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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fleeting Thoughts: Vanderbilt Edition

Abbreviated "Fleeting Thoughts" this week as I get set to hit the road from Nashville (stopping first for pancakes at Pancake Pantry) and heading back to Athens. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things, so feel free to remind me in the comments...

-- The numbers for the running game ended up pretty good: 37 rushes for 173 yards and a 4.7 yards-per-carry average. Those were season highs in both attempts and yards.

-- The problem, however, is this: Vandy came into the game ranked 90th in the country in rush defense, allowing 171 yards per game. Essentially, Georgia simply hit Vandy's average.

-- And the bigger problem is this: Until Georgia's penultimate drive on which the Dawgs marched 68 yards on 10 straight rushing plays, their numbers on the ground for the game were 24 carries for 62 yards. In other words, until Vandy had essentially thrown in the towel, the Dawgs were averaging just 2.58 yards per carry against a team that allows, on average, 171 yards per game.

-- I know Caleb King won't be the guy people are talking about today, but I thought he turned in a great performance. He was a beast on pass blocking and he ran hard. Add to that the two touchdowns and the fact that he was playing with a broken jaw, and he gets a gold star from me.

-- A.J. Green is freaking amazing. The 65-yard run was fantastic, too, because it was something we really haven't seen out of him before. I'm continually impressed, and it gets harder for him to impress me each week.

-- Cox's final numbers: 16-of-31 for 226 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Far from great, but then figure that 65 of those yards can be credited completely to A.J. Green and add in the fact that he was just 3 for his first 11 passing and I have to say, I think a dash of Logan Gray might have been a wise investment in the first half.

-- Speaking of Logan Gray, what happened to the notion that he'd never have to worry about getting hit because he'd never return a punt? Not only was he in to field a punt at the 35-yard line, but he backtracked to catch the punt with all his momentum going in the wrong direction AND he tried to return it. On top of all that, Georgia was also flagged for a penalty on that return.

-- Oh, and apparently the one return Gray should have been on the field for, he wasn't. Georgia was once again fooled on a fake punt. You know, there's an old saying in Tennessee. I know it's in Texas, it's probably in Tennessee. Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again.

-- It was nice to actually see Prince Miller get to return a few punts. I'd almost forgotten how impressive he was last year.

-- Justin Houston is going to get overlooked because the defense overall hasn't been great, but his impact has been immense since his return. For the third time in five games with Houston playing, Georgia finished with at least nine tackles for a loss.

-- Larry Smith isn't very good.

-- Baccari Rambo should be playing all the time. Bryan Evans should be playing when Georgia is either up by 30 or down by 30.

-- Just one turnover this week. Step in the right direction. Of course, the other side of that is that Cox still has at least one interception in every game so far.

-- Blair Walsh is probably the best kicker in the SEC and is quickly working his way up the list nationally. I know Georgia's kickoff philosophy and coverage has cast Walsh in a negative light, but fans need to look past the stuff that's out of his hands. The kid leads the SEC in touchbacks and he is as money as they come on field goals and PATs.

-- Georgia's first four series included a whopping nine plays. That's bad.

-- On Georgia's next eight possessions (i.e. all the rest except the one to end the game), the Bulldogs ran no fewer than six plays on all but two. Included in that is a 12-play drive and a 10-play drive. This is what the offense needs to do against Florida. Chip away, and keep the Gators' offense off the field. (You know, if the officials will allow that to happen.)

-- Along those same lines, after Georgia had possession for just 5:30 of the first quarter, the Dawgs had the ball for at least 8 minutes in each of the final three quarters, including a monstrous 10:59 time of possession in the fourth.

-- Vandy was just 3-of-15 on third-down conversions. Whether or not that was really Georgia's problem all along, the Dawgs did a nice job of getting off the field Saturday.

-- Eight more penalties for 71 more yards. The most egregious? An illegal formation penalty coming out of a timeout.

-- Georgia had just four rushing TDs all year. Saturday they had three.

-- Fred Munzenmaier had three catches to tie for the team lead. That's not exactly great. But… 10 different Bulldogs caught a pass, and that's great. Diversity in the passing game will be a big bonus in two weeks.

-- Apparently spiking the football is excessive celebration when Rantavious Wooten does it. Grabbing the QB's towel after a sack and tossing it up in the air to celebrate is not excessive celebration when someone who doesn't play for Georgia does it. (And, yes, I thought it was just ridiculous that the refs were allowing Tim Tebow to set off bottle rockets, do an Irish step dance and take a few swings at a Hog-shaped pinata during the Florida game without a flag.)

-- Brandon Boykin is up to 600 yards in kick returns through seven games. That's just 90 yards shy of the school record. In. Seven. Games.

-- When I left the press box about midway through the fourth quarter, my initial thoughts on the game were these: Georgia played decent, but Cox struggled at times, the receivers still had too many drops, the running game was brutal for the better part of three quarters, the defense allowed Vandy's longest drive of the season to start the second half, Georgia was fooled on yet another fake punt, etc., etc., etc.

All of that would have been a reasonable and probably appropriate thought process.

And then I went down to the field and I watched the players walk into the locker rooms with giant smiles plastered across their faces. I talked to A.J. Green, who raved about the way the running game came through in the end. I talked to Joe Cox who raved, yet again, about how amazing A.J. is. I talked to Brandon Boykin, who went on and on about how much fun it was for Georgia to play that game. I talked to Caleb King, whose jaw was so sore he wasn't even supposed to be talking, but he couldn't contain his excitement either.

Sometimes "just a win" is more than that. I really think this win for Georgia meant something far more than it might have meant for a lot of the fans.

I'm not saying it means Georgia pulls the upset in two weeks, but I do think it was an absolutely necessary step toward making it a possibility.


Anonymous said...

What was the sideline interference penalty in the 4th quarter about?

Ben Rockwell said...

Thanks, David; I missed the game b/c of work obligations. After every game I have DVRed has turned into a slaughter, I opted not to record this one. Are you being serious about the throwing up of the towel? If so, wow.

Mainly I want to make one comment about the final score and the stats. Historically Georgia does not put away a team like Vandy (at least if my memory serves me correctly). I've seen folks saying, "It's Vandy; we're supposed to win; we just out-talented them." Those have all been true statements in years past, too. As a fan, I'm just happy this didn't come down to a last second win or some sloppy game that we eked out b/c of something Vandy did wrong.

It seems to me that Georgia just went out and won this game. That's a step in the right direction as far as confidence goes no matter what. I'm happy for the guys; I'm happy they have a week off, and I'm happy UF looked human and beatable yesterday.

Something special may just happen in two weeks...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I almost fell off the sofa when the Vandy def. Lineman threw Cox's towel in the air and wasn't flagged. And of course Big Baby Jesus gets away with anything he wants with the officials. Overall, good game but too many penalties which tells me our players lack focus. As always, thanks David.

Native Dawg said...

I agree with many of your thoughts about the game. Especially the comments of this win being so beneficial to the psyche of the players/coaches. I don't think there is any way to overstate the importance of coming out and taking care of Vandy in workmanlike manner. HUGE for our morale.

I was glad to see the running game get untracked, but I think you are making a mistake in marginalizing the progress UGA's rushing attack made vs. Vandy.

It's somewhat counterintuitive for you to suggest that the rushing yardage somehow doesn't count because a) it was just a couple yards over Vandy's season average allowed and b) because most of it came at the very point in the game in which teams WANT to run the football effectively (with a lead in the 4th QTR).

A) 173 yards rushing is 173 yards rushing. That's a nice total. Especially given our recent struggles in the run game. It's MORE than Vandy (5th ranked overall D in the SEC entering the game) allowed on average per game. Not a lot more, but more nonetheless.

B) When exactly do you think Vandy's other opponents gained the majority of their rushing yardage? Don't teams ordinarily run the ball late in the game to protect a lead? Were Vandy's other opponents' rushing yardage totals "tainted" if/when they amassed the majority of their yardage by imposing their will en route to a couple of game sealing, clock eating, back breaking 4th QTR TD drives? I think not, and, therefore, I think it's a little silly to somehow devalue UGA's effort vs. Vandy in similar fashion.

Those are my only points of contention with your post game thoughts. In my opinion, this win was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered for UGA's football program. Will the Vandy game propel us to bigger and better things after the bye week? Who knows? However, a nail biting win or, heaven forbid a loss, would have almost definitely sunk our season.

We have new life. I am thankful.

Muckbeast said...

Getting the win is great. The fact that it was somewhat comfortable is also great.

But our running game sucked, and it is indeed important to note that the majority of our rushing yards came in garbage time.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the officials, it is getting absolutely ridiculous what gets called and what doesn't get called. I watched football everyday yesterday and after almost every touchdown I looked to the upper right of the screen to see if a flag had been thrown. It's wrong that that is the thought process now.

do not resuscitate said...

Great win, even if it was "just Vandy".
This weekend showed that Florida is beatable...especially if the Dogs can come out and piece together a full 4 quarter effort. Let's hope the bye week offers us some time to re-group. Nothing would delight me more at this point than to be the stain on UF's NC hopes.

Anonymous said...

We won't be able to run on the Gators. Cox has to come out hitting multiple receivers keeping their D honest. The playmakers for the Dawgs this year are the receivers. So, stop trying to run the ball to set up the pass. We need to pass the ball and then throw in an occasional run.

Dude said...

I'm impressed you used the word, "penultimate" today... I actually had to look it up. HA.

Anonymous said...


I think we only had two rushing touchdowns yesterday. Caleb's second TD was on a screen pass I believe.

Anonymous said...

I was pleased with the defensive and special teams intensity. They were running to the ball and hitting. The ground game got going late -- they were obviously using the last couple of drives to work on the running game. Smart move by Bobo.

Watched the end of Florida-Arkansas and I believe the same officiating crew we had against LSU was ridiculous in the closing minutes of that game. The pass interference on Arkansas, the no offensive interference call that should have been against UP and the worst -- the 15 yarder called on an Arkansas defensive lineman who leveled a Florida lineman who was about to hit him. He then did a very mild waist level fist pump and was flagged. Ridiculous call. That crew should be fired. meanwhile my son (who watched the whole game) tells me that Tebow, once again, doesn't get called for doing far worse. The inconsistency in calls is crazy.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist but I would swear the league office is protecting Florida. Couldn't have them beaten by little ol Arkansas and risking someone else getting a shot at the Championship.

JRy said...

I'm really just jealous of you dining at the Pancake Pantry... how I crave those sweet potato pancakes....

Anonymous said...

UP in the 10:36 anon post is supposed to be UF.

Anonymous said...

Well you kept your promise to give credit for the 65 yard pass for TD to Green and not Cox. Yes, it was a short pass with a long run, no argument there. But did you not also mention the dropped passes which should have been passing yardage for Cox? Seeme the door swings both ways to me. Also, doesn't the QB get dinged for interceptions that are tipped by the receivers into a DBs hands when it should have been a catch? Or get an INT when they are attempting a Hail Mary at the end of either half when everyone knows it was a desperation play? All of those impact a QBs rating and stat sheet, so why not get credit for some YAC?

Reminds me of golfers why whine about all the putts that lip out, but never mention those shots that hit the tree to stay in bounds, or skulled chip shots that hit the flag and go in rather than running off the green. Things have a way of leveling out, but our spin can be however we want to twist it.

Cox isn't an NFL passer, but why take away what all other QBs in CFB get? And why minimize UGA's rushing yards when they came at a time when Vandy knew we were going to run it? Our OL has been horrible, the worst unit on the team this year, but it would be nice for them to get some praise for their successes. They might actually enjoy that and spend the next two weeks trying to find a way to build on it. But no, let's minimize it.

We were 7 point favorites and won by 24 on the road, can't we feel good for a day or two? We have problems to be addressed, but we always seem to "but" our successes by tearing another pound of flesh off. We aren't happy with ANY loss, and our wins are never good enough for the UGA fans. Tough to be a part of this program whether you be a player, coach, or fan.

Will said...

I'm so sick of these SEC refs. Watching our team get flagged for any-and-everything, and then I turn to Florida/Arkansas, and Tebow is definitely drawing personal attention to himself CONSTANTLY, and he's never flagged for it. I know St. Timothy can do no wrong, but's just so frustrating to watch this happen. These refs don't apply the same rule to different people. The worst part was that CBS showed AJ Green's "excessive" celebration during the UF game, and then immediately cut back to Tebow running around like a chicken with his head cut off.

How is this fair, and how come no one has pointed this out to the head of refs?

Anonymous said...

Here are the numbers: a BCS Bowl spot is worth about $18MM, and a second spot is less (about $12MM I think) Keeping two highly rated teams is financially rewarding to all SEC schools, and the SEC office. I beleive bowl revenues are divided this way: 1 share to each of the 12 conference teams, one share to the SEC office, and the other 1/14th to the school playing in the bowl for a total of 1/7 of the pot. In other words, the SEC office, including the commissioner and the head of referees gets almost an extra million dollars to cover operating expenses, pay bonuses, etc. IF we keep two schools highly rated. It seems to be no coincidence that the LSU call against A. J. Green WHICH WAS INVENTED (not a blown call), and the series of blown calls yesterday in Gainesville all improved the chances of the SEC office getting more money.

It is time for the NCAA to standardize the job of how games are called, and assign officials with no vested interest. Prior to the SECCG and the BCS, the SEC had officials as good as the football played on the field. Since the mid-90s SEC officials have become a joke, an embarrassment. There is too much money riding on this to not demand improvement.

UGA69Dawg said...

It has been pointed out only the GT head ref does not care. We're still waiting on a league suspenion for the LSU player that speared CK. The refs hate us and they show it.

Anonymous said...

ON the celebration thing ... I was at the GT game last night, and after Nesbitt's last TD, he ran through the end zone, to the wall, and high-fived the fans in the first row. No flag. I know it's a different conference, but compare that with what A.G. Green did, and, well, there's no comparison. That rule seriously has to be revisited.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:21----No one calls celebration penalties as tightly as the SEC does, and never have. That is a problem when playing inter-conference, but the SEC teams should all know the SEC doesn't just make it about taunting, which was the primary driver of the rule. In the SEC they are as much about curbing celebration as they are reducing taunting, that is the primary difference. AJ did neither, what he did was within the rules of all leagues, the ref made that penalty up, plain and simple. Why he did is interesting conversation.

Anonymous said...

How the hell are we going to stop Tech?

Anonymous said...

David or someone... can somebody take a look at the number of fake punts run against UGA in the past few years v. the number successful? I thought we kept Logan Grey in so much because we had to keep our base defense in for the possible fake punt????

Blog Goliard said...

You seem to have been encouraged by the almost-giddy atmosphere in the locker room after the game.

I, on the other hand, am worried to hear it.

Georgia's an under-performing mediocre team that just managed a sound but unimpressive win over a lousy team.

The proper response to that, in my mind, would be: "Good. We got the win, it wasn't too close, and we've started to turn things around. But we've still got a long way to go before we can hope to even stay on the field against Florida."

Responding instead with "Woo! We teh awesomez now!" seems to be setting up an overconfident and still-mediocre team for a rude awakening in two weeks.

Randy Powers said...

As always, several good points. Thank you. As for what, to me at least, is becoming a growing wave of angst regarding the SEC officiating this season is reaching a crescendo. You mentioned our game with the Wooten and Cox incidents, but the Hogs and Gators game was downright awful. The two penalties assessed on Florida's game-tying drive were brutal and Tebow's antics were ignored once again. I plan to write about this and other ABSURDITIES from this game soon. Anyway, I am hoping that someone will put the bug into the coaching staff's collective ear about mentioning the seeming gap b/w what's legal for UGA and the rest of the league and what's legal for Tebow and the Gators when it comes to taunting/excessive celebration/personal foul penalties to the league offices and possibly more importantly to the officials PRIOR to the game with Florida in two weeks. WORK THE REFS, COACH! I say this...Call it how you see zebras, but for goodness sake, call it the same way regardless of which TEAM a player is on or what his name and number happen to be. Think we can get this message to the staff before Jax???

Amit said...

Hey so I don't know if you found this out or not, but regarding the officiating of the Florida vs. Arkansas game, it turns out that the refs were the same that officiated the LSU vs. Georgia game, so... I feel a conspiracy brewing and I do not like it. Here's the link

Go Dawgs! Hope we rip Florida a new one

Anonymous said...

Blog, you are right, our team should be as miserable as our lousy fans are. How dare them feel good about themselves? I am sure your crack assessment is dead on, they are now totally out of their minds and feel they can coast in from here. After all, they are the type of losers who feel beating Vandy is the top of the college football world, and they are likely to take the next two weeks off. No need to build off a crummy road win in the SEC, after all they have let the fans down who have lost money betting on them, or trash-talked other teams' fans and are now angry. It should have been a fineral atmosphere in there because their athletic lives are over at 4-3.

Instead, we should continue to berate them, insult their coaches so they don't even pay attention to them, and they should echo folks like you and tell any potential recruits they would be foolish to want to come and join a program that is lower than Western Kentucky. The world is ending after all. Good to know UGA fans remain the worst in the SEC.

I,on the other hand, doubt they can ever perform down to the level of the fans who criticze them daily, and have for weeks, months, and some for years.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Georgia players and coaches.

No need in saying how important these next two weeks are.

The majority of the Georgia fans believe you have a good shot at winning the big one.

Blog Goliard said...

It looks like Anonymous above has wildly over-read my comment.

The team shouldn't be miserable...but they shouldn't get cocky either. It was only Vandy, after all.

I'm not miserable either. I grew up going to see Oregon State games, for crying out loud. (The first time they had a winning season in my lifetime, I was almost 30.) But I'm not going to buy into a false sense of satisfaction or relief that everything's suddenly all sunshine and roses, or that we've suddenly made ourselves any less than a two-touchdown underdog at the WLOCP.

If that makes me a lousy fan that doesn't deserve to pay money to watch the Bulldogs play, then so be it.

dawgwood said...

There is no doubt in my mind that the SEC if fixing games...

They should be investigated by the justice dept. and could very easily be charged with organized crime under the RICO statues.... remember, fixing college football games is a federal crime and I have no doubt that the SEC is guilty of this!!!

A_Phiz said...

interesting color combo, Marc Curles