Fortunately, Dogs aren’t about impressing pollsters anymore

I'm assuming after kicking the game-winning field goal, Blair Walsh and teammate Drew Butler (13) were thanking somebody upstairs and not declaring, "We're No. 1." (AP photo)

Let's assume Blair Walsh and Drew Butler were not declaring, "We're No. 1" after the win. (AP photo)

ATHENS — If after one game you were convinced that this would be a dreadful season, and after two games you figured maybe the quarterback wouldn’t be so bad after all,  and after three games you once again were ready to catapult Willie Martinez out of Athens, out of the state and out of a job, well, guess what? They’ve come full circle.

Maybe it’s best to just not assume anything about Georgia this season — certainly not an easy victory.

Blair Walsh kicked a game-winning 37-yard field goal as time expired Saturday to give the Bulldogs a 20-17 win over Arizona State at Sanford Stadium. And that’s really all you want to know without a bottle of Tums.

Given that this is a bottom-line business, the Bulldogs will try not to think about how they got there. There was an offense that committed three more turnovers, leading to 14 of the visitors’ 17 points and left the team at a minus-9 in turnover differential this season. There also was an offense that produced only two field goals (and the three turnovers) in 10 possessions after two early touchdowns.

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Joe Cox completed only 12 of 23 with two interceptions after the first quarter. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC).

There was bland and unimaginative play-calling and a stunning decision by coach Mark Richt to pass up a potential winning 45-yard field-goal attempt earlier in the fourth quarter to go for it on fourth-and-one (and the play was stuffed).

Good thing nobody is paying attention to polls this season.

“You’d like to think you’re progressing over the last three weeks,” Richt said. “It’s almost like we’re that record that gets stuck and the same things keep happening over and over again. The good news is at the very end we’ve been winning. We’d like to remove some of the drama if possible.”

The defense was strong. That would be the good news. But somewhere it is written that you should not be tied with Arizona State in the fourth quarter on your home field, particularly after leading 14-3 in the first quarter.

Haven’t figured this team out yet? Stop trying.

It was far different circumstances when these teams met at this time a year ago. The Bulldogs still had national championship aspirations. They won in  Tempe 27-10. It was one of their best performances of the season, setting up meteoric expectations for Alabama week.

Then came the blackout. Then came the knockout. Bama jumped to a 31-0 lead and it was over. Neither the Dogs nor expectations were the same the rest of the season.

That wasn’t an issue Saturday. The season-opening loss at Oklahoma State smothered the rankings talk early. The wins over South Carolina and Arkansas were fun to watch, much like cartoons are fun to watch. Great offense, no defense, too many penalties and turnovers and exploding body parts.

The game was tied 17-17 when Georgia got the ball back with 5:40 left. But on first down, Joe Cox threw behind A.J. Green right into the hands of safety Jarrell Holman (who earlier returned an interception for a touchdown).  This one he brought back to the Dogs’ 20. But the defense held again, and a 38-yard field goal attempt was blocked — by A.J. Green.

Green also caught a 56-yard touchdown earlier in the game. On the ensuing Dogs’ possession after the blocked field, he made a third-down 22-yard catch at the Arizona State 22. That ultimately set up the winning field goal. Pretty sure he was player of the game.

It looked for a while liked Georgia might have an easy night. Didn’t happen. Maybe we should all just assume at this point that there won’t be any easy days or nights.

First the offense stalled, then it started dropping engine parts on the highway (a fumble set up one touchdown and an interception was returned for another score). Suddenly, ASU led 17-14. The Dogs came back to tie it. After forcing ASU to punt, the Dogs drove into Devils’ territory again. But Richt elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the 28 — passing up a potential go-ahead 45-yard field goal.  Result: fullback Fred Munzenmaier ran into a wall.

They seemed destined to lose. But at this point we should just assume they’re not destined for anything. Except maybe to keep us guessing.

617 comments Add your comment

Cuz

September 26th, 2009
11:08 pm

Second or third.

Cuz

September 26th, 2009
11:09 pm

Oh krap, I was first, cmon Cuz act like you have been there before.

Cuz

September 26th, 2009
11:10 pm

That was me and not my doppleganger. He will be here shortly.

Dawgdrummer

September 26th, 2009
11:14 pm

Tums…I think we will need them for every game! I have no influence (i.e., alumni-yes, lots of $$ – no) but Ray Charles could see the biggest problem is Bobo’s play calling. It continues to put points on the board for the other team. Well, take two Tums and call me in the morning!

Clowns

September 26th, 2009
11:19 pm

This coaching staff is clueless. Getting stuffed on 3rd and 4th and short. No killer instinct in this football program ever by CMR.

Gravy Train

September 26th, 2009
11:19 pm

Jeff, all points indicate a youth filled squad in need of seasoning. Joe is a senior but his game experience is more like a sophmore at times. The defense is peppered with youngsters. We are watching the growing pains of a young team. I, for one, am encouraged by the weekly improvements, the heart of the team, and of knowing our best games are ahead of us.

oldmanfan

September 26th, 2009
11:20 pm

Will they ever put together a good game? The defense has saved this team time and again. I’m beginning to think this Ga. team is just average. I just hope they’re saving the best game for the gators.I’ll give them credit. they never quit. It an’t over till the clock runs out with this team. GO DAWGS.

Larvell "Sugarbear" Blanks

September 26th, 2009
11:20 pm

I cannot begin to describe my utter confusion as to why CMR did not kick the field goal instead of going for it on fourth and one. I am starting to think that maybe his playbook washed away in the rain. How we won that game is utterly beyond my grasp of comprehension. If this is the team we are going to have this year then I might as well keep the number of the local hospital here in Jacksonville Beach next to my TV because a few more games like this and the doctors are going to have to Baker Act me! Stop the insanity CMR and FIRE MARTINEZ! NOW!!!

SOS Dawg

September 26th, 2009
11:21 pm

South Carolina will move past the dawgs in the polls I bet.

As My Stomach Turns...

September 26th, 2009
11:22 pm

Remember Sally Fields in the movie ‘Sybil’? She and all of her multiple personalities = our team this year.

A strong D, Jeff? Come on. Besides Rennie Curran, the best players on our D were…the weather and the Devils QB.

So now what, MARK RICHT? Act like a head coach and lead this team.

Dawggrl

September 26th, 2009
11:22 pm

Are we going to discuss the horrible refs in this game? 2 missed face masks in that 4th quarter, a TD called as out of bounds and let’s not forget the blatant pushing of the ref by ASU to stop a play they were obviously not ready for!

Brad in Jasper

September 26th, 2009
11:23 pm

Good Luck 3, Bad Luck 1

As My Stomach Turns...

September 26th, 2009
11:24 pm

Gravy Train…you are a blind homer.

Brad in Jasper

September 26th, 2009
11:24 pm

By the way, I’ll take it

bkbroila

September 26th, 2009
11:24 pm

HEY JEFF, AKA Mr.SMARTYMAN…LOL…I bet we dominate TENNESSEE TECH…bet that will be an easy win…OK..Maybe not…At least we didn’t do like 7 other ranked teams and LOSE today…6 of those losses to UNRANKED TEAMS…

jimmy

September 26th, 2009
11:24 pm

GA has become an ACC team. No commitment to the run, weak defense and no win at all cost attitude. Maybe FSU will need a head coach soon and free UGA from this downward spiral.

As My Stomach Turns...

September 26th, 2009
11:25 pm

oldmanfan…you are an old blind homer.

BD

September 26th, 2009
11:26 pm

Nice pass interference by Green on his long catch. Push off defender, make the catch.

Great Home Cooking in the Cesspool.

UGA75

September 26th, 2009
11:26 pm

I’m too old and nervous to watch UGA play this year. In the past I’ve kicked a tv or 2, threatened to fly to where ever Referee’s live and make them watch calls they botched, and even suggested that I’d drive the moving truck to an unnamed Defensive Coordinators house to help him move. I’m still shaking like a leaf in a hurricane after 2 or three Valiums, and while I haven’t had a drink of anything stronger than Ice Tea in more than 20 years, if there were any such substances in my home or close to my home, I’d drink grain alcohol just to get tonights game and this season out of my head. I’m glad to be 3-1, but I don’t think I’ll watch another game this year, my heart and sanity probably can’t stand it. Go Dawgs!

USMCDAWG

September 26th, 2009
11:27 pm

Where do I start… why do we need replay if your not going to use it, toes are a part of the foot the last time I checked, and willies boys are on the field way too much, we have the best recieving squad in the nation yet we settle for flair outs and throwing into double coverage and I love you Joe but stop choreographing your pass…Mark my bro in Christ please, please, please learn clock mangement with all that speed and we want to slowwwwwwww like we are still learning the play and Richard Samuel if you want to be the next best Herschel, stop leading with your head drive with your legs or you will end up like Tebow was tonight thanks for the thriller..?

Ron Roberts

September 26th, 2009
11:27 pm

Okay, “ManRule” time…. no Sally Field movie references needed here, thankyouverymuch.

Multiple personality syndrome? Yes. Sally Field reference? No.

Tonight Willie’s the hero and Bobo’s the bozo. Go figure; I was sorta hoping for a 48-45 thriller so we could finally get rid of our defensive coordinator. Damn, even when we win, we somehow lose, eh?

D.Ellis

September 26th, 2009
11:28 pm

Good:-Pass rush was there a few times. Houston looks to just be warming up. Player of the game:AJ…no doubt….but if I could give a half vote…it would go to Rontavious Wooten….that dude made 2 HUGE grabs on what I believe was long down and ditance, in this game those added up big.Defense played very very well. Only gave up 10 points on the night…>VASTLY IMPROVED from the last 2 games. Line blocked very well. Anyone see Cox take a sack?????? I didn’t. AZ. State had a stout defense.

So-So-What was the deal with the Full back trap? Ran it like 5 times in the second half for a total of 3 yards????? I liked seeing the full back screen again…..had not seen that once this year til tonight. R. Jones still has coverage issues. Good to see B. Rambo step up and get that pick off the blits pressure……that is what it is designed to do. NO KICKOFFS OUT OF BOUNDS!!!!

No injuries tongiht and we are 3-1 and 2-0 in conference. Cut down on the Turnovers please and this week is a huge show down!!!!!!!!

Stay healthy and get after win #4!!!!!!!!!!!!

GOOOOO DAWGS

Schlagdawg

September 26th, 2009
11:28 pm

Can anyone tell me about that whole ASU LB-pushing-the-ref incident? How is pushing a ref into the offensive line not a penalty?

DumbfoundedDawg

September 26th, 2009
11:29 pm

AJ Green is a stud…Mike Bobo is not. Rennie Curran is a beast…Willie Martinez is not. Joe Cox is a fighter…Mark Richt is not. Too much talent to be playing like this. Play calling is horrible. If it’s not Willie’s bend and don’t break, it’s Bobo sending the defense right back out on the field. There is sound fundamental football and then there is this team. The officiating was horrible but was no excuse for what we saw out there in terms of play calling by Bozo…I mean Bobo. Mark Richt, I respect you as a man. I detest you as a coach.

Buckhead Bulldog

September 26th, 2009
11:29 pm

Cuz…You are commenting to yourself, again. Come on, bro’. I know this team is psychotic but you have got to get it together man. This will be a long season, and we can’t have you folding this early. : )

God! My poor liver can’t take this!

wwjd

September 26th, 2009
11:29 pm

These Dawgs. Their lights are shining bright. To all you naggers, complainers, doubters; it’s ok to be nice every once in a while. Try it. You might actually like it….

As My Stomach Turns...

September 26th, 2009
11:29 pm

Brad In Jasper…you take the win while Mark Richt takes $2.8M to the bank this year, and last year, and next year…….

USMCDAWG

September 26th, 2009
11:30 pm

BD if u had watched the whole game they were hanging on him all night but deep down you love the dawgs or you wouldnt watch the higlights so closely :)

mr me

September 26th, 2009
11:31 pm

Maybe the Dawgs will put it all together in their Big upcoming games against LSU and Florida. But the past four games have either been impressive offensively and terrible defensively or vice versa. Today the D looked decent and bad bad O. Although we did win by a touchdown (TERRIBLE OFFICIATING Tonight) that was a TD by Green clear as day and totally missed a 5 min long facemask on Caleb King. That crew needs to be fired. Cautiously Optimistic about next week. Go Dawgs and its great to be a non-hater who im sure will show up on here soon enough. Please be happy that your team won (whether your a gaytor or a bumble bee) and stay off my blog.

Vince

September 26th, 2009
11:32 pm

Look on the bright side folks, Georgia has won all the close ones, doesn’t that count for something. I would rather see exciting games than the one sided blowouts that Florida & Texas come up with every week. If you can win the close ones with the whomever s, you should stand a chance of winning the close ones with the big boys. But we do need to cut down on the turnovers in order to be competitive every game.

MATT

September 26th, 2009
11:32 pm

You have to give props to Martinez and the defense. They got it done tonight. If UGA ever puts together a complete game, they might be pretty good. Penalties were down, but the turnovers continue to kill us. I’m afraid that with the athletes that LSU has, they will play tight man on our receivers the same way that ASU did. Who knows with our guys though, we may hang forty on them?

Texas Dawg

September 26th, 2009
11:34 pm

Why….Why….Why…yea..got ya…. we won…I’m glad we won….but I’m sick getting by marginal teams….why do I feel so disappointed!

As My Stomach Turns...

September 26th, 2009
11:34 pm

wwjd…if your initials mean what I think, then you’ll have to agree that j complained when he saw that things were wrong. There’s nothing wrong with that.

2N4YEARS

September 26th, 2009
11:34 pm

What he said.

2N4YEARS

September 26th, 2009
11:37 pm

Chance to put them away. Nah, let’s make it close again.

Dennis G. Berdanis

September 26th, 2009
11:37 pm

2 years from now, no one will remember how we won, just that we won. I don’t care how we win, just win!

wwjd

September 26th, 2009
11:37 pm

What is wrong with a win?

senoiadawgs

September 26th, 2009
11:38 pm

Nothing needs to be said about the QB…

Our coaching staff recap: How did you all like the handoff to the fullback 5 times in the 2nd half wasn’t that a great play? 2nd Goal from the 1 a toss sweep? One of the best kickers in the nation go for it on 4th down? 3rd and 6 game on the line must score, fly pattern? Get the ball at the end of the first half and can put the game away, what do our coaches do, nothing don’t even try? Maybe BoBo and Richt thought they were in Stillwater tonight only they forgot they were in moving water

Jeff, were you watching the game… Fire Willie and NOW!!!! Our best D was the ASU QB and WR’s, TE’s….

DumbfoundedDawg

September 26th, 2009
11:40 pm

It’s not about a win…it’s about playing up to your potential!! They are put in a position time and again where they are set up for failure. This time they didn’t and it’s a testament to their heart but eventually they will and it’s frustrating to watch. Coach Richt, you are the leader…so LEAD!

Sanford Drive

September 26th, 2009
11:40 pm

Thank God for AJ Green

KJ

September 26th, 2009
11:42 pm

“Nice pass interference by Green on his long catch. Push off defender, make the catch.

Great Home Cooking in the Cesspool.”

If Green’s TD had been called correctly, he wouldn’t have needed the catch.

In summation, you suck, kill yourself, etc.

mr me

September 26th, 2009
11:42 pm

I always thought Green was one of the best receivers but tonight he was sick. Hard to find anyone better than him. Yes you bama fans will argue til you die that Julio’s better but not seeing it. Julio is a great wideout but dont think he’s better than Green.

2N4YEARS

September 26th, 2009
11:43 pm

One of 3 things will happen through the rest of this season.

1) Will get blown out in the 1st qr, then rally back.
2) Will jump ahead and the O turn the ball over on their own end of the field so the other team can rally back
3) Will jump ahead and the D give up big plays so the other team can rally back

oldmanfan

September 26th, 2009
11:43 pm

Yea, I know Stomach turns. We are UGA. We should beat everybody by 55 points. And if we don’t FIRE EVERYBODY. CMR, BOBO,CWM. Why don’t you go put your resume in. You got all the answers. Mabey you could get the national championship every year. Your brain is just loaded with excrement and thats what it takes to be a sucessful coach.

senoiadawgs

September 26th, 2009
11:44 pm

AJ is the man, he has the only reason this team is 3-1 and not 0-4.

Just curious through 4 games, I am curious how many turnovers Gray or Murray would have made. Cox has been responsible for at least 7 maybe 8

As My Stomach Turns...

September 26th, 2009
11:45 pm

This team is not good. Even though we won those games, the fact remains that we haven’t played a really good team, we haven’t put together a complete game since the bowl game against Mich. St. and if we don’t get it together, LSU is gonna make us look ridiculous. Then, all of you thankful “a win is a win” fans will realize that this team is falling…I mean failing.

Get it together, Richt.

2N4YEARS

September 26th, 2009
11:46 pm

Oh, I almost forgot; Congrads UGA. Thanks for pulling this one out. I hope you can get ahead & STAY ahead from now on. I’m gonna have to cash in my 401K to pay my TUMS bill. GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!

senoiadawgs

September 26th, 2009
11:46 pm

Oh don’t forget Dawg fans, we should proud and stand up tall tonight. We put 20 on the board against the nations #1 D in the rain!!! LOL

bling and blang

September 26th, 2009
11:47 pm

CMR needs to get this teams attention. Why did we have players dancing on the sidelines with the score still tied. These players under Vince Dooley would definitely be running the bleachers tomorrow. These Guys need to get Focused and get their damn pea brains into the game. No discipline whatsoever.

montanadawg

September 26th, 2009
11:47 pm

I have watched Georgia play since the 70s. We have never been a dominating team, and I always know that 75-80% of the time we will struggle to put the opponent away when we are obviously better than they are. We figure out how to win when it counts, and remember, the wins are what counts. Sometimes overcoming adversity makes a team stronger. Last year it was penalties that seemed to kill us – this year it is more lost turnovers. We should have beaten Ok State had it not been for turnovers. So, I guess, you can’t get lucky and win them all when you keep giving away points. I’d rather win games ugly than lose games in any fashion. Let’s just be thankful for the win and get ready for LSU – a team that almost lost to another Bulldog team today….