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15 Thoughts Has Some...Thoughts

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The first 2 1⁄2 quarters of last night’s game looked a lot like the previous four going back to last week. Once we quit repeating what wasn’t working, things began to work. Imagine that?

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was a difficult game to watch for more than a half. Was it difficult to play in those conditions? Absolutely. In the end, we won but it still feels that we are regressing, although part of the fix was implemented before it was too late.

1. My first thought? We should never boo our own team. Ever. No one was booing the players, but it’s still bad, bad form. In the moment, I get the frustration of repeating the same stupid “hey, let’s run in the middle on first, second and maybe even third down until it works” offensive strategy. But the kids out there are doing their very best and are only taking orders. I’m sure some of these kids took it personally. I get that it was directed at a certain coach, but it has an unintended effect. Just don’t do it.

2. My biggest fear in this game was a muffed punt deep in our own territory, or a fumble that would’ve resulted in some cheap Kentucky points. This did not happen, although a bad Trey Hill to Jake Fromm snap could’ve been disastrous before the half. That’s the second game in a row where the center/QB exchange cost us. The game had an inauspicious start as our return men on the opening kickoff nearly cost us. Still, for the first time since Arkansas State we didn’t have to come from behind to win.

3. D’Andre Swift had 81 yards at the half and his most successful runs were designed runs outside of the tackles. Why we keep testing the middle to prove some sort of point is beyond me. All our backs are capable of making the first guy miss. That’s the beauty of creating an outside run lane, where a corner has to take on a guy that often outweighs him by 30 lbs.

4. Georgia never crossed the 50 without the help of a shanked punt until our long 4th quarter touchdown drive that featured effective edge runs.

5. I’m not going to judge the passing game (or, lack thereof) too harshly, not given the weather conditions as the remnants of “Nestor” caused an all day rain event that steadily worsened as the evening wore on. However...

6. Our guys could not get any separation, even on the few modest attempts to throw to keep drives alive. I use the term “drives” a bit liberally here. But I’ve got to agree with the ESPN announcers who pretty much diagnosed our issues in real-time. Our receivers are not giving Jake Fromm a lot of help at the moment. Much of this is on them, perhaps receivers coach Cortez Hankton needs to have a steely finger pointed at him as well. George Pickens, for all of his wonderful ability, is still a freshman and making typical freshman gaffes. In a game of possession, he’s got to prioritize getting past the sticks, not trying to make a big play when the goal is to get out of the shadow of your own goal posts, as was often the case.

7. The punting duel was absurdly funny to watch last night. But huge, huge props to Jake Camarda. That was his best night when we needed it, as he averaged 53 yards on 6 punts, with a long of 64. Keep it up, kid.

8. Back to the running game for a moment. How hard would it be to commit to testing the edges first, and then try to pound between the tackles later in the game as opposing defenses tire?

No one maximizes his opportunity like Brian Herrian.

9. Offensively, we knew how the weather was going to be and supposedly practiced in a simulated environment although there is no way to replicate a tropical storm. We still seemed ill-prepared offensively, but I’m just not buying that it was all due to mother nature.

10. On the flip-side, the defense was simply brilliant all night long.

11. We contained Kentucky’s “multi-threat” quarterback, Lynn Bowden, Jr. as he gained 99 yards on 17 carries, but our discipline on the edges which was key all night really showed out. He got a few yards here and there, but had to run outside for any chance and our gap defense was largely on-point and our linebackers did what they had to do.

11A. Kentucky was 2/17 for 17 yards passing last night.

12. Richard LeCounte had a fine game and made a couple of very good tackles. Nakobe Dean is beginning to flash and led the team with 6 tackles, 4 solos. Good stuff there. I saw good things from Quay Walker and the secondary, particularly Eric Stokes, defended well on the few times Bowden attempted to test it. Tae Crowder remains steady on a night when linebackers and safeties had to step up.

13. On a night last night, there’s really no real way to judge what Georgia might have done opposed to what they actually did do offensively.

14. I’m feeling pretty good about our defense at the moment. I’m feeling much better about special teams and punting in particular in the here ‘n now. I’m scared shirtless about the offense as I sit here and bang out these words. The bye week could not come at a better time and there is still time to fix some things. I just want to know if James Coley is capable of this, or is this all there is? So many questions to answer in 2 weeks.

15. Last night was purely “man-ball” out of necessity and whatever plans of doing some things differently in the passing game was simply gone with the wind (and rain). Man-ball alone isn’t going to cut it going forward against the November slate. The spotlight is squarely on Coley and, frankly, his supporting staff, too. There is too much talent on this team to flounder like this, despite the youth. Time to grow up. You’ve got 2 weeks. Despite all the gnashing of teeth and hand-wringing, whipping Florida could/would be just what the good doctor ordered.

Are we elite? This is what college football has pretty much come down to, a yes or no answer as a few teams jockey for the playoff committee votes. At the moment, we are decidedly not. Defensively, I’d say we’re pretty darn close. Offensively, there’s so much potential but we are nowhere near where we could be or should be. I know it, you know it and I suspect the coaches know it.

BONUS THOUGHTS:

It could always be better. It could always be worse. This is pretty bad:

Thanks, Illinois. And a bigger thanks to Wisconsin for taking the Derp Trophy™ from Georgia and running with it.

That’s all I’ve got. Gators Eat Boogers.

GO DAWGS!