Decimated Dogs offense still has a lot of weapons, but defense is running out of excuses

Chris Conley's catch was a "SportsCenter" highlight. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Chris Conley's catch was a "SportsCenter" highlight. (Jason Getz / AJC)

I’ve been battling a technology meltdown this evening, so while I can get online here’s some random thoughts and observations from Saturday’s Georgia-Tennessee game …

Losing Keith Marshall for the season is a big blow, but once Todd Gurley comes back the Dogs’ running game should still be in pretty good shape. J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas stepped up big-time under trying circumstances. Green looks like a legitimate breakaway threat and Douglas got some tough yards, though he needs to work on hitting the hole a little quicker and holding on to passes (he dropped a couple before finally making a big reception and run on Georgia’s last scoring drive in regulation).

Still, if Gurley isn’t able to go Saturday against Missouri Mike Bobo might have to get a bit more creative in his run calls than some of those up-the-middle tries that got stuffed in the second half in Knoxville.

The loss of Justin Scott-Wesley, who’s developed into the sort of deep ball threat that Malcolm Mitchell provided, also will hurt. But the Dogs are remarkably deep at wide receiver and Chris Conley already was a favorite of mine even before that amazing one-handed touchdown catch that was a “SportsCenter” highlight play Saturday night.

One thing I imagine we will see is more balls thrown to tight ends Artie Lynch and Jay Rome, who barely registered in the passing game against Tennessee (with Lynch having a drop). …

While the offense again carried the load, there’s still work to be done on that side of the ball. In the excitement of Aaron Murray once again bringing the Dogs downfield for a late scoring drive (Hutson who?), the tendency was to overlook Georgia’s dismal third-down conversion rate (only four of 13). …

As for Bobo, I’d grade his playcalling against the Vols as a solid B-minus. Although he went too conservative at times, I think we can write that off to the loss of much of his offensive firepower to knee injuries. However, I question why, when he finally got around to calling the fullback’s number for a carry, it was Merritt Hall (mainly a blocker) rather than proven running threat Quayvon Hicks. Of course, it didn’t help that the Vols completely loaded the box on that play and the offensive line missed a block. …

Speaking of the OL, they had a pretty good game with a few lapses that resulted in Tennessee getting penetration into the Bulldogs’ backfield — plus one sack. No ice cream for the big guys, this week, I guess. …

And the defense (sigh). Well, they had a decent first half but once again Todd Grantham made no second-half adjustments to the opponent’s offensive adjustments and things quickly went downhill, culminating in that drive where the Vols converted three times on fourth down. Actually, there were defensive highlights. The Rev. Ray Drew, who had two sacks, is now looking like the player everyone expected to show up in Athens when he first signed with Georgia. And someone (Damian Swann) finally defended the wheel route, almost getting a pick in the process. But the secondary is still stinking up the place and the Dogs consistently got beat on the perimeter. …

And special teams? Well, Marshall Morgan made two big field goals, and when he took over kickoffs after Collin Barber handled the first couple, he generally did a much better job than the past couple of games. Unfortunately, the FG he banged off the goal post definitely was a momentum shifter in the game, though it wasn’t the only problem in that disappointing drive, which not only saw Michael Bennett get hurt but Georgia follow up a big Green run with Douglas getting stuffed a couple of times, a delay of game penalty, and an incomplete pass on third and 14.

The punting game continues to be a disaster, however. Whether it was the missed block, Barber being too slow getting the kick off, or a combination of the those factors, a second blocked punt resulting in an opponent’s score this season is just completely unacceptable. And you can bet every opponent remaining on the schedule is going to be trying to get a block, too.

I’m not sure we can really expect any improvement, however, considering Mark Richt’s continued indifference to the chronic problems Georgia has in special teams play. I thought the situation was summed up in his locker room interview with Chuck Dowdle when Richt was discussing the overtime field goal attempt and he noted that they put the ball on the left hashmark but then admitted he didn’t know whether that was the one Morgan preferred or not. So much for the head coach supposedly paying more attention to the kickers this season! …

The first thing my brother Tim said after the game was that he couldn’t believe the turf at Neyland Stadium was in such terrible shape, and he wondered whether that was a factor in the injuries of Scott-Wesley and Bennett. Several other fans said the same thing, and in the “Dawg Talk” radio show, Kevin Butler said he’d been down on the field before the game and couldn’t believe how poor a playing surface it was. Yes, it’s true that both teams had to play on the same field, but you’ve got to think the Vols might have been a bit more aware of where the potholes and places where the sand was painted green were located. When asked about the condition of the turf, Richt said he didn’t think it played a part in the injuries. Still, UT ought to be ashamed of that field. …

Finally, I got an interesting perspective on fans griping about the officiating after this game. Georgia fans were wondering about that bizarre defensive delay of game penalty on Blake Sailors for “stomping” his foot in what the ref thought was an attempt to draw the Vols offsides (yes, it’s a rule, but I’ve never seen it called before) and also questioned that spot that Richt challenged as well as the Tennessee touchdown where the receiver’s feet never seemed to drag while in bounds.

But I noticed on Facebook Saturday night that UT fans also were questioning the officiating. They thought the consecutive flags for personal foul and pass interference on the Dogs’ last drive in regulation were suspicious and, naturally, didn’t see Pig Howard’s fumble the same way Georgia fans (and the replay official) did, noting that he still had a finger on the ball. Of course, having a finger on the ball is not the same as having possession of the ball.

Still, what I thought was really amusing was a UT fan’s suspicion that those late calls were made because the SEC didn’t want Georgia losing to an unranked team. That’s the kind of talk Alabama usually draws from opposing fans. Does that mean we’re making progress?

I’ll be off a few days this week, but the Blawg will return Friday with a look at the Missouri game and Junkyard Mail.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

388 comments Add your comment

DaveG

October 6th, 2013
10:06 pm

What is up with our defense consistently lining up late and looking generally confused when getting lined up?

Vince

October 6th, 2013
10:18 pm

I will say Todd Grantham has under-performed tremendously throughout his tenure at UGA. Firing CWM was the right decision and CTG has been a slight improvement, but overall a huge disappointment. Hopefully things can turn around!

JRW7

October 6th, 2013
10:20 pm

CTG’s defense is awful, TN offense is last in SEC, and we made them look like world beaters! Barber does seem a tad slow in punting the ball!

DawgLink

October 6th, 2013
10:24 pm

As good as Murray has been, the delay of game penalties are killing momentum.

gsuga

October 6th, 2013
10:27 pm

It would be good to see what Douglas or Green could do on a run up the middle if Hicks or the other fb led the way? What happened to the sweep play that was so successful with Hicks leading the way? It would be good to find out the best plays for each player and use them. Not just running the plays Gurley runs with a back with lesser ability to run what Gurley runs etc.

DawgLink

October 6th, 2013
10:27 pm

The delay of game penalties are momentum killers. The defense horrid. And I know that they are young in the secondary.

GoDawgs

October 6th, 2013
11:04 pm

Lots of teams are young in the secondary. We can’t even get lined up properly. I refuse to believe that every young DB we have is a complete imbecile, so I’m gonna put that on Grantham. Whatever he’s telling them to do is not working.

Hairy Dawg

October 6th, 2013
11:06 pm

This is terribles news about all the out players. I think Tenn was just dirty with the cheat shots to cause some a the injuries. Buy we need to rise above and just win for them that hurt. Then we can sends Athens ladies to make them feel better after surgerys.

We just got to get healthy what we cans in next few weeks. We get a few back and we be close enough to full strength to make that Judas Muschump get fired like Zooks. Good news is we got some sorry teams to play in next few weeks while we get healthy. We showed that Mizzou last year why they not in same class as SEC teams with speed. Nothing changed from last year and will unload the whooping can on the Mizzou Tigers just likes we did on the LUSer Bungle Tigers but only worse with more tail whooping. Then we get the pointy head Commodes that are embareassing to league before off week to get healthy for Gaytors.

Still cant believes we pole dropped even after wins. We still in good shape that by winning out we can make voters crows pie for disrespectings of Dawgs and talents we gots.

Hairy Dawg

October 6th, 2013
11:10 pm

But not buy.

NCDawg

October 6th, 2013
11:14 pm

To be faor only Marshall went down due to contact. That was deliberate shot at his legs and the guy just looked down at him like “did I get you?”. That really steamed me.

NCDawg

October 6th, 2013
11:16 pm

faor = fair…

NCDawg

October 6th, 2013
11:18 pm

faor = fair… man what was that?

Cali Dawg

October 6th, 2013
11:42 pm

Grantham ran out of excuses last year…how many NFL caliber players were playing last year? This year it’s just more of the same…with younger players. They all do seem to “develop” well once they get to an NFL training camp.

RED DOG 77

October 6th, 2013
11:43 pm

Bill King……………Oh come on man!……..critical of coach Richt not knowing what hash mark Marshall Morgan preferred? you have got to be kidding me……….Look Bill, if the kid wants to kick for a major college football institution like Georgia, don’t ya think he should be able to just line it up and kick?………….You really think Kevin Butler cried “come on coach, you know I like the left hash mark” ?…………..coach Richt expects his players to not over think any situation, but to line ‘er up and go………..and that’s good with me…………..RED

RED DOG 77

October 6th, 2013
11:48 pm

Bill, whats wrong with this site?………..I post, submit comment………..nothing happens……………… It just doesn’t seem faor = fair

Creativity Dawg

October 7th, 2013
12:28 am

NCDAwg…I tried that thinking to myself..didnt work….but clean shot..however much it hurt.

Creativity Dawg

October 7th, 2013
12:36 am

Hairy…Stop crying! Dawg fans…Hush w/ ur crying!!!!! Lost some good players due to wild injurious game…..But we’re loaded for the rest of the season.

Chris

October 7th, 2013
12:40 am

Actually Vince, Todd Gratham’s defense has been WORSE (in points per game) than Willie’s was….hard to believe but true.

Dwight

October 7th, 2013
12:43 am

Jake: Dawgs D is playing w/ more heart than any of our D’s since Erk!

Harold Bare

October 7th, 2013
1:02 am

Hairy Dawg, You must be a UGA Grad. Did UGA professors teach you English.

Harold Bare

Harold Bare

October 7th, 2013
1:16 am

“Go Vols”

Harold Bare

Buzz-off

October 7th, 2013
5:04 am

Vol fans keep forgetting they didn’t lose the game due to the fumble in the overtime. Yes indeed it gave UGa a great opportunity to win the game, but even if UT had scored the TD then UGa may have likely done the same sending the game into a second OT period. Of course it was sincerely appreciated and ironic that the only big break for UGa came on UT’s last play.

Buzz-off

October 7th, 2013
5:10 am

@Harold Bare @1:16

You should have ended your obnoxious last sentence with a “question mark”. I guess you graduated with honors from UT.

dawgfan

October 7th, 2013
6:04 am

Richt has never been a master of the details. It’s why we’ve been “almost” national champs but never the real thing. We’re looking at a potential game winning season saving kick in overtime and the head coach doesn’t know where his kicker likes to kick the ball? Unbelievable. I’d love to hear the excuses for that one Kool Aiders. I need a good laugh this morning.

Bulldawg35

October 7th, 2013
6:17 am

We shouldn’t be trying fg’s anyway….only when the game is on the line. Because fg’s don’t help our defense at all. Haha!

Bulldawg35

October 7th, 2013
6:30 am

Justin Worley had his best game of the year. Neal had a 148 yards rushing. I was right…I told you guys that Worley would have his best game against us. The defense is any teams get well card! I said the score would be 35 -28…Tennessee. I also said that if we won it would be by 3 points…..ding…ding…

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 7th, 2013
6:32 am

I thought our special teams would have been taken care by now with the special teams coach we hired

Bulldawg35

October 7th, 2013
6:39 am

We really aren’t stopping the run any better.
Rod McDowell

Mike Davis

Rajon Neal……ran all over us! Sad but true.

ALBDAWG

October 7th, 2013
6:44 am

One other comment on the running game in the second half. I love JJ and Brendan. They run tough, and they stepped up big time. I new JJ was fast. I didn’t know how tough he was. I agree about Bendan needing to hit the hole faster. I also question whether he is the guy to send end around expecting him to make the corner (at least at this point). I predicted that Quayvon would be the huge break out guy. I’ve always liked fullbacks, and it’s been a couple of years since UGA has had a dominate one. Apparently, though, he didn’t put forth the effort vs. North Texas and wound up in the doghouse. Giving up on the block on that punt certainly didn’t help his situation.

ALBDAWG

October 7th, 2013
6:48 am

Buzz-off said: “Vol fans keep forgetting they didn’t lose the game due to the fumble in the overtime. Yes indeed it gave UGa a great opportunity to win the game, but even if UT had scored the TD then UGa may have likely done the same sending the game into a second OT period. Of course it was sincerely appreciated and ironic that the only big break for UGa came on UT’s last play.”

YEP.

steve cheatham

October 7th, 2013
6:52 am

There is a good discussion on this topic going on over at http://dawgs.com. It covers some issues not mentioned here.

beanster

October 7th, 2013
6:52 am

Stopping the run isn’t the problem. At least it hasn’t been on 3rd down. The D always seems susceptible to short passes in the middle of the field when we are in zone coverage. And it usually looks worse when we don’t blitz. No pressure on the QB who just waits for his receiver to jump into a little hole in our zone and 3rd and 7 becomes 1 and 10 and they made it look easy.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 7th, 2013
7:24 am

4 straight 4th down conversions from the worst offense in the SEC

Talk about improvement

Whiskey Breath

October 7th, 2013
7:33 am

Hairy Dawg , you’re calling Tn for cheap shots? Now that is funny,. Ga invented the cheap shot.
How long have you be following Ga? Hell they even have it down to a science where Brother Richt
looks the other way. Part of his Christian makeup.

dawgfan

October 7th, 2013
7:42 am

I would invite Whiskey Breath and all other Techies to take it elsewhere to discuss Georgia Tech’s 12th straight appearance in the Who Gives A Flying Crap Bowl in East Bumblewad, New Mexico. Your program is a pathetic laughing stock. If we need any tips on how to be irrelevant in the ACC we’ll let you know.

Thanks.

McDawg

October 7th, 2013
7:43 am

Herra did not have a good game which is too bad b/c thought he was becoming leader of the D

before the game i said the Defense will only get better but…..

Offense can’t be conservative against Mizzou–if BoBo had opened up the game a bit more-UT would not have been close

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 7th, 2013
7:47 am

Doesnt Coach Fish Fry teach cheap shops with all the chop blocks

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 7th, 2013
7:53 am

Whiskey Breath – When did they let you out?

dawgfan

October 7th, 2013
7:58 am

Hate it for all the guys that are hurt but as long as Gurley comes back and nobody else gets hurt I think we’ll be alright. I like JJ Green a lot. He doesn’t look like a freshmen. He runs with a lot of confidence and seems to know what he’s doing. We’ve always had receivers coming out of our ears so we’ll be fine there.

All the injuries will do is give the Kool Aiders an excuse for Richt if we drop another game or two. That’s the only downside I see.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 7th, 2013
8:05 am

The only obvious cheap shot I saw was on Barber in the end zone after the play was over and it wasn’t called.

There were a couple of border line hits out of bounds by the Tick Hounds – border line.

Also one chop block was called on the Vols.

Murray was hit late at least three times with no foul.

The hit on Marshall was unfortunate but not a cheap shot.

There was holding by the Vols OL on at least 9 plays in the 2nd half that wasn’t called. One reason their QB had all day to throw the ball.

Dawgs perimeter defense has been dismal … the OLB’s are not containing against the run but are getting caught cheating inside. The inside LB’s and DL for the mos part are holding their own against the inside run.

Dawgs need to get more LB’s in the rotation even if they are freshmen. The defense wore down due to the miserable 3-12 on 3rd down by the offense.

3rd down defense is awful as is defense in the red zone. 3rd down offense was like wise lacking but can be understood due to the multiple disruptions because of injuries.

Bottom Line: Dawgs beat the Vols despite having a true freshman backfield and walk ons at WR.

Tennessee still isn’t that good but injuries, errors on special teams and pahantom calls by the refs kept them in the game.

RxDawg

October 7th, 2013
8:11 am

“We’re looking at a potential game winning season saving kick in overtime and the head coach doesn’t know where his kicker likes to kick the ball?”

That’s probably because that would be Bobo’s (the playcaller) job.

Dawg Fud

October 7th, 2013
8:11 am

Grantham is simply not getting the job done. He is not performing. Case closed.

However, Bobo continues to make chicken salad out of chicken….well, you know.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 7th, 2013
8:17 am

Mizzou up next – another ranked & undefeated team. At least the game is in Athens and the TRUE Dawg fans need to show in support of the team and be LOUD!

The most difficult schedule in the nation had to take a toll on the Dawg’s eventually and this week is not a breather by any means.

Meanwhile teams like Ohio State get another cupcake.

Word is Rumph is still out for this game and Gurley & Matthews are “day to day”.

All I can say for the Tick Hounds is you got EVERY break but one and still couldn’t get the “W”.

Dawgs are winners…. keep it positive for the Dawgs.

AltamahaDawg

October 7th, 2013
8:18 am

THATS the only downside you see? I’m sure those boys would disagree.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 7th, 2013
8:20 am

Flo-ri-dah

wow

I thought a post like that would have been considered too negative for this blog

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 7th, 2013
8:22 am

Much like last year when Marlon Brown & Michael Bennett went down the next man has to step up..

BS35 (aka Milk Dud, Whiskey Breath, etc) TROLLS are like roaches under the door – remind me to call Orkin.

AltamahaDawg

October 7th, 2013
8:22 am

I give TN a LOT of credit. We blew the coverage s all day, but those were some darn great calls on a few of those down that HAD to convert. They played hard. They are going to beat somebody(s). I’m glad we get them in Athens next year.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 7th, 2013
8:28 am

Injuries have decimated this team… it’s not just poor play but a combination of injuries & poor play that kept the Tick Hounds in the game.

Flat Tire – The truth is the truth – the OLB’s need to stay on their assignments and protect the perimeter. The DL & ILB’s are holding up inside. The problem against the run is outside. Sure you will agree?

AltamahaDawg

October 7th, 2013
8:32 am

Was that really a TD on that “toe down” sideline? I think that get’s overturned, actually called out of bounds in the first place, with a better view from the umpire/camera. Heck of an effort though. I’m sure we’ve got a similar call somewhere in the past. or not. I also don’t think TN ever got a bad spot of the forward progress all night.

BUT that fumble was close enough, it “could” have been called in, as it was on the field. So give them credit for getting that right. (or “our way”, as I am sure the TN fans think we got). That’s was a tough thing to reverse I am sure. It was the game for all practical purposes.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 7th, 2013
8:32 am

AltamahaDawg _ I disagree – Tick Hounds got every break, every call but one and played against a decimated offense but still couldn’t win.

They are simply not that good.