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15 Thoughts Wonders: How do You Like Me Now?

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The only thing sweeter than beating Auburn in November is avoiding the rush and beating ‘em in October

Auburn v Georgia
Tyson Campbell probably made some future bank last night. He gave Seth Williams fits all night.

Does Georgia have the nation’s best defense? After watching what we all witnessed last night, it would be hard to argue otherwise. Once upon a time, Auburn used to win regularly in Sanford Stadium. Our victories often came at Jordan-Hare. Today, we win at home. We win on the Plains. You can throw in Atlanta, too. Thirteen of the last 16. That’s better than 81% during that span. Do you think we’re in their heads a little bit?

1. First things first: I come here not to praise you, but to mock you:

2. Here’s another one. Embellishment text is mine, otherwise h/t @ChanceDawg19 on the Twitters...

It must be Christmas...

3. That was fun from start to finish, with just a few mild moments of heartburn due to penalties. The Dawgs out-played Auburn from the beginning to the end and once we were up 10-0, I told Mrs. DavetheDawg:

“Honey, this might be all the scoring we need tonight,” to which she replied, “I can’t believe we’re sitting at home on our 22nd anniversary and not at dinner,” to which I replied, “I’ll make it up to you next year tomorrow,” to which she replied, “ I’ve ordered a shipping container of stuff off QVC,” to which I replied, “O.K.”

What’s a Dawg to do? Good thing we won or I’d be in a dour mood.

3a. Stetson Bennett came out a little but amped up and missed his first pass to a wide-open John Fitzpatrick on our first drive of the game. He quickly found a rhythm and did exactly what Todd Monken and Kirby Smart mandated: Don’t force anything, stay in the pocket and take what Auburn gives you, and execute. His stat line was solid: 17 of 28 for 240 yards and a touchdown, with a QBR of 91.6 (Bo Nix: 56.3).

Georgia gave us 30 minutes of football against Arkansas last week to assume that maybe the Dawgs wouldn’t find their QB. Ha! Watch as the fourth man on the August depth chart toys with Auburn’s defense like some sort of Bond villain devising ever more complicated forms of torture. - David Hale, ESPN

4. Last week, Stetson entered the game and calmed the rough seas. Last night, he assuaged any lingering doubt that he could be the man the rest of the way. Is this a fait accompli? It could be and I would not have an issue with it. In his post-game interview with ESPN’s Allison Williams, he exuded a calm confidence and maturity as his teammates were celebrating and joyfully “disrupting” the interview. Maybe we found our quarterback. He was sitting on the bench in plain sight all along...

In those first 30-minutes, when the game was in the balance, Bennett clearly outshined Nix. Georgia went 6-for-9 on third-down to that point, while Auburn was 1-for-6. - Conner Riley, AJC DawgNation

Efficient

To me, perhaps the biggest play of the game is what set the tone, at least for the decisive first half: When Bennett, under immediate pressure from “Big Kat” Bryan and Derrick Hall, spun instinctively to his left and beat them to the throwing lane, finding Kearis Jackson for 17 yards.

5. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a dominant run game ultimately dictate how an opposing defense has to defend. The Dawgs were incredibly effective in running between the tackles, especially on first down. Rarely were we playing in 2nd or 3rd and long situations (unless a penalty was involved which was a 4th quarter issue). The offensive line ground down the Auburn defensive front. I think we could have taken more downfield shots, but why reveal too much once we had the lead? This game was over early.

5a. Nasty! Who is this offensive line and what have you done with them? What a vast improvement Matt Luke and his guys showed. Luke paid attention to what Kentucky did last Saturday to great effect. Ben Cleveland had a fire lit under his butt. He mauled his mirror on several occasions and had the presence of mind to spin ‘round and “back block” on one particular play I recall. Everyone just fired off the line and blocked with a purpose, similar to what we saw in the Sugar Bowl. I’m still a bit worried about Trey Hill’s snapping in the shotgun formation, but he improved after a few high snaps early that Bennett reacted to very well. Warren McClendon made his first start at right tackle and played another solid game.

6. We’ve gotta give Kearis Jackson some love this morning. He has become The Mailman’s primary package recipient as he caught 9 balls for 147 yards at a 16.3 average. Stetson put a bit too much air under the long 49 yard completion that set up Georgia’s 3rd and final touchdown at the 8:33 mark in the 2nd quarter. Jackson made a great adjustment to catch the rock. We had guys getting behind Auburn’s secondary - which took a big hit when Smoke Monday got ejected - on several plays. Still mystified about Matt Lander’s desire to go get it. His route running has improved, but Bennett threw a very catchable touchdown ball that deserved more effort than it got C’mon, man!

George Pickens had 2 receptions on the evening and his 21 yard touchdown on a perfectly thrown ball with great touch only adds to his legend. Auburn was preoccupied with #1 all night, thus freeing up #10 (and others) to excel.

7. Zamir White is one juke away from breaking his first long touchdown, and it’s coming. The confidence in his knees and what we saw at Arkansas last week carried over last night. He’s a brute who simply moved the interior pile consistently. His stat line: 19 carries, 88 yards and a couple of touchdowns with a long run of 17. But his 1st down carries were the things that impressed me the most.

8. James Cook took a lot of heat after last week, but he began to show what he is capable of. It’s a pity he got his shoulder dinged as he, too, seemed to be finding a rhythm with some tough runs and chunk plays at times. He’ll factor into this season going forward. Kenny McIntosh deserves more carries. He’s a very, very good back. Kendall Milton was channeling Nick Chubb a bit last night - and not just because he wears #27. This kid is going to be superb as he gains experience. Ten carries for 30 yards and some nice runs in traffic. Daijun Edwards acquitted himself just fine, too. The running back room, once again, is deep.

9. How about that goal line Jumbo Package with Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis lined up as full-back and blocking monster? You can do a TON with this package in any situation where you gotta have a yard, a foot or an inch. Color me excited. I expect my colleague DawgOutWest will have a 5 hour “The Battle Hymnal” podcast analyzing this shortly (no pressure, dude).

THE DEFENSE

10. Adam Anderson is becoming a 3rd down pass rush virtuoso and had a great game, recording 2 sacks. Azeez Ojulari had a sack and 3 tackles for loss. Auburn’s line was whipped from the snap all night long and a competent official would have thrown at least 4 or 5 holding flags on some of the most blatant non-calls I can ever remember (or, at least last year’s Auburn game). I think Kirby must’ve gotten into the refs’ collective ears by the 4th quarter as -FINALLY- some laundry was being dropped on Auburn. We outclassed their offensive line from the beginning to the end and many Auburn drives were certainly aided by the officials. This Conference deserves better officiating.

NCAA Football: Auburn at Georgia

10a. Richard LeCounte did not target Auburn’s Shedrick Jackson. The wussifcation of college football continues, unabated. Richie made an outstanding defensive play and Jackson’s teeth ended up in the Oconee Hill Cemetery behind the closed end of the stadium, next to Wally Butt’s headstone. It’s a Fact!

This is what leading with your shoulder looks like. At no point is LeCounte in a “spearing” position. The Birmingham office hates Georgia.

11. Tyson Campbell made some money last night. He absolutely wore Auburn’s excellent Seth Williams like a blanket all night long, and Williams look physically whipped, gassed and generally defeated by game’s end. Bo Nix would have like to have set up in the pocket to get the ball down field to his wideouts, but he was running for his life. Most of this is owed to our rush, but when a guy ain’t open you have to scramble. Campbell asked no quarter, gave no quarter. Was that Mark Webb’s first career pick last night? Why yes it was! He’s such a big, rangy kid. This is why Kirby wants big, physical defensive backs on his roster.

12. Auburn rushed the ball for a net of 39 yards on the night. Total offensive output? 216 yards. Jordan Davis, Malik Herring, Julian Rochester, Devonte Wyatt, Travon Walker...take a bow. The interior of Georgia’s defense was a no-fly-no-run zone.

13. D.J. Daniel started ahead of Eric Stokes, who was in the game at times, and was definitely targeted by Nix. There was at least one ball that could have been a long touchdown to Anthony Schwartz early, but Nix over threw. Daniel played hard all night, as did the entire secondary. I’m loving what I see from Lewis Cine. There’s not much of a drop off in talent there, which was critical when LeCounte was ejected for playing football. However, we need Richie and he won’t miss any time vs. the Vols on Saturday because his ejection came before the half.

14. Special teams were special again. Jake Camarda only punted twice, netting a 51 yard average with a long kick of 63. Jack Podlesny was 2 for 3 on field goals; 3 for 3 on PATs. Kenny McIntosh opened the game with a 38 yard kick return, and Georgia enjoyed favorable field position most of the night as Auburn punted 5 times. Georgia covered kickoffs very well and the Tigers never made it past their own 25 yard line on.

15. This defense is elite. The offense has elite talent and can become very scary in a hurry if things come together. There is no quarterback controversy today. Stetson Bennett will never be the physical prototype quarterback, but that’s okay. He’s smart, can run and knows the offense. He has to work on some things to be sure, but defenses are going to have to account for our running attack which is beginning to gel. We have got to address some holding penalties, but that is coachable and much improved from last week.

Tennessee is coming to town with an 8 game winning streak and a ton of confidence, 3:30 on CBS next Saturday. They have a much better offensive line that Auburn has and Jeremy Pruitt is starting to assemble some players. Georgia cannot be caught looking ahead. This game is big. They’re all big. One week at a time.

Bonus Thoughts:

  • Is this a beer funnel? I want one.
  • Congrats to Sam Pittman. Maybe Arkansas is a little bit better than everyone thought?
  • Does anyone remember when Tom Hermann was the hot hire? Yeah, that was a style that faded quickly.
  • Ames, Iowa and Jack Trice Stadium has become a house of horrors for Oklahoma in recent years.
  • UCF lost...at home to Tulsa. At least that narrative died early.
  • ...and this is the troll of the year (UCF refers to their stadium as the “Bounce House”).
  • Listening to Gary Danielson fawn over Alabama yesterday simply makes me nauseous. Get ready for a metric shit ton of Tennessee love next week, regardless.
  • Georgia fans in attendance last night are taking some criticism over this. What say you? You could call out any stadium in America yesterday for the same issue, in my opinion. Still, I expect an reprimand from the Conference.

That’s all I’ve got! I’ll try to do better next time.

I hate Auburn.

As Always, GO DAWGS!