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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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

328 comments Add your comment

NaplesGater

November 4th, 2013
10:15 pm

Flo…Did you say Coach Will on hotseat earler?

Boykin

November 4th, 2013
10:18 pm

NCDawg : The mere thought of you thinking of Van Gorder has made you mushpie!!

No Mo

November 4th, 2013
10:57 pm

Coach Richt is sooooooooo laid back. His subordinates and players respond to that low-key persona with no emotion or a sense of urgency.

This is the sole reason for UGA’s “situation” as it has been for 12 years.

UGA man, class of 71&73

Levar

November 5th, 2013
12:39 am

I’m a reader. Hope you are as well…Though similiarities to Dawgs the Falcons have many more problems!

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 5th, 2013
12:58 am

YES – Muschump’s on the HOT SEAT…. is that plain enough for you. I don’t expect him to get fired this year but by 2015 he’s GONE.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 5th, 2013
1:02 am

Dante Fowler was gouging Gurley’s eyes at the bottom of the pile – as shown on replay – though airheads telecasting the game never commented on it.

Reptile player twisted Gurley’s sprained ankle after the play was over on another occasion and TampaGator lames it all on Gurley.

Todd

November 5th, 2013
7:51 am

Same story…just a different game….yes, we won. Do you think Lynch would have still been playing with his bone head mistakes had the coach been a Spurrier? Saben? Miles? Lynch all by himself almost gave Fla the game. Just sick and tired of the same old crap and the same old crap comments about what we need to do by the coach after the game. Funny- none of our players that have gone to the NFL have any problems playing on Sun…..yet, they do when the play on Sat for UGA. Bottom line- no discipline…no consequences. Lynch is a moron for what he did in that game….this idiot is a SENIOR…..yet, he saw fit to have his pitty party infront on national TV…this my friends is what our team is all about

dawgfan

November 5th, 2013
8:20 am

That’s a little harsh on Lynch Todd. A player is only as good as his coaching. It’s not just Lynch. The Kool Aiders like to dismiss plays like that as some isolated incident, but there are probably several plays like that over the course of a game that go unnoticed where one of our guys has a mental lapse or gives up on the play. There have been several this year already that were very noticeable. That’s what happens when you don’t have a coach that expects excellence.

DawginLex

November 5th, 2013
8:45 am

That’s what happens when you don’t have a coach that expects excellence.

*******************************

What a moronic statement

dawgfan

November 5th, 2013
8:46 am

Real Problem

November 5th, 2013
8:47 am

Hard for me to believe that ANYONE thinks we are a well coached team. Excuses and we are going to be great next year……OVER AND OVER.

dawgfan

November 5th, 2013
9:03 am

I don’t know Real Problem. Grantham does an excellent job celebrating after an opposing offense drives 80 yards down field on his joke defense and then misses a field goal. He’s very good at that. The guy goes absolutely berserk like we won the Super Bowl.

But we have coaches that expect excellence for sure and its silly of me to suggest otherwise.

dawgfan

November 5th, 2013
9:16 am

Mark Richt on Lynch turnover:

“The initial touchdown was one that we gave them tremendous field position. We gave them reason to be excited, their players, their fans, their coaches. It’s just tough to hold people off once they get their blood pumping again.”

This guy is a leader of men.

old dog

November 5th, 2013
9:20 am

Bottom line: Blogs like this are for folks to vent, offer opinions, etc. That is good, as it is fun (in some cases) to know what many think. Here is one inarguable point. Our defense is not ever going to be top-notch under Grantham. Our O, even with all the injuries, was good enough for us to win, even when they did not play particularly well. Our D never stepped up after the injures and said “We got this!”
The scheme, teaching, etc. is missing something. When you are one of the worst D’s in the country, it is more than youth and inexperience. Folks do not know their assignments because when the other team comes up the line thay have 500 different “situations” to think about. We have backed up on defense….period. We have had the talent in the past to dominate, yet for every good stop we had we gave up cheap yardage and first downs. A few years back, we did not have the o-line for the offense to produce under any system. We just did not have the talent. That has improved, and while we are not a top-notch o-line we are much better. Our d, on the other hand, had the talent on most cases. However, the system, coaching, etc. is missing something. Minimally, and maybe CTG can do better elswhere, we need to start over. We do not have, nor will we have a top-notch D under the present system/coach.

DawginLex

November 5th, 2013
9:33 am

richt doesn’t expect excellence?

What doe he expect? Stupidity?

He was mad after the game because of the 2nd half

He wasn’t bragging about beating Florida. He was mad because we played great in one half and still did not play a complete game

Sounds to me like he is holding these guys to pretty high standards to me

Columbus Dawg

November 5th, 2013
9:38 am

Just read an article in Athens paper about all the blown leads by Georgia this year and the way they came close to giving the game to UF. Mike Bobo was quoted as saying that “I wish every game would end like that, I know the drama, but it gives the players confidence.” Will someone please tell that idiot that the way teams that win championships, is to protect your lead, and yes Mike, you do have to score points in second half to do that against most SEC teams. THIS and other idiot thoughts by UGA’s coaching staff are why they are where they are.

DawginLex

November 5th, 2013
9:45 am

Richt after the game:

“We were up 23-3 and almost lost the dadgum thing. I was mad. I was hot.”

Yeah, he really doesn’t care and doesn’t expect excellence

BankerDawg

November 5th, 2013
9:51 am

DawginLex – Yes, Richt does “expect” excellence, but neither he or his staff knows how to instill it. I honestly believe that they are all doing the best the can. The hard truth is that its not good enough.

DawginLex

November 5th, 2013
9:57 am

So how do you instill excellence into an anterior cruciate ligament in 3 star players and into a high part of an ankle?

Because like it or not, believe it or not, we are 7-1 and ranked 5th in the country if we have all of our players

I’m done

Richt is not going anywhere. Enjoy being miserable

UGA style

November 5th, 2013
10:04 am

UGA lacks a tough, physical style. This is lacking in the emotional side as well. It took Smth’s tears this year to jack up the UGA d and last year, when the safety had to call them on D put.

The coach’s demeanor of calm, tranquility and no sense of urgency is great for a hospital worker or a Priest, but not a football coach, especially at this level. Pee WEE ball? doubt it.

Go Dogs

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it

November 5th, 2013
10:12 am

Did you see what your fans did to the beach in St Simons after the UF game. Dear lord you are the trashiest state in the union. Any high schoolers having sex in the lunch room today?

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can stop it

November 5th, 2013
10:12 am

November 5th, 2013
10:04 am

UGA lacks a tough, physical style. This is lacking in the emotional side as well.

This is due to an overall lack of class within your state culture.

BankerDawg

November 5th, 2013
10:13 am

The onous is not on “we the fans” to figure that out. The guy making 3MM a year has that responsibility. The facts are, whether you like it or not, we are not a championship caliber team. Even with our starters on offense (all of them), we are a legitimate top 10 team. But there is a huge seperation between the Top 4 and the rest. We haven’t been a complete team since 2004, maybe 2005. Richt hasnt changeds anything except a few personell, which he waited too long and almost lost his job over. At every turn, he has made selfish decisions putting his personal relationships before the program. That is failure in my book. The records speak for themselves.

Fat Pie

November 5th, 2013
10:24 am

DawginLex,

If you’re gonna go all “coulda woulda shoulda” on us, then why not go for 8 and 0, rather than settling for 7 and 1?

dawgfan

November 5th, 2013
10:47 am

It’s hard for me to believe that Mark Richt expects excellence when he takes 6 practices off in the preseason and only makes our guys practice twice in the off week following 2 losses. Even further, the fact that we almost NEVER see any excellence on the field for any extended period of time would lead one to believe that Richt is not demanding it from his team. The Kool Aiders act like we just make this stuff up. They must not watch the games.

I’ll have fun being miserable and you have fun living in your freaking dream world where Richt is a big time coach that can take it the distance in today’s SEC.

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
11:01 am

We couldn’t maintain the lead in the second half mostly because the o-line got whipped till that final drive in the the 4th. We only had 5 yards in the the 3rd quarter!!!!!! Wth!

old dog

November 5th, 2013
11:06 am

DawginLex,
You do pretty fair on these blogs, but you gotta admit our D ain’t gettin’ it done, and the system ain’t workin’………………………………..

BankerDawg

November 5th, 2013
11:16 am

dawgfan – that is Richt’s version of excellence and there in lie our root problem..

Desert Fox

November 5th, 2013
11:55 am

Bill. Your sons text rings very true and accurate. Lots of teams make mistakes but when GA makes these gaffs they’re game killers or dang near it. you could see the air escape from the GA D after Lynch’s err. FL scored easily. You cannot put a D especially one as porous as the dawgs in these situations. Recently Richt was quoted as saying their D has to play well enough then be able to stop their opponents in the red zone. Well, if they are able to stop teams in the red zone why not do that in the opponents side of the field. I realize field position changes down there inside the 20 but that quote doesn’t make any sense and is indicative of the coaching philosophy at GA. You have to demand better from your players and especially the coaches in charge of the D. I believe the D players are better then what we see on the field. Bobo’s play calling can at times be brilliant. Know he’s handicapped by injuries but there are times when he goes plain flat. Our 3rd downs and his play calling have become an odds makers dream. at times its mind boggling. The pass was ga’s saving grace mixed in w/some powerful running by #22 as they ran the clock in the 4th qtr. Wish he would do that more instead of waiting while the other team catches up due to GA’s characteristic T/O’s. Dawgs are like Gump’s box of chocolate’s, you never know what you’re going to get.

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
12:48 pm

I think we finish the season 8-4 or 7-5 after the fla win….who do y’all think we play in the bowl game? Indiana….Minnesota or Michigan ……Boston college?

NCDawg

November 5th, 2013
1:31 pm

There are some things that just aren’t worth even wasting the effort to argue about…especially with the folks that gather here. No matter what you say these people will twist it. If you say up, they say down. The ultimate contrarians. Unless you say that Mark Richt is the essence of all evil and the despoiler of all that is good about Georgia football, you will be contradicted. It doesn’t matter how much sense it makes… if it doesn’t end in Mark Richt has to go, they will take the diametrically opposite view.
.
100% truth. If you read that and disagree then maybe you need to step back and reassess your view of reality. I have months worth of these blogs as PROOF.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 5th, 2013
1:50 pm

T_rd Rolls – Just ignore the TROLL.

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) – Who is “we”? Are you talking about “we” TROLLS?

Wallow in your miserable rants… I am enjoying the “W”.

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
1:52 pm

Maybe we will even play Central Florida….ohh gee that sounds delight full!

dawgfan

November 5th, 2013
1:52 pm

If NCdawg would stop crying in his milk like a little baby constantly he would know that I have said on numerous occasions that I would wish Mark Richt the best of luck in his post-Georgia career and would be rooting for him. And I mean that. I’d like to see him take over a 2nd tier program and have them winning bowl games and setting school records for wins. I think he would do that and I think that would be a good fit for him. He isn’t cut out for big time SEC football. How in the hell that makes him the “essence of all evil” I have no idea.

NCdawg has voices in his head.

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
1:54 pm

I wonder how many field goals to touchdowns ratio we will have against auburn?

I’m going with 4 fg’s and 1 td…..how delicious!!!!

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
1:58 pm

Flo- ri- duh.

Go ahead and live in your dream world of thinking the win was bigger than just a win over an mediocre team.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 5th, 2013
1:58 pm

YOU are the one whining in your misery……. just pitiful. How you call your self TRUE Dawg fan is a LIE.

YOU are a fair weather fan or almost as bad – a TROLL.

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
1:59 pm

Even vandy is better than fla…if vandy was at home this sat they would win.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 5th, 2013
2:01 pm

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) – It’s a “W”….. Richt will be back in 2014……. choke on it!

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
2:02 pm

Flo- r- duh

You know is going to be MVP this year? Marshall Morgan is!!! That proves that our scoring is down from last year. Richt is going back to his FG kicking ways….so that means the more we get into the redone the more conservative Richt will be.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 5th, 2013
2:03 pm

Next week will be another “W” – and Richt will be back in 2014…. choke on that too!

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 5th, 2013
2:07 pm

To you the red zone is any where over the 50 yard line? Should go for it on 4th down from the 40?
Dawgs will get another win vs the Aubarn Tigras…. Richt will be back in 2014…. gag gag gag gag – choke on it!

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
2:07 pm

Richt will be back yeeppy

Means another blow out loss in Columbia sc

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
2:08 pm

Means another loss to mizzou in Columbia mizzou!

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 5th, 2013
2:09 pm

Your flea bag BUGS will get routed again by the Dawgs and you can choke on that! Oh – and Richt will be back in 2014!

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
2:09 pm

Means another game against Clemson where their coaches out coach us!

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
2:10 pm

Another nail biter with Tennessee and Florida or loss!

Fat Pie

November 5th, 2013
2:11 pm

These fair-weather fans will get what they deserve.

Mark Richt will stay in Athens for as long as he wants to.

Choke on it!!! ;-)

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 5th, 2013
2:12 pm

Don’t thank so! Dawgs will revenge the Clempsons & Mizz-who’s? in a big way in 2014. I hear your mama calling – go on home now to your Nintendo in the basement. Mac N Cheese will be out of her micro soon.

Bulldawg35

November 5th, 2013
2:12 pm

Flo- ri- duh

We will beat tech….but you could replace Richt with a chimpanzee and we would still beat tech. Another meaningless victory!