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Monday, September 27, 2010

Fleeting thoughs: After Mississippi State

Normally this feature would run the day after the game. But my Sunday was spent driving back to Athens through a driving rain that made the day even more pleasant.

The lingering memory I’ll have from this trip is Mark Richt’s postgame press conference: The unflappable coach looked, for the first time I can remember, a bit rattled. He was still polite, but for him, he was short on some questions, with some clipped responses. He looked like a man searching for answers.

He should, as Georgia has a lot of problems. One of them, or possibly more, will be fixed this week by the return of A.J. Green. But all the issues were once again on display in Starkville.

The rundown, grades and observations:

QUARTERBACK: Aaron Murray remains a bright spot, which makes the struggles of the offense even more confounding. No, he’s not going to be an All-SEC pick, but once again he was what Georgia was asking him to be before this season started: Turnover-free, and a good manager of the offense. The freshman had 274 passing yards and was the team’s second-leading rusher. On the other hand he was still a bit off on his throws, especially in the red zone. … B.

RUNNING BACKS: It may be time to admit that the Bulldogs’ tailbacks are just average. At least that’s the conclusion we have to take from the first four games. Caleb King’s return, making the first time he and Washaun Ealey have both played, didn’t spark the running game. Ealey had another costly fumble inside the 5. King, Ealey and Carlton Thomas averaged only about three yards per carry. And no one is exhibiting any breakaway ability. I’m sure the blocking isn’t much of a help, but the tailbacks aren’t creating much on their own. … C-.

RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: Kris Durham (four catches for 64 yards) had almost exactly the same stat for the fourth straight game. The Bulldogs can only hope his neck stinger isn’t so serious he can’t team with Green this weekend. Tavarres King had a 40-yard touchdown in garbage time, and a 39-yard catch early in the game – but nothing in between. Marlon Brown was once again pretty quiet, while Logan Gray (three catches for 42 yards) was a factor, but not a major one. And once again, the tight ends were largely absent: They were targeted a bit more, but Orson Charles had the lone catch. One factor that hasn’t been talked about: The run-blocking of the receivers. Apparently the coaches don’t have a lot of confidence because they’re not calling a lot of sweeps, and not a lot of screens either. ... C+.

OFFENSIVE LINE: The pass protection was a bit better, allowing just one sack. But Murray was still pressured, and saved a sack or two with his feet. As for the run, there wasn’t much in the way of gaping holes for the tailbacks. Nothing changes here: The line remains one of the most disappointing facets of this year’s team. … C-.

DEFENSIVE LINE: The second half looked a lot like the South Carolina game, with the opposing offense staying on the field and converting a ton of third downs. It wasn’t all up the gut, and a lot came on short-range throws, unlike in Columbia. But MSU was still able to run more than it should, with Vick Ballard averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Quarterback Chris Relf had 97 rushing yards, most of it on the edges. No sacks either, and through four games the front three still don’t have any to their credit. … C-.

LINEBACKERS: The main task for this unit was to stay on their keys and shut down the option. They did only an average job of that, largely failing on the first drive, and throughout the second half. So the contain was a miss, for the most part. There were also only two tackles behind the line – both by Justin Houston – and the lone interception, on the halfback option, was forced by pressure. So it wasn’t all bad. But Mississippi State had its best offensive showing in the SEC so far, and a lot of that falls at the feet of Georgia’s best defensive unit. … C-.

SECONDARY: There were only 135 passing yards allowed, but there were also only 14 pass attempts. A lot of them came on third down, and were completed. The passing game was supposed to be a huge problem for Mississippi State, but for one night Relf looked like a legitimate SEC quarterback. … C-.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Bacarri Rambo can’t catch a break. It was his leg that came in the way of a bouncing punt, even as Branden Smith was waving his teammates off. Luckily for Rambo, that didn’t directly lead to MSU points. But it did rob Georgia of what should have been good field position at a key time. On the plus side, Georgia finally got a big return, a kickoff by Brandon Boykin for 39 yards. Blair Walsh remains perfect (and also had two touchbacks on kickoffs). Punter Drew Butler looks to be rounding back into form. The punt and kick coverage were also pretty good. … B.

COACHING: A team that struggles in the red zone clearly is a reflection of a weak running game, but also not having the right plays called. Mike Bobo faced the media and took the blame for the team’s execution, so he deserves credit for that. Todd Grantham’s defense was once again inconsistent: For a third straight game the opponent scored a touchdown on its opening drive, which isn’t good. And clearly the second-half adjustments by Dan Mullen were better. … C.


Anonymous said...

Seriously, your are only giving the D and O lines a C-, they were awful and dominated by MSU. F should be the grade, come on no sacks, barely any pressure, could not stop MSU when needed. As for the O line, they stunk, Murray has three seconds to throw every pass, and they are not blowing ANYONE off the ball!!!

Anonymous said...


You grade like an Elementary teacher....


David Davis said...

At UGA, a C- is essentially an F on the ABC system. C- = 1.7 on the GPA scale. It was that when I left. In my book, that is failing. Where I currently go to school, less than a 2.0 (C) is considered failing.

So, C-= fail.

Anon 10:11, you got your wish.

NCDawg said...

UGA is 1-3, and I'm coming down with the flu. I haven't had the flu since the Ray Goff years. I'm looking for signs of locusts.

Anonymous said...

Here you go NCDawg.

Anonymous said...

These C grades were against MISSISSIPPI STATE! A C against a team like that is the most shameful kind of F.

OZAM said...


When DH left the Blog, I figured I would give the new guy the benefit of the doubt. He has awfully big shoes to follow.


To assign a grade of C to the coaching staff...come on....heck, a D might have been generous.

I know you have to work with those guys on a daily basis, and maybe the BB isn't a money making venture, but you only hurt your credibility with such indefensible assessments.

This team has looked lost for the majority of the last three games.

Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

I love it - BoBo admits to something many of us saw 3 years ago - good grief.

Chris said...

Yeah, OZAM, you are missing something. You act like these "grades" actually mean anything. They don't. I've never seen people get so worked up about "grades" that don't even matter.

Maybe get worked up when Seth says something like "The Georgia Bulldogs looked fantastic in Starkville". Until then, take it down a notch.

Anonymous said...

Maybe not locusts, but pretty bad nonetheless considering they damage crops as well....

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chris, if you are upset and questioning someone's competency based on imaginary grades, you should probably take a break from reading about UGA this year. Its not the grades its the written assesment. Which is pretty correct I think.

Bryant Sims said...

The defense, while poor, is not the primary reason we are losing games. If you can't put it in the endzone you can't expect to win period.