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15 Thoughts: Now it Gets Hateful

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We just ate our last cupcake. There are defensive (gasp!) concerns, our offense looks increasingly dangerous, and Tech lies and cheats. Time for some GOFH.

NCAA Football: Massachusetts at Georgia
Speed Kills

1. Georgia dispatched UMass as expected. Offensively, Georgia was never stopped against an over matched Minutemen defense. Defensively, I haven’t seen a single receiver torch our secondary like that since Andre Rison lit us up in the ‘89 Gator Bowl (252 yards). Andy Isabella caught 15 passes for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns, bringing back some bad memories and causing a bit of secondary concern. Here’s a kid that had a single college scholarship offer (Air Force - as a running back) and will probably be playing in the League next year. He’s looks to be cut from the same mold as Wes Welker or Danny Amendola. A tip of my Dawgly cap to you, sir. Baller.

2. In a game like this, you want to tweak some things here ‘n there, and perhaps add in a few wrinkles on offense which is what we accomplished. What you absolutely do not want to happen is lose your starting inside linebacker to an injury during pre-game warm ups, which, sadly, is exactly what happened. Monte Rice’s status for Tech next week is not known as of this writing, but from the sounds of things, we’d better not count on his services, which is disturbing. Evidently, Rice is dealing with some kind of foot injury and the extent of the severity is not known as of this writing. The 2017 injury situation was extreme - in a good way. 2018’s regression to the mean is, in a word, a bitch.

3. The Dawgs never punted last night, amassing 426 yards on the ground (12 different players got touches, including Lofton Tidwell’s infamous -1 loss probably caused by the stealthy, yet highly effective micro linebacker). Georgia’s passing attack amassed 275 yards with some pretty gaudy QBR numbers among Jake Fromm, Justin Fields and Matthew Downing. Georgia totaled 701 yards (713 is the record set against FAU in 2012).

4. Everyone knows that Justin Fields is the truth, but yesterday he was able to do some unhinged things that gave us a glimpse into a very, very bright future. Of all his scoring plays, his first touchdown of the evening was, in my mind, the most impressive as he threw an absolute BB to Riley Ridley while getting hit:

h/t Dayne Young. A Ph.D in Gifology...

5. Man, we had a ton of different looks with #1 in the backfield, didn’t we? I saw traditional I-formations, the mouth-watering Pistol formation and a ton of shotgun stuff with the run-pass option essentially freezing UMass’ linebackers until it’s too late. Here’s another clip with a very tasty result...

6. Regarding Fields - the bottom line is the kid’s learning curve has accelerated at just the right time as we head into Hate Week and the showdown in Atlanta. Jake Fromm is still our guy and rightly so, but FINALLY I believe we are genuinely causing opposing defensive coordinators an issue as the playbook is opening up exponentially for Justin Fields and his incredible skills set. I don’t know how far the combination of both QB’s and the packages set for them will take us, but it’s going to be fun watching...and is quite the window into the future.

7. Have a day, Tyler Simmons. Weapons everywhere. Every. Where.

8. Defensively, I’m a bit more concerned. I wouldn’t say we regressed this week; perhaps the focus wasn’t completely where it should have been. With Rice’s injury, our inside linebacker play is a major concern. Last year against Tech, Roquan Smith was a heat-seeking one man surface-to-surface missile that hemmed in Tech in the lateral run game. This year, I don’t see any choice but to play some faster freshman (Adam Anderson, Channing Tindall) in the middle.

9. I think we are going to score a ton of points on Tech - provided we get enough stops to get the ball enough times. Tech has had a propensity to turn the ball over this season, however they’ve done a better job of late. We absolutely cannot turn the ball over next Saturday. It can’t happen. This is what killed us in the 4th quarter in 2016 and who can forget Nick Chubb and Sony Michel’s 1st half fumbles in 2014. We were headed for a blow-out in that game. I don’t need to recap the rest. Protect the football.

10. Special teams were pretty “blah” yesterday. Hot Rod mis-kicked his first one of the year yesterday, but was generally effective on kickoffs hitting 5 of 7 into the end zone and adding a 40-yard field goal. Terry Godwin’s muffed-punt was a bit baffling and directly led to UMass’ first touchdown (a poor defensive effort on a very short field).

11. Kirby & Co. essentially cleared the bench for this one. Something like 76 guys got meaningful snaps and a ton of guys played more than a token amount of minutes.

12. Offensively, we averaged 16.2 yards per pass, 9.5 yards per rush. If we average half of this output next week, we’ll still be in pretty good shape. I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t split the difference.

13. Georgia Tech is giving up an average of 27.5 points per game. They are conceding about 4.25 rushing yards per attempt (about 137/ game), and giving up 223 yards per game through the air (about 11.5 yards per completion).

Virginia held the Jackets below their rushing average on Saturday (Tech averages 354 rushing/84 passing), but had a single turnover that was critical in an overtime victory. Again: Protect the football.

14. By all accounts, the crowd in Sanford Stadium was loud and the stadium was near capacity despite the “cupcake” on the schedule. I’m sure the 4 P.M. start aided in this to a great degree. This coming Saturday, the game is at noon. I hope the crowd is loud and the stadium is full early. There will be another impressive list of recruits in town. Plus, it’s Senior Day...the last chance for some guys to play Between the Hedges that have really been through a lot in their 4 (or 5) years in Athens and have contributed mightily to a program that is, despite some teething pains this season, ascending.

15. All those 5-Star kids that have been playing a lot over the last several weeks are going to be called upon now, particularly on defense. We con only keep our fingers crossed on Monty Rice’s health, but these guys were going to have to play anyway. This just speeds things up if Rice can’t go. The big questions to me as we head into destiny’s corner are this:

  • How close is David Marshall to coming back? He’s been gone since early in the Vandy game and is needed.
  • How comfortable is Kirby & Co. with Justin Fields when the game is on the line and we are first and goal inside the 5? How comfortable is Justin?
  • Did we actually prep for Tech this past week more than we did for UMass? Could this explain our issues in the secondary - no disrespect to Andy Isabella. I’m sure we at least split time over the last 6 or 7 days. Now, they’ll get our full focus.

I wish I could be in Athens next week. I’ll be there in spirit, with spirits!

BONUS THOUGHTS:

  • Tennessee had a big recruiting weekend up in Knoxville. A couple of guys that are Georgia commits are really being worked by Jeremy Pruitt. They just saw Mizzou beat the Vols by the same score as they did in 2017: 50 - 17. I’m sure Derek Dooley slept like a baby last night.
  • There was a lot of concern for Urban Meyer as it appeared Maryland would upset the Buckeyes in a game where a Terrapin victory was there for the taking in overtime. Maybe I’m jaded or just callous, but I think a lot of Meyer’s theatrics and bad acting are an attempt to deflect something. If he’s truly that ill, he needs to step away. If he’s not ill, he should quit anyway. I’m so thankful he’ll never be our coach.
  • Once again, SEC refs in the middle of controversy. This looked like a catch to me:

That’s all I got. As Always,

GO DAWGS! TO HELL WITH GEORGIA TECH