Has Georgia duped us again, or was this just a hiccup?

Mark Richt wasn't pleased with his team's first game, and justifiably so. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt wasn't pleased with his team's opener, and justifiably so. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – Teams like Georgia don’t put teams like Buffalo on the schedule to build character. Teams like Buffalo are put on the schedule because they’re perceived as safe, possibly even a punchline. Georgia was willing to pay the opponent $975,000 because that’s how much it takes now to find a school willing to suffer public humiliation and say, “Fine, hit me with that two-by-four. Just make sure our hotel has decent pillows.”

Something went wrong Saturday. Georgia paid for the entertainment, maybe a little exercise, but the expected embarrassment was closer to home. That might seem harsh given the Sanford Stadium scoreboard had a distinct tilt at the end: 45-23. But it shouldn’t be considered nearly satisfying, not for a program that went into the day with a preseason No. 6 ranking and aspires to something greater than just outlasting South Carolina in the SEC East Division.

Great teams don’t have first games like this. Great defenses don’t allow touchdown drives of 75, 94 and 75 yards to an opponent that went 5-19 over the past two years and was shut out twice by Temple. Top teams from the SEC shouldn’t allow a projected fifth-place team from the Mid-American Conference East 243 yards in the first half. The Bulldogs, a 37½-point favorite, led only 24-16 after two quarters — that because of a 100-yard kickoff return by freshman Todd Gurley, a gift goal following a blocked punt and a missed Buffalo extra point.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said he had some choice "adjectives" for his players at halftime. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said he had some choice "adjectives" for his players at halftime. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt is good in math. “If not for that, we’re losing at halftime.”

The defensive front got pushed around. (Buffalo rushed for 199 yards, including 147 in the first half.) Quarterback Aaron Murray frequently was off target. (Even Richt took a rare public shot at a player, referencing Murray’s overthrow to Tavarres King, saying: “He’s a veteran. You get a guy open like that on a post [pattern], you have to hit it.”)

Only Gurley and Georgia’s wide receivers were above criticism. Gurley was above everybody, actually. He had the kickoff return for the touchdown, two other scores on runs of 10 and 55 yards and he rushed for 100 yards on only eight carries in his debut.

But most Georgia players often looked like their heads were somewhere else, maybe Columbia, Mo., where the Dogs open conference play next week.

“Even the coaches had issues,” Richt said. He referenced plays when Georgia had 10 and 12 players on the field.

Was this an early hiccup? Or have we been duped again?

Nothing that occurred Saturday made you think this team is special. Actually, this was closer to a disturbing reminder of last season’s opener against Boise State in the Georgia Dome. The Dogs looked shockingly unprepared, unfocused and sloppy.

“I felt like garbage at halftime,” nose guard John Jenkins said.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Richt said. “I wasn’t thrilled with the way we played. We missed some early shots, offensively. We gave up some big plays.

“Am I concerned about it? Yeah. If we don’t play better than that next week, we’re going to come home sad.”

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was understandably animated on the sideline, and certainly at halftime with his players. His vaunted defense was missing five starters because of suspensions and injuries, but even he acknowledged, “That’s no excuse.” And he was right. Missing key players in the secondary doesn’t excuse the play of the defensive front.

“Play better,” he responded when asked what he told his players at intermission.

When asked if he delivered the message to the players that calmly, he said: “Not really. No. I don’t think you can [write] everything. I had some adjectives in there.”

Georgia carried its highest preseason ranking since 2008, when it was No. 1. The 92,000 fans who showed up expected more. They booed loudly in the first half. Thousands left at halftime. Thousands more left in the third quarter. The weather was humid, and the performance wasn’t worth sticking around for.

“If we wanted this to be a cakewalk, we should’ve came out and done a better job,” defensive end Abry Jones said.

Sometimes you don’t get what you pay for.

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1,006 comments Add your comment

Big Crimson 75

September 1st, 2012
7:00 pm

You’ve been duped.

mike addington

September 1st, 2012
7:04 pm

looked unprepared for QB runs. and generally lackadaisical

5150 UOAD

September 1st, 2012
7:04 pm

F. Sinkwich

September 1st, 2012
7:05 pm

Half the D wasn’t playing.

Murray was amped up.

First game — W.

Next week against Mizzou will be fun…

Just some rope-a-dope.

5150 UOAD

September 1st, 2012
7:05 pm

Wow said Florida would win the EAST was smoking with Crowell.

Florida Dawg

September 1st, 2012
7:06 pm

Did CMR lose that “fire in the belly” that he had all last year? Wasn’t the schedule supposed to be our last worry? Long year.

Mike (original formula)

September 1st, 2012
7:06 pm

I’m not going to feed into the doom and gloom just yet. We weren’t showing blitz packages or much of our offense at all. I know we gotta stir the pot and all, but it’s a little early for me to drink the “Georgia’s got the same old problems” line.

5150 UOAD

September 1st, 2012
7:06 pm

I guess Florida is Rope-a-Doping too then.

Gregg

September 1st, 2012
7:07 pm

Too early…..ask me next week. I believe you will see different team. However, Theus and Mitchell need to play. Maybe Ogletree gets back?

I'm flying a Georgia Tech flag right now

September 1st, 2012
7:08 pm

Hairy Dawg

September 1st, 2012
7:09 pm

I’m glad to see that the coaching staff wasn’t happy with how the team played. “A win is a win” only when you’re playing good teams. Teams like Buffalo? Those teams should be beaten into the dirt.

dawggirl

September 1st, 2012
7:13 pm

Pretty much tells it like it is. We have to play better. But, we can only take this season one game at a time. Everything needs to be focused on Missouri. Seems like this always happens when we have a high preseason ranking. I have been saying since it went up that #6 was too high.

Hiawatha Berry

September 1st, 2012
7:14 pm

Gregg is right…..it is way too early to draw any conclusions about this team….the defense will be fine….just get everyone back and get Mitchell and Theus healthy……survive Mizzou and South Carolina and play for a shot at the national title by winning the SEC Championship Game.

JWOOD

September 1st, 2012
7:15 pm

It was a low energy, tune-up game with half the starting defense missing. I don’t think anyone should read too much into it.

chazzo

September 1st, 2012
7:16 pm

I’d say the question marks are still question marks.

Big Crimson 75

September 1st, 2012
7:17 pm

Well I guess it is better to beat Buffalo than to get beat by Michigan.

Baron of Brumby (Ruling since the 80's)

September 1st, 2012
7:18 pm

Aaron Murray is completely overated. Let’s see how many pick 6’s he has this year. Horrible
decision maker in the pocket when he gets pressure. He will cost us Two games this year…..

sandiego

September 1st, 2012
7:19 pm

Last year we looked like crap against Boise St- the next week we looked like a different team. Here’s hoping we get out of first gear.

chazzo

September 1st, 2012
7:19 pm

I bet UGA drops a spot or two in the polls.

Big Al

September 1st, 2012
7:20 pm

UGA will be fine.
First games are for getting the mistakes out of your system.
1-0 beats 0-1 anyday.

gofortwo

September 1st, 2012
7:21 pm

If we start next week with that pass in the flats, it going to be a long seasons. It seem as if we were practicing our pass protection in the first half and some of the run blocking in the second. Why not save that trick play until next week. Buffalo seem to run the same offense as Boise and Michigan State. Short control passes with runs to keep us honest. The pass to Samuel while incomplete was one more pass to the fullback than all of last season.

redandblack

September 1st, 2012
7:22 pm

I didn’t like what I saw……I hope it was an abberation…….I hope it was first game jitters……I hope…….If not, our a$$ may soon be handed to us on a platter….maybe as early as next week

jeffrey d

September 1st, 2012
7:22 pm

He will cost us Two games this year…..

And win us 12.

Big Al

September 1st, 2012
7:23 pm

Hey Baron of Brumby (Ruling since the 80’s) your wife says U are way overated

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 1st, 2012
7:25 pm

UGA’s performance was good enough to beat Buffalo and Tech.

BIGDAWGFAN

September 1st, 2012
7:25 pm

YEAH YEAH AND #9 SOUTH CAROLINA ALMOST LOST TO VANDERBILT
i hope we only get better and fix mistakes by next week

bad apple

September 1st, 2012
7:26 pm

That Cupcake from Buffalo scored 23 points,
give Grantham another raise.

Yellow Fuzz

September 1st, 2012
7:28 pm

Looking pretty smart rignt now aren’t I?

BIGDAWGFAN

September 1st, 2012
7:29 pm

yeah yellow earlier you said gt was playing today

Brian

September 1st, 2012
7:29 pm

Calm down everyone….we were missing 4-5 starters on D and our playbook was like an NFL preseason game. We are not going to show Mizzou what we have or how we want to utilize our guys. We will be fine. Go Dawgs!!

We booed?

September 1st, 2012
7:29 pm

We booed loudly in the first half? There were some woooooos for Wooten and some boos on calls, but we never booed at the Dawgs. They didn’t play well, but you’re overestimating how upset we were, in my opinion.

Sopwith Camel

September 1st, 2012
7:29 pm

I, for one, wasn’t duped. After about 25 (it seems) of UGA being hyped and over-rated in the preseason and we are led to believe that (finally) this will be THE year only to watch the bubble burst………I did not get caught up in the hype (I am the Charlie Brown who has learned that Lucy always pulls the ball out before I can kick it).

redandblack

September 1st, 2012
7:29 pm

A supposedly veteran defense should not play like UGA played today…….Was Buffalo that good? Are we better than we showed today?

chazzo, you are soooo right. The question marks are still question marks.

Eric C.

September 1st, 2012
7:30 pm

I know the front 7 was pushed around…but it really sucks when you are missing 5 starters on defense. This game was definitely not satisfying, but I think they’ll come together next week.

Bad Dawg

September 1st, 2012
7:30 pm

Georgia didn’t dupe us. Mark Richt did. The longer he stays at UGA the more he will continue to embarrass our program on and off the field. I knew nothing would change. McGarity better get on the phone with Chris Petersen. His Boise team damn near beat a very good Michigan State team and he had to replace 18 of 22 starters from last years team. Oh and Grantham is overrated too. Giving up 23 points to Buffalo is pathetic. Where was the intensity and effort? There’s no reason to be playing Buffalo anyways. At least match up against middle of the road teams from the other Big 6 conferences. It sucks to be a dawg fan right now but Go Dawgs!

KPike

September 1st, 2012
7:31 pm

just another Mark Richt GA. Football game….might as well get use to it…Always under achieves…that’s why I hated we gave him a contract extension this year!!!!! Him and Bozo will cost us a couple of games this year….and why ain’t Gurley our starter? Ooh yea, because they are our coaches!!!!

UGA Grad '95

September 1st, 2012
7:32 pm

Dude, I haven’t been duped, but you CMR loyalolists and apologists have been and will always be.. As long as CMR is at the helm, we are going to be dealing with this mess.

Joey

September 1st, 2012
7:32 pm

Hey, JWood, while I am “reading” how many of those, “missing defense players” are gonna go to Mizzou next Sat?

And the Manning brothers bragged on Murray’s accuracy? He should thank his lucky stars for all those passes in the flats (at least 5 or 6) that kept his % above 50%.

If Aaron Murray leads us to victory next Saturday night, I will eat my vintage, 1978 visor, which I wore to some 50+ victories, including blowout-wins over the likes of UF, UT, as well as huge wins over UCLA, Clemson, BYU, Notre Dame, Texas, etc.

Murray has the skills, but doesn’t have the guts to lead the Bulldogs to greatness.

Dawggusted

September 1st, 2012
7:33 pm

Lousy game…too hot to stick around…over ranked…will be interesting to see how far they fall in the rankings next week…It may be another hold your breath, just try to survive until next week season…I hope not…they sure have the easiest schedule in the SEC…i don’t know if they will be able to take advantage of that though…I’m just glad they were able to field a team today, considering all of the suspensions and those kicked off the team.

Eric C.

September 1st, 2012
7:34 pm

And don’t forget Buffalo had all year to prepare for this game…this was their superbowl, give them a little credit…they didn’t make many mistakes and didn’t turn the ball over.

BehindEnemyLines

September 1st, 2012
7:34 pm

@ “We booed?” … the boos raining down after the long punt return just before the half were clearly audible on television. If you didn’t hear that then maybe it’s time to ease up on the flask.

tide pride

September 1st, 2012
7:35 pm

Why am I not surprised?

This is more of the same from the same staff.

When is Uga going to wake up and realize that they have a staff that is good, but not great.

BIGDAWGFAN

September 1st, 2012
7:36 pm

ok joey i want to see you eat that visor so get your web cam ready and prove that you

are not full of it and post it here next week when we win

5150 UOAD

September 1st, 2012
7:36 pm

35:55minute Murray looked like a HEISMAN contender for sure. I mean he played like crap but still does his Stat Padding against crappy teams.

jim roper

September 1st, 2012
7:37 pm

I am so sick and tired of getting jscked up and excited about the year only to come out to the game and see the best 8-4 couch in the nation CMR ,,,,not get the job done….we have all the top talent just not a top coach…team was flat and that is all coaching….poor job and sick of it

PowerDawg

September 1st, 2012
7:37 pm

Truthfully, I saw some things that worry the hell out of me. But when I took into consideration that there was a whole lot of youngsters, both true freshmen and first-time starters, wearing red and black today. With 4 or 5 starters on the defense sitting out, I knew we would have to learn on the hard fly. Second half showed much better play, so maybe we’ll settle down and play like we’re capable next week. The O-line is mostly new and we took two injury hits on the starting five, so we did not play badly considering. Murray was pumped up a little too much early on, but settled down too. It was not what I expect out of this team this year, and I think we’ll be okay if we can weather the storm of these first 3-4 games. If you’re going to have a sputtering day both offensively and defensively, this is the type of team you need to have it against. I am stubbornly optimistic we will get better each week.

SatillaDawg

September 1st, 2012
7:38 pm

Give it a rest, foks….it’s not the end of the world. It’s just a warm-up game.

Tighten up the D, keep Gurley on the field (No Worry, Give It To Gurley), and get some of the injured/suspended players back on the gridiron and Dawgs will be OK.

So work hard this week, Bulldogs. Stay positive and fix the problems.

Mizzou ain’t Buffalo, and as CMR pointed out…it’s a long way back to Athens.

Go Dawgs!

redandblack

September 1st, 2012
7:38 pm

The only difference between Gurley and Marshall was the kick off return……Other than that they were almost identical in yards gained……….

Empty Promises (sound familiar?)

September 1st, 2012
7:39 pm

Yep, you’ve been duped. Again. And again. And again…

Same ole same ole.

MoMo

September 1st, 2012
7:40 pm

I really have huge doubts that Murray is our best QB, he looked miserable against a lame Buffalo team!!
I dont care about yards and TDs stats, I care about wins and clutch performance! witout doubts, Murray is one of our worse QBs!! I hope this is his last year