So, I got home around 2:30 in the morning last night, I’m sure some of you arrived at your final destination even later. This is what happens when 93,000+ fans all leave at the same time. Athens was on fire all day Saturday. What an experience. Truly.
1. I’ve been going to Georgia games since my family moved to Watkinsville in the summer of 1973. I attended the ‘76 Alabama game and for me, that was still a high-water mark event in a stadium that held about 56,000 at the time. Last night was unreal. To everyone who stomped, cheered, clapped and barked when Notre Dame had the ball - pat yourself on the back. Brian Kelly said he prepared his squad for some noise, but last night was a constant jet-blast of sound and caused the Irish to commit multiple procedure calls. And we needed every single bit of that to prevail.
2. Tyler Simmons fumbled punt was bad. It directly led to 7 Irish points after a gallant effort at stoning them out of the endzone. Jake Camarda, however, nearly cost us the game. He didn’t look consistent during warms ups, either. I always pay attention to the kickers in pre-game, and after a few bombs, he’d hit one off the side of his foot. Well, that shank late in the game has got to get fixed. And he was doing so well up to this point. This must get fixed.
3. Rodrigo Blankenship, on the other hand, is the GOAT. Three of 3, two from beyond 40 and we needed every bit of that. He’s so invaluable to what our ultimate goals are.
4. I don’t like to be critical of a new offensive coordinator as he’s going through as learning curve as he adjusts to what is a fairly high-pressure gig now. But Matt Landers on a sweep when we are beginning to finally get a push up front? Really? Why didn’t Cook get a touch? We’ve got blazing speed on offense, yet we seemed to play as if to make some sort of point. Dom Blaylock is ready for prime time. He needs more touches, too. I don’t think Coley called a bad game, necessarily. It wasn’t a great game by a far sight.
5. Jake Fromm is really special, obviously. But for whatever reason, plays seemed to be getting to him late as the count-down clock ticks away, and several snaps were executed with only a second or two left, thus affecting his ability to check-down and get out of less-than-optimal play. I maybe wrong here, but I just felt that for much we had trouble being decisive.
6. Since I live in south Florida, I read about a lot of bitterness concerning Lawrence Cager from some Miami supporters. I’m just thankful that we have him, if only for a season. He was clutch all night long. He’s really focused on his blocking and receiving at the moment.
7. God, those ACC refs just sucked. One of the real problems with CBS games is the lack of rhythm because of bloated TV timeouts. Compounding this problem were the ineptitude of reviews and penalties that simply took far too long to resolve. But, my God, if you’re going to throw a pass interference flag of D.J. Daniel on an uncatchable ball west end zone, please call it both ways. George Pickens was absolutely mugged twice on some passes he nearly caught anyway. At no point did the Notre Dame defender attempt to play the ball. We won this game anyway, but there was so much that was wrong with this game from an officiating point of view that it really makes me wonder if these guys are entirely capable of calling a fair game. Not good, nor excellent. I’ll settle for fair.
7A. And what’s with this? This is why I really dislike Brian Kelly.
Thoughts and prayers go out to Notre Dame after this brutal injury pic.twitter.com/Wwx9bsqXva— NOTSportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) September 22, 2019
8. I can’t say enough about how hard D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien ran the ball last night, into a stacked box and still managed to move the ball and run clock in key moments. That was tough going all night, but these guys are warriors.
9. Our pass rush was largely neutralized all night. We could only really rush 3 and couldn’t commit to blitzing a linebacker or even a corner - because of injuries, perhaps - which necessitated that we drop into coverage and take away crossing routes and underneath throws that really dinged us in the first half. It was frustrating to watch, but you really can’t argue with how hard and how well the defense played when it had to.
10. And on the very last Notre Dame possession, we dialed up the pressure and forced Ian Book, who is a very good quarterback, into a wounded duck throw. Yeah, I think I’m still holding my breath.
Georgia hangs on to beat Notre Dame 23-17. pic.twitter.com/vIlsiZqogi— Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) September 22, 2019
11. During pre-game warm-ups you could not help but notice how massive #84 for Notre Dame was. Cole Kmet is 6’5”, 255 lbs. and had 9 catches for 108 yards. The guy is a mismatch for anyone. There are a lot of really good tight ends in our Conference, but I’d be hard pressed to find a better one than this guy. Notre Dame had a lot of length on their offensive line, too. They were very effective in pushing our edge guys off the blocks. No sacks for us, but none for them, either.
12. We stuffed the Irish’s running game. Had Notre Dame been able to establish anything consistent between the tackles, we don’t win. Not with their edge receivers and with our dinged up, banged up secondary. The numbers: 46 yards on 14 attemps/3.3 yards per. Nice work by the guys in the middle and swarming tackling.
13. I can’t say enough about J.R. Reed. He’s a calming presence that is so vital in a secondary full of really young guys. His pick on the attempted flea-flicker - where the pass rush really disrupted things for a change a people “stayed home” was spectacular. Divaad Wilson’s interception - not without some fumbling drama - was as critical and led to points. This kid showed us something during the Sugar Bowl and is really coming on in a hurry. Just work on ball security.
14. Jake Fromm’s numbers were spectacular, but they should have been better due to no fault of his own. But Jake does what he does: Calms the chaos and makes clutch, NFL-worthy throws when the chips are down. I think he could have tucked and run in a few spots and really gashed the Irish defense, but we don’t want to risk injury.
15. This game will serve us well. A couple of weeks ago, I was actually wondering if I should worry more about Tennessee after a bye week than this game. Shame on me. We may have overlooked a very motivated and very talented Notre Dame squad that has their share of athletes, too. We prevailed, and that is all that matters. Back on point about the Vols: No way we go up to Knoxville complacent now. That’s going to be a blood-letting.
Last night was really special. I understand, after reading some of the pay$ites, that every single recruit that was present came away more than impressed. This is going to pay really, really big dividends for both the 2020 and 2021 cycle. What a show. What a game. There were a lot of fixable issues and we got some guys banged-up, but we’ve also got a couple of weeks to heal and look at some things, film-wise.
Kudos to Notre Dame. These guys probably got sick of watching Paul Finebaum declare the game already decided and to not bother to show up. They played hard and showed up with a purpose.
We are 3-0 versus the Irish. Nice little streak we’ve got going...
Time to fix what’s wrong and improve upon what’s right. It’s time to eat.