I was not surprised that this game was close (42-38.) However, I was surprised and disappointed in how many points our defense surrendered. I expected a flat, malaise-like performance overall. But, there was no shortage of energy on the field for both sides. We just did not make plays on defense and tackled poorly again. We were fortunate to escape with a win - thanks to some incredible improvisation by Stafford and Green and thanks to our defense finally making a few stops late in the game.
Mohamed Massaquoi! I have to say that he is my favorite player on this team. I love how hard he plays. My heart was breaking for him after two consecutive fumbles. I don't remember him ever fumbling before. These fumbles resulted from him struggling for extra yardage and the Kentucky defenders doing a great job hammering the ball. Thankfully, Mo Mass had an opportunity to redeem himself and did with a 78 yard catch and run on our last possession to put us inside the 10 yard line. On the day, he had 8 catches for 191 yards and one TD. I said last week that he was a warrior. I now say that he has the heart of a lion. I am glad we get to watch him play 3 more times. After that, I will be sad that he is gone, but hope he has a stellar NFL career. He is a terrific young man and has been a tremendous asset to our program.
Knowshon Moreno - A very good game with three TD runs that no one else in Red and Black could have made. This is nitpicking, but he made a rare bad cut inside our 10 on third down. It looked like he could have easily made the first down by going outside but was tackled short when he tried to cut inside. Maybe the TV angle did not give the accurate picture, but it looked like he would have had it easily by going outside. The shocking thing is that since he has such great vision and nearly always makes amazing, intuitive cuts, the rare bad cut seems amplified. Still, he does things that no other Bulldog back can do right now. His next carry, after a Kentucky TD, was an 18 yard TD run. Redeemed!
Matthew Stafford - Went through a few streaks of being perfect and only missed a few throws when the wind was at his back and the ball seemed to sail. His 17 completions were good for a career best 376 yards. That is 22 yards per completion. His scrambling game-winning toss to AJ Green appeared to be headed into the first row of the bleachers. Green really went up the ladder. It was a brilliant throw that was calculated to have only one of two results: A TD to Green or an overthrow out of the back of the end zone giving us the opportunity to tie the game with a field goal. The fact that the pass was virtually unable to be intercepted made it spectacular and has been praised by Coach Richt.
Prince Miller - Twice now he has fielded an over-the-shoulder punt return inside the 10 yard line. There is no scenario, with any punt returner - Deion Sanders included - in which fielding a punt running into your own end zone is acceptable. That he has done it twice is an indication that he can't be coached on this point. Thus, he should not be returning punts unless the punter is standing near his own goal line. This doesn't make him a bad person, just the wrong person to handle punts inside our 20 yard line.
Defense - We have a combination of things contributing to our defensive problems. Coaching, talent, poor tackling, etc. I concur with Quinton's remarks and PWD's remarks. I can't add much to those two summaries, so check them out. I think the biggest problem starts with the play of the front 4. When they play well, good things happen. If they get pushed around, bad things happen. We have to get solid in the middle. That means we need our guys healthy and deep. Our depth has been hurt all year by injuries. As PWD notes, if everyone comes back and stays healthy next year, it should be a much different defense.
Special Teams - ugh!
That is all for now.