#3 Dawgs Outlast the #7 Irish 23-17
Cover Photo:Dale Zanine
**As previously stated in #3 Georgia vs #7 Notre Dame Week #4 Prediction, the game ended a lot closer than everyone had expected.**
By: Joshua Grosh (twitter @GeorgiaTwoFace)
Following a night out of celebration and reflection, after the biggest win of 2019, (behind a Sanford Stadium record crowd) the Dawg nation faithful can finally take a deep breathe. Dawgs are 4-0 going into a bye week after a major top 10 victory. In a game full of headaches, frustration, and ultimately, jubilation, the Dawgs survived and have a quality win on their resume. Now, since I am not sure how much more my heart can take tonight, let’s just dive right into the game.
Georgia’s offense was just Jekyll and Hyde. The first half was as ugly as one could imagine – only lacking a Georgia turnover (outside of the muffed punt of course). The Dawgs couldn’t even gain many yards until the third drive on offense, where they looked like a balanced machine and kept Notre Dame guessing. At one point or another, Fromm was 12-14 for 76 yards and the rushing attack was bottled up. As the second half got underway, Georgia’s offense started rocking to life – and they began to fight both Notre Dame and the referees. Georgia, and Fromm for that matter, looked poised and collected. Dawgs began to assert their will and Notre Dame was on their heels. The major frustrating point is that UGA should have been up by more – if it wasn’t for the fact that the referees forgot what pass interference looked like. Yet, despite this Georgia still pushed on and got a touchdown after the second missed pass interference call. At this point, Notre Dame looked on the verge of collapse – they even resorted to faking injuries (let’s call a spade a spade here). Fromm threw many passes right on the money and sometimes the receivers couldn’t bring it down (though it is hard to catch when you’re being hugged). Yet, it was enough – barely. The offense is not perfect. Fromm is still taking the check down and not gambling at times when a gamble may be necessary. He took what the defense gives him and didn’t lose us the game which is good, but sometimes you need to take a gamble – one such I would like to see more of is that down right gutsy run on third down, he broke a tackle and ate a massive hit, coming up just short of the 1st down (4th quarter0. Georgia does have to work out many kinks, but against a top 10 team, the offense did just enough. Yet, the offense would have been in trouble if it wasn’t for the phenomenal defense performance.
The Georgia defense played like a top 10 defense, in the second half especially. In the first half, they forced an explosive Notre Dame offense to have to only go short passing (spare one drive), limiting their offense entirely. Then, in the second half, Georgia smothered Notre Dame for the most part and kept a tight-end in check who was giving Georgia fits in the first half. In fact, Georgia near completely took him out of the game in the second half and rocked him a couple times to force drops. In fact, Georgia for the most part got into Ian Book’s head, forcing him to throw two interceptions for only the third time in his career (since 2017) and held him to his lowest QBR since 2017. While Georgia did not produce sacks, they forced Book out of the pocket consistently and kept him completely bottled up to the point he only tallied 18 rush yards (9 of them coming from a single run). Georgia looked troubled by some big plays in the second half and in the 2-minute drill style offenses, but they held it together. The most promising aspect from this game was the ability to both bottle up such a scrambling quarterback and to near smother out any consistent intermediate passing by Notre Dame. Fun fact: Georgia held Book to an average of 5.9 yards per pass, or 9.4 yards per completion (61.7% completions) in general which was phenomenal given how much Notre Dame aimed to spread Georgia out. Georgia has a lot of good things to look forward to defensively – just need a lot more looks on the offense and special teams.
Georgia fortunately gets a bye week this week (the first of two) before facing Tennessee on October 5th in Knoxville. Tennessee is a mess to say the least and is also heading into a bye week after a routing by Florida. Tennessee will be entering this game 1-3 with near nothing to lose – except perhaps dignity. Here’s hoping Georgia can refresh the offense and get some players back from injuries to help with the next major stretch of games to help lock up the East.