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

R2chs

September 12th, 2010
5:57 pm

Does anyone in UGA AD or football look at the withering criticism in the vast majority of these blog comments? Obviously they ignore them. The only way the system will change is when the economics become evident…empty seats, declining donations.

Baytown

September 12th, 2010
6:00 pm

Agree with all here.

Just 1 game. Finish 13-1, all is well.

Sic Em’

reality

September 12th, 2010
6:00 pm

UGAis well on their way to the 0-2 SEC start predicted by many.

CMR

September 12th, 2010
6:01 pm

uhhh of course Chuck ….my favorite food item would have to be the softee frosty….. it reminds me of my fooball team and staff.

Rally

September 12th, 2010
6:02 pm

Anyone saying the season’s over after the 1st 2 games, should be ignored, they don’t know Richt’s record, and indicate they know nothing about football.

Walton

September 12th, 2010
6:03 pm

Dogs beat Ark, go into Florida 7-1, not too bad.

buffdawg

September 12th, 2010
6:05 pm

anybody see NO shon doing the dance today after it took him two tries to score from the one yard line, that tells a lot about the mentality of the players we are developing not recuriting

Rally

September 12th, 2010
6:10 pm

Last time I checked, the football season is 13 or 14 games, not 2 games. It ain’t even started yet. Most figured UGA would go 2-1 in the 1st 3, no surprises so far. Georgia looked a little better than expected without AJ or King.

ugaclassof2004

September 12th, 2010
6:11 pm

Let’s wait and evaluate this team after the Arkansas and MSU games. It’s just too early to tell right now how the season will pan out. Florida is questionable, but could get the kinks worked out by the time they play us. South Carolina still didn’t impress me that much. I think Lattimore is a good back that we made look better with our poor tackling. And Stephen Garcia is just a loser just like that Jordan Jefferson kid from LSU. I’m sorry, but when you’re in your 3rd year running the offense, and you STILL can’t perform well without the help of a running game, then you just suck.

As for the Dawgs: I think Murray is a good QB. And Ealey will redeem himself. But out O-Line just has to go to work. They have the ability, they just have to put the work in because teams aren’t going to lay down for them.And I think we just lack talent on the defensive side of the ball. I have felt this way about our defense for the last 3 years or so. I think these kids are trying for Grantham, but he just doesn’t have the size and personnel to run that 3-4 yet. Grantham will have to get creative with him blitzes this year, which unfortunately means that we’ll get burned from time to time; because we just don’t have a physical presence in our Middle LB corp.

Scottie

September 12th, 2010
6:11 pm

S C should have won by 21 going against a Fresh QB without the starter at WR or RB. Itwas a td close late in the 4th quarter. If Bobo calls a fade instead of another run up the middle on the goalline, Georgia wins the game.

Barry

September 12th, 2010
6:13 pm

Hey Folks-

Thought Georgia’s defense looked better overall. Few penalities, few big plays. Pretty good against the pass, and good against the run in the second half. Just didn’t click in the first half–but considering Georgia has a new defense, new coaches, and a freshman QB, thought the guys went toe to toe with SC and doggone near stole one in Comubia.

Manny

September 12th, 2010
6:14 pm

Murray looked really sharp, Georgia is close to getting on the same page, just needs to tweak the running game.

Jamaica Dawg

September 12th, 2010
6:14 pm

If all the fans can predict Bobo’s plays, doesn’t that say something?

What are his credentials by the way other than being a former GA QB?

Wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to bring in NFL level coaching talent like we did with Grantham to introduce new ideas and NFL caliber strategies/fundamentals?

DawgVoiceofReason

September 12th, 2010
6:23 pm

Yes, there were a lot of things to be disappointed about in the South Carolina game, but man, we’ve got way too many people posting here who are simply “freaking out”. The way I look at it is that it is a long season and one loss to a tough SEC team is not the end of the world; I agree with Rally on that point. If the problems don’t get corrected, then we can reevaluate.

DawgVoiceofReason

September 12th, 2010
6:26 pm

Does anyone know why the first down call that Richt challenged was NOT overturned? Based on the TV replays it wasn’t even close to a first down. That was a big momentum play in the game.

82Dawg

September 12th, 2010
6:36 pm

Bill, It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out it was the play calling. How can you convert on 3rd down when you’re trying to run up the gut with everyone stacked in the box. I thought you were smart enough to figure it out. You’ll be eating your words about the O-line after next week because Bobo and Richt have both said they won’t be conservative any more. Get off the lines backs — you have to at least give them a chance at sussess. Also, if you have ever seen a superior physical running back (Herschel, Bo, Rogers, Tebow) they always have an advantage due to momentum out of the backfield and knowing the count — they are game changers. Lattimore will make a lot of defenses look awkward this year. I never knew you to be such a poor student of football.

DAWG with a bag over his head

September 12th, 2010
6:38 pm

Dawgvoiceofreason… as I commented earlier to another poster, what makes you think this season will turn out any different than the last two? I’m seriously asking. What am I missing? History suggests that it will be another forgettable season.

Joe

September 12th, 2010
6:39 pm

Last I checked, without 2 minutes t go, on the raod, against a top 25 ranked team, Georgia was within a td score. That’s where you want to be, with a chance to win it. Just couldn’t close out the game, didn’t finish the drill.

Steve

September 12th, 2010
6:42 pm

I thought with Lattimore and thos big receivers, Spurrier would pout up 40 on Georgia. Especially with a freshman QB, and with both starters AJ & King out of the game. The defense did an excellent job, just needs to execute better on 3rd down. Did a good job on 1st/2nd down for the most part. Really impressed with Grantham so far.

82Dawg

September 12th, 2010
6:45 pm

Barbie Doolies, You’re showing your football ignorance. Have you never seen great running backs who started their record breaking careers their freshman year? Someone else said it before, and I think it is true — Spurrier didn’t showcase Lattimore against USM on purpose. He wanted to catch the Dawgs off guard. Why do you think he made the comment before the game — “we’re now a team on the same level with everyone in the SEC”. When you have a player like a Herschel, Bo, Rogers or Tebow — you can make statements like that. Now SC just needs to hope they can keep lattimore healthy.

jsmuga

September 12th, 2010
6:46 pm

I am a positive person but I see no way this team beats Ark. next week 0-2 in SEC season over….

robinhuud

September 12th, 2010
6:48 pm

I am sitting here reading all this negatism about Mark Richt and Mike Bobo. Strange how you Georgia fans love to turn on your “heroes” every time things get a little tough. First to the fan who says SC has an average team and compared it with the loss in the bowl game last year. Get a life, stupid, you ever heard of recruiting and a freshman class. Second, Mark Richt has one of the best records in both the SEC and College Football over the last 10 years and now you want to crucify him over possibly two better than average seasons. Why dont you illiterage back woods hicks grow up. This is 2010 and you can’t have a national champion every year, in fact you yahoos haven’t had one but once which seems to be all you talk about. I am sure if Richt goes, he will have a job the next day. You better damned be glad you have what you have. Of course the majority of you hicks have no life down there except for football. Do you realize that during a 3.5 hour football game, thousands of children starve in this world. Get a life you morons

Buddy

September 12th, 2010
6:50 pm

2 tweaks:

Defense-
Force 2-3 TO’s a game until defense makes through learning curve

Offense:
Get a 100 yard rusher until Murray gets through learning curve

Do that, and Georgia wins the rest of the games this year.

Larry Munson

September 12th, 2010
6:51 pm

“Look at the Homers falling out of the Sky”

82Dawg

September 12th, 2010
6:55 pm

SSIgator, At least our team didn’t lose to a unranked team (Kansas) that you were supposed to beat by a couple of touchdowns and had lost the previous week to a nobody. That’s right, we all know you are really a Tech fan — no Gator fan I know would waste his time on a UGA blog chastising others the way you do. We all hope it helps you cope with your inferiority complex.

Circus Act

September 12th, 2010
7:00 pm

Did some of you clowns even watch the game? UGA got whipped. Everyone else (outside of homers) in the college football world says UGA got whupped and the Score was misleading. This is the same crap not only for 2 years but since starting in 2005. It has finally caught up with CMR folks.Its time to run these clowns out of Athens !

FB Fan

September 12th, 2010
7:02 pm

Everyone is overlooking the elephant in the room including you Bill. Recruit players that can commit themselves to excellence and stay out jail or ncaa trouble. How many players have been arrested, lost scholarships or been suspended over the last few years. Much more than most any other school. Maybe 7-10 a year since 2005? That is a high percentage of problem children. I believe that cancer has taken the program down a notch… no discipline. Look at the lack of tackling and players taking plays off….. no leadership on the team to stop that BS. All boils down to the type of players we seem to be stuck with. CMR talks a good game but look what happens every year?

NO LINDSEY SCOTT,NO 1980 TITLE MUTTS

September 12th, 2010
7:09 pm

JUST BE TRUTHFUL REDNECKS AND SAY YOU DONT WANT BLACK PLAYERS ON THE TEAM,WHEN YOU GUYS AND GALS SAY NO DANCING ON THE SIDELINE!

P.S. GET YOUR ALL WHITE TEAM AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SEC?

Corninmypooh

September 12th, 2010
7:11 pm

Upon further consideration I’ve found some positives going into next week. They are as follows:

1. We could be Georgia Tech with a High School offense and a defensive coordinator that’s as old as the Apalachian mountains.
2. We could be Tennessee, a program that’s now on it’s third coach in two and a half years.
3. We could be Virginia Tech, who started the season as a top 10 team and is now 0-2.
4. We could be Steve Spurrier, who has no class in losing and even less class in winning. A total scum bag.
5. Aaron Murray is a promising QB. He just needs to call his own plays!
6. Grantham and Lakatos have 5 days to teach their players how to tackle. Hopefully it will sink in.
7. Richt has the rest of the season to find a new OC and let Bobo know he’s being demoted.
8. Richt has the rest of the season to find a replacement for Rodney Garner.
9. Richt has the rest of the season to convince Isiah Crowell that combined with Aaron Murray and a new offensive line he can make Marcus Lattimore look like a blob.
10. At least my Lakers won the NBA title!

James

September 12th, 2010
7:11 pm

The plain sad truth is that our defense is still “finess” tackling. like they don’t want to get their uniforms dirty. It’s frustrating to wait an entire off season and see the lack of effort put out on SC. WE are in deep do do. By the way, Richt looks like he’s put on 20 pounds over the winter. Must be for the high calorie nails he bites!

NO LINDSEY SCOTT,NO 1980 TITLE MUTTS

September 12th, 2010
7:18 pm

MUSCHAMP OR KIRBY?

GIVE ME KIRBY SMART HIS DEFENSE LOOKS BETTER AT ALABAMA,THAN MUSCHAMP DEFENSE IN TEXAS IN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME,REMEMBER KIRBY SMART PLAYER KNOCKED COLT MCCOY OUT THE GAME!

Weneedanerk

September 12th, 2010
7:18 pm

Hey, somebody that knows a UGA coach get them a film of the Georgia Southern game at Navy on Saturday. Ga Southern was outmanned, but the defense can TACKLE. UGA and Ga Tech could benefit from the coach who taught them how to tackle. UGA and Ga Tech are in place to make the play, but their tackling is pitful…pitful…pitful. Looked like a bunch of pansies on both teams.

Football Fan

September 12th, 2010
7:19 pm

Alabama has a talent level equal to UGA, except they are coached….I have long been a Richt apologist, but this is getting VERY old

GR82BAG8R

September 12th, 2010
7:20 pm

82Dog, I am a Gator man through and through, and I visit the AJC blogs to read humorous postings like yours. You take great pleasure in trashing Tech, simply because they have one hand tied behind their back. They will never be SEC caliber. You have an incredible recruiting advantage that provides you with perennial top-10 classes. Yet you have no NCs. WHY?????

Tech can explain away their lack of prominent success. What is your explanation?

Class of 86

September 12th, 2010
7:22 pm

Love my Georgia Dawgs. Was depressed as hell last night after we lost to the Chickens. I don’t care how good they may be this year, we should be better. Always been a huge supporter of CMR, but I’m beginning to think we have passed our peak with him. For the past two to three years it seems we play with no drive, no passion. We haven’t seen any new leaders emerge who take control on the field and off. Oh where are you David Pollack. I really WANT CMR to win, but if we keep this up, I think it may be time for him to move on.

SSIgator

September 12th, 2010
7:23 pm

82Dawg -

I am sorry that I hurt your feelings by leaving your SC pre-game quotes off of my list. I will be sure to include you next time. 1980 – so long ago.

It was Willie Willie bad

September 12th, 2010
7:29 pm

Yes it was !

Bones

September 12th, 2010
7:41 pm

As a South Carolina fan I am seriously disappointed with Georgia. Not with the play yesterday, but with the grammar used in these comments. I know 8th grade grammar might be hard to understand for people from Georgia, but if you feel you need to comment please check your grammar and spelling.

RGP

September 12th, 2010
7:42 pm

The coaches werent the ones that couldnt tackle Lattimore. Coaches dont fumble either. We needed another running back other than Ealey running all the time. SC had figured that out after the first series.

catlady

September 12th, 2010
7:43 pm

Could we do a little “Richt” trade–father for son?

jack bull

September 12th, 2010
7:51 pm

better to be exposed now than later…we’ll finish 11-1, maybe 10-2..i didn’t hear anyone say we’d be undefeated at years end…anyone care to lose some money this week?? just let me know, seriously..

Dawgs-41 Hawgs-24

Jim 007

September 12th, 2010
7:54 pm

Bottom Line….Richt’s Team is Out of Control with Zero Leadership, especially from Him !

A few more arrests and Adams will have him following in the footsteps of Damon Evans

Personally, I think it is Overdue.

NGA Dog

September 12th, 2010
7:57 pm

I guess they were right to call Jakar “hitman” b/c all he does is hit and not tackle
what a joke he has turned out to be

And I agree – pizz poor and predicitable play calling by bobo – same long throw/run and then screen pass

Stop treating your qb like a baby and let him play – why do you think he is afraid to run now – when in he77 does a coach yell at his qb for running and making a touchdown – just let AM play his game – please – stop treating these guys like babies and if you are afraid of them getting hurt then you will never win a game – NEVER

Pitbull

September 12th, 2010
7:59 pm

Lattimore, “I use to run that same play over and over in high school. It was my favorite play. I kept wondering when they were going to try and stop it. They NEVER DID TRY”

jack bull

September 12th, 2010
8:02 pm

man, i’m glad that the ‘powers that be’ don’t listen to the lunatic fringe, or we’d be in big trouble!!! Go Dawgs, we’ll be fine this year and for many years to come!!!

fastdawg

September 12th, 2010
8:05 pm

That offensive line couldn’t block their GRANDMA. Enough said.

Ole Yeller Dawg

September 12th, 2010
8:10 pm

Funny how the Ole Ball Coach has evolved from the “Fun & Gun” offense that he made famous at UF to now what will be known as the “Fun & Run” USC offense!

SSIgator: Priceless…..2 funny. Letterman may be calling!

playing time

September 12th, 2010
8:24 pm

Good point Bill. Stacey may be a bust as offensive line coach. He is either not able to evaluate high school talent or the players he wants are not signing with the dogs. I will say again as I did last fall, we need a new strength and conditioning coach at Georgia but Richt wont cut him loose because its another case of the Willey’s. They go way back.

TX Dawg Fan

September 12th, 2010
8:29 pm

There are many good points made here. The negative ones are mostly wrong. What I observed, and agree with.
1) The GA defense was in position, but the tackling was very poor.
2) The GA running game needs real work.
3) Keep in mind that 2 plays – The BS first down spot for SC on their scoring drive that Richt challenged and they effed up even the replay call would have generated a SC punt, not a score and 2, Ealey’s fumble at the goal line could have easily been a touchdown. Change those two things and final score UGA 13 SC 10. I’m not blaming those 2 plays and playing woulda coulda, just pointing out that if 2 plays can change the winner of a game that easily, the real story wasn’t a beat down by the other team.
4) Note that SC took almost 29 minutes in the 2nd half to score 3 points and only a total of 354 yards and 17 points. That kind of performance will NOT get a team to the SEC championship. Especially when they have to play through Bama, Florida, Auburn and Arkansas.
5) Lattimore is good. Georgia’s poor tackling made him look great.

love it

September 12th, 2010
8:31 pm

Gotta love all these fans.
Just go ahead and run them all out of town-would suggest something more horrendous but could get
in trouble. Do it today not to wait. Then try to find a coach in the middle of the season. Try to bring
Attila the Hun back from the dead. Make a hella of a coach. Player or coach messes up killed on
the spot. Fans, especially these UGA fans would love it.
Live out of state so do not really care whether UGA wins or loses-just impressed with the fan reaction to one loss. Oh yeah this has been going on for years I forgot.
Think Peterson would leave BSU to come to this bed of insanity. Knowing when he lost one game he would have to be done away with.
Also, it is just a game, but I am truly farting into the wind if anyone on this site believes that.