The big game is no contest: Georgia routs Mississippi State

Roquan Smith wrecks Nick Fitzgerald. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

ATHENS — One set of Bulldogs lost 11 yards before its second snap. The other set had seven points before its second snap. One band of Bulldogs came ready. Guess which.

The set of Bulldogs based in Clarke County had dropped hints over the season’s first three weeks, but this was more than that. This was something approaching a declaration. Georgia is way better than it was a year ago. It could be better than any Georgia team since 2012, a season that came down to a tipped ball on first-and-goal from the Alabama 8.

As it stands, Georgia looks like the team that will face Bama in Atlanta for the SEC title. Yes, there are miles to go – including jaunts to Knoxville and Nashville the next two weeks, not to mention the usual fun ’n frolic in Jacksonville – but these Bulldogs have improved with every game, which is saying something given that its No. 1 quarterback was lost on the third series of Week 1. There’s also this: Georgia might have just whipped the best team it’ll see before December.

This one never felt close. Georgia led 7-0 after 2:23, 14-0 after 8:24, 21-3 not three minutes into the second half. It would win 31-3. Mississippi State had obliterated LSU seven nights earlier, but Georgia isn’t LSU. More to the point, Kirby Smart isn’t Ed Orgeron. Smart’s team was primed for the occasion – fast and furious but focused, too.

Even Jim Chaney, the unloved offensive coordinator, had a big night. First Georgia snap: Nick Chubb took the ball from Jake Fromm and then, as Todd Grantham’s fly-to-the-ball defense flew to the ball, Chubb turned and shoveled it back to Fromm, who threw deep to an unencumbered Terry Godwin. That’s a play that mightn’t have worked against a read-and-react opponent, but Chaney apparently watches game film. On its first snap, his team took a lasting lead. Can’t beat that with a stick.

Then, believe it or not, Chaney got even cuter. On Georgia’s next possession, he deployed Chubb and D’Andre Swift in a two-back set, and not the I-formation with fullback and tailback. This was a two-halfback thing, last seen in the days of Amos Alonzo Stagg. With State again flowing toward Chubb, Swift took the ball and went rumbling. Then Fromm threw to Javon Wims over the middle.

If you’re keeping score at home, that made three Georgia snaps for a total of 87 yards, the shortest gain going for 12. Except for the part where he flipped the ball to his quarterback, the great Chubb hadn’t touched it. Finally, with Grantham not knowing whether to spit or wind his watch, Chubb burst for 16. Five plays later, he was in the end zone. Great play-calling.

The quarterbacking wasn’t bad, either. Fromm’s first incompletion came in the third quarter. His first nine completions were were snagged by seven different receivers. This might be an unfair comparison – the Georgia QB wasn’t facing the Georgia defense – but Fromm, from Houston County High, was clearly more composed than State’s Nick Fitzgerald, from Richmond Hill, Ga. The latter is a junior, the former a freshman.

Indeed, it was Fromm who delivered the clincher. After Deandre Baker intercepted a Fitzgerald pass midway through the third quarter, Fromm waited for tight end Isaac Nauta to shake free deep, which took so long that you wondered if the quarterback had waited too long. Nope. He delivered, absorbed the hit and scurried downfield to congratulate Nauta for making a budding blowout into the thing itself.

Georgia was ahead 28-3, but there was no way this football team from Georgia was blowing a 28-3 lead. What we saw in Sanford Stadium was domination. What we saw was Georgia playing the way Smart has hoped it would play but hadn’t so far. State is a strong bunch. Georgia was stronger. Most everything Georgia tried worked. Almost nothing did for State.

Whenever Fitzgerald would complete a dinky pass, a defender was attached to the receiver’s sternum. Fitzgerald threw 18 times in the first half; only one of his 10 completions gained more than 12 yards. This was State on first-and-10 in the first quarter – minus-6 yards, 2 yards, incompletion, 5 yards, incompletion, no gain. Six snaps, 1 yard. Domination.

Of the Clarke County Bulldogs, State coach Dan Mullen said: “They’ve got a ridiculous amount of talent.” But when haven’t they? Saturday offered a case study: Here’s what happens when talent and effort and coaching dovetail. Here was the comprehensive performance we haven’t seen against a ranked opponent in this stadium since … when? The Blackout night against Auburn in 2007?

Recent history teaches that there’s no time more perilous for Georgia than when it looks really good. Still, it has been a while since these Bulldogs have looked like this. The defense is great. The offense is more than holding up its end. We don’t know when Jacob Eason will be ready to return – he wore his uniform and pads this night and warmed up before the game – but it’s hard to imagine Smart demoting Fromm. This team is on to something.

Yes, we’ve said that many times and been wrong an awful lot. This team might be the exception. This team looks exceptional.

Reader Comments 0

89 comments
yaluvi
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OH:IO
OH:IO

Did Tech win?

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Big Wally
Big Wally

UGA has two wins over teams in the top 25.  Hey blowhio, how many does Blowhio State have.  Hmmm?

Big Wally
Big Wally

UGA 7

Blowhio State, out of the top 10.


Need another tissue Ohio.  Oh, heck, you probably need the entire box now don't ya sport?

OH:IO
OH:IO

@Big Wally


Wow. dogs in Top 10. Exactly how long has it been? 

Falcaints
Falcaints

Dawgs against Bama, should be a great SEC championship. No one can challenge either team. The rest of the season doesn’t matter.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Falcaints  Gotta get them there first, then we'll talk about it. Right now it wouldn't be much of a match. By the end of the season.....yeah, it might be another 2012 with the Tide. But they both have to win to get there. By the way Tech is still in the thick of things. That might be another barn burner. I think Tech might have the upper hand if they played today, but by the time that game rolls around.......we'll see! No stupid predictions just waiting to see what evolves.

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maliya

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Podunkpete
Podunkpete

Mark, thanks for a needed but troubling comment. President Trump is divisive, but the country was divided long before that. Unlike Tommy Smith and John Carlos, these days athletes, like everybody else, have a platform in social media- to express a social conscience. Trump certainly uses his platform as President, the first to use Twitter. 

Kneeling during the anthem says enough for Americans to reflect upon. No gas is needed to inflame public opinion- for most, the flame is already there. It did not need any gas! For players expressing themselves this way, they have to take responsibility for their right to free speech. It takes courage of conviction, so they are to be commended for their feeling. 

However, for just one battle of many in our history, there are so many soldiers who sacrificed their lives to preserve world freedom from Hitler's Aryan Race in Normandy, from the advance of Communism and from world terrorism. To many of our dead veterans, who took the ultimate challenge in American war and conflict, the flag for which they fought , was the only part of their son or daughter that came home to their families. To their military brethren, living and dead, their allegiance is part of our national memory. This is why disrespecting both the anthem and the flag inflames the hearts of  public opinion. 

There's a limit to that patriotic feeling, however. As ruled by the Supreme Court, even flag burning is protected speech- rightly so. Our veterans fought for that right of freedom, our freedom to think differently and express it in speech and symbolism. 

We're a big enough country to hold such divergent views, but those who step into the arena bear the responsibility for what they say. The public does not need President Trump to bring the issue to the public square. It is already there.

DawgNole
DawgNole

Bout time Chaney earned that paycheck.

Love opening up with the flea flicker.

Nice to see use of the tight end for change as well.

Hope he can keep it up.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@JKToole

I don't care if we copy it from GTech, long as it works--and last night, it worked!

tipstotips
tipstotips

Every team has that play. They copied no one team.

JKToole
JKToole

@tipstotips I was merely saying that ND, for their first play of the game two weeks ago against GA they ran a flea flicker. Yesterday, for Georgia's first play against MS State they ran a flea flicker.

The strategy was the same. The difference was we defended the play and MS State did not.

Why is it so hard for some people?

Do you understand now?

hedgepruner
hedgepruner

Miss St was ranked ???? Why because they play in the sec ???? Uga has a fluff schedule, Bama would beat them by 4 TDs

FlatTire
FlatTire

Was really glad to see the plays called on offense and improvement in the o-line. Hopefully this is the trend from here on out

Big Wally
Big Wally

Hey Ohio and TO, need a tissue? Watching that blow out by the dawgs had to hurt pretty bad eh?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Big Wally

oh:io's still counting his losses. 0-5 on his UGA/ohio st picks. What a dolt.

___________

OH:IO September 17, 2017

I'm going with Miss State.

Over/Under/Spread whatever

OH:IO September 15, 2017

SaMMMMMford upsets dogs

OH:IO September 8, 2017

Prediction:

dogs lose at South Bend

Ohio State beats Oklahoma in Columbus. 

I know. I went out on a limb.

OH:IO August 24, 2017

dogs:

#15 - 3rd tier

7-5 with slim win over SaMford and a L to App State


mully55
mully55

...and we add the country's best punter next year....YESS!

james1952
james1952

You left out the tackling. Those D-Backs made great tackles every time a receiver caught a pass and they could not advance up the field. Best zone defense they've played in awhile.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Of note: Alabama's 2nd and 3rd teams blocked a tired Vandy defense better than the starters. That lefty QB at Al. is going to be real good.

Mutley
Mutley

Don't you just long for the days of Willie Martinez "wait and react defense". Richt standing frozen on the sideline staring out into space with his designer sunglasses. Losing the BIG GAME once again and smiling about it. Where are all the Richtbots and apologists that predicted doom and gloom.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Mutley  Those are the only faults I had with Richt. Richt was too soft on his teams. Kirby is too animated on the sideline. Watch Richt at Miami, he's changed....he evidently learned after being fired. I'm glad he's at Miami and Kirby is at Ga.

dawg fan
dawg fan

@TideDawg How does being "animated" on the sideline prevent him from properly coaching our team?  Please elaborate with specific examples.  Sounds like a pile of BS to me. 

TideDawg
TideDawg

@dawg fan @TideDawg  Did I say he couldn't coach. I like him and want him to be here a long time. The only BS is a stupid question like "How does being animated......" when you know the answer. No doubt you're unfamiliar with "Burn out" and "heart attack". Try again!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TideDawg: "Those are the only faults I had with Richt. Richt was too soft on his teams. Kirby is too animated on the sideline."

____________

Yup. Richt was a corpse; Kirby's hair is on fire. Would be nice to find a "happy medium" there.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@DawgNole @TideDawg  You gotta love Kirby's enthusiasm, but bottle some of it. Getting overly excited can cause mistakes. Like Florida jumping up and down and laughing after going up 28-27. I think they forgot that a field goal would beat them....and should have.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Now that Vanderbilt has taught the Tide how to play SEC football, the Tide should play a little better the rest of the way. Give Derek Mason credit, he's a good coach. He correctly instilled in his players that they could handle anybody....that's good!. The bad is he forgot to tell them to keep their mouths shut and just play the game without the taunting......don't taunt the Tide! I don't think Alabama took those comments seriously. Saban doesn't coach that way, but I imagine those comments ended up on the bulletin board. Kirby needs to learn that lesson. He's far to excitable and animated on the sideline during a game. He'll learn.....if he doesn't it will create highs and lows that don't help the team. Get angry, get happy, get excited, but keep it in check. Florida got excited, everybody was laughing on the sideline and high fiving after Fl. took the lead to go up 28-27 with a minute left in the game. I think they forgot all Ky. needed was a field goal to win the game and except for a stupid penalty Ky. would have won the game.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg I think that player PO'ed Saban...they were like Jake and Elwood, "On a mission from God"

TideDawg
TideDawg

@TOJacket @TideDawg Saban might get PO'ed with his players and coaches but I think he never loses control of his emotions otherwise. Coaches that use bulletin board material to get their players ready to play a game are not doing a good job of coaching. Coaches like Narduzzi try to get in their opponents head. If you acknowledge them they got what they wanted.......however they better have better teams than Narduzzi's.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@TideDawg @TOJacket I bet he lighs someones a$$ up at least 2-3 times a day....I have witnessed him lose his sheet on several occasions...always at the appropriate times.

TideDawg
TideDawg

The Dawgs were impressive.......Ms. St. wasn't. Fromm is gaining ground. What was a glimmer is becoming a glow. Kirby has to make sure everybody is doing their job. Add to that he has a problem with QBs.How's he going to handle the situation? Handle it wrong and he loses a QB to transfer, handle it right and he creates a QB controversy. If the Dawgs play like they did Sat. I don't see a problem with them winning the division. The tougher part of the schedule is coming up. Tn. is unpredictable, Kentucky is going to be a problem, Fl. seems to find a way to win while playing poorly. Those are the teams I think are in the mix.

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Congrats to all the troll stupid predictions from OH:IO, TO, gtcary, Edison, Logs and and any other b@tch I forgot.

Dawgs 4-0 and rolling!

@eidsonb
@eidsonb

Who is this Edison? Eidson never said MSU was going to win. Still overrated.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Congrats to Kirby and the Dawgs. Winning sets the stage for the really big game at 10RC.  

Grant1296
Grant1296

You almost had me taking Vandy and the points Wet..

Glad I came to my senses, and left that one alone...

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

@Grant1296 I was surprised with the outcome of the game......I have taken the points and the teams we played every week...2-2 in the process

Grant1296
Grant1296

NEVER take a team ya root for...

Any emotion in the thought process will lose you money...