Sunday, September 11, 2005

Review of UGA-Shitburg State

I thought we'd roll, and we didn't.

As I watched from Section 325, I kept having flashbacks. Not to other USC games, though I'm sure in many minds the "they always play us tough" line of thinking is common. It reminded me first and foremost of the Tennessee game from last year, and then just about every Georgia-Florida game during the Donnan years (except that the relative talent on the teams was about reversed.

Yes, the amorphous idea that "players were told they were so good all week because of last week's blowout and they started to believe their own hype" will get airplay. But I see a connection to the UT game from last year because of the coaching mistakes (or ill-advised strategies, and yes, I have the benefit of hindsight - so this isn't a rant on Richt), the opponent making big plays at the best possible times, while we do not make big plays (or just not often enough), and yes, some suspect officiating (I haven't seen the tape, just how I saw it from my seat).

As to reminding me of late-90s Florida games, the offense really is that familiar. Spurrier is still really good at getting receivers into open seams (and they use picks really well). Mitchell, who might be a little better than I thought but still not great, found the right guy a lot of the time. Their running game sucks, but if it hadn't, then Georgia would've been in trouble.

The overall take: Georgia is the better team. USC still is not that good. Georgia was lucky to win.

A few specific things:

1) Anyone know why Spurrier declined that penalty in order to punt sooner? I know he's been known to punt on 3rd down when he's frustrated with the offense, but they weren't playing terribly. The only thing I could think of was that personnel needed a breather (Mitchell was winded).

2) The talk after the game was about why we blitzed on 3rd and 22. I see the concerns, but I'm not sure it was the wrong thing to do. I just think it wasn't executed. When Georgia got pressure on Mitchell, 9 times out of 10 he made a poor decision or the pass wasn't accurate. On that play the USC line held up and we didn't get the pressure we should have. In hindsight, you don't blitz there because it didn't work. But that's the case with everything. I'm not convinced it wouldn't have worked with the right execution.

3) The coaching mistakes/strategies I wrote of above: basically, not committing to the run 100% until the second half. Running up the middle was open most of the day (USC's defensive guards are not very good). This was pretty plainly evident even in the first quarter. USC's defensive backs are pretty good and defended the pass very well. Of course you need to continue to throw to keep them honest, but I think running the ball a little more would've been better.

4) The playaction on 4th and 1: This might've worked if we hadn't called timeout and given their coaches a chance to remind them to watch for this, but I think it was a bad idea anyway. The General was furious - thought we should've punted - but I think going for it was OK as long as we just lined up and pushed them off the line, which we did all day long.

5) One referee call - that unsportsmanlike penalty for throwing the ball after what looked like a fumble. I thought at worst this should've been a delay of game penalty for 5 yards. It wasn't showing up the other team. All it did was make the referee crew trot a little farther. Laziness penalty. Weak.

So yeah, Georgia could've played better (and USC probably could've too). But Georgia was the better team. And lucky to get out with a win. This game should be reviewed again and again for the Tennessee game, since they'll be as talented in the secondary (though UT should be much better up front).