Columnist Jeff Schultz offers his take on Saturday’s game:
1. It’s about the defense. Georgia offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has been beaten up quite a bit this season, and deservedly so. But the Bulldogs’ defense has been a disappointment because there were high expectations. Lately, however, Jeremy Pruitt’s unit has been on. Auburn drove 75 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive, but did not make it into the end zone the rest of the game. The Tigers rushed for 161 yards on 19 carries in the first half (8.5 per carry), but were held to 52 yards on 18 attempts (2.9 per) in the second. The Dogs were shredded for 76 points in back to back losses to Alabama and Tennessee. But in the four games that have followed, they’ve held Missouri to two field goals, Kentucky to one field goal, Auburn to 13 points and even Florida had only two legitimate touchdown drives in a 27-3 victory. We’ll probably never really know what happened behind the scenes between Pruitt and Schottenheimer and/or other members of the coaching staff in the aftermath of the Florida game. But Pruitt is a guy Georgia can’t let get away.
2. Take it easy there, coach. A lot of bad things have happened to Georgia this season. But this had the potential to be the low point. Linebackers coach Mike Ekeler got so excited about his team’s defensive stand in the third quarter that he slapped defensive back Rico McGraw on the helmet so hard that it knocked the player dizzy. Ekeler didn’t want to be quoted on the incident when approached by the AJC’s Seth Emerson after the game, but it was evident he felt bad. Coach Mark Richt said he wasn’t aware of the incident. McGraw missed at least one defensive series, but came back into the game later.
3. Let’s just forget that ever happened. This didn’t decide the game but Georgia had one of the worst series of plays ever early in the fourth quarter. With the score tied 10-10, the Dogs had a first down at the Auburn 44 and theoretically could have been driving for a go-ahead score. Then, this happened: Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was called for offensive pass interference; quarterback Greyson Lambert threw an incompletion; Georgia was called for a false start; Georgia was called for holding; Brendan Douglas ran for one yard; Georgia was called for delay of game. That made it third-and-41 from the 25. So when Douglas rushed for 20 yards on third down, it was window dressing.
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