Most Dogs fans, I imagine, grimaced or dropped an expletive or two when they read about Wednesday’s scrimmage and saw “fumble” by Richard Samuel’s name.
That’s a natural response considering the Dogs have been bitten all too often by tailbacks putting the ball on the ground over the past couple of seasons.
But the tendency in mid-August is for football-starved fans to read too much into every little mistake in the season’s first scrimmage. And, likewise, to get too pumped up over the positives.
And there were things to get pumped about in Wednesday’s closed scrimmage at Sanford Stadium, according to coach Mark Richt. Celebrated true freshman Isaiah Crowell ran for 84 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. And although Samuel had that fumble (which Amarlo Herrerra recovered and returned for a 65-yard touchdown), he also ran for 82 yards on 11 carries and caught three passes for 32 yards. Not bad, even if it was against the second-string defense.
Also, Blair Walsh made a 58-yard field goal. And on a day when the defense generally came out on top, the linebackers were impressive, led by Alec Ogletree’s eight tackles.
The defense also had a successful goal line stand. But that’s the thing about intra-squad competiton. That also means that the offense, given four tries to punch it in from the 2 yard line, wasn’t able to do it.
In fact, the offense generally struggled, even though the first team was going against the second-string defense. In a straight scrimmage in the first half, they “had very little success,” Richt said. In the second half, running situational plays, such as third-down conversions, they did much better. Overall, though, Richt said quarterback Aaron Murray had only a good, not great, day.
But it was a scrimmage, and the first one of the season at that, so we shouldn’t get overly excited or dismayed by anything that happened Wednesday. Richt summed it up pretty well when he said, “I still don’t know what we have yet.”
Still, there were a couple of things Richt talked about afterward that heartened me, particularly Crowell doing a good job of breaking tackles and getting yards after contact.
And there was one thing that really bothered me. Explaining the offense’s showing, receiver Tavarres King said, “We came out extremely slow and sluggish in that first half of the scrimmage. It was kind of disappointing. You should always play with a lot of intensity when you step between the hedges. We didn’t do that as a group.”
We’ve unfortunately seen that in real games over the past few years. I believe, though, that come the night of Sept. 3 when they take the field decked out in their new Pro Combat uniforms before mostly a sea of red in a packed Georgia Dome to meet a Top 10 opponent, it’s unlikely that motivation will be a problem for the Bulldogs.
If it is, we’re in trouble.
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