First things first. Dylan Thompson didn't go forward one inch on that fourth down. I'll never be convinced otherwise. But I also sympathize with an official trying to determine where the guy's forward momentum stopped in the middle of a pile from twenty feet away.
I do not sympathize with a Bulldog defense that didn't get fit against the run for most of the second half. I don't sympathize with a secondary that couldn't really get the hang of man coverage, then proved to be inexorably perplexed by proper zone schemes as well. I don't sympathize with Hutson Mason for making a freshman mistake throwing the ball away on the goal line, putting us behind the chains on a possession which should have put the 'Dawgs ahead and put the defense in position to get a stop with momentum on their side*. I do not sympathize with all the kissers of tackles who turned three and five yard gains into first downs.
In some instances I simply have no words. I have no words for Marshall Morgan missing two field goals from inside the fifty when he had hit twenty-one of twenty-two from inside the fifty since the start of 2013. I have no words for the utterly pathetic holding call on Brandon Kublanow in the first half. I can't make you feel better about those things because I can't make myself feel better about them myself. The truth of it is that the Georgia Bulldogs missed more than enough tackles and were out of sync on enough plays offensively to lose this football game. And they've got a lot to work on to keep this from happening again. A few quick observations.
- Hutson Mason may be the real life son of Bruce Willis's character from Unbreakable. He cannot throw a wet football well, as we previously saw in the Gator Bowl. He was also clearly not in sequence with his receivers for much of the night. It wasn't the worst performance a Bulldog quarterback has ever had in Columbia. But there's a good chance the Red and Black win this game if the performance were only marginally better.
- It appeared that when Todd Gurley was not in the game in big situations tonight the tailback was more likely to be Sony Michel than anyone else. It will be interesting to see if that continues.
- Keith Marshall, despite my prediction to the contrary, was conspicuous in his near total absence. Why is anyone's guess at this point, but my guess is it's lingering injury issues. I can't believe that if he's healthy he's executing his assignments that much more poorly than the two freshmen.
- When we were voting on such things during the preseason I voted the South Carolina offensive line the best in the league. They didn't change my opinion tonight. Time and again they picked up the blitzes that the Clemson offensive line was flummoxed by. The good news is that they're likely the best unit we'll see all season by a good margin.
- The South Carolina offense clearly knew to be looking for zone coverage and did a great job finding the soft spots in it. Dylan Thompson did a great job of getting the ball to them in those spots.
- God bless Todd Gurley. He repeatedly made something out of nothing and put the offense on his back, but couldn't do it all by himself.
- The return of the fullback dive was nice. It's one of those things that works in small doses, and it worked tonight.
- Mike Bobo will be second guessed on the play calling sequence leading to the second missed Marshall Morgan field goal. I don't think there was a lot he could do differently once that grounding penalty put the offense in 2nd and fourteen to go. I will say that you should be able to give it to either Gurley or Hicks and get four yards on three carries. But that's it.
- You have to give credit to Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks. They could have deflated on several occasions, but didn't. They've still got a loss in the SEC and they still have to go to Auburn. But they're as in the SEC East race as anyone.
- And you have to give credit to these Georgia Bulldogs. They came from eleven points down to very nearly take the lead in one of the most hostile environments you'll ever see. Did they come up short. Absolutely. They also made a lot of dumb mistakes that put them in the position to need to come back in the first place. But as much as I dislike losing, I despise quitting, and this team did not quit. You have to give them that.
- Georgia has to be on the lookout for a letdown against Troy. Sure the Trojans are 0-2 after a blowout loss to UAB and a 34-17 defeat at the hands of Duke. As I write this they're tied with Abilene Christian for Heaven's sake. But now's not the time to put in an application for the Mope Ass of the Month Award. The things we thought needed improvement going into the Clemson game apparently still need to improve. The Bulldog defense will get better under Jeremy Pruitt, but it's going to take a little while. Don't be that moron who seriously argues in the comments that it's time for Georgia to start shopping for another defensive coordinator. That's about the only kind of "that guy" I don't have sympathy for.
Feel free to express your thoughts, worries, and frustrations in the comments below. Again, just try to be civil, try to be respectful of the opinions of others, and keep the language relatively clean (no F bombs, S bombs, or other stuff you wouldn't want your Momma to read). We'll be back tomorrow to figure out where we go from here. Until later, it's still great to be a 'Dawg.
*I've seen mention that the ball hit the rushing defender's leg. This doesn't change the fact that it required a pretty tortured interpretation of the grounding rule to give him credit for trying to hit the crossing receiver seven yards upfield.