Now might be a fine time for Georgia’s football team to change its colors from red and black to black and white. It seems that everything about this team must be good or bad, with very little in between.
Cornelius Washington became the poster child for this year’s edition of the Dogs at 1:48 am Sunday morning. Washington had aroused the interest of one of Commerce’s finest by motoring up U.S. Highway 441 at 92 miles per hour.
You’ve got to give him credit. It takes nerves of steel and mercurial effort to reach the exclusive 37 miles per hour over the speed limit echelon. Especially after having consumed “a couple of shots” earlier in the evening. The shots had enough staying power that Washington managed to blow a .12 on his breath test.
Logically, you might wonder why he was the one driving. Apparently one of his vehicular companions blew a .176, garnering a charge of underage alcohol possession.
Thanks to Washington’s predecessors in crime, we all know that UGA Athletic Association policy dictates that a DUI arrest results in a minimum suspension of 20 percent of a team’s games. This means that Washington will be among the missing on Georgia’s upcoming two forays into the great state of Tennessee.
Well played, Cornelius.
As was the game he celebrated, Georgia’s 24-10 trouncing of Mississippi State on Saturday. Washington set the tone, sacking quarterback Chris Relf on the fourth play of the game, ending State’s opening drive.
Brandon Boykin returned the ensuing punt 30 yards. Three plays and 33 yards later Georgia led, 7-0.
Washington’s day included three assists, one unassisted tackle, two sacks, and numerous instances of being a disruptive influence. Georgia finally kept pressure on the opposing quarterback, and Washington was a major reason why.
Georgia registered five sacks, kept Relf out of rhythm and, at times, on the bench. Georgia wasn’t even fazed by the quarterback who did as he pleased against the Dogs a year ago.
How complete was the one-year turn around between the State offense and Georgia defense? How much speculation have you heard since Saturday about State coach Dan Mullen being Mark Richt’s successor?
How wacky is this team? The unit that caused the most angst in recent seasons, which performed abysmally against Boise State and only modestly better against South Carolina, now ranks as Georgia’s most solid unit.
Todd Grantham’s defenders suddenly rank seventh in the nation in total defense, allowing 258.6 yards per game. Among SEC brethren, that ranks even with Florida, ahead of LSU, and behind only Alabama.
In particular, the secondary, so maligned in the recent past (remember Bryan Evans? thought so) now ranks 11th in the nation in pass defense efficiency. And no one has run the ball on Georgia since Marcus Lattimore left town.
While Washington took the crown for the widest divide between good and bad, he had plenty of competition.
Georgia’s offense offered another mysterious performance, playing a decent game. For 30 minutes. Three touchdowns in the first half, a field goal in the second.
Imagine the horror UGA CEO Michael Adams felt upon realizing that Dooleyball is back. Score early, get conservative, and lay it on the defense to hold the lead.
But Georgia ran the gamut in the first half. The Dogs’ six drives ended touchdown, punt, touchdown, interception, interception, touchdown.
Quarterback Aaron Murray got wonderfully creative in the second half, combining a touchdown and interception in a single play. Darius Slay’s 72-yard romp with 8:31 left provided the only remote chance that State might make a game of it.
Query: is Murray as good as he was a year ago, or as bad as Saturday’s three interceptions suggest?
Georgia did find consistency in the third quarter, going three plays and out on four drives; the fifth was four and out. This dreadful stretch included two drives that began at State’s 15-yard line, and resulted in a single field goal.
While freshman Isaiah Crowell offers refreshing excitement, he also offers Richard Samuel and Carlton Thomas too many opportunities. Crowell (22 carries, 104 yards) spent too much time jogging off the field, affording his backup tandem the chance to amass 63 yards on 17 carries.
Another freshman, Malcolm Mitchell, has emerged as a fine receiver. But Murray seems to have forgotten everyone else not named Orson Charles. Tavarres King’s role this season could be filled by Claude Rains.
Even kicker Blair Walsh has the good-bad fever. He need not worry about where to display the Lou Groza Award, having missed half of his dozen field goal attempts.