Testing Pruitt

Here’s the summary from Year2’s solid analysis of Georgia’s defense in the opener:

Georgia’s defense showed us on Saturday that it has the potential to be one of the best in the conference. It also showed the potential to get torched badly when it can’t get to the quarterback. Which is the “real” Georgia defense? Probably both, actually. I’m certain we’ll see both the Jekyll and Hyde of the Bulldogs’ defense at different times this year. It’ll all come down to matchups. For instance Texas A&M, with its terrifying passing game and nearly NFL-caliber line, would be a nightmare for UGA. Fortunately for the Red and Black, the Aggies aren’t on the schedule.

The fact that this is something of a down year for quarterbacking in the SEC means Georgia has a great chance to escape its defensive deficiencies in most weeks.

That’s an observation I made in the preseason.  There simply aren’t that many offenses on Georgia’s schedule that can attack its inexperienced secondary.  Does South Carolina have one of those offenses?  Year2 thinks it does.

South Carolina makes for a good second test of the Bulldogs’ defense. Carolina’s offensive line is better than Clemson’s is. Dylan Thompson is more mobile than Stoudt is and is more experienced and a better passer than Watson is. Mike Davis is a question as he’s banged up, but Nick Jones and Pharoh Cooper will test the secondary from out wide. If Thompson has time to throw or can use his feet to buy time, guys will get open.

If Gurley gives Georgia a lead—and really, that’s probably more “when” than “if”—we know what will happen. When the Gamecocks went down against Texas A&M, they threw the ball almost every play. It was a far cry from Clemson’s shell shocked play calling. Pruitt could easily respond by blitzing the Gamecocks out of the stadium, but South Carolina will at least put some level of pressure on the defense’s weakest links.

I think there’s some truth there, at least as long as Georgia doesn’t have enough of a lead to keep Spurrier from going pass first.  If the SC offense is forced to go chase mode, I’m not sure it’s going to have any more success with Georgia’s pass rush than Clemson did.

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37 Comments

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37 responses to “Testing Pruitt

  1. JG Shellnutt

    First of all, if we can control the clock on offense, a lot of this is a moot point. It will put more pressure on their offense to perform and make things happen.
    Further, if our pass rush can continue to be as nasty, our secondary gets a huge break there as well.
    The equalizer that spooks me: SOS knows all of this too. He is scheming to eat us alive with quick calculated confusing routes to gash our inexperienced secondary. Count on it. He is dangerous.

    • frankly

      “if we can control the clock on offense”

      This is precisely what worries me. In all of the warm afterglow of a huge win, everyone is overlooking the fact that the offense didn’t do squat for three quarters including several wasted opportunities with excellent field position. Without an outstanding performance by the D, the out come would have been much different. We simply can’t count on a few explosive runs by our backs to win every game.

    • SOS knows all of this too. He is scheming to eat us alive with quick calculated confusing routes to gash our inexperienced secondary. Count on it. He is dangerous.

      He certainly is. And not just in offensive game planning. He affects the defense too, every part of his team. He’s not a guy you’d pick if you had choose some coach that was backed into a corner.
      ~~~

  2. Merk

    Passing will be what Spurrier will have to do if the RB is still injured.

  3. Moe Pritchett

    using you best whiney Don Rickles we have a pass rush!! we have a pass rush!!

  4. sUGArdaddy

    The thing that was most endearing to me was we stopped the designed Stoudt runs in the second half. It was so predictable in the first, but we couldn’t stop it. Leonard began to recognize it immediately and even tackled him for a loss a time or two.

    It really is true that if we get past South Carolina, it will be a long time before we see a quality QB. Troy-UT-Vandy will give us poor passing games. Mizzou will be a test, and who knows what “The New Jeff Driskell” will do, but it’s safe to say that South Carolina will be the most potent pure passing game we play the rest of the season. Everyone else is more of spread-type passing games. Will be interesting. One thing that might help is that when South Carolina is on offense it will be quiet, which our D might need to make calls and such.

  5. Scorpio Jones, III

    Year2 is pretty accurate…which means he agrees with what I thought.

    TAMU got in Thompson’s head early. Which sounds like a plan.

    Man, it seems like eons till this game starts…

  6. 69Dawg

    Steve is the master of the offensive junk passes. If it is true that our DB’s can’t do man then we are toast. I have watched the game 3 times and while it is true that Clemson caught some passes, at least our guys were in the area code. Any team with a good passing game is going to complete some passes. Running QB’s have always been our D problem. I think we spy DT with LC and drop his butt early and often.

    SC comes down to the offense not the defense. If the offense can move the ball enough to quiet the crowd and stay on the field enough to let the D get some rest then it will be a game. We will not do to SC what A&M did to them. The Old Ball Sack will fire his DC at the half if we do.

    • I have watched the game 3 times and while it is true that Clemson caught some passes, at least our guys were in the area code. Any team with a good passing game is going to complete some passes.

      Well said, 69. We didn’t really make any mental mistakes or missed assignments, in terms of turning receivers loose or letting them run free. We just have to get fundamentally better and, with the current situation, that is very realistic.
      ~~~

  7. The Dawgs have not scored more than 20 points in Columbia, SC since 1994. Williams-Brice is where good Georgia offenses go to die. And there have been plenty of crappy Carolina teams during that period. I hope this year is the exception to this 21 year trend.

    • dawgfandanno

      Actually Dawgs shut out Carolina at home in ’06 22-0..Stafford’s first meaningful playing time after JoeT went down with an ankle injury

    • dawgfandanno

      Foot inserted in mouth. ’06 18-0 Dawgs. Sounds like a nice trend to buck this go around

  8. Dylan Thompson is more mobile than Stoudt is and is more experienced and a better passer than Watson is.

    I’m not sure I agree with either of these points.

    • collegepark1878

      I am not sure either. Thompson is not overly mobile and I think Watson, while inexperienced, is a good passer.

    • Dylan Thompson is about as mobile as a garden gnome. Stoudt had some success with his legs. I don’t know where that is coming from, unless you are trying to split hairs with the Peyton Manning-mobile-in-the-pocket type of mobility versus taking off on runs. I’m not sure I buy it either way.

  9. A&M didn’t really stretch the field vertically. They forced USCe to defend the width of the field and ran when they had numbers in the box. We absolutely can do that as well. The question is whether we can execute. I wouldn’t be surprised to see us go pistol with Gurley, Rome, Conley, Bennett, and Michel/McKenzie from the start.

    • Macallanlover

      I agree with your premise, just not sure we have the versatility that A&M has in the spread passing game. We do have passing plays to backs, TEs, and HBacks to work with so we can stress their LBs and DBs in some ways, and we do have a power running game that A&M did not have. Hard for me to see how that plays out but I think I feel pretty good. My biggest concern is not starting quickly and letting the crowd amp their team up to super-human level. Our offensive communication and discipline in the first part of that game is the key factor to me.

      I will be a very interested observer of SC’s defensive adjustments this week as they face ECU’s spread, was it scheme problems against A&M, or personnel? That will provide the clues to Richt and Bobo about how to tweak the game plan. We all expect them to stack the box and make Mason prove he can beat them, do we let him try at first, or go mano y mano and just shove it through their 8-9 man box?

      • Macallan, the Aggies did a lot of stuff they always do – WR screens, a lot of slants and quick throws. The Gamecock front never had a chance to get to Hill because he was getting the ball out so quickly.

        I just don’t think we’re going to be able to go man against man like we eventually did on Saturday night. Ward is not going to let Gurley, the rest of the tailbacks, and the offensive line do to them what they did last year.

        • AusDawg85

          Ward is not going to let Gurley, the rest of the tailbacks, and the offensive line do to them what they did last year.

          There’s the chess match. Crowd noise will be crazy on our first series or two, so changing plays and making reads at the LOS will be a luxury for sure. Like most teams, Bobo’s going to have the first several plays scripted in advance. What does he want to see? Probably whether we can still punish SCAR on the toss sweep and/or what they’ve done to adjust. With that information, he can then seek to exploit their adjustment, be it Quayvon up the middle, deep balls to Connely, whatever.

          I’m really interested in what happens if we win the coin toss. Richt loves to defer and put his D out first. Will he stay with that, or trust our new ST aggressive attitude and take the kick and the O first? Brilliant if we score to quite the crowd some. Disaster if we make a big early mistake and we start to revisit the ghosts of 2012.

      • Cojones

        Thanks for bringing up Spurrier’s D. I’m sure that it wasn’t all Ellis Johnson who made our O look silly several times and that Spurrier had his hand in it also. Most of all, if SC pulls what we pulled with our D vs Clemson, they could become as successful defensively as we were (eventually). Our D shiftings emulated what we saw frequently from SC in their wins over us in the recent past. SC confused our O time and again with their well-planned shifts, going back five yrs.

        On the positive side, we beat them outright last year and, with the history of 2012’s SC game fresh in our mind’s ear, our O preparations will probably include silent counts until they aren’t needed. Hope Theus can stay his nervous hand.

  10. Biggus Rickus

    Aside from the long pass where Swann was beaten immediately off the line, the coverage was adequate. Turning around and looking for the ball would be a nice improvement, though. I’m sure there were open receivers I couldn’t see at times, and that the QB couldn’t find because of the pass rush, but there weren’t any glaring blown coverages.

    We all kind of assume that South Carolina is not as bad as they looked against A&M and will play much better against Georgia, but what if their offensive line is as bad as it looked? Dylan Thompson is not Connor Shaw and will not shift around to find open people if protection breaks down. I’m not counting my chickens, but it’s possible that South Carolina just isn’t all that good this year. I think the ECU game will tell us just how worried we should be.

    • CannonDawg

      Sure, there is a decent chance that South Carolina is as bad as they appeared last week. Their coverage was horrible and their tackling was atrocious (reminded me of us in years past). My concern is that if they have one game in them–and one only–you know who it will be against. If they strike us early and get the crowd stirred, which I expect, then we’ll have our hands full. We’re better than they are, but we’re young and the challenge of coming from behind in a hostile environment will be no small test. I still don’t think Mason’s arm is 100%, but hopefully he’ll be fine and he, Gurley, Andrews, et al will provide the leadership we’ll need to keep the chains moving. Defensively, rattle Thompson with a pass rush that’s akin to a pack of hungry, relentless wolves.

      We should win this game, but still I can’t help having a knot in my stomach over it. And I’m probably not alone.

      • ” My concern is that if they have one game in them–and one only–you know who it will be against.”

        +1

        I actually believe that they really aren’t that good this year. But I sure as heck also believe that we will get their best shot, and if we aren’t on our game in a hostile environment, their best shot can be enough to beat us.

        • Cojones

          I agree that they will be especially aggressive against us and win some yards and scoring similar to what Clemson did at the outset. I also think that our D is better than A&Ms and that they won’t score as many on us as they did on A&M. SCs D was wide open to Hill because he can run as well as he can throw. Our O may not show up as well against a D that is becoming experienced under fire.

          This is my way of saying that the fate of the game is principally in the hands of both Ds and that it could become a close touch-and-go throughout the game. Us for the win in a familiarly close game at SC.

        • Well said, Reverend.
          ~~~

  11. charlottedawg

    I think it’s a fair question of what happens if Georgia’s offense has to go into Chase mode.

    That being said I love the coach’s comments. Listening to Bobo and Pruitt you’d have thought we were on the other side of 45-21.

  12. joe

    I just keep remembering our 2007 juggernaut losing to a mediocre scu team the week after pummeling okie st. I still think that was bobo’s worst game as oc. Knowshon averaged 7 ypc but only had 14 carries. …look familiar?

    There are times to spread the wealth, and times to ride your horse. I cannot imagine that Gurley will get less than 30 touches in Columbia.

  13. @gatriguy

    Before the season, I expected SCU to be the defense’s toughest test; I still expect that. Spurrier will test the DBs deep from start to finish. As always when playing Spurrier, getting ahead is key. No one front runs like him, and no one loses patience and scraps a game plan when behind like him either.

    What gives me hope is that wih two weeks to prepare, I hink we have a DC now that will outwork Spurrier and figure out how to get pressure right up he middle. Pre Sean Elliott, Spurrier was notoriously lazy with his protections, and we never really did make him pay for it like we should have. I’m sure it’s different now that the inside zone is his base play instead of the lead draw, but I still think it can be exploited.

    Don’t sit back, you have to put Spurriers QB on his back.

    An excellent read on this point: http://smartfootball.blogspot.com/2009/07/was-spurriers-offense-failure-in-nfl.html?m=1

  14. Jack Klompus

    Analysis aside- UGA vs a Spurrier team makes me nervous.

  15. addr

    I’ll be really interested to see what the OBC comes up with for this one. The obvious (to me at least) strategy is for SC to go after the secondary hard and early with a lot of passes, quick drops, and shots downfield (maybe even a trick play or two) to rattle the secondary and get the crowd pumped up early. You have to think that Pruitt will be expecting that, but how does he defend it? Watching the Clemson game it was obvious the secondary was most vulnerable in man-to-man situations, so does he do more safe zones and give up the short passes while hoping that a 3 or 4 man rush can generate enough pressure? Or does he risk giving up the big pass to get more pressure on Thompson? Clemson had success in the first half when they had the big pass play threat, but completely gave up on it after the defense’s second half adjustments. I wouldn’t expect the OBC to make the same mistake.

    Knowing Bobo’s penchant for trying to keep defenses guessing, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gurley out of the action for most of the first half like the Clemson game. A lot of fans were bewildered that Gurley got so few touches in the first half of that game, but it makes sense when you think about it. Just the threat of him forces defenses to overcommit to stopping him, creating an imbalance in favor of the offense and opening up the playbook. I think this is what Bobo anticipated against Clemson, which allowed us to wear down their defense then unleash Gurley and the running game in the second half after their defense was tired and he was still fresh. This seems a risky strategy to me playing in a hostile environment against the OBC, especially if the chickens have an impact on either side of the ball early. While I would love nothing more than to hang half a hundred on Spurrier, I think this one’s gonna be a drag out fight of a chess match, full of plenty of nail biting moments and 60 minutes of anxiety.

  16. Cojones

    You know, we haven’t mentioned STs much and that used to be SC’s bread and butter. God! The fake punts, even when expected , were continuously successful against us. Maybe we aren’t going to take it anymore and, by showing that we have good STs play as well, we could turn this SC game early to our advantage. We should be able to throw some trickeration toward Spurrier for a change since we have time to prepare a few ST surprises.

    Either way the game turns out, expect to be Dawg-polled downward before and after the game.

  17. Cojones

    By the way, Senator, was the headline alluding to getting in touch with your Cowgirl part of self?

  18. Thompson had terrible footwork for a Spurrier QB. Watch the relay. We’ll find out who their backup QB is if he doesn’t improve it.

  19. hot12dog

    If we loose one game this year it will be this one. Our only hope is Pruitt!

  20. Keese

    We are going to pound the hell out of South Carolina…and it will be glorious