Georgia methodically took care of business at home this afternoon against the struggling Vanderbilt Commodores, notching a decisive 44-17 victory.
That's all well and good of course. But I expect that many Bulldog fans are just as unsatisfied by the win as I am. Don't get me wrong, it's never a bad thing to be a Bulldog in Athens on Saturday night when the Chapel Bell is ringing. I'm thankful for an authoritative win in which Todd Gurley had a few more Heisman-worthy moments but left before getting too banged up. I'm glad that Hutson Mason hit on some big plays, but also that Brice Ramsey got some valuable infield experience. I'm thankful that the defsne made a couple of big plays and didn't give up many in return. Make no mistake, even Ice Cube would have to admit that today was a good day.
That being said, Hutson Mason's stat line was again . . .pedestrian. He was 11 of 17 for 121 yards, and 44 of those came on a single td strike to Chris Conley. Take that one out of the equation and he averaged 4.81 yards per pass attempt and 7.7 per completion. That's dreadful. He also had one bad interception and one even worse pass that should have been intercepted and likely returned for a pick six. I have defended Hutson Mason pretty steadfastly to this point. But I sense the coaches are trying to see if Brice Ramsey can take the job from him.
I don't want the Bulldog coaches to let anyone know, but they need to tell Hutson Mason that he has to go a solid week of practice without targeting Michael Bennett, just to see what it feels like. If Bennett were half as open half the time as Mason seems to believe, he would be a freakish combo of Randy Moss and Fred Biletnikoff. Mason goes to Bennett whether he's the safety valve, the first option, or standing in Jimmy John's ordering a sandwich. Oftentimes he doesn't even look at another receiver. It's time to break this habit before someone really makes us pay for it.
The Vanderbilt offense isn't scaring anyone, and the Bulldog defense didn't give reason to doubt that conclusion. The Commodores converted on only 15% of third down attempts, a much lower percentage than the Bulldogs had been surrendering (32%). 9 of 15 Commodore drives ended after fewer than 20 yards. The Bulldogs forced only 4 three-and-out drives, but 3 of them were accomplished within the first 4 Commodore drives of the game. Essentially the Bulldog defense was dominant up until the point it began to lose interest.
Todd Gurley did Todd Gurley things, rushing for 6.5 yards per carry (25 attempts for 162 yards), but he also did Hutson Mason things better than Hutson Mason, throwing a 50 yard pass to the emergent Jeb Blazevich. He also did Malcolm Mitchell things as well or better than Malcolm Mitchell, catching 2 passes for 24 yards. Though it was nice to see Mitchell back on the field and even nicer to hear that his knee felt fine after the game.
All in all, it was in the words of the old Blues Traveler song, like a bad play, where the heroes are right, and nobody thinks or expects too much. The things which were worrisome before are no less worrisome now. The things that we knew were sound appear just as sound as before. This game proceeded just as it should have, with Georgia winning solidly and tacking on a late touchdown to create a patina of blowout that didn't really exist. Georgia beat a bad team soundly at home, as they should have.
Next week they'll have to go on the road and beat a good but not great team in Missouri, then fly home, then fly back west to complete the same chore in Little Rock, Arkansas. My sense is that this may be the most dangerous two week sawing of the season, with games against teams Georgia could easily beat if they play their best game, but whom they will be playing under less than ideal circumstances. And today I saw little to tell me there's nothing to worry about. But for now, a win's a win and it's great to be a Georgia Bulldog, probably a lot better than to be a Texas Aggie or an Alabama, well, whatever the singular of Tide is. Until later . . .