Gamecocks ‘exposed’ Dogs’ weaknesses on offense and defense

Jakar Hamilton slides off again. (Gerry Melendez / The State)

Jakar Hamilton slides off again. (Gerry Melendez / The State)

A few more thoughts on Saturday’s loss in Columbia …

Georgia losing to South Carolina wasn’t a surprise to me. I’d picked that game as one of two predicted losses in the preseason. What was a surprise to me, though, was how bad the Dogs looked at times in losing it, particularly the running game and tackling.

It certainly didn’t help that Caleb King was sidelined with a bad ankle and that Washaun Ealey coughed up the ball, but it looked like the main blame for the ineffective rushing attack was our highly overrated offensive line. I think the great fallacy is that just because our line is experienced that they ought to be really good. So far it isn’t turning out that way.

I’ll grant that the OL did do a pretty good job in pass protection. Aaron Murray got flushed out a few times, but mostly had plenty of time in the pocket. But the line simply wasn’t opening up holes for Ealey. Most of his success came running outside — which makes you wonder why Mike Bobo didn’t exploit that more. Those second-down runs up the middle weren’t fooling anyone.

And a 27 percent conversion rate on third down will nearly always mean you lose. As Bobo and Mark Richt conceded after the game, they’ve got to give Murray the opportunity to make something happen offensively when the running attack isn’t going anywhere.

At the same time, Murray’s got things he needs to work on. Don’t stand there and take a sack when you can throw the ball away! And he’s still tending to either overthrow or throw slightly behind his receivers, which resulted in Orson Charles missing what could have been a scoring pass in the red zone.

Field goals weren’t enough to beat South Carolina, and they certainly won’t cut it next week Between the Hedges. As Richt noted, in order to have a chance at beating Arkansas, “we’re going to have to score points.”

As for the defense, one of the first things I read about the 3-4 scheme back in the winter was that its main weakness is against the run and it requires dominating play at nose guard. The latter, we certainly didn’t have, and Carolina’s terrific freshman back Marcus Lattimore quickly wore down the Georgia D. Could conditioning maybe have been a factor there? Check out this Lattimore quote: “Our offensive line was in better shape than their defensive line.”

Despite Steve Spurrier’s tongue-in-cheek tweaking of Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham over the former NFL coach perhaps not being familiar with the inside zone running play that was the Gamecocks’ bread and butter Saturday, Georgia’s defense actually had players in the right position most of the time. They just didn’t execute. As Grantham indicated after the game, Lattimore is good, but Georgia’s poor tackling made him look even better. And it wasn’t just Lattimore. Missed tackles on screen passes hurt the Dogs, too.

Too many times you saw Georgia defenders going for what Bacarri Rambo called a “kill shot,” where they tried to take the ball carrier down by slamming into him with a body block instead of wrapping him up. There were also way too many arm tackles up high instead of taking him out low. And I lost count of how many times Jakar Hamilton slid off a ball carrier like they were greased. Demarcus Dobbs nailed it when he said, “We didn’t get in position to make tackles. He exposed us.” As Justin Houston put it: “That should be one of our main focuses next week.”

While Georgia’s defense looked pretty hapless in the first half, they actually did a much better job of containing Lattimore and the Gamecocks in the second half … until that last drive, where Carolina started on its own 37 with 8:19 left and Georgia’s offense didn’t get back on the field until only 1:05 was left. The most damning thing about that drive is that there was absolutely no mystery to what South Carolina was doing. Lattimore got the ball on eight of the 11 plays. And yet the Dogs still couldn’t stop him, giving up 66 yards to the admittedly tired freshman in that series.

What else was there for Georgia fans to complain about? How about the Dogs squandering all three of their second-half timeouts by midway through the third quarter? And while he’s holding on to the ball, Branden Smith looks like he still needs more coaching as a returner. Someone please tell him you don’t run backwards deep in your own territory.

On the plus side, as I noted Saturday, the best thing about Georgia’s defense was the pressure they kept up on Carolina QB Stephen Garcia, who had some success throwing to Alshon Jeffrey but generally was most effective just handing off to Lattimore. Ace pass rusher Houston is living up to his hype, with 10 tackles Saturday, three of Georgia’s five sacks and forcing a fumble. The Dogs are going to need Houston to come up big again if they’re going to have a chance against Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett.

Also encouraging was the team drawing only four penalty flags for 25 yards (though another false start on a failed third-down play was declined by the Gamecocks).

And Murray showed a lot of potential. Too bad his receivers didn’t do a better job of getting open and helping him out in A.J. Green’s absence.

Bottom line: The Dogs have a lot of work to do if they want to avoid starting out 0-2 in conference play.

Feel free to share your own thoughts the good and bad you saw Saturday.

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473 comments Add your comment

Insider

September 13th, 2010
9:28 pm

Richt was begging for the fans to be loud on his call in show. I got a idea why don’t yall give us something to be loud about. We are growing tired of the same crap. How about winning a big home game for a change.

dawgone

September 13th, 2010
9:29 pm

INSIDER I AGREE. HOW SCARED DO YOU THINK TEAMS ARE TO COME TO ATHENS AND PLAY? THE PLAYERS NORMALLY ARE SLEEP WALKING ANYWAY.

FIRE THEM ALL

September 13th, 2010
9:33 pm

My question is why did Richt and others go to Virginia Tech during the summer to look at their conditioning program. I am not smart but I believe I would have went to Alabama. I wonder what Richt is thinking.

playing time

September 13th, 2010
9:35 pm

RNB – You are correct. Saban would play with the scout team if players did not fully commit them selves. Then at the end of the season he would run them off and have 25 scholarships. He does it every year. It’s his way or the highway.

Nick Satan

September 13th, 2010
9:41 pm

I will coach at Georgia if you pay me 6 mil per year.

playing time

September 13th, 2010
9:41 pm

Fire them all – You are on to something, why do you think Smart said no. He interviewed as a courtesy to UGA as a former player.

Insider

September 13th, 2010
9:46 pm

It’s no secret this weekend is a big game for Richt. If he can’t win this one at home do we really believe he is the coach who can get us a national title.

Loran

September 13th, 2010
9:53 pm

I saw high school players tackle Lattimore last fall better than we did Saturday. This my friends is unacceptable for a SEC defense.

dawgs01

September 13th, 2010
9:55 pm

we are small and slow on defense we are a timid team like our coach. If Coach wants to preach about the bible and stuff go be a pastor on saturday it is about football. i want a football coach not someone that makes excuses we looked like a poorly coached football team on saturday. our talent is mediocre whoever is evaluating talent for georgia needs to be fired the strength coach needs to go too. we are small slow and injury prone

dawgone

September 13th, 2010
10:00 pm

IT’S NOT THE TALENT IT’S COACHING. OUR PLAYERS ALWAYS ARE BETTER WHEN THEY GET TO THE NFL. WE RECRUIT THE SAME PLAYERS AS ALL THE OTHER SEC SCHOOLS

dawgs01

September 13th, 2010
10:03 pm

BOBO cant call plays i am listening to the dawg report and they are talking about how good lattimore is but we could not talkle my grandmother. we are bad and i dont see us getting better.

playing time

September 13th, 2010
10:20 pm

Crap sandwich – UGA has one of the best facilities in college football how is it going to help by contributing more money. However you do need a good foundation to build a strong program no matter what it is. just saying

dawgster

September 13th, 2010
10:39 pm

Its a shame that so called dawg fans are on here trashing our team, the coaches, anything associated with UGA…I don’t how many of you played any kind of ball or Div 1 football, but i know that the majority on here couldn’t go thru what these young men do conditioning wise or other in getting ready for the football season…You don’t knopw how much time the coaches put in, but i can tell you their families do..Yes they get paid alot of money and yes we should expect the team to be successful…but some of the negative absurd remarks and the defeatish attitude of some is truly amazing to me…do any of you so called experts realize that we have a young team, a new DC, several new coaches and a very, very good recruiting class coming in..But get on here and throw the whole team under the bus is unacceptable…If you don’t want to support the team, then i say get lost and go support another team that you can bash…Its disgusting to see these fare weather fans..These kids i can promise you want to win more than you do and the coaching staff is doing all it can to make the team successful..Am i disappointed in what i have seen, you bet i am, do i like the play calling from our OC, no…do i think the defense will only get better, yes..Call mne a homer if you like and call me any name you want, believe me i am big enough to handle it…I would say not a single loud mouth on here has ever coached a high school or college game in their life, much less going thru workouts and giving it all you can to make your school and fans proud…Its ok to be upset and vent your frustrations, but way too many remarks on here are out of line and very classless…

Spokesman for the SEC East

September 13th, 2010
10:42 pm

Hey crap sandwich, we agree with you, please dont fire CMR!!! He is 10-11 in the SEC East in recent years. Now tell me who is smarter the idiots you call rednecks or the UGA Grads? You are priceless.

Buck Belue wears a toupee and has a gut

September 13th, 2010
10:54 pm

Poor UGA fans…. still crying in their Wheaties….. face it YOUR TEAM STINKS….

GOP Cannon

September 13th, 2010
11:21 pm

This loss sucks on so many levels…. loosing to SC makes it virtually impossible for us to win the SEC East. Unless we can go undefeated against Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky, we are all but assured of not going to the championship game. Even if we go undefeated against the SEC East opponents, we will need SC to drop two games to these same teams.

Sorry to vent, but the best thing that we can hope for is another trip to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

76-DAWG

September 14th, 2010
1:48 am

Last year UGA gave up nearly 400 yards to Mallet passing. We were lucky that Cox was able to have his best game with 5 TD’s passing just like Mallet.
I looked back at Arkansas’s game with LSU to see if BLITZING on nearly every play would be successful against Mallet and it’s very obvious that’s what Grantham should do this Saturday. LSU blitzed all day last year against Arkansas and even though the score was 33-30 LSU, Mallet was was 17 for 39 for only 227 yards. and 1 touchdown through the air. BLITZING ALL DAY WORKS AGAINST MALLET. Blitz as many as it take to unnerve Mallet It will work.

ryan

September 14th, 2010
6:59 am

every guy needs to check this post out
http://ramsonsports.blogspot.com/

re

September 14th, 2010
8:51 am

play the ogletree twins. they both play with heart to win.

Chris Rainey

September 14th, 2010
10:42 am

Time to Die!

Dirty Dawg

September 14th, 2010
11:14 am

Hey Chris, don’t worry, stalking and threatening somebody’s life is only worth a ‘quarter’s suspension’ for the Tennessee game. Now if you’d said something about gouging out her eyes, you’da been sittin’ for at least a ‘half’.

Mr. Reality Calling

September 14th, 2010
1:05 pm

What football tradition at South Carolina is how2fish talking about? Dude, what big time games have they one? How many championships? What were they…the 1969 ACC champs? I mean, is that it?
Some of you guys will go to any length to defend Mark Richt. He could lose a game to Slippery Rock and you would come on here saying “Well, they DO have a good team this year.” Wake up. Richt has the program right back to where it started when he took over. UGA is a mid tier SEC team with no hope of finishing better than second or third in their own eastern division year after year. Another thing, just because I don’t think the coach is doing a good job, and I voice my opinion, doesn’t mean I am not supporting the team, you morons. I still go to the games, I still watch them on tv, and I still wear my UGA shirts and hats.

droopydawg

September 14th, 2010
2:57 pm

We looked SOFT. “Hitman” and Rambo were the two most ironic names our safeties could have the way they played and Christian Robinson looked as overmatched as Bryan Evans used to.

After last year, it is almost impossible not to blame our heralded strength and conditioning program as our offensive line and our whole defense lacked strength and conditioning

Our OLB played ok and the Akeems played ok, but the DTs and DEs were getting driven back to the second level with regularity. Maybe the lack of two-a-days is because Richt and Grantham knew we’d have a bunch of DEF players after practice weeping like school children about their sore wittle muscles.

Embarrassing.