a 63-point, 526-yard performance feeling better about the defense than about the offense, and to experience anguish over the facts that the Bulldogs (i) took a time out before an extra point, (ii) took a knee on fourth and one (due to the mistaken belief that the defense had encroached), and (iii) gave spectators cause for the creeping dread that Brandon Harton may be this year’s undersized feature back for runs up the middle on third and long, a la Carlton Thomas.

To that, though, I would add these observations, for whatever they might be worth:

  • For all the passing yards, the ‘Dawgs didn’t typically get burned deep. Most of the receptions that went for big yardage were short passes that the receivers turned into big gains after making the catch.
  • Admit it; when you saw the Aaron’s mascot on the sideline, your first thought was, “Hairy Dawg is not in midseason form! Coach T needs to get him in the weight room pronto!”
  • I’m calling it right now: Marlon Brown will lead the 2012 Bulldogs in almost-catches.
  • Had the game gone to overtime, here’s how I’d have advocated settling the score: Mark Richt quarterbacks the Red team, Mike Bobo quarterbacks the Black team, they call the plays in the huddle, they play by regular overtime rules, and the “no contact” rule on QBs is off. Seriously, how is that not a fun way to decide a tie game at G-Day?
  • Instead of having “punt, pass, and kick” at halftime, they should have had “cover, deflect, and intercept” defensive back drills, featuring participants currently enrolled at the University of Georgia who have collegiate eligibility remaining.
  • It looked to me like the plays that worked the best for both teams were the ones that attacked the perimeter. The defenses proved susceptible to such calls, and the offenses proved capable of capitalizing on such maneuvers. I am, however, confident that both Mike Bobo and Todd Grantham will prevent such plays from being executed successfully in the fall, on either side of the ball.

That’s what I saw on Saturday. What else about yesterday’s G-Day game warrants mention? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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