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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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

539 comments Add your comment

UGA alumnus

October 21st, 2013
8:44 am

After the UT game, I predicted that UGA would be hard pressed to win two more games. My prediction is non course. I figured App State and KY would be those two. Now? Not sure KY is in the bank. UGA is at an all-time low point, similar ton the FOUR LOSSES IN A ROW.

AM was the UGA QB in TWO of the worst records in UGA history. THAT IS HIS legacy. He has done accomplished nothing as a passing QB.

Class of 71 & 73

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
8:45 am

Even Richt said he was worried about this year when things started going bad….the players would just fold…..like dawgfan said…they are weak between the ears.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
8:48 am

Bill, you can ask rhetorically all you want, but IF our #1, and #2 long snapper are not cutting it, I doubt that putting just “anybody” on the team up there is going to be much of an upgrade.

And no they didn’t go out and recruit a better longsnapper last week. Or last year, obviously.

ARdawg

October 21st, 2013
8:49 am

After the the Mizzou loss I was thinking 8-4. But, now it’s looking like we’ll have to beat Tech to play in a bowl at 6-6. Back in August seeing this line up I would have said 7-5 with a lot of luck

UGA Insider

October 21st, 2013
8:50 am

If this has a positive side this is it….

McGarity had a long conversation with Grantham and Richt after the game and told them that UGA would be hiring a ST’s coach at years end and to deal with it I’m told.

In 30 years of watching football I have never seen a worse ST’s unit in my life. Like I said last Friday, UGA is the laughing stock of the league when it comes to ST’s.

As far as Bobo I am totally lost. Bobo has lost confidence in Murray and the Oline but still probably managed to win the last 2 games if not for ST’s miscues.

This season is lost…. The team has NO confidence on either side of the ball and the players don’t want any part of ST’s because they are so pathetic. UGA is going to finish 6-6 at best.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
8:53 am

Hopefully we have Bennett and Gurley back by Kentucky. And Matthews. ( If we had those 3 out there, we are top 5 and barking right now), so I’d expect that to suffice to beat Kentucky. ….and hopefully not lose any more ie. Conley and JHC.

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
8:54 am

I think we should change the offense and go back to a Vince Dooley type of offense…just run run run run baby!! I think we should sign a running qb and average only about 10 pass attempts a game. I mean why not? Hell all of our WR’s get injured anyway and Murray has broke all the sec records and still nothing to show for it. 2014…I think gurley, hicks, and Marshall in the backfield at the same time!

JB

October 21st, 2013
8:54 am

THE power for Change in Athens is the Athletic dept. bank account. That is what the powers worship. Affect that and see something change.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
8:55 am

Les Miles after the Ole Miss game

“This one is on me. I take it,” Miles said. “I can tell you that I did a poor job on preparing this football team for playing this game”

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
8:55 am

Which position coach is getting fired, and what position is going to go without a coach next year, insider?

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
8:56 am

UGA coaching staff on Vandy loss

Not our fault it was the players

““we just struggled to do anything with any consistency all day long,” concluded that “execution was the main thing,”

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
8:57 am

JB, lets clarify your position today.

Fire Richt?

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
8:58 am

“Which position coach is getting fired, and what position is going to go without a coach next year, insider?”

How about TE’s we hardly use them enough in games anyway; TE’s could easily be coached by the recievers coach

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
9:02 am

I think everybody knows that a long snap high IS and execution error, as is a fumble. There is only so many way to sugar coat that. The players are big boys, not 3rd graders. They don’t need codling Ask THEM if they screwed up those plays, what do you think THEY would say?

Stop pretending that the coaches are trying to throw the players under the bus , and the valiant YOU are here to protect them.

Truth is that you couldn’t care less what the coaches had to say.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
9:02 am

Oh great we’re going to hire a special teams coach. Whoopdeefreakingdoo. That’s like putting a bandaid over a freaking bullet wound. Give me a break. So maybe we beat Vandy and go to the Chicken Bowl this year if we have a ST coach. That’s certainly well worth the investment. We’ll be back on track then

What a laughable joke

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
9:04 am

I’ve wondered about that too. Oline coach and a WR coach sharing the TE, doesn’t seem that illogical to me. Till I look and see basically every program in the nation has a TE coach too. So there much be some reason that requires a separate position coach.

JB

October 21st, 2013
9:04 am

Ok, we are in year 13 of the Richt era
1. Defense last in the SEC
2. Special teams the worst maybe in college football
3. OL is poorly stocked and coached
4. New wrinkles in any phase of the game non existent
5.Back up are not ready or SEC caliber.
6. Under performing assit coach’s have a job for life
7. Game ” live adjustments” are very rare
8. Always loaded with ” excuses”
9. Game day Mgt. maybe the worst in SEC
10. Producing less with more champions every year.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
9:05 am

actually no, as every analyst and most fans have already pointed out, a special teams coach would not have prevented fumbling a punt, so no need to let that bother you.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
9:07 am

JB, just be patient. Richt needs more time.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
9:07 am

I didn’t ask for that litany, JB. I get that you are not happy.

I’m simply asking, if that your position today? Do you want The University of Georgia to Fire Richt after this season, or not?

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
9:08 am

Les Miles after the Ole Miss game

“This one is on me. I take it,” Miles said. “I can tell you that I did a poor job on preparing this football team for playing this game”

Do we ever hear the UGA coaches take blame

No

They point the blame at player execution

““we just struggled to do anything with any consistency all day long,” concluded that “execution was the main thing,”

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
9:10 am

yea, I saw that post the first time you pasted it. Reads the same.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
9:10 am

A special teams coach would also not teach our defense how to tackle, our O-line how to block, or do away with the general weak azz malaise that overcomes our team whenever the ball isn’t bouncing our way and things are fun.

RoweDawg

October 21st, 2013
9:11 am

Let’s stand by our coach. Dooley won it all in his 16th season so let’s be patient.

JB

October 21st, 2013
9:11 am

AlthamahaDawg…..Yea, I’m done. Injuries aside, that loss was on the staff. I’m thinking more the offense than the D. The O put them in some tight spots…..And Bobo could not find, or was willing to find, a way to move the ball. Special teams is an ongoing problem. Great teams make a blunder now and then, but not regularly. I’m ready for something different……But, Since I gave my tickets up years ago, I really don’t have a say. The folks putting in the big bucks do though.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
9:13 am

No, that would not be the job of a special teams coach.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
9:14 am

“yea, I saw that post the first time you pasted it. Reads the same.”

yea it does

Just like 2 or more losses every year with player execution being the excuse

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
9:15 am

One of the great mysteries of this season is “what happened to the tight ends”? Coming out of high school Lynch & Rome were rated the #1 or #2 TE in the country, respectively, in their class. Last year they showed they were very capable of making plays. This year they have disappeared – why?

JB

October 21st, 2013
9:15 am

RoweDawg, good one.

JB

October 21st, 2013
9:17 am

Would love to see a poll this morning…………….Of the season ticket holders.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
9:17 am

Yes, Richt needs more time. Maybe McGarity will have another one of those “What can I do for you?” talks with him again. That seems to have worked out well. Maybe Richt needs a more ergonomic chair in his office. Maybe the lighting isn’t right and its hampering his creativity?

Let’s stand by our coach and do whatever we need to do to make him more comfortable so he can do his job better. Somebody go get him a Capri Sun. The little guy is thirsty.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
9:21 am

“One of the great mysteries of this season is “what happened to the tight ends”?”

yea

Just like “Cutting Edge Football” thats been a mystery too

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
9:35 am

Dawgs, with Gurley, Matthews & Bennett back, should have enough to beat an “offenseless” Reptile team. Then App State & Kentucky & Tech all should be “W”’s . The game in question will be Aubarn. If Dawgs lose that game (don’t think they will) and go 8-4 Richt will be back and probably Grantham. 2014 will be Grantham’s make or break year. Bobo’ s back also. 2014 will be a pivotal year for Mark Richt and it should be a good year with a lot of starters returning. Lose more than 4 games and heads will roll after this year … but not Richt’s

*** Like it or not Richt’s about to get a Special Teams Coordinator.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
9:41 am

Football is UGA’s cash cow and McGarity’s job is to keep the cash flowing or he will be out of a job. Any more screw ups this year and Kirby Smart is on speed dial.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
9:41 am

we lose 2 or more games again next year

its not that hard of a prediction if you lay off the kool-aid

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
9:41 am

FloriDuh, sounds great. I’m really excited. I just made my hotel reservations in central Florida for New Year’s 2015 and 2016. Can’t wait.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
9:45 am

“Any more screw ups this year and Kirby Smart is on speed dial.”

LOL

Wont happen;

what will happen is the Athletic Dept will sit back and call everyone a “Society of the Miserable”

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
9:46 am

Spurrier is much nearer retirement now than he was at the beginning of 2013 when he basically predicted that the Game Clucks would win the east. I expect him to lose to Clemson also. His recruiting of top level talent has already begun to dry up and Clowney is NFL gone.

Don’t be surprised if Spud (age 67 now) retires to Del Webb retirement community in Hilton Head at the end of the season. Then S.C. will revert back to where they belong – near the bottom.

Fat Pie

October 21st, 2013
9:46 am

Cough… Cough…

Gawja ain’t man enough to beat Awbarn.

JB

October 21st, 2013
9:49 am

We are two plays away ( Tenn/LSu games) from being 2-5. Every game left this year is a toss up for 3 reasons. lousy defense, Mental state of team and Spec teams. Looking for the return of Clemons, Matthews, Gurley and Bennett to prevent that.

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
9:49 am

I even predicted the score….I said 31-27 vandy….I will damned…I should’ve played the lottery that day.

Fat Pie

October 21st, 2013
9:50 am

@Flo-Ri-Duh

Bobby Petrino will be more than happy take over for the Evil Genius. Florida won’t take him, because Texas won’t take Muschamp back now.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
9:50 am

Aubarn picks up a few more criminals and just reloads. Crime pays.

Fat Pie

October 21st, 2013
9:54 am

Yep… Awbarn knows how to get the most out of Penal Colony rejects. ;-)

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
9:55 am

Muschump is about to be on the HOT SEAT too….. losing three in a row to UGA is a no no…. and that’s a strong possibility. Two losses already and another to the DAWGS & to FSU for sure. Kind of classless how Jimbo kicked that 20 yard field goal ahead 48-7 on Clempson with three minutes to go.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
9:57 am

I will hand it to Auburn……

When they want a championship; the program will go out and make door to door donation calls to all the trailer parks to fund up enough money to buy themselves a good team ;)

Fat Pie

October 21st, 2013
9:59 am

If only Georgia had trailer parks… ;-)

BankerDawg

October 21st, 2013
10:00 am

I’m reading this blog and there is a “divided” Dawg Nation. One one hand you have Richt apologists and on the other you have the “fire everyone” crowd. Let me be clear and state that I am one Dawg fan that is sick and tired of mediocrity. It’s only an opinion, and some may disagree, but this is how I see it:

1). Richt has had 13 years to elevate the program to elite status. In those years there have been 8 National championships won in the SEC. Richt has none of them. We’ve suffered through him hiring his best friend as DC after we lose our NFL caliber DC to the pro’s, and our defense has been in a constant state of repair ever since. We’ve had just as much NFL talent come through our program as Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Florida but they have all elevated their programs to reach their highest potential. Richt has not. Everyone in the country knows that both Bobo and Gratham are not SEC caliber coordinators. The results speak for themsleves.

2). Offensive Line – this has been a hallmark problem ever since Richt has been in Athens. If the truth be told, we get our share of 4 star talent but they come from prep schools or JUCO transfers. We are soft and thin every year in and out. Football, as I understand it, starts in the trenches. Richt and Bobo have never understood that Skill plyers done mean squat without a nasty Oline.

3). Coaching Overhaul – there is allot of discussion around what “might” happen if we had wholesale changes to our coaching staff. Yes, it is a risky move and could set us back a few years. That said, I think there is a considerable number of Dawg fans that would be ok with that if we knew the upside was we would be on a new path. I do not think that would be the case. The most popular traget is Kirby. I like this choice for 3 reasons. One, he is a former GA player from South GA. We would not see any drop off in recruiting if he was hired. Now that FSU and Auburn are coming back, south of Macon is a clear target for these schools. We have been losing this battle as of late. Second, we run the same offensive and defensive scheme that Alabama runs.The only difference is play calling and execution. Ii think we would see an immediate improvement in our defense if not just from an “attitude” standpoint. Third, he would bring the Alabama “standard” to UGA. No more hiring your best buddy or keeping someone around because he has 6 kids. This is a business and needs to be run that way. Performance is the only thing that matters.

That’s my vent. I know all the arguments about injuries etc blah, blah, blah. The simple fact is that our backups are not prepared. 7 games into the season and we have regressed, not gotten better. It’s time for a change and we have to be willing to live with those consequences.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
10:00 am

“Muschump is about to be on the HOT SEAT too….. losing three in a row to UGA is a no no….”

you would think the UGA fanbase and Athletic Dept would adopt the same philosophy; instead as long as you can win 10 games every year or so, and beat a has been program in GT you are set for a lifetime contract

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
10:00 am

Is Mizz-who? that good or did they get fortunate …. what with UGA and the Reptiles being devastated with injuries??? I will take the later. Though Mizz-who? has a decent defense and very good WR’s.

Looks like Bummer / Mizz-who? now for the SEC crown. Could be a good one.