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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fleeting Thoughts: Vanderbilt Edition

Abbreviated "Fleeting Thoughts" this week as I get set to hit the road from Nashville (stopping first for pancakes at Pancake Pantry) and heading back to Athens. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things, so feel free to remind me in the comments...

-- The numbers for the running game ended up pretty good: 37 rushes for 173 yards and a 4.7 yards-per-carry average. Those were season highs in both attempts and yards.

-- The problem, however, is this: Vandy came into the game ranked 90th in the country in rush defense, allowing 171 yards per game. Essentially, Georgia simply hit Vandy's average.

-- And the bigger problem is this: Until Georgia's penultimate drive on which the Dawgs marched 68 yards on 10 straight rushing plays, their numbers on the ground for the game were 24 carries for 62 yards. In other words, until Vandy had essentially thrown in the towel, the Dawgs were averaging just 2.58 yards per carry against a team that allows, on average, 171 yards per game.

-- I know Caleb King won't be the guy people are talking about today, but I thought he turned in a great performance. He was a beast on pass blocking and he ran hard. Add to that the two touchdowns and the fact that he was playing with a broken jaw, and he gets a gold star from me.

-- A.J. Green is freaking amazing. The 65-yard run was fantastic, too, because it was something we really haven't seen out of him before. I'm continually impressed, and it gets harder for him to impress me each week.

-- Cox's final numbers: 16-of-31 for 226 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Far from great, but then figure that 65 of those yards can be credited completely to A.J. Green and add in the fact that he was just 3 for his first 11 passing and I have to say, I think a dash of Logan Gray might have been a wise investment in the first half.

-- Speaking of Logan Gray, what happened to the notion that he'd never have to worry about getting hit because he'd never return a punt? Not only was he in to field a punt at the 35-yard line, but he backtracked to catch the punt with all his momentum going in the wrong direction AND he tried to return it. On top of all that, Georgia was also flagged for a penalty on that return.

-- Oh, and apparently the one return Gray should have been on the field for, he wasn't. Georgia was once again fooled on a fake punt. You know, there's an old saying in Tennessee. I know it's in Texas, it's probably in Tennessee. Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again.

-- It was nice to actually see Prince Miller get to return a few punts. I'd almost forgotten how impressive he was last year.

-- Justin Houston is going to get overlooked because the defense overall hasn't been great, but his impact has been immense since his return. For the third time in five games with Houston playing, Georgia finished with at least nine tackles for a loss.

-- Larry Smith isn't very good.

-- Baccari Rambo should be playing all the time. Bryan Evans should be playing when Georgia is either up by 30 or down by 30.

-- Just one turnover this week. Step in the right direction. Of course, the other side of that is that Cox still has at least one interception in every game so far.

-- Blair Walsh is probably the best kicker in the SEC and is quickly working his way up the list nationally. I know Georgia's kickoff philosophy and coverage has cast Walsh in a negative light, but fans need to look past the stuff that's out of his hands. The kid leads the SEC in touchbacks and he is as money as they come on field goals and PATs.

-- Georgia's first four series included a whopping nine plays. That's bad.

-- On Georgia's next eight possessions (i.e. all the rest except the one to end the game), the Bulldogs ran no fewer than six plays on all but two. Included in that is a 12-play drive and a 10-play drive. This is what the offense needs to do against Florida. Chip away, and keep the Gators' offense off the field. (You know, if the officials will allow that to happen.)

-- Along those same lines, after Georgia had possession for just 5:30 of the first quarter, the Dawgs had the ball for at least 8 minutes in each of the final three quarters, including a monstrous 10:59 time of possession in the fourth.

-- Vandy was just 3-of-15 on third-down conversions. Whether or not that was really Georgia's problem all along, the Dawgs did a nice job of getting off the field Saturday.

-- Eight more penalties for 71 more yards. The most egregious? An illegal formation penalty coming out of a timeout.

-- Georgia had just four rushing TDs all year. Saturday they had three.

-- Fred Munzenmaier had three catches to tie for the team lead. That's not exactly great. But… 10 different Bulldogs caught a pass, and that's great. Diversity in the passing game will be a big bonus in two weeks.

-- Apparently spiking the football is excessive celebration when Rantavious Wooten does it. Grabbing the QB's towel after a sack and tossing it up in the air to celebrate is not excessive celebration when someone who doesn't play for Georgia does it. (And, yes, I thought it was just ridiculous that the refs were allowing Tim Tebow to set off bottle rockets, do an Irish step dance and take a few swings at a Hog-shaped pinata during the Florida game without a flag.)

-- Brandon Boykin is up to 600 yards in kick returns through seven games. That's just 90 yards shy of the school record. In. Seven. Games.

-- When I left the press box about midway through the fourth quarter, my initial thoughts on the game were these: Georgia played decent, but Cox struggled at times, the receivers still had too many drops, the running game was brutal for the better part of three quarters, the defense allowed Vandy's longest drive of the season to start the second half, Georgia was fooled on yet another fake punt, etc., etc., etc.

All of that would have been a reasonable and probably appropriate thought process.

And then I went down to the field and I watched the players walk into the locker rooms with giant smiles plastered across their faces. I talked to A.J. Green, who raved about the way the running game came through in the end. I talked to Joe Cox who raved, yet again, about how amazing A.J. is. I talked to Brandon Boykin, who went on and on about how much fun it was for Georgia to play that game. I talked to Caleb King, whose jaw was so sore he wasn't even supposed to be talking, but he couldn't contain his excitement either.

Sometimes "just a win" is more than that. I really think this win for Georgia meant something far more than it might have meant for a lot of the fans.

I'm not saying it means Georgia pulls the upset in two weeks, but I do think it was an absolutely necessary step toward making it a possibility.


PatinDC said...

It was ugly, but it counts. Your analysis is spot on.

Can someone please ask the coachs what is the latter with LG? Why is he not used at all? He could have run the GA drive and at least handed off the ball to the RB's.

It is looking more and more like the team will start next year with another QB with no game experience. Why?

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I really enjoy all that you write. Its a refreshing change from the drivel on the message boards. Thanks!

jferg said...

I'll continue to say it. Young guys NEED wins because they are so emotional. As with any youth movement in history, if our young players are "up" we are a very good team. Here's to hoping we're "up" during the UF game. If so, we'll be in the game. If we're "down".....well, see the UT GAME.

Castleberry said...

Great stuff David.

Since you mentioned Florida and the refs... What about the back to back 15 yard penalties on their final td drive? Both calls were horrible and changed the game. Tebow's Hulkamania dance after the 3 yard run on 4th and 2 confirmed what Brando was alluding to in the UGA-LSU postgame. UF gets the white-glove treatment from SEC refs and won't lose a close game in conference this year. To get a win in Jax we'll have to beat them soundly.

Other thoughts... I wonder if Boykin's record is a good thing. He's been a stud, but I'd rather see him get one long return each game - instead of the five to seven our D's been allowing.

I think Cox hit Caleb on a screen pass for a second td pass. That would change some the totals in your post.

Hope the Pantry is good. Do you get some down time on the bye week?

rbubp said...

The celebration penalty issue is really beginning to bother me, and though I have never been a conspiracy theorist by any stretch, it seems to be closer and closer to reality that the referees really do have a double standard for UGA (even though, if Wooten really spiked the ball, that is an automatic penalty). It's absolutely, positively outrageous. Every time I see Baby Rhino pulling his antics I want not only to puke into my chair, I also want Mike Slive's head on a plate for letting this BS go on.

What is anyone doing about this, Dave? Here's hoping you have a moment to ask every coach and administrator what they are doing about until somebody gets in Slive's face or it gets mentioned in the national media, i.e., the worldwide leader.

RC said...

Dave- admit it- you and copy-writers everywhere are dying for Baccari Rambo to open a game with a pick six one good time so you can lead Sunday morning's coverage with the headline, "Rambo Draws First Blood." Aren't you?

Seriously, though, I just shook my head when I saw the Vandy defender throw Cox's towel in the air after that sack and the refs acting like they never saw a thing. On the plus side, maybe the call against AJ was a tipping point of sorts, where the refs got right with the rule going forward. We'll see, I guess.

Marsh said...

I hope I'm just whining, but you start to think that even if the Dawgs played the game of the century in Jax this year, the officials will never let us win. The conference won't allow it - there's too much exposure/money involved with an undefeated Alabama/Florida championship game, and the subsequent national championship game. Let’s face it, the conference needs to deliver on these new TV contracts. Is there any better way to do that and putting #1 & #2 in your title game? Careful officiating at key moments solidifies the business model.

Seriously, who regulates/governs the officiating besides the officials themselves? Is anyone with any authority or influence beginning to question the integrity of the officials? With all this new TV money, are there any additional resources being committed to the officials? And if so, in what manner?

Nanc y R said...

I know I'm a voice alone here, but I think Richt (Or maybe it's Bobo? Or both?) is irresponsible for sending Caleb King out on the field with a broken jaw. I don't understand why some players have to sit out a game because they've pulled hamstrings or twisted knees, but risking further damage of a broken jawbone is okay. Sure, he played wonderfully, but he could have caused himself permanent damage, all for the sake of beating a team the Dawgs would likely have beaten anyway. Badly done, Richt. Badly done.

Castleberry said...

Nanc y R -

Caleb did miss two games with a hamstring pull - the same guy that played with a broken jaw yesterday.
So your comment "why some players have to sit out a game because they've pulled hamstrings or twisted knees, but risking further damage of a broken jawbone is okay" kind of answers itself.

Adding damage to a muscle tear prolongs the injury. His jaw was wired shut, so I guess they'd just rewire it if anything happened.

King would have to be cleared by the team doctor and I doubt that happens if he's in grave danger.

Sparrow said...

Thanks for the comments about the teams' reaction. As beat down as those guys must have been over the last several weeks, it's awesome to hear how happy they are. Some might say that we shouldn't be happy about beating Vandy, but clearly we need to feel good as a team now. We shouldn't think we're world-beaters for winning in Nashville, it's perfectly okay to savor the win all the same.
As far as the conspiracy theory goes, I don't buy into the idea that the refs have it out for us as a team. After watching the ridiculous calls in the UF/Arky game, I do think the refs are out to protect the Gators. It's a perfectly plausible explanation for the celebration penalty against AJ in the LSU game. Keep the Tigers at #4 to give the LSU/UF game as big a boost as possible. I just feel bad for Bama in the SEC Championship game, the refs are going to have to get pretty inventive to hide the fact that the Tide are much better than the Gators...

rbubp said...

Sparrow--Yeah, I don't think that it's "stop Georgia" so much as it's "Don't penalize the Golden Child" and "Be sure Georgia gets it on every chance."

Either way, it sucks and needs to stop.

Carter said...

Let Tebow enjoy these last few months.

When he attempts to play in the NFL, the time for honoring himself will soon be at an end.

Anonymous said...

Sitting here reading the comments with ESPN on the TV in the background. Ironically, the ESPN Gameday commercial comes on. Herbstreit and the gang playing "cornhole" with Coach Meyers. They are discussing iconic outfits like Tressel's sweater vest and Spurrier's visor. Freaking Urban boasts about his two national champion rings and fist bumps Chris Fowler. If you think for a second that they are not in bed together, well then you are wrong. The refs, whether consciously or subconsciously, give them the benefit of the doubt. The lack of celebration calls against Tebow, the b.s. defensive pass interference, the ridiculous personal foul on the Ark lineman who was just protecting himself, and the no call on the offensive pass ineterfernce by Cooper in the endzone are embarrasing and dishonest. They can't lose with the refs and ESPN in their pocket. Sickening. By the way, could you ever see Richt fist bumping Corso, Herbstreit or Fowler while bragging about rings. Me either...

Anonymous said...

UGA did what it needed, should have done, against Vandyland. Win by 24!

Nothing more, but nothing less.. a workman like victory

Anonymous said...

Good info as always Dave but your stats are a little off, the screen pass to Caleb is a passing TD, not a rushing TD; so Cox gets 2 TD's and the Dawgs rush for 2 on the day, not 3.

gene said...

Wasn't it the same ref that gave the arky lineman the pf for protecting himself that also gave aj the phantom celebration in lsu game? Come on, that's just a little too much to swallow no matter how bad you don't want to sound like a conspiracy nut. I'm prolly not smart enough to figure it all out(although i have read a lot of spy novels) but something is rotten in the state of denver.

Carter said...

You are correct, Gene.

It was the same ref, GT alum David Marcus Curles.

I sincerely wish that SOB nothing but the worst things in life.

Dawgfan said...

Nancy- From a medical standpoint- there is no risk for further injury to Caleb's jaw.

maximus said...

@Carter, + a billion for your comments at 1:00pm

Anonymous said...

how about the BS personal foul call against Arky when the UF lineman went after the Arky lineman and when the UF guy went to the ground, Arky got 15 yards

Anonymous said...