No mystery to Dogs-Cats: Whoever runs best wins the game

Will Washaun Ealey finally break the 100-yard rushing mark this week? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Will Washaun Ealey finally break the 100-yard rushing mark this week? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Whether you’re going to be wearing red and black or blue and white on Saturday, you figure to be watching your team try to run the ball down the throat of the opponent.

Kentucky coach Rich Brooks may have talked this week about his team needing to be able to throw the ball in order to beat Georgia, but with a still relatively inexperienced freshman quarterback in Morgan Newton and the Cats ranking 112th nationally in passing offense, that’s probably not going to be his first choice of attack.

Especially since the Wildcats rank 17th nationally in rushing offense, averaging just over 200 yards per game. The Cats’ Mr. Everything, Randall Cobb, who gashed the Dogs so badly last year, may be banged up, but they’ve also got Derrick Locke in in the backfield, and he ranks fifth in the conference, averaging 82 yards per game. He’s had three 100-yard rushing games this season.

Fortunately, the Dogs appear to stack up pretty well against the Cats in defending the run. Georgia ranks 34th nationally in rushing defense (third in the SEC), giving up 120 yards a game. And they haven’t allowed a back to hit 100 yards so far this season. But if Cobb plays, the Dogs need to be especially mindful of him taking direct snaps in the “WildCobb” formation and keep that under control.

The Dogs, meanwhile, still rank next to last in the conference in rushing offense, averaging 135 yards per game, but that includes those early games when they basically didn’t have a running attack at all. Over the past few games, the line has improved its play and tailbacks Washaun Ealey and Caleb King have become much more of a threat. That’s how Georgia was able to take the game away from Auburn in the second half last week.

Factor in that Georgia’s No. 1 offensive weapon, wide receiver A.J. Green, will be on the sidelines in a sling and it’s obvious what the Dogs have to do. Again, the Dogs stack up pretty well against the Cats in this regard, since Kentucky’s rushing defense ranks next to last in the SEC, allowing 177.6 yards per game. It’s true, as Mark Richt noted this week, that the Cats have been hurt the most on the ground by spread option attacks and have done a better job against traditional offenses like Georgia’s, but the Dogs can toss reverses and Wild Dawg plays using speedster Branden Smith into the mix.

Chances are Kentucky will load the box against the run and dare Joe Cox to throw long to beat them. Their passing defense ranks ninth nationally, cornerback Trevard Lindley is a Sunday-caliber player, and the Cats have intercepted a pass in six straight games and are tied for 19th nationally in that category. Cox, of course, has had his problems throwing to the wrong team this season, but he hasn’t done it in the past two games. And if the Cats sell out against the run, some of those long passes downfield at which Cox excels should be open to Tavares King, Israel Troupe and Orson Charles.

Ketucky’s success with picks this season brings up another key to a Georgia win over Kentucky: turnovers and penalties. The Dogs got both nagging problems under control last week against Auburn. They definitely need to avoid a relapse this week.

Georgia’s other persistent problem this season has been covering kicks, and that could prove a real danger area against the Cats. Locke leads the SEC and is sixth nationally in kickoff returns, averaging 30.9 yards, and Cobb is third in the SEC and 15th nationally returning punts. The Dogs rank 118th nationally in kickoff coverage, allowing about 27 yards per return.

Last week, we saw that even when Blair Walsh perfectly executes special teams coach Jon Fabris’ beloved directional kicks to the corner, the Dogs have coverage problems. It’s time for Fabris to run up the white flag on this and just let Walsh try to kick it as far into the end zone as he can. If it’s returnable, we’re not any worse off. And past experience shows more than a few of those kicks likely will result in touchbacks, since Walsh has managed to kick 14 of them, good for 11th nationally.

Georgia’s favored by 8.5 points. If Cobb, who missed practice time this week with an injured shoulder, plays for Kentucky, it could be closer than that. If Cobb isn’t able to be effective, the Cats will have a hard time keeping up.

51 comments Add your comment

TOPDAWG

November 20th, 2009
2:02 pm

FIRST!! GO DAWGS!!!

Andy

November 20th, 2009
2:03 pm

second or third

Georgia Tech

November 20th, 2009
2:06 pm

I just Hope Paul Johnson And his team Watches this GAME!! We really need to establish mometum To start this game!!
Hope Also Joshnon can find a way to move the ball on Martinez…

Also what was this about Paul Johns being upset over team focus last week? He talked about loosing Momentum during the Bye week has anyone heard?
Lastly what’s the story on AJ for our game? I here we might be getting a couple of people back for our game as well…any news on that?

Andy

November 20th, 2009
2:07 pm

Amen about those directional kicks.

u-no

November 20th, 2009
2:08 pm

It will be a close game. Kentucky pulls a win out at the end. Cobb will play and rush for over 100 yards. UGA’s running attack will keep them in the game, but their defense will falter one too many times.

Georgia Tech

November 20th, 2009
2:11 pm

We are supposed to be some what Better at stopping the run than the pass. As with MOST Defenses. I hope forceing Cox to throw and makeing them one demnsional will help us stop them….Need to see what the wild cats do…

and Siant Simion GO AWAY!!! Tech Needs to win this one Big (by 3 to 4 scores) your saying the same score from last year AINt going to help!!

godawgs

November 20th, 2009
2:17 pm

Bill-

Great research and stats for this article. I agree that whoever runs the ball better wins.

Just 1 correction. The dawgs DID have a rushing attack early in the season. We’ve had at LEAST 1 RB go for a 4+ ypc average, in every game, since game 1. Bobo just sits them on the bench and rotates in 3 or 4 other 1 yard per carry backs. The triple 3 triangle rotation running back plan didn’t work out so well. Bobo also called a 54% pass play-mix early in the first 7 games.

The difference RECENTLY, is Bobo is calling MORE RUNNING PLAYS and mixing in MORE RUNNING PLAYS into the PLAY-CALL MIX.

Maybe this Sat, Bobo will get a back 25 touches and get a 100 yard rusher, since Richt is 38 wins and 3 losses when Ga gets a 100 yard rusher. Look for Ealey to be the go-to guy, since he’s the top ypc leader, and has more better explosion runs. King can come off the bench as a back up plan if Ealey can’t get it done.

EW

November 20th, 2009
2:29 pm

Hey Bill, you left out the forecast for 100% rain. That will ensure the game is played mostly on the ground. And I like our chances there.

DMV

November 20th, 2009
2:46 pm

What’s going on up in Athens, now it’s Jonathan Owens from the football team who gets arrested. Now that is 3 players since October 13th to be arrested from the team on traffic related charges. Get it together up there.

jawga boy

November 20th, 2009
2:54 pm

Hey , St. Simons……. Where’s DAYTON ?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

NewnanDawg

November 20th, 2009
3:01 pm

EW – you got it – rain will definately be a factor

DMV – a redshirt freshman gets a traffic ticket – wow, must be a real thug, kind of like attempted armed robbery, right? If all you have to do in life is troll for arrests to try to make people look bad, all you do is make yourself look bad.

R.I.P. Uga VII and Go Dawgs!

SadDawg

November 20th, 2009
3:04 pm

“Georgia Tech”, You “hope Johnson can find a way to move the ball on Martizez”? Hell, Paul Johnson could put himself in the backfield and move the ball on Martinez’s defense!

NewnanDawg

November 20th, 2009
3:10 pm

SadDawg – “Sad” but true

Soulja Boy

November 20th, 2009
3:15 pm

Richt’s entitled pups don’t like to follow rules on the field or laws off the field.

how2fish

November 20th, 2009
3:16 pm

Soulja Boy our only entitlement is how we OWN TECH..

Middle GA DAWG

November 20th, 2009
3:31 pm

In remembrance of Uga VII, we as the Bulldog Nation should join together on Saturday night and black out Kentucky. Uga VII was a Damn Good Dawg and we should make this a night to a remember for the final home game of the 2009 season. We encourage the entire Bulldog Nation to wear black to mourn the loss of our loyal friend. Go Dawgs!

reebok

November 20th, 2009
3:35 pm

Tech fan here. Condolences to Dog fans and the Seiler family on the loss of Uga. Changing subjects somewhat, is there any word on whether AJ will be able to play against my Jackets next week?

Tech fan

November 20th, 2009
3:47 pm

reebok,
I would like to know that too!!
Sorry for the loss of Uga VII my he rest in PEACE

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

November 20th, 2009
4:34 pm

I doubt CPJ will watch the game saturday I mean really whats the point he is probably to busy working on Clemson to think much about a scrimmage now in a couple of years yes the Dawgs my be ready for another run but this year and next (with a brand new QB again ) not going to happen . Please DAWGS make me eat my words
GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!
DAM GOOD DOG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tech fan

November 20th, 2009
4:56 pm

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN,
Paul IS watching this game!!! It’s the BY FAR more important than the ACC game!!! We need this one worse than Clemson!! :(

jason

November 20th, 2009
5:42 pm

Tech fan, Serious question here. Why is Nesbitt not getting any Heisman Love? Not to disrespect Dwyer, but with all the pub Dwyer gets (and he definitely deserves alot), Dwyere would not have those yards if not for Nesbitt running the Offense. He has out played Tebow and McCoy so far this year. I know this is a RB year, but Nesbitt should be the first QB on the list. Especially since now he is throwing the ball more. Nesbitt is a Junior, right?

Johnny Test

November 20th, 2009
5:54 pm

Dawgs rush for over 200 yards. Defense plays best game of the year. Dawgs look like a different team than we have been seeing all year. Uga 31 KYjelly…17.

godawgs

November 20th, 2009
6:35 pm

Johnny Test-

Wouldn’t it be great to see the Dawgs rush for over 200 yards? If they do, Richt’s record when we get 200 yards rushing is a WHOPPING 17 wins and only 2 losses. But it’s unlikely, Bobo likes to call passing plays about 65% of the play calls. Bobo’s only had a 200+ rushing game ONCE this year. But, no doubt, the run is the key to EVERY game Ga plays. Look at this:
>>>In our 4 losses this year we averaged 87 rushing yards a game.
>>>In our 6 wins, we have averaged 141 rushing yards a game.

>>>When we ran for LESS than 100 yards this year we LOST 75% of the games.
>>>When we ran for MORE than 150 yards this year, we won 100% of our games.

I hope to see a LOT of tomorrow, Ealey’s BOTH our top yard per carry leader and our top explosion yard leader. I am hoping for 25 touches, can you imagine? He could probably get that 150 on his own.

godawgs

November 20th, 2009
10:08 pm

Hey Bill-

Have you seen this info yet? Is Georgia’s Pass-Happy Offense The Problem?

Let’s look at the SEC and see how pass % plays out to wins and losses.
S. Carolina- 55% pass- 6 wins/5 losses
Arkansas- 52% pass- 6-4
Ga 49% pass- 6-4 record
Tenn 48% pass- 5-5
Alabama- 40% pass/60% run- 10-0
Florida- 36% pass/64% run- 10-0

Ga Tech- 17% pass/83% run- 10-1

godawgs

November 20th, 2009
10:14 pm

I find it interesting that Florida AND Alabama both AVERAGE OVER 200 yards RUSHING per game. We’re FAR short of that.

I see a pattern, do you?

>>>In our 4 losses this year we averaged –87– rushing yards a game.
Florida- 200+
Alabama- 200+
Ga- 87

>>>In our 6 wins, we have averaged –141– rushing yards a game.
Florida-200+
Alabama- 200+
Ga- 141

Cuz

November 20th, 2009
11:35 pm

Try this one godawgs. Bama holds their opponets to 80 yards/game. Florida 98. Bama holds their opponets to 174 yards per game passing, Florida 138. Bama’s opponets score 1.3333333 touchdowns per game, Florida .666667.

You may want to talk about their offense. Their defense is winning the games.

Cuz

November 20th, 2009
11:37 pm

Sorry, the touchdowns are all offense touchdowns, run backs for punts and kickoffs do not count just like pic sixes do not count.

godawgs

November 20th, 2009
11:46 pm

Cuz-

A powerful running game wins possession time, controls field position, limits turnovers, and keeps the other offense off the fied. So of course, the defensive stats would reflect a powerful running game.

Defensive stats for Ga are a BY-PRODUCT of the RUNNING GAME- See Stats above.

Oklahoma has a GREAT defense, yet like Ga, has a 6-4 record.

godawgs

November 20th, 2009
11:48 pm

Cuz,

When Ga gets more than 150 yards rushing,we win 100% of our games this year. When we get LESS than 100 yards rushing, we LOSE 75% of our games this year.

Cuz

November 20th, 2009
11:51 pm

godawgs, can’t argue the last statements. I only did a DC Fantasy League. And that took some time. If I had a day or so I might be able to put together an OC Fantasy League. In the last month, the DC fantasy league has missed just two games in head to head SEC matchups. I wonder if I can sell it to Guido the bookie?

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
12:03 am

Cuz,

In our 10 games this year, the team that RUSHED for the most yards, won 9 out of 10. The only exception was South Carolina, which outrushed us by 7 yards. We were lUCKY that game that we got a 100 yard ko return, otherwise, we would have lost to South Carolina.

For Ga, it’s all about how Bobo’s guys RUN THE BALL.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
12:07 am

Cuz-

Here’s another way of saying it. This year, when our guys RUSH for more yards than the other guys, we are 5-0, undefeated. When we get outrushed this year, our record is 1-4.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
12:12 am

In our 4 losses, we were outrushed by an average of 88 yards. If we get beat in the running game by 70 yards or more, we’ve lost every game.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
12:31 am

Cuz-

Until 2009, in the past, when Richt’s Defensive Coordinator prevents the other team from having a 100 yard rusher, we win 38 out of 41. Not true this year. Willie’s D has held EVERY team to less than a 100 yard rusher, yet we have 4 losses. Even when Willie’s Defense puts in an OUTSTANDNG defensive game, we’re getting beat 40% of the time. I think that’s because of the 3 to 4 offesnive Ga turnovers in the Ok St, Tenn, and Flo games. And the poor rushing game in each of our losses.

Yet when Willie gets even a modest effort from offense where we outrush the other team by at least 1 yard, Georgia is undefeated this year.

This surprises me, because 84% of people AJC surveyed think Willie should be fired. I don’t think that’s the case–at all. Consider how Willie DOMINATED Gus, the #1 Offense Coordinator in the NCAA 2007, and 2008, and #10 in 2009. That PLUS Willie has given up ZERO 100 yard rushers allowed this year, which NORMALLY, we win 94% of those games. Willie can coach defense.

Bob Davies in the Ga-Aubrun game was smart when he said Willie Martinez is a great defensive coordinator. The numbers don’t lie—was he ever correct.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
12:53 am

the perplexing thing is, we have a guy, Ealey, averaging 5.2 a carry, just .01 short of Herschel Walkers ypc average (Walker was voted the #2 greatest player ever by ESPN–he got JUST

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
12:57 am

Since Ealey’s 5.2 carry is just .01 shy of Herschel Walker, the guy ESPN voted top 5 best college player EVER, why is this guy Ealey not getting 30 touches a game like Walker did? When we win 100% of games where we rush for 150 or more?

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
12:57 am

sorry, about the duplicate, computer snag :)

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
1:05 am

The reason the one that rushes the most usually wins, is they can control the clock and keep the other team on the bench. Bobo’s offense is currently ranked #109 in offense time of possesion out of 120 teams. We also rank LAST in the SEC in rushing yards per game. When you pass, you stop the clock, EVEN IF YOU SCORE PASSING THE BALL, the other team has time to score, like LSU did. We almost did it AGAIN at the end of the Auburn game, but Willie stepped up and created a stop.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
10:47 am

On Ga’s 1st Offensive Drive this year, I question our Offensive play-calling, it’s been ineffective 70% of the time:
5 games: 3 plays and punt
1 game: 6 plays and punt
3 games: TD drives
1 game: 2 plays and Fumble

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
10:50 am

Our Offense is giving the ball away 2.3 times a game in our first 10 games. Ranked #109 there out of 120 teams in the NCAA, not good.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
10:56 am

Alabama and Florida both rank in the top 13 in rushing at over 215 yards rushing per game. Georgia gets only about 115 yards per game. We need to trun the ball a LOT more and get 200+ yards rushing per game.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
11:04 am

Ga averages 30 rushes a game (LAST in the SEC), Bama gets over 40 rushes per game, and Florida calls 44 rushes per game (1st in the SEC).

monty

November 21st, 2009
12:11 pm

What a mediocre program we have become! I just couldn’t believe these statistics when I read them a moment ago: OFFENSE Rankings
Passing 74th
Rushing 80th
Points per game 61st
yards per game 89th

Defensive Rankings
yards per game 33rd
passing yards 52nd
rushing yards 32nd

All this mediocrity with blue chip athletes. Let’s all deny that coaching is the problem.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
12:43 pm

monty-

I agree, we have really stunk it up this year particularly on the offensive side this year.

Georgia’s Offensive Rankings in the SEC:
LAST in rushing yards per game in the SEC, LAST in rushign yards per carry (Bobo rotates in the lowest ypc rushers to bring down the average),LAST in GIVEAWAYS in the SEC, LAST in rushing attempts in the SEC, LAST in the SEC in Offensive Time of Possession %, LAST in % of run plays called in the play-mix. 6 KEY Offensive areas: LAST. 3 or 4 offensive turnovers in 3 losses to OK. ST, Florida, and Tenn. it’s amazing we have won a single game!

All this, when we have Ealey averaging over 5.2 ypc? It’s not on the players, O-Line or RB’s, we’ve had a 4+ ypc rusher EVERY game. This one’s on Bobo.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
12:54 pm

Against a good defense like Tenn, Bobo gave up 3 turnovers, scored O Td’s, 0 Red Zone Attempts. Bobo’s offense was outscored in that game by Georgia’s: Punt block team, Kick off return team, defense, and field goal kicker. We got 19 points from ANYBODY but the OFFENSE. We passed the ball 40 times, and only ran it 22 times. INEPT!

Against a great offensive mind, Gus of Auburn (ranked #1 IN 2007, 2008, #10 IN 2009) Willie gave up ONLY 17 points, held Tate to under 50 yards, and forced 2 interceptions. Willie has not had ANY TEAM get a 100 yard rusher on him the ENTIRE YEAR! Amazing.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
1:19 pm

monty-

good stat on comparing Ga’s defensive rushing, and our offensive rushing.
we know, 9 out 10 games this year, whoever rushed the most, won. So who’s fault is it that we havn’t outrushed our oppenents–defense or offense? Well, defense hasn’t given up ANY 100 yard rushers, and is ranked #32 in defensive rushing. Pretty good. The offense is ranked #80 in rushing. pretty bad. Bobo needs to step it up in the rushing game.

godawgs

November 21st, 2009
2:28 pm

In Ga’s 1st 7 games:
ok st.- Samuel 4.4 yards per carry
SC- Samuel 4.3 ypc
Ark- Samuel 6.5 ypc
Ar. St.- King 5.0 ypc
LSU- Ealey 4.1 ypc
Tenn- thomas 10 ypc, Samuel 5.0 ypc
Florida- Samuel 6.7 ypc, Ealey 4.1

Look at our 4 losses. Against Ok St. & SC Samuels averaged 4.3 and 4.4 ypc. Agaisnt Tenn and Florida Smauel gets over 5.0 and 6.7 ypc. Like I said, the O-Line is not the problem. Ga DID NOT only RECENTLY start run blocking well. The problem in those games was Bobo kept ROTATING OUT the best back and SAT THEM ON THE BENCH for 33%-75% of each game. That brought the rushing stats DOWN.

Technophobia

November 21st, 2009
5:04 pm

UGA should win this one but they have had a lot of distractions this week so you never know.

no dawg

November 22nd, 2009
10:37 am

So ladies what color helmets you wearing next week, pink? Better wrap those knees tight the Jackets O-Line is going medevil on your sorry butts.

what the

November 23rd, 2009
9:23 am

The Dawgs was in a Cat fight and LOST!!!!!!!!