ET’s Look Back to Auburn and Ahead to GSU

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ET’s Look Back to Auburn and Ahead to GSU

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Isaiah Mckenzie punt return for TD 2nd half UGA vs. Auburn
Isaiah Mckenzie punt return for TD 2nd half UGA vs. Auburn 14-Nov-2015
Photo: Greg Poole/Bulldawg Illustrated
[su_spacer size=”40″] For the first time since 1986, Georgia takes back the lead in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry after Saturday’s 20-13 win over Auburn on the Plains. A tough defense, solid special teams, and just enough offense get the job done in a Georgia-Auburn game reminiscent of the early 1980s rather than the HUNH games of the 2010s. Let’s get to the rundown.
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What Went Well

Special Teams

Rarely have the special teams been as dominant as they were on Saturday in Auburn. Of course, everyone will point to the Human Joystick’s big punt return to give the Dawgs a lead they would not relinquish, but other phases of the kicking game were solid as well. Marshall Morgan knocked in 2 clutch field goals and did a solid job on kickoffs. Brice Ramsey again was a weapon as a punter, and his kick set up the punt return with field position after a disastrous offensive possession. Kick and punt coverage was consistent and kept the field tilted against the Tigers’ offense.

Turnover Margin

In a game of two evenly matched teams, turnover margin along with special teams typically makes the difference. The Dawgs intercept a Jeremy Johnson pass and force two big fumbles that changed the game’s outcome.  Malkom Parrish made a nice interception that gave the Dawgs some field position rather than giving Auburn a chance to punt the Dawgs deep in their own territory. Jordan Jenkins made a big play to force White’s fumble that enabled the Dawgs to open a double-digit lead in the 4th quarter.  Lorenzo Carter made his biggest play of the year when he forced Ricardo Lewis to fumble inside the Georgia 5 when an Auburn touchdown could have completely changed the complexion of the game.

Malcolm Mitchell

The man who is positioning himself to be named permanent team captain didn’t have a big game statistically but made big contributions to the win.  He blocked the edge on McKenzie’s sweep for the touchdown. He made a couple of big catches to keep drives moving. He would be a candidate for All-American honors this year if he had a quarterback who could consistently get him the ball.

What Didn’t

Goal-Line Offense

2nd and 1 on the 2 with what should have been 6 shots to score a touchdown … no first down and no points. Please, Coach Schottenheimer, take the pitch up the middle out of the playbook today.  That play was a near disaster as Michel fortunately fell on the ball.  The offensive line was blown off the ball on 3rd down, and then Lambert made a terrible throw to Malcolm Mitchell on 4th down.  A QB sneak on 2nd and short as a hurry-up call made a lot more sense than the play call that came in from the sideline.

Edge Defense

The defense was gashed multiple times on the edge in the 1st half. In particular, after the goal-line miscue, the defense let Auburn run off the goal line and get back some field position.  On the first drive of the game, the defense got blocked on the edge multiple times and gave up a couple of big runs to set the early tone for the game.

Mike Ekeler

His head slap of Rico McGraw will make Richt thinks Ekeler needs to back off the Red Bull on game day … I kid, I kid.

Player of the Game

This game was one where the player of the game is easy. While others had good performances especially on defense, no one was close to being the difference maker as Isaiah McKenzie. He is absolutely electric when he gets his hands on the ball and a threat to take it to the house any time teams line up to punt the ball. Welcome back, I-Mac.

Grades

Offense – C

The performance was not good again by the offensive line in the run game against a defense that statistically was worse than Kentucky. Needless to say, the passing game on Saturday showed why Coach Richt jumped on a plane after the game to go visit Jacob Eason out in Washington. If you had told me before the game that the offense wouldn’t have more than 250 yards, I would have thought that we would have got blown out …

Defense – A

Jeremy Pruitt has Gus Malzahn and Brett Lashlee’s number.  Yes, Auburn is really bad on offense, but Pruitt and his guys brought their lunch pails. The pass rush on Saturday was what I thought we were going to get the entire year as the law firm of Jenkins, Floyd & Carter made life miserable for the Auburn quarterbacks.

Coaching – B

Richt is coaching to his team’s strengths – the running backs and team defense. The screen game was pretty good, and the tailbacks did good things when the offensive line opened holes. Brendan Douglas may have had one of the game’s biggest plays when he picked up 20 yards on the 3rd and forever after all of the penalties.  Those yards gave Ramsey a chance to change field position and eventually set up McKenzie’s punt return. Pruitt put together a good plan, and for a majority of the game, the defense really put on a clinic on how to defend the Malzahn offense.

Overall – B

Any win over Auburn gets at least a B in my book …

Look Ahead to GSU

The official little brother of the Georgia program makes possibly its last visit to Sanford Stadium on Saturday as Georgia Southern comes to Athens on Senior Night.  The Eagles were ripped on opening weekend by West Virginia and handled by Appalachian State. The Eagles will bring the triple option and provide a good look for the Georgia defense preparing for the tech service academy offense. The Georgia defense may give up some yards, but the defense should be able to keep the Eagle offense under control. The big question is whether the offense can get untracked against the GSU defense.  The offensive line should be able to open holes and give the running game a chance to get untracked early and often.  It may not be as pretty as we would like, but the Dawgs get the job done and prepare to win the state championship on Thanksgiving weekend.

That’s what I think. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Avid lifelong football fan of the Falcons and Bulldogs, digital and multi-media support for Bulldawg Illustrated, host of BD Illustrated ON-AIR, dabbler in graphic arts, and peach cobbler fears me.