Dogs’ performance raises both hopes and concerns as Auburn looms

Aaron Murray was Georgia's second-leading runner Saturday. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Aaron Murray was Georgia's second-leading runner Saturday. (Jason Getz / AJC)

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.

Jonathan Rumph made some big catches against App State. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Jonathan Rumph made some big catches against App State. (Jason Getz / AJC)

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 had another impressive game up front for the Dogs' defense. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Ray Drew had another impressive game up front for the Dogs' defense. (Jason Getz / AJC)

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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297 comments Add your comment

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
9:16 am

Real problem

Their is no way we beat auburn. We have not played a team that can rush the ball as well as they can. They’re number 1 in the sec in rushing. We can’t stop anybody. Plus our offense is pedestrian now without Mitchell Conley JSW….plus gurley is still hurting. Also Jay Rome hurt his foot! We are doomed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 11th, 2013
9:18 am

UGA has…….

The Statistical best QB ever in the SEC
The Best RB in the Nation
A more experienced O-line
Better receivers
Better field goal kicking game

and lets not forget

“The Defense has Turned The Corner” ;)

Auburn has none of the above

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
9:19 am

Richt should’ve not kicked Marshall off the team. Now it’s going to come back to bite us now. Auburn 62 UGA 24……..book it!

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
9:21 am

This would be our signature win of he year. We need to put it all together to win this one. Something we haven’t done in a long time. I just don’t think Richt has it in him this year.

Bo

November 11th, 2013
9:23 am

Dawgs are worse on the road than Tigers are at home in passing accuracy and efficiency. And Dawgs are 1-2 on the road this years.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 11th, 2013
9:24 am

That means no excuses losing to Auburn kool-aiders

Bo

November 11th, 2013
9:24 am

Auburn only gives up 15 points a game on defense at home. And sports a top 25 defensive scoring team.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 11th, 2013
9:25 am

UGA has…….

The Statistical best QB ever in the SEC
The Best RB in the Nation
A more experienced O-line
Better receivers
Better field goal kicking game

and lets not forget

“The Defense has Turned The Corner” ;)

Auburn has none of the above

Attention Kool-aiders there will be no excuses if UGA losses to Auburn.

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
9:25 am

We still can’t stop anybody on the 3rd down. Even little ole app state had some success. Just wait and see how much success auburn will have. We are going to get run out of the plains…..only McGarity can stop the bleeding but he won’t though. Sad but true…woo hoo!

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
9:27 am

Our o- line is poor at run blocking this year….we are 11th in rushing in the sec…..so much for that formula of needing to win in the sec by running. Geez!

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 11th, 2013
9:33 am

35

Remember now we were told this year our O-line was our strong point

And sorry 35 but “the defense has turned the corner”

UGA 35 Auburn 17 (the defense has turned the corner)

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
9:37 am

You boys want a championship?!? Get off your high horse and sign more players! UGA WAS leading the charge to hurt the entire SEC with scholarship limits. You want the rest of the SEC to be misrable like you, I suppose.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
9:39 am

“the defense has turned the corner”

IT WAS APP STATE! DON’T YOU SEE WHY THE REST OF THE COUNTRY LAUGHS AT YOU.

RawDawg

November 11th, 2013
9:40 am

The answer to the questions about the targeting rule is easy: Drop the ejection piece of it, make it a 15 yard penalty with no review, just like like any other personal foul type penalty. The flag won’t get dropped on these questionable plays as often because refs won’t have been instructed to drop the flag if it is a question and let the review booth sort it out. If that isn’t enough, sit the offending player for the remainder of the offensive series. Also tighten up the definition of ‘targeting’ to include only shots to the players head, shoulder to shoulder shots should unquestionably be legal.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 11th, 2013
9:46 am

Tide Rolling

App St is a really tough Div II opponent; dont you remember what they did to Michigan years ago

We stopped them from scoring

Bama will lose if they have to play UGA (the defense has turned corner)

Buxton2287

November 11th, 2013
9:51 am

Every week all you see is how [Insert Team Name Here] is going to give Auburn all that they can handle. Nothing is a given in rivalry games, but Auburn will win by at least 17.

old dog

November 11th, 2013
9:58 am

As we have had to do this season in many cases, we will have to outscore Auburn……I cannot see us stopping them. The d is still young and is still in a system that they have not (and may never) grasp. Marshall will simply run the ball on us when the play falls apart. And to boot, our beloved band will STILL play that ear-bustin’ drone noise it plays when the other team has third down, practically ensuring they will get a first on us. I love my dogs……I remember Scott and Stanfill, for goodness sake. Lets get a D system that we can run with the players we have, and one that we can win the SEC with. We have backed up faster on D than Lindsey Lohan leaving rehab on the first day!

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
10:02 am

App St is a really tough Div II opponent;

Yea and UGA is a top-tier program!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Inhale

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHSAHAHAHAHAHAH

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
10:03 am

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
10:03 am

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
10:04 am

An ACC opponent who was embarrassed at home by a true contender

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
10:04 am

Of course, let’s mention that close call with powerhouse Tennesee

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
10:05 am

And 14 pts to Mizzou’s backup QB.

Hairy Dawg

November 11th, 2013
10:05 am

Tidey Troll is right about roster management. We got to sing more players ans ship out the stinkys ones.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
10:05 am

WAIT, i just thought of what you said again…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHSAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHSAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHSAHAHAHAHAHA

JB

November 11th, 2013
10:05 am

35………………Mason is 6′3″…… Murray 6′ at best

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
10:06 am

You had your chance to beat Bama last year, and Eddie Lacey took your manhood.

Hairy Dawg

November 11th, 2013
10:06 am

Then we can beat injuries when they happens like this year at Tenn.

JB

November 11th, 2013
10:07 am

Vandy lit up our D in the second half with their backup QB. Dawgs bring that crap to Auburn, we lose ugly.

JB

November 11th, 2013
10:10 am

I feel good things for next year at QB. Murray is a DGD but I swear, I’m ready to move on with another QB. That position is such a lightning bolt for a team I’m just ready to try something else. Murray has more than his share of games won…..but plenty HE cost us a game with poor play and/or turnovers.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
10:11 am

i can’t stop…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHSAHAHAHAHAHA

TallaDawg

November 11th, 2013
10:11 am

The targeting rule as written is acceptable. The problem is with interpretation and application. If contact is not made to the ‘target’ player’s head/neck or contact is not made with the hitting player’s helmet, it does not violate the targeting rule. Hitting a player below the shoulders with shoulders, chest, or arms does not violate the rule.

I think the referees do not like the rule so they are calling it poorly hoping the up-roar will cause the rule to be repealed. There is no consistency in the application of the rule. (See bad call and bad non-call in the ND-Pitt game.) I think the SEC officals REALLY blame and are mad at UGa because the Bama hit on Murray helped initiate the rule. So, they are going to call it on UGa when at all possible.

Hairy Dawg

November 11th, 2013
10:12 am

I agree that the refs been targeting Dawgs with this new dumb rule. That rule need to be outlawed or we need some new refs for UGA games instead of the ones that let teams like Bammer cheat shot Aarron Murray and no penalty.

Macclenny_dawg

November 11th, 2013
10:12 am

It comes down to our last drive. Murray will have to carry us down the field and try to score a td to win. We lose. Murray forces a pass and gets picked. Same soap opera we come to expect with this staff. We lose because we go conservative and lose early lead. We finally blitz last possession by Auburn to give us a chance. Same story line each week.

ARdawg

November 11th, 2013
10:17 am

NCDawg

I think Auburn is quite over-inflated and we “should” beat them quite easily. However, the defense continues to worry me. The run defense is actually adequate. The pass defense is in a world of hurt. It hasn’t turned the corner and it hasn’t progressed with the season. We have what, 2 interceptions as a team thus far? Too soft coverage and too much cushion. Anyone can complete a pass on the Georgia corners and it was never more prevelent that last Sat.

Appy St were floundering baby seals and we couldn’t club. Thankfully Marshall’s passing efficiency doesn’t make that a danger unless he finds it this week. If Bobo doesn’t fall to the fetal position in play calling, we should score early and often as AU’s defense is as bad as ours. Our offense even banged up is superior to theirs.

Alternative Dawg

November 11th, 2013
10:19 am

Our main problem is Gurley in not 100% beast mode. He is still not there. If Lynch and Rome and nor 100% and Conley is out we are going to have problems.

Whoever said we have a better kicker and OL is not being realistic. Their OL is probably the best in the SEC right now. They have recruited well there and have a bunch of future NFLers on that line.

The biggest thing is can we stop the dumb plays? We just are not very well coached.

Alternative Dawg

November 11th, 2013
10:21 am

I agree that Auburn has not played the schedule we have but they have also manhandled similar opponents. They killed UT and after laying a first quarter egg against LSU outplayed them and put up 400+ on offense. That was with Marshall barely knowing the system at the time. That team has gotten better every week and the coahcing staff obviously knows how to develop talent.

SS

November 11th, 2013
10:21 am

Aaorn Murray’s plan is to keep the game close, maybe be leading by 7 in the 3rd quarter, that way, Hutson Mason won’t be able to play.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 11th, 2013
10:22 am

old dog

Our defense has “turned the corner”

our defense held FL to only 2 scores and we stopped App St a team thats won only 2 games to no TD’s

Auburn wont score 20 on our D ;)

SS

November 11th, 2013
10:24 am

If Georgia gets a big lead, expect for the roomates Lynch and Murray to team up with a missed block sack fumble, or dropped pass fumble to turn the game around. After all, the goal for this pair is to keep all games close, within 4 points.

Alternative Dawg

November 11th, 2013
10:26 am

Anyone who thinks Auburn cannot throw look at the pass Nick Marshall had for a TD last week. look at the final drive against MSU or the A&M game. He can throw and is getting better.

UGA needs to force turnovers. Marshall lays it on the ground a lot. Tre Mason is the best RB in the SEC right now (Gurley is hurt) but he also fumbles.

SS

November 11th, 2013
10:28 am

Other things Murray will do if Georgia gets a big lead;
1- sack fumble
2- throw a backwards lateral pass to Lynch for a fumble
3- throw an interception in his own red zone
4- sack for safety on own goalline
5- fumble if sacked
6- poor handoff for a fumble
7- stop making 3rd down conversions, just happen to miss on your passes each time

Lots of ways for Murray to keep the game close, those are his top 7 go to’s.

Those are why 5 games ended up within 4 points and tied 2-1-21 with N Texas and 14-6 with Appal St at halftime.

Yes sir, Aaron Murray has learned one thing at UGA—keep those games close, especially SEC games.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 11th, 2013
10:28 am

Alternative Dawg

The coaching staff told us the O-line was going to be one of strengths of the team

They just told us the “Defense has turned the corner”

Auburn is not going to beat UGA this year because of what the coaches said

SS

November 11th, 2013
10:30 am

Marshall completes 63% and has a 132 passer effic at home.
Murray completes 62% and has a 131 passer effic on the road.

Alternative Dawg

November 11th, 2013
10:35 am

I still am shaking my head at how Carl lawson left the state of Georgia. That kid is a beast. Physically he not quite what Clowney or Nkimdeche is but mentally he is miles ahead. He plays hard already has an NFL body.

SS

November 11th, 2013
10:37 am

The easiest way for Murray to keep Mason off the field is either a sack fumble for td (Richt always blames the offrensive lineman) or if Murray sees a defender coming towards the UGA sideline who can catch well, just throw him an easy pass for a pick 6 interception. Another Murray favorite is don’t make a 3rd down conversion for an entire quarter like he did last game against Appalachian St–this is a Murray favorite and hard to pin fault on Murray, like a sack fumble for td, so he LOVES this one.

These are Murray’s top 3 go-to plays to keep games close/keep Mason off the field.

JB

November 11th, 2013
10:40 am

Alternative Dawg. While you are asking, ask why only 3 of the top 20 rated players in the state last year signed with Dawgs of the big class of 35? I will say that with Garner gone, the commits for next year look pretty solid. But don’t think for a minute that the tonic being sold in Knoxville and Auburn is not luring to the kids in this state. We’ll have some luck in Florida as they are in a mess, and FSU and miami can’t sign them all. IF Richt could get 6 or 7 of top 10 annually in Athens, Dawgs would be a different team

Hairy Dawg

November 11th, 2013
10:40 am

Why my posts is a being deletes

Hairy Dawg

November 11th, 2013
10:42 am

Awful Burn cant play with Dawgs and it silly that any peoples think so. Dawgs got that firepower with Gurley to blows out Awful Burn.

JB

November 11th, 2013
10:45 am

SS. agree. like I siad, I’m looking for a different skill set under center for next year. Mason has had 3 years to know the play book and grow up and become physically stronger, not to mention being 6′ 3″.
I think we will be pleased next year……And as far as Mason not being the QB Murray is….. in Athens you would never know because Richt is a one lane thinker when it comes to QB. Unlike Sprurrier, He would NEVER throw Mason in for a spark if Murray was struggling. NEVER !