Bulldog Nation awoke Sunday morning one step closer to having seen it all.
Saturday night, they watched their beloved Dawgs hang half a hundred on their old nemesis, the Head Ball Coach.
When time mercifully ran out, the scoreboard read Georgia 52, South Carolina 20. A short, simple, emphatic testament to Georgia’s dismantling of the Gamecocks.
Another terse recap highlighted the opening statement of head coach Steve Spurrier after the game. “They totally dominated us tonight,” the Head Ball Coach began. “Their offense was very good.
“We weren’t very good on defense. Or on offense, really. We didn’t throw the ball very well. We didn’t run the ball very well. We got clobbered.”
Give Spurrier credit. He always tells it like it is.
He went on to praise his kicker and punter for having good games. When that’s the extent of the post-game laurels a coach doles out, you know he’s witnessed an abysmal performance.
But Spurrier wasn’t ready to conclude whether he had observed a great Georgia team, or an awful Carolina team. “We’ll know how we played as the year progresses. Time will tell when we play out the schedule, but Georgia looks like a very good team, and certainly should have a chance for a big year.”
The argument could be made that, on this night, Georgia was so good the Head Ball Coach couldn’t grasp it.
“Obviously, it was a tough defensive game, although they only got 21 in the second half. That’s all they got, so we slowed them down occasionally.”
Not really, coach. Georgia rang up 28 in the second half. In the first 22:26 of the second half, to be precise. Against a Carolina defense that was unscored upon in its first two games.
Spurrier did latch onto the most amazing statistic of the game. “They only had four third downs? Is this right?”
Yes, it is. Georgia scored 52 points, and only lined up on third down four times. The first ended the opening drive, when quarterback Greyson Lambert overthrew Jeb Blazevich in the end zone.
Lambert wouldn’t miss another pass all night, setting an NCAA record for completion percentage in a game (24 of 25, 96%), and a UGA record with 20 consecutive completions.
“That’s pretty good,” acknowledged Spurrier. “Record-breaking day for Georgia. Not for us.”
Georgia had a third-and-two play starting its second possession. Lambert threw a short pass that true freshman Terry Godwin turned into a 17-yard gain. Georgia scored its first touchdown six plays and 57 yards later.
Georgia wouldn’t reach a third down again until the end of the third quarter. By that time, the lead was 45-13.
Think about that. Georgia reeled off five touchdown drives, and never even got to third down!
The game proved vindication for the Georgia brain trust, which remained calm during the offensive sputtering against Vanderbilt. Once the playbook was opened beyond the first chapter, they proved to be the best judges of just who should be playing quarterback.
New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offense was poetry in motion. Receivers weren’t just open; they had entire area codes to themselves. Though Malcolm Mitchell had a fabulous night (eight catches for 122 yards) he was one of nine different Dawgs to catch a pass.
Georgia came out throwing, Lambert got into a nice rhythm, and, suddenly, the running game opened up.
“Coach Schottenheimer put a great game plan together, and we had one of the best weeks of practice we’ve had all year,” head coach Mark Richt said after the game. “We then executed all of it in the game. We had a lot of good things happen.”
Yes, Georgia looked fabulous Saturday night. Just like they did last year against Missouri, and in the first half against Arkansas. The desultory performance against Florida followed.
Saturday night, Larry Munson might have wondered, “Have you checked the rest of the schedule?” But after the past few years, when checking out the schedule, you wonder, “Where’s the clunker?”
Richt sounded the alarm Sunday, telling onlineathens, “It was just one game, one performance, so we don’t want to get too carried away.”
And Nick Chubb addressed the new attitude of a team that survived an offseason of no arrests and no academic casualties. “It lets people around us know that we’re here. We’re a different team this year. We’re going to play hard.”
If these Dawgs do that every game, they should have a chance for a big year.
Denton Ashway is a contributing columnist for The Times. His column appears on Wednesday.