Well, that was a wild game. Not very happy with how the defense played and they better get things tightened up during the week. Next week is against South Carolina for possibly the SEC east title. I’m not sure that the Cocks have the passing game that UT has but they have Marcus Lattimore…which is scary enough.
So, on to the game: as previously mentioned it looked like the Dawgs might win this one going away in the first quarter until stupid mistakes and turnovers let the Vols not only get back into the game, but take the lead until a tying field goal right at the end of the half by UGA.
One the positive side, Keith Marshall has officially entered my man crush zone along with Todd Gurley…see above picture. Most teams are happy to have a running back get over 100 yards: Marshall ended up with 164 and 2 TDs and Gurley had 130 and 3 TDs. I honestly haven’t been this excited about one, let alone two, freshmen since maybe AJ Green’s freshman year or Matt Stafford’s, and honestly these guys have been more impressive than either of those eventual first round NFL picks so far. It’s amazing that these guys were playing high school football this time last year and now they are playing in the toughest conference in college football, and playing well. The really cool thing is that they were friends in high school and decided to come to UGA together so while there’s probably healthy competition, you can tell they both pull for each other.
Anyway, enough gushing about my man crushes. As for the rest of the offense, if you take out a few bad plays that led to turnovers, they were basically unstoppable. UT’s defense had no answer for the running backs or the passing game. As much as I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Aaron Murray over the years, I really think he’s improved a lot this year. His decision making seems to be a lot better even though I still reeeeeally wish he would hold onto the ball when he’s about to get sacked. A sack fumble inside Georgia’s 20 led to some of the gift points that UT got today to get back into the game. If you don’t watch much UGA football, this happens more than most fans would like with Murray. He had a pick six also but overall he played pretty damn well and the offense is putting up 40+ points a game so far this year.
As far as the receivers go, I really can’t remember a lot of big plays by them outside of two nice TD catches by Micheal Bennett, who is close to man crush eligibility too. It’s not that the receivers played badly, but it seemed like every other drive one of the RBs was ripping off a 50+ yard TD run so Murray wasn’t getting a chance to throw it around as much as usual. TE Lynch had another nice run after catch.
As much as I’m hot and cold on Mark Richt and the OC Mike Bobo, I can’t complain about how many points the offense is putting up this year. My only quibble would be their tendency to go conservative in the 4th quarter with a lead. While that’s smart when the defense is playing well, with the way the offense was humming like a well oiled machine and the defense was…well..let’s be nice and say not doing the same, the run 2 times into a stacked line and then have an incomplete pass on 3rd and long and then punt might not be the best strategy.
I was reading on some Vol message board earlier where some posters were pointing to their defense shutting UGA down in the 4th quarter. To that I would say that anyone that has watched any video of Georgia in the last five years plus, could tell you that Richt/Bobo were going to go conservative with a lead in the 4th quarter and try to run clock. It doesn’t take a genius Defensive Coordinator to figure this out and stack the line knowing that UGA isn’t gonna come out slinging it around. A win’s a win, and yes, if Richt/Bobo had let Murray keep slinging it around or taken a few more chances then a mistake could have had dire consequences, but on the other hand us fans might not have had to sweat out a 7 point lead where the defense finally came up with some turnovers to stop UT.
As far as the defense goes, I don’t really know what to say. This was the week that it got back it’s best safety and one of the better LBs from suspension, so everyone figured it would come out firing on all cylinders, but that was not at all the case. Granted 7 of UTs points came off the pick six and at least 14 points came from very short fields due to fumbles by Murray and Marshall, but there were also UT receivers running free. Patterson had a sure TD pass clank off his hands and Bray missed some other open guys. The scarier part to me was that UT was actually able to run reasonably well: that was supposed to be the Vols’ main weakness. And a reverse run by Patterson for a long TD looked like the Keystone Cops were trying to tackle him.
On the positve side, Swann had a really nice interception in the first half, a one handed grab, and the defense was finally able to turn over Bray on his last three drives to win the game, but damn, they need to play better than that to beat SC next week. I wonder if perhaps having Rambo and Ogletree back might have been part of the problem, they were bound to be a bit rusty with this being their first game. And unfortunately my defensive mancrush Jarvis Jones didn’t have his name called a lot today and there was basically no pressure on Bray until the last few drives that sealed the game in the 4th quarter. I’ll give a lot of credit to whoever UT’s OC is, he really took Jones out of the game and their offensive line played well.
Special teams almost don’t deserve to be talked about. Somehow freshman kicker Marshall Morgan has no problem with a 50 yard field goal but has a habit of missing extra points. There were basically no returns today and Gurley for some reason stepped out of bounds at the one fielding one kickoff…I believe that resulted in one of the short fields that UT scored on.
All things considered, this was the type of gut check game that past UGA teams would have lost, so I’m happy with the win. Hopefully the coaches will kick some ass in practice this week and the defense and special teams will play a lot better next week in Columbia. I’m already nervous and excited about playing the Shamecocks.