Even in a game like this, someone had to be the best of the bunch. And so it is that I find myself here, as I do every Saturday during the season, finding the best (and worst) individual performances from the week that was in Georgia Bulldog football.
Offensive MVP: Isaiah McKenzie. The lack of offense made finding an offensive MVP a challenge. But McKenzie’s 66 yard touchdown reception from Jacob Eason was clearly the offensive highlight of the day. The Joystick also had 33 yards rushing as Jim Chaney continues to find every avenue possible to get him the ball in space and let good things happen.
Coaches hit the recruiting trail every year looking for “game changers”, players who can flip the field, take it the distance, turn a 5 five point deficit into a 1 point lead in 5 seconds or less. McKenzie is that kind of guy, and offensively he was a phenomenal asset on Saturday. That being said, in the second half he was a one man menace in the kicking game, muffing a punt which was recovered by the Colonels and turned into points and attempting to field a kickoff that left the ‘Dawgs pinned deep and, but for a heads up play on third down, could have put Nicholls State in position to drive for a game winning field goal.
We used to joke about Rhett McGowan putting his heels on the 20 and fair catching everything in front of him while letting everything else soar over his head. On days like yesterday, that doesn’t feel like the worst approach in the world.
Defensive MVP: Trenton Thompson. This one was a no-brainer for me. After posting an insane 11 tackles from his defensive tackle spot on Saturday the sophomore from Albany howe leads the team in total tackles with 12. Playing on the interior of the defensive line. That’s highly unusual. He also leads the team in tackles for loss with 3.5 (3 of them yesterday).
Could you go with Lorenzo Carter for his momentum flipping scoop and score? Sure. You could also go with Aaron Davis, whose well-executed corner blitz/strip created the turnover in the first place. But without Thompson stuffing the middle almost single-handedly late in this one Georgia’s last drive might have been less about running out the clock and more about getting down to score and retake the lead.
Play of the day. McKenzie’s 66 yard touchdown reception. It came with Georgia holding a slim 20-14 lead, facing 3rd and 9 at its own 34. Jacob Eason did a great job of hitting McKenzie, and the Most Exciting Man in Red and Black did the rest. Punt there, and Georgia could have been trailing again.
Low blow. McKenzie’s muffed punt. Fielding a punt is not easy, especially with college football players bearing down on you. But McKenzie’s gaffe happened at a horrible time, at a terrible location on the field, and resulted in a torrential change of momentum. Bad on top of awful wrapped in disastrous.
(Not so) Fun fact. Saturday was the first time in his Bulldog career that Nick Chubb both started and finished a UGA game and yet did not gain 100 yards rushing (he finished with 80, but 58 of them came in the 4th quarter as the Bulldogs were trying to hold on). I have no problem believing that the plan on Saturday was for Chubb to get fewer than the 32 carries he had against North Carolina. But if you told me that Chubb would average only 4.0 yards a carry against Nicholls State I never would have believed you.
We’ll be back with more Bulldog news and notes. Until later . . .