From the upper deck of Sanford Stadium, I enjoyed the sauna treatment while watching a Georgia vs. Clemson in a great rivalry game to kick off the 2014 campaign.
Before I got home to watch the replay today, these are the notes I made that were impressive to me as I walked out of Sanford Stadium with a victory on a Saturday night. Most were from the second half, of course.
* The Georgia defense had nine tackles for loss for 83 yards.
* Special teams were vastly improved. Between punter Collin Barber and the punt coverage team, Georgia had four punts inside the 20. Barber averaged 45 yards per punt, with an impressive long of 60, which the coverage team followed up with a 10 yard loss on the return. They also had 167 return yards, 100 on Todd Gurley‘s kickoff return for a touchdown.
* Conditioning and substitutions on defense to keep fresh were obvious. The only time I saw any heat related incidents was Herrera (and that turned out to be more from a knock to his melon). This fresh defense held Clemson to 15 yards in the second half – a complete reversal to the defense I believe lost Georgia the SEC Championship to Alabama in 2012.
* A strong pass rush helped an inexperienced secondary out. The defense did not look out of position, like they did for most of the 2013 season. Yes, its true. They were lined up prior to the snap and not looking to each other like a cluster bomb had just dropped on the field.
* Of course, Tailback U now has a four-headed monster, especially when Keith Marshall gets back to 100 percent again. Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined for 25 carries for 301 yards, or 12.4 yards per carry.
* My favorite offensive curiosity: Player of the game Todd Gurley single-handedly beat Clemson. His 198 yards on 15 rushes and three touchdowns surpassed Clemson’s team total of 45 rushes for 102 yards. In fact, his special teams numbers also surpassed Clemson’s – 100 yards, one touchdown on one return for Gurley compared to Clemson’s six returns for 22 yards.