The downward spiral of the Georgia football offense and season continued in an underwhelming performance against rival Florida.
I did something for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party that I’ve never done this year. Hell, I had never done this for any WLOCP. I stayed at home and watched alone. I figured if Richt was changing quarterbacks midseason, I needed to change my game plan too. I was a baseball lover first, after all, so superstitions abound. Remember, this is the offense that had scored THREE touchdowns in the entire month of October going into Jacksonville. Nothing helped. Maybe it wasn’t me.
To top it all off, watching on TV at home meant I was subjected to the inept announcing of Gary and Verne, and CBS production, which meant that I missed a few plays and what was happening in the game. If I took a shot for every “How about that”, “Oh my goodness” or “Oh boy” the pair uttered, I would be writing this column from the morgue. And I went to Georgia, so you know I can handle my liquor.
From the bobbled opening kickoff return by the Gators and their missed field goal to Reggie Davis’ muffed punt return and repeated penalties for Georgia on the opening drive, the first quarter was one to forget for both teams. The first penalty, which called back a 29-yard run by Sony Michel running out of the Wild Dawg, the first offensive play from the Dawgs, was truly offensive. Georgia had two penalties on three plays in its first drive. As if to prove a point about how bad the first quarter was, after Florida pounced on the bobbled punt and scored the first touchdown of the game, they had two penalties – a block in the back and late hit, just as time expired in the first quarter.The second quarter didn’t get much better for Georgia. The lowlight was a perfectly timed over the middle pass to an open Jay Rome on 3rd-and-1 near midfield. Incompletion. Then a stuffed run on 4th-and-1, perhaps a microcosm of our season.
Like last year, Georgia faced the Gators’ second string quarterback, and again, Treon Harris provided quite the challenge for the Bulldog defense. Last year, Georgia gave up 418 rushing yards. This year, the defense was already missing starter Dominick Sanders for the first half after his ejection in the second half of the Missouri game. The defense kept us in this game for as long as they could, and it’s a very young defense. The implosion came from the offense this year, as it has the entire month of October. The difference in this game was the switch at quarterback to Bauta. I thought this could be a game-changer, as mobile QBs have given Florida some trouble this year. I thought Alabama would be a good game to put Bauta in, considering their defense has had issues stopping mobile QBs as well. The problem is, Georgia used the same playbook from its Lambert & Ramsey-led days as with Bauta. Why insert a mobile QB if you don’t use his skill-set? He was able to step up into the pocket a few times and elude a few sacks, but that was the most we saw of his legs. No quarterback keepers on short yardage plays, or designed QB runs.If you want an unusual game, the second-string quarterback for most of the year was the punter, and the starting quarterback was the third-string quarterback for most of the year whose main role has been as holder for field goal attempts. Nothing was going right for Georgia, even on the sideline. Davin Bellamy went to sit on the bench, slipped and fell, and the camera caught it for all of us to see.
Even after recovering a fumble on the Florida 25, the most the Bulldogs could muster was a field goal. At least it was kicked by Marshall Morgan, and not another backup quarterback.
The Dawgs’ best drive of the game (86 yards – two runs for 17 yards, three passes for 54 yards and a 15-yard penalty) came in the fourth quarter, and was quickly put out with Bauta’s third interception of the day. I was almost relieved that the Dawgs didn’t get my hopes up with their first touchdown since October 10 vs Tennessee so I could finish binge-watching NCIS.
While the game was over long before, Bauta’s fourth interception probably drove out the remaining few Georgia fans. There were probably a few left, like me at the end of the Alabama game. By the time the clock hit triple zero, we still had three offensive touchdowns for the entire month of October, and officially nailed the coffin shut on the season, and possibly a few jobs.