Heartbreaker in a cliffhanger Saturday. Dawgs hung in there despite having no running game and took the lead twice in the fourth quarter only to have it ripped away by a convergence of unfortunate events beginning with the worst game-changing call against Georgia since the Jasper Sanks non-fumble at Ga. Tech.
Watch this video closely and tell me when the infraction occurred.
I will rant about the "celebration penalty" briefly before moving to other observations. Believe it or not, the chief asshole in charge of SEC officials, Rogers Redding, a Tech grad, says that his official "probably should have let this go." Probably? Probably? If there was any latitude at all for an official to call that an excessive celebration, then no team should kick off from the 30 for the rest of this season. Remember, they singled out AJ Green (#8 for those of you in Kazakstan) saying he drew attention to himself. The flag was thrown pretty quickly after the TD so it had been thrown before this video ended. And Redding says they probably should have let it go. Let what go? What they need to let go is their continued punishment of Mark Richt's team for the 2007 Celebration in the end zone in Jacksonville. Maybe now that SEC officials have clearly thrown a hugely important game for Georgia these officials can conclude that we have been punished enough. Somehow I doubt that will be the case, however. To say that I question the integrity and professionalism of SEC officials is a vast understatement. I haven't the slightest confidence that SEC officials have a scintilla of integrity. My friend's brother is an SEC official and last year he told my friend that the Celebration stunt really pissed SEC officials because they felt that Richt put them in a bad spot by letting that happen. If you think the those two events are not related, watch the video again. Still not convinced? You are a fool.
This rule is utter horseshit because it cannot be evenly applied under any circumstances. It was created to put an end to the antics invented by Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin in the late 80's. Sanders would taunt the opponents as he returned punts or interceptions for TDs. Irvin would perform ridiculous celebrations after the most mundane catches. Perhaps something needed to be done to prevent such egregious behavior. But now, we have seen the rule applied too many times after end zone celebrations late in the game in the heat of the moment. This rule screwed Washington a few years ago when Jake Locker exuberantly jumped up and shot the football high into the air. Now it has been applied to AJ Green after a TD at a time when no one has yet to find anything unsportsmanlike in his behavior. That blown call probably took the game away from us, but LSU may have scored anyway. We will never know. It is a garbage rule that should be tossed into the dustbin of history. We will always have unsportsmanlike conduct to punish egregious behavior. What we saw from AJ Green on Saturday was cleary not worthy of punishment.
After the call, the kickoff execution was pathetic and that essentially sealed our fate. Kevin Butler explained on Sunday morning that the safest call at that point would have been to kick it out of bounds past the 40 yard line so that LSU would have to take over on their 40 and not our 37. That would have put our defense in a much better position. God I hope we have learned a lesson from that.
I have heard people complain about Willie and the defense. Huh? Our defense kept us alive and in my opinion, did enough for us to win the game. It was the ineptitude of our offense for the entire first half that really killed us.
Our running game was deplorable and that cost us this game. Poor blocking and poor running (with the exception of Ealey). Mix in some poor play-calling and that sunk our offense. Joe Cox was not great but he had no help from our running game until Washaun Ealey entered the game. His first carry, which came in the 3rd quarter, for 8 yards, doubled our rushing output at that point in the game. How could that be? Can't blame Cox for this game. He hit enough passes for us to win. Had we been able to run the ball at all, his passing numbers would have surely been better.
AJ Green continues to amaze. There are no words!
Rennie Curran continues to amaze. Their are no words!
Drew Butler continues to amaze... ok, ok, he is a punter. But wow, he is booting howitzers. I actually spoke with Kevin Butler at the Hotel Indigo Saturday morning and told him that I hoped Drew would have a good game. He replied that hopefully he wouldn't have but a couple of chances. Good point. Obviously he had too many chances, but he averaged 49 yards on 7 punts. He has averaged 49.8 yards on 23 punts for the season.
Our front four on defense played their best game of the season. Led by Justin Houston's 6 tackle/2 sack performance and Jeff Owens' 7 tackle outing, our defensive tackles and ends accounted for 26 tackles. Without conducting the research, I am going to say that has to be the best performance for this group in the past two seasons and the 6 sacks and many many QB hurries hopefully indicate that this part of our game has turned the corner.
I really can't give out too much more praise. I was happy to see Shaun Chapas get his first TD of the season. That was a great call by Bobo.
I will leave all of the bitter criticism to others. I am disappointed but not devastated. This team has potential to get things rolling but it will require a running game and maybe Washaun is ready to pick up the torch. My brother informed me that he and his compadres at the game have officially dubbed Washaun as NewShon or NewShaun. I like it. Unless someone else came up with this earlier, I will give him credit. Anyway... NewShaun will need our O-line to live up to their pre-season expectations if our running game is going to develop quickly enough to salvage the season.
A win in Knoxville will be some great medicine and if LSU somehow beats Florida, we will recognize that we were within one unconscionably horrendous call from beating a bona fide Top 3 team. Hang in there Dawg fans and support these players and coaches.
GO DAWGS! GATA!