Yes, plenty has already been written about what happened Saturday night, based on what we saw in the press box, and what we heard from players and the coach afterwards. Here are some more thoughts after re-watching the TV copy:
GOOD GREYSON, BAD GREYSON
You don’t know what you’re getting out of Georgia’s starting quarterback from pass to pass. On Georgia’s second drive Greyson Lambert grounded a ball in front of Jeb Blazevich on second down. One play later he zipped a pass into Terry Godwin to convert the third down. Later, Lambert went from a duck downfield (the miscommunication with Reggie Davis) to zipping in a third-down completion to Malcolm Mitchell on the very next play. Lambert hit Godwin for a 35-yard gain, and one play later threw into double coverage on Mitchell.
OK, first let’s dissect the first play: Lambert clearly checked down from the first option, which was either Godwin or Kenneth Towns on the left side. Both were covered – Godwin was still running downfield. So Lambert tried to dump it across the middle to Jeb Blazevich, who had a linebacker right in front of him. You know what happened next. That was a case of Lambert wanting to make something happen and just not thinking clearly.
Four other passes that could’ve been picked: 1. Over the middle to Mitchell, and Lambert just didn’t account for the linebacker in the middle of the field; it bounced off the linebacker’s hands. 2. The deep ball miscommunication in which Missouri’s cornerback just muffed the catch. 3. A pass to Mitchell into double coverage that went off a defender’s hands. 4. The near-interception at the goal-line that was over-ruled on replay.
Lambert was very good on third downs, both early and late. On third-and-long (6 yards or longer) he was 5-for-7, with sacks on two other plays. He also at least finished on a good note: His final official pass of the game was a third-down completion to Malcolm the trailer on the stock pattern, fired right in there.
Believe it or not, there were some good throws. But the stat line could have been a lot of worse.
It seemed like every time Georgia was close to establishing the run it went to the pass. The sequence before the game-tying field goal late in the third quarter got the most attention, and deservedly so, as Missouri was on the ropes and on the verge of wearing down, and the pass call – evidently a check made by Lambert – bailed out the Tigers. But there were other times too. Georgia’s first drive of the second half began with Sony Michel gaining 11 yards on two carries. The next three plays were passes, and the fourth was a punt.
But some plays are just designed badly. When Georgia had third-and-6 from Missouri’s 11 late in the game, Georgia tried a reverse handoff to Michel out of the backfield, and it went nowhere. So you’ve got a play from the left hash-mark, a defense bunched in to defend 11 yards before the end zone, not leaving much open space for Michel to go outside and do anything with it. Yeah, not sure about that one.
During the game I kept wondering when Georgia would try more play-action; early in the second quarter SEC Network game analyst Jesse Palmer predicted more play-action. It didn’t really happen. Lambert looked so comfortable in play-action against Tennessee, but it was hardly used this game. It seemed like Schottenheimer was overthinking, assuming that Missouri would be ready for it. Georgia’s offense isn’t good enough right now to be too cute. If something’s working it has to keep going to it.
THAT OUTSIDE BLOCKING
Georgia worked on those receiver screens all week, but you have to wonder what Godwin showed in practice, given his inability to hold blocks on several Mitchell screens. There was even rough blocking on some of the good plays. Mitchell actually whiffed on a block early – Lambert’s first throw after the interception – but Godwin made a nifty escape of the tackler and gained 12 yards.
You know who did well blocking on the perimeter? Jay Rome, when he was flexed out. He helped create room for Reggie Davis to net six yards on a screen, then Rome and Davis both locked down their guys on a 5-yard Godwin catch-and-run.
Kenneth Towns’ all-important tackle was basically with one arm, bringing the guy down by his ankle. That’s a 6-foot-2 receiver who’s big and strong enough to make that kind of tackle. Maybe he should be blocking more. In fact, it looked like Towns might have been the intended receiver on the play – so perhaps Schottenheimer was trying to get Towns involved right away with the idea of establishing him as a threat to receive and block on the outside. Then it all unraveled when the check-down and interception happened. Or maybe I’m giving Schottenheimer too much credit.
Michel didn’t show much explosiveness,, but frankly neither did Chubb at a lot of times this season. The run blocking isn’t as consistent as it was last year – when teams were stacking the box the same way they are this year, but Georgia’s offensive line got a better push and created more holes.
Many wondered why Brendan Douglas got more carries than Keith Marshall, and I was surprised by it too. But it didn’t make too much of a difference; both had some longer carries when the holes were there, and both hit walls that Chubb probably wouldn’t have been able to do anything with.
It’s not that Georgia’s run-blocking is poor all the time. It’s not. It’s just not consistent, and sometimes the play calls don’t seem to do them any favors.
– While there were some good individual plays, the big thing for Georgia was that it was swarming to the ball. For all the missed tackles at Tennessee the coaches pointed out there wasn’t much gang-tackling either. There was in this game, on both runs up the middle and outside. The middle just wasn’t there, and when Missouri tried the edge – such as on an option pitch-out to start the second half – there were red jerseys all around.
– The goal-line stand to start the game set the tone for the defense. It was helped by Missouri muffing the snap on first down from the one-foot line, then trying to run up the gut the next two plays, rather than trying something imaginative. Still, Georgia’s line came up big on second down, and on third down it was the inside linebackers: Not only did Jake Ganus make the stop up the middle on third down, but fellow inside linebacker Tim Kimbrough was right there and probably would’ve made the stop if Ganus didn’t first.
– This was the game Georgia needed to see out of Leonard Floyd. He was in the backfield often, close to adding several more to the one sack he was credited. He was also lively on the outside. Even when Jordan Jenkins returns, it seems the wise thing to use Floyd the way he was this game. Kimbrough and Ganus can handle the middle on the tough running plays. Let Floyd roam around before the snap and find the place to attack.
- The pass pressure in general was good, but not just because of Floyd and blitzing. The defensive line did a good job of squeezing the pocket, and Sterling Bailey and Trent Thompson also burst through occasionally to apply pressure.
- Davin Bellamy’s name was called more often, but Lorenzo Carter was in on some plays too. That’s not quite dominant, as has been expected of Carter, but it’s a step in the right direction.
– Missouri’s few big plays came – surprise – down the middle of the field. Drew Lock found Nate Brown for 33 yards. It looked like freshman safety Johnatham Abram was just beat in zone coverage. The ball went just over Ganus’ head, so maybe you can say he’s not good in pass coverage. And on the other deep ball – the 29-yarder late in the first half to set up Missouri’s second field goal – the ball went right over Kimbrough’s hand. But other than the Alec Ogletrees of the world what inside linebacker is supposed to be good in deep pass coverage? Ultimately those plays have to be stopped by the defensive backs.
– Malkom Parrish remains probably the best pure tackler on defense. After the failed onside kick he made a leg-tackle for a four-yard loss that derailed momentum. Parrish has been Georgia’s most consistent defensive back this season.
– Abram also made some good plays, including an open field tackle to snuff out a short screen late in the game.
– All of this comes with the necessary caveat that Missouri’s offense just isn’t very good, especially the line. But faced with a mediocre team Georgia produced outstanding results and got better as the game went on, which points to real improvement for the unit as a whole.
– Mitchell’s timing on the punt forced fumble was perfect. He arrived at just the right time to knock the ball out. A split-second earlier and it’s roughing, a split-second later the guy may hold onto the ball.
– It’s a shame for Georgia that Dominick Sanders will have to sit out the first half of the Florida game, but the targeting call was accurate. Sanders wasn’t trying to be malicious, but the rule is aimed at changing behavior, including leading with the helmet. Sanders didn’t launch with his helmet, but he had it out too far, leading to the penalty. This was on the low-end of the legitimate targeting penalty scale, but by the letter of the rule it was the right call.
– There was only one Missouri player even close to the onside kick and he was blocked off. Georgia did everything right there except for kicking it short.
– The blocking on Georgia’s punt and kick returns was better.
– I love Brent Musburger, grew up idolizing him. But giving the score of the Mets-Cubs game as a tie game in the third-quarter goes into timeout, well, not sure about that either.
– You forget that Missouri had a chance to lead by more: The interception was one foot away from being a touchdown. Andrew Baggett missed a 38-yard field goal in the first quarter that would’ve made it 6-0. But after that it was basically all Georgia, which could have won comfortably if it did better in the red zone.
On the one hand, Georgia beat the two-time division champion, dominated time of possession and had a healthy lead in total yards. A losing streak was snapped, and thus Georgia still probably controls its destiny in the division. That’s why Mark Richt is allowed to feel “ecstatic” about the win, as he said afterward.
But it’s clearly going to take a better performance to beat Florida in two weeks, and the offensive situation doesn’t seem to have a quick fix. So the negativity you see from some fans is also warranted.
Georgia’s defense did great against a bad offense, and George’s offense puttered around against a good defense. Frankly we didn’t learn too much about the Bulldogs. We will in two weeks.