Embrace The Spotlight
Maybe it’s the self-disillusioning part of being a sports fan in the state of Georgia. Maybe it’s being through too many big games in the Richt are and seeing things fall flat. It’s hard to blame some Georgia fans for being nervous about this weekend, even if Georgia is a two-TD favorite.
A party environment, College Gameday, maybe the biggest home game since Yale came south in the 1920s not to mention a chance to show this team is ready for the big stage.
No doubt, the spotlight is on Georgia this weekend. How it handles it will go a long way in winning, and that goes down to playing mistake-free, staying focused and not playing tight. Simply put, the Bulldogs just need to have fun and play loose.
For starters, the atmosphere was unreal, even to witness on TV Saturday night. By and large, you didn’t see many jitters, aside from Tyler Simmons muffed punt. If he catches it, the game is obviously different. Combine that was his dropped pass later in the contest, and you can’t help but wonder if it’s all mental for Simmons, which would be sad to see on multiple levels.
The bottom line is that you didn’t see stage fright. Sure, you saw bad luck that had you thinking, “only Georgia could have a game this big and give up a fluke TD and lose multiple starters in the first half...”
In the end, Georgia was ready for the challenge.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
Momentum swings are everything in games like this, and those include turnovers.
Georgia needs to do two things in this department - take care of the football and sieze full advantage when the Irish do turn it over and make them pay. So far this year, ND turnovers are worth photographing because they don’t happen often. The Irish’s 3.0 turnover margin is best in the nation. When Notre Dame does have a miscue, Georgia needs to translate those missteps into points.
Suffice to say, Georgia exceeded expectations here, coming away in the black in the turnover ratio on Saturday. Jake Fromm had a lot of a big-time plays - most important may have been that he didn’t turn the ball over once.
Contain Ian Book
In the list of coming into the moment occurrences when these two teams played in 2017, high in that category was Roquan Smith absolutely flying all over the field, limiting Notre Dame’s big plays.
Ian Book has big-play potential, and missed assignments and bad angles could open the door for him to realize that. Georgia has to prevent Book from breaking containment, limiting big-time gains that could tilt the scales toward Notre Dame.
You knew that at some point, Book’s legs would help him get yards, and Book did just that late in the game. Overall, he was contained - some of that had to do with the success in the crossing routes early in the contest - who can blame the Irish for going to that well so many times?
Still, Book’s ability to break big plays via the run never materialized thanks for Kirby Smart and Dan Lanning finding ways to have multiple defenders flying to the ball play after play.