Let me start by saying this...if you place any money on a UGA game this year (either to win or to lose), you're either much smarter than I am or you deserve to lose your money. Because I have given up trying to figure this team out.
What are we on offense? I have no idea. What are we on defense? No clue. Special teams? Great in some areas, mindblowingly awful in others.
Couple of things I do know about this team...
Number one: every single week, we are going to make costly mistakes by turning the ball over on our own side of the field, committing dumb penalties, etc. I have no faith that this is going to get better...there is too much evidence to the contrary.
Number two: there is no quit in this team. There have been UGA teams in the not too distant past that would currently be sitting at 0-4 if they had faced some of the (mostly self inflicted) adversity that this team has seen. Instead, we are 3-1, unbeaten in the conference, and all of our realistic preseason goals are still within our reach.
The weekly breakdown...
- A.J. Green, the receiver. Simply put, the greatest receiver we have ever had in the history of UGA football. Great routes, separation speed, fantastic hands, explosiveness after the catch, etc, etc...there is simply nothing about him as a receiver that is not superb.
And his best catch of the night didn't even count...in my opinion, the replays showed fairly convincingly that he dragged his right toe inbounds on the TD catch that was disallowed in the fourth quarter. To lay out and catch a ball that looked to be at least two yards out of bounds, and still have the presence of mind to drag the toe inbounds...just unbelievable.
- A.J. Green, the blocker. Watching him on downfield runs and plays around the corner, I think he may be the best blocking WR we've had since Hines. And he obviously enjoys it, which makes it even more awesome.
Really, all of our WR do a pretty good job of downfield blocking, but this is yet another instance where A.J. is leading by example.
- A.J. Green, the special teams player. May have saved the game with his Boss Bailey impersonation on the Devils last FG attempt.
My favorite part was his quote afterwards: "That's got to be my best play ever...that tops all the catches."
That is a team player, and a leader.
Thank God we have him for one more season.
- Blair Walsh and Drew Butler. I almost forgot the play of Drew, but he continues to be a huge asset, and has probably won a game or so for us already.
As for Blair, it looks like the late season struggles of last year are behind him...he's still perfect this year, and I have absolute confidence in him to go out and make kicks with the game on the line, just like last night.
- The defense. Maybe we are only going to show up against out of conference opponents (Lord, please don't let that be the case). But this looked a lot more like the defense we saw in the opener.
Even though we only got one sack, we were getting very consistent pressure all night, and made tons of plays in the backfield. Justin Houston and Geno Atkins, in particular, were making big plays all night, and Jeff Owens showed up a time or too, as well.
Bacarri Rambo responded to more playing time with a very good performance, including his first career INT...Bryan Evans has probably lost his starting job.
Take away the two turnovers that led to touchdowns (one of which the defense wasn't even on the field for), and the defense only gave up three points. The only thing that kept me from putting them in the "great"category was that we were gashed quite a bit by the "zone read" runs, especially early on, which kept the D on the field and the offense on the sideline for entirely too long.
But overall, a vast improvement...I guess we'll let Willie stick around another week?
- Caleb King. This guy should be our feature tailback. He's running hard, making people miss, and just generally looking like a big time running back.
That fumble, though...that can't happen.
- Rantavious Wootentheballcarrier. Not only was it nice to see him finally get some extended playing time, but he took advantage of it with two huge plays on third and long, including one on the game-winning drive. Not bad for a true freshman.
- Joe Cox. You know I love The Assassin, but there were just way too many bad decisions in this game. The two interceptions were both horrible throws into coverage, and he was very lucky to not have a couple more...he seemed to be throwing into two or three white shirts all night.
I think this is what we are going to get from Joe all year, honestly...there will be games like last week where he makes all the right decisions and looks great, but there are also going to be nights like this one. He makes questionable decisions sometimes, and he doesn't have the cannon arm to overcome those decisions.
Speaking of which...
- TURNOVERS. How long do you think we can continue to be on the wrong end of the turnover margin by tons and still keep eking out wins? I guess we're going to find out, because this team continues to show absolutely zero desire to value the football. As bad as three turnovers are, it could have been much worse...Joe could have had a couple more INT's and we were extremely lucky on the punt that bounced off Prince Miller's chest.
And I guess it just tells you where we are as a team that seven penalties is considered enough to keep penalties off the "ugly" list.
3-1 is 3-1. Honestly, most of us probably had us at 3-1 at this point of the season in our preseason prognostications.
But our margin for error goes away this week. If we continue to play as stupid as we have so far...costly turnovers, dumb penalties, etc...we can NOT win against LSU, or in Neyland, or against Auburn, the Gators, the trade school, etc.
However...if this is the week that we get smart, and let the talent on this team shine without self inflicted wounds...and if that change takes root, and carries on through the remainder of the season...then I truly believe that this team can still succeed far beyond our expectations.