Archive for September, 2013

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 …

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Georgia wins a big game the way big games ought to be won

Aaron Murray proved he can indeed win a big game, and he did so in superb style. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Aaron Murray proved he can indeed win a big game, and he did so in superb style. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Any time the Georgia Bulldogs beat a Top 10 team is cause for celebration, but what made Saturday’s 41-30 win over South Carolina even better was the way Mark Richt’s team won.

There was the aggressive game plan that featured a daring early onside kick when the Gamecocks least expected it, a couple of fourth-down conversions, a defensive take-away that ruined a South Carolina first-down play, a goal-line stand that stopped a series that began first-and-goal on Georgia’s 8-yard line, a couple of gutsy third-down touchdown passes by a scrambling Aaron Murray, and a pounding Bulldogs running attack when it was needed.

But most impressive of all was the way Georgia closed out the game. After the Dogs had held the Gamecocks and an unnecessary roughness penalty and then a false start had taken the ball back to about Georgia’s 6-inch line with 8:28 left on the clock, I’m sure a …

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Fan talk: Dealing with Clowney, Aaron Murray’s body language, game day upgrades and more!

Jadeveon Clowney's performance against North Carolina drew some criticism. (Associated Press)

Jadeveon Clowney's performance against North Carolina drew some criticism. (Associated Press)

Let’s get straight to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail …

Not surprisingly, Jadeveon Clowney is on the minds of a number of UGA fans writing in this week. Bulldog Abe writes: Bill, I watched the South Carolina-North Carolina game and came away from it distinctly unimpressed. Clowney looked out of shape and winded and his numbers weren’t anything to get that excited about. Should we really be that worried about him? Meanwhile, Suzanne in Buckhead writes: Bill, I’m really worried about how Kenarious Gates and our offensive line will handle Mr. Clowney this week. They didn’t do such a great job last year, and based on what I saw at Clemson, I’m thinking we lose out mano a mano just in terms of talent. What can the coaches do to help out, in terms of strategy? And Danny, who says he’s been following the Dawgs since Kirby Moore was QB, offers a suggestion in that regard: Run straight at …

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Wisdom of the crowd: What does Georgia need to do in order to beat South Carolina?

Georgia fans have been quite vocal this week about what Todd Grantham and Mike Bobo need to change. (University of Georgia)

Georgia fans have been quite vocal this week about what Todd Grantham and Mike Bobo need to change. (University of Georgia)

Second-guessing is second nature to college football fans, and there’s been a nonstop torrent of it in the Bulldog Nation ever since about midway through the second quarter of last Saturday night’s Georgia-Clemson game.

Talking with Georgia fans in the days since the opening loss, I’ve heard a pretty consistent chorus:

Why did Mike Bobo keep trying to run the ball up the middle when it wasn’t working? Why didn’t he make adjustments against Clemson’s blitz more quickly? Why can’t the Dogs’ offensive line pass protect or open up holes for the backs? Did all that moving around Will Friend has been doing with his players make a veteran — if not spectacularly talented — OL worse? Did Todd Grantham’s defense forget how to tackle?

And then there’s the ever-popular: Why can’t Aaron Murray win a “big” game?

Of course, that last trope ignores two straight …

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Why any game against hated Georgia is ‘special’ to Spurrier

Steve Spurrier has "special" feelings about going up against Georgia. (Associated Press)

Steve Spurrier has "special" feelings about going up against Georgia. (Associated Press)

There’s probably a little extra spring in Steve Spurrier’s step this week, and it’s not just because his South Carolina Gamecocks are going for an unprecedented fourth consecutive win over the Georgia Bulldogs.

For Spurrier, this game is personal. It’s always personal with him against UGA, whether he’s wearing South Carolina garnet or Florida orange and blue.

As he noted recently when he was talking like a “Dukie” as he prepared his team to take on North Carolina, Spurrier has always loved a good rivalry game. As he put it: “It is a little special when you are coaching against a team like that, just like coaching against Georgia. The Gators and Georgia were teams that didn’t like each other very much. That’s a special game, too, so anytime you coach against a team that was a little special wherever you coached at, it remains a special game.”

When it comes to Georgia, though, it’s …

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There’s a lot of football left this season for the Dawgs

Tray Matthews tries to chase down Clemson's Roderick McDowell. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Tray Matthews tries to chase down Clemson's Roderick McDowell. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Some more random thoughts and observations about Georgia-Clemson and what lies ahead …

The big worry going into the Clemson game was the defense, which returned only two starters from last year and was missing some folks for the first game due to suspension and injury. The end result was a mixed bag: neither as bad as had been feared, nor as good as had been hoped.

On the plus side, Clemson had to punt seven times, one more than Georgia. And the Tigers had fewer passing and rushing yards than the Dogs, and didn’t get off as many plays as they like.

But Clemson successfully converted on 7 of 16 third downs and was and 1 for 1 on fourth down (Georgia was only 4-14 and 2-3). There also were quite a few missed tackles, most glaringly by one of the more experienced Dog defenders, Damian Swann, on a Clemson scoring play. And while we always knew Tajh Boyd would get some yards running (42 on 13 …

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Pin Georgia’s close loss to Clemson directly on the offensive line

A poor performance by Georgia's offensive line appeared to affect the play of QB Aaron Murray against Clemson. (Jason Getz / AJC)

A poor performance by Georgia's offensive line appeared to affect the play of QB Aaron Murray against Clemson. (Jason Getz / AJC)

One of the few positives that can be taken out of Saturday night’s 38-35 loss at Death Valley is the fact that Georgia had 545 yards of offense and lost to Clemson by only 3 points despite a dismal performance by the Bulldogs’ veteran offensive line.

After Clemson’s defense adjusted to a more aggressive, blitzing style of play in the wake of the Dogs’ early success, the OL was completely unable to handle the Tigers’ speed off the edge, resulting in a breakdown of protection for Aaron Murray.

(Speaking of the Tigers’ adjustments, Clemson’s staff clearly outcoached Georgia’s much of the evening, making much more aggressive calls on both sides of the ball, with the exception of the Dogs’ last scoring drive, when the team in orange strangely sat back in prevent mode, allowing Murray to move Georgia 56 yards in 1:06 to pull within 3. Had the onside kick …

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