A mediocre season came to a pathetic end for the Georgia Bulldogs Friday as a talent-loaded SEC offense that had prided itself on regularly scoring 30 or more points a game failed to even score a single touchdown against Central Florida of Conference USA.
Unlike most of the rest of the year, Aaron Murray, wearing gloves in a game for the first time this season, looked every bit the freshman in the Liberty Bowl, throwing two interceptions and nearly throwing two or three more picks.
An offensive line that had underperformed most of the season turned in one of its worst outings, especially in the second half.
And playcaller Mike Bobo made no sustained attempt to establish a running game, allowing the Knights to blanket the Dogs’ receivers for much of the day when they weren’t blitzing Murray as he searched in vain for an open man.
Of course, maybe Bobo was taking a cue from his boss, Mark Richt, who in the first quarter apparently had such little faith in his ground attack that on fourth and inches at the 2 yard line he elected to kick a field goal rather than go for the first down and potentially the touchdown.
That capped off the Dogs’ best drive of the day, which featured a pretty nice mix of run and pass. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the day Georgia rested its hopes mainly on the passing of Murray, who never looked comfortable. The Dogs did manage a decent drive to open the second half but it bogged down, resulting in another field goal.
And that was pretty much it offensively for the Bulldogs.
Most of the pre-game talk had centered on the two teams’ freshman phenom quarterbacks, but thanks to rusty-looking offenses and a pair of turnovers each, the game settled into a defensive struggle.
The Knights, however, persevered with their efforts to establish a running game and eventually were able to wear down a Georgia defense that occasionally was guilty of poor tackling (how many times did Bacarri Rambo dive into the dirt at opposing players’ feet?).
Overall, though, Todd Grantham’s defense played well enough to win.
It was the offense that stunk the place up. Yes, UCF has a pretty good defense, coming into the game ranked No. 18 in the country, but Georgia’s uninspired play made them look even more formidable.
The day was summed up pretty well by the drive the Dogs began with a little over 7 minutes left in the game. A good run by Washaun Ealey was negated by an completely unnecessary chop block on the other side of the field, and then on first and 25 Ealey was stuffed. Next play, the woeful line play allowed Murray to be sacked. And then on third and 32, Murray threw the ball out of bounds trying to hit A.J. Green, who probably was playing his last game as a Bulldog.
On that depressing note, I’ll open it up for discussion of the Dogs’ dismal showing in Memphis. I’ll be back Sunday with more thoughts on the game and where the Georgia program goes from here. Until then, I hope everyone has a safe New Year’s celebration.
Oh, one more thing: Aaron, lose the gloves.
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