The most striking element on the sidelines for this game was the heat. It was unrelenting and energy sapping for me, and I was not running up and down the field in uniform. Of course, the weather was no excuse for the uninspired performance of the Bulldogs yesterday. There is no excuse – both teams played under the same conditions.
Most fans probably do not realize this, but the sidelines are the worst seat in the house for a football game. There is a reason that seats closest to the field typically bring lower prices on secondary ticket markets, the closer to the field the worse the view. Standing on the sideline, one has an excellent view of all the action that takes place immediately in front of you, but there is no overview. Is the team hustling all over the field? I have to get that information from video of the game. Flat is the word that I would use to describe the team based on the sideline vibe, but that is more about ‘feel’ than any relatable action. It was as if the team kept waiting to Nicholls to roll over – but the Colonels continued to punch the Dawgs in the nose.
There were some great individual performances, to be sure. Nick Chubb is a machine. He goes full-tilt every play, and if the opponent does not match his effort, he will run over or around them. Saturday was no exception. However, even Nick Chubb struggles when he is met a the line of scrimmage by three or more tacklers. Obviously, Georgia’s offensive line struggled Saturday, but I did observe Chubb on the sideline with the offensive line group on a couple of occasions. Was this another example of Chubb stepping up his leadership role?
Sony Michel was given clearance to play this week. Sony played very well for a man who has not been tackled all summer, but he too was limited by the play of the offensive line. On the sideline, Sony appeared not to be suffering from any lack of conditioning. He did participate in all drills this summer with the exception of live hitting.
The coaching staff was very busy instructing their individual groups during the game. As opposed to the practice sessions I attended in the week leading up to kickoff, there did not seem to be a lot of butt-chewing as the game progressed. The staff was instructing and play planning rather than yelling. Coach Smart said in his post-game press conference opening remarks that, ‘When we struggle I try to give positive energy, positive feedback and when we win, I push harder.’
Well, Coach Smart, let’s hope your philosophy works as you get the team ready for a trip to Columbia, MO next Saturday. A repeat of this week’s uninspired performance will assure that Georgia returns to Athens with the first loss of the Kirby Smart era.