For the past few years, the Bulldogs have not worn black jerseys, but this past Saturday they played some of their best football in their blackout game. The Bulldogs may have not played their absolute best game of the season, but they did play one of their most well-rounded games in their 35-21 win.
The offense was a bit underwhelming but they seemed to run the ball at will. Chubb was the offensive MVP in my eyes as he ran the ball very efficiently and also had a big catch in the passing game for the Bulldogs. Chubb looked more like pre-injury Chubb and I think he may be finally back to full strength for the Bulldogs. I do not think he has been playing injured or anything like that, but in previous games, he did not have the quick burst and power that he has had in the Bulldogs past few games. Chubb finished the day with 108 rushing yards, 49 receiving yards, and two touchdowns with one receiving and one rushing.
Chubb can also contribute some of his success to the holes that were being opened up for him by the offensive line. The Bulldogs were playing without starting left guard Isaiah Wynn but that did not seem to be a factor in the Bulldogs offensive plans. Dyshon Sims did a good job of filling in for Isaiah Wynn and this allowed the Bulldogs offense to run and pass the ball smoothly for most of the day.
Despite his interception, which occurred on a deflected pass intended for Isaac Nauta, Jacob Eason had a pretty solid day. Eason was not able to air it out because of the windy conditions, and he finished the day going 13/19 through the air for 165 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. However, he still did a good job of making solid throws and limiting his mistakes. The Bulldogs had a comfortable lead for most of the game and that allowed Eason to run the offense efficiently and focus on finding open players rather than forcing tough throws and creating situations for potential mistakes.
Overall, The Bulldogs offense did not play their best game but played a very efficient game because of the Bulldogs large and early lead.
The Bulldogs defense did not play their best game and gave up more yards than coach Kirby Smart might have liked, but their ability to cause turnovers made up for that. The Bulldogs gave up 276 yards rushing, but 189 yards through the air. However, they forced 7 turnovers overall, with three on downs, three interceptions, and one forced fumble.
Ragin’ Cajuns quarterback Anthony Jennings was not very effective through the air but was able to use his mobility to run the ball for multiple first downs. Jennings finished the day with 189 passing yards, 93 rushing yards, three interceptions and three touchdowns, with all of them coming on the ground. The Bulldogs defense will not be happy with this performance but their ability to win the turnover battle is what saved them in the end.
The stars of the Bulldogs defense can be found in their secondary. The secondary forced three interceptions, with Malkom Parrish, Aaron Davis, and Deandre Baker getting one each. Moreover, The 189 yards through the air that the Bulldogs gave up would have been significantly less if it wasn’t for one Ragin’ Cajuns 64-yard pass. The Bulldogs ability to shut down the Ragin’ Cajuns passing offense helped make up for the Bulldogs struggle against the run.
Turnovers were definitely the storyline in this game for the Bulldogs defense and they should be praised for how many the caused, but they do have some work to do to improve on stopping the run and pass.
The Bulldogs special teams unit may have played their best game yet, which is surprising because of the windy conditions. Such windy conditions prevented Rodrigo Blankenship and Brice Ramsey from having effective days kicking the ball. Blankenship was not given an opportunity to kick a field goal in this game and was only able to force a touchback on one of his 6 kickoffs. Ramsey finished the day with four punts and an average of 34.8 yards on each punt, which is not terrible considering how windy the conditions were.
The reason I believe that this was the Bulldogs best special teams game yet is because of their much-improved kick off coverage, an area in which they were tested this game because of the lack of touchbacks, and two words, two simple words which express the sentiments of most spectators MVP, Isaiah McKenzie.
Starting with kickoff coverage, the longest return the Bulldogs gave up was for 17 yards and the furthest the Ragin’ Cajuns got on one return was the 25-yard line. The Bulldogs also were able to stop their opponents’ return inside the 20 on two of Blankenship’s 5 kickoffs that did not go for touchbacks. Brian Herrien and Brendan Douglas were two players who stood out and showed great effort on kickoff coverage in Saturday’s matchup. This was one of the worst kickoff covering units in the nation, but they showed improvement this past weekend.
Finally, Isaiah McKenzie had an outstanding day, with his first two touches going for 6. McKenzie is listed in the special teams’ section of my assessment because he was able to break a couple special teams’ Bulldogs records. Isaiah finally was able to get his first return touchdown of the season and because it came on a punt return he broke not only the record for most punt return touchdowns by a Bulldog, which is five but also most returns overall, with 6. On Saturday, McKenzie showed why he is truly one of the most dangerous returners in the country.