The initial temptation in assessing Georgia’s disappointing loss in Columbia is to say, as Mark Richt did after the game, that if only Washaun Ealey hadn’t fumbled inside the Carolina 5, the Dogs might have tied it up and it would have been a whole new ballgame.
But I’m not sure that’s really true. By that point, Steve Spurrier had already figured out that all he needed to do was just keep giving the ball to tailback Marcus Lattimore, and the Dogs frankly had no answer for that, in part because of absolutely horrendous tackling all day long.
Yes, Lattimore looks to be a special back. But way too many of his 182 yards Saturday were after contact. For for a team that supposedly stressed defensive fundamentals in the offseason, the Dogs looked nearly incapable of stopping the run. That’s got to change.
They didn’t tackle much better on passing plays, either, which exacerbated the height advantage Carolina’s receivers already had. About the only positive for the defense Saturday was Georgia successfully pressuring Stephen Garcia. But even then he frequently was able to dump the ball off and still get positive yardage, something Georgia’s Aaron Murray struggled with.
Speaking of Murray, the redshirt freshman made a few mistakes but generally played as well as could be expected considering he appeared to have been hamstrung by Mike Bobo’s ultra conservative, shamefully predictable playcalling. It also looked like Murray’s coaches had drummed it into his head that he shouldn’t take off running when his receivers were covered, so much of the spontaneity was taken out of his game.
The reality, as Richt conceded in the locker room afterward, is that with Murray Georgia’s coaches have to “just let him play.” There was one sack Murray took in the first half when, having been chased out of the pocket, he seemed lost about what to do. His natural inclination, no doubt, was to tuck it and run, but he didn’t.
The Dogs had their moments offensively on Saturday but only in spurts. Mostly it was three-and-out. Bobo offered up nothing that should have surprised Carolina defenders. I mean, Ealey in the Wild Dawg or wildcat or whatever you want to call it is about three years behind the cutting edge.
Even as thin as Georgia is at quarterback, it does no good to try and play it safe if it means you take Murray out of his comfort zone. They have to let him play the best way he knows how.
On the other hand, perhaps a series or two riding the bench next week might get the message to Bacarri Rambo that loafing on the field just won’t be tolerated. You have to wonder if the fact that Rambo was pretty much a designated starter all through the offseason got into his head a bit. He definitely didn’t look like the Rambo of last year, who was willing to sacrifice his body for a stop. As former Georgia player Verron Haynes tweeted after one play that Rambo took off: “[I'm] usually not [negative] on players but #18 that was not UGA football!! We hit hard EVERY PLAY.”
Overall, a disappointing day on both sides of the ball. I’ll have more on Sunday. …
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