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15 Thoughts is Taking Georgia in the Bye Week, too

I need it, you need it, the team needs the break...

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Our defense is special. To truly get a sense of how dominating these guys are, you have to see them in person.

1. I know a good many of you feel like Kentucky’s last scoring drive was some sort of an affront and I’ve read a ton of disparaging remarks on message boards following our 30-13 victory over Kentucky. I think Mark Stoops did us a huge favor by going for the score as the seconds ticked down and the cool northwest wind finally killed what’s left of summer.

2. Why do I say this? This is now a motivational opportunity and talking points for Kirby Smart for the rest of the season. That defense absolutely did not want UK to score. Every single starter was on the field doing their very best to stop it from happening. Will Levis may or may not have fumbled on the goal line (I have yet to see a replay of the game), and I can tell you that the SEC officiating crew missed 2 men in motion that should have been flagged on the successful scoring play. But what matters is this: Kirby will challenge his guys to remember what happened if, down the road, we get into a similar spot in a game that has great consequence. And that challenge will be met. He’s going to tell his guys about football being a game of inches and how much do you want it. Blocking the ensuing extra point was a rebuttal of sorts. A bit of a “_ _ _ _ _ you” reply, in my opinion. That’s just football and I don’t blame UK one bit for scoring. This wasn’t about trying to position UK for a better bowl and/or possible playoff consideration. They had been beaten. The score only mattered to Las Vegas. Stoops is trying to score. We’re trying to stop it. It’s a battle of wills and two very good, prideful coaches. I got a kick out of watching it. Debate amongst yourselves...

3. Jalen Carter played his best game as a Georgia Bulldog. He was un blockable. He was also held more than a newborn baby. I don’t know why this particular crew (and SEC crews in general) are so loathe to call this obvious penalty. I guess it works both ways, but if we were being honest here, Kentucky should have gotten flagged more than only 3 infractions on the entire day for 15 yards. This does not add up, but ultimately didn’t matter.

4. Jalen is also lucky he didn’t get tossed after we blocked the final PAT attempt with :04 on the clock for swinging at a UK player. I have yet to review this as well, but got a glimpse of it live. Kirby had his arms one #88 over by the Georgia bench in a teachable moment. It would have been a disaster had a flag been thrown (no matter who instigated whatever happened) because he would have certainly missed the first half against the hated Gators in 2 weeks. There’s an incident I’m thankful the refs missed. I'm sure there was a reason for his reaction, but no harm, no foul. Whew...

5. There is so much good stuff to dissect in a game where we didn’t play our level best. That defense of ours really is a blur at times. Kentucky’s offensive line is the best we’ll face this year. We still managed 3 sacks on the day on a big, physical and mobile quarterback who has improved from week to week. (We’ll face another big, physical kid down in Jacksonville who wears #15...we think). Back on point, Kelee Ringo’s corner blitz and sack was a perfect call at the time. That kid is becoming a star.

Ladies and gentlemen: Ringo, star.

6. Kentucky did a very good job of taking what the defense gave them (and, the officials). But the most impressive stat of the day is 7 yards on 7 carries. Uh, that was Chris Rodriguez’ tally for the day. That was it. The SEC’s leading rusher was absolutely shut down. Kentucky’s other back outgained Rodriguez 2-1. Kavosiey Smoke’s total was 14 yards. Kavosiey Smoke? More like “Old Crow Vape.”

7. Have to to give some love to our inside linebackers. They were all excellent, but Quay Walker had perhaps his very best game and was everywhere yesterday. Overall, we tackled really well. Kentucky was held to 51 rushing yards which is less than a quarter of what they were averaging per contest (214 ypg.). The ‘Cats didn’t hit any deep chunk plays. Levis, to my recollection, was only able to set up in play-action one time with an incomplete deep ball defended well by Lewis Cine. Levis threw a ton of screens and a few times we did over pursue, UK wasn’t about to become a deep passing threat on the day.

8. We struggled early and the first quarter was largely forgettable offensively. Georgia’s first scoring drive was a beautiful mix of Todd Monken’s playbook. The delay over the middle to James Cook was the perfect call, and Kentucky was totally discombobulated throughout the drive which could have never happened, but we got lucky. When Stetson Bennett fumbled and an alert Kendall Milton pounced on the ball amidst some casual Kentucky onlookers. What would have been a significant loss ended up becoming a 9 yard gain. On the next play (you can ask Macondawg: I called it), Bennett hit Cook over the middle on a nifty delayed slant and Cook took it to the house. The point here is this: Every championship teams has to get a few lucky breaks. Now, I’m not suggesting that if we don’t score here Kentucky wins this game, but this didn’t suck.

More #4 in space, please.

9. Brock Bowers looks pro-ready. He’s playing way, way above his 7-total game experience level at the tight end position and might be the best to ever come through here when it’s all said and done. His speed is elite for a big man, but he’s got incredibly soft hands. He’s a rare player and MY GOD A FRESHMAN! Darnell Washington made a great grab when the Dawgs came out of the halftime break and marched down the field in a big, big scoring drive. Bennett threw a low ball and Big 0 picked it off the turf for a 16 yard gain that was the catalyst for a 6 play, 75 yard drive that put us up 21-7. He’s getting healthier (evidenced by his leapfrog over the Kentucky DB on his first reception of the game) and John Fitzpatrick had a big catch as well. That room is bad-ass.

10. Kentucky stuffed the middle of the field much of the day and the running game took a while to get untracked. The box score is a little bit deceptive: Cook ran for 51 yards on 6 carries. Kendall Milton had the day’s longest gain: A 35 yard run that almost broke for a score, but he officially ended the day with 33 yards as he found it tough going. Bennett added 22 yards, White 46 and Ladd McConkey gained 15 on a well executed end-around. Give Kentucky’s defense credit. They came to play and Josh Paschal is going to make some bank in the NFL.


11. Stetson Bennett wasn’t quite as sharp yesterday as he was against Auburn, but he was still very good at decision making and executing when the opportunities were there. He took some hits and seems a bit dinged as he was seen shaking out his arm on the play that was ruled a fumble that was recovered by Milton. It didn’t seem to bother him going forward. His stats were solid: 14/20, 250 yards and 3 scores - with Bowers the recipient of 2. He kept Kentucky honest and had another beautiful QB designed run for 17 yards on our 2nd touchdown drive. The Mailman delivered.

12. Adonai Mitchell is becoming more and more polished as the season progresses. He was only targeted 3 times, gaining 43 yards, but is still crisp in and out of his routes.

13. Kearis Jackson is still not “quite there,” evidently. Frankly, I think Ladd McConkey should have been handling punt return duties after Jackson muffed a couple in 2 moments of abject terror for this witness. What Kentucky needed to pull off an upset seemed to be in play early on: Prevent Georgia from getting a fast start on offense (winner: UK) and get a few turnovers or special teams breaks (nearly winner: UK). That has to get cleaned up.

14. Special teams were, well, mixed. Jack Podlesny pushed an extra point wide (a first for him), and Jake Camarda shanked a punt that gave Kentucky a short field before the half which led to their ill-fated field goal attempt. Camarda also boomed a 63 yard punt and did a nice job in general.

14B. The meteorologist in me noticed how the wind behaves inside the natural bowl where the playing surface is located. Old Glory was indicating a strong NW wind all afternoon, but the wind ribbons on top of each goal post were nearly limp and that is only 40 or 50 feet lower than where the flag is positioned on the bridge or west end of the stadium. It may have held up a few high kickoffs, but did not come into play. That big scoreboard probably acts as a windshield, too.

15. So, we’re 7-0 and headed into the bye with a reeling Florida Gators waiting. I have a feeling there will be quite a few tickets available for this one circulating around the various parking lots that surround TIAA Bank Field (a.k.a. The Gator Bowl), but if you buy them at the stadium you will have to sit amongst the reptilians. Georgia looks unbeatable at the moment.

The defense is the best I have ever witnessed in person and I’ve been watching this team for the better part of 45 years. I’ve seen some good defenses. I’ve seen a few great defenses. This is an elite defense paired with a good to very good offense that - with 2 weeks of healing - could become even better. Good times, folks.


  • Is there anything better than watching Dan Mullen spit another bit against LSU (or, anyone for that matter)? Macondawg and I were fixated on the scoreboard as it scrolled the results of the noon kickoffs. When that 49-42 lead went final, there was much rejoicing in section 135. Suddenly, your average Florida Gators has had a bit of an epiphany about their coach, our coach and the world in general.
  • LSU’s victory still wasn’t enough to save Ed O:

Go Tigahs!

  • After I watched and celebrated the Braves 3-2 victory over the Dodgers last night with my pop, I switched over the the end of the Ole Miss and Tennessee “Battle of Cultures” game and boy did it not disappoint.

There’s gonna be a fine. And some arrests. And some fine arrests.

  • Of course a bottle of yellow mustard was part of the student section aerial bombardment of the Ole Miss bench because no one attends a football game in Knoxville without bringing their own condiments. I wish they’d bring some breath mints instead.
  • On the other hand, they’ve had enough! SMH...

Hey, Vols. You don’t have a monopoly on bad SEC officiating. Get over it...and stay classy.

That’s all I’ve got. I’m heading back down to the Swamps of Broward tomorrow. It’s always bittersweet leaving this part of the world, but so blessed to still have a place to call home.

As Always, GO DAWGS!