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

82Dawg

September 12th, 2010
8:32 pm

GR8BAG8R, I wasn’t commenting on your post — I was commenting on SSIgator. Are you a pretender too? You’re probably one in the same and make my case perfectly. In reference to your remarks — I’m not one of the folks bashing Tech (or FLA or anyone else for that matter) all the time. I just try to keep them in their lane when the insults start to go over the top. I actually grew up in Sandy Springs going to Tech games. I went to UGA, so I pull for Tech during all of their games except one each year. Tech (or Florida, etc.) should be the same. You want your opponent to be as highly ranked as possible when you play them because it makes your program look stronger if you win. Case in point — UGA beat the ACC Champs last year. The point of my comments is that anyone can spot an imposter because their comments don’t make sense. For instance your comments don’t make sense because all of the Gator fans I know are on the FLA blog expressing concern over their teams performance in the first two games and are focusing on their next opponent. The timing is way off — the UGA/FLA attention and banter will start much later in the season. So, please quit pretending to be someone you aren’t and start adding something meaningful on another site that is applicable to your team. Also, since you ended up defending Tech — I disagree with your remarks. UGA and Tech have the exact same NCAA entrance requirements for athletes. Even though everyone at Tech would like you to think you have to be an engineer to play at Tech — that is not true. Tech offers numerous degrees outside of engineering, which by the way are the ones Tech players are pursuing. No criticism, just a statement of fact. Tech and UGA also recruit the same 4 and 5 star players from in-state. UGA has done better in recruiting because they have been more successful on the field. If CPJ keeps winning (like last year), Tech will get more and more of its share of those players. The state of Georgia is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the entire country. There is absolutely no reason why Tech can’t build a successful and competitive program in Atlanta. Georgia State I’m sure will prove this point one day.

SSIgator

September 12th, 2010
8:36 pm

82Dawg -

“The state of Georgia is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the entire country.”

That is very true. The grass is always greener over the septic tank.

playing time

September 12th, 2010
8:40 pm

What is UGA’s win / lose record in the SEC east the past 5 years. Georgia has won 2 SEC championships in what 28 years and the fans act like they are one of the top teams in college football.

Georgia Fan

September 12th, 2010
8:40 pm

To all those calling us “crybabies” after losing one game; It’s not just about one game, we are seeing a pattern here.

10-11 against SEC East since ‘06

Take Florida out, leaving UT, SC, UK, and Vandy and we’re still only 9-8 since ‘06

Only in one year since 2002 has Richt improved on the year before. Wins since 2002; 13, 11, 10, 10, 9, 11(’07), 10, 8, ?

This great program is mired in mediocrity, year after year we wait for the improvements that never come, I’m not satisfied with that, if you are what kind of Dawg fan does that make you?

Bobbydawg

September 12th, 2010
8:41 pm

Is it just something about Steve Spurrier or is it just me imagining things? Oh well! I guess we’ll see as the season goes on.

SSIgator

September 12th, 2010
8:45 pm

Bill King -

‘exposed’ Dogs’

Did they expose themselves to children before or after the game. Sounds like more than a four game suspension to me.

Dawg85

September 12th, 2010
8:48 pm

Three sec schools have won National Championships since we last won an sec championship, now south carolina have overtaken us, and in a few years tennessee will be back. 6 sec schools are ranked in top 25, (not us) that puts us in the bottom half of sec, and going down.

playing time

September 12th, 2010
8:58 pm

Yes Dawg85 you are right. Only when there are empty seats at Stanford stadium and the donation drop will you see a change.

JB

September 12th, 2010
9:00 pm

Lost…………………….after watching yesterday, this team could learn and grow and win 10 games……………………………..Or struggle and win 7, maybe 8………..As a student of the game and taking my rose colored glasses off, I’m worried we’re not as talented as we think we are.
Not being well coached is a given…..

JB

September 12th, 2010
9:02 pm

Name any coach on our staff ( excluding Grantham, to soon) who would be hires by an elite SEC team.

JB

September 12th, 2010
9:02 pm

that s/b “hired”

Glad yall have richt and bobo

September 12th, 2010
9:05 pm

Ohhhh your new defense coach is soooooo good also.lol

Georgia football

September 12th, 2010
9:07 pm

No better than Vandy!

playing time

September 12th, 2010
9:07 pm

JB if you look at the talent at Bama or Florida you will see a tremendous difference when compared to UGA’s. They have three very talented RB and we wont even get into the offensive and defensive lines. It’s not even a fair to UGA’s big uglies.

GR82BAG8R

September 12th, 2010
9:08 pm

Tech’s football team has the highest SAT scores of any public university in the country. Period. That means they limit the pool of athletes they target. Explain if Georgia and Tech have the same admission requirements, why Georgia’s team is so much better athletically but so much worse academically than Tech’s.

GR82BAG8R

September 12th, 2010
9:15 pm

82Dog, I’m not defending Tech, I am pointing out that despite an incredible recruiting advantage in a state that worships high school football, Georgia has had no NCs since 1980, while fellow SEC schools rack them up. Florida competes with FSU and Miami, Alabama competes with Auburn. Who does Georgia compete with for in state recruiting????

You think you are so smart to spot an “imposter”. Perhaps you should get out more often and start thinking more strategically and ask why Georgia is not succeeding despite its big advantage….

Nick

September 12th, 2010
9:17 pm

Ok, so Georgia still wins the National Championship, but goes 13-1 instead of 14-0. No sweat.

playing time

September 12th, 2010
9:17 pm

who cares as long as they graduate with a degree from either school?

GR82BAG8R

September 12th, 2010
9:21 pm

Tech’s “high school” offense is the best they can hope for, given their sitution. However, any power running game with simply overwhelm them. Georgia proved that last year, as did Iowa and LSU the year before.

If a team plays smart, they can simply “out-talent” Tech.

fayncdawg

September 12th, 2010
9:26 pm

Richt is now very on the hot seat! The Dawgs lost to a mediocre SC team. Our OL played atrociously. Seemed as though Murray was bailing them out (suppose to be the other way around). Poor prep on defense! If the D would have focused on stopping to run and put the game into the erratic Garcia’s hand, the Dawgs would have won! Heck Murray is a better QB than Garcia! We just made Lattimore look like Herschel! DISGRACEFUL!!!

Ron

September 12th, 2010
9:28 pm

The dogs are WORSE than the Falcons…if that’s possible! What a disastrous weekend for Georgia teams! Fire BOBO…I don’t care how many kids he has…

Nashdawg

September 12th, 2010
9:37 pm

Really people. Did you expect Tod Grantham was Moses and he was going to part the Red Sea? The defense is new and Grantham had the boys in the right place but they have to get Willie’s tackling out of their heads. By the way South Carolina only put up 17 points. Geez it was not like they were beat to death. As for the offense. A new qb, who by the way did well considering all things. Caleb did not play nor AJ and even with those folks out there was still an opportunity to score a touchdown. Yes there was a fumble but those things happen. Oh I forgot it was the defense that put the Dawgs in the place to possibly score that touchdown. Take a chill pill folks.

DawgDay

September 12th, 2010
9:45 pm

Looks like Bobo and Stacy(O-line coach) may be on the hotseat now.

Hey fellas dont be down, Richt is great

September 12th, 2010
9:50 pm

Enter your comments here

Tom B Stone

September 12th, 2010
9:56 pm

There was a handful of people that knew at least three years in advance that something was wrong with our defense and that Willie needed to go. There was also a great number of people that accused the former of being irrational or just plain stupid. You see what happened in the end but it took way too long. Looking back, in my opinion, we had an AD that had his mind on something other than UGA athletics and didn’t hold CMR accountable as to what was happening with the football program. That, my friend has now changed. Don’t think for one minute that McGarity isn’t tuned in to what’s going on. Neither is he afraid to make necessary changes. This football program gets far too much talent and these coaches get paid far too much money to be underachieving year after year. Stay tuned and lets see what happens.

tired DAWG

September 12th, 2010
9:56 pm

One thing cost us a LOT better chance in winning the game-Bobos conservative play calling!!!!! I thank Bobo needs replaced!! And Mark Richt if you cant force him to beef up play calling then we have big problems. Defense made good adjustments

Just a thought

September 12th, 2010
9:58 pm

If the Braves had this many homers, they would have already wrapped up the division.

Grantham isnt Einstein

September 12th, 2010
10:04 pm

Why would Grantham install the 3-4 before he had a dominant Nose Tackle. It is an invitation for a team to jam it down your throats. Spurrier isn’t stupid; he didn’t throw because he was eating up the clock and winning at the same time. You wanted Erk Russell and you got a wannabe. It is going to be a long season.

DawgDay

September 12th, 2010
10:07 pm

It’s the same thing every year under this coaching staff. Thank the good Lord I was a freshman at UGA in 1980 and went to see the Dogs win the Nat’l Championship. I don’t expect to see another Championship from them in my lifetime unless Chris Peterson arrives in Athens.

Lowcountry Dawg

September 12th, 2010
10:15 pm

If you remember last year Rambo was hitter UNTIL HE GOT HURT-it was a play near the goal line. Looks like he’s afraid of getting hurt again. No question, his aggressiveness is way down.
Richt skipped 2 -a- days in pre-season camp-that made a difference yesterday.
Van Halangar was suppose to be this super strength and conditioning coach-not sure about that. When Richt first got here-he had the “finish the drill” mantra. I understand the workouts were intense-something has changed-doesn’t seem like they are ready to play hard nosed football anymore.

Dawg2010

September 12th, 2010
10:17 pm

After some time to sit back and think about what I saw Saturday afternoon; I have come to the conclusion that our current as well as most recent Bulldogs have no fear of losing and very little pride in playing football at Georgia. Just watch this team; we don’t hustle to the line of scrimmmage after breaking the huddle, we don’t often run on to the field on change of possesions, etc… I realize that these things may seeem small and trifle but it is all about a mindset of doing it right, doing better. As for the lack of pride well just look at all of the off field crap; nuff said. I don’t know how to fix this but CMR needs to do something. Next Saturday after UGA beats Arkansas watch Bama or Ohio State and watch how they go about their business during the game. I beleieve that you too will see what I have.

Grantham isnt Einstein

September 12th, 2010
10:17 pm

Compare UGA’s players getting off the bus without their unis on with Bama’s and Florida’s and then ask your self if another one of Richt’s buddies aka Van Halanger is worth what he’s getting paid.

casual observer

September 12th, 2010
10:20 pm

Dawg2010; seriously I agree with what you say. It seems the only time the players really hustle is when they are running onto the field with their black “gimmick” uniforms.

casual observer

September 12th, 2010
10:22 pm

2010, honestly dude, would you bet a hard earned $100 on the Dawgs beating the Hawgs this week?

td

September 12th, 2010
10:26 pm

Anyone that thought the DAWGS would go 12-0 or 11-1 this year are idiots or delusional and do not know a thing about college football. We have a Freshman QB (Greene 8-4 and Stafford 8-4 freshman years), and new defensive coaching staff and had our best player suspended for 4 games. Folks this team is a 8-4 or 9-3 team only this year. I see a very good QB in the future and a great defense coming when Gratham gets a few more of his type players or some more time to coach them up to his system. The players were a little timid on defense because they are not comfortable yet in the 3-4. Our safeties are a little weak right now, the corners played great. Grantham made some very good adjustments at half time (encouraging)

Ed

September 12th, 2010
10:28 pm

nick saban: Why Ed?…… because he kicked UGA’s @$$ on the field yesterday.

So…he takes a dig at an assistant coach. A defensive assistant, after scoring only 17 points.

OK.

Pitbull

September 12th, 2010
10:30 pm

The hogs running backs are saying. Give me the ball Coach, please, please, I WON’T get hurt. Them dawgs are just giving love taps!

Mark

September 12th, 2010
10:33 pm

I want to support Richt and Bobo but I have run out of excuses. They don’t coach kids up and they don’t call good games. As bad as Willie Martinez was it was often poor offensive performance that put the defense on the field just like Saturday. Is the defense supposed to play the entire game and win. Sorry Mark but it’s time to go.

Man Enough

September 12th, 2010
10:34 pm

td, I agree with you, but I am tired of seeing us “do less with more”. I think that late in that game we needed to open up a bit and be more agressive. So what if Murray made a mistake that cost us the game, we lost anyway. I think the frustrations on here are about the conservative play calling. I understand we are trying to protect Murray and help him to not lose the game, but at some point we had to open up and give it a chance on offense.

Dooly's Dog

September 12th, 2010
10:44 pm

S. Carolina wore um down. UGA looked tired in the 3rd. qt! SC running back slidding of tacklers. Does anyone remember back in August when the dawgs were only doing 1 a days when everyone else in the SEC was doing 2 a days?

Dawg2010

September 12th, 2010
10:44 pm

casual,

I will always plan on the Dawgs winning until proven otherwise.

casual observer

September 12th, 2010
10:49 pm

2010 did you anticipate Saturday? Son if you think we can hold Arkansas to under 21 points this week while scoring more ourselves you must have a very high fever.

Mobile Dawg

September 12th, 2010
10:57 pm

Yesterday was a bitter pill to swollow for me. Not because we lost, but because I had to endure watching what I had feared would happen. Yet another round of “IMO” stupid offensive play calling. I blogged early and often that if our coaching staff would come up with an “offensive game plan” geared to our “young qb” and “stick with it” we would have a chance. Our coaching staff delivered what I feared, same old stuff. We never tried to establish a physical running game. One series of running just doesn’t get it done in the “big boy world” of physical SEC football. Game plan was the same I’ve seen over the last 4 years. Predictable and out totally out of sync. USC deserves credit for their win but when you play against the Dawgs offense you know what you’re going to face.

I’m now 100% convinced this staff offensively will never get it. We will be mired in mediocrity until Mr. McGarity has had enough. The sun is setting for the current staff in Athens, the seat does get hotter each week. There are a lot of angry and frustrated folks in Dawg Nation calling for CMR, and everyone elses head at this point. It’s no longer emotional for me, I won’t be happy to have to see a change, it’s hard, but unfortunately it has to be done. Regards all, have a good night.

Dawg2010

September 12th, 2010
11:31 pm

casual,

Why must I be sick to expect the Dawgs to play the way they should and to win the game. Like I said I expect to win every game, because that what fans do. I realize that we most likely aren’t going to win them all, but unlike UGA I EXPECT them to.

jack

September 12th, 2010
11:53 pm

I love the assumption that Chris Peterson would have ANY interest in the Georgia job. He’ll be waiting for a much better program. Maybe the TCU guy but even that’s a stretch.

Chuck Uga

September 13th, 2010
12:02 am

What happens when UGA loses this weekend to Arkansas? I keep hearing that Richt must win 9 games or may be forced out. Then I hear he could go 7-5 again (a REAL possibility) and be fine. All I know is another loss this weekend and tickets will be plentiful. I hope SC is really good, or UGA is going to end 7-5 again. Richt now, I’m not sold on any improvement. Anyone with a decent running game is going to run for a lot of yardage on this D. That includes pitifulTennessee who probably will beat them again, mainly due to Mark Richt’s inability to have his team focused against lesser teams. By the way, Jeff Dantzler needs to take off the rose-covered glasses. Jeff, 8-4 seasons don’t excite us in case you didn’t get the memo.

Truthiness

September 13th, 2010
12:15 am

All this criticism is warranted from any fan who expects to see his team perform to standard, even if in the end, they lose the game. I believe most fans can accept the DAWGs as they are. What’s completely unacceptable is the inability of the coaches to bring this team to the field ready to play, resourceful enough to adjust when necessary, and committed enough to play hardnosed, aggressive, fundamentally sound football. These coaches are paid outrageous salaries to make sure this major college program is a credit to the institution and the game. It just seems as though they aren’t motivated enough to coach these athletes to their real potential. Pretty sorry stuff.

Shaw

September 13th, 2010
12:17 am

Back in 2007, UGA had an early loss to South Carolina in game 2, went on to finish #2 in the country.

This team reminds me a whole mubnch of the 2007 team. Will be a great year for georgia. Defense is really improved, Murray looks terrific.

Shaw

September 13th, 2010
12:20 am

Dogs wern’t favored to win the game, no one should be surprised Georgia lost that one.

Fumble on the goalline or Georgia wins.

Defense held to under 18 points again, nice job. Defense has a bunch of sacks and forced turnovers after 2 games, needs to force 2-3 to’s a game from here out and Houston will likely stay #1 in the NCAA in sacks. Pass defense doing a terrific job, 3 interceptions already and a lot of pbu’s.

bubs

September 13th, 2010
1:03 am

Same crap different year. Next year lose the veteran offensive line and same crap different year. Book it .