We spent yesterday in disbelief & denial, fighting through a haze of bourbon & hoping Saturday was simply a drunken mirage. But it wasn't. We lost. Or more appropriately we were beaten. And as we sat on the couch yesterday, wallowing in disappointment and muttering "what the fuck" at random intervals, we asked ourself the same question you probably were asking yourself: what happened? How did we lose THAT game?
Well, we did our bit of penance & have now watched the replay three times. The result is that we're blind in one eye & have vomited all over the TV room multiple times. I would rather place my manly equipment in a blender & turn it on high than ever watch that game again. Seriously. My retina hate me as the image of Caleb King is now permanently burned in them.
But the question remains, what happened Saturday? Here's my thoughts & musings on what we saw....
- Give Richt & his staff credit for a great offensive game plan. There's a reason Georgia has been a consistent winner in the SEC for the last ten years. I think many folks believed that the Mutts would simply roll over & play dead. They obviously didn't & Richt had them very well prepared. What's the best way to slow down our offense? Keep them off the field. Where's your weak link if you're U(sic)GA? The Ginger Ninja. What's a great way to disrupt our offensive flow? Get ahead & force us out of our usual rhythm. Richt did all of these things by emphasizing the run. And it worked beautifully. That plus some fine play calling (the tight end drag on 3rd & 2 at the end of the game was a terrific call) was part of our problem.
- A taste of our own medicine. The Mutts basically ran two plays that we simply couldn't stop: the "tailback iso lead" & the "counter iso lead". I'm guessing but at least 250 of their 354 rushing yards came on those two plays.
Tailback iso lead....
Tailback iso counter...
Those two plays are the "bread & butter" of the I-formation offense. But we simply couldn't stop them. We weren't physical enough at the point of attack to hold the line & that, coupled with our linebackers not being able to shed blocks or constantly over-running the play, led to huge U(sic)GA gains. Ben Anderson's early injury certainly hurt us but we just don't have the athletes up front or at linebacker to match up. Morgan Burnett played a whale of a game. But when a safety leads your team in tackles with 16 it shows clear problems with the front seven. Losing three guys to Sunday football this year really hurt on Saturday.
- Offensively we simply didn't execute as we needed to. The Georgia game plan was sound but nothing we haven't seen before: take away Dwyer & play from the inside-out. Nothing revolutionary but Nesbitt's injury & our lack of execution hampered us all night. One thing I've learned this year is much of our offensive success (or lack thereof) is based on rhythm. On Saturday we failed to develop any and thus the offense never got going.
- Much has been made of CPJ's play calling at the end of the game. Four consecutive throws certainly is not the norm for us. But on three of those plays we had open players & simply failed to execute. I can't second guess him on those calls. We execute & we win. But I will second guess CPJ on our consistent failure to challenge bad calls by the officials. The replay of Reshad Jones' interception clearly shows he dropped the ball. We've got to challenge that. We didn't at FSU (Corey Earls fumble recovery) and got away with it. On Saturday it burned us.
So what does losing to the Mutts mean? It means that we gotta listen to their shit for 365 days. That sucks. It's a shit-lollipop of epic proportions. But take a step back & get some perspective. If you had asked any of us 3 months ago how we'd feel on November 30th if we were 10-2 and heading to the ACC Championship game with an Orange Bowl berth on the line, we'd all have been giddy. 10-2 & playing for the conference championship? In his second year? Not so bad. We simply aren't as good as we thought we were. I'm guilty of it too. #7 in the polls & "the best one loss team" is rarified air. And we'll get there. But we simply aren't that good right now. We will be.
So now we need to focus on Tampa. On winning an ACC championship. That's the goal. I'm not trying to blow sunshine up your ass. Losing to the Mutts sucks. It's the game I want to win most every year. But I simply refuse to let this loss ruin my year. Those bastards in Athens can't & won't define my football season. We've come too far to let that happen. THWG!
Lots more stuff coming today as there's a lot going on. I thought about digging deep on a game breakdown but figured it would be painful/boring for most folks. Let me know if you're interested & I'll throw something together...