It’s Christmas Eve! Everyone knows that before Santa and the reindeer make their magical run around the globe, there is one last, very important piece of business that has to occur. The list of who has been naughty or nice has to be checked. From what I understand the process is very thorough and takes into account an entire body of work throughout the year, weighing the overwhelming positive against the overwhelming negative. Today we do the same thing for Georgia Football, but in terms of categories and areas of execution, not individuals like Santa does.
SPECIAL TEAMS = VERY NICE
This is an entire category, or phase of the game, that Georgia excelled at. Jake Camarda was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year. Camarda was a weapon, allowing Georgia to flip the field when needed and he did a lot better at controlling the distance on his punts when he needed in order to pin opponents deep in their territory. Also, the field goal unit didn’t see a ton of drop off either from the Rodrigo Blankenship era. Jack Podlesny stepped in admirably and drilled some long field goals with confidence. Georgia’s coverage and return units were both excellent this season as well. Kearis Jackson proved explosive in the area of returns, as did Kenny McIntosh at times, and overall Scott Cochran’s first season as the Special Teams Coordinator for Georgia was a resounding success.
OFFENSIVE RUSHING ATTACK = MOSTLY NICE, WHEN USED
Overall, Georgia’s offensive line played very well in 2020, especially when it came to making wholes for the running backs. Yes, there was the game that was a complete outlier with Mississippi State just absolutely shutting down the run game. The Bulldogs from Starkville were more physical and were determined schematically to make Georgia beat them through the air, and boy did they. For the most part however, the Dawgs were able to run the ball quite effectively. Even against Alabama, UGA averaged over 5 yards per carry (excluding sack yards). It just seemed like Georgia abandoned the run game at times, especially against Alabama and Florida, but far be it from me to second guess guys who call plays for a living.
OFFENSIVE PASSING ATTACK = MOSTLY NAUGHTY WITH A LATE TURN TO NICE AT YEAR’S END
Good thing for Georgia that Santa looks at the entire beyond of work and makes last second adjustments when it comes to their passing game this season. Let’s be clear, the scheme of Todd Monken’s pass concepts worked without question the entire year, but the execution was flawed up until the Mississippi State game. From the opening game, I saw more Georgia receivers running wide open than I had the previous 2 years. To be fair to Stetson Bennett and Dwan Mathis there were plenty of busted routes and mental errors to go around in the first few games, but the overwhelming problem was a lack of ability to deliver the ball accurately and on time by the quarterbacks. JT Daniels has had no such problem to date. Georgia’s passing game has gone from a liability to a genuine threat in just 3 outings by the redshirt sophomore transfer from Southern Cal. The Dawgs will look to receive more than a lump of coal for their late season efforts and then start 2021 with a bang in this category as well.
DEFENSE = NICE WHEN HEALTHY
It’s no secret that Georgia had one of the best defenses in the country when at full strength. The injury bug got the Dawgs midway through the season. A tough stretch to open the year, when Tennessee and Auburn still had hope and were healthy and playing hard themselves, on top of Alabama, really made the gauntlet rough early on. Even against Alabama and Florida, the defense was positioned to make plays in the overwhelming majority of situations, but Alabama came up with the 50/50 balls in the air and Tyson Campbell fell down on one play in that game. Florida was a little different in that Georgia didn’t adjust well to the wheel routes out of the backfield, but even on that front there were mental errors that took place with young players at times. 2021 will be a huge challenge for Georgia on this side of the ball. The talent is there but the experience is lacking. Dan Lanning, Kirby Smart, and company will earn every penny in the offseason preparing blue-chip prospects of the past 2 recruiting classes into the main guys.