I hate to be Statler and Waldorf here, but last night's game, while certainly emotionally satisfying for Georgia fans, could have some negative repercussions. The first is obvious: Mark Richt decides that the defense isn't broken, so he keeps Willie Martinez out of an admirable sense of loyalty and a misguided sense that a good performance against the Jackets carries more weight than the disastrous performances against Tennessee and Florida.
The second is a related point: Richt and Mike Bobo decide that the way to go in the future is straight-ahead power football. Their strategy worked last night because: (1) Georgia's offensive line was bigger and more talented than Tech's front seven; (2) Georgia collectively played with their hair on fire in a season-saving performance; (3) Tech foolishly left too few players in the box against the run for too long (watch the first drive again and count how many times Tech had six in the box against Georgia's one-back, two-tight end formation); and (4) Tech's defense is bad and can be pushed around by a decent offense. That strategy is damn hard to replicate in the SEC. SEC defenses are not so easily pushed aside and they are coached by coordinators who will take the run away. I'm not saying that Georgia shouldn't try to run the ball in 2010. With two good backs, an improving offensive line, and a redshirt freshman quarterback, Georgia is going to have to be good at establishing the ground game. However, the Dawgs need to avoid the temptation to get too ground-heavy. I lived through years of Lloyd Carr coaching as if he had Charles Woodson and the '97 defense, even when he had shoddy corners and Tom Brady. I have some experience with coaches overreacting to a successful strategy. Richt and Bobo will have to resist that urge.
Other random thoughts:
- Demaryius Thomas ought to take solace in the fact that Tech would not have been in the game without him. That said, I think we have resolved the Thomas/A.J. Green debate, to the extent that there ever was one.
- I feel very happy for Reshad Jones.
- After the disaster that was the Bolerjack/Beuerlein team for the Iron Bowl (more on that when I have a moment), it was nice to hear McDonough and Millen do a professional job calling the game. It's nice to have the basics, like yardage and down and distance relayed properly.
- I generally think it's a bad idea to ever second-guess the way that Paul Johnson runs his offense, but the four straight pass plays to end the game seemed a little desperate. Tech had time to keep running the ball, but they ended up playing their weakest cards. That said, the call on fourth down was excellent.
- The game reminded me of the 2001 Georgia-Georgia Tech game, which I remember as the night that Georgia sent Verron Haynes between the tackles about 72 times and he kept piling up yardage against an undermanned defense.
- The future of the ACC in one question: does Frank Beamer fix his consistently underperforming offense before Paul Johnson recruits enough talent on defense that Tech moves from bad to decent on that side of the ball.
- I always thought that Florida State's success against Florida in the 90s was a little hollow because the Seminoles always played the Gators in the former's last game of the season, whereas the latter usually had to have one eye on their in-state rival and a second on the SEC Championship Game one week later. This week's games illustrated this phenomenon all over again. In a little dose of irony, Florida State was nowhere near capable of taking advantage of Florida peeking ahead to Alabama. By all means, Bobby, come back for another year!