I just finished watching every offensive series in slow motion, stopping to watch each play a few times in order to see what went right and wrong. I have to say I feel like our guys did well. We left some points on the field, though, with errors at critical times. Obviously, this is a game we could / should have won. By the end of this writing that should be painfully clear if it isn't already.
UGA came out in pretty much a straight 5-2 alignment with the back 4 all lined up across the field at about 8 yards off the line, effectively putting 9 in the box. I say 5-2 because the OLBs in their 3-4 were basically at the LOS on the outside shoulder of the DEs. The MLBs were opposite the OGs about 4 yards back. One interesting tactic they used was to line up the entire DL about a yard back from the neutral zone in an effort to gain an advantage against the cut blocks on the interior. It looked kind of odd truthfully. I think they may have been the first team to do that. They tried to crash the A gap with a blitzing MLB occasionally, but had a much harder time than prior opponents timing our snap counts, so it wasn't nearly as effective. They obviously tried to keep it simple for them and just letting them play from that single formation. The only time they changed was in 3rd and long type situations where the safeties backed off. We countered this defense by doing a lot of zone blocking and giving them unbalanced OLs and bunched formations with the WRs pulled in. It worked to a great degree on the interior where our OLs were very effective, but less so on the perimeter.
When I counted numbers with the unbalanced OL to the field side, it gave us an apparent numerical advantage every time. However, it didn't really materialize on the edges like it appeared it should. There were two recurring problems in that formation that may have cost us the game. First off, the WR on the weak side TE position got blown up regularly allowing the backside DE or OLB to make plays. Secondly, when toss sweeps went wide to the side with an advantage, pulling OLs repeatedly ran past would be tacklers heading for the second level resulting in a surplus of gold helmets out there with nobody to block. Those had to be assignment busts. It was really quite maddening. When you count the numbers, they weren't needed out there, they already had an extra guy. The primary LBs in pursuit needed to get whacked and weren't. Several crucial plays during the game were blown up this way, not with a defender beating a block, but instead being passed up in favor of air further down field. I know our offensive scheme is more complicated for the blockers. It is hard to routinely pass up certain players and always make the right decisions. OLs in traditional offenses don't really have that dilemma because nobody is being optioned off. Still, these errors were costly and needed to be executed better.
IMHO, the game swung on a few critical plays. I will list them in chronological order. 1. first half possession in the RZ, toss sweep was blown up as described above resulting in FG try. 2. Late in first half, with a 20-0 lead and just a few minutes to go before the break, a seemingly harmless option play went for 7 as Vad took the wrong option and kept. Viewing it live, it looked like a good play because of the gain. In slow motion it revealed that their LBs had BOTH gone for Vad (who cut inside of them) leaving Godhigh all alone for the pitch. There were only 2 defenders left on that entire side of the field, each with a gold helmet on them well away from the ball. A pitch there goes for 40 at least (think Clemson or UVA) and totally changes the complexion of the first half. It could have been the knock out blow. 3. Missed FG, nuff said. 4. Horrible decision on pick by Vad. 5. The toss to RG in OT2 that got blown up in the same fashion described above. It is a shame that a play action (toss sweep) pass wasn't thrown to Summers because the CB jumped the play without a thought given to defend the pass. A counter handoff to a reversing AB would have been wide open too. In any case, hindsight is always 20/20.
QB: I give Vad a B for the day. He wasn't asked to do much that he was uncomfortable with. We stayed away from the option for the most part. He screwed up two option reads big time, one already mentioned, and a give to Sims right into the unblocked DE. Both were costly. The second stalling the last drive in Q4. He had the bad pick that came at a horrible time, but other than that, he stayed aggressive and made some huge throws that took advantage of a defensive team that was over-playing the run. The last play of the game just wasn't there. I don't know if this is really fair to him or not, but I think he needed to try and buy time (by leaving the pocket) for something else to pop open. He stood there frozen and then tried to force in a prayer.
BB: Sims ran like a champ. It was like an NFL game on the interior. I have a lot of respect for the talent of the UGAg DL and MLBs. It was tough sledding and Sims was up to the task, moving the sticks on effort alone much of the time. He gets an A from me. Without him, we aren't even close.
AB: Days and Godhigh continue to block exceedingly well. RG, once again just keeps making plays, in the air and on land. They both get As. The rest, not so much. Bostic had a tough day blocking and running.
WR: B+. Smelter had a great day and Waller made a big catch along with Summers. However, blocking out of the TE slot on the unbalanced line didn't go well. Summers got beat some on the edge too.
OL: B-. To be fair, they had a tough assignment. At the point of attack, it was one of their best days. They picked up guys jumping the count and they won most of the zone blocking "mano a mano" battles. However, on the edge and at the second level there was confusion and whiffs that limited our production and, ultimately, cost us the game.
Coaching: B. I think CPJ called a good game, with a few exceptions. Our formations put us in a good position to succeed with what they were doing. However, I don't think the OLs were really ready for the perimeter blocking portion of their assignments in terms of the unbalanced formation going against their defensive alignment. Our kids were mentally and emotionally ready to play and played hard. It appears they believe in the system and their coach. I got a little miffed at coach during his meeting with the Reverend after the game at midfield. Richt was trying to show a little sportsmanship and Johnson just kind of shook his hand and gave him a cold shoulder. It wasn't one of his better moments. People notice stuff like that, or I do anyway.
Oh, and by the way, I didn't see any cheap stuff going on in the piles with UGA players like we have seen in the past. No cheap shots or twisting of ankles etc. I give them kudos for that. It was really a pretty clean game. I also tip my hat to the SEC refs who apparently called a very fair game. That hasn't always seemed to be the case in the past either.