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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fleeting Thoughts: Auburn Edition

That was a fun game to watch last night. Here are a few of my thoughts afterward, but I'm sure I'm leaving some good stuff out...

-- I had a nice day of predictions: I called a Caleb King TD, a Reshad Jones INT and a game that came down to the final play. All of it happened. I also promised you seven winners in my picks this week... and I gave you eight.

-- Willie's D looked awful early, but given the high tempo Auburn plays with, perhaps it's a bit excusable. And once the Bulldogs adjusted to the speed of the game, the D was much improved. Auburn had 156 yards on its first two drives and just 197 the rest of the way. Talking to Willie after the game, he said the three-and-out Georgia forced on the Tigers' third drive -- one that started at the Tigers' 45 -- was the key to the defensive revival.

-- Give Willie a ton of credit for this, too: After what happened with Bacarri Rambo with two plays left to go, it would have been very easy for Georgia to fall apart. Emotions had to be running high. Auburn had plenty of time to draw up a play for third-and-11. The Bulldogs' focus could have been far from the task at hand. The air had been let out of the building. And yet Willie had his boys ready.

-- Speaking of Rambo, that was a scary few minutes, but credit Georgia's medical staff for taking every precaution necessary. And credit Rambo for being one tough customer.

-- There were plenty of boos from the crowd early in the game, but I will say this: If I were a recruit and I heard the reaction the fans gave Rambo and the energy that was in the building those final few plays, I'd be ready to commit right then and there. It was a lot of fun to be in Sanford Stadium last night.

-- I hope fans will be as enthusiastic at Senior Day next week when Joe Cox is introduced. No, he's not the best quarterback who has ever played at Georgia. And yes, he's made some bad (and dumb) throws this season. And yes, that big pass to Orson should have been an INT. But that kid loves Georgia, and he's done a heck of a job of keeping his young teammates' heads in the right places and has led five big comebacks already this season. A lot of what we were told about Cox was probably overstated, but his leadership was not. He's going to be a heck of a coach one day.

-- Four penalties and they won the turnover battle? Um… was that Georgia we watched?

-- Most humorous part of the game? That was definitely when Richt tried to send Vince Vance in to replace Josh Davis after a false start penalty and nearly got flagged for having too many men on the field before Vance ran right back off again. Yeah, I get why he abandoned the plan.

-- Israel Troupe. Didn't see that coming.

-- Want a reason to be excited about Georgia's future? Well, there are plenty, but the success of Caleb King and Washaun Ealey the past four games should be at the top of your list. Both ran exceptionally hard and both averaged more than 5 yards per carry.

-- OK, small bad news: We have two more bad kickoffs at crucial times to add to "The List."

-- Auburn ran the ball pretty well early but ended up at just 3 yards per carry.

-- Chris Todd had thrown just three picks all year, and Georgia added two to that total Saturday. Probably could/should have had two more.

-- Three more sacks for the UGA defense -- Geno Atkins, Justin Houston and Cornelius Washington -- and nine more TFLs. Suddenly getting pressure doesn't seem like such a problem.

-- Akeem Dent finished with six tackles -- 1.5 for a loss -- and got his first start of the season. A healthy Dent adds a lot to this D.

-- Rennie played his best game in weeks, finishing with 12 tackles. Sometimes those tackle numbers are a result of Curran being the only player in position to make a tackle or chasing down other players' misses. Saturday, Rennie was a playmaker.

-- Much will be made about the Rambo injury, but you have to feel for A.J. Green, too. The kid was in line for a truly special season and now there's a chance he won't play again until the bowl game. He has just six catches for 69 yards since Oct. 17, and that's not the way his season is supposed to end.

-- Speaking of that bowl game though -- The Outback Bowl doesn't seem so out of reach anymore. With Tennessee's loss and Georgia's win, the Bulldogs are in the driver's seat for second place in the East. The Outback could still pick UT over Georgia if the Vols finished within a game of the Dawgs at year's end, but it would be a close call. Either way, I think we can officially write off Shreveport, and maybe Nashville, too. Assuming the Dawgs take care of business against Kentucky.

-- And finally, I wanted to end with this story: I did a story for Scout's Dawg Post magazine a few weeks ago on Rambo, back before he was really getting any playing time. I asked him, more out of my own personal curiosity, what kind of reaction people typically had to his name. We talked for a bit about how easy it was for everyone to remember, and how it lent itself to some good in-game crowd comments. He told me how much he was looking forward to laying out his first really big hit -- the first one that everyone would remember -- and he had envisioned it happening and the crowd cheering for him -- Rambo! Rambo! Rambo!

It was an incredibly electric moment as the crowd cheered for him as he was carted off the field and he raised his arm to let everyone know he was OK. It was electric because it had been so scary before we knew his status. It was electric because the energy in Sanford Stadium was as high as it has been all season. But more than anything, it was so powerful because I couldn't help but remember him telling me about how much he'd looked forward to the moment when the crowd would cheer his name. I just hate that he probably doesn't remember much of the play that brought those cheers from the fans.

Nevertheless, that play saved the game, and I'm pretty sure we'll hear "Rambo! Rambo! Rambo!" a few more times before his career at Georgia is over.

16 comments:

Michael said...

Rambo! Rambo! Rambo!

herschell blogger said...

David, what a game that was!! I'm ridiculously giddy and I plan on going upstairs and posting all about this game on behindthecolumns.wordpress.com in a bit. but let me just say that for once, its damn good to be a georgia bulldog this season. I've never felt more joy connected to the bulldog nation than I do right now. Here's to the remaining games. Let's run all over kentucky and piss on the north avenue trade school nerds in a couple weeks! Go dawgs!!

Brantley said...

No, the most humorous part of the game was Chris Todd hitting his right guard in the flats.

bnwdog said...

David,

Kickoffs in general cause every teams problems at some point. The NCAA changed this rule for a reason, Create Exciting plays! I see the issue for UGA being one more of coverage than the kick. The kick returned for a touchdown came down at the one and had good hang time. Our coverage men and the return man crossed paths at the 10 or 15.

All in all, great effort DAWGS. Finish the Drill! The future looks bright, I don’t care what any of the doubters say. I suffered through far worse than this season as a student from 1995-2000. And lived through torment from Tech, TN and AU Fans for what seemed like 10 straight years. Since graduating I have celebrated 2 SEC Champs, and three Sugar Bowl Trips. The list goes on and on. Anyone complaining about that can KMA!!!! And Mark Richt's too, though he probably wouldn’t say that? Sorry David, had to vent. A couple of my friends are driving me crazy with their incessant ranting.

Anonymous said...

The team is playing better and it looks like we are going to be okay. I do however still hope we make some coaching changes for next year. Our defense still needs to play at a higher level. If Mark can't bring himself to fire CWM then demote him back to defensive back coach and hire a top notch DC. I would also love to CMR start coaching special teams and make it a big deal to be on this team. Make it like a special forces squad ot SWAT team. We need to some things to bring an identity to this team. Remember "attitude reflects leadership".
We can definitely beat Kentucky but we need to begin to devise a plan for yeller jackets soon. We can definitely score on them, but can we stop them more than they stop us?

Anonymous said...

I am really proud we beat Auburn, but make no mistake Willie still needs to go, otherwise the future is not bright or at least not as bright as it could be.

bnwdog said...

Could not agree more on the defensive side of the ball. We cannot not give up 35-40+ points on a regular basis and expect to compete for championships. I think everyone can rest assured that changes will occur at the end of the season, and will be done so in a tactfull manner with a great deal of class. The AD and Pres cant continue to take the heat they are getting, I assure you there are some major donors bending their ears. I just hope the change is significant and we pay what is required for a proven and talented DC. Re-establishing a dominant SED D with the young talent we have will yeild results in the near future!!

The Watch Dawg said...

David, it's funny that you said that about if you were a recruit in the stadium last night... I said the same thing after the game to a friend. That was a nervous and scary 12 minutes, but it was as if all 92,000+ were chanting his name and willing him to get up. The applause he got when going off the field was really special... gotta be hard to not fall in love with Georgia if you're a recruit in the house last night. Especially with the way the team (and the crowd) responded after Rambo's injury for those last 2 plays.

ChicagoDawg said...

It is not an overly complicated deal, fandom and media fixations on schemes/coaches notwithstanding, when you eliminate penalties, win the turnover battle and run the football you win games. This has been a winning formula that worked for Bryant, Neyland, Dooley, Dye, et al.

p.s. -- Did you see Caleb King truck the Auburn LB #21 Freeman? He has been running with surprising authority this year, but that was the most physical run of the year by any GA back. Encouraging.

Anonymous said...

Boykin is going to be a superstar. He looked like Curran and he is a first year starter CB. Stud to be

Coach Buckle said...

The scariest moment last night was not the Rambo injury....but the intense hug Richt gave Martinez after te final stance...signaling Willie ain't going anywhere!

I have friends who have emphatically stated Richt is not going to terminate Willie....as I have emphatically countered with Willie's days are numbered.

Unfortunately folks....he's here as long as Richt is. Last nights emotional hug confirms!

brad said...

Coach Buckle, I felt it was a Godfatheresque hug. I HOPE it was a Godfatheresque hug!

Anonymous said...

David,

Loved the "Let's Go Bowling" blog. Any way you could update that with the changes after this weekend's games??

JONATHAN ASHER said...

David,
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Richard Samuel was in for the first play last night at RB. Nobody seems to be mentioning this.

Dustin said...

David,

If or when you watch the replay look at the 9:43 mark of the 3rd quarter. Justin Houston just made the sack on Todd and when the D goes to the sideline CWM comes to Reshad and starts saying something to him and Rennie comes up and kinda gives CWM a shove...was I the only one to see this on ESPN?

ChicagoDawg said...

Dustin -- I saw this and it was clearly just sideline chest-bump, head-slappin' style celebration and nothing more -- enthusiasm and testosterone. Martinez jacked Boykin earlier with hard stiff-arm type of deal to the face mask as they were celebrating the INT.