Daily Archives: September 22, 2013

Observations from the 45, Georgia-North Texas edition

Well, combine a talented team that sleepwalked through three quarters, a less talented, but well-coached and motivated opponent, a day with less than ideal weather and what do you get?  Over 600 yards of offense – 400 more than the other guys – and a 24-point win that should have been much bigger, but for the third straight game marred by special teams snafus.

It’s fine that Richt pulled Theus after the high snap that led to North Texas tying the game in the third quarter, but, good grief, it does make you wonder what the coaches are telling themselves when they review game tape and watch practices. If even a unserious tyro like me was fretting about special teams before the season started and a botched snap cost you a shot at avoiding a three-point loss in the opener, why does it seem like there’s such a lackadaisical approach taken to special teams still?

I say that because the high snap wasn’t the only flaw that led to the blocked punt.  North Texas overloaded one side of the line and Georgia never adjusted the protection.  Maybe they were admiring North Texas’ gumption at that point.  Maybe they were daring the Mean Green to try.  Maybe it was another Fabris challenge.  I don’t know.  But you have to think it was something the North Texas coaches picked up in their game study coming in. That’s troubling.

But that’s not what drove me craziest yesterday.  That award goes to whoever decided that short kickoffs are a swell tactical move.  The way the rules are set up now, there’s an easy way to cut angst in a football game:  kick the ball into the end zone.  Either you’ll be rewarded with a touchback, or a returner will start a return deep against a coverage team that five yards closer to him than they used to be.  I simply don’t get the mindset of a head coach who thinks punt returns are a significant risk but is willing to take the chancier route on the other team’s kickoff return game.  Kick the ball in the damned end zone – rotate the kickoffs to keep kickers’ legs fresh, if need be – because it works.  If North Texas could do it consistently, I have a hard time understanding why the Dawgs can’t do it.

Bullet points, my good man, and be quick about it.

  • Let me say it again:  North Texas is one very well-coached bunch.  In fact, Todd Grantham ought to spend a bit of time after the season is over consulting with whomever is coaching the Mean Green defense how to tackle.  They put on a clinic in that department.  (They can cut block a little, too.)
  • Speaking of tackling, I did see Kolton Houston tackle his own running back, didn’t I?
  • Yes, the Murray interception was a dumb, dumb decision.  And I bet Murray would be the first one to tell you that.
  • You know that thing about biggest improvement coming between first and second games?  Josh Harvey-Clemons was that guy yesterday.
  • Tray’s interception was helped by the receiver running the wrong route, but I’ll take it.
  • Leonard Floyd is really going to be something, at least when they don’t drop him into coverage.
  • On the sack front, Jordan Jenkins was oh, so close on several occasions.  He still made the NT quarterback pay plenty.  He also had a fine game with tackles for loss.
  • In fact, maybe the most heartening thing I took from the game is how well the defensive front/OLBs generated pressure.  Remember, NT was the team that led D-1 in sacks allowed last season and was tied for fifth coming into the game.
  • I’m paraphrasing here, one of the beat writers – Emerson, I think – described the offensive line as not being overly talented, but being good enough to produce when it was motivated to fight and scratch on every play. Yesterday wasn’t one of those days.  Gates and Andrews, in particular, had tough times.  I get struggling with SEC defensive linemen, but it’s tough to understand when it’s C-USA guys making for a hard time.  And, yes, I get that North Texas sold out to stop the run.  (Pass protection was spotty, too.)
  • Nice first catch, Reggie Davis.  It’s all downhill from there.  But isn’t it amazing how they keep developing receiving depth?
  • Along with the line not blocking consistently, the receivers, aside from Conley, had their worst game of the season in that respect.
  • Which is why it’s hard to get upset with what little Gurley and Marshall were able to get out of the running game.  There just wasn’t much there most of the day.
  • Hey, dad sitting behind me with the ten-year old son who wanted to know why Richt wouldn’t take Murray out and put Mason in the game in the third quarter, you must be so proud.
  • I know it’s an exceedingly small sample size, coming on North Texas’ last drive of the day, but Shaq Wiggins really caught my eye when he was in the game.  Good instincts and a quiet confidence.
  • It really sucked seeing Rome hurt his ankle again.
  • It’s apparent from yesterday’s comments that clock management at the end of the first half was a little strange.  My theory was that Richt was pissed at the lack of intensity he saw and wanted to get to the locker room to straighten things out, but then suddenly realized he could maneuver the clock to get one last shot.
  • Maybe Penn Wagers figured if the Dawgs were mailing it in, his crew could do the same thing.  And you’ve got to give him credit for consistency – no offensive line ever holds Georgia.
  • Also, I question that sideline catch on North Texas’ one scoring drive. Sure looked like the receiver dragged his feet before he caught the ball and went out of bounds.
  • Aside from Mason, the biggest losers from the game not being put away earlier were the backup ILBs.  I don’t think Herrera and Wilson missed a snap.

I don’t expect the team to show up every week with the same level of intensity on display against South Carolina.  And even when North Texas tied the game in the third quarter, it was hard to get very alarmed (irritated, sure) because it was clear the offense would be able to use the passing game to score enough to win. Plus, the defense was holding the Mean Green to negative rushing yardage then. But it’s getting awfully old to hear talk week after week about needing to clean up the special teams mess.  The offense is prolific; the danger is tolerating the mistakes in the belief that the offense can overcome anything.  Ultimately that didn’t work at Clemson and you can’t expect it to work against LSU.

The offense left points on the table yesterday and special teams gifted fourteen to the visitors.  A Georgia team clicking on all cylinders would have slammed North Texas by forty-plus.  All I can hope is that the embarrassment of a third-quarter tie in a home game against a C-USA team is enough to get everyone’s attention and focus this week.  We’ll see.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“Choices are not easy.”

Evidently Mike Slive felt the need to explain his choice to attend services on Judaism’s most sacred day of the year instead of going to the Alabama-TAMU game.

Only in America.

Or, if you prefer, oy gevalt.

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Filed under SEC Football

Some thoughts on Auburn-LSU

I got my soggy arse home last night just in time to pour myself a glass of bourbon (for medicinal purposes, you understand) and settle in to watch Late Night in Baton Rouge.  Entertaining game, and a few points crossed my Dawgcentric mind as I watched it:

  • Cam Cameron is on the same page with Les Miles.  More than once, it struck me that Miles finally has the offensive coordinator he really wants: a run first guy who’s competent calling a power game with play action.  It’s well suited for the Tigers’ strengths on offense, although I wonder how long LSU sticks with that max-protect package against defenses that are willing to play a lot of press coverage, like Alabama and Florida. Against Georgia?  Let’s just say I winced every time I saw Copeland unload on a hapless Auburn middle linebacker.
  • The Zach Attack.  The other thing I give Cameron a lot of credit for is cleaning up Mettenberger’s mechanics.  He’s eliminated most of the hitch in ZM’s throwing motion I saw last season, I assume by convincing Mett he has a strong enough arm that he really doesn’t need to wind up so much.  The result is that his release is noticeably quicker.  Between that, his height and how money his starting receivers are, when he stands in the pocket, he’s pretty deadly.  The catch is, if you can force him out of the pocket, he’s pretty ordinary.  Georgia’s pass rush just became the biggest key – okay, the second biggest key, after not making stupid mistakes – for this Saturday’s game.
  • LSU’s defense didn’t freak me out.  I mean, the Tigers did okay early on, against an Auburn offense with a shaky quarterback making his first SEC start on the road.  But as the game wore on, Malzahn’s guys started getting some traction.  I’m not saying they threatened to turn it into a game late, but they did rack up over 400 yards of offense against what’s supposed to be a shut down bunch.  I wonder how things would have played out if Auburn hadn’t shot itself repeatedly in the foot in the first quarter and a half of the game.  I also wonder if Bobo will take Blackledge’s advice about challenging the LSU defense with downfield passing.
  • LSU’s special teams, however…  Oh, why don’t you just shut up.
  • Nick Marshall isn’t Brent Schaeffer, but he isn’t Cam Newton, either.  He’s not a transcendent talent like Cam, although he’s got a strong arm and can move a little.  But he just hasn’t done this SEC quarterback thing enough to be comfortable running an offense.  Although, speaking of running, I predict he’s going to run that read option play to death when he faces the Dawgs.  We’ll probably get pretty sick of it, too.
  • The Auburn defense looks a little challenged.  If you watched the game, tell me you weren’t seeing visions of Quayvon Hicks wrecking havoc on the Plains in a couple of months’ time.  (Aaron Murray, too, seeing as he doesn’t have a problem throwing outside the pocket.)

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Of all the things to get on Mike Leach’s case about…

Paul Petrino bitching about Wazzou putting its defensive starters back in at the end of the game to try to preserve its first shutout in a decade is about the last thing I would have picked.  I mean, crap, just score, you know?

Although it means we get treated to this classic moment of postgame comity:

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Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!

Taken for granted

That Aaron Murray.  After yesterday,

Murray now ranks fifth in SEC career passing yards, and could break the record later this year. He is 12 touchdowns from breaking Danny Wuerffel’s SEC record, and is now third all-time in the SEC with 11,352 yards of total offense.

He’s also the top rated passer in a conference full of passing talent.  That’s a 201.8 passer rating he’s sporting on the season, after having faced two top ten teams in the first two weeks.  And yet his offensive coordinator/position coach still feels the need to say things like,

“Everybody always – I do as a coach – if anybody throws a bad throw or makes a mistake we act like it’s the end of the world, which frustrates me sometimes,” Bobo said. “A guy gives so much to this program, works extremely hard to put our team in a position to win games. That’s what he’s continuing to do this year. Georgia needs to realize it’s a blessing to have Aaron Murray and how much he means.”

As a fan base, are we spoiled a little bit?  I’d have to say so.  We sometimes forget how special plays like his 100th TD pass really are.

Perfect long throw from your end zone on a rainy day with a shaky offensive line?  No big thang, mane.

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A little kicking razzle dazzle

This is one cool onside kick.  I had to watch it in slow motion to fully appreciate what the kicker did.

Too bad the Owls couldn’t score again.  Something that nifty deserves a reward.

(h/t Eye On College Football)

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Looking forward to seeing you.

Hey, Shaq?  Screw you.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Not ready for prime time playing

Butch Jones, that whole change starting quarterbacks in mid-stream thing may work great in the MAC or Big East, but giving a redshirt freshman his first start against the SEC’s best defense tends to lead to moments of hilarity like this:

Oy.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange