ET’s Look Back to Southern and Ahead to Alabama

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ET’s Look Back to Southern and Ahead to Alabama

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Keith Morgan Southern Drum Major
Keith Morgan Southern Drum Major
(Photo: Rob Saye/Bulldawg Illustrated)
[su_spacer size=”30″] The Dawgs cruise past the Southern Jaguars 48-6 on Saturday in the final tune-up before the showdown with the Crimson Tide next Saturday between the hedges. While the team did what was necessary to put the game out of reach (not quite as quickly in the 1st half as I would have liked), the Human Jukebox stole the show in Athens on Saturday afternoon with a performance that many will remember for years.  If you had tickets and decided not to show up, you missed a great time as the Jaguar band made a dreary day in Athens a treat for everyone in attendance.  Let’s get to the rundown.
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[su_spacer size=”20″] What Went Well
[su_spacer size=”40″] Chubb & Michel
[su_spacer size=”20″] The super-sophomore duo of Nick Chubb & Sony Michel took over the game especially in the 3rd quarter.  Chubb tied Herschel’s school record with his 12th consecutive 100+ yard game rushing, scored 3 TDs, and had an electrifying 49-yard run on his last carry of the day.  Michel added another 101 all-purpose yards, scored 2 TDs, and closed the scoring with a 58-yard run where he once again showed his combination of power & speed.  Leonard Fournette is getting all of the Heisman love from the WWL, but I wouldn’t trade either of these guys for him right now.  I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot of formations on Saturday against Alabama where these guys are on the field at the same time.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Pass Defense
[su_spacer size=”20″] With a couple of exceptions, the Georgia pass defense effectively shut down the Jaguars’ passing game by holding them to 79 yards on 23 attempts.  The defense wasn’t flashy with a lot of big hits or turnovers, but they controlled the line of scrimmage.  The Georgia secondary generally did a good job of tackling in space and making plays.  The big news of the day was Trent Thompson getting in on his first sack in a Georgia uniform.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Marshall Morgan
[su_spacer size=”20″] On a day where the weather could have been a factor in the game, Morgan did a good job with a couple of field goals and 6 PATs.  He also had 4 touchbacks on the 9 kickoffs he had for the day.
[su_spacer size=”40″] What Didn’t
[su_spacer size=”40″] 1st Half Offensive Line Play
[su_spacer size=”20″] I imagine Coach Sale chewed some guys out at halftime especially Theus and Houston, who both got flat beaten on the sack the Jaguars were able to get on Lambert.  The run blocking was not good in the 1st half either as the Jaguars were selling out to stop the Georgia running game.  We’re going to see similar looks with much better personnel the rest of the year.  I only hope that was a case of not taking this opponent seriously.  To beat the Tide, we are going to need the front 5 to play hard for 60 minutes on Saturday.
[su_spacer size=”40″] QB Pressure
[su_spacer size=”20″] I don’t know if it was scheme or if the Southern QBs were told to get rid of the ball quickly, but the Dawgs didn’t seem to get a lot of pressure up front.  I imagine it was a little of both as Pruitt didn’t take a lot of risk with his defensive calls and the ball was coming out quickly to the 1st option consistently.  We will need to get pressure with the front 4 without a lot of blitzing on Saturday to get Coker out of rhythm.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Punt Returns
[su_spacer size=”20″] The fans love Isaiah McKenzie and his risk-taking style when he returns kicks.  The first punt return had the potential to be a disaster as he ran backwards before getting a few yards.  The last attempted return was a poor decision to field a punt, and then he mishandled it.  The Human Joystick hasn’t been on this side of the ledger much in his 2 years in Athens, but yesterday wasn’t one of his better days.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Player of the Game
[su_spacer size=”20″] Given that yesterday was about getting game repetitions for some of the young guys, I’m going to give my player of the game to Trent Thompson.  The super-recruit from Albany’s Westover High made a lot of plays yesterday as he tied for the team lead in tackles with 5 and had 1.5 tackles for loss including half of a sack with D’Andre Walker.  He looks to be getting more and more comfortable on the field as he competes against equal and more experienced offensive linemen.  The last 2 weeks we have seen glimpses of why he was considered to be the #1 overall recruit in the country last year.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Grades
[su_spacer size=”40″] Offense – A-
[su_spacer size=”20″] The 1st and 3rd quarters showed a well oiled machine as the Dawgs scored 45 of their 48 points in those two frames.  The 2nd quarter was one to forget as the Dawgs didn’t see the ball much and had some fits and starts to get the offense going.  I wanted to see 30+ on the home side of the scoreboard in the 1st half and didn’t get it.  That result brings the grade down for the game.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Defense – A-
[su_spacer size=”20″] The defense was on its heels for most of the 2nd quarter especially on the Jaguars’ TD drive.  The 4th and long conversion was especially troublesome on that drive.  Also, in the 1st half, we had trouble defending the run especially off the zone read.  This week a couple of those mental lapses or failures to set the edge will lead to big plays for Derrick Henry and the Alabama offense.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Coaching – A
[su_spacer size=”20″] I figured the team would have some issues being ready at the opening whistle on Saturday.  Schottenheimer did a good job once again letting it rip as the Dawgs generated almost 530 yards of offense even with the decision to let the air out in the 4th quarter.  Pruitt didn’t appear to show anything new on the film for the Tide to see.  While they aren’t part of the coaching staff, I wanted to give a big shout-out to the Georgia medical and training staff for their quick response to the Devon Gales’ injury.  Please continue to pray for Devon and his family, friends and teammates.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Overall – A
[su_spacer size=”20″] It was a solid win.  We did what we needed to do and came out of the game healthy as we begin preparations for what could be the biggest game since the last time the Dawgs and Tide met in 2012 in a virtual playoff game in the Georgia Dome for the SEC championship.
[su_spacer size=”40″] Look Ahead to Alabama
[su_spacer size=”20″] Saturday afternoon between the hedges has the potential to be a 15-round heavyweight fight as Georgia and Alabama look to assert conference supremacy in the best East-West game of the year.  Both teams feature excellent offensive lines with superstar running backs in Chubb, Henry, Michel and Drake.  Alabama may have the country’s best front 7 on defense, and Georgia may have the country’s deepest set of linebackers.  Both team’s defensive backfields are well coached but young, and both teams have gifted receivers although Malcolm Mitchell may be the difference maker on the outside.  The key to this game is which graduate transfer at quarterback will lead his team to victory.  With the exception of a half in Nashville, Georgia’s Greyson Lambert has been the more consistent passer and more in control of his team’s offense.  Right now, I think that carries over to Saturday afternoon, and the Dawgs win a classic in Sanford.
[su_spacer size=”40″] That’s what I think.  I would like to read your thoughts in the comments below.
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The University of Georgia 1991-1994. Lanier Tech 2009-2012. Writer and graphic artist covering UGA athletics, college football, and recruiting. Peach cobbler fears me!