More reasons for UGA fans to feel good … or bad

Dogs fans have to feel good about Joe Cox. (April L. Brown, AP)

Dogs fans have to feel good about Joe Cox. (April L. Brown, AP)

There’s a lot to feel good about after Georgia’s win over Arkansas. And a lot to be concerned about, as well …

The biggest plus is Joe Cox throwing to A.J. Green, Michael Moore, Tavares King, Orson Charles, Aron White and A.J. Green some more. If Cox continues his trend of week-to-week improvement, look out!

Another plus: Richard Samuel finally showing his breakaway speed on that 80-yard touchdown sprint. But his two fumbles in the game are alarming. Caleb King looked very strong in relief. And like I said Sunday, take away Samuel’s long run and King was actually the more productive, reliable back Saturday. His passing protection came in for praise from Mark Richt, too. Samuel may hold on to the nominal starter’s spot this week by virtue of his touchdown run, but he better start holding on to the ball as well or he’ll quickly be relegated to backup. One thing King’s return should mean: No more wasting downs by trying to run Carlton Thomas between the tackles. Instead, hopefully, he’ll be used on screen and dump passes, where his open-field running ability can be put to use.

The offensive line opened up a gigantic hole on that scoring run by Samuel and did a good job of protecting Cox most of the night. But all those false starts and holding calls won’t cut it once Georgia is up against a conference opponent with an SEC-worthy defense, like LSU or Tennessee. Fourteen penalties for 93 yards just isn’t acceptable. Richt needs to get back on top of this situation in a hurry.

These Dogs don’t panic. And Cox has poise to spare. After coming back from being down 17-7 and 21-10 in the past two weeks, Richt noted in his Sunday media teleconference, “The guys are beginning to believe that they are not out of any game, and the more times you get put in the fire, it refines you and makes you stronger and tougher mentally. We’ve been in some battles and shown we can be the last one standing. However, we have to stop the self-inflicted wounds, and when we do that, we’ll improve tremendously.”

Yes, the turnovers have put Georgia’s defense into a short-field situation too many times. Opponents have scored 40 points off nine Bulldog turnovers this season. And yes, without the resulting scores off turnovers by opponents, the Dogs would have won more comfortably the past two weeks and might even be undefeated.

But that doesn’t change the fact that our pass defense has been absolutely wretched the past two games. Against South Carolina, they couldn’t stop the short pass. Arkansas barely bothered with the short pass because the Dogs were so vulnerable to the home run. At times Saturday night, Georgia’s secondary didn’t seem to have a clue where they were supposed to be. Richt brings a whole new meaning to understatement when he says that on defense the Dogs “have an opportunity to continue to improve.”

Still, the run defense was good and late in the game the overall defense got stronger. In the fourth quarter, the Hogs’ Ryan Mallett completed only two of 10 passes for 29 yards. As Rennie Curran noted in the Athens Banner-Herald: “There was a lot of times when we could have started pointing fingers and started turning our backs on each other, but we kept our head in the game. When the game got on the line, we got the stops that we needed. We’ve got a long way to go. We can’t keep giving teams the long balls and the busted coverages.”

Kickoffs. Jon Fabris is still in love with directional kicking despite the overwhelming evidence it’s costing Georgia field position. This is a clear case where Richt needs to step in and bigfoot his assistant. Even if Blair Walsh can’t consistently put it deep enough into the end zone for a touchback as much as the coaches would like, the odds of Georgia defending a returnable kick there are better than when Walsh tries to stick it in the corner.  If the opponent is going to get the ball around the 40, at least make them earn that field position.

What else about Georgia’s performance has you elated or concerned as the Dogs prepare for Arizona State?

61 comments Add your comment

JB

September 21st, 2009
1:41 pm

Try something new on D. Go crazy. blitz ” someone every play from somewhere. Give different looks before snap. Jump into different scheme from time to time, say a 2-5-4…..try something new. Def. Cord preparing for us ARE GETTING THE WEEK OFF. VANILLA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JB

September 21st, 2009
1:43 pm

I mean Off. Cord getting the week off.

Slide Rule

September 21st, 2009
3:02 pm

Here’s how real coaches own up: A displeased Wommack said Tech’s defense in the Miami game was “the worst-looking defense, embarrassing, that I’ve been around in 10 to 12 years. Maybe ever.”

Dennis R

September 21st, 2009
3:22 pm

Well if this group were the UGA coaching staff, there would never be an agreement on which side of the field to head toward I am sure. :-)

I am reservedly encouraged at this stage. First game was a major disappointment, but since then, some things appear to be dialing in a notch at a time (just got to get them all happening in the same game). I’m just glad we haven’t had to play a super strong offense yet, and that the D can get these bad games outta the way! If Willie is not hoarse from screaming after this week of practice, and the D’s butts aren’t bruised and sore, we will have a dim, dim future for sure. I hope they (defense) get BIG DAWG MAD at themselves after the performance this week. We can fuss at them all we want, but until they get mad at themselves — it won’t change. We still love ya guys!

Thanks to the O for a fun ride this week, it was encouraging to see Joe C have the big day.

Oh…, and by the way, I sure miss Moreno popping up like a cork at the end of each play. What a heart……….

New Attitude

September 21st, 2009
4:06 pm

Ok.. Ok.. big dawg fan here and I post often. After 3 games and a pre-season prediction of UGA going 10-2, I now have to be realistic and hope for maybe 7-5. I love my dawgs but I’m a true student of the game. I will be happy to watch some decent exciting games and hope we get enough young guys in to help for next year. My new battle cry is BEAT Georgia Tech….

Go ahead and flame me if you want but we can kiss being competitive in the SEC this year good bye.

Carl Spackler

September 21st, 2009
4:45 pm

You need someone in the secondary that can call out the coverage…Logan Gray would be a perfect fit as a FS…he has the speed and athleticism to cover, he has the football smarts, he has the desire to get on the field and contribute any way that they need, he can reconginze reads, and he’s listed as 6′2″ and almost 200 lbs (not too shaby)…heck, UGA sure needs someone back there w/ football knowledge…get him on the field somewhere

how2fish

September 21st, 2009
8:51 pm

Burg Lips who is your team not the Dawgs?? Just asking.

how2fish

September 21st, 2009
8:56 pm

New Attitude not flaming you but not sure where your coming from we are 2-0 in the SEC and frankly if the Vols don’t make a change at QB I don’t seeing them beating us unless the football gods turn their backs on us…we should be favored vs the Sun Devils..if we can win that one and take a up to this point so-so LSU team….I think 8-4 or 9-3 is easily in our reach but your idea about TECH right on the money.

DawgNation

September 21st, 2009
9:26 pm

Not flaming you either New Attitude as I agree with the battle cry of “Beat Tech” as that is mine every year dispite the win-loss records of either team, but I think if you lend your name to the coachs we will have a better chance at the 9-3 or 10-2. The season is young and untill we lose one we are still on top of the East.

Tom

September 23rd, 2009
12:31 am

It’s not “we”, you are not on the team.

YankeeDawg

September 24th, 2009
11:27 am

Why is no one addressing the penalty issue? Innthe Arkansas game stupid penalties made us have to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. I agree with playing aggressive, but off sides is just lack of focus and needs to be fixed.