Let’s just cut to the chase here and get the negatives out of the way. I’ve got mine, you’ve got yours and Kirby’s got ‘em all.
What follows is probably hyper-critical. I woke up this morning thankful for the victory, and feeling blessed our program is in good hands. Still, my inner-Munson is here to stay, so here it goes...
1. From now on, whoever happens to possess the football and is about to cross the goal line - offensive player, defensive player, special teams player, assistant coach, water boy, random dude who ran onto the field, anyone - here is what you do for now on:
A. You fully cross the goal line with the ball in your hands.
B. You briefly look to the heavens and thank Excessivus (god of football) for not striking you down with a lightning bolt in that moment.
C. You take the ball directly to Kirby Smart on the sideline and hand the ball to Kirby as if you were handing him a new born baby.
D. You thank Kirby for the opportunity to play football for the University of Georgia and score touchdowns for him, God and DawgNation. If Kirby feels inclined to hug you, you reciprocate.
E. At this point, and only at this point are you allowed to celebrate. That part is totally up to you. You can funky chicken, twerk, moon walk, break dance, lap dance, river dance, back flip, front flip, put on Savage shoulder pads, whatever. All done in the comfort of your own sideline. I don’t care. But Kirby gets the football*
*unless there is some penalty involved by not giving the ball directly to the referee. Then, give the ball directly to the referee, return to the sideline and smile for a job well-done.
Did he drop the ball before scoring? pic.twitter.com/Z6kAy4BGBh— ESPN (@espn) September 22, 2018
Great play, J.J. Seriously. I’m just glad there wasn’t a goal-line view of this and I bet you are, too.
2. Our first offensive possession should have resulted in a Jake Fromm to Mecole Hardman touchdown pass. Fromm, who still throws a beautiful deep ball and would do so later in the game, actually put the ball in a very good spot and Mecole simply didn’t extend. Not sure if this would have changed the complexion of a very frustrating first half of offensive football, but I suspect it would have. Jim Chaney is not showing enough imagination so far this season. Considering all the weapons at his disposal, this is frustrating. We are now in Conference play. Everyone is tired of vanilla.
3. Jake has struggled early through 4 games now.. This will probably not matter next week against Tennessee (a bad football team), and the week after that vs. Vandy (an average football team). But down the road in places like Red Stick and Jacksonville, it will matter. Some of his receivers, as mentioned, aren’t helping at times. Akhil Crumpton had a perfect ball bounce off him. This has to get better...
3A. ...but he’s letting it rip right after the half. Fromm had 66 yards and a pick in the first half (his pick was probably Hardman’s fault). Afterwards, he had 194 yards and 3 touchdowns.
4️⃣ for more ‼️#GoDawgs #GeorgiaFootball pic.twitter.com/BgxLs1gPis— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) September 23, 2018
We did have our moments.
4. Our receivers are elite...and becoming eliter (sic). Should we be passing more to set up the run? In my humble opinion, it depends on the competition. Yesterday, I think we should have attacked a pretty poor Mizzou secondary more on early downs. Jeremiah Holloman is leading the SEC in yards/catch...about 29 or so. Terry Godwin didn’t play much. Hopefully, just precautionary.
5. I honestly get nauseous whenever I see a Marc Curles-led officiating crew, the self-ordained word on what excessive celebration is or is not. We’ve got a 10-year history with this guy, going back to the 2009 LSU-Georgia game. What you want out of officiating is consistency. Call it both ways. Tyler Clark and Jonathon Ledbetter got pinched for an incredibly ticky-tack ankle grab and love tap on Drew Lock that kept a Mizzou drive alive on a crucial thrid down call in our red zone.
Football is broken. pic.twitter.com/pTXRu3i9EB— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweetss) September 22, 2018
Give me a break.
The Tigers subsequently scored (on a disheartening running play right through the middle). Later, as we are driving in the 4th quarter, this happened. Pay attention to the official, because he certainly wasn’t:
No flag... pic.twitter.com/RonNoJTVdM— blakejmorgan (@blakejmorgann) September 22, 2018
This was about as bad a non-call as it gets. Marc Curles is a suckasaurus.
6. Our interior linebacker corps is scaring the hell out of me at the moment. Our two starting safeties did fine for the most part in pass coverage, but they were very poor in run support and, most importantly, tackling. Richard LeCounte took at step back and both he and the usually reliable J.R. Reed got trucked more than a few times. When defensive backs are the leading tacklers, as was the case yesterday, you have to worry. We outgained Mizzou 185 to 172, but they scored four times on the ground. We have to fix this heading into the heart of Conference play. I bet these guys get lit up in practice this week.
7. I’m not sure about the overall offensive game plan. It seemed our first drive was scripted correctly and destined for points, but no offensive touchdowns in the first half was uncharacteristic. I’m hoping it isn’t a symptom of a larger issue, but I think it boils down to poor execution. We were 0-for-3 in red zone touchdown opportunities on the day. That can’t happen going forward. Way too many penalties, too (66 yards, mostly offensive). Our 4th and 1 “jumbo” package attempt to run into a stacked line was the worst play call by Jim Chaney since Vandy, 2016. Poorly conceived and poorly executed by everyone. We probably had the wrong back in the game for that as well. Twice we got stuffed on running plays that only needed a yard to keep a drive alive. Unacceptable.
8. Special teams were...interesting. The good: take a bow, Mr. Eric Stokes!
Eric Stokes (@_jamane_) just blocked a punt with his face. pic.twitter.com/m4w61GnZQb— Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) September 22, 2018
Stokes stepped in and stepped up as Tyson Campbell had to exit the game early with stomach and dehydration issues. His punt block, scoop and score was about as easy at it gets. Mizzou totally screwed up their punt formation. Still, great heads-up play.
The not so good? Well, Mecole had several nice kick returns and a punt return he fumbled, and recovered that scared everyone although he nearly broke it for a score. Rodrigo Blankenship was kicking into a breeze and for the first time all season, the opposition returned (with some success) kickoffs. Jake Camarda only punted twice, including a poor 36 yard effort. He has to get better. Hot Rod had a field goal attempt blocked. Not his fault, but someone missed an assignment on the line.
9. Kudos to Missouri. They played hard and blocked both of our lines of scrimmage effectively for much of the day. They were certainly seemed more motivated at times, and their running backs ran particularly hard.
9A. We did win a road game at a ridiculously early start time in a far-away land against a quarterback who is going to be a very good at the next level. Win and advance.
10. There is a lot to be critical about and I’m sure I’ve missed much. Actually this particular post could be entitled “50 Thoughts” and I would cover everything. There was some good, too. We might be ranked #2 at the moment (subject to a change, I’m sure), but we didn’t play like the #2 team in the land and everyone seems to realize this. And at this moment, we are not on-par with Alabama. I’m not sure we will be this season, either. The good news: This team has an opportunity to make some corrections immediately.
11. Deandre Baker absolutely shut down Emmanuel Hall, who did not register a single catch. Mizzou’s leading receiver was Albert Okwuegbunam (it took me 7 tries to type that correctly. Cut/paste is your friend). Albert “O” accounted for 9 catches/81 yards and was Lock’s primary as Georgia pretty much removed everything deep. Tyler Badie caught two balls, one for a 25 yards gain. That was Mizzou’s longest pass of the day. Quite amazing considering how Lock was bombing us in the first half last season. On the day, Lock finished with 221 yards (actually out-performed by Jake Fromm’s 290) and no touchdowns, breaking a passing touchdown streak going back to last season’s Purdue loss at home.
12. Hey! Our pass rush has a pulse after all! D’Andre Walker had a career day, getting to Lock twice and forcing two fumbles, one of which we recovered. He was eating up his mirror on the line all day long and seemed to get better as the day got longer.
13. I mentioned our receivers earlier. Riley Ridley made a couple of great catches, and none more impressive than his toe-tap for 27 yards and a very important 3rd and long conversion as we were running clock and driving to extend the lead. He’s really come into his own this season, looks the part, and is one of our most physical blockers at the position.
corner pocket.#GoDawgs #GeorgiaFootball pic.twitter.com/jSYszW0rU2— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) September 23, 2018
The talented Mr. Ridley...
14. Suddenly, our offensive line depth is being tapped. Ben Cleveland is gone for a minimum of 4 weeks with a broken left fibula. This could have been a whole lot worse. Justin Shaffer will most likely get his first start next week against the Vols. Andrew Thomas had to leave early as he tweaked his ankle sprain, so Cade Mays will get the nod at left tackle. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of Trey Hill and Jamaree Sayler in the 4th quarter next week, if not earlier.
15. We came out blazing to start the second half again, and needed to. Our first 3 out of 4 drives resulted in offensive touchdowns. Elijah Holyfield ended the day with 90 yards on 14 carries; D’Andre Swift chipped tallied 71 yards on 16 carries. No rushing touchdowns. Justin Fields only played a single series in a wasted effort inside Mizzou’s 10. Was Justin not used by design? I’m thinking he’ll get a ton of opportunities over the next two games. Patience, grasshopper...
So, we limp out of Columbia, Missouri quite banged up and with much to work on. Still, we never trailed and got scores in all 3 phases of the game. For the first time all season, the starters remained in the game for the duration and the team faced some adversity on the road and came through it - not unscathed - but prevailed nevertheless. Second half adjustments, particularly on offense, seem to be our thing.
I guess I feel empty because we had several opportunities to deliver the kill-shot, and whiffed. Here’s looking forward to learning from the past, and perhaps not having to adjust so much.
- Damn, Virginia Tech. (edit: the Tweet below has been redacted by Virginia Tech. Basically, it was a picture of ODU’s scoreboard with a “hopeful” score that favored the home team’s new fortunes).
ODU unveiled cool stadium plans today.— Virginia Tech Football (@VT_Football) June 10, 2016
Scoreboard has a case of wishful thinking! #Hokies pic.twitter.com/dQTv3fsgPf
Don’t drink and troll. If you are gonna drink and troll, make sure you win the game.
- Tennessee is our next opponent. Practice this week up on Rocky Top will be interesting for a team that might not have hit bottom. And now there’s a real situation in their locker room.
I’ve got no sympathy for Tennessee. I hate their stadium, their turf, their colors and those classless fans who celebrated Nick Chubb’s injury. But this hit on Jarrett Guarantano by Florida’s CeCe Jefferson is beyond bush-league dirty. Hope the kid is okay. Jefferson should’ve been ejected.
September 23, 2018
There’s no place for this anywhere.
- Bold strategy, Cotton...
WHERE'S THE KICKER!? pic.twitter.com/csMPDbOQeW— SportsNation (@SportsNation) September 22, 2018
- Nebraska is historically bad.
- Louisville has the 124th ranked offense in college football. That escalated quickly.
- Tech lost. I forgot they even played.
- Kentucky looks legit, y’all. Next week vs. ‘Sakerlina could be fun.
- Anything that causes Ohio State gastric distress is alright by me. If Urban Meyer were to leave tOSU, which SEC team would be the first to hire the jerk? Auburn/Tennessee bidding war? It could happen.