Archive for September, 2010

Major test coming up for Dogs offense and Mike Bobo

Mike Bobo has left a lot of UGA fans exasperated. (University of Georgia)

Mike Bobo has left a lot of UGA fans exasperated. (University of Georgia)

So which was more to blame in last week’s loss to South Carolina, the Dogs’ poor-tackling defense or the impotent offense that couldn’t open holes for running backs, couldn’t break tackles, couldn’t get open for passes, rarely made a third-down conversion and couldn’t score a touchdown?

While redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray looked solid overall, completed a couple of impressive passes and threw no interceptions, he looked at times like he’d been told to play it so safe that he didn’t quite know what to do when pressured by the Gamecocks. On top of that, Mike Bobo’s playcalling was predictable and largely ineffective. Again.

Immediately after the game, Mark Richt said that what the Dogs needed to do was just let Murray play, and over the next couple of days he mentioned opening up the offensive playbook a bit more.

However, Bobo’s response in talking to the Bulldogs Blog has left a lot of …

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Mark Richt knows a big game when he sees one coming

Mark Richt wants some help Saturday from the normally laid-back Sanford Stadium crowd. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt wants some help Saturday from the normally laid-back Sanford Stadium crowd. (Associated Press)

Some college football observers, including ESPN’s Chris Low, see Saturday’s game against Arkansas as approaching “must-win” status for Georgia. “Football seasons aren’t made to be over by the third week,” Low says. “But if Georgia can’t hold serve at home Saturday against Arkansas, the Bulldogs are looking at the grim likelihood that the 2010 season is over before it ever had a chance to begin.”

Nothing like a bit of “sky is falling” talk in the third week of the season. But I frankly don’t think that’s the case because I believe both South Carolina and Florida will be beatable more than once within conference play this season.

Still, Mark Richt recognizes the magnitude of the game. And then some.

In his Tuesday press conference, Richt put it like this:

“We have a very big game this week. I don’t know how big a game can get, but this is big. We know that and our …

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Dogs have something to prove Saturday against Hogs

Why would Bacarri Rambo "hold something back" in a big game? (Associated Press)

Why would Bacarri Rambo "hold something back" in a big game? (Associated Press)

It’s early in the season, and one conference loss certainly doesn’t eliminate Georgia from the SEC East race. Going 0-2 in conference play would be tougher to overcome, but even that wouldn’t be insurmountable if the Dogs won the rest of them and the other contenders suffered letdowns, too.

And yet it’s beginning to feel like Saturday’s game against Arkansas represents some sort of crossroad for Mark Richt and his 2010 team.

Will the Dogs shake off the loss and, as Pat Dye would put it, prove they’re “man enough” to contend in the SEC, or will Georgia end up going to Starkville already consigned to being an also-ran?

This is a week where the coaches definitely need to earn their pay. We’d heard all the talk in the offseason about stressing fundamentals, and yet that’s exactly where we saw weakness in the conference opener. Everyone involved admits that the tackling generally was poor. The offensive …

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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 …

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It wasn’t the fumble that doomed Dogs in Columbia

Georgia's defense had no answer to the Gamecocks' Marcus Lattimore. (Associated Press)

Georgia's defense had no answer to the Gamecocks' Marcus Lattimore. (Associated Press)

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 …

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Rivalry may be one-sided, but Dogs-Gamecocks usually means a thriller

Herschel Walker outran the great George Rogers in 1980. (Associated Press)

Herschel Walker outran the great George Rogers in 1980. (Associated Press)

You know the drill: As the SEC opener for the Dogs, South Carolina almost always provides a tough early-season test and the games usually are close, hard-fought affairs that turn on a key play or last-minute heroics like last year when Rennie Curran broke up what looked like a touchdown pass for the Gamecocks with seconds remaining on the clock.

But as host Bobby Hartin of ESPN Radio 910 in Charleston noted when he and I were talking about the closeness of the games on his “FanTalk” show earlier this week, the border rivalry between the two schools has always seemed to mean more to Gamecocks fans than to the Bulldog Nation. Since South Carolina joined the SEC, I’ve heard Gamecocks fans say the Dogs have become just about as big a rival for them as Clemson. Meanwhile, on the Georgia side, fans tend to rank the Gamecocks behind Florida, Tech, Auburn and Tennessee — unless they live over in the Augusta …

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Nobody looks good here: A.J., UGA or the NCAA

A win over South Carolina without A.J. Green definitely would be sweeter. (Associated Press)

A win over South Carolina without A.J. Green definitely would be sweeter. (Associated Press)

In the wake of all the ranting and tweeting we UGA fans did yesterday about the NCAA hammering A.J. Green, probably the wisest thing we can do is focus on what Mark Richt told his team: The Bulldogs football program is bigger than any one player.

Sure, the loss of Green for the South Carolina game (and two more if the school’s appeal fails) will hurt. OK, it’s not as bad as losing your quarterback or both your tailbacks. As someone noted, Green probably only would have touched the ball five to 10 times in the game. But let’s face it, those could have been among the most important five to 10 touches, making the difference between a first down and punting, or between scoring a touchdown and having to settle for three points — or no points.

Green is a big-play guy and while I’m not selling Tavares King and Kris Durham short, it’s unfair to expect them to just “step up” and take his …

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Keys to a Georgia win over South Carolina

Georgia needs to be able to establish the run against the Gamecocks. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Georgia needs to be able to establish the run against the Gamecocks. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

With the oddsmakers having South Carolina as a 2.5 point favorite over the Dogs, we’re probably looking at “another knockdown dragout in Columbia,” as Mark Richt put it.

In my preseason prediction, I pegged this as a game Georgia likely would lose. But considering how these two teams usually take it down to the wire, I would not be at all surprised to see the Bulldogs eke out another one.

If that happens, these are likely to be five keys to a Georgia win:

1. Running the ball successfully. Not only will this take some of the pressure off Aaron Murray and perhaps keep him from getting too adventurous, it will keep Stephen Garcia, Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffrey and Ace Sanders on the sideline.

2. Pressuring Garcia. The Gamecocks’ offensive line was suspect last year, surrendering a lot of sacks. They looked better last week and Garcia was allowed to stay in the pocket a lot of the time, …

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More pluses than minuses coming out of Dawgs’ impressive first win

A quarterback who can run ... it's been a while, hasn't it? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

A quarterback who can run … it's been a while, hasn't it? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

A few more thoughts on Saturday’s season opener …

Yes, a bunch of folks left at halftime (why go to all that trouble and expense to watch just half a game?) and the steady stream of folks leaving early really picked up midway through the third quarter. But considering it was an early kickoff against a Sun Belt Conference opponent, the crowd was surprisingly into the game. I particularly liked the classy cheers for Logan Gray’s first reception and the fans behind the bench applauding Todd Grantham’s chewing out of Bacarri Rambo and the defense after Louisiana-Lafayette’s lone score. Grantham shows the kind of passion and demand for perfection that Georgia fans found conspicuously missing in recent seasons, and we appreciate it. …

On special teams, Drew Butler was superb and other highlights included Blair Walsh notching another field goal over 50 yards and new punt returner Branden Smith giving …

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Dogs fans gotta love both sides of that 55-7 score!

Aaron Murray scored, but this was a run he shouldn't have made. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray scored, but this was a run he shouldn't have made. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Coming into their first game of the season, Mark Richt’s 2010 Dogs appeared to have more question marks on defense than offense. But as impressive as the 55 points scored by Georgia against Louisiana-Lafayette was Saturday, the other side of that score is what left fans smiling at the end of the day.

With the exception of one play when they fell asleep and let La-La tight end Ladarious Green get behind them for a touchdown catch, Todd Grantham’s rebuilt Dogs defense pretty much played lights-out ball. The visitors got a measly 14 yards rushing on 29 carries and 114 yards in the air, 60 of them on that one scoring play. Georgia got three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), three sacks and continually hurried the Cajuns’ quarterbacks.

Yes, it was only Louisiana-Lafayette, and the Dogs’ D will face a much bigger challenge next week in Columbia. But even during garbage time, …

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