Game 1 Recap: This D is for the Coaching
Few times have I ever been more disappointed following a loss. I can handle being beat. This was a little different.
We were not beat by better talent. Quarterback was the only position they had a decided talent edge. Their corners looked fantastic, but I thought we looked pretty good there, too.
They did not out effort us. Our effort was there. Both teams appeared to struggle with conditioning. Players could be seen cramping on both sidelines but it appeared to affect us more.
Aside from quarterback play, the biggest difference in this game was coaching. Please, do not read more into that statement than is there. I am not calling for any firings or anything like that. I am just acknowledging what appeared evident to me. While we were getting away from what worked offensively, they were making adjustments to get better.
Penalties were rampant. Georgia didn't have many, but they were all very costly and at the most inopportune times.
Officiating was inconsistent at best, but that is part of college football. Apparently violent shots on receivers are reserved for only the home team.
Add it all up and it equates to a victory for the lesser talented team. When that happens you have to look at the ones cashing checks. The men getting paid to put their talent in the best position to win a football game.
This is not the first time we have expereinced this under the Richt regime. The good news is, when this has happened in the past, Richt and his staff have bounced back and addressed thier shortcomings. I expect this to again be the case and look for a totally different game plan, or executino there of, next week.
Football can be a lot like eating boiled peanuts. When you get a bad one, the only way to get the taste out of your mouth is to eat another.
Grading the Game
On the opening drive of the game we appeared to be the physically dominant team. Power football was our game. The run set up the pass. The offense went downhill from there. Finesse became the mantra and it was a complete FAIL.
The Georgia Bulldawgs and their dominant I formation with a tightend and fullback blocking for a powerful running back gave way to some new spread formation team. No longer was Samuel running north and south, he was running east and west when he was even running the ball at all. The goal no longer appeared to be playing winning Georgia football, but rather to implement some new offense to take advantage of a DEFENSIVE BACK's skill set.
There were dropped passes and turnovers, neither are components of winning football. The further wer moved from away from our power running game, the less comfortable Joe Cox looked. Logan Gray did not get an opportunity. I am betting they did not want to hurt Cox's confidence anymore than the playcalling already was.
The more we passed, the worse the blocking got. This appeared to be not a matter of losing the one on one battles. For the most part, Cox had time, he just could not take advantage. He played much shorter than the 6 foot 1 inch the program gives him credit for. I do not think the coaches can talk about the flu because they did not give Gray a chance.
Richard Samuels ran hard and protected the ball. Although he ended up with 20 carries, we never consistently pounded him in there and let him wear the defense out. He was punishing the taclers and it was taking an effect. Play calling just did not take advantage of it.
The line play may not have been dominating, but it was certainly adequate. The players may deserve better than a D grade, but like the scoreboard and outcome, they must take what the coaching gives them.
Coach Willie Martinez had his unit well prepared. With the exception of a couple of times they got receivers behind our safeties, the defense played a great game, holding the Pokes to 304 total yards, and put us in a position to win.
A quarterbak with great passing skills, command of his offense, and the ability to run is difficult for any defense. Taking that into consderation, I was pleasantly surprised with our ability to hold him to 134 yards passing.
As expected, we dominated the interior of the line of scrimmage, but were unable to consistently get any pass rush or protect the edge against the run.
The defensive backs played extremely well but couldn't catch the ball when put in position to make the interception. Unfortunately, the refs didn't appreciate our physical play and penalized us for making great legal hits. Dez Bryant was held to 3 catches for 77 yards, but produced two touchdowns.
If we get 11 more weeks of play like this, the Georgia Defense will again be Junkyard worthy.
Special Teams: C
Drew Butler was the offense's best weapon. He continually kicked us out of holes with six punts for and overage of 57 yards. Coverage was a different story. When the Pokes were able to field his punts they averaged 15 yards a return, just awful.
Blair Walsh hit a 53-yard field goal on his only attempt, it would have been good from more than 60, outstanding! Three kickoffs were returned for an overage of 34 yards each, absolutely pitiful.
The return game was not any better than the coverage game. Penalities negated dome good punt returns by Prince Miller, otherwise we returned 3 punts for 3 yards. Yep three for three, just ugly. On kickoff returns, we trotted out several different return men to little effect. Boykin and Smith both brought kicks deep out of the endzone.
Butler and Walsh kicked the ball well, beyond that the special teams were beat worse than any other group of players.
Amazingly, the defensive coaches saved us from a big fat "F" here. I believe Mike Bobo had his worst game as Offensive Coordinator. The comparisons tothe 2005 Florida game are obvious. It looked like Joe T. 4 out there. I may be missing something, and will be sure to state it after watching the Tivo, but from my vantage point we outsmarted ourselves with the playcalling.
Perhaps Bill Young was the difference, I do not know. But something happened that was not apparent to me. We were succesful on our opening drive and abandoned the success for a totally different approach.
Game management and protecting the ball was supposed to be Joe Cox's strength. We abandoned physical play and went into some version of the spread. Not with Logan Gray, but with Joe Cox? Utter FAIL!
For all the talk about an emphasis on the special teams coverage, I saw absolutely no improvement. The players may have had scholarships and speed and physicality, but the result was the same. Again, utter FAIL!
Willie and his staff were the only bright spot in the coaching ranks on this Saturday.
I am not qualified to sit in judgement. I am just a fan with a blog. I love this team and this staff, but this game was very disheartening. We lost and deserved to do so. We played a quality opponent with in a hostile environment. Most breaks went against us and we did not control the football.
There is lots of room for improvement and I expect we will see that improvement against columbia next week. We are undefeated in conference play and remain in control of our destiny.
So, I will try to keep my chin up, Bulldawg Nation. You do the same!
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