With six of the 12 regular season games in the books, it’s time to assess where Mark Richt’s 2013 Bulldogs stand at the midpoint of the season. Here’s what grades I’d assign if I were issuing their midterm report card …
Actually, this should be two grades — pre-injuries and post-injuries. Before the Knoxville Massacre, I’d have given Mike Bobo’s offense an A-, with only the inconsistency on the offensive line keeping the Dawgs from an A or even A+. At that point, you were pretty sure Georgia could score almost at will on any defense in the country. But losing a bunch of playmakers has hurt, especially on third down and in the red zone. Plus, the OL is faltering again, which tends to make Aaron Murray nervous. And that usually means turnovers. So the post-injuries grade is a solid B.
Breaking this grade down, I’d give the defensive line a B; the pass rush has improved tremendously since the light came on for the Rev. Ray Drew, and Georgia’s run defense has been pretty good. Linebacker play has been average, I’d say, which is a C. But the secondary, especially with Tray Matthews sidelined, has been flat-out terrible, especially the play of the safeties, earning an F. They’ve made third down a cross-your-fingers moment most of the time. In fact, with that bunch out on the field it’s hard to feel confident going up against any SEC offense.
Special teams: C+
Before the season, I never would have thought placekicking would have turned out to the strong suit of Georgia’s much-maligned special teams play so far, but Patrick Beless did stellar work filling for Marshall Morgan in the first two games (with a bad snap resulting in the only breakdown) and since his return Morgan has made some clutch (and long) field goals and been perfect on PATs. So I give that portion of the game an A-. Kickoffs have been less consistent, with not enough touchbacks and that one long return for a touchdown against North Texas. And Georgia hasn’t really developed its own return threat. That portion of the game merits a C. And then there’s the punting game. Before his concussion, Collin Barber was booming the ball, but bad snaps (again!) and poor protection produced a couple of blocks that gave points to the other side. Punt coverage has been pretty good, but Georgia still doesn’t really try to return punts. So overall punting gets a D, pulling down the average.
Every Georgia fan’s former favorite whipping boy, Bobo, leads the pack at midterm with an A-. He still goes conservative with those third-down runs up the middle a little too often for my liking, but when he had his full arsenal of players he was calling games about as well as anybody in the country. I especially like that he’s rolled Murray out of the pocket more, and his mix of the short and long passing game is much better than in past seasons. Highly paid defensive coordinator Todd Grantham gets a D+. I realize he’s been hampered by inexperienced personnel, especially in the secondary, but his second-half adjustments have been lacking (I don’t buy his argument that he doesn’t want to stress out his green players with a change in schemes), the younger players have shown little progress, and his attitude (it’s never his fault) is poor. Since special teams coaching is a piecemeal effort at Georgia, overall I’d mark that as an incomplete, but the punting situation definitely merits a barely passing grade. And as head coach I’d give Richt a solid B so far this season. His team came out only a little flat for its only cupcake game so far and has played well against its highest ranked opponents.
Overall grade: B-
Numerically, this actually would come out closer to a C+, but I give the Dogs extra credit for wins over South Carolina and LSU.
That’s how I’d grade Georgia at this point. What do you think? Am I too hard on Grantham and his troops? Should the special teams grade be even lower? Feel free to offer your own report cards …
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg