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

Jan Kemp

October 12th, 2013
6:11 pm

SBC Pastor

October 12th, 2013
6:23 pm

Tough game, injuries are killing what had been a promising season. The Defense is not what we need it to be, but we knew it was going to our weakness before the season began.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 12th, 2013
6:30 pm

Hopefully NCDawg and ARdawg can give us a positive spin on todays loss after they drinking their kool-aid tonight

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 12th, 2013
6:31 pm

4Dawgs

October 12th, 2013
6:33 pm

Tired of excuses. Defense can’t stop anyone when it matters. They always look in disarray. With everything that went bad today, I think the play that changed the game for good was when our defense had them third and long, crowd was loud, and we have to call timeout. Sorry, Grantham needs to go. Defense is no better today than it was week one, they look confused, they do not create turnovers, why did it take three and half games for our best cornerback (Shaq) to get on the field……….

superdawg

October 12th, 2013
6:38 pm

Defense is not going to get any better this year or next year or after that. Players clearly don”t
have a clue. That is because Todd Grantham doe not either. Seven players drafted last year
and all made an NFL roster. They couldn’t stop anyone either. Just shows the caliber of
defensive coaching that UGA has.

Hairy Dawg

October 12th, 2013
6:40 pm

Why do we keep players that come up stinky on team. We recruits them and then they dont make plays when it counts. The good news is we still win East by winnning out. Mizzou now injured and they not go multiple tough games with lucky wins from turnovers. We table run and then beat Bammer in Dome when we healthy and that probably getting to BCS champs.

But we got to get good players in and healthy to unload whooping can on Gaytors that have Judas Muschump coach. We just got need men yhat expose talents to man up and one that stinky not expose talent is casts out as wicked to bring up Hargraves men during roster manegement. Buck up Dawgs we still can win with beating rest of schedule in table running. It hurts tonite but we be OK once we get healths and beat Gaytors for Muschump firing.

Dawg89

October 12th, 2013
6:41 pm

CTG’s scheme is broken. You can’t give up 40 points a game and expect to win. He can make up all the excuses he wants about youth, but the secondary is clueless halfway through the season.

Hairy Dawg

October 12th, 2013
6:42 pm

That not yhat. Stupid cell phones.

wallydawg

October 12th, 2013
6:44 pm

Agree with your comments Bill. OL looked horrible today. Don’t know what their problem was. And I just can’t understand why 6 games into the season our secondary looks so clueless. Proud of the 3rd qtr comeback though… but not enough. Tip your hat to Mizzou. They came to play and they beat us. I think we have to admit that we are barely a top 20 team. And no injury excuses. We’ve got talent, but our defense is such a liability. I’ve never seen such poor tackling. But always root for our dawgs! Let’s flush this one and get ready for Vandy!

All Saints

October 12th, 2013
6:50 pm

It’s bad enough the dwag players are flunking their remedial reading courses, but now they’re also flunking football.

Eric C.

October 12th, 2013
6:54 pm

First of all, keeping some perspective…the Dawgs are in great position to win the SEC Eastern Division and return to Atlanta. I know the NC title hopes are all but down the drain, but we have to support this team in these tough times. As was the case the past two years, our hopes seem to be just barely burning embers, but don’t lose the faith yet…this team can still do some great things! Don’t lose the faith!

CHDawg

October 12th, 2013
6:57 pm

Very accurate, Bill. My biggest disappointment was the O line. It was their game to win and they just couldn’t get the job done. On the one TD where Murray was blindsided by Gates’ and Lynch’s man, the D back fell down and our receiver would have easily scored if he caught the ball! That one total miss by the O line would have made the game 34-33, simply by us getting the TD instead of them. Throw in Conley’s uncharacteristic drop on the two point play and we could have won with everything else the same, as terrible as we played, and even with the other turnovers! I saw one safety *jogging* over to help a corner in the end zone on the double throw TD for MO! I can’t believe one of our safeties would do that, and that he doesn’t know how to play center field. Bobo called a number of long throws and our line was unable to give Murray time. They aren’t hurt, and they really are better than they played. Our receivers played very poorly, with some of our best guys dropping easy passes. Just a couple of blocks and a couple of catches on balls that hit our guys in the hands and we would have won. Go Dawgs. Finish strong and stop taking plays off! Watch film of Jones stripping balls out because he hustled and didn’t take plays off if you need to see why!! He is also in the NFL now.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 12th, 2013
6:57 pm

Lets see now

who was it saying that Grantham was the better d-coordinator because he got one stop against LSU and that Chavis was no guru

Eric C.

October 12th, 2013
6:58 pm

Bill, you said… (though letting Mizzou’s backup QB run for a first down was pretty inexcusable)

This may have been the play of the game. If they stop that dude on that play, the Dawgs get the ball back down 28-26. Huge play.

The turnovers were killer…4-0. Two of the turnovers in the first half were both difference makers. Either one of those turnovers could cost a game by themselves.

CHDawg

October 12th, 2013
7:01 pm

BTW, I didn’t see our D line taking plays off. I did see LBs and DBs loafing. I will let the coaches figure out if the O line was loafing, or Miss just beat them.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 12th, 2013
7:04 pm

O-line once again couldnt hardly block

The new special teams coach still has no idea how to get the special teams fixed

and

The defense still is abysmal and has been since Van Gorder left

and

lack of consistency as usual

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 12th, 2013
7:09 pm

Oh and once again another 2 loss season as predicted

Hairy Dawg

October 12th, 2013
7:09 pm

If they was loafrs why they still on team. Call some real mens up from Hargraves and cut loose stinkys boys that loafing. This is Big Man S.E.C. football. We got no reason to keeping stinky loafers on team and wasting schollies. Cut them and free up schollies for recruits that got talent as players that play with SE.C. speed with no loafing.

stendec

October 12th, 2013
7:12 pm

Hi Bill.

Why delay inevitable?

Please sign Mark Richt and Mike Bobo to lifetime contracts!

Meaningless eight or nine win seasons all football fans in Athens deserve.

Season which should have ended in Knoxville, Tennessee now officially over.

I now yield the floor for all excuses for indefensible home defeat from apologists…

Bulldog Born & Bred

October 12th, 2013
7:16 pm

we need to clean house or be satisfied with the capital one bowl as our goal every year

Tbell magnolia, tx

October 12th, 2013
7:20 pm

Defense is terrible, however to Dawgs fans he should get coach of the year. Expect more loses.

Coach Mark Richt

October 12th, 2013
7:21 pm

Who cares who won the game. The question is how good did I look? Do I look tan? Did my hair get messed up? Will I get to do another Ford commercial?

Mayo

October 12th, 2013
7:24 pm

UGA’s chance at the National Beauty Contest gone now. Though going to be h3ll, SECCG still in reach given that Mizzou still has a tough row to hoe without their starting QB (did I just say “Mizzou?”).

Rafe Hollister

October 12th, 2013
7:24 pm

You can blame the ineffective offense on the injuries, but I think that is wrong. The rb’s played well, and the drops were by receivers that would have been in there anyway, Lynch, Rome, and Conley. The offensive line has no injuries that I am aware of, and they flat out stunk. Murray did not throw the ball well today, too many off target.

What can you say about the D, terrible, and they haven’t produced one turnover in a critical situation all season. Hard to win with this D. ST is a joke, remember how we used to get a ST score on a kick return or punt return every game or two. Now, we settle for the ST not screwing up.

Team is a real disappointment, no matter where you put the blame.

ARdawg

October 12th, 2013
7:28 pm

Flat
It was a football game. The premise of the game and the competition is, someone is going to lose. This time we did. We were out played. There’s no positive spin to put on it. We lost, I can live with it. The sun will rise tomorrow.

You on the other hand should quit trying to live your life vicariously through a football team and get over yourself. So you predicted 2 losses. Are you proud of yourself? It certainly doesn’t make you any smarter. Predict a few more if that gets your jollies off which it obviously does

Hairy Dawg

October 12th, 2013
7:31 pm

Blaming lies squarely on Adams and now new Prez. They keep putting pointy head rules on team and then we stuck with some stinky players that ends up special teams. Without no stupid pointy head rules we could call up real men that hungry from Hargraves to fill slots all way to ST instead of stuck with loafres.

ARdawg

October 12th, 2013
7:33 pm

Enter your comments here

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 12th, 2013
7:38 pm

ARdawg

“live my life vicariously through a football team”

if I were that type of person I would be on here predicting National championships every pre-season living in the land of delusion

sorry you continue to live Delusionalville Ga

SC Dog fan

October 12th, 2013
7:46 pm

Yeah, I sure thought we’d see a bit of progress in the defense as they got some experience. I expected Clemson, SC and LSU to be the learning curve games, but the curve is pretty much still at the bottom of the graph with this bunch. We are squarely back in Martinez territory nowadays. The offense still has punch if the OL can give Murray some time, but that didn’t happen tonight very often.

Dawgedout

October 12th, 2013
7:59 pm

How many counter plays to the left side of the line can be successful before there is an adjustment? The ends and linebackers are incapable of controlling the corners. The linebackers are a step slow. The defensive backs look like they don’t have a clue. We take two timeouts out of punt formations. Herrera roughed the QB when we had a third and 15. The slow developing everybody in the stadium knew what was about to happen TD thrown by the WR finds the safety having a cup of coffee at midfield…
This is a poorly coached football team and these players are no more top ten material,than flying to the moon. Tennessee should have beat us and we will be lucky to get by Vandy. Florida will run all over our defense and their defense will shut UGA down.
I hear Shreveport is lovely around the holidays. We won’t even slink into Orlando this year!

dawgfan

October 12th, 2013
8:03 pm

No SEC title in 8 years. No National Title in 33 years.

dawgfan

October 12th, 2013
8:06 pm

Can a homer please tell me that Richt is a championship caliber coach? I really need a good laugh right now.

bubba4dawgs

October 12th, 2013
8:07 pm

You summed it up well, Bill! The Oline didn’t play up to par allowing too many sacks on Murray otherwise, I believe they may have pulled it out in spite of the ineptness of the defense. Something has got to give on that though. Kolton Houston, you should go stick your head in a bucket, allowing Sam to get around you the way he did. Klowney who?

Ft. Worth Dawg

October 12th, 2013
8:07 pm

UNORGANIZED! UNDISCIPLINED!
I love you coach, but as Head coach, this is a reflection of your ability to be Head Coach. GET CRACKIN’!
On the bright side, there were no delay of game penalties! Maybe we’re progressing! Ha!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 12th, 2013
8:11 pm

dawgfan

I was told before the season started that we would win a national title in the next 4 years are you saying this isnt going to happen

dawgfan

October 12th, 2013
8:20 pm

We’ve been waiting for a national title from Richt for 12 years now. If it hasn’t happened by now I think it’s pretty safe to say it won’t.

Hairy Dawg

October 12th, 2013
8:22 pm

Coach Richt has won East champs more than any other coach in SEC.

Good news I heard is Mich and Stanford lost. So Dawgs win out by table running and we still in hunt for BCS.

LADawg

October 12th, 2013
8:24 pm

Overcoming injuries is part of the game. Overcoming Grantham’s defense puts the Dawgs season on the brink of disaster every week! I feel bad for the defensive players because they are not being put into position to be successful by a DC who is known more for childish sideline and end-of-game antics rather than maximizing the potential of talented players and game planning.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 12th, 2013
8:29 pm

dawgfan

what do you suggest I should do to win the National Title

1. Drink kool-aid
2. Buy an XBOX and play Georgia on there
3. well Im out of suggestions you have any

Top Recruit

October 12th, 2013
8:38 pm

That was a bad game by nearly every player and coach. Can not stretch the width of the field with an outside running game. Mizzou sits in zone coverage knowing dawgs will have to run inside and their LBs could stretch it. And Murray threw a pic into it. Mizzou gets good play out of their 4 man front. Offsides on line up, play as close to LOS as possible and twist by, ask Lynch and Murray. Forced AM to hold ball with zone coverage and not deep threat and no outside speed running game. Never created anough running lanes across the wideth of the field, frosh backs do not have enougth outside speed. Why does OC not put an H back or FB closer to LOS on outside plays, Mizzou DE gave Murray a rought time due to injuries re deep threat and outsdie running.
On D 3rd down is pits because the D does not have a playmaker and they do not play with speed
maybe tired, but this team looked very tired to me and very flat. Knew Mizzou could take game if they started quick and they did, so did their coaches. Out coached today in all 3 phases of the game.
AD should ask CMR and staff what their plans are for special teams. Keep making the same mistackes with same results. Somewhere that has to stop. Game started to turn when Green field ball in endzone and decided to come out…to around 15, 3 and out, short punt, short field, and Mizzou was off and running. Those hidden 10 yards turned out to be big.

dawgfan

October 12th, 2013
8:39 pm

Can’t you already hear the party line for next year?

“Mason is a gamer. Murray just didn’t have the “it” factor. The defense is more experienced. Gurley and Marshall are healthy. Championship here we come…”

Print out this post and compare it to the Kool Aid crap you’ll be reading in August, 2014. You’ll think I’m freaking Nostradamus. How freaking predictable is this getting?

Olive Branch Dawg

October 12th, 2013
8:42 pm

Never in my 54 years have I seen 2 timeouts blown on punt special teams in one game, NEVER! Since the Auburn game in CMR first year, time management has been his problem. We will always be “just another good team” as long as he is our coach. Get use to it, I have.

short memories

October 12th, 2013
8:43 pm

When you have to use a timeout with 9:33 left in the FIRST QUARTER because your punt return team is unorganized you need a special teams coach. When you show a four man front for the entire first quarter you are going to be easily predictable. Show me any quarter where Alabama runs a four man front on every play. Richt has no clock management skills (again) and is a proud and stubborn man for not hiring a special teams coach. He would rather continue the misery rather than admit he is wrong. We are LAST in the SEC in defense and are the joke of the league. I am sure many of you will continue to drink the kool-aid which is why change will not happen. Another season of mediocrity. We are lucky Tennessee fumbled the ball going into the endzones.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 12th, 2013
8:44 pm

Shaking My Head

October 12th, 2013
8:47 pm

The answer is simple – GRANTHAM MUST GO! He has no more excuses. Opposing teams routinely score 30 or more at a disgusting rate! It is past time to find a talented defensive coordinator. So disappointed.

J Heisman

October 12th, 2013
8:50 pm

no worries, just a few more games before the season is over, then with a clean slate, time to start talking about the MNC again!

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

October 12th, 2013
8:51 pm

Remember back in 2011 when you thought Grantham should be the head coach. Where’s NC Dawg to blame this loss on the offense.

This and your overall lack of class is why the Penal Colony sucks at sports. 33 years.

dawgfan

October 12th, 2013
8:53 pm

Willie Martinez and Todd Grantham don’t get hired unless Richt hires them. Our defense has been a total joke for 6 straight years now. At some point you have to question Richt.

Ft. Worth Dawg

October 12th, 2013
8:54 pm

Hey Olive Branch Dawg, great comment! Now you can go back to bed. Ha!