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

JB

November 11th, 2013
10:46 am

Hairy….You did see the second half of Vandy game didn’t you?

Alternative Dawg

November 11th, 2013
11:03 am

Anyone who thinks Mason is a fraction of Murray is delutional. Same people said Joe Cox is ready to not miss a beat after Stafford.

JB

November 11th, 2013
11:06 am

Alternative…..Just don’t know how you can make that statement with no body of work to look at. And Richt, being a passed over college QB himself at Miami, is a one pony QB coach. And that’s a fact.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
11:07 am

“Same people said Joe Cox is ready to not miss a beat after Stafford.”

Delusions run rampant in your fan base

33 years.

JB

November 11th, 2013
11:08 am

And please, we can NEVER assume that EVERY new Dawg QB will be the next Joe Cox. Maybe he is the next Joe Nammath. Sometimes players light up in a real game vs practice. I’m pumped. New era.

JB

November 11th, 2013
11:10 am

Tide rolling…. better check the listings for a new coach. You may need one soon……Then like from Stallings to Saban, you are Ole Miss again.

Alternative Dawg

November 11th, 2013
11:12 am

Regarding mason, I am just playing the odds. Joe T and Joe Cox versus Dj Shockley. Mason is no where near the talent Shockly is and is more in line with Joe Cox.

My biggest concern next year is do we keep Grantham and how our OL is going to be? We lose three starters who are very good.

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
11:14 am

Stallings won as many titles as UGA has in 70 years. Try again. And you forgot Wade, Thomas, and of course Bryant. Bama is a true national power in college football.

You simply, are not. You just thought you had to win your division to play in the championship, didn’t you?

JB

November 11th, 2013
11:18 am

What’s the probation list?

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 11th, 2013
11:24 am

Quite shorter than your arrest list.

NCDawg

November 11th, 2013
11:25 am

Lets talk about Mason a moment. What I saw was pretty much what I’ve seen every time he has played. He gets rid of the ball in a hurry and is very accurate. Both bode well for our offense next year. The downside is that he appears to be a gunslinger. That interception was simply not looking at other options. He wanted that to be open and tried to MAKE it be open. We really haven’t seen his deep arm yet either.

Ever wonder why Spurrier doesn’t have kids lined up to play QB for him? It’s because he is notorious for his quick hook and lack of patience. He is a pain in the arse to play for if you are a QB. No QB alive can do it as well as he would…in his mind.

So… pulling Murray when he is struggling is not the great idea some of you guys think it is. It HURTS your confidence and confidence is EVERYTHING at the QB position. SC fans were complaining after the GA game that Shaw couldn’t get it done in the passing game and Spurrier should have pulled him and put in Thompson. Look what happened against Missouri. He put in a gimpy Shaw and they won. The backup QB is always the most popular guy on the team.

Mason will be good next year. He knows the system and he has the tools. Is he better than Murray? Probably not. Can he be? That remains to be seen. But we aren’t in a world of hurt as far as QB next year. The following year will be interesting in that we will have no less than 3 guys competing and one of those may be Faton Bauta, after all he is 3rd string right now. But it appears they are putting Ramsey on the fast track because Murray says they have him deeper in the play book than he was in his sophomore year.

AltamahaDawg

November 11th, 2013
11:29 am

Grantham was forcing reps for his “Auburn” defense. App State was wise to go to the short passing game, when we were working on our zone coverage and reacting to the spread rushing. It took about 2 adjustments to shut that short passing game down when that decision was made, and could have been done on the second drive is that was the pointl. The outcome of the game was never a question. It was always more about preparing for the next game. Who cares how many yards somebody can take (against a defense clearly running something not intent on stopping THAT) for a quarter, in a blowout.

That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be great IF we our young’uns could still play zone better, but we have who we have out there right now.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 11th, 2013
11:39 am

Good Morning Wimps, whiners, crybabies, teeth gnashers, Trolls and other gutter trash!

Au-barn does indeed have one of the top OL’s in the SEC talent wise.
Marshall knows how to tote the rock.
Also can throw a pretty deep ball.

*** JHC should track Marshall all over the field @ 4.5 40 he can match him stride for stride.
*** Punt and kickoff coverage will be key against Au-barn.

Get Rumph, Bennett & the TE’s involved vs Au-barns diminuitive CBs with mid-range (15 to 20 yard) passes.

Dawgs sport 5th best run defense in the SEC… should match up well against Au-barn.

AltamahaDawg

November 11th, 2013
11:44 am

I didn’t have any problem with the targeting ejection on Moore. Stupid rule, and that’s a perfectly clean, normal hit, but as its supposed to be called this year, that one qualified. Just glad it was the first half.

The fumble not being overturned? good grief. Didn’t turn out to matter much, but that’s just embarrassing for the SEC officiating crew.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 11th, 2013
11:45 am

Watched LSU / Bummer this weekend…. right off the bat LSU fumbles on 1st two possessions and follows that up with a drove of dumb penalties. Mettenbubba folded – Murray’s much tougher mentally.

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
11:49 am

Flat tire

I agree…..and I agree with Richt our defense has turned the corner. Bama doesn’t even want any of us. If we played Bama we would beat them 31 – 14….. Nobody in the nation can stop our defense…woo hoo!!,

Desert Fox

November 11th, 2013
11:54 am

ST play is still a worry and if those wheels come off again in AU the dawgs are in trouble. CTG has to tell his guys protecting the edges to just sit on the outside and make the AU QB hand the ball off. Don’t take the fake. GA’s down linemen and backers do a pretty good job of stopping the run up the middle. It’s the edges that have killed us and that awful soft pass defense. To win the dawgs will need a few breaks go their way and eliminate costly penalties. W/o all our star receivers the OL really has to step up big in pass protection and the run game. if AM can add a dimension w/his running ability let him do it. AU knows that GA is hurting on both sides of the ball and will be fired up for a big win. Dawgs have to meet that intensity and demoralize AU. I think the outcome of this game will rely largely on the GA coaches being able to step up call a darn near perfect game on both sides of the ball. They do that the players will follow suit. This would be a huge win for GA considering the woes they’ve endured this season. Hope they’re successful.

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
11:55 am

Flo- rid-duh…..

No we should have the best OL in the sec…..not auburn! What the heck is wrong with u people???? The will friend experiment is an disaster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
11:57 am

I think Grantham is the best DC in the nation….he is even a better coach than bear Bryant! Even joe pa can’t even hold Grantham’s jock strap…woo hoo!

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 11th, 2013
12:12 pm

BS35 (aka Milk Dud)…. Au-barn has recruited well on the OL. Give credit where it is due. Dawgs are recruiting much better on the DL than when Krispy Kreme Garner was there and I give credit to their new DL coach.

If Gurley is 90% Dawgs win.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 11th, 2013
12:17 pm

Dawgs will collect their 3rd win against a top ten opponent this weekend and should move up from their #25 rating next week.

If Mizz-who? can’t find a way to lose to Ole Miss and A&M I hope they run the table and meet Bummer / Au-barn in the SEC champ game. Steve Arrogance and the Game Crocks don’t deserve to be there with 2 SEC losses.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 11th, 2013
12:24 pm

Dawgs have been rated the #1 most difficult schedule in the nation with Ole Miss and the Vowels also in toe top 10. Dawgs have played or will play 5 teams that have been rated in the top 10.

Fla State & Bummer would be a great matchup … mobile QB’s give Saban problems as long as he doesn’t have Quinton Diahl available for a cheap shot to the head.

GG

November 11th, 2013
12:32 pm

AM
“Hey Tigers. I have won 2 of my 10 games vs top 10 teams. Want some of that?”
NM
“Hey Georgia. I have won 9 of 10 of my games. Want some of that?”

GG

November 11th, 2013
12:33 pm

if Gurley is healthy, which he never is, Auburn still has 2 guys on the team with more yards and more yards per carry than Gurley.

#longdayforuga

GG

November 11th, 2013
12:36 pm

AM
“Hey Tigers, I have a lot of passing records, 70% of my stats were against unranked teams, scared of me?”
NM
“Hey Georgia, I just win, and couldn’t care less about passing records, scared of me?”

GG

November 11th, 2013
12:37 pm

Georgia lost to…..Vanderbilt!!!!!! lol

GG

November 11th, 2013
12:38 pm

Appalachian St held Georgia offense to 6 yards in the 3rd quarter….lol

GG

November 11th, 2013
12:39 pm

or was that Vanderbilt….can’t remember….both played Georgia tough……lol

GG

November 11th, 2013
12:42 pm

Did North Texas really go into halftime tied with the “great” U-G-A, 21-21?…..lol

GG

November 11th, 2013
12:43 pm

NMarshall
Hey Georgia, I used to be on your team, but you picked Sir Lose a Lot Murray instead of me and Mett…..me and Mett…….we just win…..Your boy Murray loses like a lot…..lol

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
12:57 pm

GG

Your momma is calling for you….it’s spooning time! Haha!

AltamahaDawg

November 11th, 2013
12:57 pm

Sir lose a lot never stole money from team mates, so Its hard to say who we would have picked.

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
1:01 pm

Flo- ri- duh

We returned a bunch of veterans on the o- line this year.we should have an better o- line than auburn. I’m tired of the excuses. Guz Malazan is a first year head coach. Richt should be able to beat him…I don’t care what anybody says. If we win this game it will build some much needed confidence for this young team….I would be very damn happy…I hate auburn!!!!!!!!!

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
1:05 pm

I just can’t believe Richt let Marshall sign with auburn. No coach in the sec would allow a former player like that sign with an rival….Richt is really creating hard ships for us fans. I’m telling you people now! I’m tired of our defense having to face former players that should be playing for us!

ARdawg

November 11th, 2013
1:11 pm

Altamaha
I have no prob;em with preparing for next weeks opponent with the baby seals on the field. The problem I had with it was, the defense couldn’t get off the field. That didn’t look like preparation as much inability. This is Appy St we’re discussing here. The entire 1st half, our D couldn’t stop them passing. Not very encouraging IMHO. I never doubted the outcome of the game but, I do seriously doubt TG was preparing for next week’s offense. We don’t pursue or play the ball on pass plays. Rather, they wait on a completion and tackle the receiver. I find that so frustrating

old dog

November 11th, 2013
1:20 pm

Our o-line is SEC average….it is not elite. We just happened to have a running back that could run through a brick wall, and a stable of top-notch receivers. The line was exposed a little after they got hurt.. They are not bad, but likewise are not top of the SEC, either. Florida’s O was terrible and still looked good against the Lost boys of Grantham. Our QB and backs/receivers were the ONLY reason we were picked where we were pre-season. If our o is not clickin’ against Auburn, we are in for a long day. Win or lose, we will have to out-score them (I know, all games are won by the highest score) with huge offesive numbers. I think Marshall has something he wants to prove to UGA……….unfortunately we may not have the D to close him down.

SuperDog

November 11th, 2013
1:26 pm

Dang, how did the lowly Appalachian St team manage to be within a td of mighty Georgia Bulldogs in the 3rd quarter, I had it 14-6 in the 3rd quarter? Guess Auburn doesn’t have a lot to worry about.

SuperDog

November 11th, 2013
1:27 pm

UGA also was tied with North Texas State in the 3rd quarter 21 all, right guys?

SuperDog

November 11th, 2013
1:30 pm

From what I hear, Georgia didn’t deserve to beat Tennessee, the Vols outplayed them, but Georgia got lucky when their running back fumbled near the goaline, untouched by Georgia on his way in for the game winning score.

Georgia also got a lot of bad calls in the Florida game near the end to keep drives going, including a game ending 4th down stop of Gurley.

Everybody pretty much looks at Georgia like a 3-5 team. Tenn and Florida were both better and deserve3d to win.

SuperDog

November 11th, 2013
1:34 pm

Georgia beat South Carolina & LSU, and outplayed Appalachian and North Texas for only 1 half for the wins. But didn’t earn the wins vs Florida and Tenn, according to fans around the SEC.

It’s really, when you talk about Georgia, essentially a 4-5 team, with 2 big wins, 2 barely wins where they only played well in a half, and then 2 wins that were given to them by the refs or self destructing plays by the opposing teams like Tenn and Florida.

SuperDog

November 11th, 2013
1:39 pm

Georgia’s last 5 games features only wins over unranked teams like Tenn, Florida, and Appalachian St. Georgia lost to the only ranked team they played, Mizzou, and also lost to Vanderbilt.

2 of 3 of Georgia’s losses were road games, like the Auburn game will be. The team does not travel well.

SuperDog

November 11th, 2013
1:45 pm

Tenn is 4-6, Florida is 4-5, and Appal St is 2-8.

All teams Georgia beat in last 5 games had losing records, overall a 10-19 record.

Lost to both teams currently with winning records, Mizzou, 9-1, Vanderbilt, 5-4, overall a 14-5 record.

Auburn has a winning record, 9-1, Georgia hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record in their last 5 games.

NCDawg

November 11th, 2013
1:48 pm

Well part of the reason they couldn’t get off the field was the refs handing out free first downs on bogus calls…especially on that one drive. You have to figure that in. They tackled well for the most part and that more than anything is priority 1 against spread teams. They want as many 1 on 1 , in space matchups as they can get. If the Dawgs tackle well, we can slow them down alot.

I noticed that we were working on quick substitutions as well. We were running packages on and off the field in pretty good time…APP St. runs a pretty good pace so it was good practice.

We smothered them in the second half defensively and that is encouraging. Again I’m not sure if they have “turned the corner” but it might be apropos to say “a corner”. They at least looked like they knew what alignment they were supposed to be in. The CBs made some pretty decent hits as well.

Our D line has to get penetration to disrupt their rhythm. We can’t allow our DTs to get caught up inside… they have to force the issue to allow our OLBs and end to bracket the outside. It would be great to get to those RBs before they even started towards the edge. And I want bunches of hits on Marshall. It’d be great to crack him with a straight up hit within the first couple of plays.

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
1:51 pm

I question the strength & conditioning program! Joe T was an horrible hire. Richt should of went out and hire an proven guy. I just don’t think the admins want to spend the money…maybe Richt just doesn’t have the support he needs to succeed. As long is the stadium is full and the donations are coming in…who cares if we can compete with Bama…yep that how the admins think.

Bulldog Born & Bred

November 11th, 2013
1:53 pm

I don’t know about the rest of you bulldog fans i’m tired of these Ala. fans getting excited about the National championship and us hoping for a Capital one or Outback bowl . i’d bout as soon stay home. please get somebody in here who can give us hope

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
2:01 pm

Super dawg…..

I liked you better when you were village idiot….once again how many email addresses do you have?

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
2:03 pm

Nc dawg

How much more Disney can you get? Geez!

george

November 11th, 2013
2:14 pm

I guess UGA is the only 4-5 loss team in the history of football that has a conspiracy theory against them from the refs. should have known

sc_dawgfan

November 11th, 2013
2:15 pm

Well lets just see how Grantham handles a completely dimensional team. Obviously so far he hasn’t been able to stop anyone other than App state. I predicted a very lop sided win by the tigers. Richt will look lost as usual on the sidelines. We will come out flat and uninspired, commit tons of penalties. Auburn will jump out to a quick and huge lead, demoralizing our already inept defense. Grantham will continue to stare at his play sheet wondering how to stop a team that never throws the football. He’ll continue to call zone pass coverage against they’re running attack. Bobo will try to run up the middle every play until its 3rd and forever even though this is one of the worst pass defenses in the country. Lets not forget the special teams meltdown that will happen as well. Richt will still be looking lost on the sidelines through all this. End result, Aub 45 – UGA 14. Then everyone gets a raise at the end of the year, HURRAYYYYYYY !!!! Mediocrity is what we want from our coaches at UGA !!!!

WDE

November 11th, 2013
2:23 pm

What has the last two game vs the Barn ended up at ? Something like 83-7 the total score I think….And we are supposed to fear the Barn..unless Cam shows up I like our chances.