[su_spacer size=”40″] It was homecoming in Athens and the Bulldogs were playing host to two-time defending SEC East Champs, the Missouri Tigers. Georgia was trying to find a way to snap a two-game skid, in which they had been thoroughly dismantled by Alabama and allowed a golden opportunity to slip away in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains against the Volunteers. This game was the epitome of “gut check”, as Head Coach Mark Richt put it to a reporter. Georgia managed to keep its SEC East hopes alive with this conference victory. And a win is a win, but……..
[su_spacer size=”40″] THE GOOD:
This was a defensive game, if you didn’t find the lack of scoring offensive. Georgia’s defense, especially after the collapse at Neyland Stadium, needed to have a bounce back outing. Fans keep hearing about how young these Bulldawgs are, especially on defense. Well, the youth was somewhat tested early and often in this see-saw game. Trent Thompson, DaQuan Hawkins, Juwuan Briscoe, Rico McGraw, Natrez Patrick, Jonathan Ledbetter and Johnathan Abram, all freshmen, saw significant playing time in the battle of immovable forces. Now I grant the reader that Missouri’s offense is horrid this season. That will happen when you are forced to start a freshman at the quarterback position in the SEC. Missouri is 121st in rushing with a total of 724 yards all season, are 98th in passing with 187 yards per game, and 124th in scoring offense with an average of 16.6 points per game. All that said, when your offense turns the ball over on the first play of the game and gives your opponent the ball on the 1 yard line and your defense keeps them out of the end zone, you are doing some growing up under fire. Missouri was held to 21 yards rushing on 22 attempts, 2 of 13 on third down conversions, only six 1st downs, and was held to only two field goals. Georgia’s defense currently ranks 21st in the Nation in total defense and racked up four sacks in the game after having only garnered 9 in their first six tests.
[su_spacer size=”40″] THE BAD:
Georgia has some serious offensive woes of its own. The quarterback position and wide receiver position were obvious question marks going into 2015. The offensive line and the running backs were to be the area of stability. The offensive line boasts John Theus (26 starts), Brandon Kublanow (19 starts), Greg Pyke (19 starts), Kolton Houston (19 starts), with Isaiah Wynn being the only starter with single digit starts (6) in the bunch. Georgia’s O-line has failed to assert its dominance over an opponent that is on par with their talent level. And with Nick Chubb sidelined for the remainder of the 2015 campaign, it is going to be imperative that Rob Sales get more out of this group. Georgia is 91st in red zone scoring and 106th in scoring touchdowns in the red zone. Also, this was the first game in the last 62 that Georgia did not score a single touchdown. Georgia also failed to have a single running back break the 100 yard mark for the 1st time in 20 games. In fairness, Missouri hadn’t given up a play longer than 40 yards all season and has not had any player rush for 100 yards on them in 2015. Teams are going to continue to attempt to make Georgia one dimensional by trying to shut down the run game and force the passing game to beat them; which right now seems a pretty good strategy against the Dawgs.
I think many Georgia fans feel like Brian Schottenheimer and Greyson Lambert have taken over the firm abdicated by Bernie Madoff. The Georgia offense has felt like a “Ponzi scheme” from the first four games to now, and people are starting to realize the Dawgs’ offense is doing everything with “smoke and mirrors”. More aggravating for Georgia fans is that the play calling of Schottenheimer and the play of Lambert are making Georgia fans yearn for the likes of former OC Mike Bobo and recently departed QB Hutson Mason. Although, in fairness, Georgia’s backup QB’s, who cannot supplant the former Virginia Cavalier were recruited and developed by the recently departed Head Coach of the Colorado State Rams.
[su_spacer size=”40″] THE UGLY:
Let this sequence of events sink in for a moment. First, the Dawgs go for it on 4th and one from midfield and fail. Later, on 4th and one down by three in the red zone with the defense playing good facing a really bad Missouri offense, Richt opts for the field goal. On the very next play, an attempt at an onside kick is executed poorly as the ball tumbles 9 ½ yards but doesn’t go the required 10 yards. There is a continual sense that there is no rhyme or reason to why this coaching staff makes some of the decisions they do. But that can certainly be debated by either side.
Georgia’s offense is simply not good enough to show what they are going to do and then dare someone to stop them. For instance, on the 4th and 1 failed attempt, Georgia lined up in a bunch formation, overloaded to the right. The guard and tackle blocked down and the fullback failed to fill the hole properly. Missouri’s linebacker looped in from the opposite side and drilled Douglas for a loss. Schottenheimer has not done a very good job of disguising what Georgia is attempting to do. Further, Lambert is immobile and looks like the proverbial “deer in headlights” half of the time and that is a recipe for disaster. Georgia ranks 78th in passing offense and has fallen from 9th to 125th in 3rd down offense from 2014 to the present.
Not to pile on the Georgia signal caller, but he has taken poor care of the football. Lambert threw four passes that should have been intercepted, but fortunately for the Dawgs only the 1st play from scrimmage was a turnover.
Although he redeemed himself later in the game, Marshall Morgan had two major failures in execution in the game. First, the onside kick, which may have been a good call, in theory, failed to be pushed the full 10 yards it needed to be legal. Second, with just under 6:00 minutes to go, Morgan was forced to try a 26-yard field goal from the left hash and never got it to bend as it sailed wide left, which could have been disastrous. In truth, part of the blame for that miss has to go to the OC. If you know you are going to “play it safe” and not go for the end zone, at least be cognizant of from where on the field your kicker is best suited to attempt field goals. Because the closer you get to the goal line, the harder it is to bend in the kick.
The “targeting” penalty called on Sanders will prove to be costly as he will miss the 1st half of the Florida game.
[su_spacer size=”40″] THROW ‘EM A BONE:
It’s not being overly dramatic to say that Kenneth Towns when looking back at how things turn out, may have saved Georgia’s 2015 campaign. After Lambert had thrown on opening play interception, Missouri’s defender, Ian Simon zigged and zagged through traffic, working his way from one side of the field to the other. One yard shy of the end zone, Kenneth Towns, who took a perfect angle, made the tackle of the defender at the one-yard line. Georgia’s defense subsequently keeping Mizzou out of the end zone proves this is a game of inches.
Georgia’s defense did not allow a 3rd down conversion by Missouri until very late into the 2nd quarter. Also, the Georgia defense stood tall on two (2) goal-line stands to hold Missouri to just a pair of field goals.
Malcolm Mitchell made a great tackle on a 3rd quarter punt and forced a fumble after the Missouri receiver failed to signal for a fair catch and tried to field the kick.
Terry Godwin showed why he is considered one of Georgia’s top freshmen. The Dawgs desperately are searching for a compliment to Malcolm Mitchell and Godwin may just be it. Although he didn’t get in the end zone, he made some tough catches and also was instrumental in giving Georgia great field position in the return game.
THE FRESHMAN CLASS! Georgia’s entire freshman class is giving the Dawgs a boost. It is extremely hard to come in and start for any SEC school as a freshman. There is a great deal of learning and growing to do and on this night, we started to see development happen before our eyes.
[su_spacer size=”40″] NO BONES ‘BOUT IT:
This was just one of those games in one of those weekends. Georgia was not particularly proficient on offense and made a few crucial mistakes on special teams. However, the defense rose to the occasion keeping Missouri in check and Georgia made just enough plays to secure the victory. Georgia won. Florida lost. This makes the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” an elimination game to determine the potential SEC East champion. So, from that vantage point, Georgia has two weeks to circle the wagons, forget the past, and focus on just this one game. The defense will be tested again, and they will need the offense to provide some help. Georgia coaches and players have 14 days to heal up, get their minds right, and develop a game plan. Schottenheimer, Pruitt, Richt, and Lambert all have a great deal to prove in this next one. Georgia can either grow up, take advantage of the opportunity they have before them, or they can let it slip away. Will the trip to Jacksonville be too much for Georgia’s youth and their quarterback or will they find the strength to stand up against a solid team in the Gators, who took LSU to the wire, even though Fournette ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns? The Bulldogs have 14 days to pull it all together, come up with a plan and “shock” the nation. But before the world believes, they have to believe, and there are “No Bones ‘Bout That.”