We found ourselves in an all too familiar place staring down on of those mediocre bowl games that start early on New Year's Day. It's funny because the Capital One Bowl actually means you had a pretty good season, but of course to all Dawg fans it seemed a very sour consolation prize for taking the best team in the country down to the five yard line in the Dome.
I think this attitude probably carried over to the team, as in my mind the game started off pretty slow. It seemed UGA wasn't entirely thrilled to be there either. We were obviously more talented than Nebraska pushing the around on the lines of scrimmage, and seemingly being able to score when we decided to. It certainly took a while to get going, and there was certainly some from rust from a near month of lay-off, but in the end I'll take that result all day long. It wasn't but two years ago we were losing to UCF in a bowl game, and last year were the victims of inability to finish a game. Pulling away and getting a decisive bowl win ultimately leaves a nicer taste heading into the offseason.
Nebraska supposedly brought in a pretty good defense even though they were gashed for 70+ versus Wisconsin in their last game, and UGA after a few early miscues was pretty much able to impose their will. Like we'd done all season there was a good mix of the run / pass game. I read a stat today where Mike Bobo actually finished the year with the highest yard per game average in Georgia's offensive history. It looked like we'd continue a lackluster performance after the first quarter, but it's become evident to me that Murray has developed the ability to overcome a bad start and I now have confidence in him to turn a game around.
Murray capped off what we hope is not the last game of his UGA career with another great stat line. The picks hurt, but were overcome. Five TDs, an incredible third down percentage, deep balls, short accurate passes, and even the use of his legs were a nice touch for a guy who gets so much undeserved bashing. Hopefully it's not his last game, but it's been awesome to see his maturity and leadership level develop over his career. Remember as well he did most of this without his leading receiver Malcolm Mitchell in the game.
Todd Gurley throws together another unassuming stellar performance. He once again showed the versatility in his game that will make him great for years to come.
Keith Marshall was going to be an important factor given the screen game that seems to be Nebraska's weakness, and he proved to be a great compliment to Gurley. That catch for a TD was a heck of an adjustment for a running back in the passing game, and I was happy to see him get on the scoreboard.
A great bounce back game (if you can really call it that) for Chris Conley. Not sure why he really needed a bounce back game because you really can't blame him for catching the ball versus Bama, but it had to feel pretty good for him to lead the receiving charge versus the Huskers. On that screen pass he also displayed he has the best form running on the team with perfect robotic form on his way to the endzone.
Tavarres King gets into the endzone... again. He capped off a great career with another long bomb. He could also probably start for the basketball Dawgs if he can pull off that box out move with consistency.
Arthur Lynch certainly has developed as the season has progressed. I've never seen a big white man look more surprised to see open space in front of him on that first touchdown.
The defense didn't provide a great stat line, but apparently at some point in the third quarter decided that they were going to start knocking some heads around. Shawn Williams and Alec Ogeltree didn't take kindly to Taylor Martinez's banter and decided it was best to decapitate him for the rest of the game.
Damian Swann kind of struggled his last two games. While Tech didn't pass the ball much, they sort of took advantage of him when they did, and of course there was the Cooper deep ball versus Bama. I love Swann and think he's going to be a great cover corner for the Dawgs in the future, therefore I was happy to see him put together a nice performance with two picks.
Jarvis Jones seemed to be a step away from creating some menacing tackles all day, but his ability to blow by defenders created havoc for Nebraska all day long. It was more of what we've come to expect from #29 after watching him for what seems like two short years. Certainly going to miss a guy like that, not only for his play but for his character as well.
In a close bowl game like this you kind of lose the notion that it's the last time you'll be watching this unit play together. They were a great unit, and some will say the underperformed, but it was a pleasure watching them do their thing for a few years. They were Grantham's first unit he really got to put through its paces, and in the end were usually able to get the job done. It's a shame we won't get to see most of them suit up in red and black again.
I was worried the Dawgs wouldn't wake up in the second half, but they decidedly turned the corner in the third quarter. It wasn't the most impressive win, but it feels a lot better watching that entering the off season with a win notched in our belt. It was a nice cap to a 12 win season that saw the Dawgs get back to knocking on the door of where we want to be. Certainly we'll have a bad taste in our mouth from the Dome and ask questions for years to come, but in the end a great season. Hopefully, its yet another building block in where we need to get to. Glad to see the seniors and those leaving early get one more chance to prove themselves. On to the off season.