Georgia Football: SEC Championship Talk Back on the Table Thanks to Pruitt’s Defense


Todd Gurley, yes.

But that defense, though.

That was the surprise of the evening.  The first half looked like more of the same with just glimpses of improvement.  And then Pruitt did something Georgia fans aren’t used to: he made adjustments.  The defense got more aggressive.  The defense attacked deceptively and consistently.  Clemson panicked, and then went nowhere.

The individual improvements are going to come, but I don’t think anyone doubted that from a coach whose emphasis is on one-on-one instruction and fundamentals.  But it’s encouraging to see that while those improvements are processing, Pruitt is still going to find a way to put his players in the position to succeed.

This defense wasn’t a hindrance on Saturday.  That legitimizes SEC Championship talk more than any other factor.

Read more of my thoughts here.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

Looking for Georgia Bulldogs football highlights on your phone?  Download the UGA Vault for free from the iTunes App Store.  Just click here. It’s that easy.

 

Georgia Bulldogs: Position Unit Grades and Love for the Coaches


I have a feeling that Daniel Palmer will touch on this with his knee-jerk reaction piece later, but let’s show some brief love for the Georgia coaching staff.

Those who questioned a lack of Gurley in the first half got a pretty strong answer in the second half when the star running back beasted his way to a trillion yards on a healthy dose of carries.  Nick Chubb came in and bruised as well.  The offense may not have done a lot in the first half, but Mike Bobo sure did “work” that half.  And that work paid off tremendously.  Clemson’s front seven is better than it looked on Saturday.  But Bobo sure got his offensive line, fullbacks/H-backs and running backs to make them look like fools.

 

Equally impressive, Jeremy Pruitt’s halftime adjustments.  The defense showed flashes of improvement in the first half, but the Dawgs used intermission to reevaluate and alter plans of attack.  Blitzes were used more often but more thoroughly disguised, and as a result guys like Leonard Floyd spent the entire third and fourth quarters in the Clemson backfield.

I wrote half-by half analysis on Georgia and Clemson’s position groups here, but here’s how I would cumulatively grade the Dawgs:

Pass Offense: C   –   This was never a point of emphasis for the Bulldogs, but 26 attempts went for just 131 yards.

Run Offense: A+   –   Enough said.

Pass Defense: B+   –   This was an A+ in the second half, but old mistakes (not finding the ball, missing tackles) did plage the Dawg defense in the first half.

Run Defense: B+   –   Similarly, Clemson had some first half success on the ground.  But boy did that evaporate.

Special Teams: A   –   A 100-yard kick return, a legitimate threat on punt returns, perfection from the field goal/XP unit, a missed field goal by opposition.  What’s not to like?

Coaching: A   –   Again, a stellar first-game performance from the entire coaching staff.  This team was ready to compete and ready to adjust.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

Looking for Georgia Bulldogs football highlights on your phone?  Download the UGA Vault for free from the iTunes App Store.  Just click here. It’s that easy.

 

Bulldog Blasphemy on a Sunday: Gurley over Herschel. Yeah, I Said It.


I don’t really write “columns” all that often.  I’m equally averse to devoting a thousand words to stating the obvious.

But Todd Gurley makes me do crazy, crazy things.  And I’m not too proud to admit that.

Todd Gurley is the best Georgia Bulldog I’ve ever seen. 

Every single time he touches the football, I get the feeling he just might score.  As often is the case, I’m sure the statistics aren’t skewed on paper quite the way they are in my mind, but it seems like more often than not he finds his way into the end-zone.

Run it inside, Gurley may score.  Run it outside, Gurley may score.  Find him on a slip screen, Gurley may score.  Find him out in the flats or on a shallow crossing route, Gurley may score.  Let the junior running back return a damn kickoff, Gurley may score.

I’ve never seen a player perform with such an outrageous awareness of both the spotlight and the moment and still somehow surpass the Blood Mountain-sized heap of Georgia expectations.

Todd Gurley is the best Georgia Bulldog I’ve ever seen.

But then again, I probably should have said that this summer.  Instead, deep down inside I cowered in latent fear.  As a Bulldog fan, the only thing I know better than lofty anticipation at the beginning is devastatingly bitter shortcomings in the end.  Surely, one plays into the other.  The Georgia team that came up a few yards short on an errant completion (of all things!) from Aaron Murray to Chris Conley in 2012 wasn’t a bad team.  We just expected a handful too many yards.  The Stafford/Moreno 2008 campaign wasn’t a disaster, we just read too much into a strong 2007 finish.  David Greene and David Pollack were overachieving stars, but they were never meant to be the national champions we so eagerly mistook them for.

Perception is not reality.  Not when it comes to Georgia football.  So this summer’s Gurley hype wasn’t just terrifying; it was crippling.  In a series of internal negotiations I tempered expectations.

Todd Gurley wasn’t going to have a bad 2014 season, he just wasn’t going to meet our impossibly presumptuous presuppositions.  That is to say: He was never going to win the Heisman Trophy, lead the team in rushing, receiving and smiles for the camera and mean mugs on the field while carrying the team to the college football playoff.  And in the kind of sick and twisted justice that only a die-hard Georgia fan can understand, he would be condemned for that collective shortcoming in the harshest, most passive-aggressive of ways.

“Todd Gurley was good,” we’d all say some day.  “But he wasn’t Herschel Walker good.”

That’s how I thought this year would play out.  What that looks like statistically, I don’t know.  If pressured I would have pegged Gurley for 1,300 yards on the ground and 15 TDs.  Georgia could win 10 or 11 games, hopefully a bowl victory at the end of the year.  Then we’d all move on and watch Gurley leave—underappreciated to an extent we were all blind to—for the NFL.

Todd Gurley is the best Georgia Bulldog I’ve ever seen.

He cemented that should-have-been-obvious observation on Saturday night against Clemson.  He touched the ball just six times—four runs, one reception and one kickoff return— in the first half, but already he had proved the point I was afraid to make.

And then that second half happened.  And to quote the teenage girl-inspired internet meme of today…I can’t even…

As in, I can’t even begin to describe it.  I can’t even do it justice with highlight videos.  I can’t even process the numbers.  I. Can’t. Even.

All I can say is Todd Gurley is the best Georgia Bulldog I’ve ever seen.

I never saw Herschel in person or even in real-time.  He played his last game as a Bulldog some 70 months before I was born.  I do know, however, that Herschel never accounted for more than 293 all-purpose yards in a game.  I know that, because Todd Gurley did just that on Saturday and set the school record in the process.  And this will look like a typo to those who didn’t watch, but Gurley racked up those 293 yards on just 17 total touches.  You read that correctly.  Seventeen—as in one more than sixteen and one fewer than eighteen.  Gurley touched the ball 17 times.  He scored four times.  He racked up 293 yards.

I’m not saying Herschel wouldn’t have done exactly the same thing against what was supposed to be one of the best defensive front-sevens in the country.  I’m sure he would have done something comparable.  I am, however, saying that he never did do that.

And yet, the parts of Gurley’s effort on Saturday were even greater than the whole.  Gurley was stopped behind the line of scrimmage on two of his 15 runs.  He ran for 20 or more yards on three of his runs.  He had seven runs in excess of 10 yards, eight runs of 10 or fewer.  More than half his carries resulted in a first down or a touchdown.  Who does that?  Gurley wasn’t consistently good on Saturday.  He was consistently unstoppable.

Todd Gurley is the best Georgia Bulldog I’ve ever seen.

And I have a feeling a few other Dawg loyalists should be admitting the same thing.  Granted, he needs to stay healthy.  And sure, he needs to continue to perform at this level.  I suppose he needs to win a Heisman Trophy and lead his team to an SEC Championship, too.

But after last night, which of those unknowns gives you sincere pause—let alone substantiated doubt—as a Bulldog optimist?

Todd Gurley just might be the best Georgia Bulldog you’ve ever seen.

Let that soak in for a moment.  Ruminate on it.  Don’t say it aloud, at least not if you don’t really mean it yet.  After all, Sunday is a day for reverence, not Bulldog blasphemy.  But I think you might come around.  Sooner, rather than later.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

Looking for Georgia Bulldogs football highlights on your phone?  Download the UGA Vault for free from the iTunes App Store.  Just click here. It’s that easy.

 

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Clemson Tigers: Third Quarter Live Blog


I’m running the live-blog for Bleacher Report.  Follow along for all the third quarter’s action.

Check it out here.

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Looking for Georgia Bulldogs football highlights on your phone?  Download the UGA Vault for free from the iTunes App Store.  Just click here. It’s that easy.

Georgia/Clemson: Live Blog – Second Quarter and Half-Time


I’m running the live-blog for Bleacher Report.  Check out the second quarter updates as the Bulldogs try to pull away from the Tigers.

Check it out here.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

Looking for Georgia Bulldogs football highlights on your phone?  Download the UGA Vault for free from the iTunes App Store.  Just click here. It’s that easy.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 32,737 other followers

%d bloggers like this: