ATLANTA – Seven thoughts and observations at halftime from Bobby Dodd Stadium as Georgia leads Georgia Tech, 7-0.
1. Remember when Georgia scored on the first drive of the Georgia Southern game? And you thought: Oh hey, this could be a runaway, the offense has something figured out … Same thing this game. And just like that game, Georgia only has those same seven points at halftime of this game. The difference this time is a) the opponent doesn’t have any of its own points, and b) Georgia should be ahead by more.
2. That was quite a surprising decision to not take the (probable) field goal, then failing on the fourth-and-1. It would be an over-reach to compare that call with the squib kick, but … well I can’t finish the sentence. Georgia’s offense has struggled so much to score, and its defense playing so well, that taking the points seemed like a good, safe decision. Nope. The only thing that was right about it was trying Quayvon Hicks up the gut, something that hasn’t been tried enough on short yardage lately. But the Yellow Jackets were very ready for it.
3. Georgia also let an opportunity slip away late in the half, as Malcolm Mitchell’s 36-yard catch into Georgia Tech territory was wasted. Greyson Lambert was sacked on second down – it looked like someone ran a wrong route – then Lambert couldn’t fit a pass into Terry Godwin on a crossing pattern. The right move there seemed to be to run it into Marshall Morgan territory and try to get into halftime with a two-possession lead. I don’t blame Mark Richt for punting rather than trying the 58-yard field goal with 27 seconds left. But before that the calls could have been more high-percentage. Richt spent too much time playing for touchdowns than field goals in the half, which is strange.
4. Sony Michel’s 34-yard touchdown run was the longest touchdown run since Nick Chubb’s 83-yarder against Alabama. That’s how long it’s been since the Bulldogs have had such plays. That Michel run on fourth-and-1 was way easier than could be expected, given the way the first three runs went: Up the middle for a combined eight yards. But this one was off tackle to the right, with a wide hole.
5. But Georgia has a one-touchdown lead for a good reason: Its defense, which has bent but not broken against this triple option. Georgia Tech’s misdirection is creating a lot of room on the edges for its runners, but so far none has broken for huge yardage. Just as importantly the Bulldogs are keying up the middle on runs, not letting the B backs get big yardage, and it’s working. That’s allowed the Bulldogs to focus a bit more on the edges as plays begin.
5 (b). You do not get “all over that” more than James DeLoach did on that fourth down stuff.
6. Justin Thomas is playing today – even after a scare when he had to briefly leave the game – but he’s not making the plays he was in last year’s game. He has yet to complete a pass today and his longest run is for 2 yards. Last year Thomas completed six passes for 64 yards, including a touchdown, and rushed for 34 yards. (Remember his big scramble to set up the game-tying field goal at the end of regulation.) Georgia’s defense is doing a great job on Thomas, but there’s another half to go. At least.
7. Dominick Sanders now has five interceptions, and they’re not by accident. The pass seemed like it was thrown right at him, but Sanders was actually hiding back there. It was good instincts, and why Jeremy Pruitt wanted him: Pruitt always cited that Sanders had nine interceptions his senior year. Sanders also now has Georgia’s school record for return yards in a season, with 205. He also entered the game ranked third in the nation in that category.
Final thought: In most ways this feels like a Georgia domination, as the Bulldogs lead 203-145 in total yards and 141-0 in passing yards. The Bulldogs just have to hope like anything that the points they left on the board don’t come back to haunt them. They have to hope their defense keeps playing the way it has, and that the offense can punch some more possessions in. And that feels like it should happen. But with these Bulldogs, can you count on that?