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

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 18th, 2013
9:20 am

“They act like we’re Kentucky or somebody”

They actually do hence why 10 wins and a Capital One bowl is literally just as good as winning the national title

[...] I wrote in Thursday’s midseason report card, where I gave Grantham a D+, I realize he’s been hampered by inexperienced personnel this season, [...]

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 18th, 2013
9:22 am

Justin Wilcox – submitted by Flat Tire as DC candidate

past DC at Boise State and current DC at University of Washington (1st year)

age 36 – under consideration as a candidate to be added to list

Bulldawg35

October 18th, 2013
9:26 am

Richt should call Dabo and ask him” how did y’all get better than us…when we gave been recruiting better?

Bulldawg35

October 18th, 2013
9:26 am

Bulldawg35

October 18th, 2013
9:28 am

I think we should bring back Marion swamp fox Campbell as our defense….I mean he was DC in 1994.. The man could really save us some money!!!! Woo hoo!!

ARdawg

October 18th, 2013
10:21 am

Braindead35

No little buddy, even in the South it is still just football. Find something to enrich your life a bit. Badmitton, horseshoes or checkers

dawgfan

October 18th, 2013
11:01 am

I think badminton, horseshoes or checkers might be better suited for the Kool Aid crowd. College football is a rough business. People are mean because they actually expect results in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Being a swell guy isn’t enough. Its just nasty and seems to be a bit too much for the Kool Aiders. Maybe head over to the old folks home for some shuffle board.

LuckyDawg

October 18th, 2013
7:22 pm

dawgfan, I resemble that comment.