The biggest surprise in Georgia’s expected win over Coastal Carolina Saturday was that the Dogs took care of business just like you would have expected.
Too often in the past Georgia teams have tended to play down to the level of their opponent, coming out for gimme victories against overmatched teams with an embarrassing lack of focus.
There was none of that Saturday, as the 59-0 score indicates. The Dogs played with enthusiasm belying the level of competition and mostly shut down the Chanticleers (or “Chandeliers” as some UGA fans took to calling them).
It certainly wasn’t a perfect day for the Dogs. Blair Walsh missed another field goal attempt, though a penalty on the play kept the Georgia drive alive, eventually resulting in a touchdown. Aaron Murray looked fine in the first half, throwing for three touchdowns and sneaking for another, but was off-target on his lone series of the second half, resulting in Walsh getting a chance to make a career-long 56-yard field goal.
But with 470 yards of offense despite emptying the benches in the second half, Georgia certainly did all it needed to and more.
In his first start, Isaiah Crowell again looked good, running for 86 yards on 16 attempts and one touchdown. Little Carlton Thomas finally found a defensive line he could penetrate, tacking on 71 yards in 15 carries and a TD. And even littler Brandon Harton got 33 yards on 11 carries and would have had a touchdown on a long run had it not been called back by a flag.
Georgia got to rest some dinged-up players, and rested most of its starters in the second half, with Hutson Mason getting time at quarterback, completing six of nine passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. And even third-string QB Parker Welch got quite a bit of playing time.
It could have been much worse for Coastal Carolina.
The Dogs had another touchdown wiped out by a penalty, canceling out a beautiful punt return by Branden Smith.
And, showing a lot of class, Mark Richt twice opted to run up the middle on fourth down in the fourth quarter when he could have gone for field goals to get Georgia above 60 points for the first time since 2004.
All in all, it was exactly what Georgia and its fan base needed: an easy, entertaining win on a beautiful afternoon in Athens. And a day when the Dogs looked like the kind of team they aspire to be.
Baby steps, people. Next week let’s see if they can do it again against an SEC opponent.
Feel free to share your own views on the game.
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