Well that was...frustrating? Nerve wracking? Nauseating? Infuriating? Exhilarating? Seriously, it was like watching two totally different teams, and that really threw me out of whack as far as how I felt about the game.
Let's break it down: (why do I feel like I should be doing a dance solo right here?)
The Offense: A
Were it not for Massaquoi's two fumbles late, this would have been an A++++++++++++++. Virtually perfect game by Stafford. He was 17-27, and would have competed an even higher percentage if we had not been taking several early shots downfield on a very windy day. When the game was on the line in the 2nd half, and the offense had to score on virtually every possession, he was 9-10 for 211 yards and the game winning touchdown. That's clutch, big-time, manly quarterback play.
The receivers played very well all day, outside of Massaquoi's uncharacteristic dropsies. We seem to be having MUCH fewer problems with drops this year. Still happens occasionally, but that's going to be the case with every team.
O-line played decent enough, considering yet ANOTHER offensive tackle was lost to injury. Justin Anderson is out for at least a couple of weeks. Unbelievable.
Knowshon continues to amaze. Both of his touchdowns were just vintage...the first one, he just kept driving his feet and pushed the defense into the endzone with him. On the second one, he twisted, turned, stiff-armed, and basically just refused to give up on the play and got a TD out of it. I'm amazed every game by his balance...it's uncanny.
Overall, the offense was a thing of beauty, a joy to watch...probably the most complete game they've played all year, with the possible exception of the LSU game.
On the other hand...
Why so high, you ask? Because on three straight possessions in the 4th quarter, including 2 "quick changes" after the fumbles, the defense had to make stops and they did. Before that, I probably would have given them a Q-.
My brother put it best...outside of Rennie Curran and Asher Allen, nobody on that defense looked like they had a freaking clue as to what was going on. They looked LOST.
Our D-line was being DOMINATED at the point of attack, which meant our LB's were dealing with offensive linemen all day, and that's not a matchup our undersized linebacking corp wants.
I was watching the game on tape, thanks to the previously mentioned yard sale last Saturday, and by midway through the 3rd quarter I just started fast forwarding past UK possessions until after they kicked the extra point. It was embarassing, and too painful to watch.
I'm not going to call for Willie Martinez's head on a platter, or even for him to be fired. The man has two SEC championship rings, and enough great performances by his defenses in the past to buy him more leeway than that. I'm just a layperson, and Coach Martinez knows about a gazillion times more about defensive philosophy than I do. I will, however, say this...if we don't have the personnel (read: pass-rushing defensive ends) to run what we normally run effectively, than we have to be willing to change up. I haven't seen that flexibility from Coach Martinez.
I'm also concerned that the running QB/option attack gave us so much trouble. Ummm....what two teams do we have left on our schedule? And what type of offense do they run? Yeah. Exactly.
Special Teams: F
Let's just move on...
Some other random thoughts:
- Glad to see Chapas finally have his hard work rewarded and get a touchdown. Clint Boling's quote (h/t to David Hale's Blog): "I thought he was allergic to the end zone. I'm surprised he didn't drop it." Always nice to have the support of your teammates.
- On the heels of possibly his most complete game at UGA, the issue has to be addressed: Is this Stafford's last year as a Dawg? I would put the chance at about 98.7%. He would probably be a top 5 pick...ask Brian Brohm or Matt Leinart how smart it is to turn that down. Not to mention the fact that, in all likelihood, a new collective bargaining agreement will be in place in time for the 2010 draft, and part of that will be much tighter restrictions on rookie salaries. Which means that Stafford could come back, have a MONSTER year, and still leave millions on the table due to the new salary structure. With the average NFL career being as short as it is, it's tough to ask someone to make that kind of financial sacrifice.
Anything going in the Dawgs favor here? Maybe...if Stafford leaves after this year, he will do so having never even PLAYED in the SEC championship game, much less won it. Maybe he comes back in hopes of winning a championship? Maybe. It's not like he grew up a Dawgs fan or anything, so I don't know how important bringing a championship to UGA is to him, to be honest.
Also...I don't claim to know anything about the financial status of his family. But they do live in Highland Park, which I understand is a fairly affluent part of Texas. Since his family doesn't necessarily NEED the money (but who DOESN'T need an extra $15-20 million?), maybe he sticks around for the fun of it.
He does seem to enjoy college life:
Maybe he listens to guys like Peyton Manning and David Pollack who say that they would take nothing for their senior year now. Maybe.
The smart move, in my opinion? Take the money and run. I hope he doesn't, but there's no way I could advise him otherwise.
- Ah, Raycom...I'll sure miss you. As will AJ Bryant and Josh Anderson.