Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Vandy bullets: the special teams cycle of shame

Monday October 17, 2011
  • We weren’t planning on going to this game, but an opportunity presented itself, and we were off on a wild hair Saturday morning. I’m glad we went; it’s always good to be able to support the Dawgs in person. Nashville is always one of our favorite trips, and it didn’t disappoint.
  • It’s easy to see why the lights went out in the second quarter. All of the juice in the area was going to power that awful sound system. I’ve been to games inside domes, and I’ve seen games from Neyland to the Swamp to LSU’s Death Valley…I’ve never had a bigger headache after a game than from listening to the strident and distorted sound coming from those frat house-quality speakers.
  • I’m convinced that some of our fans could find a way to blame Vandy’s kickoff return touchdown on Mike Bobo. Georgia scored 33 points and had a good shot at 40. Murray and the passing game operated well against a dangerous secondary, and the Dawgs were able to put enough points on the board despite a bizarre tailback situation.
  • Speaking of tailbacks, I’m still trying to find out what happened to Carlton Thomas. He had some nice runs in the first quarter and then…nothing. If he was among the injured, I’m having a heck of a time finding that news. (UPDATE: It looks as if it was an injury.) Did I think before the season that I’d be wondering why Carlton Thomas didn’t get more carries? No, I did not. And I guess Malcome was brought along to look good on the sideline?
  • My only problem with the offense was on the last series. I don’t question running the ball three times; Georgia was able to run the clock down to 15 seconds. But if Samuel does one thing well, it’s straight-ahead power running. The dumb substitution penalty that started the series was bad enough, but three runs out of the shotgun asked a north-south runner to search for holes several yards behind the line of scrimmage. Why not put him behind a wham formation with Lynch and Ogletree in the backfield, and see how far we can move the pile?
  • Considering that Vanderbilt blitzed much more often than not, pass protection was solid. Murray took a few shots but usually got the right pass off. Crowell deserves his share of credit for standing in there and doing his role despite his numerous injuries. He had key blocks on Murray’s two second quarter touchdowns, and on the tape you’ll see Richt make it a point to let Crowell know about it.
  • Murray did get off to another slow start though. He started the game just 3-of-9, but he at least avoided bad mistakes or forcing throws. After that scoring strike to King broke the ice, Murray finished by completing 19 of his final 29 passes. That’s a positive, but it’s also something to keep in mind for the next game: a slow start and an early interception in Jacksonville meant that Georgia was playing from behind pretty much the entire game.
  • Once he got going, Murray did well to spread it around. It had to take some pressure off of both of them to finally connect with King for a score. The Vandy fan near us was beside himself with how often Bennett found space. And Brown – good for two scores and nearly a third. If he keeps it up, you can add back in Mitchell and Wooten and have a nice set of receivers.
  • Yes, it would have been nice to have a few more passes to the tight ends, but with Vandy blitzing so much it was often necessary to have that extra protection. The attempted wheel route to White was a good idea, but the defender just didn’t bite. From the reaction on the field, perhaps the tailback didn’t do the best job selling it. Charles did catch five passes.
  • Three of Murray’s incompletions came on what should be some of his easiest throws: throws behind the line of scrimmage. His first attempt was tipped into the air and nearly intercepted. Another was just barely tipped and landed at King’s feet. A third was a little flare to Crowell – though he’s caught several screens and downfield passes, has Crowell caught one of those flare passes this year?
  • Had Vandy converted that ugly onside kick attempt in the second quarter, we’d be looking at a very rare special teams cycle: the punt block, the TD return, the successful fake, and the successful onside kick. With poor kickoff coverage in years past, we had a convenient scapegoat in Fabris. With special teams responsibilities spread out among the coaching staff, how can you explain so many things going wrong at once? And after a scoring drive that included a fake punt and a halfback pass, how many people didn’t expect another trick play on the ensuing kickoff?
  • Are they still considered trick plays if they can be reasonably expected to work?
  • I’ll give Vandy credit for the fake punt: you don’t see many center-eligible plays. It also helped that the guy who became responsible for covering the pass was a walk-on receiver. Maybe that’s part of the problem with the success of some of these trick plays. Georgia’s special teams stars are generally good at what they’re trained to do, but on a fake you suddenly have a walk-on trying to stop someone like Melvin Ingram. You might’ve noticed that Georgia’s defense remained on the field for Vanderbilt’s next punt.
  • I’m less understanding about Georgia’s blocked punt. With a timeout to set the protection and aware of the certainty that Vandy would attempt the block, Georgia had no business doing anything but keeping all ten players not named Butler in for protection. At that spot on the field, Butler could have kicked it out of the endzone. Though Georgia ultimately escaped, those kinds of plays and breakdowns can be cement shoes for embattled coaches.
  • Georgia’s defense didn’t suddenly get bad or get exposed. They did lose their cool, but there was no fatal flaw that leaves you dreading the future. They defended the pass well and got good pressure. There were some really nice things going on. Abry Jones made several big plays – two of them in what could be considered pass coverage. Shawn Williams, despite a couple of dumb penalties, was playing out of his mind. Ray Drew was effective playing with his hand on the ground in more or less the role of a 4-3 defensive end. And when it came down to it, the defense made the stop they had to make when everything else had gone wrong.
  • A lot of people are looking for recent analogues for this outcome. We escaped Vandy in 2007. Or maybe it was more like the Ole Miss game with the big plays and trick plays keeping it close. Or it was like ugly games last year that were close losses instead of narrow escapes. I don’t disagree with any of that, but it really reminded me a lot of the South Carolina game. You had the early drives ending in field goal attempts rather than touchdowns. The opponent hung close with a fake punt. Without an alert play by Butler, the fake punt nearly became the Clowney sack that all but beat Georgia back in September.
  • Finally, let me whine about this. It’s the most firstworldwhitepeople problem ever, but being unable to turn off 3G makes the new iPhone pretty useless at an event of any size, even a smallish-SEC game.

One Response to 'Vandy bullets: the special teams cycle of shame'

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  • I am pleased to see the positive changes in the team from the first two games. We were very very fortunate that Vandy;s quarterback in the fourth quarter did not start the game , or we definitely would have lost the game. We could not get any sustained drives, it was either a sensational play, or nada. We can’t play like that against Florida, and Auburn and expect to win. I am optomistically gambling that we somehow can win the east, pray South Carolina loses a few. However if we do, I think either L.S.U. or Alabama would pulverize us and embarras the hell out of us on national t.v. if we play like we did against Vandy. Go DAWGS!!!!!!!