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

ARdawg

November 12th, 2013
1:15 am

NCDawg and a few others are thoroughbred fans. You call them kool-aiders to somehow make yourself feel superior. You don’t like what they spout because it doesn’t jive with your bandwagon positions. In which, things go poorly somebody must be at fault. Someone must be fired because you team didn’t win. What a pathetic existence of a life you must lead. You spew vitriol on a blog and feel yourself accomplished. yet, you fail miserably. Turn in your man cards, You are not Dawg fans, you are Tech fans that haven’t came out of the closet

BlueCollarBruce

November 12th, 2013
1:20 am

People that want to get rid of Richt are idiots. Give him time and he will be fine.

But Bullfrog Gantham has got to go!!

Barnum&Bailey

November 12th, 2013
7:35 am

Q: Oh why, oh why did the SEC stick Georgia with having to play in Auburn 2 years in a row?
A: So they could skip out on playing Alabama and Texas A&M.

Q: Oh why, oh why are the officials ejecting players for targeting?
A: Because UGA, among others, whined about their precious “skill players” being hit too hard. Besides, who ever guessed that this penalty would be called against the Dawgs? It was supposed to only apply to their opponents!

dawgfan

November 12th, 2013
7:41 am

People who think Richt needs “more time” must have been living in a freaking cave in Mongolia for the past 13 freaking years.

Unbelievable.

dawgfan

November 12th, 2013
7:43 am

“Thing go poorly somebody must be at fault.”

Yes Captain Clueless, that’s generally the way the world works, especially when you’re getting paid millions of dollars to make sure things don’t go poorly.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 12th, 2013
8:01 am

dawgfan

funny how I mention how we have the better personnel vs Auburn especially on offense and the excuse makers want to tell us Auburn does; you know that same Auburn team that won 0 games in the SEC last year

Pago Pago Dawg

November 12th, 2013
8:22 am

How many records did the Bama qb break this year? Who cares…Bama is ranked ahead of UGA…well….Everybody is….

BigDawg

November 12th, 2013
8:26 am

Ramblings,

First it seems the Auburn coaches watched our game, Missouri’s game, Alabama’s game and Oregon’s game with Tennessee and pounded them. When we ran the football against Tennessee, they couldn’t stop our runners and other than the fumbles which let them off the hook. We went away from the run and passed way too much and you saw the result. The other teams passed just enough to keep them honest, that is one thing I have noticed about Coach Richt’s teams is they do not stick to what is working a lot of the time and this causes his teams to have games that are closer than they should be. We do match up well with Auburn and we seem to play them better at Auburn so this should be a good game. What worries me is Marshall is a heck of an athelete and can be a game changer from the QB position. This just points out that Murray, Gurley and others will have to play with intensity for 4 quarters, hopefully the defense will step it up for 4 quarters as well.

Go Dawgs

NCDawg

November 12th, 2013
8:40 am

BankerDawg
November 11th, 2013
11:54 pm

No lecture… I dismiss anyone’s opinion either. I just despise pessimism. I have no tolerance for fraud who claim to be Dawg fans and most obviously ARE NOT.

Look if I were as down on the program as these guys are, I’d just walk away. What good does it do to just spew negativity all the time? NONE. It is delusional to believe that moaning and groaning on a sports blog is going to do anything at all to relieve their distress so why not just walk away and find something else to complain about? Why not find something where they might actually have a hope of affecting some sort of change that meets their expectations?

That is what REASONABLE people would do. The fact that they insist on coming back day after day and saying the same thing 500 million different ways, is all you need to see to know they are trolls. They have a vested interest in denigrating the program in any way possible.

NCDawg

November 12th, 2013
8:46 am

SCDawg -What the hell are you talking about. I was born and raised in Georgia and now I live in NC. I was born a Bulldog and will die a Bulldog. If you don’t like what I have to say, skip it. “Look in the mirror”? I am a FAN and I will support my team no matter who the coach is and whether or not I agree with how they conduct their business.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, if we demand better… you have to be sniffing fumes if you think that a bunch of words in a blog are going to change the Ad’s mind or even mildly alter his thinking.

dawgfan

November 12th, 2013
8:50 am

NCdawg, by all means fella, tell us what we should be so excited about right now. I need a good laugh. Oh I know. Will it be Outback or Chick Fil A bowl for us this year? I’m on the edge of my seat to find out. Let’s not stop there. What meaningless bowl game will we be playing in next year after Mark Richt’s 9th season in a row of no championship whatsoever? You can cut the excitement in the air with a knife.

Georgia Football: Catch the Fever!!!!

HighBrow

November 12th, 2013
8:58 am

Did you know Aaron Murray has a lifetime .650 record?

Nick Marshall has a .890 record?

Qb just a bigger winner.

Easy win for Auburn.

HighBrow

November 12th, 2013
9:01 am

If Nick Marshall outscored Johnny Manziel, he sure won’t have any problem outscoring the beatup UGA offense.

Mobile Dawg

November 12th, 2013
9:01 am

In all probability the Dawgs will make a good showing vs AU, there’s no pressure on them. The pressure is purely on the top tier programs. NCDawg, you have obviously been groomed in the corporate boardrooms. You are the ultimate hooray guy, support at all costs, even though the ship is doomed. I’m glad some can enjoy the frustration that is UGA football under Richt.

HighBrow

November 12th, 2013
9:01 am

UGA is 1-2 in road games this season.

Mobile Dawg

November 12th, 2013
9:02 am

Excellent example a few posts back, records aren’t important for champions.

HighBrow

November 12th, 2013
9:04 am

Aaron Murray has a history of losing big games.

In 2013, Murray has gone 0-2 vs the 2 teams currently ranked top 10 (Clemson & Mizz)

Here comes the third top 10 team—–Murray’s chance?

Slim to none.

He’s .200 lifetime vs top 10 teams.

1969 Graduate

November 12th, 2013
9:11 am

I think Aaron Murray is going to have a huge game this weekend, and overcome all, winning as a solo act, assisted by Gurley.

He will overcome our terrible defense, inconsistent special teams, and inept coaches.

Of course, Murray’s performance requires that the OL show up, and do their job.

Go, Dawgs!

NCDawg

November 12th, 2013
9:12 am

There’s the rub. What exactly do you think you accomplish by coming on a sports blog and doing nothing but spewing hate about the University of Georgia football program? Do you really think that anyone with the authority to affect the changes YOU desire actually reads this stuff?

Think about that for a second… is that what you really think? Do you actually think that stirring up a few disgruntled fans is going to make any difference at all? That’s sad.

You might as well be peeing in the wind…

If you don’t like what is happening with the program then just move on…

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 12th, 2013
9:13 am

Mobile

That 9:01 post is one of the best examples of why the our nation continues to lose businesses

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 12th, 2013
9:15 am

NCDawg

so does anyone listen to your whining about how great the current state of the football program is in?

Bulldawg35

November 12th, 2013
9:30 am

UGA will allow their most rushing yards of the year and Richt won’t exploit Auburn’s main weakness which is their pass defense. Every team we face has their best game of the year against us….I wonder why?simply because Richt has no killer instinct.

mgdawg

November 12th, 2013
9:31 am

I guess I’m confused about targeting. I thought the rule was you couldn’t hit a player with your helmet first, or hit them in the head or neck first. Corey Moore hit the player with his shoulder in his chest, so I can’t understand how that falls under the rule. The announcers said something about launching, but the announcers were so bad that I didn’t believe them and when they posted the rule on the tv it said nothing about launching.

I believe UGA has a real good shot at auburn. The defense has performed good against the run and the offense is getting weapons back if a shootout scenario occurs. The main thing UGA needs to not do is hurt itself with random penalties and turnovers.

TC

November 12th, 2013
9:34 am

Hopefully, Nick Marshall shows Richt the same measure of mercy Richt showed Mett & Marshall.

70-0 Auburn trounces UGA. No mercy!!!

old dog

November 12th, 2013
9:34 am

One thing for sure………….if we do not get a grip on our entire defensive system (and we do not have that now) even with everybody well next year, we will have to put so many points on the board to win that we will be where we are now: a few injuries away from mayhem. I love my Dawgs, but our d system will NEVER take us to the next level. And, just ask Oregon…..(or even the great Johnny Football) when you make your living having to outscore everybody, it will come back to haunt you. J.F. hung a wad on ‘Bama, but still lost due to a bad D. Oregon also found out what happens……………

BullDogMike

November 12th, 2013
9:49 am

Don’t let Auburn fool you. They can throw the ball,they just haven’t had to. If Dawg defense can’t stop the third down conversions ( and they are dismal at it) game over. They must stop Tigers on third down. And pray special teams don’t give game away ….

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 12th, 2013
10:04 am

The Defense has “turned the corner”

we held App St to 0 TD’s and stopped FL

why should we be worried about Auburn?

ARdawg

November 12th, 2013
10:15 am

dawgfan
How daft can you really be? You are setting personal lows. You do understand every team at least in the SEC and all major college programs are paying millions of dollars to their respective programs. Georgia hasn’t cornered the market there Einstein.

How many of those dollars are “yours”? Yeah I didn’t think so. You want to play high roller business man with someone else’s money. How is life in the land of make believe anyway?

Perro Delirante

November 12th, 2013
10:28 am

Life is good in Athens. I can see UGA winning the National Championship in 2014.

Next year will be HUGE!!! Just you wait!!!

WDE

November 12th, 2013
10:47 am

To all the Dog (fans) that think Auburn is a lock …riddle me this didn’t we beat LSU? And didn’t LSU beat the Barn….I for one am not all that convinced the Barn can beat us…..after the way we have beat them like rented mules the last two years they must prove it on the field. Oh and TC you can rant about 70-0 all you want we have scored over 80 on the Barn the last two years to your……7. This should be a hard hitting and close game..looking forward to it.

dawgfan

November 12th, 2013
11:50 am

The other programs that pay their coach $3 mil a year don’t tolerate the kind of mediocre ill prepared crap that we see out of Richt year after year. His salary is relevant because you Kool Aiders act like this is freaking pee wee league and its all about having fun and there are no consequences for losing. You are wrong. This is big business. Richt isn’t raking in millions because he’s a nice guy and adopts orphans from Russia. He’s getting paid millions to win. He isn’t winning anything of consequence. Not only have we had to suffer through 8 years of irrelevancy, he’s also managed to lose to the likes of Vandy, Kentucky, Colorodo and UCF in the process. I’m just tired of it all. I’m tired of all the false hope. I’m tired of waiting for this guy to do something big. It isn’t going to happen. Richt is not a big winner.

I’m sorry this offends you.

Bulldawg35

November 12th, 2013
12:19 pm

I agree with dawgfan…..if Richt was a big winner we would of beat Bama last year. I’m sorry to say we won’t be in a position to play for the BCS title like we were last year for a long time. Our next best shot will probably be 2016.

Bulldawg35

November 12th, 2013
12:22 pm

Rodney garner and Marshall will get their revenge on Richt and Grantham. If we lose this game…blame it on Richt for allowing Marshall to attend auburn!

ARdawg

November 12th, 2013
12:23 pm

It doesn’t offend me in the least. I don’t give a fat rat’s patootie how you feel. Feel anyway you want. We get it dawgfan. We read it the first time you posted it and the subsequent 500 other times. You blame Richt for everything that’s gone bad in your life. Somebody has to shoulder the blame and it sure as hades isn’t going to be you, is it?

ARdawg

November 12th, 2013
12:26 pm

Football is a game. Nothing more and nothing less to those of us on the outside looking in. You and all of the other living in make believe fans have no say in Richt’s future. What you think doesn’t count one iota. As soon as you grasp that one little factoid hopefully you can get back on with your life. This obsession you have is completely meaningless. UGA president, the Regents and the AD will be the only ones determining the direction of the program or lack thereof. Deal with it and understand, it’s only a game

Bulldawg35

November 12th, 2013
12:34 pm

I just feel like it’s Auburn’s year. They still have a shot at the NT! We will get the same ole same ole with granthams crew…..a bunch of missed tackles.

BUN

November 12th, 2013
12:44 pm

Dang, didn’t realize Aaron Murray\’s record vs top 10 teams over his “career”, which we all call “The Lost Years”, is 2-10.

Gonna be 2-11 real soon.

Murray just loses big game after big game.

Clutch, he ain’t.

And Marshall just keeps on winning.

dawgfan

November 12th, 2013
12:55 pm

I’m still not convinced you don’t care what I think. I need to see a few more posts.

Bulldawg35

November 12th, 2013
12:59 pm

People say nick Marshall can’t pass….well UGA is his get well card….nick will throw for his season high against us…. Burn 62 UGA 24…..auburn will score the most pions ever on an Richt coached team.

NCDawg

November 12th, 2013
1:01 pm

ArDawg – I used to think these guys were obsessing because they had invested their manhoods on the fortunes of a college football program. But now I’m not so sure they ever cared at all about the football program. I think they are just like the sociopaths on the other blogs that just love to bash Georgia football and Mark Richt in particular. It takes a particular kind of “f’d up-ness” to spend day after day spewing venom. That requires a level of hatred that no true fan would ever feel. I’ve seen jilted women that weren’t that vindictive.

ARdawg

November 12th, 2013
1:05 pm

Hurts don it df? Nobody cares what you think

NCDawg

November 12th, 2013
1:15 pm

Oh and whether or not you are physically seated behind a workstation PC or jabbing away at a smartphone… you are still hiding behind the electronic device you are using.

Welcome to 2013… LMFAO!

ARdawg

November 12th, 2013
1:17 pm

NCDawg
I think it’s more seething jealousy. Right now for most of these folks are jealousy over an Alabama program. Oregon, FSU and Baylor moving in a close 4th and even hints of Auburn. These are the same guys that went to the Jr High prom without a date hoping to get lucky with someone eles’s date. Their mentality hasn’t changed much

Bulldawg35

November 12th, 2013
1:22 pm

Sammy Coates is going to eat us alive……we are are big big trouble….we will finish 8-4 or 7-5! We have no chance too many injuries.

dawgfan

November 12th, 2013
1:23 pm

I count a total of 9 posts from ARdawg and NCdawg on this page alone about how much they don’t care what we think.

Mobile Dawg

November 12th, 2013
2:25 pm

Thanks for the kudos earlier Flat. dawgfan, being self employed gives me the opportunity to make my schedule as I please, don’t know about you but I don’t come on these blogs every day and don’t generally count how many times others come on here. There are days when I spend most of the time in the office, naturally I will comment more. But, your 1:23 post makes a great point about people not caring what you think. If anyone is obsessed, it’s posters like NC, who must feel it’s his single handed duty to market and distribute the UGA brand of kool aid Richt has been trying to feed us for years.

Now strictly talking football, why is it that our 3/4 defense doesn’t work like Alabama’s, you can point to youth this year, but what about last year, and the year before? Why do our special teams continually collapse? Why is our Oline consistently inconsistent? Most games they don’t exist, and occasionally they show up and have a solid game. We are consistently unprepared in most facets of the game. We have a record setting QB, what do we have to show for it? A head coach that tells us he’s going to study “cutting edge football”. I haven’t seen anything change including the number of players we are putting in the NFL. If you’re happy, I’m glad, if you’re not well, everyone should just try to express their feelings in a civil, mature manner.

NC and a few others, when you take the time to answer some questions like the ones in the previous paragraph, without your “rose colored glasses” maybe we can all find a common cause. I stopped contributing to the athletic fund after the UCF game, couldn’t stomach it any longer, and haven’t seen a good enough reason to resume. We will be at game this weekend because my wife is an AU alum and is really excited about what Malzohn is doing. I tried to be positive about where Richt was headed this year but honestly, regardless of the injuries, I see the same old problems, year after year, it’s old.

old dog

November 12th, 2013
3:00 pm

By the way, for those who wonder if Marshall can pass the ball, he had passing records here in high school……….our d better do some preppin’!! Then next year we need to get a REAL defense.one that works for us, not somebody else. This d-experiment has gone on long enough!

Perro Delirante

November 12th, 2013
3:02 pm

The attitude of the fan-base does matter. That is why it is so important for Dawg fans to refrain from complaining. If we complain too much, then we could wind up losing Coach Richt. Where would we be then?

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 12th, 2013
3:10 pm

“Where would we be then”

Where are we now? oh yea 2 or more losses with Outback bowls;

boy we sure have been somewhere havent we :roll:

todd44dawg

November 12th, 2013
3:21 pm

Have a little faith bulldawg35. Ga plays well in Auburn.I think Ga wins in a shootout. Their defense is not much better than ours. NC Dawg is one of the few bright spots on this blog.