The two biggest plays of the game?

Athens — So much stuff happened on Saturday: a 100-yard kickoff return, a 61-yard touchdown on a reverse, a safety on a punt snap that went out of the back of the end zone.  As Mark Richt said immediately afterward, probably 100 good things and 100 bad things.

I asked Joe Cox on Sunday what, of all the things that happened,  he considered the biggest play of Georgia’s 41-37 victory over South Carolina.

“I’d probably say there were two,” Cox  answered. “The blocked extra point, which didn’t seem huge at the time.  And then Carlton [Thomas] diving on the fumble.”

The blocked extra point –- by DeAngelo Tyson –- came after a South Carolina touchdown (on Eric Norwood’s 35-yard interception return) cut the Georgia lead to 38-37 with 12:56 to play.

And the Thomas fumble recovery came a few minutes later when Cox coughed up the ball upon being hit from behind by South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore.  By retrieving it, Thomas prevented a turnover – and kept the Bullogs in position for a 42-yard Blair Walsh field goal that stretched the lead to 41-37 with 6:23 to play.

Both plays proved critical as South Carolina drove inside the Georgia 10 yard line in the final minute.

If Tyson had not blocked the extra point,  Georgia’s lead would have been just three points come the final South Carolina drive, and the Gamecocks could have kicked a field goal to tie  at the end of regulation.

Or  if Georgia had lost the fumble that Thomas recovered, the UGA lead would have been just one point, and the Gamecocks could have kicked a field goal to win it at the end.

“When Joe got hit and the ball got on the ground . . . Carlton Thomas might have saved the game right there,” Richt said Sunday. “DeAngelo Tyson might have saved the game when he blocked the extra point. Rennie Curran might have saved the game when he batted the ball in the end zone [on South Carolina's final  pass of the night on fourth down from the Georgia 7]  There were so many plays that you could say saved the game. Blair Walsh just drilling them from considerable distance.”

A few more things:

– This is hard to believe, but in a series that dates back to 1894, Saturday’s 37 points were the most South Carolina has ever scored against Georgia.

– The game lasted three hours and 54 minutes, the longest UGA regular-season game in seven years (or since a four-hour, one-minute game vs. South Carolina in 2002).

– Tyson’s blocked extra point was the first by Georgia since Kedric Golston blocked one in the 2003 SEC Championship Game against LSU.

– Georgia has committed six turnovers in two games, leading to 26 points by the opponents.  On the other hand, Georgia has forced just one turnover in the two games, leading to three points.

– Richt’s day-after assessment: “Winning is very, very positive. It is the most positive thing that can happen in any game. You can measure everything else you want, but the victory is certainly the one thing that is most meaningful [to] create or deflate momentum, so we have definitely created some good positive momentum and want to build on it. We want to get better at some things that can get you beat and could have gotten us beat but didn’t get us beat, but we also want to build on the things that helped us win. There were some unbelievably good things that happened that we can point out and build on.  So we’ve got to have a nice combination of that – correct and praise.”

106 comments Add your comment

ctown dawg

September 14th, 2009
12:52 am

wow first!!! Good game d a little shaky, but overall good stood up when they had to, lets build on it and go on a run. GO DAWGS!!!!!

BugKiller

September 14th, 2009
1:39 am

Hmmm.

A Willie Martinez defense gives up the most points EVER scored by a specific opponent.

Is that new low surprising anyone?

You can add that to the MOST games (12) an opposing offense has scored 30 or more points over a 5 year period against Georgia defenses, yet another dubious record Willie owns.

FIRE WILLIE MARTINEZ!!!

ctown dawg

September 14th, 2009
2:11 am

Give me a break can we just be POSTIVE about a BIG win we needed. If people would quit being negative about our team all the time no matter what they do, Georgia would win more games, if you want to be negative go post on the tech page.

ctown dawg

September 14th, 2009
2:25 am

Instead of all the negatives you can bring up, lets talk about the postives. Our special teams actually looked really good, Cox played very well expect for one pass oh well that happens no one is perfect, AJ had one bad play but then looked like a beast that he is, Samuel hit people and broke tackles, then that D that is horrible held them to 5 field goals and made the play to win the game, and dont forget our freshman played very well our future is bright. GO DAWGS!!!!

innocent bystander

September 14th, 2009
2:26 am

Great article. Most of us would have inclined toward the kickoff return and the end around as the key plays. But a better case is made for the blocked kicked and the fumble recovery by Carlton. It seemed like Tyson got a lot of snaps Saturday. When you consider those three senior down linemen who are available he must be really coming into his own as a true sophomore.It seemed like Geno Atkins missed a lot of snaps. Is that inaccurate or was there a reason for that?

BugKiller

September 14th, 2009
2:31 am

“If people would quit being negative about our team all the time no matter what they do, Georgia would win more games.”

That has to be the dumbest think I’ve EVER seen written on these blogs, and there have been some pretty dumb things written by Vick Fans the last three years.

How about this. You want to be a blind homer, fine. You want to excuse mediocrity? Fine. You want to think a win is a win (when it’s against SoCarolina???) and ignore the VAST amount of negatives, which are there even if you want to ignore them or not, then FINE.

That’s your prerogative. Not mine. I hold the Dawgs to a higher standard. A standard they set during the BVG years.

Maybe YOU should as well.

www.dawgvent.blogspot.com

September 14th, 2009
5:56 am

Offensively there are few worries besides limiting the turnovers, once that is taken care of we should be the efficient time-consuming team everyone thinks we should be.

Defensively, there is obviously still work to be done. We made Garcia look like a Heisman hopeful, and that just isn’t going to cut it. Our guys were out of position way too many times during the game, something I would largely contribute to the coaching staff not getting the plays in early enough. Five plays were started with our subs still running on the field and our defensive line standing up. Willie has worn his welcome and needs to go. If he can’t configure a top tier defense with the talent that perennially comes through the revolving recruiting door at UGA, we need to find someone who can.

WORRIED

September 14th, 2009
6:32 am

Why do we not blitz? We have had Top 5 recruiting classes for the last 5 years so we should have the talent to blitz SOME and be able to play man coverage. I don’t like the bend-but-don’t-break defense. I like putting pressure on the QB and flying to the ball and seeing smash mouth defense. Like the Falcons play now! And I’m not on the “Fire Willie” bandwagon, I just think that we need to make some changes and hold some people accountable. With the talent we have there is no reason South Carolina should be able to score 37 points on us.

www.dawgvent.blogspot.com

September 14th, 2009
6:48 am

I was pondering that same thought. We seem to sit around and let the opposition control the flow of the game, something that would have never happened with previous teams. The “bend but don’t break” scheme seems awfully close to shattering. Pressure the QB, force some bad decisions, create turnovers. That’s the key to a marquee defense and things we have done very effectively in the past. It’s just scary to think that a maligned SC offense can do that to what’s supposed to be one of the better defenses in the conference, even if Willie is guiding them. Maybe he should check the NC State tapes for pointers.

Did anyone but me...

September 14th, 2009
7:12 am

…wonder why the blocked extra point was the ONLY time UGA tried to rush a field goal try or an extra point? Guess after the audible by SC on the punt, when the whole left side of the UGA line turned their backs on the punt and ran down field with their backs to the play and SC turned that into a first down, UGA did not even attempt to rush any kick by SC until that extra point. Again, GREAT coaching by UGA – this is getting older and older, with nothing being done!

But I was encouraged...

September 14th, 2009
7:16 am

…to see the kickoffs going deep – 2 or 3 even made it to the endzone! And the coverage was pretty good, too – funny how the last one, after UGA went up 41 – 37, was the shortest of the night and SC got the ball in pretty good field position from which they should have won the game!

WORRIED

September 14th, 2009
7:23 am

www-we are on the same page. The D we have been playing these last two years is not UGA football. We need pressure and we need turnovers. As simple as this sounds, we just need to get back to the basics and play old school Georgia defense

lynninsavannah

September 14th, 2009
7:33 am

When are we going to get the defense on track THey keep looking to the sidelines confused. I think we would be better off without WM. oh the garor guy who went to Athens for the game did you have fun?

Big Al

September 14th, 2009
7:41 am

Why is what you said below a surprise? EVERYONE is scoring record points against UGA’s so called defense. A girl scout troop could score against that poorly coached group.

A few more things:

– This is hard to believe, but in a series that dates back to 1894, Saturday’s 37 points were the most South Carolina has ever scored against Georgia.

dogdownsouth

September 14th, 2009
7:51 am

maybe it’s just me but does anyone else feel like we didn’t win the game but South Carolina had 5 plays from inside the 15 yd line & coul;dn’t score? & they Lost it more than we won? Were’s all the defensive line pressure we were promised we would have this year with all the defensive line guys finally healthy? I can’t recall any qb sacks from the D-line in either game or am i missing something? Seems like both QBs from our opposing teams had all day to throw the ball? I am also worried about Joe Cox’s early tendency to turn the ball over later in the game ala the fumble against ok state while we still had a chance to win and the interception run back for a Td in the SC game? Im sorry but HI HI HO HO WILLIE HAS GOT TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hungry Dawg

September 14th, 2009
7:56 am

For all the clueless tools calling for Joe’s head last week please note that he completed 70% of his passes this week passed for 200 yds’. and had 2 TD vs. 1 interception. He showed great leadership and poise and did a great job of scrambling on more than one occasion.

Go Dawgs, Sic Em, Woof Woof Woof

Zach

September 14th, 2009
7:56 am

Bugkiller, Give everyone a break. The offense and special teams gave up 18 points that game and left the defense dog-tired. I say fire Fabris (def. ends and special teams coach).

hammerhead

September 14th, 2009
8:18 am

Hey “WORRIED”, we did blitz. In fact, we blitzed many, many times bringing LB’s, corners, the whole house. Problem was, SC picked it up most of the time. My problem is not the defensive calls, but the execution. That is not to place it on the players. The players execute the way they practice. I just don’t think Willie can teach the players how to tackle properly, take the proper angle while the ball is in the air, etc. And, not adjusting to the underneath “dump” pass is just inexcusable.

TBone

September 14th, 2009
8:18 am

They sent the 2 middle linebackers consistently all night long, but they just ran straight into the line without trying to find a hole so the blitz was ineffective. It did however leave the 5 – 10 yard pass in the middle open all night long. Once again Wille has proven inept at making in-game adjustments to what the other team is doing.

savannahdawg

September 14th, 2009
8:19 am

Georgia ranks at the bottom of every offensive and defensive team category. Also special teams return coverage and of course penalties……..also at the bottom. I know Georgia didn’t open up with high school teams and the stats are a little bit inflated but there is a problem.

The Dude

September 14th, 2009
8:21 am

I don’t think CMR will fire Martinez in the middle of the season… if ever. So that’s not the answer. But certainly we can do better than the vanilla schemes we have right now. The opposition comes to the line with 20 seconds on the play clock and we don’t disguise our vanilla scheme or shift guys around. The QB has 20 seconds to change the play. 20 seconds to look to the sidelines to get another play. I’m not a defensive genius but I could call the defensive game plan we had on Saturday. It’s called “SAME DEFENSE AS LAST PLAY”. And don’t tell me schemes don’t work. There are more teams out there with much less talent that play much better defense because they confuse the opposition.

Atticus

September 14th, 2009
8:22 am

Mike Bobo, PLEASE watch the way Mike Mularkey runs his offense.

Willie, PLEASE put an LB up on the LOS to check the TE when everyone in the stadium knows they are going to throw to him, AGAIN.

Coach Fabris, PLEASE work on the punt return team so EVERYONE doesn’t turn their heads and run and not watch the punter, you did it against Ok State and they picked it up.

Players, GREAT EFFORT!

Let’s hope this season is like 07 and we improve as the year goes on.

How about a dose of FACTS

September 14th, 2009
8:25 am

14 of SC points came off of the pic 6 and a fumble on our 8 yard line.
I wouldn’t say that was the defenses fault. As far as the BVG years lets
not forget he had 10 All-Americans in three years guys we have not had close to ten since. If you listened to the pre-game interview with Frank Ros you heard him say their defense, which was coached by a pretty good coordinator Erk Russell used the same bend but don’t break philosophy, but some of you knuckleheads would have wanted him fired too.

DawgByte

September 14th, 2009
8:25 am

I think the DawgNation has entered into the twilight zone. I could have sworn I looked on the UGA sideline and saw Joe Kines leading our D. Martizez is clearly running the “Bend but don’t break” defensive philosophy at Georgia. Our opponents have put 62 points on the scoreboard against Willie Martinez’s defense in the first two games of the season. Against South Carolina our DB’s were playing 10 yards off their WR’s, so Garcia had easy pickings underneath and he took advantage of it all game long. South Carolina took advantage of our weak zone coverage, laying the blueprint for all other teams this season. One of the ESPN commentators pointed to huge assignment gaps in our defense and clearly pointed out where adjustments needed to be made.

Last year I took a wait and see attitude towards Martinez. I’ve seen enough! Coach Martinez needs be replaced at the end of the year. Period, no question about it.

How about a dose of FACTS

September 14th, 2009
8:28 am

Oh yeah the safety off the bad snap was the defenses fault too right.

Erk Russell

September 14th, 2009
8:31 am

Where is the pride of the defense? Snatched away by the DC will not allow the players to be effective. Play quality defense in the secondary. Teams are going to score if you allow them to throw underneath anytime the want. Only Georigia want to throw long all the time.

41 38 49 38 45 24 37

September 14th, 2009
8:38 am

Most points ever by SC in the series you blind homers!. So what if the offense had a few TOs the defense sure cant come up with some and our pass defense is atrocious. Yep SC is the very example of a mediocre football program being one game under .500 all time. Watchout for Vandy!

youngstar from atlanta

September 14th, 2009
8:40 am

What’s about freshman Branden Smith

barneyb

September 14th, 2009
9:04 am

Sure, it’s a win and we should rejoice in that. But to struggle like that and have a team like SC score so many points, we are in serious trouble for the rest of the season! Mediocre coaching & playing. Way too much talent on this squad to play this poorly. Fire Martinez, Bobo, and Fabris now!!! Or CMR may just find himself off the hot seat and in the unemployment line.

GeoffDawg

September 14th, 2009
9:06 am

I’d say that turnover ratio is probably the biggest stat of the season so far. Minus five in turnovers is absolutely horrible just two games into the season. If we could just even that up, we’d probably see significant improvement on the scoreboard immediately. I’m surprised people aren’t talking about that more rather than Willie Martinez’s soft zone coverage.

Seriously?

September 14th, 2009
9:07 am

I laugh everytime I read all the comments on this blog. You have a bunch of adults talking about how poorly a group of 18 and 19 year old kids played football. I am a die hard dawgs fan, and over the Richt era have come to enjoy the winning seasons and SEC championships. But sometimes, you all seem to forget that these are still just kids trying to make a name for themselves. I think they left it all on the field this weekend, so congrats to them for the effort. And as for the D, yes, we gave up a lot of points. But so did the supposedly stout South Carolina D. Plus, bad things are bound to happen when your defense stays on the field for the majority of the game, as our did. Give them a break. Great win and great effort.

Bullseye

September 14th, 2009
9:12 am

UGA=Vanderbilt
UGA=Kentucky
UGACarolina
UGA= 6 & 6

Saint Simons

September 14th, 2009
9:14 am

good call Bullseye!!!!!

BufordDawg

September 14th, 2009
9:27 am

First off let me say this is my 5th year going to the home games & outside of the original Blackout that’s the best game I’ve been too! That & the blocked FG were the two biggest plays of the game. The 3rd play in my mind was the KO return by Boykin because that swung the momentum.
I’ve been critical of Martinez in the past but these past two games we’ve given the opponent 21 & 17 points off of turnovers. It could have been more this week if Thomas doesn’t save the day & dive on that fumble. (Side note that happened right in front of our seats & I thought I was going to die when that ball came flying out!) One thing our coaches did that I liked was all the rotating we did on both offense & defense. On D it looked to me they we’re doing it in part to keep the guys fresh & to put our best 11 on the field by moving our DT’s to DE trying. Does the D have room to improve? YES! But are we headed in the right direction? YES! I’d like to see a few more blitz & diff schemes at times to confuse the O but overall so far this season Martinez is doing a good job.
On O we need King back to help out Samuel! Going forward if we can eliminate the turnovers & as the young guys mature I think we’ll be fine. I’m REALLLY worried about going to AK this week with them lying in wait & using the offseason to get ready for us. How much will we have left after the wild SC game & if we win out there this week will we have enough gas left to get past AZ St & LSU?

Mike

September 14th, 2009
9:34 am

I don’t think anyone on here is talking about how poorly a group of 18 and 19 year old kids played the game. It seems to me like people are talking about that pathetic scheme we ran. The scheme seemed to be executed by the players just fine. The problem arose when the LB and Safeties were continually sent to blitz and picked up by the SC O-Line. This opened up the middle for those 8yd hitch routes and slants. It also opened up the field for that mammoth TE. Seriously, they should call that guy Green Mile. Did anyone notice if we got out of a zone at all in the second half? I never saw any tight man coverage on the outside all night, but did we ever get out of zone?

robodawg

September 14th, 2009
9:42 am

WORRIED and www — we did blitz, a lot. Sometimes it worked, but other times we got burned b/c we still didn’t get Garcia and he threw to the spot we vacated.

Where we really need to improve is getting pressure from the front four. Then if you do blitz it’s more likely to work. If you HAVE to blitz to pressure the quarterback, you’re already in trouble. Losing Battle hurts … hopefully Houston will be as good as they say when he gets back.

Against the short passing game it also would’ve helped to play tighter coverage (something WM has always seemed reluctant to do). But then you risk getting beat deep. And we were really lucky SC didn’t beat us deep on two or three plays where they had it and just stopped themselves.

Our run defense is fantastic, but our pass defense is pretty worrying. Arkansas and Tennessee will be much tighter than we’d like if we can’t get in the QB’s face and suffocate their passing attacks.

WTF

September 14th, 2009
10:20 am

For you posters who seem to hate everything about Georgia Football – the coaches, the game plan, the players, etc. – why don’t you go jump on the Tech bandwagon? What a bunch of a**holes.

DamnGoodDawg

September 14th, 2009
10:42 am

We were lucky…verrrry lucky! We are not a good team. We’re gonna have to have some luck to pull out 8 wins. Way too many penalties. Undisciplined players. No pass rush without LBs and/or DBs. But we’re gonna kick Tech’s butt!

Ivan

September 14th, 2009
10:52 am

Dear UGA,

Thanks for Van Gorder. You can keep Martinez.

–Falcons Fan

RxDawg

September 14th, 2009
10:59 am

Sigh….it’s the turnovers people. Not the defense. I swear I think some of these people just don’t watch the same game I do.

Burdell

September 14th, 2009
11:02 am

University of Houston? REALLY?

Spike

September 14th, 2009
11:08 am

Holtz and Spurrier can bite me.

Tallcarl

September 14th, 2009
11:14 am

While I like CMR giving his senior quaterback a chance to play I am wondering if maybe Cox has small hands because he can not hold onto the bal when he is hit. This fact, along with his having so many balls knocked down against Ok. St. makes me wonder if he is too small to play a pro set style offense.

William

September 14th, 2009
11:15 am

RxDawg:
If you can not see that the defense is very very very poor then you need to stop sniffing some of that Rx stuff. FIRE MARTINEZ!

chipperdawg

September 14th, 2009
11:20 am

Saturday night was just crazy !!! The Sanford crowd was AMPED up!!! Good win by a yuong team still looking for its identity, I’d say. I agree with the two plays in the article… they were HUGE! There were many others deserving of praise as well. I must say, however, I thought we played way to much cover two again, not mixing up coverages, and the couple of times we did blitz, they were not masked very well. Offensively, one thing I picked up on pretty early was it seemed every time we completed a pass play, no matter the field position or down, we always came out of the next huddle, throwing again, out of the shotgun formation (if I picked up on it, I’m sure the Evil One and his demons did as well). And, I think I would have ran Richard until his tongue was dragging after getting a 15 point lead. Burn the clock and keep those guys off the field! Great trip to Athens, though! I yelled so much my neck muscles are sore to the touch!! Go Dawgs!!!!

dogdownsouth

September 14th, 2009
11:22 am

RXDAWG 17 points off those turnovers and a pass defense that never toucjed Garcia all night he stood there like he was on vacation in the backfield? where the defensive pass rush we were promised by Martinez when he got all his studs back? they looked like duds in the first 2 games to me

Dawg Dude

September 14th, 2009
11:24 am

Say what you will about firing Willie or not but when the opposing team completes passes on us and there is noone within 10 yards of the receiver that points to scheme. There is probably noone on the South Carolina offense that could step on the field at UGA yet they seemed to “find holes” all day long. Willie is too soft and I, along with countless others it seems, am tired of this bend dont break defense. The last 2 years it has been more bend AND break than anything else. All while we porbably have better athletes on the field that the opposing offense most of the time. Im ready to get back to hard nose uGA defense and its not gouing to happen with Willie. Sorry.

HBTD

September 14th, 2009
11:33 am

For all you negative types out there, you probably ought to find something else to do with your life on Saturdays during the fall. If you can’t get excited about this group of Dawgs after this past Saturday, you can’t be a dawg fan. Let me recap the positives to hopefully counter all the negative posts on this blog.

1. Blair Walsh kicks 4 balls 3 – 7 yards deep in the end zone and the dawgs cover all but one well. Did you see B. Rambo’s takedown of the one kick returner??
2. Blair kicks a 50 yard FG to go along with the 53 yarder the week before. He also kicks a cluth FG at the end to put us up by 4.
3. Youngsters making an immediate impact include Brandon Boykin, Brandon Smith, DeAngelo Tyson, Cornelius Washington and Orson Charles. WOW. These guys are all playmakers.
4. THREWW different units of DL played in the game.
5. Richard Samuels looked like a bull in a china shop. Wish they’d let him play a little more, but sure was glad Carlton was in there when Joe Cox got blindsided late in the game.
6. Anticipate getting Justin Houston and Caleb King back this week for Arkansas. Justin will be huge off the end. Caleb can add a good rotation with Richard and Carlton.
7. For all the crap Joe Cox has taken, he merely goes out and completes 17 for 24 passes (71%) and manages the game well for us. He did throw one really errant pass, but he’ll learn. Joe is certainly no Matt Stafford in terms of arm strength, but who is?? No one. Give the kid a chance. He can lead this team. Keep in mind he opened on the road against what was a top 10 school that was playing the biggest game in their school history, and oh yeah, Joe was coming off the flu that has people in my office off their feet for 3 + days. Again, give the kid a chance!! His teammates love him and voted almost unanimously THE leader of the team.

Bottom line is that this team is loaded with YOUNG and INEXPERIENCED talent. They’re still developing, but are already showing remarkable progress. I for one am super excited about this weekend and this year, and I’ll be cheering loudy for them!! For those of you who want to find fault with EVERYTHING a coach or a player does, take a good hard look in the mirror before you cast any more stones. Hmmmm. Now let’s ALL get behind the coaches and the players. Enough with the negativity.

Hungry Dawg

September 14th, 2009
11:35 am

“Tallcarl” I do not think there is a QB in the country that could have held onto the football after the lick that was laid on Joe Cox. To be honest with you I was surprised that Joe was able to get up after that hit. I also think Joe hitting 70% of his passes answers your question about his being able to play in a pro set.

“Seriously” Good post!

For you fans calling for Logan Gray to play he had his chance to show what he could do and handed the ball off when the read should have told him to tuck it and run. Instead of a 15 or 20 yard gain he would have had if he kept the ball he got Samuals stuffed at the line of scrimmage going into the teeth of the SC “D”.

Go Dawgs, Sic em, Woof Woof Woof!!!

look out

September 14th, 2009
11:54 am

arkansas has been preparing for this game since January. Dawgs better tune it up, the hawgs will play inspired football.