It was ugly, no doubt about it. South Carolina had their chances, but dropped interceptions and critical penalties helped steal away the upset chance. There was some encouraging things to take from the game, I think. Carolina was better than they thought I would be. I wasn't expecting a blowout but I wasn't expecting the game to be that much in doubt either.
1)Blake Mitchell really impressed me. He made some great throws under pressure. He must have been knocked down at least 10 times. The Georgia pass rush was somewhat effective, and the reason it wasn't “really” effective was Mitchell. I cringed as soon as I saw the safety blitz was on during that SC scoring drive in the second half (but I also thought Blue's rush was poor) because Mitchell had done such a good job.
2)The Georgia secondary has some questions. Tra Battle has impressed me, and I thought Jennings played pretty good. Paul Oliver got badly burned on a play that might have been a touchdown had the ball been well thrown (OTOH, Mitchell was on the run, and it's not easy to throw on the run, particularly for a non scrambler) – he had no reason not to follow the receiver there and I'm not sure why he stopped. Blue had some big hits but right now I think he's been ok and no better. The Cocks didn't run that much so he didn't get a chance to play to his strengths.
Carolina had a number of big pass plays, which is worrisome. But it wasn't always for lack of pressure (see above). Overall, I think it was a pretty good effort by the Defense. And there is still time to improve. Ely-Kelso had a good game, and I think if necessary Richt will be able to lean on the defense as in years past. I'd prefer we not have to do that, of course. The tackling on the first touchdown drive was atrocious but good outside of that. I'm not sure what happened; in fact Ellerbe should have made a play to end the drive during the first series on 3rd and 7. But he went high and slid of Turman's back on a screen (I think it was Turman; might have been the Davis kid). Go for the legs, Johnny.
3)The O-line played pretty well. However, I'll be curious to see how they perform against a deeper, more talented, defensive line that doesn't employ the “gaggle of chicks at a frat party” defensive formation. So the O-line hasn't really faced a true test yet. Shockley was pressured some but I think the line did a good job overall keeping Carolina out of his face. Brown was awesome, and Ware pretty good. The running game was excellent for the most part. Outside of one play that the staff stopped calling, and the awful busted play to start the game, the ground-attack pretty much had its way with Carolina. We just needed to recognize that earlier in the game, perhaps.
4)I'll credit the staff for recognizing that the delayed hand off, against-the-grain, play out of the shotgun was not working and they abandoned it after a couple of attempts. It was a pretty effective play for us last year, but it didn't work well against Carolina. They definitely had it scouted, but I think their defensive style doesn't lend itself well to counters/misdirection. They don't over pursue, and running right at them is too effective to need to run a play like that. And I'll credit Bob Davie for making this point, though it pains me to do so.
5)On the other hand, it would have been nice had the staff realized that going right at the Cocks was the best option. DJ Shockley had some nice completions on the first drive but he did not play well. He made some awful throws (sometimes following an awful decision to throw), and what looked like some poor decisions to run at times. A decent throw at the end of the second half nets Georgia 7 points. Also Carolina had the QB sweep bottled up after the first touchdown.
6)It's kind of spooky to think that DJ very nearly had a repeat of Q-balls awful game in 2000. But I think DJ will be fine. Unlike Q-ball, whom I was terrified of for the rest of the season.
7)Lou Holtz' prediction almost came true, but I suspect it would have been similar to someone with little knowledge of the sport who went to Georgia saying “The Dawgs will kill Boise” in week 1 and then being “correct”. He never really offered up much in the way of meaningful co0mmentary as to why Georgia would win that I saw (note that last part, please). His biggest assessment that came across my table: “Georgia has DJ Shockley and nobody else”. Nice call Lou. I suppose you missed Thomas Brown shredding the Carolina defense. And how badly Charles Johnson and Quentin Moses man-handled that O-line. Or Jarvis Jackson being all over the field. Or. . .well, it's not really worth getting into. I like having Granny Holtz around because he's good for entertainment. He's shit for football commentary. Also, he's really old. Old people are creepy, and smell vaguely of cabbage.
8)It will be interesting to see Georgia's ranking in the blogpoll this week. The blogpoll has a chance to correct some of the problems that normal polls have. I suspect there will be more people willing to drop a highly ranked team because they looked bad, even if it means putting another team in a position that seems too high.