Woeful Mizzou fan here. Would it help if we apologized?
By the way, does anybody else find it ironic that Spurrier’s pinning his hopes for getting to the SECCG this year on a Missouri loss to a Western Division squad?
I get the fury being thrown in Todd Grantham’s direction. What I don’t understand is why Will Friend doesn’t seem to be a lightning rod for a similar amount of anger. Unlike Grantham’s defense, the offensive line is experienced. It’s also the only unit on the team that hasn’t suffered from injuries and suspensions this season. And yet it has been as maddeningly inconsistent over the course of the season as the defense has. The one thing the line has going for it is that Georgia’s skill position players, at least when healthy, make the line look far better.
But this is what really gets me this morning.
… The turnover was costly, but tackle John Theus said the offensive struggles started long before the pick.
“We came out a little sluggish the first half,” Theus said. “I think they kind of caught us by surprise. They came out with a lot of energy and they were playing really hard.”
Georgia’s first few offensive series presented some changes to the offensive line’s rotation, including the substitution of junior offensive tackle Kolton Houston for Theus. Houston played a few series as a result of Theus’ costly mistakes early in the game.
“I realized it the first drive. I don’t know about everybody else,” Theus said. “I got beat off the edge and I realized they ain’t no joke. No. 30 (Dee Ford) was a great rusher and had a lot of speed. I realized then I had to pick it up and as the game went on I thought I did better and better.”
Jesus H. Christ on a bicycle… you come out in a big game on the road against a team that’s 9-1, in the hunt for the SEC title game, fourth in the conference in sacks and you’re surprised they’re playing hard? Honestly, words fail me.
Well, except for this: why doesn’t Will Friend have his linemen better prepared?
I gotta tell you, this is getting to be mighty thin gruel at this point.
“We had two guys in position, but we’ve just got to finish on the ball,” Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “It’s a situation our guys go over all the time. They were in maximum protection, and we were in a five-under, three-deep kind of deal. It’s fourth-and-18, and we needed to knock the ball down and get off the field.
“We’ll move on and learn from it. I’m proud of the way we fought.”
And when I say “at this point”, I mean at the point when we’re looking at one of the shittiest Georgia defenses of the past two decades.
… So much for Georgia’s defense climbing back into respectable statistical air. After reaching fifth in the SEC in yards allowed, the Bulldogs plummeted to ninth, and are 53rd nationally. They’ve yielded 386.9 yards per game, which if the season ended now would be the worst for Georgia since 1994. (Last year’s season average of 357.8 was the third-worst, surpassed only by 1999.) Yes, the game has changed over the past few years. But bad stats are still bad stats.
7. Georgia has now allowed 30.2 points per game. That’s on pace for the worst in program history, far surpassing the 25.9 points per game in 2009, the final year of Willie Martinez’s tenure.
8. And the worst stat of all: Georgia now ranks 121st nationally – ahead of only Air Force and Eastern Michigan – in turnovers forced. The Bulldogs have forced nine turnovers in 10 games.
The stats don’t lie. Neither do my eyes. This defense missed as many tackles yesterday as it did in the season opener. It still can’t consistently defend the edge against the run. There is no shutdown corner in the secondary.
It’s not that Grantham doesn’t know his stuff. I’ve seen too many quotes from him to think he’s an idiot. And it’s not even that the defensive play is uniformly bad. It’s frustratingly inconsistent. All of which indicates to me that all this “move on and learn from it” talk is just that – talk. For whatever reason, Grantham can’t get his kids to absorb and take to heart what he’s teaching them. And that’s a big part of how you wind up with the kind of season Georgia’s defense is suffering through.
You guys know me; I’m not the kind of person to call for somebody’s head. (Nobody’s listening to me, anyway.) But as I’ve joked before, what do you call a Georgia head coach with a defensive coordinator who’s not getting it done? An ex-coach. And Mark Richt’s always been up on his Georgia history. I don’t see how this can continue as it has for much longer.
I’m not about to stoop to blaming yesterday’s loss on the officiating – you don’t play sixty minutes of consistent football against a team on a roll like Auburn is, you generally don’t win – but as far as I’m concerned this is beyond the pale when you’re talking about how a SEC official should behave during a game:
Wagers steps into an argument with Richt, which is bad, but then steps back into it after Richt turns away to continue complaining, admittedly in a heated way, to another official. The sense of satisfaction when Wagers throws the flag is almost palpable. It’s also inexcusable. It’s supposed to be the official’s responsibility to calm the waters, not to stir them even more. Well, at least if you’re referring to competent officials, it is.
The other bizarre thing I noticed was the number of times Georgia players tried to lobby Wagers after he’d thrown a flag. You see players asking officials to call penalties routinely, but discussing calls with a referee after they’re made isn’t the usual thing. You tell me what that indicates.
I’m not normally a conspiracy theorist, but there’s obviously some bad blood between Wagers and Georgia. I expect that Richt will get some sort of public reprimand for his behavior. I’d be shocked if the same happened with the officiating crew. That, of course, will only serve to empower Wagers even further. Lovely.
Once again, Aaron Murray can’t win the big game. If only he played defensive back, too.
Seriously, as crazy as the game was, in the end it was a neat encapsulation of everything that’s gone on, good and bad, with this year’s Georgia team. You can say that these Dawgs have played four top ten teams and come excruciatingly close to beating all four. But the reality is that this team has never been able to shake the flaws that made all four of those games close (and contributed mightily to the Missouri and Vanderbilt losses).
There is one other thing to take away from what happened yesterday. “They never quit” is a clichéd saying, but I’m at a loss to describe what happened in the fourth quarter – after playing some truly wretched ball, mind you – in any other way. And that’s what makes the loss the most painful of the season. About the only thing good I can say about it is that at least it didn’t happen to a Georgia team whose SECCG chances weren’t on life support. Poor consolation, I know.
On to the bullet points:
I’d say it’s worth worrying about how the Dawgs rebound emotionally from such a crushing way to lose, but I think Aaron Murray’s got too much pride for that. It also helps that Kentucky is the next opponent. Speaking of which, if you’ve got tickets, you should attend, if only to give Murray the appreciation he deserves at Senior Day. He’s earned it.