This is what the internets were invented for.
(h/t Dr. Saturday)
Over at Team Speed Kills, cocknfire ponders Georgia’s short-term reality in the wake of the season ending injury suffered by Michael Bennett.
Still, it’s an average of almost five catches for 69 yards a game. The question isn’t so much whether the Georgia offense will regroup and find someone to replace those yards; they will. The question is whether they will do so soon enough to help out in one of the biggest games of the season.
As noted in his post, Bennett has certainly played the part of a clutch receiver this season.
Before he went down, Bennett had 24 catches for 345 yards and four touchdowns (cfbstats.com). Seventeen of his receptions (71 percent) went for first downs, including six of the eight catches he made in third-down situations.
If you review Bennett’s catches on the SEC video box scores archive — the Tennessee game was not up as of this writing — one thing that leaps out at you is that Bennett rarely drops a good pass. I can remember two passes that he probably should have caught and didn’t. I can remember at least one that he probably shouldn’t have caught and did. Another couple of passes sailed wide and Bennett caught one out of bounds.
He was a reliable receiver; he might not have been the kind of guy who has breakaway speed, but he can get open and catch the ball when he is open — two things that aren’t always as easy as they should be fore receivers.
My guess is that there’s a guy on the roster who may fit the bill. Granted, he’s not been much of a contributor so far, but that’s about to change.
I’m talking about Malcolm Mitchell, of course. He’s only caught six balls in 2012, which is too small a sample size to judge his ability to fill the hole in productivity that Bennett has left, but if you go back and look at what Mitchell did in 2011 – his catch rate was second best among all SEC receivers with at least 50 receptions and was also better than Bennett’s – you’d have to think he’s at least adequate for the task. Beyond that, if, like cocknfire, you’re impressed with Bennett’s clutchness on third down, check out Mitchell’s 2011 performance in that department.
Is Mitchell still rusty from a lack of reps due to his stint on defense? We’re about to find that out. One thing seems likely – he won’t be focusing this Saturday on anything but playing wide receiver.
It’s no big secret that Georgia at times looked out of sync on the defensive side of the ball against Tennessee. One reason for that is that the Dawgs had four players starting at their positions for the first time this season: Rambo at safety, Commings at cornerback, Ogletree at the Sam linebacker position… and Herrera at the Mike linebacker position.
Grantham is a big believer in getting the best eleven guys on the field, and that’s great, but there was also a price for that last weekend.
“Amarlo’s earned that right because of the way he’s played in the first few games,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “As a coach we tell players if you make plays, we’re going to find a way to get you on the field. He’s earned the right to play. …We’ll stick with it and continue to work it.”
Herrera, a 6-4, 245-pound sophomore, leads Georgia with 36 tackles.
At “Mike,” he’s asked now to signal the plays to the defense and identify formations.
“It was a little different at first trying to feel my way out,” Herrera said. “After a few minutes, I got in the flow of it.”
I’m certain things will improve as the defense adjusts to the moves. The question is whether things will improve fast enough. Like by this coming Saturday.
Brian Fremeau makes an interesting point about the win over Tennessee.
… On seven occasions [this season], a team has overcome a field position value deficit of at least 10 points, including Georgia’s victory over Tennessee this past weekend.
The Bulldogs started six drives at or inside their own 20-yard line, including two drives pinned all the way back at their own one-yard line. Tennessee held Georgia to 14 total yards on three of those drives in the first half, and followed up each of those three possessions with a short-field touchdown drive of their own. Field position was a bit more even in the second half, and Georgia took advantage to pull out a 51-44 victory.
Partly because of this and partly because of what happened in last year’s game, I expect Richt to go pretty conservative on special teams Saturday night. You can probably guess what McGowan’s instructions are as the go-to guy on punt returns, just like you can expect Gurley to be less aggressive on kickoffs. And the over/under on punt safe formations has likely taken a jump.
I can’t say that I blame Richt too much for that, but there’s a risk he runs. That risk is that Georgia winds up with lousy field position anyway. If that happens and Bobo decides to play it close to the vest against a talented, aggressive Carolina defense… well, we saw that show last week. When I said this game may come down to how many times Georgia is forced to start inside its own 10-yard line, I wasn’t being facetious.
Step right up and dig in.