Lots of highs and lows for Dawgs in roller-coaster win over Gators

Garrison Smith had a big day for the Georgia defense. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Garrison Smith had a big day for the Georgia defense. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Some more thoughts and observations from Georgia’s win over Florida. …

My wife Leslie likes to quote a frequent saying from her old basketball coach about a loss being a loss no matter how many points it was by. To put a reverse spin on that, a win by 3 points means every bit as much as winning by 20 or more points. Especially when it’s over Florida.

Still, considering the roller-coaster ride the Georgia Bulldogs took us on in Saturday’s game in Jacksonville, it’s understandable that sportswriters were unimpressed and many fans were, like Mark Richt, feeling a bit subdued after the game.

Maybe it’s the historian in me, but I took the long view: a third consecutive win over the hated Gators was still reason to celebrate, no matter how ugly it was.

Of course, as is to be expected of such an up-and-down game — which began with Georgia racking up an incredible 250-plus yards of offense in the first quarter and ended with the Dogs desperately trying to kill clock and hang on for a squeaker win — there was a lot to fret about in the Bulldogs’ performance, as well as some outstanding efforts worthy of high praise.

Corey Moore had one of the game's biggest plays when he sacked Tyler Murphy. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Corey Moore had one of the game's biggest plays when he sacked Tyler Murphy. (Jason Getz / AJC)

The most frustrating aspect of the game was the Dogs not only letting the Gators up off the mat but doing so with a series of spectacularly dumb mistakes.

This is getting to be a pattern, unfortunately.

After Florida quickly scored following Artie Lynch’s ham-handed drop followed by a mental meltdown on a great screen pass call by Mike Bobo, I wrote in my notebook, “Georgia can’t seem to put anyone away.” As I was scribbling that, a text arrived from my son: “Cue Georgia catastrophe to break game open for opponent.”

It’s a scenario that has played out way too many times for the Dogs. True, as Richt said on his Sunday media teleconference, “You can’t predict the types of things that have happened,” but the one consistent fact is that, as the head coach also noted, “It’s mostly self-inflicted wounds. I’ve used that term more than I’d like to this season.”

Rhett McGowan was a go-to receiver for Georgia against the Gators. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Rhett McGowan was a go-to receiver for Georgia against the Gators. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Up to that point in the game, Florida looked pretty flat. After that, the momentum in the game visibly shifted and the Gators were rocking. As Richt put it: “We gave them a reason to get excited and it’s just tough to hold people off once they get their blood pumping again. … We’ve got to keep working hard to keep that from happening.”

Ya think? …

On the plus side, Aaron Murray was solid all day (16 of 25 for 258 yards with several balls dropped by receivers), had no picks or fumbles, and was absolutely clutch on that last drive when Georgia managed to eat up the remaining 8:17 on the clock. (And, again, kudos to Rhett McGowan for a couple of must catches on that drive, including fighting off a tackle and stretching out for a key first down, and to an obviously exhausted Todd Gurley for his extra effort in reaching for another first down.)

Other atta-boys go to placekicker Marshall Morgan, who made all three of his field goals (one of them twice, after Florida called a last-second timeout), including a 49-yarder, to make him 13 of 15 for the season; Brendan Douglas for some really tough running in relief of Gurley; Ramik Wilson for being all over the field in accruing his team-leading 11 tackles; Garrison Smith for his nine tackles, including two and a half sacks, a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry; and especially Corey Moore for sacking Gators QB Tyler Murphy for a 14-yard loss on a crucial third-and-12 for Florida. …

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham deserves credit for calling an all-out blitz on that play and for his aggressive playcalling on the rest of that series.

But on the other hand (you knew a “but” was coming), it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve seen such poor sideline control of a defense as when Georgia called a timeout after it realized Florida was going to go for it on fourth-and-1 and then still managed to send 12 men out on the field, with the ensuing penalty automatically giving the Gators a first down. Moves like that, coupled with the general tardiness with which Grantham gets his defensive signals in, resulting in Bulldog defenders frequently hopping around to try and get into position as the ball is snapped, makes you wonder if the college game isn’t just a tad too fast for the former NFL coordinator.

Richt said it was the result of someone not hearing the call and getting off the field, but how does that happen during a timeout? To quote the head coach again: “We ought to have someone trying to count them up every time we break the huddle. We’ve got to do a better job of that just to be certain.” …

Speaking of playcalling, I heard from several fans after the game complaining that Bobo again “went too conservative” with his offensive calls, but that really only was the case on the series that began with just under 10 minutes left in the second quarter. After Gurley, who’d returned to the game from a bout of exertion-induced nausea, had ripped off a 30-yard gain to get the Dogs to midfield, Bobo followed that with a couple of unproductive runs by fullback Quayvon Hicks and backup tailback Douglas into the middle of the Florida line, and then a swing pass to Gurley to the short side that didn’t have enough blockers and ran out of room. Even the CBS broadcast crew called out Georgia’s offensive coordinator on that series.

But for much of the game Bobo made great calls, some of which didn’t always pan out. While the pass to Gurley that resulted in a 73-yard touchdown in the first quarter worked brilliantly, the screen pass to Lynch in the third quarter didn’t. But if the senior tight end hadn’t muffed the catch (and then staged a little pity party instead of covering the ball), that play looked like it probably would have been a really big gainer for the Dogs.

And while I’m not sure calling a play-action pass from the end zone was wise (it resulted in a safety because of a missed blocking assignment), it certainly can’t be called conservative!

One play call that I will quibble with was the failed fourth-and-1 conversion attempt in which Gurley took a direct snap but couldn’t get the first down. Bobo made it clear after the game that he thought Gurley should have been able to make it.

A jubilant Aaron Murray poses for a selfie with Georgia fans after the game. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

A jubilant Aaron Murray poses for a selfie with Georgia fans after the game. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Yeah, with a fully healthy Gurley, I’d say that Bobo was correct, and it would have been another fine call. But it was pretty clear to everyone that Gurley was not his usual self by that point. …

So, all in all, a day of highs and lows for the Bulldogs, and yet any game against Florida that ends with the Georgia players doing a Lambeau Leap into the stands to join the fans has to be considered a good day.

The series has turned back the way it was for so many years (you know, in those days before Steve Spurrier that the Florida faithful consider prehistory).

As Murray winds up his playing days for the Red and Black, he and his fellow seniors can proudly say:

“We’ll always have Jacksonville.”

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328 comments Add your comment

SBC Pastor

November 3rd, 2013
10:30 pm

At the end of the day, we won. That’s what matters most. Now, if Gurley can get healthy this next week, we should be in business, more or less.

erictin

November 3rd, 2013
10:33 pm

I’ve watched good defensive coordinators like Bud Foster,Chavis,Kirby Smart,etc…and none of them have to hold note boards..what’s up with that?

Strange Murphy

November 3rd, 2013
10:53 pm

WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!!!!

The Monger

November 3rd, 2013
11:11 pm

Disgusting! I want Mark Richt gone more than anything! I would give a million dollars for that man to walk away right now. We have just lost to Vanderbilt for Christ’s sake. We get top 10 recruiting classes every year, and all we get every year are 8-4 or 9-3 seasons, and we are en route to another 8-4 season, and you fans are happy about this? You are happy we squeaked past a very subpar Florida team? You fans are happy we were tied up 21-21 with North Texas at halftime? You are happy we have the worst defense in the SEC with 5 star players across the board? It is sad. Mark Richt’s teams are constantly under prepared, unmotivated, undercoached, and look lost on the field. Our defense is the worst in the SEC and arguably the nation, our special teams is the worst in the nation, our offense is ultraconservative at the worst times, our players look lost and unmotivated, tackling is pathetic, penalties abound, mental mistakes on defense are the norm, mind boggling coaching decisions are a dime a dozen. And you “fans” support this crap? Mark Richt is 3-11 vs. ranked teams in the last 4 years, and that doesn’t include all the losses that should have never been… like losses to Vanderbilt, Colorado, Mississippi State, Central Florida, and Michigan State among others. We have not won the SEC Championship since 2005….8 plus years ago, and you guys think we are going to win a National Championship?!!!!??? DELUSIONAL!! You Mark Richt supporters are disgusting human beings and are KILLING…. I REPEAT KILLING the proud UGA football program. I hate all of you with a passion that can’t be measured in words.

7576DAWG

November 3rd, 2013
11:14 pm

Georgia has beaten or controlled games this year against some really good teams and the lose to Missouri and Clemson didn’t affect our standing any because those are two really good team but the lose to VANDERBILT negated an entire season of hard work. Yes we don’t have the Defense we had last year but they have done enough to win. The Offense has done great with Gurley and okay without him.
But Special Teams neglect and some turnovers allowed Vanderbilt to win a game that out 3RD team should have won and Georgia lost all respect from the polls because of this devastating lose.

James

November 3rd, 2013
11:26 pm

Something is just out of sync mentally with this team. It’s apparent that UGA has had the talent to win every game. They haven’t – and it’s because of issues other than talent.

Jerry Seinfeld

November 4th, 2013
12:07 am

We won, so I don’t care. I don’t like to sit around and worry about games we actually won.

But… Clearly, the drop by Lynch changed the whole game, but I blame the defense for letting them get back in the game to begin with. Just like in their games against Tennessee and Vandy, the defense seemed to lack mental toughness. After an opposing team puts up a good drive against them, they start playing poorly. But a win is a win and I’m looking forward to seeing the young guys play next week, along with Hutson Mason.

Jerry Seinfeld

November 4th, 2013
12:13 am

Clearly, our defense started to collapse in the second half, but I’m not going to obsess over the bad… A win is a win and Georgia has defeated South Carolina, LSU and Florida in the same season for the first time since 2004. Let’s stop dwelling on the bad and just be happy we won another rivalry game.

The Monger

November 4th, 2013
12:19 am

FIRE MARK RICHT FOR GOD SAKE!!!!!

Boykin

November 4th, 2013
12:21 am

Why fire Coach?

Jerry Seinfeld

November 4th, 2013
12:21 am

Murray played an outstanding game and Gurley gave it everything he had, moving the chains with second effort on those fourth-quarter runs. McGowan made senior plays out there, knowing just where the chains were when he made those clutch catches. While I’ll admit the game should never have come down to it… Georgia was able to run out the last 8:17 of game clock on a 15-play drive… You’ve got to give the guys credit for eating the clock there. There were times in the past when Georgia wasn’t able to melt the clock when our team has the lead and this team the guys grinded it out when the game was on the line. Go dawgs!!

Boykin

November 4th, 2013
12:22 am

Jerry: Our mental toughness on Defense won this game..U Funny!

Boykin

November 4th, 2013
12:26 am

1221…finally credit!lmao

Ocmulgee Dog

November 4th, 2013
12:29 am

Jerry, our Defense did not collapse in 2nd half. They overacheived!

Phllip

November 4th, 2013
12:31 am

I say bring Orgeron to Athens…He can recruit them Southern boys and play a good offense!

Jerry Seinfeld

November 4th, 2013
12:32 am

Jerry, our Defense did not collapse in 2nd half. They overacheived!

I’ll admit I was proud of them on their last series out there but the way they played in the third quarter allowing Murphy to drive down there with ease was unimpressive. They made a clutch play on third down like they did late in the game against LSU and South Carolina, but they simply played very poorly in the third quarter and let Murphy drive against us with his legs and his arm was unimpressive.

Jerry Seinfeld

November 4th, 2013
12:36 am

But again, Murray, Gurley and McGowan were outstanding on that last drive. The offensive line overall played outstanding as well and Moore really came through on third down and long. Beating Florida (no matter how good or bad they are) is always a great feeling! I’m so proud of our guys for running out that clock at the end. Our seniors played so well and I was so proud of Aaron Murray’s performance. He’s been very impressive and I’m so glad for everything he’s done for our program. What a player… Go dawgs, 23-20!!

Jerry Signfield

November 4th, 2013
12:42 am

Jerry Signfield

November 4th, 2013
12:44 am

Awaiting a Greg Talley, Joe Cox, or Willie Mtz. savoir comment God bless you!

The Monger

November 4th, 2013
4:12 am

I skip and jump,
I like to press wild flowers.
I put on women’s clothing,
And hang around in bars.

flintriverdawg

November 4th, 2013
5:03 am

monger,……. post no longer.

NoAxeToGrind

November 4th, 2013
5:49 am

Both Fresno State and Northern Illinois are ranked teams. Where is UGA? Could it be the same old tired lame excuses from the same old Richt Homers? Wait till next year and the next and the next……. ad infinitum. The UGA fan base ought to man up and find a new head coach that can bring back UGA’s football program to where it ough to be. Alabama fans did.

Columbus Dawg

November 4th, 2013
6:47 am

Axe, The DAWGS are not getting a fair shake in the polls, but a win over AU will fix that. Congrats to all of the players mentioned, and also Sheldon Dawson for his improved play. It seems the secondary is improving little by little, and the D as a whole played the best game since all the injuries happened. One thing people don’t realize is the mental hit the Dawgs took when all of the injuries took place and the loss to a good Mizzou team all but took them out of the East race. The UF game would have been a loss three years ago. I know that Gurley was limping after the game, but I do not believe he reinjured, but most likely just sore after a hard game. If available for App. State, Richt should play him in first and third quarters to get his stamina back up, then let J.J. and Douglas finish up. Bobo had an idea that Gurley would not be in best game shape after the injury, and really only swimming in pool for a month. Hopefully he will be ready to rock Jordan-Hare in two weeks. I’ll agree that it does seem like Richt knows that there are intangibles to be worked on. The bottom line on passing game is without the speedsters Scott-Wesley and MM, the deep threats are just not there, and clutch performances on medium routes by Rhett M. and MB will be counted on heavily for remainder of 2013. IMO, they really need Rumph to get it going as well. I do believe that there will be pressure to fix ongoing special teams problems, and the D will come around, parts of it already have. The Dawgs are in great position to win out, and wins over numerous rivals are sweet any way you slice it. 2014 looms large.

Fat Pie

November 4th, 2013
7:02 am

“The DAWGS are not getting a fair shake in the polls, but a win over AU will fix that.”

Georgia never gets a fair shake. Most 3 loss teams are right there in the middle of the Top 10.

dawgfan

November 4th, 2013
7:15 am

Take away the fact that it was Florida and all the emotion that goes along with that, it was a mediocre win over a mediocre opponent. No more. No less. This football team is aimless.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a billion times: WE WILL NEVER WIN ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP AS LONG AS RICHT IS OUR COACH. I’ve never been more certain about anything in my life. If you are okay with that good for you. I for one am not.

dawgfan

November 4th, 2013
7:20 am

We won’t be beating Auburn Kool Aiders. Your time between now and then would be better spent thinking up excuses for the loss and rationalizations for why it is still a successful season. I look forward to whatever you come up with.

SimpleDawg

November 4th, 2013
7:26 am

Monger…..that rant was…..epic. I believe you need some help.

Drugs will probably help a bunch……

But you’ll still be mentally unstable when they wear off…..

Buzz-off

November 4th, 2013
7:36 am

I thought our defense played well for a change. The Lynch play and safety should go to the offense so our defense only gave up a TD and FG. I think we are improving on that side of the ball. We’ll find out for sure in 12 days!!! Go DAWGS

BigDawg

November 4th, 2013
7:39 am

Fellow Dawgs a win is a win but this season still leaves a bad taste in my mouth because Georgia should be 8-0 and that is even with all the injuries. If Coach Richt had done two simple things (1)special teams which have cost the Dawgs points in every game but this last one and was a big part of the 3 losses (2) attention to detail (12 men on the field after a timeout- simply stupid nothing else you can say about that). Beating Tennessee and Florida in the same year 3 years in a row is still a feat, now if they beat Auburn and Tech it will go a long way in soothing the ache of not achieving a Championship with a team that at least should be playing for the SEC Championship if not the BCS MNC in the Rose Bowl in January.

Also, Coach Grantham spends so much time looking at his charts on the opposing teams tendancies is what is causing all the confusion on the defense which has led to this team with a ton of talent looking lost a lot of the time with defensive players out of position or blown assignments.

Go Dawgs

Buzz-off

November 4th, 2013
7:42 am

Dawgfan, do you think we would win a NC with Kirby Smart as head coach? I’m certain we would struggle to make it to bowl games with Smart at the helm. You are just like the TN fans who wanted to dump Fulmer. Quit being obsessed with NCs and look at the big picture. Yes, we should have beaten Vandy, but we could have lost to LSU, SC, TN and FL, but we didn’t so please shut-up!!!

dawgfan

November 4th, 2013
7:48 am

I don’t know but I’d like to try and find out. Your opinion is nothing but empty speculation. You have no idea what would happen if Smart were our coach. The big picture? Okay chap, let’s talk the bi picture. For 8 YEARS now Mark Richt has failed to win anything whatsoever. I am certain that the mediocre product that he has been putting on the field is not capable of winning a championship. Do you disagree and if so why?

Let’s just cut the crap Kool Aider. You don’t really care about winning a championship do you? I just wish you Kool Aiders would be honest about that. You’d probably hear a lot less from me.

Carlton Powell

November 4th, 2013
7:59 am

Big Dwag above is absolutely correct. With a little attention to detail, GA is 8-0, and probably heading into another SECCG in December. But, attention to detail has never been this coaching regime’s strong suit, even going back to the early years of 2001-2003. And yes, IF GA hadn’t had all the injuries they have incurred this year, they would simply be able to outscore the other team, thereby masking this lack of attention to detail. Not having the proper number of players on the field AFTER a timeout is pathetic. I mean, what do these clown coaches that are paid so handsomely do all game? Can’t someone be assigned to count heads on each play? What else do they have to do? Go out for popcorn and soda’s? If anyone thinks GA will prevail at Jordan-Hare in two weeks, I’ve got news for you. Auburn is on the rise. As posted above, go ahead and start working on the excuses.

RHall55

November 4th, 2013
8:04 am

The subscribers that are distraught w/ CMR need a NC!!! Not happening this year….always seems like next year….then excuses start flying: too new of an OL (whose fault: an underachiever in recruiting in OL Coach WF)…not enough playmakers @ WR (whose fault: an underachiever in recruiting in WR Coach TB…his last big get was Marlon Brown; not the product that was recruited and AJ Green; the best ever @ UGA….Malcolm Mitchell was a DB and hasn’t hit the stats yet)….bring in Kirby and change the culture….maybe Hines Ward as the WR Coach and shoot for Art Shell: sitting in SC to be the OL Coach….get the best to be the best!!!!

CeeMo

November 4th, 2013
8:27 am

Bill writes:
“Aaron Murray was solid all day”

1. Murray had 3 3rd down conversions in quarters one through three
2. Murray completed 3 more passes than they terrible Florida back up quarterback
3. Murray’s safety that led to 10 points changed the game
4. Murray’s errant backwards pass that led to another 7 points really changed the game
5. Murray completed three short passes on the last drive, and handed the ball to Gurley
6. The offense had 5 yards in the 3rd quarter
7. Murray’s offense was scoreless the 2nd half

dale

November 4th, 2013
8:31 am

I rather see this team play in the Sugar Bowl than get fed to Alabama. What a mess.

CeeMo

November 4th, 2013
8:32 am

Like the Tenn game, UGA didn’t deserve to win this game. Florida missed 2 field goals which would have won it. Florida got flagged for a guy removing his helmet after a game ending 4th down stop. Florida got flagged for a defensive facemask for another key first down. Florida, like the Tenn running back who fumbled out of the end zone in overtime, gave away the win. UGA didn’t earn it, and we all know it. UGA is really 3-5, and we all know it.

Fat Pie

November 4th, 2013
8:33 am

@CeeMo

He didn’t melt into a puddle on the field like the Wicked Witch of the West. Therefore, he remained “solid”. ;-)

CeeMo

November 4th, 2013
8:37 am

UGA has now had 5, FIVE, games that ended 4 points or less. A buddy of mine said the odds of that were like 1 in a billion. Should it happen again vs Appal, Kent, Aub, or GT, I feel the NCAA will start an investigation for gambling from the UGA player(s), especially those committing key mistakes at odd times like Aaron Murray and his roommate Lynch and Brendan Douglas.

6 games that end within 4 points is statistically unheard of, 7 would be something that’s never happened and statistically impossible.

I’m not saying I agree with an investigation, just saying it’s inevitable if games continue to finish this way. We all know that’s not normal or right.

dawgfan

November 4th, 2013
8:39 am

It’s simply inconceivable how we can be blessed with such tremendous talent but do so little with it. I love our players. Murray and Gurley are up there with the best in the entire nation. The defense is loaded with guys that could have played anywhere they wanted. Yet, what has Richt ever done with it? I credit him for getting them here in the first place, but as Spurrier says what happens when they get here? Any D-1 coach in the nation could come in and produce the same results with our roster.

Richt is not a big time coach. He doesn’t have a big time work ethic and he doesn’t have big time expectations for his team. You are simply delusional if you think he does. It’s why we see such inconsistent effort week in and week out. It’s why we see so many stupid mistakes week in and week out. It’s why he struggles to beat equally talented teams that have coaches who outwork him.

I’m just sick and tired of it all. I don’t care if the new coach never win a single game. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. We need a change.

CeeMo

November 4th, 2013
8:44 am

The NCAA would likely take a very close look at these 7 players for a point shaving scandal:
2 UGA defensive backs (we all know who they are)
the punt center
the punter
Douglas
Lynch
Murray

Bulldawg35

November 4th, 2013
8:50 am

The defense is terrible. We can’t stop anybody. Fla had the worst offense out of 103 teams and their is only 128 teams in div 1 and they moved the ball the whole second half. We couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down!!!!!!!!! You kool aid folks really think we are going to beat auburn? Bwaaabwaaa!!!!!!!

dale

November 4th, 2013
8:52 am

Richt needs to put a picture of Secretariat winning the Belmont by 31 lengths in the locker room. THAT is how you compete. You do not let up after getting comfortably ahead.

Georgia beats App State by 14 and Kentucky by 10.

CeeMo

November 4th, 2013
8:56 am

Really odd that teams with much less talented recruiting classes than UGA, like Tenn and Vanderbilt, finished within 4 points or beating UGA.

Isn’t that an interesting coincidence?

red5.ws

November 4th, 2013
8:58 am

@ Monger….he was less than 5 yards from a National Championship less than a year ago. Furthermore, you point out UGA has top 5 recruiting talent every year. Who do you think should get the credit for that?….Seek help.

Felix

November 4th, 2013
8:59 am

Wow, the crazies are out today fellas…..I hope somebody locks the computers at the mental institution soon!

Bulldawg35

November 4th, 2013
9:01 am

It’s time to get a whole new coaching staff…I’m sick of it! We should beat the crap out of fla. We have been losing leads all year long.

27-14 lead on vandy

17-3 lead on sc.

17-3 tenn

23-3 lead on fla.

Wth is going on? Richt can’t get it done!!!

CeeMo

November 4th, 2013
9:03 am

I wonder if Murray, on purpose or by accident, keeps games close, to keep Hutson Mason off the field? Watch the 2nd half of the Florida game, up by 20, about to go up by 27, then Murray starts turning the ball over (safety + back pass). Watch the N Texas St, up 21-0, then Murray starts self destructing, all the sudden, it’s 21-21.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 4th, 2013
9:07 am

blah, blah, blah, blah **** TROLL ALERT **** blah, blah, blah, blah

There is one preverted TROLL on here that has multiple personalities and carries on a conversation with him / her / it’s self — aka serial TROLL …… ignore and do not respond to the serial TROLL

Get used to it PREVERTS – Dawgs win! Dawg win! Dawgs win!

SC Dog fan

November 4th, 2013
9:09 am

Okay, after a couple of days of rest, I’m ready to say a win is a win, especially against Florida. But hear me now and understand me later, if we get out to a big lead over App State and then start fumbling on our own 2 yard line and their two yard line and who knows what else (I guess we still haven’t run the wrong way with the ball and scored for the other team yet), I’m going to say some rude things..

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 4th, 2013
9:09 am

THREE in a row over the Reptiles! S W E E T ! ! ! !

**** Muschump on the HOT SEAT…..

Get used to it TROLLS – Richt will be back in 2014