Daily Archives: September 5, 2010

They don’t miss him at all.

So how’s that new, improved, post-Demaryius Thomas passing attack at Georgia Tech?  For want of a better word, Chantastic:

… On Saturday, Nesbitt completed one of six passes for a career-low 8 yards. The previous low was 12 yards in the Orange Bowl. The completion against S.C. State matched his lowest total, done twice before. He threw away two passes and tried to squeeze a touchdown pass to Stephen Hill through a tiny hole and missed. Nesbitt’s backup, Tevin Washington, also missed Roddy Jones, who was wide open down the middle of the field in the fourth quarter, on a play that would have been another touchdown. Tech ran that play successfully many times last season.

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Mike Bobo’s sales job

Statistically speaking, the biggest surprise from yesterday’s game was Georgia throwing the ball 31 times in a 48-point rout.  Even though ULL was stacking the box, it’s not as if the Dawgs weren’t running the ball effectively, if not spectacularly.  Georgia averaged five yards per rushing play.

Nor would anyone confuse Georgia throwing the ball thirty or more times a game with a strategy for success.  Last year’s team was 2-4 in such games.  And yet that’s what we got, in a game in which A.J. Green was held out as a result of NCAA dithering.

I think Mike Bobo deserves a little credit here.  He certainly needed to get his green quarterbacks’ feet wet facing live game action, but he also needed to send Ellis Johnson a message that Georgia would have some answers to stacking eight men in the box.  The message was sent.  It’s now a question of whether Johnson is convinced of its meaning.

Of course, having A.J. Green suit up would make Bobo more convincing.  Let’s hope Bobo gets that arrow in his quiver back.

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First thoughts on Aaron Murray

It wasn’t the greatest opening day début by a Georgia quarterback – that honor still belongs to D.J. Shockley and his start against Boise State – but Aaron Murray’s certainly was one of the most entertaining.  I’m not sure his final stats do complete justice to what we saw.  That’s not to say they weren’t solid for the most part – 17 for 26 passing, with three touchdowns, along with another 42 yards rushing and a gutsy (almost to the point of don’t-do-that-again-son) touchdown run as the clock expired at the end of the first half.

But there’s an element to his game that’s hard to quantify:  the kid’s a born playmaker.  Take, for example, that busted play on Georgia’s first scoring drive.  Murray was flushed out of the pocket, rolled to the right sideline chased by the ULL rush and just before going out of bounds threw a forty yard pass on the run that Logan Gray missed taking in for a touchdown.  There simply haven’t been a lot of Georgia quarterbacks capable of making that kind of play.

The flip side of that is that Murray took more than a few chances against a Sun Belt Conference team that wasn’t physically capable of making him pay.  That’s not going to be the case this week.

Mark Richt summed up the highs and lows adequately with this comment:

“I thought he played well,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I thought he certainly made some freshman mistakes. … I thought a couple of times when he was out of the pocket he could have thrown the ball out of bounds. He would turn up and try to dodge people, and he’s going to get splattered if he does that.”

He also got caught making freshman mistakes like locking on to receivers, especially Orson Charles (understandable, that, considering how long they’ve played together), that, again, ULL didn’t capitalize on, but for which a team like South Carolina will exact a price.

And there’s the challenge for Mark Richt and Mike Bobo.

“Aaron moves well. We’ve known he was that kind of an athlete,” Richt said. “I don’t want to turn him into a robot. I don’t think he does. He’s doing his thing. He’s doing what comes natural to him. … I think as the season goes on I think they’ll be bigger, faster guys chasing him. I think when you look at our depth chart at quarterback, we don’t have very many of them.”

Murray is going to have to think about what Ellis Johnson will throw at him, but it’s not as if he didn’t give Johnson a few things to think about from yesterday’s game, either.  He’s got a live arm, even if it isn’t Staffordesque, and he’s mobile enough that South Carolina is going to have to stay focused on containment with its pass rush – something that wasn’t a concern last season.

It’ll be a wild ride at times, but there looks to be some significant upside as Murray figures out his game on the college level.  There was a lot to like yesterday.  And take heart in this, Dawg fans:  even if his first game wasn’t as great as Shockley’s, it was certainly better than the much more heralded John Brantley’s.

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View from the 35: ULL edition

After watching yesterday’s game, I confess that my mancrush on Todd Grantham is in full flower.  Georgia’s defense played well enough that I got over my pre-game anger at the NCAA by the middle of the second quarter.

Here are a few things that caught my unprofessional eye on a day when the game was as sunny and pleasant as the weather:

  • I understand why the coaches are so high on Christian Robinson.  He rarely makes a mistake at anything.  All I saw from him all game long was a player who lined up right, stepped up at the right time to make a play and made picture-perfect tackles.  Just a solid, solid game.
  • Justin Houston is a beast.  By the third quarter, he was the focus of ULL’s offense – either getting double-teamed, or having the quarterback roll away from him on every play.
  • The jailbreak blitz that led to the Dent sack was an absolute thing of beauty:  two delayed blitzers, perfectly timed.
  • How could you not love that Mason to Gray touchdown pass?  (By the way, Mason’s release is quick.)
  • I saw it at G-Day, but again, it’s striking how well coached the secondary is in terms of spacing.
  • Linebackers that cover backs and tight ends in the flats – what a novel concept.
  • Carlton Thomas looks quicker.  He’s also taken a step up in pass protection.  He may be carving himself a valuable role as a third-down back.
  • It’s almost getting boring watching Blair Walsh kick 50+ yard field goals.  Almost.
  • If anything, Drew Butler’s gotten better.  His punts are gorgeous to watch; there’s almost no wobble when his kicks are in flight.
  • Cordy Glenn seemed like he was still recovering from the effects of having mono.  Early on, he got blown up on a couple of running plays.
  • The offensive line didn’t consistently dominate on the ground, but some of that was due to ULL running eight and nine guys in the box on almost every play.  On the other hand, there was a pass play in the first half when I looked up and noticed that every Louisiana lineman was on the ground, so those guys had their moments.
  • +2 in turnover margin.  Regression to the mean, baby!
  • Derek Owens threw the block of the day on one of Branden Smith’s good punt returns and was rewarded with a stadium-wide “Ooh” for his effort.
  • Grantham’s reaction after Boykin’s interception was priceless – yanked off the headphones, rumbled down the sideline and gave the first down gesture in dramatic fashion.
  • Even in recovery mode, Akeem Dent still had a fine day.

Overall, you could sense that something was back for the players – not so much a swagger as a pleasure in getting out there and seeing what they were capable of doing and a rise in confidence as they saw success.  Yes, it’s early, and yes, it was against a Sun Belt Conference school… but put it this way:  if you went into the game worried about the quarterback situation and how the defense would play, nothing happened yesterday that made you pessimistic, did it?

For the first time in a while, I’m really looking forward to seeing what this team can do.  I’ll probably have some more thoughts on that after I watch the replay.

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