Dawgs top Notre Dame: Survival of the Fittest

September 22, 2019

ATHENS - Its hard to totally know what to make of Saturday’s win over Notre Dame. 

The Irish played about as well as they could. The game came down to the final play of the game (again). While Georgia won, the Dawgs did all they could to help keep Irish hopes alive until the bitter end. 

Folks started leaving the stadium after Georgia got up 13, but special teams before and after that left the game in doubt. I’ve got nothing bad to say about Tyler Simmons. He’s been and continues to be a heck of a player for UGA. He dropped a ball. Notre Dame (finally) scored to take seven gift points. 

It happens. 

But the punting situation is a real problem because of the lack of dependability at that position. Kirby told us earlier this year that he goes to each special teams meeting. Simmons’ mistake was a one off. Punting has been a problem for a while. 

Notre Dame wasn’t good enough to beat Georgia without some help - and special teams nearly provided that for the Irish. That entire thing has to be cleaned up. Notre Dame won special teams on a night where Hot Rod was as good as he had to be. 

We won’t know if punting has gotten situated until the pressure is on again. It just not a spot that can be trusted right now. Think I’m being picky? You were probably the only person in Sanford Stadium who didn’t groan after that punt hit the home sideline with only minutes to play in the game. 

Still, Clemson’s punter has been… inconsistent the last few years, and it hasn’t stopped the Tigers from winning it all. So there is some adjusting to be done there. 

Someone asked me Sunday morning what the game plan was, and I said I thought it was just wear Norte Dame down, and that it worked. Again, think about things in terms of Simmons “not” fumbling inside the red zone… or even if the Irish didn’t convert that perilous fourth down. Without that score this game is much more decisive a victory. 

Notre Dame only had two drives all night that went for more than 30 yards. The Irish didn’t have a first down in the third quarter. After Jake Fromm hit new freak Lawrence Cager for a 15-yard score the game really felt over… or close to it. The score really should have been 17-3 at that point, but that’s not how sports work. 

Instead, UGA had to save itself after surviving its only three-and-out of the game and the 27-yard punt. This was about grinding out a win. These Dawgs aren’t about style points. LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Clemson and Alabama might be tossing the ball all over the yard, but it's Georgia that now owns the best win in college football. 

We will see what Ohio State really has as the junior varsity portion of its schedule concludes. LSU had better get that defense rolling pretty quick because it looks about as ugly as the entire Florida-Tennessee game was on Saturday. Speaking of the JV slate - Clemson travels to North Carolina this week… the Heels just lost to App State. 

The season is still young, but these Dawgs could use the week off to get ready for what lies ahead - practices. Because Tennessee is a joke. Southern Cootlumbia isn’t much better. Auburn hasn’t looked “great”, but they continue to pick up wins. 

CBS is going to have to take Auburn-Florida in two weeks. So will that kick Dawgs-Vols to night or noon? I’m asking selfishly. I do wonder if the UGA crowd that will show up in Neyland in two weeks will bother the Tennessee offense when they are trying to work. 

Also, so much for Notre Dame “invading” Sanford Stadium. While the fans were quite loud - there weren’t many of them. The 600 level had equal amounts of red as it did Notre Dame’s 16 colors. (By the way, those gold helmets are “really” gold - I mean that road uniform really pops.)

I have to end it with the light show. That was amazing. Just plain amazing. I’ve never seen anything like that. It mattered in the game, too. Running down a hill, Sandstorm, Yell practice, Swaying in the 4th quarter or Rammer Jammer… none of those compared to what we witnessed Saturday night. 

It was like Walt Disney ate a bunch of mushrooms and said: “OK, we are going to try to simulate a full lunar eclipse in Sanford Stadium.”

Hot Rod and Isiah Wilson were going crazy - the stadium was loud, yes, but that all blends in. It’s hard for me - 19 years into this - to tell “loud” one week from the next. But that light show was the likes of which I have never seen before. 

It was amazing. 

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