Archive for September, 2012

Should Todd Grantham really ‘feel fine’ about the way Georgia’s defense is playing?

Tennessee receiver Zach Rogers crosses the goal line with Alec Ogletree in tow and Shawn Williams arriving too late to help. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Tennessee receiver Zach Rogers crosses the goal line with Alec Ogletree in tow and Shawn Williams arriving too late to help. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Five games into the season, Georgia’s offense is much better than most of us expected, but Todd Grantham’s defense has yet to live up to its lofty preseason reputation.

Part of that, of course, was having two to four starters suspended during the first four games.

And while the defense was back to full strength against Tennessee, the last two returnees, Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo, were still a bit rusty — Rambo especially when it came to pass coverage.

And, yes, the turnovers committed by the offense and Georgia’s generally poor special teams play put the defense at a disadvantage Saturday, frequently giving the Vols a short field to work with.

So up to a point I understand why Grantham said after the game, “I feel fine about the way we played on defense.”

But I’m hoping he doesn’t really feel fine about it, because even …

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Dawgs made win over Vols harder than it should have been

Keith Marshall's 75-yard scoring run was just one of several big plays. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Keith Marshall's 75-yard scoring run was just one of several big plays. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Georgia notched a third consecutive win over Tennessee Saturday in a 51-44 nailbiter that was much closer than it should have been because of:

  • Three Dawgs turnovers that resulted in 20 points for the Volunteers.
  • Poor special teams play, including missed PATs and a miserable return game that twice saw mistakes pin the Dawgs back on their own 1-yard line.
  • A subpar performance by the Georgia defense.

Speaking of the latter, there was little pressure on UT quarterback Tyler Bray until late in the game, in part due to the officiating crew refusing to call holding, no matter how blatant it was, but also because the Dawgs pass rushers seemed to have great difficulty getting off their blocks. Bray had a lot of time in the pocket, but frequently Tennessee receivers were left wide open. And Georgia failed to make Tennessee’s potent offense one-dimensional, with the Vols running for …

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Fan talk: Richt wants a ‘Redout’ and what’s gotten into Bobo?

spread the redA caller to the “Bulldog Hotline” this week suggested a “Redout” by fans for Saturday’s game against Tennessee. Mark Richt has enthusiastically endorsed the idea through social media and in an athletic department press release in which he said, “We need the Bulldog Nation to get there early on Saturday for the Dawg Walk, wear red, and get loud enough to shake the Hedges.”

So there are your marching orders, Bulldog Nation.

Now, let’s get to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail …

Travis Cole writes: Hey Bill, I love the Blawg! Two things. First off, I have to say that I have been thoroughly impressed with Coach [Mike] Bobo’s play calling this year. At times it has seemed like the same old Dawgs, get a lead, run the clock. But in the last two games, especially, Bobo has seemed much more willing to be aggressive in his play calling and I think the players are responding. Second, I have had the good fortune to attend five games in Athens and have always enjoyed myself. But my friend …

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Dogs-Vols looks like an offensive showdown

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray has put up some gaudy passing numbers. (Associated Press)

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray has put up some gaudy passing numbers. (Associated Press)

Despite the two touchdown point spread, Georgia fans know the rivalry with Tennessee is a tough one and frequently confounds expectations, so I don’t believe anyone in red and black is taking this game for granted.

But how do the invading hordes in orange pants feel about it? For the Rocky Top viewpoint, as usual, we go to my old Volunteer friend Joey Ledford

I’d like to thank my old buddy Bill for asking me to come play in his Junkyard for the third straight year. I’ve spent more years in Georgia than I did growing up in Tennessee and I love it here, but I will always be a Volunteer.

I can’t help but think a lot of Dawgs are overlooking us, gazing down the road at those Carolina Chickens. Rather than be angry about that, it is fine with me. We like being overlooked. Smokey can bite back and finally, Coach Derek Dooley has enough players to make this a game.

Let’s start with our …

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Dawgs deserve lots of praise, but kicking game still too much of an adventure

Marlon Brown had another big night. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Marlon Brown had another big night. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

A few more thoughts and observations from Georgia’s win over Vanderbilt. …

After three years of fans wondering when or if Marlon Brown was ever going to develop into the player recruiters thought he could be, No. 15 is fast becoming one of the most effective weapons in Mike Bobo’s offensive arsenal.

The past three weeks have seen him catch eight passes for 106 yards against Mizzou, three for 44 yards against Florida Atlantic and five for 114 yards in the Vandy game. He’s got great hands, height and knows what to do with the ball after he catches it. No wonder Aaron Murray calls him “a quarterback’s dream.” …

Speaking of Murray, he had one of his better games this week, with some impressive throws, none more so than the third-and-5 touchdown pass to Brown in the third quarter. Without the zip that Murray put on that ball and its perfect placement, that catch probably wouldn’t have been possible. …

Merritt Hall

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Dawgs put series with Vandy back in its place

It was another big night for Georgia freshman Todd Gurley. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

It was another big night for Georgia freshman Todd Gurley. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

48-3.

Yes, this was your father’s Georgia-Vanderbilt series.

You know all that talk the past year about the newly competitive “rivalry” between the Bulldogs and the Commodores?

Never mind.

Mark Richt’s team came roaring out of the gate Saturday night at Sanford Stadium on both offense and defense (that’s right, no slow start for the Georgia D this time around) and, frankly, the game was in hand with a score of 27-3 at halftime.

The Dawgs’ terrific freshman tailback duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall had another fine night, with Gurley rushing for 130 yards on 16 carries and Marshall adding 82 yards on his 10 carries.  Ken “Boo” Malcome added 41 yards on six carries. Richard Samuel finally got to play a bit of tailback, ending up with 27 yards on five carries, including one nice run.

Gurley and Marshall both ran tough, with Gurley breaking four tackles on a 29-yard touchdown run. And Marshall …

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It’s Saturday in Athens …

Between the Hedges! (Cassie Wright)

Between the Hedges! (Cassie Wright)

I hope you’re lucky enough to find yourself in my hometown today, sitting in Sanford Stadium watching Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs take on the Vanderbilt Commodores.

Fall arrives at 10:49 a.m. today (which also happens to be my birthday), and there’s nothing quite as glorious as an autumn day in the Classic City. I hope we wind up with as lovely a day this week as we enjoyed last week, which my new friend Cassie Wright brilliantly captured in this photo, which is one of my all-time favorite pictures from Between the Hedges.

My wife Leslie first came across the shot early this past week on Twitter and called it to my attention. I contacted Cassie through Facebook (one of the benefits of the social media age) and discovered that she not only read the Blawg but was one of our Fan of the Week winners back in 2009. As she told me, “You chose a photo I took of our American Bulldog in a junkyard a few years back for a UGA pet spirit contest, which …

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Fan talk: Mix-and-match uniforms, Dawgs’ slow starts, making a statement and more

It'd be great to see the red britches again ... but only with the white road jerseys. (Associated Press)

It'd be great to see the red britches again … but only with the white road jerseys. (Associated Press)

I’ve been battling Internet connection problems this morning, but finally have prevailed. So let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail. …

Jason Powell writes: Bill, what with just about every team in college football jazzing up their uniforms, I wondered if you’d heard anything about Georgia possibly breaking out the black jerseys again. I know a lot of fans soured on departing from the standard jerseys after the failed “Blackout” against Bama and the “fake juice” with the Grambling helmets and black pants against Florida, but the Dawgs also had a couple of major wins in the black jerseys and they looked really sharp. I know the players loved them, too, and today’s players generally want some variety in their uniforms. If Georgia sticks to its traditional uniforms, do you think it could hurt in recruiting?

Jason, I agree that the black jerseys looked terrific, and there’s no …

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Welcome to Georgia-Vandy 2.0

Last year's game in Nashville saw the Dawgs let their emotions get the better of them. (Associated Press)

Last year's game in Nashville saw the Dawgs let their emotions get the better of them. (Associated Press)

In past years, Georgia’s annual tilt with Vanderbilt has been regarded by fans and media as just one notch above one of the nonconference cupcakes on the schedule (a Twinkie?), elevated mainly by it being an SEC East game.

It’s been a low-key “rivalry” by any standards. Even on those rare occasions when Georgia had lost to the Commodores the previous year (only once out of the past 17 years), there wasn’t much of a build-up in terms of grudge factor and very little anticipation on the part of the Bulldog Nation. It was viewed as an aberration. “We lost to Vandy!

That’s not to say that the Vandy game has always been an easy win for Georgia. The Dores have generally played with attitude and sometimes the Dawgs have barely eked out a victory against the school from Nashville. But even when they did there was still a sense that it was only Vandy. Remember the chagrin many UGA …

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UGA’s version of Thunder and Lightning comes into its own

Keith Marshall showed what he can do Saturday against the Owls. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Keith Marshall showed what he can do Saturday against the Owls. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

One of the things I took away from Saturday night’s record-breaking showing by the Bulldogs offense was that it’s going to be a lot of fun watching Georgia’s tailbacks this season, thanks to the power and shifty moves of Todd Gurley and the slashing speed of Keith Marshall.

Throw in the move-the-pile straight-head power of Boo Malcome and you’ve got a pretty complementary tailback-by-committee.

Gurley, who’d already wowed fans in the first couple of games, broke tackles on a couple of his long runs Saturday night and flashed some pretty spectacular open-field running (and speed) on the touchdown that put the Dawgs up 42-14. And Saturday night Marshall finally stepped up and showed what he can do when he gets a little space, particularly on the 28-yard burst that was part of that all-rushing drive that resulted in Georgia’s third score of the evening. Run. the. damn. ball. indeed.

I loved …

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