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Post WCU post-mortem

Monday September 17, 2007

Overall, the Western Carolina game didn’t do much to change what we knew about the Dawgs. No one got seriously injured, several players made their 2007 debuts, and the Dawgs got the easy win that everyone expected.

Quarterback play

Matthew Stafford had, on the whole and as you would hope, a better performance in this game. His accuracy improved, and the touch he showed on some passes was exceptional – one in particular to Massaquoi just before halftime was placed just out of the reach of a defender.

Stafford still has a disconnect with the receivers on passes longer than 20 yards. Watching teams from Bama to BC to Ohio State hit some deep balls makes it painfully clear how much we need that element. Richt admitted after the game "that we probably haven’t taken enough shots (down the field)." Alabama has a decent secondary led by All-SEC standout Tim Castille, but Arkansas wasn’t the team to test Bama’s pass defense. Georgia’s ability to hit a deep pass (and make an incredible catch) played a big part in the 2002 win – will it this weekend?

Kickoff coverage

Kickoff coverage is always an adventure. Kevin Butler had an interesting comment after the game about it – it seems as if our coverage guys seek out contact from blockers instead of avoiding it. The typical kickoff follows this pattern:

  1. Coutu kicks to the right corner.
  2. The first wave of Georgia guys is met and engaged around the 20. No one blows through the protection.
  3. The returner brings the ball to the right towards the center of the field and then turns upfield into a huge hole.
  4. The returner is eventually brought down around the 35 either from behind or by one of the safeties.

Richt doesn’t believe the problem is one of scheme, "It’s very sound, what we’re doing." At the same time, he is hesitant to replace the current ineffective group of players with ones less experienced. "I believe we’re gonna stay with the personnel we’ve got for the most part and just continue to work hard at getting better at it," he said in Sunday’s teleconference. "It’s hard to throw another guy in there with (no experience) and then he starts making rookie mistakes and all of a sudden you’ve got problems."

I’d say we have problems now.


A lot was made of the sluggish start and the relatively low point total. I don’t think it was as bad as some (especially Munson) made it sound. Including the fumble on Georgia’s second possession, the Dawgs still scored on 7 of their first 9 drives of the game before they went into complete clock-killing mode late. What might skew things is the fact that Georgia ran only 60 plays on offense. (Moreno was involved in 25% (15) of those plays – more than any other player except Stafford.) The Dawgs ran at least 70 plays in each of their first two games. WCU had a 7-minute drive in the second quarter that resulted in a field goal, but the Dawgs still managed three touchdowns in the period. You wonder how the score might have looked with a few more Catamount 3-and-outs.


For the second straight week, the Georgia defense didn’t create a takeaway. Georgia’s turnover margin for the season is now -1 (2 giveaways vs. 1 takeaway). The giveaway number is just fine, but one takeaway through three games is dragging the bottom of the NCAA stats. All other SEC teams have at least four takeaways.

About the closest Georgia came to a turnover against Western Carolina was a fumble that bounced right towards Akeem Dent but was ultimately recovered by the offense. It’s elementary to say that a big defensive or special teams play could really change an otherwise close game, but it’s true. A big part of Arkansas’ comeback against Alabama was an interception, and an interception also changed the game the last time Georgia and Alabama met.


  • Brandon Miller took his demotion like a man. He saved a big kickoff return by chasing the returner down from behind, and he also threw some nice blocks on punt returns. I think he even ended up near the team-high with 6 tackles.
  • Moreno continues to impress and get a plurality of carries, but he’d better score from 20+ yards out. If the Dawgs get inside the 20, Moreno invariably heads for the sideline. I don’t know why either.
  • The offensive line is still a work in progress. We knew that already, but Vince Vance and Clint Boling made the picture a little cloudier with some nice plays.

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