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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good News, Bad News: Week 1

I'm not sure whether or not we'll make this an ongoing feature, but I figured we'd give it a try.

On the upside: I needed something I could work on ahead of time for Tuesday mornings before heading over to Mark Richt's weekly news conference.

On the downside: Much like the players eventually have to move on from the previous week's game, so do I, and by Tuesdays, I'm tired of writing about it and you're of reading about it.

But, like with a freshman wide receiver, there's only one way to find out if it's going to work out, and that's to get it out there and see what happens. So, here's my ode to fair and balanced reporting... Good News, Bad News. As with any of these scenarios, always give bad news first...

Bad news: Georgia's 257 yards of total offense was its lowest output since the ugly loss to Tennessee in 2007.

Good news: Georgia's secondary looked awfully good. Last year, Dez Bryant averaged seven catches for 114 yards. He was well below that against Georgia, although his three catches were pretty big ones. Still, the secondary had to be a worry, and Prince Miller, Brandon Boykin, Vance Cuff and company really answered the bell. Against a team like Okie State, big plays will happen from time to time, but Georgia's secondary really limited what the Cowboys did in the passing game, which is even more impressive because, as Jeff Owens said, the game plan was to worry first about stopping the run.

One other thing: Bryan Evans hit on Bryant that dislodged the football on what would have been a nice game set a great tone. Despite the ridiculous flag, Reshad Jones' hit in the second half did the same. Fans should be thrilled -- make that Thrilled, with a capital 'T' -- about the physical play in the secondary. That's a Georgia standard, and Evans and Jones seem to be embracing it.

If I'm a South Carolina receiver -- a group that combined is not half as good as Bryant -- I wouldn't be too excited to be coming to Athens this weekend.

Bad news: Mike Bobo's offense mustered less than half the yards that Neil Callaway's did on Saturday.

Good news: The first drive of the game looked great. It was thoughtful, dynamic, inventive and successful.

Bad news: None of the rest of the drives looked anything like the first drive.

Good news: As bad as the offense struggled at times, the D was really good, and I probably failed to give enough credit yesterday to how well they played. First, the defense held Oklahoma State to 240 yards less than what it averaged a year ago on offense. More importantly, the D showed a ton of heart. You have to love when your D allows a scoring drive that goes for minus-5 yards. They nearly had another stop inside the 10, if not for a debatable spot on fourth down. And Willie Martinez deserves a ton of credit for his creativity in how he deployed his personnel, from using Geno Atkins at defensive end to getting Marcus Dowtin on the field for a career game to deploying Vance Cuff, who was extremely impressive.

Bad news: Trinton Sturdivant saw all of 40 minutes worth of action this season before tearing his ACL. You've got to feel for the kid. I can't imagine what that must be like after all the work he put in to get back on the field.

Good news: Georgia actually has a little depth to handle the crisis this time around. Isn't it amazing how little the Sturdivant injury has really riled anyone up? Do you remember the absolute apocalypse that happened when he went down last year? It's nice to have options.

Bad news: Georgia is just 6-4 in its last 10 games. It's the second-worst stretch since Mark Richt arrived at Georgia. The only worse stretch was from Oct. 7, 2006 through Sept. 8, 2007 when the Dawgs lost five of 10 games, starting with the 51-33 defeat to Tennessee and ending with a 16-12 loss to South Carolina.

Good news: Following that 5-5 stretch, Georgia won 14 of its next 15 games.

Bad news: Georgia scored just 10 points last week.

Good news: South Carolina scored just seven... against a much worse opponent.

(Side note: How embarrassed should the ACC be? Wake Forest lost at home to Baylor. Virginia lost to a Division I-AA school. Virginia Tech was smoked by Alabama's new look offense to the tune of nearly 500 yards. NC State mustered a whopping three points with supposedly the conference's best QB. They made the Big Ten seem impressive by comparison.)

Bad news: A.J. Green had just four catches. All offseason, A.J. touted the fact that coaches were moving him around to give defenses different looks and get him open. Against Oklahoma State, that all seemed to be out the window. He's Georgia's best offensive player by a wide margin. He needs to touch the ball more than four times no matter how it happens.

Good news: Did you know yesterday marked the 54th birthday of Waffle House, which opened on Labor Day weekend in 1955 in Avondale Estates, Ga.? My cholesterol would never be the same. (Yes, I know this isn't Georgia-related, but I think it's important information to have.)

Bad news: This is the first time in Mark Richt's career he's been 0-1. Not his career at Georgia. His career, period, since becoming a full-time coach at East Carolina in 1989.

(Side note: It was amazingly easy to find out the game-by-game results for the 1989 East Carolina team. God bless the Internets.)

Good news: Georgia is still 0-0 in the SEC, and Sanford Stadium will be all lit up and ready for football in a mere four days.

7 comments:

Steve said...

I try to remain optimistic, and I'm sure nothing I'm about to say will be new, but I do take comfort that the game Saturday could have turned on about three plays.

Let's say Georgia catches two breaks: the horrendous spot inside the five goes the other way, and the flag on Reshad Jones is never thrown. Then throw in one converted pick of the three the secondary should have had, and suddenly you have a whole new ballgame.

24-10 looks bad, but it was much closer than that. Plus, all the season goals are still in tact. I hope everyone stays excited and rallies around the team.

Oh, and one more piece of good news for you that some won't want to hear.

Good news: it's only football.

Go Dawgs!

Will Q said...

I like this format, David. Keeps me to a reasonable grumble about Saturday rather than causing me to want to kick my new flatscreen TV in. Nice work.

jferg said...

Good news: with the excpetion of the "L" in the win/loss column, most of our mistakes from stillwater can be fixed this weekend...

Bad news: I can't even imagine the "fire ________ (insert name of coach and player)" if we lose Saturday and are 0-2....

rbubp said...

I always think we're going to win, but I think the horror of being 0-2 may be a powerful motivator for everyone. I expect a better performance in the SC game.

I guarantee that Richt is announcing to everyone that he's never been 0-1 before, EVER...and that this is the first time UGA has had a losing record under him.

Curt said...

Glad its a new week and hopefully the thought of a night game can create some fire on the staff. As hard as it is to beat s c at home thank the lord we aren't going there. The most improvement is usually between the first and second game. I hope we can fix these personnel issues. Go dawgs

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I, like you, try to remain optimistic. But even with a few breaks, and even if we were to pull out a victory, you've gotta be worried about the total breakdown on offense.

Maybe it was the flu...I don't know. Who was ailing the most? Joe Cox or Mike Bobo. I believe the offense will get fixed. It can't be any worse (yeah, I know all about those SEC defenses coming up shortly...but that was about as ugly of a performance as I have ever seen against anybody.)

The defense did us proud. Gotta get some pressure on the QB, though.

Nancy R said...

I concur about Rashad Jones's hit. It was hard, but not unnecessarily hard. And Dez Bryant warrants some hard hits.

Ditto also about Sturdivant. Isn't this the second year in a row he's been out of the game? That's got to feel as rotten as his knee.

About AJ--I read another blog that attributes his incompletes to Mike Bobo's coaching. The blog compares AJ to a Farrari that never leaves the garage. Do you also think Bobo should "let AJ be AJ"?

Happy birthday to Waffle House!