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

Bill King is a............

September 20th, 2010
8:39 am

Atticus…..what have you been watching??? Our big bruising line was horrible against SC. We tried and tried to run up the middle and couldnt do it. The toss sweep was working too good and Booboo abandoned it after our first drive. Our line leaves a lot to be desired. Given the fact that we have a young qb, defenses are going to load the box and dare us to throw it. Murray is looking pretty good to be a RSF. Booboo is just a horrendus play caller. My point is….we are goin to have to establish the pass to open up the run. Thats just the way it is. Murray is a good qb.

DawginLex

September 20th, 2010
8:39 am

If you were an SEC coach, would you schedule 4 tough BCS OOC games and then play the SEC schedule?

No, you wouldn’t.

The Old Bawl Coach

September 20th, 2010
8:40 am

Even I had the guts to fire my own son as play caller.

WonderDawg

September 20th, 2010
8:41 am

h walker, I agree that Mason is a really good, acurate, passer. I disagree about Murray’s arm strength. He did underthrow a few long passes but gave his really tall receivers a chance to make a play. He wasn’t able to step into too many throws Sat with the pass rush, either.

And that “hail marry” pass went 65 yards.

Tru Blu

September 20th, 2010
8:41 am

Mett & Gray outplayed Murray in the Spring–the stats don’t lie. Everybody who saw the G-Day game knows that.

Yet Richt went with Murray. You don’t just make arbitrary decisions like that without buy-in.

This team does not want to follow Aaron Murray. Nobody’s making plays for this guy. Even Olson is dropping passes right and left. The O-Line’s given up 9 sacks in 2 games. The running backs havn’t broken a long one. No special teams td’s. The defense has given up 48 points in the last 2 games and isn’t forcing turnovers.

Murray isn’t leading and team ain’t following.

Palladin

September 20th, 2010
8:41 am

@Is it just me?

Yes. It’s just you.

Complaining about another conference’s schedule won’t take away your losses.

Dawg Fud

September 20th, 2010
8:43 am

I predicted at the beginning of the season this team was good for 5 or fewer wins. That’s not a jab, just a calculation.

I think this team plays really hard which is very promising. They have not given up in either loss.

All this talk of firing coaches…if any coach needs ot be on the “hot seat” it should be Searels. He has the oldest and most veteran group and his results are by far the worst.

I can live with losing this year as long as we are playing hard.

Tru Blu

September 20th, 2010
8:44 am

Richt has lost credibility with this team by annointing Murray as the starter, kicking Mett off, and demoting Gray to SE.

The team never bought that decision.

0-2 in the SEC.

3rdn8

September 20th, 2010
8:44 am

I seem to remember, just a few years ago, the SEC East was the class of college football. They dominated the conference. The pendulum now seems to have clearly swung to the SEC West. But before the fans in the West get too comfortable, just remember, pendulums just keep swinging.

Here is my take on the first three weeks:

– Alabama has the best offensive team I’ve ever seen at T-Town. The defense on the other hand has some serious systemic problems. They haven’t played an opponent (yet) who can exploit those weaknesses. The offense may have to carry this team, this season. I never remember that happening. BTW – Bama’s special teams seem, in some ways, appear to be more solid than last years squad.

- Florida is trying to find a team. They have talent out the wazoo, but have not gelled. This is particularly evident on offense. I’m guessing by mid-season, Meyer will have that corrected. I just hope the correction occurs after Oct 2.

- USC may be the real deal. Spurrier has been able to field some pretty good teams early (in the season) at Carolina, only to fizzle down the stretch. But….he’s never had the defense, and the running game that this team posseses.

- AU is a puzzler. At times, they show flashes of being something special. I thought the way they came back on Saturday was impressive (that is a GOOD Clemson team). But…they are making entirely too many mistakes (penalties, etc…) to beat some of the teams they’ll be playing later in the season. Newton is a great athlete, who is learning to be a QB. If he turns out to be a quick study, AU is in the hunt.

- LSU is quietly putting together an impressive resume. The MSU game is a bit misleading because the MSU QBs handed the game to the Tigers via five INTs. But…Miles and staff have their kids improving every week. And….Bama has to travel to Baton Rouge for a night game.

- UGA is on the verge…..either for a meltdown, or becoming the next surprise in the East. I’m guessing meltdown. I hate to see it because I think CFB needs more coaches like Mark Richt.

- UK. Could be the wildcard in the East. They’re not getting press, they just keep winning. So far their schedule has been a bit soft, but then so has Bama’s.

Sitting on my present perch, it appears that USC, and Bama are the teams to beat in the East, and West respectively.

Saturday will clear up a lot of the murk.

The Old Bawl Coach

September 20th, 2010
8:46 am

Dogs lose to Ms State, Tenn, Kentucky, Florida, GT and fire Richt. They ask me, I say no so they hire Boise HC.

Who Dat ...Two Dat

September 20th, 2010
8:47 am

Tony….you are 0-2 in picking uga this year….homer quit picking the dogs and maybe they will win…

H-back

September 20th, 2010
8:47 am

Kentucky will beat Florida this weekend.

Atticus

September 20th, 2010
8:47 am

Bill king is a…..I agreed with you. Read again. We don’t play physical against anyone.

jumbeauxtiger

September 20th, 2010
8:47 am

Tony, The Dawgs’ OL may be a problem but you won’t win many SEC games giving up 31 points.

H-back

September 20th, 2010
8:47 am

Enter your comments here

Bill King is a............

September 20th, 2010
8:47 am

Lex, i agree with you. Murray, Gray and Durham are our only bright spots on offense right now. And i would bench AJ when is suspension is over. I know this sounds radical as hell but hear me out. Richt has lost respect/control on this team. The way to reestablish his credibility is to bench AJ. I would think that would send a message to rest of team to shape up or you will be shipped out. If AJ is so good, he’ll still get drafted at end of year without playing a down. if not then guess what, he’ll get to comeback for his senior year. I think we’d still have lost at least one of these last two games with him. I dont think any team can overcome Bobo as an OC. Some say not having AJ’s the reason for our downfall, i tend to disagree. but if thats truly the case, bench his rearend for causing all of this for a measly $1,000 jersey. I know he’s a good kid, but damn!! He knew he was doing the wrong thing.

ommyTa

September 20th, 2010
8:48 am

The point I think Tony is trying to make is that the O-line was supposed to be dominant enough in the running game that Murray would not have to win the game. He would just have to manage it. The main reason we had a running game at all on Saturday is because Murray did have some success throwing it. It was not supposed to be like that. Of course, that expectation was based largely on last year’s GT game, and we all know what kind of defense they have.

Wanting to replace Murray after two games is a little premature, don’t you think?. Did you really expect a kid who has never played a down of college ball to come in and be Drew Brees? If our line was dominant as expected, he would be throwing about 10-15 times per game. Instead he’s thrown it 21 and 27 times, respectively. Let’s see if he improves and then judge him.

Atticus

September 20th, 2010
8:48 am

Old Bawl…….how is the Boise coach (who built the program) doing at Colorado?

WAR EAGLE!

September 20th, 2010
8:48 am

Who said this, UGA will beat Ark. because they have to? I think they need to come up with a better reason to win. They may be in trouble in Starkville.
Clemson is no pushover. Auburn was lucky to get out of that one with a win. On the other hand, they did come back from being down 17 to 3. I see a lot of fight and character in this team. If they can get by SC this weekend, they may be undefeated come Thanksgiving. I’m with ‘em no matter what happens. It’s Great to be an Auburn Tiger! War Eagle!

The Old Bawl Coach

September 20th, 2010
8:48 am

3rdn8 agree with everything in your post. I believe Auburn could be great if Malzahn ever figures out how to call plays an entire game. Last year he jumped on UGA early but went completely away from what works.

Tru Blu

September 20th, 2010
8:48 am

Drew Butler looked like an All-American under Joe Cox, under Murray, he can’t punt the ball. The O-Line looked incredible under Joe Cox–watch the Ga Tech game. Ealey & King made plays, so did Wooten and Olson, under Cox’s leadership. Boykin made plays on special teams. Branden Smith played great for Joe Cox. The team beat South Carolina & Arkansas under Joe Cox’s leadership. 0-2 with Murray.

Is it just me?

September 20th, 2010
8:48 am

Yes, the SEC is SO DEEP. No team will come within 2 touchdowns of Alabama. Its only deep when another SEC school plays in conference. When a Jax State upsets Ole Miss its because “well, Ole Miss sucks this year.” Or when GT destroys Vandy and Mississippi State on the road, well, its just Vandy or Miss State. But when Auburn squeaks out a win against Miss State on the road, its a big W and a hard to get SEC road win.

Chris

September 20th, 2010
8:50 am

Tony, it wasnt’ just the oline and a missed block by Ealey. You have to put A LOT of the blame on Bobo’s play calling. The call on 3rd and 4 was horrendus. Murray and Ealey should never have been in that position. Rolling Murray out where he has to make a play with his legs, or throw a short pass to a Tight End, that was oddly missing from the game, would have been the correct call. Sitting in the pocket, and sending all your receivers 20 yards down the field, when you only need 4 yards is idiotic.

Bobo is the one to blame.

WonderDawg

September 20th, 2010
8:50 am

Is it just me?,

Why don’t you just go away? What the hell are you asking anyway?

UGA has 8 SEC games every year, half of them border-rivalries, although UF probably doesn’t consider us a rialry anymore.

The past few years UGA has played OOC games (in addition to Tech) against Boise State, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Colorado, and Arizona. UGA travels to Colorado in about three weeks and already traveled to the others, except Boise.

Does this info help you?

Ironwood

September 20th, 2010
8:51 am

Lou, it looks like you are living in the past. UGA is 0-2 in the SEC. SC and Ark are getting better, so is KY.

Atticus

September 20th, 2010
8:52 am

Replace Murray???? What a bunch of freaking idiots! With who? They kid is not the problem. The problem is we have a coach that coaches with no emotion in a violent sport who does not demand and hold himself and other coaches and players accountable….and an offensive coach who has no grasp of gameplanning or putting defenses in mismatches…and has not been approached with a HC job—the silence is deafening.

RxDawg

September 20th, 2010
8:52 am

1. It’s more than just the O-line Tony. But thanks for trying to point out some positives with Murray.

2. Ouch..

3. Yeh it was a great game. It’s ending wasn’t very climactic though.

4. I agree. Can’t anyone match the discipline of blocking and tackling that Alabama displays? Football ain’t that hard folks. It’s just trying to get a bunch of kids to do the job right. Somehow, Saban has figured it out. Must be nice..

5. I knew I should of picked Vandy. Can’t believe I went with Ole Miss….those guys stink. Heck, Georgia might even beat them if we played.

WonderDawg

September 20th, 2010
8:53 am

I didn’t know a punter plays under a QB . . .?

The Old Bawl Coach

September 20th, 2010
8:53 am

H back, it has only been 31 years and it won’t happen this year.

Palladin

September 20th, 2010
8:53 am

@WonderDawg

He’s an ACC fan. Nothing but the arrival of basketball season can help him.

Big Dawg

September 20th, 2010
8:54 am

Enter your comments here

Atticus

September 20th, 2010
8:54 am

Meanwhile we have to fire our defensive coordinator while Florida’s have both been hired as head coaches and Saban’s get raises…..

WonderDawg

September 20th, 2010
8:54 am

And Butler was an All-American last year, he didn’t just look like one. He looks like me this year – but you think it’s because of Murray? Whew, that’s outside the box . . .

Dawg gone gittin' it

September 20th, 2010
8:55 am

Kudos to our boys for showing heart in the big comeback against a very good Arkansas team. Aaron is continuing to improve in a level of play that is new and challeging to a freshman Q.B. .
There a few things to work on but Georgia is a great team and deserves our full support. Keep working hard boys, it’ll come together!

Tru Blu

September 20th, 2010
8:56 am

Richt’s the only person in the locker room who wants Murray to be the starting QB. The team hasn’t bought in and signed off on that one. Richt forgot leadership 101–the players play the game, not the coaches, the players lead the team, not the coach. The players ain’t playin’ for Murray or Richt right now. They flat out quit against SC. Everybody except Durham quit against Arkansas.

Bill King is a............

September 20th, 2010
8:56 am

Tru Blu,

Listen here sport, Cox was horrible. So horrible, Richt would’ve been justified in benching him after the Tenn game last year and playing Zach or Aaron. Then we’d have a qb with a lil more experience that what we have now. I catch your drift, do you really think these guys are playing crappy in protest of Murray being the qb?? Get a grip, son. But Richt doesnt want to hurt anybody’s feelings. He wants them all to feel good about themselves. TruBlu….go back to your own blog and stay off uga’s.

nc4000

September 20th, 2010
8:57 am

say goodnight coach rick

Palladin

September 20th, 2010
8:58 am

@Tru Blu

“the players lead the team, not the coach”

I think that you might have hit on the problem, but I wouldn’t expect you to understand…

Tru Blu

September 20th, 2010
8:59 am

At some point, I guess after 5 losses in 3 more weeks, Richt will look around and say why did Boykin, Smith, King, Ealey, Butler, O-Line all the sudden get so bad? And then it’ll hit em—about declaring Murray as the leader, unearned. But Georgia will be 2-5 and it will be too late. Richt better start winning over this team, nobody’s buying in for Richt right now except Durham.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

September 20th, 2010
8:59 am

folks, Murray has played 3 games. We can’t expect him to be a heisman candidate his first year. he made mistakes, and will continue to do so but in the long run, he’ll be a great QB for UGA. also, the defense was completely revamped so there will be mistakes there too. consider this year to be a rebuilding year. i’m certainly concerned about the O-line and the blocking. we still have a great chance to have a successful year.

WonderDawg

September 20th, 2010
9:00 am

Tru Blu, who else was Richt gonna name as starter? Mett was already suspended for the first two games in the fall, then later kicked off the team when he pled guilty to sexual battery.

Murray would be fine with ANYBODY else calling plays for him than Bobo.

RxDawg

September 20th, 2010
9:00 am

3rdn8
September 20th, 2010
8:44 am

That’s a nice assesment of the SEC

Red Man Reaction

September 20th, 2010
9:01 am

I think it’s official: we have some of the most delusional fans in the world.

I can’t believe some of you guys are pinning this on Murray! He was the only one who play with heart the ENTIRE game. He didn’t need a pep talk in the 4th quarter. He came to play!

I’m getting so tired of the stupidity on these blogs. And frankly, I’m surprised that Tony Barnhart doesn’t have the guts to talk about the giant, tan elephant in the room: Mark Richt and his coaching staff.

After proclaiming that UGA’s “GOTTA win,” he sure is keeping is trap shut about the loss.

The fact is, no one thought the program would sink to this level, and if anyone thinks it’s Murray’s fault and not the fault of the coaches, you are absolutely insane.

But I guess the inmates are running the asylum now.

Tru Blu

September 20th, 2010
9:01 am

Cox was 2-0 against South Carolina & Arkansas, Murray is 0-2.

3rdn8

September 20th, 2010
9:02 am

@ RXDawg

thanks. I manage to do all of that before my wife takes the computer away.

RambleOn84

September 20th, 2010
9:02 am

Actually, ACC basketball stinks right now too, compared with what we’re used to.

Mike

September 20th, 2010
9:02 am

Boo Boo (Bobo) must go.

CharlotteGator

September 20th, 2010
9:05 am

Tony,

Usually a big fan of your posts whether I agree or not, but today’s seems a little angry and just off. You doing ok?

“…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…”

I get what you’re trying to say, but a couple sentences like this just looks bad. Somehow an “okay team” has the talent to go 11-1 but is not in the Top 10? They’re surely on the bottom half of the top ten and I’m worried about the Gators, but am hard pressed to find 10 better teams than them right now.

WonderDawg

September 20th, 2010
9:06 am

Don’t worry about that, Mike. If Richt won’t demote him, McGarity will get it done. He has seen excellence up close for several years and he sure knows he ain’t seeing it now.

ATL Gator

September 20th, 2010
9:07 am

Tony…I think you may be falling into the trap of many a Gator fan…that is…those who are spoiled because we aren’t putting up 40+ every week.

Look at the stats, this team is running the ball far more than they are passing it. And the defense is number 1 in the country in interceptions (10) and number 25 against the run (92 yds per game.) And don’t forget, the Gators excel at special teams play. How many yds do they give up on punt returns?

I saw some flashes of improvement by the receivers Saturday…Carl Moore made a couple of sick catches on 3rd down.

The Gators will be fine….even if they get beat in Tuscaloosa in 2 weeks. It’s still a young team, but the improvement is there..every week.