I’m going to take a slightly more negative stance to begin with than I normally would after a lopsided victory. With all due respect to Austin Peay, the outcome of this game was never going to be in doubt. The 2016 version of Georgia might have struggled with AP, but not today’s iteration. Still, I couldn’t help feel a bit underwhelmed at times. Allow me to
1. What did we learn yesterday? Considering we played a team that would never really challenge us, not a whole lot. We knew coming in that we would be fast, and we were. We knew coming in that our running backs would be physical, and they were. We have a great kicking game to no one’s surprise; and an aggressive, but young defense. We have a mountainous offensive line, and they’re still mighty big. Don’t get me wrong: I was pleased with the effort and the result. But I also felt a little flat.
2. Gee, Dave. Why so flat, chum? I fully expected our offensive line to absolutely blow Austin Peay off the ball early and often, but that didn’t happen. In fact, we had difficulty running between the tackles, at least initially. I understand that we rotated heavily and had we committed our starters to this task, the result would have eventually been different in the heat. Give AP some credit. They showed up to stop the inside run game by crashing linebackers and also played deep in the secondary. We took what they gave us to great effect. Am I off base here? Too nit picky? I just expected a bit more out of the starting 5 on the line and I’m sure Sam Pittman did, too. I’ve read a bunch of post-game analysis and we did not “check all the boxes” as some writer(s) have suggested. We are a good team that can be great as the season progresses. The question is: Will good be enough until the 2018 Georgia Bulldogs fully hit their stride?
3. Our defense is going to have to find an inside linebacker - by committee if necessary. Roquan Smith ain’t coming back, so the coaching staff is going to have to keep experimenting at this position. I believe someone will step up, but will it be sooner than later?
4. James Cook will be a difference maker sooner than later; perhaps he already is. That kid is electric with the ball in his hands. His special teams blunder which got him an ejection for targeting and half-game suspension next week will (probably) never happen again. Just poor situational awareness, but understandable for a true freshman playing in front of a ton of folks and already having a great game. Adrenaline! He wasn’t alone, though. Man, there were a ton of targeting ejections and/or near-ejections throughout the day yesterday. Most of them warranted. Back to Cook: He’s a touchdown waiting to happen every time he touches the rock. Keep your wits about you, young man. Can’t wait to see him after the half next week. I bet he takes one to the house.
This is @thegreat__4, James Cook pic.twitter.com/AK2YebVqcI— UGA Football Live (@UGAfootballLive) September 1, 2018
5. Switching gears now, we’ve got receivers for days. Terry Godwin should be back next week, and if he isn’t I’m not overly worried. Riley Ridley is physical and vocal and I believe has stepped up into the team leadership role so desperately needed. His score was nice; Demetris Robertson’s was nicer and he “played” running back on his 72-yard sweep. Jim Chaney kept things very vanilla and we basically kept throws underneath the secondary because it was there all day. But the speed of this team - when refined - is something to behold. Everything is predicated on opening up running lanes between the aforementioned tackles. Get it done.
6. Jake Fromm played as well as expected and, again, was not asked to do too much. Justin Fields is so much bigger than he appears once you see him in relation to some of the linebackers and DB’s on the field. He is still learning his progressions and may have bailed a time or two early, but when he runs, he runs as well as any back - and that scares me a bit since we are thin at QB. Having said that, he gave Will Muschamp something to consider next week and that bodes well, especially in short yardage packages.
7. So, essentially in just over a half of “real” offensive effort, we amassed a very balanced 284 running yards/224 passing yards - yet I’m still fretting a bit. I guess Larry Munson, like that burrito from 1992, never truly leaves you.
8. What do I think will happen next week? We are going to pound the rock in Columbia and set up some deep stuff in play action with success. There. I feel better. I, like most of you, watched South Carolina handle an outmatched Coastal Carolina team in
Dante’s 5th Circle of Hell Columbia. I saw Coastal run between the tackles at times with much lesser talent than we have. Carolina, like us, didn’t get much of a test so they truly don’t know what they have which is the danger of eating a cupcake before dinner. They’re about to find out, as are we.
9. Defensively, I swear I was looking at my roster sheet more than I the game at times trying to figure out who was who. We played a lot of new guys. I wasn’t thrilled with the early going when AP was actually running through our middle, but we adjusted as expected.
10. What is was thrilled with is some of the high IQ type plays I saw, particularly Natrez Patrick’s effort on a fumbled AP pitch when he blew up their running back as he was attempting to cover the fumble that D’Aandre Walker eventually did. Brenton Cox looks the part. Deangelo Gibbs played very well I thought. Tyson Campbell is going to be a star. Our secondary did not get tested at all yesterday. AP’s QB’s were only a combined 13/21 for 61 yards.
11. So, what do we take away in a game that was limited by circumstances and the official’s (correct) decision to shorten the clock? That we are a different kind of animal than last year on both sides of the ball and that animal was barely teased at all, so we really didn’t learn anything new. Next week, we’ll know much.
12. Florida enjoyed their cupcake, but that was a gawd-awful
College of Charleston Charleston Southern (I think) football team they played yesterday.
12 A. Jeremy Pruitt may or may not be the answer up on Rocky Top. I think, if he stays, he could be. But Tennessee is not good. Again.
13. Best game of the day for my dime was Appalachian State’s near stunner up in Happy Valley. I was actively tweeting #AppyValley, but The Mountaineers scored too damn soon. Would’a, should’a, could’a. The fact that James Franklin was comparing his team to our team in the immediate post-game is laughable. He’s still a power-tool.
What? Georgia 31, App State 10. pic.twitter.com/vU4mGocPG5— SicEmDawgs.com (@SicEmDawgscom) September 1, 2018
14. Who’s hot seat heated up the most after yesterday? I’d be inclined to say Tom Hermann, but Koach Khaki up at Michigan had his bandwagon empty out to a large degree after what I would call a pretty poor coaching effort in his loss to Notre Dame.
15. Bama beat their cupcake, too. Congrats. The biggest winner here? Maria Taylor.
Nick Saban totally disrespects #DGD @MariaTaylor7 for asking what he thought about how both QB’s played. pic.twitter.com/UlDGSSfCXC— SicEmDawgs.com (@SicEmDawgscom) September 2, 2018
Jeez, Nick. Get an enema, preferably after you apologize to Maria.
Sorry for the brevity, folks...I’ll do better next week.
As Always, GO DAWGS!