Awful special team mistakes mar a pretty decent day for the Bulldogs

Reggie Davis catches a record-setting 98-yard touchdown pass. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Reggie Davis catches a record-setting 98-yard touchdown pass. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Georgia’s 45-21 win over Conference USA opponent North Texas was as messy as the day’s weather.

You know the drill: Mark Richt’s Bulldogs pulled it out in the end after making a contest against a designated loser a lot closer than it needed to be. But while the Mean Green tying the score at 21-21 early in the third quarter momentarily put a hush over a suddenly concerned Sanford Stadium crowd, the game — while certainly ugly — was not really as close as that might indicate.

The Dawgs’ offense amassed an incredible 641 yards to North Texas’ 245 and had twice as many first downs. Aaron Murray completed 22 of 30 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns (plus sneaked for another one). And Murray’s 100th career touchdown was something special — with Georgia backed up on its own 2 after a terrific North Texas punt, he hit freshman receiver Reggie Davis over the middle and the speedster then left everyone else in his dust. The 98-yard touchdown pass was Davis’ first college reception and the longest touchdown pass in UGA history.

Yes, Murray threw an early interception in the North Texas end zone and got away with a couple of other sloppy passes that probably would have been picked off by an SEC defense. And Todd Gurley, held to under a hundred yards (91 yards on 21 carries), had the day’s other Georgia turnover, a fumble. And there were again too many penalties by the offensive line, which didn’t revert to its poor level of play against Clemson but was nowhere near as good as against South Carolina, doing an especially mediocre job blocking for the running backs.

Overall, though, it was a pretty solid day for Mike Bobo’s offense, even if backup quarterback Hutson Mason didn’t get into the game until 2 minutes was left on the clock. (Well, not actually on the clock, which had quit working, leaving Bulldog Nation’s least favorite ref, Penn Wagers, keeping track of the time left on the field.) Once in, Mason led a brief scoring drive powered by freshman fourth-string tailback J.J. Green to tack on the Dogs’ final score with 1:46 remaining (according to Wagers).

Leonard Floyd had two sacks Saturday against North Texas. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Leonard Floyd had two sacks Saturday against North Texas. (Jason Getz / AJC)

It also was a solid day for Todd Grantham’s defense, which held the Mean Green to a measly 7 yards net rushing (up from minus 2 in the first half) and got its first interception of the year from Tray Matthews, who snagged an errant pass at the Georgia 5-yard line, defusing another Mean Green scoring threat. Georgia also got quite a few tackles for loss, and a couple of sacks courtesy of freshman linebacker Leonard Floyd.

So, how did the game wind up tied in the third quarter? The same old bugaboo that has played Richt teams in recent years: special teams play. It was a bad day for Georgia’s special teams, which gave up a 99-yard kickoff return and a blocked punt (the latter the result of long snapper Nathan Theus’ third errant snap of the season).

On the plus side, placekicker Marshall Morgan, returning from a two-game suspension, made all his PATs and one field goal, while missing another long one as the first half expired. And in the punting game, aside from the block, punter Collin Barber averaged 49.8 yards, and while punt returner Damian Swann only averaged 5.8 yards, he generally did a good job handling North Texas’ tricky rugby-style kicks and shows signs of breaking a long one before too much longer.

Still, there’s reason for concern: Ordinarily, giving up two easy touchdowns through special team miscues will get you beat. If that happens against LSU next week, even a big day by Murray and his fleet receivers and bruising tailback might not be enough.

Feel free to share your own views of Saturday’s game …

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.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

112 comments Add your comment

Travis

September 21st, 2013
6:40 pm

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

September 21st, 2013
6:45 pm

The O-line looked really good today

also the special teams coach did a great job too

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

September 21st, 2013
6:47 pm

glad we stopped kicking the ball in the endzone that really worked today too

Hiram Mama

September 21st, 2013
6:59 pm

Murray for the Heisman. UGA AD needs to get on it.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

September 21st, 2013
7:08 pm

Its good to know Beless who hadnt missed a PAT sat the bench today and wasnt allowed to at least kick the PAT’s

Way to reward the kid Coach Richt for staying out of trouble

DrC

September 21st, 2013
7:20 pm

Kicking EVERY kickoff deep into the end zone other than when you attempt an onside kickoff should be AUTOMATIC!!! To kick the ball less than the goal line is INEXCUSABLE. If a college kicker cannot accomplish this, then the coaches did a poor job in recruiting because there are an abundance of young kickers who can do this every time. If the coaches tell a kicker to kick it less than the end zone, then they are just as responsible for the return. Special teams were more dismal than the weather, otherwise, offense and defense played well except for some penalties on offense.
I think the players were more out of sync with the week off than they were in the first two games. Time to turn back up the focus and get really fired up for LSU coming which I think UGA will do.

krazy wheel

September 21st, 2013
8:06 pm

They looked flat as a week old coke .I just do not get how Georgia can look so flat one week and look like they are going to rip your head off the next. One thing I have noticed the last two years with the Dawgs. Like PMS hit us every other week or something. Just hope they do not come out flat with LSU.

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 21st, 2013
8:18 pm

The defense was much better as was the tackling. When are they going to learn to defend against the wheel rout?

Nathan Theus cost UGA the game against Clemson and almost against S.C. Needs to get his act together.

The short kick off led to the TD run back. Time to let the punter do the kickoffs.
The OL was disappointing and actually led to Murray’s interception which he never shoudl have thrown.

The defense was impressive.

DawgVoiceofReason

September 21st, 2013
8:22 pm

I was hoping to see more of Hutson Mason but will take the win and the longest pass play in UGA history.

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 21st, 2013
8:23 pm

Reggie Davis is gonna be a STAR!
LSU is looking good against a miserable Aubarn team that UGA crushed the last two years.

Poor weather at the LSU & UGA games.

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 21st, 2013
8:26 pm

Lucy Holtz is rambling on incoherently as usual. Ranting about LSU’s defense. Surely he should realize that LSU hasn’t played anyone yet?

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

September 21st, 2013
8:35 pm

The offensive line didnt play well cause North Texas kept pumping in crowd noise from the loud speakers today; they just couldnt hear the snap count

Dawglover

September 21st, 2013
8:37 pm

What about kickoffs!!!???? Why can’t we stick with the guy who’s kicking into and sometimes out of the endzone. Another special teams screw up that might be the easiest one to fix!!!!!!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

September 21st, 2013
8:43 pm

Dawglover

I said the same thing but what do you expect when you see the “same ole Georgia” every season

dawgfan

September 21st, 2013
8:45 pm

LSU is leading an SEC team 21-0 nothing at the half. We were tied 21-21 with a Conference USA team in the 3rd quarter.

dawgfan

September 21st, 2013
8:51 pm

ESPN guys were talking about how many defenders LSU lost to the NFL and how quickly their newbies are coming along. They don’t seem to be using it as an excuse. Not so coincidentally, they’ve won a couple of titles since we won out last. When you don’t make excuses that tends to happen.

double dawg

September 21st, 2013
8:55 pm

the special teams coach…forgot for a minute Richt doesn’t need a special teams coach.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

September 21st, 2013
8:57 pm

thats right we dont need a special teams coach; cant you tell

UGA Season Ticket Holder since 1986

September 21st, 2013
9:03 pm

Penn Wagers has waged a one man war against Mark Richt even since The Penalty against Florida. (He even threatened to call an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against a PUNTER in a game against Auburn when the punter flopped to the ground after being brushed)(has ANYBODY ever seen that threatened in the history of the sport?! Ever?). Does us getting him this week mean that he will be unavailable to call ANOTHER bogus penalty like the botched call (admittedly botched call) against A.J. Green last time LSU was in Athens? We’ve apologized, we’ve groveled, we’ve done everything we can do to let it go. Penn Wagers needs to let it go or retire or be removed. It’s really that simple.

And?

September 21st, 2013
9:18 pm

On the positive side sometimes it is easier to get players attention at practice after mistakes against a lesser opponent than when everything works perfectly!

DawgVoiceofReason

September 21st, 2013
9:26 pm

1986,

YOU need to let it go. YOU are obsessing about it.

Postman Al

September 21st, 2013
9:50 pm

“The same old bugaboo that has played Richt teams in recent years: special teams play”

surely the reason why isn’t as simple as:
“Georgia’s coaching staff doesn’t have a designated special-teams coordinator”
No, that is definitely NOT the reason so then the reason would have to be …. they are very lax, soft, and don’t “finish the drill” on Special Teams

Roswell Dawg

September 21st, 2013
9:50 pm

No we don’t need a special teams coach. Give me a break! McGarity should make that mandatory.We need one of those and a head coach that can strike fear into our play-down-to-the-competition team. Tough one to take in what ended up as a monsoon. Redcoats didn’t mail it in though. They’re always ready and work to the end. The Dawgs, not so much.

Jim Ortiz

September 21st, 2013
10:14 pm

The Dawgs need to be consistent. Playing flat against Clempson, then strong against SC , then flat against North Texas, is not what the players need either. They need to be taught to be consistent in their play. The defense has been consistently good. The OL, as experienced as they are played flat. Todd Gurley ll looked flat, not fired up for most of the game.
Hopefully, The issues on ST will be worked out, and they’ll be ready to go against LSU.

GO DAWGS!!!!!

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 21st, 2013
10:26 pm

Dawgs gained 680+ yards on offense

Mean Green got 250 …. score was 45-21′

Dawgs defense gave up 7 yards rushing and 7 points the whole game.

You whining crybabies please tell me how awful the defense was.

The Dawgs offense gained 680+ yards. Quit sniveling and wipe your snotty nose.

Dawgs announced that they have changed long snappers after the punt block caused by the high snap.

Dawgs will announce next week that the punter will handle kick offs- as a short kick off by the field goal kicker resulted in the TD return – by the way that was the Mean Green’s kick returner, Chancelor’s,

stilladawg

September 21st, 2013
10:28 pm

The defense only gave up 7 points.
The offense had 600+ yards and scored 42 points.
The weather was awful for most of the game.
North Texas was a team full of juniors and seniors 2-deep and fought hard. They might win Conference USA, a considerable difference over cupcakes like Austin Peay (UT), Ga. State and UT-Chattanooga (Bama).
Alabama only beat CSU 31-6 and the mighty McCarron had an INT too. They were only up 17-6 going into the 4th quarter. Anyone want to fire Saban?
Lighten up, people.

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 21st, 2013
10:32 pm

As I was saying –
Chancellor has had THREE kick returns for TD’s this year and he scored TWO TD’s against LSU last year. He’ pretty good and will be playing on Sundays.

So the two worst mistakes have been taken care of for next week with a new long snapper and a new kickoff guy.

Aubarn has shown that the LSU defense can get beat deep… attention Bobo!

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 21st, 2013
10:42 pm

Jeff Driskell, the Reptiles starting QB, had his leg broken in the game against the Tick Hounds and he is out for the year. I wish him a full recovery….

VaDawg

September 21st, 2013
11:06 pm

Why can’t CMR see the need for a special teams coach? There are three facets to the game and he seems to totally disregard one of them. Is it arrogance that he won’t be told what to do? Is is some throw-back to his mentor Bobby Bowden who never had a special teams coach? He says he can’t dedicate a coach to special teams. Why do you have to dedicate a coach? Isn’t your offensive coordinator also the QB coach? Isn’t your defensive co-ordinator also your LB coach? Why can’t a special teams coordinator also coach another position? It just doesn’t make any sense.I guess CMR can study up on special teams like he did the kicking game huh?

UGA Season Ticket Holder since 1986

September 21st, 2013
11:07 pm

This was definitely NOT the defense’s fault. The defense had a great game. Score coulda/shoulda/woulda been 52-7 and everybody would have been happy. But it wasn’t. And we aren’t. Interception in end zone, kickoff return for 99 yards and blocked punt = 21 points. Can’t goof around with stuff like that next week. But a win against LSU would make me happy no matter how it comes about. Win pretty, win ugly, win sloppy, win with style, I don’t care how, BTW/FWIW anybody got any stats about when the last time ANY team played three top ten teams in their first four games to start a season?

Dawg4life

September 21st, 2013
11:12 pm

Better bring our A game next week Vs LSU….We owe them anyway…….
Reggie looked like Peter Warick out there. Caught the ball and was out!

D played well, keep improving, a long season and nobody is dominate as of yet……except the mighty Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets…..according to their trolling fans………

Someone loan me 5 dollars……

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 21st, 2013
11:27 pm

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) – 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… commence whining!

Dawgs dominated on offense and defense – need to learn how to defend the wheel route

To many stupid penalties.

Creativity Dawg

September 21st, 2013
11:30 pm

FLO talkin bout Gators…….Dawgs will have its hands FULL vs LSU running attack and fast Defense!

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 21st, 2013
11:30 pm

Mettenbubba better cinch up his flak jacket and chin strap. Dawgs are gonna bring it.

Hopefully Jay Rome’s ankle injury is not to serious…. get well soon Jay Rome/

Flo-Ri-Duh

September 21st, 2013
11:32 pm

Gators didn’t show much on offense but “D” is best in the east – for now.

NCDawg

September 21st, 2013
11:48 pm

Yup… SOSDD from the usual suspects. Win or lose you can count on them to find fault.

Bold prediction! The Dawgs win next week and the Champions of Doom and Gloom will still nit pick every mistake. How about that!?

7576DAWG

September 22nd, 2013
12:33 am

Enter your comments here

gsuga

September 22nd, 2013
3:49 am

The recent history of the weaker teams Georgia plays is, Ga plays just good enough to keep the reserve running backs and quarterbacks on the bench. The sad thing is Mason Hutson will never get on the field unless Murray is injured. He will be a fifth year Sr. and have very little experience next year without much experience.

Jabberwock

September 22nd, 2013
5:00 am

I love how every time the television cameras show Coach Bobo in the booth he appears calm and relaxed. Then I a read print reporter on Twitter describing the screaming coming from the very same coach in the very same booth directed at the offense after poor execution on a play.

Two examples: “MURRAY!!!!!!!!” after the Delay of Game penalty, and this response when the offense took its time going to the sideline as the punt team was taking the field: “GET YOUR A**ES OFF THE FIELD!!!!” The reporter was two booths away. lol

Coach Bobo doesn’t call a perfect game (who does?) , but he demands perfect execution on EVERY aspect of the offense.

Jabberwock

September 22nd, 2013
5:02 am

And before some dunderhead says “Yeah, but the offense can’t hear him from the booth”, I can assure you they hear him during practice and Murray hears him through the headphone on the sideline.

legionaire

September 22nd, 2013
6:00 am

Coach Richt was quoted in the off season as saying he was going to be more hands on with Special Teams. That worked out well yesterday. North Texas is to be commended for giving UGA all they wanted well into the 4th quarter. Knowing that we had to play our starters in the 4th quarter with 2 minutes left against a cream puff does not bode well for next week.

dawgfan

September 22nd, 2013
6:33 am

LOL @ Floriduh’s 10:32 post. “Chancellor is just really good so no big deal.”

Here is the official excuse tally for our less than impressive win over the directional Conference USA team:

It was raining.

North Texas is full of juniors and seniors.

Chancellor is really good.

What am I missing? As far as I can tell from the Kool Aid Brigade thus far, our success this season depends upon avoiding noisy hostile road environments, heat, rain, upperclassmen and really good football players.

As long as we can minimize these things we should be in good shape.

Bayou Billy

September 22nd, 2013
6:58 am

LSU will feast on this pathetic excuse for a contender. Leg humpers will go down 49-17.

Paddy.......

September 22nd, 2013
7:03 am

We won the game and had impressive stats on both sides of the ball. Special teams need work. I for one, am happy about our situation. Don’t get caught up in all the negatives. Just enjoy UGA football. You have waited all year, why spoil it for yourselves! The LSU game might be our toughest game of the year. Tight chin straps are mandatory.

4Dawgs

September 22nd, 2013
7:06 am

I will always take any type of Win! With that being said, the defense was the only unit that looked good. As usual, the offense has stats, but it was ugly and lucky with a few of those throws. Special teams. It is a joke we use special and I do not know where to start. My last comment will be silly, but as a season ticket holder for 25 years, is it too hard to have the stadium prepared for six events a year. The PA system, the clock, bathrooms with no paper towels or toilet paper before the start of the game. It would be nice if these type of things were addressed for six or seven times a year. Is that too much to ask of a top program!

Mississippi Dawg

September 22nd, 2013
7:07 am

Hey guys, the Mean Green are a tough, they’re not your fathers Oldsmobile any more. Good win, but I was glad for the last TD, we needed the numbers to look good. Can’t wait to hear what Old Dawg and Derek have to say on the Dawgcast. Keep it clean Old Dawg!!

Mashadoo Maleiyo

September 22nd, 2013
7:15 am

The mighty LSU Tigers are looking at Georgia the same way that Georgia looked at North Texas, as a weakling to be brushed aside effortlessly. And that’s the way it will happen.

Bulldawg35

September 22nd, 2013
7:56 am

Our o-line was awful yesterday!!!!!!! Awful!!!! The run blocking was terrible…no holes opened up for gurley and Marshall….and they took beating!!!! Will friend needs to pack his bags or start reeling in some better lineman!!! Our line always struggles with smaller and quicker defensive fronts!! Damn it…WTH???

Bulldawg35

September 22nd, 2013
8:01 am

I told y’all the 2nd string wouldn’t be able to get in after Half time! I can’t believe that Richt won’t hire a special teams coach!!!!!!!!!!! After the first 3 games full of ST’s mistakes….Mcgarity should step in and make Richt hire a SPT coach!!!

Mobile Dawg

September 22nd, 2013
8:02 am

I thought Greg McGarity said the “reason we play patsys is so the back ups can get some time” guess he forgot to tell the Dawgs. A win is a win is a win. We will see how we’re built, mentally and physically next week. Should be a good game.