Monday, December 03, 2018

Why Georgia Lost

So many say the Dawgs lost because of the fake punt call. Who shouldn't second guess are the fans who all season kept saying Justin Fields needed to play more. They got their wish this Saturday and he blew the game. The only way a fake punt would work would be to get Fields lined up and snap the ball quick. The play was a pass, and Bama didn't have the receiver covered. But Fields took too long to get the ball snapped, which allowed Bama to recognize the fake and cover the receiver. This lost the game for Georgia.
As he has done all season with his primary option covered, Fields panicked and tried to scramble. Bama had him bottled up. All season long 680's Steak Shapiro kept saying Fields was "more talented than Fromm." This morning Steak asked how they could "put Fields in to throw, when he's not a good passer?" Steak, you can't have it both ways.
680's Finneran was disagreeing with most of Steak's nonsense. The former Falcon correctly pointed out what no one else had: Georgia's defensive plan was to force the lefthanded Tua to the right, but the defense didn't change once the righthanded Hurts entered the game. Forcing Hurts to the right was perfect for the Bama backup, as he completing the key third down pass after scrambling right, and twice had big runs to the right, including the game-winning touchdown. Jalen's 99.0 TQBR was only topped by Clemson backup Chase Bryce's perfect 100.0.  

For the rest of the weekend the nation reveled in the Jalen Hurts redemption story. After twice leading Bama to the national championship game as a freshman and sophomore, this season Hurts lost his starting job to a younger player.
But instead of threatening to transfer, Hurts worked even harder, and in a mop up role finished the regular season ranked eighth in the nation in TQBR. After the game Saban choked up talking about Hurts. During the ACC game ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit praised Hurts, contrasting him against deposed Clemson starter Kelly Bryant.

Georgia played a great game, intercepting two of Tua's passes and knocking him from the game.
The Dawgs stuffed the Bama running game.
Fromm had another great game.
Swift caught a career high six passes. Both teams had drops, perhaps due to the unfamiliar backgrounds inside Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Fields played more than usual, almost always entering the game on first down, oftentimes at the beginning of drives. The coaches wanted to put as little pressure on him as possible. It didn't work. Almost every play Fields ran was unsuccessful, leaving Fromm to come in on second and long to pick up the pieces. This contributed to the loss. This weekend 43 quarterbacks saw action. Fields' woeful 0.7 TQBR ranked 40th (among qualifiers, Fromm topped the list).
When Hurts came in Bama started to move the ball. The Dawg D was starting to tire, which was a factor in the fake punt call. Had Georgia punted, Bama would've had to march at least 80 yards to score. Something could've gone wrong for Bama. We'll never know. It's easy to second guess, but us fans didn't know all the factors at the time the decision was made. 
Some say Rodrigo's missed field goal was a factor (what, momentum?) but had he made it the score would've been 31-21, and Bama wound up scoring 35. It was Rodrigo's second straight missed field goal, going back to the 48 yarder off the goalpost in last week's Tech game. Perhaps those misses will swing Blankenship's decision to stay at Georgia for his senior year.

I stayed off social media during the game, but many Dawg fans said the officiating tilted Bama's way. I won't comment on that.
From the pressbox in the ACC game Herbstreit called UGA the third best team in the country, lobbying the playoff committee along with Kirby and Saban in the SEC postgame interviews. Perhaps the playoff committee took Saban's "I don't want to play them again" plea to heart. On Sunday ESPN compared the three contenders. While all three have good offenses, UGA's defense and strength of schedule is much better. In the end the committee made the safe call, not wanting to pick a two-loss SEC team over two one-loss conference champions. Many disagreed with the pick. MSN: Why College Football Playoff selection committee got it wrong (but in an earlier post the same writer had lobbied for Oklahoma to make the playoff).

No comments: