A view from the sidelines: SEC Championship

A view from the sidelines of the 2004 SEC Championship Game.

One former Georgia star, Scott Woener, was on the sideline. Hew was being honored during the SEC's Legends of the Game event. I asked him if he keeps up with any of the former players that he played with and he said that he did and that many of them were in attendance.

I asked him if he was able to get up to the Clemson game earlier in the season and he said no. "I don't go near the place," he said.

After Sean Jones blocked an LSU field goal attempt I think that it was all that Woener could do to restrain himself from running onto the field.

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I was a little surprised with the outcome of the game because of the way that Georgia looked in practice on Friday. The Dawgs were very loose and LSU seemed tight. David Greene looked sharpe but then again he didn't have a LSU defender breathing down his neck like he did on Saturday.

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Speaking of Greene, the junior quarterback was having difficulty getting a firm grip on the ball. During the game I saw several times when he could not get the ball cleanly from Nick Jones, a freshman, who was starting at center again.

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The play was rough last night, particularly when the game was still in doubt. Players were "playing until the whistle blew" for sure. Several of the participants were even engaging one another after the whistle had apparently blown. But at times on the field level it was very difficult to hear anything over the crowd.

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The Georgia Dome has concrete walkways from the locker room to the turf. The Dome staff does put down a thin carpet for the teams to walk to the field on. The problem for the Dawgs and probably for the Tigers too is that not all of the players were staying on the carpet that was provided as a pathway. David Greene nearly slipped and fell onto the ground near a plastic partition in the walkway.

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After LSU's safety, one of many Georgia miscues on the night, Mark Richt gathered the whole offense together and spoke with them on the sideline. It seemed like he was having a "we are only down by 8; calm down" conversations. Unfortunately the offense was never able to put points on the board.

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The offensive line was a mess last night. It was difficult for them to hear their own snap count and they were all releasing from their positions at different times. They did protect better than their first matchup with LSU's defense but they did not give Greene near enough time to throw the ball and did not get the running game going until the game was over.

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Whenever LSU got big punt returns it was because their gunners were out performing the Georgia gunners. They were manhandling them on punt return coverage. Whenever Georgia's punts were not hanging long enough, the Tigers had their way with the gunners.

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Billy Bennett may not like the turf on the field at the Georgia Dome and he may have struggled against LSU the last time these two teams met but he had a huge game last night. It was the first time all season that I can remember him consistently making the kickoff return unreturnable. It should also be noted that his field goal kicking was superb. After the 2nd field goal of the night Bennett was charged up; after he sent the kickoff into the endzone for a touchback he ran back to the bench and was pumping his fists towards his teammates.

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Bruce Thornton had a long night. Not only was he beat badly on one LSU touchdown but all night long he had to deal with strapping his chinstrap on with the opposite hand due to a broken thumb. At some points in the game he would have teammates put it on for him.

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With the game on the line and Georgia's back against the wall, Odell Thurman was the player that was trying to motivate his teammates the most. Georgia could not stop LSU's scoring attempt as the Tigers scored on the first play of the 4th quarter and thus closed the game out.


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