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Has the Secondary Become the New Offensive Line?

For years and years, it has seemed that the offensive line was the one position that has always plauged Georgia.  Beginning in 2007, every year it seems that we are just one catostraphic injury away from being in serious trouble on the 0-line.  In 2009, Georgia was best in the SEC in sacks allowed.  In 2011, Georgia was near dead last in the Conference with 33 sacks.  Of course, Murray detractors point to him not being very good as a reason why he threw so many interceptions that season, and not to the fact he was under constant duress.  Injuries, attrition, and just not recruiting well

However, it seems that this season Georgia’s offensive line is playing much better than normal.  Having a special back like Todd Gurley makes the running game look stronger, and of course we don’t throw it much so therefore there are less opportunities for sacks, but I’ve been overall pleased with the line play.

It seems now that the secondary has become the booger bear.  In the 2012 season, things were so dire becuase of suspensions that Connor Norman was your starting safety at Missouri and Malcolm Mitchell had to start the season at corner.  Last season the lumps they took are well documented.  None of the starters outside Damian Swann are back from last season, and it clearly shows.  Injuries, (LOTS of) attrition, and not recruiting well have brought us to this point.

Corbindawg

But, They Don’t Have Gurley

I was thinking about the Missouri game last night as I was driving home from a late night meeting.  Somewhere around McDonough, I had a moment of clarity.

Missouri couldn’t beat a mediocre Big 10 team without Todd Gurley.

How can they beat a mediocre SEC team with Todd Gurley?

Missouri gave up 241 yards rushing to Indiana, and the Hoosiers’ leading rusher Tevin Coleman had 19 carries and 132 yards (6.9).  He even broke a long run of 49 yards. 

Now, I watch as much college football as my wife and 2-year-old will allow.  Admittedly, I can say I had no clue who Indiana’s leading rusher was in that game before going back and looking at the box score.  So this may be an ignorant statement since I’ve never seen Coleman play, but I can all but guarantee you he isn’t as good as Gurley.

Georgia is playing good football in areas that have traditionally plagued us.  We are one of the fewest penalized teams in the league, we are on the plus side of turnover margin (about equal with Missouri), and our OFFENSIVE line is doing a good job in run blocking and pass protection (only given up 6 sacks).

Just looking through some of the stats at http://www.cfbstats.com, Georgia and Missouri pretty even statistically.

Both teams have a single bad loss.  Georgia lost to South Carolina, who is losing to everyone.  Missouri’s lone loss was to Indiana, which was beaten by Bowling Green.

Missouri had to struggle to beat South Carolina.  Georgia really struggled, but was successful, in losing to South Carolina.

The difference in this game should be Todd Gurley.  Both teams are very even.  It is on the road, but it is an early kick off, so that is a wash, too.

Georgia has Todd Gurley.  Missouri doesn’t.  Georgia should win simply because of that.

Corbindawg

 

 

Time For A Change At QB

Folks out there are tiptoeing around the issue, but I’m going to just say it.

Hutson Mason no longer needs to be the quarterback of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Look, Mason seems to be a good kid.  He is loyal.  I hope he proves this Monday Morning armchair quarterback wrong.

But if he stays starting quarterback, then this team is going to lose another couple of games-at least.

He can’t make the throws needed to win SEC games.  For as good as Todd Gurley is, at some point in the very near future, the quarterback is going to have to take a game over and win a game for you in this league.  Even the great Alabama has needed it in the past.  This quarterback can’t get it done.

It won’t make a damn if we get Justin Scott-Wesley or Malcolm Mitchell back.  If you can’t get them the ball, what does it matter?  Sure, their presence may give opposing teams something to think about, but Georgia has got to be the easiest team in America to game plan for.  Our offensive strategy revolves around Todd Gurley breaking big runs and holding him back until the 4th quarter.  This is risky, and it is not sustainable.

I’m a big believer in running the ball, especially when you have the horses that we have in the backfield.  We should be a run first team for sure.  But there are times when you need to throw, and there is no way we can throw the ball right now.  Nothing I have seen makes me think we can improve in this area?

I posed the question before the season-Will Hutson Mason be the next Joe Cox?  I said no, because he had more talent around him than Joe did.

I was wrong.  Hutson Mason is not the next Joe Cox.  He is worse.  Joe’s problem wasn’t his ability.  He was talented.  He threw a bunch of touchdowns and a bunch of yards.  He was even part of the Elite 11 QB camp the same time Stafford was.  Cox’s problem was I think he tried to do too much and make too many big plays.

I don’t want to sit here and say I know more about quarterbacks than Coach Bobo and Coach Richt.   But I also know that Coach Richt is loyal.  Loyal to a fault.  How long do we have to sacrifice the betterment of our program for loyalty?  We did it with John Eason, Dave Van Hallanger, Willie Martinez, Joe T. III, etc.

I would love to be wrong.  I hope Mason leads us to an 11-1 regular season.  I would be tickled pink if that happens.  I’ll eat my words.  But I don’t think that will happen.  I don’t know what is going on with Brice Ramsey or Faton Bauta in practice and behind the scenes.  But I can clearly see what is going on with Hutson Mason.  If we are going to be no better off with a Redshirt Freshman at quarterback, we might as well try.

We aren’t going to win the SEC East in our current situation.  Forget about the quarterback situation.  This defense that gives up 30+ points to SEC opponents is a liability.  We knew that going into the season, so that shouldn’t be surprising.  We can do something about the quarterback situation.  How many more games are we going to lose before a change is made?  If you are being honest with yourself, what kind of chance do we have against Missouri?  Against Auburn? We might as well start preparing for next season and the future.

There is always next season.  That is the motto of a Georgia fan.

Corbindawg

NOTE:  I look at recruiting rankings not for the number of stars, but for who else has been recruiting that kid.  Mason had offers from UGA, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, FSU, Indiana, Mississippi State, UAB, Virginia and Western Michigan.  Brice Ramsey had offers from UGA, Alabama, Clemson, Florida, FSU, and Ohio State. 

How Much More Can They Take?

Even the most critical of Coach Richt can agree on one thing:  his best attribute might be the fact he is a master motivator when adversity strikes.

Just think about it.  How much adversity this team has faced over the past four or five years.  If the players didn’t believe in Mark Richt, and play their tails off for him, he’d be doing a show with Gene Chizik on the SEC Network now.

Remember back in 2011?  The Bulldawgs were coming off a losing season, then lost the first two games of 2011.  Everyone was saying the loser of the UGA/Ole Miss game would be fired.  His seat was scorching hot.  What happened?  The Dawgs went out and won 10 straight games and played tough against LSU in the SEC Championship.

In 2012, the Dawgs were coming off an ass whoppin’ for the ages in Columbia, then almost lost to Kentucky.  What happened?  Georgia beat Florida and then came 5 yards shy against Alabama.

Even last year.  All the highs (LSU and South Carolina) and lows (Vanderbilt loss).  With all that went wrong last season with defense and injuries, the players never quit.  If they had, we’d gotten beat by 40 against Auburn, and not overcome a 20 point hole against Tech.

When their backs are against the wall and adversity creeps in, Mark Richt is able to rally his guys and they still fight for him.

Don’t scoff at this.  If it were that easy, Mack Brown would probably still have a job and the Braves would be playoff bound.

We have heard the same song and verse after the loss in Columbia.  “We still have all of our goals in front of us.”

How much longer can this message be repeated?  I hope this isn’t the case, but gut wrenching loss after gut wrenching loss, how much more can the psyche take?

My biggest fear for the rest of the season isn’t we get beat again by a quality opponent.  I have no problem with losing to South Carolina.  You play a tough team on the road, and you lose by 3 points.  Like with Clemson a year ago, there is no shame in that.  Nothing to hang your head one.  Don’t miskate this for accepting defeats; I am simply being pragmatic.

But it is the way you lose that is so bad.  It is not that Georgia gets beat. It’s that they get beat in the worse possible ways.

My fear is that the players finally don’t say the hell with it and stop fighting hard for their head coach.

Richt has proven time and time again he can rally the guys and get them to play hard.

Can he do it again?

Corbindawg

 

Why Not Give It To Gurley?

The decision to not hand it to Gurley while on the 4 yard line is one that certainly helped keep Georgia from winning Saturday, but it is hardly the only reason why Georgia lost.  I can’t believe after all this time folks are still complaining about Mike Bobo.

Look, Mike Bobo is an excellent recruiter and is a big reason for Georgia’s success in recent years.

I don’t blame him, or generally question his calls.  I’ve been a loud and proud defender of Mike Bobo for a long time. 

Not giving it to Todd Gurley with 1st and Goal on the 4 yard line was a bad, bad decision in an otherwise well-called game.  Anytime you score 35 points on the road, in the rain no less, you are doing something right.  And that play call, the play-action pass to the tight end, is a bread and butter play of ours that has worked a lot and scored a bunch of touchdowns for Georgia over the years, including earlier in the game.

I want to make it clear…we didn’t lose the game solely because of that bad call on the goal line. 

With all that said, I keep on going back to this:

Why not give the ball to Gurley?

I thought back to Florida when they had Tim Tebow.  In 2006, when Tebow would come in, you knew what he was going to do, and Florida by God did it.  From 2007-2009, in that situation, everyone in America knew Tebow was going to run up the middle in those situations.  Or do that stupid jump pass.  And it worked.  Every time.  When Auburn had Cam Newton, in that situation, what would happen?  We all know that Cam would have kept it.

You have the best tailback at your school in a generation.  You have the best player at that position in the entire country on your team.  Why would you not put the ball in his hand in that situation?  What is the point of having an All-American, Heisman trophy candidate in Todd Gurley if you aren’t going to put the ball in his hands in the most crucial of situations?  So what if everyone knew it was going to happen?

Spurrier saw a weakness in our defense and exploited it all night.  We knew what was going to happen, and we couldn’t stop it.  If it is working, and you have the talent, why not dare them to stop it?  Georgia  had 4 tries to get 4 yards with the best running back in America.

It harkened back to the South Carolina game in 2007.  In case you don’t remember, Georgia got the ball back down 7 with 6 minutes left in the game.  Knowshon had runs of 10 yards then 11 yards to get down to the South Carolina 11 yard line.  The next three plays were incomplete passes to Michael Moore, Tripp Chandler and Tony Wilson.  Trusting my memory here, either Massaquoi and Bailey, the two best receivers, were not even on the field.  You just had Knowshon gash the defense, and you went away from that.  Now, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and those are mistakes you can expect a coordinator to make in his 4th game calling plays.  Not from someone who is in their 8th year calling plays.

I think we panicked.  This game reminded me of many of the heartbreaking games in Jacksonville in the early 2000s, except with better offense and worse defense.  Costly (BS) penalties and having to settle for field goals was eerily similar.  But it goes back to confidence.  In all those games in Jacksonville, we had superior players, and during the Zook era superior coaching.  In Jacksonville, we never had the confidence.  For whatever reason Saturday night, we didn’t have the confidence in our best player to put the ball in his hand in a crucial situation.

Florida would with Tebow.  Auburn did with Cam.  Why didn’t Georgia with Gurley?

Corbindawg

Gurley sums it all up

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Throw Back Thursday: Road Trippin’ To Columbia

Our friend Granite goes to nearly all the road games, and has been to every stadium in the SEC multiple times (minus Texas A&M, obviously).  He has a lot of travel experience going to these different towns and tailgating in enemy territory.

No need to reinvent the wheel here, just look at his post from two years ago if you are making the trip to Columbia this weekend.

Travel safe, and Go DAWGS!

Corbindawg

 



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