Dogs’ defense needs to improve, but it’s still early days

The Bulldogs defense stops South Carolina's Mike Davis in a successful goal-line stand. (Jason Getz / AJC)

The Bulldogs defense stops South Carolina's Mike Davis in a successful goal-line stand. (Jason Getz / AJC)

A few more thoughts and observations in the wake of Georgia’s glorious win over the Gamecocks …

The Bulldogs’ young defense has much room for improvement, against both the pass and the run. But Saturday’s goal line stand was big, and barring a return of the injury bug, these kids are only going to get better as the season progresses. Yes, Brendan Langley was beaten badly on a couple of South Carolina touchdown throws and, like everyone on the defense except Damian Swann, he looked totally clueless on the long Mike Davis run that set up the Gamecocks’ last score. But he nearly had a pick on South Carolina’s last drive and he’s a true freshman. Let’s not give up on him, or the defense in general, just yet. …

The Georgia offense we saw Saturday against the Gamecocks was the one we’d been hoping to see this season. Getting Aaron Murray moving out of the pocket proved the key to neutralizing South Carolina’s tremendous pass rush, and the quarterback’s play-making ability was particularly evident on those big third-down throws. And you can’t say too much about how effective Todd Gurley and the running game were in wearing down the Carolina defense. We all knew Gurley was great, but I think a big key is the emergence of Quayvon Hicks as both a change-of-pace running threat and as a pass receiver. He’s going to be a great one as well. …

Fullback Quayvon Hicks is a big addition to Georgia's offense. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Fullback Quayvon Hicks is a big addition to Georgia's offense. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Speaking of the offense, the Dogs amassed 536 yards of total offense and controlled the clock for more than 35 minutes, including the game’s final 8:28. That total was the third-most yards a South Carolina defense has allowed since 2004. Yes, there were still brief times, mainly in the red zone, when Mike Bobo went strangely conservative in his play calls. But he also made some brilliant calls that paid off, and there’s no denying this is one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses. …

When’s the last time you saw Georgia players asking a Sanford Stadium crowd to be quieter? It happened Saturday. While the Dogs wanted the fans as noisy as possible when the Gamecocks had the ball, for some reason this offense (mainly the line, apparently) doesn’t operate well with a lot of noise (as we learned all too well in Clemson). Let’s hope they overcome that hitch before Jacksonville. …

I really hope when coaching staffs (Georgia’s especially) review game film and see all the blatant holds that aren’t called that they’re forwarding those clips to the SEC office in Birmingham. The conference’s officials have gotten so selective in their holding calls that it’s becoming a factor in games. Either call the whole game loosely or call every hold. But don’t pick and choose! …

I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous things in the Blawg’s comments section over the years, but I had to shake my head at a couple of folks who refuse to acknowledge Murray’s value to the team after his performance against sixth-ranked South Carolina. He may have been named Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week, but his die-hard detractors have replaced their Murray-can’t-win-a-big-game mantra with a new one: Murray can’t win two consecutive big games. First of all, as Mark Richt noted in his Sunday teleconference, Murray didn’t beat the Gamecocks. The team did. Murray also didn’t lose to Clemson, or last season to Alabama. The team did. Can the team win two consecutive games over Top 10 opponents? We’ll find out when LSU comes to town. But the Murray bashers’ refusal to give credit where it’s due is beginning to look pathetic. …

If anything makes me feel a little uneasy coming out of the South Carolina game, it’s the impending return of Marshall Morgan as the starting placekicker. I have nothing against the player personally and I know he’s done his time for his BUI arrest. I also know Coach Richt said Sunday that “Marshall has been kicking the ball extremely well. If we were to have a three-way competition [between Marshall, Patrick Beless and Adam Erickson], it would have been Marshall’s job going into the season.” But I recall Richt saying pretty much the same thing all through last season as explanation of why Morgan continued to be Georgia’s placekicker despite his inconsistency not just with field goals but with that simplest of plays, the PAT. I really hope he lives up to Richt’s billing this time around. But if his troubles making kicks return, I also hope that Richt won’t hesitate to insert walk-on Beless (who, so far, is perfect in terms of PATs and field goals) as the Dogs’ go-to kicker. …

Finally, I was amused by Kevin Butler’s “What Would You Do?” feature shown on the big video screen early in the game, where he asks Georgia fans to do outrageous things in order to earn a sideline pass. But while drinking pickle juice out of A.J. Green’s practice shoe is pretty hard-core, I think seeing a fan willing to lick the bottom of a bystander’s shoe was just … disturbing. Dude, the view isn’t even that good on the sideline!

JUNKYARD MAIL CALL

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

176 comments Add your comment

Macclenny_dawg

September 8th, 2013
10:09 pm

Art silva

September 8th, 2013
10:21 pm

Go dawgs!!! Exactly right bill!

Malinda

September 8th, 2013
10:22 pm

I appreciate your comments about Aaron Murray! Some folks fail to remember this is a game…the players are college students..give me a break! Support our team!! I truly believe the players play the game to the best of their abilities!! Go Dawgs!

Owen Scott, III

September 8th, 2013
10:24 pm

Murray is the #1 rated passer in the SEC, Gurley is the #1 runner. And it hasn’t been against your typical “roll over and collect your check” teams. I can’t wait for LSU to come to town.

Owen Scott, III

September 8th, 2013
10:26 pm

As you know, Gurley is being called the best runner in college and is getting early Heisman buzz.

Macon Dawg

September 8th, 2013
10:50 pm

If you were at the game, you saw a good football team get beaten by a superior team that was miles better than last week. The future looks very good. GO DAWGS!

Creativity Dawg

September 8th, 2013
11:30 pm

Bill: Time for AJC to pay ya much more than UGA!!!!! You are amazing w/ analysis!

Double Dawg

September 8th, 2013
11:43 pm

No matter what, you can always find something to blame on Mike Bobo. His offense beats a defense leads by #1 defense player in the nation. Give me a damn break, Bill. 41 points on SC’s defense is not a easy job, it’s a superior job. Just tell us, what does Bobo do to you to make you hate him so much??

7576DAWG

September 8th, 2013
11:49 pm

On side kick, going for it on fourth down! Who was that Coaching Georgia and where was Richt?

Creativity Dawg

September 8th, 2013
11:55 pm

LMAO..Double…ya werent saying that during Clemson game!!! Coaches palyed a good game as well!

Kayne

September 9th, 2013
12:14 am

# 4 LANGLY IS THE WORST EVER !!!!!!!GOTTA BE REPLACED WITH A BETTER PLAYER.

Eric C.

September 9th, 2013
2:14 am

Bill, another excellent post…the time off is good but I’m really looking forward to the LSU game. It will be incredibly interesting to have Mettenberger making a return, and getting some payback for the 2011 SECCG loss will be sweet.

Yeah, anyone who will lick the bottom of a shoe needs some serious help.

HP DAWG

September 9th, 2013
5:19 am

Defense wouldn’t look so bad if it weren’t for the poor tackling. The few practices they have this coming week needs to be nothing but tackling drills. All in all, great win. Beating Clemson as well would’ve been better but the ship is headed in the right direction

Buzz-off

September 9th, 2013
5:31 am

Kayne,

Not true, the kid will be a good one so give him a break!!!

ColumboDawg

September 9th, 2013
5:43 am

Hey Bill, how about that Douglas kid? I love Hicks, who is from my hometown of Blackshear, Ga, but Douglas was pretty impressive as well at the end of the game. He got some very tough yards, really running over a few guys. These two could be very dangerous.

Buzz-off

September 9th, 2013
5:48 am

Thanks Bill for exposing the stupid Murray bashers. Based on their logic, Murray has to get 100% credit for the win……..since they give him 100% credit for losses. I guess Gurley, the OL, WR, LBs, etc don’t get any credit. It is a team game and Murray is just a key part of that team. When we win, the “team” wins, when we lose the “team” loses. We have now beaten 2 ranked teams in 2013 (Nebraska and SC)…….let’s go for 3 against LSU.

PaulPaul

September 9th, 2013
6:01 am

Kayne
This young man is going to be good. He is obviously better than anyone else we have or the coaches would not be playing him. Takes time for a young defensive back just out of high school to learn everything he needs to know. Most of us had to start out slow in our careers before we able to do our best. BTW have you ever coached or played a down of football?
This young defense will be just fine in time.

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
6:15 am

On Morgan. He was perrfect on PATs the last 8 games of the season, some BOG games. I think we have proof positive that he corrected that issue, don’t we? On FG’s, the kid had more attempts last year than any PK in the league from over 45 yrds. That was where he missed em’ His % inside of 40 was pretty much what you expect from a freshman. There is no reason to think the walk-on would do any better. (not to mention, camp proves he wouldn’t). But as coach said, good to know he is there for us if we need. Great job from Beless in a tough situation.

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
6:17 am

I’d have to think its a compliment to Langley, to still be out there.

dawgfan

September 9th, 2013
6:35 am

I have yet to see a single redeeming quality about this defense. They aren’t just missing tackles. They are rarely even in the position to make a play. We have no pass rush whatsoever. I could run through some of the wholes that Clemson and SC opened up on us. And our secondary gets an F- for it’s performance so far. I’d go a grade lower if it existed.

No excuses please. They are just plain bad. They’ve already cost us one game and they will lose us another one if they don’t get better quick. A lot better. The offense isn’t going to be on fire every week.

Thanks.

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
7:01 am

Good morning, sunshine.

Redfern on Capella V

September 9th, 2013
7:14 am

It was a big win for UGA’s remedial studies “students,” something for them to remember in the future when they’re toiling away in their menial minimum-wage jobs.

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
7:19 am

Well, you can relive this game with them, during your lunch break.

jrmdvm1

September 9th, 2013
7:44 am

Give me the ability to block idiots like Redfern, and I will sign up for the paying part of the site!

SC_Dawg

September 9th, 2013
7:52 am

Bill, do you think our poor defensive performance in the last two games is do to freshman starters or should the blame be placed on Grantham or possible both ? Reason I ask is probably obvious, last years defense was loaded with experianced talent yet gave up tons of yards also. This has been the case since Granthams arrival. Now I’m not suggesting he’s the reincarnation of Willie Martinez but I would be interested to hear your comments on this.

NCDawg

September 9th, 2013
7:53 am

Ah.. give ‘em a opportunity and the doom and gloomers jump at it every time. The tackling was much better. The defense had some bad plays but that is to be expected. Just about everybody was thinking it would take a few games for the defense to gel and here it is and people are COMPLAINING? Just damn…

Look, the young’uns are getting baptism by fire. They don’t get to make mistakes and it not be noticed because of who we are playing so far. Spurrier is a master at creating mismatches…it’s what he does. Langley got burned a couple of times but so did the SC secondary. They are much more experienced and they got torched. Our young pups are still learning to make the read while they react. Right now they are thinking and then acting. It is the biggest jump for young guys to make. Their athletic ability was so much better than most the guys they played in high school they could still think and react and be there anyway. Now they are trying to make the reaction instinctive because that moment of processing is all the offense needs to create separation. They freshmen are still getting used to the speed of the game. Actually it’s a miracle that there haven’t been MORE BIG plays.

I am looking for week to week improvement… not just a subtle difference but noticeable differences game to game for the defense. The tacking angle thing is a product of underestimating the speed of an opponent… that ONLY comes with experience.

We have faced 2 really good duel threat QBs that punish you if you get out of your rushing lanes by taking off. We put decent pressure on Shaw while containing him… he only burned us a couple of times running it. One of those actually got them back in the game. You have to be disciplined in your pass rush against guys like that. Not many teams are going to get really good, consistent pressure on guys like Shaw and Boyd without blitzing and right now we aren’t doing alot of that because of the young secondary. That will change in the coming weeks.

All I ask for is consistent, visible improvement. So far I’ve seen that.

I-DOG

September 9th, 2013
8:01 am

The defense definitely has work to do. I was surprised that so many commented on here during the pre-season that the defense will be better than last year’s. I think that has been proven wrong. You don’t lose a playmaker like Jarvis Jones and players like Ogletree etc… and add a bunch of youth without seeing a drop off in performance. It seemed pretty obvious.

Can it improve and how quickly? Agree that we should get better as the year goes along. We aren’t getting much of a pass rush, there are obvious problems in the secondary, we are having a problem getting off the field on 3rd down, and we are giving up big plays. Other than that, we are just fine.

Jenkins and Floyd haven’t been the playmakers we were counting on yet. JHC wasn’t the savior in the secondary after his suspension. I hardly noticed him in the game and I believe it was Hererra that forced the critical fumble not JHC as was reported.

The good news is that we are young and I still think Grantham is a good coach and teacher. We also don’t have to shut other teams down as we should be able to score 30+ on a lot of the teams we play.

Cuz

September 9th, 2013
8:04 am

Bring on the North Texas fighting Toadstools. Their mascot is a trip.

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
8:04 am

So, SC’s defense grades, below whatever is lower than a “F”. For that matter, I have a feeling that as “horrible” as our defense is, they will still have (pretty much) as good of a showing as any defense we play this year.

I-DOG

September 9th, 2013
8:07 am

NC Dawg:

Usually agree with you, but I don’t think we took a step forward on D versus South Carolina. I don’t think South Carolina is as good offensively as we made them look. They run a pretty vanilla offense and they only have one good receiver. I do agree that the tackling looked a little better this week, but as others have stated, there were times there was nobody there to make the tackle and we were just out of position. Some of it is understandable due to the youth, but we better find a way to rush the passer and soon.

NCDawg

September 9th, 2013
8:10 am

The best defense is a good offense and right now there aren’t many better offenses in college football. Spurrier is downplaying how good our offense is by saying that his team is not very good right now. That is crap. They got whipped by a better team and it irks him because he was pretty sure his team would abuse the Dawgs and he ended up getting abused. He is pulling the old “we are going to do well just to make it to a bowl game” poor mouthing bit. He is praying that the Dawgs lose to LSU so they might stand a chance but he’d better have his eye on Vandy. It’s a good thing they get them at home or they could be looking at their whole season falling apart.

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
8:14 am

We’ll see how they young’uns do against LSU. Clearly we are not witnessing ALL-SEC performances back in that secondary, right now. BUT, I do know this………….take away the scrambles for first down(s) by probably the 2 most mobile QBs we are going to face, and neither game was even in question. I also suspect that pass rush will look a lot better, when losing containment is less of a risk.

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
8:16 am

hey improved tackling is a huge deal. slightly better tackling last week and we probably win that game too.

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
8:17 am

(with Full agreement that we are NOT anywhere close to a good SEC defense right now)

NCDawg

September 9th, 2013
8:26 am

I-DOG
September 9th, 2013
8:07 am

Spurrier is a master at exploiting weaknesses. That’s what the “Fun and Gun” was and it worked at the college level because in those days it was total mismatch for linebackers to be covering WRs. Now he is using a read option like offense to create mismatches. Their O -line is really good… they are big and very sound. They protect pretty well to be a primarily running football team. Mike Davis is a pretty good back… not Gurley or Yeldon level but pretty good. He made some really good runs on Saturday.

I will be surprised if the Chickens don’t come out looking to take their frustrations out on Vandy. However, there is the chance that they will be flat because they used up everything trying to beat us. Spurrier tends to do that.

NCDawg

September 9th, 2013
8:38 am

My take all along was that this defense could be better than last year’s at some point during this season. No way were they going to be even good right from the start. There is too much that you cannot practice… the pups have to go to the School of Hard Knocks to get the experience they need to be good. If we survive LSU and Florida and don’t let down against UT and Vandy… we could be a serious pain in the as$ late in the year. And, I hate to say it, if we AREN’T then it is time for Grantham to go. These kids need to be showing steady improvement and 6 or 7 games of improvement SHOULD equal fairly good. BY SEC CG time they should be better than last year if for no other reason than they should not be as worn out.

dawgs01

September 9th, 2013
8:42 am

Langley will be a great one it just might not be this yr. Corner has always been the harders position to transition from high school to college and college to the pros. that is why i dont understand the falcons draft pick. tru and alford will be good too but it will be about three yrs from now. Qb used to be the hardest but these kids are getting such great coaching at a young age that is why you are seeing their development sped up. Corner is hard bc once you get to college learning the defense and trying to cover these fast wide outs and these exotic route trees can be very difficult. if you watch langely he has great closing speed. he is a step behind bc he is still learning his coverage responsibilities. Shaq is a great corner too but his lack of wt is holding him back. i am telling you come their jr years we might have the best two corners in football with trey as one of the best safeties in college gonna be a great secondary.

dawgs01

September 9th, 2013
8:44 am

this defense is loaded with athletes and fast ones at that. i have always wondered if grantham is out thinking himself with his defensive scheme. remember these kids not only have to study school work but his defensive scheme still looks to me like it is confusing his defense more than the opposing coach.

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
8:49 am

equal or better talent in place, improved depth, and by the end of year…… better. The early big games will probably prove too much for the youth and inexperience. But the offence should score 35-40 every time out. . That’s what everybody said. And that’s exactly where we are.

dawgs01

September 9th, 2013
8:51 am

LSU runs a pro style offense just like us since grantham comes from the nfl look for our defense to play the best game yet against them. at least expect that. its an offense they practice against all the time and the coach comes from that style of offense and they are gonna have 3 games under their belt. conditioning is usually not a problem anymore by game 4 or 5. it does not matter how good your strength and conditioning coach is and i would say bama and lsu and florida and oregon have some great one conditioning will always be a problem the first couple of games bc you cant simulate the anxiety of the game and the excitement of the game doing conditioning in practice. florida had their athletes wear heart rate monitors a few yrs ago in a few sports and found that their conditioning was not getting no where near game like conditions even though their conditioning routine was way harder and more intense than the game. It is hard to get it just right and with football you walk a fine line of running to much and causing players to lose wt. running and gaining muscle mass are on two completely energy systems so it is tough on the coach. that is why you have to have someone with some scientific background or at least someone on the staff you can turn to. i have liked what i have seen from the dawgs from a conditioning standpoint especially when you consider the nerves and the adrenaline dump they experienced in the clemson game.

dawgs01

September 9th, 2013
8:57 am

i think next yr this team is gonna be great all hutson will have to do is manage the game. we will still be loaded at wide out and o line should be better and you know who the backs will be. defense better be absolutely nasty next yr or grantham needs to pack the bags.

SenoiaDawgs

September 9th, 2013
9:00 am

Way to go Bill on calling out the Murray bashers. Also I agree completely on Bobo. I don’t understand some of things he does but we are certainly getting results.

On to the defense. Big improvement week 1 to 2. Also have some of you been watching the same games I have. I saw lots of pressure on Boyd and Shaw. Two mobile QB’s who know what to do with young guys that over pursue. Yes there were plays where there wasn’t much pressure but no team gets on the QB every down. I think they will do much better against pocket passers until they get more games under their belt. Yes Langley got burned but he also made some darn good plays in the Clemson and SC. And a final note the defense gave up 38 and 31 in the first two games to top 10 opponents. Granted if that continues against all teams we will be in trouble but the famed D from last year gave up 44 to UT, 32 Bama and 31 Nebraska. Seems they are pretty much holding serve to me compared to last year’s.

dawgs01

September 9th, 2013
9:01 am

how was douglas only a 2 star let see 220-230 pounder running a legit 4.41 and being one of the strongest kids on the freaking team. I know the answer if he would have been a middle linebacker with those stats you are looking at a mid level 4 star. white kid running back you have to be off the charts playing in the highest classification and racking up crazy numbers. i love it though we got a freaking steal. this kid could end being our fullback but hicks is murdering it out there.

NCDawg

September 9th, 2013
9:39 am

I am wondering how many bottles of Tums the DCs are ordering for game week against the Dawgs offense? Our backs are GOOD receivers. That catch by Gurley was great. It’s bad enough trying to figure out how to cover our WRs and stop the running game but now you have backs that can catch it as well as most receivers? You have to follow them on play fakes because the next thing you know they are streaking down the sideline with a little dump pass they just snagged and ran over your DB. And then there is Hicks… just damn.

BigDawg

September 9th, 2013
9:42 am

I wonder how many of my fellow Dawgs on here actually ever played football. The defense is very young and showed improvement from the first game to the second but it was not the defense that cost us the game against Clemson but those two unforced turnovers by our 5th year Senior All SEC QB. Now having said this I don’t actually place the entire blame on him but actually on the OL. RBs and Coach Bobo who went away from the running game and called those plays, the OL and RBs for missing blocks etc. Yes he had a great game against South Carolina as did the whole offense as they improved greatly in their blocking and holding blocks. Now I do agree with Bill about SEC Officials not calling the games evenly. Anyways the Dawgs won that is all that is important and there was improvement.

Go Dawgs

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
9:44 am

Is it too late to get a refund for the Tech Fans for Clowney Club, dues?

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
9:48 am

The good news is: there is Plenty of time to get those Mettenburger for Heisman buttons made, and distributed around the tech dorms.

AltamahaDawg

September 9th, 2013
9:52 am

throwing up a duck certainly is, but is the ball knocked out by a blindside hit, an unforced turnover by a Qb?

Bulldawg35

September 9th, 2013
9:52 am

Hey people give Langley time! He came in physically and mentally ready! That’s why the coaches have him as our starting corner back! I would like to see Shelton Dawson play some more. I wonder what’s going on with him?? Hopefully with a couple weeks off….shaq fluker and Kennar Johnson will be ready for some playing time.

Dawg Fud

September 9th, 2013
10:15 am

Underperforming is Grantham’s specialty. Time to admit that he is not all that.

Look at the talent he had last yr. He cost us a chance at the title game because the D gave up 350 yds on the ground. He should have been fired after that.