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

Dawg Fud

October 17th, 2013
1:31 pm

You are generous with a D+ for Grantham. Get that guy out of Athens pronto.

Making choke signs at opposing players, scuffling with opposing coaches.

He is not who I want coaching nor representing my alma mater.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 17th, 2013
1:33 pm

Flat Tire – O.K. if you insist:

#1 Van Gorder (for Flat Tire)
#2 Bud Foster (for BS35 (aka Milk Dud)
#3 Dick Bumpas / DC @ TCU for 10 years (has been evaluated and accepted as a candidate)

*** should age be a consideration as Bumpas is 60+ and Bud Foster is also ?

The list is open for additions at this time and evaluations shall continue

GR

October 17th, 2013
1:36 pm

OFFENSE- A, including Bobo. No one is perfect.Maybe A- for him.Lots of talent=lots of pts. Little talent=few pts. Fur yrs all said ” throw more screens”. The clem screen was near disaster. Sort qb throwing to short receiver over big people. Thats why we don’t. Murray has scrambled many times to keep play alive and produce- 2 td s vs LSU.BIGGEST PROBLEM -BLOCKING. MURRAY SACKED BY SOMEONE DOUBLE TEAMED, OR ACTUALLY NO TEAMED.BRING BACK COWBOY AND MOONPIE.

Special teams- D b/c of place kicking. Everything else bad to awful.

Defense= F-, at best. heard on radio- worst pts p gm- 1990— 26+, this year=over 32.Time out on 3rd long last Saturday was not acceptable fror a good hs team.or the 4th and 22 against lsu.SATURDAY WE WERE FINISHED OFF BY A REDSHIRT FRESH, WHO HAD THROWN 3 PASSES IN CAREER. AND THE EXCUSE IS WE ARE YOUNG. HE IS AN OLD RESHIRT FRESH? FIRST PLAY – THINK HE MIGHT RUN THE BALL AND NOT PASS? DUH DUH DUH. 6-8 YDS AND CRITICAL FIRST DOWN. I go back to the glory days of Erk Russel. Under absolutely no circumstance would a team succeed on 3rd and especially 4th like they do now.if you blitz the middle is open, and it is every single time. you gotta prevent the receiver from cutting across unimpeded at least once in a while.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 17th, 2013
1:42 pm

Correction – Bud Foster born July 1959 – 54+

dawgfan

October 17th, 2013
1:48 pm

the defense is last in most statistical categories in the SEC – Why is that not an F. Numberically, I would grade the D a solid 36, which is the average points the D has given up per game this year excluding the N. Texas Game.

Also special teams gets an F for giving up four td’s in 6 games.

7576DAWG

October 17th, 2013
1:59 pm

Flo-Ri-Duh
Ignorance of something is not embarrassing. Until you learn the answers to your questions , you are ignorant of the answer I have not read one place that John’s foot is still an issue which means you are speculating that his foot is his problem. It would be logical to think that his foot could still be an issue and now that you bring it up , you are probably right that it could keep him from playing at 100% but it would not explain why he or the Offensive Line has been inconsistent or why John is back starting against Vanderbilt. Playing any sport at a high level is as much mental as physical and either one can affect your performance.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 17th, 2013
1:59 pm

Bill King said best

“the younger players have shown little progress, and his attitude (it’s never his fault) is poor.”

how many times have we been hearing the player execution excuse; its been around even before Grantham showed up

Funny how you dont here Saban using that excuse; he blames himself for not having the team ready to play

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 17th, 2013
2:04 pm

dawgfan

come on now……

you have to at least give some extra credit points to the Defense and special teams for keeping one outstanding North Texas team under 30

elevenoftwelve

October 17th, 2013
2:09 pm

you people are such bandwagon jumpers. What would have the grades been after the LSU game? We got decimated at Tennessee with injuries and now are a mediocre team. End of story. The team that beat USC and LSU wins the east running away. The team we have now with multiple walkons on both sides of the ball isn’t that great.

Assuming Gurley comes back “healthy” before florida and maybe Bennett we can still win out. Will it be enough isn’t certain.

Roswell Dawg

October 17th, 2013
2:12 pm

Bill,

I like your grades, but think you were a little easy on Grantham and Richt. Gratham gets a solid D for not playing younger players in previous years to get them experience and for recruiting (and not teaching) players that don’t understand the basics of pass defense. Richt gets a solid C for once again not having his team prepared at the beginning of the season, not recognizing (or admitting) that he made a tremendous blunder in hiring Grantham, and being so pig headed about hiring a ST coordinator. Looking forward to at least two more losses and a lot of embarassing D and ST play.

UGA Insider

October 17th, 2013
2:58 pm

Is anyone else worried about this week’s game in Vandy but me??? You guys remember the last time we were there we nearly lost. Butler made a shoe-string tackle to save the game.

And yes it was our horrible ST’s again.

cbeyer

October 17th, 2013
3:01 pm

Grantham’s grade of D+ is a gift to say the least. To really evaluate Grantham, on needs to review the results last season. With seven NFL players (after the draft) including two first rounders, Grantham’s defense was terrible against the run. Not just against Alabama but anyone they played. Yes, he does have a lot of freshmen this year but they look dazed and confused in passing situations and like the 2012 version cannot stop anyones run game. Grantham is the achilles heel of this team. GA will need 40 points to win against Vanderbuilt because they are going to give up at least 35.

Bulldawg35

October 17th, 2013
3:01 pm

Espn sure does love Clemson…..and they love to make fun of UGA!

Thanks mike ridge!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 17th, 2013
3:12 pm

Its good to know we hired a special teams coach since that Vandy game

BigDawg

October 17th, 2013
3:37 pm

Still to early to give grades to any facet other than the man in charge for being stubborn and refusing to hire a special teams coach and those 2 timeouts due to special teams not having enough players on the field is inexcusable in the 6th game of the season. He is also sporadic on enthusiasm, he doesn’t get after refs on obvious bad calls and it shows in his team’s play.

Overall I give the Dawgs a D because they have under achieved as IMHO they should be 6-0 right now not 4-2 and needing others to beat Missouri to have a chance at playing for the SEC Championship.

Go Dawgs

Bulldawg35

October 17th, 2013
3:52 pm

Insider…

You know I’m worried about the game…..I think vandy will upset us! Richt will just say….” It’s just one game”…..like it’s okay to lose 3 games as long as it’s not 3 games in a row. It won’t bother Richt at all to lose this game as long gas he can drive around that nice expensive truck,,,then life is just peachy.

ARdawg

October 17th, 2013
3:53 pm

Braindead35

Take a valium there guy. Really, it’s just football

LuckyDawg

October 17th, 2013
3:58 pm

“Assuming Gurley comes back “healthy” before florida and maybe Bennett we can still win out. Will it be enough isn’t certain.”

Will it be enough? Enough for WHAT?

If Georgia manages to win the next 6 games it will definitely be enough to make this a better season than it’s probably going to be. Right now, I’ll be pleased to get out of Nashville with a W and no embarrassing post-game fights or player suspensions.

Bulldawg35

October 17th, 2013
4:03 pm

Ardawg,,

It’s more than just a game in the south….li guess you wouldn’t know that living in the west or whatever Arkansas is located. Haha

Bulldawg35

October 17th, 2013
4:14 pm

I knew one of those first year sec coaches would have a good year….auburn is going to pound us into the ground….that won’t bother Richt to lose to a first year coach as long as he keeps collecting university check! Haha.

Bulldawg35

October 17th, 2013
4:18 pm

Dabo sure does have a lot of positive energy and passion for his program. Richt’s energy is just gone like dust in the wind.

Bulldawg35

October 17th, 2013
4:33 pm

Richt looks like he

Bulldawg35

October 17th, 2013
4:34 pm

Is about to fall asleep at his pressers…..no energy at all….I bet he sleeps the whole day in his office.

dawgfan

October 17th, 2013
4:55 pm

Richt had an edge earlier in his head coaching career that he has since lost. He was so confident and in control. Now he looks like he’s about to throw up during every game. Granted, the fact that the SEC is a lot better overall than it was 10 year ago may have something to do with that. Back then it was us and LSU and not much to write home about after that. It was a lot easier than it is now. I just don’t think Richt has the fortitude to take us to the top. It sucks because we’re honestly stuck with this guy for years and years to come. The Kool Aiders worship the man.

For the foreseeable future I predict we’ll break the record for most Outback Bowl appearances within a 10 year period.

NCDawg

October 17th, 2013
6:29 pm

Okay I don’t like doing this but, seeing as some people have brain lock on the special teams and thinking it is absolutely necessary to have a dedicated special teams coach, here is an article that directly addresses the issue. It’s from the Athens Banner-Herald online. Take a gander. Maybe some people will finally pop the vapor lock on this:
http://dogbytesonline.com/revisiting-where-the-numbers-stand-of-special-teams-coordinators-77044/

Minnesota Dawg

October 17th, 2013
6:34 pm

Bill I think the offense is an A-. If they had won the Missouri game you would have given them that. Any team should be able to win with 28 or more points. The Defense has put a lot of pressure on that offense yet they still score even when they don’t have their starters!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 17th, 2013
7:18 pm

NCDawg

Thanks for the article and thanks for also further proving everyone right about complaining about the special team issue.

In the article it stated…….

“In the SEC, only Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Missouri don’t have a special teams coordinator.”

I guess LSU; Alabama; FL and Auburn think special teams is an important part of winning National Championships and have designated someone for that area of the game

dawgfan

October 17th, 2013
7:34 pm

You’re being unreasonable Flat. Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Florida can win a national championship but we can’t. We’re just lowly little Georgia.

That’s what these self-described super fans will tell you when pressed on the issue. They don’t seem like that great of fans to me.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 17th, 2013
7:46 pm

dawgfan

you’re right; I apologize; Im turning over a new leaf and pre-ordering the 2013 10 Win National Championship t-shirt

Just to let you know if you go ahead and order before the end of the month you will receive the highly acclaimed video; “Living off 1980″

Owen Scott, III

October 17th, 2013
7:50 pm

Wins are the grade that counts. Most of us would be pretty happy if the Dawgs had managed to pull out the MIssouri game. I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one feeling optimistic when we pulled to within two and went for two. However, the D let us down again and this one hurt. I can’t fault the inexperienced running backs who didn’t block effectively on pass protection. We could have overcome that and the dropped passes and even the fumble in the red zone if the D had held in the fourth quarter.

NCDawg

October 17th, 2013
7:51 pm

Okay here it goes :
Defense – Incomplete. They haven’t turned in all of their work. The secondary has looked tentative and unfortunately that is the ONE trait that you cannot exhibit in the defensive backfield. Swann is trying to cover everybody and covering no one. They do not attack the ball and until they do they will struggle to cover anyone. Play man to man… blitz the hell out of everyone and see what happens.

Offense – A-. The inconsistent play of the O-line is the only detractor. I am weighing the loss of personnel as part of this grade. Murray struggled without his weapons. He’ll do better this week having repped with the new guys more and getting a better feel for them.

I said after the Clemson game that I would withhold judgement at that time due to the youth of the defense. I also said at that time that I expected to see noticeable improvement each game and that by the UF game we should be decent (not perfect) and if we didn’t see that progress that McGarity needed to start putting together a short list of candidates to replace Grantham.

Well, it’s crunch time. I really got excited about how the D played during the 3rd quarter against Mizzou… then they had 1 thing go wrong and they tanked. The defense needs to play like that a whole game ( not complete shutdown but also showing the ability to bounce back from set backs ) THIS game. I’ll take aggressive mistakes. I can stomach getting burned because the DB went for the ball and just missed. But you can’t win playing not to lose.

That said… those traits have to come forward in the next couple of weeks or I WILL call for Grantham’s head. I think just over 1/2 a season is enough seasoning to have your defense compete a majority of the time. Right now I don’t see that very often on 3rd and 4th down. Yeah the other guy is going to make a play here and there but not a huge majority of the time the way it’s been.

If the defense doesn’t start attacking and acting like they EXPECT to win in the next 2 games then it’s time to try somebody else.

Sometimes a coach just can’t get it done for anumber of reasons and not all of them are because he is not a competent coach. Bobby Cox tanked his first go with the Braves. Sometimes a change is needed. Hopefully we don’t have to go that far. And yes, I still have hope that the defense can make those strides and probably ONLY because of that spurt in the 3rd quarter last week.

4Dawgs

October 17th, 2013
8:00 pm

Grantham = F Tired of excuses. I continue to ask is our defense any better today than week one? No! Can’t win in the SEC without a Defense.

short memories

October 17th, 2013
8:09 pm

Grantham is a lost cause full of excuses. Richt is stubborn and in denial as usual. Can you believe how many years we have talked about the need for a special teams coach. But Richt does not want to be confused with the facts. He is confused enough just trying to keep up with the game clock.

Dawg89

October 17th, 2013
8:10 pm

You don’t have to be Erk Russell to see that the defense is horrible. Grantham is the DC so he gets an F.

Gman 84

October 17th, 2013
8:16 pm

Grantham is a Gasbag. All talk-no results. Wuth an NFL roster he can manage an average defense. With anything else, it’s the keystone cops. Nobody knows what to do and there are catastrophic breakdowns on almost every 3rd down.

The first half against Mizzou was right up there with the WVU Sugar Bowl or the Bama blackout disaster. The defense plays pretty well in the 3rd quarter and just as it seemed we were going to make an improbable comeback, they implode again coughing up 14 points to the BACKUP QB. The flea-flicker TD looked like it happened in slow motion and it still worked! Don’t even get me started about UT.

Give the Gasbag an F only because there is nothing lower.

Sam

October 17th, 2013
9:10 pm

If Grathams coaching looks alot like Martinez.we may ought to take a look at the head coach.it starts at the top and works down.

git

October 17th, 2013
9:29 pm

Offense A-
Defense C-
Special Teams D+
Coaching B-
Attitude A
Effort A
Competitiveness A
Entertainment Value A+

ShowMeYurTD's

October 17th, 2013
10:19 pm

Our no national championship dry spell has to end soon; until then all UGA coaches get an big fat F! Players work their ars off and most play their hearts out game in and game out; they are screaming to be coached up. Losing to teams that we should, hands down win is getting old. Watch out for Vandy, Kentucky and Auburn; season could get long, real long coming down the home stretch. Go dawgs!

1969 Graduate

October 17th, 2013
10:56 pm

We could easily lose to Vandy, Kentucky, Auburn, NATS. Not saying we’ll lose all of them, but, if we don’t play a lot better, we’ll lose several more, I fear.

I’m not sure what you guys are talking about though. We don’t have a defensive coordinator! Oops, what I meant was we’d be better off without the one we have.

Players are playing with good heart and effort some of the time.

Hint for CMR: recruit some really great offensive lineman. Everything else follows…

Go, Georgia!

Dirty Dawg

October 17th, 2013
11:42 pm

Three plays and we’re undefeated…and two others and we’re lost four…grades be damned, it’s a crap shoot and it’s time we got back on the ‘pass line’.

FLO Wider

October 18th, 2013
12:17 am

Trolls…Dawgs win at Vandy and you nerds keep complaining.

FLO Wider

October 18th, 2013
12:23 am

NCDawg..u proved your ignorance in 1st paragraph.

Boykin

October 18th, 2013
12:38 am

Been awhile but very concerned that our fans are so angry at our team. NCDawg, our defensive backs have been very agressive! You must be working during games and thats ok. Prob is Grunthum whos afraid to play man to man….Swann will give up big play even though Shaq and Tray have the sides and Opponent always targets Swann.

Boykin

October 18th, 2013
12:43 am

OH, NC…CMR would replace Grunthum…Not the AC..All of us expect more smarts from you! LMAO!

Boykin

October 18th, 2013
12:44 am

AD, I mean tom say.

[...] Grading the coaches 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. [...]

NoAxeToGrind

October 18th, 2013
5:16 am

Make whatevr excuses you want. It all begins and ends with the head coach.

NCDawg

October 18th, 2013
6:15 am

Sorry folks but your nuts if you think those guys are playing aggressively. The DBs hang off the ball and allow WRs to get get inside leverage on them. Then they don’t play the ball, they play the receiver.

The safeties do bite too often but when they have a play on the ball they seem to be a day late and a dollars short getting there.

It’s easy to say someone is ignorant when you don’t bother to say what the person is ignorant about. If guys have trouble with assignments, zone is definitely not the answer. That leaves you with man coverage. Nice try.

McGarity makes the personnel decisions along with CMR. He would be looking at candidates while CMR continues to coach. Then AFTER the season he would do interviews assuming they don’t just drop the hammer mid season. Again nice try.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 18th, 2013
6:24 am

So you are saying its the players fault

AltamahaDawg

October 18th, 2013
7:30 am

There is an interesting article on another site talking about the Special team coordinator title. Only a handful of team in the country have a dedicated special teams ONLY coach. The vast majority of teams designate a position coach to coordinate the practices, meeting etc. Exactly what we use to do with Fabris. So all this talk of a special teams coach is utter nonsense, because that’s not what (everybody you envy) does either. My problem with strategy is #1, what position coach do you want to fire today, to do that, and WHO can possible be the expert on: Kicking, blocking, catching, running, snapping………all at the same time. Very different skills in ST. And we don’t have more time to practice that if we did hire that fictional guy.

So the discussion is really about designating a coordinator. I’d argue that’s an excuse, or a Pollyanna theory that somehow that would make everything alright. (I’d argue also that UGA actually HAS had some of the better ST over the year in general, but the few miscues are the things we see right now, so the big picture is not as newsworthy)

What is interesting is the admission from Richt:

” I can easily say John Lilly is the special teams coordinator because he’s the one that does coordinate who has certain meeting times, who has certain practice times and he makes sure we’re all on the same page,”

Would that make any difference to do that? NO. This argument for a “special teams coach” is silly IMO. Most folks aren’t even making the argument they think they are.