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15 Thoughts has no Time for Moral Victories

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We won as expected. If you’re a fan of “close, but no cigar,” Saturday featured some games right up your alley.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Georgia
Scoring on defense has become a thing.

Howdy, folks. Wasn’t a full Sanford Stadium a beautiful sight to behold? For the second week in a row, I missed about the first 5 minutes of the game because my cable company down here in the swamps of Broward either didn’t pay their Florida Power & Light bill, or they source their electricity from a room full of hamster wheel hamsters connected to generators who decided to take a break at approximately 7:12 PM last night. Pretty sure it was the 2nd scenario.

1. This game went exactly as I expected it to. We looked like world beaters with some great individual play for a good part of the night; other times we looked a bit disengaged. Never was this game in doubt as we met most of the keys to victory, but there were a few head-scratching moments to go along with some truly great play. In other words, a typical home game against a lesser opponent who played very hard all night. Luke Doty was pressed into service early when Jalen Carter inadvertently stepped on Zeb Noland’s hand in the first quarter. I felt bad for Zeb, who was featured on ESPN along with his dad and their Oconee County (my alma mater) High School ties.

1A. Doty gave us a look at the more mobile QB’s we’ll be facing down the road. This probably is a good thing. Credit to Josh Vann from Tucker High who exposed some issues in the secondary. There is work to be done here.

2. Obviously, we still have issues on the right side of the offensive line and that is a work-in-progress and we are missing Tate Ratledge. Simply put, Warren Ericson got whipped on 2 bad plays resulting in a JT Daniels sack and TFL on Kenny McIntosh. Playing at home when you are a 30.5 point favorite is the perfect opportunity to see what you have and what needs work. South Carolina has a very good defensive front, but those 2 incidents were disasters. Do we have the personnel to fix this? We have luxury of fixing some things against a decided inferior opponent in Vandy on Saturday, but after that things get real...real fast.

3. JT Daniels was very sharp after going through some pretty intense rehab for his oblique strain and showed why he’s The Man and pass protection was generally on-point for most of the evening. JT displayed his arm strength and excellent touch on his 2 long TD strikes to Jermaine Burton (43 yards) and Adonai Mitchell (38 yards). His mechanics looked much better compared to last year as well.

4. I have no problem with playing Stetson Bennett, but the timing of his entrance into the game is the real head scratcher. JT was in rhythm and the offense was clicking when Bennett entered the game with a little bit over 3 minutes left in the 1st quarter. The Mailman earned his playing time and we need to keep him sharp. It was the timing of his insertion to the game that was odd.

Boom!

5. We ran the ball for 184 yards on 39 carries split between all of our running backs. Kendall Milton led the way with 66 yards on 10 carries. Not sure why replay didn’t overturn Milton’s “fumble” as we were driving early in the 4th quarter. If you’re into points spreads, you’re probably asking that very same question, too. His knee was clearly down. The lead official (who plays the lead role in the off-off Broadway play, “Skeletor”) didn’t even call for a 2nd opinion? Okay.

5A. Why did it feel like we struggled running the ball? Maybe I’m spoiled.

6. Overall, our backs were effective and James Cook looked good with Zamir White doing what Zeus does when given the slightest lane to squeeze through.

7. AD Mitchell is going to be a star. Another year of S&C with some experience under his belt could lead to really big things sooner than later. Our talent at receiver is young, but very good...could be great. Could be elite. As we progress into the schedule and begin to work some guys back into the rotation - Darnell Washington, Dom Blaylock and...dare I say...George Pickens down the stretch, could the offense begin to match the level of what is the strength of the team: The Defense.

8. I read this morning that there are no “superteams” this year which is true after 3-weeks of competition. But Georgia could become one if we can address some things and get some guys back. We’re close, but obviously a work in progress.

9. The defense is a joy to watch and the team speed is the best I’ve ever seen, especially at linebacker. Channing Tindall once again showed out with his lateral speed.

10. I thought Nolan Smith played a very good game with a sack and forced fumble to set up a Georgia score in the first quarter.

11. You probably could have called a holding penalty on every South Carolina pass attempt. I don’t know if passing from the 1-foot line was the best idea, but I’m certainly not complaining...

12. How worried should we be in the secondary? As mentioned before, Josh Vann gave us some fits on a couple of plays: A beautifully thrown ball by Zeb Noland for 61-yards when Vann got behind Ameer Speed and a 4th quarter score - the first touchdown of the season given up by the defense. That defensive film room is going to be busy this week.

13. We turned the ball over 3 times: The aforementioned Kendall Milton fumble was bogus, but Bennett’s pick was just an overthrow on a route that was perhaps not run deep enough by Brock Bowers - but still a poor throw. JT Daniels forced one down the sideline into some tight coverage. More film room critique for sure.

14. It was good to see Jack Podlesny get back on-track with a confidence-boosting 36 yard field goal. Outside of 1 directional kickoff that Georgia’s special teams stuffed, Podlesny booted everything well into the endzone. Jake Camarda continues to be the punting weapon that he has become. His late 2nd quarter punt that was covered beautifully inside at South Carolina’s 1 yard line set up the safety.

15. So, it was a sloppy game at times; at others JT Daniels was in complete control of the offense and Todd Monken was absolutely dealing. The defensive front and the linebacking corps are elite; but we have some issues in the secondary. There is time to get this fixed with Vandy coming up next Saturday at noon (11:00 A.M. in the central time zone). Honestly, Georgia could have scored 60 points last night but Kirby showed restraint. Bottom line: It was a big win over an SEC East foe and we avenged the 2019 debacle even if we didn’t play nearly our best game for 4 quarters. Did anyone really expect that we would?

BONUS THOUGHTS:

  • Tech and Florida are feeling pretty good about their losses this morning, methinks. Happy losers are the happiest losers.

Nick Saban is going to eat someone’s liver this week

  • I watched the Auburn-Penn State game with great interest. Bo Nix is still Bo Nix: A good, but not game-changing QB. Tank Bigsby is a great running back. And for the life of me I don’t know why Mike Bobo called that fade into the right corner of the end-zone for a potentially tying touchdown, but then again ‘ol Bobo has a history of not using his best back in goal line situations. The flashbacks...they burn.
  • Now I hate Auburn, but what I hate more is horrible targeting calls that results in a kid getting tossed when he’s trying to make a football play. That has become an X-factor in meaningful games. Beware.
  • I watched zero minutes of the Georgia Tech-Clemson game, but it would appear that the Tigers - unless something radically changes at QB - have real problems. Rumor has it Dr. Pepper has dropped DJ Uiagalelei. Pepto Bismol has picked him up.
  • Here is the wildest play of Saturday:

Sometimes, life ain’t fair. Neither is football. BYU wins 27-17.

  • Hold on a sec. Maybe this is the wildest play from Saturday:

God, I love college football.

That’s all I’ve got.

As Always,
GO DAWGS!