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Georgia State Grades
Posted by Woody Woodruff on Friday October 11 2013 @ 10:57AM CDT
[ The Commissioner's Blog ]

Goodness gracious! What a game!

A contest that was supposed to be a talent mismatch between a top-ranked team and one that is struggling turned out to be a nail-biter instead. The odds-on favorite had to come up with some late-game heroics to squeak by an inferior opponent. It was a game that demanded my full concentration and turned me into a not very pleasant companion.......The Alabama game? No...Georgia vs. Tennessee. I was following it on my smart phone while we waited for our names to be called at Nick's In The Sticks.The Commissioner's Wife had to make me turn my phone off and rejoin the family.

The Alabama game, thankfully, had nothing in common with UT-Georgia, except that both the Dawgs and Panthers hail from the same state. The outcome was never in doubt; the only suspense was how long AJ McCarron would play before being replaced by Blake Sims. But the game was far from boring or predictable. So many different players saw action, that by the fourth quarter the two-deep quick reference card in the program was of no use and figuring out who was on the field was like solving one of those five-star sudoku puzzles while trying to also watch the game.

The game also provoked historic comparisons. For example: The Tide's half-time lead of 35-0 is second in recent memory to the 42-0 advantage Alabama enjoyed over Auburn in the 2012 Iron Bowl. Also, the Panthers kicked a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter. Which means that in a little more than two quarters of play, Georgia State managed to score on Alabama, something that Auburn's offense has not accomplished in the last eight quarters.

It was a fun game.....if you like watching Alabama dominate an opponent in all phases of the game all the while going deep in the roster....and who doesn't enjoy a game like that? The weather was hot and sunny, but the South Zone is the shady end of Bryant Denny Stadium on days in early October.

So well fed and contented, here's how I grade the game:

Offense: B Readers of The Grades know that from time to time the quality of opposition requires a one-grade reduction for the Offense and Defense. This is one of those times.

Games of this sort are intended to be opportunities for lots of players to gain experience. By that standard, Saturday's contest was an unqualified success. Fifteen different players caught passes and six different running backs had at least three carries.

AJ had a game that was one incompletion short of statistical perfection: 15 of 16 for 166 yards and 4 TDs with no interceptions.

Blake Sims had a highly productive day, completing 14 of 18 passes for 130 yards and one TD.
Chris Black led all receivers with 54 yards and a TD on 6 receptions. DeAndrew White added 45 yards on four catches one of which was an instant highlight reel, one-handed touchdown. Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones each made 3 receptions and among the more familiar names involved in the passing game, Saturday's stat sheet included Faciane, Freitag and Barrineau.

I don't know if the coaching staff decided to use Saturday as an opportunity to work on the passing game at the expense of the run, but the absence of a dominating rushing game keeps me from awarding the +. Alabama earned 181 yards of net rushing behind the efforts of TJ Yeldon [6att. 51 yds. 1 TD],Derrick Henry [4 att. 50 yds], Kenyan Drake [5 att. 40 yds], Jalston Fowler [3 att. 23 yds], and Altee Tenpenny [4 att. 10 yds.]

The Tide earned 31 first downs, 477 yards of total offense [181 rushing] converted 6 of 9 third downs and controlled the ball for 33:38 of game time. Alabama had 7 drives that gained 40 or more yards [71,60, 62, 80, 45, 68 and 68] achieving 5 touchdowns, 1 FG and a missed FG.

Defense: B+ One week after holding Ole Miss scoreless, the stop troops came within a 53 yard field goal of repeating the shutout. Georgia State gained only 175 yards [15 rushing] made only 9 first downs, converted a paltry 4 of 12 third-downs and was not able to snap the ball on the Alabama side of the 50 yard line until the 3rd quarter.

CJ Mosley led all tacklers with 6 stops. Bama made 8 tackles for lost yardage, broke up three passes and hurried the Panther QB twice.

Special Teams:

Punting: A+ Cody Mandel could very well have taken a nap for the first three quarters. His services as a punter were not required until only 7 minutes remained to be played in the game. Bama's return game has been so good this season, that opposing teams prefer to kick the ball out of bounds rather than provide Alabama an opportunity for a return. That was the case yesterday as well. Dee Hart got a chance for a return in the 4th quarter and turned in an excellent 37-yard effort.

Place Kicking: B Cade Foster was perfect on PATs, and nailed a 27 yard FG in the second quarter. Freshman Adam Griffith missed from 30 yards.

Kickoffs: A Kick coverage continues to be excellent. Foster averaged 63.4 yards per kick gross, with a net of 42.5 yards per kick.

Coaching: A The Tide's record improved to 5-0, the participation report lists 72 names of players who saw action against the Panthers and Alabama was penalized only 4 times for 30 yards.

Back to that nail-biter of a game involving the other team from Georgia: is Tennessee getting better? Was UGA simply out-of-gas following last week's game against LSU? Have injuries depleted the Dawgs? The month of October will answer some of those questions.

Elsewhere in the league: Auburn looks like it is much improved over last year, and Ole Miss looks like anything but a team deserving of national ranking. Mississippi State seems to have found an offense-or else LSU was still recovering from its game against the SEC's other Bulldogs. And what about those Mizzou Tigers? Missouri, quarterbacked by James Franklin laid 51 points on Vanderbilt, coached by another James Franklin.

Conventional wisdom is not always very wise. In August, the conventional wisdom held that Alabama faced only two speed bumps along the road to the SEC CG. After the first weekend in October, however, it looks like that road is going to be fairly bumpy, and two of those bumps wear shades of orange. And that's what makes college football in the SEC so great.

The Commissioner

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