If the cream rose to the top Saturday in the SEC, what is Georgia?

Remember when this team had some swagger way back ... three weeks ago? (Associated Press)

Remember when this team had some swagger way back ... three weeks ago? (Associated Press)

A few more thoughts and observations in the wake of Georgia’s demoralizing loss to Vandy …

Wow, what a crazy Saturday in SEC football.

Missouri over Florida might not really have been that big a surprise, considering the surge the former has made and the weakened state of the latter. And because of how close the Vols came to knocking off Georgia, their win over the Gamecocks wasn’t that big a shocker, especially with Connor Shaw going out injured (again). But despite the offensive uptick Gus Malzahn has given Auburn, the Tigers winning that defenseless shootout with the Aggies was unexpected (and attributable, at least in part, to Johnny Autograph’s banged-up shoulder). And I know Ole Miss has done well in recruiting, but knocking off the Mad Hatter’s Bayou Bengals was another big surprise, even with LSU’s less than imposing defense.

Still, the booby prize has to go to Georgia: Even with all their injuries, the Dogs still had to get awfully creative in finding new and progressively more unlikely ways to engineer a loss to the Commodores.

The best line I heard about it was from my brother Tim, who said that if it was Cream-Rises-to-the-Top Saturday, then the Dawgs must be the clabber in the churn.

I’ll pause while the younger fans look that up …

Meanwhile, Mark Richt correctly noted that “when you’re winning everybody wants to say how good you are. And when you start losing everybody’s going to have an opinion on that, too.”

Opinions, I’ve got ’em, just like you do. But, also like you, I’m sure, the way Saturday’s loss to Vandy transpired raised a whole lot of questions.

Chief among them would be directed to Mike Bobo: Dude, what were you thinking?

OK, admittedly Bobo’s arsenal has been drastically reduced by a catastrophic rash of injuries since that euphoric day of the LSU win (can that be only three weeks ago?) when the Dawgs’ offense seemed unstoppable.

But until the loss of Chris Conley on the last play against the Dores, Bobo was still directing the same offensive lineup that executed his brilliantly called final regulation time drive of the Tennessee game when Aaron Murray brought Georgia racing down the field (as he’s done so many times before) to tie it up and send it to overtime.

Against Vandy, Aaron Murray seemed uncomfortable in the pocket and fixated on his No. 1 receiver. (Associated Press)

Against Vandy, Aaron Murray seemed uncomfortable in the pocket and fixated on his No. 1 receiver. (Associated Press)

So what happened in Nashville? Why the ultra conservative playcalling with longshot runs up the middle with a freshman back on third down and an almost complete abandonment of the downfield passing game?

Afterward, Bobo, noting that “we just struggled to do anything with any consistency all day long,” concluded that “execution was the main thing,” adding that “a couple third downs there we had some guys [open] and were late getting the ball to them in the zone, and their zone pressures. We just didn’t execute third-down calls.”

However, most of those incomplete balls weren’t designed to stretch the field and loosen up the Vandy defense, which was pressuring Murray heavily with its blitzes and playing a tight zone unhindered by Georgia’s lack of a killer running game. Too often what Murray was throwing were desperation short darts, often thrown into the turf to avoid a sack.

Are we supposed to believe that Conley and Rantavious Wooten and Reggie Davis simply couldn’t get open against Vandy’s previously less-than-imposing secondary? Said Murray: “They didn’t do anything [surprising defensively], we just didn’t make the plays.”

OK, I’m sure part of it was a result of this being another game where the play of Georgia’s veteran but still not very good offensive line had Murray feeling uncomfortable in the pocket and fixating on his now No. 1 receiver, Conley — which Vandy recognized. It also no doubt made it necessary for the tight ends to be used more in pass protection rather than as receivers.

Still, why didn’t Bobo roll Murray out more (he’s much more of a playmaker when he does) and launch a few downfield strikes?

I wish I knew. …

The ultimate irony of the Damian Swann fumble of a punt reception Saturday was that he was back there, instead of Reggie Davis who had earlier made a decent return of a Vandy punt, because Georgia was in what it calls “punt safe” coverage. That’s a philosophy that came to the fore a couple of seasons ago after the Dogs repeatedly kept getting burned on fake punts. (Special team miscues are nothing new with Richt teams.) So, instead of setting up a return, you keep most of your regular defenders in, and in that case Swann is the one designated to make the fair catch.

I understand the strategy, but as Richt and the Bulldogs noted frequently after Saturday’s game, the execution was lacking. Let’s just hope the next time Georgia goes into “punt safe,” Swann isn’t the one whose hands they’re depending on to make the catch. …

Punter Collin Barber tries in vain to field yet another errant snap. (Associated Press)

Punter Collin Barber tries in vain to field yet another errant snap. (Associated Press)

On the other side of the punting game, I asked rhetorically last week whether there was anyone on the Georgia team who can consistently deliver a decent long snap to the punter. I can’t recall a season when as many snaps have been too low or too high. Obviously, nothing done in the past week fixed the problem.

Here’s a thought: There’s an off week coming up. Maybe an open team competition to see whether long-snapping is a hidden talent of someone else on the team, besides the two we currently have doing it, is in order. …

As for the new NCAA targeting rule, which was ineptly enforced in a heavyhanded manner Saturday by the SEC officiating crew and replay official in Nashville (as opposed to some other SEC games being played elsewhere), the bottom line is this:

The original intent of the rule was to prevent defenders from launching themselves helmet first into the heads of vulnerable (or “defenseless,” as they call it) players. I’m sure part of the motivation was player welfare, but a bigger part was nervousness over possible future litigation involving concussions, as the NFL is seeing. And what makes the NFL nervous makes the NCAA nervous. This was an attempt to send a message to players and more importantly play courtroom CYA.

The resulting rule, however was hurriedly enacted, not very well thought out, and was poorly written. Having the 15-yard penalty still apply even if the replay official concludes that it wasn’t targeting (meaning the player can stay in the game) makes no sense at all.

Richt seems to believe that particular element of the rule will be revisited after the season, and I’m sure there will be some discussion about revising it.

Unfortunately, I’m not at all confident that what will come out of those discussions will be any easier to enforce or understand. We are talking about the NCAA, after all …

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539 comments Add your comment

HotDawg

October 21st, 2013
2:22 am

We survived most of the game after the terrible call on Ray Drew.
We could not survive the penalty after the terrible call on Ramik Wilson.
Game was over at that moment.
And it was, a very, very late flag to boot.

HotDawg

October 21st, 2013
2:33 am

Auburn jumped from 24 to 11 in AP….that’s nuts.
Maybe they’ll be another top 10 team we beat by the time we play them. Been that crazy a year.
And Missouri was barely in the top 25 when we played them a little over a week ago. Now they’re in the top 5 ! That is meteoric and insane. Although, it makes losing to them not as bad as some people made it to be.

WAlterego

October 21st, 2013
5:31 am

Why is anyone surprised? We might have the youngest defense in the SEC. Major injuries. Yes, richt coaches soft and our line play is weak, but we were never THAT good this year and the difference in schedule vs the past yrs makes comparison so off. Just sayin’.

Wayne

October 21st, 2013
5:32 am

Let me start out by stating what I always state at the beginning and for the last 13 years, UGA will never attend or win a NCG with Mark Richt as head coach. Okay, now again we find ourselves limping back home after a humiliating experience. Yes, the refs were trying to give Vandy the game, UGA just beat them to it. Every year it seems I can call the games before they happen; because Georgia is so predictable. Predictable in their play calling, predictable in their schemes, predictable in the way they will play. For all of the talent, all of the hype, and all of the money, this is the best UGA can do? I always said that Richt’s success was first and foremost with the players gleaned by his predecessor. Since then it has been a total disaster. Occasionally Richt will give a small glimpse of what a head coach should be, but as soon as he does he realizes it and shuts down. As for the players I don’t really know ( none of us do) as to whether it is them or the way they are coached, but they definitely aren’t what they’ve been made out to be. I didn’t care for Murray in year one, and I knew he would be mediocre at best. And when is the last time we had any tailback that could last maybe three games without a season ending hangnail. There is no toughness with this team, And lets just say that the defense is a slap in the face of the outstanding and proud tradition of Georgia. Until someone has the (uhm, STONES) to make a full and complete sweep of the offices responsible for this, we can continue to see the same thing year and year out. What a pity!!!

NoAxeToGrind

October 21st, 2013
5:37 am

The problem is that there is no cream among the coaching staff. Richt simply just does not have what it takes to bring UGA football to the highest level, coaching or administratively. Let him stay another 13 years. People will be talking about the same old problems and the Homers will still be offering the same old excuses. Remember, Dooley won a nationa championship during his 16th season. Does anyone expect Richt to??? PS: That article Seth Emerson wrote was one of the most assinine articles I have ever read.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
6:14 am

Time for McGarity to put up or shut up. He talked a big game when he came here about championships an expectations. He’s held just about every other coach accountable for it so far, let’s see if he does the same with golden boy Richt.

Spike

October 21st, 2013
6:21 am

Bench Swann. Please.

JB

October 21st, 2013
6:24 am

JB

October 21st, 2013
6:27 am

McGarity has the youth and injury bug speech all ready for you boys. Nothing to see here.

Bear B

October 21st, 2013
6:27 am

Stop with all the injury excuses, any of the top level SEC teams would have defeated Vandy even with the injuries. Just admit it, that the Georgia program even with all the talent is at BEST mediocre..AT BEST! Georgia will NEVER win a national championship under Richt, only 2nd place nice guy awards. What a joke of a program.

Roll Tide!

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
6:36 am

That’s what I’m afraid of JB. And now that Richt’s job is on the line he might actually start coaching and having these guys playing to their potential. Seems like we’ve seen that before doesn’t it? Same ole same ole. Been there done that.

If McGarity had any stones whatsoever he’d stand up to these Kool Aiders and do what’s best for Georgia football.

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
6:38 am

We should hire Murray Poole and Greg Poole as OC and DC…..why not? We could save money and they would do just as good as job as our coaches are doing now….Jeff danzler can take Richts job. Haha!

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
6:40 am

We let a backup qb for vandy come in and score 17 unanswered points! Pathetic! Fire Grantham now!

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
6:44 am

The last time we had a good defense was 2007

The last time we had a good o- line was 2005..

Mark Richt just can’t put a complete on the field. Personally I’m sick of it. Let’s start over with an younger energetic coach!

JB

October 21st, 2013
7:14 am

Jeremy Pruitt, DC at FSU.
Dad was successful HS coach. He played at Bama. Coached under Saban. Bama had lock down corners during his time at Bama. Fisher hires him as DC for FSU. Great game plan and execution against Clemson. 40 years young. Great genes. Smart, hard nosed guy. What are we waiting for. Is Richt on Medication?

JB

October 21st, 2013
7:18 am

IMO. what success Richt has had at UGA is more about pure raw talent than coaching. He does recruit pretty well. They are NOT coached up. We know it, our foes know it, the world knows it. Last years big class only saw TWO of the top 20 rated players in this State land in Athens. Just bad luck?

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
7:20 am

Sounds like an intriguing candidate. You know we’d have to go after Kirby first though and I think he’d take it.

The Kool Aiders have now started a propaganda campaign claiming that firing Richt would “set us back” years. Set us back from what? Losing to Vandy’s 2nd string QB?

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
7:24 am

“execution was the main thing,”

Dont you just love how the coaching staff never takes any blame but puts the blame back on the players

And we wonder why this coaching staff can never coach a team that makes it to the SEC championship on its own without default or coaching an undefeated or 1 loss season;

JB

October 21st, 2013
7:24 am

I would be ALL for giving Kirby HIS shot at UGA. Nowhere to go but up. He at least knows what it looks like, smells like, prepares like, etc. The increase in energy, desire, S&C program would increase greatly. I also think some of these blue of the bluest chip guys leaving the state would give us a second look.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
7:25 am

The only year that he’s ever won the East outright was 2002. All other years we’ve had to rely on other teams to do our dirty work for us. The Kool Aiders love to make the excuse that the chips just haven’t fallen his way but it certainly seems like to me the chips have fallen his way plenty.

JB

October 21st, 2013
7:25 am

What am I thinking. McGarity will probably extend his contract this year. I’m serious.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
7:28 am

dawgfan

he still lost to FL in 2002

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
7:31 am

I know but they went like 7-5 that year and everybody else in the SEC laid the freaking wood to them except us. We should have known that there were serious problems with Richt when he was getting outcoached by Ron Zook.

I blame myself.

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
7:37 am

The scary thing is that we could be headed for the worst team in the sec this year…..heck I’m not so sure e could beat Kentucky or missy state……how sad!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
7:40 am

dawgfan

I started having doubts during 2005 Sugar Bowl

Thats where you started to see the flop games where werent even prepared to play at all

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
7:40 am

Richt just doesn’t have it anymore……look how bad the special teams have gotten? That falls directly on he golden boy!

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
7:43 am

Notable games…where Richt didn’t have the team prepared..

2005- West Virginia

2007 – Tennessee

2010- Colorado and UCF

2011 Boise state.

2012.. Sc

2013..vandy

JB

October 21st, 2013
7:44 am

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
7:52 am

Richt always tells his players to give back to the community….I guess the special teams just miss understood him…because they like giving back to the other team! Haha!

Dawg Fud

October 21st, 2013
7:54 am

In all fairness, Grantham’s D was put in some pretty crappy situations due to special teams blunders and three consecutive 3-and-out’s by the offense.

I saw signs of life from the D that I had not seen in…well, it has been a while, let’s say that.

The announcers were not biased. Stop whining….you sound like a juvenile and too stupid to focus on the real issue — we have serious problems in Athens and the least of which is CBS coverage.

JB

October 21st, 2013
7:56 am

We ALL know nothing will change in Athens. The President, the AD, Athletic Board are ALL happy with Richt. The bank account is full, He runs a clean program, wins 9 or 10 games a year and plays in a warm bowl for them to attend in first class ALL paid for. Life is good. You boys demanding championships need to find you another team LOL. It’s true and you know it.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
7:56 am

A Cal-Berkeley professor knows squat about football and you are a joke.

Murray is 6′1″ – not 5′11″

This is a good argument that special team screw ups cost UGA all three games. I must really suck to think that you played and worked hard enough on defense & offense to win but the special teams cost you the game because they could not carry out the simplest execution like hiking the ball.

shep

October 21st, 2013
7:56 am

Too bad we do not have Garner to blame!

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
7:58 am

Believe it or not my moment came during (not after) last year’s SECCG. I just had this epiphany that its never going to happen under Richt. Never. Alabama was just tougher than us and wanted it more. They got down 11 and didn’t blink. You think our soft team could withstand that kind of assault? Richt sounded like somebody had died after we lost to Vandy. We’re soft. We get a couple of key injuries and everyone is moping around feeling sorry for themselves. Oh no that targeting penalty was so unfair!!!! Boofreakinghoo. It’s a joke and I’m ashamed of what this program has become. We beat the teams we’re supposed to beat (usually) and get our Lilly little azzes kicked by the teams that are just as big and strong as we are.

It’s not about X’s and O’s or a special teams coach or moving a guy over here or defending the wheel route or any crap like that. We’re just soft and have no resolve. We only play to our potential when things are going our way. We’re weak between the ears and it all starts with a head coach who can’t handle a reporter asking him about facts after yet another loss to a top team.

True story.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
7:59 am

Garner is still to blame – it will take three more years tie erase the damage he did to the defense/

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
8:01 am

“”1980″”

33 years later

5 yards short

guess we have another 33 years since we are now living on “”5 yards short”" like we have done with 1980

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
8:01 am

dawgfan – TROLL alert TROLL alert TROLL alert……blah blah blah blah blah blah

more like techfan.

JB

October 21st, 2013
8:05 am

Tell how bad it’s gotten. Go to the UGA message boards. Those hard core guys have given up. They poke fun at the program. They know the score. It’s the big money talking in Athens. 8, 9 wins is fine for the powers to be……and unless Richt quits, He’s what ya got. Those guys don’t even care anymore. Kind of sad.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
8:05 am

Vandy didn’t win – UGA gave them the game.

fumbled punt – 7 points
errant hike – 7 points
targeting fouls – 7 points (refs must have been on Vandy’s pay roll – couldn’t suck that bad could they)

oakisland

October 21st, 2013
8:07 am

I have given up on Coach Richt and his entire non coaching staff. The offensive line is terrible and has been for years. Grantham is a joke. Bobo is to predictable and easy to plan and scheme for. Special teams are like the keystones kops. For gosh sakes, please make a change in our inept staff. I saw the LSU coach take all the blame for their loss to Ole Miss. I’ve never heard Richt call out his ” sorry overpaid can’t coachemup staff”. If we have to start over so be it, but something is amiss in Athens and I don’t see it getting any better. If Richt is kept, it should be demanded that he get a new defense coordinator, offensive line coach, secondary coach and someone who knows something about special teams and new offensive coordinator.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
8:10 am

Really feel for the players that are sacrificing for the team on offense and defense only to let the special teams lose the game….. somebody needs to take control of the special teams. Saban uses what he terms as a “special assistant” to coach his special teams. That is how he gets around the limit put on the number of coaches you can hire! The NCAA has let him get away with it so far. Why not hire a “special assistant” – someone from the NFL to coach special teams.

JB

October 21st, 2013
8:10 am

oakisland. well said. Go to the UGA site, get’s Mcgarity’s email and send that please.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
8:13 am

With all the injuries the UGA / Fla game may be 0-0 in the 4th quarter.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
8:20 am

The good news is that this loss, only hurts for some of us. Those of you that wrote off the season that first night, are just in the normal mode this week.

LuckyDawg

October 21st, 2013
8:22 am

I’m trying to decide between skim milk or a soy based substitute.

It’s pretty thin and watery, whatever it is.

ARdawg

October 21st, 2013
8:33 am

Altamaha
True dat. But, I gotta tell ya, it hurts a lot even though I saw it coming

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
8:36 am

Aaron Murray is not a top 5 qb….I think he is the 20th best qb in the nation,……without all of our weapons he is about 50th best.

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
8:38 am

Flo- ri- duh…

I doubt it bro……fla will have their season high in points against us….no doubt about that. If you don’t believe me u haven’t been watching the games like u say u do.

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
8:40 am

Dawgfan @ 7:58…

I agree 100%

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
8:42 am

It does hurt. Even knowing or understanding or expecting, doesn’t make it easy. If somebody had read off this starting lineup to you in August, what would you have guessed the record would be? 8-4, 9-3? I said last week, I thought we were over-rated at #15, and we would lose again, maybe twice IF we didn’t get some players back. (I never thought we would lose even more).