Yes, this team still has problems. Big ones. And yes, we have a game coming up this Saturday against a 7-2 Georgia Southern team that could very easily be just as challenging as either of our previous two games. But we just beat Auburn, and in doing so took the series lead in the
Deep South's Oldest Rivalry for the first time since Vince Dooley was patrolling the sidelines in the Classic City. (Though it should be noted that it's primarily because of Vince Dooley and his "Tigleman Kryptonite" that we lost our previously-huge lead in the series.) It wasn't pretty, but it was unquestionably historic. And when you pull off a historic win against your oldest rival, ain't nobody getting put on notice.
Therefore, even though we have to come prepared to play another "give everything you got" game this Saturday, I'm letting the following people know that, for week 12, You're (Not) On Notice, Dawg!
In no particular order:
1) (Vacant) - As I said last week, in the words of the late, great Yogi Berra, I'm not a superstitious man, but I am a little stitious. Georgia hasn't lost a football game since I vacated the honorary #1 spot. Even though this is a week in which I'm turning it around to "not on notice," I'm still not about to break that streak now.
2) Isaiah McKenzie - Easily the Top Dawg of the day. iMac was the only Georgia player to get into the endzone yesterday, and he did it twice: once on a WR jet sweep, and once on a patented "Human Joystick" punt return. That punt return TD, by the way, was the first punt return touchdown Auburn had given up since Skyler Green of LSU returned one all the way on the Tiglesmen on October 22, 2005.
3) Malcolm Mitchell - One of the benefits of having McKenzie and Terry Godwin become legitimate receiving threats from their WR spots is that Malcolm Mitchell gets opened up more with 1-on-1 coverages. And though Mitchell's box score line wasn't very impressive yesterday (just 2 receptions for 20 yards), that was partially because the referees somehow managed to overlook 2 blatant pass interference calls committed against him, and even called him for offensive PI on a play that should have been no-called at best, and a defensive PI at worst.
Make no mistake: Malcolm Mitchell got screwed over and over again by the officials on Saturday. But he kept coming back again and again, never letting up, and it paid off in the end. Not only did the Auburn defense have to respect him, which helped free up more defenders for the running game, but Mitchell also corralled the Tiglesman onside kick at the end of the game, not letting it bounce out of his grasp once he enveloped the ball. Mitchell literally secured the game for us on his last touch. He's a DGD.
4) The entire defense - I haven't been able to discuss our defensive players much this season, because this is normally an "on notice" article, and I haven't had any cause to put virtually any of our defensive players on notice this year. Since I'm switching it up this week, though, I would be remiss if I didn't call out the entire defense for basically winning 3 out of the last 4 games for us. Since Nick Chubb went down, our offense has been a hot mess. (In fact, calling our offense a "hot mess" does a gross disservice to hot messes.) But when the other team can't score, it makes it a lot easier to win games, and in our last 3 wins against Mizzou, Kentucky, and Auburn, our defense has given up just one touchdown.
I think I felt what every Georgia fan felt after that first drive yesterday, when Auburn marched straight down the field and scored on us, which was, "Oh crap, here we go again." But the Tiglemen didn't see the endzone again all day, and that's a credit to all of our defensive players and staff. Nobody knows what the offseason might bring in terms of coaching turnover and turmoil, but we're not going to worry about that today. Today is about celebrating the team's superb effort and win, and no squad was more central to that win, and to our last 3 wins, than our shutdown defense.
5) Lorenzo Carter - As I said, our defense, as a whole, played exceptionally well after the first drive of the game on Saturday. But the single play that won the game for us was Lorenzo Carter doing his best "Jarvis Jones in Jacksonville" impression and stripping the ball from Ricardo Louis on the 4-yard line with 3:22 left in the game. That play, followed up by Aaron Davis' recovery of the ball on the 1-yard line, proved to be the dagger that killed Auburn's hopes of staging a comeback. Carter could be fairly said to be having a "sophomore slump" this year after his amazing freshman season, but that play was the single biggest defensive moment of this game, and he deserves all the accolades and "attaboys" he gets as a result.
6) Ricardo Louis - You know, Ricardo, you'd think a big Georgia fan like myself would still be bitter and mad at you. After all, you're the hero of the "Prayer at Jordan-Hare." You're the guy in whose arms the ball fell on that wholly unbelievable play that won Auburn the game against Georgia 2 years ago. You'd think I'd be holding a grudge, wouldn't you? Well... I admit that I am that kind of fan, normally. But after fumbling the game back to us this year to bring your career record against UGA to 1-3... well, Ricardo, I figure we're even. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors, sir.
7) Mark Richt's travel schedule - It can be truly said that recruiting never takes a break. And after a huge win and a big performance by his team on the Plains in Alabama, Mark Richt traveled back to Athens with the team, presumably got a couple of hours of sleep, and then hopped on a plane to go all the way to Washington state for breakfast. He even has photographic evidence of the trip so his pastor will accept his excused absence from church this morning (Note: That was a light-hearted joke based on Mark Richt's well-known faith and stuff, so don't take it as anything other than that):
Having breakfast in Snohomish Washington in Jakes Cafe with Jacob and Tony Eason. Go Dawgs! pic.twitter.com/II6JFCkmYB— Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) November 15, 2015
Also, in case you were wondering, this is not a recruiting violation, since Jacob Eason has already signed financial aid papers with UGA. This does not bind him to actually attend UGA (though he's expected to enroll in January), but it does free Coach Richt from the normal restrictions on mentioning recruits by name or publicizing visits with them. (Also, that guy wearing a UGA polo that's barely in-frame on the left is probably a compliance person, if I know the UGA compliance department like I think I do.)
8) Students with tickets - Remember, this is a "not on notice" list, so the students are not on notice. And the reason they're not on notice is because in every single home game this year, the student section has filled up fuller and faster, proportionally speaking, than the rest of the stadium. Even in the depths of despair against Mizzou and before the Kentucky game, the students have shown up in greater numbers (again, proportionally) than the other fans, and they've cheered their fool heads off for the Dawgs at all times. Given the state of the student section just a handful of years ago, that's magnificent, amazing progress. And I applaud and congratulate you, students, on making the Sanford Stadium student section a huge asset to this team.
With all that said, however... we've got one more home game to go. We need y'all to keep up the excellent work y'all have done all season long just one more time. Just one more time, ladies and gentlemen. Show up early, show up loud, and let the Eagles know that in spite of the fact that their fans will be there en masse, this is still Bulldog Country.
That's it for this week, Dawg fans. I know some of y'all have already moved past celebrating the win and on to lamenting the general state of our program in spite of it... but I'm just gonna sit here and enjoy this one for a few more hours. A stout Georgia Southern team still awaits us on Saturday, and I'll be in my seat in Sanford Stadium yelling and cheering at that time, but remember, we just beat Auburn and took back the all-time series lead in the
Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. Imma sit back and soak this one in for just a bit longer.