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15 Thoughts is Seeing Things a Bit More Clearly.

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NCAA Football: Georgia at Kentucky
Sony getting the tough yards late...
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be honest here. That game was not the least bit enjoyable to watch until the final 2:47 when Jacob Eason directed another game-winning drive as calmly as any 7th - year NFL veteran could have done. Winning makes everything better.

1. The most important “time out” of Kirby Smart’s young career as a head coach might have ultimately saved us. As Kentucky gashed our middle with the “Wildcat,” utilizing Benny Snell time and time again, they were sitting pretty at the Georgia 9 yard line with a tick or two over 4 minutes to go in the game. Kirby had seen enough, called time, brought in some safety help in the box and effectively stuffed the next 2 plays forcing Kentucky to attempt the corner-fade which was covered brilliantly by Malcolm Parrish. Kentucky kicks a chip-shot field goal, ties the game, and sets the stage for more Jacob Eason & company heroics. You have got to keep them out of the end-zone right there when it looked like they were going to score with ease.

2. Davin Bellamy and Dominick Sanders had Benny Snell absolutely stopped for a 4 yard loss on 3rd down and 2. Both whiffed on a “you take it I got it” non-tackle that would have forced a much longer field goal. In the end we got our stop, but that tackle has to be made and we’ve missed far too many this season. The defense regressed a bit from the effort they showed against Florida. Give Kentucky credit: They can run and have big linemen...but consistency in all phases of the game is still lacking. Ah, youth...

3. The most impressive single throw in the entire game occurred on the final drive: A bullet to Terry Godwin in the flat to the wide side of the field that resulted in a 16-yard gain. That pass has pick-6 written all over it had it not been delivered with the velocity it had. I think Eason is the only quarterback, certainly in this Conference, who can make that throw. The pass to Jacob Nauta was a BB on the earlier scoring drive and was a rope and was every bit as tasty, but the Godwin pass was really something.

4. Speaking of Isaac Nauta - that whole chemistry thing between QB and TE is going to be fun to watch going forward. Nauta has what are called, “soft hands.” The grab on the 2-point conversion was another bullet that Nauta calmly snagged. Imagine the possibilities when all of our tight ends aren’t engaged in chipping defensive ends or linebackers on the edge and they can actually release into the middle of the field consistently.

5. Javon Wims made some great catches last night and we are beginning to see some trust between he and Eason. However, Eason is still missing the long-ball touch. He’s underthrowing everyone on the deep ball - but is absolutely lethal when he’s got time to sit in the pocket and hit the 20-yard passes between the linebackers and DB’s. Man, we need some receiver help...

5A. ...and offensive line help. Dead horse beating is a booming business this season here at Dawg Sports, but we are so lacking in size. Help is on the way, but how long can these guys really become effective?

6. Kentucky’s version of the Wildcat is dangerous enough without the holding non-calls that were occurring throughout the evening. Last night’s combination of officiating ineptitude and, perhaps, some “home-cookin” doesn’t even make me mad anymore, y’all. I just watch it in a semi-glazed state of acknowledgement because that is simply the state of our officiating in the SEC at present.

7. The Sideline infraction penalty to give Big Blue a first down in a critical late-game moment is something I’ve never seen that actually enforced. Nick Chubb’s 2nd fumble of the evening was ruled down (he did fumble), then confirmed, then the “man behind the curtain” in Birmingham called to complain. PWG, folks. It’s real and it’s spectacular.

8. Trent Thompson missed most of the game with some sort of hip injury, but according to Smart in his post-game presser Thompson should be alright. He was missed. Rochester and Clark played most of the night. Thompson demands a double-team, but I’m not sure if the freshman are quite at that level. We’ll need #78 next week against Auburn.

9. As the sun rises in the east, a special teams WTF moment is just as certain in 2016. Isaiah McKenzie might be the toughest chihuahua in the fight...but he’s still a chihuahua. Gotta play smarter than that, iMac. His reception on Kentucky’s 4 yard line early in the 2nd quarter was probably good enough for a first and goal. Then, he tried to go all...well...chihuahua against a bunch of pit bulls by running backwards. The muffed punt was, sadly, predictable. Might we see Mecole Hardman next week? He was put in the game on Kentucky’s last kickoff after tying things up (a touchback - no return). Special Teams play is unfairly aging all of us. Wait...didn’t we just win on a special teams play? Nevermind.

10. Sony Michel was brilliant down the stretch. He is such a dependable runner and if he is afforded the tiniest of open space will maximize it. Nick had some good runs, but when forced to run wide is not his forte. He’s still not the same Nick pre-injury. His two fumbles were uncharacteristic. But he and Sony have to be fed the ball.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

11. Enough negativity. There was much good about last night. Winning on the road, at night, in front of an amped-up crowd is always a great, great thing. This team is still learning and showing a knack for late-game heroics. Eason should be 3 for 3 on final, game-winning drives. Some QB’s will not see this type of situation in a season - or even career. This is really big stuff. It may come into play again later this year. It’ll certainly come into play in season’s yet to be played; perhaps in a championship moment. One can often point to a single point in time - that one play - that will determine something bigger down the road. Last night was a very big win for many reasons. Kirby likes the fight in this bunch. They didn’t quit. Maybe they’re learning how to win. I’m such a romantic.

12. Auburn is slated for a 3:30 CBS kickoff next week. The Tigers are getting a bit banged up and outlasted Vandy yesterday. If we don’t screw up on special teams (fat chance?), play with some discipline and block just a little for our backs, we can win this thing. I hate Auburn.

13. Lit. Up.

The SEC East really is a train wreck. Anyhoo...Go Hogs.

14. Jim Chaney in the booth, after some thought, is probably here to stay. He does not have to physically stand by his young protege QB anymore. Jacob Eason is now a veteran. The fact that there is a connection between what is called and what is actually executed bodes well for the immediate and long-term future. We will still go out there next week with an undersized offensive line and an inconsistent receiving corps - which again dropped way too many passes on the evening. There learning curve is still being processed, but the last 2 drives last night certainly gives us all hope. Chaney picked the perfect moment to dial up some really good calls with the game on the line. It worked.

15. I broke my glasses last week at a United Way fundraiser at work, playing a form of indoor soccer - kind of a 2-on-2 type thing. My next pair are going to look a lot like these:

Kirby was right: We do have a helluva kicker. (Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!)

Bonus Thoughts:

How long will it take to get Andrew Thomas (6’5”, 310 lb OT - Pace Academy), Netori Johnson (6’4”, 345 OG - Cedar Grove), D’Antne Demery, 6’5” OT - Brunswick), Justin Shaffer (6’5”, 355 OG - Cedar Grove) and possibly 2 or 3 others - with perhaps a game-ready JUCO guy - up to speed?

Just askin’ for a friend...

As Always, GO DAWGS!