Let’s just cut to the chase. I don’t wanna write this, you probably don’t want to read this, yet it is written.
1. I couldn’t have said this better. Macondawg absolutely nailed what would’ve been my lead, but that’s okay. Even after ‘Sakerlina’s kicker missed what would’ve won the game in the first O.T., at no point did I feel we might survive ourselves. It was simply that kind of a day.
2. I honestly felt like I was transported back to the very worst of the 2016 season. This was Nicholls State-esque. The way we played is baffling, yet there have been indications of something amiss going all the way back to Vanderbilt. I don’t believe for a minute Kirby had some sort of “gentleman’s agreement” to not score more against Derek Mason back on August 31. We just aren’t as good offensively as we thought we were and our issues have been masked by a top-10 win, the Vandy game, 2 blow-outs and an unusual game at Tennessee.
3. Last week’s “15 Thoughts” was written from the standpoint that there was a gnawing sense that this team is underachieving and all 3 phases; a bit on defense and especially the secondary and our inconsistent punting game on special teams. Despite rolling up impressive offensive statistical numbers last week, something was amiss on offense, and my tone in writing that particular piece was tempered and I was certainly less celebratory than a 43-14 victory in Knoxville would usually cause one to be. Well, yesterday exposed what I’ve been feeling thus far this season: Our offensive is unimaginative, and could not adapt on the fly. When adversity hit, we largely folded.
4. The only reason we score the tying touchdown is because of a holding penalty against Eli Wolf on 4th down. That throw was probably uncatchable. It was a huge break in a game where we shouldn’t have had to have a break like this to simply make it to overtime.
5. Running into the middle of the line with 5-star backs and 5-star blockers only works if there are holes to run through. Otherwise, we’re just replaying 2006 all over again with Carlton Thomas full-steam ahead ineffectively on 2nd and long - over and over and over again. It was insane.
6. This was a systemic failure. Jake Fromm had his worst day ever. His pick-6 was perhaps his worst decision in his wonderful career, but that shouldn’t have cost us the game. The next two picks were not his fault. Matt Landers was supposed to go towards the sideline, but curled in. His defender, Israel Mukuamu got the second of 3 gifts (who is this guy?). Jake simply missed some throws he uncharacteristically connects on in key moments and the few times where he might have connected on a deep ball weren’t close.
Tyler Simmons gaffe in O.T. should cost him a starting position, and I hate saying this. He cost us in the Notre Dame game and has since been demoted as a punt returner. Yesterday’s lack of focus simply cannot happen. What to do? He’s a senior leader, but has become a liability. Pity.
7. I shudder to think how we handle Auburn’s defensive front because Carolina’s simply ate us up and pushed us back when most of the day. Of course, that’s easy to do when they’ve got our entire offensive philosophy figured out, with our run-in-the-middle-first-and-failing game plan. That’s no way to go through 60 minutes of football.
8. Normally, I don’t criticize coaches. I don’t know enough about X’s and O’s to start opining about the intricacies of modern American College Football (read: talking out of my ass). Today, I’ll make an exception: James Coley, you’re on the clock. Your offense has been showing symptoms of a major illness all season and has largely been ignored. It is now officially sick.
Georgia lost this game before it started. Georgia lost this game before they played Vanderbilt. The Athenians lost this game when they were forced to change offensive coordinators and went with a guy who’s a great recruiter but quite honestly isn’t qualified to hold Mike Bobo’s green notebook. It’s no secret that part of the decision to promote Coley to offensive coordinator was that he’s been an excellent recruiter and has good relationships with a lot of the players. But the disjointed, screen-heavy attack we’ve seen so far in 2019 has been painful to watch at times, and no more painful than it was this afternoon. - Macondawg
9. We had 468 yards on the day. We ran 95 offensive plays. That equates to 4.9 yards/play. Carolina gained 297 yards and ran 68 play for a 4.4 yards/play average. Fairly even, right? Our time of possession: 36:04, Carolina held the ball for 23:56. That’s a huge gap. Yet, here we are talking about a defeat.
9A. Why not rotate Stetson Bennett some? There’s a place in modern offenses for a dual-threat QB, amirite? The kid is not without skills. Start working him in this Saturday, early in the game. Look how Florida used Emory Jones successfully for a time last night.
10. Four turnovers. That’s great if you’re in the kitchen and baking something involving apples. I hate apples.
11. We had 6 penalties for 60 yards. Carolina had 11 for 68. That’s a win, right?
12. The injuries are really piling up. In addition to Lawrence Cager, Brian Herrien did not play because of muscle spasms, and we’ve got guys on both sides of the line that are dinged. Mark Webb went out early with a knee. Our depth is starting to feel it now.
13. There simply is no excuse for the #3 team in the country, despite the obvious offensive deficiencies, to come out this flat and spit the bit like we did. We just got abused by what was a 2-3 team that was down to their #3 QB for more about half the game. Everyone second-guesses a baffling loss like this. I think we’ve been quietly been second-guessing for a season and a half now. There is too much talent on this team to do what we just did.
14. How do we react? Kentucky comes to town next week and their defense doesn’t actually suck, either. Are we going to try to refine what got us beat yesterday, or will we get some playmakers in space? Are we going to be healthy enough to affect their defensive line with our suddenly patched-up offensive front? There are so many questions. This team has better overall talent than 2007, and that team re-grouped after losing to South Carolina and Tennessee. But, that team also had a better offensive coordinator at the time.
15. Maybe in today’s modern game, defense doesn’t win championships. It certainly helps, But you’ve got no chance if you can’t score points, and as of now I have real doubts that we can outscore anyone of consequence left on our schedule. We’ve got players, but if we had some magical “green notebook” that has been saved for an emergency, surely we would have seen it at some point yesterday. We’ll probably win next Saturday against Kentucky. Mercifully, we have a bye week after that to patch up some guys. But suddenly 2019 is looking like a transitional year unless something radical happens. What I saw yesterday was brewing for a while. I can’t spin this into some positive vortex of “it’ll all be okay.” I just don’t know. Maybe it will. Time will tell, but yesterday’s embarrassment should never have happened. Not with this roster.
X’s and O’s, Jimmy and Joe’s. Until both are in-sync, we’re in trouble. Am I hopeful at all? Yeah, the eternal optimist in me believes we’ll figure enough things out to get through, but my pragmatic side is very, very worried.
Oh, and credit to South Carolina. Damn if they’re not doing their level best to make this a rivalry.
That’s all I’ve got. As Always,