A few more notes from Saturday’s relative breather as the No. 25 Dogs prepare to take on another Top 10 foe in a nationally televised CBS broadcast. …
Let’s face it, getting a team up for a nonconference Homecoming opponent like Appalachian State is a lot different from getting them ready to take on a traditional rival that’s become one of the nation’s hottest teams — especially in the Mark Richt organization. So while I’m pretty hopeful that against Auburn we won’t see the sort of laid-back, unfocused play we saw from both the offense and defense in the first half Saturday, there’s always last year’s South Carolina game lingering in my memory to make me feel a bit uneasy.
Yes, I do feel that, even without all the weapons Mike Bobo had at the season’s start, Georgia is capable of outlasting Auburn in an offensive shootout — but not if they wait too long to get on track.
Along those lines, I think Bulldogs fans can take some encouragement from the game against the Mountaineers (with the caveat that Georgia was going up against a defense that was far from SEC standards).
Todd Gurley still isn’t back in top form, but even at less than 100 percent he’s a difference-maker.
And Michael Bennett seems have picked up where he left off in the receiving corps. He made a tough catch for a TD Saturday, got a little shaken up, but returned to the game. All good signs.
Another plus: The Dogs had 13 different players catch balls against App State, which means some of those newbie receivers that Aaron Murray was having a hard time trusting are making strides. The long-awaited Jonathan Rumph, who had four catches for 98 yards, gives Murray a much-needed taller target, and that could be big in the remaining games.
Plus, Rantavious Wooten (four catches for 104 yards) had his first 100-yard receiving game, including a particularly impressive touchdown catch and another nice sliding catch on a 31-yarder in the third quarter. Reggie Davis also had an impressive catch in the third quarter where he took the ball away from a defender.
But it concerns me that Murray was Georgia’s second-leading ground gainer for the day (mainly thanks to his beautiful 23-yard run that could have been a bit longer if he hadn’t wisely taken a slide to avoid a big hit). Having Brendan Douglas and J.J. Green spelling Gurley is a far cry from last year’s one-two punch with Gurley and Keith Marshall.
And I hope a couple of false starts on the part of Kenarious Gates aren’t a sign that the offensive line is going to return to that bad habit. They didn’t play their best game against App State.
On the defensive side, Georgia’s loose, hang-back pass defense in the first half was troubling, but Todd Grantham’s unit didn’t give up a touchdown and played much more aggressively in the second half. Lack of speed in keeping outside containment is still a bit worrying, though.
As for special teams, there were no disasters, and Jordan Jenkins did block a field goal attempt, but the Dogs still at times look like they haven’t worked on certain aspects of the game enough. The failed fake punt was so poorly disguised that you could see the entire App State defense signaling that it was coming before the snap. And two Georgia players collided on a short kickoff, resulting in defensive back Marc Deas suffering a leg injury. The long punt return given up to the Mountaineers is also a concern, considering that was an Auburn strength in their battering of Tennessee. And I still wish Georgia could get more touchbacks on kickoffs.
A few other thoughts:
I’m willing to concede that Corey Moore’s feet leaving the ground might have resulted in the replay official “confirming” that targeting call, even though the rest of the hit was clean, fair and shoulder-driven. But how on earth could he not see that Amarlo Herrera’s “fumble” at the end of a 15-yard return of an interception was caused by the ground, and thus should have been overruled? Just another instance of SEC officiating making no sense. …
Ray Drew continues to impress up front, and I’m hoping he gets the chance to add to his sack total against Auburn’s Nick Marshall, a former fellow member of the Dream Team recruiting class. …
It was also good to see Tray Matthews force a fumble at the start of the fourth quarter that Jenkins recovered. But here’s hoping someone on the Georgia coaching staff has told Leonard Floyd that if you plow into the opposing QB and he drops the ball, that’s possibly a fumble, and you need to jump on it immediately.
What else did you see Saturday that provides encouragement or worries you?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg