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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fleeting Thoughts: Arizona State

A few thoughts following Georgia's last-second win over Arizona State…

-- A.J. Green is freaking amazing.

-- If you replaced Green with even an above-average receiver -- say Mohamed Massaquoi -- I think there's a good chance that Georgia is sitting at 0-4 right now.

-- Georgia has 12 turnovers now and has created just three. The fact that the Bulldogs are 3-1 is absolutely stunning.

-- The offense looked bad Saturday, but the conditions were hardly accommodating. I'm not writing the game off and saying Georgia should get a free pass, but it was also far from optimal playing conditions. And Cox is hardly the type of QB who can handle the wet weather.

-- The defense played a strong game, but not a great one. On the plus side, ASU mustered just 204 total yards, which is exceptionally impressive. Georgia essentially shut the door in the fourth quarter, too. But for three quarters Arizona State ran the ball well, and a good quarterback would have converted a number of the throws Danny Sullivan missed.

-- Cox has a lot of strengths, and he's been integral to the 3-1 start, but for someone supposedly as knowledgeable and intellectual as he is, his interceptions so far have been disheartening. At least three of the four were simply bad decisions.

-- Playing Baccari Rambo more = a very good idea. He played an exceptional game.

-- Justin Houston was exactly what we were promised during the offseason. He was a beast off the edge. He had four tackles, two for a loss, and a pass breakup, and he had pressure on Sullivan throughout the second half. Now, let's see if he can keep it up against an SEC opponent.

-- Geno Atkins looked a lot more like a future NFL defensive lineman this week than he has all season.

-- As good as Tavarres King, Aron White and Orson Charles looked last week, none really caught fire this week.

-- Having said that, I spoke to Mike Bobo, and he said the reason Green had man coverage on that big third-down conversion on the final drive was because Orson commanded a double team.

-- What happened to that dominant offensive line? OK, some questionable play calling on the toss sweep to Samuel from the 1 or fourth-and-inches handoff to Fred Munzenmaier. But come on, Georgia's line was supposed to be the foundation of the offense, and it simply hasn't looked anything close to that this season.

-- While the run blocking wasn't what it should have been, kudos to the line for keeping Dexter Davis at bay. Arizona State didn't blitz much, which was probably smart, but they also didn't get a single sack of Joe Cox. It wasn't the biggest challenge the line will see this year, but Davis is the real deal and the line managed to still give Cox time to throw.

-- Blair Walsh deserves a lot of credit. He's 8-for-8 on the season now, and he's handled his job on PATs and field goals like a steely veteran. Regardless of all the controversy on kickoffs -- which really does sound more absurd every time I type it -- he's compartmentalized well and he's delivered every time out.

-- A few folks will knock Mike Bobo for this, but all in all, I didn't think his playcalling was awful. There were a few questionable calls, but save one or two, there was a good rationale behind all of them.

-- In the two non-SEC games this season, the officiating has been downright brutal. What happened on the fourth-and-1 play is inexplicable, and the fact that officials reviewed Green's catch in the end zone and still ruled it incomplete is absurd. There are several still-camera shots of Green making that grab with his foot down.

(EDIT: From an anonymous poster -- "David, love the blog but one small correction...the refs were from the SEC not the Pac-10. By the way, the umpire who got in the way on the 4th down play should look familiar...he was the one who leveled Stephen Garcia near the goal line last year when South Carolina played LSU." My bad. I was thrown off by Richt's "in our league" comments after the game.)

-- Green, by the way, now has 309 receiving yards against Arizona State in the last two seasons. He has to be a bit disappointed they're coming off the schedule next year.

-- Mark Richt talked after the game about what led to Green playing on special teams to make that block of the field goal. Apparently John Jancek insisted Green play, but Tony Ball didn't like the idea. He was worried his top receiver could get hurt too easily and said it wasn't worth it. He was overruled. So, for all the fans who A.) Don't like Jancek, and B.) Complain about how few top players get special teams duty, keep that play in mind.

-- I didn't see a good replay of Caleb King's fumble, so I'm not sure if it was fundamentals, weather conditions or simply a good defensive play that caused it. But if you look beyond that, I don't think there's any question at this point that King is Georgia's best runner. Outside of two carries, Samuel produced nothing against ASU.

-- No, Arizona State hadn't played anyone yet this season, but their D was led the nation in total defense for a reason. It's a good unit, led by Dexter Davis and a very athletic group of linebackers.

-- It should also be noted that this was the fourth straight team that had been gearing up for Georgia for months. Okie State called it the biggest game ever in Stillwater. South Carolina always looks at Georgia as the cornerstone of its season. Arkansas and Arizona State each had scrubs and bye weeks leading up to the game. Georgia may not have looked great, but the Dawgs have taken the best hits from four straight teams and come out 3-1. That's pretty good.

-- Yes, Georgia is 3-1. Yes, they could easily be 0-4. But it really all depends on how you want to look at it. Notre Dame is in a similar situation -- 3-1 without ever really looking all that impressive. But the difference is, I really think that Notre Dame was outplayed in three games this year. As much as Georgia may have not looked great in their three wins, I think anyone watching the game has to admit the Dawgs were the better team each time. If Georgia stops trying to beat itself, there is an awful lot of potential there.


William said...

Steal this is you want, but we should start calling them the Heart Attack Dawgs. I feel like this is turning into an Athletic Department plan to free up more ticket packages, as it seems the team is TRYING to kill as many fans over 40 as it can.

Silver Dawg said...

Well, William, now you have opened up a pulblic can of worms.

Damon was looking to add about 430 or so new season ticket holders for next year, with new wallets and deep pockets---to replace the recently departed of this season.

But, now you've gone and blown it.

Dawg de Texas said...

David - Great post. Your blog is excellent.

"If Georgia stops trying to beat itself, there is an awful lot of potential there."

That's a huge if, but I agree. We could easily be 0-4, but we could also easily be 4-0 without the kind of gifts we've been handing opposing offenses.

I too am concerned to see Cox making such bad decisions.

dawgy1 said...

This team is very strssful to watch. My heart is still beating hard. If we could just quit the turnovers and penalties.

Jason said...

David - I'm not sure I agree with you on the playcalling. My biggest problems are twofold:

1) Even though AJ is a beast, I still feel like we're not going to him enough. Why would we stop throwing to him until someone proves they can stop it.
2) With all the weapons we have, I think it's ridiculous that we let a fullback touch the ball 6 or 7 times in a game - especially when it's basically the SAME play each time they touch it (and I can't stand hearing Bobo say that he probably should have changed the play after allowing the defense to see a formation)

I just hate that we're trying to beat ourselves each week with penalties and turnovers. But thanks for your continued work and providing a forum for us to vent and get info!


Anonymous said...

I also thought it was a terrible call on A.J.'s catch in the end zone, but that was based only on the TV pictures I saw. Do you have links to the still photos you mentioned that show his right foot down in bounds?

Anonymous said...

As usual, good wrapup of the game and our flaws...I can only emphasize the disappointment in our offensive line..very little push when we really need take charge and fire out..Come on, Searls, jack them up a notch or two..don't give Bobo a complete pass on his calls! Where is the fire on this team..Curran excepted! I thought we'd lost our defensive interior when #31 ran over us time and time again! Where is Joe Cox's fire..all I really saw last night was tenative/slow execution. Oh, and thanks to Bobo for sacrificing Gray for one play!! LSU didn't look unbeatable but if we continue to play our typical game they'll prove me wrong!

Anonymous said...

Just when I was about to give up on the UGA bloggers for being such Debbie Downers, you ended the post with some credit to the team.

Sure we could be 0-4 without AJ, but we aren't. The year we won the MNC we would have been 5-5 except for Herschel. We are 3-1 and the difference between 3-1 and 4-0 is Dez Bryant.

I'm a reader who could use a little less bitchin about our weaknesses. We aren't going to win the MNC this year. We are going to get our asses handed to us a couple of times. Do you bloggers have to suck all the joy out of the season?

We've played a great 4 game schedule so far and we're 3-1. We've come from behind to win 3 times.

Go Dawgs. If you want to write about a team that sucks pick Syracuse.

HVL Dawg

Dog44 said...

David, could you let us know who was guarding Dexter Davis for most of the night?

Also, what was your opinion on the strange events preceding the 4th and 1 play? The announcers on TV seemed to think it was a good non-call, but I was confused about the whole situation (what happened & why).

(That is hilarious that it was the same ref who ran into Stephen Garcia

bnwdog14 said...

To Follow up on anonymous post:

Scores from the '02 SEC squad
UGA 31 - Clem 28
UGA 13 - USC 7
UGA 27 - BAMA 25
UGA 18 - TENN 13
UGA 24 - AU 21

Scores from the '80 NC squad
UGA 16 - TENN 15
UGA 20 - Clem 16
UGA 28 - Ole Miss 21
UGA 13 - USC 10
UGA 26 - UF 21

I wonder how much disgust there was among the bulldawg nation during those seasons. No one remebers now, all they rember is 13-1 and 12-0. Find a way to win and Finish the Drill Dawgs. No way I am counting this team out.

David Hale said...

Hey, that's a low blow, HVL. And I do make fun of Syracuse often.

Besides, was I really negative here? I mean, my job IS to analyze the game. I said I thought Bobo did a better job than he'll get credit for, I said AJ is amazing, I said the coaches deserved credit for putting AJ on special teams, I said the weather was a serious cause of some of the offensive mishaps, I said Orson's development has already had an impact by getting AJ out of double teams and I said that, while yes, the team could have lost all four games, it says a lot about them that they are 3-1. What more do you want when you beat a mediocre Pac-10 team on your home field by just three?

If you want just the positive spin on everything, I'll recommend cruising over to, where they'll tell you how great everything is.

BNWdog -- Your points are well taken. I don't get the folks saying Georgia didn't play with any "heart." I think just the opposite. They played with little head, but tons of heart. The fact that this team has come back from two awful starts and one disastrous second half and won all three -- there's no way in hell last year's team would have done that, and that starts with guys like Joe Cox and AJ leading with heart as much as talent.

Dog44 -- the answer is Cordy Glenn, who is looking like he might be a permanent answer at LT the rest of the way.

Anonymous said...

Another comment on the refs. On the Pick Six for AZ, there was the most glaringly obvious block in the back on the return that was missed as well.

DR.J said... always best insight and coverage of the one else close. Thanks for all the hard work. TIVO'ed game as usual and went through each play several times. Wish we had the end zone shot available for line play. Off...Anderson was horrific..slow,poor footwork,continually missed inside gap, never reached LBs and did I mention slow? C. Davis weak. Glenn, Boling and Jones winners, VV fair. Fred M.missed LBs..slow.Power I Rt and Joe C.does a 360 handoff to FB never having shown option? Def...Weston, Jones,Robinson, Tyson and Wood were obliterated to say the least. Atkins,Houston Owens excellent. Bad TV angle David but I honestly didn't count more than a dozen plays with Geno and JO on the field at the same time in first half.These are just a few casual observations...this is not rocket science...not hard to see.I think we've got great kids who play very hard but obviously not well coached in a lot of areas. Ever been told to sprint on KO coverage? DB cushions and footwork,et al... Our guys are trying to cut down a redwood with a butter knife. They are working their collective butts off but just haven't been given the proper tools by position coaches. AJ is a genetic freak in the best way...what an athlete and player...just wow. Does he coach, too? Don't mean to be hyper critical but there are obviously fundamental problems that can be corrected. Thanks again for all your hard work! Go Dawgs!

HamDawg11 said...

Great job as usual, David. I'm not gonna give my opinion as it will be inline with most everyone else's, just gonna make a comment on AJ's blocked FG.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we should use one of our tall receivers in this situation EVERY time. I suggested Marlon Brown because of his height and athletic ability, plus I wouldn't want to risk injury to AJ. Maybe Jancek has opened some eyes and he'll use Brown going forward.