I’m not a doctor. I do, however, have friends who are. And they have assured me that it is not technically, medically possible for one to die from a hangover. Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs tested that thesis to its limits this afternoon in a dull, thudding, disoriented, and lethargic headache of a victory over the visiting Nicholls State Colonels.
It’s difficult to say what Georgia did to make this one far closer than it had any business being. Because it’s difficult to say that Georgia did much of anything, period.
The Bulldog offense produced a tepid total of 373 yards of total offense. A fair percentage of those were squandered behind 3 turnovers. The offense never really looked in synch, and the offensive front was plagued by missed assignments and what appeared to be a general lack of testicular fortitude. Put another way, from here on out they’re going to need to play like they’ve got a pair.
Jacob Eason looked about like you’d expect a talented true freshman QB to look, completing 11 of 20 passes for 204 yards, with one interception and one touchdown (which was, as last week, accomplished by getting the ball in Isaiah McKenzie’s hands and then letting him do Isaiah McKenzie things). There were some balls thrown way too hard. And more than a couple of missed reads. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great. It will get better.
Nick Chubb had a rare sub-100 yard rushing game, with 20 carries for 80 yards, a majority of which came in the second half. Chubb accrued a mere 17 yards from his first 9 carries, which is almost inconceivable. Against Alabama or Florida? Maybe. Against the Nicholls State Colonels? What. The. Horseradish?
The answer in large part was an offensive line that did a poor job of moving the line of scrimmage. Credit Nicholls State with having a better defensive front four than the average FCS team. And for doing some fairly smart things scheme-wise. But make no mistake, the offensive line which bludgeoned North Carolina in the Dome a week ago looked like it missed the bus back from Atlanta on this afternoon.
Sony Michel tallied a mere 3 yards on 3 carries, but that was 3 carries more than he had last week and 3 more than most expected mid-week. Brian Herrien continues to run tough (finishing with 8 carries for 47 yards) and even played a little receiver (though it appears his purpose was to serve as a quick blocker on the outside).
Isaiah McKenzie somehow managed to be both the offensive MVP and the special teams goat on the day. His 66 yard touchdown reception from Eason helped give Georgia breathing room third quarter. His fumbled punt return and error in touching a kickoff at the 6 yard line that was headed off the field took most of that margin away.
Defensively the Bulldogs allowed only 236 yards of total offense, and largely kept the Colonels’ run game in check. Trenton Thompson in particular knifed through the Nicholls offensive line repeatedly. Juwaun Briscoe and Dom Sanders had an interception apiece (kudos if you had that one right in the Friday Over/Under), but there were coverage breakdowns and the UGA secondary got beat a couple of times without having to pay for it. Everyone in the stadium knew that last Fourcade touchdown pass was going to C.J. Bates. The Bulldog secondary just couldn’t or didn’t stop it.
William Ham hit two short field goals and both extra points. He did miss one from 52 yards out, but at this point I don’t know that anyone expects the sophomore from Macon to be automatic from 50+. The kick did have the distance, which is a good sign.
But all in all it was an underwhelming effort, with underwhelming execution, and an overwhelming lack of focus both early and late. I suspect some of it was a physical and mental hangover from the Chik-Fil-A Kickoff game against North Carolina. Some of it was looking ahead to the SEC schedule which begins next week.
And, let’s be honest, some of it was a group of college kids who have access to the internet reading a full week of knuckleheads like me talking about how overmatched Nicholls State would be. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. And Georgia barely broke a collective sweat in this one until it was almost too late. They then collectively put it on mental cruise control and nearly lost the game they thought they’d salted away. The only good things that came out of this one were an apparent lack of injuries and hard lessons. It was bad. Very bad. Just not as bad as it could have been. Ugh.