Dog and Chicken Show returns Between the Hedges

The play of Stephen Garcia probably will decide Saturday's game. (Associated Press)

The play of Stephen Garcia probably will decide Saturday's game. (Associated Press)

The biggest question in the minds of most Georgia fans as we approach Saturday’s annual SEC grudge match with the Prince of Darkness is whether the Dogs have been able to shake off the loss to the best team on their schedule quickly enough to get ready for the second best team they’ll play this season.

Certain names on the South Carolina roster have the Bulldog Nation viewing this game with some considerable trepidation: Alshon Jeffrey, Marcus Lattimore and Stephen Garcia.

What name on the South Carolina roster gives those of us in Red and Black some hope? Stephen Garcia.

Yes, the Gamecocks’ talented but wildly inconsistent quarterback is probably the key to the game for both teams. If he plays up to his potential and doesn’t make any boneheaded mistakes, Steve Spurrier’s team should win.

But with Garcia that’s always a mighty big “if.”

The other key to this game is whether the old Vince Dooley maxim that you make your greatest progress between the first and second games of the season proves true for the 2011 Dogs. Because based on what we saw in the Georgia Dome last week, there’s a lot of room for improvement, especially on offense.

If Georgia can get the ball into Orson Charles' hands, things will be looking up. (Associated Press)

If Georgia can get the ball into Orson Charles' hands, things will be looking up. (Associated Press)

Georgia’s offensive line will be going up against an extremely talented defensive front, and if they don’t do a better job than they did against the Broncos, Aaron Murray is in for a very long day and Isaiah Crowell won’t be much help if he doesn’t get some holes to hit. If, however, the OL can give Murray time and Georgia can muster enough of a running attack to keep the defense honest, Murray should find some favorable match-ups between Orson Charles and South Carolina’s linebackers, and the Gamecocks’ secondary is vulnerable.

I just hope we see Murray under center more than we did last week, when Mike Bobo’s new love affair with the shotgun formation consistently stalled Georgia’s progress.

On the defensive side, the Dogs did a pretty decent job against the run in the Boise game, but got eaten alive by the short-passing game and looked pretty gassed by early in the third quarter thanks to the Broncos’ hurry-up offense. I imagine Spurrier noticed.

I don’t expect Georgia to stop Lattimore, but with our DL looking a lot different from a year ago perhaps he can be slowed down a bit. And if the Dogs can generate any pressure on Garcia (unlike what they did against Kellen Moore), the odds improve drastically. Assuming Garcia isn’t allowed to take off running, that is.

If this game goes like the usual Georgia-South Carolina clash, it should be a tough but close one. If it turns into a shootout like the wild and wooly scoring fest two years ago at Sanford Stadium, Georgia could be in trouble.

Are South Carolina folks confident? To find out, I asked for some input from Leroy Chapman Jr., a fellow story desk editor at the AJC and a University of South Carolina alum and longtime follower of Gamecocks football. Here’s Leroy’s take on this year’s game:

 Leroy Chapman Jr. and son Isaiah. (Special)

Leroy Chapman Jr. and son Isaiah. (Special)

Georgia fans can take heart in this: The South Carolina team coming to Athens won’t be nearly as efficient or polished as the Boise State team that beat the Bulldogs last week. But the Gamecocks are more talented.

More talented than Boise State. And, dare I say, more talented than the team Coach Mark Richt has assembled.

Not often is a South Carolina Gamecock fan able to write those words. But I think it’s clear the Gamecocks have a decided talent advantage over Georgia, maybe for the first time in my 40-year-old memory. That’s why I expect the Gamecocks to win in Athens. And it’s not often that I have expected — as opposed to hoping — to beat Georgia.

The Georgia-South Carolina rivalry has been fun. We’ve put on some great games over the years. But let’s be honest, the series has been a mismatch, despite how close the games have been.

The decider, typically, has been Georgia’s talent advantage. The Bulldogs have always brought to the rivalry more guys who can make the plays that decide close games.

That was the case in 2002 when defensive end David Pollack intercepted a pass and scored a touchdown all in one motion in what proved to be the winning touchdown in a defensive slugfest. It was the case in 2006 when Georgia called a freshman off the bench, some kid named Stafford, to win on the road. It was the case in 2008 when Rennie Curran forced a fumble and thwarted a game-tying touchdown at the 2-yard line. Again, on the road. And that time Carolina was threatening to upset a then No. 2 Georgia team with NFL talent all over the field.

This year, the playmakers are wearing Gamecock garnet. They are Lattimore, Jeffrey, Taylor and Clowney. The talent is tilted toward South Carolina.

Ask yourself, if you pooled the Georgia two-deep and the South Carolina two-deep and had to draft a team, which would you have more of, Gamecocks or Bulldogs? If I were choosing, I would take Georgia’s quarterback and tight end. After that …

Now, the Gamecocks aren’t good enough to win this game without playing their best. A turnover-filled opener against East Carolina showed the offense, despite its weapons, can lack focus. The stat sheet shows the defense needs to do a better job of getting off the field on third down. And if Aaron Murray is the best playmaker on the field Saturday, then the Gamecocks will probably lose.

But if South Carolina plays its best game and Georgia plays its best game, I think the Gamecocks win. Even in Athens. It’s strange writing that, given the history of this rivalry. But I could get used to it.

OK, not exactly cocky but Leroy certainly seems confident. I wish I could say the same. I think Georgia is capable of winning this game; I’m just not sure they’ll play up to their capabilities. They didn’t do so against Boise State.

Feel free to share your own views on the upcoming game.

Got a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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252 comments Add your comment

Paper Bag on my head

September 8th, 2011
10:46 pm

NC Dawg

September 8th, 2011
10:49 pm

First to say “Go Dawgs!”

Paper Bag on my head

September 8th, 2011
10:50 pm

I was at the game last week and was shocked.

UGA was simply out coached once again. Why in the HECK did Bobo run all of those shotgun plays? We looked like the poor man’s version of the Oregon ducks trying to run the spread.

I think we would’ve had a chance to beat Boise if we ran the I-formation like we usually run. Kellen Moore had his offense on the field all night long which made our defense tired. They should run play action from the I formation and have Boykin, Mitchell, and Charles lined up at receiver.

bardawg

September 8th, 2011
10:51 pm

Please don’t nlet me down boys GATA!

Vance Duly

September 8th, 2011
10:53 pm

Go DAWGS……!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…..?….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have big doubts after last week, but I stubbornly cling to hope…… I bark, but as a dog who is not sure what is approaching — a chicken or a freight train……

WOOF….!!!?!!!!!

Raleigh

September 8th, 2011
10:57 pm

Go dawgs! I don’t care if we become the next whippin post of the sec I’m still a dawg forever. I’ll g to the games till the day I die, go dawgs

Paper Bag on my head

September 8th, 2011
10:57 pm

We can seriously have a chance in this game IF Bobo runs our normal I formation plays. We have to really milk the time from the clock because we don’t have the depth to run no huddle. The Dawgs were simply gassed out by he 2nd quarter on both sides of he ball from constant 3 and outs.

I have no clue why Samuels is starting again…I would like to see Ken “Boo” Malcome get some carries.

Sam

September 8th, 2011
11:04 pm

Actually seems like a reasonable analysis. Add in that so far the SoCar DC has proven to be better at his job than the UGA DC.

Lester Miles

September 8th, 2011
11:08 pm

testing testing

Vance Duly

September 8th, 2011
11:13 pm

I don’t care so much whether we are in an I-formation or a Curly-Q formation. I’m just frustrated with the lack of innovation/creativity on offense, the poor blocking, missed assignments and Coach Bobo’s play calls that make matters worse, by putting the offense in situations where the other team can easily guess what play we will run next. His situational playcalling is horrible — if it’s 2nd and 10 following an incompletion, Bobo had us run EACH time in the game, and never a creative run. This is his repetitive pattern that is into its 3rd year at a minimum!! The Boykin run was the ONLY sign of anything surprising in the game. The “molasses-based no huddle” was embarrassing. It’s like someone whose singing voice is wretched, getting up to sing at a karaoke bar. The effort may be admirable, but the results are horrifying!!!

How about some ingenuity from Bobo combined with execution on the field!?!?!?! GO DAWGS!!!

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Frank Lane

September 8th, 2011
11:22 pm

If the offensive and defensive game plan is better, UGA can and should win.

WAR CHICKEN!

September 8th, 2011
11:22 pm

georgia’s program is reeling. after 6-7 last year and opening the season getting soundly beaten and outcoached by Boise State – the current state of georgia is pretty bad.

USC 42- dogs 17

just a fan

September 8th, 2011
11:24 pm

On a side note has anyone seen how well John Isner is doing at the US Open, he is in the quarterfinals and playing well. His next match is against Andy Murray

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DAWG with two bags over head

September 8th, 2011
11:29 pm

Paper Bag on my head,

Not very original with your handle.

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Mountain Dawg

September 8th, 2011
11:35 pm

Neither Herschel nor Lattimore could gain 100 yards behind UGA’s OL.

T2go

September 8th, 2011
11:41 pm

I am a huge Dawgs fan and will always root for the team…which is why I am so upset about the state of this team. I have very little hope that we will be competitive in this game. But I sure hope we are. I have to agree with many that the team just does not seem to be prepared. That IS the coaches fault. Bobo is awful and many in the national media are recognizing this. Why is Mark Richt so stubborn? What is his problem? He seems to be completely out of it? Where in the world did this hurry up offense come from? They cant even run it quickly so whats the point…they are clearly desperate. As well they should be .Last Sunday there was a high school game on ESPN. A Georgia team vs a team from Ohio. They showed more diversity in their play calling that I see with the Dawgs. They were also HITTING each other. I counted 2 good hits from the Dawgs in that game….the rest were arm tackles generally from behind!!!! It is criminal how this program has been deteriorating. And people say get off Richts back! Oh we are fair weather fans or bad fans for jumping on the coach…well it is that kind of thinking that has let this go on now for 4 years! When are people going to realize that we need a change. The student athletes deserve better.

UGA Alumnus

September 8th, 2011
11:41 pm

Come on Dawgs, it’s time to put a smile on the face of the Bulldog Nation!

Go Dawgs!!!

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orange boy

September 9th, 2011
1:32 am

gorgia is a lucky bunch they aint plahying clemson cause clemson would beet them real good cause theys real good and will win a nother natl champeenchip.maybe not this year but a nother year sometime real soon. WOOHOO!!!!!! GO TIGARS!!!!!!!!

bugsquacher

September 9th, 2011
1:35 am

I can tell you…… Mark Richt after game interview ” we were beat by a better team today”

Headlines: Georgia outcoached, outplayed again…….

Its becoming a broken record….. when will mcgarity stop the madness? Isnt it time for the circus to leave town?

bugsquacher

September 9th, 2011
1:36 am

its a sad state of affairs with the Georgia Football program

bugsquacher

September 9th, 2011
1:37 am

its time for a change

bugsquacher

September 9th, 2011
1:37 am

heck, lets beat a top 20 team for once

sprouse27

September 9th, 2011
5:33 am

Unless a UGA team we haven’t seen in quite a while shows up, it’s hard for me to see how we’re likely to beat USC. That’s not being especially pessimistic, it’s just stating the obvious. These are usually close games, and I’d expect this one to be the same. But if Spurrier gets a chance to stick it to UGA it’s hard to imagine that he wouldn’t. If it’s a USC blowout of UGA at home, then Mark Richt better put on some asbestos underwear because that hot seat is REALLY going to heat up. Who’d have thought this five years ago? The program has slid a LONG way and I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. With all of UGA’s resources, this is what we end up with? Hmm. Sure seems like a coaching issue to me.

destin dawg

September 9th, 2011
6:16 am

why do we stick with Murray all the time ???? he was off on several passes.. high… behind… etc… he needs to roll out and scramble… .. Spurrier motivated Garcia by starting Conner Shaw… play Mason or Lemay a few series …. why not RUN Boo Malcome ??? play from the I formation… no more hurry up… remember .. TIME OF POSSESSION ???? rest the Defense… coaching… has Richt lost it… burned out… 10 years is alot in the SEC… these days…

dawgs bite back

September 9th, 2011
6:39 am

destin, why do we stick with you, you’ve been off on every one of your posts…..Bill?? destin’s posting high and behind again…..can we roll him out?

destin dawg

September 9th, 2011
6:45 am

if Richt wants to be a preacher… he needs to resign… his heart is not in it anymore…. the kids want to win !! but he’s all “prayed up ” ???

destin dawg

September 9th, 2011
7:08 am

if Richt doesn’t step up and call the plays… it’s Bo Bo vs. Spurrier…. UGA fans will be leaving in the 3rd quarter

dawgs bite back

September 9th, 2011
7:28 am

I wish he would call the plays, but don’t see it happening…..hope I’m wrong. Not sure that’s the solution, but it’s a big part of it…..

macdawg

September 9th, 2011
7:36 am

Destin, what planet are you from? Why do we stick with Murray? Did you seriously ask that? Murray doesn’t need to be motivated. Murray was one of the few bright spots from last week. He ran for is life the entire game.

ARdawg

September 9th, 2011
7:42 am

Really, who fuggin cares? Boise unfortunately isn’t the “best team” we’ll play all year. If that were the case we’d have nothing but another excuse for losing. Richt is full of excuses, what good us another one? We started the year like we finished the last one like a soggy limp noodle. Georgia has always had the talent and likely always will. We don’t have the leadership from a coaching perspective. This is Richt’s cutting edge football? Callen Moore sliced up that “vaunted defense” and this from Div.1 light football.

We don’t lose to a Boise St no matter how bad our Bulldogs are, that is fact. Last week is only as lesson as to how far we have fallen. McGarity, when do you take heed?

Joe

September 9th, 2011
7:52 am

Georgia hasnt played to their capability in years…why should we think they will start now….The O line is the problem…they cant learn to block in one week……another L

destin dawg

September 9th, 2011
8:14 am

macdawg… Bosie changed up Q.B.’s…. Spurrier .. Saban… good coaches change things up when they’re not working !!

Nothing Could Be Finer

September 9th, 2011
8:16 am

Are yall gonna have a blackout for this game?

You know, where everyone wears black.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 9th, 2011
8:23 am

He would take out QB and TE

——————————-

That speaks to the level of recruiting that has taken place in Athens. Richt has let this slip. Now losing ground to Alabama,Auburn,USCe and Florida. The Dream Team is a nice start but unfortunately if his results do not change on the field immediately he may not be around to facilitate a Dream Team II, muchless see the original Dream Team as Sophomores.

General Ledger

September 9th, 2011
8:44 am

I’m really worried about this game. As good as Kellen Moore is, he is only one dimensional and you don’t have to worry about him running. Garcia will be able to run also. As good as Doug Martin is, Lattimore is much better and much stronger. Carolina has a better receiver than any of Boise’s. That’s scary because we didn’t handle the short passing game at all last week. I’m sure Spurrier will be testing that this week. That’s kinda what he did to us two years ago. We had trouble with the short passing game. I also didn’t care for Bobo’s comment that he’s sticking with the hurry up this week when it didn’t work at all last week. Even if you’re going to run it, don’t tip off the other team. I think its too much to believe he is only trying to trick Carolina. I don’t think he should be so stubborn as to continue something that didn’t work. A more appropriate response would be, “we’re going to do whatever we need to do to be successful and move the ball and score points. We’ll try the hurry up, toss sweeps, screens, mis direction, i formation and whatever works that’s what we’ll do and we’ll stick with that.” It seems to me that if the other team is getting pressure, we need an effective short passing game similar to what Boise was running. That would help negate the blitz and reduce the time Crowell has to worry about blocking.

cpinthedawghouse

September 9th, 2011
8:44 am

Bill, I’ve lost all faith in this current coaching staff. I’m a life long Dawg, have seen good and bad. This is a terrible situation our players are in. I love my Dawgs. This staff must go. The powers that be are and will respond too slowly for most of us. At years end, I hope a quick, decisive move is made in replacing this bunch. The only way our Dawgs will win any games this year will be on talent alone, THAT’S FOR SURE.

dawg1984

September 9th, 2011
8:53 am

4 of the sacks were Murry’s fault. He can’t stay back there 6-7 seconds.

CMR should have said in his interview: “We were outcoached and did not give our players a chance to compete against a really good team. We never entered the Red Zone. I, as head coach, showed no intensity or leadership. I sent our kids marching right off the cliff. Next week will be different starting with all players getting crew cuts”

Gainesville Gator

September 9th, 2011
8:55 am

YOU’LL THINK “CHICKENS” WHEN THEY BEAT YOUR BUTTS, YOU STUPID LEG HUMPERS.

DawginLex

September 9th, 2011
8:56 am

After tomorrow, it will be obvious that Boise will be the best team we will play this tear.

I’m hoping we get our act together but I don’t see us winning.

I’ve said 28-20 and I’ll stick with it and hope I’m wrong.

NCBF tells us a Mr Obvious newsflash and copies part of my post in 3..2..1..

DawginLex

September 9th, 2011
8:57 am

Hey gainesville gator lowlife idiot

There is a special on Jorts at Gainesville Mall-better hurry

Also, Cost cutters has mullet cuts, 2 for $10

Take your boyfriend

Skipper

September 9th, 2011
9:01 am

Once again, the truth gets to come out! The game of football is, was, and shall be won AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE! As per previous posts, I ain’t hatin’ on the kids on the line….we just are inferior. Our o-line is NOT SEC caliber, and whether you played, coached, or are just an armchair QB that is the most obvious thing in the world! No coordinator, Bobo or whoever, can look good with this group. Whoever is grading, recruiting, etc. needs to be looked at. Take away our center, and we have a lower-tier line, period! Everyone has (and is entitled) to an opinion. However, no amount of coaching can get us out of being a middle-of-the-pack team until we get a real o-line! The talent just is not there.