Bulldogs Beat

Halftime analysis: Seven thoughts

Seven thoughts, and a bonus, as No. 8 Georgia and No. 16 Georgia Tech are tied 7-7 at halftime:

1. The story of the game so far is that Georgia could be in control if not for its freshman tailbacks fumbling it away at the goal-line. First it was Nick Chubb on a goal-line carry, with the Yellow Jackets recovering it at the 2. Then Sony Michel lost the ball at the end of a run near the end zone, and Georgia Tech recovered it in the end zone. The Yellow Jackets went on to score on the ensuing drive. That was two could-be Georgia touchdowns that resulted in zero points. Georgia came into the game with four lost fumbles all year.

2. There is an uneasy air around the home crowd at Sanford Stadium, given the way this half ended. The fumbles were one thing - and the key thing - but the Yellow Jackets finishing with an 80-yard drive and passing it into the end zone were not a good sign. It was generally a good first half for Georgia's defense, which yielded just 4.7 yards per play. But the Yellow Jackets get the ball to start the second half.

3. Georgia Tech definitely has the wherewithal to pass it more this year, and quarterback Justin Thomas is very impressive. Thomas would have been sacked a few times if not for his feet, and he extended a few plays well enough to get yardage. He passed the ball 14 times in the first half, a big number for Georgia Tech's offense in past years. Georgia safety Quincy Mauger saved his defense some damage on Georgia Tech's opening drive when his big hit dislodged what would have been a completion to the Georgia 30. Thomas' passing ability presents quite a dilemma to Jeremy Pruitt and the Bulldogs, who can't account too much for the pass, as the Jackets also have the ability to run it down the Bulldogs' throats.

4. Georgia's offense, on the other hand, has been much more productive than the score would indicate. Chubb has 117 rushing yards on 14 carries, and Hutson Mason has completed eight of his nine passes for 88 yards. The Bulldogs have only punted once. Nothing much to criticize here other than, well, you know.

5. Georgia did help itself with the the blocked field goal, on a 37-yard attempt in the second quarrter. Special teams has been a pleasant strength for the Bulldogs this year - notwithstanding the crucial blunder at Florida. That one sticks out, obviously, but this season Georgia has had plenty more good than bad, including two punt return touchdowns and two kickoff return touchdowns, and zero by opponents in each category. The Bulldogs also haven't had a punt or kick blocked this season.

6. Malcolm Mitchell has been a featured receiver, including consecutive receiver screens on the opening drive. That was something I was surprised we haven't seen more of the second half of the season, but may be an indication that Mitchell is only now getting close to full strength.

7. The game started well enough for the Bulldogs, who got the opening kickoff and rode Chubb down the field for a touchdown. Georgia's offense rarely starts the game with the ball, as the Bulldogs always defer when they win the toss, and opponents have tended to take the ball. So it was an unusual thing to see Georgia start with it on Saturday, but it set the tone right for Georgia. It sent an early message that the Bulldogs came to play, despite the expectation that Missouri's win would take some air out of them. And for most of this half the Bulldogs have been the better team. But the scoreboard says otherwise.

Final thought: A loss here would give Georgia the unhappiest nine-win fan base in the country. The temptation is to say that the Bulldogs will be fine in the second half as long as it holds onto the ball. And that may be true. But the Bulldogs probably need to get a stop to start the second half, and not give the Yellow Jackets and their few fans here a reason to believe this is their day. There hasn't been much evidence yet that Georgia's offense can be stopped by Georgia Tech. As long as it has the ball, it should be okay, but it needs the ball a lot in the second half.

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