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

Mobile Dawg

October 21st, 2013
11:36 am

Looks like the recent problems with Murray and his receivers lack of being effective and in sync have as much to do with the OL’s inability to protect him as inexperience.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:36 am

shhhh, don’t mention any players, making mistakes…

Mobile Dawg

October 21st, 2013
11:38 am

I think cutting edge football may be moving from the big bulky OL style that we play to a smaller, stronger, more athletic type OL. We are being whipped basically by missing blocks due to the DL being quicker and more athletic.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:41 am

I’d say it’s all connected Mobile. If the QB knows without looking where the guy is going to be, he probably needs a second less time of protection.

What I recall was always so nice about Murray/Bennett was how quick it always was.

EasleyDog

October 21st, 2013
11:44 am

JayX: You sound like some of the “real” UGA fans that have plagued Georgia for years. Murray was good enough to keep us close to Clemson in the opener but you have to remember that the defense is very, very young. We are using 8 to 14 freshmen on the 2 deep roster. I have watched these kids play and they still play like they did in high school, not instinctive but read and react. Wiggins has come a long way in his development but he’s still young. I will agree that Bobo needs to stretch the field with Reggie Davis. He’s supposed to be real fast but those plays take time to develop. Left tackle and right tackle on offense is still a weakness. Oh by the way, Murray broke Tebone’s record for total offense and is closing in on Danny Worthless’ record for TD passes. Don’t throw the dawgs or the coaching staff under the bus!

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
11:44 am

Why are we going to play at auburn for the 2nd straight year in a row??? Haha….absolutely does not make any sense! Haha. Don’t worry folks……Richt is still working on the cutting edge! Woo hoo!

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:44 am

Unfortunately I just can’t see Bennett being 100% when he gets back, or Todd Gurley being as able to carry it 20 times.

We are going to lose without them however, so 80% is better than not

Durty Burd

October 21st, 2013
11:44 am

JayX please go and have lunch, this is not A.M fault, Coach Bobo goes into conservative zone and the senior qb is just following orders…

It is amazing to me to see Offensive coordinators try to sit on leads with so many teams having explosive spread offenses. Dump, Dummy, Dummer!

Only Alabama can sit on a lead, because they know how to play fundementally sound football…nuff said! Sick Bulldogs! hehehehe!

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:45 am

35, can you repeat that joke a 4th time. It’s so funny.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:47 am

It’s not like our offense was killing it and Bobo shut it down. We only HAD a decent lead on the pick 6 and a couple of stalled drive FGs.

ARdawg

October 21st, 2013
11:49 am

I don’t see Gurley or Bennett as being big impact players in the FL game either. Those are delicate injuries and often require a steady build of confidence. The bright side is Bobo may see a need to throw it vertical with Bennett in the game

old dog

October 21st, 2013
11:51 am

We toted a whoopin’ at the line of scrimmage….period. The need for a special-teams coach goes now w/o saying. A new QB beat us. Our d got more assignments boogered up than is imaginable. Yes, the terrible calls hurt badly. However, we should not have been in a position against Vandy that it was of any consequence. We have lost powerful starters, true. But the special teams gifts to other teams as well as a lack of aggressiveness and our D not helping out an ailing O is bad. By the way Bill, having grown up milking cows on a dairy you are right; the cream does rise to the top. We used to scoop it out of the tank for the coffee on those cold early (3:30am) mornings, especially in winter. And, the clabber goes to the bottom; correct again. We have given our utmost effort to join the clabber. Everyone hates to lose and unfortunately we are doing that now. However, we need to let someone else totally knock us out w/o all the self-inflicted wounds we have so graciously donated to the demise of such a once promising season.
And now, to finish, maybe our beloved band will PLEASE stop playing that “Prelude to other team getting first down” they play when the opponent has a third. I am sure by now that since football is largely a game of emotion that the other team gets fired up when THEY hear it, as it signifies an almost certain first for them!!

Fat Pie

October 21st, 2013
11:51 am

Vandy is simply better than Georgia — even with their backup quarterback.

How do you expect the coaches to do anything about that?

Durty Burd

October 21st, 2013
11:56 am

When a new qb comes why don’t the opposing DC blitz? Why don’t they make these quarterback make great throws? Why don’t UGA use their Fullback or Tightend are they not 4 star recruits?

Tune next time same dawg channel,same dawg station…lol

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
11:58 am

Oh I think they are very impactful. I just don’t think those guys are going to win the game on their personal performance. Why tey matter though, is ………we needed a couple more 1st downs to have completely changed the direction of either of these loses. I don’t think we need Bennett to make any spectacular plays to give us a higher chance of converting 3rd down.

I would also be less worried about ball security with it in Gurley’s hands.

You would think they simply give the offense a bit more confidence/familiarity too.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
11:58 am

Notice how Kool Aiders like Altamaha never want to have a substantive discussion about the big picture. They’ll pick all these petty little fights over some BS about our coach making “sound bites” but if you ask them a simple question like “why do we lose to good teams” or “how will Richt win a national title” they won’t answer the question.

It’s like they are trying to distract everyone form something, like how Richt isn’t a very good coach for instance.

ARdawg

October 21st, 2013
12:03 pm

Sans Douglas’s 2 fumbles at inopportune times both, Green and Douglas have done an admirable job toting the mail. True they are not Gurley and Marshall but those two have manned up and got the job done. The running game or lack of Gurley isn’t why we lost those last two games.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
12:05 pm

Buck Belue just said

Richt
Gratham
Lilly

are at fault for the loss

funny I didnt hear about “lack of player execution”

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
12:06 pm

Buck Belue also said Mason needs to start playing

hmmmm

I think someone has been mentioning that as well

Durty Burd

October 21st, 2013
12:07 pm

Although I really like CMR, the game has simply passed him bye. The special teams play had been shoddy for years. The offense is usually inconsistent and the defensive in the past 2yrs has not been able to stop anyone…

CLEAN HOUSE, It’s time to CLEAN HOUSE…

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
12:09 pm

yes, they have. BIG JJ fan here. and we have put up some yards, But I think Gurley turns -1, into +3, and can turn a decent run into a TD. I just think we are more consistent in the running game with him in there.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
12:15 pm

Richt has proven that with a healthy big time running back we are virtually unstoppable, like in 2008 when Knowshon ran for 1400 yards and we in no shape form or fashion lost to every good team we played that year.

Let’s ride the no Gurley excuse and see if everyone buys it to save Richt’s job.

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
12:16 pm

Don’t worry guys………Richt is still working on the cutting edge! I know that was 3 years ago when he started. But when he get’s finished…we are going to amazing! Woo Hoo!!!!

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
12:18 pm

I was wrong, it wasn’t funnier the 4th time.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
12:19 pm

Save Richt’s job? it would have to be in danger, to save it.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
12:19 pm

I guess Buck Belue is a Fraud now for calling out the coaching staff

JRock

October 21st, 2013
12:24 pm

Let’s change it to flag football since you can’t hit anyone anymore ! Ref’s need to be held to a standard like the players. If they have stupid calls then they need to be suspended a few games !

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
12:25 pm

I guess I’m just imagining all these people who say they don’t want him as our coach anymore and are tired of the half azzed status quo. I also must have dreamt up the embarrassing loss to Vandy which tells me we are capable of losing more games and that we aren’t very good.

Don’t worry Altamaha, I’m sure your mancrush will be fine.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
12:27 pm

Buck Belue just needs to shut his pie hole because Richt isn’t going anywhere. It’s okay to lose to Vandy as long as there are plenty of excuses to fall back on.

Durty Burd

October 21st, 2013
12:27 pm

UGA fans seem to focus on singulary instances where the players fail to execute. The problem is coaching. Every SEC teams has 4 and 5 stars recruits some you do not have to coach up, but the majority of the players need to be coached up. Right now the OC and DC coaches plus CMR are not able to consistently coached up these players, thus the myriad of penalties, mistakes, miss tackles and turnovers.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
12:28 pm

Can anyone tell me………………….

When is the “”Dream Team”" and “”Dream Team II”" going to start playing “”Cutting Edge Football”" so we can start “”Knocking on the Door To Greatness”"???

Maybe they should start reading the New york times best seller “”Energy Vampires”" and cancel their membership to “The Society of the Miserable’s” and we might just see them “”Finish The Drill”"

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
12:34 pm

We need more catchy slogans. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s wear black jerseys against Florida and come up with a catchy slogan, maybe throw in a little dancing on the sidelines too. I’m sure the guys will have plenty of time to come up with something since Richt says they need a break and they won’t be practicing that much. Catchy slogan + black jerseys + sideline dancing = no chance for Florida or anyone else.

This is Mark Richt Football.

McDawg

October 21st, 2013
12:40 pm

its called crappy recruiting

how in the world we don’t have someone who can play in the secondary

and BTW Nick Marshall was terrible on special teams-not sure he would have been the answer if he wasn’t a discipline problem

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

October 21st, 2013
12:46 pm

If you’d sign more players and quit whining about Alabama oversigning, your depth problems wouldn’t be as bad. You are your own worst any DAWGS!

Capt. Richt, Road boss

October 21st, 2013
12:52 pm

“What we got here……….is a failure to execute.”

gsuga

October 21st, 2013
1:03 pm

Just remember if you get a new coach that is a top notch assistant for someone else you will have to put up with “On the Job Training” again as with Richt.

Grantham needs to go. He has not adjusted his defense to meet the talent that he has. Also after seven games those starters are not inexperienced anymore. Just not coached up to the level they should have in seven weeks.

You have to remember one thing about Dooley teams if you are old enough to have seen his good years…He also had Erk Russell….VG, Martinez, nor Grantham even come remotely close to what Russell did for GA.

Bulldawg35

October 21st, 2013
1:08 pm

Losing to vandy will hurt us in recruiting……rumor is sony michel is looking around! Thanks Richt! Smdh!

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
1:14 pm

I thought our defense took a very positive step forward this past game. Anybody with me on that?

UGA Insider

October 21st, 2013
1:18 pm

I can’t believe how much the offense has changed is 3 short weeks!!! It is amazing to watch. I think we are witnessing the end of the CMR era at UGA. Mike Adams is not there to save him this time.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
1:30 pm

No;

our defense played Vandy who had their 2nd string QB playing and

their offense isnt even in the top 50 in total yds
their offense isnt even in the top 50 in rushing

Ask that question when the Aub and Tech game are in the books

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
1:31 pm

I’m pretty sure that McGarity has a copy of our player roster somewhere in his office.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
1:34 pm

yea, I guess I was just mistaken because I was going on the events of the game when I thought that. I hadn’t check the rankings on footballstats.com.
sorry, flat.

BankerDawg

October 21st, 2013
1:36 pm

Those players certianly would give the offense a lift. Namely Gurley and Mitchell. Both of those guys are “game changing” type of players. However, the offensive line inconsistency and defensive play is a glaring example to me that it wouldnt matter. I am of the shool of thinking that if your defense can hold a team to less than 24 points then you should win that game. Well, we havent had a defense like that since what, 2008?

Here’s my bottom line….I look at Florida State and what Jimo Fisher has done down there. He’s playing a red shirt freshman QB (not a 5th year senior) and that team looks legit from the top to the bottom. Their offensive line had their way with Clemson’s dline, who GA had trouble with the entire game. Point is, we need to figure out how to do more with “less” not do “less” with more.

The biggest glaring problem is our coordinators. They are not SEC caliber. I’m not going to sit hereand say that they dont try, or that they dont prepeare. Thats ludicrous. But I will state that I think that they are in over their head and get out coached by the best in the SEC more times then not. That, my friend, is the reason for GA’s woes. The only way to cure that is to get rid of Richt, unfortuantely. But, thats what it comes down to. Will it happen? Probably not.

BankerDawg

October 21st, 2013
1:37 pm

Flat – let that sink in for a minute. We got beat two weeks in a row by back up QB’s from mid tier SEC teams.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
1:41 pm

Here we are talking about “positive steps forward” in a loss to Vandy. Who are we, Austin Peay?

Richt is doing a fantastic job.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

October 21st, 2013
1:42 pm

BankerDawg

it has

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
1:45 pm

I think that Richt and his co-ordinators, are why we aren’t beating Alabama.

Why we are, where we are now, are injuries, plain and simple.
Without them , we are top 5, second best team in team in the SEC, and probably not quite good enough to beat Alabama in the CG. THATS the deal. Being that, is a fair debate as to if that is acceptable, but that’s the truth and everybody knows that. (and IF Alabama had as many as we did, they are proportionally affected as well) No need to try to make it out to be any more complicated that it is.

Now If you are seriously critical of the recruiting/signing/kicking off issue that got us to where we are not very good with our 4th string that’s fine. Again that was true last week, and during the summer. Were you calling for Richt to be fired then?

But let’s not pretend that we are a contender caliber, and just held back by poor coaching right now.

dawgfan

October 21st, 2013
1:48 pm

That’s what makes all the injury talk so ludicrous. We’re losing to teams that can’t hold our jock in recruiting and don’t even have their starting quarterbacks.

But I’m seeing some positive steps forward so we should extend Richt’s contract.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
1:51 pm

You were going to get me a list of teams with severely injured offenses, playing 5 freshman on defense, that are having success, too.

AltamahaDawg

October 21st, 2013
1:52 pm

I would have traded Murray, for the other players we have lost on offense, in a heartbeat.