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Friday, September 18, 2009

Five Players to Watch: Arkansas Edition

I'm hitting the road for Arkansas -- woo hoo! -- so I'm limited on posts for today. But in advance of this week's SEC showdown, here's my thoughts on five players who will be the difference for Georgia on Saturday.

1.) Prince Miller. The senior cornerback didn't officially get burned against South Carolina, but he sure didn't have his best day. The Gamecocks had two touchdown passes against Miller, but both were called back due to penalties. He'll need to improve in coverage against a far more potent Arkansas team that enjoys lulling an opponent to sleep with a controlled passing game, then going deep for the big play at just the right time.

2.) Akeem Dent. South Carolina burned Georgia over and over by dumping off passes to the tight end over the middle. Dent didn't play particularly well, and with Darius Dewberry out and Nick Williams questionable for the game, he'll be back to work at the Sam linebacker spot on Saturday. That's going to be a concern, as Arkansas has one of the conference's top tight ends and the Razorbacks will no doubt be looking to exploit the same weaknesses South Carolina did.

3.) The Brand(on/en)s. Man, we really need a better nickname for these two. And as a fan of a non-Houston NL Central team, I can't endorse "The Killer Bs." Plus, as one reader pointed out, no true Georgia Tech hater can give his players a bee-related nickname.

Anyway, to the main point: Arkansas' special teams aren't exactly the best the SEC has to offer. Smith and Boykin were monsters in the return game last week, setting up Georgia with good field position on offense (or in Boykin's case, taking it to the house). They'll have a chance at a repeat performance this week, and against the Hogs' high-octane offense, every yard is important.

4.) Justin Houston. With Rod Battle out, Georgia's depth at defensive end isn't getting any better now that Houston is back from a two-game suspension. But that doesn't mean the results can't be improved. Houston had a huge spring and continued to earn praise for his work this fall despite the two-game absence. That should match up well with the less-than-mobile Ryan Mallett, who won't give the defensive line the same trouble Garcia did a week ago by moving around in the pocket and making plays with his feet.

5.) Mike Bobo. Two games into the season, and we really don't have any better understanding of what Georgia's offensive identity is. Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten still have hardly seen the field. Orson Charles has looked impressive but has been underutilized. Richard Samuel appeared on the verge of a breakout game last week, then disappeared from the game plan for 15 minutes. The playcalling improved last week from the opener, but there were still plenty of curious decisions. Arkansas' defense should't require a rocket scientist to solve, but the problem for Bobo has really seemed to be his overthinking of the game plan. Bobo needs to find the right mix of diversifying the offense enough to keep the Hogs guessing while not abandoning the Bulldogs' bread and butter for long stretches of the game. In other words, find an identity and go with it.

So… what do you think? What are your keys to this game? What matchup has you the most worried?


jferg said...

I have finally put on my critical thinking hat to try to interpret coach-speak.

Coach WM's defense is a "bend but don't break" D. Right? And we played "soft coverage" so we didn't give up the long ball, right?

So....had SC's O-line not held and gotten the penalties...we would have been burned for at least two deep TDs. So, what happened to bend but don't break? You can't play off 10-15 yards AND give up the home-run. It just doesn't jive. This light bulb moment has me most worried about this weekend. We are bending and breaking which is not a good combo for our pass Defense.

Ubiquitous GA Alum said...

I'm calling the Brand(on/en)s the 1-2 Punch ... since that's their numbers.

MikeInValdosta said...

"Prince Miller. The senior quarterback" >> not sure this is the type of additional QB experience we need.

+1 on the Bobo comments. He is a much better coordinator than he has demonstrated thus far.

Hobnail_Boot said...

I second "1-2 Punch" so long as they're announced as "out of the red corner"..

Bourbon Dawgwalker said...

Before I clicked on the comments I was thinking of the 1-2 Punch. Apparently I am part of a hive mind.

Sports Dawg said...

Soft on defense, vanilla on offense. We know there is a lot of talent in Athens, but are we utilizing it to the fullest? Those are my concerns.

rbubp said...

I have a question for everyone, including DH:

What does "offensive identity" really mean? It seems as though it means "what we do and do and do and do" and when things are in trouble, it's what we can rely on to work.

If this is correct, then why is everyone crying for more "offensive identity" at the same time they wish for Wooten, Brown, Charles, and everybody else to get a chance to see the ball more? I hear just as many people saying that Samuel and AJ Green need to be the cornerstones. Ok. So if we throw the ball to AJ 12 times a game, do you still want Marlon Brown in for him? Will you complain about it when he is in and he misses something AJ would've caught?

If we run the ball over and over, as many want, do you still have meaningful chances for AJ Green?

On tope of that, the offensive identity has been called "balance" for a long time, which really means NOT allowing the defense to know what is coming most of the time. So we give the ball to Samuel 80% of the time on first down; haven't we then lost our offensive identity?

Will Q said...

I was trying to think of something with the word "brand" (because they'll burn you bad), but "1-2 Punch" is much better.

MikeInValdosta said...


To me, good balance is 200yds running and 200yds passing. Bad balance is 30 runs and 30 passes without regard for what the defense is giving us or what is working.

Yodi said...

In regards to your comments about Bobo "finding an identity and sticking with it". If only it were that simple for a coach to do that.

rbubp said...

Mike, point taken, but you've articulated a desired outcome with an undesirable process.

My question is, and I mean this sincerely because I get the "why" but it seems that there are a lot of mixed messages on the "how"--what is the right process for the right outcome?

MikeInValdosta said...


Ponit taken. I will change my statement. It would be my goal to have the ability to run the ball and throw the ball equally well.

Ultimately, winning the game is the goal. If we throw 90% or run it 90% of the time, it matters not to me.

However, whatever is working should not be abandoned for the sake of a secondary goal, such as balance, or getting player x touches.

If we run the ball 4 times in a row for 25 yards and two first downs, why stop? Even more puzzling is to throw it the next 6 downs resulting in consecutive 3 and outs.

I am sure we all agree winning the game is paramount. I consider myself a huge fan of Mike Bobo, but I have been disappointed in the strictness of our offensive "gameplan".

If the running game is working, make them stop it, do not stop it for them. This should only open the pass up even more.

Personally, I do not think a passing game that averages less than 10 yds per attempt is ultimately a reliable cornerstone, unless of course that 70% completion rate holds up game after game.

David Hale said...

rbubp & Mike...

I'm not really disagreeing with either of you, but when I talk about offensive identity, I don't necessarily mean outcome but philosophy.

Yes, Georgia wants "balance," however you want to describe it. But my question is how to get there. There's still so much we don't know about this offense yet. How involved will the TEs be? How many carries should Samuel get? Who's going to compliment AJ? What are Brown, Wooten and Lynch capable of? How does Caleb fit in? Can Carlton get the ball in space more? Is Gray going to be a weapon?

These are all questions we had three weeks ago and we really don't have an answer yet on any of them.

Last year, you may not have known what to expect on any given play (which is good) but at the end of the game, you usually had a rough idea of what the stats for the top players would look like (which is also good).

I'd actually argue that this year, defenses may have a bit better idea of what to expect on any given play (which is bad) but we don't have the slightest idea how the end results will look (which is also bad).

But when you have nothing but first-year starters at all but one skill position, these things are bound to happen. I'm betting a few of these ??s get answered to a greater degree this week.

Doug said...

I'll be watching Coach Richt. Against USC it looked like he was on the headset with the que sheet for the offensive plays a lot more then in the past.

Maybe he is taking a more active role in the play calling.

Earl said...

A little Dr. Seuss here...

Branden 1 and Brandon 2

Anonymous said...

Fellas, I think Bobo has already identified his playmakers, he's just still in the process of weeding out the bad plays. I think he's darn close, though.

I think we as fans need to go ahead and forget about Wooten, Brown, and Lynch.

You can spread it out but you don't want to spread it too thin. If I were Bobo I would designate my playmakers in this order of importance, and set a quota(or a goal, at least) of touches for them:

AJ - 8 touches
Richard Samuel - 18 touches
Orson Charles - 4(needs more work for sure. He's a stud)
Caleb King - 10
Tavarres King - 4
Michael Moore - 4
Carlton Thomas - 5
Branden Smith - 2

That's 8 players that need to get multiple touches every game. Forget Aron White, Marlon Brown, Rant. Wooten, Artie Lynch, etc. In my opinion they are role players and through the first two games it's obvious that those first 8 guys are the ones we will be relying on to make plays.

Knowshon4Heisman said...

ESPN is saying we're 'depleted' with injuries and beaten up?? I think that's too strong of a characterization. Who doesn't have a few injuries? It sounds like they're trying to make excuses for us.

jm from louisville said...

The Blazing Brand'ns

The Original Blawger said...

David - I don't get your obsession with Brown and Wooten. If they aren't ready then they aren't ready. Fred Gibson had a monster freshman year (with no AJ Green type on the roster already mind you) and he didn't break out until the Tennesse game really.

Also, two years ago the major complaint I heard about our receivers (aside from drops) was the rotation. "Why are we playing Mike Moore, Tony Wilson, Demiko Goodman, etc when we have MoMass and Sean Bailey? We need our best receivers on the field." Now it seems like it's the opposite.

rbubp said...

TOB--I think DH is after this in part because the coaches have said (repeatedly) in the past that they were going to use the freshmen, but they did not, so the question of their roles in the offense is still on the table.

I concur with Anon 1:59 re: sorting out the identity and a range of plays for the right playmakers.

On the injuries, ESPN is doing what they usually do, inferring a mountain where there's a molehill. Part of this is Cox, don't forget. Add Sturdivant and Battle and Caleb King, and that's all they need, really.

papadawg said...

The 1 - 2 Punch is nice, but I like the tie in with Dr. Seuss, too.

I'll be calling them Thing 1 and Thing 2