Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wednesday thoughts on shucking the Huskers

That was a great game. I admit it was much closer than I thought it would be. Nebraska may not be their old man football selves, but they are a gritty team that fought hard after a humiliating loss in their championship game. Here's some other thoughts on the 45-31 win.
  • And that's where we should begin with this Georgia team. I didn't think we fought very hard except for the last quarter. The hangover from the SECCG that I feared would linger in fact, did just that. But the 2012 Georgia Bulldogs are a very talented team. That was enough to keep things close until the defense closed the door.
  • And that talent is best exemplified by the receiving corps. They came into the game without two of their best play makers in Bennett and Brown. Early on they also lost Malcolm Mitchell to a concussion. That left senior Tavarres King, Chris Conley and Rantavious Wooten as the only scholarship players with any real experience. And yet they made clutch catches and gave Murray targets to throw to the whole game.
  • Scott-Wesley ran good routes and showed off his dependable hands. That was good to see. He and McGowan stepped up. And of course Arthur Lynch was his usual wicked self.
  • Marshall didn't figure into the final stats as much as we hoped, but he played a more prominent role for sure. The "wild-Dawg" formation was not just a fancy wrinkle. It was well designed and kept Nebraska off kilter before yielding Gurley's big touchdown run where he ran 24 yards without really being touched.
  • Still, I kept thinking they were using that formation to set something up in the passing game. However, as curious as I am to see what Marshall or Gurley can do throwing the ball, I'm glad we didn't need it to beat Nebraska.
  • Special teams were not a train wreck...and that's about all I have to say about that right now.
  • Defensively we just seemed to be going through the motions for much of the game. Part of that I think is a credit to what Nebraska brings to the table offensively. Martinez has to be contained (which took a considerable edge off our pass rush), and as much as we were able to keep Abdullah under wraps that big fullback Burkhead continually gashed us to the tune of 140 yards rushing.
  • But our defense also showed what it can do when they absolutely have to. And that's really been the story all season long hasn't it? When they want to play like potential draft picks they get exposed (read: South Carolina, Kentucky and three quarters yesterday). But when they come together as a unit it is quite enjoyable to watch, like yesterday's fourth quarter.
  • Much is made about the 2012 season's halftime adjustments, especially Grantham. Against Nebraska we gave up a relatively easy drive to open the second half. But from there on out it was all Georgia really. As I watched the second half I couldn't help but wonder how much of it was adjustments and how much was just the defense deciding to play as a team.
I might look more closely at that one day when I settle in and watch the replay. Unfortunately, I've got nearly nine months to do that. Sigh. Overall, you have to look at the Capital One Bowl as a nice end to a great season - 12 wins is something not many teams can claim. The focus for the off season will be on which (if any) underclassmen decide to stick around, how the 2013 signing class shapes up and the buildup towards what should be a difficult early test in Clemson and South Carolina to start next season.

But as you turn your attention in those directions, be sure and take a few moments to appreciate what this team accomplished. I know that I will.