Upcoming schedule both helps and hinders Atlanta-bound Georgia defense

sec east tshirtThere are two ways you can look at the scheduling quirk that has Mark Richt’s Bulldogs facing the triple-option offense on consecutive Saturdays to wind up the regular season before heading to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta.

On the one hand, playing FCS power Georgia Southern this week will give Todd Grantham’s defense an edge in preparing for in-state rival Georgia Tech since both of those schools use a run-heavy triple option. The Eagles might be from the lower level of Division 1 but they managed to run for 302 yards and score 21 points in a losing effort against Alabama last season and they’ll give the Dogs a much better look at that rarely seen offense than Georgia’s scout team could hope to replicate in practice.

Of course, UGA sees Tech’s triple-option running attack every year and did a pretty good job containing it last year. But the extra experience against that scheme is bound to help.

As Richt noted Sunday, “We’re going to play defense so completely different than how we’ve been playing all year long” against Georgia Southern. “Everything changes. The alignments change, the assignments change, the type of block you’re dealing with changes, and it’s very, very difficult to simulate in practice. You just can’t do it. You just have to be disciplined in what your assignments are. This offense tends to have a lot of fumbles. A lot of balls get on the ground when you run that type of system. Sometimes the only way you can stop one of their possessions is with a turnover.”

So you can credit having Southern and Tech back-to-back as smart scheduling.

But looking ahead to the big game at the Georgia Dome, the downside to the schedule is this: Two weeks of concentration on the triple option will take the Georgia defense out of its usual rhythm, and they’ll then have just a week to reboot before taking on the SEC West opponent, most likely Alabama, which runs a pro-style offense more like Georgia’s.

In the meantime, the Crimson Tide has games against lowly Western Carolina and a free-falling Auburn, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Nick Saban had his team spending a bit of time over the next two weeks getting ready for Georgia.

The Dogs, unfortunately, won’t have that luxury.

Now, a few more thoughts and observations from the win over Auburn …

Tavarres King and the other Georgia receivers stepped up big against Auburn. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Tavarres King and the other Georgia receivers stepped up big against Auburn. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The ESPN crew covering the game indicated Tavarres King’s ballet-like move keeping a toe in-bounds on that 17-yard second-quarter touchdown strike from Aaron Murray was likely to show up on “SportsCenter,” and that was indeed the case Saturday night. It was a tremendous effort on TK’s part.

But what was especially encouraging was that it was the kind of play that is par for the course this season for Georgia’s athletic receiving corps. Even with Michael Bennett and Marlon Brown out, the Dogs’ passing attack didn’t appear to miss a beat, with Murray throwing TD passes to three different receivers — Chris Conley and Malcolm Mitchell in addition to King. Special kudos are due to Conley, who was making his first career start against the Tigers. …

Murray continued to spread the ball around, completing passes to six different players, with tight ends Artie Lynch and Jay Rome getting much more attention as receivers. For the most part, they did well, with Lynch catching three balls and Rome making two receptions.

But while it was good to see the tight ends becoming a bigger part of the passing attack, there’s room for improvement: Lynch did have a conspicuous drop on what would have been a first-down pass late in the first half, and Murray had to do some sideline tutoring with Rome after the redshirt freshman muffed a route in the end zone in the third quarter. …

A couple more notes on Murray, who got more than his share of bashing earlier in the season: A week after executing the Rooskie play flawlessly against Ole Miss, he had another really nice play-action fake on the touchdown pass to Mitchell. And after getting the wind knocked out of him on one of the many hits he took from Auburn defenders Saturday night, the tough quarterback came back in to make that perfectly thrown scoring pass to King. …

The Georgia defense gave up some yards in the short-passing game early on (mainly to Emory Blake), but overall played a superb game. And when Auburn was threatening to score in the second half, Shawn Williams helped maintain the shutout by stripping the ball away from Blake in a fumble that Georgia recovered. …

Christian Robinson gets the big-hit-of-the-game award for the way he ran over an Auburn receiver on a failed third-down conversion attempt. …

One quibble: Mike Bobo pulled his starters in the fourth quarter but Grantham didn’t. I fully understand why the fiery defensive coordinator wanted so badly to keep that goose egg on the scoreboard for the Tigers; it’s a tremendous confidence-builder for a defense that took a while to get back in sync this season.

But keeping the first string in the game in garbage time just to maintain a shutout was a questionable decision, as one of Georgia’s star defenders easily could have gone down with an injury well after the outcome of the game was already decided. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, but was maintaining a shutout really worth the risk?

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Got something you want to discuss concerning the win over Auburn or the upcoming game against Georgia Southern? Thoughts looking ahead to the SEC Championship game? Or maybe a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

139 comments Add your comment

southgadawghead

November 11th, 2012
10:18 pm

Enter your comments here

Va Dawg

November 11th, 2012
10:19 pm

Bill, in answer to your question yes it was worth it.

southgadawghead

November 11th, 2012
10:21 pm

How about a mention on them Running Backs!!! Maybe two 1000 yard fishers out Gurley (like 27 yards to go) and Marshall!

StratCat Dawg

November 11th, 2012
10:21 pm

Chris

November 11th, 2012
10:23 pm

After all your bashing of special teams play…would be nice to see you give them credit after a very solid effort.

Roswell DAWG

November 11th, 2012
10:26 pm

Like Grantham keeping the starters playing. Really wished Bobo would have kept the foot on the gas. Auburn has or would of in the same situation. We still own them for the Fairly bush league play of 2010.

Ashevilledawg

November 11th, 2012
10:27 pm

Risk – reward for the shutout. You risk injury when you keep your starters in late in the game like UGA did but the reward was a shutout which I’m sure the players really wanted. Sort of like keeping your starting pitcher in a game if he is pitching a no hitter. He may be over his pitch count for the game but no way you are going to pull him.

Biggdawg33

November 11th, 2012
10:31 pm

Let’s not get too crazy about the starters still in for the defense. Those guys played a full game and looked the best they have looked all season. Wait, they have really not been together all season. So, go ahead and give them more time on the field.

StratCat Dawg

November 11th, 2012
10:32 pm

Aaron Murray is tied for #1 nationally in yards per attempt and is #3 in passing efficiency. How ’bout that Dawg?

LakeDawg

November 11th, 2012
10:35 pm

I was thinking the same thing, Bill. Facing those triple option teams will take the Dawgs out of their rhythm. However, I think its a good thing that UGA won’t be thinking about Bama the next two weeks. They would just would just get over-hyped. BTW On Grantham keeping his starters in: He wanted them to play a quality game from start to finish. That sets a tone and is much more important than worrying about injuries. You can’t play scared or you’ve already lost.

All Roads go through Florida

November 11th, 2012
10:46 pm

Worth the risk. The BCS is based on flash and dash now and a shutout could earn Georgia some extra points in the polls

Finchdawg

November 11th, 2012
10:59 pm

Bill, I’d like your thoughts comparing this year to 2008, in which we faced Georgia Southern and won but allowed Tech to run over our defense a week or two later. Do you think watching the Dawgs defend the triple option helped Johnson get ready for us and get the win?

Finchdawg

November 11th, 2012
11:06 pm

Oops, just realized that game was at the beginning of the season instead of right before Tech.

Bill King

November 11th, 2012
11:40 pm

To Chris and southgadawghead:

Check Saturday’s postgame Blawg. I discussed the running backs, special teams play and much more about the Auburn game. Today’s Blawg is a followup.

Here’s a link:
http://blogs.ajc.com/junkyard-blawg/2012/11/10/dawgs-exact-sweet-payback-in-return-to-jordan-hare-stadium/

1+3

November 12th, 2012
12:11 am

I am glad he kept the D in the game. If the other team is running its first team trying to score, then we run our first team D and try to keep them from scoring. I like shutouts and to be honest, 38-0 sounds a lot better and 38-7 or 38-10.

Georgia DAWG

November 12th, 2012
1:09 am

Mike Bobo and Todd Granthan both made the right game-plan decisions, IMO.

CTG in letting his starters play four complete quarters, which they will need to do against Bama, and secured a shut out; a goal both the Georgia D and CTG had game-planned to achieve, and it was assured.

Likewise, CMB had game-planned to quickly score and set the tone for the entire game, eloquently mixing the run and pass game, continuously moving the chains on offense and putting enough points on the board to assure the game was well in hand in the first half.

Brilliant play-calling and execution and he called the first-string off when the game was well in hand, particularly with the way the defense and special teams were playing. He definitely did the right thing, assuring no injuries to the key offensive team and letting the subs get well deserved playing time.

Overall, a masterful game plan and masterful team execution. Georgia humbled and embarrassed the Auburn Tiger on their home field, and exacted their revenge on the poor unsportsmanlike play of AU in 2010. Couldn’t have done it any better! IMO, right calls and decisions and masterful execution by the Georgia Bulldogs! 38-0 and securing the SEC Eastern Division Championship looks mighty fine!

Now, let’s get ready to beat Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech, then focus on the SECCG!

Go Dawgs! Get ‘er done. One game at a time! “Our Team. Our Time. No Regrets!”

Georgia DAWG

November 12th, 2012
1:55 am

Enter your comments here

Mountain Dawg

November 12th, 2012
2:23 am

Hell yes, it was worth the risk. You’ve been harping about us not going for the jugular when we’ve got teams down. Well, this time we did. No brainer.

Just Saying

November 12th, 2012
6:14 am

I disagree, when you leave your offense in the game and start passing……you are trying to run up the score. I’m happy we kept the defense in the game because they need more reps and several of them need a little more conditioning. I don’t want to see hands on their hips when they are playing GS, GT or Bama. I do agree we could have lost a key player, but that can also be said for having full contact practices. I hope we don’t lose focus over the next 2 weeks because Ga Southern could give us fits like they did last year with Bama……and GT is still a mystery team and it would make their season to beat us. Go Dawgs!

Water Dawg

November 12th, 2012
6:55 am

So I must have missed it: what’s up with Parker at backup and Christian Lemay at #3? And I completely agree with putting in backups to get some experience. But let them run the offense! If Murray goes down we’ve got two QB’s behind him who haven’t thrown a pass in a game in two months.

Spike

November 12th, 2012
7:07 am

Yes, it was worth it. It will always be worth it after 2010 and the fire hoses.

SouthGaBrave

November 12th, 2012
7:39 am

Finchdawg,

In 2008 (on top of it being at the beginning of the season, like you mentioned) Georgia Southern was coached by Chris Hatcher and ran his shotgun-spread offense.

Homeslice

November 12th, 2012
8:06 am

The State title is on the line two weeks in a row. against the second best team in the state of Georgia, Georgia Southern, and then we play Tech……

NC_Dawg

November 12th, 2012
8:18 am

You could argue that preparing for Georgia Southern and Georgia Techs triple option will actually improve our preparation for Alabama. You have to be alot more disciplined to defend the triple option. You also have to tackle very well. I don’t thik this will hurt our preparation for Bama, I think it will help us in the long run.

NC_Dawg

November 12th, 2012
8:20 am

I’m not really concerned with Bama’s offense. They have not done much to impress against good defenses. I think our D matches up well against them. I’m more concerned with our offense scoring on their defense.

Tide ain't rolling and A&M stopped them

November 12th, 2012
8:50 am

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

AltamahaDawg

November 12th, 2012
8:51 am

My buddy asked me after game, what possible whining could the bloger do this week, and I said, Oh I imagine we will see a battle between the: 5% risk of injury to a starter and the “foot on the gas” cliche’ in full display.

My take on it was: I am sure the shutout was a goal, but I imagine the thinking was more likely that Grantham knows that he finally has his unit playing with all the pieces in place, and wants to get max reps. He is in the mind set that he is dealing with the equivalent of a 5 game season.

AltamahaDawg

November 12th, 2012
8:59 am

BTW, I think the new of late tech offense will be throwing the ball quite a bit against us, so I am not sure that our DBs are going to be taking a picnic. The front 7 has to play assignments, gaps, as always. Different look, but still.

ARdawg

November 12th, 2012
9:11 am

Altamaha

One would be hard pressed to find anything wrong with that game. I am a bit surprised Richt didn’t go postal and put 50 but, that’s his call. 38 and not letting them score achieves the same result

DIT

November 12th, 2012
9:12 am

No Bama posters yet………………………

Old Dawg

November 12th, 2012
9:14 am

The only thing I worry about in playing Southern and Tech are the chop blocks on the defensive linemen. UGA lost a starter in the seasoning opener against Southern the last time the two teams play.

I understand angle blocking in option attacks; hell, I played against them. But the chop blocks have to go. I hope the officials watch this practice closely and make the appropriate calls.

RxDawg

November 12th, 2012
9:18 am

“But keeping the first string in the game in garbage time just to maintain a shutout was a questionable decision”

You dawg gone right it was questionable. It was pretty dang dumb I think.

1. Don’t risk injury when you don’t have to. This ain’t playstation football.

2. You’ve got to take advantage of real game time to give your backups experience. Practice is great and all, but it’s games where you trully learn to play ball.

gbal

November 12th, 2012
9:31 am

WHAT IF ????

What if the 4 team playoff was implemented this year? Would it be pretty exciting or what?

O, K, & ND playing each week to the end to remain undefeated and in the 4 team playoff!

Bama and UGA headed to a play in game at the Ga Dome for the 4th spot….I’d guess??? What a game that will be!!!

WHAT IF AN O, K, or ND loose a game??? How far will they drop? Below the other 1-2 loss teams at 4 thru 9? (All in the SEC) 6 SEC teams watching from the outside for a chance to work in if a top 3 looses. Or can there be two SEC teams in this year??? Currently 6 sec teams in the top 10!

The SEC is holding spots 4 thru 9 in the BCS ranking. Will there be two SEC teams in the final 4? Could the Bama UGA looser be in or will they drop in the polls and be skipped over by a 5 – 6 ranked team that is….. from the SEC but didnt win their division!!!

Or would this “COMMITTEE” decide that we wont have two teams from the same confrence in the playoff….. We will reach out to another confrence champ….. somewhere down in the 9-10th range ranked team to fill a spot in the
4 teams?

Anyone who said a playoff would deminish the regular season??? NUTS We would have 6-8 teams with a chance to play in, upsets putting teams out, fans interest in any game where a top 10 team was playing because it could mean something.

Wish we were there!!! But guessing UGA’s possible path to the playoff would be the same as it is now. Gotta beat bama and hope for a O<K<ND loss or two.

A lot of controversary to look forward to.

Just Saying

November 12th, 2012
9:34 am

What happened to all the Bama, FL and SC posters?

Patched Tire On I-95 in Jacksonville

November 12th, 2012
9:40 am

RxDawg

I totally agree; 2nd and 3rd string should have been in the game getting more experience for next season; especially since we lose this entire defense next year

but what do you expect from our bush league coaching staff;

I mean do they really think thats going to make a difference in the polls when everyone knows how horrible Auburn is this year

RxDawg

November 12th, 2012
9:40 am

gbal, a 4 team playoff would be great right now. It also isn’t enough to diminish the regular season. 8 would probably be the cutoff, because it’s still pretty tough to rank in the top 8. What people worry about, and rightly so, and when the whinning starts about letting in this team, or that conference into the playoffs and then it baloons to 16 or more. That’s when you’ll see the regular season games be a little less important. Especially at the end of the season (when all those big rival games take place) and some teams already have the playoffs and home field advantage sealed up.

That said, I’m with you on a 4 or even 8 team playoff. But they must, and I mean MUST never allow it to grow over 8.

Just Saying

November 12th, 2012
9:40 am

@gbal
Imagine if the top 3 teams were to lose and we were in the new 4 team playoff structure. The SEC would probably have all 4 slots filled in the NC brackets!!! It would be possible in that scenario that the loser of the SEC championship would not be in the all SEC NC play-offs.????? Crazy stuff!!!!

35 - 7

November 12th, 2012
9:46 am

Too bad our second stringers couldnt provide more scoring opportunities to get style points and couldnt gain Todd Granthams confidence to preserve a shut out. Next year UGA is really gonna stink on Defense. Clemson will whip us silly next year. Too bad UGA blew it in Columbia but we still get to go to the CRAPITAL One Bowl.

gbal

November 12th, 2012
9:51 am

OH and WHAT IF ….. Ohio ST is off probation,,,, At 10-0 this season we now 4 undefeated teams.. they are selected by the comittee and the SEC is shut out!!! And with 6 teams in the top 10!!!

Vance

November 12th, 2012
9:53 am

Maybe Grantham is keeping his first team in four quarters, because he knows they will need endurance in the title game. Whatever the reason, it was a stellar effort by the D.

gbal

November 12th, 2012
9:53 am

Agree with you that 8 it the ultimate number. But also feel like it should be based on ranking, which would be SEC heavy.

Ed

November 12th, 2012
10:03 am

Bill, to answer your question hell no it wasn’t worth it. But I’m happy we got the shutout anyway. This is on Richt IMO – he’s the head coach and can order any personnel changes he wants. Maybe he wanted the shutout as badly as Grantham, but can you imagine not having JJ or Rambo or Jenkins in the SECCG?

Hopefully the shutout will free them up to coach smarter in the next two games.

Paul

November 12th, 2012
10:05 am

Is the game this weekend available on TV statewide? I know it is on Chanel 2 in Atlanta but I was most concerned about the Macon area.

Russell Hall

November 12th, 2012
10:09 am

The shutout was worth the risk. I agree with the poster who analogized it to taking out your starting pitcher seven innings into a no hitter.

35 - 7

November 12th, 2012
10:09 am

Lets be real…. Aaron Murray stunk it up big in the big games this year (USC and Florida) as he usually does. His numbers are inflated because of UGA’s weak schedule. Some of you need to get off the Murray bandwagon and stop drinking the kool aid.

gbal

November 12th, 2012
10:17 am

PLAYOFF!!!!!

festus

November 12th, 2012
10:17 am

reports are saying Derek Dooley is gonna be fired.

BigJim

November 12th, 2012
10:34 am

Mark Richt: 3-15 against ranked teams since 2009!! PITIFUL!

BigJim

November 12th, 2012
10:36 am

Is anyone but me tired of the CAPITAL ONE BOWL year after year after crappy year?? FIRE MARK RICHT!!!!!!!

RxDawg

November 12th, 2012
10:36 am

“I agree with the poster who analogized it to taking out your starting pitcher seven innings into a no hitter.”

Meh… a baseball pitcher isn’t getted smacked around every play like a football player. But that’s not even the main issue I have with leaving our starters in. I’m upset because our backups (the starters next year, or in one play possibly) could of gotten some rare game time experience.