Where to start on this one, eh?
Here are a few things I noticed throughout the game.
- Might as well get this out early. Yes, the officiating was bad. No, it was not to blame for UT's loss. There were some points that might not have existed if some plays were called better, but UT clearly got outplayed nonetheless. The right team won.
- The defense finally had an off night. You knew the defense couldn't handle that pace of play for every week of the season. This is the week they finally broke down.
- Nick Stephens is the long-term starter. He had his mistakes, and he got lucky that some passes weren't intercepted, but he was mentally in the game the whole time. His basic mechanics were there, his longer passes are terrific, and he didn't create problems in the 20-to-goal regions. He's a guy you can build an offense on.
- The offensive line is regressing. In the UCLA game, I noted that the O-line was solid against any rush of 5 men or fewer. Tonight, UGA got some great pressure with 3-man rushes at times. The biggest problem seemed to be the tackles, but that may just be the strongest impression in my mind, too.
- UT's D needs work on tackling fundamentals. Granted, UGA has terrific players on offense. But that doesn't negate the fact that UT did a poor job of wrapping up the ball carrier. Part of the 3rd-down conversion problem is that UGA tended to gain about 2-3 yards on every play after the first hit. Over the course of 3 consecutive plays, that alone nearly gives you a first down.
- Colquitt is a much better punter, but we need help on kickoffs. Did any kickoffs go into the end zone?
- Special teams is a train wreck. This each-coach-handles-a-piece approach to special teams isn't working. The players aren't integrated to each other. Punt return coverage is still a liability.
- Yet all in all, I feel better about the team than a week ago. We're done in the SEC race. That's now official. So now we can focus on rebuilding the team and developing for next year. (Sorry, seniors. I'm really sorry to say that.) And there are definite things to build on: Stephens; Hardesty; Creer; Berry to name a few. I have a feeling we'll see the offense grow steadily for a few weeks now. It won't be enough to satisfy people, but it should change.
- Time of Possession: UT 17:51, UGA 42:09
- Yards: UT 209, UGA 458
- Rushing Yards (net): UT 1, UGA 149
- Number of Plays: UT 45, UGA 81
- Penalties: UT 10 for 97, UGA 11 for 75