Shaky start for Georgia’s vaunted defense

ATHENS – Georgia’s defense was without five front-line players Saturday — four suspended and one injured — and the rest of the unit didn’t seem completely into the game either.

Georgia, which ranked No. 5 in the nation in total defense last season, allowed Buffalo, No. 80 in total offense last season, first-half scoring drives of 75, 94 and 47 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown drive of 75 yards. The Bulls finished the day with 347 yards total offense, considerably more than Georgia’s defense allowed per game last season (277.2).

The absences of safety Bacarri Rambo, cornerbacks Sanders Commings and Malcolm Mitchell and linebackers Alec Ogletree and Chase Vasser undoubtedly contributed to the defensive doldrums in what nevertheless turned out to be a 45-23 Georgia victory. (Mitchell was out because of a sprained ankle, the others because of suspensions.) Even so, the defense fell well short of expectations against a Mid-American Conference team that went 3-9 last season.

“Come out with a little bit more intensity, and I think we’ll be a lot better,” Georgia defensive end Abry Jones said. “I guess everyone’s expectations were that it would be a little bit of a cakewalk, but we’ll definitely look back on this game and say the season is not going to be easy. So we’ve got to keep working.”

On Buffalo’s first scoring drive, Georgia failed to get stops on third-and-4, third-and-5 and third-and-6, enabling the Bulls to put together an 11-play march culminated by 16-yard touchdown pass with about five minutes left in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Buffalo tailback Branden Oliver launched another touchdown drive by breaking free for 36 yards on third-and-3 from the Bulls’ 13-yard line. And as the first half concluded, the Bulls moved from the Georgia 48 to the 1 before settling for a field goal that trimmed the Bulldogs’ lead to 24-16.

“There were too many inconsistencies that led to explosive plays,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said.

By halftime, Buffalo had 243 yards offense (147 rushing, including 89 by Oliver). In the second half, Georgia’s defense was much better, stifling the Bulls until they assembled another long touchdown drive on their final possession of the game.

“We didn’t start [well], but we came in at the half and made adjustments and played a lot better,” UGA defensive end Cornelius Washington said.

Said Jones: “We looked each other in the eyes at halftime and said, ‘This is not how we play.’”

Grantham was encouraged by the second-half adjustments and had no interest in weighing the effect of the absent players on the overall performance.

“I ain’t blaming none of that because that is what it is,” Grantham said.

THE AJC’S COMPLETE COVERAGE OF SATURDAY’S GAME

Game story: Gurley’s dynamic debut overshadows lackluster game

Jeff Schultz column: Has Georgia duped us again, or was this performance just a hiccup?

Sidebar: Shaky start for Georgia’s vaunted defense

Photos: 14 views of the game

Video: Chip Towers recaps the game

Notebook:  Updates on suspensions and injuries

Quotes: What both sides had to say after the game

64 comments Add your comment

mv

September 1st, 2012
6:29 pm

I sure hope we improve on that outing. Go dawgs!

CHDawg

September 1st, 2012
6:30 pm

Chip, heard anything on injuries? Looked like Theus might have rolled and ankle, and I’m not sure about Burnette. Thx.

CHDawg

September 1st, 2012
6:31 pm

CHDawg

September 1st, 2012
6:34 pm

My humble opinion, but I think they were looking ahead to Missouri and when we were up 24-6 with a lot of time in 2nd, they relaxed. We got the pace back pretty well after halftime. The O line did better in the 2nd half imo.

harold

September 1st, 2012
6:40 pm

UGA IS CERTAINLY NOT THE # 6 TEAM IN THE COUNTRY. THEY LOOKED HORRIBLE.

Bad Dawg

September 1st, 2012
6:42 pm

Fire Mark Richt! That was an embarrassing performance to start the season. At least in the Boise game last year it seemed like the team gave it their all. They didn’t even give it 100% and Richt rewards them with a trip to the pool instead of practicing last week? I’m praying for a new head coach that is elite, can recruit players who represent the university well off the field, and win big games. That defense is overrated too. Go Dawgs!

SatillaDawg

September 1st, 2012
6:43 pm

Go Dawgs!

It wasn’t all that impressive, especially the D, but it’s a win.

Gurley looks like the real deal. Keep giving him the ball.

Glad Murray stayed in the game late. He looks rusty.

Get to work, Dawgs. Mizzou ain’t Buffalo.

Glory, Glory to Old Georgia.

Ward

September 1st, 2012
6:51 pm

I cannot believe they could not get enough pressure to force a turnover or hit someone hard enough to cause a fumble… that was a weak performance.

BobDog

September 1st, 2012
6:56 pm

The first team defense didn’t allow a first down in the second half. Buffalo found some weaknesses on our right side, where Jarvis Jones usually plays, and exposed them in the first half. Glad they made adjustments at the half.

Dawgs 32

September 1st, 2012
7:03 pm

Hope they get the D figured out…looked very sluggish and confused today.

Gurley_man

September 1st, 2012
7:03 pm

Sussex Club

September 1st, 2012
7:11 pm

Fire Grantham.

derekross

September 1st, 2012
7:16 pm

glad we played buffalo and not someone with talent.

Paratrooper

September 1st, 2012
8:40 pm

Hey trolls, crawl back under your 5th Street Bridge. Fire Richt? Fire Grantham? Yeah, you would really love that, you propeller headed dorks. For the true Dawgs here, not the blow out many predicted but they got it done with plenty of room to spare. Should be some good times at practice this week!

RNB

September 1st, 2012
9:06 pm

Yall keep drinking the kool aid. All we can hop for is Dooley does better than Richt so they don’t beat us to Petrino.

Dawg Tired

September 1st, 2012
9:17 pm

They can look ahead to Mizzou all they want, but, trust me, the Mizzoe QB will eat this bunch alive running and throwing. Our pass defense is horrendous without our starters and the QB scramble/draw is wide open with no defender even within 5 yards of the slow Qb from SUNY Albany – or Buffalo – whichever one of those schools it was we played. I suspect the Mizzou QB is a tad quicker and tad faster than the one we couldn’t catch today. Doesn’t look promising for next week.

Dawg Tired

September 1st, 2012
9:19 pm

As for spreading the carries around, I submit it is absurd for a back as good as Gurley to only get 8 carries all day. Let the big dawg eat!

Herschel Walker's Jock Strap

September 1st, 2012
9:19 pm

When you have the likes of Olgetree, Cummings, Mitchell and Rambo not in the game you loose the ability to get creative with your Blitz Packages. If those guys would have been playing Buffalo wouldn’t have scored. They played straight man D most of the day and I doubt Grantham wanted to run the risk of all out blitz and get some of the greener D-backs burned. That’s also why you saw their QB break long runs. When you play man D you have your back turned to the QB and when he breaks containment you are the last to know.

Grantham know’s what he’s doing. He just didn’t have the players to make the calls he usually makes. They had to play vanilla and you could tell the players weren’t really into it either. They probably got tired of hearing 3-4 or nickel cover 2 man all day long. Players feed off of stunts and blitzes. When our key secondary players return it will be game on!

DAC

September 1st, 2012
9:58 pm

What bothered me about the Dawgs is no intensity on either side of the ball. I watched a little of the Missouri game and we better have Rambo and Ogletree back and get some speed or we will be a bunch of pissed Dawgs next week. Gurley looked great Murrray was inconsistent still but I blame a lot of that on BoBo- as predictable as always- hope they were holding back – team seemed slow

Columbus

September 2nd, 2012
12:15 am

I seen plenty of enthusiasm. I seen plenty of intensity. This was more of a practice game atmosphere after awhile. 13 true freshman playing. 5 true freshman starting. Half the defensive starters missing. Murray being the same Murray. We need our defensive starters BACK more than anything and MUST weather the storm until they are back somehow, some way. Murray has got to step it up and become a CHAMPIONSHIP QB. We NEED our defense back, especially Ogletree. Sometimes I think he can play the enitre other teams offense by himself and Rambo and Commings and Vasser are also HUGE losses. Weather the storm men until the defense gets back and UGA will be fine. Step up tp the next level Murray. NOW. Get healthy Mitchell….Go Dawgs!

[...] Sidebar: Shaky start for Georgia’s vaunted defense [...]

azdawg

September 2nd, 2012
1:15 am

We couldn’t hold a candle to AL. It’s all coaching and ga needs to clean house.

Huh?

September 2nd, 2012
1:25 am

UGA fans….make all the excuses you want (starters missing, freshman playing, cupcake opponent, etc.). There is no excuse for that performance today. UGA should have beaten the crap out of BUFFALO.

No way UGA is the #6 team in the country. UT looks like the best team in the East, and NOBODY is on Alabama or LSU’s planet.

ugaJWhiskey

September 2nd, 2012
3:06 am

Yea, these “fans” complaining are really gt/florida fans. Fire our coaches, because they didn’t blow out a team in the first half? Sounds like a dumb fan, or opposing team fan. If Georgia can still win 45-23 when they play like crap, imagine what they can do when they are on their A game. At least they learn from this game, and play more focused against Missouri.

PCM

September 2nd, 2012
7:00 am

UGA is not as bad as they looked at times on Saturday, but I definitely think they are overrated….AGAIN! Lot of talent on this team, but they still lack that “killer instinct”. Gave up three sacks, two of them to a three man rush. Murray missing wide open recievers will not fly in conference play. Firing coaches is unrealistic, and frankly, ridiculous. Depth appears to be an issue, especially on defense. A lot of young guys have to get better, quick. Watching Bama on TV last night just reminds us all how much better they are than my beloved Dawgs!

joe jenkins

September 2nd, 2012
8:19 am

why did we hire will friend….the o-line gave up 3 sacks to the bulls???…it’s going to beanother long year for murray, he will get hit alot…..over throw wr’s all year long.franklin will set an ncaa record against us next sat

joe jenkins

September 2nd, 2012
8:22 am

I think richt should resign after mizzo whips us sat night…He is fat and rich now and he just don’t care….grantham also needs to lose about 60 lbs….he looked like he was going to pass out during the game…

Stinger

September 2nd, 2012
8:31 am

I just read where thousands left at half-time. Thousands more after 3 quarters. I don’t blame you losers for leaving that pathetic over rated team. Some things never change. Anytime UGA is rated in the top 10 preseason, they fall flat on their face during the season. Your super duper defense gave up 350 yards on defense and 23 pts. to WHO???? Looks like long season boys. YOU dreams are already over.

TossSweep

September 2nd, 2012
8:34 am

Fans in the stadium were pathetic as usual. If there was a ranking on the best college fan base that really shows intensity and excitement, UGA would be near the bottom. Yes, players feed off a loud and excited stadium as well irrespective of the opponent. SOS…and I don’t mean ‘help’.

joe jenkins

September 2nd, 2012
8:38 am

I don’t see us beating mizzo without theus and mitchell…rambo…..wth is wrong with corey moore….if all we have is connor norman….we are in for a long year

Mcdawg

September 2nd, 2012
9:09 am

Gilliard should be benched

joe jenkins

September 2nd, 2012
9:11 am

our defense is based on stunts and blitzes…so without tree and rambo…mitchell we won’t beat mizzo…..these guy’s love weed more than they do championships and money….go figure

Mcdawg

September 2nd, 2012
9:12 am

Can we at least try to establish a running game. I was looking forward to see Malcolme bang 4yds a carry straight down the field

I wii say buffalo is a lot better than getting credit

joe jenkins

September 2nd, 2012
9:18 am

I agree mcdawg…about gilliard…..but i disagree about malcome..he lacks sec speed!!! he has a broken hand now anyways….Samual and harton will have to step it up this sat. and no…buffalo still sucks….they will be 4-8 this year

Grown up blogger

September 2nd, 2012
9:22 am

First, stinger don’t you have something better to do than hate the dogs? It makes you look so immature. The facts from an objective observer
1 the defense showed up for one half without 5 starters
2 kicking game and special teams look improved
3 offensive line showed some real promise
4 Gurley is for real, so is Marshall
5 Buffalo is better than advertised
6 UGA played down to the competition… This is coaching
7 lots of mental errors… This is coaching as well

We will probably drop in the polls because we didn’t cover the spread. If the defense plays like this next week we will lose. If we put it all together we win going away.

joe jenkins

September 2nd, 2012
9:40 am

yea buffalo is better than akron and georgia state….if that helps you sleep at night….geez…wth is wrong with y’all disney dawns

LogicalUS

September 2nd, 2012
10:15 am

I see the “going thru the motion” experience is off to a shaky start.

Told ya about the half empty stadiums and remaining problems from last season…below average running game + a way overhyped DC\defense but at least they did not collapse in the 4Q vs Buffalo.

Looks very scary going to Mizzou without a secondary now doesn’t it? Just wondering how BUFFALO had that many yards with the “quarterback on his back all day”?

Dawg-Gawn

September 2nd, 2012
10:26 am

@LogicalUS, joe jenkins, MCdawg, Huh?:

Heard the Dawgs need some talking Dummies at practice this week….. you up for it?

The Chapel Bell rang!

“Fan-Up”

“Our Team, Our Time, No Regrets”

Believe in the “G”

harold

September 2nd, 2012
10:43 am

UGA IS NOT A TOP 25 TEAM. UGA LOOKED HORRIBLE SATURDAY.

RICHT IS 9-30 AGAINST RANKED TEAMS.

LSU TORCHED UGA FOR OVER 40 POINTS IN ONE HALF LAST YEAR.

THIS IS A VERY WEK SCHEDULE THAT UGA PLAYS BUT UGA WILL LOSE 4 OR 5 GAMES.

THE TALENT ISN’T THERE. IT IS TIME FOR RICHT TO GO!

01HAWK

September 2nd, 2012
12:00 pm

Dillon Lee – LB from Buford had a interception for BAMA last night…………………….RB – .Kenyon Drake played also for BAMA.

Here we Go

September 2nd, 2012
12:07 pm

Same old story!!!!!! 9 and 3 or 8 and 4.All this talent and can not do better than this! I’m not a Bama fan but you can tell a BIG difference in both teams.Oh well another wait til next year.

chazzo

September 2nd, 2012
12:18 pm

Well…
1) Buffalo’s offense is a little better than advertised. Good QB and RB, decent line.
2) UGA played a lot of freshmen.
3) The weather was soup.

But…
1) Everyone knew players would be out. Should have been prepared.
2) Buffalo O-line, QB, RB not nearly as good as what UGA will need to beat.
3) Will our backs avg. 5-10 ypg against a D-line like SoCa, UF, or AU?
4) Special teams (despite the 100 yard return) still seem to be a question mark.

Conclusion:
1) UGA had best get it together quick or they will suffer an embarrassing loss next week. Oh, and, Vandy, UT, SoCa, UF, AU would have all beaten the Dawgs on Sat. Haven’t seen UK and GT yet.
2) The Dawgs are a much better team than what they showed on Sat. Will they be able to play to their potential? No regrets?
3) Come on!

Frustrated Dawg

September 2nd, 2012
1:01 pm

Fellow Dawg Fans, here is the cold hard truth from where I see it. Richt is a good man, and a good coach, but he’s not a great coach (and never will be). This team will probabaly finish 8-4, when it has the talent t go 11-1 or 12-0. Look at our neighboring state to the West and the flagship university in their state. They are a football machine, and just reload. They looked like an NFL team last night. What do they have that UGA does not have? Facilities? HS talent (proven fact that the state of GA has btter HS talent than Alabama), money? fan base? No, they actually have a coach that is focused on recruiting the very best, and developing players.

I’m also not sold on opur strength and conditioining program. We looked weak in the 4th qtr last year againt SC, LSU and Michigan State, and then got pushed around yesterday by Buffalo. I don;t want to hear about how hot it was! Buffalo also had to play in the heat! I noticed Mike Gilliard yesterday, and how his arms are no bigger than mine. I then saw Tenn, Bama, Aub, and Clemson’s linebackers in their games, and those dudes look like body builders. One of Tenn’s LB’s has arms as lareg as my legs. Our offensive linemen also do not look as physically developed as Tennessee’s or several SEC teams I watched this weekend.

I hope I am wrong, but this may be a long season.

PS: these ridiculous suspensions are insane! Show me another team that deals with this crap at the beginning of every year. If Rambo and Tree do not return this week, we have no shot at Mizzou. Sad.

Frustrated Dawg

September 2nd, 2012
1:22 pm

Sorry for the misspelled words. Typing too fast, and watching two little kids!

Maxx4955

September 2nd, 2012
1:27 pm

Where was Corey Moore? I see they started a walk-on who probably would not start no where else in the SEC. Norman and S Williams played the entire game without a rest or break, despite a sure UGA victory. I don’t get it. Corey made the first tackle of the game on special teams, while Norman made a half of a tackle the entire game as a starting safety. Something is smelling pretty fishy between the hedges.

ugalee

September 2nd, 2012
2:16 pm

This is what you get when you dont hit in practice and try to “simulate game conditions. You end up w fewer injuries but teams that get their tails handed to them when the game starts. Someone needs to tell the d line to take their roller skates off when the game starts. Getting tired of this coaching staff. They are always making changes but nothing ever seems to work.

zbulldawg

September 2nd, 2012
2:18 pm

It’s all good ! You people wouldn’t be happy if we beat them a 100 to nothing & took players from the student body !! Give them credit our special teams looked alot better. Running game was good ! Defense was vanila ON purpose dumbies or need to realize that they have to play hard on every play. Bama couldn’t figure out who or when some one should or should not be in the game !! UGA will be ready next week !! No worries here just a LOLs. In 1980 no one gave us a chance We barely got by at times. But this team has alot to prove to them selves ONLY !!! Not me You or anyone else !! LET THE BIG DAWG EAT

Psychic

September 2nd, 2012
2:40 pm

Enter your comments here

Psychic Beer Dog

September 2nd, 2012
2:50 pm

Fear not People of the UGA football nation…This time next year Kirby Smart is the head Dog….So let it be written, So let it be done!

Lagdawg

September 2nd, 2012
3:16 pm

Didn’t look like a top ten team. OL still does not fire off the ball, defense looked horrible. Buffalo OL pushed the DL around. Not looking like a top tier defense. I hope this gets a whole lot better against Mizzou.. Seems like a lot of the SEC teams made improvements and UGA still comes out flat as usual. It is all about the coaching staff. This staff does not know how to motivate the players and frankly it’s getting old. If they don’t improve by next week, it is going to be a long season and time for a new coaching staff.