10 Impressions - Mizzou EditionIn no particular order...
1. JARVIS JONES is a grown ass man. The key to his game is obviously his motor but also the fact that he gets to the ball with speed and control and is able to attack the football like Lawrence Taylor did for so many years. He will create many more turnovers this year. His pick six (I thought the nose of the ball crossed the leading edge of the goal line) was an incredible surprise and none were more surprised than James Franklin, who whiffed on the tackle attempt.
2. I am giving JON THEUS a pass this week. I remember what it was like to play with a bad ankle taped up like a mummy. He was severely limited in his footwork - or at least his ability to move his feet as quickly as he can with a healthy ankle. This led to the first sack on Murray when his man got past him with a spin move. After that, he tried to compensate by being quick off the ball... which led to the two procedure penalties. He's a true freshman starting in his first SEC game on the road with a bad wheel. Under the circumstances, he did a passable job and he will learn from the mistakes and get better.
3. RICHARD SAMUEL is a player that is easy to love. I would give him a job any time in the future if he wants to live and work in Fernandina Beach. I already know all I need to know about his character and concept of duty. It warms my heart to see him make any plays and he made a huge one Saturday night on the fake punt when he shed two blockers and slammed the punter to the turf well short of the first down. As we all know all to well, when Georgia stops a fake punt, it is cause for celebration and Mark Richt's reaction and bear hug of Samuel after the play was beautiful.
4. OFFENSE. We obviously struggled in the first half, but we cost ourselves 3 first downs in the early going with penalties and dropped passes. It was frustrating to watch because it really seemed that we didn't know what we really wanted to do on offense. At one point I thought we had made a commitment to the run, which seemed to be working and then we went away from it for a couple of plays and had to punt. Then with little time left in the half we went into a 2 minute drill where throwing on every down was working and got us into the end zone. The real frustrating thing was that in several instances, a seemingly out of synch play call would have worked but for a dropped pass or penalty. So I couldn't really blame Bobo. For example, when we had a seven-play drive going in the first half and faced a 2nd and 2 at the Mizzou 35 yard line. Bennett dropped what would have been an easy first down. On 3rd and 2 we ran Gurley for 5 yards but it was negated by a Bennett false start. Then on 3rd and 7 we threw to Gurley behind the line for a loss of 5 and ended up punting. Clearly the play on 2nd and 2 should have worked but for the dropped pass. But, I felt strongly that we just need to pound it there. We had their defense on skates, needed the first down and had a very good chance of getting it by pounding the ball on 2nd, 3rd or even 4th if necessary to get the 2 yards. Instead, we got a little cute and never made that first down. Look, I understand that in many cases, 2nd and short is a prime opportunity to open the playbook... but in that game in the first half, we needed to sustain a drive and force our will. This situation arose again at the end the third quarter when we trailed by 3 points. We drove down and had a first and goal from the 2 and we passed, passed, passed and finally were able to connect with Marlon Brown for the TD. Again, with 3 or 4 plays to go 2 yards, I am running Gurley or Malcome or Samuel behind the power blocking of Merritt Hall. It worked out for us that time, but we made it more difficult that it had to be... in my opinion. Still, in the end, I felt our offense found its rhythm and really started executing in the second half. So I guess my main criticism is to pound the ball when you have 2 or more plays to make 2 or less yards. That will keep me from pulling my hair out. Oh, by the way... this offense is averaging 43 points per game.
5. JOHN JENKINS was destroying the interior line in the second half and at least twice he grabbed Franklin from behind for a minimal gain when it looked impossible for him to cover the necessary ground to make the play. That big man is deceivingly quick. If teams decide to double-team him, will they also double-team Jarvis? If so, there will be only 6 players to block our other 9. This is known as a matchup headache and I hope it gets even worse for opposing offenses when Ogletree is back.
6. HORSE COLLAR and PASS INTERFERENCE. Either the referees last night were of the "let them play" mentality or I don't understand what constitutes the requisite action to draw either of those penalties. Without question, on Gurley's longest run he was tackled by a hand grabbing his jersey in the collar in the back of his neck (i.e. horse collar) and he was jerked backwards in the motion that often can lead to injury, which was the impetus for the rule in the first place. I have no idea how the referees missed that one.
7. I have no problem with SHELDON RICHARDSON having confidence in his team and saying a lot of what he said. And, I am glad he said it because it created a fun mantra for our side. But, come on man... finish the game if you are going to talk smack. His butt was so worn out in the 4th quarter that he couldn't breath and dropped to a knee on his sideline while his defense was on the field. In the end, he was the one who looked like an old man. Still, I hope the Missouri Tigers will rebound well and go on to win a lot of football games this season.
8. We have a lot of RECEIVERS who will contribute this season. On Friday, I predicted that we would have eight different players with catches. As it turns out, there were 7 but number 8 would have been a big gainer had Murray hit Merritt Hall in the numbers on the fullback flare route (more on this in #9). Marlon Brown had a breakout game with 8 catches for 106 yards and 2 TDs. This was a tremendously welcome development. Michael Bennett had 8 catches as well but had 3 uncharacteristic drops. I am confident he will lock that down and get back to being the sure-handed receiver we have come to expect but a couple of those drops were drive-stoppers. We rediscovered the Tight End with a crucial 15 yard completion to Jay Rome in the second half. But, we have still not seen any action from our most fleet-footed receiver Justin Scott-Wesley. I was impressed with him in the Spring Game and will be looking for him to get a couple of balls this week against Florida Atlantic. His speed is eye-opening.
9. 344 FULLBACK is a play that has worked brilliantly over the years for Georgia under Coach Richt. It is a simple fullback flare route into the flats. It is deployed so infrequently and at just the right time that it almost always catches the defense ignoring the fullback who has slipped out into the flat and can usually cover 10 to 15 yards before first contact - and since it is a fullback, first contact doesn't usually mean a tackle. Naturally, Verron Haynes was the most effective fullback we have had for this play over the years and many others have run it well. But there is one mind-numbingly frustrating obstacle to executing this play and that is the giant shoulder pads worn by fullbacks and a ball thrown one foot directly over their heads, especially when the ball is thrown like a laser. These guys cannot physically get their arms over their head and bring their hands close enough together to catch a football thrown directly over their head. This has been a problem since David Greene and JT Wall. The plays calls for a ball lobbed, with touch, into the fullbacks numbers on the front side of his jersey. We have seen plenty of backside throws proving that fullbacks aren't normally the best at performing pirouettes and still getting downfield fast. Aaron Murray has missed both opportunities on this play this season. One to Samuel and one to Hall. Both balls were whistled high. If Murray can settle down and start making this throw, it will be good for at least one long first down per game and if Samuel is the recipient, it could go to the house.
10. HUNKER DOWN BEER CHALLENGE. For the first time in the three year history of the HDBC, I had to tap out when Jarvis Jones caused two TDs in about a 2 minute span. We were already up 27-20 and since we were fruitless throughout the first 24 minutes of the game, those 5 scores (thus 5 beers) came in about a 90 minute span. I had just poured my 5th Bell's Two Hearted Ale when Jarvis intercepted Franklin with 8 minutes to play. Then seconds later Jarvis struck again. I was two beers in the hole and it was after 11:00 pm. Normally, I would have fulfilled my HBDC obligations, but I was still operating on Greenwich Mean Time, having just returned from Ireland and England, so it felt like 4:00 am to me and I had to be awake and functional early Sunday morning. For what it's worth, I consumed the two obligatory beers on Sunday while watching the surf contest at Fernandina Beach with actual, real surfing waves courtesy of Tropical Storm Leslie.
GO DAWGS. GATA