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Post Arkansas 31 – UGA 24: Passive Aggression

Sunday September 19, 2010

I don’t know what it is about these past two losses bringing back bad memories of some infamous games from the 1990s.  Maybe it’s my subconscious commenting on the direction of the program. As Lattimore pushed Georgia around for Spurrier last week, I was reminded of Errict Rhett’s Jacksonville performance in 1993.

We’ll get to the offense in a minute.  But as we watched Arkansas complete crossing pattern after crossing pattern, I couldn’t help but think back to that 1999 game against Auburn. I don’t really mean the flow of the game; the Arkansas game was much closer.  But the way Arkansas attacked and exploited Georgia’s aggressive defense was a little too similar to what Ben Leard did that night eleven years ago.

I doubt (and hope not) that Todd Grantham is another Kevin Ramsey.  Ryan Mallett also deserves a little more credit than Leard. But in both games we saw the opponent handle Georgia’s pressure, attack the spots on the field where the pressure came from, and put Georgia’s linebackers in some very awkward pass coverage situations.  We’re reminded that even experienced defenders like Justin Houston are still learning new responsibilities, and they can be made to look very bad.

It’s not that Georgia didn’t bring pressure.  They tallied just one sack, but they also affected several other pass plays. Arkansas did a good job of picking up the pass rush, and Mallett is now a pro at feeling the pressure and getting rid of the ball.  The Razorbacks talked about extra offseason preparation for this game, and you could tell that they weren’t surprised by much that the new Bulldog defense threw at them.  Georgia was defeated with brawn at South Carolina; scheme did them in defensively against Arkansas.

There’s only so much you can put on the defense though.  It’s small consolation after the porous defense at the end of each half, but they did make the stops Georgia needed to come back and even be in a position to win the game.  Their stop after Murray’s second half interception was huge at the time. Tackling was better, and Arkansas got little in the running game.

But bringing up turnovers leads to one of the big disappointments of the season:  the lack of takeaways.  It was an area of emphasis in the offseason, and things looked good after one game.  In SEC play though the Dawgs have recorded only one takeaway – the fumble recovery at South Carolina.  The Razorbacks had turned the ball over three times in each of their games coming into Athens, and forcing a few on Saturday would have definitely helped to slow Mallett.  The Dawgs had their chances, but the several dropped interceptions led to Arkansas points and possibly cost Georgia a defensive score of their own.

Of course you can’t bring up disappointments without talking about the offense and the line in particular.  Murray scrambling was one of Georgia’s more effective plays, and he misfired on several throws while he was feeling the heat.  One of the nation’s most experienced lines gave up six sacks to a team that had a total of five in two games against lightweights.  It wasn’t just one side or player – tackles were beaten, and Ealey whiffed at least twice to lead to a couple of sacks.  There was perhaps no more crucial missed block than on the failed 3rd-and-4 play that stood between a fair scoring chance to win the game and the punt that started Arkansas on their brief game-winning drive.

The excuses are ready-made. Caleb King, perhaps a better blocker, was unavailable.  Georgia had to shuffle its line without Chris Davis in the game.  Sturdivant remains limited.  Even with all of that, Georgia didn’t vary much from its play-action, and the plays that took eons to develop were tailor-made disasters for a quarterback who himself had a role in the sacks. It was very nearly Murray’s first signature comeback win, but the shortcomings of the offense were too much to overcome with the game in the balance.

We’ll learn soon enough whether Georgia’s schedule was really front-loaded with two of the conference’s better teams.  Of course no conference game is a given win now – even Vandy seemed to find their legs a bit on Saturday.  If the Dawgs are going to start to turn the season around, they’ll have to do it on the road for the next couple of weeks.  Mississippi State presents their own unique challenges, and we saw how closely they played Auburn in Starkville.  This will be another game where – on paper – turnovers and mistakes have hurt the opponent.  Will Georgia be able to take advantage of those tendencies this time?

3 Responses to 'Arkansas 31 – UGA 24: Passive Aggression'

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  • I can’t help but wonder that were are destined to spend another season coming to the realization that we do not have the proper coaches in place for our Offense. In much the same way as last year with our defensive coordinator, will Richt waste more games coming to the realization that our line coach and offensive coordinator are simply in over their heads, lack the creativity to create opportunity and have failed to coach good talent up to the moment. Time will tell….too much time I’m afraid.

  • Anyone who thought that the 3-4 D in the 1st year would go smoothly is kidding themselves

    Anyone watch Saban’s 1st year at LSU, MSU, and Alabama? They had some terrible losses with TERRIBLE plays

    It takes time

    We all said that we would allow this yet when it comes down to it, we aren’t

  • Brian, Stacy Searles won a National Championship with Saban at LSU and had a fantastic resume when we landed him. The OLine job at UGA is not over his head. Bobo, however, is a whole different story.

    But the problems on O are much bigger than these 2 Coordinators. It’s a systemic, culture problem starting with CVH.

    When you big uglies on both sides of the line get pushed around like we do, it’s a strength & conditioning problem at it’s core. This isn’t anything we haven’t heard multiple times from NFL scouts-Georgia is weak & soft.

    Watching seeing Senior DEnd Demarcus Dobbs (6’2″, 285 lbs) get owned by an Arkansas rb this weekend was the last straw for me. Unfortunately i have zero faith in Richt to hold DVH accountable.