After a sleepy start Georgia ended up just about where they were expected to this afternoon, overcoming some first half lethargy to down the Southern Jaguars 48-6 in Sanford Stadium.
Nick Chubb finished his day with a 15 carry, 131 yard effort (8.7 ypc) and 2 rushing touchdowns. Chubb's first half was less heroic, as he struggled to gain 31 yards on 9 carries in a first half that didn't see the offensive line give him a lot of huge holes. He was one of four Bulldog tailbacks to garner carries on the day, as Sony Michel ripped off a 58 yard touchdown pass and both Keith Marshall and Brendan Douglas played substantial snaps in the second half. Marshall looked good in a 3 carry, 22 yard effort and Brendan Douglas saw his most intense action of the season (6 carries, 44 yards).
The Bulldog quarterbacks were once again brutally efficient against a Jaguar defense that stacked the line to stop the run often. Starter Greyson Lambert was 9 of 10 for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. He now has 7 touchdown passes versus 0 interceptions on the season. Brice Ramsey continued to show why the quarterback race took a while to decide, hitting 11 of 14 in reserve duty for 125 yards (though a couple of those incompletions were risky throws a better defense might have made him pay for). All told they dealt the ball to 11 different receivers, led by Malcolm Mitchell (5 receptions, 96 yards, 1 TD). Mitchell is playing with great confidence right now, and it will be interesting to see him matched up against an Alabama secondary that this season is merely very good instead of its customary "legendary" status.
If you're looking for a nit to pick on the Bulldog offense you could point out their 20% conversion rate on third down, but that requires ignoring the fact that they only faced 5 third downs all afternoon. They rolled up 529 yards and 27 first downs, much of it in the second half after a certain sense of urgency seems to have been instilled in the halftime locker room. In the South we often speak of an event known colloquially as a "come to Jesus meeting." One senses that the Bulldog offense had one of those at the intermission today.
Defensively, the Red and Black again looked generally strong but episodically disappointing. Southern converted a 4th and 8 in the first half leading to Southern's only touchdown of the day. But all told the defense was effective, giving up only 216 yards on the day and holding Southern to 3.3 yards per pass on 10 of 23 attempts. Southern's 3.1 yards per rushing attempt were not bad, but not great either.
Another highlight of the game? After having a bit of a messy game at times against South Carolina the Bulldogs committed a total of 2 penalties for 10 yards on the day. That's dang near perfect. Isaiah McKenzie had the lone turnover of the day on a muffed punt return, but frankly if you're going to muff one the waning minutes of a 48-6 blowout is about the best time possible to do that. Let's consider it a teachable moment and move on. Finally, Mark Richt notched his 140th victory on the Bulldog sideline, tying him with the great Wally Butts for second on the all-time list. That's a Bulldog point of pride if ever there was one.
In short, this one went about like it should have. Our thoughts go out to Southern wide receiver Devon Gales who went down with a scary looking injury after a hit by Marshall Morgan on a kick return. At this writing we don't know a whole lot about his injury other than that he was taken to Athens Regional and was not apparently moving his legs while on the field. Scary stuff that puts a bit of a pall on this win.
That being said, Georgia fans have a lot to look forward to now. Alabama looks to be an underdog for the first time in a long time as they visit Athens next Saturday for a game that should be the center of the college football universe (assuming the Tide don't lose to UL-Monroe this afternoon). We'll be here all week with coverage, analysis, and predictions. But for now, there's nothing like being a Bulldog on Saturday in Athens after a win in Sanford Stadium. Until later . . .