First things first: They’re baaaaaccckkkk!
Beating your oldest rival in their house is what makes life worth living.
Before I share a few thoughts about the game itself, let’s talk about last night...
1. Full “old-guy” confession:
When Bama took the lead, I went to bed. Yep. Missed the Texas A&M game-tying touchdown and the Bama 3-and-out and the winning field goal that just drifted back to the right inside the goal post that sent a flawed Alabama team packing. I missed all of that: Saban’s conservatism late, Jimbo Fisher’s million-words-a-minute post-game interview and all of the associated schadenfreude on all of those late-night Alabama boards. It’s a movie I had seen a million times before - like the Shawshank Redemption. Except Andy DuFresne gets stuck in the sewer pipe at the end and the credits roll and darkness prevailed. Anyway, I did sleep like a baby.
As Mrs. DavetheDawg was bringing me an extra large cup of coffee this morning, she very nonchalantly said in her lovely British lilt, “did you know that Alabama lost last night?” My first reaction was doubt. Then, the possibility did occur that it might be true. Then, I fired up my tablet and checked the score. Well I’ll be dipped in pudding.
1b. Yesterday was just an incredible day for the sport we love. From OU/UT to Arkansas - Ole Miss and right on through the night, it was just a wild day of wild scoring, drama and everything.
2. So, Auburn takes the opening kickoff (it’s really big to win that coin toss on-the-road, isn’t it?) and proceeds to march downfield in a drive that featured Bo Nix at his best (making plays with his feet) and Bo at his worst (that was a fumble inside our 15). They get a field goal to take the first lead of any opponent at any point in this season. I think it really pissed off our defense.
3. We had fifteen players listed as injured prior to kickoff, including Jermaine Burton. I did not realize Burton was hurt prior to kickoff (groin). Had I known this I would have had a fit. So what do we do? After a conservative start, we throw the ball to Ladd the Impaler. The Bennett to McConkey connection was huge all day. Ladd’s double move to set up Georgia’s first touchdown for 45 yards should have resulted in a touchdown, but Bennett slightly underthrew the ball - shades of 2020, right? However, redemption would follow soon enough.
4. Darnell Washington is such a weapon and it is obvious that he is still not 100%, but even an 80% Washington is going to be a nightmare to deal with going forward. His ankle is still heavily wrapped with hardware cloth, rebar, duct tape and Flex Seal...but he’s out there and getting his groove back.
5. The offensive line had trouble blocking in the first half, but recovered coming out of the break. The last scoring drive of the game crushed Auburn’s soul and looked every bit like last week’s death blow against Arkansas. Zamir White proved why he’s our best clutch running back and still has the best vision at the position.
Zeus got loose.
6. Stetson Bennett played a helluva game. There is absolutely no QB controversy, no matter how much the CBS crew suggested there might be one brewing. If we had to navigate our way through the rest of the season without JT Daniels, I believe we can do it. I hope we don’t have to do this, but Bennett is just a savvy veteran now. His 2nd deep ball to McConkey was spot-on-perfect.
LONG DISTANCE DELIVERY FROM THE MAILMAN pic.twitter.com/LPbXo28NdJ— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 9, 2021
The prior drive, almost all on the ground, set up play action. Bennett and McConkey burned them.
7. Coming out of the half, Georgia drove down the field behind a much more effective offensive line, but the drive stalled and Jack Podlesny missed a 43-yard field goal attempt that boinked off the right upright. Those would have been big points coming out of the half. That was not a failed drive as Aaron Murray pointed out in the CBS booth. Auburn sucked in more defenders on the next Georgia possession and the following 60-yard bomb to #84 once again showed Todd Monken’s brilliance at dialing up the big play at the right time.
“Matt, the camera is on you and 5-star offensive lineman are watching.” pic.twitter.com/EanmSAuFuM— Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) October 9, 2021
Who’s Matt winkin’ at? Doesn’t matter. It’s awesome.
8. Auburn, and Bo Nix in particular, is a tricky offense to defend simply because of Nix’ ability to extend plays and the utter chaotic nature of how he rolls. Our guys were probably getting gassed late in the game chasing that dude around his own backfield all afternoon. Nix was sacked 4 times in the game and Georgia had 64 total tackles, 40 solos (!) and 6 TFL’s. I bet those guys slept like logs last night. How about Dan Jackson? He was pressed into service and his named was rarely brought up during the telecast. That’s usually a good thing.
Nakobe Dean played another great game.
9. Latavious Brini’s breakup of the 4th and goal pass from Nix to his intended receiver Ze’Vian Capers was not interference. Brini has great length and defended the ball. I’ve watched this a few times and do not buy into the CBS booth (Aaron Murray’s included) that this was a missed PI. Was there some hand checking during the route? Sure. Brini came up big on a similar play against Clemson.
10. The Auburn offensive line struggled to keep Georgia’s defenders out of the backfield all day, but were aided by a maddening lack of non-holding calls. I saw a flag thrown as Auburn’s guard dragged Jordan Davis down by his jersey once in the 2nd quarter, but Jalen Carter probably was held all afternoon as he constantly bullied his mirror.
11. Auburn has talent at running back. Their lone touchdown by Tank Bigsby was simply great effort. But their successes were few as the Dawg “D” held them to 1.6 yards/carry and negated any semblance of a running game as Georgia constantly won first down, forcing Auburn into 2nd and long situations. Yeah, Nix had a few throws here ‘n there and on the day Auburn did move the ball at times. Still, the defense bowed up when it had to and is still the finest in the land.
This ain’t LSU, Bo.
12. The emotions of the rivalry got to Nolan Smith early on a bad late hit penalty, but he re-focused and played another great game. Georgia played a very clean game in a hostile environment which is huge. The Dawgs were flagged 3 times for 18 yards; Auburn had 34 penalty yards on 5 flags. No penalty was bigger than Smoke Monday’s targeting shot on Bennett. It was so textbook, they’re gonna start teaching it at West Point. Two years in-a-row.
“You can’t do that!” “You can’t do that!” pic.twitter.com/uSXtWysQVI— Stetson Bennett III (@StetsonIII) October 9, 2021
Another angle of Smoke Monday’s poor decision making. He knew it, too.
13. What will this team look like if it is actually healthy? We may never know and I’m having my doubts about certain guys returning anytime soon, but what do I know? Maybe this is all by design, with the coaching/training managing this with the depth we have. Our running back rotation was down as Kenny McIntosh was held out (except for a special teams appearance). I taught 8th grade science one year and spoke of “potential energy” during the most boring part of that curriculum. We’ve got so much on the shelf right now that are just waiting to get healthy. If we just get half those guys back (mostly offensive dudes), a very good offense might just be as elite as the defense. Having said all of that, we just traveled to a very hostile venue and kicked some ass.
Oh, Excessivus! Hear my prayer. Great god of the uncalled holding penalty; momentum flips, random false starts and “player listed as questionable,” why do you hate us so?
Someone sacrifice a goat already.
14. What a luxury it is to have two very good starting quarterbacks? This season could have gone sideways (hey, it still could. I might have just pissed off Excessivus). The Mailman is not just a game manager. He was clearly the best QB on the field yesterday. When he has to make a play, he does. Perhaps my favorite Moment of Stet™ was his 30-yard scramble to set up a field goal at the end of the 3rd quarter. That was a huge play and the drive resulted in points. Anyway, his numbers were solid: 14/21 for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns; 41 rushing yards on 6 attempts. He was sacked once for a big loss otherwise those number would have been better. We did not turn the ball over. A really big deal, especially on the road.
15. So here comes Kentucky and they’re going to be high as a kite after thumping an awful LSU team 42-21 last night. I watched a lot of this game and I’m sure our boys DawgOutWest and DawgStats will break everything about UK down in a podcast coming to a computer near you. This one will be on CBS once again at the tail-gate friendly time of 3:30. Gameday will be back for the 2nd time in 3 weeks. I have no doubt the decibel level in ‘ol Sanford Stadium will improve upon the 110 points from the Arkansas game.
Athens is going to be absolutely lit. I can’t wait.
- Oh, Texas.
- So, does Spencer Rattler transfer to an SEC team near you?
- I was really pulling for Sam Pittman to rebound vs. Ole Miss. He went for the win with only a couple of ticks left on the clock, but came up short. That game was incredibly entertaining.
- I watched a bit of Florida overwhelm a determined, but hapless Vandy team. I also saw a Florida squad that could’ve been whipped a 2nd time in as many weeks had a functional SEC team been their opponent yesterday.
- I guess we’ll be #1 in the polls as they’re being released in full a bit later. That’s the goal! It doesn’t mean squat until sometime in January. But this ride we are on is something. Enjoy it, folks.
That’s all I’ve got. I’ll try to stay awake the next time...
AS ALWAYS, GO DAWGS!