Great win on Saturday, but plenty to discuss. Here is the good, the bad & the ugly.
Georgia (6-2, 5-1 SEC) won another game it should have and remained tied atop the SEC East standings with South Carolina (7-1, 5-1 SEC). The feeling in the stands at EverBank Field was a feeling of UGA CAN beat the Gators, UGA SHOULD beat the Gators and defeat was unacceptable. A much different vibe then the last few years when most Dawg fans just KNEW Georgia was going to lose coming in.
Mark Richt’s decisions to go for three 4th down conversions, with two leading to TD’s was the kind of aggressive coaching UGA fans have been longing for. Losing 18 of the last 21 games should leave you with a “devil may care” attitude and it worked for UGA. Thinking outside the box has never been a strength for Richt; maybe after the success at Tennessee earlier in the year and the success in Jax, he will loosen the reins on the Offense some.
Georgia’s’ defense played spirited football and came up big when it needed to. The Gators were held to a game total -19 yards rushing while they limited John Brantley and the speedsters Demps and Rainey to 32 total yards and just one first down in the 2nd half.
Most importantly UGA beat the Gators in the turnover and penalty phases. Getting flagged only 4 times to the Gators 14 and only turning the ball over once on a interception off the back of Isaiah Crowell’s helmet. Both Gator turnovers gave the Dawgs short fields and they capitalized with points each time.
The normally reliable Punter Drew Butler had an off night only averaging 34.2 yards per kick, well off his normal average of over 40yards. QB Aaron Murray definitely had an off-day only passing 15 for 34 and 169 yards. Several times it appeared he and the WR’s were on a different page of the playbook. He missed a wide open Orson Charles for a certain TD toss.
Even though the Bulldogs won again, it always seems this team raises more questions than it answers week-to-week. The Dawgs latest win continues their conference win streak but it comes versus SEC teams with a combined record of 4-22. Such a streak is quite a relief after starting down 0-2, but it’s not exactly a proving ground to showcase how good this team might be.
PK Blair Walsh continues to baffle with his misses. Only making one of three FG’s this week was again troubling. Both misses were inside 40 yards, not exactly chip shots but ones you certainly expect a pre-season All-American to make. The Dawgs have been lucky so far that the only game he affected was the Carolina loss. The Dawgs have overcome his mistakes to win in spite of his lack of accuracy.
Special teams play continues to haunt Georgia fans. A 99 yard return for a TD, a 63 yard kick return to set up a FG is becoming the norm in Athens. Head Coach Mark Richt’s out-dated and totally ineffective practice of using walk-on’s and non-scholarship players on Special Teams is mind boggling. Why he doesn’t put the 11 best players on the field every time is beyond me. I’ve not seen any other team in the league use this philosophy. Watch the makeup of the kick coverage teams and you MIGHT see one or two starters. Why wouldn’t you put your fastest, strongest, most experienced players on the field as many times as you can?
OC Mike “The Clown” Bobo and his 1970’s playbook were used again this week. Why does he run Carlton Thomas, a 5’8” 156 lbs scat-back type between the tackles? Why does he run Richard Samuel, who is much more suited to a straight ahead style, with sweeps? Doesn’t Bobo even know who is in the game? UGA has some of the finest TE’s in the country; throw to them more than 3 times a game. UGA has a 6’4” 270lbs Fullback, is there a reason he has ZERO carries this year? What happened to the pre-season advertised Power-I formations? UGA wins in spite of Mike Bobo, not because of him. Mark my words: he will be Mark Richt’s Achilles heel.
OL Dallas Lee broke his right fibula and is expected to miss several weeks if not the rest of the season. That leaves a true freshman as the 6th man on a 5 man line. Basically the recruiting woes have come home to roost on UGA’s already paper-thin OL.
RB Richard Samuel sprained his ankle on the last play of the game and his status remains unclear for the upcoming week. X-rays were negative but a walking boot is never a good thing.
All-World RB Isaiah Crowell continues his weekly disappearing act. Even though he led the UGA rushers, he spent most of the night on the sideline. Several times after coming out for supposed injuries, the TV cameras show him laughing and smiling on the sideline. Highly talented, I severely question his work ethic and drive to be an every down back and major contributor to the offense. Keith Marshall, if you’re reading this, please come to UGA, we need a” real” running back.
Georgia got a much needed dose of medicine Saturday night. The frustration level was in-the-air as fans tried to keep a positive attitude all night. The Dawgs fought through that “Here we go again” mentality and did what they needed to do to win. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win in Jacksonville.
The Dawgs need another loss by Carolina to break the 1st place tie. USC is at Arkansas this week and should prove quite a test for the excellent Gamecock Defense. No matter what happens to Carolina, UGA needs to keep its focus on the prize and continue to win games.
After going in the hole 0-2 to start the season, this Bulldog team could’ve folded up the tents and gone home, but they continue to fight. The shining light of this season is they haven’t put 4 good quarters together yet and if they do, this Dawg team could be a major force.
Hopefully the best is yet to come…..