Observations from the cheap seats

Nothing profound, hopefully of some interest, though, here are a few things I saw from my vantage point in the end zone corner to the left of the band, about thirty rows up:

  • First of all, whatever else I have to say, congrats to the Gators and their fans.  Your guys showed up to play all four quarters and did so, while my team… not so much.
  • As bad as the third quarter was, that’s not when the game was lost.  Your offense can’t play all-world between the twenties and sputter in the red zone repeatedly against a team as good as Florida without paying a price, and Georgia certainly did.
  • I truly thought that Stafford had turned a corner against LSU.  That turned out to be a fantasy.  After the game, a friend compared Matt to Jeff George, and while I think that’s a bit extreme, he still remains frustratingly inconsistent.  Bad reads, mechanics that come and go, forced throws – they were all there, long before the game got totally out of hand.
  • I don’t know who gets the lion’s share of the blame for the playcalling in the first half – whether that goes to Bobo for the calls, or Stafford for the reads – but there were plenty of head scratchers.  As Mergz noted in the comments to my previous post, Strong gambled by playing eight in the box to stop Moreno.  Playing that many so close to the line also meant that screens, passes to the flats and that abominable zone read play where Stafford keeps were all going to be extremely well defended, too.  Yet, we saw all of it.  And it all got shut down.  In the meantime, that meant there were yawning gaps of real estate with no Gator defenders patrolling them in the middle of the field.  Crossing routes, slants, posts, throws to the tight end over the middle were all invited, and the few times that the Dawg offense took Strong up on his offer all resulted in resounding success.  But for some reason, Georgia was clearly reluctant to exploit this.  Why?  I have no idea.
  • Don’t know what’s going on with Blair Walsh, but it’s gotten ugly, as in Andy Bailey ugly.  And before I jump the coaching decision to onside kick, I’d be curious to know if Walsh gaffed the execution of that play as well.  Florida only had four men on the line for the kick;  Walsh simply kicked the ball directly to one of them.  I doubt that’s what Fabris had in mind for the play.
  • All things considered, I thought the defense played well.  It’s too much to expect it to hold up under the sheer onslaught of all the turnovers in the third quarter.  And don’t forget that the Dawgs came up with a stop on Florida’s first possession of the second half, before the bottom fell out.
  • It’s not worth getting too worked up over the officiating, since that’s not what cost Georgia the game.  But I’ve got to say that the spot of Tebow’s run that allegedly picked up the first down was an astonishingly bad call.  It was clear from where I sat on the opposite side of the field that he didn’t make it.  Again, though, that and five bucks will get me a latte at Starbucks.
  • I have to admit that I guessed wrong on Meyer’s grand gesture of retribution for the Celebration.  I thought he was going to take a run at setting the all time record for Gator points scored in a game against Georgia, but he called off the dogs in the end.  I found the time outs anti-climactic – when you’re on the receiving end of a 39-point ass whooping, something like that hardly matters.  I’m sure their fans ate it up; the irony is that I assume it was wasted on most of our fans who had either cleared out of the stadium or changed channels on the TV long before.
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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Observations from the cheap seats

  1. Joe

    The thing about the egregiously bad spot is that it was a clear signal from Penn Wagers to CMR that the refs would make sure to do everything possible to insure that UGA had to work twice as hard to win the game as UF did.

    It was clearly a statement call by Wagers, and the SEC should take a serious look at insuring that Wagers never calls another UGA game again. His impartiality and obvious Gtu-alum bias make it impossible for him to be a fair and impartial advisor.

  2. Wagers was upheld on the review, wasn’t he?

    It’s just silly to blame the results on the officiating crew. They didn’t make a single bad read, didn’t run an end zone route incorrectly, miss a field goal, etc.

    I’ll save my anger over an official until the time comes when he costs Georgia a game. That didn’t happen Saturday night.

  3. I’m too depressed to say much but why do we rely on Knowshon to get us to the red zone and then put Caleb King in to keep us out of the end zone?

    This was hellish.

  4. Ally

    The officiating didn’t coast us the game, but continuous bad calls and/or non calls can cost you momentum.

    Penn was successful in doing that to our team and I absolutely believe it was intentional.

  5. I wished I had known you would be there – I would have extended an invitation of hospitality to my tailgate which we set up at 9 AM.

    If you decide to come next year consider it an open invitation.

  6. Thanks, Mergz.

    You don’t set up until 9 AM? That’s weak, man. ;)

  7. Jim

    I agree the offense was the worse offender but the reason it hurts is that our defense is not good. If we scored 42 points this year, they do not score 49. Probably 30 again. Back to the defense. Even my dear wife knew Tebow would run the ball at cetrain times during the game so why did our defense doubt it so many times.
    Since the Fla coach sends the plays into the game after we have set our defense, why did we not shift into another defensive set when the entire Fla offense turned to look at the side lines for the call. Imagine their surprise if when they turned around and we were in a different set than they were expecting. I also think maybe Martinez would be more effective if he sat in the coaches box in the stands. He might have seen how exposed we were on the first touchdown.

  8. A quick observation that’s been bugging me: it’s no secret that during Richt’s tenure, we’ve had trouble scoring in Jax. With the exception of 2001, I think Charlie Strong has been there every year. Can we please get this guy a job? Clemson, here’s looking at you! What is very noticeable to me in this game every year, is how much more physical UF’s receivers/defensive backs are than ours. I think our receivers block well, but during their patterns they are soft as tissue. To me, that goes hand and hand with the lack of aggression and killer instinct synonymous with the Richt era.

  9. KG

    “In the meantime, that meant there were yawning gaps of real estate with no Gator defenders patrolling them in the middle of the field. Crossing routes, slants, posts, throws to the tight end over the middle were all invited, and the few times that the Dawg offense took Strong up on his offer all resulted in resounding success. But for some reason, Georgia was clearly reluctant to exploit this. Why? I have no idea. ”

    Actually by putting 8 men in the box it usually involves bringing one of the safeties up to linebacker depth. But this isn’t a good formation to attack with crossing routes, slants and the tight end. As soon as the team reads the line is pass blocking they will drop into their zones of responsibility. Because they are so close to the LOS this means the short to intermediate middle of the field will be the most congested.

    The area to attack here (aka on play action) is the deep third or corners of the defense. The sides of the field are now the most vulnerable, especially if the remaining deep safety is cheating to the side with the TE or two receivers. It’s the intermediate to deep routes that should be open. Either the corner is going to be 10-15 yards off the line and give up the short completion or he will be up tight on bump and run and then you have one on one coverage deep (man-to-man with no help can equal big play).

    Crossing routes are going to be very congested unless run intermediate to deep (preferably). The slant is also being thrown into a lot of traffic and depending on how the corners are playing (bump and run or cutting off the inside route) all it takes is a simple jam to blow up that play. If you are playing against a LB corp like Florida (or Georgia) that has a lot of speed and get’s good depth the TE isn’t going to be all that effective because he’s not one of the speed players on the field who can take advantage of the space quick enough. You are basically trying to attack the open areas with the WRs.

    You can’t look at the “pre-snap” middle because at this level guys react very quickly in the SEC. I wouldn’t attack the middle at all. I’d go after the corner or outs or fly patterns on the sides because there isn’t any safety there to cover for a corner’s bust.

    HOWEVER, in Bobo’s defense. If you are worried about your offensive line’s ability to protect then this may not be the way to go. Florida was getting pressure on Stafford early and the best way to counter that is to establish the run early. Even if Florida stacks the box if the line is getting penetration you will still need time for the 5 to 7 step drops needed to hit the kinds of routes that would exploit the openings the shallow safety provides.

    Towards the end of the game the Florida linebackers were the ones giving Stafford the most trouble in the passing game. Perhaps the single biggest area of improvement in Florida’s pass defense has been the linebackers getting proper depth and forcing a lot of interceptions and deflections this year. Given the beating that the TV replays showed Stafford was taking combined with the fact that Matt couldn’t even grip the ball after the series he jammed his funny bone, I can see where Bobo was trying to protect his QB in a close game until they could improve the pass protection. It might not have been as obvious at the game but MS took some heavy shots in the first half of the game that were replayed numerous times on CBS’s coverage.

  10. evan

    It seems like no one is mentioning the ref’s screwing of us through bad calls and non-calls

    there are 28 points of floridas attributable to this….
    this game shouldve atleast been closer than it was

    heres some solace though

    a 1 loss team will not be in the bcs championships between bama, TT, PSU, and possibly Utah….therell be two standing with 0 losses at years end

    anyhow…florida came to play and the dawgs didn as you said…plus stafford reverted back to his 2k6 self

  11. peacedog

    Free Man, Knownshon is the one who decides when he needs to exit the game.

    Sen, a play where we did try to go to the middle was the incomplemtion to Harris. Would have been a big game and it seemed likt he D was stretched out so maybe even a TD. But he dropped it of course. I don’t know how many other individual routes tested the middle since it’s harder to see that on TV. Stafford does occasionally seem to lock in to one side of the field (he missed an open Massaquoi iirc, in favor of a covered AJ Green on one incompletion).

    Senator, many of your thoughts have passed through my head. Very disappointed that we seemed to go belly up after the early 3rd Q int. Talking to people I think you’re right that the onsides kick may actually have worked but it seemed to be poorly hit. In what I hope does not turn out to be some unpleasant foreshadowing, one topic of conversation pre-game amongst me and several friends was how hard kicking is in college, including how stressful it can be mentally.

  12. KG

    “a 1 loss team will not be in the bcs championships between bama, TT, PSU, and possibly Utah….therell be two standing with 0 losses at years end”

    There is more likely to be two 1 loss teams playing in the BCS title game than two undefeated teams. First off Utah isn’t going to play in the BCS title game undefeated or not. That’s just completely out of touch with reality. That leaves PSU, Bama and Texas Tech. PSU has perhaps the easiest road but if you remember past history that is far from a done deal, especially as the weather gets bad in Big 10 country. Texas Tech would have to beat Okla St. at home, Okla on the road and Mizzou at a neutral site. Bama has to beat LSU on the road, Auburn and then Florida in a neutral site. If UF wins out then Bama would be eliminated and it’s HIGHLY unlikely that Texas Tech can finish the season unblemished. In fact I doubt the Red Raiders even make the Big 12 Championship Game when all is said and done.

  13. Wolfman

    I’m glad I watched this game by myself.

    I kept saying out loud , “We can beat them deep.” Especially during the first half. Now I’m of the “run the ball, run the ball, run the damn ball” variety, but, IMHO, we could have lit up this Gator defense in the first half. A.J. Green didn’t even see the ball in the first half, did he? I thought the shots downfield were open in the first half. I know our goal of the game was not to abandon the run, like against Alabama, but they were loading up in the box. We stuck with the run, and rarely looked long. By the time we were down 3.5 touchdowns, Florida moved back, and snuck extra guys into the secondary. We had no choice but to pass, and Stafford forced them in there as he tends to do. Smart strategy on their part…we told them what we were going to do, and they planned accordingly.

    Senator, I don’t know if you saw the touchdown they scored off of momentum from Asher Allen’s jersey, but they showed it on TV plenty. That, to me, is indicative of the way it was called Saturday. I don’t think it was 39 pts worth of calls, though.

    I don’t think we should fall into this mode of “we wet the bed against Florida”. They’re good. Very good. I remember watching the LSU-Fla game, and thinking, “They’ve finally figured it out.” They learned how to play, something they didnt have against Tenn. or Miss. They’ll beat Alabama — easy.

    But I still think the celebration changed everything. Be honest — you felt different going in about this one than you did going in in ’05. We just got had this time, and I think we beat ourselves, instead of the other way around. What did Ally say after the LSU game, refering to a quote from Darryl Gamble? Something to the effect of we need to keep those heads from getting too big? I think we were trying to drag our heads around the field on Saturday, all because we beat an overrated LSU team.

    I don’t want anybody coaching our team but Coach Richt. No one. But we need to focus. And, in the future, we need to learn to focus BEFORE we get embarrassed.

    By the way, a bright spot in the game was Mohammed Massaquoi. Great game for him. Every time he made a great catch, Danielson praised Stafford. I’m kinda getting tired of that. Massaquoi has been performing increasingly well over the course of the season, and I’m hoping it doesn’t continue to go unnoticed.

  14. Proud to be a Dawg

    I blame it on Uga VII. He’s way too nonchalant just like our other Dawgs

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  16. You can’t look at the “pre-snap” middle because at this level guys react very quickly in the SEC. I wouldn’t attack the middle at all. I’d go after the corner or outs or fly patterns on the sides because there isn’t any safety there to cover for a corner’s bust.

    KG, believe me, I wasn’t looking at the “pre-snap” middle.

    Strong scouted Bobo’s tendencies very well. This is a team that prefers to throw to the sidelines as much as possible and ignores its tight ends as receiving options. Your secondary and LBs ceded this repeatedly during the game without being made to pay a price.

    There was a lot of open space in the middle of the field that Georgia ignored.