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

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
10:09 am

Speaking as a TRUE Dawg fan I want UGA to win ALL of their remaining games…. some on here calling themselves “fans” get giddy when the Dawgs screw up…. TROLLS you know who you are and I’ll “out” you another day.

Grantham’s “D” was a big disappointment in 2012 to say the least. What with all the suspensions and dismissals they where awful most of the year. This year, with the youth, it is more understandable. Grantham is on the bubble.

Mobile Dawg

October 21st, 2013
10:10 am

Well said Banker Dawg. I feel like I’ve been preaching those thoughts since 2007. I tried to be cautiously optimistic this year, but always had that feeling that we might regress to what we’ve been. A consistently inconsistent team. Last year was the closest we had come to becoming whole again, the worm in the season being totally unprepared against USC.

No since in beating a dead horse and saying the same things over and over. I’m truly disappointed in the way this season is playing out, although I can’t say I’m surprised. I hate to say it but I can no longer get myself excited about Georgia Football. Using some of our HC’s quotes, this is “NOT” Georgia Football, and I have to laugh about his gaffe on studying “Cutting Edge Football”.

It’s time to move on to the next chapter. Richt needs to just leave, or be let go….

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
10:11 am

Want Ads: One long snapper please apply to UGA 1-800-GETHELP

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
10:14 am

The TARGETING rule is ruining football….. cheerleaders get more contact on the sidelines now.

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 21st, 2013
10:16 am

The TARGETING rule will turn football in to that sissy game they play over in Europe called soccer.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
10:16 am

” This year, with the youth, it is more understandable.”

So now that the season is over

Why not play Mason 2 qtrs the rest of the year in each game and play everyone that is wearing a uniform throughout every Qtr of the ball game to give everyone experience for next year

Owen Scott, III

October 21st, 2013
10:19 am

Solid analysis, Bill. Vandy is a game we should have won. The three losses have all been due to the other team executing better and making fewer mistakes, not because they had better talent. One problem has been inexperienced players subbing for injured vets making mistakes. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the only problem.

oakisland

October 21st, 2013
10:20 am

BankerDawg: Well said, I have backed Richt for years but this last game against Vandy was the last straw. Every year, high expectations, disappointments, same damn excuses.

Owen Scott, III

October 21st, 2013
10:21 am

The thought crossed my mind with the targeting penalties maybe the SEC crews are still punishing us for the endzone celebration against UF…

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
10:22 am

I guess for me, I just don’t care, what “soundbites” coaches give out after a loss. As IF Miles was saying anything sincere or meaningful. Sure. I don’t care what Richt says after a loss. A loss is a loss. If he points out the factors, people jump him, if he fell on a sword, people would jump on him exactly the same. Not sure what is accomplished by some phony coach remorse. He’s the head guy, and they lost. I think it goes without saying the implication there.

Fat Pie

October 21st, 2013
10:24 am

“Grantham is on the bubble.”

That would be the bubble that delusional dawg fans live in, I reckon. He sure ain’t on nobody else’s bubble. If he’d had a single offer from another program, he’d already be gone.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
10:28 am

The point is it has always been player execution as the excuse for why this program loses in games it shouldnt or losing the big games

almost every time a loss occurs its “we didnt execute”

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
10:32 am

Well I for one think its necessary to beat a dead horse until someone gets the dead horse out of my freaking living room. It’s stinking up the place.

Sure there’s risk in firing Richt but what about the risk in keeping him? Everyone just acts like 9 or 10 win seasons are a given every year, including myself. Not so fast my friend. We’ll have new QBs in each of the next two years. Our offense needs chemistry and timing to work effectively. It’s obvious all that young talent on defense wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. They’ve only shown improvement when we played Vandy and their QB got hurt. I guess what I’m saying is I possibly see us headed for a cataclysmic meltdown in the next couple of years. I mean 6-7 or 5-7 type seasons.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
10:33 am

Well did they execute?

Not really the point, anyway. You are creating a context to insert their words into. ASK the players if they believe the coaches overly blamed them for the Vandy loss, and what do you think they would say?

ARdawg

October 21st, 2013
10:34 am

Accountability is important Alt and there doesn’t seem to be much at all from the coaching staff. There is a glaring sword for Bobo to fall on and he is oblivious to it. Ultra conservative play calling with 5-6 minutes left first with a 6 point lead and again with a 3 point lead is all on him. We needed points. He was content to try to run out a 6 minute clock. IMHO, that is what “lost” the Vandy game. Also, why the comeback stalled in the Mizzou game as well. Epic Fail: Bobo

Mobile Dawg

October 21st, 2013
10:34 am

Exactly Flat, do you think that Richt doesn’t know that’s part of his job, to teach execution through coaching? I know I’m not there, but from the outside looking in it just seems he’s oblivious to what he needs to be doing, otherwise we wouldn’t seem to exhibit the same weakness, make the same mistakes year after year. Seems like he’s going to do things the way he’s always done them regardless of the result, because it’s just easier.

ARdawg

October 21st, 2013
10:35 am

Coaches are not accountable, neither will be the players. It’s turning into a CYA scenario

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
10:37 am

dawgfan, Richt AIN”T getting fire.

and the majority of the calls in here today are phony as hell. It’s the exact same team, exact same coach as it was Friday. Nothing has changed. If somebody wasn’t wanting him fired Friday, they are just being emotional about it today. Bottom line, we lost a game and fans are mad about it. Stop pretending that there is some noble cause at stake.

Mobile Dawg

October 21st, 2013
10:39 am

Altamaha, although you know I respect you and your opinions, I think you could use a little more emotion. Technically speaking Richt hasn’t failed, but, should the fans, supporters, and alumni expect more?

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
10:40 am

Their jobs are on the line, that’s all the accountability required. I just personally do not need for the coaches to come out with some contrition to make the fans feel better after a lose. Not that it would. It’s phony, and changes nothing. I care more about what they say in the meeting rooms today.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
10:43 am

Well I’ll keep beating that dead horse until he does get fired. I love Georgia football too much not to.

Sorry bro. Your boy is going down eventually. It’s not a matter of “if” anymore, just “when.”

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
10:44 am

Well since we have no idea what they’re saying in the meeting rooms all we have to go on is the results? How are those looking Altamaha?

Jack Bull

October 21st, 2013
10:44 am

yep, let’s get us somebody like Muschamp or Smart, who like to yell a lot, therefore makes them great head coaching candidates.
and then get us a ST coach, so that our best long snapper won’t snap a high, but catchable ball, or that we won’t fumble a punt. solves everything I tell ya..
and then get us an OC who calls only one play, and doesn’t give the QB a chance to look at the D and choose between 3 or 4 plays. We surely don’t want our QB having that kind of responsibility. Especially a 5th yr Sr.
and of course, get us a new DC, preferably a someone like Va Tech has, or even LSU. One who stays where he’s at for a long time and knows what he’s doing..
This remedies everything.

Mobile Dawg

October 21st, 2013
10:45 am

He won’t be fired, he would have to be talked into a resignation and retirement.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
10:49 am

Its been obvious for years the glaring problems at UGA

One of them was of the field issues ( I will give Richt credit for doing something about that)

but the following has been the same every year

>Lack of defense since 2005 (from d-line issues to the secondary
>Lack of good O-line recruiting and coaching
>Special teams disasters every year
>Lack of intensity (yes we have a few games where players are really fired up to play Auburn blackout; FL dancing; this years LSU and SC game; I will say the SEC championship game last year) but for the most part the team looks like they are attending a math lecture until someone cranks up top 20 hit on the loud speakers

and of course

>offensive play calling ( once again we see the conservative play calls come out ) you would think by now after coaching a multitude of games we would be beyond this and would have realized by now it loses you ball games

> and I just add inconsistency (one game the offense looks good; then the next game the O-line isnt even blocking; then its special teams; then its the defense)

I would like to know when will a team be fielded that plays consistent on every aspect of the game throughout a season (sure there are going to be miscues in every game) but not to the point of an entire game

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
10:50 am

Mobile, we are about 2 players away form being in the top 5 and barking.
I’m hurt by it, sure. I was very emotional, for about 2 hours after the game. It’s Monday and reality is here.

Sure, I can do that emotional song and dance, if it’ll make you all feel better. But I am not going to sit here and pretend to want the coaches fired. We are exactly where you ALL know we rightfully should be given the turn of events.

IF they had mismanaged the team we are supposed to have, that’s one thing, but all this is basically about not managing a bunch of freshman against a difficult schedule, and not producing enough points without the players to do it.

So , has this staff managed a badly damaged team to the best? No. I’d say that was clear. Does it matter? Not really. I’m not interested in who is best at managing a pretty bad team. So basically the discussion is about something that doesn’t matter in my book.

We don’t HAVE a top 10 team and just not getting it done.

(now if you want to talk about recruiting, or gaps in certains areas…….fine) That’s a different topic. But that was not any different Friday as it is today.

ARdawg

October 21st, 2013
10:52 am

Well that’s just it, at Georgia, their jobs are not on the line as long as they deflect and cover thine azz. I believe in the “next man up” philosophy and that should extend to coaches, too

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
10:53 am

I must have missed the part where anyone said Smart was a great head coaching candidate simply because he yells a lot. I don’t remember anyone saying that. He’s a great head coaching candidate because he an integral part of a program that is currently dominating college football in an unprecedented manner. He is a great head coaching candidate because he understands and has seen first hand how to win and win big. Most importantly, and this cannot be overstated, he is a great head coaching candidate because he would undoubtedly bring a level of passion and tenacity to this program that has been sorely lacking for quite some time now.

But you just keep chugging that Kool Aid and telling yourself we only want him because he yells a lot. Say hello to the tooth fairy for me.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
10:53 am

and you calling the head coach of the UGA football team……….”your boy is going down” pretty much sums up your role in any of this “fan”.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
10:56 am

Huh? AR. So you honestly think that the administration of the UGAAA are relying on sound bites as to make their decision?

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:00 am

not sure that would really want to bring in the 5th string HC? are you? ARDawg. That’s not really a very good analogy.

ARdawg

October 21st, 2013
11:01 am

Alt,
No. But, when addressing the public (fans) after such a loss, some accountability is important. He’s the coach and they want to know what he thinks. “Fail to execute” is pretty generic and nonspeak for “blow it out of your anus”

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:03 am

I feel sorry for you dawgfan. Obviously you have completely lost sight of the very reason that you are even a “fan” of college football IF your stated goal is nothing more than calling for the head coach to be fired till it happens? why even bother following along till then, if that is your function.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
11:04 am

Was that English?

ARdawg

October 21st, 2013
11:04 am

Alt
Actually I think it’s a good analogy. It is about clear expectations and accountability isn’t it? Whether it’s coach or player?

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:10 am

Fail to execute………. is to me, a pretty protective and sympathetic to his players, way to say……..our damn long snapper refuses to do what he is brought in to do, ……or………don’t fumble the damn ball and we win the game.

And let’s just not pretend that Anything they said was going to inform the fans. They want their pound of flesh. That’s all. SO, yes I would agree, that from that perspective, maybe other words could be used. Again, ASK the players if they have any problems with what was said after the loss. What do you think they would say?

I’m going to go with the players, and not a couple of fans. (to which I think are reaching to even make this point)

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:13 am

Do you really think those coaches are sitting there this morning , telling each other that they are doing a wonderful job, and the stupid players are just making them look bad?

Come on man!

Jack Bull

October 21st, 2013
11:14 am

well, the yelling shows passion, ya know. you can’t have passion without yelling a lot..there’s just no way.
and i’m sure glad folks didn’t run Dooley off after 13 yrs, or he wouldn’t have his NC..
tooth fairy said you should probably floss a bit more, btw.

BankerDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:14 am

AltamahaDawg – I have been reading your posts for years. You, obviously, dont think the answer is a coaching change. So what is the answer to UGA’s recent history of being unprepared, being out coached, being out recruited, and excuse making? If you start with injuries, youth, etc I will point you to many other teams that are having sucess despite the same. Im not looking at our problems through the prism of one year, I think we have deeper more dire issues then that within our program.

Desert Fox

October 21st, 2013
11:19 am

That comment on how GA engineered its loss to Vandy was just eloquent. Well put, Bill. I honestly doubt that either Bobo or CMR had a clue to compensate for the loss of their best receivers. They didn’t try. Did they even try a long pass? Also, anyone know what happened to JJ Green in the 2d half? Douglas was out there the majority of the time. Granted Douglas is the bigger of the two and better up the “dreaded middle”. Hindsight being 20/20, a fresh JJ may not have fumbled on GA’s final drive. Know that’s not realistic but just adds more fuel to the fire that our coaches do not have much foresight or pay attention to detail. That’s what separates good coaching staffs from great ones, aka, AL, and NC’s.

BankerDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:21 am

AltamahaDawg – who are the two players you keep referring to that would have us still in the Top 5? Gurley and Bennett?

ARdawg

October 21st, 2013
11:21 am

Alt
In the meeting rooms today i’m afraid they are repeating almost verbatim the same conversations they had after the Mizzou loss.

What is the point of post game comments if at the very least they are not going to be forthright with the comments?

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
11:25 am

With the talent UGA has had in the Richt era…..we should of won the sec 4 times by now and 1 national title. But hey Richt does the least with the most….so you kool aid folks can have him….I can’t wait till the day he gets fired or retires!!!!

Thom

October 21st, 2013
11:27 am

Depending on the Florida game they should let Manson play for at least a quarter against App st. what do they have to loose. Might as well to take advantage of a lost season to get him ready for next year.
Thoughts.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:28 am

What teams would that be Bankerdawg?
Name me team that is playing 5 freshman on defense, and relying on their 4th string RB, and 6th string WR, that is not losing games?

Thom

October 21st, 2013
11:28 am

Sorry, before anyone starts Mason…

Mobile Dawg

October 21st, 2013
11:31 am

I think one of Richt’s problems is that he treats his players and like grown men. I think most college kids have to be treated like just that, kids. To much ( controversial statement ) love and brotherhood. I just don’t think the Dawgs stay enough on the edge, thus the inconsistent approach they take game to game. You don’t have to yell and scream but, they need a disciplinarian that they have a “healthy” fear of. Again this is only one symptom of several flaws in Richt’s coaching, IMO.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:31 am

well I don’t know that I “keep referring to”, but yes those 2. OR Marshall and JSW.
I guess I could say Gurley and Mitchell, if you just wanted the names of two player with whom we are FAR more capable of winning with, but I meant more recently.

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
11:32 am

We have been whipped at the line of scrimmage by mizzou, vandy and Clemson. I thought Richt made the right hire for the strength and conditioning…..if this is the cutting edge Richt is talking about then we are doomed!

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
11:35 am

I saw rumph on the sidelines jumping up and down,,,,why is he not playing? Rumph has the hamstring of an polio victim! Tibbs is not progressing either…..Conley dropped a touchdown pass too…..I say fire tony ball as well…..he has peaked as well.