Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post A product of this year’s experience

Monday November 13, 2006

If the Dawg fans you’ve talked to about Saturday’s win are anything like my friends, their first reaction to the win was probably, "FINALLY!". Georgia finally put a complete game together, didn’t blow a lead, didn’t make crushing mistakes, etc, etc. Finally. The next reaction was probably a question: "Where has that been all season?"

I have to ask though if Georgia was capable of that kind of game all season. I’m not sure they were. Were the pains of this year necessary in order to get to this point? Certainly some of it was. You actually saw Stafford learn and develop in this game. I disagree with Ching that Stafford didn’t make any "god awful throws" – there was a pass right before the touchdown screen to Lumpkin that was thrown behind and could have been intercepted. But that’s a minor quibble – Stafford was generally golden in this game, and two plays on the same drive show the payoffs of that experience.

  • After two forced fumbles while scrambling, Stafford slid safely once he had picked up another key first down late in the third quarter. He might have had more yards ahead of him, but he learned the lessons of the other two turnovers and didn’t get greedy.
  • Soon after that play, Georgia faced second down on the Auburn 9. The Dawgs lined up in the power "wham" formation with only Massaquoi lined up wide. The play was going to be a pass to MoMass isolated on the Auburn cornerback, but Auburn dropped the safety into coverage where the pass was heading. Instead of forcing the ball as he has so many times this year, Stafford saw that Auburn had perfectly defended the play, and he threw the ball out of the end zone. He strolled into the end zone on the next play to put the game away.

Stafford’s two fumbles hurt in that they cost the Dawgs two good scoring chances, but they weren’t fatal as many of Georgia’s turnovers this season have been. They were at least in the Auburn end of the field. More importantly, they weren’t interceptions. For the first time this season, Stafford didn’t throw an interception.

It also helped that Auburn’s offense (under Sooper Genius Al Borges) hasn’t been as productive this year. They managed a single touchdown against LSU. LSU has a good defense, but even Alabama’s hapless offense managed two scores. They didn’t score an offensive touchdown against Florida. They were just as impotent against Arkansas. They were pedestrian against South Carolina. Right now, Auburn fans are tearing themselves apart trying to play the blame game (trust us, guys, we’re very familiar with that). Should they have run more? They only called 16 passing plays. But you can’t run or pass when you don’t have the ball. Auburn had no drives – zero – longer than six plays. They could not convert third downs, and Georgia’s defense ended other drives. Even their scoring drives happened quickly. Because Georgia was able to hold onto the ball themselves and create some drives as long as 14 plays, 16 passing plays probably seemed like 40.

This kind of win is a big deal if the Dawgs can handle the success. The mistakes were reduced for one glorious afternoon – will the same smart decisions be there in the next game? Without the benefit of foresight, some are calling this win the official start of the Stafford Era. If he (and his team) can keep it up and also beat Tech, I’ll agree.

But above all else, beat Tech!!!


The Orange Sea parts for Stafford…again. (AP – Todd Bennett)

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