I didn’t think there was a halftime adjustment good enough to bring the Bulldogs back Monday night.
After Oklahoma’s last score of the first half, dejected and slumped on a couch, phone attuned to Twitter, I said aloud to no one in particular, “We’re just getting our (hineys) kicked.”
In one half, Oklahoma had managed to put up more rushing yards and points on the Bulldogs than any team had in a game this season (sans Auburn, but I’m fine acting like that Saturday just across the Alabama border didn’t happen).
What could be said or schematically employed to stem Lincoln Riley’s boys? What could be said or schematically employed to keep mine eyes from having to watch Baker Mayfield’s post-score antics (other than one of my size 11s through the 60-inch)?
Then the glimmer of hope: the squib kick.
Being a Georgia fan and all, I was familiar with what a squib kick could do for an opposing team in desperation mode (see Georgia vs. Georgia Tech on Nov. 29, 2014).
A 9-yard completion and Rose Bowl history-making 55-yard field goal later and I was sitting up a little straighter and saying aloud, “We’re alright, still a lot of football left; and we know Kirby (Smart…first-name basis in private) is the boss of halftime adjustments.”
The rest, as it’s said, is history: the Bulldogs did adjust and did so in 180-like fashion, ending the game with a play that is already the latest inductee into the fraternity of iconic moments in Georgia football.
Years from now, when we think back on this magical season, the answer to one question will be bandied about, “Where were you when Sony Michel scored?” There won’t need to be a game reference or time stamp to conjure up the memory.
I was standing right in front of a 60-inch television that I wanted to throw a shoe through a couple of hours before. I didn’t jump up and down or scream as I had so many times in the second half, but instead put my hands on my head in disbelief as tears streamed down my cheeks. For all the previously mentioned iconic moments, this was the first one I’d watched live, and the moment wasn’t lost on me.
Whatever was said and whatever was schematically employed at halftime had worked.
The glimmer of hope turned into a bright, shining light leading the way to Atlanta and the national championship.
A few more thoughts:
- I’ve never been a fan of the “wildcat”-style offense (known when Georgia uses it as the “wilddawg”), and have maintained that it’s too obvious to be successful. Come to find out - as is the case with most plays - the “wilddawg” is only as successful as the execution of it allows it to be. The Bulldogs scored two touchdowns, one by Nick Chubb and the other the 27-yard game-ending scamper by Michel, out of this package and I’m just going to keep my mouth shut about it from here on out.
- Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm was tremendous. It wasn’t Fromm’s completion percentage or touchdown passes that stood out as much as his moxie, especially on the game-tying drive near the end of regulation. His acute awareness of what was going on around him combined with his decision-making capabilities and desire to NOT try and do too much were something to marvel at for someone his age, in a setting like the Rose Bowl, with two minutes left and the game on the line.
- Georgia Special Teams Coordinator Shane Beamer deserves a raise, stat. The Lorenzo Carter blocked field goal in the second overtime was the highlight, but the discipline of Tae Crowder to field the squib kick just before halftime and simply fall down, giving Georgia enough time to turn a 17-point lead into a 14-point lead, is a key indicator of how good that unit has become.
- The importance of having a good strength and conditioning program was evident throughout the game, and Georgia clearly has one. Oklahoma started fast and furious, but as the game wore on the Sooners wore down, while the Bulldogs were able to maintain a high level of play. The defensive line was getting owned by Oklahoma’s front in the first half, but endurance won out in the end. Georgia’s offensive linemen’s ability to block the second level of the Sooners defense means they have to have the conditioning to still be effective after taking care of the big body initially standing in their way, and they were able to do just that. Michel and Chubb were breaking off huge runs from the start and never lost their legs. The conditioning level of the Bulldogs was on full display and it did not disappoint.
- If I see one sign that reads or hear one person say, even in jest, “we want ‘Bama,” I’m going to let my ire be known. Georgia is getting Alabama and fans, we don’t need that bad omen hanging over our heads as ‘Bama has made minced meat out of every team that’s dared.
- If anyone knows of the existence of “keep the main thing the main thing” shirts let a girl know. I’ll keep chopping until I find one!