Daily Archives: September 12, 2011

One other trouble spot

The mistakes that directly led to 28 South Carolina points were so hideously, glaringly obvious that they obscured everything else about Saturday’s loss, but it’s worth mentioning that Georgia’s first three sustained drives of the day died at the South Carolina 19-, 21- and 16-yard lines.  Had one or two of those punched across the goal line, the Dawgs might have been up by more than two scores instead of the 6-0 lead that got erased on Garcia’s 2nd quarter schoolyard throw to Jeffery.

The Dawgs did get their red zone offense rolling in the second half, scoring three touchdowns.

But the conference stats to this point look a little discouraging.  On offense, Georgia so far has managed fewer red zone scores than Vanderbilt.  The Dawgs are next to last in the conference in red zone touchdowns.  Meanwhile on defense, Georgia’s opponents have scored seven touchdowns in eight red zone appearances.  No other SEC school has allowed more.

Two games obviously provide a very limited sample size, particularly given the level of opposition Georgia has faced compared with its SEC peers.  But it’s something worth keeping an eye on going forward.

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Mike Bobo’s impending decision

Last season, Georgia started out with its best offensive player being a wide receiver.  In A.J. Green’s absence, it seemed that Aaron Murray precociously emerged as the offense’s second best option.

Forward to August, 2011.  Murray is generally considered to be the best in the conference at his position and it’s a given that he’s the guy the Dawgs want to run their offense through.

After two games, I’m not so sure about that anymore.  For one thing, he’s getting the crap beat out of him and that may be causing unfortunate repercussions.

… After reviewing film of Isaiah Crowell’s costly third-quarter fumble, which led to a South Carolina touchdown, Richt indicated the freshman tailback might have taken too much responsibility when he said after the game the botched handoff was entirely his fault. Quarterback Aaron Murray was “hobbling” from a hit on the preceding play and “didn’t bring the ball as deep as he normally would,” Richt said. “Isaiah should have been more patient, but certainly the timing in my opinion was different because of Murray hobbling back there instead of really sprinting.”

For another, after watching the replay of Saturday’s game, the question of whether Crowell will become Georgia’s best offensive weapon has changed from being a matter of “if” to “when”.  He got 18 touches on Saturday.  He averaged 7.4 yards per rush and 20.0 yards per reception.  Both of those were better numbers than Marcus Lattimore, the current gold standard of SEC running backs, achieved.  He scored two touchdowns, on a 17-yard pass reception and a 15-yard run, both in crunch time.  He’s gifted athletically, as he demonstrated on his other catch, a leaping, one-handed grab.  He played much of the game with a rib injury without slowing down appreciably.  All against the 12th ranked team in the country.  He’s turning out to be what we hoped when he signed.

As I said yesterday, Bobo will be cheating himself if he doesn’t scheme to get Crowell at least 25 touches a game going forward.  You can point to a lot of screw ups by Georgia on Saturday contributing to South Carolina’s win, but one thing Spurrier did right was to make sure he got the ball in Lattimore’s hands almost thirty times.

Bobo has to start thinking the same way.  And he needs to do it soon.

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SEC Power Poll, Week 2

It’s still too early to make definitive conclusions about the relative strengths of the twelve schools, given that every team except Georgia has played at least one cupcake (several have played two).  Not so coincidently, Georgia is the only SEC team without a win in the early season.

  1. LSU.  One thing to keep an eye on – the Tigers are second in the conference in turnover margin and haven’t thrown an interception yet.  If Jarrett Lee can merely avoid screwing up, this team will go places.
  2. Alabama.  Number 5 nationally in total defense and 47th nationally in total offense.  Yeah, that sounds about right.
  3. Arkansas.   Through two games, the Hogs have only returned three kickoffs.  My, those cupcakes are tasty.
  4. Florida.  So far, so good.  In fact, on defense, so great.  We’ll see how things look after the meteor game with Tennessee.
  5. South Carolina.  The ‘Cocks won their messy struggle with Georgia.  But that secondary and Garcia are going to cost them some games this year.
  6. Auburn.  No, this ranking isn’t sustainable with that defense.  But for the moment, it’s where they deserve to be.
  7. Mississippi State.  They rank fifth in the country in total offense.  Then you read the fine print – they’ve played nos. 111 and 120 in total defense – and you realize it’s nothing to get too excited about.
  8. Tennessee.  The Vols are just about where you’d expect them to be after playing a 1-AA team and a mediocre Cincinnati.
  9. Georgia.  If you’re looking for a silver lining in that 0-2 start, consider this:  the Dawgs have likely faced the best quarterback, best running back, best wide receiver and two best defensive fronts they’ll see all season.
  10. Vanderbilt.  The Commodores are 2-0!  They can’t play offense, but they’ve been solid defensively and they’re tenth nationally in turnover margin.
  11. Kentucky.  This is a bad offensive team, too.  And they don’t play defense as well as Vandy.
  12. Mississippi.  Well, at least they’ve got a win now.

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Upon further review: South Carolina

I managed to get through the replay yesterday.  I can’t say I saw anything that changed my live perceptions of the game much, but there were a few things I caught from the broadcast worth noting:

  • Matt Millen’s right about one thing.  Jarvis Jones is Georgia’s best defender.  He was all over the place Saturday.  God help ‘em if he’s the next linebacker to go down.
  • It looks like they’re using Bacarri Rambo a little differently this year.  He’s more responsible for pass coverage than he was last year and he looks a lot more comfortable doing it.
  • Justin Anderson is a guard playing tackle.  He was solid with his run blocking, but he had a rough time trying to handle the speed rush in pass protection.
  • Two really, really good receptions:  Crowell’s one-handed grab of Murray’s toss over a charging Devin Taylor and Michael Bennett’s amazing catch for the first down of that Murray low dart thrown between two defenders.
  • The offside call on the onside kick looked much closer on TV than it did live.  I can’t say the ref got it wrong, but it was close enough I’m surprised the flag got thrown in the first place.  I’m betting there was some pretty strong lobbying going on over on the SC sideline.
  • Jeez, they did a horrible job defending that fake punt.  No wonder Richt tossed everything but his underwear on the field watching it.
  • After watching the drive that wound up tying the score at 28-all, I’m willing to admit there’s a place for the no-huddle shotgun spread in the Georgia offensive arsenal, as long as Bobo is willing to admit that he needs to commit to throwing slants and screens while running it.
  • Another thing Bobo needs to admit is that there has to be a time and place for Murray to run the ball to keep defenses honest.  I’d rather see him take the risk of getting hit when he can see where he’s going and have a chance to move than sit back in that shotgun spread and get killed with blitzes.
  • One big reason they can’t give up on the good ‘ole I-formation is that Ogletree and Figgins were so good with their blocking.
  • Both tailbacks are good receiving options.
  • The defense handled the read option play that killed them last year.  What killed them this time was Lattimore bouncing outside after they lost contain.  Washington got sucked up in the blocking – a lot.
  • I hope they don’t wear Brandon Boykin out.
  • I really like Grantham’s creativity with blitzes.  It was a big reason the ‘Cocks struggled on third down plays all game.

In the end, it’s still a loss.  There was more good to take out of this one than the opener, but plenty of problems remain.  It’s nice that the schedule lightens up, but there’s zero margin for error.  That’s a tough row to hoe.

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