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15 Thoughts on an Elite Defense and Elite Crowd

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That was impressive. All of it.

Arkansas v Georgia
Dan Jackson. Onsides.

If you were like me, you probably began watching Gameday at 9 A.M. yesterday and didn’t go to bed until LSU blew their lead and chance to come back against Auburn around 12:30 A.M. That is staring at a whole bunch of electrons all day while Tweeting out sweet, sweet schadenfreude as contenders separated from pretenders.

1. Kirby wanted an elite crowd, and at the risk of overusing the word “elite,” If you were there, YOU were elite. You delivered. Home field advantage is only an advantage if the fanbase that is actually attending the game makes it so. For a noonish kickoff (Gameday ran a bit late), ‘ol Sanford Stadium was rocking from the get-go. Arkansas won the toss and deferred. That was the ONLY thing they won all day. The first quarter sealed the Hog’s fate in no small part to what that crowd brought. Thank you for getting up super-early, driving from great distances if you had to, for being in your seat and losing your voice before 1:00 P.M.

“Our crowd answered the call, and we noticed it. They impacted the game. I give our crowd at least 10 points, and that’s big.” - Kirby Smart

2. Stetson Bennett started in place of JT Daniels who is still battling some sort of latissimus dorsi muscle strain. Could he have gone if we needed him? We’ll never know and it didn’t matter. On the Dawg’s very first place from scrimmage, Todd Monken dialed up a QB run around the right edge of 9 yards that put the Hog’s defense on notice that a mobile QB was at the helm and you’d better not ignore this. Nine plays later, aided by an Arkansas pass interference penalty, Zamir White scored from 3 yards out. Cue the momentum.

3. The crowd had every bit as much to do with the doomed inaugural Arkansas drive. Starting at their own 17, the decible level reached jet-engine territory and the Hogs false started twice in a row. Devonte Wyatt’s sack of KJ Jefferson forced an Arkansas punt which set up Georgia in great field position.

4. Kendall Milton scored his first touchdown as a Georgia Bulldog a few plays later, set up by a perfectly thrown Stetson Bennett 27-yard pass to Kenny McIntosh to the Arkansas 5. Then, Georgia lined up in a jumbo set with Jalen Carter at fullback and Jordan Davis on the right edge. After failing to score last week against Vandy in a similar spot, this was practiced a few times, don’t you think? The result was seismic:

#88 took out 3 Razorback defenders. This is how you goal line...

5. Georgia did not have to do much passing. Barry Odom’s defensive scheme is basically 3 down linemen, 3 or 4 gap-shooting linebackers/safeties to stuff the inside run or seal the edges. When Georgia effectively ran the ball early and often, what worked for the Razorbacks last week vs. Texas A&M was doomed.

6. Throwing the football all around the yard is sexy and all, but running the ball at your opponent and griding out yardage is a primordially satisfying and goes back to the very essence of physical football. I’m all about the air attack, but when you don’t need it, why run it? Arkansas could not stop us.

7. Up 14-0, Arkansas again self-destructed with a muffed fair-catch after a Georgia punt and an inelgible man downfield penalty. Georgia’s special teams smelled blood in the water. the resulting blocked punt for a score was brilliantly designed and executed as Dan Jackson shot the gap. Game over.

Again, the crowd in the closed end of the stadium made everything leading up to this moment possible (that, and a bit of defense, too).

8. Georgia’s offense went into a bit of a lull in the 2nd quarter. That first quarter intensity cannot be sustained forever. The defense gave up the most yardage outside of late 4th quarter garbage time, yet still kept Arkansas from scoring.

9. Arkansas is a good team with good athletes, but their lack of depth showed. Georgia’s final 13-play, 93 yard drive that was capped off by a brilliant Zamir White touchdown at the 12:12 mark in the 4th quarter pointed this out. After this, Kirby took his foot off the gas.

If there were ever any doubts about Zeus’ knees, this should end it.

10. My Georgia fandom really began when we moved to Watkinsville in August of ‘73. I was 12 and my father (retired UGA faculty - he’s still with us and can still bark!) took me to see my very first Georgia game that year (we beat N.C. State). Like you, I have lived and died with the fortunes and failures, ups and downs of this team. Today, I’m closing in on my 60th trip around the sun. I’ve seen a lot of defenses come and go. I have never seen a defense like this one. Ever.

11. Arkansas couldn’t do anything on Saturday. Treylon Burks had 100 yards receiving last year, including a long touchdown. Yesterday, he had 10 yards and from what I saw in limited opportunities, Lewis Cine and/or Kelee Ringo removed him from the equation. Ringo’s light continues to shine brighter each and every week. Burks is probably a 1st round draft pick and he was null-and-voided.

12. KJ Jefferson was probably still feeling the effects of his leg injury from last weekend, but it didnt’ matter. He was 8/13 for 65 yards, and the Hog’s other QB Malik Hornsby didn’t have the range, either. Combined, Georgia sacked their QB’s 4 times. Adam Anderson got one, Nakobe Dean and Devonte Wyatt had 1.5 apiece.

“KJ Jefferson was 8 of 13 passing but only accounted for 65 yards through the air. Most of Arkansas’ penalties were on offense. Of the 18 flags thrown against the Hogs, 13 for 100 yards were accepted. Eight for 54 yards were against the offense. Including the illegal snap, there were five false starts and two ineligible receivers downfield.” - Rusty Mansell, 247 Sports.

Better days are ahead, Pittboss.

13. The interior defensive line simply occupied too many Arkansas blockers once again and our backers feasted all afternoon. The Razorbacks amassed 174 yards of total offense. With the way this defense is playing right now how many more shutouts might we see? It has become a point of pride and the late game substitutions are part of it as well. I’m not about to predict anything like this next weekend at Auburn, but then again, why not?

14. Back to the crowd and how it affected the Arkansas offense: It is remarkable that this stadium full of Dawg people was so ready, so early. With the events of yesterday, that Kentucky game has suddenly become one hot-as-hell ticket, no? I’ll be there.

Arkansas had 162 net offensive yards on the day. They also had 101 yards in penalties.

15. Special teams were mostly special. Jack Podlesny connected on 3 of 3 field goal attemps including a long of 49 yards and has now made 6-in-a-row going back to the Clemson game. Punt return yardage was minimal, but we are still blocking people in the back a bit too much. Jake Camarda only punted twice with a long of 47 and consistently kicked the ball too deep to return. Of course, the Dan Jackson punt block and Zamir White recovery for a score was the highlight of the special teams play.


Georgia has a 3:30 CBS kickoff against Auburn next week as a 15 point favorite. The way this defense is playing right now I don’t think it matters if Stetson or JT starts on Saturday, but we need JT to be healthy going forward. Everything is clicking right now: The offensive line is gelling, the running game came back with a vengeance to the tune of 273 yards (4.9 ypc clip) against a physical defense that was geared to stop it. Will the receiver room continue to heal? It was good seeing Darnell Washington back in limited action and he’s a difference maker as a blocking tight end.

Evidently, They want Georgia. Okay, then. See you soon.

BONUS THOUGHTS:

  • Florida had 7 chances inside the Kentucky 15 because of penalties during the worst officiated game of the day (another fine Marc Curles & Co. production). Everyone on the planet thought the Gators would score and either tie or go ahead last night in Lexington. Suckas!
  • I don’t think this one quite qualifies as a moral victory, either.

Fart noises...

  • SHAKEDOWN SATURDAY!

There’s Georgia, Alabama and then everybody else...

  • You had one job, LSU. Ed O might be “yaw yaw yawing fooball” somewhere else sooner than later. LSU is not in a good place right now. My how they have fallen since 2019.

Still, that’s the most beautiful backdrop ever.

  • It’s going to be another long work week until Saturday. I hate Auburn.
  • This is obligatory:

DtD Industries, LLC

  • Tech lost. Florida lost. Dawgs won. It’s a great day for America.
  • Kentucky has LSU at home on Saturday. We’ve got Auburn on the road. Kentucky has ascended in the polls. If we take care of bid’ness on The Plains, could Kentucky be rolling into town as a top 10 team?

AS ALWAYS, GO DAWGS!!