How do you limit your Munson to 3 Things when any Georgia fan who saw the game on Veteran’s Day can rip off half a dozen without taking a breath? First, you bow to your whip-wielding Editor, Macon Dawg. Then you realize this is not long-form. After that, you look for trends, anomalies, and what gives you the biggest bang for the buck. Only then do you recycle the article you wrote a few weeks ago (kinda).
Here are the three things that I’m NOT worried about Saturday:
1) Last time I said I wasn’t worried about our ability to capitalize in the red zone. I stand by that. Trouble is, you gotta get to the red zone to capitalize on it. And we didn’t do that last time very much. We got to the red zone on the opening drive, and on the last drive which was essentially garbage time. Both resulted in touchdowns. We got close twice, and went 1-2 on field goals. We have to do better this time around. Long drives accomplish more than just scoring – it rests our defense allowing for recovery and minute scheme adjustments, and it keeps their offense off the field.
2) Last time I said I wasn’t worried about Kerryon Johnson. Yep. I acknowledged his productivity but thought our stout run defense would contain him. For what it’s worth, crow tastes better with Trappey’s Hot Sauce (the “Bull”) and garnished/flourished with tarragon.
I think we all now know what Kerryon “My Wayward” Johnson brings, and it includes great vision, great patience, a great burst, slippery-ness, and the best fall forward since Lynn Cain. He’s banged up now. Will he play? Will he be effective? Will the big bruiser Kam Pettway be just as effective? I’d like to think Coach Smart and Coach Tucker will have harped on contain and tackling this past week, specifically to limit this talent. He/They will get his/theirs, but running a back 32 times typically means you’re running from in front. Auburn will run a lot of plays, but if the primary back stays under 25 carries, I like our chances.
3) Last time I said I wasn’t worried about Jake Fromm on the big stage. I’m still not worried. He actually played fairly well on November 11. Was he super crisp? Did he go through the right progressions? Did he make every pre-snap read? Nope. But I said the Auburn defensive front and the Georgia offensive line would factor more than Khaki’s nerves. And I believe that now. The kid is a gamer and he won’t shy away. Now with a few changes to our front 5 (will Kindley or Cleveland get the start? Will Thomas?) based on competition, and with Sam Pittman to review more tape and dedicate a week’s practice to a single opponent, I’m thinking Fromm will have more of a chance to make plays. This particular writer would love to see Eason and 3-4 verts with some crosses or wheels, but this is not the time to make that change and hope for a better outcome.
Here are the three things that I AM worried about Saturday:
1) Last time I said I was worried about our lack of pass rush. I still am. We somehow ended up with 2 sacks and 6 additional tackles for loss against Auburn last time. I didn’t realize I was on meth at the time, because I sure don’t remember most of those. Even with those TFL’s (industry term), Auburn still passed 17 for 24 for 255 yards, and most of those incompletions were before intermission when it was still a ballgame. We hurried the QB a lot, and they eventually used that Georgia aggression against us with counters, weak side plays, and a few broken tackles in the backfield. We have the athletes, and those athletes have the attitude… now they just need to play their position and stick to their responsibility. It might not win the game, but it will limit the big plays, create more mayhem, and could lead to mistakes by the confident Chip Lindsey offense (noticeably absent the first time around).
2) Last time I said I was worried about our 3rd down Defense. Turns out they played admirably. There were only a couple of short 3rd down conversions by Auburn for field goals, with the exception being the 55 yard throw-back screen to Johnson with just over 6 minutes left in the game, effectively nailing shut the War Damn Coffin. Auburn was only 4-13 on 3rd down for the day, well below their conference leading 48% (tied with UGA for 1st in the SEC and 6th nationally).
But 1st and 2nd down were where we failed, and Auburn took advantage of big plays. Johnson was slippery, Slayton got position, our defense over-pursued, and Stidham only got better as the day turned into night. I’ll say it again… Smart and Tucker will have prepared our boys for better discipline, but will they be ready after facing the markedly different Tech offense just last week?
3) Last time I said I was worried about their place kicker, Daniel Carlson. Though I still am, and you have to admit he’s better than good and a nice card to play for Gus Malzahn in a close game, I’m more worried about our edge. On November 11, our players came to a hostile environment with an edge, and responded with uncharacteristic mistakes. The 3rd quarter Hardman punt muff led to a short field and an Auburn touchdown. Almost immediately after, Georgia’s punt coverage gives up basically double the season-to-date return yardage and Sony Michel gets called for a personal foul, setting up Auburn with another short field. We didn’t get any help from the officials, but we didn’t help ourselves either. Eliminate these mistakes, with a “typical” referee game, and I think the outcome is much closer. Play with a controlled aggression, with discipline and less abandon, and Georgia has the talent and scheme to win the SEC for the first time since 2005.
The game is pretty much a coin-flip according to odds makers, but it was the first time too. Vegas either is looking to get money back on the board, or they too think the first game was an aberration – Auburn’s “A” game combined with Georgia’s “C-“ game and they expect much different this time around.
What worries you about Saturday’s game in Mercedes Benz Stadium? We’d better bring our Best… or Nothing.
And as always…