Special Teams

Georgia vs. Alabama – could special teams tilt the balance?

Like many, I expect a pretty even matchup Monday night between Georgia and Alabama. Two complete teams with elite talent going head to head should make for an exciting game.

Not exciting like the Rose Bowl was, where dudes were scoring every time you managed a breath. But exciting as in close, and hard fought. Every yard inch will  matter. So could this one come down to special teams play?

In a word, absolutely.
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The teams are pretty even in punting and place kicking, although Rodrigo puts it in the endzone more proficiently. But there is a decided Georgia advantage in both kickoff and punt return. (via cfbstats.com)

Mecole Hardman, who has been so, so close to breaking a return all season, averages 11 yards per punt return and 27 yards per kick return. Alabama's top punt returner is Trevon Diggs who averages nearly nine yards a return and their top kick returner is Henry Ruggs who averages 18 yards.

If this evolves into a plodding game of field position, there are two things that can turn things - turnovers and punt returns. I glad we have 4 on our side. Even if he doesn't break one - and good God is Mecole overdue for that one last block!! - a nice return from inside the 20 to their side of the 50 can be a HUGE play for us.

Two more days! Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing...Go Dawgs!

Even the little things are The Main Thing

It's taken a while to digest exactly what happened. It's so much more than the game itself. It's the experience and the sheer joy you feel when you see your team come out on top on that kind of stage. After a day of thinking and reflecting I still can't come up with the words. But I highly recommend you read this Tommy Tomlinson piece on his experience and why moments like what happened Monday night are so important.

As for the game itself, it was truly an instant classic. Reminiscent of game like the 2006 Rose Bowl which served as the National Championship game between Texas and USC. But this one was our own Georgia Bulldogs! Two amazing teams with amazing talent, both who clearly wanted to be there and wanted to win.

It was a game full of huge swings in momentum from sideline to sideline, as each big play seemed to be one that would finally turn the tide for good. But then there was another, and then another. And then there was another!

I had wondered a few weeks ago if time of possession would be the key factor in stopping the Oklahoma offense and giving us our best shot. I was right about being able to run the ball effectively, I just didn't take into account how effectively we would run it. Something like three drives that took less than a minute. It was the game we knew Sony and Chubb could and should have. So glad Sony got the chance to atone for that fumble and seal the deal himself. And more on that in a minute...

But there were a couple of smaller things that also became the Main Thing. I'll leave the argument of whether the decision to squib kick it to end the first half up to the Sooner fans. But the heads up play by a former reserve running back turned reserve linebacker in Tae Crowder to instinctively snag that kick and lay on it, was amazing.

Think about how easy it would be to just go out there as a kick return specialist and simply go through the motions. Special Teams coordinator Shane Beamer mostly gives credit where it is due, to Crowder, but I'm sure they had been warned to watch for an "nontraditional" kick off. Still, to be ready to go back to your days as a Harris County HS shortstop and snag that ball ended up being a game changer. It was. We had to have it!

Because with just a few ticks on the clock (and with our offensive coordinator in an elevator on the way to the locker room), we were able to call a quick out to Godwin and grab another nine yards and stop the clock with just a second left.

At this point I'm thinking, "Well, that makes Fromm's heave to the endzone a little shorter." But the coaches had another bold idea and Rodrigo took it from there. And there was never a doubt.

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Another small thing I noticed that was huge was not just the blocking on that Sony Michel 27 yard touchdown trot, but actually who was blocking - reserve wide receivers and Nauta. Of course, Fromm gave his man on the outside all he could handle to give Sony the room to run. But to send out guys like Crumpton and Simmons and Blount, all with fresh legs and bodies in the second over time to lay some wood was a great call, and refreshing to see.

And now it's on to Alabama in the biggest game our Dawgs have been in since 1982. We've had games where we were playing for this chance. It just wasn't until Kirby preached to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing that we actually succeeded in getting it done.

Go Dawgs!
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