You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see what's going wrong for the Georgia Bulldogs this year—just look at the games and you'll be plenty aware of what's not right.
This is not the team that fans signed up to see when they said goodbye to the reign of Willie Martinez. The "mediocre" 2009 was replaced by a hopeful 2010 with the arrival of Todd Grantham.
Grantham was going to be a breath of fresh air for the defense and Aaron Murray, although inexperienced, had to be better than Joe Cox—or at least if he wasn't, the running game would help him in the short-term. Either way, this wasn't going to be a team that looked as disorganized, inconsistent, and out-manned as the one we saw last year—no way that was going to happen again at Georgia.
Unfortunately, 2010 brought a bitter pill to Athens, GA.—a pill so tough to swallow that it almost seems like too much.
The hang-dog look of die-hard fans who are still reeling from losses to Mississippi State and Colorado, tells the story of a season that, to this point, has been a complete disaster. No one wants to admit the team is bad, but at 1-4 it becomes more and more difficult to believe much else.
So, if you take the biggest magnifying glass you can find and look only at the statistics and not the people running the plays, what the heck is Georgia doing so wrong that they not only can't pull out a win, but can't seem to remember how to win at all:
1. The offense is terrible.
That seems pretty obvious, right? Georgia is ranked No. 79 in the nation in points per game (PPG), scoring 24.8 per contest.
Through the first five games of the season, the Bulldogs have scored 124 points—1/3 of which are courtesy of Blair Walsh (40 points).
Even more disturbing, A.J. Green has missed four games this season, yet his contribution to the team's overall point total is 12. That may sound like nothing, but that ties him for second on the team—behind only Aaron Murray and Tavarres King.
While A.J. Green showed that he is the uber talent that most everyone knew him to be, there is no excuse for the offense being so centered around his presence that it becomes a wet rag minus him on the football field.
2. The running game looks worse than it is.
Through the first five games of 2009, the team averaged 3.20 yards per carry (ypc). The running game was not only anemic, at that time, but it was a bit of a joke as the coaches kept trying to find the right man to do the job—Richard Samuel, Carlton Thomas, Dontavius Jackson (here and there), and Caleb King all had their shot before Washaun Ealey was allowed to show us what he could do.
This season the team is averaging better than 4.03 ypc, yet they still look awful. Even still, aside from the contest against South Carolina, the team has eclipsed better than 100 yards per game—on the ground—each week. That includes two 150+ yard efforts (184 and 188) against Louisiana and Colorado, respectively.
The problem isn't a lack of effectiveness in the run game, but rather the fact that it has been used, ad nauseum, when it seemed more beneficial to call a pass instead.
14 run plays have been executed on third downs where a distance of more than four yards was needed to convert—Georgia's total yardage on those 14 plays: -4 yards.
3. The punting game is off.
Drew Butler is an All-American punter. Last season, he averaged better than 48 yards per attempt—that ranked Georgia No. 1 in the nation.
This season, he's averaging a little more than 44 yards per punt (No. 22). Last season, he was better on the road (52.23 yards per attempt) than he was at home (47.23); this season, the opposite has been true.
Field position matters in the SEC, and Butler has not been booting it the way he was in 2009. That makes for a shorter opponent field and a lot more work for the Georgia defense.
4. Too many three-and-outs!
Georgia ranks only above LSU, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee in converting first downs.
The defense spends more time on the field than the offense does—that means a tired, wore out, defensive unit will usually enter the fourth quarter. You do the math on that one, especially if you consider that a majority of Georgia's losses were sealed in the fourth quarter.
The offense has to do a better job of extending drives if they hope to put any pressure on opposing defenses.
Georgia has 88 first downs this year, two of which were granted through penalties. That's not going to cut it.
Oh, and if you want a contrast to that, Alabama has 117 first downs this year.
5. Penalties! Penalties! Penalties!
There are too many of these coming back to haunt Georgia.
In 2010, the Bulldogs have 32 penalties for a total of 219 yards. As a result, Georgia has lost, at least, 17 points of offense and helped extend countless drives for the opposition.
It's something that needs to be improved, but—silver lining—it is better than what we saw from the team in 2009.
Through the first five games of that season, Georgia incurred 42 penalties for 373 yards.
6. The offensive line is not pass protecting.
If Aaron Murray couldn't scramble, he'd be toast right now. The young phenom sees the ground at least twice a game and rarely comes out of his drop without seeing a defender breaking through on his right or left side.
The offensive line is filled with, essentially, the same guys that lined up for Georgia last season; there is no way they are this bad—strength and conditioning needs to be addressed.
There is no other explanation for the way the line gets pushed, punked, and pulverized on a weekly basis—NONE!
7. The redzone is a problem.
Would you believe it, if someone told you that Georgia has a higher conversion rate, overall, in the redzone than Alabama, Auburn, and Florida? Well, they do.
Georgia can get into the redzone, they have been there 18 times this season—scoring on 16 of those drives; the problem isn't getting into the redzone, the problem is that of those 16 scores, only nine of them went for six.
Georgia continually settles for field goals and that cannot continue to happen.
8. By contrast, Georgia's opponent's have no problem scoring touchdowns in the redzone.
What's that phrase we fans love to use where the Georgia defense is concerned? Hunker Down? Well, there isn't much of that going on this season.
The defense is doing the opposite of hunkering down in the redzone, they are helping their opponents find holes and get free for six with ease.
On 11 attempts, the opposition has scored 10 times—all but one went for six.
The obvious problems are obvious for a reason and, to be frank, most of the problems above could be solved by making two moves: firing the offensive coordinator and asking the strength coach to step down—neither of which seems likely to happen in-season.
What that means is there could be more mediocrity in the near future unless this team starts learning how to play with or without A.J. on the field—there is no excuse for the offensive coordinator to be so unimaginative and dependent on one player that he ceases to do his job when said player has left the field.
That's the very definition of incompetence.
As for the defense, it's not nearly as ineffective as it seems, improvements have been made in every phase of the game; the problem isn't Todd Grantham, it's the execution of each play by the players who don't seem altogether familiar with what they should be doing—yet.
If anything, a spotlight is needed on the sudden inability of the running backs, aside from Carlton Thomas, to hang onto the football. It's deplorable to lose points due to lack of fundamentals in ball carrying.
Perhaps the duties of the running back coach need to be looked at again because it seems that Bryan McClendon has some questions to answer about what his guys are learning versus what they are doing.
Comment below if you have something insightful to add, but, in the end, the only number a fan will see is 1-4 (Georgia's current record). Everything else is just chatter.
*All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com.
This article appears courtesy of The Lady Sportswriter.
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