Georgia – South Carolina draws Herbstreit and Musburger for the call.
Daily Archives: October 2, 2012
First thoughts on Georgia – South Carolina, or, as I like to refer to it, the “hasn’t seen” game. As in, Georgia hasn’t seen as good a defense this year as the Gamecocks’ D. As in, South Carolina hasn’t seen an offense remotely in the same class as Georgia’s. As in, the Dawgs haven’t seen a running back of the caliber of Marcus Lattimore. As in, the ‘Cocks haven’t seen as good a quarterback as Aaron Murray. As in…
I think you get my point. Anyway, a few specifics:
- Very different challenge for Georgia’s defense this week. Gone is the scary downfield passing attack, to be replaced by a quarterback who’s been as efficient as Murray throwing the ball and is also an effective runner. Not to mention a tough son of a gun.
- Oh, yeah. There’s that Marcus Lattimore fellow. He’s not bad. Matt Hinton had a good piece about Lattimore that he posted before the Kentucky game in which he pointed out that Lattimore hasn’t been dominating South Carolina’s offensive numbers this season because Spurrier hasn’t needed him to. Cue the Kentucky game – the ‘Cocks are down 17-7 at the half and what does the OBC do? He dials up a heavy dose of his stud running back (10 carries for 61 yards in an 81-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter that put South Carolina up 28-17) to fuel a 31-point run and an easy win. Basically what Spurrier’s done is keep Lattimore in second-game shape even though the season’s five weeks old now.
- So what does that mean for Grantham? Well, for one thing, he won’t have his safeties lined up halfway to Watkinsville this week. For another, unlike the last two seasons, he’ll have a full quiver to shoot from, with no players out due to suspension or injury. The goal this week will be containment – controlling the zone read play and the intermediate passing game which Shaw has executed well.
- Another thing to keep an eye on is that South Carolina ran out of the I-formation a good bit against Kentucky. It’s a smart way both to protect Shaw’s shoulder and to pound on the defensive front to wear it out to enable Lattimore to control the fourth quarter in the way we’re all too sadly familiar with. In other words, it’s a big test for the new strength and conditioning regime. Also, I hope Grantham backs off from playing Jenkins and Geathers together so much; keeping them fresh for the inevitable strikes me as a good strategy.
- What is Bobo going to do about those defensive ends? Throw the kitchen sink at ’em, I expect, in hopes of keeping them off-balance. One thing I know is that he can’t expect Theus to handle Devin Taylor by himself all game. I do think the Dawgs will have some success moving the ball on the ground, but I’m scared to death of a couple of Murray turnovers coming by way of a fierce pass rush. Aaron’s got to be smart about not holding the ball too long. Also, expect lots and lots of max protect. Which may be fine, as I’m not as impressed with the ‘Cocks secondary as I am with their front seven. And I’m not forgetting that Georgia moved the ball on these guys throughout last year’s game.
- I’m not sure I really want to talk about special teams. Moving Mitchell out of punt return duty should help, but we can’t be sure until we see McGowan in action. I keep thinking that a game is going to come along where the extra point adventure is going to come back and bite Georgia in the butt. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if this week’s game proved to be that point. On the other hand, I keep thinking Ace Sanders on punt returns is a turnover waiting to happen if the right guy times the right hit.
- Oh, and that silly Spurrier tiff with Ron Morris? I’ve seen someone suggest it’s the Evil Genius’ brilliant strategy for taking attention away from the game. (Question not addressed: why would he care about that?) Andy Staples thinks it was a distraction in the Kentucky game. Me, I just think Spurrier is a little bored. His team is functioning well and is in a post-Garcia era with no real major distractions. He’s got no players who need messing with, so the media makes a convenient target. Will any of that make a difference Saturday night? I don’t think so.
A few final thoughts from last Saturday’s craziness:
- Georgia’s defensive game plan is unlikely to be repeated the rest of the season. Per Richt, “I think if we had played press man all night long with those big, tall, fast, athletic receivers and the quarterback that can get the ball to them, we might have given up a bunch of big plays. I think it was wise to try and not get run by. We did play a little tighter coverage one time and Cordarrelle Patterson ran right by us and hit him right in the hands and he dropped it. If he caught that one, who knows how that game would have finished up.” Dooley noted that Grantham lined his safeties up deeper than he’d seen anyone play them. The thing is, that might have worked but for two things: (1) the offensive/special teams meltdown in the second quarter that allowed Tennessee to get back in the game and (2) the excellent play by the Vol offensive line that kept the running game viable.
- David Ching points out that one positive play from the special teams came from a player being smart: “Speaking of that play, credit Deas for recognizing a tendency by Tennessee wingback Moore on the play and taking advantage of it. He told me after the game that Moore had been overstepping on his drop as he blocked and that left a crease for Deas to attack the punter. Sure enough, Deas started out on the far left on this punt, Moore dropped too deep and Deas cut inside him toward punter Matt Darr. Moore got a piece of Deas’ left shoulder, but he was still able to get his right arm free to block the kick. Very well done.” Maybe Deas can return punts, too.
- Also from Ching, this was the other big problem on defense: “The final score and the way things played out makes this an obvious statement, but this was a really sloppy game by Georgia. It seemed like I was consistently writing down about so-and-so blowing a blocking assignment or covering the wrong receiver or dropping a pass or not making an interception that was there for the taking. They can’t afford to make this many errors at South Carolina or it won’t work out so well.” You can’t blame the defense’s entire showing on the game plan. If Wooten catches that perfectly – and after watching the broadcast, I do mean perfectly – thrown ball from Murray there at the end, the game is over. And don’t get me started on the special teams play (besides Deas, of course).
- Speaking of Murray, check out his completion percentage from game to game this season. We smiled when Bobo targeted a 65% completion rate as Murray’s goal this season. We snickered when Murray said he was aiming for 70%. Maybe we should stop chuckling about it.
- While I think what happened during the second quarter meltdown was that the team simply relaxed after racing out to a seventeen-point lead (that would have been bigger but for a tipped pass), that doesn’t explain why the offense disappeared in the fourth quarter. Bobo is right to be concerned about that.
- Say what you will about how they were in that position in the first place, but the fact remains that when they had to, a number of players on defense stepped up on Tennessee’s last three series of the game and forced turnovers. Late game plays like those suggest that something good is happening with strength and conditioning.
There is a bottom line here, and it’s a positive one. Georgia has played plenty of games against Tennessee in the last few years when it didn’t play its best and got embarrassed. Saturday night saw a rusty defense, an offense that committed three brutal turnovers and failed to execute at key times in the game and some pathetic special teams play, but the team still came away with the win. Obviously, it’s not a formula that you want to see the Dawgs repeat again, but survive and advance sure beats Beyond Crompton in my book.
UPDATE: Jay Rome was prepared for the defensive look on his great reception.
“With the coverage they were running, a Cover-3, they were rolling the front-side safety down, the one on our side of the field. I knew that if I could get a clean release off the defensive end and keep it wide, there was only one safety in the middle of the field. And if I kept it wide, then Aaron would have a chance to put it on me. So when the play got called, I was sitting there in my stance and I looked up to start surveying the defense, and I saw the safety start to roll down, and my eyes got kind of big. I was like, ‘Oh, I think I’m about to get this one.’ So I made sure I got a clean get off the end, ran my route out wide and once I turned back, I saw the ball in the air and went up and got it.”
I get that ‘Bama is the elephant in the room right now – see what I did there? – but does anybody else find CBS’ broadcast choice for October 13 a little strange? I mean, unless Uncle Verne has some sort of lengthy and riveting travelogue about Columbia up his sleeve to entertain us, it’s hard to see how that game is more compelling than South Carolina – LSU, particularly if both of those teams win this week.
Not that I’m complaining. I’d much prefer to have the Tigers playing host in a night game. But I am puzzled by the pick.
Another week in the books and Georgia continues its march towards Atlanta (hope I can type that as coolly this time next week). So let’s see how the team fares in comparison to its predecessors under Richt that made it to the SECCG. Here’s how things look after Tennessee (all stats via cfbstats.com):
- Hold opponents under 18 points per game. As a team, Georgia is yielding 22 ppg.
- Finish at least +8 in turnover margin. Georgia’s turnover margin is +1.
- Average better than 380 yards per game on offense. Georgia’s offense is averaging 536 ypg.
- Finish in the top five in total defensive yardage. Georgia’s defense ranks tenth in total defense.
- Finish in the top three in first downs. Georgia is fourth in first downs.
- Finish no worse than third in passing yardage. Georgia is fourth in passing yardage.
- Finish no worse than third in sacks. Georgia is ninth in sacks.
Progress wasn’t exactly made last week, although it’s too early to panic. But it’s pretty obvious that the offense is carrying the team through the 5-0 start.
Paul Johnson is this morning’s musical inspiration.
Hard to beat a combination of Ray Davies and Chrissie Hynde…