- Sunday, 20 October 2013 02:00
- Author: Ed Thomas
Georgia loses to Vanderbilt in a mistake-ridden, poorly officiated game today in Nashville. I said in my preview that I didn’t think Richt and Murray would allow the team to go to Nashville and not come back with a W heading to Jacksonville. I didn’t take into account that neither of them have anything to do with the special teams, which is a real dumpster fire at this point. While the offense wasn’t at its best and the defense didn’t get stops at the most critical junctures of the game, responsibility for this loss sits squarely on the shoulders of a coaching staff that clearly has no answer for the injuries on offense and the challenges we have on defense. Let’s get to the rundown.
What Went Well
Generally, not much but I have to come up with something.
First 5 Minutes of Each Half
The Dawgs came out and got stops on the first possession of each half on defense and scored on their first possession of each half. The problem was that both scores were field goals instead of touchdowns where we drove the length of the field and then stalled inside the 15 both times. Even with the mistakes, this game would have been very different especially in the 2nd half if we had scored a TD on at least one of the possessions.
The kid is growing up before our eyes into a good corner. He made an unbelievable play on what was set up to be a double pass or some type of gadget play. He read it, broke on the ball, and made the play to convert the pick 6. We’ve had too many opportunities this year where the ball gets dropped and we pay for it later in the possession. He also made another great play later in the game on an out where he showed his athleticism. In a secondary that has struggled, he is becoming a bright spot in what appears to be a black hole.
The kid is making all of his kicks. We just need him to get more consistent kicking the ball into the end zone on kickoffs.
Honestly, this section could go on for a while, but I can only choose three.
I was willing to give Aaron Murray a pass last week after having to break in new receivers and getting little help from the offensive line. This week, that’s not an excuse any more. Aaron never looked like he looked more than 15 yards down the field in the passing game. I don’t know if that’s lack of confidence in his receivers, happy feet due to protection, or instruction to take the check-down from the box, but this offense is very pedestrian when the deep pass and the back shoulder throws aren’t even tried if available. This comment may be a little strong, but this game is may be the worst I’ve seen Aaron play.
Red Zone Defense
Someone needs to tell Grantham that it’s OK to hold a team to a field goal in the red zone. The Vandy TDs were way too easy once they got the ball into the scoring zone. It almost looked like we gave up after the bad punt snap as if to say we need to leave enough time on the clock for the offense to bail the team out. The defense was better today, but that’s not saying much at all about the state of the defense at this point.
Two years ago in Nashville, special teams almost lost the game to Vandy in what could have led to the end of the Richt era if not for Drew Butler. Today, the kicking game was a real house of horrors (Halloween pun intended) with mistakes in every phase of the game except placekicking. Up two scores and in control of the game like in Knoxville, Damian Swann muffs a punt that hits him practically in the face mask leading to a touchdown and then another long snapping mistake that leads directly to the winning touchdown. For a school with a proud special teams tradition including early in the Richt era, these mistakes just leave me extremely frustrated with the direction of the program.
I’m only giving one grade today because this game was a TEAM loss in every sense of the word.
Overall – F
Offense, defense and special teams all contributed mightily to the loss today, but this loss goes directly to the men with the responsibility to lead this program. When will our offensive coaching staff ever learn to keep the foot on gas when you’re leading and break the will of the opposition? We did that last year in Athens when we came in with a huge chip on our shoulders. When will our defensive coaches get a stop when it matters and stop just relying just on talent? Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, John Jenkins, Kwame Geathers, Sanders Commings, Bacarri Rambo, and Shawn Williams aren’t coming in the Butts-Mehre Building on Monday. In particular, no one is going to come in and light a fire under this defense like Shawn Williams did last year going to Jacksonville. When will Richt realize that his approach or lack thereof to special teams is hurting his program and his team? Good teams do the little things well, and this team can’t even snap the ball consistently to the punter.
Final Word on Penalties
The Dawgnation has been in a firestorm over the two targeting penalties called in this game with one ejection and one ejection overturned. I’m not sure that Ray Drew’s penalty should have been called, but you have to understand how closely the referee is watching for hits on the quarterback. You have to be able to pull back when you’re in the gray area on a hit on the quarterback. I thought the penalty would be nothing but a roughing the passer penalty if anything. The call on Ramik Wilson changed the outcome of the game, period. The hit was clean, the call was made from the back judge who didn’t have the best angle on the call, and the umpire who had the best vantage point didn’t attempt to overrule the call. If the NCAA doesn’t revisit this rule and its application during the off-season, shame on them because this rule is changing the game and not for the better.
Look Ahead to the Remainder of the Season
The last couple of years when I was blogging on my own, I did a mid-season report card and awards heading to the bye week. I don’t have the desire to do that after the last 3 weeks. We certainly aren’t where I thought we would be at 4-3 with all of our team goals gone. That’s enough looking back.
Can we win out? Yes, but only if Todd Gurley is on the sidelines in uniform starting two weeks from today in Jacksonville. Will we win out? Regardless of Gurley’s availability, I don’t think we win out because of our lack of a threat at wide receiver. Conley and Bennett are good 3rd and 4th options but need the home run threat of Mitchell or Scott-Wesley to make them most dangerous in the slot or on the opposite side of the field. Where do we end up? Right now, I think we beat Appalachian, Kentucky and Tech because we have more talent than all three, likely lose to Auburn on the Plains, and play a close game with Florida. We end up in Atlanta in late December for a meaningless Chick-fil-a Bowl against Virginia Tech or Miami.
Let’s discuss in the comments below.