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

Macclenny_dawg

November 10th, 2013
9:14 pm

Bobo calling plays like he always does and the defense never seeming to blitz a linebacker. Richt not having his team ready to play. Just the usual expected things we see each week.

DawgVoiceofReason

November 10th, 2013
9:20 pm

Bill,

You pretty much covered what I was going to bring up. The Targeting rule has GOT TO GO NOW. They need to scrap it and start over from scratch, using some intelligence. Now that ND was killed by it last night (Tuitt ejected) and ND loses in an upset to Pitt, maybe the momentum will start to build to dump this abject failure, monstrosity, depravity, insanity, whatever you want to call it but call it gone.

DawgVoiceofReason

November 10th, 2013
9:22 pm

The Targeting rule is the worst thought out, worst implemented, worst officiated rule in the long history of college football.

DawgVoiceofReason

November 10th, 2013
9:25 pm

Aaron Murray is one of the greatest representatives of our University. He is intelligent, polite, appreciative and one heck of a football player. Just a small example is his staying after the game to exchange high fives with the fans, and especially the kids, over the hedges.

DawgVoiceofReason

November 10th, 2013
9:29 pm

The Dawgs do play well against the run and will give Auburn everything it can handle down on the plains.

ARdawg

November 10th, 2013
9:31 pm

Bill, what worries me is we can’t seem to put a good solid 4 quarters in on both offense or defense. Looking back over the losses and it’s evident and if we played a quality team last week, we’d have lost that one to.

The first half they were lathargic and uninterested. Picked up in the 3rd and then back to lethargic and uninterested again in the 4th

erictin

November 10th, 2013
9:34 pm

I’d have Muschamp’s number on roll a dial when he gets fired,if I were CMR..pay him a million a year to coach our defense!We could have Chavis if we’d have pulled the trigger quicker with Martinez!

RedArm

November 10th, 2013
9:59 pm

A) QB
Marhsall last 3 games qbr
100
87
97
Murray last 3 QBR
59
94
64

B) Rushing
Auburn @400 a game last 4, UGA @150 a game last 4 games

C) Offensive Turnovers
UGA 7 in last 3 games

D) Offensive scoring
UGA @30 pts a game last 4 games, Auburn @40 points per game last 4 games

Looks like an easy double digit Auburn win

RedArm

November 10th, 2013
10:02 pm

Aaron Murray has a 2 win, 8 loss record career wise in these type of games.

Odds are strongly against a UGA win.

Bout a 20% chance UGA wins vs a top 10 team during Murray’s era, 2010-2013.

RedArm

November 10th, 2013
10:06 pm

One positive form the last game was we learned Hutson Mason playing with the backups was better than Aaron Murray with the 1st stringers.

Murray had a 64 qbr, Mason was top 20 in nation at 86.

So, if Richt decides to start Hutson Mason, much better chance UGA wins.

Bullwinkle

November 10th, 2013
10:09 pm

Auburn’s defense is worse than UGA’s. They give up massive yardage and, while better than last year, are only 9-1 due to the ineptitude of the opponent or, in the case of A&M, one with an even worse defense. LSU totally dismantled them. Dawgs will hang 45-50 on them and win by 10+.

Herb

November 10th, 2013
10:22 pm

I always wonder why we seem to blitz less than any team in football. Sure, the secondary is young, but they struggle with coverage even when the opposing qb is not under pressure. When we do blitz we almost always have success. I would think a different approach would make sense given the difficulty getting off the field on third down.

Roswell Dawg

November 10th, 2013
10:25 pm

Unfortunately I’m expecting a typically unprepared and completely incapable of adjustment Richt-coached team to show up in Auburn once again. Tell me again what we’re getting for $3 million/year?

Roswell Dawg

November 10th, 2013
10:28 pm

Unfortunately I’m expecting the same unprepared and incapable of adjustment Richt-coached team to show up in Auburn. Tell me again what we’re getting for $3 million/year?

Macclenny_dawg

November 10th, 2013
11:23 pm

If we could ever get our team to play a full game and the coaches to coach a full game we would be unstoppable. But as long as we have these coaches I am living in a fantasy world!!!

Real Dawgfan

November 10th, 2013
11:23 pm

Usual menagerie of whining TROLLS on here. You would think the Dawgs lost the game to here your bellowing.

Watching replay of Vowels / Tigras game now. For whatever reason Vowels LBs never could defense Marshall (QB) on fakes up the middle and sweeps to his left. Played like they were blind. Grantham needs a spy assigned to Marshall on every run play.

The other thing the Vowels couldn’t cover was kick off return and punt returns. They were awful. Even with that Vowels were in the game at the half.

Dawgs can win this game if the play disciplined assignment defense and cover kicks. Marshall only threw 7 passes the entire game!

NCDawg

November 10th, 2013
11:28 pm

ARdawg
November 10th, 2013
9:31 pm

Putting together 4 good quarters against a quality opponent is something that nearly HAS TO happen. The Dawgs ARE NOT the only team that does not play with full intensity against cupcakes. Just this year you’ve had many of the Top 25 teams let a nobody hang around for 1/2 a game before bulldozing them into submission. Miami back in their heyday used to do it all the time. For that matter so did those awesome FSU teams.

What I saw was encouraging in that a) the Dawgs defense only gave up 2 FGs even with the refs handing out 1st downs like candy. And they smothered APP ST in the 2nd half. They also looked to have a good handle on what they were supposed to do. For the most part the tackling was solid.

Rumph… geez if he can open up some seams he may be the missing piece to get the offense completely back to full power. He caught everything thrown his way and just looks like he has that long, easy grace that seems to mark the great WRs… that glide that loses defenders. If we can get him 4 or 5 touches a game that should be good for 60-80 yards of offense it seems to me.

Auburn is always intense but the opportunity to WRECK their season is even better. This game has overtones of the 2006 game. If we can bottle up Marshall and minimize the effectiveness of their perimeter run game, I think we can do more than hang with them. If we can get Gurley some good holes early to get the offense “crunk” I can see us winning a shootout even if our D is not much better than it was earlier in the season.

If the D plays fairly well, we might just see a repeat of the 2006 game. That would be SWEEEEETTTT.

OcmugeeDawgs

November 10th, 2013
11:35 pm

Well written NC! Unsure of the necessity of love for Rumph..Hes non factor….Dawgs play great on th Plains…These Tigers have thrashing rushing attack…GOTTA stop that 1st and foremost.

OcmugeeDawgs

November 10th, 2013
11:45 pm

Real…Marshall only needed to throw 7 passes!!!! AUB pounded em on the ground!!!!

Real Dawgfan

November 10th, 2013
11:47 pm

Dawgs will win if:

#1) The defense is disciplined and stays with their assignment – put a spy on Marshall (QB)
#2 They cover kickoffs & punt returns – something the Vowels didn’t do.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 10th, 2013
11:50 pm

I would add to that:
#1) No dumb mistakes on special teams
#2 No dumb penalties giving Aubarn 1st downs
#3 tackle
#4 block

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 10th, 2013
11:53 pm

Rumph looked good with Mason in there and hopefully Murray took note.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 10th, 2013
11:57 pm

Strange but Dawgs have to go to Aub arn for 2nd year in a row.

Marshall is a TRUE 4.5 40 guy and will outrun most LBs…. put JHC on him all over the field.

OcmugeeDawgs

November 11th, 2013
12:17 am

Flo: Rumph is next yr along w Mason or Ramsey! lol..

Wont be penalties or special teams vs AUBURN! Question is can we bow up and STOP Rushing attack. eh?

Hairy Dawg

November 11th, 2013
12:21 am

When we get the shots we need to take the woodshed to Marshall. Then he want be playing with the feets so ready to dance around. Make Awful Burn one dimensonals and then they cant win with passing game. Big thing for Dawgs is Gurley getting himselfs more healthy each week. Now for game against Awfuls or Barners Gurley be good to go in helping Dawgs control clock and explosive points on board at any time. Then when Awful Burn behinds and runs shut down Marshall make errors throwing INTs that Dawgs use to make pay with scoring. That will be differences in game in additon to Coach Richt experience and Christian not like Mouth-On that replaced Cheese Dip.

Final Score: Dawgs 42 -Awful Burn 17

Let the BIG DAWGS Eat!

OcmugeeDawgs

November 11th, 2013
12:26 am

Very optimistic, Hairy!!!!! What Qb have we pressured into errors? Can Gurley beat AUB? Does he play Middle LB? Love it ya assume we make em one-sided but ya drinking the Koolaid like ya brew for the other boys!

CamdenCountyRealist

November 11th, 2013
12:34 am

Brice will be ready to START next yr!!!!! MARK my WORD!!!!

Boykin

November 11th, 2013
12:44 am

Realdawg..ur ignorant!!!! 444 yds down your throat is smash mouth…not a Defense playing Blind! LMFAO!

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 11th, 2013
12:48 am

Brice Ramsey will be #2 QB behind Mason in 2014 and should get some playing time but unlikely to start unless Mason is injured. Richt basically promised Mason he would start. Now if Mason plays poorly (don;t think he will) then the QB position will open up.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 11th, 2013
12:52 am

Boykin – Did you watch the Aubarn / Vowels game? Marshall was faking up the middle to the RB and all of Vowels LBs were going for the fake and NO ONE was covering Marshall wide. Time after time Marshall was untouched for 20+ yards around the end. That was not smash mouth but poor assignment coverage by the OLB’s.

RawDawg

November 11th, 2013
12:58 am

The refereeing crews that are assigned to the Dawg games are the definition of targeting. I keep expecting to get a make up crew that will be pro Georgia. So much for that. We catch the shaft playing App state! I guess commissioner Slime will send Penn Wagers down to the Barn this week. It is way past time to clean house in Birmingham and shed some light on why the SEC refereeing is so bogus. Something stinks in the SEC and it’s time to target it!

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 11th, 2013
1:19 am

Crappy refs… time for some heads to roll.

HotDawg

November 11th, 2013
5:42 am

JB

November 11th, 2013
7:24 am

On paper, AU wins 48-24……On grass, who knows. Which Georgia team shows up. You better believe AU wants this. Bad. Garner will have the D foaming over there. They can’t throw, which helps Dawgs. We don’t play the run too bad. We’ll see. Go Dawgs

LHardingDawg

November 11th, 2013
7:29 am

Until we get the SEC offices out of Birmingham, the officiating and decision making will always be suspect.

UNC @ Atens, Ga

November 11th, 2013
8:29 am

UGA grad here, from long ago. You good people have it all wrong about CMR. His results are pretty much in line with the Administration’s goals for UGA all. What re they?

GRADUATE the kids.m
Generate REVENUE in ticket sales and branded merchandise.
Try to get invited to New Year’s Day bowl, like Cap One, or every 7-8 years to the Sugar Bowl.
Try to compete for the SEC East crown and then “who knows what might happen?”

Gang, these ARE the REAL goals of the DECISION MAKERS at UGA. They want UGA to be a high quality state institution of higher learning, on a academic level like UNC. UNC ALWAYS RECRUITS great football players BUT the emphasis there on winning BIG, is not there.

Go Dogs!!

Gay Dawg

November 11th, 2013
8:37 am

Ray Drew is gonna make a lot of money this off season.

JB

November 11th, 2013
8:38 am

UNC@………… so true. Keep an eye on Gainesville Fla the next few weeks. Gators will lose to USc and get creamed by FSU. The only mercy there is that Jimbo and Muschamp are friends, even own a beach house together ( strange). Foley will have a tough decision to make. Blow up the program and start over, or give Muschamp another chance? But, you are correct about the powers to be in Athens, they are very happy with Richt. Fat Bank account, full stadium every week, 8,9 or so wins, sometimes 10. A warm Florida bowl to expense a vacation. Life is good. Richt will only leave when HE decides.Never has coach produced less with more. This team really looks uncoached this year, especially on defense.

Alternative Dawg

November 11th, 2013
8:38 am

Anyone who thinks Auburn cannot throw go watch the Miss St games last two minutes. Also go watch the A&M game. If Coates doesnt drop a bomb before the half that game could have been a lot wasier win for Auburn.

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
8:41 am

Lynch and Rome……plus gurley are hurting, also no Chris Conley! You kool aiders really think we are going to win? Haha! We are going to get stomped! The only way we will win is if gurley is 100%….and that don’t look it’s going to happen! We are doomed!!!!!!

Alternative Dawg

November 11th, 2013
8:42 am

This could be the best pass rushing team we face. Missouri included. They have the SEC lead in tackles for loss and sacks I beleive. Carl Lawson should never have left GA. The guy is a beast. mSo is Adams. How lame is our coaching staff to not grab these guys? Their DL is stout and getting stouter.

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
8:47 am

UGA is 5th in total defense….which it looks like we are getting better but we are ranked that high only because we have played to cupcakes…..one from the FCS……..trust me those stats are flawed….because we still can’t stop the slant and we can’t set the edge on the run……sad but true. If you people have been watching the games you should know this.

JB

November 11th, 2013
8:51 am

Dawgs will have to score 40+ to have a chance, which means Bobo must play wide open. AU WILL score on our D. A lot.

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
8:58 am

My ranking of the sec east

1.mizzou

2. Sc

3.vandy

4.uga

5.tenn

6.fla

7.Kentucky

JB

November 11th, 2013
9:06 am

Dawgs give the USc & LSU effort, maybe a chance. Give the Vandy and Tenn effort, we will have to endure 3 blogs of hundreds of hits to fire Richt. I for one am looking forward to next year with a 6′3″ NEW QB, and about 18 starts returning with a healthy Gurley and Marshall and TWO new 5 star freshmen backs. Yes, I know wait till next year BS, But IT should be a lot better IMO

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
9:06 am

I just don think we have enough weapons to match score for score against auburn. Too many damn injuries. I think auburn should go 5 wides against us….if nothing is open…Marshall can just take off running…I predict Marshall will rush for 250 yards on us.

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
9:08 am

JB

I also look forward to a taller QB….I think Murray and mason are about the same.

Real Problem

November 11th, 2013
9:10 am

Still do not have anything good to say about our coaching, but I do think we can beat Auburn. Logic is simple: the way to really light up our defense is with a balanced attack. Auburn is a run the ball first and last type team…..I think this is a great match up for us. Think we win by 10+ points…………

Bulldawg35

November 11th, 2013
9:10 am

Vandy blew fla out! Why couldn’t we beat stomp fla?..that good ole sportsmanship from Richt rears it’s ugly head again.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

November 11th, 2013
9:16 am

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