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Post Catching up

Tuesday September 2, 2008

I should note first that things are going to be a little spotty here for the next couple of weeks (good timing, huh?). If the worst consequence from the demands of real life is less activity here, things can’t be all that bad. Just note that updates might be brief and sporadic for a while, and I appreciate those who check in often enough for that to matter.

If you went into Saturday’s game expecting statements that would resonate around the college football world by the nation’s #1 team or from its Heisman candidate tailback, you probably found the result wanting. The Dawgs didn’t win 70-0, Moreno only carried the ball eight times, and overall it was a typical Mark Richt opener against obviously overmatched competition. It was G-Day in August, and it was enough to send Uga VII to naptime.

The question from the weekend isn’t whether or not Georgia looked like a #1 team in the opener. They won’t be judged down the road on the result of the Georgia Southern game. Most nationwide recaps I saw noted the score, noted Georgia’s 38-0 start, and then moved on to more interesting things. I’m more concerned with whether or not the pieces are in place for the kind of season we’re hoping to see. For the most part, those pieces do seem to be in place.

The makeshift offensive line held its own. You definitely saw some signs of inexperience – Glenn looking around for someone to block eraly in the game or Anderson’s unneccessary holding penalty – but overall the line was solid, and you’d expect that given the competition. Now add Boling back in, and we just might have something. Tripp is going to be outstanding, and I was not surprised to see him just a few steps behind Moreno on a long gain…that kind of mobility at left tackle is just what the position requires.

The receiver picture is also encouraging. If Durham and Green are going to be consistent complements to Massaquoi, the Dawgs will be just fine. I should note that one of the more impressive receivers of the day was Mike Moore. While Durham, MoMass, and Green all made nice, tough catches, Moore showed that he can take hard throws and hard hits across the middle. That’s valuable to any team and will earn him playing time.

As much as we tout depth on defense, the loss of Jeff Owens had an immediate impact. Georgia lost some of its push along the defensive front, and Georgia Southern’s zone read plays were more effective at finding some running room in the middle of the line. The difference wasn’t enough to matter against Southern, but a much more potent running quarterback comes to town this weekend. Fortunately Corvey Irvin showed some promise, but will the Dawgs still be able to rotate defensive linemen as much as they’d like?

Blair Walsh can stay. Kevin Butler on the 5th Quarter Show had a good point about our expectations for Walsh. We’re waiting to judge him by his ability to kick in the clutch, but even Brandon Coutu – Georgia’s most accurate kicker – missed his share of big kicks (think back to the end of last year’s Alabama game). Walsh has the tools though and looks more than capable of doing the job.

So, yeah, most of the pieces are there, and several areas of concern might not be all that bad. It’s tough to evaluate a glorified scrimmage alongside the openers of the rest of the top 10 or the SEC peers because the approaches and goals for the games are so much different. I don’t think we saw anything that isn’t correctable, and that’s what matters at this point. Where a team like Alabama might be focused on making a statement on national TV, Georgia was evaluating depth and experimenting with the playbook. Georgia’s test and time for a statement will come soon enough.

This and That

  • Tennessee’s loss last night reminded me a lot of last year’s Georgia – South Carolina game. The running game is working just fine, but let’s throw it 40+ times. A new offense might be a shiny toy to play with, but if your team is built for the power running game, by God, run the ball (right, Alabama?). Still, if that wasn’t a safety, what is?
  • Most of the Bulldog fans I’ve heard from are concerned about Alabama, and they should be. They were impressive against Clemson and are no worse than the team that took Georgia to overtime and nearly beat LSU last season. But before we annoint them contenders, lately they have this tendency to really put it to someone once a year. In 2005 it was Florida. Last year it was Tennessee. Was the Clemson game getting the blowout win out of the way early, or are they capable of sustaining that level of play?
  • Apologies for doubting Fresno. Are they going to be an interesting team this year, or is Rutgers slipping back to being, well, Rutgers?
  • You just know that Tennessee and South Carolina will have figured out their offenses by the time they meet Georgia. Still, UCLA showed that blitzing Tennessee can be effective, and I hope that’s something we’ll see in a month in Athens.
  • Tennessee’s loss at UCLA was enjoyable on many levels, but it was also the most recent struggle by an SEC team out west. I’ll feel much better about things if Georgia can survive its turn in Pac-10 land in three weeks.
  • I’ll have to go back to verify this, but did it seem as if Georgia ran a lot less I-formation than usual? We know that two of the top three fullbacks were out, but my hazy memory is that much (though not all) of Georgia’s success on the ground came out of formations that didn’t have a fullback.
  • For all the heat the ACC took for a rough opening weekend, is the shine coming off the Big East? Auburn slipped against South Florida last year, but they’ll have a chance against West Virginia to drive a big stake into the heart of that conference.

2 Responses to 'Catching up'

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  • I was suprised to see Josh Davis getting some rep in the 2nd quarter. His name didn’t come up much as a replacement (or significant PT) after Sturdivant’s injury. I saw him a couple of times getting down field. I was also impressed with the toughness and down field blocking of Kris Durham. On Moreno’s screen pass & run, Kris locked on to the safety and didn’t turn him loose until the whistle.

  • Rutgers was Brutal, with a capital B.