Upon further review: Georgia-Vanderbilt

I didn’t see any shocking truths revealed in the broadcast that weren’t apparent watching the game live, but there are three points worth reiterating/expanding upon.

  • Fundamentals and coaching credit where credit is due. There’s been a fair amount of hoopla over Bobo leaving the booth and coaching down on the sidelines, but to me the significant coaching effort came in the week of practice leading up to the game.  It was very apparent that there was a renewed effort at giving attention to fundamentals that showed up with the very first punt and defensive series by Georgia.  Kickoff and punt coverage was solid the entire day – as I mentioned, Vandy’s longest return on kickoffs was 20 yards and its longest punt return was 11 yards.  (And before you ask, yeah, the ‘Dores field the 11th-ranked punt return team in the conference, but their kickoff return average is the same as Georgia’s.)  Defensively, it wasn’t as consistent as the special teams’, but we saw players doing a much better job of staying in their lanes, not overrunning pursuit and not letting receivers run wide open for ten or fifteen yards.  Tackling wasn’t perfect and they still have a problem with an offense which changes pace (good luck with Auburn on that), but all in all it was a solid effort, one you hope they build on in the next two weeks of practice.
  • Coaching and the fear of results. I’ve already seen at least one player quote to the effect that all of the pressure will be on Florida in two weeks and that Georgia can go in and play as if it has nothing to lose.  That’s all great, but somebody needs to tell the Dawg coaches that.  There are still scads of inexplicable calls and decisions by them that reveal their uncertainty about everything except their fear of getting burned.  That’s why we see Logan Gray continuing to receive punts in the middle of the field (after the horse is already out of the punt fake barn) on a day when Prince Miller distinguished himself in that department and why Walsh, who continues to lead the SEC in touchbacks and who got excellent support from his coverage team throughout the game, angles a kickoff towards the sidelines with a mere seven seconds left in the half.  That’s why Martinez played soft zone against a quarterback who is likely the worst at his position that Georgia’s defense will see all season and who showed very early that he had no ability whatsoever to complete a deep pass against even Georgia’s single coverage.  There are plenty of playmakers on Georgia’s roster.  The coaches need to quit playing what’s the worst that can happen and start trusting the talent more.  Will there be bumps along the way?  Sure, but it’s not like it’s ever going to be any more embarrassing than what we witnessed in Knoxville two weeks ago.
  • Offensive strategy, or, in which your humble blogger finds himself in agreement with Andre Ware. Yeah, it’s kind of sad when even a hack like Ware stumbles on the truth, but it’s that painfully obvious Mike Bobo needs to man up and realize that establishing the run early isn’t a successful strategy with the personnel hand he’s been dealt this season.  I understand it’s been Georgia’s bread and butter under Richt to use the run to set up the pass, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.  The reality is that right now, all of Georgia’s offensive playmakers are on the receiving corps and that’s where the majority of plays needs to be going until a running back truly steps up as a legitimate option that opposing defenses respect.  It’s not a sin to use the pass to set up a running attack.  And there’s another reason why Richt and Bobo need to yield in this area.  Joe Cox is a quarterback who gets much better once he establishes a rhythm.  That’s easier to do when you’re throwing frequently on first and second downs; it’s a much tougher task when you hand off on those early downs, get your patented 2.5 yards per carry at best and leave Joe facing third-and-fives or worse on a regular basis.  None of Georgia’s backs have shown an ability to get tough yardage consistently running between the tackles and they’re getting little help from the line, the tight ends and the fullbacks.  Ditch the I-formation at least early in the game, spread the defense out to get more room for your backs (especially Carlton Thomas) and throw on the early downs to keep the defense from crowding the line.  If you’re worried about tipping your hand on run/pass calls due to personnel, what’s stopping you from playing two tailbacks in the backfield together?  Caleb King is proving as solid on pass protection as either Chapas or Munzenmeier, so why not pair him with some of the other tailbacks in a split backfield?  After all, it’s not like Bobo hasn’t seen offensive formations with that before.  In Bobo’s defense, I think he knows in his heart what needs to happen – witness his playcalling in the only successful drive of the Tennessee game and the fact that he didn’t put in the power package on Caleb’s touchdown run – he’s just reluctant to admit it.  Use the Force, Luke.
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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Upon further review: Georgia-Vanderbilt

  1. Joe B.

    Why were we even kicking off with :07 left in the 1st half?

    Why not run one more play there and kick the ball with no time left.

    Another head scratching display of time management from Richt and the boys.

    • The Realist

      He got burned by the clock operator in Tennessee, and he didn’t want to have that happen again in Vandy. Who is to say that the officials would have the ball marked and ready for play for Joe to spike the ball after running a play? That’s 3 plays in 11 seconds with these officials spotting the ball and blowing it ready for play. In retrospect, it was probably wise to take the 3.

  2. Uganewt

    Agree with you Senator (and Andre) on the pass to set up the run. In fact, our most successful play of the game was essentially a long hand off to AJ. That kind of quick pass is about as safe as a toss sweep and we’re getting the ball to our best player in space. We also tried it with Branden Smith on the first series. AJ, Smith and Wooten can all be successful in this kind of “running” attack.

    Also, on the point about two tailbacks, correct me if I’m wrong but I think Smith was in the backfield with Caleb on the screen TD. They crossed in front of Cox and I’d be willing to bet most defenders moved with Smith given our tendencies with him in the game.

    • Ubiquitous GA Alum

      You’re right. Smith lined up with trips right and motioned into the backfield. Cox faked to him, which froze the safeties, while Caleb went to the flat. AJ and Michael blocked to the bench – TD!

  3. LawDawg

    If the coaches start off the game in Jax tight as if they have everything to lose, I am going to throw my show through my freaking TV. They are number 1, we are not in the top 25. They have won 3 NCs since our last one. They have won an SEC champ more recently. They have dominated the series the last two decades. Please for the love of God, let’s play and coach loose and put the pressure on them for a change.

  4. nola dawg

    Coupla things:

    The realist: that’s the best explanation I’ve heard about why we didn’t run another play, and that does make a lot of sense. After watching that Arkansas game, I’d play it as safe as possible too.

    Senator, regarding that kick, this is one of those rare moments when I’ll disagree. Yes, Walsh does have an excellent leg and does lead in touchbacks, and 90% of the time I’m getting stared at in the bar for cheering when a kickoff goes out of the endzone (I’m in New Orleans, so most people just assume I’m hammered, and yes, even for the 1220 kickoffs, which are 1120 here). However, he can’t do it every time. With 7 seconds left, and with an unpredictable coverage team, I have absolutely no problem with a directional kick that may or may not go out of bounds, because even if it does, they only have 7 seconds. The odds of them being able to use that field position even to get a field goal seem, at least to me, to be worse than the odds of them breaking a kick return to our 30 or the endzone. Either way, I think it’s at the least even or debatable, so this is the one time you’ll ever hear me at least accept the decision for a directional kick.

    As far as the I formation and the running early, that was a great point by UGAnewt about faking to Smith on the screen. I would love to see a similar sort of fake with the I to start the Florida game. There is a lot of talk about setting up the pass with the run within a game, but let’s not forget that Florida watches tape just like we do. This might be an opportunity to let all our previous running set up a pass or screen, which could include a shift at the line just previous to the snap, a playaction that looks downfield, something. The expectation, from both us and opponents, is that UGA starts their drives with the I formation setting up the pass with the run. Why not use that expectation to our advantage?

  5. 69Dawg

    My bad but this all seems to be like arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. UF has a D every bit as good as UT. We don’t score but 3 on O against UT, it don’t look good guys. I just hope we can take one out of UK, Auburn and GT or we aren’t even going bowling.

    • orangemakesnepuke

      i could certainly be wrong but i think we will see some offense in jax. from the good guys. but if we have to take 1 from UK, Auburn and GT to go to the majicjack.com bowl id rather we stay home just me but a scrub bowl is for scrubs!

  6. Bryant Denny

    Look guys, whatever you do, please don’t get any folks hurt against the Gators. You guys need to be full strength against Aubarn.

    Have a good day,

    BD

  7. Raleigh

    Re. using the pass to set up the run…I believe I saw two dropped passes early that could have put Cox into more of a rhythm and, at least in one case, picked up a first down (drops by Branden Smith and M. Moore). If we’re going to pass it, the receivers have to catch it.