[su_spacer size=”40″] What Went Well
The Running Game
The changes to the offensive line, the decision to mix in the Wild Dawg with Terry Godwin and Sony Michel, and the continued rotation of fresh legs generated the type of running game we haven’t seen since the calendar turned to October. The Dawgs put up 300 yards rushing paced by Sony Michel’s 165 yards. Keith Marshall chipped in another 60 yards, and Terry Godwin got the team’s first rushing TD since Chubb’s long run against Alabama. The one bone to pick with the running game was Godwin’s poor decision that resulted in a 10-yard loss. He’ll learn very quickly you can’t run backwards to get forward in this league.
While the pass rush only generated one sack (a beautifully called and executed corner blitz by Malkom Parrish), the Georgia front 7 got consistent pressure on Patrick Towles as he only completed 8 of 21 passes and 2 interceptions. Leonard Floyd in particular was able to get into the pocket almost any time he wanted to. The official statistics don’t include “hurries,” but the defense had to have close to double digits in that department. We’re going to need to do that again on Saturday in Auburn as Jeremy Johnson is a pocket passer as well.
The 2nd team quarterback looked good in his 2nd start as the team’s punter with 3 punts and an average of 47.7 yards per kick including one inside the 20. He looks very comfortable, and the ball appears to explode off his left foot when he kicks it. He ran the team for most of the 2nd quarter and looked pretty good with the offense as well.
[su_spacer size=”40″] What Didn’t
The passing game struggled for consistency on Saturday as the offense could only muster a Georgia tech-like 90 yards through the air. Once Richt and Schottenheimer determined the Wildcats weren’t going to stop the Dawgs’ running game, they took the keys away from Lambert in the 2nd half to prevent giving up cheap field position. Isaiah McKenzie’s fumble on a screen pass led directly to the only real scoring threat Kentucky could generate for the game.
Middle Rush Defense
At times Saturday, the Wildcats gashed the middle of the Georgia line, and thank goodness Boom Williams was on the sideline because he could have made a couple of big plays. The Gus Bus with Peyton Barber is going to try to exploit the middle of the Georgia defense with their hurry-up offense, so Mayes and Thompson are going to need to play big to slow down the Auburn running game.
Player of the Game
My player of the game goes to the unit I’ve said a lot of negative things about this season – the entire offensive line. They weren’t perfect, but they got the job done especially in the running game and kept the QB’s jerseys clean for most of the afternoon. The changes worked, and now is the time to build on the positives from Saturday for the remainder of the season.
Offense – B-
The offense did enough to get the job done. The problem is the failure to be balanced. If we are going to win on Saturday on the Plains, we’re going to need more of a passing game than we saw.
Defense – A
With the exception of about 5 plays, the defense controlled the game and kept the field tilted against the Wildcats. Anytime a defense doesn’t allow a TD and gives up fewer than 200 yards will get an A in my book regardless of the opponent.
Coaching – B
With all of the distractions of this week, it could have been easy to lose the team and end up on the wrong end of a slugfest. The Dawgs didn’t do that and got a win in what was the “most important meaningless game” of the Richt era.
Overall – B
A solid performance with a win at the end. The Dawgs need to keep the businesslike attitude for the remainder of the season, block out the distractions, and play with emotion.
Look Ahead to Auburn
The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry renews on Saturday morning (11 Central) on the Plains with lots of intriguing story lines. The most significant is the Dawgs’ ability to change the series to the Red and Black’s favor and take the series lead. Another will be the intensity by which two underachieving teams take on this game. This game has typically been won by the team which could establish the line of scrimmage and dominate the running game. Recently, that has been Georgia’s path to big wins in the series especially in last year’s 34-7 beatdown of the Tigers in Athens. Saturday may come down to that, but I think this game comes down to which QB plays the best game. I’m afraid that means we may be in trouble on Saturday …
That’s what I think. I would appreciate your thoughts in the comments below.