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You're on Notice, Dawg! Week 5

After a decidedly mixed Week 4 performance, it's time to turn our attention to the 3rd top 10 team we've played in the first 4 games of the season.

UGA Sports Communications

I am very fortunate that this feature is posted on Sunday afternoon and not right after the previous game. When getting ready for the next week's game, you really do need a night to decompress and separate yourself a little bit from the emotions of the previous game, and rarely has that been more true for me than yesterday. Because - and I'll be honest, y'all - I was pissed after returning home yesterday. I wasn't in "FIRE ERRBODY" mode, but I certainly would have replaced the word "fire" with a different four-letter word beginning with "f." The stats were lopsided, but the final score was not an accurate reflection on how close that game vs. a jumped-up Sun Belt team actually was.

We got the job done, though, and now we move on to this week's game against the Bayou Bengals of Louisiana State University. And, as if our job wasn't going to be difficult enough, we're also going to have to contend with the Bulldog-killing mojo of having Gameday in Athens. On top of everything else, Corso might just don the Hairy Dawg head in his pregame predictions. The Bulldogs are 0-2 when Gameday comes to Athens, and they are 0-4 when Lee Corso wears the Hairy Dawg head. That's... not good.

Clearly, we have obstacles to overcome. Before we get to the business of calling people out, though, I'm going to break with my normal procedure and list two groups that are not going to be put on notice this week:

  • The Defense - Although many things were ugly and sloppy Saturday, our defense was not one of them. Our defensive line absolutely dominated the Mean Green's front five all game, and our secondary made several crucial break-ups on passes that would have been big plays at the time. They held the North Texas offense to 7 points, which is a very good performance. We need y'all to be just that good this week, too.
  • Students with Tickets - The student section filled in much more slowly for Saturday's game, but was a solid 80% full by kickoff time. Not only that, but the students were loud, and far more of them stuck around in the rain than the rest of the fans in the stadium. We still had several nervy moments in the fourth quarter, and virtually all the noise encouraging the Dawgs on came from the student section. Y'all did great yesterday, folks, and you need to keep up that good work this week, too. Show up early, and be as loud as you can. We'll need it!

Those groups were our standouts on Saturday, but they were virtually the only ones, and now we get to the point. For the following people, I'm letting you know that this week, You're On Notice, Dawg!

In no particular order:


1) Steve Spurrier - Why Steve Spurrier? Because he hates us, we hate him, and because I have it from a very authoritative source inside the South Carolina administration that the OBC has already scripted out his postgame remarks for this week's UCF game, and they include the phrase, "We did better than some SEC East teams have done against 'em."

2) Penn Wagers - Assigning Penn Wagers to referee a Georgia game is kind of like assigning a Mexican referee to officiate a USA soccer match. We know they're professionals, so they probably won't be calling the game with the bias we like to ascribe to them, but why even put them in that position? Penn and his crew generally called a solid game, though a couple of calls were questionable, but there are 13 other SEC teams. Let him call one of those teams' games instead of ours. He'd dang well better not be back in town this weekend.

3) Aaron Murray - Somebody find Joe Cox and make sure he has an alibi for this past Saturday. I'm not entirely sure he didn't kidnap Aaron Murray and secretly replace him for one last hurrah. I mean, really... the Ginger Ninja could hardly have done much worse than our all-everything quarterback against the Mean Green. Murray/Cox threw what could have been his first touchdown pass directly to a guy wearing white and green. That was his only INT on the day, but that's only due to the quality of the defensive opposition. At least 2 more of Murray/Cox's throws would have been easily intercepted by an SEC-quality defense, and a third would have required a very athletic play, but was very dangerous.

As many of you might remember, during Murray's freshman and sophomore year, he was good for at least one pick-6 or interception in the red zone in most games. He seemed to eliminate this tendency towards brain farts during his junior year, but we've once again seen him return to his questionable ways during his senior season. Whether it's throwing into coverage or blatantly ignoring the play clock and getting inexplicable delay of game penalties, he's done these things in all 3 of our games this year. And he's a 5th-year senior. Yet on Saturday he under-threw his passes ALL. GAME. LONG. And he made bad decision after bad decision when it came to choosing his receivers (or not choosing just to throw the ball away).

One of our regulars on our blog, The984, has done a great job of reminding us about Aaron Murray's statistical progression towards becoming the greatest quarterback in Georgia history, and possibly in SEC football history. And, truthfully, Murray's statistical prowess cannot be denied. The thing that kills us, though, is the proclivity he has towards making a boneheaded play at exactly the wrong time. He'll need to be having one of his good days this week, or it could be a looooong afternoon between the hedges.

4) Offensive Line - I'm not going to mince words here: the offensive line has, by far, been the most disappointing position group so far this year. A group filled with juniors and seniors, who returned more game experience than any other position group on the team, displayed a startling inability to consistently perform their jobs against a paycheck opponent. I don't care how "good" North Texas' defense is supposed to be. On Saturday, our line was terrible at run blocking and was terrible at pass blocking. But, hey, they were fantastic at helping our running backs get up off the turf after a 1-yard gain. (And if Aaron Murray hadn't been so good at rolling out and scrambling, they'd have been equally as good at getting him back onto his feet after the latest sack.)

I understand the tendency to lay the blame at the feet of coach Will Friend, but I just don't know. Friend was the OL coach last year, and our line did a pretty good job then, didn't they? And we loved to crucify coach Stacy Searles during the final couple of years of his tenure, too... but are we just consistently hiring poor OL coaches, or do the men on the line just need to start doing their damn jobs?

For the record, my vote is that the linemen have enough experience and coaching to know what they need to be doing. Now's the time they need to do it. The D-line of the LSU Tigers certainly won't care whose fault it is, though. The line needs to have their best game of 2013 if we're going to run the ball for more than 100 yards against the Bayou Bengals.

5) Damian Swann - Swann is the only defensive player of any kind to appear on this week's list, and he had a bad day overall. He couldn't make up his mind whether to fair catch the first punt of the game, got pass interference called against him, and got burned by a Mean Green receiver on their one offensive touchdown. We all have bad days, and I don't begrudge Damian his. (It came at exactly the right time, since North Texas is just about the only team on our schedule we can DERP our way through the game against and still win.) He's our leader in the defensive backfield, though, so we need him back at 100% against the Tigers.

6) The Kickoff Unit - Collin Barber, who had handled almost every kickoff in the first two games, got a touchback almost every single time. So, naturally, when Marshall Morgan comes back from suspension, we give it to him, and he can only get the ball into the endzone twice. Why did we take the ball away from Barber at all? He can get the job done, so let him do it. Don't get fancy. Kick it into the damn endzone and call it a day. Mark Richt knew that North Texas' return guy was very good (he said so in his midweek press conference last week), and yet he made the call to put the ball on kickoffs onto the feet of the guy that can't always get it into the endzone.

Yeah, we need to learn to cover kickoffs better and make sure a guy doesn't break into the open with no possible tacklers before he even gets to the 50, but that's not even an issue if you just kick it into the endzone. Barber has demonstrated that he can put it there every time. Morgan has demonstrated that he can't. This isn't brain surgery. Let Barber keep doing the kickoffs.

7) The Punting Unit - It's easy to overreact to mistakes made in one game, but this issue is one I've noticed in every game up to this point, and it's astounding to me that North Texas was the first team to take advantage of it. Our "spread line" setup for punt coverage puts us at a significant disadvantage when a team decides to load up all their defenders right beside the center and rush the punter. Artie Lynch took responsibility for not properly setting up the coverage on the blocked punt, but that's not entirely his fault. An equal measure of the fault lies in the coach who designed the strategy in the first place. (And, if you noticed, the Mean Green did the exact same thing on the next punt and almost blocked that one, too. I don't know why they didn't line up like that every single time. I would.)

Coach Richt said after the game that they'd already made the call to switch the long snapper from John Theus' younger brother to Ty Frix's younger brother. After some of the wild snaps we've had on special teams, that does seem like a good move, too. Let's hope the younger Frix can be more consistent than the younger Theus.

8) Mike Bobo - Yes, after a 45-point performance, Mike Bobo is still on notice. I'm not calling him out for the reason you think I am, though. After the game, coach Bobo had this to say to the media:

... if anybody throws a bad throw or makes a mistake, we act like it’s the end of the world, which frustrates me sometimes. A guy gives so much to this program, works extremely hard to put our team in a position to win games. That’s what he’s continuing to do this year. Georgia needs to realize it’s a blessing to have Aaron Murray and how much he means.

And this, when you get to the heart of the matter, is the most significant part of the problem I have with coach Bobo. He likes to whine and point fingers. The things you do "frustrate" him. You need to realize, nameless jerks who call yourself Georgia fans (and who, by implication, he is calling "bad fans") , that Aaron Murray is a "blessing" who should never be criticized.

Is this what coach Bobo was trying to say in his postgame remarks? No, I'm reasonably certain that it isn't. But here's the catch... it is exactly what he communicated. It's not enough to be a competent offensive coordinator that gets unfairly maligned most of the time but just keeps on doing your job (and doing it well, generally). You can't lash out at your fans, and you can't lash out at "execution" (which means "it ain't me, it's the players,"), both of which he's done several times in the past.

Let's be honest with ourselves... if coach Richt continues to win at this pace (which I hope is the case for many years to come), and if the offense continues to have this level of success (which I also hope continues to happen), then when Mark Richt eventually retires, Mike Bobo is going to be his replacement as head coach. And I'm not saying that Bobo wouldn't be a good head coach, because I honestly don't know if he would or not. What I do know, however, is that nobody likes a coach that whines and complains all the time in his press conferences. (JimDonnan.jpg) Coach Bobo needs to grow some thicker skin and stop calling out fans if he wants them to rally behind him and realize that he actually knows what he's doing. It will help things go much better for him both now and in the future.

That's all for this week. An optimist would look at our performance today and say, "Well, the defense was greatly improved, and the offense just had a down day against a poor opponent." If that's true and we can come out firing on all cylinders this Saturday against LSU, it could be a very special day in Sanford Stadium. That's a pretty big "if," though. One thing's for sure... all of our fans need to be in their seats early and cheering their dang heads off for the Dawgs! Help Uncle Verne and Gary remember how crazy that Auburn blackout was when they were here in 2007. With any luck... hey, maybe we can get another shot of CBS announcers dancing in the booth!

Go Dawgs!

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