A weakened Georgia offense no longer can make up for the defense’s lousy play

Aaron Murray fumbles as he's sacked by a Missouri defender. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Aaron Murray fumbles as he's sacked by a Missouri defender. (Jason Getz / AJC)

The delicate balancing act that had Georgia still in the national Top 10 almost midway through the season despite having the SEC’s worst defense and unreliable special teams was basically built on the premise that all of that didn’t matter if the Bulldogs’ prodigious offense could outscore everyone they played.

But the injuries to key playmakers suffered against LSU and Tennessee pulled the foundation away from that precarious house of cards and the results were seen Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens: Missouri 41, Georgia 26.

Actually, having trailed by 18 points at halftime, the scrappy Dogs fought their way back into the game in the third quarter as the defense, which in the second quarter hadn’t looked capable of stopping their own grandmothers, held the uptempo Mizzou offense scoreless. The Dogs pulled within 2 points before giving up a score on a badly defended halfback pass.

Still, you thought maybe Georgia could pull it out. But Aaron Murray, known lately for his late-game heroics in Bulldog wins, ran out of cardiac comebacks, thanks chiefly to the offensive line, which had its worst game since Clemson and allowed him to be harried and hurried all day by the Tigers’ talented pass rush. The feel-good story of Kolton Houston didn’t feel so good Saturday, as he was repeatedly pushed backward and let his man get to Murray. It wasn’t just Houston, though. The OL in general played poorly.

So it was that when Georgia got the ball back with 4:25 on the clock and Murray had a chance to lead his team down the field to possibly tie the game at 34 (assuming a successful two-point play), the pressured QB instead threw an interception on the first play of the drive. (The officials, who were inconsistent throughout the game, failed to call an obvious roughing the passer penalty on the Tigers, despite having kept a Missouri drive alive earlier by calling roughing on a less blatant infraction.)

Anyway, Mizzou got the ball at the Dogs’ 33-yard line and put the game out of reach with another score shortly after that.

It was Murray’s second turnover to result in points for the Tigers — he lost the ball while being sacked in that horrible second quarter (Georgia’s worst in many moons) and Mizzou’s Michael Sam scooped it up and returned it 21 yards for a score.

Another turnover — due in part to poor blocking, young tailback Brendan Douglas fumbled at Missouri’s 6-yard line as the Dogs were threatening — cost Georgia a touchdown of its own.

So Georgia may have outgained Missouri in the overall stats, but the Dogs’ four turnovers loomed large. The fourth turnover on another Murray interception late in the game as Georgia was racing the clock to try and make it respectable with a garbage-time score didn’t really matter, but three of the Dogs’ four turnovers provided a 21-point swing in the game, and not too many teams can overcome that.

Other contributing factors: The offense, missing the likes of big playmakers Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley, had trouble sustaining drives thanks to an inconsistent running game (despite freshmen Douglas and J.J. Green’s stout efforts) and too many dropped passes, not all of them by inexperienced receivers suddenly getting playing time. Also, the punting game continued to be a shambles, with consistently low snaps resulting in short kicks and two timeouts wasted because Georgia’s special-teams-coaching-by-committee operation couldn’t manage to get the right personnel on the field. Too many untimely penalties didn’t help, either.

Mizzou's L'Damian Washington badly beats Georgia's Damian Swann on a scoring play. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Mizzou's L'Damian Washington badly beats Georgia's Damian Swann on a scoring play. (Jason Getz / AJC)

But without a doubt the bulk of the blame for Georgia’s loss to Mizzou falls on the defense, specifically the young secondary. While the defensive front, especially Ray Drew, played decently most of the time (though letting Mizzou’s backup QB run for a first down was pretty inexcusable), the cornerbacks were badly outmatched by the likes of L’Damian Washington (who had seven catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns) and the clueless safeties frequently were in the wrong place at the wrong time, providing no backup. It also didn’t help that Georgia’s defenders were giving Mizzou receivers about a 10-yard cushion much of the time.

Yes, you can expect mistakes when you have to start a bunch of freshmen in the secondary, but the fact that Georgia’s defensive backs not only have shown no progress in recent games, but seem to have regressed, is really disturbing. And it’s not just the young D-backs. Veteran Damian Swann had another rough game.

I don’t know what the answer is, but Todd Grantham and his staff better come up with something soon. Otherwise, until the offense gets back to full strength just about every game on the schedule, save for Appalachian State, looks losable.

Feel free to share your own views of Saturday’s Georgia-Missouri 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

252 comments Add your comment

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 12th, 2013
8:54 pm

dawgfan

here’s something to think about

next year we will have an inexperienced QB
then the next year 2015 we will have another inexperienced QB

add the inability to recruit and coach a decent O-line
add the inability to field a defense that is any good
add the continued special teams issues

So what do you think

should I make plans to get a hotel for a national title game appearance
or do you think I should have a tall glass of kool-aid and day dream about playing for a title

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

October 12th, 2013
8:54 pm

I really think you could be a good basketball school…
This football is obviously not your thing.
The state of Honey Boo Boo does not have the class to field a championship football team.

Ft. Worth Dawg

October 12th, 2013
9:03 pm

Hey Tide, are their no newspapers in Alabama that you can spend your time on? Or only community papers that aren’t on line?

Hairy Dawg

October 12th, 2013
9:06 pm

What the Bammers doing on here. This is a Dawg blog on a Dawg paper in a state we own the running. Just remember you cant spell Christ without Richts and that dirty Saban is close to Satan.

Thebigwally

October 12th, 2013
9:06 pm

I’m just wondering, how could Mark Richt defend Grantham at this point? I mean what evidence is there that he can be a good defensive coordinator at this point? At least Donnan saw the writing on the wall that Kevin Ramsey was incompetent and got rid of him. How long before Richt realizes that Grantham is incompetent?

Thebigwally

October 12th, 2013
9:08 pm

There’s not enough people in Alabama who can read and write, so they have to go on other teams blogs.

JRW7

October 12th, 2013
9:15 pm

Awful defense! Where do we go from here?

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
9:19 pm

What does Grantham do for us that any of a hundred DCs couldn’t do?

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
9:21 pm

James Franklin is done for the season.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
9:26 pm

Our secondary is abysmal.

dawgfan

October 12th, 2013
9:29 pm

Tough break for Franklin. He’s a great player.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
9:33 pm

It was a team loss. We made big mistakes in all phases of the game, including game management by the coaches. That being said, we still could have had another dramatic win, with a couple of breaks near the end.

7576DAWG

October 12th, 2013
9:36 pm

I would love to know why would Herrera even touch the QB when it was obvious that the had thrown the ball a good 2 or even 3 seconds before Herrera got to the QB. A huge , critical penalty.

DGD

October 12th, 2013
9:38 pm

Hats off to Swan, he should get an award for being burned so much, or better yet at least checking into a burn center…….

Hairy Dawg

October 12th, 2013
9:39 pm

With Franklin out Dawgs chances to win East got even more likey especially with Mizzou having hard schedules left. Now we goning on a table running to take East and that put us in Dome with chance to BCS champs.

baby d

October 12th, 2013
9:39 pm

The d is young, but the secondary is lost….swan is lost…… the O has lost to much man power…….it is what it is…..

dawgfan

October 12th, 2013
9:40 pm

The average high in Tampa in January is 70 degrees. Shorts might work.

Just thought I’d throw that out there for those who like to get a good jump on their packing.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
9:41 pm

The BCS championship is gone but the SEC is not out of reach if we get Gurley and Bennett back soon and if our D improves (unlikely)

7576DAWG

October 12th, 2013
9:42 pm

I don’t care what coach has to go but McGarity need’s to insist that Richt hire a top Special teams coach. McGarity is the only one who will be able to break Richt’s stubborn attitude and convey how important special teams play is.We need to find a punter for the 2014 recruiting class.

dawgfan

October 12th, 2013
9:43 pm

Did that look like an SEC championship caliber team to you today? If so, what cave have you been living in for the past 7 years?

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
9:52 pm

Ok, the Murray/Grantham “Lost Years” are almost over.

0 SEC Championships.

Murray will FINALLY be done after this year, and Grantham will be FIRED.

Like our chances with Hutson Mason from here out.

Got to get him some reps, since this season’s done.

give Murray a nice spot on the bench after coughing up 3 turnovers AGAIN.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
9:54 pm

Dawgfan, Yes Mizzou looked like an SEC Championship caliber team today.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
9:54 pm

P.S Coach Richt,

Should have gone with Zach Mettenberger.

What a stupid decision to go 0-4 SEC Championships with Murray.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
9:55 pm

Another season where Murray chokes when the team needed him the most.

Oh well, same ole same ole.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
9:59 pm

Losses coming up:
#3 Vanderbilt
#4 Florida
#5 Auburn
#6 GTECH

Murray/Grantham go out with a 7-5 wimper, matching their 6-6 2010 horror film.

Roswell Dawg

October 12th, 2013
10:00 pm

Bill,

Glad to see that you’ve finally come around to our thinking. Thanks for telling it like it is. Our Defense and Special Teams are the laughing stock of the SEC. Totally embarassed by their play. The Grantham experiment is a total disaster and should be ended as soon as possible.
A third rate DL coach becomes our DC? Two time outs because we can’t get lined up for a punt! Are you kidding me!! CMR is completely dellusional.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:01 pm

If UGA loses to Vandy, UF, Aub, and GT, and the Bowl game

will Murray era go down as the lowest 4 year period in Richt’s 26 year career?

Afraid so.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
10:01 pm

Johnny bingo is not very bright. He doesn’t know ZM has not won any SEC championships either.

Hairy Dawg

October 12th, 2013
10:02 pm

BCS not goning anywhere. We has one bad game but still in position to keep ownership East with Franklin out now. Plus we got easy part of schedule now with bad teams. We get healthy by Dome and beat Bammer and then SEC winning Dawgs plays for BCS against one of them chump teams likes Ohio State or Oregon that always looses down stretch anyway.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:02 pm

Zach on his way to the SEC Championship. Another win.

Murray on his way to another 6-6 season. Another loss.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:05 pm

Fans, losing is the best thing for UGA right now.

Why? Richt is too dumb otherwise to:
1) Hire a special teams coach (the punter averaged 31 yards a punt)
2) Hire a real defensive head coach (Mizzou scored 41 points)
3) Bench Aaron Murray (yet anther multiple turnover game and fumble sack td)

Lose 3 more games, and all these will be fixed.

Lose 4 more, and Richt might be gone.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
10:05 pm

JB, ZM has never even played in the SECCG.

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
10:08 pm

AM beat ZM head to head.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:08 pm

Zach HAS AN 85 WIN %

Murray is now at 64%

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:09 pm

Murray won’t even finish in the top 10 all time at UGA in win %.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:10 pm

wITH ALL THESE INJURIES to top offensive players, NOW THE TRUTH COMES OUT.

#1 Murray was not why we won the games in 2013.
#2 Grantham can’t coach.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:12 pm

defense’F
Special teams D
Offense F

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
10:12 pm

JB wouldn’t know his A from a hole in the wall.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:14 pm

Todd Grantham perennial quote:
“We played good in the ____half” (depends on which half the defense allows less points)

Bad news for Grantham.

There are two halves. Nobody cares how the defense played in one half.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:17 pm

richt perennial quote:
“Murray played his best game. The 3 turnovers were not his fault. Lynch missed a block on the sack fumble td. The receiver ran the wrong route on one int, and the defender just made a great play on the 3rd INT. Murray played real hard. Don’t fault Murray. I never do.”

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
10:18 pm

JB’s analysis – F
JB’s intelligence – F
JB’s perspective – F

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:20 pm

Start playing the underclassmen and benching the Seniors, this season is done.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:22 pm

DVR’s analysis:

Defense allowing 41 points- A+
Offense committing 4 turnovers- A+
Punter averaging 31 yards a kick? A+

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:24 pm

Mark May and Lou Holtz Quote at halftime:

Can UGA comeback and win?

“No way”.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:26 pm

If Richt starts getting underclassmen reps:
12-0 in 2014.

If Richt does’t:
6-7 in 2013
8-5 in 2014.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 12th, 2013
10:27 pm

To win this game I said

No turnovers – had 3

No dumb penalties – had 3 that gave Mizz-who? 1st downs three times

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:28 pm

mizzou beat UGA with their starting QB and best DB on the bench

DawgVoiceofReason

October 12th, 2013
10:30 pm

Can JB come back and make an intelligent point. “No way” say Holtz and May.

JohnnyBingo

October 12th, 2013
10:32 pm

How can a 5th year Senior QB commit 3 turnovers against Mizzou?

Unreal.

RHall55

October 12th, 2013
10:32 pm

There may be another loss loomimg around the corner…I feel UGA may have a losing season sometimes in the next 4 years….too many holes in the cupboard…..under-recruiting over the years as K Butler stated today (fault R Garner and CMR allowing that)….poor OL play that costs games (fault W Friend and CMR allowing that)…..decreased backup play by WR corp (fault T Ball w/ all the decommits @ that position and CMR allowing that)….and ST’s….and etc…and etc…if you want to win a NC in the next so many years….you have to make some painful changes…that will happen in the next 4 years!!!