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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Live Blog: UGA vs South Carolina

FOURTH QUARTER: Georgia couldn't dig its way out of a hole to open the quarter and was forced to punt. A penalty on the return helped back South Carolina up. True to history, the game has been pretty ugly, and the teams have combine for 13 penalties. The Gamecocks have managed to move the ball, however, based solely on Smelley's arm. The kid has made some nice passes in the game, and Georgia has once again been able to get any take-aways.

And there's the turnover... Asher Allen recovered a Mike Davis fumble in the end zone as South Carolina tried to run the ball in from the 2. Davis went up and over a pile, but got hit and lost the football. Georgia's run D has been absolutely stellar today.

Brian Mimbs may have just had the play of the game. Georgia was pinned at its own 10, and Mimbs launched a 77-yard punt to flip the field.

NOTE: Moreno had eight carries on Georgia's first three drives. He has just nine since then. This was poor play calling.

Another hole in the UGA secondary. Smelley has really looked sharp picking apart Georgia's DBs. Gain of 34 yards on first down. Garcia in on the next play is sacked. He's had that deer-in-headlights look on his handful of plays. Carolina is running no-huddle and Georgia's DBs look winded. Smelley is carving them up. Moe Brown dropped a short pass that would have given SC a first down, however, bringing up a fourth-and-2 from the UGA 32, then CC Whitlock appeared to run the wrong route and Smelley's pass fell incomplete.

Heading down to the field now. Hopefully I don't miss much in the elevator.

An uninspiring start to the half for Georgia. The Dawgs converted one third down, but the drive stalled at the 30. Couple bright spots for Georgia, however: Time of possession: UGA 24:35, SC 9:11 to this point. Also, SC has just 14 rushing yards -- half of which came on Garcia's QB keeper.

Another personal foul flag on Georgia moves South Carolina to Georgia's 41. The Dawgs are just handing this game to SC on a silver platter at this point. The Gamecocks decided to abandon the run, too, however, and Smelley was nearly picked off on three straight incompletions. Logan Gray back deep for Georgia again.

Interesting note on Georgia so far. On nine of Georgia 17 first-down plays so far, the Dawgs have gained zero or neagtive yards. Thirteen have gone for fewer than 5 yards.

Good start to the drive for Georgia. Stafford hits Demiko Goodman for 21, then a personal foul flag gives the Dawgs another 15 to take them into Gamecocks territory. Hey, who's this Knowshon Moreno character? Haven't seen him in a while. Moreno has run a lot of draws and stretch plays -- which is indicative that the holes just aren't being opened up by the offensive line. Add to that pressure Stafford has seen and the Dawgs' inability to score inside the 5, and you have to think the line is in part to blame for the 7-6 score. Second missed TD chance for Richard Samuel as a long Stafford passes sailed through his outstretched hands down the sideline. Stafford made up for it by faking to Knowshon and picking up 30 yards on a QB keeper. Reminds me a bit of what he did two years ago against Auburn. Moreno scores from 4 yards out on the next play (another stretch play) for the Dawgs first TD against South Carolina in nearly 130 minutes of game action. (Of course, that TD had to be reviewed, along with the 64 previous plays. These refs are TERRIBLE.) Stafford hit Durham for a two-point conversion to put the Dawgs up 14-7.

Note: Time of possession numbers to this point: UGA 28:18, SC 11:30. Don't underestimate how important that stat is. Georgia's biggest advantage to this point is they've kept SC's offense off the field. A 17-minute differential is a lot of strain on the SC defense.

Jamey Lindley kicked off for Georgia. The results weren't significantly better. Short kick, but more hang time and better coverage. South Carolina continues to move the ball, again benefiting from UGA penalties. The count for the dogs so far: eight flags for 85 yards. One strong point so far has been Georgia's tackling. There's only been one play I can recall where SC picked up significant yardage after the initial contact. The pressure from the line has looked better, too, and this drive by Carolina ends with a Rennie Curran sack. South Carolina's special teams do a nice job again, however, and Georgia will start this drive from inside the 4.

SCORE: 14-7 UGA.

SECOND QUARTER: Just a side note on this game so far: These refs are brutal. Not bad calls, they just appear thoroughly confused about what to do. They've wasted about seven or eight minutes so far for discussions that should have been resolved quickly.

Georgia's drive continued with three straight first downs -- another long Knowshon run (11 yards), a beautiful catch by A.J. Green in which he reached out behind him to pull in the pass for 12 yards and an 11-yard catch by Kris Durham along the sideline. This is the precision Georgia was missing on its first two drives. On third down from the 24, Stafford had Durham open in the end zone but led him just out of bounds. Walsh booted a 42-yard field goal to put Georgia up 3-0. It has now been eight full quarters since Georgia has scored a touchdown against SC. Danny Ware, 4:58 into the second quarter in 2007, was the last Bulldog to find paydirt in the series. Corey Boyd's run last year was the only TD by either team since then.

Another not-so-hot kickoff, and South Carolina starts this drive at the 38. Thus far, Georgia's opponents' average starting field position after a kickoff is the 32. No drive has started inside 20.

Have I mentioned how brutal these refs have been? I think they are being paid by the hour.

Chris Smelley looked sharp on South Carolina's ensuing drive. He capped a 62-yard drive with a 34-yard TD pass to Moe Brown, who beat Ramarcus Brown down the sideline. It was Brown's first career TD. Georgia has had a number of chances to take control of this game, but the longer South Carolina hangs around, the more that Vandy loss fades from their memories. Not a good start for the Dawgs.

Israel Troupe has seen a good bit of playing time in the first half, and pulled in a first-down pass to keep Georgia's drive going after SC's score. Knowshon's effectiveness opened up a big 17-yard run for Stafford after he faked a handoff to Moreno. Georgia needs to stick with its game plan and keep Moreno involved. Going to heavily to the passing game is what killed the Dawgs last year against Carolina. My drop count by the receivers (and TEs) so far is five, though some were tough catches. Stafford took a big hit as he set up to throw and lost the football. Georgia recovered but lost 7 yards. After yet another penalty, A.J. hauled in a nifty catch between two defenders for 39 yards on third-and-21. Bean Anderson is in the game as Georgia works from inside SC's 10.
Eight of the first 10 plays on this drive were passes (and one was a QB keeper). It may have been a successful drive, but Georgia cannot get away from the run like this and expect to win. Why you have Knowshon and don't use him in a game like this is beyond me. He had two runs on the drive. Same thing that killed UGA last year. Fourteen carries for Knowshon in that game, 44 passes by Stafford. Walsh kicked a 23-yarder to pull the Dawgs to within 1.

Some ugly first-half numbers for Georgia:

- Five dropped passes, two of which came on third downs, ending drives.
- Two interceptions that went through the hands of UGA defenders
- Georgia could easily have three turnovers of its own. It lost two first-half fumbles and was lucky to recover both. Stafford had an easy INT that was negated by an SC penalty.
- Speaking of penalties, the Dawgs have six for 60 yards in the half.
- Balance: Stafford has 17 passes, Knowshon has 10 runs (and only two in the final 10 minutes of the half).

SCORE: 7-6 South Carolina.

FIRST QUARTER: Blair Walsh handled kickoffs, and his first one wasn't great. Came up a bit short and South Carolina starts at the 35. It was a 22-yard return, after the kick got little hang time.

On the Gamecocks' first drive, Georgia's D looked fantastic. Darryl Gamble had a shot at a pick on third down, but it slipped through his hands.

Moreno's punt return came as a bit of a surprise, but his 32-yard return didn't. This is exactly why fans and coaches were excited about the prospects of getting Moreno in on special teams. Matthew Stafford was sacked on first down from the 36 for a 9-yard loss. That was just hte second time he's been sacked this year, and the first was a coverage sack by Georgia Southern. This was the first time the O-line had been clearly overwhelmed. Richard Samuel was the first RB off the bench. He caught a 7-yard reception on second-and-19. Tripp Chandler dropped a pass on third-and-long that would have gone for a first down. Freshman Drew Butler got his first career punt, a designed pooch that went for a touchback.

Stephen Garcia made his debut after a personal foul (roughing the passer) knocked Chris Smelley from the game. He showed off what makes him dangerous on his first play, running for a 6-yard gain right up the middle. Smelley returned on the next play. Kade Weston had a nice tackle pursuing RB Mike Davis out wide. Looks like mobility isn't a problem in his return from a knee injury. South Carolina punts for the second time with a grand total of zero yards of offense so far. Asher Allen was back on return duties for Georgia.

Tony Wilson caught his first pass of the season on the first play of Georgia's second drive. Tripp Chandler dropped his second consecutive pass on third down. Both passes hit him in the hands, both times he lost it as he turned to try to go upfield for more yardage. Mimbs back in to punt.

Smelley finally completes a pass for positive yardage on a second-down play down the sideline. The Gamecocks have now run 11 plays for 11 total yards of offense. The flags keep flying against Georgia. This is exactly what Richt & Co. didn't want to see. This time a holding penalty on Allen gives South Carolina a first down. That's two penalties for 25 yards in the game's first 12 minutes for Georgia. On the next play, Allen begged for an offensive interference flag after an interception went through his hands. If you're keeping score, that's two dropped first-down catches for the offense, and two INTs that went through the defenses hands. The one thing you don't want to do is give South Carolina extra chances. Logan Gray is Georgia's third punt returner after the Dawgs held South Carolina on third down.

The quarter ended with an untimed down after a pass interference penalty on SC gave Georgia a first down at its own 30. Stafford got away with one, as his deep pass to Mo Massaquoi was badly underthrown. Moreno had a 10-yard run to end the quarter, but had just 13 yards on five carries prior to that. His run was negated, however, by a post-whistle personal foul penalty against Shaun Chapas. That's four flags in the quarter for UGA.

Knowshon Moreno returned the opening punt for 32 yards. Had a feeling we might see that this week.

KICKOFF NOTE: A.J. Green will not be in the starting lineup. He's replaced by Kris Druham. Also getting a starting nod is Jeremy Lomax over Jarius Wynn at DE and Prince Miller over Bryan Evans at CB.

We're about 30 minutes from kickoff folks. I'll have updates every quarter, plus any important injury or newsworthy updates throughout.

If anything catches your eye during the game or there's anything you want to know about postgame, please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Enjoy the game.


Anonymous said...

Any word on Bruce Figgins and do you think he'll see any action?

Brandon said...

after the 1st Q, hopefully, we'll settle down. Giving up these penalties is exactly the thing SC needs to stay in this game.

If we can cut out the penalties, their offense won't do a thing.

David Hale said...

Haven't seen any of Figgins yet. He may see some snaps, but Richt is loyal to his vets, and I doubt Chandler gets benched for a couple drops. More over, Chandler is still the better blocker at this point, and that is really his primary role.

Brandon said...

we killed ourselves down on the goal line, bad vision by Samuel, Davis messing up the snap. After all that, how could Bobo think Stafford would make it in from the 6?

Brandon said...

Great read by Stafford and the QB keep and Knowshon finished with a great run. Verene Lundquist couldn't believe he kept his knees up.

I know Sammuel/King are grood players, but with this close game, keep the ball in Stafford's and Moreno's hands.

btw, the refs are terrible....

Brandon said...

we just lucked out on 4 and 2. great play by Asher to break up the 3rd down play.

we have zero pass rush, if we give Rudy Carpenter this much time, they'll hang 50 on us.

Brandon said...

I can't believe we're only rushing 3. Even with 8 in coverage, they're wide open.

Will Queen said...

I agree on the call about Moreno not getting enough carries. I didn't check the stats, but it seemed an like Bobo was calling an awful lot of passes again this year. Or maybe Stafford was checking into them, I don't know. Either way, it wasn't working really well.