Some more thoughts on Georgia’s loss to Auburn. …
As I mentioned briefly Saturday night, you can quibble with some of Mike Bobo’s calls in the game against the Tigers, particularly when he tried things (I’m thinking Branden Smith in the wildcat or screen passes to the short side of the field on third-and-long) that seemed to have much less of a chance of working than simply throwing it in A.J. Green’s direction.
And while Auburn hitman Nick Fairley (I feel the need for Purell hand sanitizer after just typing his name) is more than a handful to block, the Dogs’ pass protection faltered a bit too often Saturday. The Dogs only gave up four sacks, but that amount might have been close to doubled had it not been for Aaron Murray’s elusiveness and scrambling ability. And besides taking a lot of late hits, Murray was hurried on some key plays, like the too-high pass to Kris Durham in the end zone late in the third quarter when one of the backs missed his block.
And, yes, you can question Mark Richt running out the final 50-odd seconds of the first half rather than trying to get some more points. Perhaps he also should have been a bit more forceful in warning his kickoff return team about the possibility of an on-side kick to open the second half. And, frankly, I think he blinked in the eye-to-eye confrontation with Auburn when he called for a field goal at the end of the third quarter. When you’re in a shootout with an offense that eats up clock, you have to make the most of every possession you get.
But overall Bobo and the Georgia offense were what kept the Dogs in the game, and with the exception of the on-side kick I don’t think Richt and company got outcoached by Gene Chizik.
The reason Georgia lost against Auburn was pretty much the same reason the Dogs have lost five other games: The defense just isn’t up to current SEC or past UGA standards.
And this isn’t a complaint about Todd Grantham’s schemes. It didn’t matter what signals he called Saturday against the Tigers defense, the players on the field simply weren’t capable of stopping Cam Newton and company. The lack of a nose guard able to take control of the line of scrimmage has pretty much submarined Grantham’s attempt to install his 3-4 defense this year and unless Georgia manages to scrounge up a big JUCO player, I wonder how much better it’ll be next year.
Of course, nobody has really stopped Newton, so I’ll give them that. But as a frustrated Justin Houston lamented after the game, the Tigers did a lot of damage with players other than Newton running the reverse, including gashing the Dogs for 31 yards one time and 48 yards another time. Houston blamed “blown assignments” and defenders not being “where they were supposed to be,” adding, “Some guys weren’t as focused as they need to be and it hurt us. It’s been hurting us all season.”
Indeed it has, especially in the secondary, where Georgia’s safety play has been consistently poor. Bacarri Rambo may have snagged a key interception on a tipped ball Saturday, but otherwise his play was tentative much of the evening. And while I suppose it was to be expected that Georgia would be keying on the run since that’s Auburn’s bread and butter (that’s all they did in the third quarter), the Dogs defenders seemed to completely forget that Newton also can throw the ball. He ended up completing 12 of 15 passes (80 percent) for 148 yards and two touchdowns, and that was with a couple of drops in the first half by wide-open receivers.
Come to think of it, on just about all Auburn’s completions the receiver was open. You expect that sort of thing early in the season after a new defense has been installed. But when it’s still happening in the 11th game, you have to conclude the folks out on the field mostly just aren’t capable of getting it done.
Finally, a couple of observations on the way our so-called “country cousins” at Auburn handled this major rivalry game. Afterward, Chizik might have declared himself “disappointed” and “not happy” about two of his players getting ejected when tempers started to flare late, but as I noted in my previous blog he seemed to be doing anything but trying to keep his players’ emotions in check on the sideline.
And then there was the reaction of the Auburn fans when Georgia linebacker Reuben Faloughi went down with a leg injury in the fourth quarter, resulting in the Tigers’ hurry-up game getting slowed down momentarily.
They booed the hurt player.
Really classy. War damn eagle, indeed.
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