Georgia is 10-1, #4 in the CFP Rankings (for now), headed to Atlanta to play LSU for the SEC Crown and every single goal this team set is still achievable. Everyone is in harmony and the optimism has never been greater. Right?
1. I quit drinking during any of our games since Kentucky. I just have a direct Makers Mark IV drip in my left arm, and the remote in my right hand. Mrs. DtD thinks I’ve been much more subdued this season. Everyone has a “catch phrase” when we hit a long play; perhaps D’Andre Swift breaking loose down the sideline or when Jake Fromm hitting a receiving in-stride for a long score. Mine is, “go baby go baby go baby go baby!” She remarked that she hasn’t heard “go baby” much this season. I think she misses explosive plays as much as we all do. Still, we won and I’m damn proud of this team. We are 10-1, with a trip to Atlanta (not the fancy stadium in Atlanta, but that ancient sarcophagus also known as Mark Richt Field) on Saturday to face a Tech team that we should blow away early and often, rest some guys and get ready for LSU.
2. Texas A&M is good football team. These guys play defense very well and their interior linebackers and corners are quick and physical. Justin Madubuike is yet another extremely powerful defensive lineman that gave us fits all afternoon. Perhaps this is the last of the great d-linemen we’ll face until - perhaps - the playoffs, if a lot goes right between now and then? When running the ball into the middle of the line no longer seems to work (read: pretty much all season), perhaps we’ll try something a bit different.
3. Once the field dried out after that last, final heavy rain cell move rapidly through Clarke county mid-way through the second quarter, and the second half commenced, Kellen Mond began to click. Their huge TE, Jalen Wydermyer, is about the 80th huge TE we’ve faced this season. All of TAMU’s offense was via the air, and because our defense was on the field all day (especially after the half), they began to wear down. Mond was 25/42, 275 yards and a touchdown. Jimbo Fisher has a very good QB in Mond, and they always have big, physical receivers.
4. James Coley called a good first half. He showed some imagination and got the offense into some really good plays early on. The wheel-route to Brian Herrien should have been 6. The flea-flicker - shades of 2017 and the opening play vs. Mississippi State - absolutely was there as George Pickens was streaking free. Perhaps Jake Fromm hits both if the ball had been dry and/or he’s not wearing a glove. We execute these plays, and we’re probably up by 24 before the half: game over. You cannot sugar-coat Jake’s performance. He didn’t play well. He did recover in the 2nd quarter on some back shoulder stuff, and there were some drops, but something is amiss for a QB that we all know is capable and has proven he can do so many things well. I’m not about to start bashing Jake for his struggles, and he knows what he’s got to do to fix some things, but there is a disconnect here that has to get figured out if we want to play a bunch more ball this year.
5. Conversely, whatever creativity Coley dialed up in the first half disappeared as the skies parted and the field began to dry out in the second half. Again, we aren’t getting our play-makers in space nearly enough. The left side of the line, with A&M overstacking often, couldn’t block - yet we ran some plays right into the teeth of numerical mismatches or blitzes. Did barely tested the middle, and the late slant to Dominick Blaylock that helped us run clock at the end is probably there all day.
6. I can’t say enough about the defense. We absolutely shut down A&M’s run game, which had been very effective in the last few weeks - most notably last week as they rushed for more than 300 yards vs. South Carolina. Last night, they ended up with -1 in net yards. I think Tyler Clark had one of his best games ever and went out on senior night with the biggest sack of the evening. The defense was definitely bending again and needed a play. We got one.
This is a pretty big play.
7. Richard LeCounte continues his excellent play from the safety spot and was running all over the field. He had a tough task covering some big, physical dudes all night, but he’s really improved as the season has progressed. Jordan Davis is just a manimal. Malik Herring continues to quietly do his thing. I was a bit surprised we didn’t get more pressure from our edges, Nolan Smith and Azeez Ojulari than we did once Mond committed to dropping back in the pocket. I can’t split too many hairs, though. The defense, once again, won the day.
8. Rodrigo Blankenship’s longest field goal of the afternoon from 49-yards came during the last, heaviest cloud burst of the day late in the first half.
#Dawgs Just can’t respect the specs enough...— GATA Dawgs (@BassinDawg) November 24, 2019
UGA’s all-time leader with 418 career points, FGs of 41, 49, 37 and 31 yards in the driving rain. Booming very kickoff deep...#DawgNation is really gonna miss this man!
#GoDawgs #RespectTheSpecs #Wrecktech pic.twitter.com/HzNxz0TIBE
Those raindrops were massive, yet Hot Rod did what he does and nailed a clutch 49 yard field goal and accounted for 13 of our 19 points. He is now Georgia-s all-time leading scorer and will probably add some more to his tally before his time is up. No offense to Hot Rod, but I prefer extra points. Jake Camarda had some field-flipping punts early on, including a 54 yard effort, and averaged 45 on the day. He did have one or two that weren’t terrific, but his leg is probably still tired out from last week.
9. Time and time again this season, the crowd has affected the other team with enough noise to induce false starts. This happened at key moments and put A&M in several 1st or 2nd and long situations that really puts them in a bind. Good on ‘ya, Dawg fans. For such a lousy weather day, you all showed up and were loud.
10. I thought the on-side attempt was the right call. It was absolutely there until it wasn’t. Hot Rod hit a pitching wedge that backed up and Tyson Campbell didn’t have a white Aggie jersey around him for 10 yards when he arrived at an essentially motionless football, but just couldn’t possess the thing. If this had worked, we’re in good shape to at least get another 3 on the board, or perhaps a knockout touchdown. We are simply missing on so many opportunities to put people away. Yet, we still managed to win.
11. D’Andre Swift pretty much wanted the rock to seal the deal, didn’t he? That was about as tough a 103-yard effort as you ‘ll ever see anywhere, but when he got just a sliver of space, he did his thing. We are going to miss #7 between the hedges. Swift is one of the most unique backs we’ve ever had in our program. That catch he made on our only touchdown drive down the left sideline was the type of thing that we had to have.
12. Kirby Smart was quick to dismiss the apparent “dust-up” between Fromm and Swift on our last drive of the game, citing there was no time to check into another play as the play clock was winding down per Smart’s instructions to burn time. A&M loaded the left side of the line, and Swift got knocked down for a negative result. I have no doubt it’s all water under the bridge. I just question how often we get dangerously low on the play clock before we call a snap. We absolutely did nothing up-tempo yesterday, but it has been effective on the rare occasions when called upon.
13. I have watched a lot of Georgia football in my years and this defense we are witnessing is one of the best I have ever seen. It truly is National Championship worthy.
14. How are we feeling today if we connect on those early missed opportunities? Imagine if the flea flicker had worked, or if Fromm doesn’t throw a duck to a wide-open Herrien? It still bears mentioning that the lack of Lawrence Cager is affecting us. He’s got 2 weeks to get healed before the SECCG. I wonder how close he truly is to returning to the form we saw against Florida? Heal up, #15.
15. The outgoing seniors will have a lot to say about how we finish. We are a 29-point favorite over Tech and everyone should thank their QB for at least providing a little bit of locker room material in a game that otherwise lacks much pizzazz, at least on the surface.
Georgia Tech QB James Graham threw for 3 TDs and ran for 1 more in the Jackets 28-26 win over NC State. He's already looking ahead to #UGA @GeorgiaTechFB https://t.co/nZlu2Xk6EM pic.twitter.com/WvHeCqD66s— Cody Chaffins (@Cody_Fox5) November 22, 2019
Dude, we are going to squash you like the bug you are. Shut it.
Look, this team is far from perfect. I have no idea how to fix the offense at this stage of the season, or if it can be fixed...or, by some stretch, it suddenly clicks. But we keep winning and beating some damn good teams with damn good defenses of their own. Let’s just see how this plays out as we get ready for two trips to Atlanta in two weeks. Unless Tech decides to install a few triple option plays this Saturday, at least we don’t have that distraction to worry about.
That’s all I’ve got.