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What The Hell Happened Saturday?

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Just about everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong Saturday at Auburn.

Alright. Alright. Alright. Like many Georgia faithful, I made the short trek to Auburn Saturday for the game. And like many Georgia faithful, I expected to witness another Georgia win, and the beginning of the end of Gus Malzahan.

Now, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t at least a little nervous going into this one. Auburn had looked pretty good all year. Their defense (especially the front seven) had looked formidable. Their offense had been playing pretty well. Jordan-Hare is always a tough place to play.

Georgia on the other hand had some weaknesses I think we all thought might be exposed eventually. Our pass rush was questionable. Our freshman QB untested. Our team was maybe too young and inexperienced for this bright spotlight?

I think we all thought a loss was possible, but there was no way we’d be blown out. Mark Richt is gone. The culture has changed. And Kirby would at least get us our money’s worth for those lofty ticket prices. Then that happened. And now we are all sitting around, befuddled and pissed off saying, “What the hell just happened?”

To begin, Auburn has a damn good football team. Do not try to take that away from them. Their defense is legit (especially that D-Line, which features a bunch of Georgia boys we obviously missed on). Jarrett Stidham is pretty good, and Kerryon Johnson is special. But, they aren’t as good as we made them look. They sure as heck aren’t 23 points better than Georgia.

Very Poor Coaching

Kirby said after the game that the blame falls on his shoulders, and I completely agree. It starts at the top. No, I’m not calling for him to be fired. And yes, I still think he has done a great job at Georgia thusfar. There is no doubt that we are absolutely moving in the right direction. But, his in game coaching decisions, particularly in close games over the past 2 seasons have been pretty questionable and worrisome.

The last 22 seconds of the first half was literally the worst coaching/poorest time management I think I have ever seen, across all sports. We were down 9 points inside their 30-yard line, with zero timeouts.

And we ran the F***ing ball. Are you kidding me?? It would’ve been bad enough if we were winning, but we were losing by 9. Fromm could’ve taken at least 2-3 shots downfield and into the endzone. Instead, we played it conservative and missed the damn field goal. That’s a huge momentum swing.

Even more worrisome were Kirby’s postgame comments regarding the play. “We were worried about possibly losing yards (on a sack) if we threw the ball. So we thought it was best to run.” I mean, Really? By that logic, shouldn’t we have been worried about fumbling the ball if we were to run?!

Hey Kirby, you can’t make decisions based on fear. I’m 25, and I learned that years’ ago. It was bad enough that he let 8 seconds run off the clock between Auburn’s second down play and the timeout on their last drive of the 2nd half,. But this was just pathetic. You can’t play not to lose, especially when you’re losing.

Of course there’s playing to win and there’s playing reckless. Which brings us to the Mecole Hardman fumble. Yes, I am putting that one on Kirby too. Just stay with me. I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve been anxiously waiting for Mecole to do that all year.

Now I understand why Mecole is our main return guy, he’s extremely fast and explosive. The guy obviously has issues catching the ball. We’ve seen that all year. So why do you put him back there in a position where the odds of even getting off a good return are so low and the risk from a muff is so high? You put in the veteran guy with the best hands on your team in that situation (Terry Godwin).

Kirby knows this too. He’s been doing it all year. Usually Godwin is our guy in this situation, but for some reason Kirby neglected to put him in yesterday, and it arguably cost us the game. I know this seems ticky-tacky, but these are the kind of decisions that win or lose you games.

I’m not gonna to lie, I was surprised, even shocked, when I saw that quote from Kirby after the South Carolina game. For those of you that don’t know, it went something along the lines of “At Georgia we are going to be the hunter, not the hunted, “ in regards to the onside kick to start the game. Well, that’s great and all, but if you are gonna talk the talk, you need to start walking the walk.

When you play it conservative and “play not to lose,” more often than not you lose. I think we all saw how that played out for the Falcons and Mike Shanahan in the Super Bowl. Some have argued it is the reason Mark Richt lost his job! For Georgia to get where they need to be, we need Kirby and Chaney to start walking the walk and giving our players a chance to make the play!

And then there’s Jim Chaney. I’m just gonna come out and say it. He called one of the worst games of all-time. Yes, of all-time. I don’t think Brian Shotteinheimer could’ve called a game that poorly. The lack of creativity and conservatism was unbelievable. To begin, we ran the ball over 80% of the time on 1st and 2nd down while the game was within 14 points. Next, we did not throw one single screen pass (perfect call to offset a d-line that is teeing off almost every play). Then there was that RB dive call out of the shotgun, on 3rd and one, near mid-field, with 6:55 left in the 2nd quarter.

Why not go from under center there? Why not run the ball, out of the I-formation, and hand it off to Christian Payne, like we have done all year in this situation?

Uh yea, so that run play on 2nd and 21 was pretty bad as well.

Where were the RPO plays by the way? We’ve successfully used these all year, and then in our biggest game to date, stop calling them.

Also, I’ve had enough of the trick play crap. We are frickin Georgia. We are the #1 team in the country. We have superior talent to every team we have played this year. We shouldn’t have to resort to calling flea flickers, RB passes, etc. to win games. Those are the kind of plays that you run when you know you are an inferior talent team (aka South Carolina, Florida, etc.) and need to catch your opponent off guard. All of this crap works against teams like Tennessee, Florida, etc., who have poor inferior talent and poor coaching.

But when you play teams like Auburn and Alabama, with equal talent, you can’t expect to run the ball every 1st and 2nd down and win. You can’t be that predictable. If the other team has the same talent you do, and they know what play you are calling, you don’t stand a chance.

In summary, the offensive struggles are on the coaches in my opinion. Not the players. I find it hard to believe that our offensive line, which has played great all year, all of the sudden just played horrible (it’s pretty hard to block guys when they know the play call!). I think Jim Chaney just didn’t put them in a good situation to succeed. When you run the ball every 1st and 2nd down, and then throw on 3rd and long, it’s damn near impossible to beat a good defense, regardless of how good your players are.

The real issue is how much we are protecting Jake Fromm. We basically treat him like he’s Felipe Franks or Quentin Dormandy, and a huge weakness. When in fact, he has proven all year to be not only capable, but a strength and valuable asset. Fromm is special in my opinion. I’m talking Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning special. He’s got great leadership skills, elite accuracy, and most importantly a very high football IQ. And at this point (10 games into the season), I wouldn’t even consider him a freshman any more. But for some reason Kirby and Chaney won’t open up the playbook and let him loose. You can’t beat good teams and win big games without balance on offense. Kirby knows this. Saban knows this. We all know this. So it’s time to let Fromm do his thing. Take the reins off and let him loose!

Overall, just like anything in life, you have to take a risk to get a reward worth having. If you play it safe/conservative then you’ll just stay in the same rut and nothing will ever change. It’s time to roll the dice, Kirby!

Jordan-Hare

I’ve been to a lot of stadiums over the years, and in my opinion, Auburn is tied with LSU as the hardest place to play in college football. Yea, I said that. It’s tougher than Tuscaloosa, tougher than Tennessee, and sure as hell tougher than Clemson. It’s loud, they play a bunch of rap music, and once the momentum starts swinging towards the home team, good luck.

The Refs

I’m fully aware of the saying “Refs don’t win or lose you games.” But in reality they can, will, and have. Now it’s always to be expected that you won’t get many calls at Auburn (refs are part of the payroll there), but the officiating Saturday was just downright pathetic and completely one sided.

Georgia came into the game Saturday as one of the least penalized and most disciplined teams in the country. And somehow, someway they were flagged 7 times for 75 yards, including 4 personal foul calls. Auburn on the other hand, who is notoriously one of the least disciplined and most penalized teams in the league, escaped with only 5 flags for 29 yards.

I’ll begin by calling out Matt Austin. The guy has it out for Georgia. The only other game this year that Georgia had a penalty problem was against Notre Dame. And guess who the head ref was for that one? Matt Freakin Austin. He hosed us for 12 penalties and 126 yards. He then hosed us again Saturday. That guy should never be allowed to call a Georgia game again.

There was the third down pass where Carlton Davis literally shoved Javon Wims out of bounds. No call.

Second, the botched holding call spot in the 2nd quarter, when Auburn was on our 47 yard line up 9-7. The hold occurred at the line of scrimmage and it should’ve been 1st and 20. Instead they gave them a yard, and it was 1st and 9. That would’ve completely changed the play calling on both offense and defense there, and I seriously doubt that Darius Slayton TD happens. Big deal.

Then there was the 3rd quarter punt play. The one in which our player was obviously blocked in the back, right in front of the official, and then Sony Michel gets called for a personal foul. Now I didn’t see what Sony did, but I have a really hard time believing he did anything that really warranted a 15 yarder. Regardless, the flag there was the difference between Auburn starting off inside their 20 after a block in the back call and Auburn starting off inside Georgia’s 25 after a personal foul call. Big deal.

Whether people want to admit it or not, the refs make a huge difference in these games. I’m not saying Georgia would have won if we had gotten a couple of these calls, but the outcome sure would’ve been a lot close in my opinion. I think it’s about time that the SEC and NCAA start holding some of these guys accountable. There is a of money as well as people’s careers on the line in these games, and it is all in the hands of a couple officials. I think it would be more than fair to allow coaches two challenges of officiating calls in games as well. Just a thought.

Residual Effects of The Mark Richt Era

Georgia yet again failed to show up for a big game. We’ve all seen this one before. It’s a culture and a mindset that unfortunately was instilled in this program towards the end of the Mark Richt era. And unfortunately (although Kirby has done his best to beat it out of some of these players), it’s still present in some of Richt’s guys. There’s really no other way to explain some of the decisions and plays that some of our guys made last night. D’Andre Walker’s leap, Malkom Parrish’s late hit, Jayson Stanley’s catch interference, and Sony Michel‘s personal foul, were all surprising, and played big roles in the outcome of the game.

We haven’t done stuff like that all year, so why now? In my opinion, they all got anxious/nervous because of the big game/environment and resorted to old habits. It’s the only logical explanation. The only question is: Can this be fixed? I think it can and sure hope it is before the SEC championship game.

Ok, so Saturday happened. Yes, it sucked. And yes, no one saw that coming. But, it really doesn’t change anything. If anything, it might even be a good thing. Georgia needed a wake up call, and it’s better now, in a game that literally meant nothing (in terms of our final goal of winning the national championship), than against Alabama in the SEC championship. We still have all of our goals in front of us. The only question is, can we fix these problems? To be honest, I have my doubts.

I think Kirby will continue to improve on his in-game decision making (although I thought he would’ve learned from a lot of his mistakes last year). But I continue to have some serious doubts about Jim Chaney. Being a good play caller is either something you have or don’t have. And I don’t think Jim has it. I have a very hard time believing that he will wake up tomorrow and suddenly have some creativity and unpredictability (have the same feelings about Sarkisian FYI). I guess only time will tell….

Oh yeah, and if the game yesterday wasn’t bad enough. Watching “Miami Mark” Richt and Miami obliterate Notre Dame on national television last night really brought fitting closure to the day. Don’t get me wrong, I like Richt a lot, but it’s not exactly a great feeling to see the guy that your program fired, now leading his team to an undefeated season and potential playoff berth. And to make matters worse, he just completely obliterated Georgia’s “best looking win in college football” by completely exposing Notre Dame.

#MakeGeorgiaGreatAgain

Poll

Who is to blame for Saturday’s debacle?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Jim Chaney
    (161 votes)
  • 13%
    Kirby Smart
    (107 votes)
  • 6%
    The Offensive Line
    (50 votes)
  • 2%
    The Refs
    (23 votes)
  • 56%
    Everyone
    (449 votes)
790 votes total Vote Now