Category Archives: Georgia Football

Aubie game time

Not another nooner, as some feared.

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Observations from the 35, Kent State edition

Looking back on it, that first score was too easy.  In Georgia’s three previous games, scores in opening series came as the result of steady drives down the field.  This time, we saw an electrifying 75-yard run from Bowers less than a minute into the game.  The fans relaxed.  Unfortunately, so did the team.

The result was a vindication of two hoary college football chestnuts:  (1) noon starts lead to sleepy teams and (2) never let an inferior opponent get the feeling they’re still in the game.  Yes, the final margin was seventeen points, but Kent State was a 45-point underdog that had a shot of making it a one-score game in the fourth quarter.

In keeping with the game, the bullet points are good and bad.

  • Kent State made a decision that they didn’t respect Georgia’s deep passing game, and with Mitchell’s and Smith’s absence, that wasn’t a terrible choice.  Monken and Bennett, in turn, made a decision on the game’s very first play to test that, and it should have worked.  Unfortunately, Ladd McConkey, who played the most forgettable half of college football he’s ever turned in — at times, it looked like he had money on the Golden Flashes to cover — didn’t bring in Stetson’s pass.  That’s a possible point of concern, but it was good to see Smith suiting up for the game, suggesting he’s making real progress on the health front.
  • Like it or not, it was a pretty quiet day for Georgia’s wide receivers.  I think McConkey had one catch of over 20 yards, but no one else did.  Again, I like seeing Blaylock out there, he’s such a good route runner with good hands.  I hope he’s working himself into game shape, because he has the tools to be a bigger contributor.
  • Another awesome day for the tight ends.  Bowers had two rushing touchdowns and Washington threw key blocks on both of them.  Washington also continues to impress me with his growth as a receiver.  Anyway, it felt like any time things were starting to tighten for the offense, they turned to a tight end and it worked out.
  • The running backs weren’t bad, but they weren’t explosive running the ball, either.  With Milton, it seems to be the case that he needs the o-line to create a little space to get going.  He did turn in a couple of nice runs where he was able to accelerate, but again showed an issue with not being able to keep his balance with shoestring tackle attempts.
  • I’m just gonna say this:  it’s time to feature Edwards in the run game more.  I know McIntosh was limited with an injury, so Edwards got more opportunities to run, but he’s producing.  He’s always run hard, but it seems like he can get out of the backfield more easily than the other two.
  • The o-line remains a mixed bag.  They’re getting great play out of the tackles and Van Pran, but the guard play remains inconsistent.  Ratledge is still noticeably struggling, presumably as he continues to work his way back from injuries into game shape.  The sack was the result of him and McIntosh whiffing on protection.  If you think he’s your best option at guard, should he get healthy, I can see why you’d keep him out there.  It would be nice, though, if he’d get there soon.  Truss and Willock have their moments, but have their share of inconsistencies as well.  Will things get better on the interior?
  • I don’t want to rag on Stetson too much, even though it was his weakest game of the season.  Much of that was due to his receivers not holding on to the ball.  The interception could be partly blamed on Rosemy-Jacksaint letting the defender get inside him on an underthrown ball, but it looked to me like Stetson locked into him from the snap and ignored a couple of receivers who were in his line of sight that were more open.  But he made some sharp throws and for the most part, good decisions.
  • The defense started out looking very much in control, with Dumas-Johnson leading the way.  He and Nolan Smith had a couple of early sacks, and that, too, probably contributed to the feeling of relaxation.  Kent State scored its first three points of the game in two series netting a total of two yards of offense.  The next series saw them gain zero yards, setting up a safety on a punt block.  The next time they got the ball back, another three-and-out.
  • That, in turn, led to the play of the game, McConkey’s fumble after reception.  Two plays later, Kent caught Georgia misplaying a sideline throw and turned it into a touchdown reception.  Lassiter lost contain and didn’t have the safety support to bail him out.  And Kent State suddenly felt like the game wasn’t going to be a blow out.
  • That Jalen Carter was missed more Saturday than he was against South Carolina seems a weird thing to say, but it doesn’t make it any less true.  KS’ bowling ball of a back had some success running the ball up the middle.  It wasn’t so much that the Dawgs’ d-line was being overpowered as it appeared they weren’t gap solid at times.  That, fortunately, is something that can be fixed, but it will be nice to get Carter back, too.
  • I continue to like what I see out of Bear Alexander.  He’s gonna be a good one with time.
  • It was not one of the linebacking corps best days.  As noted, they did get off to a good start, but as the game wore on, there were plenty of missed assignments, players out of position and some missed tackles. Containment wasn’t consistent, although for the most part, they did a very good job with Schlee and his threat to run the ball.  Then again, they over-committed on a screen pass that led to a big gain.
  • Same story with the secondary.  Ringo was the most consistent out there.  Safety play wasn’t as locked down as we’ve seen, although it wasn’t bad.  Lassiter needs some coaching up.  Bullard flashed on occasion.  Overall, they weren’t awful, but they were inconsistent enough that a smart, tough opponent was able to take advantage at times.
  • Special teams were a roller coaster.  Except for Podlesny, who didn’t miss all day long.  There was a great punt block that led to a safety, but there was also a successful fake punt for the second week in a row, which is inexcusable.  Add in McConkey’s flubbed punt catch, and you had a eventful day of action — and not in a good sense.
  • As far as coaching goes, it’s not unfair to say our guys were outcoached.  I give Monken the benefit of the doubt on that — Bennett struggled a little with Kent’s version of the 3-3-5, there weren’t any weapons to attack the defense deep, but in the end, 500+ yards and 39 points aren’t too bad, especially if you consider it could have been considerably more with better execution.
  • Defensively, Kent State’s playcalling exposed a few flaws and I didn’t see much in the way of adjustment.  Georgia appeared to struggle in the second half with Kent’s HUNH and that is something they’d better get a handle on before the Tennessee game.
  • Kirby deserves a little criticism, too.  He was really lucky the refs ruled Bennett scored on that run to end Georgia’s first half, because he’d blown through all of his timeouts on that weird series when Kent tried to mix Georgia up on that fourth-and-five, will they or won’t they go for it situation.  And for whatever reason, he wasn’t able to get this team to wake up.

As a one-off, of course, this game doesn’t mean much.  There’s plenty to work on, and I’m sure they’ll get after things this week in practice.  I do wonder how much longer the coaches will continue the experiments on the offensive and defensive lines before settling in on starting groups.  It would also be good to get players like Carter and Mitchell back in action.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to look back on this game as nothing more than a little bump in the road.

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Not enough hunting

Graham Coffey ($$) offers the thought that Kent State’s success in the passing game Saturday was evidence that Georgia’s defense had an execution problem, rather than a scheme problem.

The defense does not have a “coverage issue,” but yesterday it had a pursuit/leverage issue. Pursuit is an effort thing. Georgia’s athletes can run down skill guys when they want to. There were times yesterday where they thought other guys would make plays and they didn’t. Nobody will be secretly happier about that than Kirby Smart. Georgia’s heading into conference play, and this game will be a teaching point from now until the end of the year. We know Smart will fix it, so no reason to focus on it. Let’s talk about why those screens popped for the Golden Flashes.

The long one on a TD was the result of two problems- 1) Lassiter got out leveraged on the boundary and didn’t fight to turn the play back inside. UGA’s CB’s almost always run screens inside by getting outside of the WR blocking them. They’re taught to funnel the play towards the help in the center of the field. Lassiter didn’t do that. That mistake was compounded when Christopher Smith took an inside angle, coming upfield to soon and on the wrong side of Lassiter. Now, he’s probably used to doing that because he expects Lassiter to turn the play inside. Smith is as steady as they come, but on this play he over pursued. Suddenly the KSU WR is in the open field with nobody in sight. On the HB screen play in the 2nd quarter, Dumas-Johnson and Beal didn’t read the blocks and didn’t pursue hard enough. Ringo was in a 1 on 3 situation where he was backpedaling so not his fault for getting knocked down. It’s the type of play that UGA makes when its defense is locked in like it was in Columbia or against Oregon. 103 yards of KSU’s passing yards came on plays behind the line of scrimmage. 120 yards came on 8 screens. Take those away and Kent had 48 yards passing. UGA’s coverage is fine. Its pass rush is as well. KSU only ran 6 plays from True Pass Sets, and Georgia had 5 pressures on those.

I think that has a lot of merit.  But I also think Kent State’s coach deserves a ton of credit for reading the way Georgia was playing and adapting to it by changing his offensive approach.  They started out playing not to get blown out, but when they realized the Dawgs were keeping them in the game with mistakes and somewhat listless play, they went HUNH, called a lot of quick RPO passes and took advantage of those wide (and I do mean wide) receiver formations.

The Dawgs played sloppily.  They simply had enough talent that it didn’t matter.

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Today, in stats don’t lie

Josh may have the understatement of the week here:

‘Ya think?

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Bending, breaking, etc.

If you’re looking for a potential red flag with the Dawgs’ performance from the first four weeks of the season, Bill Connelly ($$) suggests one.

A passive pass defense. As mentioned above. Four weeks in, the Dawgs rank 81st in passing success rate allowed, 67th in completion rate allowed and, perhaps most worrisome, 121st in sacks per dropback.

They did record three sacks against Kent State — two from sophomore Jamon Dumas-Johnson — which could be a sign that they can ratchet up the pressure when they know they need to. Then again, all three came in a dominant first quarter. Including sacks, Collin Schlee’s first seven pass attempts against UGA lost 18 yards. His next 18 attempts gained 195 yards.

The Georgia run defense appears sound, and on offense the Dawgs rank first in success rate and fifth in points scored per drive. If everything else is working, they can perhaps afford having a merely good pass defense. But future opponents Tennessee, Mississippi State and Kentucky could land some blows if the defense doesn’t improve.

It took a while for Kent State to get their bearings, but once they did, their passing game was relatively effective.  I would think other offensive coordinators getting ready to face the Dawgs are taking notes.

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One thing

Yesterday was marked by sloppy play (maybe even disinterested at times), but it’s the kind of thing I expect the coaches to get worked out with the players.  That being said, this bugs me a little.

In the aftermath of Saturday’s victory, Georgia inside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson — who was one of the team’s leading tacklers with 6 — chalked some of the Bulldogs’ issues up to needing better communication and improving their conditioning going forward.  [Emphasis added.]

It wasn’t a blisteringly hot day.  They were the home team, so no roster issues.  But Kent State exposed a conditioning matter?  Man, I hope I’m reading that wrong.

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A one-man Fulmer Cup winner

This has to be some kind of record.

Man, Mark Richt’s really lost control of this team.

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Vegas seems concerned.

Then, again, if it were a nooner, the line might only be…

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Do it all

Shot.

Chaser ($$).

Can you throw the ball, he was asked.

“Not very well,” Bowers said. “I can throw it a long ways but not very accurately.”

Perhaps he’s just being modest there.

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You can’t say he didn’t try to warn us.

And before you try to blow that off, keep in mind something Weiszer pointed out.

The Golden Flashes entered the day as the third highest rated opponent that is on Georgia’s home schedule, according to the Sagarin Ratings.

Kent State was No. 86. That’s ahead of No. 88 Vanderbilt, No. 113 Georgia Tech and No. 150 Samford.

On a related note, can I say that I find the meltdown about the game prevailing on message boards and the comments section here to be a little funny?  I mean, some of the same folks who have been assuring one and all that when it comes to where to play the Cocktail Party game we should defer to Kirby’s infallible judgment in all matters are out there beating various drums today about his misguided faith in some of his assistant coaches and players.

As much fun as we have mocking other fan bases, maybe we should take a look at ourselves sometimes.

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