Second thoughts on SECCG

Yesterday, I told you what concerned me most.  This time, you get what gives me the most hope.

Offensive diversity.  I don’t want to say that the injuries to Bennett and Brown have been blessings in disguise, but the way Bobo and the offense have taken up the slack in the wake of their departures is impressive.  Here’s what Bill Connelly has to say about that:

… Quietly, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray has put together one of the most impressive, underrated seasons in recent memory. Despite losing two key cogs in his receiving corps — Michael Bennett (71 percent catch rate, 10.1 yards per target) went down after five weeks, Marlon Brown (65 percent catch rate, 11.5 yards per target) after nine — Murray has produced at a high enough level to place Georgia first in the country in Passing S&P+.

With no Bennett or Brown, receiver-turned-cornerback-turned-receiver Malcolm Mitchell has once again stepped up on the offensive side of the ball, and players like tight end Arthur Lynch and sophomore receiver Chris Conley have raised their production in recent weeks. As a result, Murray has developed almost no season-long tendencies whatsoever. Including Mitchell and Brown, four Bulldogs have been targeted between 34 and 56 times (Tavarres King 56, Mitchell 45, Brown 40, Bennett 34), and seven more have been targeted between 12 and 26, or once to twice per game. Murray throws to whoever is open, period…

Georgia is rather conservative on passing downs, running the ball 44 percent of the time (the 15th highest average in the country) but moves with perfect balance between Murray’s right arm and the legs of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall (combined: 24 carries and 155 rushing yards per game) on standard downs. They do whatever you cannot stop, and they are brutally effective.

This is what a good pro-style offense is supposed to offer as a challenge to a good defense.  In its own fashion, it may be more difficult for Alabama to defend than what TAMU threw at it.  (Assuming Georgia’s offensive line can hold up its end of the deal.  And, yes, I know that’s a big if.)

Tight end production.  Sure, some of that’s a factor of the aforementioned injuries, but give the Dawgs credit for making lemonade out of lemons.  10 of Lynch’s 18 catches this season have come in the last four weeks.  For Rome, it’s a similar story, with 8 of his 10 coming in that same period.  Even better, both are averaging higher yards per catch than Orson Charles did last year.  The flexibility this gives Bobo with his formations and playcalling shouldn’t be underestimated.

Jarvis Jones isn’t ‘da man anymore on defense.  Don’t get your hackles up.  That’s a good thing, as Bill C. explains.

… Since Williams spoke out, Georgia has allowed 8.6 points per game and 4.6 yards per play. The Georgia defense has improved, incredibly, from 71st in Def. F/+ to 25th.

This is the unit we expected to see all year, with Jarvis Jones wreaking havoc (19.5 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, three passes defensed, and if you believe the Georgia stat-keeper — and having seen Jones play live, I think I do — 30 quarterback hurries), linebacker Alec Ogletree flying from sideline to sideline (Ogletree leads Georgia in tackles despite playing only eight games), and safety Bacarri Rambo playing the role of Ball Hawk Extraordinaire (against Georgia Tech last week, Rambo forced two fumbles, recovered and returned one for 49 yards, and returned an interception for 27 yards while also logging 6.0 tackles). After single-handedly accounting for a good portion of Georgia’s big defensive plays against teams like Missouri and Florida, Jones has gone from the country’s most valuable player (at least a co-MVP with Kansas State’s Collin Klein) to simply a cog in a destructive, physical defense.

It took a little while, but the pieces have come together for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and the Georgia defense like we thought it might at the beginning of the year.

Make no mistake: Alabama’s defense is still possibly the best in college football. But Georgia’s might be the hottest.

Next up – do Georgia’s plusses outweigh its minuses?


Filed under Georgia Football

24 responses to “Second thoughts on SECCG

  1. What fresh hell is this?

    We can move the ball on this team, if we are not predictable, run on nearly all first downs, and force AM to throw in obvious situations.

    All I want for Christmas is several play action passes on first down. And …well…a beat down of Bammer….followed by an even larger beat down of ND.


  2. NC Dawg

    Most hope — Jarvis Jones (still the man), Gurshall, Rambo, Murray (also can substitute for most worry).


  3. Keese

    We have no chance Senator! No chance! Go Dawgs


  4. Cojones

    Last evening CSS rated all aspects of O and D for both teams, STs and compared coaches. Bama barely took 5 categories of comparison while UGA barely took 3. STs was the swing category, but comparisons were made with Morgan’s last 5 games and a couple ranked them sorta even. Consider that Bama’s kicker is 10/10 FGs and no misses on extra points. It was a good comparison and left two voting for Bama to win and two for UGA ( Bob and Barnhart).

    It was close in every category, including they gave Bama the edge with Lacy and Yeldon barely edging Gurly and Marshall. I have not overused or exagerated the meaning of “barely”. I thought they did as good a job as anyone can when comparing Two very close teams.

    This is rounding up to be the CFB game of the year. And it sure is fun. I am basking in Richt, Bobo and Grantham’s respect given everywhere except those foot draggers who don’t know crap about football. Sorry. They don’t and I hope we make ESPN pay for their slights.


    • Dawgfan Will

      Talking Football now is often what SportCenter or College Gameday might once have been. They are much less prone to exaggeration and following any sort of narrative.


    • Will (the other one)

      I can’t see anyone rating Lacy/Yeldon ahead of Gurshall given that the Lacy/Yeldon combo has fewer yards (not by much, but still, fewer) running behind a decidedly better O-Line.


  5. NC Dawg

    Speaking of Bobo, I am a critic of his constant bashers, but I don’t think all the bashing is being done by imbeciles. I was listening to an NC regional sports talk show a couple of days ago, and the host all but laughed when Mike Bobo’s name was mentioned as a candidte for the NC State job. Frankly, I was surprised that the dismissive attitude toward Bobo seems to have caught on outside of Bulldog blogs. I don’t think it’s fair, but it seems to be there.


  6. Will Trane

    For me the game wil be decided in the LOS. We will see where in August the O-Line was “31” and where they have moved in 12 games. At USC on the road they did not move anybody. At Florida on the road was an improvement. If they come out against Bama like they did against Ole Miss in the opening quarter, it could get ugly in a hurry.
    The loss of Brown and Bennett were huge, plus Mitchell slowed by an injury will allow Bama to play the run game and rush Murray. Do not think the other receivers have the ability to play with Bama’s secondary and make sight adjustments. Anxious to see how Richt, Bobo, and Friend will attack Bama. I think CMR is a major player in this plan. Dawgs need to grind and stay ahead of the chains, no negative plays [sacks, tackled behind the LOS, or wasted downs via Bobo’s play calling]. Shorten the field and make Bama go long and often. Murray…think Danielson is right in his view of the QB…hard to argue with past experience and seeing in person all the top SEC QBs Danielson has this season. Would agree with his assessments.
    Saragin SOS. Predicator gives Bama the edge, but that number does not put it on the field in a head gear. Plus the SSOS ties to what Danielson said about the Dawgs in November. In fact look at where Auburn, Tech, and Southern were / are. Also take a peek at where the first ACC team shows up, then second. They tie that back to the Florida-FSU, Carolina-Clemson, and Dawgs-Jackets. 3-0. SSOS has some strong merit.
    The key…Bama’s QB, not Dawg’s. Stop him and you stop Bama. Can not let him have even a fair passing game. He is a big kid and JJ must light him up or some other defender on every play.
    Like Coach Boom said…and think of the former Dawgs in the SEC mix…the SEC is a LOS conference. Think not take a look at the SSOS and where the other teams stand.


  7. yurdle

    Bama will watch the Ole Miss film and blitz the right side of UGA’s line. Twice, Theus and Gurley got crossed up by slanting rushers, blocked each other, and got Murray sacked. Haven’t seen much pistol from UGA since then.

    I don’t think we can run on Bama. That front 7 is truly dominant against the run, and Sunseri at safety is great in run support. To counter, I expect to see us in a lot of 1RB, 1TE, 3WR sets. That’s how we ran on Florida. The trick is to keep CJ Mosely either off the field or running out of the play.

    We can beat Bama on the right arm of Aaron Murray, but I would not be at all surprised to see him taking a lot of designed runs, even some zone read. Bama has distinct defensive styles: sometimes it plays contain and sometimes it plays rush. I think they will be playing rush against Murray, and he (while no Manziel) can make ’em pay for it. Heck, Bobo got more than 100 yards rushing from Stafford against Auburn in 2006, IIRC.


    • Irwin R Fletcher

      We can’t beat Bama on the right arm of Murray. You must run the ball to beat them.

      In the past two seasons, they have given up over 3 YPC in only 4 games. They are 21-0 when holding teams under 3 YPC. 2-2 in the other 4. Take out the game against GA Southern and they are 1-2 against non-triple option offenses when they allow 3 YPC or more.

      Let’s see….21-0 vs. 1-2…..the key is the running game. Period.


      • Irwin R Fletcher

        Let me just add in a quick side note…I’m not saying if we get 3+ YPC, UGA wins. All I am saying is that start with the running game…if less than 3 YPC, we lose. If more, then move on to the next variable.

        It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book that you have read 30 times. You know the first choice you make either leads to certain death or 100 more choices. Less than 3 YPC is certain death. More is …well more fun.


        • Will (the other one)

          If we can come close to our output vs. Florida, which I think is comparable talent-wise, we’re in good shape.


      • yurdle

        I think we may agree. I ain’t calling for 50 pass attempts, nor do I think that airing it out against Bama is the best plan. Their own offense will grind you down if you don’t play keep away.

        But I do think that the game is likely to hinge on Murray making the play in the passing game when it’s there. When Mitchell gets a step on play-action, the pass has to be there.

        The other consideration is that Bama is built to stop the run, and UGA is not built to run over a DL like Bama’s. Our big uglies plus Marshall and Gurley can absolutely get it done, but I just don’t think that Andrews is going to beat Williams consistently enough to run inside for first downs drive after drive. I would like a classic Marshall 50-yard TD or a Gurley tackle-breaker, but Alabama just doesn’t give up that many of those runs. Their speed makes you pay for getting lateral and their size and tackling makes the lanes inside small and ephemeral.

        We need–wait for it, wait for it, wait for it–balance. Not necessarily run/pass balance, but structural balance. We cannot let Bama dictate how our offense plays without making them pay for it. If they’re going to sell out against the run, we’ve got to make the passes. If they’re going to play nickel, we’ve got to be able to run. Their tendency is to play the run first, so that’s why I think the game rides on Murray’s right arm. Trying to run against a Bama team that is overloading against the run is a losing proposition, and it does not play to our strengths.


  8. sniffer

    One area that gives me hope is the way UGa came out against Tech and ran the hurry-up and no huddle to near perfection. This will give Smart and Saban something else to plan for and it has been shown go work against Bama.


    • Coastal Dawg

      Yes. Bama has a substitution package for almost every down and distance. Ole Miss and A&M didn’t let them sub and Bama got tired then beat.


  9. I surmise that Bobo trusts the offensive line enough now to send his TE’s out into the pass tree, which is why TE production is up the last four weeks. I wonder if that will be the case on Saturday.


  10. AusDawg85

    Those guys are HUGE! And all that speed…God Almighty. The Dawgs don’t stand a chance. Well, not without ‘ol Lady Luck on our side. Hunker Down you guys! Hunker Down! Put on your Hobnailed Boots and see the oranges falling from the sky!!!


  11. UGA can run on Bama with Toss sweeps to Marshall, and keeping Gurley between the tackles to keep themhonest. Mashall owns the toss sweep.


  12. paul

    The play of our defense the second half of the season gives me the most hope. However, the way they have been talking about their confidence and swagger gives me pause. I really wish they would just quietly go about their business.


  13. SouthGa Dawg

    Just broke my arm patting myself on the back. Said a couple of weeks ago that we can run the ball like LSU and no huddle spread it out like A&M. This is an advantage for us. I really think Bobo will put together a solid game plan that can work. I also love our TE’s – especially when we put both on the field at the same time.


  14. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Several members of the sports media now have jumped on the Dawgs’ bandwagon, Brian Jones and Tony Barnhart to name just 2. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, though.