The 31-28 final score was indicative of a final score that I thought would happen, but the process of getting to the score was much different than I had imagined. With both coaches talking of coming out and running a lot of no huddle and with question marks in both secondaries, I expected the ball to be in the air early and often. Instead, we witnessed a slugfest at the line of scrimmage. Clemson put the ball in the air more often, but not as often as one would expect with Georgia replacing 3 starters in the secondary.
Pounding the ball with Musa Smith and a veteran offensive line was not as surprising coming from Georgia, but it was still surprising to see a lack of a down field passing game. In the end though, special teams and a defense that stood up when it needed to won the game for the Dawgs.
Some thoughts from last weekend:
- Sean Jones got things off to a fast start for Georgia with a big hit on special teams
- Clemson's composure, or lack thereof was evident early as the Tigers committed 3 personal fouls in the 1st quarter. While the roughing the passer call was questionable at best, there's no excuse for the post play misdeeds that kept 2 Georgia drives alive.
- We had expected big plays from Thomas Davis early and often, but how much can a player with his first game time experience be counted on? He answered that question early as he was brought on a safety blitz in which he looked like he was shot out of a cannon.
- Another young safety that Georgia is expecting big things from announced his presence early as Greg Blue showed us that his reputation as a big hitter is well deserved. Once he contains that desire to make the big hit on every play and becomes more consistent, look out.
- Boss Bailey looked tentative at the line of scrimmage and was usually the last one to get off the snap when he was called on to blitz, but he made up for it in the end. In the 4th quarter, Bailey made 2 back to back plays in which he made tackles for losses in the 4th quarter. The 4th quarter Bailey looked like the Butkus award candidate that he is. He needs to put it together like that for 4 quarters to fulfill his potential this season.
- Right now, Davey Pollack is without question the best player on Georgia's defense. He made life miserable for Clemson QB Willie Simmons and lived in the backfield on both rushing plays and passing plays. He's more than just an effort guy. He has exceptional strength and quickness as well as refined pass rushing moves. Georgia fans can forget about at least on the of the defensive end spots this year; Pollack has that covered.
- Fred Gibson has to touch the ball more; it's that simple. Whether he wasn't working hard enough to get open, or the game plan ignored him for the most part his first touch came with 11 minutes left in the second quarter. His first touch was a 91 yard kick off return for a touchdown. His second touch didn't come until 3 minutes were left in the 3rd quarter. For Georgia to reach it's goal of winning the SEC East, Gibson must be a bigger part of the offense.
- Overall, Georgia's front 4 looked very good. They had pressure on Willie Simmons all night long. A game against South Carolina will help show if Georgia's D Line is that good, or if the success was the product of a green Clemson offensive line. So far though, so good.
- The 4th quarter was turned around by 2 seniors that I have been the most critical of the past 2 years. Boss Bailey and Terrance Edwards made big plays when it mattered the most, and Georgia would not have won the game without them.
- It worked out in the end, but Coach Mark Richt may have put his job on the line with the last play of the game. With all of the questions about clock management and 4th quarter decision making, I admired the boldness to go for it on 4th and 1 in his own territory with 30 seconds left and the best punter in the country on the sidelines. I don't want to even imagine the fallout had Georgia not made it and Clemson had a quick play and a tying field goal.
- Finally, where would a Georgia wrap up be without mention of David Greene and DJ Shockley? The 2 headed quarterback monster worked very well for Georgia as both players were able to direct crucial scoring drives. Shockley quickly showed why he has earned some playing time with his first 2 possessions. He used his legs on one and his arm on the second, scoring touchdowns in both. Shockley left little doubt about his arm on his first pass to Fred Gibson on a 12 yard out pattern in which he threw the prettiest ball of the night. Anyone not seeing the potential in this player just flat out doesn't want to see it. on the other hand, anyone claiming that David Greene should be replaced as the starter is looking for too much. Shockley was brought in on the short side of the field in his first 2 possessions after special Georgia's special teams had the Dawgs sitting pretty in Clemson's territory. Odds are, Greene would have engineered 2 scoring drives on those possessions as well. It spoke volumes to see Greene on the field on Georgia's last possession in which he led Georgia to the game winning field goal. David Greene is the QB with the game on the line, but wow, what a weapon DJ Shockley looks to be. If anyone can handle a plethora of talent at the QB position, it's Mark Richt.
on to some other games:
- I'm convinced MTSU could put up 30+ on the Ravens' Super Bowl team. Freddie Roach saved Alabama in the 4th quarter with a defensive touchdown. It would have been a surprising game, but not all together shocking. Middle Tennessee is an up and coming program.
- Speaking of MTSU, they put up over 600 yards against Vanderbilt last year, but did anyone expect to see Georgia Tech lay 45 on Vandy? I had publicly questioned if Tech would be able to score. That question has been answered with a flurry, and Tech looks to be a contender in and ACC that seems to have taken a step backwards after a stellar season last year.
- Miami and Florida have picked up right where they left off. Those of you wanting a playoff, pay attention to this game. Playoffs come in September in college football, and this one will be as big as any game in November.
- Speaking of playoffs, anyone want to go ask Washington if they felt like they didn't just lose a playoff game? The passion of college football is unrivaled by any other sport for 4 months, and there's a reason for that. Every other sport has a season ending tournament. College football begins its round robin in August. Now if we could just get rid of the computers, we'd be on to something.
- Finally, Georgia fans bickering about a quarterback controversy should tune in and watch an Auburn game. New year, new coordinators same results. Boneheaded mistakes from 6th year QB and no one on the bench that the coaches feel any better about.
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