Sunday, September 6, 2009

It was a good 5:18

For five minutes and eighteen seconds, it looked like everything was “right” in the Dawgverse. UGA took the opening kick in the end zone for a touchback* and then reeled off an impressive opening drive that showed creativity and precision, culminating in a 4 yard TD pass from Joe Cox to Michael Moore.
*UGA fans may be unfamiliar with this term. It’s when the kicker kicks the ball into the endzone, and the receiving team doesn’t run the ball out, giving them a starting position on the 20 yard line.
I don’t know how much, if any, of this drive was pre-scripted, but it was certainly effective. After that drive, however, the offensive wheels came off and it was all downhill. Consider this:
  • On that drive, Cox was 2 for 3, for 33 yards and a TD. After that, he was 13 for 27 with a pick and a fumble.
  • On that drive, Richard Samuel rushed 4 times for 31 yards (7.75 YPC). After that, he ran 16 times for 56 yards (3.5 YPC).
  • In that first 5:18, UGA rushed 7 times for 42 yards (6.0 YPC). The rest of the game, UGA rushed 23 times for 42 yards (1.87 YPC).
  • Run/Pass mix on first drive: 7/3. Run/Pass mix remainder of game: 23/27.
  • First drive: 80 yards and a TD. Next 11 drives? 186 total yards, 6 punts, 2 fumbles, 1 interception and 1 field goal.
The familiar refrain after UGA losses last year was “Fire Willie Martinez!” And at times, it was hard to argue with that sentiment, watching the D get torched time after time, give up 40+ points on multiple occasions, failing to create turnovers and showing a troubling inability to make tackles. Well, Saturday in Stillwater, you couldn’t pin this loss on Martinez and the D. Yes, the pass rush continues to be anemic. No, once again the Dawgs didn’t create turnovers. But given the odds stacked against them (questionable officiating, ridiculously short fields to defend – only one OSU scoring drive was over 32 yards), the D did their job and it was the O that let this team down, and frankly, signaled that this is going to be a very, very long season.

Before the season, there was great debate over whether Cox would be more like Joe Tereshinski or DJ Shockley. You don’t want to form a complete opinion based on one game, especially one which followed several days of flu-like symptoms, but Joe’s performance was certainly closer to the former than the latter. Passes, even those that were completed, were a little off target and a little late to arrive. Given that, it was even more perplexing that after the first drive, the playcalling mix became more weighted toward the passing game, when it was clear to everyone watching that the QB wasn’t sharp and the receivers weren’t hauling in the waffling floaters that got near them. This was a horrible game for OC Bobo, and a D that doesn’t create turnovers isn’t going to help bail him out.

Despite a career long FG by Walsh and several long punts (aided by a couple of fortuitous bounces) by Butler, the special teams were a disaster once again. OSU averaged almost 34 yards per kick return and 15 yards per punt return.

So let’s sum it all up, shall we?
  • After an impressive opening drive, the offense was poorly coordinated and haphazardly executed.
  • The special teams continue to be an embarrassment for a top flight college football program.
  • The defense performed admirably, but still cannot sack the QB or generate any turnovers.
Given that, I think it’s gonna be a struggle to stay above .500 this year. Hate to say that, and perhaps next week’s home tilt with the Chickens will give us more to work with, but right now the glass is looking half empty.

But we’ll always have that first 5:18.

4 comments:

  1. Several days after the fact, and I'm still not sure what to make of it. I said 8-4 before the season, and will stick with it for now, given that we did lose to the #9 team in the country at their place.

    However, the offense was truly bad after the first drive. I really can't remember many games where we have looked as inept. And, we miss #7 much more than most Georgia fans wanted to admit. There was time to fix a drink between Cox' release and the arrival of the ball at the receiver.

    His reputed accuracy wasn't as good as advertised as many of the balls were behind the receiver, and the deep ball to Green was horrendously underthrown. If we don't see significant improvement this week, its time to move on to Gray or Murray.

    Richard Samuel ran pretty well, other than he seems to have no ability to break a tackle. I was hoping for Robert Edwards, and he reminded more of Lars Tate. A couple of phantom trips on the turf and the inability to break tackles were the biggest negatives in his game. He did blitz pickup extremely well. I was expecting more from him, but he is an 18 year old sophmore, so hopefully, will continue to improve.

    No help for AJ Green. We need to play Wooten and Brown next week to see if they can't create more opportunities than King and Moore did. If the opponents can focus on AJ like they did Saturday, even a player of his skills is not going to have a big game.

    Special Teams continue to be a disaster on kickoffs -- Someone please tell the freshman not to run out kicks that are 7 yards deep in the endzone. However, in Smith's defense, he has obviously never seen a kick in the endzone in practice, as our coachs continue to insist on this "pooch" directional kickoff. I can't believe we have three scholarship kickers, and none of them can kick it past the 10.

    The positives: Coach Willie's D. Occassionally, Georgia has had a great defensive game under Martinez, and without the turnovers, special teams blunders, and bad calls, this would have been one. We held one of the top offenses in the country to 307 yards. And, two critical calls by the Refs led directly to 10 Cowboy points -- the horrendous spot on 4th down, and the BS personal foul call on Rashad Jones. Unfortunately, it was the exact opposite of 2008 as the offense did nothing to help out the D.

    I'm not backing off 8-4 at this point, but it lies squarely with the coaching staff to correct our special teams woes, and find a way to create some offense. If these things are done, we can still have a decent season. But, something has to be done immediately.

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  2. Well thought out points, and not dissimilar from mine. At the end of the day, the responsibility lies with coaching. We seem to have corrected some issues (rampant penalties, tackling, totally blown assignments on D, Samuel's tendency to fumble and miss blocking assignments) but the other fault lines seen in this game are mind boggling:

    Continued special teams ineptitude.
    Poor substitution (especially on O).
    Awful, awful play calling on O.
    Conditioning (especially considering an environment that wasn't THAT hot, compared to the deep south).

    And this is the result of the entire off season of planning? I'm really, really dismayed right now.

    There's no shame in losing to a good team on their field. But it's the WAY we lost -- being completely outcoached in virtually every facet of the game -- that has to give you pause.

    And I'm with you. If Cox, healthy and at home, doesn't show up against the chickens, it's time to pull the plug and start the building. I'd much rather lose with youth and build a promising future than suffer though a difficult season hanging on out of loyalty.

    Sigh. I think it's gonna be a long one.

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