Aside from the “Fire Richt!” and “Fire everyone!” laments from some readers, there were more reasoned fan responses and questions in this week’s Junkyard Mail. Let’s check some of it out. …
Joe Burger writes: Hey Bill, Mediocre defense, more special teams errors, the absolute worst called offensive game of the year, just terrible. The whole football program gets an F [against Vanderbilt]. Now, I know there were some TERRIBLE calls and, yes, we’re missing offensive playmakers, but we lost to Vandy. So, would you change your midterm grade for the team after seeing that performance? And even more importantly, but left unanswered in your report card, where is the UGA football program headed in the future? Bill, are we ever gonna win a national championship with coach Richt and his staff? I hate to be the Doubting Thomas, and I’m not gonna scream to fire coach Richt, but at what
Last week, after the Missouri game, when the Dogs still had an outside chance at winning the SEC East if they won out and the Tigers lost two, a fellow Bulldog fan and I were discussing various alternative outcomes for the season.
What if Georgia won out, I asked, but didn’t win the SEC East?
The fan said that any season that included wins over South Carolina and LSU (both in the Top 10 at the time) as well as Florida and Tech would have to be considered a really good season.
We revisited that discussion Saturday night after the Vandy game. He said that when he had made the earlier statement, he wasn’t even considering the possibility of the Dawgs losing to the Commodores. His new view? Even with wins over South Carolina, LSU, Florida and Tech, any season that includes a loss to Vanderbilt would have to be considered a disappointment.
OK, I’ll grant that losing to
A few more thoughts and observations in the wake of Georgia’s demoralizing loss to Vandy …
Wow, what a crazy Saturday in SEC football.
Missouri over Florida might not really have been that big a surprise, considering the surge the former has made and the weakened state of the latter. And because of how close the Vols came to knocking off Georgia, their win over the Gamecocks wasn’t that big a shocker, especially with Connor Shaw going out injured (again). But despite the offensive uptick Gus Malzahn has given Auburn, the Tigers winning that defenseless shootout with the Aggies was unexpected (and attributable, at least in part, to Johnny Autograph’s banged-up shoulder). And I know Ole Miss has done well in recruiting, but knocking off the Mad Hatter’s Bayou Bengals was another big surprise, even with LSU’s less than imposing defense.
Still, the booby prize has to go to Georgia: Even with
The wheels officially came off a once-promising season for Georgia Saturday in Nashville on a day when the Bulldogs failed in just about every facet of the game.
You know the old saw about it being “a team loss”? This is one game where that isn’t just a way of deflecting blame from one or two players. Just about everyone on both sides of the ball plus the coaching staff was to blame in this devastating loss, which probably eliminated Georgia from any chance for another SEC East title.
Running down the Dogs’ sorry performance against the Commodores, we find a familiar litany of problems:
I think it’s fair to say that Vanderbilt doesn’t have quite as many Georgia fans worried as Mizzou did a week ago. However, as the Dawgs found out two years ago, Nashville can be a tough place to come away with an expected victory.
And the way Georgia has played defense so far this season, any SEC team presents a sizable challenge.
That said, barring a bunch of turnovers or special teams meltdowns, I think even with a lousy secondary the Dogs have too much for Vandy.
Still, there’s things that need taking care of, or the Dores could score a major upset.
Having watched the tape of the Missouri game, Vandy’s defenders have declared they’re coming for Aaron Murray and have dissed Georgia’s tackles, which I’m hoping will tick off the OL enough that they’ll turn in the kind of performance we saw against South Carolina and LSU.
With six of the 12 regular season games in the books, it’s time to assess where Mark Richt’s 2013 Bulldogs stand at the midpoint of the season. Here’s what grades I’d assign if I were issuing their midterm report card …
Actually, this should be two grades — pre-injuries and post-injuries. Before the Knoxville Massacre, I’d have given Mike Bobo’s offense an A-, with only the inconsistency on the offensive line keeping the Dawgs from an A or even A+. At that point, you were pretty sure Georgia could score almost at will on any defense in the country. But losing a bunch of playmakers has hurt, especially on third down and in the red zone. Plus, the OL is faltering again, which tends to make Aaron Murray nervous. And that usually means turnovers. So the post-injuries grade is a solid B.
Some more thoughts and observations in the wake of Georgia’s loss to Missouri …
The silver lining folks were quick to note that while Georgia no longer controls its own destiny in the SEC East race, Mark Richt’s Bulldogs aren’t out of it by any means.
Current division leader Missouri still has to play Florida and South Carolina out of the East and Texas A&M from the West, apparently without star quarterback James Franklin. A couple of losses there doesn’t seem out of the question. Georgia owns the tie-breaker over South Carolina and if the Dogs can take care of business in Jacksonville after a week off to heal up, the battle for the Okefenokee Oar could wind up as a de facto SEC East playoff game (assuming UGA can handle Auburn and Kentucky).
Sounds good, but the realists among us must note that unless Georgia’s defense turns things around rather quickly — starting this coming
The delicate balancing act that had Georgia still in the national Top 10 almost midway through the season despite having the SEC’s worst defense and unreliable special teams was basically built on the premise that all of that didn’t matter if the Bulldogs’ prodigious offense could outscore everyone they played.
But the injuries to key playmakers suffered against LSU and Tennessee pulled the foundation away from that precarious house of cards and the results were seen Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens: Missouri 41, Georgia 26.
Actually, having trailed by 18 points at halftime, the scrappy Dogs fought their way back into the game in the third quarter as the defense, which in the second quarter hadn’t looked capable of stopping their own grandmothers, held the uptempo Mizzou offense scoreless. The Dogs pulled within 2 points before giving up a score on a badly defended halfback pass.
Take a banged-up UGA offense that’s missing its two top running backs and three of its four top receivers, add a young defense that doesn’t appear to have figured how to slow down even the SEC’s worst offense, and top it off with special teams that have a penchant for meltdowns producing points for the other side.
Put that up against an undefeated team whose offense has turned out to be one of the nation’s best while the team has gone undefeated, albeit feasting so far on nonconference cupcakes and a faltering Vandy.
The result? That Georgia-Missouri game in Athens that was supposed to provide some sort of respite for the Dogs after a schedule frontloaded with Top 10 teams now looks to be a much bigger challenge for the Dogs than originally envisioned. In fact, the point spread favoring Georgia dropped three points over the past few days and quite a few college football observers are
I’ve been battling a technology meltdown this evening, so while I can get online here’s some random thoughts and observations from Saturday’s Georgia-Tennessee game …
Losing Keith Marshall for the season is a big blow, but once Todd Gurley comes back the Dogs’ running game should still be in pretty good shape. J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas stepped up big-time under trying circumstances. Green looks like a legitimate breakaway threat and Douglas got some tough yards, though he needs to work on hitting the hole a little quicker and holding on to passes (he dropped a couple before finally making a big reception and run on Georgia’s last scoring drive in regulation).
Still, if Gurley isn’t able to go Saturday against Missouri Mike Bobo might have to get a bit more creative in his run calls than some of those up-the-middle tries that got stuffed in the second half in Knoxville.
The loss of Justin Scott-Wesley,