COLT PATRIOT, YEAH BABY!
Ok, so I have been dark for a few days after the holiday and the thrilling win over Tech. Frankly, the game was a blur for me watching it the first time and I had only general observations, not worthy of in depth treatment. Watching Saturday night was an experience like watching two ocean freighters on a collision course, moving slowly and steadily towards each other. Knowing that every minute that passes without a change of course will make it less and less likely that a disastrous outcome will be averted. Finally, when the time to do or die arrived, the Dawgs made the move and avoided calamity. Colt Patriot was the play call that resulted in the perfectly lofted pass from Shockley to Brian McClendon that downed the Jackets for their 5th consecutive outright loss to Georgia and for their 12 straight game of record against Georgia without a win.
Tonight, I watched the replay on CSS and I have a few specific comments about the Georgia-Georgia Tech game before turning the focus to LSU.
The first half progressed according to my expectations for the Dawgs’ offense. We moved the ball on the ground and in the air for a total of almost 200 yards. We scored 7, but missed clear opportunities to make it 17 with a few dropped passes and a missed field goal. I loved that Kregg Lumpkin seemed to be back in his pre-knee injury form. I hope that he continues to gain confidence in his wheels and gets more carries in the remaining two games. I thought Shockley made great reads and made correct calls to beat the Tenuta Blitz. A few dropped passes and a few passes that were either low or behind the receivers prevented the offense from making some big plays early that should have led to more early scoring opportunities. While Shockley did many things well in this game, with just a bit more accuracy, he would have torched Tech in the first half. Instead, the Tech pressure wore on our offense and turned this game into a battle for field position that went to the Dawgs thanks to one fine return by Thomas Flowers.
The Tech defense is full of great athletes and Tenuta’s scheme is hard to sustain drives against. To beat them, you have to string two or three big plays together in a sequence like Georgia did on each of their scoring drives. That is the main reason for the disparity in the time of possession. Trying to grind it out on the ground against Tech would not have yielded any results. They have too much speed and pursuit and they were not missing many tackles Saturday night. Trying to hit the skinny routes quickly or the deep seams after eluding the first wave of rushers is the way to get into the end zone. It worked twice and was there for a third score, but for dropped balls.
The Georgia defense played as well as it has all year after the first series (which is a topic for discussion in itself – check back tomorrow). They did bend, but did not break for the most important 55 minutes of the game. Reggie Ball made his usual mistakes (one fumble, two interceptions) and was fortunate that at least two more passes were not picked off – once when Tra Battle dropped an easy ball and once when Tim Jennings broke in front of the intended receiver but the ball was batted at the line of scrimmage and knocked out of harms way. It looked like it was going for 6 the other way, but for the batted ball. PJ Daniels and Ball combined for 140 yards on the ground, but most of it was on the Tech half of the field. Tashard Choice is a punk who talked the most trash for doing the least that I have seen in a long time.
The job done on Calvin Johnson was phenomenal. Most of the credit goes to Demario Minter who was in his hip pocket all night and got burned only once on an unstoppable fade route and perfectly placed ball. Paul Oliver and Greg Blue also provided great support and I think Blue made the right decision to hit CJ on the goal line on Tech’s last drive because Calvin is the type of player that could have pulled that pass in despite the heavy traffic. Holding Calvin to only 2 catches is a feat that deserves national recognition.
My final observation regards penalties. In the past several years, Georgia has been the team to have procedure penalties on first down in the red zone, or holding on critical third down conversions, etc. Saturday night was Tech’s turn. The penalties killed them on at least two drives. Now, many of the Techies are crying about the biased officials and drawing parallels to the Jasper Sanks non-fumble. However there is one clear distinction. Jasper did not fumble, but Tech did move early, and line up with too many men on the line of scrimmage, or block in the back, or hold. On every penalty called in the game, a review of the play clearly showed the infractions. So, the Techies next line of defense is that there were too many non-calls on Georgia infractions. For example, one whiner says that there were 3 blocks in the back on the Flowers punt return. If so, I, an admittedly biased observer, did not see them on any of the many angles from which that play was shown and replayed. Nor did any of the officials. Nor did the announcers. Nor did Joe “The Most Vacated One” Hamilton. Suppose a Techie comes up with the critical piece of game film that clearly shows a block in the back, well away from the ball, that was not called. So what? That non-call would pale in comparison to the blown calls on the Sanks non-fumble in 1999 and the Joe Hamilton actual fumble in 1998. Events that were clearly shown over and over with indisputable video coverage. This “biased officials” whining does not fit the incontrovertible facts of the actual game, so let it go, Techies, let it go.
The atmosphere in the stadium was impressive. Even though I watched this one from the couch, it was obvious that the fans for both sides made tremendous noise when needed and there appeared to be a real current of electricity arcing in the stadium. This is unusual for games at the Historic Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium. So kudos to fans from both camps for making the television audience feel your presence often.
That is all I have to say about that.
Except this . . . GO DAWGS! G.A.T.A.