Daily Archives: September 29, 2013

Observations from the 35: Georgia-LSU edition

What a month we’re having!

I’ve thought that the 2003 season was the best coaching job of Mark Richt’s career.  Yes, he had a stout defense, but that was offset by a shaky offensive line (and that’s putting it mildly for a group that gave up 47 sacks) and a cobbled together running game.  But to this point, what Richt has done this season, considering the schedule, the injuries and, yes, the psychology of getting over the heartbreaking loss to Alabama in last year’s SECCG, surpasses it.  For once, it looks like what we heard about this team’s work ethic in the offseason was more than happy talk.

It’s been something else from a fan’s point of view, too.  Three games against top-ten schools is a good place to start, and winning two of those games certainly helps the entertainment factor.  But all three of those games have been legitimate thrillers with none being decided until very late in the fourth quarter.  Yesterday saw the best of the bunch.  And I’ve got the bullet points to prove it.

  • Any discussion of this game has to start with the game winning drive.  All that pressure, and all Murray does is go 4-4, for 55 yards and a touchdown.  He was brilliant reading what the defense was giving him.  And the hand off to J.J. Green might have been Bobo’s best call of the day, as Chavis clearly wasn’t expecting it.
  • The first drive of the day was pretty spectacular, too.  And it sent a message that Georgia knew it could score on LSU’s defense.
  • The offensive line excelled in pass protection and was solid with its run blocking.  In what may have been the day’s biggest surprise, it clearly won the battle against what I thought was the Tigers’ strongest unit on defense.
  • Almost as shocking, Georgia’s defensive line more than held its own against the LSU offensive line.  Four sacks and Hill getting less than 100 yards is all anybody could have asked.
  • If the offensive line’s performance wasn’t the day’s biggest surprise, that’s only because the special teams chose to play their most inspired game of the year.  If the worst criticism I can think of was letting Beckham return one kickoff to the 35, that’s a pretty good indication that things didn’t go badly.  And in fact things went better than that.  Marshall Morgan turned in the strongest game of his career, a 3-3 FG performance, along with several kickoffs that were touchbacks.  The 55-yarder would have been good from at least 60.
  • Speaking of special teams, the muffed punt – a perfect kick and coverage, by the way – might have been the single biggest play of the game.
  • Keith Marshall turned in a workmanlike effort when Gurley went down.  With a little better footwork, it could have been a much bigger day for him.
  • When Floyd and Jenkins get going, it is really fun to watch.
  • Aaron Murray better brush up on his defensive linemen dropping into coverage study, because he’s sure going to be seeing it the rest of the season.
  • They defended the wheel route!  They defended the wheel route!
  • Too bad they couldn’t defend the crossing route.
  • Landry’s catch at the six on LSU’s first scoring drive of the fourth quarter was jaw dropping.  A great throw from Mett, too, but there was coverage on the play and he took a lick when he caught it.
  • I was impressed with Mettenberger’s command of the offense.  He’s deadly when he’s given the time to set up and throw from the pocket.  It’s hard not to see what a good job Cameron’s done sorting out LSU’s strengths and weaknesses on that side of the ball.
  • Georgia wins the battle in the trenches – both of them – gets another killer game out of Murray, outplays LSU’s special teams, more than doubles LSU’s rushing yards, plays the turnovers evenly… and hangs on to win by three.  That ought to tell you how badly the secondary played.  Way, way too many third down conversions allowed.
  • Murray had one sideline throw, to Conley, I think, that I still can’t figure out how he didn’t clip the DB’s shoulder.  Just a perfectly executed toss.
  • And I think LSU’s secondary is sick of back shoulder throws.  They should be, anyway.
  • The strangest part of the day was the disappearance of the fullback matchup we were anticipating.  LSU looked prepared for the offense when Hicks was in the I and Bobo pretty much abandoned that look after the first quarter.
  • Boy, that was a let ‘em play officiating crew yesterday.  If pass interference had been called as much as it was committed (by both teams), you might have seen another fourteen points scored.

Mett said afterwards that it was just another game for LSU.  Maybe it was, although the sideline looked animated enough when the Tigers scored the go-ahead TD.  But it was clearly more than that to Georgia’s players and coaches.  And fans.  Sanford Stadium was as loud as I’ve ever heard it in more than thirty years of attending games.  The reaction when the defense got the final fourth down stop said it all.  And after what happened the last time these two teams met in Athens, it was fitting that the Dawgs got flagged then for an excessive celebration penalty that was as meaningless as it was deserved.  Simply, the topper to a great game.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Why I can’t give Grantham a complete pass.

Look, I get the youthful inexperience problem (although it doesn’t explain Swann’s inconsistencies).  I really do. (As an example, the puzzlement in the stands around me about who would go in when Herrera got hurt was almost comical.)  I’m legitimately excited about the development I’m seeing out of guys like Leonard Floyd and Josh Harvey-Clemons.  And we’re seeing concrete improvement from Georgia’s run defense – at the end of the first half, the Dawgs had given up a total of 22 rushing yards in their last six quarters of play.

But I’m having a really hard time getting past that play call on 3rd-and-23 yesterday.

Here’s the list of things that the Georgia defense was doing competently to well against LSU at that point:  defending the run, rushing the passer.  Here’s the list of things the defense wasn’t doing competently:  everything else. And yet, at the moment when his team needed a crucial stop and had a chance to take control of the game late, Grantham chose to take the play out of the hands of a group that was getting it done and put it in the hands of a group that had struggled all day to handle a textbook pocket passer with an NFL-quality arm and the two best receivers in the conference.  The results were predictable, and I mean that literally, as Mettenberger had converted another third down and long situation against a three-man rush earlier in the second half.  Basically, Grantham played with matches in that situation and got burned.

I will say he deserves some credit for learning, because he ditched that prevent strategy the last time Mettenberger got the ball back and sent the pass rush after him hard.  (Did anyone see Jenkins get up the air the way he did on the fourth down attempt?  Whoa.)  But I really don’t get that call.  It’s rather amazing that it didn’t cost his team the game.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Back to back on CBS

Verne and Gary are going to Knoxville.

Aside from the game, it would be fun if somebody tossed in a snarky comment about Junior during the broadcast.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Georgia Football

They can play a little.

I wrote yesterday that this year’s version of the LSU defense isn’t as formidable as what Chavis rolled out for the prior two seasons, but it’s not exactly chopped liver, either.  So, yeah, you should be a little impressed by this stat:

LSU allowed 44 points in defeat Saturday after going 63 straight games without allowing 40 points in a game. That was by far the longest active streak in FBS.

And if you’re an SEC defensive coordinator, maybe you should be a little nervous about Mike Bobo’s confidence.

“I still think we can get better offensively. (Laughing.) We played one half without Todd Gurley, and it’s good to see those guys step up, and J.J. Green step up.”

Even with that September schedule and despite the injuries to Mitchell and Gurley, Georgia is sixth nationally in yards per game and seventh in yards per play.

One big reason for that is Aaron Murray is having a season for the ages.  I’m not being hyperbolic there; remember that Murray is bucking a serious trend so far.  And his team has needed every bit of it.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Fitting tribute

Lots of emotion on display yesterday.  This may have been one reason for that:

Photo via AB-H/AJ Reynolds/Staff, @ajreynoldsphoto

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Filed under Georgia Football

His-toe-ree.

I always love it when a plan comes together.

Tech loses and the genius looks bad in the process, Georgia wins another thriller and Junior gets canned.  Man, a weekend doesn’t get much better than that.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin