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 continues to do yeoman’s work at fullback and should be credited with an assist on Keith Marshall’s touchdown that put Georgia up 41-3. The ball finally broke the plane when Hall shoved Marshall and the pile over the goal line. …

Malcom Mitchell had a productive night, making five tackles, switching over to offense to run a reverse for 16 yards, catching a 6-yard pass and returning three punts, the longest a very nice run for 22 yards.

However, that brings up one of the areas where the Dawgs still need to improve: the overall kicking game. Kickoffs have been fine, kickoff coverage for the most part excellent, and the punting has been adequate, as has punt coverage.

But punt returns remain too much of an adventure. Mitchell’s decision-making has been sketchy, with the worst case Saturday night being the punt he elected to catch deep in his own territory rather than letting it go into the end zone for a touchback. Yes, Georgia’s offense proceeded to rip off a 96-yard scoring drive, but that’s not generally where you want to start.

The other troubling aspect of the kicking game is in an area that should be automatic: PATs. Saturday saw one missed because of a high snap (which then was completely mishandled by kicker Marshall Morgan in a typical case of freshman-itis), and another kick went in, but only after banging into the goal post. I get the feeling everyone involved is thinking too much about PATs and needs to relax a bit.

The other area that has continued to be shaky is pass coverage, with Georgia particularly vulnerable to the quick slant but also suffering when Branden Smith is matched up on a big receiver. Of course, the suspensions have played a big part in that and the return of Alec Ogletree in the middle and Bacarri Rambo in the secondary (which will free Sanders Commings to return to cornerback) should help a lot in that area. …

On the plus side, Todd Grantham’s defense came up big on third downs this week, only allowing the Commodores to convert on two of 14 attempts; the offensive line had its best game so far, opening some big holes for the Dawgs’ fleet tailback corps; Murray continues to do a great job of spreading the ball around (nine receivers made catches Saturday night); and Bobo’s playcalling has been nothing short of impressive, bolstered by the addition of the pistol formation and the toss to the backs. Murray’s attempts to connect with his backs on those swing passes and screen passes aren’t quite where they need to be, but there was improvement Saturday. …

If you’ve ever wondered just how important the home crowd really is in the college game, just look at all those Vandy false start penalties early in the game when the Georgia fans were at their loudest. “I don’t think we handled the noise and the crowd as well as we could have,” Vandy coach James Franklin said. So, yes, it’s important for the fans (particularly the students) to show up early and get loud.

In addition to that, though, let’s hope that if there’s a home game where the outcome is still in doubt in the second half that the students will decide to stick around for more than three quarters. …

Finally, I know some folks are viewing the upcoming visit from Tennessee, a week before the showdown with the Gamecocks, as a “trap” game, but I’m encouraged that one of the team leaders, the force of nature known as Jarvis Jones, appears to recognize the need for the team to keep working to get better. As Jones put it after the game when talking about the preparations for Vandy, “We’ve got to prepare like that every week in order to be great.”

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78 comments Add your comment

Macclenny_dawg

September 23rd, 2012
9:53 pm

Fivepointer

September 23rd, 2012
9:53 pm

The Dawgs looked legit last night!

Trevinb

September 23rd, 2012
9:55 pm

Though punt return shaky, still rather have chance for big play. Better than when Goff would put Kirby Smart back there. Is that what you want?

ATLNative

September 23rd, 2012
9:56 pm

The red and black reaction — Satisfaction! Great Sat. night to be a Bulldog. We’re set up well for the next two games. GATA’s

Macclenny_dawg

September 23rd, 2012
10:09 pm

Bill,
I think our pass defense will be really tested this week. We have to get pressure on the qb. Pass coverage has to improve. Special teams still need a lot of work. We need to just pick a punt returner and stick with him. They all think they have to make a play every time because of the competition still going on there. Even though I would like to see us go all out for a block every once in a while. A little worried about field goals because we haven’t tried many. If Bobo keeps his foot on the gas like he did last night I have no worries. I don’t care for GATA!!! I prefer to GTA!!! Go Dawgs!!!

Dawg82373

September 23rd, 2012
10:11 pm

I agree with your praise of Bobo , i do think he is really developing into a good O-Cord. People might not realize it but Vandy came into this game ranked 6th in the country in pass D and 13th in scoring D , so given those #s i think Bobo , Murray & our O-line deserves a lot of credit . As a life long Dawg fan i cannot remember our offence ever being as explosive as it is right now & its very fun to watch . And when we put it all together in all phases we can match up with anyone . GATA & GO DAWGS !!

Inlet Dawg

September 23rd, 2012
10:14 pm

Vols will come in ready to play.have a nice day but get your mind right for next week.

Simpson

September 23rd, 2012
10:42 pm

coaches must see something in MM to keep putting him back there to return punts. I suspect he will do something explosive if we stick with him.

Uncle Kirk

September 23rd, 2012
10:49 pm

I have enjoyed seeing the student section full at all the home games so far. They stayed well into the 4th qtr. sat. Night. Not sure what you were looking at.

funny...

September 23rd, 2012
11:03 pm

I’d say this is the best I’ve seen the student section since 2008 (in terms of attendance and noise)

Hank Hill

September 23rd, 2012
11:39 pm

One game at a time. Let’s get ready for Tennessee.

ludawici

September 24th, 2012
12:58 am

the dogs will beat tennessee like a rented mule—dooley can’t coach a lick. Ga wins the SEC east and plays alabama for the title–this time, Ga gets the upset. Mark this down: Ga 27 alabama 17! Ga to the BCS!!!

yearofthedawg

September 24th, 2012
3:53 am

I think Bill’s point was to teach Mitchell not to field punts inside the 0, especially when running backwards at the time…. not to replace him.

chazzo

September 24th, 2012
5:19 am

YES! I was happy to see the toss sweep. I also liked seeing Murray roll out and pass a couple of times. The run game is crucial! TBs deserve all the props that they are getting, but it is good to see a solid FB in the mix, as well.

Hope the leaders keep everyone down to earth. UT is a step up, and of course SC is probably the toughest on the schedule. The most important thing for the Dawgs is keeping their heads, especially if they meet some adversity or get behind in a game.

JunkYard Dawg

September 24th, 2012
5:23 am

Get your mind right ! And get sooooem this week you Hairy Dawg’s111

Old Boy

September 24th, 2012
6:15 am

One of the more impressive plays that I saw Jarvis Jones make on the night was a screen play he blew up after the running back tried to chip him and then slip out to the flats. Jarvis engaged him and then kept his hands on him, forcing Rodgers to throw it away. That tells me that he has been studying game film because it was obvious that he recognized it quickly. If the defensive leader and best player on the team is studying film, there is a good chance the rest of the team is as well. His stats are great, but he is so much better than his stats.

dawg walker

September 24th, 2012
7:24 am

Morgan very erratic on PAT’s – this was not one game thing – has missed or hit uprights in some of the other games. Sometime the luck will run out. Give another PK a chance on the shorter kicks. The walk on from Marist used to be very accurate.

zbulldawg

September 24th, 2012
7:30 am

They are freshman !!!! They will do just find. Gurly + Marshall = GURSHALL I would have a team that is improving every week & haven’t peaked yet. LET THE BIG DAWG EAT

mark

September 24th, 2012
8:09 am

Would like to see more utilization of the tight end position. Lynch will have a better game. Hoping Murray stays healthy. By the way, WHO is the fastest guy on the team? Go Dawgs.

GT is 4th rate high school team

September 24th, 2012
8:12 am

After Vanderbilt review: GRANTHAM shook the hands of Franklin and said ” Thanks for the scrimmage from your great practice squad”.

JimDog85

September 24th, 2012
9:02 am

Was it just me or did it seem like Malcom Mitchell had his back to the qb and never turned around to pick up a ball coming his way? It seemed like every deep pass they completed was over MM and he never turned to pick up the ball. Also, the decision he made to field that punt with one foot in the end zone could have cost us dearly if it was SC or FL. Because it was Vandy we got away with it. MM has to be better on defense and special teams. I hope we will be getting Sanders Commings back like everyone assumes because we will need him this week. I have ben in Sanford Stadium before when UGA was a big favorite over TN and all I heard all night was that damn Rocky Top being played by their band. The Dogs can look past this game with 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter and a three touchdown lead!

I-DOG

September 24th, 2012
9:04 am

Bill,

I think that was a very accurate recap of the game and breakdown of the different aspects of it.

I was wrong that Georgia wouldn’t try to impose our will and that we wouldn’t run the ball 40 times with our tailbacks. I was hoping we would do it, but haven’t seen us line up and commit to the run in so long that I was doubtful we would do it. I’m glad I was wrong.

I think lining up in the I formation and sticking mostly with the running game on the first drive set the tone for the evening. When we ran the ball into the endzone on that first posession, the body language of the offensive lineman said it all. “We opened those holes for the running backs and we can knock our guy off the ball all night.” It put them in attack mode.

I like the fact that we operated under center for most of the game, sometimes with a fullback in the I and sometimes with just a single back. We ran the ball extremely well from under center and Murray looks VERY comfortable throwing the ball from under center. He was dead on accurate in the first half with PERFECT throws.

Most complete game by a Georgia squad in years in my opinion.

Ty

September 24th, 2012
9:14 am

Mitchell’s problems and mistakes as a punt returner are basically nothing except lack of coaching and focus on the job at hand. Moving players around in vital places as punt returner needs complete focus on one person and stick with him. Coaching and time spent on special teams may be a factor also.

Preacher Dawg

September 24th, 2012
9:14 am

Lovin this Team!!! Seein the SWAGGER…both in dicipline and confidence. Also like to give a shout out to the UGA Redcoat band They are simply fantastic. Little known fact…CMR has stopped by at each games to congradulate the band for a job well done. Means a lot to the students who endure the sealtering heat..long practices.. and added cost of being in the band. GOOOOOOOOO DAWGS!!!

SoGaDAWG

September 24th, 2012
9:16 am

I agree with dawg walker let the other guy try the pat’s and see if he is better at it. Stay hungry DAWGS we let our gaurd down a few years back and got embarrased by an inferior Tenn team that ultimately cost the dawgs a shot at the title.

Grantham's The Man!

September 24th, 2012
9:18 am

The Offense is on FIRE! O-line and RB’s are really working out well. Bobo and Co are getting it done.

The Defense will be extra fired up for Rambo and Ogletree’s return. The Crowd will take it’s toll.

UT will get some passing yards, it won’t be enough. This Ga team is well balanced in every phase of the game.

Georgia covers and wins by 24.

Joey

September 24th, 2012
9:21 am

Did the kicker miss the kick or did the snapper and holder make a mistake? Make sure you are not “kicking the wrong Dawg”.

chilidawg

September 24th, 2012
9:40 am

And he chose #13. Inexplicable.

RxDawg

September 24th, 2012
9:46 am

“One of the more impressive plays that I saw Jarvis Jones make on the night was a screen play he blew up after the running back tried to chip him and then slip out to the flats. Jarvis engaged him and then kept his hands on him, forcing Rodgers to throw it away.”

Good eye. I saw that too and thought that was a great pickup.

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 24th, 2012
9:51 am

CONCERNS: #1) injury to Aubrey Jones #2) short kick offs #3) pass coverage deep #4) pass rusher besides Jarvis Jones #5) extra points. Getting better.

WDE

September 24th, 2012
10:08 am

Man this is as much of a troll free zone as I’ve ever seen on the Blawg…I like it !

Just Sayin

September 24th, 2012
10:14 am

WDE………the Techies are running scared!!!!

Just Sayin

September 24th, 2012
10:19 am

I just noticed that Vandy plays the exact same SEC schedule as UGA (Auburn and Ole Miss from the West). Did you notice that Spurrier only complained about UGa’s schedule and never mentioned Vandy’s?!?! Of course, now we know that Ole Miss is probably better than Arkansas and LSU is only 2 points better than Auburn. Go figure, UGa may have a tougher “west” schedule than SC…..cool……bring em on!!!!

wallydawg13

September 24th, 2012
10:45 am

Jimdog85…I see that too with MM and all the DBs doing that. I think that’s the way they are being coached today, not only at UGA, but in all of college FB, and that is to always keep your eyes on the receiver and not get caught watching the QB. I understand this at the beginning of the play, but they need to at least look back for a half-second to see where the ball is.

wallydawg13

September 24th, 2012
10:46 am

Jimdog85…I see that too with MM and all the DBs doing that. I think that’s the way they are being coached today, not only at UGA, but in all of college FB, and that is to always keep your eyes on the receiver and not get caught watching the QB. I understand this at the beginning of the play, but they need to at least look back for a half-second to see where the ball is. Go Dogs!

Concerned

September 24th, 2012
10:58 am

Bill,

The problem with the crowd leaving early has everything to do with traffic moreso than how far ahead UGA is at the end of the 3rd quarter – particularly for a night game! We stayed for the full game and didn’t get home until after 2:00am. Athens police have simply not found a good way to get everyone moving efficiently after the game and unfortunately that weighs heavily on decisions whether to stay for the whole game. For me that traffic is a smalll price to pay – but it is what it is!!

Gary

September 24th, 2012
11:23 am

My favorite part other than the win was the giant “Free Rambo” sign they put up in front of the student section near the end of the game. Can’t wait to see him and Ogletree back in the game ext week. We will have tons of experience and fresh legs for Pass D. Yeah some students left early, but down town was packed after the game. The rest of the folks just had to deal with the long drive home. Love night game but getting home at 2:30 after a two and half hour drive is awful. They really need some more nice hotels in Athens.

Desert Fox

September 24th, 2012
11:50 am

Unless the dawgs D can break down the TN pocket and pressure Bray they will have success in passing the ball to both their talented receivers. The dawgs CB’s can’t give the TN receivers too much room nor allow them to get open on the deep routes which is what TN loves to do. The dawgs offense should be able to run on TN and that will open the passing game. dawgs should win but TN is going to put some points on the board. Glad its being played in Athens. GO DAWGS.

Don

September 24th, 2012
12:06 pm

Have looked at other teams’ logos on field, as well as their end zones, and ours look fuzzy and not nearly as crisp as the other teams. I’ve seen in video how the grounds crew does it. Can we tighten this up some? I know our grounds crew does a monumental effort in keeping the turf and hedge looking great, but I think sometimes the painting looks like some middle schoolers got called in at the last minute to do it. Any thoughts?

Scotty

September 24th, 2012
12:22 pm

I will admit I was one of the bulldawg nation who was wanting Bobo out of there last year. I still think some of his play calling last year warranted this feeling. With that being said however I do think that Bobo has done an outstanding job of play calling this year. It helps when you finally can run the ball, and as far out our dynamic duo in the backfield you cannot say enough good things about both Gurley and Marshall! Also KUDOS to our offense line the big guys have been opening up some holes I could run thru; keep up the great work guys…GO DAWGS!

Diamond Dawg

September 24th, 2012
12:33 pm

I think #29 Mr. Jones will get the locker room ready for Tenn. I also think #93 Cornelius Washington will help also.
Did anyone else see him rip into #51 Wilson Rakim when he missed getting on the field in a timely manner. These upper class-men are stepping up!

Dawg_Mike

September 24th, 2012
1:16 pm

The Special Teams woes are still there due to no full time coach. No suggestion on who should take it over and thus give something else away, but it will come back to haunt us against GOOD teams. FIX IT !

thetoastedhead

September 24th, 2012
1:39 pm

Not to spike the kool-aid about our defensive effort, but Vandy could not get out of its own way. Penalties, penalties, fumbled snaps, missed wide open recievers and comical play calling all helped mightly in keeping them to only 3 points. They were a complete disater on offense.

UGA Insider

September 24th, 2012
3:32 pm

I was once mocked on this blog for predicting ST issues last summer.

I was also mocked when I predicted a 45-10 UGA/Vandy win.

Please don’t doubt me anymore.

Top Row Dawg

September 24th, 2012
3:55 pm

18-21-2 against UT all time. Got some series correction to do.

1968, 2004 and 2007 spoiled possible National Championship seasons.

Never overlook Tennessee.

Larry Munson memories.

1973 My God…. Georgia has beat Tennessee in Knoxville.

1980 He’s running over people,,,,,My God a Freshman.

2001 We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot.

2003 We picked it up and ran 95 yards, Lady Luck is smiling on us. Scott Howard responds, and she’s wearing hobnail boots.

Marlon Brown working out Da’Rick Rodgers being a failure. The football gods have smiled on Georgia and frowned on Tennessee ever since Rodney Garner came over to the good guys.

I-DOG

September 24th, 2012
4:11 pm

DR P:

I’m sure you won’t be reading these boards until UGA loses, but just in case. Do you now see the folly of relying on statistics through 3 games in college football when most teams have played some cupcakes including UGA?

You were touting how Vandy’s defense was ranked highly nationally (through 3 games) and how UGA’s was not for yards and scoring etc…

UGA put up nearly 50 in 3 quarters, so either UGA’s offense is one of the best in history or Vandy’s defense isn’t a top 15 D. Their stats through 3 games playing SC in game 1 (when most teams don’t have it together yet, Northwestern and Presbyterian simply weren’t somthing you can hang your hat on).

The sample size was just too small to put any stock in ‘Round about mid season, you can start seeing some meaninfgul stats like points allowed and scoring defense and offense etc…

Huh?

September 24th, 2012
5:21 pm

UGA Insider…if you really were an “insider” you wouldn’t be on this blog. Several people have told you how useless your “insider” information is. Now you want to validate yourself by saying you almost predicted the final score? wow

Strat Cat Dawg

September 24th, 2012
5:23 pm

Top Row Dog is right to remind us that the Vols have caused plenty of pain and suffering over the years, especially when the Dawgs were favored. Their high octane passing game will give us the sternest test of our pass D to date. We will have Rambo and Tree back and I’m sure the coaches will show film of the 2006, 2007 and 2009 debacles; so, I’m not worried. But we need to show up with our A game on pass defense.

UGA fans .............this IS UT !!

September 24th, 2012
7:31 pm

UGA has not defeated UT 3 years in a row since maybe the 1940s. I know it did not happen in the sad 50s, nor in the 60s, (my era) nor the 70s, possibly 80, 81 and 82 but not sure we played them every year back then, as we usually flipped with LSU or MSU and UT and Alabama in those days, for two in a row, then switch to another SEC foe.

UGA had better get really focused ………………this game is UT. Historically, this game means 10 times more than what the SC game has ever meant. This is UT and to my generation, this is a big as Florida or Auburn or Alabama.

Go Dogs.

ZinoDawg

September 24th, 2012
8:19 pm

I am really impressed with Murray’s ability to read the blitz and unload quick. That will pay off big vs the Carolina pass rush.
Sorry to look ahead but I see us crushing the Vols. Bray doesn’t do well under pressure, and Jarvis will be all up in his grill.
GATA!