ATHENS - It's very possible that many of you expected to be concentrating on Tennessee-Florida at this point, or calling it a night as far as football goes. Yes, no one figured that Florida Atlantic would still be hanging with Georgia at halftime.
The Bulldogs do have a 28-14 lead, but the defense is having a pretty rough night. Certainly, it doesn't help that Jarvis Jones is sitting this one out, but this is the same FAU team that only got seven points against Wagner.
Here are some halftime thoughts and observations:
1. The most glaring problem for the Georgia defense is third down. By my count, FAU has converted eight times, including three on the first drive, which set the tone. They haven't been short conversions either. The return of Sanders Commings, who is playing safety, was supposed to help that, but it hasn't.
2. Is this a sign of worry for Georgia going forward? Its defense just hasn't been lock-down this year. It has been dominant at key times, especially the fourth quarter at Missouri. But the defense has yet to even play a complete half this season: Even the second half against Buffalo, there was a touchdown drive. And in this game it has allowed FAU to drive into its territory four times. If not for Chase Vasser forcing that fumble on the opening drive, this could very well be a one-score game.
3. But no, I wouldn't panic quite yet: Jones is out. That's huge. And Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree, presuming they return in two weeks for Tennessee, will bolster the unit.
4. But again ... FAU only scored seven points on Wagner ... This should not be happening to a great defense, even minus three of its best players.
5. The good news for Georgia is the offense has been performing as expected: Aaron Murray has two touchdown runs and a long touchdown pass. He's spreading the passes around to different receivers, and showing none of the first-half problems he had at Missouri. Plus, freshmen tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are on fire, combining for 136 rushing yards on just 13 carries. Marshall has his first career TD, and leads the way with 80 rushes.
6. As expected, Georgia is still using the four-wide spread offense. And just like last week, it's paying dividends: The Bulldogs' second touchdown was set up by a long completion to Tavarres King, who was lined up wide left, then faked his defender and got wide open.
7. Dallas Lee hurt his ankle, forcing him out of the game. And with Watts Dantzler out again with his own sprained ankle, offensive line coach Will Friend did something a bit unexpected: Mark Beard, little-used the first two games, went in at left tackle, with Kenarious Gates shifting to guard. I'm surprised it's Beard and not Austin Long. We'll have to see what happens with Lee. if he's out a prolonged period, it'll be interesting to see if they put someone different in at guard, or keep Gates at left guard and move John Theus to left tackle. I seriously doubt they move forward in SEC action with Beard as the left tackle.