Shall we blame the red jerseys this time?
No need, actually. There were plenty of other reasons for Alabama’s total domination of the Dawgs that were painfully evident to everyone who sat through the sorry, soggy mess of a game.
Let’s see, for starters Georgia’s running game didn’t get anything until the outcome was already decided thanks to Bama’s defensive front pretty much manhandling the Dawgs’ veteran offense line. This meant the tight ends had to be blockers rather than potential receivers most of the time. …
Also, Georgia’s much vaunted pass rush couldn’t get to Tide quarterback Jake Coker at all, and the linebackers and secondary had play-action coverage problems that left Bama receivers wide open at too many key moments.
However, the defense did prove to be the most effective of Georgia’s units (a backhanded compliment in this case), allowing Bama success on only one of its 12 third-down conversion attempts (and none of its two fourth-down attempts). Also, the defense only gave up 24 of the Tide’s 38 points, with a blocked punt and a pick-6 tacking on the other 14. …
Perhaps the biggest problem for the Dawgs Saturday was the poor showing by quarterback Greyson Lambert, who looked good only in comparison with the horrific performance turned in by Brice Ramsey in relief.
Lambert’s mechanics were faulty (which helps explain how a 6’5” QB keeps getting passes batted down) and his ball-handling was abysmal. (You can’t blame the rain; Coker had to play under the same conditions and managed quite nicely.)
Yes, Bama did a good job of clamping down on Georgia’s receivers, and there were a few dropped balls, but, even though the embattled line gave him decent protection, an obviously uncomfortable Lambert kept getting happy feet and then throwing the ball away or in the wrong direction, sometimes apparently not seeing an open receiver (frequently underused Terry Godwin). Lambert also seemed to be scared of throwing against the middle of the Bama D.
Ramsey, meanwhile, made it all too clear why he never could nail down the starter’s job, prompting the coaches to bring in a graduate transfer. His two picks were awful throws and he nearly had a third pass intercepted. He simply doesn’t have the decision-making skills to play against a superior defense. …
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Richt team without special teams miscues, but Saturday Georgia’s kicking game (particularly punting) was a disaster. Erratic Collin Barber doesn’t seem to be able to control his punts at all; when a short punt is called for, he booms it into the end zone for a touchback, and when a long kick is needed he can’t even make it 30 yards. In the early stages, when the two teams were playing a field-position game, Barber became a distinct liability for the Dawgs. And that blocked punt was probably the back-breaker for Georgia. …
Then there was the extremely poor job of calling plays by Brian Schottenheimer. Both teams started out with extremely conservative calls as they played virtually even in the first quarter, but I got the feeling that Bama’s Lane Kiffin was merely playing possum before finally opening things up, while Schotty continued to call runs up the middle against the strength of the Tide’s defense and pass plays that took too long to develop (shades of early Mike Bobo). I’m baffled why Georgia didn’t take its running game wide more often or throw more to Sony Michel.
You have to wonder whether Schottenheimer knows what it takes to win a really big game on the college level, where it’s important to get off to a strong start. When you have fourth-and-1 at Alabama’s 48-yard line in the first quarter, and you elect to punt instead of going for it, you’re calling a very timid game.
So, was this a season-defining loss for the Dawgs? Not unless Georgia also loses in Knoxville. Basically, the game against the Vols now becomes make-or-break for the 2015 Dawgs.
If the Dawgs win at Tennessee and can continue to win, they can shrug off this game, saying “we got beat by the best team on our schedule, but all our goals are still on the table.”
Lose to the Vols, and, yes, this may indeed prove to be a turning point loss for Mark Richt’s program at UGA.
Granted, one loss isn’t a season-killer in the SEC; Bama may have been playing at a much higher level that the Dawgs most of the day, but the Tide entered the game already sporting its own conference loss.
No, what has Georgia fans throwing up their hands and feeling kind of hopeless in the wake of Saturday’s defeat is the embarrassing, across-the-board way Georgia lost.
Not only did Saturday’s game bolster the national sportswriter meme that Georgia is never ready for prime time, it also brought to the surface an all-too-familiar feeling of déjà vu in the Bulldog Nation.
A sobering stat thrown out by “Dawg Talk”/“Bulldog Brunch” cohost Jeff Dantzler after the game: This is the 10th consecutive season in which Georgia has suffered a blowout, which he defined as losing by more than two touchdowns.
As Dantzler noted, you can’t build a championship program with a record like that.
Despite the lousy weather, the Dawgs couldn’t have asked for a better Big Game atmosphere for Saturday’s showdown. The stands were packed, the fans were loud (until the game got out of hand), Herschel Walker was his usual engaging presence as the honorary captain and on-field leader of the Georgia-Bulldogs cheer, and UGA basketball coach Mark Fox again painted himself up and joined the Spike Squad. The moment when the video screen cut from a Fox promo for the upcoming basketball season to a live shot of him in the stands was electric. Unfortunately, the football coaching staff and team weren’t in a corresponding Big Game mode. … The lone bright spot for the Dawgs Saturday was Nick Chubb’s 83-yard touchdown run, which allowed him to match Walker’s school record of 13 consecutive games rushing for 100 yards or more. With the exception of that one run, however, Chubb and the Georgia running game were held in check by the Bama defense. … After incurring three unnecessary 15-yard penalties playing on special teams in Saturday’s game, let’s hope freshman linebacker D’Andre Walker gets more than a casual reprimand. … Perhaps no offense was intended, but I found it a bit disconcerting that Bama’s kickers came out and started practicing while the Redcoat Band was still doing its halftime show (from the stands to protect the turf). … A seemingly endless parade of towering high school prospects passed by me before the game as I sought shelter from the rain outside the bookstore on Tate Plaza. You’ve got to wonder how many of them left the game thinking more about their next call from Nick Saban than Richt.
DOES ANYONE AT BUTTS-MEHRE CARE?
The timing of Saturday’s game led to us getting supper from a Sanford Stadium concession stand during the third quarter. Bad decision. The hot dogs were, um, cold. The chicken sandwich was not only cold, but poorly cooked (dry). The prices, of course, were exorbitant. Throw in the fact that the restrooms on the North side were more disgusting than usual (even by Sanford’s admittedly low standards) and the longstanding recurring problem with the stadium clock not working for part of the game, and it’s safe to say that one of the most beautiful college stadiums in America is still being run like a third-rate facility.
On to Knoxville …
Find me on Facebook.
Follow me on Twitter.
— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg
Bill King is an Athens native and a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. A lifelong Bulldogs fan, he sold programs at Sanford Stadium as a teen and has been a football season ticket holder since leaving school. He has worked at the AJC since college and spent 10 years as the Constitution’s rock music critic before moving into copy editing on the old afternoon Journal. In addition to blogging, he’s now a story editor.