Dawgs Find a Way
An unexpected ending to a similarly unexpected season. The Dawgs capped off a disappointing 7 win regular season with a win over Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl 44-20. Believe it or not, there is a lot to talk about so here we go:
This is by far the most important category for Georgia in this game. There were more punts than first downs in the first 20 minutes of a game that was advertised as a shoot out between two high powered offenses and two not so great defenses. After A&M struck first on a TD pass from Jerrod Johnson to Jamie McCoy, Brandon Boykin took matters into his own hands with a 81 yard kick off return for a TD. The return was a Georgia record 3rd return this season which also tied an SEC record. Geno Atkins had already blocked an A&M field goal attempt which was not the end of the Aggie’s kicking woes. Boykin’s run was followed by a blocked punt courtesy of Bacarri Rambo which would be recovered by Vance Cuff at the Aggie 2 yard line. Later another miscue ensued when the A&M long snapper delivered the ball several feet over his punter’s head which resulted in great field position for the Dawgs. 24 of Georgia’s points came as a direct result of special teams play which was crucial for a team that was outgained 471 yards to 366. This was a massive improvement for a special teams group that has been criticized heavily for its lack of aggression and, more times than not, putting the offense in a bigger hole. All in all, the special teams gave the struggling offense enough of a boost to carry Georgia to a victory.
I really don’t have much to say about the offense in the 1st half that couldn’t be seen by a blind man. We seemed very lost at times and the running game just didn’t carry over from its last performance as many had hoped it might. I realize that the coaches were blaming Vince Vance’s poor performance on an Aggie coaching scheme; but he did leave for much of the game and no matter whose fault, he stunk early on. Luckily for Joe Cox and Co. the special teams created 14 points for Georgia and the Dawgs went into half time leading 14-7. I believe that the second half was exactly what I had thought it would be. The Georgia talent slowly starting to eclipse A&M. Obviously, the special teams had a lot to do with keeping the Georgia offense going but despite my frustration with the O line early on, they did not surrender even 1 sack to the nations leader in that category. Also, despite moments of seemingly inept play calling, i Really have to give some serious kudos to Mike Bobo for several plays. I think it is very fair to say that fans and Texas A&M coaches alike expected to see a lot of balls thrown AJ Green’s (my boy’s) way in his retuning game. Also as previously noted, everyone expected the running back corp to be a strong focus. Georgia faithful;however, should not have been surprised to see Aron White haul in two TD passes. Both plays were, in my mind, perfect. On the first, Georgia was 3rd and 10 and AJ Green was the left wideout. The right reciever then moved in motion which pulled the safety out of the middle of the field. All Cox had to do was throw up a nice little lob pass for the tight end Aron White for the TD. Utilizing Green as a decoy wasn’t the only trick on Bobo’s bag this game. After two straight runs, Georgia was 3rd and Goal inside the 5 and the offense lined up in a power formation with both fullbacks on the field. Again, Georgia faked the obvious play to its normal strength and a great play fake created a wide open TD pass to White. This type of play calling needs to continue next year and makes me very excited. Of course we are going to rely heavily on our super stars, but its great to know that our super stars can create plays even when they aren’t anywhere near the ball.
Needless to say, the Georgia defense came into Shreveport with a few questions. A defense that had struggled all year long would now be led by only 1 of their original staff and a few graduate assistants and to top it all off, they would be facing one of the most dangerous offenses in the Big 12. No problem. The Dawgs held an Aggies offense that averaged 33 points per game to 20, with 6 of those points being against the scrub team late in the game.Geno Atkins said after the game,”We wanted to show the world that even though we lost most of our staff that we were still going to come out and play. That was a challenge we wanted to meet.” They met that challenge well. The defense came up with two big interceptions, one by Sanders Commings and the other by Reshad Jones. The Dawgs were able to win the turnover battle for one of the few times this season and it certainly made a difference. This was no easy task for teams with coaches let alone a team without them. The time of possession for A&M wasn’t that staggering but time is irrelevant against an offense that ran over 90 plays. The Texas A&M no huddle offense is fast and eventually got into a good pace, but Georgia was able to make big plays when they were needed and did not let the Aggie quarterback overwhelm them. The Dawgs still have struggles against running quarterbacks but for now I am going to enjoy a job well done. There’s enough to talk about the two grad assistants for a whole other post but for now I will just say that they did a great job and this certainly has been a great opportunity for them moving forward. I imagine that there aren’t too many kids their age that can put “coached University of Georgia to shutting down a highly touted Texas A&M offense en route to a Independence Bowl win” on their resume. More on that later…Most importantly is the great job done by Rodney Garner. Too much to say now…more later.
It certainly wasn’t the best win of all time but it will still go down in the books as Georgia’s 4th straight bowl win, the 7th of Mark Richt’s career (7-2), and it puts Richt’s career against non-conference teams at 38-4. Pretty impressive. There is and should continue to be lots to talk about concerning the Dawgs and the rest of college football so stay tuned. Until then, Happy New Years and Go Dawgs!