Thoughts on the Tennessee game and the status of the Dogs in general

After finally watching the game and reading about the game in various places, certain ideas or themes came to the forefront. Most of these are not my own, but certainly express exactly what I have seen as well. Let's start with the biggest problem:

1. Special Teams

I am very glad to hear that the Malcome Mitchell experiment at punt returns is over. There was just too much risk for the reward and his decision making cost us and could have cost us more if he retained the position. Hopefully, McGowan is the answer. While I would love to have a homerun threat returning punts, I prefer to hold onto the ball and not let brain farts cause us to start inside the 10 yard line.

Related to Mitchell, I know the coaches were put in a bad spot because of the offseason actions of other players, but I think the staff hasn't really handled Mitchell well. He certainly isn't back up to speed on offense. He is still learning at defense and adding special teams to his already full plate was IMO a mistake. We went from having a budding start WR to having a guy that isn't really finding his place on offense or defense.

The PAT crap needs to get fixed immediately! I think some of it is on Morgan and there have been a few off snaps. Both issues have to get fixed before they cost us a game. I'm pretty sure that all Frix or N. Theus do is long snap, so I can't see why that should be a problem. If Morgan can't hit PATs then let the walkon do it and keep Morgan on field goals and some kickoffs. How hard is it to make that call?

I think the staff has been (overly) patient with some of the issues and the time to have it fixed is now. We can't afford to give South Carolina or Florida extra advantages.

2. Defense

I know we've been shuffling people because of suspension and there is probably some rust, but honestly it looks like we have regressed.

Tennessee, specifically R. Neal, gashed us more than a few times. I've read that Tenn's OL is very good and that may be true, but if this is the best we can do against good OLs, it isn't good enough. We're supposed to have an excellent DL with all seniors.

The defense is very hit & miss like they had been in previous seasons. They will make an excellent play- everyone flying to the ball and then they will let a RB or WR get free for a sizable game.

And as much as we try to give the game to the Vols, remember Patterson had a horrible drop that could have been an easy TD and Bray missed Hunter on convertible passes that would have also been good gainers. We dodged quite a number of bullets.

People at this site have somewhat excused the defense saying the offense or special teams put them in a bad spot. That is true. However, I have some trouble with the math there. Just because you give up the ball deep in your territory it shouldn't equate to 7 points. You can stop them cold or surrender a FG, but keep them out of the endzone. On the swing pass to Neal we had a busted coverage and that is on the defense, not Marshall for the fumble or Theus for the missed assignment.

Finally, while it pains me to agree with Spurrier, I think he has a point here:

"They're scoring so fast," Spurrier said. "You score fast, your defense has to play a lot more than we do. usually it takes us awhile to get it down the field and score. So our defense is hopefully only out there 58-62 plays, something like that. I think Georgia's been scoring so fast and there's been so many turnovers made in their games that their defense is playing a lot more plays than a lot of others. But no, they can make plays all over the place. Shoot, even last year, now we didn't move the ball very well at all."

I do think our explosive offense it hurting our defense at times, but putting them back on the field without much rest or time to go over adjustments. However, we should have some decent depth at some positions which should overcome some of this. Also, in the 4th quarter it wasn't our explosive offense that killed us, but our totally ineffective offense.

3. Offense

I read Aschoff's gushing articles about our unstoppable offense and while the numbers and production have been amazing, aside from the first drive and the big plays, there were times when we couldn't get it done at all.

I haven't checked his numbers, but if correct, this is kinda scary:

I was worried about the long plays sandwiching extremely pedestrian runs. We saw that in spades Saturday. Yes, Marshall and Gurley combined for nearly 295 yards, but as I worried about, taking out the three long runs, we only averaged 2.85 yards per carry on the other 36 runs. We can attribute some of that to the extremely conservative play calling at points in the game. Some is attributable to Tennessee selling out to stop the run at times. Either way, we blocked sufficiently well enough to get our guys free on those runs. We should be able, either through scheme or effort, to average more ypc taking out the long runs.

I'm not going to fault Murray that much as: a) the INT was tipped (although it looked like the DB had a good jump on the ball anyway); b) he never should have been hit like that on the fumble and it was very close to not being a fumble- down before release.

The good stuff:

Gurshall is an amazing 1-2 punch.

Bennett is a DGD in an assortment of weapons we have on offense.

The OL is getting better, but will need to keep improving especially against SC and Florida.

When the O is on, it is unstoppable.

If Hunter plays well the rest of the season and stays healthy, I don't think we will see him next year. Could be the same for Patterson.

The TEs had some very nice plays and key catches.

Looking ahead:

I really hope we get the special teams sorted out this week and I hope that Grantham can move the defense from inconsistency or mediocrity to a strong defense because we will need it to win the East. Bobo needs to keep his edge and keeping dialing up the numerous weapons that we have.

After reading this, I feel like I came off quite negative. Honestly, I am closer to a Disney Dog. I am glad to be 5-0. I am glad Paul Johnson isn't our coach. I am pumped to see the playmakers on this team. I guess it's just that I feel this team is special and can do some awesome things and I just don't want to see them slip up and screw themselves like 2007. Keep moving forward.

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