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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Live Blog: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech

PREGAME:

Handful of quick pregame thoughts...

-- The student section is, at best, half full just minutes from kickoff. Kinda sad given that these seniors are taking the field for the final time at home.

-- Speaking of the seniors, Brannan Southerland isn't starting at fullback. Seems odd given that it's his last home game.

-- Josh Davis is in the starting lineup at right tackle.

-- It's been 42 days since we were last here and the press box food may have been sitting around since the last home game.

-- I've been trying to get my picture with Uga, but to no avail. Last chance for me for the season. Big day. Gotta bring my 'A' game.

-- Both teams got in a little energetic midfield exchange of words before kickoff. Anyone who doubts the intensity of this rivalry should shut up. These guys are excited today.

-- Just a rhetorical question: Would this be Georgia's biggest win of the year? I think it would be. With LSU losing yesterday to Arkansas (and nearly losing to Troy a few weeks back), that win doesn't look nearly as good anymore. Georgia's only other win over a seven-win BCS conference team this year was at South Carolina.

-- More to come after kickoff.

FIRST QUARTER

-- Richard Samuel takes the opening kickoff to the 34. I've had my fair share of complaints about Samuel on special teams this year, but you can clearly see his potential there.

-- Knowshon Moreno picks up 12 on his first carry. For all the talk about Georgia Tech's offense, the untold story of this game is how hard it will be for Tech to slow down the Dawgs' O.

-- The crowd still looks a bit thin, particularly in the student section. I thought this was the most excited fans had been for this matchup in years? I know it's early and it's raining, but if I'm here, everyone else should be, too.

-- Vintage Stafford throws a laser to A.J. Green setting up a first-and-goal at the 2. If this really is Stafford and Moreno's last home game, they look like they're intent on going out with a bang.

-- Bean Anderson is in at right tackle.

-- Moreno came up short twice, so the Dawgs went to the air and Stafford hit Tripp Chandler for a TD. I know Chandler has been a disappointment production-wise this year, but the fact that he is even out on the field right now -- let alone making a big play like that -- says a lot about him. There's not a player out there more banged up and still playing than Chandler. SCORE: Georgia 7, Tech 0. Now we get to see how the defense handles that triple option.

-- And a kickoff out of bounds by Blair Walsh. It's absurd that this is still happening 12 games into the season.

-- Surprise, surprise. Tech's first play is a pass, and it goes for 19 yards.

-- Two illegal shift flags against Georgia Tech in their first four plays. One of the big questions coming into this game, I think, was how SEC officials might call things. Tech decides to go for it on fourth down and Nesbitt's pass went incomplete.

-- Stafford hits Kenneth Harris for 31 yards to the Tech 36. Not sure if Stafford is intentionally getting the seniors involved here, but he's definitely doing a good job of it.

-- Josh Davis is back in and was whistled for a false start, the Dawgs' first penalty of the day. Looks like Anderson might be used in red-zone situations and Davis the rest of the way.

-- Third-and-13 and I'll give you one guess what Bobo does... if you guessed a draw to Moreno, you win! Your prize: A copy of the cocktail napkin Mike Bobo has all his third-down options drawn up on.

-- Nesbitt's pass on third down is overthrown and Georgia gets the ball back quickly. I think far more interesting than watching Tech's offense so far has been watching Georgia's defense. For the most part, so far, the Dawgs have done a nice job avoiding the cut blocks, which has been a huge problem for them this year, and staying on assignment. If Georgia holds Tech's offense in check today, someone needs to take the whole scout team out to dinner for helping prep the D for this game.

-- Stafford had A.J. wide open on second-and-13 but Green stumbled going across the middle and the pass sailed wide. Have to wonder what effect -- if any -- the wet field might have.

-- Here's how Georgia loses this game: Stafford throws a perfect pass... right to Tech's Morgan Burnett, who returns it for a TD. Burnett leads the nation in INTs. That's one of -- if not THE -- worst passes of the season by Stafford. Tech botches the PAT. SCORE: Georgia 7, Tech 6.

-- Nothing doing for Georgia's running game after Moreno's first two runs. The Dawgs need to get something going on the ground.

-- OK, so you're bummed about the pick-six? THIS will cheer you up a bit.

-- Stafford sidearms a pass to Moreno who picks up 15 for a first down. I'm not sure why it took so long for Moreno to become involved in the passing game, but he's shown just how dangerous he can be the past few weeks.

-- False start flag on Georgia. Tech's Robert Hall gives Knowshon a little extra push after the whistle, which Knowshon didn't take too kindly to. Moreno gains 11. End of first quarter with the score Georgia 7, Tech 6.

-- One of the loudest ovations you'll hear at Sanford Stadium for Larry Munson, who is being honored on the field. He's surrounded by reporters as he's presented with an oil painting from the school. The highlight reel of Munson's most famous calls was a nice touch.

-- Stafford hits Michael Moore for a 20-yard gain to the Tech 13. Nice job by Stafford to hit Moore in stride and a great job getting open by Moore, who has shown some real flashes this season. It'll be interesting to see if he can step into a more significant role next season.

-- Virginia and Va Tech tied at 7 in the first. GT has to be doing a little scoreboard watching, despite the supposed focus on the task at hand.

-- Stafford to Massaquoi for a 13-yard TD. Two TDs so far, both to seniors. SCORE: Georgia 14, Tech 6.

-- Well, Roddy Jones seems to be the one guy on Tech's offense Georgia can't stop. He picked up 36 yards on a play in which everyone on the UGA defense forgot to cover the pitch man. Jones has 58 yards on four carries.

-- GT freshman Marcus Wright just laid a merciless block on Rennie Curran that cleared out the entire middle of the field for an 8-yard run by Nesbitt. Impressive. You won't see Rennie get pushed back like that often. First-and-goal at the 4 for Tech.

-- Pitch to Lucas Cox and no one was home for Georgia. Easy TD. Tech goes for two and Nesbitt has nowhere to go. SCORE: Georgia 14, Tech 12.

-- Darryl Gamble is out with a right hamstring injury and is questionable to return.

-- Munson-Zeier, Munzenmaier. Munzenmaier, Munson-Zeier. Hmmm.

-- Yes, those are the things we talk about in the press box.

-- Stafford to Massaquoi for 23 yards. Apparently Mass did such a good job catching the ball, they decided to let him throw. He took the handoff from Stafford and threw down the right side for A.J. Green. A Mass-to-Green TD would've been an appropriate sendoff for Mo, but it was not to be.

-- Stafford hits Massaquoi who splits two defenders and takes it to the end zone. That's four catches for 96 yards and two TDs for Mass in his final Sanford Stadium game. SCORE: Georgia 21, Tech 12.

-- A side note on the receivers: A.J. is now 78 yards shy of setting Georgia's all-time record for receiving yards in a season. Mass is now 174 yards shy of becoming only the third 1,000-yard receiver in team history.

-- Nice play by Demarcus Dobbs to get to Nesbitt for no gain on third-and-3. That's a big three-and-out for the Dawgs. The offense really needs to tack on another score here and give the team some breathing room. Georgia has easily looked like the better team so far, but Tech has been relentless in coming back.

-- Stafford had Green wide open for a TD, but underthrew him, causing him to come back for the ball. Of course, even that was negated by a holding call on Cordy Glenn. Stafford hits Moore on a slant on the next play, however, to get the Dawgs back to the original line of scrimmage.

-- OK, remember how loud I said it was for Larry Munson? That was nothing compared to the boos the refs received for a brutal intentional grounding call on Stafford that backs Georgia up to a third-and-19.

-- Darryl Gamble is back in the game.

-- Jonathan Munzen-Dwyer picks up 11 for Georgia Tech to set up a third-and-8. Nesbitt keeps it but has nowhere to go. Demarcus Dobbs has done a really nice job of getting off blocks and keeping tabs on Nesbitt.

-- Clemson 24, South Carolina 0. I think that adds a lot of credence to my argument that Tech would clearly be the best team Georgia has beaten this year should the Dawgs win today. BTW, Virginia is up 14-7 on Va Tech.

-- Dawgs will start at the Tech 44 with 1:23 to play. I smell a QB draw here somewhere.

-- Consecutive passed broken up by Tech. Michael Johnson batted one at the line of scrimmage, and Mario Butler batted one away from Green on second down. Stafford hit Massaquoi for a 16-yard gain on third down though --- that's 112 yards receiving in the first half for Mass.

-- Green hauls in another first-down reception and gets out of bounds at the Tech 29. Wonder how long a FG Walsh would get a crack at?

-- And it's a Shaun Chapas special -- a big gain, then bounced out of bounds inside the 5. Chapas must've forgotten to take his Claratin this morning because his end-zone allergy is acting up again.

-- Touchdown No. 3 for Massaquoi. Nothing like having your best game in your last game. SCORE: Georgia 28, Massaquoi 18, Tech 12.

-- Mass's three TDs ties a school record. The last time it was done was by Terrence Edwards against Kentucky in 2002. He has six catches for 114 yards today. Think he'll be missed next year? By the way, the Green countdown is now at 65 yards to tie Edwards' school record.

-- This news just shooting down the series of tubes: Sly Croom was fired as Mississippi State's head coach. That was sort of inevitable after yesterday's rotten egg bowl. Something tells me he won't be posting his resume on Monster.

-- Reshad Jones picks off his fourth pass of the season to end the half. SCORE: Georgia 28, Tech 12.

THIRD QUARTER

-- Some halftime numbers: Georgia is 3-of-3 in the red zone, a nice change of pace. They're also 4-of-7 on third-down conversions, an area they had really been struggling in. Stafford was 15-of-22 for 271 yards in the first half. Nesbitt, meanwhile, was 0-for-5 passing after completing his first attempt for 19 yards. In case you're bad at math, that means Georgia has outgained Tech through the air by 252 yards in the half. Overall yardage numbers: Georgia 318, Tech 142.

-- You have to wonder how much better Georgia's defensive stats might look if Blair Walsh could keep his kicks in bounds. Tech's special teams are brutal, too, yet you don't even give them a chance to make a mistake. Just awful.

-- Well, that's how Tech operates. Dwyer for 60 yards, then caps it with a TD run. SCORE: Georgia 28, Tech 20.

-- Matthew Stafford looked like a pinball in the end zone on third down, but his pass to a wide open Mo Mass fell just short. Tech's pass rush has been solid today. That three-and-out follows the script for Georgia that ends in a disastrous loss. The Dawgs need to do something to flip this momentum. That probably means a turnover.

-- Tech starts its drive on its own 44. Man, Georgia's been at a field-position disadvantage pretty much all year. Darryl Gamble is being looked at on the sideline again.

-- Tech's Anthony Barnes is literally being carted off the field (on a highwire). Tech's linebacking corps was already depleated, and it doesn't look like there's much chance Barnes returns.

-- Speaking of injured linebackers, Dannell Ellerbe looks to be in a good bit of pain on the sideline as he stretches what could be a leg cramp.

-- Corvey Irvin makes a nice tackle on a QB keeper on third-and-2, but Tech will go for it on fourth. Nesbitt keeps again, and this might be close. Got it by the nose of the football. Measurements always amuse me because every aspect of it is so arbitrary.

-- Second-and-10, Nesbitt goes to the end zone. Two flags: Asher Allen clearly interfered with the pass, and the Dawgs were offsides as well. Automatic first down for Tech to the UGA 8-yard line.

-- Tech springs it out laterally and Georgia can't keep containment. Roddy Jones dives in for the touchdown. Nesbitt keeps it for the two-point conversion to tie the game. Ugly turn of events for Georgia. It will be interesting to see how the defense comes back on Tech's next series. Will they react like they did at Florida where they hung their heads? Or will they come up strong like they did in the fourth against Kentucky? Either way, the offense probably needs an answer. SCORE: Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 28.

-- Tech's dancing on the sidelines. Not hard to see why. All the momentum is over there right now.

-- Richard Samuel fumbles the kickoff, recovered by Tech at the UGA 22.

-- I've seen this team play all year, so I felt comfortable saying Tech would score on their first play. They, of course, did. This defense does not react to adversity. They roll over. They've done it all year. SCORE: Georgia Tech 35, Georgia 28.

-- Richt has the entire team huddled at the 50 yard line. I've not seen this before. He's going from side to side barking orders before the team splits up. This should be interesting.

-- Logan Gray just went after Tony Garside on the kick. Not sure what that was all about. Georgia gets the ball at its own 34. The offense needs an answer here.

-- Massaquoi continues his dominance with a 10-yard gain. Moreno, on the other hand, has had very little running room after his first series of the game.

-- Stafford scrambles and runs out of bounds on third down. Georgia will punt. This is a game-deciding drive, I think. The defense needs to make something happen here. A Tech score could be the final nail in the coffin -- for the Dawgs today and maybe Willie Martinez's career here.

-- Tech has outgained Georgia 138-11 in total yardage so far this half.

-- Demayrius Thomas and Prince Miller exchanged some words. There has been a ton of back-and-forth between these two teams today.

-- On third-and-4, Roddy Jones goes outside and finds all the room in the world. It's a gain of 62 -- Tech's second 60+ run of the half. Ug-ly. Jones has 153 yards on 11 carries.

-- Nesbitt completes his first pass since Tech's first play of the game -- to a tackle. It's technically considered a rushing play, which brings up a fourth-and-1 at the Georgia 11. Tech will go for it...

-- ... And no they won't. Tech calls a timeout and comes back out with their FG unit. Blair connects to boost Tech's lead to 10. SCORE: Georgia Tech 38, Georgia 28.

-- Georgia fans probably wish Mo Mass could play defense right now. He picks up 11 more yards to give the Dawgs a first down at their own 31.

-- And add another 13 to that. He has been a one-man wrecking crew today. I guarantee you if they lose, he won't be talking about his big day though.

-- Holding against Georgia sets up a first-and-20. It's hard to fault fans for being upset. Every week, with the exception of Arizona State and to a lesser extent LSU, it has been the exact same story. This team has made zero marked improvement over the course of the season, and that has to fall onto the coaching staff. I've said all year I didn't think any significant overhaul of the staff was in order at year's end, and maybe it's not. But I do think after this is all said and done, Richt needs to take a long look at this year and find out where things went wrong, and if he's only pointing to the injuries and the "tough" schedule, he's doing everyone involved with this team a big disservice.

-- Screen pass to Moreno (why don't they do that more?) gets back to the Georgia 46 to set up a crucial third-and-9. Stafford's pass intended for Harris is broken up and Georgia will punt.

-- If this really is Knowshon's final game at Sanford Stadium, it won't be one he wants to remember. He has just 62 yards on 16 carries in the game.

-- Third quarter numbers: Georgia had 35 yards of offense. Tech had 201. Yikes.

-- Big stop by Georgia on third-and-6. The one thing Georgia has done a good job of doing is containing Nesbitt, but Dwyer and Jones have had a field day. The Dawgs' defensive MVP today has probably been Akeem Dent, who has managed his assignment against Nesbitt extremely well.

-- Logan Gray returns the punt to the Tech 41. That may have been the break Georgia needed. This is a must-score situation. BTW, the Jumbotron scoreboard is turned off. I can tell by the position of the sun, however, that there is 11:39 remaining.

-- Va Tech beats Virginia 17-14, so no ACC title game for Georgia Tech. Seems like something they should announce over the PA.

-- Another 9-yard completion to Massaquoi. That's his 10th reception of the day. 10-157-3. Wow.

-- In a shocking turn of events, Massaquoi can't come up with a low pass from Stafford. On fourth-and-short, Stafford comes up just short on a QB keeper up the middle to bring up fourth-and-inches.

-- Knowshon Moreno goes around the left end and takes it to the house. He was bound to make his presence felt eventually, and that was a huge play. He dragged Mario Butler into the end zone with him. SCORE: Georgia Tech 38, Georgia 35.

-- Nesbitt keeps and is tackled by Ellerbe. He's slow to get up, laying on his back as trainers attend to him at the 35-yard line. Nesbitt has 19 passing yards today and 33 rush yards. Jaybo Shaw in the game now.

-- Shaw keeps and picks up one. It's third-and-4, and the crowd is as loud as they've been all day.

-- Pitch to Jones picks up the first down. I can't figure why Tech doesn't run that every play. Georgia has yet to stop it. First-and-10 at the Tech 43.

-- Two straight runs up the middle pick up a combined three yards. Third-and-7 at the Tech 45.

-- Once again, the pitch goes to Jones and once again, no one is home. He picks up 11 and then breaks a tackle along the sideline, taking it to the end zone for a touchdown. What exactly was Georgia's defense doing during the bye week? Because they seem like they have no idea how the triple option works. Jones has 214 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. SCORE: Georgia Tech 45, Georgia 35.

-- Apparently all the talk about assignment football the past two weeks was just talk. Whoever has been assigned to Jones today might as well have just stayed at home and kept his uniform dry. Just awful.

-- Moreno keeping things interesting. Another screen pass gains 22 yards. Moreno has 50 yards on three receptions and 144 all-purpose yards.

-- A hold against Josh Davis pushes Georgia back another 10 yards and negates a first-down grab by A.J. Green. Stafford's next pass is batted and nearly picked off but falls incomplete to set up a second-and-20.

-- Massaquoi catches the ball at the 45 and wills his way to the 38. This kid is the only reason Georgia is in this game. 11 catches for 180 yards now.

-- Personnel confusion forces Georgia to use its second time out with 5:07 to play.

-- That screen pass works like a charm. Moreno bobbled the reception, which may have cost him the score. Nevertheless, the play gains 24.

-- Caleb King gets his first carry since missing a block against Florida. He gains 1, and Stafford throws incomplete to Goodman in the end zone to set up a third-and-9. Given Blair Walsh's struggles, this is probably four-down territory.

-- Stafford to Green for the touchdown. Man, you really have to wonder how good this team might have been with a defense that was able to live up to the offense's lofty standards. That South Carolina game when the D bailed out Stafford and Co. seems like a long, long time ago. SCORE: Georgia Tech 45, Georgia 42.

-- That TD pass puts Stafford over 400 yards for the game. Meanwhile the special teams continue to play poorly. Tech will start its drive at its own 44.

-- Tech has struggled in two areas this year: Turnovers (they've averaged three fumbles a game) and special teams. Today, they've had great field position throughout and their only turnover was Nesbitt's Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half. He's back in the game, by the way.

-- Nesbitt keeps and narrowly picks up a first down on a third-and-4. That was probably the stop Georgia needed. I'm headed down to the sideline for the rest of the way.

4 comments:

Warren T said...

doesn't look like the team huddle did much good. kind of like his/his staff's motivational coaching all season long.

Anonymous said...

David: Feel free to ask Coach Richt or Martinez why we covered ineligible receivers down the field all day. Interesting strategy to say the least.

Travis Eckhart said...

i was worried going into today because of 1 thing. Defense. And that should be the key word for the next 4 weeks until bowl time.

Our offense is winning us games, but they can't win them all. Averaging almost 9 penalties a game isn't helping matters either. I've said all season that fact that we hadn't had a blowout win all year isn't a good thing. Defense needs to step up before the bowl game, and before next season. Especially with talk of offensive firepower opting to the NFL.

Brian said...

After our final score, with 4 minutes left, I believed that an onside kick was our only hope. I had no faith in our defense to make a stop and get the ball back. Its sweet that Richt believed the defense could do it, but I don't know what in the second half made him think that.

I bet Coach Richt wished we hadn't wasted those first 2 timeouts either. Does any other team take more special teams timeouts than UGA? I know everyone is down on Coach Martinez, but I think Coach Fabris is the weakest link on the coaching staff. Special teams have been a nightmare this season.

I wish I could say I was surprised that with 2 weeks to prepare, our defense still was crushed by the triple option.

Its disappointing that with Moreno, Stafford, AJ Green, and MoMass that this season turned out this way. It will be a long time before UGA has this kind of talent at these 4 skill positions again.