Midseason report card: Injuries, defense, special teams pull down grade

The 2013 Georgia Bulldogs get a mixed report at midterm. (Jason Getz / AJC)

The 2013 Georgia Bulldogs get a mixed report at midterm. (Jason Getz / AJC)

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 …

Offense: B+

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.

Not a happy teacher-student conference between safety Quincy Mauger and Todd Grantham. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Not a happy teacher-student conference between safety Quincy Mauger and Todd Grantham. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Defense: D+

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.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo tops the coaching grades. (Associated Press)

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo tops the coaching grades. (Associated Press)

Coaching: C+

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 …

Go Dogs!

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

209 comments Add your comment

SBC Pastor

October 17th, 2013
9:34 am

SBC Pastor

October 17th, 2013
9:35 am

I think you are being generous with Grantham’s score, personally.

Bright Idea

October 17th, 2013
9:37 am

The proof is in the pudding (games) but I can’t help but wonder about how Georgia practices. It too often looks like they don’t.

ARdawg

October 17th, 2013
9:39 am

Bill
Grading offense, defense special teams would certainly need sub categories. Grantham gets an F. The OL a C-, the defensive front a C+ and the secondary an F. Bobo a C+ and Richt a C+

Daniel

October 17th, 2013
9:42 am

Grantham had tons of talent last year and the previous year for that matter that all UNDERPERFORMED!!!! So I do not buy the whole well he has freshmen excuse!!!!

ARdawg

October 17th, 2013
9:43 am

We had mild week over week defensive improvement going into the TN game then, the wheels fell off the cart. Complete regression in the TN and the Mizzou game. When the offense was hampered and couldn’t put impressive points on the board the defense couldn’t or wouldn’t step up to the plate. Grantham F

dawggirl

October 17th, 2013
9:51 am

I think you were more than fair. Grantham should have at least a D-, if not an F. I did like how you broke down the grades, as there are some positives that should be taken into consideration.

cb

October 17th, 2013
9:52 am

Pretty accurate. I love seeing Grantham getting his well deserved criticism. He is very sub-par and only got such good grades from Dawg fans early on because he was firey. Dude is just not an elite coach. He is much more Willie Martinez then Van Gorder. And those that mentioned him in the same breath as Erk should be beaten with soap filled pillow cases.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 17th, 2013
9:54 am

ARdawg

I see you havent had your morning kool-aid with such a negative post at 9:39 am

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 17th, 2013
9:56 am

Bill King

Good article hard to argue on anything you stated

Dawg4Life

October 17th, 2013
10:12 am

How can Ellis Johnson have Auburn much improved in year one? It’s called coaching and I don’t think the Dawgs have a very good one. One has to wonder what other DC’s would have done with UGA’s defensive talent in the last few years? So dissappointing.

Bulldawg35

October 17th, 2013
10:12 am

Gee…this season has really aged Richt he looks about 65 years old……… Oh well at least he has the ford f-150…. That’s the best thing he will ever get out of his career at UGA is that truck….surly won’t be no more championships…haha

Bulldawg35

October 17th, 2013
10:14 am

Defense F-

Special teams- F-

Who cares about the rest….that’s enough to bring the rest of the team down.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 17th, 2013
10:15 am

Dawg4Life

Please dont bring factual negativity to these blogs; NCDawg will claim you are not a fan but a fraud

Bremen Dawg

October 17th, 2013
10:16 am

Grantham gets a F and special teams gets a F. I think you gave them too high of a grade.

Dawg_Mike

October 17th, 2013
10:17 am

Grantham gets an F because he is failing to coach these guys up. Case in point: where has Jenkins gone sine the 4th down leap against LSU ? Why cant CTG find something that compliments his style? or Floyd’s for that matter?

F

Dawg_Mike

October 17th, 2013
10:21 am

Special Teams are a disgrace to the G. CMR does not seem to care, either, so they get an F and His grade changes from B to C . I only wish there was a lower grade than F.

Chris

October 17th, 2013
10:23 am

Actually, you were not hard enough on Grantham. He should get an F- which should translate to fired, or at the very least a tremendous pay cut, and maybe a proclamation by Richt that he only has one more year to get this defense up to par. I can care less how young the defense is. With good coaching, and the talent we have, there shouldn’t be that much of a drop off. He’s in year four, and his defense is worse than any Willie Martinez defense ever was, and this is coming from a guy that wanted Martinez fired after year one. Paying a defensive coordinator $875,000.00 when his defense is giving up 33 points per game is mind shattering.

Chris

October 17th, 2013
10:25 am

….and why is Mark Richt doing Ford F-150 commercials and UGA is doing Chevrolet commercials? Richt can’t even get on the same page with Russ? Something’s wrong there.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 17th, 2013
10:26 am

Chris

Do you think another pay raise is needed to get this defense looking better

HotDawg

October 17th, 2013
10:30 am

Love the Dawgs, win or lose. Unconditional love is an A+

HotDawg

October 17th, 2013
10:32 am

The future’s so bright, I’ve gotta wear shades.

Lindsey

October 17th, 2013
10:37 am

A C+?? I have to disagree with that grade, I totally agree there are many issues that the Bulldogs need to improve on but giving an average grade to a team that has played and won against USC, LSU, TN and 3 points away from beating Clemson IN Clemson seems way too low!! This team has tons of talent and heart, I think sometimes we forget what its like to be on the other side. UGA has enjoyed a great record with CMR, we really don’t loose that much. Look around at TN and Auburn, if their teams had our schedule and record would they say they are average…no way!! The injury’s have really hurt us, we all saw that Saturday but this team and Aaron Murray are way above average in my eyes, GO DAWGS!!! Beat Vandy!! A all the way!

HotDawg

October 17th, 2013
10:38 am

Bill, How did you grade Russ, err, UGA IX?
Seilor’s need to get us an all white english bulldog again, that’s no so sluggish as Russ.

HotDawg

October 17th, 2013
10:44 am

We need an uga like the one that tried to bite the hell out of that awbun player.
come on sonny, where’s all white uga x ?

Jack Bull

October 17th, 2013
10:51 am

I sure do wish we could find an Ellis Johnson, Bud Black or Chavis..Career defensive guru’s who know their place(I know Johnson tried the HC thing, but obviously that didn’t work out for him), and are simply good at what they do…and they seem to find a home and stay there for a long time.
i still wished we had hired Vic Koenig myself..
Grades are about right..glad to see you admit when Muray gets ‘nervous’, he’s a turnover machine…

Bulldog Born & Bred

October 17th, 2013
10:52 am

Granthem definitely F Richt hasn’t had a defense since Van Gorder left shouldn’t we see if he,s interested in coming back

ARdawg

October 17th, 2013
10:54 am

Flat
Call it kool aid or anything you wish. Makes me not a bit of difference. I call’em like I see’em. I give credit where credit is due and and I call slackers what they are. I do not however criticize the individual players. I will not hesitate calling out a unit.

corkylikesbeer

October 17th, 2013
10:57 am

i am ready for peach bowl vs va tech

Silly Bloggers

October 17th, 2013
11:04 am

I haven’t commented in six-months and I see no comments by Buckeye or GTBob…did they finally get bored and run off? Bill, I typically avoid the comments section, but love the articles:

Bobo deserves an A. Occasional play-calling aside, his only real blemish has been taking too long to adjust to Clemson in the 2nd half with the short-pass. Take away Gurley, Marshall, Mitchell, Wesley-Scott, and Bennet, you would be in a world of hurt too.

Richt deserves a C. I’d give him a B+, but his stubborness on refusing to dedicate a coach to Special Teams is unforgiveable.

Grantham deserves an F. We all know why.

It is funny how the season’s change perception. I have always been lukewarm to Richt considering our talent (one of the very few valid troll points) and the aforementioned lack of Special Teams. I tended to like Bobo more than the masses and sitll do. I truly thought Grantham was the answer and I have absolutely no confidence in him whatsoever. There was a reason he was our fourth choice. I wasn’t fond of Texas firing their DC a few games into the season, but holy smokes, does anyone truly think he is going to turn things around?

Go Dawgs!

ARdawg

October 17th, 2013
11:04 am

Jack Bull
Murray has no choice but to get nervous with 4-5 Mizzou tigers in his grill all day

BrianP85

October 17th, 2013
11:06 am

Grantham doesn’t need to be given another year to see if he can make improvements. He’s already had more talent in recent years than what he’ll get back next year from this defensive group. Our players deserve better!

RedRun

October 17th, 2013
11:08 am

Aaron Murray was ranked in the SEC in interceptions:
15th in 2011
11th in 2012
12th in 2013

So I’d give the offense a D- overall because of that.

Win the turnover battle, you win the game 75%.

Alumnus, class of 71&73

October 17th, 2013
11:10 am

The record for Georgia to date and the various stats tell the story.

UGA should not be struggling so badly on D had they RECRUITED the right kids, four, three and two years ago. Kids kicked out? Our coaches RECRUITED them.

UGA is in deep trouble. I see t least two or three more ugly losses.

Murray will graduate with only empty QB stats and a couple of East titles. They are as worthless as Confederate money. See the Outback Bowl, the Liberty Bowl and Cap One Bowl.

RedRun

October 17th, 2013
11:14 am

Defense is stout at dline, lb, and db.

Dline is 3rd in SEC in sacks.
4th vs the run in SEC.

LB’s are both in the top 5 in the SEC in tackles.

DB’s 4th in sec in pass breakups.

UGA is better than Bama in sacks and tackles for loss.

Defense gets a B+

RedRun

October 17th, 2013
11:18 am

Murray rank in the SEC:
8th in accuracy
12th in interceptions
12th in 3rd down conversions
9th in accuracy on 3rd downs
14th in 4th quarter int’s
8th in 4th quarter accuracy

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

October 17th, 2013
11:19 am

Fan Knowledge of Football….F
State class…….F

Keep it classy “penile colony” with your high school lunchrooms!

Skokie Dog

October 17th, 2013
11:19 am

@ARdawg at 9:39: Wow! You and I are seeing things much the same today. I think that Richt’s C+ may be grading him on a curve, but thanks for confirming what I have been seeing with limited TV availability here.

RedRun

October 17th, 2013
11:20 am

Defense has forced 5 turnovers

Offense has lost 10 turnovers.

HotDawg

October 17th, 2013
11:21 am

Redrun is full of bs

RedRun

October 17th, 2013
11:22 am

Defense has faced 3 top 15 teams.

Offense has faced 1.

RedRun

October 17th, 2013
11:22 am

Defense faced 3 top 15 offenses, no wonder they struggled.

offense faced 1 top 15 defense, they should have scored 50 a game.

RedRun

October 17th, 2013
11:25 am

Offense is ranked 51st nationally in red zone td %.

Kicking too many field goals.

fan

October 17th, 2013
11:26 am

I sais before the season that I did not believe that Murray was good enough to beat Grantham. With injuries ,no way.

HotDawg

October 17th, 2013
11:26 am

Negative, negative, negative…….intertwined with classless comments from GA obsessed Bamards.
Snap out of it people.

Old Dawg

October 17th, 2013
11:31 am

I agree with most of your grades, Bill. Overall, the defense has been horrific and the play of the safeties is about as poor as it gets. If the free safety (I forgot who is it was) does his job and closes in on the pass like he’s supposed to, Mizzou wouldn’t have scoured on the flea-flicker.

And there are other examples of their poor play. I understand that they may be confused about the targeting rule, but what happened to just making a play to block the pass.

I understand that the DBs are young, but they’re been practicing pass break-ups since middle school and they need to get their work done!

Denny

October 17th, 2013
11:38 am

Redrun nailed it.

Bill balmes everything on the defense.

Bill never says anything negative about Aaron Murray, when you look at Murray on 3rd downs, 4th quarter, and his turnovers, easy to see why the team has lost the 2 games it has lost.

Denny

October 17th, 2013
11:40 am

PS Murray had 3 turnovers in the last game alone. 1 was a fumble that went for a td.

And Douglas fumbled on the 5 yardline too.

Blaming the defense? Really? Bill, that’s nuts.

dawgfan

October 17th, 2013
11:40 am

Mike Bobo: B+.Improved leaps and bounds over previous semesters. Another mediocre O-line prevents this from being an A.

Todd Grantham: F-. Should be expelled.

Mark Richt: C. Not performing to potential. Satisfied with less than maximum effort. Not goal oriented. A coaster.

Denny

October 17th, 2013
11:41 am

Grantham has improved defensive scoring dramatically every year.

He gets an A+