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Todd Gurley Introduces Himself and the Defense Struggles: Remembering the Season Opener


This is the first of 14 Post-Season Game Recaps.

On September 1st the Georgia Bulldogs opened their 2012 campaign against the Bulls from Buffalo.  The Bulldogs won the game 45-23 behind a stellar outing from freshman running back Todd Gurley and a three-TD performance by Aaron Murray.

What We Saw: 

  • Todd Gurley introduced himself in a big way rushing for 100 yards and two TDs on just eight carries and adding a 100 yard kickoff return for a score.
  • Murray hit on 15 of his 26 passes for 258 yards and 3 TDs.
  • Tavarres King had 100 yards receiving and Michael Bennett added 76.
  • The Georgia defense failed to force a turnover.
  • Buffalo racked up 199 yards rushing.

 

What We Learned: 

Everyone in Sanford Stadium that day came to see Keith Marshall.  Five minutes into the game everybody was there to watch Todd Gurley.  Ten minutes in I half-jokingly wondered if Keith Marshall had transferred yet.  We learned that Todd Gurley was a force in this game.  Ten touches for 227 yards and three TDs was hard to hid.

What We Should Have Learned: 

We should have learned that the Georgia defense was going to be inconsistent at stopping the run.  Two Bulls ran for over 80 yards and each scored a TD.  Many, myself included, wrote it off as a meaningless game with missing personnel (several defensive stalwarts were suspended).  That proved not to be the case as Georgia struggled throughout the year against the run.

Long-Term Implication: 

Aside from the glaring deficiency in defending the run (a problem that directly resulted in a loss to Alabama), this game held no long-term repercussion.  The Dawgs’ got the victory, slid just one spot in both the AP and Coaches Poll and moved towards Missouri.

Looking Forward:

Georgia won’t play Buffalo in 2013, so there is little value in hypothesizing about a potential matchup, but if won did exist I’d have to expect another lopsided win for the Bulldogs.

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Georgia vs. Buffalo Recap


If you are a Georgia fan and you enjoyed Saturday’s game for any reason outside of the mere return of the red and black to live-action meaningful competition then you must be Todd Gurley’s mother.  There weren’t a whole lot of bright spots for the day outside of the freshman’s emergence and his claim of 1.8 points per touch.

YouTube Video

The Gurley-Man!

WifeYouCrazy and I made the trip over to Athens but only got to stay for the first half as we had wedding festivities to attend, but from what we saw it was a good thing that the Dawgs were playing the Buffalo Bulls – not the Buffalo Bills.  The defense allowed to many points, Aaron Murray misfired a number of times and play seemed generally sloppy.  But, isn’t that to be expected from a team that is traditionally slow to start?

While far from pleased with the performance (I have since watched the game in its entirety on DVR), I didn’t see anything drastic to signal prolonged concern.  The effort might or might not have been there, but the focus certainly was not.  I think anybody with knowledge of the situation would be the first to tell you that most of the players (and possibly coaches) were looking ahead to Missouri – and I don’t blame them.

The defense gave up a number of big plays but showed up without a number of starters (Chase Vasser, Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings, Alec Ogletree, Malcolm Mitchell, etc) who may or may not be back next week.  But, if you think that Grantham put a lot of effort into scheming for the Bulls and really laid a lot out on the field – from a strategic standpoint – you’re probably wrong.  There isn’t much on tape from the Buffalo game that will help out Missouri.  Very little pass rush, very few alignment shifts, etc.

Offensively Murray seemed to be long on most of his passes – a tradition dating back to his freshman season.  But, I’ll continue to say that I’d prefer to see Murray overthrow Tavarres King than underthrow him and get picked off.  Murray calmed down in the second half and seemed more in-tune with his receivers who all looked impressive.  Murray is still one of those guys whose numbers seem to exceed what I see with my eyes.  I would have guessed that he had an “OK” game statistically even as I watched it on TV, but his passer rating threatened 180 (179.1) and would rank as one of his fifth or sixth best games.

Todd Gurley will get the lion’s share of the praise out of the backfield – and deservingly so.  During warmups I noticed that he just looks like an SEC back.  Georgia has had several great backs come in and contribute as freshmen under Richt’s tenure, but his physique reminded me of Kregg Lumpkin – the last grown man to show up as a freshman running back in Athens.  Gurley looks like he could play in LSU’s stable of backs – and that may be the ultimate compliment.   But, Keith Marshal showed some elusiveness (10 carries for 46 yards) and Ken Malcome looks to be the power back that Richard Samuel has not yet appeared to be (6 carries for 32) – although Dick Sam also worked up 3 carries for 17 yards playing both half and full back.

As Todd Gurley ran across the goal-line for his first TD I asked the man next to me,
“How long until Keith Marshall transfers?”  He responded, “That was Keith???”

 

The offensive line seemed spotty at best – and I hope that is a reflection moreso of a general lack of focus than a general lack of competency.  But, most importantly, I hope that John Theus’ ankle injury is short-term.

The Special Teams units actually seemed largely improved – at least in the kickoff/punting game.  Gurley had the tremendous return, but I also really liked Damien “Black” Swann as a punt returner (and for what it’s worth, I loved his physical play on defense – it stood out).  Marshall Morgan is not Blair Walsh (at least not early-career Walsh), but recovered nicely from a kick that was badly missed and clearly affected by nerves (it was a pop-up).  And, perhaps most interestingly, Georgia’s two-punter system worked splendidly.  Adam Erickson tagged all three of his punts inside the 20 and Collin Barber had two punts for 102 yards.

In the end it certainly was not the Georgia game that many fans had hoped for, but it Georgia is going to show up with two or three lackluster performances this season (which they’ve done in each of the past few years) I’m glad this was one of them.

That’s all I got/

Andrew

Georgia vs. Buffalo Preview


DUDITOR’S NOTE: I put this up before Malcolm Mitchell’s injury was released.  So the injury section is a bit dated.  Let’s hope that’s the worst of it.

The Georgia Bulldogs will play host to Buffalo in the first ever meeting between the two teams.  Here is what you need to know about Buffalo:

 

After finishing with the league’s 26th best defense in 2011, Buffalo added big-name free agent defensive end Mario Williams and drafted former South Carolina Gamecock Stephon Gilmore in the first round.  The hope is to obviously improve on last year’s defensive outing.  Although, to Buffalo’s credit they did force over 30 turnovers last season.

On the offensive side of the ball Buffalo will tout a number of “Oh I’ve heard of that guy” type players on Saturday.  Fred Jackson returns and hopes to build on a fantastic Fantasy Football season in 2011 while Stevie Johnson has promised to catch balls in the endzone and to stop blaming God when he doesn’t.  The Bills offense will once be lead by Wonderlic-acing Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Undoubtedly this game will mean a lot to Mark Richt on a personal level
as he once backed up Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly at Miami.  
This will be Richt’s chance to prove once and for all that he is the better man.

My apologies.  I just noticed that Georgia is playing the Buffalo Bulls, not the Buffalo Bills.  This is awkward.  I guess that picture doesn’t really make sense now.  On to Plan B.

Here’s what I do know about the Bulls:

·         The Bulls play in the MAC, and I work with a man named Mac.

·         Last season the Bulls failed to beat any team from a BCS Conference.  My Middle School failed in that regard as well.

·         Georgia is paying Buffalo $975,000 to play the game.  I’d love to round up 15 guys (we can play both ways until injured) and play the Bulldogs for a per-head purse of $65,000.  Why hasn’t this happened before?

 

In all seriousness, this is a typical “We’ll pay you to come warm us up” game.  With all due disrespect to Buffalo, I just don’t know what to tell you about them.  Buffalo, it’s not me; it’s you.

 

The DudeYouConfident Scale

Before games I like to express my confidence in the Georgia Bulldogs with the DudeYouConfident Scale. (Note: I realize DudeYouCocky flows better, but I don’t want people to think I’m the dancing mascot for the University of South Carolina.)  The scale is relative so each week I explain what a “One” looks like and what a “Ten” looks like before pinpointing my sentiment.

One on the scale would look a whole lot like the Georgia Bulldogs embarrassing me for my arrogance/ignorance in a second straight season-opener.  Georgia would come out wearing some ridiculously ridiculous Nike crap and the whole crowd with cringe.  Much like last year’s “effort” against Boise State some player on the defensive unit would get hurt (probably Jarvis Jones) and every other player on the field would act like he had never played before (seriously, remember when Alec Ogletree got hurt and everybody freaked?) .  All hell would break loose on the defensive side of the ball.  Branden Smith would get a single carry for 80+ yards and then the Dawgs would abandon offense all together. I would have no voice for the next four days.

One would see Georgia making a lot of really cool tackles.  
In the End Zone.  After giving up touchdowns.

Ten would mean the Georgia Bulldogs winning by 35 points – just less than the spread – but getting lots of playing time for lots of young guys.  Ken Malcome would run for 60 yards, catch a decent pass for a TD and do enough to remain the starter for an SEC road game next week.  Freshmen backs Keith Marshal and Todd Gurley would combine for 150 yards and three scores.  Aaron Murray would throw for 150 and 2 TDs before clearing the way for Christian LeMay’s 2 TD passes.  Defensively the entire roster would play.  Most importantly: nobody would get hurt.

YouTube Video

Trinton Sturdivant was a good Left Tackle before tearing his ACL in the 2009 season opener.
He was an even better dancer.

I’m at about a nine for this game.  Frankly, somebody will get hurt.  It happens every single year in the opener.  I hate it every single year.  I’m never rooting for an injury but here’s my “I Could Live With That” Injury Hierarchy

1.   A back up Special Teams guy: Stuff happens

2.   A back up Linebacker: The Dawgs are super deep at LB

3.   A Special Teams stud: The lesser of several evils

4.   A Defensive Lineman: I just really, really like our DLs…like on a personal level.  They just “get” me.

5.   A Wideout: UGA is deeper at WR than they get credit for, but I like that depth.

6.   A Runningback: UGA needs its full stable until a leader emerges.

7.   A Defensive Back: Georgia is not deep at DB, and assuming suspensions hold up this could really hurt the Dawgs – especially in the short-term against Mizzou.

8.   Malcolm Mitchell, Jarvis Jones: This guy going down is the equivalent of losing a WR and a DB and a Special Teams player.  He is his own threesome of talent.  Jarvis Jones is even more vital to the team.

9.   An Offensive Lineman: Georgia only has 8 players to cover these 5 positions per Richt’s press conference last week.  8 > 7.

10.  Aaron Murray: CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAP.

 

Stadium Demands

Over the past few seasons I’ve been a little disappointed with the “Atmosphere” inside of Sanford Stadium.  Yes, some people drink too much and others don’t pay attention to the game.  But, a lot of the problems stem from poor audio and video operating.  For instance, when Georgia comes out of half-time nursing an embarrassingly small 12-10 lead against lowly Kentucky, DON’T PLAY SUGARLAND IN AN ATTEMPT TO FIRE UP THE CROWD!!!  This really happened last year.  With travesties like that in mind I’ll be periodically making suggestions to the powers that be – none of whom read this blog.

I love watching Herschel Walker run through Tennessee as much as the next guy.  But rather than showing memories of yore, why not incite a little anger in the crowd at Sanford Stadium?  Why not make the Dawgs a bit rabid?  What’s wrong with rabies, baby?  Show this video on the Jumbotron and I guarantee you will have 90,000+ ticked off Georgia fans ready to see absolute decimation at the expense of Buffalo.  Would it be the worst thing in the world to have that type of environment every single week?  The answer is no.

 

YouTube Video

Nothing fires up and ticks off a Georgia fans like cheap shots by Auburn.  These should be used more often.

 

 

All in all I’m looking forward to heading back over to The Classic City with WifeYouCrazy and getting a little breakfast tailgating on before Committing to the G with 92,745 of my closest friends.  Go Dawgs!

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

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