After another flawed win, are Dogs ready for Florida? (Updated with Grantham video)

Aaron Murray and Georgia had some shaky moments Saturday at Vanderbilt. (AP photo)

Aaron Murray and Georgia had some shaky moments Saturday at Vanderbilt. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 11:50 p.m.)

NASHVILLE – There’s a saying in sports: It’s not how, it’s how many. That assumes, of course, we’re not talking about college football polls or perceptions heading into the Florida game.

Georgia won again Saturday night. That makes five straight. If ever a five-game winning streak can cause discomfort, this is it. Vanderbilt, a team that had managed just three points in its previous two games, scored three second-half touchdowns. One came on a 96-yard kickoff return. Two others came on alarming efficient drives of 75 and 84 yards against a Bulldogs’ defense that was thought to be improving. So much for thought.

The Bulldogs, after leading 23-7, held on a for a 33-28 victory. The words “held on” never should appear before “victory” for a team that aspires to something higher than the Liberty Bowl again.

The Dogs’ four straight SEC wins have come over teams — Mississippi State, Mississippi, Tennessee, Vandy — with a combined record of 1-13. No, it’s not their fault they’re playing lousy teams. But this game wasn’t secure until time expired. A blocked punt with seven seconds hope gave the Commodores one last gasp of hope. An ensuing pass from Georgia’s 21-yard line went off the finger tips of a Vandy wide receiver, Chris Boyd in the end zone.

Is this progress?

The Dogs struggled to finish drives on offense. They wilted on defense. They were absolutely dreadful on special teams. They had discipline problems — from the players down to the combustible defensive coordinator. After this one finally, mercifully came to an end, players and coaches from both teams met at midfield. It looked like the stare-down before a rumble between the Jets and Sharks in Westside story.

At the center of it were Vandy coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who exchanged heated words. (Go to the end of the column for the video.)

Georgia coach Mark Richt wasn’t happy after the game, nor should he have been. First, he put an asterisk on the win: “I just don’t know if we’re ready to continue at the top of the Eastern Division the way we played. We’re thankful for the victory but we’ve got a ways to go.”

Then he addressed his team’s lack of discipline and short fuse. He said he didn’t get a good look at the post-game exchange, but commented,  “All I know is I hate the fact at the end of the game that we can’t just shake hands like gentleman and walk off the field. … It’s like the end of a play. When it’s over it’s over. Go to the sideline. And we didn’t do a very good job of that. It is heated. It is battle. It’s not war with real bullets but it’s war in a sense and tempers do flare up. I don’t mind our blood [pressure] getting high but we can’t do something that may get us beat, or make us look less than a first-class operation.”

Grantham was cryptic with his remarks, saying only: “Everybody’s competitive. I love my players. I support my players.”

Franklin: “I went to find coach Richt and didn’t find him, so I found one of his assistant coaches and it didn’t go well.”

Was this a Vandy game?

In short, this wasn’t the kind of performance that is going to inspire confidence going into the Florida game in two weeks, even with the Gators themselves struggling. (Less we forget, the Gators were struggling last season when they won for the 19th time in 21 meetings.)

A blown transformer caused four banks of lights at Vanderbilt Stadium to go out with 2:53 left in the first half. Some of the game was played amid dark shadows. Just as well. Most Vandy games are best played in the dark anyway.

Richt was hoping his team would quick start. That didn’t happen. The offense was as dim as the half-lit stadium. The first four possessions: missed field goal (50 yards), punt (three and out), field goal (53 yards), missed field goal (42 yards). Twice the Dogs failed to capitalize on Vandy turnovers. Their first touchdown came only after a botched Commodores punt.

Also contributing to the early problems: The absence of running back Isaiah Crowell. Richt benched him for the entire first quarter. He confirmed after the game it was not injury related but rather for something off the field. But he wouldn’t specify. (The logical assumption: Some kind of disciplinary measure.)

The five straight wins aside, the Dogs still show flaws. The fact they’re showing them against bad competition is the biggest concern. After driving to a field goal to open the second half, they allowed Vandy’s Andre Hal to return a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, which narrowed the lead to 23-14.

Discipline and intelligence remain issues: On the ensuing kickoff, Shawn Williams hit a Vandy player late, drawing his second personal foul of the game. (Later in the game, Kwame Geathers was flagged for punching Vandy’s Logan Stewart on the ground after a play, but officials called offsetting personal fouls.)

Aaron Murray threw for 326 yards but he also misfired at times (22 for 38). The Dogs couldn’t finish drives, and Murray missed a wide open Marlon Brown at the five-yard line for a certain touchdown before the team settled for its fourth field goal of the night. The lead (26-14) was comfortable. The performance was not comforting.

It took two trick plays before they found the end zone against Georgia: a 35-yard pass play on a fake punt, and a 43-yard, half-back pass from Zac Stacy to Jordan Matthews for a touchdown. But there they were, reeking havoc late. First came the kickoff return. Then came the 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that closed the lead to 26-21. When Murray responded with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Brown, Vandy — Vandy! — showed its resiliency with another long scoring drive, this one ending on a 19-yard run by Stacy with nine minutes left.

The Dogs kept us guessing to the end.

Going into the Florida game, that’s a problem.

Grantham goes ballistic

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

958 comments Add your comment

IL Jacket

October 15th, 2011
10:49 pm

Exciting end to the game. Something really needs to be done about Todd Grantham though. He really is not a credit to the Dawgs.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
10:49 pm

We BEAT VANDY
WE BEAT VANDY
We BEAT VANDY
WE BEAT VANDY
WE BEAT VANDY

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
10:50 pm

People guess what

We BEAT VANDY
WE BEAT VANDY
We BEAT VANDY
WE BEAT VANDY
WE BEAT VANDY

frannie mae

October 15th, 2011
10:50 pm

our coaches are morons

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
10:51 pm

A win is a win says Chucky Doodly

The SS Sloppy Play is turning around

ALL ABOARD!!!!!!!!!

Joe

October 15th, 2011
10:51 pm

what happend

October 15th, 2011
10:51 pm

Jeff, what was the deal with Grantham?

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
10:51 pm

Guess what everyone

We BEAT VANDY
WE BEAT VANDY
We BEAT VANDY
WE BEAT VANDY
WE BEAT VANDY

Send'em Uhauls!

October 15th, 2011
10:52 pm

Same ole crap

joe

October 15th, 2011
10:52 pm

*****4 straight SEC wins*****

TennesseeDawg

October 15th, 2011
10:52 pm

Georgia will continue to be a mess as long as Richt is the coach.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
10:52 pm

Chucky Doodly says a win is win

Send'em Uhauls!

October 15th, 2011
10:53 pm

Im tired of field goals Mark Richt. You should be fired immediately

leslie22h

October 15th, 2011
10:53 pm

What the hell happened with Grantham and the Vandy coach?

Knucksie

October 15th, 2011
10:53 pm

Gonna pull it together. Fla is going down to UGA this year.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
10:53 pm

5 straight wins

A win is a win says Chucky Doodle and the other anouncers on the Georgia Bulldog network

Inlet Dawg

October 15th, 2011
10:54 pm

You’re Damn right I am a Grantham Fan, finally some fire from someone on the staff.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
10:55 pm

Wow

We now have a chance to beat FL now they have lost 3 in a row

Boy we have come a long way

We can beat FL now even though they have a sorry team and a new coach

Send'em Uhauls!

October 15th, 2011
10:55 pm

Bama ans LSU would clean our clocks

zulucanibal

October 15th, 2011
10:55 pm

what an ugly win….just hope we get it togather for the jean shorts boys.,

Smokey

October 15th, 2011
10:56 pm

Is Crowell hurt? How about Rambo? Is he okay?

gcs

October 15th, 2011
10:56 pm

Send'em Uhauls!

October 15th, 2011
10:56 pm

Hire Chad Morris at Clemson!

IL Jacket

October 15th, 2011
10:56 pm

Answering your question though, Jeff, after watching the Gators tonight I think the Dawgs should handle them handily. I know the Gators are banged up, but they just do not appear to ve
able to move the ball, so this should be the year. Very sorry about Lattimore-hope it really is only a sprained knee and not something more serious.

Herndawg

October 15th, 2011
10:56 pm

One and a half seasons and the defense still looks questionable. Seems like a former pro coach isn’t the answer. Stoops is available, time to make a DC change?

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
10:56 pm

5 Straight wins

Against no one that was ranked and against teams that will probably not even break even in their record

Boy we are looking good

DAWG with two bags over head

October 15th, 2011
10:57 pm

For once Richt was more downbeat that Chucky D. A guess a win is a win, but it sure doesn’t feel like one.

Cousin Vicker

October 15th, 2011
10:57 pm

Eerily similar ending to the ‘07 game in Nashville, which also raised our record to 5-2. Schultzie wrote a particularly scathing column about the dogs after that one. Then we beat Florida and finished 11-2. I don’t think 11-2 will happen, but I do think we will beat Florida, and comfortably. Good night Schultzie and Dawg nation.

Knucksie

October 15th, 2011
10:57 pm

Isn’t Bogotay still on this roster? If so, give him some work. Walsh has the yips.

NJ Dawg

October 15th, 2011
10:57 pm

I know you’re up against a deadline, but you have “alarming efficient” early in this column and “alarmingly efficient” in the last paragraph. You’re gonna revise this one, right? Right???

G

October 15th, 2011
10:57 pm

Jeff tough I agree with most if this. Once again you are making assumptions where you have no facts. You have no idea why Crowell was held out. Even the word “generally” should not excuse it. This young man deserves more.

SA

October 15th, 2011
10:57 pm

Of course, we usually ‘wreak’ havoc.

Ga defense

October 15th, 2011
10:57 pm

really looked good tonight against the 117th ranked offense of vandy, just think how good they will do against Fla and Aub

Hotdawg

October 15th, 2011
10:57 pm

That was a big ol pile of Horse shiite right there! We’ve got some long days ahead!!!!

buzzDawg

October 15th, 2011
10:58 pm

It’s win but that’s about all even a Dawg fan can say. We have to do better against Florida or we’ll lose big.

TennesseeDawg

October 15th, 2011
10:58 pm

Grantham was p*ssed off because Barden stomped on Rambo’s leg on the last play of the game.

MJ

October 15th, 2011
10:58 pm

Good to see Grantham is still keeping it classy – reminds me of him yelling and gesturing Choke vs FL. What a clown

Sad

October 15th, 2011
10:58 pm

Too bad this isnt enough to get rid of Richt or Bobo.

Ron O

October 15th, 2011
10:58 pm

What was that at end with Grantham and Vandy HC. It appeared that vandy palyers were taking cheap shots all night, especially the O line

Dr. Phil

October 15th, 2011
10:58 pm

If the coaches have no class, how can you expect the players to be any different.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

October 15th, 2011
10:59 pm

5 Straight wins

Against no one that was ranked and against teams that will probably not even break even in their record

We will beat Bama or LSU

Now pass me some more Kool-aid

Lagdawg

October 15th, 2011
11:00 pm

Again, special teams looked awful and the playcalling is still the pits. The defense got a reality check and I hope UGA takes the two weeks to work out the kinks before the Fla. game because, as of now I still feel like UGA will lose the game. Grantham has fire and I like it. Somebody on the coaching staff needs to show some emotion.

Send'em Uhauls!

October 15th, 2011
11:00 pm

Lets face it UGA isnt a good football team…. Same ole crap

Arx

October 15th, 2011
11:00 pm

TG on the field tying up with Vandy players after the game? If it was what it LOOKED like, Grantham is gone. history. You can’t have a Woody Hayes event.

GoForTwo

October 15th, 2011
11:00 pm

Who’s decision was it to change punt protection so Butler was standing all by himself. There’s a reason you have blockers in front of your punter, but the way we are playing on special teams this year, I shouldn’t be surprised with this bone head execution. Until CR decides special team play is as important as defense or offense we will continue to have problems. Too bad we lost our assistant coach from last year who really understood the importants of special teams.

Don't get it

October 15th, 2011
11:02 pm

No one seems to realize just how tired this team is. They aren’t deep with players and there were key injuries to the offense. Six Straight weeks of games and of course we don’t crush Vandy. Those kids are tired…

Red Dog 77

October 15th, 2011
11:02 pm

Took me a few minutes to change my drawers, or I’m sure I would have been first………..

social circle dawg

October 15th, 2011
11:02 pm

Alabama beat Vandy by how many points….20 – 30 or more? That was a pitiful performance. We could not run the ball against Vandy. Long way to go before this team is even close to being competitive in the SEC…and that will require some big changes.

Fan

October 15th, 2011
11:03 pm

Jeff, “reeking” is not the word you want.

Spell check

October 15th, 2011
11:04 pm

This article looks like one of those exercises where the writer intentionally makes lots of obvious errors to see if the 3rd grader can spot them. Pathetic.