College football turned into the NCAA Tournament on Saturday. The mantra of the day for many of college football’s top programs was “Survive and Advance”. Georgia and Texas were able to do that Saturday while Oklahoma and LSU’s championship aspirations are effectively over.
The only way to describe Saturday is bizarre. A depleted Kansas State team rallied from 21 points down to defeat #3 Oklahoma. Where dreams typically go to die, the fighting Mike Leach’s led by K.J. Costello, passed for 623 yards and surpassed everyone’s wildest dreams upsetting #6 LSU. The #8 Texas Longhorns needed to score 15 points in the last three minutes to force the game into overtime and save themselves against an average Texas Tech team. The #5 Florida Gator’s were explosive on offense but were shredded on defense allowing 613 yards to the Lane Train. As often as Ole Miss has had to change nicknames if they keep putting up offensive performances like that don’t be surprised if they are the Ole Miss Lane Train’s in the next five years.
Saturday was a tremendous learning experience for the Dawgs. Since they were able to scrape out a W the only ones hurting are the “Disney” Dawgs who had unrealistic expectations. Defensively, Dan Lanning’s unit was dominant for 59 minutes and 50 seconds. The Dawgs defensive line stood firm like Stone Mountain and the linebackers pursued like a pack of wolves. Any sliver an opening in the running game was quickly closed with extreme prejudice. The secondary faltered when mismatches were exploited by the creativity of Kendall Briles but they also wore the Savage Pad’s three times.
Offensively, there is no way to sugar coat it – the first half was brutal for a Bulldog team that should have been able to overwhelm the Razorback’s purely based on the level of talent. However, perhaps a smidgen of patience is appropriate based on the fact the Dawgs are replacing a 3-year starter at QB, an all-SEC RB, 3 all-SEC OL. Not to mention a first year offensive coordinator and a redshirt freshmen coming off brain surgery and 5’9 former walk-on playing quarterback.
The Dawgs defense could have sulked having to carry the load for an inept offense, instead they manned up and kept the Dawgs within reach. In the locker room at halftime Coach Monken made key personnel and schematic adjustments and the Dawgs came out in the second half and looked like a new unit. No, it wasn’t a miracle, it was simply good coaching. It was also George Pickens, Kearis Jackson, Zamir White and Stetson Bennett stepping up and making plays when their number was called. Still far from good enough to reach the ultimate goal but good enough to survive and advance.
The staff has their work cut out for them this week to get the team prepared for a much stiffer test against the Auburn Tigers looming. Perhaps the biggest storyline will be the status of J.T. Daniels who is suddenly the Bulldog Nation’s Obi Wan Kenobe – “Our Only Hope”. Buckle up Dawgs – 2020 is going to be a wild ride.