Georgia has uncomfortable mix of highlights, slapstick

The Bulldogs celebrated their fifth win but know they have to play much better. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

The Bulldogs celebrated their win but know they have to play much better. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS — Georgia arrived at 5-0 at the most unexpected place: Smack at the intersection of the Sun Belt Conference and a Marx Brothers movie.

This is where it’s important to point out that it’s only September, and style points don’t yet matter, and it’s not like Georgia did not do some pretty spectacular things Saturday (two freshmen running backs, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, combining for 294 yards and five touchdowns), and this is the SEC, and a win is a win, and (add whatever cliché that comforts you).

But there was a point in Saturday’s game against Tennessee when you found yourself thinking, “OK, who’s going to pull out the seltzer bottle?”

When two teams combine for 95 points, 13 touchdowns, 46 first downs, 1,038 yards, three fumbles, four interceptions, two botched extra points, one blocked extra point, one blocked punt and one dropped kickoff return out of bounds at the 1-yard line, the last thing that comes to mind is that one of these teams supposedly is an SEC and BCS title contender.

“I was about to have a heart attack,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.

“We definitely can’t do that kind of stuff if we want to be champions,” quarterback Aaron Murray said.

“I think this will ground us a little bit,” cornerback Sanders Commings said.

Georgia defeated Tennessee 51-44. We think. Maybe something else will happen on the replay.

Alec Ogletree had a tipped pass, leading to an interception, but admitted he felt "rust" after missing the first four games. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Alec Ogletree had a tipped pass, leading to an interception, but admitted he felt "rust" after missing the first four games. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

The Dogs led 27-10 three minutes into the second quarter. They committed two turnovers and allowed three touchdowns in a span of 4:11 to fall behind. They scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half. Then they seemingly tried to blow it again, managing only one first down on their next four drives (Translation: “Take it. We don’t want it”), until Commings intercepted a Tyler Bray pass … with seven seconds remaining.

Well. That was easy.

Next week’s game against South Carolina should be a snap.

“This makes us stay humble,” Commings said. “Just because we’re undefeated doesn’t mean we’re unbeatable.”

And there it is.

Maybe something good will come out of this. The Bulldogs can do great things this season. They’re 3-0 in the SEC for the first time since 2005, which is the last season that they won the conference title.

But instead of receiving affirmation of Georgia’s lofty status in the rankings Saturday, we viewed highlights surrounded by slapstick.

Coach Mark Richt called the game’s PAT mishaps “a little bit of a comedy of errors.” But he could have been referring to almost anything.

If the Dogs had felt a little bit heady after their first four victories, this should bring them back down to Earth.

“We made mistakes, but it says something about this team that we came back,” Gurley said.

That would be the positive way to look at it. The negative will be on tape this week.

In the first half, Georgia seemed to morph from top-5, BCS contender to Compass Bowl bottom-feeder material in what seemed like 37 seconds. It was like watching somebody having this great day, hitting the lottery, finding the spouse of their dreams and taking a celebration stroll on the beach, only to suddenly have a mutant octopus from one of those Japanese monster movies reach out and grab them by the ankle.

It went from 27-10 Georgia to 30-27 Tennessee in 4 minutes, 11 seconds. Touchdown, Tennessee. Sack/fumble by Murray. Touchdown, Tennessee. Dropped kickoff return out of bounds at the 1 by Gurley. Fumble by Marshall. Touchdown, Tennessee.

If it was put to music on Broadway, there would’ve been a lot of cymbals and maybe a gong.

Georgia turnovers set up three easy Tennessee touchdowns (one interception return and two short drives off fumbles). But with the Dogs’ defense getting suspended players Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree back in the lineup, you expected far better than Tennessee amassing 478 yards of offense.

Ogletree on he and Rambo: “We just had a little rust, some missed assignments. You can’t really simulate game speed.”

If anybody was looking ahead to the South Carolina game with supreme confidence, this should temper things a little. We’ll soon find out if a little grounding helps.

– Jeff Schultz

340 comments Add your comment

dawginduluth

September 30th, 2012
10:10 am

Where’s the venerable Georgia kicking game? The punts seemed short and the place kicking? The kid can’t hit from 3 yards but is right as rain from 50? Head problems? Who’s coaching this kid?

Visions of Willie

September 30th, 2012
10:11 am

Spurrier will out coach Richt as usual. Get ready for 5 – 1.

dawgmancw

September 30th, 2012
10:11 am

Anybody heard from GTBob?????????????????????

dawginduluth

September 30th, 2012
10:12 am

The D?

How many sacks? Pressures? Hurries? Average yard per carry? Completed third and longs?

The D was better without the bong boys.

Visions of Willie

September 30th, 2012
10:13 am

@ dawginduluth……. Richt has no special teams coach since Fabris was fired.

Reservoir Dawg

September 30th, 2012
10:13 am

Awfully concerned with the D. Most surprising was Tennessee’s 200 yards rushing, much of it between the tackles. And this from a UT team that hasn’t run the ball all year. Great game from Ogletree, seemed like he was the only player on defense hustling every play. Seems like some of his teammates have read too much hype.

Visions of Willie

September 30th, 2012
10:17 am

Todd Grantham once again looked clueless like he did against Boise, SC, 2nd half against LSU and Mich St.. He is a third rate coach.

[...] Jeff Schultz: Georgia has mixture of highlights, slapstick (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ajc.com) [...]

dawginduluth

September 30th, 2012
10:22 am

Action plan from this game:

#1 Hire kicking coach.
#2 Resurrect Erk.
#3 Pray for a miracle next week while you’re at church this morning.

Will Trane

September 30th, 2012
10:24 am

Just watching the game wore me out. What a game. Fun to watch. Every play was a play. Just glad we do not have play those guys for a year. Tennessee is a very good team. Not sure many teams on their schedule now can stop them. Derek Dooley is building a freaking scoring machine. Why in the hell are those Tennessee people bitching about this coach and staff.

Pulling for Vols to light it up here out.

Congrats Dawgs! Can the Dawgs “no men on the O line” do it against what everybody says is the best D in the country?

david

September 30th, 2012
10:25 am

We will destroy Spurrier next week! Then we run the table and whip Bama in SEC Title Game and then we whip FSU in National Title Game! Gurley and Marshall for Heisman!

Visions of Willie

September 30th, 2012
10:27 am

Yeah, Comedy of errors and a coaching staff to go along with it!

GB's Hamburgers

September 30th, 2012
10:27 am

The Vols offensive coordinator was reading Grantham’s mail. It was almost magical how he had the perfect play called. Is TG that predictable?

PowerDawg

September 30th, 2012
10:32 am

EVERY team has a bad game. The difference is in whether that team wins it or loses it. This team didn’t give up and that is how you build a winner. I believe this team will perservere through this and become stronger.

I don’t bury my head in the sand. I hate the beach. And I’ll stack my contributions and commitment to this team against anyone on this blog.

You people that have already given up on them after a close, hard-fought win like last night make me want to vomit.

The same Bobo haters…the same Richt haters…and all you bandwagon-riding, fair weather fence-sitters that are turning against the defense now because of a bad night…you people will never be happy. If we won the NC this year, you pathetic whiners would still find something to complain about.

Please, don’t attend anymore games and don’t spend another dollar on this team. Collectively, you should throw all of your assets into support of the Gamecocks, Gators, Tide, etc.

Just go and don’t ever think about coming back. We really don’t need you and maybe they’ll take you in.

That is until they find out what you are. But hey, GT always has seats available.

unbiased committee

September 30th, 2012
10:53 am

Is Todd Grantham going to get another raise for yielding 44 points?

Under The Bleachers

September 30th, 2012
11:13 am

USC beats UGA- playing at home under the lights for USC is just going to be tough for UGA in Columbia and Spurrier has a duel threat QB, and a run stopping defense forcing Murray to throw.

UF upsets a LSU team that is arguing and fighting among themselves and an offensive line that is just horrible, and Mett is overthrowing recievers.

david

September 30th, 2012
11:37 am

Dawgs wiil find a way to win every game left on it’s schedule and win national title just like 1980.

Whats Important

September 30th, 2012
12:11 pm

My conspiracy theory is that Momma Dooley was telegraphing plays to her baby.

Get Real

September 30th, 2012
12:29 pm

David, please let the crack pipe cool off a tad!! UGA is a #15 team and will get punked by USCe, UF and Aubarn. Likely wind up in a bowl game sponsored by the chicken sandwich fast food chain.

moo-face

September 30th, 2012
12:31 pm

We could be in for a very rude awakening next week if Spurrier gets hold of that same discombobulated defense we saw tonight. Pile a couple of inevitable offensive turnovers and a couple special teams folly’s and we 5-1 and headed for some Outback with a roster full of NFL talent..
I expect Murray to have some problems with the Rooster’s tall DEs next week as well so they may be able to gang up on our RBs and severely limit Murray’s passing lanes. And there is still a lack of brute force. Toughness in this team. We don’t break nobody’s jaw. Gary Danielson was talking about ” I think Georgia is shocked that Tennessee has been able to run the ball up the middle on them ” , and I’m thinking it is nowhere near shocking or out of the normal to me to see the Dawgs get beat in the trenches on one side of the ball or both in the last 6 or 7 years.

Cocky Mike

September 30th, 2012
12:34 pm

Sometimes you just write down a W and move on…. We saw the same thing in the first half of our game against UK.

moo-face

September 30th, 2012
12:37 pm

And M. Mitchell M. mitchell. M. Mitchell. We’ve all seen coaches waste talent by having them at the wrong position, and Richt and BOBO are doing a great job of that by stealing him from the D, but if this trend with him on special teams continues I think by the end of the year we will all have seen something completely new. A huge talent actuallly be used in a way that wastes his talent, but actually HELPS US GET BEAT!! He’s a CB. Leave him there! B. Anderson can’t handle that spot on his own

Hunkerdown

September 30th, 2012
12:48 pm

Tell me who on our D do you think has no opportunity to ever play on Sunday’s? Not that many huh? Look at our back up LB Herra. I expect he can make the cut. Do you? It brings me to the question with so much talent and a much vaulted preseason speculation about Georgia returning to the glory days of defense..then why are we so far back in national ranking (not to mention the SEC) on the D side of the ball. TG needs to find the answers and quick in I say less than a week.

Van Halanger And Van Gorder

September 30th, 2012
12:49 pm

So much for our Strength and Conditioning program. That goes for our defense too. Tenn ripped us apart in the trenches. Chickens will beat us three times in a row for the very first time.

Under The Bleachers

September 30th, 2012
1:05 pm

Questions for Knowledgable UGA fans:

I attended the UCF/ Missouri game yesterday and a Missouri Tiger fan said that UGA would lose up to 9 players on defense who either start or play a great deal to the NFL, Early Departure, Graduation.

Who will be back in 2013 for UGA on defense after the departures?

Ron Mexico

September 30th, 2012
1:10 pm

We will favored by 7 over the Cocks,and will stomp them i’m beting it, just like Vandy..

book it

Ron Mexico

September 30th, 2012
1:14 pm

D will come around…yawn…u blowhard so so fans need to go. Release the dogs!!!

[...] Jeff Schultz: Georgia has mixture of highlights, slapstick (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ajc.com) [...]

1969 Graduate

September 30th, 2012
1:33 pm

Someone used a term I like – Prevent Offense – as in we need to get away from turning to a stupid, overly conservative, mindset changing, coach induced offense designed not to lose.

We must continue the successful course when our offense is racking up yards, first downs, and points because playing aggressive offensive is fun for our players. Our coaches must keep the team away from the Energy Vampire of an offense that only prevents winning.

Don’t believe me, Mr. Bobo, and Mr. Richt, and watch us lose a game or two which we should win. Again. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. History teaches.

I’m very, very happy we won, and wouldn’t trade it for a mistake free, perfect loss.

Still, the comedy of errors wasn’t a bit funny.

Am I the only one who thinks we probably would have let Tennessee win if we’d had a few more minutes to play?

No team is perfect. Even perfect teams can be beaten. We’d better get it firmly in mind that we have to play hard for four quarters. I’m afraid that our coaches are adopting the mindset of sometimes trying hard not to play.

With this defense we can’t possibly have too many points!

Go, Dogs!

Van Halanger And Van Gorder

September 30th, 2012
1:38 pm

DAWGs need the killer insitnct and a Break their will mentality. Richt is just a goodie two shoes and will never win UGA a MNC. Our defense is a laughing stock among the college football world today after yesterdays performance.

Red Stick

September 30th, 2012
1:41 pm

It wasn’t pretty for Georgia but a win is a win in the SEC.

I believe whoever plays better defense in Columbia will win the game.

I would have Georgia ahead of LSU at 4th in the rankings. The Bayou Bengals have to correct some issues or it will be a long day in the Swamp next Saturday.

The SEC has 2 blockbuster games on tap this Saturday.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

moo-face

September 30th, 2012
1:46 pm

Good point 1969 Grad! Seems the players run everything and are coddled and focused on there future NFL careers.
Again, my point is that the players seem to run everything up there, why take the aggressive offensive play calling we know they all know away from them at certain times.
And the book says you run the ball when pinned inside your 10. The book is a guide not to be followed always by the letter. You make calls mostly based on the character of a particulart game and your opponent. I would be mostly influenced to make my calls based on the character of a particular game. Example: You got a D playing like Bama’s has the past few years maybe you run the ball 3 straight times and be happy to punt down there inside your 20. You feel and offense with an NFL QB like UTs getting crunk up in the 1st half and maybe you don’t shackle up a hot QB like Murray just because the book says to.

Red Stick

September 30th, 2012
1:48 pm

Ron Mexico

September 30th, 2012
1:10 pm

“We will favored by 7 over the Cocks,and will stomp them i’m beting it, just like Vandy..

book it”

I don’t see Georgia being favored by 7 on the road. My guess is that UGA will be favored from 1-3 points. We’ll see tonight when the odds are released.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

Beast from the East

September 30th, 2012
2:13 pm

Red Stick,
Looking forward to a hard-hitting game in the Swamp. We’ll get to see if my Gators are truly back or st

Beast from the East

September 30th, 2012
2:14 pm

…still another year away.
Go Gators!

Bigdawg63

September 30th, 2012
2:25 pm

My My,

The haters are out today. Its a great day to be a bulldawg. I for one, am with my team, win lose or draw. Say what you will, but I believe we have what it takes to win it all. Winners know how to win even when its not pretty and won we did.

Go Dawgs………..Sic Em!!!

David Granger

September 30th, 2012
3:20 pm

Have to admit, it was rather worrisome to get two key defensive starters back…and yet play our worst defensive game of the season.

A few thoughts:
Gurley and Marshall are both outstanding running backs, but they are NOT interchangeable. It’s clear that Marshall is a speed back (good shake and bake in the open field), while Gurley is more of a power back. I wish we would use them accordingly. Yesterday, when we were on our own one yard line, we had Marshall in the game because it was his “turn”, since Gurley had been in the game on our previous possession. But Gurley should have been in there in that situation. All you’re doing is trying to push the ball out enough to get punting room, and if a good RB gets us a first down, then that’s just gravy. But we should have had our power game on the field in that situation.
We’ve got a pretty good field goal kicker, but he seems to have trouble with the short ones.

Mo Isom couldn’t make the team at LSU because…though she was consistent kicking short…she didn’t have a lot of range. She’s originally a Georgia gal…wonder if we could recruit her to transfer and come kick PAT’s for us? (Yeah, yeah…I know. No eligibility left…)

Why in the hell is either Gurley or Marshall still returning kickoffs or punts? Yeah, I know Gurley ran one all the way back in the first game. But let’s don’t risk either of them getting hurt by a speedy coverage guy. Let our second-string wide receivers return kicks and punts…get used to doing it, so they’ll know exactly what to do in every situation.

Why in the hell do we just completely ignore Richard Samuel? He’s been a DGD since he got to campus, and is still a very good running back…and is especially a POWER back. Damnit, USE him in some of our power running situations.

It still bothers me to see our defense get hurt (allowing big plays) when we blitz. I don’t know if we telegraph it, or if the other teams just do a superior job of picking it up and giving their QB time enough to find the safety valve receiver…but we have been getting KILLED on blitzes for several years now.

mambo

September 30th, 2012
3:26 pm

Marx Brothers is right and Groucho Richt, Harpo Bobo and Chico Grantham will not bring us to victory over SC with stupid mistakes like against Tennessee. NO DEFENSE. NONE. NADA. Great individual effort, but poor coaching. Iffy special team coaching. Erratic place kicking. Receiving team lunging at a kick-off on the 2 yard line. Pop Warner wouldn’t allow it.

guy

September 30th, 2012
3:30 pm

guy

September 30th, 2012
3:30 pm

Tennessee has one tremendous offense….give them what is deserved…..
they will be bowling

guy

September 30th, 2012
3:31 pm

UGA has one tremendous offense but did spot them a few points that our defense got tagged for…

Just Win Baby!

September 30th, 2012
4:13 pm

Gurley, Marshall, and Gates were baptized this morning at Athens Church. Where’s the front page story on that?

RJM

September 30th, 2012
4:15 pm

It will be interesting watching the freshman backs pass block the SC corners and the defense stop the passing attack. Add about 75 rushing yds for their quarterback. Dogs by 10.

DawgNole

September 30th, 2012
4:37 pm

Thomas Brown
September 30th, 2012
2:00 am

All I did was point out the obvious, which apparently is correct since you repeated my statement that we’ve played 5 in a row unranked teams at
GAME TIME.
____________________

All you ever do is point out the obvious. And of course it’s correct if it’s the obvious. Dolt.

tripwire

September 30th, 2012
4:48 pm

Katherine,you worry about your dawgs,the gamecocks will TCB…………….like the last two years!
.

chazzo

September 30th, 2012
5:20 pm

Next week will be interesting. UGA better leave it all on the field. Strangely, I am more concerned about the D stopping South Carolina’s run game than I am about how Murray will perform against the Gamecocks. I mean he threw for two points without the line even getting out of their stance to block. LOL At the beginning of the season, though, I thought the D was unflappable.

007

September 30th, 2012
5:48 pm

Gurley was impressive on the field but his interview after the game by Tracy Wolfson was even more impressive on how he handled himself…..1st Class.

moo-face

September 30th, 2012
6:04 pm

YEA!! What David Granger said. Let Samuel get back in there on D a the least.
DO SOMETHING CONSISTENT WITH M. MITCHELL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Preferably put him back at CB and let him make a dang impact! Flipping him around on special teams, at receiver, at sweep man or whatever and at the end of the day he ain’t had no impact at all for us. If we’re lucky, cuz he’s a hair away from causing a disaster that will lose us a game against a good opponent with his overconfidence in his ball handling skills.

JB at home

September 30th, 2012
6:12 pm

We better find a defense. I don’t think we stuffed them in a hole all night and I don’t think we got to Bray. We are very talented on D, but I hope last night was a lack of focus and looking to Carolina. Carolina is a little overrated also.

[...] Jeff Schultz: Georgia has mixture of highlights, slapstick (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ajc.com) [...]