Yeah, I know. It was only La-La, but Dawgnation is euphoric about our new Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham today! Forget the scheme, what was on display yesterday was speed and tackling. Remember in the spring when new LB Coach Warren Belin informed these guys that they did not know how to tackle? Evidently, he has coached them up. During the pre-season Coach Grantham has used the phrase "That's what gets you to 8-5." What we saw yesterday definitely does not get you to 8-5. Great work all around for our defensive unit that allowed only 128 total yards, 4 first downs (not counting the roughing the kicker penalty), no red zone opportunities and only 7 points on one busted coverage. Bacarri Rambo and Akeem Dent led all tacklers with 6 each and we had three sacks (Dent, Akeem Hebron and Justin Houston.) A bigger test awaits next Saturday in Columbia so keep working and getting even better.
FIRST GAME JITTERS
John Brantley certainly had them down in the swamp - snicker snicker... but Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason apparently did not. Murray went 17-26-160 with 3 TDs and 1 Int. He also ran for 42 yards including a 21 yard TD scamper as time expired in the first half. I would put an asterisk by his one interception since it was a perfect throw for a would-be long gain to Kris Durham who bobbled it to the defender, but Aaron also floated a ball into the waiting arms of a defender in the end zone who graciously dropped it. So, I figure those two are a wash and Murray deserves one pick on his stat line. Murray showed surprising recognition of pressure and used his feet to consistently avoid the rush. His mobility comes as a welcome talent, but like nuclear weapons, it must be used prudently.
On his first collegiate pass, Hutson Mason connected with Logan Gray for a 26 yard TD and thus his place in lore is firmly established as he became only the 8th player in D-1 history to accomplish the feat. His final numbers were 2-5-33 and 1 TD with 0 interceptions.
Kris Durham led all receivers with 5 catches for 83 yards and one TD. It is great to have him back and he will be an important weapon for this offense all season. His roommate, Shaun Chapas also had a TD grab as did his counterpart, Fred Munzenmaier.
Blair Walsh was a perfect 2/2 from 52 and 48. The 52 yarder was into a decent wind. Drew Butler boomed several howitzers and averaged 46.7 yards on 6 punts.
Our offensive line pass-protected well and allowed no sacks. However, we never got our ground game in gear and the running backs broke alarmingly few tackles. Not counting Aaron Murray's 42 yards, we only gained 142 yards on 33 attempts. Carlton Thomas and Caleb King both averaged 4.7 yards per carry, but Caleb's 20 yard TD run to open the scoring was the only run that got to the second level. This is my chief concern and we will need to see significant improvement running the ball to beat South Carolina. Having Washaun Ealey back should help the running attack and he should be hungry for action.
All in all, it was an extremely satisfying effort and the offense scored 48 points without the help of our top two returning WRs AJ Green and Tavarres King and leading rusher Washaun Ealey.
Oh... and the weather... was... perfect. I cannot remember the last UGA game in September that was not a scorcher. I am not sure it got above 82 degrees yesterday and the humidity was negligible.