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15 Thoughts: Signs

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This team still has many issues. There are also some very positive signs...

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Georgia
Swiftly in motion

Georgia ended up pulling away from an overmatched, but very determined Vanderbilt Commodore team last night. Ultimately, the weapons at our disposal proved too much and the defense, after a poor first half performance, regrouped. Some thoughts...

1. Vandy gave us some real problems with their run game and recognizing our blitz. Georgia won the opening toss and deferred. Vandy went three and out on their first series, as did Georgia. On Vandy’s second possession, their first score was set up by a Ke’Shawn Vaughn run for 43 yards down to our 14. A few plays later, and a brilliant defensive stop by Tyler Clark, Vandy kicked a field goal at the 10:50 mark and led 3-0. This is the first time Georgia trailed in any game this season. It wouldn’t last.

2. On our next possession, Jake Fromm on first down, hit Terry Godwin in-stride on a perfectly thrown bomb right into the pickle barrel. Terry has been plagued by some leg issues all season, but he looks to be back in form as he used his stealthy strength to break away from two defenders inside the 5 and dive in for the 75 yard score - Georgia’s longest scoring play from scrimmage this season.

Terry’s back. This is a good sign. And look at that pass protection.

3. Jake Fromm had a very good night, and he still throws one of the best deep balls in all of college. In about a half of football, he was 17/23, 276 yards and 3 TD’s. What continues to impress is how quickly he processes the defenses, and how quickly he is able to make the correct delivery. More on this in a bit...

4. Still, we’ve got to clean up some things on defense - now. Vandy had 130 yards rushing in the first half, ultimately earning 183 for the game. Kyle Shurmur was largely kept in-check, and Georgia’s good habit of not giving up the big pass play continues as the longest gain via the air was for 21 yards. I felt Georgia was over-pursuing early on, and Vandy absolutely diagnosed our blitzes with some very heady play calling, utilizing some effective screens for big gains. Georgia is having difficulty setting the edge on defense early in most of the games thus far. Must do better...

4A. Vandy’s 81 yard drive down to the Georgia 14 ate up 7 12 minutes of clock, but yielded no points as they failed to convert on 4th and short from our 14. However, this drive was maddening and methodical - and also a turning point.

5. The Dawgs scored touchdowns on their next 2 possessions as the offense began to click. Elijah Holyfield’s touchdown was as impressive as any scored by anyone this season. He’s really coming into his own, and I think he’s faster than given credit for. He has all the muscles, including yours, too.

EH #13 is a beast. This is another good sign.

5A. James Cook is going to be special. He runs hard with a unique style. S&C will help him down the road.

6. My favorite drive of the game was our 2-minute drill that answered Vandy’s second scoring drive (field goal) to cut the lead to 14-6 late in the first half. Jake Fromm, with some slick Jim Chaney play calling, executed the 2-minute drill flawlessly in only a little over a minute featureing 6 passes and up-tempo, including pair of nice throws to Isaac Natua. Vandy had no answer and at this point, I’m thinking we should probably tap this a few more times going forward. It was beautiful, as was Riley Ridley’s concentration on his touchdown catch with just over a minute left in the half.

Vanderbilt v Georgia

Riley Ridley is money. He just keeps betting better. A good sign? You betcha’...

6A. Jim Chaney got the tight ends more involved last night. Isaac Nauta, Charlie Woerner and Jackson Harris caught a combined 5 passes for 93 yards. Woerner is a load in the open field.

7. The great thing about winning the deferral and receiving after the half is you have an opportunity to distance yourself. In some cases, you can essentially knock your opponent out. This is exactly what happened when Georgia’s first drive in the 3rd quarter resulted in what I can only decribe is probably the best sign of all: The return to form of D’Andre Swift.

...and to continue my thought on point #3. This play was a result of Jake Fromm’s ability to make the correct and decisive checks, which he did.

When D’Andre can plant and cut, good things happen. This might be the best sign of all...

Swift only rushed 7 times, but gained 50 yards (7.1 avg), but his 35 yard touchdown catch and run (probaby Fromm’s 3rd or 4th option on the play) really signifies that Swift is as healthy as he’s been all season.

8. Justin Fields got significant snaps once again, and showed some flashes of his incredible arm strength (3/6, 53 yards, 8.8 avg). He absolutey threaded a pass to Riley Ridley (I believe) for a modest 9-yard gain, but between 2 defenders on a ball only Ridley could catch. Conversely, he also had Jayson Stanley open and just missed him on the overthrow that would’ve sent the stadium into a frenzy. Fields needs more time under center; time to work out some kinks on the long throws, and check down without tucking it and running. Justin was replaced by Matthew Downing. I don’t necessarily agree with this move, but my opinion doesn’t matter. However, I would have liked to see him wing it after we had a comfortable lead and work on some things: touch, progressions, etc. Just a thought.

9. Our receiving corps is a monster unit. It will continue to be for the foreseeable future. All these guys are athletic and fast. I’m surprised Demetris Robertson didn’t get involved, and I’m not sure if he saw the field.

10. Last season, we skated through the schedule about as injury-free as I’ve ever seen. This season, the regression to the mean is kicking our butt - particularly on the offensive line. Solomon Kindley was carted off the field with an apparent knee injury and, as of this writing, there has not been any official word as to the extent. It certainly appeared serious. Suddenly, we are getting thin and once again will have to flip-flop some guys around. Our excellent center, Lamont Gaillard, had a hand injury (not good for a center), but did return. Trey Hill took some snaps and must work on his delivery to the QB in the shotgun, but that kid is big and will be awesome sooner than later.

11. I really liked what I saw from our big D-lineman, Jordan Davis. He made that critical 4th down stop on our 14, and is going to only get better with more reps. He’s 6’ 6”, 320 lbs. And a freshman. We need him to become that space-eater in the middle of the line, which is our Archilles heel. It appears the light has turned on for this kid.

What? Another good sign?

11A. Richard Lecounte has bad intentions every time he hits someone.

12. Dumb penalties. This can’t happen over the next 4-week gauntlet. I love the aggression we show and the fire that freshman Cade Mays has. This won’t hurt us at home vs. Vandy, but it could kill us next week vs. LSU, or in Jacksonville, or at Kentucky.

12A. Hubert Owens and his Flag Corps are officially the most inept SEC officiating crew in existence. I lost count of how many flags were thrown last night at 48, but I doubt this game should have been as penalized as it was. Both targeting fouls were bogus (including one on Vandy on a hit to Justin Fields) and the targeting called on J.R. Reed, but in reality was Monty Rice who made a great hit to break up a pass is just awful officiating. Are these guys graded at all? They simply didn’t look professional.

12B. “Five men in the backfield” is a thing, I guess. What is going on across college football? I think this was called 4 times on Tennessee last week, 3 times on Vandy last night and once on us. But I see this called everywhere.

12C. Georgia had 115 yards in penalties on 13 infractions. I think I feel slightly nauseous.

13. Rodrigo Blankenship. Greatest walk-on kicker ever. Greatest walk-on ever? He could end up being just that.

Fun with the interwebs...

14. I thought you’d get a kick out of #13.

15. Georgia is a good football team that is having some issues with focus and discipline. It is also a team that has more weapons than curses at the moment and there are some indications that things are starting to click. Part of our slow starts this season - last night was no exception, particularly on defense - seems to be too much adrenaline. I think this team, early on, is playing down to its youth and the defense were really over pursuing at times. Everything I see is coachable. Kirby still isn’t happy. Practice should be “spirited” this week.

I always thought that the offense would have to carry the burden early on until the defense “gels,” and begins to catch up. Yet here we are at 6-0. Are we about to find out how good we are in Baton Rouge next Saturday (3:30, CBS) in Tiger Stadium? We are catching a break since this is not a night game in red stick. LSU is coming off a tough loss to Florida and that was a very physical game. Our injuries aside, we played a TON of freshman again and rested a lot of dudes. LSU did not have that luxury. I think this bodes well for us next week.

BONUS THOUGHTS:

  • That Texas/OU game was a lot of fun to watch.
  • Auburn is really having some buyers remorse right about now. Mississippi State (read: Nick Fitzgerald) ran wild against that vaunted Tiger defensive front. Auburn’s offense is a train wreck. No happier words were ever typed by me.
  • Kentucky lost their offensive Mojo last night. Where was Benny Snell late in the game?
  • I can tell you that had Miami lost to FSU yesterday, Mark Richt would be in trouble. To Miami’s credit, they rallied against a very bad team, but just barely. To be continued...

That’s all I got. As Always...

GO DAWGS!