I gotta tell you, 9:07 kickoffs are for the birds. But if you have to endure a brutal start time on the east coast, winning cures those late bed-time blues.
1. Matt Luke and the offensive brain trust deserves a ton of credit for assembling a patchwork O-Line that actually did a very good job (for the most part) against one of the better Big 12 defenses. We saw some new faces and guys playing new positions all evening. Jamaree Salyer did a great job stepping in for NFL-bound Isaiah Thomas at right tackle. Redshirt freshman Warren Ericson out of North Gwinnett held his own at guard. Cade Mays struggled at left tackle, but that isn’t his natural position. All-in-all, George Pickens was correct in giving these guys credit during his MVP acceptance speech.
2. Speaking of Pickens, wow. Just wow. Now imagine pairing him up with some other outside threats who will be coming to a campus near you in the near future. George had himself a ballgame last night, particularly in the first half. Flipping him from Auburn in last year’s 11th hour recruiting battle might’ve been the biggest thing since microwave bacon.
Well, dayum! Get this man a dentist.
George finished the game with 12 catches for 175 yards and a TD. On the season, the true-freshman had 8 touchdowns, 49 receptions and 727 yards. Not too shabby. He could wind up being the best that’s ever played the position if he can stay healthy.
2A. ...oh, and Auburn lost their bowl game. Guffaw!
3. Last night’s game had the same familiar feel as the victories over Florida and Auburn. We never trailed and had to endure a bit of a rally. Ultimately, the defense bowed up when it counted. It wasn’t pretty at times, but beauty is in the eye of the Sugar Bowl Trophy holder.
4. Nolan Smith and Azeez Ojulari might not be “household names” in SEC circles at the moment, but they’re going to be. Smith was a terror all night long. Ojulari got a sack, as did Adam Anderson and Travon Walker. The Dawgs “D” racked up 7 TFL on the evening, and Richard LeCounte snagged two interceptions - the 2nd of which iced the game in a bit of comic relief as he sprinted out of bounds, jumped over the benches and appeared to be headed towards Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter. The officials actually called 3 or 4 holding penalties (one of which magically disappeared late in the game), but could’ve called one everytime Baylor QB Charlie Brewer dropped back to pass. Malik Herring was hell to deal with when he was in the game as well.
Where those Savage shoulder pads at?
5. To Baylor’s credit, they adjusted coming out of the half and won the 3rd quarter with two impressive scoring drives, taking advantage of D.J. Daniels and scheming around our defensive aggression by exploiting the perimeter. Naturally, Dan Lanning and Co. adjusted, but the game got a little uncomfortable heading into the 4th quarter.
6. You can’t stop Jake Camarda. You can only hope to contain him. The fake
punt field goal call setting up Zamir White’s 13-yard score is the kind of thing you expect in an exhibition, but is still nevertheless stunning to actually witness. Had a Baylor defender not gotten a paw on Jake’s leg after his 6-yard scamper on 4th and 3, Jake might still be running.
Georgia got creative on the field goal attempt, then they scored 6 pic.twitter.com/g5PGOeMDPE— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2020
7. If this was Jake Fromm’s last game in the Red ‘n Black, I’m so thankful to have had the pleasure of watching him over the last 3 years. Before the game, I thought he’d stay. As of right now, I’m not so sure. If he gets the draft grade he desires, he should go. Next year’s QB class will have some really talented dudes coming out early, so it would be wise to make the leap. ESPN’s Todd McShay still has Jake as a late 1st rounder. I hope he returns, but if he doesn’t I’m so very happy for him. What a wonderful representative of our school. In many ways, he deserved better - from a football standpoint and perhaps a fan base one, too.
Jake Fromm dropped this one right in the bucket pic.twitter.com/TnpUhn0Rbn— ESPN (@espn) January 2, 2020
Jake’s best throw of the year. Vintage Fromm.
8. Georgia won the turnover battle with 2 picks and a Travon Walker fumble recovery on a failed, ill-fated Matt Ruhle 4th down call that really bit Baylor at mid-field. Good things happen when you are on the plus-side of this stat. It is my sincere hope that Georgia finds a way to generate more of the same in 2020.
9. Charlie Brewer is a good quarterback. He’s also been concussed four times now. The 4th quarter “late hit” on Brewer (It’s hard to fault Travon Walker here as Brewer was trying to gain a critical 1st down on a 3rd and long situation and this was just instinctual football, IMO) was scary for a kid who - as good as he is - should never suit up again and risk a long-term brain injury, such as CTE. Honestly, I wonder if he should have been on the field in the first place. Tough call, I know. Here’s hoping the kid will be alright.
10. Hot Rod. Rodrigo Blankenship. The bespectacled one. Lou Groza award winner. Perfect on the night. Man, we are going to miss you around here.
11. In my mind, this type of victory - when the Vegas line kept slipping as more and more players became “unavailable” for various reasons - sends a message to recruits: Kirby Smart is the ultimate competitor. He wants to win and will play those guys (whether out of absolute necessity or not) who will give him the best chance. He’s flexible. He’s tough. And he should never be miked up on the sideline. Seriously, there’s a world of opportunity for some guys who might be “on the fence” about matriculating at Georgia. I think this type of game will pay dividends as we wrap up the 2020 class - with the #1 ranking still very much in play.
12. What a difference a year makes. I didn’t ever watch the 2nd half of last year’s Sugar Bowl which featured a much more complete Georgia team. As ESPN’s broadcast crew loved to rehash over and over, Georgia simply didn’t show up. This season, we were motivated and it showed. With so many guys missing, we dominated. I figured we’d acquit ourselves and perhaps eek out a close win, but really the issue was never in doubt. This was an important victory and an important springboard towards 2020.
13. We should all be grateful for Sam Pittman’s time in Athens. He built the kind of depth on the offensive line that carried the night. I do wonder if he was better at identifying talent and actually recruiting than he was developing, but what do I know? Blasphemy? On point? You tell me...
Now, enter Matt Luke. A month ago, Kirby hired him to the same position. His job was daunting: hold onto the recruits we have. Oh, and rebuild the line in under a month with the dwindling resources available, then whip the best line the Big 12 has to offer. Oh, by the way, try and hold down some other recruits who haven’t signed yet. Luke is using the Force.
In his first 4 years at #UGA @KirbySmartUGA is 44-12. He has won a #Rosebowl #SugarBowl #secchampionship , played for a National Championship and Won 3 #SECEast titles. He has No. 1 rated Recruiting class and will be close on another one in 2020. @Dawgs247 pic.twitter.com/X8XWBIIDWi— Rusty Mansell (@Mansell247) January 2, 2020
15. Thank you, Charlie Woerner. Thank you, Tyler Simmons, D’Andre Swift and Isaiah Wilson, and Andrew Thomas. We’re gonna miss you, Hot Rod, Tae “sticky fingers” Crowder, J.R. Reed, Michael Barnett and Tyler Clark. Thank you for coming to Athens, Lawrence Cager and Eli Wolf. Bless you, Michail Carter, Brian Herrien, David Marshall, Tyrique McGhee and D’Marcus Hayes, Steven Nixon...and all those guys who played scout and never got the accolades. If I missed anyone, I apologize.
That’s all I’ve got, folks. It’s off to work now (first day back after a beautiful break).
Thank God tomorrow’s already Friday...
I remain your humble servant in Dawgitude...and As Always...