Georgia Shootout With the Volunteers Raises Some Questions

By Michael Collins
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Before I go full bore into lambasting some of the performances by the University of Georgia football team today, it’s important to note that they are 5-0 for the first time since 2006, and have already won three conference games. A win against Tennessee is always a good win.

Rant Chest Bump To: Georgia freshman running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who combined for 294 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

Enough of the sunshine showering.

The Georgia defense and special teams were both atrocities. Yes, this is a much improved Tennessee team from the past few seasons, but the Bulldogs did everything they could to make them look much better than they are.

Georgia’s defense, which was touted as being one of the best in the country before the season, was at full strength for the first time all season. This full strength defense proceeded to give up 478 yards, including 197 rushing yards, and 44 points. Not what defensive coordinator Todd Grantham had in mind for his first game with all his playmakers in place.

Were it not for Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray making some terrible throws, and suffering some unforgivable drops by his receivers, this game could have had a much different outcome.

On offense, Tennessee obviously studied the film of Georgia’s game against Buffalo very closely, because they exploited a lot of the same weaknesses. They ran inside, between the tackles, almost without opposition, and were able to almost completely shut down the Bulldogs’ pass rush.

So far this season, Georgia hasn’t fared well against big, beefy offensive lines…and that doesn’t bode well for the Dawgs if they have a hope of beating Alabama in an SEC Championship Game match-up, should the two squads meet there.

Special teams were just nightmarish today for the Bulldogs. Missed extra points, shanked punts, kickoffs going out of bounds, and poor decisions by kick returners are just a sample of the jewels turned in by Georgia’s special teams. The one thing that was made clear tonight on special teams — WR/DB Malcolm Mitchell does not need to be back returning kicks or punts. Disaster looms when he’s there.

Georgia did not play like a top-5 team tonight, and they certainly don’t look like a team that is ready to challenge a seasoned Alabama or LSU for a conference championship. The offense is certainly firing on all cylinders (aside from three turnovers), but this defense that is returning almost all of it’s starters from 2011 looks far from polished.

Grantham is going to have to rally his troops and get this defense playing like a cohesive unit again, instead of a collection of stars all doing their own thing. Georgia head coach Mark Richt needs to spend some serious practice time going over fundamentals with his special teams squad, or a disastrous end to a crucial game might be the result.

Yes, the Dawgs are 5-0, and the Bulldog Nation can rejoice. Just make it a short celebration, because South Carolina is waiting, and they’d like nothing more than to topple Georgia from their perch atop the SEC East.


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