On paper…

… it should be a happy Saturday in Athens.  Even the Mississippi State beat writer agrees.  The Dawgs are the better team statistically, have more momentum on their side and play at home today.

But.

As we’ve seen over the past three seasons to our frequent dismay, paper don’t mean shit sometimes.  This team can do just enough wrong to bring any game into question.  Granted this year we may not be taking into fair account how green this team is in certain areas, especially with the injuries.  Growing pains aren’t pleasant.  But a third of the season is now in the books.  We should begin seeing improvements breaking out if the coaches are coaching and the players are absorbing.

One thing I’ll be watching carefully today is the play of the defense against the run.  Grantham hints that he’s been getting ready for Mississippi State for some time now.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said there was focus on all of the SEC teams and Georgia Tech before the season. But he did give a hint that Mississippi State may have gotten some special attention.

He pointed out Mississippi State has eight offensive starters back from the team that beat Georgia 24-12. And when he asked if he hoped his defense was more physical this year, Grantham answered, “That’s why you work hard in the offseason and give up tee times.”

Line play should be in Georgia’s favor, as MSU’s o-line has been in a state of flux due to injuries.

“State is still regrouping after a season-ending injury to right guard Tobias Smith, and starting left tackle James Carmon (out the last two weeks with a knee injury) is expected to return Saturday. Carmon, though, will likely line up at guard to give MSU some weight in the middle. If that happens, Quentin Saulsberry will be able to move from guard back to center, leaving just one redshirt freshman (LT Blaine Clausell) starting on the offensive line. Experience was in short supply in recent weeks, but Carmon’s addition should help.”

The Dawgs may be able to control runs between the tackles, but the key will be doing a better job stopping the run to the outside than we’ve seen.  Do that, and it may well turn out to be a pleasant afternoon.

One thing that’s puzzled me this week is the number of pundits who’ve called this game as a shoot out, with combined scoring anywhere from the mid-sixties to low-seventies.  I’m not seeing it.  I don’t think MSU has the firepower to force that against a decent defense and that leads me to believe that Mullen is going to do what he can to keep the game close in hopes that he can take advantage of Georgia misfires.  Given what we’ve seen so far, that’s not a bad bet, and I have a lot of respect for Mullen’s game management skills, especially after watching the way his team beat Georgia and Florida last year.

And with that, I’m off.  Consider this your game day comment thread invitation.

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50 Comments

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50 responses to “On paper…

  1. Spence

    We score 25 points we win. That is even factoring in two freak scores by MSU. We give up more fluke points then that then I’ll take up voodoo.

    • zdub

      No way 25 gets us a win. 40 at least.

      14 points for freak scores. 17-21 given up by the D from long drives extended by Relf’s running and our own offensive turnovers.

      MSU will come out firing. First few drives will be scripted and make them look better than they are. Then our D will adjust and take over from there, hopefully. When they punt I wonder if they will rugby kick, I hope not. We need some good returns to put them on their heels and take away some confidence early, then pound away.

      This game could become a shootout, but not likely. I think one team or the other dominates most of the game but the score is closer than the game really was (think Ole Miss last week).

      Not sure who will win. This is the strongest team we’ve played in a few weeks but nothing like BSU or SC. It’s 2 middle of the pack SEC teams fighting for 3-2 and we have home field advantage. Let’s see if we can get it done today. Go Dawgs!

    • NRBQ

      Damn, Spence.

      You da prognotsticatin’ MAN.

  2. SouthGa Dawg

    Beautiful day. Just win baby!

  3. W Cobb Dawg

    Still want to see Geathers or Jenkins burst through the middle and disrupt an offense. But the key is whether the O will show up and post more points than last year’s 12.

  4. shane#1

    Same as yesterday for me, bring OLBs upfield to cut off the edges and everybody stay home and fill their gaps. Hey you there, quit chasing the ball around and carry out your assignment, yeah, I am talking to you Washington!

  5. Mayor of Dawgtown

    I see the MSU game and the UT game as being the two litmus tests for the season. Win those and UGA will be back on track and likely will have a good season. Lose those two and it’s back to a .500 or so season. Gotta beat Mississippi State first and I think we will. We have the home field and the crowd plus the biggest D-line in college football. Also, let’s hope some of our guys on D will be motivated to exact some revenge physically from the Bulldog impersonators from Mississippi after MSU pushed us around last year.

  6. Eric

    Anybody notice Crowell picking out the blitzer on that TD pass to Charles? And then successfully block him? He’s learning and that’s definitely a good thing

    • OKDawg

      Yeah, and I liked AM pointing the rusher out to IC at the line. Good read and good communication.

      • Eric

        Ah damn I didn’t realize AM pointed him out first, I thought Crowell noticed him on his own. But yeah, definitely good communication.

  7. Boz

    If you’d of told me we’d be up big at the half with two Murray picks, I would have told you you were crazy. Crowell is balling. Samuel even seems to be running with more agression. Carlton Thomas is looking great as well.. Finish the drill!

    • Biggen

      In my mind, this has been one of the best 1st halfs for Samuel. He had one big run ealier that was called back due to a hold, but it was still an awesome run.

      Thomas is also looking great. I am loving our TB situation right now.

  8. Scott

    Murray just threw his 3rd pick and its now 24-10. Feel like we are rushing the ball at will so not sure why we are throwing it. Hopefully we will not give Murray the chance to throw another one. He is 2/9 for 23 yds in 2nd half. Clock management needed here.

    • His INT’s are definitely bothersome. However, the defense seems to be playing so well it’s hard to get that mad. Last year in the Florida game where he had so many it was horrible because you knew the defense was going to give up the scores, while this year (unless it’s a pick 6), most of the time I haven’t been that worried.

      That doesn’t mean I’m happy about them, though. He’s still locking onto receivers and doesn’t seem to have progressed from last year and the mental mistakes he seems to have been making all year.

      • WF Dawg

        Agree with all of the above. Murray’s regression this year is just as surprising as his emergence last year. But for the first time in a long time, I feel like we’re playing Georgia D. “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” has been sorely underplayed of late.

  9. Some Coxian decision making by AM. I think I could read his lips on the pick six: “So, I was like hmmm ..”

  10. Biggen

    Crowell looks lame to me this 2nd half. Almost like he is either winded or injured. He sure doesn’t look like the same runner he was during the 1st half.

  11. Turd Ferguson

    Feels a lot like last week. Happy with the win, and the defense is looking better and better. But Murray is very far from being the top QB in the conference, and Crowell still only has enough gas for one half of football.

  12. Russ

    Well, the train keeps rolling. ;) As sloppy as we played in the second half, the game was never in doubt. Defense continues to look good. I guess we need to work on our hands skills with the DBs. We could’ve had 2 pick sixes, plus a couple of more interceptions.

    MSU sure is mouthy for 0-3 in the SEC. They got their once-in-a-generation win over Georgia last season. It’s time for them to quit yapping and return to the bottom of the heap for another 25 years.

  13. Scott

    Great win. I finally concede that the defense is significantly improving. How many dropped interceptions did we have? Only complaint today is with Murray in the second half and his three interceptions. We also had too many dropped picks on defense. This win felt like the Dawgs of five or six years ago. I liked the way all threw of our running backs looked. Crowell got robbed on the td. It didn’t look like he stepped out of bounds to me.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Yeah. Me, too. Plus did you see all the holding that Mississippi State o-linemen were doing that wasn’t called? Another game where the SEC refs called it one-sided against UGA. This has got to stop.

    • Russ

      I agree on the Crowell run. Looked like he was good the entire way, but again my ESPN3 connection was pretty crappy, plus we didn’t get any replays of it.

      I hope Crowell works on his conditioning. He’s obviously not in top condition, or he’s hurt. Bruised ribs can take a while.

  14. Sep

    The defense is carrying us now and may have to the whole season unless we get the idea we have a fullback.

    Crowell is damn good but not a ” The ball ain’t heavy.” guy. Our other backs are not so good.

    What is up with Walsh? That miss was missed badly. Dang, we need him to get it back.

    • Eric

      Anyone get the feeling every field goal is rushed? Either the cameramen are making it feel that way or we seem to be snapping it way too quickly before everyone is set and ready (including Walsh)

      • Cojones

        Looked like the timing of Walsh’s approach is a hair early. Like they perfected the kick timing and then went a skoshie too far.

  15. NRBQ

    Everyone would have taken 24-10 before kickoff. But damn, it hurts to leave 20-30 points on the table.

    D marches on: 3 points, 29% on 3rd downs, shoulda, coulda had 4 picks.

    • Who would have thought after last season that our offense would be the underachieving group? I’ve got to say it’s particularly vexing, considering where they were last year, even without considering AJ/Durham’s loss.

  16. MinnesotaDawg

    So now I’ll start worrying about whether Boykin sustained a concussion in the last couple minutes. He’s a guy we can never afford to lose, but especially with UT likely to chuck it all over the field next week.

    Don’t feel too good about it now considering this could have been a game that our back-ups played for the whole 4th quarter. Our offense continues to drive me nuts.

    • Offense is still looking for their identity although you begin to get the sense that we can run the ball if we make up our mind to do it. Crowell did look hurt or just too winded out there in the second half. Murray’s got some work to do on his decision making in these games! I’m becoming more convinced that he is more of a dual threat QB than a pocket passer and I think we’re limiting his game effectiveness by forcing him into the wrong role. His arm seems too average to sling it around 30 times a game so I’d like to see him make more plays with his feet, but at the very least, I’d like him to really limit the turnovers.
      I dare to say it, given the offensive competition in these last three to four ballgames ,but I’m beginning to see what might look like the long lost Junkyard Dawgs out there on defense. Those guys looked awfully confident out there today.

  17. Vincent

    Defesne looked great. Overall good win.

    But…..the thing that’s going to keep us from being a good team is mental mistakes and turnovers. Murray’s interceptions are the obvious examples but Mitchell fumbled a ball as well, he was just fortunate to recover it. We really need to stop spotting points to the other team.

    Stat from Seth Emerson
    3 Defensive TDs for Georgia’s opponents
    2 TDs on Special teams

  18. NRBQ

    According to the radio guys, opponents have no possessions inside UGA’s 20 in the last 12 quarters. That’s stout.

  19. OKDawg

    After Ole Miss, I was a bit surprised by how well our D ranked in conference and nationally. My first thought was they don’t yet deserve to be in the discussion with the likes of LSU and Bama for best defense. But after today, I’m having a harder time saying that. Not saying they are THE best, but one can make an argument that they deserve to be considered in that top tier at this point in the season. Hopefully after UT and UF that argument is only stronger. We shall see…

    • dboy

      Unfortunately, the opposition’s special teams and Defenses are scoring on us at an alarming rate. Those 3 pics would have sunk us in a closely contested game.

      • OKDawg

        Yup. There is plenty to improve upon on O and ST. My take-home after this game was how impressively our D has progressed over the first five games. It’s a beautiful day out, so I’m looking on the sunny side.

  20. Russ

    Any idea what Mullins was talking to Richt about after the game? The postgame handshake seemed like a one-sided conversation from Mullins.

    • fetch

      Probably apologizing for the way his players “claimed the G” at the beginning of the game. Richt had a little sly, satisfied grin on his face as he walked off.

    • realworldannex

      “Hang in there, man. Don’t give up. But if you do, put in a good word for me, ‘K?”

    • Cojones

      Richt said they had friendly conversation about upcoming games.

  21. Skeptic Dawg

    Yet again Murray underwhelms. If he continues down this path, it will cost the Dawgs multiple games. Solid defensive game. I did not think this unit would be as good as they are right now. I was wrong. Good job Grantham. I hate to pull for Auburn, but it would be nice to see SC go down today.

  22. W Cobb Dawg

    Who’d a thought hiring a DC and defensive staff who have qualifications would pay dividends?! If only CMR would’ve hired qualified coaches on the offensive side of the ball, instead of trainees, we’d have more than half a championship team.

  23. OldDawg55

    All right, it’s in the wee hours…South Carolina went down to Auburn, the Gators were stomped by Alabama and it looks like Brantley is through for quite a few games if not the season..so now a critique: I thought the first half, or at least the first 20 minutes were outstanding. Then Bobo went out to the men’s room and CMR quit watching the offense and into the 2d half malaise went the Dawg offense. If CMR had gonads he’d sat Murray for a while and rewarded Hutson Mason with a go in the game..couldn’t have hurt and maybe give a few of the big uglies a rest and let newbies play some..couldn’t have been worse. Kudos to the defense and their coaches..you looked like a Dawg defense from the past. Happy with the win but not overly proud of that second half. Also, give Bogatay a shot..might wake Walsh up. Go Dogs, GATA!!!!