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15 Thoughts and the Art of Pickin’ Chickin’

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I thought we’d win big months ago. Yessir!

Georgia v South Carolina
Success!

What a glorious day for Georgia.

1. Georgia dominated, which was wonderful considering a few of our opponent’s fans seemed a bit cocky to a fault. All summer, Tweets were Twitted, pundits punded (quite a few shanks), and more than a few radio guys, some who were actually quite Sirius, talked up a great game about how Georgia was going to walk into the Devil’s Chicken-house and get whipped. Folly, I say!

‘ol Peter was bullish on ‘Sakerlina before the game. News for you, Pete. Kirby isn’t building a Monster. He’s refining one.

This is the thing: It was a big game in a hostile stadium with the loser essentially finding themselves with a 2-game hole in the SEC East race. When was the last time South Carolina played in a game of this magnitude? The 2010 SEC Championship? That is ancient history. Georgia played liked they’ve been there before because they have and that experience counts for something, right? Right.

2. At no point, after Deandre Baker’s “Pick don’t-drop-the-ball-too-early Six” did I ever feel like we were in jeopardy of losing this game. Yeah, we had a few offensive hiccups in the second quarter, but Kirby Smart continues to show why he’s the master of the 3rd quarter.

3. I hope it stays hot through November (global warming, y’all!). Georgia was better equipped to deal with the heat than ‘Sakerlina because of superior depth on both lines, and particularly on offense. We are a very well-conditioned team, too. Had Kirby not called off the Dawgs in the 4th quarter, we surely could have laid 50+ on them in their own backyard. I guess playing your bench was the right call.

4. Did anyone else enjoy Georgia’s final drive of the game as much as I did? It was soul-crushing and methodical. A 16-play-drive that began on our 25, and ended with a 1st and 10 on Carolina’s 13 as the clock hit 0:00. Nine minutes and 59 seconds. That is a single second under 10 minutes. Two-thirds of an entire quarter. All were simple running plays, except for a single Justin Fields to Trey Blount 8-yard completion. Whatever slim hopes of making some sort of comeback after Jake Bentley threw a beautiful 44-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Edwards were absolutely crushed. This is what we have to look forward to late in games this season. This is what our offensive line is built for when we need to run clock.

5. Georgia’s cadre of receivers are as good - or better - than anyone we’ll play this year. They are deep, are fast, and will block you all damn day. Tyler Simmons and Riley Ridley are as physical as anyone; Jayson Stanley, too. Mecole Hardman is becoming a lethal weapon. He’s special, folks.

I love it when Brad Nessler’s voice cracks a bit...

5A. Jeremiah Holloman is a beast. It is going to be fun watching his progression. I was a little surprised we didn’t see more of Demetris Robertson, but his time is coming. Bottom line: Georgia has so many weapons at so many skill positions, with speed and physicality.

6. Georgia rushed for 271 yards on the day. South Carolina rushed for 54. D’Andre Swift, Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien all scored. Running backs by committee is here to stay; something that just shows that you can never have enough talent ready to step in. Each guy, James Cook included, brings something totally unique in their skill set. When Andrew Thomas went out with an ankle injury, Cade Mays stepped in and was a road-grader at left tackle. Depth.

h/t Dawgnation

6A. How excited are you about James Cook? His minutes were limited because of his 1st-half suspension, but this kid is only about 185 lbs. dripping wet and he still knocks people back. Just wait until he spends a year in S&C. Good times.

7. The offense in the first half did sputter, particularly in the 2nd quarter. South Carolina brought some blitzes that weren’t picked up particularly well, and Jake Fromm’s interception was probably an ill-advised through, although Tyler Simmons appeared to break off his route. It didn’t hurt as the defense forced a 3 ‘n out. The thing that impresses me about Fromm is that this doesn’t ever phase him. I do know that Sam Pittman probably had a few choice expletives at the half for his entire offensive line and that message was heard loud and clear as evidenced by the beginning of a 21-point 3rd quarter scoring orgy.

7A. Rodrigo Blankenship is Automatic for the People. He’s perfect on the season, including his longest kick of the day from 45 yards. He absolutely negated Deebo Samuel in the return game and this cannot be overestimated. You can’t have a special teams momentum shift when your best weapon can’t get involved. Hot Rod is the best kicker in America. He’s a Sunday kicker, folks. Jake Camarda had a 62-yard kick. He still needs to work on directional kicking, but he did just fine for a true freshman playing in that stadium.

8. I think, in a few more games, we will have one of the best defensive secondaries in the country. Tyson Campbell got a valuable education on Saturday. He bit on the Gamecock’s nifty little “trick play,” reminiscent of the throw back to Baker Mayfield in the Rose Bowl. That was a teaching moment from which he will benefit. The long TD pass wasn’t really his fault. The ball was a dime and they made a play. It happens. But he’s going to be All-SEC and/or All-American sooner than later. Richard LeCounte is about to become a superstar. He led the team in tackles (10, 7 solo). If the field was 1-inch wider and if his momentum was timed a half-second slower, he would have had the early interception on the Georgia sideline. That was a 50/50 call, right there. Great athlete.

8A. Deebo Samuel rushed for -1 yards. He caught 6 passes for 33. Other than his trick-play touchdown throw, he wasn’t a factor.

9. I think the interior linebacking corps will be fine. They are beginning to gel. Monty Rice had a solid game and was 2nd on the team with 8 tackles/5 solo. We are rotating guys all over the place, getting them looks and finding out who is who. Natrez Patrick made some plays as did Juwan Taylor (head’s up on Deandre Baker’s pick-six drop at the goal line).

10. My heart stopped when D’Andre Walker got hurt in the first half as he really looked to be in pain. I thought he was concussed, but his return in the 2nd half put that to rest. Walker ended up with a sack and was disruptive all game. Carolina really didn’t try to throw deep much, and that dink-and-dunk stuff will get you yards between the 20’s. They simply couldn’t run the ball to make any of it click.

We preached all week, we didn’t say it publicly, but we certainly felt the hotter it was, the better off we’d be. We practice at 3:30 every day, 4 o’clock, it’s hot. We don’t run from it. The hotter it is, the deeper we are, the more guys we play, it takes a toll. - Kirby Smart, post-game.

11. Tyler Clark is still a manimal. Those big guys on the defensive line rotated often, and Georgia’s ability to get fresh legs in and out was impressive. That’s not easy to do, especially when Carolina wanted to go “up tempo.” I think it’s amazing that we aren’t wasting time-outs and that clock management is a point of emphasis with this coaching staff. I’ll have to go back and re-watch the game to see how our rotation fared, but they were not allowing anything in the middle. I did see David Marshall putting a lot of pressure on Bentley, especially early.

12. Georgia did give up 336 total yards, 284 passing. We still have a lot of work to do in the secondary when we travel to Mizzou in a few weeks. Again, much of that was short throws underneath coverage. We can refine this some more next week at home against Middle Tennessee State (a merciful night game).

13. We only targeted the tight ends once, a 10-yard from to Isaac Nauta pass. I feel that this is a sleeping giant position that will be used when the time comes to great effect. Patience, grasshoppers...

14. We still need to see more, aside from Walker, from our edge rushers. I know there are a lot of young guys vying for playing time here, but we didn’t really have much of a consistent rush from what I saw. There’s still time for someone to step up.

15. You can nit-pick every game to find deficiencies but yesterday went about as well as it could have. After we were up from the “pick-fumble-pick-it-back-up” six yesterday, and Swift’s subsequent score, I honestly never broke a sweat - unlike everyone who was in attendance yesterday at this game. For a game in that venue and in that weather, getting up early was the key. There was never a doubt in my mind that we would grind them down, sooner or later. That 3rd quarter was simply a thing of beauty and you could literally see the life being sucked out of the Carolina defense as each second ticked away.

BONUS THOUGHTS:

  • Tech lost. I watched all of that game. It was beautiful.
  • Congratulations to Kentucky, snapping Florida’s 31-game winning streak. I watched all of that game. It was beautiful.
  • Clemson is very lucky to escape College Station. Texas A&M played from behind the whole night and the “fumble” on Clemson’s 1-yard line was probably a bad call, but no good video replay angle to overturn. Great effort by TAMU.
  • FSU is not a good football team and the natives are restless in Tally.
  • Herman Edwards is a mad genius. Arizona State shocked Michigan State 16-13 last night for those of you, like me, who don’t give a rat’s ass.

That’s it, folks. Enjoy your Sunday.

As Always, GO DAWGS!

And one other thing. Good thoughts are prayers to the folks in the eventual path of what is probably going to be a devastating hurricane. Florence is bearing down on the upper-South Carolina or North Carolina coast (still some uncertainty as to exactly where) by later this week. This is going to be a bad situation, possibly for Myrtle Beach, but looking more likely for places like Wilmington, NC, or up the coast around Emerald Isle or Morehead City. I used to work in eastern North Carolina and have a connection with the good people in and around there.