I said in my preview on Friday that this game had the makings of a trap game, but Kentucky wouldn’t be able to take advantage. It ended up exactly that as the Georgia offense never really appeared to find any rhythm. Unlike the Vanderbilt game, the defense played lights out again and held the Wildcats at bay for the 2nd half. Did we earn any style points for the pollsters and the computers? No, but we’ll be returning to the Georgia Dome in two weeks’ time with a chance to win an SEC championship. Let’s get to the rundown.
What Went Well
Blair Walsh – He’s had a tough season, but the pre-season Groza Award candidate was at his best on his Senior Day. With the offense struggling to maintain consistency in the red zone, Walsh kicked four field goals which were the difference in the game. The kick before halftime after a Kentucky fumble to put the Dawgs in the lead at the break changed the complexion of the game.
Linebackers – The Georgia linebacking corps was all over the field on Saturday. Jarvis Jones was a beast again with another 2 1/2 sacks and likely sewed up Defensive Player of the Year honors in the conference. Alec Ogletree lined up all over the field, and his blitz likely caused Branden Smith’s interception in the 1st half. Cornelius Washington rushed the passer solidly all afternoon. Gilliard, Robinson, and Herrera made plays on the inside. Assuming everyone returns, this group will be as gifted as any set of linebackers in 2012.
Marlon Brown – He caught the one touchdown and made a couple of other plays. I struggled to find something positive for the offense yesterday, and this was the best I could do.
If we had played the way we did yesterday against Auburn or Florida, we would be talking about whether the staff had done enough to show things were headed in the right direction. Needless to say, there were a number of things for correction.
Running Game – Yes, Isaiah Crowell got hurt again early, and this time didn’t return to the game. Yes, we were down to our preseason 5th and 6th running back with the departures of King and Ealey, an injury to Samuel, and another suspension for Thomas. We still should have been able to open holes against the Kentucky defensive line. The combination of poor blocking and three fumbles puts the running game on the list this week.
Offensive Play Calling – I couldn’t really decipher what our offensive game plan was yesterday. Maybe there wasn’t one. The loss of one player other than your starting quarterback shouldn’t slow down the offense like they were yesterday. We are getting predictable by running to the left side behind Cordy Glenn.
Student Tickets – Attendance yesterday was very forgettable. We knew this was going to happen with the return of a large number of student tickets during the week. Maybe this is a by-product of a university with a rising academic reputation. I don’t ever remember this as an issue entering the Thanksgiving break. How to handle student tickets is one that the administration must address in the off-season with the number of people willing to pony up the donation and the full price for renewable season tickets. Sorry, students, you aren’t entitled to such a large allocation of game tickets if you aren’t going to show up.
While we got the result we wanted with a win and a division championship, we can’t play another game this season like we did yesterday and expect to win. The defense was dominant yet again, the offense sputtered for most of the day, and the special teams lived up to pre-season expectations.
Offense – C-. 19 points, fewer than 350 yards of total offense, and four turnovers will get us beat the next two weeks in Atlanta. Generally, the execution except for the Marlon Brown touchdown pass and a couple of 2nd half runs was pretty poor.
Defense – A. Except for the first drive of the game resulting in the Kentucky field goal, the defense played tough throughout the day. The 2nd half defense just stifled the Wildcats’ offense and took over the game. Once the defense got control, it just seemed Richt and Bobo just let the air out of the game.
Coaching – B. The defensive plan was solid and never really gave Kentucky much of a chance to get any consistency. The offensive game plan either wasn’t well designed or never really had a chance to be executed based on personnel availability. Regardless, the failure to adjust based on personnel brings this grade down.
Look Ahead to Next Week
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate – I think after the last few years, we should remove the word “clean” from the moniker of the rivalry with the North Avenue Trade School. This game will be chippy from the opening kick as both teams are ranked in the top 25. As Jeff Dantzler said on the post-game call-in show, this game is the most important of all. If we execute on offense as we did against Auburn, we will win because I don’t think Tech’s triple option will be able to match score for score against our defense. If we don’t and leave the defense out on the field for most of the game, we will be in trouble at the Joke by Coke.
Those are my thoughts, and I would like to read yours in the comments.