I think we need a little theme music, Bulldog Nation:
The following thoughts were cobbled together in the final few minutes of Saturday night's disaster in the Dome, at the point in the proceedings when I really couldn't bear to watch it any more. I've waited until now to post it all because, usually, the things I write under those circumstances need a good bit of tempering before they become fit for public consumption. There are personal insults against teenagers who are truly doing the best they can, and unreasonable expectations and dire predictions that look absurd in the light of day. So on Sunday I go back and I watch the game again and I usually either feel significantly better or worse than I did before. Then I rewrite Saturday night's raving.
This time I haven't changed much of anything. Really, it was all right out there to be seen for those who wanted to see it. As I sometimes do I'm dispensing with a line-by-line re-examination of the 5 Things I said you'd see, choosing rather to examine the game as a whole and where we go from here. Hold on, folks. Hold on.
The Big Picture (Major Themes From The Game That Was)
First things first: as a team we have forgotten how to win this kind of game. The quit was palpable in the third quarter against a team that knows how to make adjustments, stay the course and prevail in close contests. You could see it on the faces on the sideline and the body language on the field. That's what's truly disappointing. The team came back a bit in the fourth quarter after they had gathered themselves a little. But the fact remains that to win championships you have to be able to take a proverbial punch and then counterpunch. Boise punched, we didn't quite know how to immediately punch back.
Of course the fact that you quit once doesn't mean you have to choose to quit again. It makes it a whole lot easier, but doesn't ensure it. The question is whether we let Boise beat us twice in a row the way Virginia Tech did last season. Beat South Carolina and this one doesn't really matter. Lose to South Carolina and it will be a struggle to right the ship.
I do think we got more out of losing to Boise State than South Carolina got from beating East Carolina. That's not much comfort, but for now it's all I've got. When you play good teams in week one you improve for week two, even if you lose. You expose your weaknesses and get a chance to address them. Beating Louisiana-Lafayette by 50 might have made us all feel better, but it wouldn't make the team any better.
Having only one turnover against a team that usually creates bushels of them was nice. On the other hand, only creating one turnover ain't so hot. But over the past two seasons Kellen Moore has thrown a pick in fewer than half the games he's played. The interception we got came when we actually got some pressure in Moore's face, which we needed to do more often.
One reason we weren't able to do that more often was that the defense was gassed for the entire second half. Mike Bobo's gameplan was exactly what it shouldn't have been. We lined up in the shotgun and essentially let Boise's fast, deep defensive front seven pin their ears back and tee off on Aaron Murray play after play. Bobo didn't start with the I-formation running attack, then when he tried it went away from it too quickly. A succession of quick 3-and-outs wore Todd Grantham's defense down. While I've often defended Mike Bobo's overall results as Georgia's offensive coordinator, this was another one of those outings where the single game's strategy was just indefensible. In a game in which he should have pounded the rock, run down the clock, shortened the game, and kept the defense rested, he initiated a track meet on turf which we were never going to win. I can only assume Mark Richt ratified this shenanigan of a gameplan. I find this more disappointing than the plan itself.
Speaking of gameplanning, we were phenomenally outcoached going in. Both teams struggled to move the ball early. But one team looked calm and collected from the first snap. The other floundered and fiddle-farted around trying to get comfortable. There was a time when Mark Richt-coached squads were the former rather than the latter. Not last night. From the moment Bean Anderson put us ten yards in the hole before we'd even snapped the ball, one had to wonder what our coaching staff had been doing over the past 9 months.
I've never seen so decided a field position advantage in a college game. That was surprising and borderline inexplicable. Drew Butler was bombing it, but when you punt out of your own endzone 4 times in a row to start the game, something is badly wrong.
One possible "something" was as pathetic an effort as I've seen from the Georgia offensive line since ... the last time I saw a Georgia offensive line play. The penalties were inexcusable. The getting manhandled like a band of 9 year old girls was something I don't even have words for. Other than to wonder if Nike could hook us up with some Pro Combat testicles. By the 4th quarter poor Aaron Murray was taking off at a dead run on half rollouts.Looking back at it, we may have actually managed to set his development back some. I don't know how the 6 sacks and multiple knockdowns could not give the guy a lingering case of happy feet.
Tavarres King couldn't catch Salmonella at a street cart selling day old sushi. This was uncharacteristic, and must change.
Isaiah Crowell looked better and better as the night went on. While he's obviously still getting the hang of pass blocking (and was not helped by the fact that Mike Bobo was just begging Boise to come after Aaron Murray) he's definitely got the potential to be a solid runner. Richard Samuel just did not look to be at 100%. That's a bad sign given that we can't afford to really rest him right now. Especially if Boo Malcome isn't in the mix (which, if you saw his postgame twitter comments seems quite possible).
Brandon Boykin is a human weapon. Malcolm Mitchell is going to be one.
The run defense was encouraging, but that's about it. Doug Martin is an excellent tailback, and I could have sworn I saw us actually tackle him. Except when he stiff-armed Branden Smith to the carpet on the way to the endzone.
We actually tackled fairly well, at least up to the point when the defense was standing around dead on its collective feet. I'm sure that won't last.
Rough game for Jordan Love with some breakdowns in run defense and a bad pass interference penalty. I'm afraid he may just be absorbing snaps until one of the freshmen can be counted on.
What strength? What conditioning? Admittedly it can take a whole year to really see results from a change in the program. But the Georgia squad we saw on Saturday just didn't look ready to play a physical football game against a physical opponent.
Boise State executed well all night long. I hate to take that away from them by engaging in a weeklong pity party. I won't be wailing about how we suck and we'll be going 0-12 and now's the time to start hunting for a new coaching staff. We didn't lose to Wofford here. Boise State was a top 5 team, and they played like it.
On the flipside it's worth remembering that South Carolina gave up 37 points to East Carolina, 24 of them in the first half. While the Gamecock offense got rolling when Stephen Garcia came in for Connor Shaw, that defense is not the '85 Chicago Bears.
On the downside, our defensive line didn't read a screen pass all night. South Carolina loves to throw screens to Marcus Lattimore. Just keep that in mind. Fortunately screen-blindness something fixable. I think on a couple of plays our guys' desire to just get to Moore interfered with their ability to read why nobodyactually blocked them from getting to him.
I don't think either Connor Shaw or Stephen Garcia will carve us up the way Kellen Moore did. He's the best college QB in the nation, by the way. To me it's not even close. There is no more efficient game manager in college football. I'm worried however that it won't take a terribly efficient effort to beat us if there's not drastic improvement from week one to week two. Until later . . .