Tigers show Dogs half a win isn’t better than nothing

Malcolm Mitchell contemplates what might have been after dropping a sure touchdown pass. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Malcolm Mitchell contemplates what might have been after dropping a sure touchdown pass. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Is there such a thing as half a moral victory?

If so, you could probably chalk up Georgia’s first-half showing in the SEC title game as something along those lines.

Of course, the cold, hard truth is that moral victories are just losses in which you can find something to make it hurt just a little less. And that’s where UGA fans are left after running into the Honey Badger and Co.

Yes, the Dogs were soundly beaten by LSU in the Georgia Dome in what turned into a very ugly rout in the second half. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Georgia defense played a remarkable first half, holding the No. 1 team in the country to a mere dozen yards of offense and absolutely no first downs.

I can’t remember ever seeing that before in a game against a major opponent.

Unfortunately, while Georgia came out initially with an aggressive game plan that included a flawlessly executed onside kick at one point, the rest of the offensive execution left much to be desired, thanks to several dropped passes (including two sure touchdowns) and continued special teams miscues. And playcaller Mike Bobo suddenly reverted to a conservative approach that took all the wind out of Georgia’s sails.

In the second quarter, neither team could move the ball, as Georgia continued to stuff LSU’s running game but the Tigers defense adjusted to the fact that the Dogs had no running game and they could turn loose and just go after the quarterback.

So instead of leading LSU 21-0 at halftime as they should have, the Dogs had a mere 10-7 advantage.

And then the wheels came off.

I had the feeling it wasn’t going to be a good half for Georgia when Bobo opened it up trying in vain to run little Carlton Thomas up the middle twice, putting his quarterback in just the sort of third-and-long situation you don’t want to face against the ferocious Tiger defense. Aaron Murray’s resulting fumble as he scrambled gave LSU a short field — and one of their patented scoring spurts was off and running.

At that point, you pretty much knew it was over.

Murray had a pretty lousy night, completing just 16 of 40 passes with two interceptions on top of that fumble, but some of the blame for that should go to Bobo, who put his QB in bad situations. Admittedly, though, Bobo was hampered by not having a running game.

You had a gimpy Isaiah Crowell, the anti-Lattimore, who was ineffective running the ball, averaging just 1.5 yards per carry, but who managed to draw a penalty running his mouth. Then there was Thomas, who wasn’t well used by Bobo before leaving the game with an injury. And Ken Malcome, who had some tough runs late in the game when it was already decided and who probably should have been the starter, as he was against Georgia Tech. A curious decision on the part of Bobo and Mark Richt.

No wonder a testy Richt didn’t want to talk about the tailbacks this week. LSU had four pretty interchangeable backs and Georgia couldn’t come up with one consistent threat, which is the difference between pretty good and great.

Keith Marshall, come on down!

Still, Georgia fans shouldn’t get so down in the dumps over our Dogs being throttled by what may well turn out to be one of college football’s greatest teams ever that we lose sight of the 10 wins in a row that secured UGA the SEC East title and a trip to a January bowl game.

Richt’s program isn’t yet back in the SEC elite with LSU and Alabama, at least not for a full 60 minutes.

But Saturday’s first half showed the Dogs aren’t all that far away.

Feel free to share your own views of the game against LSU and what Georgia needs to pull even with Les Miles’ program.

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

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

498 comments Add your comment

01HAWK

December 3rd, 2011
10:37 pm

CMR will not take you there.

tdawg

December 3rd, 2011
10:37 pm

I think they did well until bobo started running on first 2 downs and murray stopped looking for medium passes.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
10:37 pm

My point exactly Bobo like always found a way to go conservative once again

Matt from Acworth

December 3rd, 2011
10:42 pm

Bill,

I’m more disappointed by Bobo than anyone else on the team to be honest with you. He should never have put them in the I-formation in the 2nd half. Also, I don’t get why he continued to waste first and second downs on runs. Murray’s turnovers came because he was trying to do too much. We know that when Murray feels that he has to do something, he tends to take too many risks and I blame Bobo for constantly forcing him into 3rd and 10+ in the 2nd half.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
10:43 pm

I honestly would consider approaching Eric Zeir for the OC position and Bobo can move back to coaching QB’s

Chris

December 3rd, 2011
10:44 pm

Yep….Bobo saw we were up 10-0 and decided to play not to lose…to protect the tiny lead…same old nonsense as always from Bobo. Then he has the entire halftime to come up with a brilliant start to the second half…and of course he runs on first and second down. Bobo needs to go.

JaxDawg05

December 3rd, 2011
10:44 pm

I don’t think Coach Bobo dropped either one of those easy TD passes, nor did he put the defense into terrible field position with poor tackling on special teams. Just saying…

JDawg1785

December 3rd, 2011
10:45 pm

I think it’s safe to say that Boo deserves a serious look as the starter for the bowl game and going into next season. He played with a ton of heart, even when it was clear what the result of the game was going to be. Looking forward to this team building on the positives and doing even better in 2012! Go Dawgs!

rob

December 3rd, 2011
10:45 pm

That was a big disappointment in the 2nd half – a complete collapse. So predictable of the Dawgs in the last 5 years. I would not be surprised to see this group of running backs due a Ealey or King by next summer – something is rotten in our RB’s.

SenoiaDawgs

December 3rd, 2011
10:46 pm

IC has no heart. He thinks just being him makes him successful. In big time football it takes a lot more. My biggest disappointment in the game. I honest thought we would 100% effort from him. The limping after bad runs and no limp after good runs plus the penalty said it all. Let him go. Give me a 1 star who wants to play for UGA.

Bobo needs to answer for why they went so conservative.

Our freshman and sophomores learned a lot tonight. Especially Bennett and Mitchell.

Murray is our QB folks. He will win a championship if that D keeps improving. Murray’s numbers look a lot different if not for the drops and Bozo going conservative. Remember folks UGA outgained the #1 team in the nation. Our D gave up two scoring drives. 1 after the game was already decided.

From what we have seen from Malcome why is he in the coach’s doghouse? He runs hard when we plays and is hard to bring down. He must really be not giving max effort in practice or big time screwing up off the field. Would love to know what is really going on?

Good job 2011 Dawgs much better than I ever dreamed for this season. Go win the Bowl Game and GATA with Coach T in Jan. – Spring.

Go DAWGS!!!!

Phillip

December 3rd, 2011
10:46 pm

Bobo is a hoho. He needs to gogo. His playcalling is a no-no, and it makes me wanna throw-throw-up.

Good grief Bobo, get a killer instinct. We had those guys on the ropes and you run Thomas who isn’t bigger than my penis up the middle for little to no gain forcing Murray into 3rd and long situations against the best defense he’s ever seen? Gotta be kidding me.

SWDawg

December 3rd, 2011
10:46 pm

We sucked in second half and Isabell Crowell showed his true colors as a thug, grow a sack Isabell and toughen up. Action speak louder than words. We need to stop running our mouths so much and just accept we are middle of the road. We got lucky with a weak schedule. No Hershal Walkers coming to town in a Trans Am any more. Murray can’t handle the limelight, very good against low level defenses, but you hit him a couple of times, he drops into the fetal position. We need to get a Buck Belue type to turn left and right and hand off to the ghost of Hershal. But Hershal is not coming to town and we got coaches who are good guys but it would be nice to attack rather than back down. Also embarrassing to see folks leaving early, we are no better than other teams so we need to shut up about that and again realize we have a long way to go. Just think if we had a High school offense to go with our NFL defense, we would be unstoppable.

Firebrand

December 3rd, 2011
10:47 pm

Bobo didn’t lose this game. The lack of a consistent running threat and special teams screw ups lost it for UGA. You can’t be one dimensional and beat a team like LSU. When it was clear UGA couldn’t run LSU simply took the pass defense to a different level and UGA had no answer. Add to it the special teams plays (not only LSU return yards but their punt game which was amazing and UGA missing FG’s again) and you have the recipe for what happened. UGA’s defense played well enough, but they aren’t good enough to win by themselves, at least not yet.

SenoiaDawgs

December 3rd, 2011
10:50 pm

UGA was running from the spread when the passing game was successful. Moving to the i-formation against them totally killed the O’s mo.

Dawg Dawg Dawg

December 3rd, 2011
10:52 pm

What do they need to pull? They need to pull Mike Bobo from the coaching staff!!

Phillip

December 3rd, 2011
10:53 pm

Anybody else think Murray is a spread type QB? Could we be a spread offense next season? Imagine Chip Kelley being here calling the plays? I think we need to move to an offense that’s unusual in the SEC. No more pro-style. Let’s go with the spread type offense. Or zone-read offense. Something that’ll actually trick the defense. These 3rd and 9 play-action plays are getting old, fast.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
10:53 pm

Firebrand

Trent Richardson who is probably going to win the heisman only had 81 yrds on LSU

We were successful in the shotgun throwing crossing patterns then all of sudden we went conservative

Your not going to run against LSU

Look at the WVU game; WVU had 400 passing yds on LSU but their defense was no where near ours

Should have stayed in the shotgun to give Murray a little more read time

By no means am I saying we would have won but I bet it would have been a much closer game

Phillip

December 3rd, 2011
10:54 pm

WHO THE HELL DOES A PLAY-ACTION ON 3rd and 9!?!!! BOBO!

george

December 3rd, 2011
10:54 pm

“we are a year or two away” ugas motto since 1980. The fact of the matter is this is a very average team at best who had one of if not the easiest schedules in the sec and had no quality wins. The sec east is beyond a joke and has been that way for several years now.

Firebrand

December 3rd, 2011
10:55 pm

Did you not notice the LSU defense move an additional LB on the field to eliminate the middle passing routes? At that point the short passes UGA had been hitting were gone. And, the passing game was successful as long as the threat of the run existed. When Crowell started limping and Thomas was injured LSU simply pinned their ears and sent at least one extra rusher nearly every play. The UGA backs had a horrible game picking them up and the results spoke for themselves.

31-17 Dawgs STILL Run This State!

December 3rd, 2011
10:56 pm

Great first half Dawgs!!!

Ga Grad '90

December 3rd, 2011
10:57 pm

Same as last 5 years. You like getting our tails whipped and losing to every good team we play? But hey, you sau, “let’s keep Richt for another 5 years.” You people are stupid.

Phillip

December 3rd, 2011
10:57 pm

Matheiu for HEISMAN! Seriously when does this guy NOT make plays? He’s great.

Phillip

December 3rd, 2011
10:59 pm

Look on the bright side, GT still sucks azz. They can’t beat us. And never will again.

LoganvilleDAWG

December 3rd, 2011
10:59 pm

How can some of you dipsticks blame BooBoo on the lost. He did not play a single down in the Dome this afternoon. I will admit some of the play calling the 2nd half was not the best, but we were already in trouble. I think we have a cancer in our backfield-IC….he has played 1-2 games this year where I think he gave almost 100%. Otherwise I do not feel he is worth the trouble. It is sad when a young man has a gift like that & does not know how to handle it.

All of you HS running backs that want to play football for a great coach, great program and want to give 100% as well as play on Sundays, come to the Classic City. Make the Bulldog nation proud!!

Phillip

December 3rd, 2011
10:59 pm

Also, anybody else think the loss of Gilliard hurt us? It may have hurt us more than we realized. With him in, we looked awfully dominant. He got hurt in the 2nd quarter and never came back and our defense never looked the same. Something to ponder.

Burroughston Broch

December 3rd, 2011
11:00 pm

The turning point of the game was when we had the lead in the 1st half and our players started badmouthing LSU in front of the LSU bench. They lost their poise and rapidly returned to the same team that started the season 0-2.
Lack of discipline on the players part and lack of sense on the coach’s side.
On the other side, LSU never lost their poise and kicked our tails but good.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
11:01 pm

Firebrand

Yes but even Gary Danielson mentioned several times about staying with the pass

But hey believe what you want

Just remember next year will be another 9 or 10 win season with 2 losses that we shouldnt have lost to and we will be on year 7 without beating a good team

Beteez

December 3rd, 2011
11:02 pm

Who on the staff is responsible for scouting tailback recruits? They have failed misserably on Crowell, King & Ealey leaving us with smurfs who cannot get the tough yardage when needed, it was the one position where we were completely outclassed by LSU, We are supposed to be Tailback U, what a joke. Someone needs to be held accountable & I know who I think it is, the same one who is 3-10 vs ranked teams in the last 3 seasons as head coach.

SenoiaDawgs

December 3rd, 2011
11:03 pm

I don’t think anybody is blaming Bozo, more like questions why in the heck move away from what works and go conservative? Playing the #1 team in the nation you play like you did on O for 60 minutes not 1 quarter. The players were not given an opportunity to play like the first quarter. Why? It was working. Nobody has run up the middle on 2011 LSU. What made Bozo think UGA would be able to especially after finding something that did work.

As for IC, I couldn’t agree more.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

December 3rd, 2011
11:06 pm

Dipsticks

Under The Mark Richt tenure UGA has produced more players in the NFL than any other school in the SEC and

Has had the best recruiting classes of any of the schools in the SEC

Players have to be coached and put in the right position to have your team successful

Gratham has shown on one side of the ball what the talent that UGA has, can be

GET A CLUE PEOPLE

We have not beat a good team in 6 yrs

HELLO ANYONE HOME!!!!!!!!!!

Ga Grad '90

December 3rd, 2011
11:08 pm

Anyone out there actually pay to go to that game? Hahahahaha…suckers. You are probably the ones calling for a Richt contract extension. Keep giving him your money so he can make $3M/year to lose big games. 6 years and counting…

ugalivz

December 3rd, 2011
11:08 pm

Isaiah Crowell should quit the team now and not waste a position on the team!! Pathetic!! We need to recruit as many RBs as we can, get rid of Carolton Thomas too!!

no dog

December 3rd, 2011
11:13 pm

Did you guys forget #7?

Bill is correct, when you started your smallest RB (Twice!) in the 2nd half, your QB tried his best for a 1st down…then it was over.

Gordon

December 3rd, 2011
11:13 pm

Who is the best team UGA beat this year?

funny...

December 3rd, 2011
11:14 pm

Bill,

Did it seem that Georgia changed up their offensive strategy mid 2nd quarter. They went undercenter and that pretty much sealed their fate. run, run, pass, punt

LoganvilleDAWG

December 3rd, 2011
11:15 pm

Beteez, you don’t have a clue about this program. We have one of the better coaches out there & they did really well after being 0-2. I will admit BooBoo called some games not like we wanted, but we say that because we lost. So Beteez find a rock & crawl under it, you don’t know anything about college football. We have a chance to win 11 games this season, as well as having 9 defensive players back as well as most of our offense. We will have another good recruiting class & I know we will be as good if not better next year.

The main problem we have is we do not have a mature, reliable RB that gives 100% & wants to be a TRUE DAWG.

dawgraider

December 3rd, 2011
11:15 pm

I wish the game was only 30 min…..(oohh the first one)

funny...

December 3rd, 2011
11:15 pm

I guess the best team Georgia beat was Tech and Auburn, and LSU for one half LOL

Hope Les Miles Don't get arrested

December 3rd, 2011
11:21 pm

for dawg abuse! LOL

Taco Meat

December 3rd, 2011
11:21 pm

Why Ken Malcome isn’t starting is beyond me… wonder what the coaches have against him??

Get a clue

December 3rd, 2011
11:24 pm

No coaching changes are comming.We beat UF and won the SEC East.That what saved Mark Rich and crew job plus raises and more years at Georgia.Get used to it!

Saban

December 3rd, 2011
11:25 pm

Great Game Dawgs. I thought Miles would put 50 on you. At least you are the fourth best team in the SEC. And the bowl game. Another 30 point loss.

Of course you get Richt and Choakdawg and BooBoo for three more years. Does Crowell play for the Dawgs?

At UGA We coaches players down

December 3rd, 2011
11:25 pm

Frank Lane

December 3rd, 2011
11:27 pm

Bobo did not lose the game but he killed our momentum. The Honey Badger won the game.

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monty

December 3rd, 2011
11:27 pm

Who wins SEC championships with a OC named Bobo? But seriously the guy just makes you scratch your head and go huh? Carlton Thomas 2 straight runds for no gain up the middle? What happened to all the all or nothing that was the 1st quarter. Definitely had them ready for the knock out punch and our receivers and a D-back let it slip through their hands. Maybe next season CMR pays more attention to special teams the way championship coaches do.

Will Muschamp here

December 3rd, 2011
11:27 pm

I saved Coach Richt job. you are welcome dawg nation.

Macclenny_dawg

December 3rd, 2011
11:28 pm

Folks we just got outcoached period!!! Why kick to the guy that seems to be Lsu sparkplug. Guess our special teams coach didn’t watch what he did to arkansas!!! Oh that’s right we don’t have a special teams coach. Bobo as always went conservative after the dropped Td’s!!! I really think the 1st twenty plays were scripted in the gameplan then Bobo started calling the plays. Richt I know you are not stupid time 4 Bobo to go!! Although we lost I have to give Richt credit for turning this team around!! Even if it was a easy schedule I didn’t think he would pull it off!!! Oh well!!

Just a few weeks ago

December 3rd, 2011
11:30 pm

All you uga inbreds were saying crowell was the next her-shal walker