The thing about opening up the season against really good competition is you immediately know where you stand and what you must address to get better. This past August has not been kind on the injury front, particularly to our skill players and a key defender. This has been a concern for weeks now and the only goal last night was just win. Survive.
First, a quick recap from The Great Charlotte Sack Hop of 2021:
The entire Georgia defense was eatin' pic.twitter.com/zCNcDB6AEj— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 5, 2021
All you need to know about last night, condensed in about 2 minutes of glory.
Okay, we do have some concerns:
1. Georgia opened on offense after Clemson won the toss and deferred. Right away, offensive guard Tate Ratledge went down on either the 1st or 2nd play from scrimmage and immediately Matt Luke has to do more reshuffling of the offensive line. An inauspicious start to be sure, but depth (if not experience) prevailed as the offensive line, in the words of ex-Georgia great Benjamin Watson, “kept J.T. Daniels upright” outside of a lone sack in the 4th quarter. Clemson has a very good defense. Did you know that 13th year senior linebacker James Skalski (AARP since ‘06) is the only NCAA football player currently receiving Social Security Benefits? It’s a Fact!
Multiple offensive weapons missing? Survive and move on. Check.
2. Todd Monken’s game plan to throw short, quick throws never materialized into any deep shots downfield. I wish we would have committed to the run on early downs more often as the game progressed and give our backs the chance to wear down Clemson’s thin front who were down a key player. We are either more banged up at receiver than we really know, or conservatism was the plan all along. Probably a combination of both. We’ve got to get some guys healthy. JT Daniels did seem very tentative for much of the evening and never really looked comfortable. He probably should have had a touchdown to Brock Bowers in the back of the end-zone (we ultimately kicked a field goal) by throwing a dangerous ball in traffic when Arian Smith we also in the area and a tangled mess ensued. JT did not play his best game, for sure. But I think Todd Monken didn’t exactly call his best game either. It’ll get fixed.
3. Our running backs played hard and blocked well in protection, but I thought the rotation wasn’t the best. Zamir White is still the best option for the tough yardage; Kendall Milton the #2. I thought we tried to do some stuff with Kenny McIntosh early on that was not where his strengths lie. Kenny is very effective as a receiver, as is James Cook. Georgia’s final drive to run out the clock was a taste of what could have been earlier in the game as Zamir White put the burden on his shoulders and delivered.
Love this team— Zamir White (@zeus1_34) September 5, 2021
GO DAWGS let’s keep choppin!!! https://t.co/YHULymGHdv
Zeus, in the end, was the man.
4. Brock Bowers is a weapon and made some tough catches, showed great athleticism and held onto the ball. Tough spot for a true freshman to be in, but he performed very well. On the night, we had only two TE options: Bowers and John Fitzpatrick. Now, imagine a healthy Darnell Washington in the rotation? The possibilities are endless. All 3 are/will be a major part of this evolving offense. Oscar Delp, paging Oscar Delp...
5. As our offensive guys heal up and are incorporated back into Monken’s plan, things will get better. In a game like we just played, the only goal is to win by whatever means are necessary. We did.
6. This game played out pretty much exactly as I thought it would. I figured it would be a 24-17 type deal and I truly had no feeling about who would win. The path to the playoffs are much easier now. I have no doubt this team will figure it out offensively, beginning next week with UAB - which has athletes of their own. They’ve played us very tough in the past. We cannot overlook anyone while we heal up.
6a. I drank 7 beers during the 4th quarter. Never felt a single one. Allow me to introduce a drankin’ game: The Shift. Every time our defensive front shifts, drink!
7. Don’cha just love Jordan Davis? He’s the straw (it’s a big damn straw) that stirs everything on defense. Clemson had absolutely no answer for #99 as he was always double-teamed, often triple-teamed. “If there’s two on me, then someone’s free.” He’s a great ambassador of the program and there is not a better defensive tackle in the game. Devonte Wyatt knocked down a couple of passes and, as usual, quietly had a stellar game.
Good Morning to all my DAWGS who never doubted and kept the faith! Go Dawgs pic.twitter.com/x76Xg22ja1— LEE Ring0️⃣ (@HBTFD1) September 5, 2021
8. Our outside linebackers feasted all evening. The inside backers found gaps created by all the number mismatches with stunts and delays. Seven sacks against a supposedly mobile quarterback who was being “coached” all night long by Kirk Herbstreit to be more mobile.
9. It was absolutely fitting (if not a bit frightening) that our only touchdown was the result of a perfectly timed route-jump by Christopher Smith. Dabo Swinney blamed Justyn Ross for not completing his route, but Smith studies film and he knew exactly what was going to happen. He took the ball away in an instant and beat D.J. Uiagalelei to the end zone in a thrilling 74-yard foot race. It was precisely at this point, I lost my s**t.
I can’t wait for DawgOutWest’s and Josh’s interview with #29.
10. Nakobe Dean had a night, didn’t he? He’s approaching Roquan Smith greatness and he’s rapidly becoming the vocal leader which is vital to get the defense set. Dean is super instinctual. It’ll be fun to watch his ascendency continue throughout the season.
11. The defensive backfield took away everything deep. Senior’s Ameer Speed and Latavious Brini played very well. These kids have been patient for years now. This is their reward. The SEC officiating crew were ticky-tack on several hand-check type pass interference calls, especially an early flag against Kelee Ringo early on. This was Ringo’s first start and it was a learning experience to be sure. He’ll be better real soon.
12. Lewis Cine tallied 9 tackles on the night, 3 solos and a key strip of a drive-killing pass in the 4th quarter (4:58 mark) that caused Dabo Swinney’s ill-fated 4th down gamble in the 4th quarter around mid-field. Clemson didn’t challenge anything deep over the middle. That’s hard to do when you’re flat on you back or running for your life.
13. Jake Camarda is a bona-fide punting machine and has become deadly at pinning the opposition deep. Clemson’s starting field position was atrocious for most of the night. Jack Podlesny uncharacteristically missed a field that could have been crucial. He simply pushed it left. I have no concerns about our kicking team. Kearis Jackson and Kendall Milton fielded 3 punts on the evening, as Georgia opted for field position rather than set up returns.
14. There was a lot of good to take away last night. Beating Clemson, the 2nd biggest rival of my youth (UGA ‘85), next to Florida is always cause for celebration. Once this team regains some banged up weapons on offense...well, you know.
15. In 1980, Clemson came to town and really played a great, physical game against Georgia at home. I was there. Scott Woerner saved our bacon and we prevailed that afternoon because of Woerner’s heroics and defense. You have to win games like this to have a special season, then and now. A good omen? It wasn’t a bad one...
- WT actual F?
Clemson. Where the “n” stands for knowledge...
- Tech lost to Northern Illinois. A 2-point conversion on Mark Richt Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium did ‘em in. Or, was it hiring Geoff Collins?
- Ed Orgeron probably is feeling the heat. Between a double-digit loss to UCLA and all the NCAA stuff that still coming down the pipe, the Tiger faithful are not happy, less than 2-years removed from a Natty. It’s been a very difficult week for Louisianans for reasons far bigger than football and I was pulling for the Bayou Bengals, although not as hard as I was for Tulane. I think LSU rebounds, but a tough start.
- What a craptacular day for the ACC:
Of course, Clemson gained less than 6 1⁄2 feet rushing.
#10 UNC loses on Thursday night.
Duke Loses to UNCC.
Miami stinks up The ‘Benz.
Tech gets kicked out of their own damn Waffle House
...and still Ole Miss has a chance to embarrass Louisville and Notre Dame has a good chance to whip FSU.
- When I first moved to south Florida in ‘93, The U was a dominant force in college football. Today, they’re literally a meme.
Miami brought the turnover chain out while down 27-0 to Alabama, and then put it back in storage after the call was overturned pic.twitter.com/lIQT0RSnij— The Sporting News (@sportingnews) September 4, 2021
That’s all I’ve got. As Always, GO DAWGS!
...For Carol. <3