That was about as delicious a victory as I have ever witnessed in Sanford Stadium, made all the more better because it was against Auburn. I Hate Auburn.
Let's do this. I'll begin with some negatives. There's not much to say from the perspective of how we played. But the negatives we must address are sad (Gurley) and familiar (officiating). Let's hit it...
1. Everyone has the well-being of Todd Gurley on their mind on this Sunday morning. I had left for the exits and missed the play where Gurley appeared to collapse after planting awkwardly on left leg. We just don't know anything as of this writing, but it seemed to be fairly serious. All I can say is prayers are with you, Todd. No matter what the diagnosis, I am confident that you will return to 100% of your bad-ass self. I don't want to be overly presumptive, but we may have seen the last of #3 in a Georgia uniform. I hope that I am wrong.
1A. Watching the game in person, I thought TGIII was just a 1/2-step slower than normal at times. I don't know if this was due to a month + layoff and conditioning, or if he had some other issue with his wheels prior to his late 4th quarter injury. He also came to the sideline favoring his shoulder at one point in the 2nd quarter. He took a beating when he was in there, yet still rushed 138 yards on a season-high 29 carries, with a score.
2. Holding on long kickoff returns are a pretty big kill joy. Having said that, the call was legitimate...
2A. ...the ineligible lineman down-field penalty on Brandon Kublanow was probably the worst call of the year, and that is saying volumes. VOLUMES. I screamed my head off, as did my entire section, because everyone on the line was absolutely static on the perfectly executed Adam Erickson-to-Shakenneth Williams pass, which put us on the Auburn 1 yard line. There is no excuse for the best Conference in the land to have, hands down, the worst collection of referees of any level of football. I'm talking Pee-Wee, too. SEC officials suck. They wouldn't even call the number of the offending player (Kublanow).
It's practically tradition at this point.
(Poor Kublanow’s going to get a complex between this and USC.) - Cherokee's Grip
3. Isaiah dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass on a beautifully thrown Hutson Mason ball which would have answered Auburn's opening scoring drive. The usually reliable Chris Conley also uncharacteristically dropped a couple of really good throws by Mason. In the end, it did not matter. When Quan Bray fumbled Georgia's second punt to set up Malcolm Mitchell's touchdown on a slant a few plays later, all the bad from the previous half-quarter evaporated. Sometimes, it just works out that way.
On with the good stuff...and there is a lot to love.
4. The offensive line were simply outstanding. Pass protection was good; run blocking was stellar. This unit has really stepped it up, led by the original Wild-Man, David Andrews. Nick Chubb did not have the best run of the night. David Andrews did after Chubb's 9-yard blast in the 2nd quarter to put us up 14-7 with a little under 9 minutes before the half. Observe, his Majesty and Momentum:
Georgia wins the Super Bowl. http://t.co/aainHvRjkF— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) November 16, 2014
Auburn put 8 or 9 men "in the box" consistently, and we still ran it through them, consistently. RTDB!
5. What can you say about Nick Chubb? The kid keeps getting better and better. Nick is the complete package: He's more than strong, he's deceptively quick, does possess another gear (contrary to the ESPN B-Team analysis on more than one occasion this season). But his vision is what makes him an elite back. He doesn't take the wrong cut, doesn't pick the wrong lane to run through. He has great instincts.
If Chubb had been a soldier in WWI, the British would have never needed to invent tanks. - HannibalBarca
6. With his 144 yard effort (19 carries/7.6 yards per carry) Nick now has 1039 yards and has rushed for at least 143 yards in all 5 of his starts (yes, he did start last night and that was well-deserved). Although he stepped out of bounds, his best run of the night absolutely electrified the crowd in the 3rd quarter on a 20 jaunt that was nearly a 31-yard legendary touchdown. Still, it was beautiful to behold:
Nick Chubb is fun to watch. http://t.co/9PLfX8TnRw— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) November 16, 2014
That run alone has all the 4-major food groups you want to see in a back: Speed, quickness, power, vision. AND HE'S OURS FOR
3 2 MORE YEARS!!
7. Nick also led the team in reception yards: 2 rec/48 yards. I forgot to mention he has good hands.
8. Jeb Blazevich didn't catch a ball the entire game, but he did a great job in assignment blocking. The kid continues to impress in so many ways.
9. Way to fair-catch that pooch kick, Quayvon! I saw that one coming a million miles away. And if you ever get a chance to go to a game, bring your binoculars. And then, just focus on Mike Ekeler and marvel at that man's passion and intensity. I take back what I said about David Andrews being the original "Wild-Man." Mike Ekeler is. And he's doing a great job. Special teams continues to impress. If not for a really bad holding call, we would have yet another kickoff return added to this unit's overall resume.
10. Jeremy Pruitt schemed his defense about as perfectly as one could have hoped for. It was truly a beautiful thing. Our interior linebackers were never passive; our corners run up on Auburn's favorite play: the quick sideline pass. They clogged the middle and Auburn found themselves in "2nd and long" more often than the dangerous "2nd and short" situation that they thrive off of.
11. Our defensive line did a fine job all night long, and made anything that Nick Marshall try to do in the middle very tough going. Cameron Artis-Payne got 80 yards on 20 carries; Marshall 41 yards on 9 carries. Auburn's rushing output was the lowest in the Malzahn era as the Tigers were held to 150 yards rushing on 35 attempts for a 4.3 yards per average. Pinch me.
In honor of Nick Marshall's return to Athens the refs are ref's are stealing everything they can from UGA's players. - Lakepoets
12. Amarlo Herrera played a great game, as did Ramik Wilson, especially in run support. What was a point of concern the last two previous weeks suddenly changed which was incredibly important to the overall success of the defense as a system. Herrera was all over the field. The secondary did a great job blanketing Auburn's wide-outs on the few times Marshall attempted the deep ball.
13. Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins were constantly putting the outside pressure on Marshall. Auburn's tackles had no choice but to hold - and in a shocking development - the officiating crew actually did their minimum job requirement: They threw flags when it was actually warranted. Auburn was penalized 7 times for 78 yards, with at least 4 or 5 holding calls.
14. The defense simply flew around with controlled chaos last night, never really out of position and playing with a refreshing amount of aggression. This is what we expected to see under Jeremy Pruitt, and perhaps it's all coming together. We've seen glimpses of it in one facet at a time of the unit, but last night it seemed to be a system. We held Auburn to 7 points. Seven. This was unfathomable after the Florida debacle. Even Kentucky had more success (at times) the the Tigers did against our defense. Auburn is talented, but we pushed them around and harried Nick Marshall, causing him to round around most of the night like he stole something.
3 of the last 4 and 7 of the last 9. - AthensBorn
15. Georgia exacted a modicum of revenge last night. The painful memories of the "Prayer at Jordan-Hare" have been exorcised. The payments, with interest, are now due for Malzahn and whatever deal with the devil he made last season. Say what you will (or won't) about Mark Richt: He has acquitted himself very well against Auburn during his tenure in Athens.
There was a time when beating Auburn in Sanford Stadium was rare. Actually, during my time in school ('80-85), I only saw the Dawgs whip Auburn once time (1981) at home. The rest of the 80's weren't so kind. The same thing can be said for Georgia winning in their stadium. Such is the nature of this truly bitter and, at times, bizarre rivalry.
At home, Mark Richt lost to Auburn in his inaugural season in 2001, lost in 2005 and that is it. He has beaten Auburn in Athens in 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011 (we played on the Plains in 2012 & 2013 to balance out the permanent rival thing for SEC scheduling with the addition of TAMU and Mizzou), and again last night. Richt is 9-5 against the Tigers, and has only lost consecutive games one time (2004 & 2005). The all-time series is all tied up now 55-55-8.
Last night was a huge night for prospective recruits. It was a veritable who's who of blue-chip prospects that are seriously considering Georgia (or, who have already comitted) from not only the 2015 cycle, but 2016 and beyond. If we didn't make a helluva impression last night with our play and the crowd, which was fired up and loud, then I don't know what will. It was a great, great night.
Auburn Delenda Est. Mission Accomplished.