UGA stifles Auburn and looks like – dare we say it? – a good team

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart reacts as he leaves the field after defeating Auburn 13-7 in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Kirby Smart, stoic as ever. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATHENS — I can’t say I saw this coming, not exactly. Who figured Georgia would hold the raging Auburn Tigers without a first down after halftime? But I did think the Bulldogs played rather well at Commonwealth Stadium last week, and for a team that had lost four of five even a victory over Kentucky can be precious. And the power of momentum in football can never be underrated.

That sounds counter-intuitive, I know. A football team plays once a week, not every day: Where’s the momentum in that? But football teams don’t just play a game and forget it: They spend six days marinating in what just happened. If what just happened was bad, they feel chastened. If what just happened was good, they’re emboldened.

The Georgia we saw against Auburn for four quarters was a Georgia we’d seen only in snippets the past two months. This isn’t to say the Bulldogs did everything right here Saturday. On the contrary, Jim Chaney’s offense seemed hell-bent on inventing ways not to score. But there was poise and purpose on display in Saturday’s 13-7 victory. This didn’t appear a team that needed a last-second field goal in Lexington to nose above .500. This looked like — dare we say it? — a good team.

If Rodrigo Blankenship had shanked his kick at Kentucky and the Wildcats had won in overtime, Georgia would have had no reason to believe. As it happened, he didn’t and it did. That was a much bigger night for the Big Blue than Georgia, but the Bulldogs settled into that game in a way they hadn’t since … when? Oct. 1 against Tennessee? They outplayed Kentucky badly over the second half. They outplayed Auburn — except for one drive that saw the Tigers gain nearly half their 164 yards — all game.

Clearly Auburn missed Kamryn Pettway. Any team would. (Except maybe one that has Sony Michel as a backup.) Those expecting the Tigers to roll over Georgia were missing the obvious: Kirby Smart knows Auburn’s offense as well as anyone, and Smart’s team, with the exception of that wretched day in Oxford, has played pretty stout defense. That augured a closer game than the spread — the Tigers were a 10-point favorite — suggested. It did not augur what actually transpired.

Georgia ran it well, threw it well enough, defended expertly. The Tigers were lucky to be ahead at halftime — former Bulldog Tray Matthews’ interception of Terry Godwin’s unbelievably awful pass had much to do with that — and 23 seconds into the second half they were ahead no longer. Sean White threw a wretched pass himself, and another transfer (Maurice Smith, ex-Alabama) snagged it and scored.

Having pulled even, Georgia exhaled. Then it imposed its will on a team that had been laying waste to opponents. Chaney kept calling weird plays — Smart claimed he as a head coach had lobbied for such gadgets — at the weirdest times, but the failure to score an offensive touchdown wasn’t a fatal error on a night when Auburn didn’t cross midfield over the final 39 minutes.

From the time it was tied, this was always Georgia’s game to win. Gus Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee called more second-half passes (14) than runs (six) — even though White was having a horrid day/night. (Six completions in 20 attempts for 27 yards.) You’d have thought the Tigers would have been the last team in these United States to abandon the run, but that’s what happened.

Auburn didn’t have a second-half possession that lasted longer than 103 seconds; Georgia held the ball for 22:54 seconds over the final 30 minutes. The Bulldogs’ offense kept their defense off the field. Their defense kept putting the offense back on it. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Rarely does it work quite this well.

Afterward, Smart said he’d hoped things had coalesced sooner but what counts is that they eventually do. That’s true. Once Georgia lost to Tennessee, any realistic thoughts of winning the SEC East were gone. After Vanderbilt and Florida, Smart had to do some real wrangling — largely of players he’d inherited, which is never an easy task — to keep the season from falling to pieces. But Georgia has risen from 4-4 to 6-4 with a win over a Top 10 opponent. Bulldog Nation should breathe easier, if not quiet easy.

Vandy and Florida marked a bottom. In times of transition, that can happen. What’s important is that rock bottom doesn’t become the new normal. For Georgia, it hasn’t. This won’t be the season many among us — I include myself — expected, but these Bulldogs have a chance to ring in 2017 on a high note. After Vandy and Florida, that’s all anyone could have asked.

Further reading: UGA hands Smart his first signature victory.

Reader Comments 0

137 comments
OH:IO
OH:IO

Enjoy UL LA LA week dog in lex. 



DawginLex
DawginLex

Pretty sure that North Dakota St. would win the BIG. "TWO SCHOOLS, NDSU AND MICHIGAN WENT INTO THE PINK LOCKER ROOM AT IOWA. ONLY 1 CAME OUT VICTORIOUS."

OH:IO
OH:IO

@DawginLex


Last I saw Michigan is ranked #4. 


dogs? 


Right. Un.

DawginLex
DawginLex

Here is OHIO's profile: Graduated from West GA College in 1978. Always grew up a GT fan and especially hated UGA because he couldn't get accepted there and they always beat Tech. His real name is Myron. 1978 was especially painful because of the way that UGA came from behind and beat his beloved Jackets. He decided to start using the internet later in life and pretend that he is from OHIO and went to OSU because they have a better team than Tech. He thought it was smart and makes him appear to be smarter than he actually is. He did a lot of research on OSU and drops names to appear like he went to school there. Living with his Mom (which he still does), he named his cats names like Woody, Archie and Buckeye. He is 60 and his Mom is 84 but she still cooks all his meals and cleans his room. He has just received his 30 year pin for his work career at The Varsity. 

OH:IO
OH:IO

@DawginLex


Hate West GA College?


Hate Moms?


Hate cats?


Hate the Varsity? 


Hater

OH:IO
OH:IO

@DawginLex


Keep believing. 


I  give you a C- for your (lack of) creative writing. Perhaps a Jam Kemp remedial would help?

Big Wally
Big Wally

Dawgs win has TOHIO on a suicide watch.

OH:IO
OH:IO

5 or 6,


Free Twitter pub


Jeff Schultz ‏@JeffSchultzAJC  2m2 minutes ago

Jeff Schultz Retweeted John Jacobs 

I'm guessing more like 5 or 6.

Jeff Schultz added,

John Jacobs   @JohnRJacobsJr@JeffSchultzAJC @aharding1993 UGA will probably be favored by about a point.0 replies0 retweets0 likes

Big Wally
Big Wally

Dawgs upset over Auburn has some peeing in their pants.  Need a diaper there TOHIO?

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

Congrats, doggies, you will be able to enjoy some bowl in Shreveport, LA for your mighty accomplishment of being able to overcome your losses to Vanderbilt and Florida.  

Big Wally
Big Wally

@MaybeMaybeNot Stay at the kids table rookie.  Come back when you have something worthwhile to comment on.

Gomez Addams
Gomez Addams

I know that we outscored Auburn.  But is there such a thing as Electoral Points that could still take it away from us?

Big Wally
Big Wally

Hey TOHIO; speaking of AP rankings, where is the ACC Coastal?  Surely my eyes deceive me.

Big Wally
Big Wally

TOHIO; it's ok to cry, we know how upset you are.  Just let it all out, you will feel better.

Big Wally
Big Wally

TOHIO sure has his pantie's in a wad today doesn't he?   Seeing Meatchicken exposed against an "UN-UN-UN-UN" ranked Iowa team.  

Big Wally
Big Wally

TOHIO; Dawgs win really has you pissing vinegar.  Do you need to have a timeout to pout?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

After Bama.

That's right where you are, lying hypocrite--again.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@DawgNole @OH:IO


Every team is the poll is "after Bama", 


(Mrs. Landers makes a Sunday afteroon appearance).

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

Every team "is" the poll???

STILL waiting, lying hypocrite.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

You said "we" have Troy, lying hypocrite.

You don't have sheet!

OH:IO
OH:IO

@DawgNole @OH:IO



Get some air, dog is a hole. Anger and bitterness is not good for you. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

Get a life, lying hypocrite.

Constantly insulting, berating, and belittling a football program, its players, its coaches, and its fanbase is not good for anyone.

OH:IO
OH:IO

Anyone selling their UL LA LA Late November Classic tickets?

OH:IO
OH:IO

At least NC got 40. So much for that win. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

Sure as hell beats losing to 20-pt underDawg Penn St, lying hypocrite.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@DawgNole


Coach's Update:


Even the mighty MAC Toledo Rockets received votes. 


Others Receiving Votes

Houston 60; Navy 43; South Florida 43; Virginia Tech 39; Troy 28; Tennessee 20; Stanford 16; Pittsburgh 6; Arkansas 5; Toledo 3; Baylor 2; Iowa 1.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

Blog update:

The cowardly hypocrite oh:io is lying again.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@DawgNole


Remind us how many the doge were favored over Nicholls State. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO @DawgNole

Remind us how you predicted a Nicholls victory, a UNC victory, a Mizzou victory, an SC victory, a KY victory, an Auburn victory.

Lying hypocrite.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

Lowlife lying hypocrites deserve no better.

Cool indeed.

Remember, be thankful you can continue to hide.

OH:IO
OH:IO

Update:


Others receiving votes:

Houston 49, North Carolina 40, Virginia Tech 36, Tennessee 21, Navy 20, Stanford 16, W. Kentucky 11, Pittsburgh 9, South Florida 8, Arkansas 7, Iowa 4, Mississippi 2, Minnesota 1