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 taking those extenuating circumstances into account, Georgia’s D hasn’t looked like the veteran group they are.

The front seven too often has failed to dominate and was, for the most part, stymied by Tennessee’s veteran OL. With Jarvis Jones double-teamed and taken out of the equation much of the game, the inability of the defensive line to put much pressure on Vols QB Tyler Bray made for a long night in the secondary.

Speaking of which, pass coverage has been dicey all season, with too many busted coverages, and it was at its worst against UT. I lost count of how many times Bray was throwing to a wide-open receiver Saturday, though thankfully in a few instances he missed them.

And while the Dawgs had been tough against the run in previous games, they let Tennessee establish a rushing attack that not only opened up its offense, but provided scoring punch. Tackling also was poor throughout the Tennessee game.

The defensive nadir of the season so far came on Cordarrelle Patterson’s rambling 46-yard touchdown run in the third quarter when most of the Georgia defense had a shot at him but looked like they were moving in slow motion.

Unless the Dawgs want to keep having to depend on the offense to win shootouts like Saturday’s, in which the two teams combined for 95 points, 13 touchdowns, 46 first downs and 1,038 yards, the defense is going to have to start playing on a much higher level than we’ve seen so far.

"Gurshall" is Georgia's most dynamic running tandem in a long time. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

"Gurshall" is Georgia's most dynamic running tandem in a long time. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Speaking of the offense, Aaron Murray may have had a couple of lapses Saturday reminiscent of last season, but generally he’s been playing at the top of his game and making good use of a deep and talented receiver corps.

Add to that the young offensive line progressing fairly rapidly, and, most important of all, the addition of an explosive running game with the “Gurshall” tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and you’ve got record point production. The combination of Gurley’s shifty moves and penchant for breaking tackles and Marshall turning on the afterburners when he reaches the secondary makes for a really potent ground attack.

And then there’s Mike Bobo, who drew praise the previous couple of weeks for his more varied play calling. When Georgia’s offense was clicking against Tennessee, Bobo was at his best, deftly mixing the running and passing games.

But Bobo unfortunately reverted to Mr. Predictable in the fourth quarter when Georgia tried in vain to eat up clock with its ground game and only wound up with one first down the entire quarter. Everyone in the stadium — including, of course, the Tennessee defense — knew who was going to be getting the ball. So the Vols loaded the box and Gurley ended up mostly going nowhere.

That’s when Bobo is at his most frustrating.

The Sanford Stadium crowd did its part Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin /AJC)

The Sanford Stadium crowd did its part Saturday. (Brant Sanderlin /AJC)

A few other quick hits: I’m not sure why it took Mark Richt so long to figure out that Malcolm Mitchell was uncomfortable and indecisive as a punt or kick returner, but thankfully he finally appears to have come to that conclusion. … Murray is not an option quarterback, so let’s hope we don’t see any more plays like the pitch to Mitchell early in the game that wound up losing 10 yards. … The tight ends finally showed up in a big way as receivers, with Arthur Lynch making up for the previous week’s drop by snagging three passes for 75 yards and Jay Rome having a very nice one-handed catch where he went up high for a 21-yarder. … In addition to apparently deciding that offensive holding isn’t something they were going to call, no matter what, the inconsistent officiating crew also missed a facemask call and a horse-collar tackle. … The mostly red-clad crowd showed up early, got loud frequently and stayed until the very end. It was an absolutely electric atmosphere Between the Hedges for the first time in quite a while. … Finally, UT coach Derek Dooley sounded a bit like the Athens boy he was with his postgame assessment of the Dawgs: “We went toe-to-toe with a top 10 team that will be competing for a national championship.”

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

196 comments Add your comment

bubba4dawgs

October 2nd, 2012
10:44 am

Hey Sleepless in Greenville, you need to get some sleep…smokin too many weeds! The DAWGS are on a mission and know that every game counts. They will go into Columbia with fire in their eyes. If you’re just a DAWG hater, get on another blog. GO DAWGS!!

Pete

October 2nd, 2012
12:15 pm

Grantham is way over-rated.

Columbus Dawg

October 2nd, 2012
12:20 pm

Glad to finally find a ga-y Bulldogs site to talk football and meet guys Im 33, brown hair, green eyes, Italian and Irish, and a bottom.

Pete

October 2nd, 2012
12:21 pm

Columbus, Go to Gresham Park on the weekend, lots of guys like us there cruising.

bubba4dawgs

October 2nd, 2012
12:23 pm

When this site says “Show all” is it alright for me to leave Something on, I have a cold today. Just asking.

LawDawg

October 2nd, 2012
12:24 pm

Sure, It took my six times to finally pass the bar. Im in recovery, ho

LawDawg

October 2nd, 2012
12:25 pm

Anyone else really watch college football to look at the really tight pants on those fellas.

Pete

October 2nd, 2012
12:26 pm

The Dawgs defense is as secure as the Maginot Line, go figure that one out.

Crimson Timmson

October 2nd, 2012
12:27 pm

Caint wait to meet the puppies, and that defense lol

chazzo

October 2nd, 2012
1:00 pm

Mark Richt

October 2nd, 2012
1:40 pm

Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didnt let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasnt one more thing you could’ve done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentleman – you’re perfect!

Love & kisses,
Mark

UGAlawgrad

October 2nd, 2012
1:45 pm

omg…..Coach Richt posted here!
Dude…………are you a flaming Elton John type????????

Arnold Swartenegger

October 2nd, 2012
1:50 pm

I like that Gurly man!

The Bottom line is.......................

October 2nd, 2012
2:34 pm

Spurrier is ALWAYS better than the suntanned Helen Hunt look-alike CMR.

DAWGMAN

October 2nd, 2012
3:07 pm

Hey Coach,
This ain’t your thing.
Try working the special teams a bit more. Beat some ranked teams. Love ‘em up after the game.
Then come back and feel the acceptance.
You’re still on probation.
Be the alpha male.
Agape Love is the ultimate gift from God; BUT, it ain’t SEC Football.
We do not need to be told which is more important in your world.
You are paid with our dollars to be an SEC Winning Football Coach.
Let me,us, and the team get our reflections on Love from our privately chosen and privately funded preachers.
That does sound more than fair to me. How about you being fair with us.

SSIgator

October 2nd, 2012
3:23 pm

That wasn’t the real St. Markus Rectumus. Idiots.

loyaldawg

October 2nd, 2012
3:36 pm

Score often and quickly. Then the defense can get some 3 and outs and then rest some while the offense scores again, then 3 and out. Lets put a 60 spot on Superior. He would understand that it is payback for the 50 spot he put up on the Sanford Stadium scoreboard as a Gator. The hate he has for the DAWGS will continue to haunt him. GO Dawgs

AltamahaDawg

October 2nd, 2012
3:37 pm

As IF they actually thought it was? Talk about an idiot!

Tech Students

October 2nd, 2012
4:17 pm

How many Techies will fall out of Bobby Dodd Stadium this weekend?

DogRoll

October 2nd, 2012
4:26 pm

relax—no way usc’s D can GA’s two stars at RB: Gurley and Marshall. The Ga running game lights up the yards and scoreboard. Dogs win easy: 37-17. Bet the house.

DAWGMAN

October 2nd, 2012
4:32 pm

SSIgator…ya tink id wad de luv ‘n kizzes dat give id away.

The Old Coot

October 2nd, 2012
5:00 pm

Bill King, you dumb piece of crap.

The D is one of the best things we have going at UGA.

If the O wouldn’t throw pick six’s and fumble the ball inside its own 20 yard line we would be fine.

If only the O line would block on Murray’s blind side and he wouldn’t get steamrolled from behind. He fumbles every time he is hit. If I can spot it I am sure you can too and perhaps even the coaches on the other teams.

If Special teams players wouldn’t step out of bounds at the 1 yard line and would have the sense to know when to field punts and when to get away from them we would be fine.

At least 28 UT points were directly the result of Offensive and Special teams foul ups this pas weekend. I thought the D did a great job in saving the game with three take aways.

People who do not know anything about football have no business writing about it.

You sir are as dumb as dirt.

A-Ville Ranger

October 2nd, 2012
8:35 pm

I sense King is like me, not sure Grantham is the DC most hoped and thought he was. His defenses have been inconsistent and often caught out of position. Now he seems to be accepting low standards. When that happens it’s almost never a good sign.

A-Ville Ranger

October 2nd, 2012
8:40 pm

Old Coot, wake up geezer. The offense is FAR out-performing the defense. I don’t get why it’s considered wrong to tell the truth where Grantham is concerned, but OK to trash Bobo, even in a personal manner. So far this season, Bobo is the coordinator who deserves the fat contract.

Xenophon

October 2nd, 2012
9:22 pm

Derek Dooley is a class act. I wish him nothing but success wherever he coaches. (Except, God forbid, Florida.)

paloaltoherrera

October 2nd, 2012
10:10 pm

Dawgs whip Scarolina!

paloaltoherrera

October 2nd, 2012
10:10 pm

And Derek is a Mommas boy!

KapernickDawg

October 2nd, 2012
10:12 pm

Our D will destroy that kid Conner and Murray will show why he’s The Heisman Winner this yr!

AltamahaDawg

October 2nd, 2012
10:36 pm

I predict the chances of ANYbody doing anything in Bobby Dodd stadium will be greatly reduced this weekend.

cleanDog

October 2nd, 2012
11:26 pm

GA will win this game by 10+===no problem. sc is way overrated and the Ga D will be all over conner shaw. He may throw 3 picks.

MWHDAWG

October 3rd, 2012
5:52 am

Great to have Rambone & the Tree back but the Dawg-D seemed a little off from the past few weeks.

dawg4life

October 3rd, 2012
7:00 am

Tenn was the best offense we will see all year. USC isn’t even in the same stratasphere as Tenn. offensively, and about equal on defense. Remember, Vandy was ranked 3rd in total defense going into the UGA game… UGA rolls USC 42-24. USC has no rush defense to speak of. Look for our backs to each go over 100yds again.

FLA DAWG

October 3rd, 2012
8:23 am

From Oct 6 through Nov 10 we enter what Pat Dye called “Amen’s Corner”. He was referring to playing Bama, UGA and Florida. For us it’ll be SC, UF and Auburn (yes, Auburn is playing some great ball – at least on one side of the ball).

This is what we’ve been waiting for………….this will tell us EVERYTHING about this team, Mark Richt, Mike Bobo and the program as a whole.

We begin with SC in three days. If it’s a loss then we’ll know NOTHING has changed in years of dismal play. If we win then go on to beat the others we’ll know for certain Richt has turned this ship around and is headed toward The SECC Game (and dare I say a BCS Title shot !?)

I hope The Dawg Defense knows they have something to prove. My God, we can’t continue to give up the number of points we’ve given this season and expect to win.

GO DAWGS !!

UGADOC (lL. H. Ingram, Ph.D.)

October 3rd, 2012
12:19 pm

The nation, with two notable exceptions,knows why Georgia will lose: Forth quarter chokes, center-plunges, and taking a knee. What a reprehensible attitude to foist off onto our team.

DawginNY

October 3rd, 2012
12:56 pm

Should Grantham “feel fine?” Hell no!! On plays that we were making first contact at the line of scrimmage or a yard behind, we are now getting to the ball carrier 3 yards down field. Our coverage is far worse as well. I can’t understand how all 3 units (LBs, DLs, and DBs) could have regressed so much.

GranthamRules!

October 3rd, 2012
1:28 pm

Grantham–his D shuts down spurrier’s O and shuts up spurrier’s big mouth! Grantham may punch him out after the game if he gets any lip.

FLA DAWG

October 3rd, 2012
4:19 pm

If it weren’t for UT Receivers dropping balls we’d have lost the game because of D.
Grantham better have these guys in position and ready to play.

What a turnaround! It used to be our D that we counted on most. Now the O is firing on all cylinders (with a bunch of mistakes) and rolling up numbers we’ve not seen in decades. The D was supposed to be superhot this year. What the hell!?

dwagdawg

October 3rd, 2012
9:41 pm

t2go

October 3rd, 2012
9:47 pm

yes the D could be playing better…but people predicting SC to put up 35-45 points are dreaming!!! No way!!! AINT GONNA HAPPEN!!!..South Carolina will be lucky to score 24!!! All we need to do is score 25+!!! And this offense scores that by half time!!!Go Dawgs!!!!

JaxDawg

October 4th, 2012
7:45 am

Bill, Look to our neighboring state, Alabama, and help me remember if you have ever heard Coach Saban say that UA is “doing fine”? The answer is: NEVER! Whe you become complacent about the quality of the work you do, the results will reflect that attitude. Our kids need to be praised for their efforts, but also encouraged that there is ALWAYS room for improvement.

zbulldawg

October 4th, 2012
8:32 am

LET THE BIG DAWG EAT

SOUTHGADAWGG88

October 4th, 2012
9:31 am

Grantham has been more hype than substance thus far.

SOUTHGADAWGG88

October 4th, 2012
9:34 am

The DL didn’t have anybody out and besides Jarvis Jones,they have been a disappointment.We have 3 LB’s with more experience than Ogletree yet they still seem lost in pas coverage.CTG needs to tighten up here soon.

wreckmaniac

October 4th, 2012
11:04 am

“We have Lattimore times 2 “. This is how UGA Koolaid euphoria takes place. A perfect example.
UGA nor any other team has a back in Lattimore’s class. Even “Hushel” wasn’t.
UGA fans had better hope that no one is arrested between now and game time.

FLA DAWG

October 4th, 2012
1:37 pm

wreck,

…………oh that’s right, you haven’t won one in awhile………..even in our worst years we beat Tech.

icon package

October 7th, 2012
4:27 pm