Georgia runs its record to 6-1 with a 29-24 win over the Kentucky Wildcats last night in Lexington. The Georgia passing offense was a juggernaut on the bluegrass and refused to let us lose a game last night that could have changed the entire season. This team has some flaws that I’m afraid aren’t going to get fixed at least during the regular season. After last night, it’s clear we’re going to have to outscore people to win. Let’s get to the breakdown.
What Went Well
Passing Game - The Georgia passing game looked like the 1980′s San Diego Chargers with receivers running open all night and Aaron Murray hitting guys right in stride. Murray throws for over 400 yards for the first time in a game. Unfortunately, we needed every one of those yards to win last night. Tavarres King played a great game last night with close to 200 yards receiving and 2 TDs. Without a couple of drops, Murray would have likely gone over 500 yards with probably 6 TD passes. UK decided to take away the running game, and Murray made them pay dearly for it.
Jordan Jenkins - Filling in for the injured Jarvis Jones, the freshman Jenkins came in and filled in well for the All-American. He was one of the few bright spots for a defense that struggled mightily last night. When he stayed with his assignment on the reverse, he probably made the play of the game without getting credit for the tackle.
Conner Norman - While his main contribution (and the reason he shows up here) won’t be be reflected in the box score, he made the hustle play of the night on Kentucky’s perfectly executed onside kick. He flew in and dived on the ball as the kicker waited for it to roll 10 yards. If he doesn’t cover the ball, who knows what happens with 2 minutes to go and the defense back on the field.
This game was much closer than it ever should have been with a quarterback that was no threat to throw the ball and a defense that had been gashed consistently all season long. It seems like the problems with this team are going to be there all year long.
The Defense - Kentucky had no business scoring 24 points against us without the assistance of turnovers from the offense or special teams. Our front 7 was blown off the ball pretty much most of the night, especially when the Cats converted some 3rd and long with simple draw plays. I was particularly disappointed with the way Kentucky drove the length of the field on their first possession with little to no resistance from the defense.
Boneheaded Penalties - Multiple false start penalties in a stadium that was 70% full showed a lack of focus. We had multiple personal foul penalties including a late face mask by Shawn Williams that gave Kentucky life on their last TD possession and Bacarri Rambo’s hit out of bounds out of pure frustration. Pure and simple, we lost our collective composure last night.
Offensive Line - We gave up 3 sacks and generated no consistent rushing offense against a defense that is dreadful. We have trouble blocking teams that sell out against the run as Kentucky did last night. Defenses are attacking our young offensive linemen especially Andrews and Theus. We seemed to get better when Beard came in at left tackle to allow Gates to slide inside to help in the interior.
Offense - B. The offense moved the ball pretty much any time they wanted through the air but had trouble establishing any threat in the running game. If the defense could have gotten the Cats off the field more often especially early in possessions, the offense would have hit 40+ easily last night. Aaron Murray has taken some heat from the fan base over the last couple of weeks, but he deserves a pat on the back for the way he put the team on his back last night.
Defense – F. That performance last night frankly was terrible. Yes, we won the game and played better in spurts in the 2nd half. This defense is soft and doesn’t run to the ball consistently like they did last year. To say that the defense has underperformed and disappointed would be the understatement of the year. The offense made Kentucky drive the length of the field all night, and the defense couldn’t stop them.
Coaching – C. Similar to the Tennessee game, once Bobo figured out that UK had no answer for the passing game, he threw out balance, went with what was working, and let Murray make plays. I thought Bobo was going to go into “turtle mode” after the onside kick and be content to kick the ball back to Kentucky. Instead, he let Murray convert one first down with a beautiful throw and let him throw on 4th down with the chance to run out the clock. Grantham appeared to make some adjustments in the 2nd half which seemed to work until late in the 4th quarter. The defensive staff has struggled to find any consistency with their players.
Overall – C-. We won, but that’s pretty much the only reason the grade is as high as it is. We are becoming a Big 12 team before our eyes. When given reasonably good blocking, this team has one of the best sets of skilled people in the country to hurt defenses. The problem is that we can’t stop anybody with consistency.
Look Ahead to Florida
With Florida’s big win over South Carolina on Saturday afternoon, the Cocktail Party becomes the de facto SEC East championship. A Gator win assures Florida’s return to Atlanta. A Dawg win puts Georgia firmly in the driver’s seat with wins over Ole Miss and Auburn. At the beginning of the season, I was convinced that this year’s Cocktail Party was going to be the one to turn the series back in our favor. Now, I don’t think we have much of a chance without a lot of help from the Gators. Just remember why many of us consider this Hate Week.
Those are my thoughts. I would like to read yours in the comments.