Posted: 5:54 pm Saturday, November 19th, 2016
By Jay Black
Isaiah McKenzie runs for the history in the Dawgs win over ULL
ATHENS — Georgia had a few things to accomplish today.
- Look good in black. Check.
- Make a statement from the start. Check and check again.
- Dominate throughout. Uhh not quite.
- Win the game and keep everybody healthy for Georgia Tech. Done.
- Be comfortable enough to play the reserves in the fourth quarter. Yup.
Alright so Georgia didn’t win 50-0. At times, this game was a bit of a snoozer. But the Dawgs didn’t screw around with this team, like they have with all the other drift they’ve played this season. And one of those games, they lost.
Was it the perfect performance? Nope. Do the stats look bad? 276 rushing yards does look pretty bad. But it was a 35-21 win that was more like 35-7. The starters were only beat once and forced four turnovers. Good enough for me. Sorry gamblers, the second string cost you the spread.
“Those guys will continue to be second stringers, I can tell you that,” Kirby Smart told the UGA radio network (he’s not worried about the gamblers). “They aren’t moving up after that performance.”
Let’s throw out the 200+ yards allowed in the fourth quarter, mostly by the backups. The point is, the backups were in the game to allow all of those yards.
The last time that happened was the G-Day game. Georgia finally got to a point where it could relax in the fourth quarter. I count that as a win.
The guys that mattered slowly but surely squashed the fire of the Ragin’ Cajuns.
“I loved the start and the energy of the game,” said Smart. “That was awesome. But I didn’t like the finish of the game. I hate it when games finish that sloppy.”
The start. Well that start was pretty good, black uniforms aside. The first time the offense touches the ball, it scores. The first time the defense touches the ball, it gets an interception. The first time the punt team touches the ball, they score.
Isaiah McKenzie finally had his moment. The 55-yard TD run on the first play of the game was sweet, but the 82-yard punt return record breaker was even sweeter. The shortest guy on this team now has more total return TDs and punt return TDs than anyone that’s ever played at this school. And he’s got one year and a couple of games to go.
Nick Chubb got his 100 yards rushing for the second straight game and finally showed some of the burst we haven’t seen since the opener. Especially on his 49 yard TD catch, the longest of his career.
“Chubb runs hard, man. He’s hard to tackle,” said Smart. “I’d hate to be one of those guys out there having to get him on the ground.”
This might be the last Georgia-Georgia Tech game Chubb plays in and he’s almost his old self. The junior is trending in the right direction, along with the rest of his team. That’s a good direction to move as we all move on to the State Championship.
Chubb and Sony Michel are running the ball well again. Jacob Eason is making fewer mistakes (save his first pick in four games today), the defense is legit and the special teams that’s caused so many issues had its best game of the season. Not just returning kicks, but covering them as well.
Would Bulldog people feel better if this ended up as a giant blowout? Sure. But Georgia scored its most points of the season (which I’ll admit isn’t saying much) and had its biggest lead of the year (28 points) before this game hit garbage time.
So now it’s Tech and Paul Johnson’s offense, which Kirby Smart never truly faced while he was running the defense at Alabama.
“We had Georgia Southern when they were still running it and it’s very tough to defend,” said Smart. “You go 365 days without ever going against it.”
By the time next Saturday gets here, the Dawgs will have been state champions for 364 days. There’s a few bad memories to erase the last time the Yellow Jackets were here.
In 2016, this will be the only championship Kirby Smart can win and his team is in the proper place.
Anybody up for another blackout?