By Sam Burnham
Needless to say, the Georgia Bulldogs fought the good fight in the closing minutes Saturday evening. It wasn't always pretty but they got the job done.
Let me start with the disclaimer that I was a big supporter of Mark Richt. I was at least mildly disturbed when he and UGA parted ways. And while I still say that he was not the problem, I think it is time to be hopeful that Kirby Smart might be the answer.
The biggest takeaway from Saturday night was the last 4 minutes. Georgia managed to pull off a defensive stop, marched down the field, scored in dramatic fashion on a 4th-and-ten pass from true freshman Jacob Eason to Isaiah McKenzie, and then recovered a fumble on what could have been a big play for the Tigers. This was the same sort of break that has gone against Georgia the last few years. And while you can't really directly connect coaching to such an event, it did feel really good to see the break favor the Bulldogs for a change.
Georgia's offensive line still needs some work. And while I'd like to blame at least part of the struggle on one offensive tackle from Massachusetts, the problem wasn't limited to him alone. I think they do need Southern caliber players on the field but regardless, these guys will have to step up. Nick Chubb, who rushed for 63 yards, was not a major factor in the game and that lies mostly with the offensive line's inability to move the line of scrimmage. Given a line surge Chubb will find himself battling against linebackers and safeties and that match-up is going to favor Georgia, regardless of the opponent.
Seeing the confidence of Eason, facing his first hostile crowd and his first SEC opponent, was a strong indication of the kind of player he is becoming. He made a few errors, including an intentional grounding penalty, that were likely caused by the fact that his pocket was breaking down way too fast. He handled the crowd well. The Missouri defensive line was, at times, another story.
Isaiah McKenzie had a stellar game. He made plays when Georgia really needed them. Sony Michel and Terry Godwin also had a good night.
But for all the woes of the game, that last few minutes are where the difference was made. Georgia was down late, stopped their opponent, scored, and then had a break go their way. Those three phenomena have been elusive for Georgia in big games over the last few years.
The Dawgs have Ole Miss coming up next week and that promises to be a challenge as well. But one thing that they have in their pocket now is an experience. They have overcome adversity on the road against a conference opponent. It's a milestone. It doesn't make them invincible but it puts some confidence into the team culture. Now they know a break can go their way. They know they can make a win happen and they'll be working toward and expecting that, as opposed to wondering what might go wrong to snatch the rug from under them.
ABG went 8-2 this week on college football picks. Shoulda known better than to pick Duke and FSU. (The picks were posted to our Twitter: @BiscuitsGA )
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire