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

Bulldawg35

October 20th, 2013
9:24 pm

Tim Brando and that other fool in the booth were dancing and shouting as loud as they could when vandy starting winning and scored the winning td….totally class lev and just weird! If I was Richt I would refuse to go back on the Brando show…but we all know Richt is a yes man.haha

Hairy Dawg

October 20th, 2013
9:25 pm

Dawgs had bad day but even bad day is better than being a Gaytors. Once we get a few starters back wel’l put it to some these teams fans that laughing now. Getting back Gurley running game make offensive passing more unpredictable to. That cause O to crank up and give D more breathing room.

Two weeks between games is what we needed. Then we GATA the Gaytors.

Go Dawgs! Sick E’m!

Boykin

October 20th, 2013
9:34 pm

Bulldawg: Unfortunately they were accurate and very unbiased…move to Bama- ARK coverage please!

Creativity Dawg

October 20th, 2013
9:35 pm

GO DAWGS!!!!! Cut the head of the Snake off to proceed!

JayX

October 20th, 2013
9:39 pm

Look to me like Murray was tanking on the team, because they wouldn’t let him sit back like a statue and try to throw bombs all day (a formula that led to 3 losses).

Bobo had the PERFECT OFFENSIVE STRATEGY, THE ONLY ONE that had a MINUTE CHANCE of working: limit Murray to short quick passes and mix in the run.

Poor Douglas, kid fumbles in key situations costing us 2 games. Didin;t learn a thing from his last costly fumble. I’d bench him from here out for sure.

Write it down: It ain’t about injuries. Ole Miss, Tenn, Mizzou, Vandy, they all had injuries and WON. UGA is deeper than all 4 in talent, so anyone claiming the injury excuse (hi Seth Emerson) doesn’t know a toothpick about football.

No sir, this is about turnovers. Offense and special teams continues to commit them.

The story of ALL THE LOSSES SO FAR and 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 season have been turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.

AndalusiaDog

October 20th, 2013
9:42 pm

Bill: Too many injuries, Bill.Dogs still one of the best in East….Murray will get us back on course…Defense playing with enthusiasm though no direction from Toadie G!..Shaq growing! Swann? Can he transfer to Tech seamlessly?

JayX

October 20th, 2013
9:42 pm

Murray has been somewhere between 89-120 in interceptions 2011, 2012, and 2013.

That’s been the story, though most have missed it.

Watch what happens against FLA, Aub, and GT. All 3 in top scoring defenses, all 3 in top 7 nationally in interceptions on defense. Murray will cost us AT LEAST 3 more losses in 2013.

JayX

October 20th, 2013
9:43 pm

If Richt doesn’t get Hutson Mason or Bryce 20 reps a game from here out, he is OFFICIALLY, THE DUMBEST COACH IN THE NCAA.

SC Dog fan

October 20th, 2013
9:44 pm

Thanks for one of your finest sentences, Mr. King: “had to get awfully creative in finding new and progressively more unlikely ways to engineer a loss to the Commodores.” I genuinely enjoyed that line, even as I continue to mourn the truth of it.

JayX

October 20th, 2013
9:44 pm

None of you listened to me before the Mizzou game, I told you Mizzou was #1 in interceptions on defense and Murray would struggle and cost us the game.

I was right, Murray committed 3 turnovers, 1 a sack fumble for td.

Dawg Fud

October 20th, 2013
9:45 pm

I just don’t have any faith in Richt to consistently prepare us for competition on a regular basis. The special teams goes back to FSU days….recall that most of the ire from Clemson alumni and fans was that Bowden’s special teams were horrid, and ultimately led to his mid-season dismissal.

Time to turn the page in Athens….but I am not sure McGarity can do it what it takes,

JayX

October 20th, 2013
9:46 pm

Who has MORE EXPERINCE WITH THE BACK UP RECEIVERS?

Aaron Murray or Hutson Mason?

SHOULDN’T EVEN BE A DISCUSSION.

Murray has no chemistry with any of these receivers. Mason does.

Butler's Son

October 20th, 2013
9:46 pm

Jay: This is big Dawg daialogue…Save that for talking with your kids. please.

Bulldawg35

October 20th, 2013
9:47 pm

Boykin

I could care less how accurate they were…they were cheering vandy on…and that was weird!!!!

Butler's Son

October 20th, 2013
9:47 pm

OMG! You proved it 130% w/ that comment!. HAHA..

JayX

October 20th, 2013
9:49 pm

The team is 4-3. BCS Champions goal?

Done, no more.

SEC Champion goal? Done, no more.

This is NOW REBUILDING SEASON, that’s the NEW REALITY. The sooner Richt sees that, the better 2014 will be.

Dump the Seniors, start getting the younger guys experience.

JayX

October 20th, 2013
9:53 pm

Murray has been 15th in 2011, 12th in 2012and 11th in 2013 the last 3 years in the SEC in interceptions.

UGA is 13th in the SEC in turnover margin, 104th in the nation.

THAT’S THE STORY OF 2013.

JRW7

October 20th, 2013
9:56 pm

Something’s lacking about this coaching staff, and it starts at the top!

Boykin

October 20th, 2013
9:57 pm

They were not. And I’m a Dawg fan as u perhaps are. Why get caught up in harassing announcers?lol

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:00 pm

Here’s the story imbed reporters like Seth Emerson DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW:

Aaron Murray ranks right now 94th in the country in interceptions in 2013
Murray finished 90th in 2012.
Murray finished LAST in the nation in interceptions in 2011.

Special teams are committing too many turnovers too.

Defense, for the 1st time since 2009, isn’t creating enough turnovers.

TURNOVER MARGIN IS YOUR STORY of 2013.

104TH IS THE NATION IS UGA.

3rd down conversion is the other story uga is
91st on 3rd down conversion
on OFFENSE AND DEFENSE.

Why 4-3?
TURNOVERS AND 3RD DOWN CONVERSIONS.

Creativity Dawg

October 20th, 2013
10:00 pm

JRW7….Ditto….One consistent with Dawgs staff with these 9-3 seasons and ZILCH CHAMPIONSHIPS is Coach Richt.

Creativity Dawg

October 20th, 2013
10:01 pm

Good points, Jay! What do you propose to change things in Athens?

Butler's Son

October 20th, 2013
10:04 pm

Please explain all the Chemistry that Mason has with these receivers.

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:06 pm

CHANGES:
1. NEW QB IMMEDIATELY SOLVES INTERCEPTIONS AND 3RD DOWN CONVERSION ON OFFENSE
2. INSIDE TWISTING ON 3RD DOWN ON DLINE AND A zone defense SOLVES A LOT OF ISSUES.

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:07 pm

mason practices with the backup receivers everyday, murray hasn’t been. these are the guys that are currently starting because the top 4 wr’s are injured.

mason has TONS more experience with these wr’s than Murray does.

Bulldawg35

October 20th, 2013
10:10 pm

Butlers son

What are you blabbing about.haha!

Bulldawg35

October 20th, 2013
10:12 pm

Boykin…

Why are you defending them? I watched the game…I heard what they were saying…

SEC NoName

October 20th, 2013
10:13 pm

Bill: Looks as if Bama is top dog and Mizzou next…and 3rd Cremer at this point is Auburn.

JRW7

October 20th, 2013
10:14 pm

As long as CMR is the head coach at UGA, we’re stuck with 9-3 seasons!

Hairy Dawg

October 20th, 2013
10:14 pm

Who won last two years over Gaytors. That was Aaron Murray. Beating Gaytors is important now not media chumps cheering for Commodes.

Bulldawg35

October 20th, 2013
10:15 pm

I’ve been saying it all day long the reason we lost was the special teams and poor play calling. Bobo did the same thing against Tennessee when we had down 17-3! Haha

Boykin

October 20th, 2013
10:16 pm

Announcers don’t rankle me. They called it like it was! We’re clear with their disdain for BS calls vs Drew and Ramik…What else do you want? They did a good job.

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:17 pm

IF our defense went to the Cover 2 zone, dropping a LB into deep middle we’d have a ton more interceptions.

Our db’s can’t do man to man.

I’d like to see more zone blitzes on 3rd down to try and get some easy interceptions.

Ray Drew and the other DE could easily drop into short coverage on 3rd down.

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:20 pm

Florida is 103rd in offensive scoring, was 78th in offensive scoring in 2012, 71st in 2011, not a hard team to defeat with a decent offense.

Boykin

October 20th, 2013
10:22 pm

JAy..good point w/ zone blitzes….Did you forget that Drew went out quick? We needed him in 2nd half! Though I think we can play man…regardless of the fact the front isn’t being manned well.

Bulldawg35

October 20th, 2013
10:22 pm

Boykin…

The radio guy for CBS said they were dancing in the booth…I hate all announcers…..you got a problem with that? If Munson was still alive I wouldn’t be listening to these bums.

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:23 pm

Teams are stiopping Murray with zone defenses, they know he’s not patient or accurate enough to throw the short, quick passes.

Hutson Mason did this all day long in high school setting all kinds of records, it’s his forte’.

And Hutson is 6′ 3” insteasd of 5′ 11” like Murray. Being taller has big advantages on 3rd down, as Mett at LSU has proven, 6′ 5” Mett is #1 in the SEC on 3rd down conversions.

Murray is too impatient to beat zone defenses, and too short to have a big 3rd down conversion rate like Mett.

Hutson Mason is 6′ 3”.

Boykin

October 20th, 2013
10:25 pm

Bulldawg:You’ve said nothing of such! And we beat Tenn.

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:27 pm

Cover 2 should be used on 3rd down because it’s harder to read.

Bulldawg35

October 20th, 2013
10:28 pm

Boykin

Barely beat them….should of been a blow out….but bobo is a horrible play caller!

Boykin

October 20th, 2013
10:28 pm

Wouldn’t be listening to them as well nor feeling less of a man because ya listen to them..Of course I miss Munson as well but Munson would agree with them. Please don’t hate.

Boykin

October 20th, 2013
10:31 pm

Agree. On paper shoulda beat em by 21! In Neyland…5 players go down..porous Defense…wrong game to be throwing mudballs at Bobo…Try the Vandy game to thrash Bobo!

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:38 pm

For special teams, for punt return, just put in your most reliable punt receiver and let him fair catch it.

For punt, there are some things you can do:
1) new formations
2) running punt
3) fake punt
4) go for it on 4th down

When you don’t run enough fake punts, teams are overly aggressive.

Going for it on 4th down as a special teams alternative won the game vs Florida a couple of years ago.

Qualifier

October 20th, 2013
10:39 pm

Jay are you nuts or just stupid? Murray is patient and accurate. And your going to bring to the table that” Hutson did this all day long in high school”…? Please watch your high school games and get ready for college next year.

LADawg

October 20th, 2013
10:40 pm

We have been the most over-rated team in college football this year. I drank the Kool-Aid too but with this defense (which is representative of Richt’s defenses since Van Gorder left) and the special teams (which is representative of Richt’s special team’s since Day 1) we were never an elite team. We had an elite offense when we were fully loaded but that does not make an elite team!

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:43 pm

A Cal Berekely Professor, David Romer, did a study and concluded teams should:
1) go for it on 4th down if less than 4 yards
2) never punt inside opponent 40 yardline
2) go for td instead of field if inside the 5 yardline

WinstonSalwmDawg

October 20th, 2013
10:46 pm

So LA, we want to blame Coach for giving up 30 plus vs all teams including Vandy and not Grantham?

Boykin

October 20th, 2013
10:51 pm

JayX: What is is your measly point brother?

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:52 pm

Is Murray patient?

He seemed to be completely baffled and ineffective against the zone defenses forcing him to throw short quick passes.

He had the 3rd fewest passing yards in his career as a 5th year senior.

And he had 4 turnovers in 2 weeks against zone defenses.

JayX

October 20th, 2013
10:55 pm

Hutson Mason completed 72% of his passes his Sr year, had a quick short passing attack and had 54 td’s that season.