So, why the long faces?

If you’ve read my last post, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “fine, Bluto, Murray and the defense haven’t sucked as bad as I may have thought, but this team is still 1-2, so whom or what to we blame for that?”

Fair question.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but maybe it’s worth going back and looking at a few assumptions that we all made before the start of the season and see how they panned out.

  1. Georgia Tech 2009 as a template. Big, experienced offensive line, deep backfield = lots of rushing yards and ability to control games.  Before you argue that the results of the Tech game were a statistical mirage, go back and look at the stats from last season.  Georgia rushed for more yards against the Jackets than any other team they faced, and did it at the second-best yards per carry average for the season.  Even if Tech’s run defense was substandard, Georgia’s rushing offense clearly played at a high level.  So what’s happened this season?  The injuries to Chapas and King haven’t helped, but line play hasn’t been consistent (run blocking is the single biggest disappointment to date) and the longest run from scrimmage belongs to Aaron Murray.  Nobody foresaw this team ranking next to last in the conference in rushing a quarter into the season, including the coaches.
  2. A.J. Green would be there to help Aaron Murray grow into his role. That’s worked out well so far, don’t you think?  I don’t think Green’s presence in the South Carolina game in and of itself would have changed the result, but I sure would have liked to have seen how the Arkansas game played out with Green on the field.
  3. Early on, it would be more important to exercise mistake avoidance over play making with a redshirt freshman quarterback. While I don’t think Green flips the South Carolina game by his lonesome, I do wonder if down the road the coaches are going to look back at that and consider what might have been if they hadn’t clamped down on Murray’s game, particularly in the first half.  To be fair, I’m not sure many realized how quick Murray’s progression would be (remember the G-Day reviews?), but that wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Georgia under-utilize its best offensive talent against the Gamecocks – See Knowshon Moreno, 2007 game.
  4. The tight ends would play a significant role in the offense. Some of the fall off there is because Georgia has lined up in a lot of max-protect I sets, but some of it seems to be due to Bobo being unwilling or unable to adjust to defenses crowding the middle with their linebackers and bringing safeties in the box.

If you think I’m pointing a finger in a particular direction, you’d be right.  I know some of what’s on that list the staff had little control over and some wasn’t expected.  But adjusting to what you have is part of what you get paid for and to date, we haven’t seen enough of that.

The good news is that some of these problems are going to begin clearing up on their own.  Chapas should return soon.  So will Caleb King.  Green is back for the Colorado game.  The coaches are beginning to recognize what they’ve got with Murray.  All of those things will allow Bobo to open up the playbook more, which should help the running game and the tight ends.  The troubling part is the offensive line, which was inconsistent blocking the run and had problems picking up the blitz last week.  As fun as he is to watch, asking Murray to bail out the line on a regular basis won’t be a successful strategy over the course of the season.  It’s time for Searels to get that sorted out.

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36 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

36 responses to “So, why the long faces?

  1. Ward Eagle

    The guy over at CFN (http://auburn.scout.com/2/1004683.html) has a similar take on Georgia’s woes. I think you guys are on the money.

    …somewhat on the money. It’s easy to point fingers at the OC when he has a freshman QB, missing starting TB, and all-world receiver.

    I suspect Bobo has seen his offense do some good things in practice (against a defense that lost some players) that just didn’t happen the same way in game situations.

    Also, you guys have played two top 20 teams. Has anyone else done that this early in the year?

    • To be clear, I’m not blaming Bobo for everything. The offensive line play has been disappointing. That’s on Searels. And the keep-the-clamps on Murray’s game directive I suspect came from the man at the top.

      • Ward Eagle

        After posting, I realized that what I needed to say was – Georgia (players, coaches, schemes, etc.) isn’t necessarily to blame. You guys caught two *currently* better teams early in the year.

        Sakerlina and sasnakrA both currently have senior leadership, maturity across the board, and experience at the skill positions. And, let’s be honest, the head coaches of both teams are highly capable and proven offensive coordinators.

        I think it comes back to Georgia is young with lots of offseason change/distractions and will be a wholly different team in their bowl game or, for that matter, by the AU game.

        I believe it’s time for watching, cheering, and anticipating what’s coming.

        …and laughing at the Richt ain’t doing it folks.

        • S FL Chapter of the Bulldog Nation

          I agree with you 100%! There’s tons of Monday Morning QB/Coaches out there…Everyone can do better…I highly doubt it!

          Yes, UGA Football should be better…but so should SF, Minn, Dal, VT, ND, UNC, and GT (Eventhough they did have a nice W this past weekend) for that matter. It’s a game where someone has to win, and someone has to lose. We have a new QB, running an O that has yet to field it’s starting lineup, and a D that’s trying to find the best positions for everyone they have to work with.

          Injuries are a part of the game…suspensions have set the O’s development back. Our O-line is still trying to get in sinc…Everyone seems to forget that we had two projected starters miss several weeks due to surgery and illness.

          They will get it together! Ealey will get better blocking, Murray will put it on the money, the TE’s & WR’s will make the catch, our D will get better at tackling and in coverage, and our team will win this weekend! I have faith!

          LET’S GO DAWGS!!!

  2. William

    I would like to point out that it was released that Ealey was told to make that exact block (chop him low). The safeties apparently crept down and Bobo wet the bed calling for what he dubbed “slant routes” (though I didn’t see anyone slant. It seems to me that had he watched the same game I watched, AR would have been fooled with a good old fashioned roll out with the TE dragging in front of the QB. That way, if murray freaks out, he can run! Instead, you give AR the option to bring the house and ask your young QB to hit a slant with the heat coming.

    • Noonan

      We rolled Murray out of the pocket intentionally one time Saturday – long completion to Durham. We ran one bootleg – touchdown. Our coaches’ stubborn refusal to abandon the pro-style offense will be their downfall.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Maybe that what was he was instructed to do (chop block), but what I saw him do was …..sprint up to the DE fall down in front of his shins let him step around the block and flatten the QB. The RB pretty much just threw himself at the DE and then stopped playing and watched the sack while kneeling on the ground. Playing until the whistle blows would help…. if Murray was able to avoid the sack by a miracle , Ealey following the missed block could have helped. I know in a game things happen in an instant but it looked like Ealey quit. I miss Pollack. He never quit.

    • Scott W.

      Well he may have been told to chop him low but what he did was lay down on the ground and make Bequette jump over him.

      • William

        I get that. But (and I’m NOT defending Bobo here), it doesn’t matter if Ealey fell at his shins or not. He was only supposed to hold up the DE for a second or two. Murray (according to Bobo) had taken a 3 step drop. I doubt he was supposed to look at more than one option route wise. So the idea was 3 steps and zing it to the slant (of course, none of us saw a slant there). The middle was clogged with Linebackers and Safeties, so it wasn’t there. It all falls on Bobo’s shoulders. That’s a difficult play to make, especially for a young QB with the game on the line. Some of the best plays Murray made in Highschool were on the roll out. He is pretty damn accurate on the move, and can jet a bit when needed. We tailored the offense for Shock, why not Murray?

    • 69Dawg

      Here’s the problem Bobo and CMR wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about Murray getting hurt. They don’t want him to scramble, they don’t want to roll him, they don’t want to bootleg him, they want him in the pocket (if there is one). Now this would be great if the O Line could give him some passing lanes but they are so busy just trying to protect all Murray sees from the pocket is 6′ 6″ lineman. Murray is not tall enough to be a pure pocket passer. I know he is as tall as Eric Zier but back then the lines were 2-3 inches shorter. Long story short we are playing scared, scared that our QB will go down and with him the rest of the season.

      • William

        I completely agree with that. Of course, it would help if the kid (for all the awsome things he has learned) would learn to throw the ball away. Then maybe the coaches take the cuffs off for some roll outs and bootlegs. I think maybe they are scared because he has not shown the wisdom to throw the ball away yet. It’s admirable, but you cut losses at some point and throw it away. If they believed him wise enough to do that, maybe they tell him to roll out try to hit the TE (or scramble if it’s there). Otherwise put it 5 rows on. Am I making much sense? I swear, coffee and Jack don’t mix well.

      • Scott W.

        So what’s designed to protect him is losing us games because what he wants to do will get him hurt and lose games. I say quit treating him a like a carton of eggs and let him play. What’s the worst that could happen? We lose?

        • Macallanlover

          Excellent point. We all realize the danger of not having a backup that has experience so we are not proposing being reckless and ask him to run the option 20 plays a game, but a mobile QB can be very effective in this league. Plus, it is the kid’s style of play. He seems to have the instincts to avoid straight on hits until we put his feet in cement by mandating he stay in the pocket. How did that work for him on 3rd and 4? He is more likely to get a whiplash or busted ribs than hurt sliding in front of a LB.

  3. AthensHomerDawg

    “As fun as he is to watch, asking Murray to bail out the line on a regular basis won’t be a successful strategy over the course of the season. It’s time for Searels to get that sorted out.”

    The sooner the better. It’s a mystery as to why the O line as been so unproductive.

    • BMan

      Could it be that the OL just isn’t that good? Whether that’s Searels’ fault or shared with the quality of linemen, I don’t know. But could the explosion against Tech last year be as simple as Tech’s defense sucking? Which it does and did, by the way.

  4. BCDawg97

    I know they gelled at the end of the season but is the o line issues from Glenn missing 2 weeks in camp, Ben jones missing time? They really only had 1 week in camp as a unit – game week of ulala.

    And I know u can’t blame it on aj but his presence automatically warrants a double and therefore one less safety in the box. Teams are stacking the box and forcing the pass. Our team has just not responded well to that scenario

  5. Sparrow

    My reaction to this is mixed. I completely agree with the assessment, but I’m not sure if it makes me feel any better. I hate to be one of those pie-in-the-sky fans, I honestly don’t expect us to win an SEC Championship or MNC every year, every other year, etc., but this finishing strong thing is wearing a bit thin. I understand that a season is a progression, schemes, players, and roles are constantly being tweaked and so on. I think I’d just like a season where we are better (relative to the competition) at the beginning and all of that fine tuning only makes us that much stronger at the end. I’m not saying that has to result in 12-0. Only that it shouldn’t take us so long to put ourselves in place to beat opponents who are going through the same transition we are.

    This is where I really diverge from those who are brushing aside criticism of coaches and players on account of expected improvement (and I know that’s not what you’re doing here, Senator). Finish strong to what end? I don’t think we have to look very far back to see how a powerful finish (2007) does not translate into a great follow up year. For once I’d like to start and end strong.

    And all of that comes full circle back to my lack of surety about where to go from here (not that my opinion matters much, they picked some guy named McGarity over me for the AD spot…). If our players and coaches have it in them to improve, sometimes dramatically, over the course of a season, then they are clearly talented enough to not be discounted or cast aside. That said, they also come up short consistently to engender a systemic doubt as to whether they will ever be able to put together a complete season.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      +1. We’ve all heard the cliche ‘good teams find a way to win’. But John Madden added ‘… and bad teams find a way to lose’. I don’t believe Dawgs have a bad team, but they don’t appear to have coaches that can find ways to win either. The NFL awards mediocre teams with wildcard berths. In college, mediocre teams get a trip to Shreveport!

      If the D doesn’t rise up and save this organization, I’m afraid 8-5 is the new reality. The O certainly isn’t going to save us.

  6. Bryant Denny

    Based on the GT 09 game, plus having an inexperienced QB, I would have expected you guys to be run-heavy this year, especially in these first few games.

    • dudetheplayer

      We have tried, and it hasn’t worked.

      It’s great to be “run heavy” in theory, but you gotta actually pick up the yards.

      The line is not opening holes.

  7. Go Dawgs!

    At first glance, I thought the headline was “So, why the long feces?”

    I will now be going for more coffee.

  8. GShock

    Perhaps this is my fuzzy memory, but I’ve never taken much stock in our offensive lines dominance during the end of last year.

    Can we stop putting the GT out there as being some great game and example of our incredible O-line? We pushed around a far inferior (slower and smaller) line at GT. Since when has a GT line been comparable to an Tennessee, FL or recent Alabama line?

    I haven’t seen us push around an elite SEC defensive line for just about as long as I can remember. Knowshon did a lot of it on his own by avoiding the first contact or picking up YAC.

    Then there was the Thomas Brown, Kregg Lumpkin, Danny Ware 3 yards and a cloud of dust era.

    I put no faith in our line being able to out-muscle FL or Tennessee’s eager DL.

    I feel like we are going to lose to the Vols if we play like we’ve been playing and that team puts together at least 3 strong quarters of play against us. So I wouldn’t be surprised to enter GA-FL at 5-3.

    • Never a doubt

      Exactly. Tech was a mirage, as were the last few teams on our schedule, because they didn’t have good run defenses. They were all in the bottom third of the league, so it’s no surprise that our run stats picked up.

      We haven’t pushed anyone around since this group of OL have been on campus. Some of that is a function of size. Boling is athletic but not a big OL. Ben Jones may be nasty but he is not overwhelming. It look a long time for Josh Davis to grow into a poor man’s Dennis Roland (think about that one for a second). This is an OL built for pass-blocking and with the exception of Cordy, who hasn’t been healthy, really isn’t built for road-grading.

      It is what it is, and we can’t continue to ignore what these guys do well and what they don’t. Given that fact, perhaps we need to be more of a pass first, run off the pass team than the other way around.

  9. hodgie

    why hasn’t anyone mentioned the blocking of these supposed all-world tight ends? they have been truly horrendous. i will say the o-line hasn’t been great but the tes have been barbaric. if you watch the game carefully and see who is not getting picked up in the run game it is the tes most of the time. also, it wouldn’t hurt if our backs would make someone miss and not go down on first contact. lay off the o-line some.

  10. goalinestalker

    Strength and conditioning coach needs to be called out. Flexibility is not what this team needs at all. Line up and run the football, play to our so called strength! I understand you cant block the entire box if its loaded up however you can check down at times. My take on losing these games and CMR comments about that we are still doing the same thing we always have. We had our Hobnail boot game at UT and we were very lucky to get a W also at Auburn Michael Johnson makes a catch to win another game that we were out played. Those two plays define might be CMR biggest to date on his resume. Then comes the Brandon Cox 4th down throw between the hedges to beat us, should have never lost that game! Then LSU last year getting our heart ripped out of our chest by a referee who had no clue on the AJ catch! Finally last week and the TD in the last seconds. My question is how many of those plays came down to players just making plays? That is just 5 plays that stand out to me the most in his tenure at UGA. 2 went our way 3 did not. Out of those 5 plays the call at UT remains his trump card on his play calling ability! CMR overall SEC record in 07-08-09 is 16-8. UT is 14-11 and SC is 10-14. UF falls into the category of those we do not speak of.

  11. 69Dawg

    We have discussed regression to the mean as it regards TO’s but lets talk about regression to the mean as it regards close game winning plays. As pointed out above CMR and UGA won quit a few of these games in the early days. Now we are faced with having lost a few as well. You can call it regression to the mean I call it Karma and Karma is a bitch. Alabama is on a Karma roll but one of these days they won’t block that last second FG. UF as great as they have been over the past under Urban were also extremely lucky but yet they can’t go undefeated. Munson has always had it right in college football Ole Lady Luck plays a very large part in it.
    Kentucky 09 nuf said.

  12. I am often wrong but preseason & still today I have stated that I Thought USCe & Ark. would be the 2 best teams we play this season. Hopefully we learned something from playing them early & will be better because of it as the season progresses.

    • Macallanlover

      I honestly thought we would split those two so I am one game off where I thought we would be. The biggest “miss” for my analysis is the OL blocking (and frankly it was last year as well.) I felt the OL would allow us to be able to dominate the clock, open up the play action for AM, and keep the defense off the field to get adjustments on their assignments. So while being off one game isn’t catostrophic, not seeing a major cog in our arsenal is of much concern to me. I honestly don’t get it, and I don’t buy the “didn’t get to work together in August” rationale, we were 2 deep in experienced starters…..it ain’t that complicated if you’ve been on campus a while. This group didn’t dominate ULL on run blocking.

  13. Dooms Day Dawg

    I thought that I was over the AJ mess, but after reading this article I see that I am not. I am not blaming AJ for either of the Dawgs 2 L’s. That sits squarely on the shoulders of the O-line, offensive coaching staff and RB’s (did I mention the offensive coaches?). However, his complete stupidity, in addtion to our boneheaded coaching staff, has hamstrung this football team. I am really pissed that AJ will come back to open arms by the Dawg Nation after his stupid decision. I am even more pissed that Bobo is completely incabable of adjusting his play calling without AJ! No offense should be centered about a WR! It appears that the Dawgs are GAy Tech with Calvin Johnson!

  14. Spike

    I hope you are right about all this.

  15. Junkyard

    Hey Senator,

    I think people are way underestimating the impact AJ has on the running game. (I know we ran well last year after the line had a chance to gel and did so without AJ.) If you are an opposing safety and AJ is in the game, the first thought is to make sure he doesn’t get behind you. If there is no AJ, the first thought may be run support.

    I figure AJ being in the game is worth an extra half yard to a full yard a carry if the safety is the one making the tackle just because he would have to cheat to make sure AJ doesn’t burn him.

  16. Metal Steel Chair

    Amen to non-falling skies!

    Hell, there were whiners on here after the ULaLa game. If you want to win every game like we won that one, you should probably spend your Saturdays playing the kind of NCAA Football that comes on an XBox. (Personally, I do think that that video game mentality accounts for much of the sense of entitlement that passes as fandom these days; but that’s a rant I’ll spare you.)

    To be honest, I remain amazed that we came so close to winning both games given how poorly we played at times.

    The ONLY problem I have with our coaches – - and it is one that has seemingly been with us a while, especially on offense – - is that we seem to be always reacting to other coaches’ schemes rather than forcing them to react to ours. Other teams seem to predict pretty easily what we’re going to do and adjust their plans to stop it. We not only struggle to adjust; we refuse to mix it up.

    Make ‘em scared of OUR playbook. Pretend to go batsh*t every once in a while just to keep ‘em on their heels. Screw the Smith/Wooten end around; throw a damn flea-flicker just once in the first quarter. They’d pee their pants. To paraphrase one Mr. Costanza, “What we need is HAND.”