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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fleeting Thoughts: LSU Edition

There's probably a lot more to say about this game than I've got the energy to write in this post, but here are a few of the things than ran through my head in the hours following Georgia's 20-13 loss to LSU.

-- A.J. Green is amazing. I know I said it last week, but I think it needs to be said again. Multiple times. Every week. For the rest of the season.

-- I know people are going to want blood following this game. My guess is that Willie Martinez will be at the top of their list. But I'll tell you this much: Willie didn't lose that game. The D was not just good, but great for three quarters. And you can't blame Willie for the utter lack of tackling on those last two drives. The game plan was good. The execution was not.

-- LSU was in the red zone three times in the first half and came away with three points. Seriously, you can't blame Willie for this one.

-- I know the Charles Scott TD at the end made the D look bad, but keep in mind, he ran that from the 33. Even if Georgia's D had stopped him, LSU runs the clock down to the end then boots a field goal without giving Georgia's offense a chance to come back. The TD was really almost a benefit.

-- I had a reader comment on this last week, but it really needs to be said again: The SEC has the highest-paid coaches, assistants making more than head coaches in most leagues, a multi-billion-dollar deal with ESPN. And yet the officiating remains a complete disgrace. There is simply no excuse for it whatsoever.

-- I have a lot of respect for Georgia's players for taking responsibility for how the game ended and not blaming the refs for the absurd celebration penalty, but the bottom line is those flags had no business being thrown. There is no excuse for ruining what had been one of the truly great endings to a college football game this season with crap like that. It's an embarrassment.

-- Despite those comments, this should be remembered: LSU got flagged for the same thing after its last touchdown. The difference? One team can cover kickoffs and one can't. That, too, is an embarrassment. And at the end of the day, it's Georgia's lousy kick coverage that was the difference in this game.

-- Trindon Holliday had two kick returns for a total of 89 yards -- an average of 44.5 yards per return. Coming into this game, LSU was 117th in the nation, averaging just 16.57 yards per kick return. What does that tell you?

-- Seriously, go back through the last two seasons and see how many times Georgia followed a big play on offense with an absolute disastrous play on special teams. I'm sure there are at least nine or 10 examples.

-- I don't blame Blair Walsh for that last kickoff either. Honestly, kicking it out of bounds would have been a far better strategy.

-- I am confused as to how Walsh missed what should have been a chip-shot field goal. In the end, it didn't make the difference in the game, but it certainly could have.

-- I've made no bones about the fact that I think highly of Brandon Boykin, but I have no clue what he was thinking taking that INT out of the end zone. It essentially gave LSU three points. I know there are a lot of young guys on this team getting a lot of PT, but you've got to be smarter than that.

-- I estimate the average blood-alcohol content of the city of Athens to be around .06 last night. And I'm including all the children, the old folks in retirement homes, the people who haven't watched a football game in 10 years… the whole city.

-- Washaun Ealey ran the ball far better than Caleb King or Richard Samuel, but he didn't see the field in passing situations. That is going to be a problem, because Georgia can't afford to sub a back every time they want to throw a pass. And as "impressive" as Ealey was, he still averaged just 4 yards a carry. Good by Georgia's standards Saturday night, but far from great.

-- Speaking of Samuel, he didn't see the field in the second half.

-- Branden Smith played a very impressive game defensively. But why didn't we see him on offense during that debacle of a first half?

-- One first down in the first half. To paraphrase Harry Doyle in "Major League"… that's all we got? One G-D first down? ("You can't say G-D on the air! … Ah, nobody's listening anyway.")

-- Georgia had 10 first downs in the second half, but only one came via the run. For the game, even with Washaun's impressive debut, the Bulldogs mustered just 45 yards on the ground.

-- Georgia had 20 negative yards on the ground, and none of that came via a sack. Say what you want about the running backs, but negative plays are a result of poor line play.

-- Didn't get a chance to ask him about it after the game, but if you noticed, Richt had the headset on for nearly all of the second half.

-- Say what you want about the playcalling, but the personnel stuff is even more confusing. There were too many crucial plays when players like A.J. and Rennie weren't on the field.

-- Drew Butler might be the second most productive player the Bulldogs have.

-- Zero penalties in the first half. Seven in the second. Not good.

-- Rennie Curran had 16 tackles in that game, and afterward, the only thing he talked about was the one he "missed" on Charles Scott's 33-yard touchdown run on LSU's last drive. And by "missed," I mean he had a shot at a shoestring takedown while being blocked by another player. That's accountability.

-- Georgia faced 17 third downs in the game. Fourteen of them were third-and-six of further.

-- Along those same lines, Georgia didn't have a turnover until its last play of the game, yet LSU still ran 14 more offensive plays.

-- Justin Houston is going to be the type of difference-maker Georgia's line has been looking for. After having just 12 tackles for a loss in the first four games, the Dawgs have 18 in the last two, including seven sacks.

-- Richt didn't know whether sacks were counted in the tackles for a loss category. I found that odd.

-- The Logan Gray fair-catch-a-thon is becoming a bit of a joke.

-- Joe Cox only had one turnover in the game, and it was on his late, last-ditch throw that was picked off with just 20 seconds left. But he had at least two other passes earlier in the game that should have not only been intercepted, but returned for touchdowns, too.

-- Having said that, was there anyone who wasn't confident Cox could lead Georgia to a score on that two-minute drive?

-- Where has Michael Moore been the last two weeks?

-- Georgia ran three screen plays to Caleb King in the fourth quarter that added up to 30 yards. Why the heck weren't they doing this earlier? I had at least a half-dozen readers this week mention how effective the screen can be against LSU's aggressive front four.

-- And the draw plays to King on the Bulldogs' penultimate drive? What the heck was that?

-- The run blocking has been brutal, and the inability to even get a snap off properly on the last drive was inexcusable. This is not the offensive line we were promised. Nowhere close.

-- Richt on why the offense goes in the tank from time to time: Too many young players at the skill positions start to press when things don't go well. There's probably a lot of truth to that, but five games into the season, that mentality needs to change.

-- As close as that game was, it was even closer than most people will give it credit for. There were two plays on LSU's second-to-last drive that could have been huge. Brandon Boykin came on a corner blitz on a third-and-10 and just miss bringing down Jordan Jefferson. Instead it went for a third down. Then later on that drive, on a second-and-3, Justin Houston had Jefferson by the shoestrings 7 yards deep, but the QB stepped out of the tackle and ran for 26 yards to the Georgia 13. A half-an-inch in the other direction on either play, and Georgia wins.

-- I don't think LSU is very good. I foresee a big win for Florida next week. (Of course, if you read my picks for this week, that probably means the Tigers cruise.)

-- Georgia could pretty easily be 5-0 right now. It could pretty easily be 0-5 right now. Somehow 3-2 seems about right. The Dawgs have been bipolar all year, and it's hard to pin an identity on them. But I think at this point it's safe to say they are an extremely talented yet invariably flawed team. Some of that is youth, some is coaching, some is utterly inexplicable. It's all pretty frustrating to watch.

-- Walking out of the locker room after the game, I happened to look over and see Mike Bobo and Willie Martinez sitting next to each other on some chairs near the coaches' office. Usually the two duck out pretty quickly during the interview session, but this time, they stuck around the whole time. Bobo had his head buried in his hands. Martinez had his fist tucked up under his chin, staring off into space. The two looked absolutely dejected. It was among the most visibly shaken I've seen two grown men outside of a funeral that I can remember. I think that image really summed things up better than anything else I could write.


A few additional thoughts after reading through a number of your comments...

-- As bad as the kick coverage was following the penalty, I should have also mentioned this: A.) It was absolutely absurd that they kicked off out of the huddle. Why would you get cute on the single most crucial play of the game? B.) They only had THREE MEN to one side of the kicker, which was both bad for coverage (as we saw) and resulted in a penalty for illegal formation. I can't fathom how that can be seen as anything other than a coach making a dreadfully poor decision at a time when the team could least afford it.

-- Joe Cox isn't a superstar, but for all the folks saying he can't stretch the field, please look up the stats. He is among the national leaders in plays of more than 20 yards. And while credit belongs in large part to A.J. for that, Georgia's final TD was set up by a big play to Tavarres King, not A.J. If you want to make the argument that this season is a lost cause and Logan or Aaron Murray needs to see the field, OK. But if you're blaming Cox for this team being 3-2, you are being shortsighted. I think there's a good chance they'd be 1-4 without him.

-- We have the full story on Ealey playing at, but according to the coaches, yes, they had determined before the game that he would play. Why it took until midway through the third quarter for that to happen, I have no clue.

-- As for the Tim Brando comments, I hesitate to put words in his mouth, so I venture to explain his meaning. But I will say this: If he was referring to race, he would not have been the only person in the press box saying it -- and if you've ever been in a press box, it's about as lily white a place as you'll find. For my part, I don't think there is overt racism at work, but I do think subjective rules like this go a long way toward illuminating some distinct cultural differences between the people who enforce the rules and those affected by them -- in terms of race, age and economic status. The bottom line is that celebration and taunting penalties are in place to prevent the opposing team from being shown up. Yet Mark Richt and Les Miles both said they weren't remotely upset by the celebrations. At the very least, the rule is so subjective that there should be a warning before a flag can be thrown, like a sideline infraction or a pitcher who throws at a batter.


HiAltDawg said...

Some great observations; not the biggest Martinez fan but I think Richt needs to address special teams coaching. It seemed lsu directional kicked with success. Paul Westerdawg's blog did a piece about hidden yardage with kick coverage and penalties.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

It's so obvious that Joe Cox can't play QB in the SEC. He has a weak arm. He's short. He's slow. He's not that accurate. He holds the ball too long. And to boot, he doesn't "look" like a leader.

The only game footage I have of Logan Gray is in the spring game. But the footage shows me that he has a much stronger arm than Cox. He's taller. He's faster. And he looked more poised.

I'm a realist. I understand the fan psyche that the #2 guy is always favored after a loss. But this is ridiculous. Cox is NOT a SEC QB.

Joe Cox loves all things UGA and I appreciate that. But he's simply in over his head. The fact is that AJ Green made that last drive - not Joe Cox. The fact is that the run game sucks because the passing game is totally disrespected. And the fact is that this team needs some energy.

Play Logan Gray. What's the worst thing that could happen? Maybe the worst thing is that we'll be shut out for the first three quarters....uhhh, oh yeah - that's already happened.

Silver Dawg said...

Here's a Fleeting Thought.

I don't know if I have EVER, EVER attributed a loss sole to ONE CALL in ANY football game.

But, I honestly can say, after the penalty to Green, that the game and the win was pulled out from under us with that one bad call.

No doubt.

Silver Dawg said...

Addendum to Fleeting Thought #1:

Do I blame the official who threw the flag on the Green bad call? Partially.

But, I blame totally the NCAA rules committee who enacted such a ridiculous, vague and hazy rule to begin with.

I hope to high Hedges that this rule is rescinded as soon as possible by the NCAA. The NCAA will hear from me. Promise.

Muckbeast said...

That TD run could have gone another 15 yards. And heck, without the penalty, maybe their KR is 15+ more yards.

We didn't lose because of the penalty.

We lost because our OC, DC, and ST coaches are horrible.

It is a shame that the crap officiating clouds that fact a tad.

Bernie said...

A TD is reason to celebrate where I from. And I thought doing so with one's teammates was allowed...??

David - I think Samuel was in a play or two in the second half, fwiw. But you're right, the run blocking is horrendous.

I know that was Ealey's first game, was that Montez Robinson's as well?

bnwdog14 said...

Didn't think I would find myself saying this as I thought Cox would perform better than Stafford. Personally I thought the loss of Moreno was going to hurt us more, which I firmly believe to be true now. That being said, (and knowing what turmoil this can cause) I think coach Richt and the UGA football team would be well served if he started alternating series with Logan and Joe until one proves they deserve the bulk of playing time. Not sure now is the time to throw Murray or Mett in there though. While the SEC East is still in our hands, based on the up and down performances this year, it may be time to start working on the future. If not, we may find ourselves with a new QB, with limited reps in each of the next two seasons. Just another fleeting thought and opinion, and as the old adage goes, everybody has one. David, would this be something you might bring up at a press conf just to get Richt's thoughts on it?

Anonymous said...

I notice we play a lot of walkons on kickoffs at home.

This would be all well and good if we are up by three touchdowns, but we are noticeably slow getting down the field. It gives the opponent an advantage in close games.

We are also outsmarting ourselves by kicking off from a huddle.

Fact is, it takes longer to get to the outside lanes from a huddle formation.

Other teams line up in their lanes for a reason.

It is a math equation our coaches do not understand.

Prince Lightfoot said...

In the same vein, here's a line of questioning I'd like to see pursued:

Had the decision not to redshirt Ealey been made before halftime of the LSU game? Then, if you're willing to play the whole RB corps until one of them steps up, why not let #6 do something besides hand the ball off once every other game?

I agree with you, David, that the final kickoff should've gone out of bouunds. As it turned out, the effect of celebration penalty was multiplied but the poor coverage, which was entirely predictable: Holiday's just too good.

Props to the D, that game could easily have been 14 points worse in the first half, in which case we're not even talking about the last 3 minutes. Again, though, I have to ask what value-add Prince Miller brings that earns him time on nearly every defensive and special-teams snap. Besides usually being the first there to congratulate Jones, that is. Prince did have one key breakup, near the 40, when Dowtin (?) came around to protect him from the back, but he was absolutely abused in the open field on the next kick return.

David said...

On the positve side, I can walk to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl from my girlfriends loft. So it's not all bad.

dawg85 said...

Joe Cox (in spite of the Arkansas game) doesn't scare anybody. Teams are going to continue to stuff the run and make Joe beat them. Bobo's play calling makes me think he doesn't trust Cox. If that's true it's time to play Gray and Murray.

Kickoff coverage is horrible. We have a history of big touchdowns being followed by big returns. It's past ridiculous.

The celebration penalties were all ridiculous too.

Anyone know Mike Slive's email?

I went to the SEC website and couldn't find it. Maybe it's time to start bombarding the League Office with calls and emails. Tim Tebow ought to get flagged 10 times a game with his antics. If you're going to call it then call it consistently.

TDawg said...

I agree about the kick coverage team and why the heck can't they start in and stay in there lanes. I also second the motion of getting Logan Gray some dag-um playing time. The celebration penalties was a chicken $hit call by the refs every time they called one, whether on lsu or uga. If you watch the highlights of OU and the Canes, the Miami guys were beating there chest and pointing to the crowd with no flags. I would like to see some contact info for the SEC Commissioner and the NCAA where they can here from all of us.At the end of the day this one is in the books so let's pick ourselves up and hopefully show improvement in the next one.

Anonymous said...

Horrible call by the officials. I defy anyone to look throught every TD we have scored this year and not find excessive celebration by those moron refs standards. Between the R Jones passer roughing at Ok St, the no TD for green and no call push of the ref in Az St, added to the excessive celebrations yesterday that put LSU in great position to win. I think the NCAA and SEC
should be contaced by Damon Evans for an official explanation. If anyone has Evans, SEC, NCAA contact info please pass it along. I don't mind losing if we are fairly beaten, but this is getting ridiculous! Everyone please look up the final play in OT of the Notre Dame game... Long pass and two ND defenders led with the helment and looked like the gave the WR a concussion. Clearly a penalty by any rule interpretation... No flag. ND wins... Please some consistency NCAA!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Why did we recruit Logan Gray?? We have had three years to prepare for Stafford leaving and this is all we have? Richt's loyalty to coaches and players is getting in the way. Also we need to get a qb seasoned for next year.

Starting every game with a three and out on offense. I've said it before but Bobo kills the D.

Also Reshad Jones is a linebacker , move hime closer to the line of scrimage and play the young safties. B Evans can help Mrs. Richt with the water.

See you in Knoxville

Anonymous said...

Your observations about Bobo and Willie, post game, were interesting in was it guilt (lack of ability as a SEC assistan) or fear of what the head coach might be thinking and gettng ready for their butts to be chewed? Had I not seen Bobo in the booth on TV I would not believed him to be present atthe plan mailed in seemed the explanation. No one mentioned the Charles penalty..again it just underscores the ineptitude of the referees! Reality check: we're just not as good as once thought to be!! I like Joe but believe it's time to see our punt return specialist..or fair catch specialit..get a shot at running the team for a few series. Alas poor UGA, I thought I knew him well!!!

adam said...

two big observations from me and my friends in section 111.

why did we switch to a three man front late in the game? the defense was successful when we were getting pressure (as martinez points out every time the defense ISN'T successful), so why did we change that late in the game from what was working? their penultimate drive came against a different defense from what was working. why did we change?

when joe wasn't connecting on just about anything (like 3 for 9 for 31 yards) why were we still throwing it on first down? all those 3rd and longs were inevitable b/c we consistently wasted first downs on letting joe make a bad throw. joe's successful passes were either a) short and simple or b) a great play by the receiver or a failure by the corner. i don't know that i ever saw an exception.

Anonymous said...

If there had been a similar "excessive celebration" penalty in 1980 at Jacksonville after the Lindsey Scott touchdown, Georgia would have lost the game to Florida, and there would have been no National Championship. Seriously, Georgia coaches and players were running down the field with Lindsey as he scored. A massive "celebration" ensued, but Georgia still had to kick off and play defense to win the game.

Texas_Dawg said...

Can we stop with all the "this team has new and improved leadership" stuff now?

It was a silly talking point from the start. One that is unfortunately common after disappointing years. Always ends up being wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

Sorry muckbeast, but if they are 15 yards further back, they are more likely throwin than runnin'... Scott probably would never had the ball in his hands.

Anonymous said...

They can get rid of Bobo and Martinez, and give the Seiler family dog to Michael Vick. Dog has about the same amout of fire and spirit as our coaching staff. Mark Richt not one of your assistant coaches could become a head coach think about that & I believe will explain why we can't coach the talent we have and why you will never win a NC at UGA.

Anonymous said...

geez,so many thoughts...Logan Gray may not have been recruited hard...since the best athlete in high schools tend to be QB's,he may have been taken because of that(with the thought of working him in somewhere.)

our OL is starting to look just average...nothing like we were led to first down in the first half(I'm surprised the Defense held up in the 4th Qtr)

we're 3-2 and,like usual,wondering when we'll e-v-e-r win the East again.

Damon Evans said not long ago..."either we're gaining ground on Florida or we're not."

This game told me and him a lot...

later,old dawg

Anonymous said...

"Tim Tebow ought to get flagged 10 times a game with his antics. If you're going to call it then call it consistently."

I agree. If a gator chomp is a 15 yard penalty on us, it should be on the Gators. They are taunting when they do it.

Anonymous said...

If LSU would have lost they would have complained about their offense in the first half and issues with their team too. People would have been all over their blogs ticked off.

The game boiled down to a crazy call. And, I'm not using the call as a scapegoat. I don't know if the Dawgs would have won even if they didn't receive the penalty..but I do know that you let the players decide the game not an official.

Anonymous said...

Good blog, David, I appreciate the info.

My question/observation relates to Logan Gray. If my eyes do not deceive me, he was in the game on KO coverage on the final KO, as he was several times last season. Did I see that correctly?

I am shocked that our 2nd team QB is used that way and simply don't believe he is one of our best 11 "runners and hitters". And WTF is with his going in to fair catch? We used to have a feared - feared punt return team, and we now fair catch at least every other time. Logan ain't in there just to catch the ball inside our 20 anymore, he's in there every other punt!

For my money, PM won the job last year with his 90-yard return against AL, and we're throwing Logan in there instead.

I just don't get it . . . .

UGA69Dawg said...

To say our Fab Special Teams sux would be an understatement. Fab maybe a good DE coach but the man is a total loser as a Special Teams coach.

The missed field goal was indirectly the results of the coaches not getting the right players in on the kick. Blair had to wait for the players to get in and then had to hurry his kick to prevent penalty. Again Special Teams coaching or lack thereof is at the bottom of another screw up.

CMR apparently has no interest in special teams and feels they are not as important as all the great coaches have before him thought. It is clear he will not fix the problem.

Sit back UGA fans and enjoy the butt whipping that Urban & Tebow have in store for us. Not to mention UT, Vandy, UK, Auburn and yes GT. This season ticket holder thought last year was a disappointment but this year is just some more of the ugly football we had last year minus the "Stars" that saved our butts.

VAdawg said...

We got outcoached by a team that has its own coaching woes. Not good. Zebras didn't do too much either.

This game came down to special teams. We lost because of a stupid penalty and holliday making us look like we were standing still. Richt has to realize that the coaching issues are killing us.

meansonny said...

Our kickoff coverage is a huge concern.

I think bigger than our offensive and defensive woes. Mostly, because it's something that we can't hide with smoke and mirrors.

We've given up 3 touchdowns and a field goal after choking on kickoff coverage this season (giving the opponent a return beyond the 50 yard line)

I'm not giving up on Joe Cox, yet.
He had a bad game. His worst of the season. How many bad halves did Zeier, Bobo, Greene, & Stafford have? A lot, is the answer.

He needs to work on his fundamentals. He needs to do all the things that we are complaining about (staring receivers down, throwing late/behind, missing open receivers in stride).

He played very well against a tough South Carolina defense.
He tore up Arkansas' defense.

Against LSU, he led the team on a potential gamewinning drive (and yes... he passed the ball to Tavarres King for 46 yards on that drive, too. AJ made the TD, but Cox led the drive).

FYI... Arizona State is #8 and LSU is #10 in the country in opponents QB rating. South Carolina is #12 in the nation in total pass defense.

If Joe C gives our team the best chance to beat Tennessee, then I want to see him behind center.

Anonymous said...

I could be wrong here but, doesn't the excessive celebration rule belong to one Vince Dooley?

Sad and Mad said...

These kids need a little coaching help. I hope our recruits aren't seeing what I am. Rciht needs to "man-up" and make some hard choices about his coaching staff. We have too any good players to be this bad. I agree with "Anonymous'...we need to play Logan Gray. Cox is great, but he can't play at this level. If he didn't have AJ making circus cathces all the time it would really be bad. It's obvious that we can't run the ball.

Anonymous said...

A boxer can get his a$$ kicked for 11 rounds and if he knocks the guy out in the 12th he wins.

However, if the ref decides to not count him out properly and let's him get to his corner, get a breather, regroup and let it go to a decision...the guy who just got his clock cleaned would win.

You can talk about coaching, special teams, etc...but some games boil down to one issue.

We can look at the negatives of things from the dawgs all we want but that game was taken out of the players hands..period.

We can be mad at the trends etc of the uga program, but this was close to the fumble we were frustrated about against gt. Yes, we gave up 51 pts...but we still should have one that game...the ref made a bad call just like this game.

Anonymous said...

why was Rennie off the field for much of LSU's first possession of the second half?