Forgive me for the spottiness of my observations about last night’s debacle. It’s hard to get a lot of details right when you’re watching the game on a three-inch box on your computer monitor – Dish Network is missing a perfect opportunity if it doesn’t grab the promotional rights to be named The Official Broadcast Partner of Georgia Football – and then see that topped off by the power going out at my house roughly ten minutes after the game’s end, but here are four broad themes worth mentioning:
- Even by recent standards, it’s staggering how much talent is being squandered. The final box score is truly sad: once again, Georgia managed to lose, despite generating more offensive yardage, more first downs, a higher yards-per-pass, a higher yards-per-rush than did Colorado, a spectacular kickoff return, a 36-yard punt return and having A.J. Green live up to his Superman reputation. What killed Georgia last night was what’s killed it all season, the offense’s inability to function consistently on the opponent’s side of the field. The drive chart almost defies belief: the three drives which started inside the Colorado 40 resulted in a total of seven points. Throw in the two would-be scoring drives that ended in turnovers and you’ve got a bushel of points that they left on the field.
- It is scary how reliant this team is on A.J. Green. Let me quote from Doug Gillett: “With A.J. on the field and a factor in our game plan, we ran 40 plays for 363 yards of total offense. Without him, we ran 19 plays for 46 yards. The absence of one player, one player, dropped our offense’s effectiveness by nearly 75 percent. Hell, even our defense played better when he was in the lineup: They averaged three yards a play when they knew A.J. would soon be back on the field, nearly eight and a half when he was gone.” As I’ve said before, that doesn’t bode well for next year. (And considering that they lost last night with him playing most of the game, it doesn’t say much for the rest of this year, either.)
- As much as I’d like to blame the coaches for the loss, it’s not all on them. That’s particularly true on defense, where, if I were Grantham, I’d be rapidly pulling all of my hair out. You watch somebody like Boykin lose containment on an outside running play that wound up gashing the defense for a key long run on a scoring drive turn around later in the game and blow up a bubble screen with a perfect read and textbook driving tackle and realize that somebody has shown him what to do, he’s just not staying focused. The defense’s inability to handle a mobile quarterback – Dan Hawkins strikes again! – and its propensity for getting swallowed up by misdirection make third down stops a dicey proposition for the rest of the season (the Buffs were a combined 8-16 on third and fourth down conversions, helping them to a significant eight-minute advantage in time of possession). On the other hand, Grantham hasn’t proven himself creative enough to scheme around Georgia’s biggest shortcoming on defense, the line’s inability to generate any pressure on opposing offenses.
- Mike Bobo can’t help himself. You see stretches where you can tell he’s into what’s going on during the game and he’s calling plays which are designed to attack a defense’s weak points, but then you see him fall into a pattern where his game plan is to call the same old shit because, well, because that’s what he told himself he needed to do. Aaron Murray can do many things well – that TD throw to A.J. which gave the team the lead at 17-14 was a thing of beauty – but one thing he’s not good at is throwing the fade in the end zone. Yet Bobo insisted on going back to the fade repeatedly, despite poor results. And he doesn’t seem convinced that Carlton Thomas, bless his heart, can’t run against stacked defensive sets. Thomas got seven carries and averaged less than two yards per carry. Ealey got one carry all night. (Given King’s fumble to seal the loss, God only knows who will be getting the carries against Tennessee.)
For Richt, the rest of the season has come down to finding a way to making this team play with enough focus to win a game. Given the way things have gone to date, that’s a tall order. As I sit here, it’s hard to say that a win against any team on the rest of the schedule other than Idaho State won’t feel like an upset. That’s pathetic, but it’s also reality.