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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Post-Game Notes: Dawgs' Ground Game Goes Nowhere

(*NOTE: You can read my game story from Saturday's loss HERE.)

After an impressive debut last week against LSU, Georgia hoped freshman Washaun Ealey might be the solution to its woes in the running game. Ealey’s follow-up performance wasn’t exactly what the Bulldogs were waiting for.

Ealey tallied just 18 yards on 10 carries as Georgia’s running game struggled to move the football once again and Tennessee stifled the Bulldogs’ offensive attack en route to a 45-19 win.

“It’s difficult to mount any kind of sustainable drive if you can’t run the ball,” head coach Mark Richt said. “For our offensive system to be successful, we have to have good balance, we have to be able to run the ball well, and it’s just not there right now. We’re not coordinated enough, we’re not physical enough, and we’ve got some young backs trying to find their way. We’ve got a ways to go.”

Georgia had 89 yards rushing in the game, the third straight outing in which the Bulldogs have failed to crack the 100-yard barrier on the ground. For the season, Georgia is mustering just 97 yards per game rushing – just 3.4 yards per carry. Just four of the team’s 15 touchdowns this season have come on the ground.

“It starts from the running game, and that’s really hurting us right now,” receiver A.J. Green said. “If you can’t run the ball, nobody’s going to respect you. … It would really help us if we get our running game going, just knowing that the passing game and the receivers we’ve got can make plays.”

Caleb King missed Saturday's game with a concussion. Richard Samuel started and picked up 25 yards on five carries, but 22 came late in the fourth quarter after Tennessee had a huge lead. He also failed to convert a third-and-inches on Georgia's first drive. Carlton Thomas was the Bulldogs' leading rusher for the day, picking up 30 yards on three carries.

GETTING IRRITABLE

Georgia’s offense failed to score a touchdown Saturday and mustered just 241 total yards. It’s the third time this season the Bulldogs have failed to pick up at least 300 yards of offense and Georgia has scored a touchdown in just one of its past 11 quarters of action.

That led a reporter to ask Richt after the game if he was happy with the play calling by offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Richt was overtly curt in his reply.

“I like Mike Bobo’s play calling,” he said. “That’s why he’s my coordinator and calling plays. I guess you don’t.”

Still, it’s hard to argue with Georgia’s offensive ineptitude. The Bulldogs went three and out on six of their 12 drives in the game and are punting after just three plays on 26 percent of their drives for the season.

The worst performances have come during the past three games, however. Cox won national offensive player of the week honors after beating Arkansas on Sept. 19, but the offense has mustered just 36 points in three games since.

“I don’t think it’s been something creeping in,” Cox said. “It’s not like there’s an attitude that’s getting worse and worse. It’s not that type of problem. It’s just something that we can’t shake off. I don’t know what we’re going to have to do, but we better find out quick.”

TIME FOR A CHANGE?

While Richt was quick to defend his offensive coordinator, he’s reserving judgment on the play of his quarterback.

Asked if he thought Cox has regressed as a passer as the season has gone along, Richt’s lack of a denial was noticeable.

“I’ll just have to say that I’ve got to look at the film before I start making comments like that,” Richt said.

After winning national offensive player of the week honors in Week 3, Cox has seen his completion percentage drop each of the past three weeks. During that stretch, he’s completing just 55 percent of his throws and has five interceptions to go with just three touchdowns.

Still, his top target isn’t giving up on Cox.

“Joe doesn’t need to be pushed,” Green said. “Joe’s a great guy and a leader. He’s going to fight, and I wouldn’t have anybody in the huddle with me except Joe.”

TURNOVERS KEEP COMING

For the fifth time in six games, Georgia coughed up the football three times, and Tennessee made the Bulldogs pay on Saturday.

Joe Cox threw two interceptions, and the Volunteers scored following each. Michael Moore also fumbled following a reception, and Eric Berry returned the turnover all the way to Georgia’s 14-yard line. Bryce Brown cashed in for a touchdown three plays later.

“We can’t focus on it any more than we have,” Richt said of all the turnovers. “We just have to hang on to the ball.”

For the season, Georgia turned the ball over 16 times while creating just four takeaways. The Bulldogs myriad of turnovers have led to 71 points for the opposition, while Georgia has tallied just 13.

RAMBO CASHES IN

In the third quarter, with the Georgia offense excruciatingly stalled, and defense repeatedly susceptible to the pass, safety Bacarri Rambo made the last big Georgia play of the game.
The redshirt freshman broke on a Jonathon Crompton pass, and was in position when the ball skipped off a Volunteer receiver’s hands.

Rambo caught the ball in stride, racing 28 yards to the end zone.

“Crompton threw it quick and the receiver wasn’t expecting it and I was right there waiting on it,” Rambo said. “I stayed at home and watched the routes, and I did my job and came out of it with a great play.”

The interception, Rambo’s second of the season, made the score 24-19, and gave Georgia an edge in momentum, which wasn’t sustained.

Rambo saw increasing time on the field, replacing senior Bryan Evans for most of the second half.

Still, the Seminole County product said he didn’t find personal achievement in the loss.

“I’ll just do anything to help the team, man,” he said. “If I need to get on the offensive line and block, I’ll have to do it because I want to win and I know my teammates want to win. I know if they were asked to get on the offensive line and block or do something like that for me, they’d do it. So I go out there and do it for them.”

Rambo’s interception return was the first defensive touchdown by a Georgia player since Darryl Gamble returned two interceptions for scores last year against LSU.

RENNER’S NICHE

Georgia’s Zach Renner is known for getting to the punter.

He blocked the third punt of his career Saturday, fighting through the Volunteer middle to get in position to stop Chad Cunningham’s kick in the second quarter. The ball went out of the end zone for a safety.

“I mean I honestly didn’t think I’d get there. It was a real small hole and I just kept on my feet, trying to fight and I just dove at the last minute. I ended up getting my hand on it.”

The play occurred at an opportune moment, inching the Bulldogs closer, 21-12, heading into halftime. The Bulldogs felt a shift in momentum after the play, Renner said.

“I did when it happened, even though we only got two points out of it,” he said. “It would have been great to get a score out of it as well, but it doesn’t feel as good coming out with a loss.”

Renner blocked two punts last season, one each against Arizona State and Alabama.

BROWN GETS No. 1

After he committed to Georgia on National Signing Day, Marlon Brown earned the ire of many Tennessee fans who had hoped the receiver would stay close to his Memphis home and play for the Volunteers.

Instead, it was against his home-state team that Brown made his first reception – a nine-yard grab in the second quarter. The crowd booed Brown after each of his two catches, but Cox said the freshman handled himself well.

“I thought he handled it pretty well,” Cox said. “He knew what to do and he played hard.”

ANOTHER LONG ONE

Brandon Boykin showed his 100-yard touchdown on a kickoff against South Carolina was no fluke. The sophomore brought another kickoff out of the end zone Saturday against Tennessee and returned it for Georgia’s first score of the game, becoming just the second Bulldogs player with two kick returns for a touchdown in the same season.

Boykin’s return also tied Georgia’s school record for the longest play in a road game. Jimmy Campagna and Charlie Britt each had 100-yard returns for scores in the 1950s.

EXTRA POINTS

-- Freshman tight end Arthur Lynch got his first career start as the Bulldogs opened in a two-tight-end set, backed up at their own 1-yard line.

-- A.J. Green’s eight catches tied a career high.

-- Blair Walsh booted a 52-yard field goal in the second quarter. It was his third make of 50 or more yards in three tries this season, and he is 5-of-8 in his career from beyond 50.

-- Drew Butler punted six times Saturday, averaging 49.8 yards per punt, including four that were 50 yards or longer. Butler is the NCAA’s leader in punting average.

-- After racking up seven sacks and 18 tackles for a loss in the past two games, Georgia failed to sack quarterback Johnathan Crompton and had just three tackles for negative yardage in Saturday's game.

-- Receiver Michael Moore, who had six catches for 49 yards Saturday, had two messages for Georgia fans following the game. Via Twitter, Moore simply said, “Speechless,” in the moments after the game. He followed that with: “All I can say 2 the dawgnation is don't turn your backs on us. That's it. We need u to support us and times like this is when we need u most.”

*Fletcher Page contributed to these notes.

24 comments:

MikeInValdosta said...

On Samuel's 3 and 1 fail, fullback blocking was awful! Not Samuel's fault, but he was made to pay the price.

Anonymous said...

Im not turning my back on the players. They have shown more heart throughout this season than any Georgia team ive seen in a long time. I am, however, fed up with the coaching staff and for the first time questioning Richt. Coach em UP! Grow a pair and do what you have to do, as our head coach.

GO DAWGS!

Anonymous said...

Knowing that we are young and inexperienced in alot of places, i can take the losses. What i cant take are the constant mistakes, the "little things", that the coaches are obviosly failing to teach. Richt is a great coach, he has proven that. But his assistants are letting ALL of us down! GATA RICHT!

dawgjammin said...

i think i put more than 20 hrs a week into this team

ladydawginfl said...

As disappointed and frustrated as I am right now, I'm not turning my back on the players either. They are still out there busting their butts and my heart is with them. I haven't even gone on any of the forums, I don't want to witness yet another meltdown of dawg nation.

Anonymous said...

Don't look know, but we're closing in on Donnan territory:

Donnan (97-00): 35-13

Richt (06-09): 33-12

Anonymous said...

One thing goes wrong, and everything goes wrong! Thats what happens when you play scared. Our boys werent prepared, plain and simple. When UT lost last week i knew this game was gonna be even more difficult for the Dawgs. Didnt our coaches? Our guys looked tired and lost. (CWM yawning on the sideline was classic!)

I will always support my team but at some point we have to stop the bleeding. There must be changes made! Wether that means heads rollin IDK, and if so i say wait until the end of the season. I wont call out names but some of the older guys who arent getting the job done deserve a seat on the bench. If nothing else, to give the young pups experience. How much worse could they be?

Anonymous said...

Richt is a very good football coach and an outstanding human being. Saban & Meyer are good human beings and outstanding football coaches. I think human being part of Richt is preventing him from doing the hard things that need to be done to some of the coaches (firings) and players (benching). Saban & Meyer are such that they can make those moves.

JRL said...

Many complained about my numbers and what they revealed - lots of talent and very little production.

Does anybody really think Tenn is 26 points better? It's coaching - pure and simple.

The team doesn't seem to believe in the schemes or game plan.

I feel terrible for the players - they appear to be fighting a good fight but they are armed little sticks while our opponents carry big clubs.

Very disheartening...........

Anonymous said...

I am a firmly believe that a lot of what is wrong with this team starts in the weight room. I have heard the rumor that NFL scouts are not impressed with UGA talent regarding their strength and fitness coming out of the program. I don't know if that's true, but I see why they say that. The OL gets no push off the ball on run blocking. Watch the Falcons OL tomorrow. They seem to have money riding on who can knock the most crap out of the opposing team.

I am a Christian and am completely torn. I see CMR as a uniquely incredible man: strong family, strong morally, desiring to help these men in the game of life. I feel the problem comes in hiring "friends" as co-workers. Could you fire your friends? I mean, at least the ones who were already your friends when you hired them? I know coaches build relationships as they work together. But, man. I feel when CMR looks at Mike Bobo, he doesn't see an inept OC, he sees a father to 5 children, a husband to a wife, a friend. How do you fire that?

I feel there needs to be fire to ice. I feel there needs to be a cleaning of the house and Willie needs to go, Bobo needs to go, Fab needs to go and Van Halanger needs to go. I know Coach Van is a great man (they probably all are good men) but we need to knock the lid off once again. I don't think the same guys who did it originally can do it again. Shake it up.

Anonymous said...

Be of good cheer Dawg Nation, the Willie Martinez reign is over after the season! Erk Russell is sore from turning over in his grave the last four years. Will not watch another season of Willie ball again and the Bozo calling the offense plays can go with him.

Silver Dawg said...

Yes, Richt is an outstanding human being and (apparently) a fine Christian.

But, I COULD CARE LESS if Richt is Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, or Muslim with a passion for football.

I do care that he acts as a Head Coach. That he serves as a great example for this student athletes. That he teaches them that life is hard, that dedication to the task is the best work ethic, and each of us has to make hard decisions on occasion. That he makes the staff changes according to what is best for the program. That he makes those decisions base solely on performance of the individual staff member. That he brings no other factor into the decision process.

That is Richt's job as Head Coach.

Either he does his job or doesn't.

How long would you last in your job if you did not manage your staff according to their performance??

Here's a clue: You wouldn't last very long.

I have all the respect in the world for Richt. But, I am afraid that he is maybe too "meek".

I hope he shows me that is not the case.

Anonymous said...

What I see is the bulldogs slowly losing ground in the SEC. Has CMR taken this program as for as he can? Phillip Fulmer was a prime example of a coach taking his program as for as possible. He even had a MNC to go with his tenure. However, his program got stale and did not grow. Even after bringing in new coordinators, the program remained on a plateau and never really recovered from mediocrity. Looks as if Georgia’s program is doing the same. In a game where both teams’ offensive and defensive schemes were very similar, we were obviously out coached and this is just one of many this season. CWM is not the only problem. Our defensive linemen are underachieving, as well as the LB’s and secondary. It is a unit problem. We look a step slow – where’s the bulldogs team speed on defense – we built our reputation on speed and hardnosed defensive football, it is (slowly) evaporating each year. I can’t help but recall last year’s SEC coaches saying, “Georgia was soft up front”. Maybe we need to look at not just Willie but our recruiting coordinator also. Maybe it’s time for Damon to make some changes. While on recruiting, I continue to question why we don’t pursue and sign more white defensive recruits. We did sign a LB this year, but come on; does Coach Gardner recruit white athletes? A former Georgia coach told me, very, very rarely.

The 3rd Richt said...

Several years of top 10 recruiting does not equal what we have witnessed thus far this season. This comes down on the coaching staff. I'm sick of hearing the "aw shucks, we recruited Crompton, he's a darn good qb" crap. Man up and realize your best friend has done a half-a$$ job and not using this talent to its potential. We made Crompton look like a Heisman candidate with his stats of 20-27, 310yds.

It seems that it's been flipping a coin to decide which side is going to play hard, offense=heads, defense=tails. This week I think it must've landed on the edge and never completely rolled over either way. Richt is going to need to make some changes or he will go down with the entire ship.
Hats off to the players out there busting their asses and doing what the coaches tell them. I'm done hearing the "execution" excuse. I know there are times they need to execute better but when are they actually coaching this execution that the players supposedly lack?

Richt mentioned his job being like a CEO once he made Bobo DC. Time for the CEO to earn his keep and dropping the hammer and before he ends up like the CEO for Enron.

Michael A said...

Hey Anon at 8:24 PM, maybe when you asked, "Does Coach Gardner recruit white athletes?" the person you were talking to thought you meant someone else because there's no such coach at UGA. His name is "Garner," and he's only been on the staff since 1998. If you're going to make a ridiculous accusation, at least get the guy's name right.

Silver Dawg said...

Mr. Anonymous-who-doesn't-really-know-the-names-of-the-staff-he's-bitchin'-about.

Take your racially blatant and offensive comments and shove them up your ass, feller.

Deep.

Anonymous said...

FIRE MARK RICHT!!!!

The man has become completely complacent and lazy with his job, and has not once shown he has the intestinal fortitude for this job. The man has yet to ever fire an assistant coach for performance reasons (there was on AC coach about 6 or 7 years ago that was let go for off the field issues).

This program will remain on the decline until Richt is gone because he will not make any staff changes, so stop thinking he will. It's time to cut off the snake at the head.

Anonymous said...

FYI....

It's Rodney Garner...

Anonymous said...

Is Richt a great coach (as people are saying on here) or is he just a great recruiter?
We need both.

Muckbeast said...

I don't think that Anon was being racist.

He wasn't saying white players are better. He was saying that a recruiter who limits himself to any one race is limiting our team.

I went to Georgetown undergrad, and it was a problem with John Thompson. It is not unheard of.

I don't follow recruiting, so I have NO IDEA. But his statement did not strike me as racist. It was just a question.

Anonymous said...

Players who should never see the field: 1) Bryan Evans. it is pretty clear that he just doesn't have it. Rambo should play until he gets tired. 2) Prince Miller. he gets burned almost as frequently as evans, and he can't make a tackle for his life. 3) Richard Samuel, unless he is playing LINEBACKER, his natural position. 4) Joe Cox- I can't really explain the Arkansas game other than that it came against a subpar defense and it was an aberration, but other than that, he has been mediocre at best. Without the option of just heaving the ball up to A.J., his stats would be miserable. He doesn't seem to have great feel for the position- he stares down the receiver he wants to go to every time. Thoughts?

Dawgfan17 said...

Two things, first on defense, can we not come up with an outside blitz to take away the rollout by Crompton, it was the single play that was ran over and over that we could not stop.
Second, is it just me or is it actually the seniors who are the ones making the most bone headed plays. Cox is turning it over way to frequently(for those of you who thought Stafford turned it over too much he had 10 ints all last season, Cox I believe is at 8 halfway through the season. Owens jumps offsides a few times a game. Moore finally caught a few passes for the first time in three games but also had a block in the back and a fumble. Atkins has become and after thought. The younger guys make a mistake here and there but also have made plays to make up for it, this years senior class has been very disappointing to say the least.
Go Dawgs, keep fighting.

Anonymous said...

Michel Moore hasn't been playing much at all the past several games, so that would explain why he hasn't made receptions.

As far as Mark Richt, he is the sole reason we have AJ Green. His family chose the Bulldawgs for Richt's character. I think most of us would agree that our record would be FAR worse if we didn't have Green at this point. Say what you want about Richt's difficult decision-making, but I think it's also important to include the positives in the discussion somewhere.

Anonymous said...

To all you Willie haters, that was the nail in the coffin outside of 6 straight shutouts. It will be interesting to see if he resigns or is fired with he and Richt being such good friends. My momma always told me, "If you are going to hire a friend, be prepared to fire that friend. Hate it for Richt but there is a pattern of giving up 30+ points a game now that goes back nearly 2 years. Turnovers or not, it is unacceptable. Promote Garner and let's see if he can coordinate.