We’ve taken care of business against our most hated rival, but not without some concerning hiccups. A red-hot Tennessee squad is coming to Athens in a few days. We’d better tighten up.
First, let’s discuss some issues...
1. I don’t know exactly what happened in the 3rd quarter, but I’d like to think it was merely lack of focus, and youth.
“Youth is wasted on the young.” - Georgia Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright (and former college defensive backfield coach maybe).
I don’t know if Billy Napier imparted some motivational words of wisdom at halftime yesterday, but we certainly came out less than focused. A bunch of Florida fans had already decided to head back to the swamps of Alachua. All I know is there were a lot of empty seats on the visitor’s side of the stadium and that should’ve been motivation for our guys. Football, more than plate tectonics, is all about momentum. Going into halftime with a 24 point lead felt pretty safe.
2. Florida was 4th down and 4 to go at midfield. The ref blows a very late whistle, but Bear Alexander can’t check up on his bull-rush in time and bowls over Anthony Richardson, drawing a 15-yard penalty, thus giving Florida a drive sustaining lifeline and they ultimately score. We promptly fumble on our next possession (result: Florida field goal) and after that, Stetson throws a horrible pick. We were running the ball right down their gullet, but elected to pass in that moment. Anyway, they hit a long touchdown when Malaki Starks doesn’t pick up the route, and suddenly it’s a ballgame. Had this happened prior to Kirby’s regime, I can see us falling apart and losing. We’ve all seen this scenario before on more than one occasion. Times are different, folks. We regained the very composure that Kirby preaches daily. Once we committed to the run again, the bleeding stopped.
2a. Had we stopped Florida on that 4th down at mid-field, we’ve got a short field, the Gators are on their heels, and I could see us beating them by a score in the 50’s. Still, we scored 42 and that was more than enough.
3. As Macondawg put it, “It was the type of football we’ve seen at frustrating intervals this season from a Bulldog team that both should (Stetson Bennett, Kenny McIntosh) and shouldn’t (Bear Alexander, Malachi Starks) know better.” This can’t happen again next week. I trust we’ll fix it. I have faith in the coaching staff when they gather the “offending parties” in this week’s film room and have a come to Jesus meeting over a few things.
4. Stetson Bennett hasn’t played especially well in that venue, but he was good enough when it mattered. And we dropped at least 3 very catchable balls that should've gone for big gains. Stetson put the balls on the spot in those instances. On 4th and 7 at the Florida 33, the Gators jumped off-sides (Thanks, Brenton Cox. Please tell me you’ve got a 7th year of eligibility left) and lofted a perfect pass to Brock Bowers for a first down at the Florida 4. No one can cover #19 one-on-one. We score a few plays later and there’s your ballgame.
When in doubt, throw it to Brock Bowers. pic.twitter.com/SbkuD8udFf— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 29, 2022
5. Daijun Edwards keeps getting better and better and rarely loses yardage. He had his best day as a Dawg, racking up 106 yards on 12 totes, for an impressive 8.8 ypc and a brilliant 22-yard score to stop the Gator momentum and effectively ice the game. Have we ever thrown the ball to him? I’d love to see him out on a wheel route and find out.
Daijun Edwards, ladies and gentlemen. This was a big moment.
6. All our running backs did well, with the only blight being the Kenny McIntosh fumble. How wonderful is it to have Branson Robinson off the bench, late in the game to pulverize already tired defenses? Kenny Mac ended up with 90 yards and 2 scores on the day; Robinson with 35 on 9 carries. The Dawgs amassed 239 yards on the ground and we’re going to have to have a similar effort next week.
7. There’s a lot to unpack in the video clip below:
- Kenny McIntosh bullies his way into the end zone, through Brenton Cox, who throws a punch at Broderick Jones, who doesn’t retaliate (composure!).
How was Cox not ejected for this punch pic.twitter.com/jOjASKhfmF— Atlanta Braves Fan page (@Charlie_S1mpson) October 29, 2022
- Cox should’ve been flagged (just for being an a$$hol3 on principle) at the minimum, but probably ejected. I’m sure the NFL will be impressed. Anyway, congrats #1. That was your hardest hit on the afternoon.
- Kenny wanted to atone for his earlier fumble, and his big ugly buddies wanted to help.
- Oh, there’s a side of Kirby letting his true feelings about everything Blue and Orange be known. This play was glorious. I love my coach.
8. Brock Bowers’ first catch of the day was such vintage stuff from this kid. It was a great throw by Stetson and just highlights how unbelievably soft Bowers hands are. The 73 yard touchdown pass that ended up being one of the top highlights of the day anywhere is legendary already.
HOW?!?!— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 29, 2022
TIP DRILL TOUCHDOWN FOR THE DAWGS pic.twitter.com/lomEZdruSN
9. I really, really hope we can see A.D. Mitchell return next week. Even if he does, I don’t know how effective he’ll be given the layoff going back to the very first play of the Samford game. He was dressed yesterday, but didn’t make an appearance. I saw Arian Smith on a couple of plays as well, but to my knowledge he wasn’t targeted at all. This offense, when they aren’t forcing bad throws or fumbling, can score with anyone. There’s a really good chance that it’ll be a shootout on Saturday.
10. Jalen Carter is a difference maker and, when healthy, the best player on the field. If he was still feeling any ill-effect from his sprained knee he suffered against Mizzou and his ankle injury going back to Oregon, he hid it well. I’m thinking he’s back to his old wonderful self. Big #88 played on 3rd and a few 4th downs with great effect and was incredibly disruptive when he was in the game.
11. As of this writing I do not know the extent of Nolan Smith’s shoulder injury. It looks like it was separated. That’s such a pity because Nolan was playing great from the opening snap, having already recorded a tackle for loss. Whatever magic Ron Courson and staff are able to conjure this week will be most appreciated. Man, I hated to see that. Darris Smith got knocked out of the game on the 2nd half opening kickoff and was helped off the field. Amarius Mims has some sort of knee sprain and did not return, MRI pending. Yeah, we got banged up a bit yesterday. We should know more soon, but Kirby & Co. always keeps injury information a bit cryptic.
12. I thought Robert Beal played his best game of the season yesterday. He was coming hard off the edge and hurried Anthony Richardson a few times. Jamon Dumas-Johnson played a very good game, too. Javon Bullard had his best game of his young career, leading the team in tackles with 8, 5 solo and 1.5 tackles for loss.
12a. I am officially concerned about Kelee Ringo on the deep sideline ball. Just keep your feet. You’re as fast as the guy you’re covering. Stay in phase, please. To his credit, he did this on a subsequent pass that he covered well.
13. Honestly, special teams were not special. We allowed a couple of decent kickoff returns to Trevor Etienne, who is dangerous in that capacity. Kearis Jackson would’ve been wise to just fair catch some of the kickoffs - especially after Florida’s momentum building 3rd quarter scores - and just let the offense start at the 25. The temptation to flip momentum with a long kick return is high, but there’s really a low chance of success if you think about it.
14. Beating Florida, despite a few warts, is always the goal. Never in my wildest dreams, after having walked out of that venue enough times after heartbreak, would I ever dare to be critical after a twenty-two point win. I guess the standard is so high now that we have that luxury. I honestly think if we come out with more focus after the half, we end up with over 50 points and they might get another score. It doesn’t matter. The goal is to always walk out of the WLOCP with a “W,” and we met that goal.
Big facts. Enjoy it while it matters. In a few years it’ll be a meaningless game. There will not be national title implications https://t.co/MVEKDSOrQd— Graham Coffey (@DawgOutWest) October 30, 2022
Enjoy the moment, folks. The times, they are a’ changin’...
There is much to work on and during the bye week, Kirby and his staff have been implementing some things in preparation for Tennessee. As of this writing, we are a 10.5 point favorite. If we play up to our standard, I don’t think this is unreasonable and I think Tennessee is going to have a very hard time matching up with our tight ends, while scheming for a 3-headed running attack. But the competition is very, very good. This could be the biggest game in Sanford Stadium ever. I’ll be there. Having said that, next week’s installment of “15 Thoughts” will probably be a bit tardy as I am traveling next Sunday.
15. I just wanted to express my thoughts and prayers to the Vince Dooley family. His passing saddens me to no end and he will be missed. Everyone seems to have a great Vince Dooley story these days. Many of my peers were in the Redcoat Band and got to know him a little bit. I met him once (a term used loosely here) way back in the day, early 80’s. I rang up some grocery items for him out at the old Kroger on Broad Street, down the hill from the ABC package storm. My interaction was brief as I was a bit star-struck, but I remember him being very kind and just very pleasant. It’ll be an emotional start to the game next week as we honor Coach Dooley on Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium.
RIP, coach. And thanks for everything.
15a. As far as Tennessee is concerned: This game is in our house. They are the media darlings at the moment, and deserve a lot of what is being written about them.
Conversely, we have played in a few “big games” lately, no? I trust our coaches to have us ready to play, and play well. I like this Tweet from an old Friend of the Blog:
It really seems like this staff has instilled the composure we need in this team. Like Bama, you might beat us, but you're gonna have to knock us down, then knock us down again, and then kill us dead, 'cause we'll keep fightin'. I like this look from the Dawgs.#GoDawgs— Vineyard Dawg (@vineyarddawg) October 30, 2022
- I didn’t watch too much football yesterday after our game. I did watch Ohio State stumble for 3 quarters against Penn State before the talent imbalance prevailed.
- Oh, Top-25. We hardly knew ye...
- This just in: Auburn still sucks.
- Georgia Tech: When life imitates art. I believe this defensive alignment is called the 3-4 Human Centipede. I’ll have to head over to StingTalk to get some clarity...
So minty fresh!
- Another dig at Brenton Cox? Why not!
That’s all I’ve got.
Gators Eat Boogers.