Sunday, September 6, 2009

First Impressions of OSU Game

While I called this game correctly (I thought it would be about a 10-15 point margin in favor of the Pokes), I have to admit that it did not play out at all the way I expected. The UGA defense, for the most part, came to play...although there are some isolated areas that need drastic improvement. I'll start there (defense), since the issues with the offense are far greater:

Defensive gameplan: Anyone watching the game with me knows that I was anointing Willie Martinez as having redeemed himself about midway through the 2nd quarter. He was blitzing at perfect times from all over the field, mostly with Rennie, but then I almost peed my pants when I saw Vance Cuff sprinting from the bottom of my screen on the corner blitz. That play (loading up the right side of the defensive line, and then bringing pressure from the corner on the same side) might have been the best play call DCWM has ever come up with, and is the kind of play alot of us having been screaming for to see more often. Then, inexplicably, that gameplan disappeared. The short fields that OSU was getting (thanks to offense and special teams) probably had alot to do with that, but I think that OSU got off their heels a little when the pressure went away.

Defensive ends: Still, absolutely no pass rush. None. I've never played offensive or defensive line, so perhaps I just don't understand that part of the game, but I don't get how defensive ends can get such a good push and get into the backfield so quickly when the ball is handed off to a running back, but can't get out of their footprints on a pass play. This has got to change, maybe more so than anything else.

Secondary: For the most part, I liked what I saw here. These guys (and the linebackers) still can't catch a cold, otherwise the game might have been different. But everybody was more aggressive, and nost importantly, tackling was better most of the time.

Overall defense: Things were looking really good for a while, and I saw enough to believe that they'll keep UGA in alot of games this year. The tackles played well, although I was surprised at how much rotation we had there, seemed like Owens and Atkins were on the sidelines for as many plays as they were on the field. Linebacker play was above average. This game turned for the defense on two terrible calls: the Reshad Jones personal foul (absolutely, positively horrible - nothing more needs to be said), and an atrocious spot on the 4th down play near the goal line (hey CMR, you can challenge that.) But this defense definitely spent the offseason getting back to what made UGA great in past years - fundamentals, aggressiveness and pride. But they have got to start forcing some turnovers, or at least executing on the times when turnovers are forced (as in catching the ball when it is in the air.)

Special Teams: This might be the most disappointing area that I saw yesterday. So you mean to tell me that we gave a scholarship to a kicker, only to continue the same old directional crap? Kickoff coverage is still awful, and I now choose to believe that it has as much to do with how the ball gets to the returner than I do what happens after that. Drew Butler's numbers look nice, but a few of his punts looked terrible (maybe he was getting tired - he was punting alot more than he probably expected to.) Unless you can promise me that the opponent is going let every other punt bounce in front of him and roll another 25 yards, I'm not too pleased with what I saw yesterday. Finally, I realize that our kick returners aren't too accustomed to receiving kicks in the end zone during practice (since there doesn't seem to be a player on campus that can kick in there), but these guys have to know they can take a knee, right? Positives: Walsh's field goal would have been good from 65 yards, I think.

Offensive Line: This was a surprise. This group was having a hard time even getting a push on a severely undersized D-line, much less blowing open holes. OSU was blitzing quite a bit from what I remember, but even when they weren't it was difficult for the UGA line to impose its will, which many of us though they would. Hopefully Sturdivant won't be out too long, and this group gains some cohesiveness as the year moves along. As deep and talented as we think they are, we should remember that they are still relatively young.

Running Backs: Samuel runs hard, no doubt about it. Unfortunately he gets brought down by fingers, which really surprises me for a guy as big as he is. It seemed like he got a good talking to at halftime, and in the 2nd half he was breaking a few more tackles. A few people in my viewing party hypothesized that in his zeal to hold on to the football this offeseason, perhaps his running style has been thrown off, and in turn his balance. I fully expect him to get better as the season goes on, and I still think he's going to have a big year. That said, Caleb King needs to get healthy. He's the most polished ball-carrier that UGA has, and I believe he really would have helped out yesterday.

Quarterback: Nobody is surprised that Joe Cox has a weaker arm than what we've become accustomed to. What surprised me yesterday was that the gameplan really hasn't been changed to account for that difference in arm strength, and more importantly the difference in speed of release. I knew Cox probably would have to put a little more air under it to get it down the field, but I was surprised at how long it takes him to get rid of the ball. Joe really has to wind up to get it out of there. Either his timing was off yesterday because of the flu-like symptoms, maybe the shoulder rumors were true, or the actual speed of the game was faster than he's used to (opposing speed isn't going to get slower as we move forward in the schedule, by the way.) One of the more telling things to me was how frustrated AJ Green seemed to be with things during the 2nd half. I fully expect Joe to be better next week after a few film sessions, but Joe clearly has a limited skill set. He needs to be better, but the coaching staff also needs to adjust for what he brings to the table. I will hand it to him, he throws the fade about a hundred times better than his predecessor.

Wide Receiver/Tight End: No snaps for Marlon Brown or Wooten? Why did they even travel if they weren't going to play? Orson Charles looks great out there, but his drop on the short crossing route hurt, as that one might have gone for a big play. The most disappointing thing here is the thought that AJ Green might spend a season playing with QBs that have trouble getting him the ball.

Overall Offense: I thought I was dreaming during the first drive. It was the Jim Donnan playbook with better players. Unfortunately, the playcalling after that drive was extremely predictable and unimaginative. It almost seemed like UGA got a lead, and then just tried to hold onto it for 55 minutes. That usually doesn't work out well no matter who you're playing. Bobo held himself accountable after the game, which is a good sign. I'm just surprised that the preparation wasn't better.

That's about all I can think of. All around it was a terrible day for the Dawgs. OSU didn't impress me that much (has an offense with so many "playmakers" ever looked so "vanilla?"), so I think what I saw yesterday was more about UGA than it was OSU. Fact is, the Dawgs went on the road against an opponent that many believe is a Top 10 team, and for the most part laid an egg. I'm not ready to write the season off just yet, but we'll know more about this team a week from now. South Carolina is what they always are, atrocious offensively, stellar defensively. If the Dawgs can manage to get in the end zone twice next week, this should be a W.

I'm looking forward to getting to Athens this weekend to see the Dawgs in person.


DRM said...

I still have a sick feeling in my stomach after yesterdays loss. What is amazing to me, is that the things that UGA didnt do well seem so elementary. Maybe Bobo is back on the sauce heavy like he was in college. I heard a comment recently from Payton Manning that he and the colts basically find 7-10 plays that really work and just run the same plays over and over. and all the complex stuff they look like they are running is in reality the same 7-10 plays.. And after watching the first drive and looking like NC contender for the first 6 minutes, we looked like a bad middle school team on offense.. i just dont understand why we would nt run the same stuff we did on the first drive. please is there a quote or something that one of the coaches answered those questions... i know its not because we had to change it up because of the stellar defensive scheme from OSU... i honestly believe if we had about 10 different basic plays and ran them over and over , we would have scored 24-30 points.. And if we ever run the "roll to the left on the short side of the field" play again , i might have to dump Bobo's jack daniels on his head. i just really hope that we had first game rustiness and we arent really that bad.. because the last 3 quarters really was embarrassing... oh, and we lost to a team that had 53k people in a 60k seat stadium.. you could see the open seats... what a fucking joke..

RB Dawg said...

Agree with all that is said above. Very frustrating day. Bobo's play-calling was the big disappointment to me.

Mike said...

I'm usually not one to make excuses for UGA but referees turned this game into an absolute mockery. The D was routinely punished for textbook perfect execution.
Sorry, I gotta vent about that Reshad Jones personal foul call in the 4th. Not exactly the time to be trying out the NCAA'a latest rule to keep guys safe. OSU subsequently scored and that call decided the game. There were at least 2 vicious hits in the first half that were worse and on defenseless guys. No call then?
That led to the refs calling a bullshit version of the same penalty on OSU on the ensuing kickoff, when it had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the game and was obviously for balance. (Btw they made that call after about 4 1/2 minutes of confused, bewildered deliberation that finally brought out the OSU boo birds).
The spot in the 3rd was Richt's fault. Not challenging that is inexcusable. You gotta stand up for your defense on a stop like that (it was 4 plays after a 74 yd return, right?) That's a turnover on downs vs. a touchdown, right there. What's the point in analyzing how we played if the coaches aren't going to do something about those situations? Seems pointless to me and I really feel let down about that one.
I agree with everything y'all have said, but the frustrating thing is that UGA should've won that game despite turning the ball over and generally playing like crap. I thought the D played great and got robbed at every key point in the game, offense uh, "wasn't so hot" and special teams will personally lose us AT LEAST one more game this year unless something is done immediately.
Like i said, no excuses. It's true that you have to overcome bad officiating, but to me that applies to subtle home cooking. Refs positively stole that one.

JJ said...

Mike, I agree. I think if this was a normal UGA season that wasn't completely void of any optimism on this particular day, you might hear more about those calls. The fanbase in general (reading other blogs and message boards today) seems so flabbergasted about how the Dawgs looked overall and the prospects for the rest of this year and beyond, there isn't any time to bitch about the officials obviously being paid off in wind energy revenues.

A Free Man said...

Damn. Damn. Damn.

We could have one that game. As you said, the defense kept us in it. The special teams lost it. The offense was pedestrian at best. Crap at worst. And, as you said, why we couldn't be as creative as we were on the first drive is a mystery to me.

What do you think about the Cocks this week?