Murray has a good day but the Dogs fall.
There are several disappointing aspects of todays game, I have a real problem with playcalling and the timidity of the defense. I recognize I am not a football coach, I have not had training, years of experience or mentorship with a legend but I do have one thing: Common sense. That brings me to my observations of the game today with The Bulldawgs and Gamecocks. Georgia sometimes calls plays too conservatively and predictably and the defense needs to play with more energy and heart.
Granted, it looks like South Carolina's true freshman RB Lattimore could be one of the top running backs in the SEC for years to come but we should have done a better job stopping him, he rushed for over 100 yards in the first half. We are in the process of adjusting to the 3-4 but let's be honest, Lattimore is the only real threat they had on offense at least in the first half, a team of Georgia's caliber should be able to key on him and make adjustments. We just looked timid and unmotivated. A perfect example of this is the second touchdown by South Carolina, watch the play again and notice the bewildered, confused look of Bacari Rambo as he appears lost and completely upright on a play that he should have both expected and been involved in. Did anyone not expect Lattimore to come right at them? There is no excuse to not be in the middle of that play. South Carolina's first drive of the second half, Rambo again takes a play off on the longest pass of the day from Garcia, ball flies directly over his head, no arms up, no jump no play. Rambo needs an ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT if you ask me.
Georgia's play calling also appears to me to be at times predictable and overly conservative. Specifically in the first half, when we opened up Murray more in the second half I think he did well.
Georgia in one of several three and outs in the second quarter, calls 3 straight plays for Ealey. The most questionable call, a 3rd and short, Ealey straight up the middle. Everybody and their grandmother saw that play coming from Athen Ga and the game was played in Columbia South Carolina. Ealey, to my way of thinking is not a power back, he is slippery and can break tackles but when the middle gets clogged up, he is not the type of back that is going to power through it. Alternative? Swing him out or pitch it and let him try to get the corner. I know many in the Bulldawg Nation can help me out here, what am I missing?
2 minutes to go in the half, Georgia down 14-3. First play pass to Tavarres King, dives out of bounds, good play, positive yardage and stops the clock. Next play? Ealey UP THE MIDDLE, virtually no yardage and the clock runs, We throw a rushed pass which is dropped and we are three and done. In that same situation, can someone tell me why, we don't take at least one shot down field? Murray has shown he can deliver, why not give him a chance? This series of downs was more conservative than predictable and I have always had an issue with our conservative nature, I honestly believe it's one thing that prevents our coaching staff from being an even better. Disclaimer here, I am a Mark Richt fan and believe he is one of the best coaches in the SEC. It just seems to me that one glaring issue of play calling is our one weak point. I also understand that Coach Mike Bobo makes the actual play calls but ultimately CMR has the responsibility to determine the tone of aggressiveness of the play selection.
1st drive of the second half. On a 1st and 15, first 2 plays, Ealey up the middle, net gain 6 yards, leaving Murray to pick up a third and long, which he did admirably. My point is not to not run Ealey consistently, just not as predictably. The second down Ealey run produced virtually no yardage. I would be interested in seeing a stat on how many yards Ealey gets on the second run of a 2 run series. Casual observation tells me it isn't good. Where is Caleb King? Has he worked his way out of the rotation? A nice drive resulting in 3, why? Ealey a viable threat but Murray in the air got it done.
Overall on defense it was really a tale of 2 games, the secondary did well although Garcia is generally not considered an excellent passer. But there were several coverage sacks and we got after Garcia on several occasions. On the running game I would have to call today's performance dismal. Lattimore ran for 182 yards on 27 carries. After playing well in the 3rd quarter, the defense again slipped in the 4th when it mattered most. The question in the offseason was 'Does Georgia have the personnel up front to play the 3-4?' today did not provide an encouraging answer to that question.
Call me crazy but I didn't hate the effort today on offense, although the score might not show it, I think Murray had a respectable day,(14-21 192 yards) he didn't make any bad mistakes and made some nice throws. A couple in particular could have changed the tone of the game: the drop by Tavarres King on the 3 yard line and the jumbled reception that caused King to not make a first down in the red zone early in the game. Once we get Green back at WR I think our offense will pick up some. Ealey's fumble on the 3 yard line was the result of a good hard strip, I can't fault him very much for that one but it definitely was a momentum shifter. I honestly feel like we will get there offensively, but it will take awhile, meaning get ready for a "character building" season.