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15 Thoughts: An “Imperfectly” Perfect 12-0

Georgia struggled to put the Nerds away last night, but got it done despite some things...

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Georgia at Georgia Tech
KM#2 is a baller.

Well, I have to agree with Macondawg on all of this:

I understand why all the players who were held out of this one were. But one gets the sense that Georgia absolutely got caught looking ahead to next week. If the ‘Dawgs play with their hair on fire in the Benz a week from today, it will prove to have been the right move.

Having fleshed that out, we won and that’s all that matters.

For the 3rd season in a row, Georgia plowed through their regular season slate. We Still Run This State! Oh, and we set a record...

1. First thing I want to get off my chest is this: If last night’s broadcast was any indication on how ABC/ESPN plans on torturing us with incessantly long commercial breaks as they take over SEC broadcasting rights in 2024, we are going to miss CBS (and Gary) far more than anyone ever imagined. Enduring 4+ minute “blocks” of commercials affects the rhythm of the game as well. The Worldwide Leader has got to recoup some of that Pat McAfee money from somewhere, so let’s just roll out all of the Madison Avenue inventory at once and stretch what should’ve been a 3 hour game into 4. Ridiculous.

2. The Dawgs were playing with a ton of inactive offensive production last night. Brock Bowers, Ladd McConkey, Rara Thomas and starting guard Tate Ratledge were held out and I’m totally fine with that. Despite the teeth gnashing, we’ve got bigger fish to fry next Saturday. If sitting these vital components one more Saturday gets us to our goal, so be it. (But, man, we could’ve used ‘em).

3. I heard a rumor that we stopped Tech on their opening drive. I knew that would turn out to be a bad omen. Not to worry: Daijun Edwards fumbled on our first play from scrimmage right after the change of possession and Tech scored on a short field. That’s never a good thing on the road, especially against a motivated team. I hope this is out of our system. Every possession next week is invaluable.

4. If you have paid any attention to Tech this year, you will realize that they are a much improved offensive team and all the credit in the world goes to Buster Faulkner. He learned a thing or two while he was part of Todd Monken’s brain-trust from 2020-2022 and knows how to scheme against our disadvantages - namely our 2nd level youthful defense which struggled all night. I doubt Tech can keep him very long as he’ll be moving up the college football food chain rather quickly. He’s a very good offensive coach.

5. Tech ran the ball all night and we rarely stopped anything. It wasn’t the edge rushes that bothered me as much as consistently getting gashed in the middle of the defense for 5+ yards. We weren’t gap sound and their smallish backs would often disappear in the mass of humanity, only to squirt through for positive gains.

6. We were missing Jamon-Dumas Johnson last night. There is no substitute for experience. As great as our freshman linebackers looked, going back to the 2nd half against Ole Miss, they were mostly lost last night. These kids will be alright soon enough, but their learning curve is not complete.

7. There’s bad officiating and then there’s what that ACC crew came up with last night. We legitimately scored twice on our last drive that ended up with an interception in Tech’s end zone. Every single call was bullshit. After Dillon Bell returned a Tech kickoff to their 46, we were poised to put ‘em away until the refs literally imposed some sort of voodoo rules interpretations. The Dylan Fairchild “hold” is never called because it wasn’t a hold. Sedrick Van Pran was ruled as an ineligible receiver down field. He actually stopped and sat down to avoid going beyond 3 yards.

7a. If Fairchild’s “hold” was legit, then Tech held all night long, every damn play. Georgia, one of the more disciplined teams in the nation, but had 6 penalties for 60 yards; Tech 3 for 15.

8. Dom Lovett played as well as he has all year, leading the team with 5 receptions for 68 and a score.

The kid has been coming on of late. We’ll need every ounce of talent we can squeeze out of him. Dillon Bell had another outstanding game and made some big plays that contributed mightily. For the first time all season, Carson Beck was “held” under 250 yards passing. He seemed to be a tick “off” early in the game, but still had some excellent throws, including a pass down the sideline that Bell didn’t control. Ball placement on that throw was A+. His pick in the Tech end zone was just a bad decision.

9. The offensive player of the game was Kendall Milton who is running with power and confidence. He’s showing some shiftiness I did not know he possessed and one run in particular when Tech blitzed was a thing of beauty as he dodged to his right, broke an arm tackle and had a big gain. Georgia is essentially a 2-back team right now and that is a frightening reality. I don’t know where we’d be if #2 didn’t get healthy, but he’s finally getting his day in the sun.

10. On the night, Georgia rushed for 262 yards with 437 total yards of offense. Passing yards were harder to come by - again more a function of limited resources and a very vanilla game plan by Mike Bobo. It was really good to see Arian Smith make some plays. His ability to take the top off of a defense cannot be underestimated and I think he’s got a big play in him before the post season is over.

11. Christen Miller and Marvin Jones, Jr. each registered a sack of Haynes King last night. Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins should have had one, too. The refs ruled unnecessary roughness that nullified what was a very good play to stop a Tech drive that ultimately resulted in no points. I didn’t see the foul. Or, to put it another way: I’ve seen much worse that never gets called.

12. Special Teams were generally very good, but Mekhi Mews fielded a kickoff that was headed out of bounds to set us up on the 35. He also fumbled a punt that could’ve ended in disaster. He’s equal parts exciting and terrifying all bundled up in one.

Peyton Woodring remains perfect since South Carolina and hit a PAT after he slipped on Tech’s fake grass. Brett Thorson punted once with no return. Tech tried an onsides kick that C.J. Allen fielded cleanly. That was an important play.

13. Yeah, the teeth gnashing last night could be heard throughout Bulldog Nation. I never once felt like we’d lose this game - but it was one of those weird-vibe games that could’ve gone sideways and nearly did late.

14. We gave up a season high 23 points. That isn’t terrible - not in today’s brand of offensive football. It felt like we gave up 43 and that Tech had the ball all night. Actually, time of possession was fairly even: 29:15 for Georgia, 30:45 for Tech. Turnovers allowed the Jackets to hang around, some bad calls gave ‘em hope. In the end, we prevailed and that is all that matters. And dashing their hopes.

15. Did Buster Faulkner do us a favor? Heck, he only exposed what we already know to be true: This defense isn’t nearly the force it has been and injuries haven’t helped. We need JDJ back. I’d feel a whole lot better if Julian Humphrey healed up, too.

Tech never really had us in the kind of hole Auburn had Alabama in. Bama was absolutely beaten, but weird stuff happens in that rivalry - weirder than any other rivalry in America. It was almost enough to make me feel sorry for Auburn. Almost. How do you only rush 2?

I think you’ll see a much better effort next week. But it might be one of those “last team with the ball wins” type things. This week is gonna take “Munsoning” to a whole new level.

No matter what happens from here until the last playoff game, I wouldn’t trade where we currently sit and what has passed since 2016 for anything. These are special, special times. Next man up and keep choppin’ wood.

BONUS THOUGHTS:

  • Is there a more undisciplined team in all the land than the Florida Gators?
  • Bob Stoops decided to remain at Kentucky after Texas A&M probably threw a blank check at him. Maybe they should hire Buster Faulkner?
  • Houston has fired Dana Holgersen; Indiana has fired Tom Allen. He gets 15.5 million in his buyout. Nuts.
  • In SEC news, Mississippi State is set to name this guy as their new head coach. Very interesting...
  • If I wasn’t so preoccupied watching us stumble around last night, this would’ve been a good game to check out because SNOW!
  • Ryan Day has now lost 3-in-a-row to Michigan. He’s done this while possessing some incredible offensive talent.

That’s all I’ve got.

As Always, GO DAWGS!