UGA’s Murray fine; it’s the O-line I’m not sure about

Another crazy weekend: So what did we learn?

1. Georgia’s Aaron Murray is going to be fine. It’s the offensive line I’m not sure about: Georgia’s 31-24 loss to Arkansas proved once again that in the SEC, the difference between winning and losing is very small. Georgia made a good comeback to tie the game and put itself in a position to win. It had the ball on what should have been the final possession. The worst thing that should have happened is that Georgia didn’t score and the game went to overtime.

But on third down the running back whiffs on a pass block and the quarterback gets sacked. Arkansas gets the ball back and  a safety takes the wrong angle on a tackle and Arkansas breaks free for the winning touchdown. Two plays. Arkansas made them. Georgia didn’t. That’s it.

But here is the good news for Georgia. The Bulldogs have a quarterback. Everyone I talk to in this league likes the upside of Aaron Murray. He’s learning the position and is going to make mistakes. What I want to know is when is this veteran offensive line going to start blocking like one? Georgia ran the ball 41 times for 139 yards at home against an average defense from Arkansas. Yes, six sacks figured into that total. Still, that’s not good enough. Yes, it would have been helpful if A.J. Green had been there to stretch the field. But he was not there. He’s not going to be there Saturday in Starkville. Georgia just has  run the ball better than that.

2. Another tough weekend for the ACC: Georgia Tech took care of business within the league beating North Carolina on the road. But out of the conference it was second straight tough weekend for the ACC. The ACC went 1-4 in head to head meetings with other BCS teams: Clemson lost to Auburn, Duke lost to Alabama, Maryland lost to West Virginia, and Wake Forest was trounced by Stanford. The lone winner against BCS competition was N.C. State, which had a solid win over Big East team Cincinnati on Thursday night in Raleigh.

Florida State beat BYU (Mountain West) and Virginia Tech took care of East Carolina (Conference USA) to salvage something out of the weekend.

If you’re keeping score at home, and I know some of you are, the ACC is now 1-9 against non-conference BCS teams in the first three weeks of the season. In the first two weeks of the season the ACC lost to LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Kansas, and Southern California. Kudos to the ACC for scheduling those games. But you gotta do better than 1-9.

3. Clemson-Auburn was a game for grown men: Auburn’s 27-24 victory against Clemson in overtime was one of the hardest hitting games I’ve seen in a long time. Two guys got carted off with serious leg injuries. Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker took a shot to the back (it was a legal shot, I might add) and showed tremendous grit in playing throught the pain. Auburn showed a lot of maturity in coming back from a 17-3 halftime deficit to win. Clemson showed, with running backs Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington, that the Tigers are going to be a force in the ACC Atlantic. It was a good old-fashioned street fight and I loved every minute of it. Just sorry that it came down to the Clemson kid missing a field goal. That’s a tough way for anybody to lose.

4. Florida is not a Top 10 team: The Gators may be worthy of their No. 8 national ranking (in the coaches poll) before the season is over, but right now Urban Meyer just has an okay team that is just trying to find its way. The good news if you’re a Florida fan is that you have enough talent to line up, play ugly, and win every game on your schedule–except for the Oct. 2 trip to Tuscaloosa to play No. 1 Alabama. The toughest remaining games after that (LSU, South Carolina) are at home. One thing I did learn watching the Florida-Tennessee game in Knoxville on Saturday: Florida’s receivers are pretty average. I thought they would be better.

5. I’ll bet Houston Nutt wishes he had never heard of Jeremiah Masoli: All I know is that since Jeremiah Masoli was clearned to play at Ole Miss on Friday, Sept. 3, almost nothing has gone right for the Rebels and Houston Nutt. Ole Miss just got absolutely gashed on Saturday by Vanderbilt 28-14. The Rebels are 1-2 with Fresno State coming to Oxford this week. If they can’t win that one, they are probably looking at 4-8 at best. Masoli has played reasonably well in the first three games. But the defense, which was supposed to be the strength of this team, is simply not getting it done.

BONUS WHAT WE LEARNED

Tennessee is what we thought they were: When I looked at the Tennessee team Saturday afternoon at Florida, I saw a bunch of guys who should be playing at Middle Tennessee State. I’ll give the Volunteers credit for this: They played hard for 60 minutes against Florida and were still within striking distance of the Gators in the fourth quarter. They didn’t go in the tank when adversity hit like they did against Oregon.

But it’s been a long time since Tennessee was this thin in SEC caliber talent. Things don’t figure to get better any time soon. After UAB this week, Tennessee plays at LSU, at Georgia, Alabama at home, and at South Carolina in the span of five weeks. Even if Tennessee comes out of its first eight games at 2-6, the Volunteers should be competitive in their four November games with Memphis, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The question is if Derek Dooley can hold this team together mentally. They may be so beat up physically when November gets here that it won’t matter. 

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Programming note: Among today’s guests on the “Barnhart and Durham Show” are new Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell, whose team knocked off Ole Miss on Saturday. Please join us starting at 10 a.m. on www.790thezone.com.

869 comments Add your comment

Spike

September 20th, 2010
6:52 am

I wom’t even claim to be first, I’m not in the mood. Murray is the real deal. Too bad the O line and the secondary just seem to mail it in at times. And that “block” by Ealy nearly got Murray killed. This team seems to have no heart, no fight in it.

Spike

September 20th, 2010
6:53 am

Sorry, “won’t”. Tony, get spellcheck on this thing.

Edsak

September 20th, 2010
6:54 am

Tony B ROCKS!

September 20th, 2010
6:54 am

Nick

September 20th, 2010
7:06 am

Ealey averaged 4.8 ypc against Arkansas, Thomas averaged 5.0 ypc. Why the complaints about the O-Line?

The sacks were because Murray couldn’t figure out you’re supposed to throw the ball or throw it away in 3 seconds, he held on to the ball far too long, that’s not on the O-Line, that’s on an indecisive QB who’s still trying to be a hero by keeping plays alive wiht his feet.

Everybody I’ve talked to is excited about Hutson Mason and ready to give another QB a shot at winning a football game. 1-2 as a starter, O-2 in the SEC, doesn’t cut it as a QB, need to find a leader at the QB position who can lead his teasm to a W. Not impressed with Murray’s td to int ratio either, 2.0, when the Bama’s & Florida’s are at 4.0, Georgia can’t climb out of the QB td to int ratio cellar.

Murray is Joe Cox Jr. Plenty of yards passing, accuracy fine, but a bunch of interceptions, and bunch of losses.

destin dawg

September 20th, 2010
7:08 am

Richt.. call the plays !! demote Bo Bo to QB’s… O line needs to step up after 3 years already…. use TE’s and FB’s for 1st down roll out passes…. D is improving… Lakatos needs to work with D backs on blown coverage….. could still go the rest of the way from year….

Buck

September 20th, 2010
7:09 am

You’ve gotta beat somebody besides La Lafayette to earn some respect from your teammates. Time for Hutson Mason to get a shot, he has a quick release, and is 1000x more decisive than “Mr. Indecisive” Murray.

Carlton

September 20th, 2010
7:11 am

It’s not Murray’s upside that concerns me, it’s is downside. All those sacks. All those interceptions. All those losses. It’s his risk taking downside that’s killing this team.

dawgfan

September 20th, 2010
7:13 am

Tony, the O-line will get it together about the 7th or 8th game of the season, just like every year. Its been a distinct pattern since Searles came on board. The only exception is 2008 when they were slightly above average for pretty much the entire season. But hey, at least they were consistant.

Beast from the East

September 20th, 2010
7:13 am

1….Why would the o-line be any better than last year? Just because they’re a year older doesn’t equal being better, does it? If Ealey can’t/won’t block then replace him with a FB.
2….The ACC. The graveyard of football programs!
3….That was a hekuva game! Clemson looks like they could be the best team in the ACC.
4….I agree that my Gators are not playing well. But ask yourself this…are there really 10 teams out there that are better than them? As poorly as they’ve played at times, they still have not come close to losing. That’ll certainly change on Oct. 2. Not looking forward to that game.
5….Karma’s a #&$%^, ain’t it?

Bonus….UT just doesn’t have the horses. At least they fought the whole game and didn’t lay down like they did against the Ducks.

GO Jackets

September 20th, 2010
7:14 am

If the SEC would play the types of quality OOC road games the ACC schedules, they would probably lose a few too.

Lou

September 20th, 2010
7:16 am

Told you guys back in the Spring, Murray’s not the QB. He’s not willing to not be the star. He still thinks he’s in high school running around like Brett Favre. Rather have Logan Gray, Gray will get W’s, might not be pretty passing stats, but better than losing every week to inferior teams because the QB’s trying to be a hero as a redshirt freshman instead of trsuting his teammates to make plays.

Please, make a move. Put Logan Gray in as QB and start winning a game.

Beast from the East

September 20th, 2010
7:16 am

GO Jackets,
You’re right, they would lose a few. But not 9 of 10!

destin dawg

September 20th, 2010
7:18 am

Hutson Mason is the real deal…. Parade all American.. Spurrier would have played him by now.. Just sayin…..

Beast from the East

September 20th, 2010
7:18 am

Lou,
How can you call those “inferior” teams? Play some defense and stop someone before you call anyone “inferior”. La-La was inferior. South Carolina and Arkansas….not so much.

Douglas

September 20th, 2010
7:22 am

I’m really surprised how delusional some of the sports writers are about Mark Richt. I used to respect the guy, but no more. Bobo and Searels (sp) are terrible. Richt refuses to fire both. Unless they improve, I refuse to watch any more UGA football. As a business person, I do not tolerate incompetence nor will I watch it. The players deserve better and so do the fans. The only way change will be made is when the fans stop coming to the game and the financial support stops. Some may say I am a “bandwagon” fan but that is not true: if I saw that UGA was improving, I would hang in there but they are only going to stay the same or get worse. It’s time for change.

Lou

September 20th, 2010
7:25 am

Georgia has beaten South Carolina in the past, 7-2, far superior, and was ranked higher when they played SC at the time, had better WR’s, O-Line, TE’s, RB’s, talent, and still lost the game. Georgia has beaten Ark in the past, 5-0 in last 5, won time of possession 35 to 25, outrushed them by a large margin, got more 1st downs, and converted mroe 3rd downs, Georgia was a better team, but still lost that game too. When you have a 12-2 record against SC & Ark, thse are teams Georgia almost always beats, and we’ve lost both. Murray started both games and is the main reason.

Jethro Bodeen

September 20th, 2010
7:27 am

Anyone with a 5th grade education can see that Georgia is only going to get better. All the nay-sayers will be eating goat at the end of the year. Tech ain’t out of the woods yet and that team may be the team they are all downing soon.

Beast from the East

September 20th, 2010
7:27 am

Lou,
The PAST is the PAST. I believe we’re discussing THIS SEASON. Those are not “inferior” teams THIS YEAR. Just look at the scoreboard to verify that.

Ralph

September 20th, 2010
7:28 am

Wait – we need you and Mark Bradley to debate your opposite viewpoints here. Last week your column started with this: “Georgia and Georgia Tech win because they GOTTA win”. Bradley says after the 1 – 2 start things are going as he expected and UGA will go 9-3.

Munchkin

September 20th, 2010
7:30 am

Don’t blame me it’s Bobo’s play calling!

Nick

September 20th, 2010
7:31 am

Some QB’s just can’t lead. They can’t find a way to win. For 67% ofd Georgia’s games, Murray hasn’t led his team to a victory. Richt normally wins 77% if his games, now he’s losing 67%. Richt didn’t forget hwo to coach, but he did make a poor decision at QB, and Murray hasn’t done anything yet to earn the respect of his teammates. He’s not leading. They’re not playing hard for him, for all 4 quarters. Love the Alabama kid, hasn’t lose a game since the 8th grade. No flashy stats, but nothign but W’s. That’s leadership.

Beast from the East

September 20th, 2010
7:34 am

I can’t believe you folks blaming a first year QB. You just gave up 31 points on your own field. 380 yards passing to wide open receivers. THAT’S the problem. You score 24 points at home, you should win. This isn’t the ACC. Play some defense and quit pointing the finger at a first time starting QB that is playing behind a mediocre offensive line.

Charlie Bama

September 20th, 2010
7:34 am

All good points, Tony. Thanks for popping up across so many broadcast venues, as well as offering this daily insight in the AJC. You’re a good guy doing good things. This has been a pretty ugly season so far—Uglier than you thought it could be, maybe?

Lou

September 20th, 2010
7:35 am

All these years of top recruting classes, Georgia has far superior talent, and is getting blown off the field by the South Carolina’s and Arkansas’. We need a change at QB. QB is the most important position on the team. And Georgia is 0-2 in the SEC, with more talent. Something’s wrong.

Warhorse

September 20th, 2010
7:35 am

Looked like Ealey whiffed on 2-3 blocks. He is a liability (probably because a selfish RB who does not want to block). The dawgs need a more versatile RB, better hope King gets well, because Ealey does not do anything for the whole attack.

17 of 20

September 20th, 2010
7:39 am

That Todd Grantham is just as good as advertised. One question was Saturday the first time he saw a forward pass for more than 20 yards? I heard that Cleveland fired him because his defensive scheme could cover the passing game.

Wow...

September 20th, 2010
7:41 am

…looks like $750K doesn’t buy as much in GA as it does in AL…and to top it off he pulls a CWM comment about the players rather than saying HE needs to do a better job of getting his NEW DB coach to coach the players better so that they will KNOW where they are supposed to line up and who to cover…

Larry

September 20th, 2010
7:41 am

This Georgia team (actually since 08) is starting to have a “Ray Goff” look about them and the 0-2 SEC start proves it. I’m losing interest in the Dogs and looking forward to the basketball season (is this the way Duke fans feel every year?), knowing they will be well coached and will give 100% effort the entire game. Goff’s favorite line was always “we’re going to get butter” which really sounds like Richt’s quote this weekend about “we’re improving”. From preseason #1 in 2008 to the role of spoiler in September is sad to see.

Moose

September 20th, 2010
7:41 am

The O-Line has 155 starts of experience, Murray has 3. I think we know who the culprit is.

reality

September 20th, 2010
7:42 am

1. Murray will be ok. UGA will be 6-6 or 7-5.
2. ACC is having a tough time, but still has some very good teams including GT, VT, Miami, Clemson and NC State.
3. Good game that Clemson should have won.
4. UF may not be a top 10 team but they are good enough to win the East.
5. Ole Miss is just a bad team.
Bonus Who cares about Tenn.

Wow...

September 20th, 2010
7:43 am

…think Bobo will ever get a clue that you don’t ALWAYS run 20 yard routes on 3rd and short without leaving a check down for the QB when those guys are covered…and then he blames the QB for not throwing the ball away…obviously he does not know the difference between 4th and 10 and 4th and short when it is STILL 4th down and he has no clue as to what to call…

Nick

September 20th, 2010
7:45 am

Put Logan Gray in, or Hutson Mason, but get Murray off the field. Richt hasn’t started out 0-2 in the SEC in his entire career. Georgia needs a leader at the QB position who can help his teammates play harder and get a W.

Logan Gray was an Elite 11 QB coming out of High School. And Mason set the state of Georgia records for yards and td’s, and took Lassiter further than it had ever gone. It’s not like Murray is the only option.

Resign or Resign?

September 20th, 2010
7:45 am

Since when is spearing a QB in the back with your helmet “a legal hit”?

Wow...

September 20th, 2010
7:45 am

…TB, until UGA wins another game you will be pulling a real “homerism” if you pick them to win ANY of their next games until the sacrificial lamb Idaho State comes to town…

Resign or Resign?

September 20th, 2010
7:46 am

…rather “a legal shot”.

Geez, Nick...

September 20th, 2010
7:46 am

…ever think that maybe the reason Hutson and Logan do not play is because they have less of clue than the current QB?

War Cam

September 20th, 2010
7:50 am

UGA…makes me laugh

Mark in Woodstock

September 20th, 2010
7:50 am

1. How is a year older offensive line supposed to be better just because they are a year older….maybe they simply weren’t that good last year and they are merely an older bad bunch together???
2. Florida is going to rely on the running game to win…they don’t have the confidence in the QB or WR to win the old way.
3. Outside of the men in orange from Tiger town I don’t see a team capable of winning 9 games in the ACC.
4. Is the SEC East really this bad outside of FL and SC…..wow….you could put an all star team together from Vandy, KY, GA, and Tenn and not win a game against a team from the West.

SimpleDawg

September 20th, 2010
7:50 am

Nick and Lou…..y’all are idiots. STFU.

King Gator

September 20th, 2010
7:50 am

Don’t be surprised when Tenn beats UGA. I see Bama smacking my Gators around at home in a few weeks, but we should have a shot to win the rest of our games on the schedule. (not that we will) I’m guessing 10-2 and if that 2nd loss isn’t to SC we’ll be in the SEC Championship game. Not bad for “down year” for the Gators. Go Gators!

Brooksdawg

September 20th, 2010
7:51 am

If you watch the side lines–Bobo talks to Richt before each play is called. I am not sure who is really calling the plays at this point. What really stood out from Saturday to me was how the team responded after Richt made the whole team huddle. It was the first time in a while I have seen the head coach actually attempt to motivate his team during the game. Richt’s body language and the players body language says “we are here to play a game—if we win, we win, if not there is always next week”. I am tired of the team not being prepared for the game at hand—If you don’t play to win why play the game?

Sean

September 20th, 2010
7:52 am

Ole Miss should’ve brought Masoli in as a safety.

Auburn is terrible. If Kyle Parker doesn’t get hurt, Clemson wins that game by two touchdowns. South Carolina will win big this weekend.

http://thebubblescreen.blogspot.com

Larry

September 20th, 2010
7:53 am

Concerning the offense, (1) Murray should have played last year to gain valuable ecperience (2) the O-line is either over rated, poorly coached, or both (3) Georgia needs a stud running back when your backup is 5′7″ and 150 it’s a disgrace (4) AJ has let his team down with his greed and stupidity they could very well be 3-0 with him playing (5) the offense is so predictable and may be outdated. With the state’s great high school athletes, Georgia’s facilties, fanbase, etc, the program needs a coach that will show them how to reach their potential. Perhaps the timing is perfect to have a new AD that won’t tolerate underachieving.

Beast from the East

September 20th, 2010
7:53 am

King Gator,
Smacking us around is probably a nice way of putting it. Can we just play our scout team so our starters are healthy for the rest of the season? LOL! I keep having flashbacks of the Nebraksa game in 95.

JB

September 20th, 2010
7:55 am

If the OL and RB block as they have in the past, we’re 3-0. Just the facts.

HBTD!!!

Perry

September 20th, 2010
7:56 am

This O-Line sure did look good with Joe Cox as the QB last year. Not so much with Murray back there, Murray makes the most experienced line in the NCAA look bad, now that’s a hard thing to do. Let’s get a QB who makes his teammates look good.

The O-Line is the strength of the team, and Murray’s inexperience is the weakness of the team. You’d have to be blind not to see that.

Wow...

September 20th, 2010
7:56 am

…as someone else already pointed out, if you thought that shot the Clemson took to the kidneys was a ‘legal’ hit the you continue to be as clueless as the refs who failed to call ’spearing’ on the play. Leading with the crown of the helmet has always been an illegal hit, just as Nick Buoniconti’s kid…he had to learn the hard way.

Kool Aid

September 20th, 2010
7:59 am

Well they did blank and averaged blank for the last ten years. So that makes us better than blank percent. We have great facilities, Money, Fans. Top Ten Program. Just wait till next year. National Champs! Mark my words!

K Jack

September 20th, 2010
8:00 am

If Richt stays with Murray this year, he’s throwing this season away as a rebuilding season, something he wasn’t willing to do last year. So, if he wouldn’t do it last year, why throw the season away this year and let Murray get this team to 8 losses (a 33% win % projected to 12 games). What happens if Richt stays with Murray, loses 8 games, and has to make another change at QB next year?

Why not have a comeptition on the field at QB this season between Gray, Mason & Murray, may the best man win.