Mongol General: Conan, what is best in life?
Conan the Barbarian: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
Mongol General: Yes! That is good. That is good!
------ Conan The Barbarian
To put this in technical terms, Clemson don't want no more.— Dawg Sports (@dawgsports) August 31, 2014
As the second half of the fourth quarter of tonight's Bulldog victory over Clemson wound toward its then inevitable conclusion, I was reminded of this quote from one of the most impressive movies of the twentieth century*. I was also reminded of a game of high school football that I played many years ago, against a team from Screven County High School. Screven County featured an offensive line that averaged around 270 pounds, and featured both a tight end and a tailback who would sign with Georgia. They ran a two tight end, power-I offense that never let the ball get into the air. Because it didn't need to.
By the fourth quarter of that game the score was actually a bit closer than the score of tonight's affair. But I knew how the Clemson defense felt. After three and a half quarters of getting run over and through by a rotating cast of Sylvanians with full beards who may have need to get home so their wives wouldn't get mad, I just didn't want any more. I was ready for it to end. I wanted to stop them. But I and my teammates just couldn't.
The Country Gentlemen were in the same boat tonight. By the time Nick Chubb bounced through them on a 60 yard touchdown scamper the Tigers, to use a technical term, just didn't want no more. They had been physically and mentally beaten to a pulp.
It's nice to talk about stretching defenses along both axes. And to imagine the possibilities of the POP concept in forcing defenders to make decisions in space. But sometimes there's just nothing more effective that lining up and knocking the unshirted hell out of an opponent over, and over, and over again until they just buckle. Georgia did that in the second half of tonight's contest, and I enjoyed it immensely.
Todd Gurley set a Georgia all-purpose yards record with 293 on the game, 198 of them on the ground (besting Rodney Hampton's record of 290). And it could have been more. Heck, backs not named Todd Gurley had 134 rushing yards. Only a very technical illegal shift penalty prevented Georgia from jamming it into the end zone for a seventh time with less than a minute left.
Hutson Mason was a workmanlike 18 of 26 for 131 yards. He threw no touchdowns, but he likewise threw no interceptions. And I would be perfectly pleased for him to replicate that performance 14 more times this season. There will come weeks when we need Mason to take the pressure off the tailbacks and loosen up the defensive front. But in this game, with no Malcolm Mitchell or Justin Scott-Wesley, Mason was tasked with not losing it for the first 45 minutes of the game, and he responded beautifully.
The offensive line also looked better than it has at least since last year's South Carolina game, keeping Mason's jersey clean all night and opening up progressively wider holes for the tailbacks.
Georgia also played easily its best special teams game in years. I dare not hope for this kind of thing every week. But time and again Clemson started 13 of their 15 drives on the night inside their own 25. Each time it appeared the Tigers might take control of the field position battle the Georgia punt team flipped the field once again. Simple mathematics dictate that the further an offense has to go to get to the end zone, the more plays it will need. And the more plays it needs, the better the chances of the carefully choreographed ballet missing a beat. By happenstance, 2 of the Tigers 3 touchdowns came on the only drives they started outside their own 30.
Also that Todd Gurley kickoff return was a thing of beauty, and old school wedge return that took out all the initial threats and set Todd the Barbarian loose on the steppes of Sanford Stadium. I would not want to tackle Todd Gurley with a 30 yard head of steam either.
Also, the Georgia defense did the most curious thing. Coming out of halftime they played better than they played in the first half. I asked a few friends who followed Jeremy Pruitt during his tenures at Florida State and Alabama about this, and they tell me it's what's known as a "halftime adjustment." I know remember seeing Todd Grantham accomplish something similar on a few occasions, though never quite as emphatically as this.
It was truly a tale of two halves. Clemson's offense gained 306 yards in the first half. They tallied 15 in the second, largely because the last 3 Tiger drives of the game ended with negative yardage. Again, by this point Clemson simply didn't want any more.
And some of the credit has to go to the Sanford Stadium crowd, which was loud and proud all night. There was a large crowd of big time recruits for 2015, 2016 and even 2017 in the house, and I guarantee you they were given something to think about this evening. It was an atmosphere a lot of recruits will be comparing their subsequent visits to.
Tackling was a little sketchy at times, and the young secondary looked young to start the game. But they were bailed out admirably as the game wore on by a Bulldog front 7 that simply took control of the line of scrimmage, and which got decisive pressure with 4 to 5 rushers most of the night.
Keith Marshall may have suffered an injury of some sort, which would be regrettable, but he didn't go to the locker room and even made it back in on special teams after limping off the field, so I have trouble believing it's anything serious.
Also Leonard Floyd. No, he didn't play bad. He is bad. He's angling for the title of baddest S.O.B. in Dodge County which, as someone who spent much of his formative youth in and around the Eastman/Chester/Rhine metroplex, is saying something. That Bulldog defense that was supposed to be quicker and better conditioned in the fourth quarter was, in fact, quicker all night long and most assuredly fresher in the fourth quarter. Yippee!
The road ahead. I can't bear the thought that this team might pull a 2004 Tennessee and enjoy its own press clippings during next week's bye. But that's a problem for another night. For now it's great to be a Georgia Bulldog. Feel free to relive the glory of tonight's festivities in this space, just be nice to each other and to any visiting Clemson fans who swing by. Nobody likes a sore winner, especially a bruised, bloody, and sore loser. So act like Momma and Daddy raised you to. Until later . . .
*Impressively bad, that is. I mean, have you ever watched Conan the Barbarian while stone cold sober and over the age of 12? It's truly, irredeemably terrible. It features James Earl Jones turning into a snake during the middle of an orgy. Let that sink in. Or don't. The more i think about it, you really don't want to think about that too much.