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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Post-Game Notes: Walsh Stays Perfect

You can read my account of the amazing exploits of A.J. Green by CLICKING HERE. For the rest of the action, read on...

There was never a doubt in Blair Walsh’s mind he would make it, he said following the game. With the clocking ticking down to zero, Walsh drilled a 37-yarder down the middle for his eight consecutive field goal, lifting Georgia to a thrilling 20-17 win over Arizona State.

“I was just trying to think of it as just another kick,” Walsh said. “I just wanted to make it—nothing crazy, just get it up and get it in.”

The kick was Walsh’s first game-winner in his career, including high school.

“This is the greatest experience of my college career to have the chance at the game winner and hit it,” he said.

The team rushed Walsh after the kick, dog-piling in a celebrating that ultimately ended with the kicker dancing with teammates in front of the student section.

“Blair has made every kick so far, and I’m really proud of him,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt, who admitted he wasn’t watching when Walsh kicked. “We got him in position and he drilled it, so that was great.”

The game-winning kick was the first since Brandon Coutu drilled a 37-yarder at Vanderbilt in 2007.


Georgia fullback Fred Munzenmaier doesn’t see much action, but he knows what to do with the football when he gets his opportunities.

The junior fullback got just the third touch of his career in the first quarter against Arizona State, and he punched it in for a two-yard touchdown.

“It feels good, I mean if I get the ball my goal is to score so I’m going to die trying,” he said.

The result is nothing new for Munzenmaier, who also had touchdowns on the first two carries of his career, including a 1-yard run against LSU last season and a 6-yard dash against Ole Miss in 2007.

Munzenmaier broke his streak of touchdowns with a carry on fourth-and-one, where the 6-foot-2 222-pound fullback was stopped short. He finished with six yards on four carries.


Looking back, Richt said he probably should have booted the field goal with 9:45 left to play in the game and Georgia facing a fourth-and-inches at the Arizona State 27. Instead, he made the call to go for it, and Muznenmaier was stopped short of the first down.

Of course, the play might have worked if not for a strange scenario that played out before the snap.

As Georgia got set at the line, the referee stood over the ball for a few extra seconds. Arizona State middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict anticipated the play and darted toward the line of scrimmage, shoving the ref out of his way.

A flag was thrown, but after the officials – a group from the Pac-10 – discussed the play, it was picked up and the Bulldogs set up to run the play again.

“That was very interesting,” Richt said. “I was like, ‘What in the world?’ I know in our league, if any of our guys touches an official on purpose, he’s out. That’s 15 yards, and he’s out of the game. He might not play the next game. I don’t know for sure, but I thought I saw somebody do that.”

As it turned out, the delay was a costly one for the Bulldogs.

Georgia had lined up in a goal-line package, and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he thought the delay offered the Sun Devils a chance to recognize the personnel and make the right adjustments before the snap.

“Coach said we were going for it, so we called the play we thought we could get it,” Bobo said. “It hurt us really when we broke the huddle and the official stood over the ball. We had our personnel on the field, and they adjusted to it. We probably should have changed the play there after they adjusted.”

Munzenmaier had successfully moved the football in previous carries – picking up a first down once and a touchdown on another run – but this time the Arizona State defense had him surrounded.

“I was ready to just put my head down and get over that line, but there were guys just flying over the top and coming out of every which direction,” Munzenmaier said.

As for explanations for the unlikely series of events that preceded the failed fourth-down try, Richt was left wondering.

“I didn’t really get a real good answer to that,” he said.


Georgia’s propensity for turnovers continued Saturday against Arizona State, as the Bulldogs coughed up the football three times in the second half, bringing their season total to 12.

Quarterback Joe Cox threw two interceptions and tailback Caleb King fumbled – with all three turnovers coming on Georgia’s side of the field and all in the second half.

Still, Georgia managed to overcome the problems, pulling out a victory after a blocked field-goal try preserved a tie late in the fourth quarter. While he’s happy for the win, Cox said he doesn’t see how Georgia’s good luck in the face of so many miscues can continue.

“It’s crazy because we talk about it every week that we need to cut out turnovers and penalties,” Cox said. “It just seems to be something that happens anyway. It gets frustrating. I’m glad our defense bailed us out. We left them in a couple tough spots.”

The defense held strong following Cox’s second interception, shutting Arizona State down on three straight plays to force the final field-goal try. But the previous two turnovers both led to touchdowns, including one in which Jarrell Holman ran through a bevy of would-be tacklers for a touchdown.

The defense played its best game of the season, allowing just 204 total yards to Arizona State, but the turnovers continued to plague the Bulldogs. Through four games, 47 percent of the points Georgia has allowed have come following turnovers.

“You’d like to think you’d progressed some in the last three weeks, but I almost feel like we’re like that record that gets stuck,” Richt said. “The same thing keeps happening over and over again, but the good news is we’ve been winning.”

Like Cox, however, Richt knows the run of good luck can’t last forever.

And while he said the coaches have preached about the turnovers in practice, Richt took the onus on himself to correct the problems going forward.

“I’d like to remove some of the drama if possible and just play a solid 60 minutes of football, but we just have not found a way to do that yet,” Richt said. “But that’s coaching, too. I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys prepared. It’s not only what I might say before the game or at halftime. It’s what we demand of them throughout the week and maybe we need to do a better job of that.”


Redshirt freshman Baccari Rambo was promised more playing time by defensive coordinator Willie Martinez earlier this week, and Rambo showed he deserved it in the second quarter by hauling in his first career interception – just he second pick of the season by a Georgia defender.

“I was saying all week it’s time for me to step up, man. Time for me to step up,” Rambo said. I’ve got to get better, mature and grow up. I started watching more film and studying the plays and I just stayed focused during the whole thing.”

Rambo came off the bench at safety this week after seeing minimal action in the first three games. Georgia’s secondary struggled badly against Arkansas last week, however, and Martinez promised a shake-up. While the defense looked improved against the Sun Devils, Rambo showed his promise by picking off Arizona State quarterback Danny Sullivan late in the second quarter after defensive end Cornelius Washington forced an early throw.

That was a great pass rush—a great pass rush,” Rambo, who finished with four tackles and pass breakup, said. “The whole defensive line got in there and forced [Sullivan] to make a bad pass. He had to throw it to try to get the ball off.”


Rambo wasn’t the only Georgia player to enjoy a breakthrough game Saturday night. True freshman receiver Rantavious Wooten hauled in a 27-yard catch on third-and-12 for his first career reception in the second quarter.

In the fourth quarter, on Georgia’s winning drive, Wooten hauled in a crucial third-down catch, an 11-yard gain to pick up a first down.

“Every time I’m in the game I’m thinking the ball may be coming my way, so I got it in my mind that it was coming to me and I focused hard to make the catch,” he said.

Wooten, who finished with 38 yards receiving, also got one carry on an end around in the first half, picking up three yards.

“Every time they give me opportunities, I’m going to take advantage of them,” Wooten said. “It feels good. It feels real good being apart of the victory. It’s amazing.”


Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens both turned in strong performances Saturday, anchoring what was easily the top game of the season for Georgia’s front four.

Houston recorded the game’s only sack – his first since returning from a two-game suspension last week – and he and Atkins combined for four tackles in the backfield.

“The DBs did great covering tonight and gave us time to get to the quarterback,” Houston said.

Overall, Georgia had nine tackles for a loss in the game, and after ASU tailback Dimitri Nance ran for 100 yards in the first three quarters, the defense stuffed the tailback for a net loss of eight yards in the fourth.

“As the game went on, our D line really began to take control of the game and not allow Arizona State to do what they wanted to do,” Richt said.

The stop Georgia’s defense was able to make on Arizona State’s final drive was the first time an opponent failed to score this season following 11 Bulldogs turnovers on their side of the field. It was an effort that was particularly sweet for the much-maligned Georgia defense, Houston said.

“Coach Martinez says all the time, when turnovers happen, that’s your time to show greatness,” Houston said. “I think that’s what we did. We showed greatness tonight.”


On the bus ride to the game, quarterback Joe Cox had a good idea he might be in line for a rough night.

The sky opened up about an hour before kickoff, and the rain kept up throughout much of the game, leaving the field – and more importantly, the ball – soaking wet.

The conditions made throwing difficult, particularly for Cox, he said.

“It was really tough at first,” Cox said. “That was the first time in a long time I’d played a game in the rain, and it’s tough, especially for me. You look at guys with big hands that can throw the ball in the rain, and I don’t.”


Junior Chris Davis got the start at left guard against the Sun Devils. After starting all 13 games last season and Georgia’s opener against Oklahoma State, Davis had come off the bench in favor of Justin Anderson each of the past two games… Junior defensive tackle Brandon Wood looked like he might be headed for a medical redshirt just two weeks ago following offseason shoulder surgery. Instead, Wood saw his first action of the season in the first half against Arizona State, working at both defensive tackle and defensive end.

*Fletcher Page contributed to these notes.


Bourbon Dawgwalker said...

David - When we played in Arizona last year we had Pac-10 refs. Could you find out why we agreed to Pac-10 refs for our home game instead of SEC refs? It seems screwed up to have Pac-10 refs for both matchups. It seems like a disadvantage to Georgia, since ASU coaches and players know what they can get away with and we don't.

rbubp said...

I would like to think two things about this game:

1. This is the fourth straight time we have played a team that was essentially starting their season against a traditionally tougher opponent.

2. We had a let down, after the emotion of three tough games, then this and LSU next week.

I'd like to think this way, but this sinking feeling about this team and the program as a whole just doesn't want to go away. We just don't look like we used to.

Anonymous said...

it is time to understand mark richt is a good man and good recruiter but will always be second best coach and give up on any concept of a real shot at being #1
joe cox is not johnny unitas and georgia will get blown out by the better teams
look how bad arkansas really was today against alabama
no matter what the loyal fans that love the bulldogs think the defense is horrible and we need dick butkus or tommy nobis to stop those runs for one yard gains

Anonymous said...

Ugh....weak. You know what the gators would say about this win, Pathetic and lame! I've got some novel ideas, play a whole game without a running back fumbling. I say from now on, if a back fumbles they sit out the rest of the game, that's the only way they'll learn. This is 4 games in and we're still doing it. Go all the way down the line to Washaun ealey until we find someone who doesn't give it up. I'd rather average 2 yds per carry and hold on to it. And how about our offense Wins a game for us instead of always putting it on the shoulders of the defense. The O needs to step up big time.

Anonymous said...

Apparently it's now legal to throw a referee out of the way and shove him over the line of scrimmage into the other team. I never knew that was ok, we should try it. Most Epic Failed Call Ever

DevildawgNC said...

Hey Dave,

You said in the article on the Macon Telegraph that AJ Green "couldn't corral the pass" on that play down in the end zone where Georgia settled for a field goal.

He had the pass, the question was whether he got a toe in-bounds. Most of the video they had of the play was inconclusive, he looked like he probably got in, but hard to overturn an incomplete pass. But at least on ESPNU, they had one angle, a close-up angle, where you could see the rain drops and grass clips kicking up in the end zone before his toes carried out of bounds. They only showed it once, but our man AJ Green probably made his best catch of the night one that one, stinks he didn't get credit for it.

Pavlov's Dawg said...

I don't mean any disrespect, Devildawg, but Green made that catch wihout a doubt. The replays I saw were conclusive enough to convince two Tech fans that were at my house watching the game. So it wasn't just my red and black colored sunglasses that thinks he made the catch. I can't figure out why they have instant replay if they refuse to use it.

I would go on about the other horrible calls, but the refs aren't the reason this game was so close. Nope. That blame lies with the UGA players and coaches.

David Hale said...

Devil Dawg -- Yeah, the OOB catch... I think there was some question of whether he both possessed the pass and was in bounds. Afterward I think it was pretty clear. The refs simply did a bad job in this game.