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College
The Dawgs’ sputtering offense isn’t doing great UGA defense any favors
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The Dawgs’ sputtering offense isn’t doing great UGA defense any favors

The Dawgs’ sputtering offense isn’t doing great UGA defense any favors

The Dawgs’ sputtering offense isn’t doing great UGA defense any favors

With two games left in the regular season, it has become clear that Kirby Smart's 2019 Dawgs will live or die by their top-level defense.

That was the case Saturday at Auburn, where the Georgia D was magnificent for three quarters, carrying a shutout of the Tigers until the final 10 minutes of the game.

Unfortunately, that almost wasn't enough. The Dawgs' defenders, who have notched a remarkable 28 scoreless quarters this season, were on the field way too long against Auburn, due to an only fitfully effective Georgia offense that, despite taking a 21-0 lead, was held to a ridiculous nine three-and-outs by the best defense they'd faced all season.

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The Dawgs’ sputtering offense isn’t doing great UGA defense any favors

As a result, the Georgia defense "lost composure," as Smart put it later, and let Auburn back into the game with a pair of too-easy fourth-quarter scoring drives. As the Georgia head coach told the Bulldogs radio network's Chuck Dowdle after the game, "Defensively, we just wore down. And we can't do that. We've got to be able to play four quarters."

The Bulldogs had to defend a season-high 86 plays, the most by an opposing team in theSmart era.

It didn't help that, perhaps because his troops were tiring in spite of his liberal substitution policies, defensive coordinator Dan Lanning had the Dawgs' defense in soft zone schemes in the fourth quarter that allowed Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix to slice and dice his way downfield with the sort of short passing game that unfortunately seems to have gone absent from UGA's offensive playbook.

It also didn't help that Georgia again appeared to try to sit on a lead (you'd think Smart would have learned that lesson after being burned twice by Alabama), with Georgia's already less than prolific offense going ultra conservative in the fourth quarter, resulting in no first downs for the Dawgs in that period.

In the end, the Georgia defense, so stout against the run all season, even gave up its first rushing touchdown of the year (though it held the Tigers' rushers in check most of the game, with AU netting only 84 yards on the ground). Auburn QB Nix was the Tigers' leading rusher, with a net 42 yards on 13 carries. Nix put the ball in the air 50 times, completing 30 of them for 1 touchdown. Georgia's Jake Fromm completed just 13 of 28 passes for 110 yards, but 3 of those passes were for TDs.

Part of the problem with the 2019 Dawgs is that the word long has been out on how to defend Georgia's talented but incomplete offense, resulting in a wash-rinse-repeat storyline week after week: Stack the box with 8 men to slow down or stop the run, because the Dawgs' passing game isn't consistent.

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The Dawgs’ sputtering offense isn’t doing great UGA defense any favors

While it's true that Georgia's receiving corps lost an awful lot of talent at the end of last season, the relative youth and inexperience of the Dawgs' pass catchers isn't the main problem. In fact, they made some terrific catches Saturday, including the 51-yard bomb caught by Dominick Blaylock that gave Georgia its first score, and a third-quarter pass to Kearis Jackson in the corner of the end zone that was ruled out of bounds on video review but was still a fantastic effort. (Georgia did manage to score on that drive, thankfully.)

No, the problem wasn't receivers not getting open; it was ineffective scheming.

Sorry if this sounds like a broken record stuck on the same phrase over and over, but the offensive play-calling again was problematic. Too many times Saturday, we saw the Dawgs facing a 3 rd -and-medium or 3 rd -and-long situation, and too many times offensive coordinator James Coley and Fromm seemed fixated on difficult sideline routes 15 or 20 yards downfield. If you need just 5 to 9 yards for a first down, why send so many receivers deep?

Two years ago, in Georgia's march to the national championship game, the short slant pass was Fromm's bread and butter, to the point that opposing defenses centered their trash-talking on that tendency. Remember the "anyone can throw a slant" diss that Fromm made the Gators regret?

However, this season, Coley calls a slant (the sort of pass that Auburn was so successful with on its two scoring drives) only once or twice a game, if that often. Instead, Georgia fixates on those back-shoulder sideline routes that are wonderful when they work, but which don't work often enough.

The 3 rd -down magic Georgia had back in the Florida game seems to have evaporated, as they converted only 3 of 15 tries Saturday. (Auburn was a similarly dismal 5 of 18.)

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The Dawgs’ sputtering offense isn’t doing great UGA defense any favors

The result was a decidedly lackluster day offensively for the Dawgs. Remember how a week ago we were complaining that Georgia relied too heavily on Rodrigo Blankenship, settling for too many field goals instead of scoring touchdowns? If only that had been the case Saturday, as Hot Rod never even got to try one against Auburn.

Instead, it was Georgia punter Jake Camarda getting the stiff workout, kicking an incredible 11 punts for an average 50.7 yards. That included a magnificent field-flipping 66-yarder in the first quarter.

In the end, with Auburn having seized the momentum after a second scoring drive that took just over a minute off the clock, it was Georgia's defense that put the game away, with a couple of 4 th -down stands. On the first one, Nix misfired on a short pass, but the play that nailed the coffin shut on the subsequent Auburn drive saw freshman Trayvon Walker sacking Nix. That ended the Tigers' final chance.

Thus, Georgia will represent the SEC East in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta for the third consecutive year. It was Georgia's 12 th win in the past 15 games of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry.

Auburn wound up the game with more first downs than Georgia (22 to 16) and more offensive yards (329 to 251), and dominated the time of possession (32:17 to 27:43), but most of it was too little too late. Those 329 yards the Georgia defense held Auburn to were the Tigers' lowest home output of the season.

Dawgs defenders also got a bit of that "havoc" Smart always is harping on, tallying eight tackles for loss and two sacks. Georgia's leading tackler was Monty Rice,with 10 stops. Dawgs safety Richard LeCounte also recovered a Nix fumble, though Georgia wasn't able to do anything on the ensuing drive.

Offensively, Georgia never really established its rushing attack (which, Smart noted, makes it tough to get the play-action passing game going), but D'Andre Swift did rack up 106 yards on his 17 carries and, for the second straight year, went over a 1,000 yards for the season. He is the fifth Bulldog in history to have a pair of 1,000-yard seasons.

Brian Herrien added 26 tough yards and a couple of catches, including one for a touchdown.

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The Dawgs’ sputtering offense isn’t doing great UGA defense any favors

With Fromm's favorite receiver, Lawrence Cager, again going out injured, Demetris Robertson and Blaylock ended up the day as Georgia's leading receivers, with Robertson catching 3 passes and freshman Blaylock snagging 2 (including one TD).

On special teams, Smart noted after the game that Georgia needs to "fix" the problem of too many penalties (on one punt, Georgia was flagged for both a false start and delay of game, though the latter was a bad call by the officiating crew).

So, bottom line: The defense is great, but the offense has a lot that needs fixing. As Swift said after the game, "I can't say it enough: We've got to sustain drives. We've got to be better on third down. Third down has always been our strength. We didn't do well today, not well enough. We'll go back and look and see what we can do in those situations."

Still, there's one thing that shouldn't be overlooked amid all the fretting about the Georgia offense's shortcomings, or how the 4 th -ranked Dawgs nearly collapsed in the fourth quarter: UGA got a third quality win Saturday against the 12th ranked Tigers, to go with a pair of Top 10 victories earlier in the season. As Smart said, playing at raucuous Jordan-Hare Stadium "was a tough environment," and the Auburn Tigers are "a good football team." Georgia became the first team to defeat Auburn under Gus Malzahn following a bye week, as the Tigers previously were 9-0 after a week off.

So, Georgia once again is the best of the SEC East. But, as impressive as that is, it's the least of what was expected of this team. And, the road going forward, to achieve their ultimate goals of making the playoff and having another shot at a national championship, will require better effort from the offense than we've seen so far.

Smart summed it up: "We've got to get better offensively to get where we need to go."

The post The Dawgs' sputtering offense isn't doing great UGA defense any favors appeared first on DawgNation.

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Georgia Sports News

  • Pac-12 Network play-by-play announcer Ted Robinson joked Saturday night during the Georgia-Arizona State men's basketball broadcast that every NBA scout west of the Mississippi was in Tempe, AZ to see Bulldogs freshman phenom Anthony Edwards. While Edwards played fairly well, Sun Devils junior guard Remy Martin shined the brightest, posting a game-high 23 points and six assists to lead Arizona State (8-2) to a, 79-59, victory against Georgia (6-3) at Desert Financial Arena on Saturday night. Martin, who scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half, hit three 3-pointers and posted three rebounds. Playingits first true road game of the season and in its first contest in 10 days because of final exams, Georgia was sloppy in its return to the court. The Bulldogs shot under nine percent from the 3-point line and committed 18 turnovers. The result was a season-low 59 points. With the long off period, a slow Georgia start in the first few minutes wouldn't have been at all surprising, but the Bulldogs didn't start as slowly as they finished. After an Edwards jumper with just a little more than seven minutes remaining in the first half, Georgia trailed only 21-20. But Arizona State ended the half on an 18-11 run, including an 11-5 spurt during the final four minutes. Georgia lost an opportunity to cut into a six-point deficit just before halftime. With 31 seconds remaining, coach Tom Crean called a timeout to draw up a play for the half's final possession, but after receiving the inbounds pass, freshman Sahvir Wheeler threw his pass out of bounds. The turnover, Georgia's 13th of the first half, proved to be a pivotal mistake, as the Sun Devils added another bucket at the buzzer, extending their lead to eight. The Arizona State lead ballooned to 12 by the first official timeout of the second half. The Sun Devils severely outplayed the Bulldogs in the final 20 minutes, and Georgia was not within single digits again after the 16:57 mark of the second half. In addition to 18 turnovers, the Bulldogs shot just 34.8 percent, which includes the team going 2 for 24 from the 3-point line. Georgia made one 3-pointer in each half. The Bulldogs didn't have an advantage on the glass as many expected Saturday night either. Georgia outrebounded Arizona by just one, 43-42. Furthermore, Georgia posted only 11 assists, which is tied for the team's second-fewest in a game this season. Arizona State also struggled from the 3-point line, going 6 of 25 (24 percent) and didn't do a great job of taking care of the ball (17 turnovers), but the Sun Devils shot much better inside the arc, posting a 49.3 shooting percentage overall against the Bulldogs defense. Edwards led Georgia's starters with 13 points. He also had four rebounds, two assists and two steals, but he was 0-for-5 from behind the arc. Sophomore Tye Fagan scored a team-high 15 points off the bench. Senior Tyree Crump hit both of Georgia's 3-pointers, but he was just 2-for-9 from behind the arc and missed his only 2-point attempt. Junior Rayshaun Hammonds, who had 19 points in Georgia's last game on Dec. 4 against NC Central, grabbed a team-high eight rebounds with three assists and three steals, but he was only 1 of 9 shooting and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Hammonds finished with a season-low four points. Sun Devils junior forward Romello White, who is an Atlanta native, recorded his fourth straight double-double with 18 points and 17 rebounds. White was a major reason why Georgia didn't have an advantage on the glass. He created second-chance opportunities for the Arizona State offense as well with a game-high six offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs will return home to face another tough out-of-conference test in SMU this Friday, but in that matchup, SMU will be the team that's possibly rusty. The Mustangs last played on Dec. 7, losing at home to Georgetown, 91-74. That's SMU's only loss of the season, though, as the Mustangs have opened their slate 8-1. Georgia will play host to SMU next Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum at 7 p.m. ET. The post Georgia basketball sloppy in 79-59 loss at Arizona State appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Tate Ratledge was a major worry for Dawgnation in the wake of the Sam Pittman news to Arkansas. Pittman leaving the UGA staff meant a great deal here. It was why a family that grew up wearing Tennessee Vols gear saw the nation's No. 3 OT prospect wind up committing to the Georgia Bulldogs. Ratledge took to Twitter on Saturday afternoon to reaffirm his commitment to Bulldogs. Well, he sort of let the picture do the talking. Ratledge tweeted out a picture of him shaking hands with Herschel Walker from a visit to Georgia earlier this year. He also said that he was shut down and that he will sign on Wednesday during the early period. If one can't read between the lines there, then they need some 5-star help in the deductive reasoning department. The nation's No. 36 overall prospect for the 2020 cycle had to like what he heard in his meetings with Matt Luke on Wednesday. He followed up those good vibes with an unofficial visit to Athens on Saturday afternoon. 'The time I have spent with coach Luke I have developed a faster relationship than any coach I have been around,' Ratledge said. 'I watched them practice today and I liked his style of coaching and his enthusiasm.' That's some great early momentum for the Bulldogs as they are within a critical official visit weekend on the final recruiting window before the early signing period opens up on Dec. 18. Making sure that Ratledge was still a part of the 2020 class was a big deal. It doesn't merit one of those 'yes sir' videos anymore with Pittman in Arkansas. Yet somehow the feeling here is that a handshake with Herschel Walker will do just fine here. The post BREAKING: Georgia commit Tate Ratledge uses Herschel Walker pic to reaffirm commitment appeared first on DawgNation.
  • When Jordan Burch posted the Snapchat video of his Athens hotel room bright and early on Saturday, it was official. It was truly game on for the Georgia football official visitor weekend. Georgia's dance card of official visitors had brought in just about everyone it hoped it would. Or at least the players it absolutely had to have there this weekend. Burch, the nation's No. 2 overall prospect for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite, made another trip to Athens for his official visit. Burch has taken officials this season to both Alabama and LSU. He'd also been to Georgia for a junior day appearance, for G-Day, for the scavenger hunt weekend, the July cookout and an unofficial visit for the South Carolina game. The nation's No. 1 strong-side DE prospect (Hammond School/Columbia, SC) has been a mystery across the entire recruiting cycle. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound senior does no media. He plays in the same city as South Carolina. His quarterback at Hammond is the son of Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp. Jordan Burch has made it to Athens for his OV to UGA #CommitToTheG pic.twitter.com/Ejb4pFGALf DWooDy (@dwoody15) December 14, 2019 The Under Armour 2020 All-American plans to sign and make his decision known on Dec. 19. That event is not expected to take place at Hammond School, but in his hometown in Florence. Kirby Smart and select members of the Georgia staff made a trip to check out Burch this week. They saw him pour in 10 points on the basketball court. Burch's visit was big. But the official visit that got started late at night from 5-star CB Kelee Ringo was just as big. Ringo ranks as the nation's No. 1 CB for 2020 on that same composite. He has also been a frequent unofficial visitor to UGA this year, but not during the season. Ringo is a rare athlete. He has the ability to match up with any receiver of any size in the secondary. He has the size to battle down the field with the 6-foot-5 giraffes, but also the 4.35 laser speed in the 40 to smother even the shiftiest slot receivers. Those two visitors stand out, but so does the chance to recruit 4-star speed merchant Arian Smith over the weekend. He's also now set to sign during the early signing period. Smith has been clocked at 10.31 in the 100 meters and is one of the fastest high school athletes in the country. UGA rolling out the red carpet for Arian Smith #CommitToTheG pic.twitter.com/dcUojS5W1U DWooDy (@dwoody15) December 13, 2019 He's also rated as the nation's no. 14 WR and the No. 75 overall prospect for 2020. That would fill a big need for Georgia by adding more 'fear factor' to the receiver room. Smith is down to Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Dontae Manning is another priority official visitor in his own right . The nation's No. No. 6 cornerback and No. 76 overall prospect is a bona fide playmaker in all three phases of the game. He has also been a special teams standout for his Raytown High School (Kansas City, Mo.) team for the last few seasons. Manning is down to Arizona State, Georgia, Oregon, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas A&M. The pure 247Sports rating has his mas the nation's No. 2 overall cornerback for 2020. RELATED: Keep up with all the official visits this weekend on the DawgNation forum Georgia football: Check out the notable officials This has been a nouveau official visit weekend for the Bulldogs. The number of official visitors will be the biggest recruiting weekend of the year at least according to that count. RELATED: Former Ole Miss commit Eric Reed Jr. previews his official visit Ringo started off his official visit at a shooting range. Smith and his guests wound up at an ax-throwing establishment in the Classic City. Reed had a dinner plate that looked like a lobster farm. This weekend was easily going beyond the normal cookie cake realm that has been an official visit UGA tradition. Combine that with the LED-heavy Sanford Stadium experience and the usual black SUV motorcades that whip those blue-chip recruits everywhere and it will be another painting the town red night for those potential Bulldogs in Athens. Scan the list of names below for an unofficial list of visitors that are in town or are stil; expected to be in town this weekend. DawgNation is still looking for at least 2-3 other surprise visitors from this weekend that we could see show up in Athens. Official visitors in town this weekend Jordan Burch/ 5-star DE/Hgt: 6-5/Wgt: 275 (Undecided) Hammond School/Columbia, SC Nation's No. 1 strong-side DE and No. 2 overall prospect Kelee Ringo/5-star CB/Hgt: 6-2/Wgt: 205/Undecided Saguaro High School/Scottsdale, AZ Nation's No. 1 CB and No. 8 overall prospect Related: DawgNation on Kelee Ringo Arian Smith/4-star WR/Hgt: 6-1/Wgt: 175/Undecided Lakeland High School/Lakeland, Fla. Nation's No. 14 WR and No. 72 overall prospect Dontae Manning/4-star CB/Hgt: 6-0/Wgt: 185/Undecided Raytown High School/Kansas City, Mo. Nation's No. 6 CB and No. 76 overall prospect Related: DawgNation on Dontae Manning Major Burns/4-star S/Hgt: 6-2/Wgt: 176/Undecided Madison Prep Academy/Baton Rouge, La. Nation's No. 12 S and No. 155 overall prospect Eric Reed Jr./4-star S/Hgt: 6-0/Wgt: 195/Undecided Calvary Baptist School/Shreveport, La. Nation's No. 16 S and No. 175 overall prospect Related: DawgNation on Eric Reed Jr. Aaryn Parks/4-star OG/Hgt: 6-4/Wgt: 320 (Oklahoma commit) National Christian Academy/Fort Washington, Md. Nation's No. 6 OG and No. 198 overall prospect Warren Brinson/4-star DT/Hgt:6-4.5/Wgt:295 (Georgia commit) IMG Academy /Bradenton, Fla. Nation's No. 26 DT and No. 254 overall prospect Devin Willock/3-star OT/Hgt: 6-6/Wgt: 345 (Undecided) Paramus Catholic/Paramus, NJ Nation's No. 67 OT and No. 892 overall prospect Unofficial visitors Tate Ratledge/4-star OT/Hgt: 6-6/Weight: 320/(Georgia commit) Darlington School/Rome, Ga. Nation's No. 3 OT and No. 36 overall prospect Nazir Stackhouse/4-star DT/Hgt: 6-3.5/Wgt: 306 (Georgia commit) Columbia High School/Decatur, Ga. Nation's No. 27 DT and No. 257 overall prospect The post Georgia football: A pair of 5-stars highlight a robust official visit weekend appeared first on DawgNation.
  • According to the Athens-Clarke County jail logs, Georgia running back James Cook was arrested on two misdemeanor charges on Saturday morning. Cook was arrested on one count of driving with an open container of alcoholic beverage in the passenger area and one count of having an invalid drivers license. Bond for each misdemeanor was $1,000. He was booked at 1:45 a.m. on Saturday and released on bond at 2:39 a.m. *More details will be added to this story The post Georgia football running back James Cook arrested appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Which playoff team should UGA cheer for to win the national championship? LSU: This is the easy choice. First, if LSU wins, Bulldog fans can say 'we got knocked out of a playoff spot by the team that won it all.' Secondly, LSU obviously is an SEC team, which will further validate the narrative that the SEC is the nation's biggest and baddest conference. Finally, other than this dirty play from the SEC Championship , what's not to like about LSU? Coach Ed Orgeron is jovial and smiles a lot, his voice sounds cartoon-like, and he's created an atmosphere where they players look like they're having a lot of fun rather than the ultra-serious and businesslike manners of other top programs. It seems like LSU would be the easy fan favorite for UGA fans. Ohio State: For UGA fans, supporting Ohio State would be a vote in favor of quarterback Justin Fields, who was wearing the Bulldogs uniform this time last year. There are two things some UGA fans will always wonder: (1) Why wasn't Fields ever given a fair chance to get significant playing time for the Bulldogs, particularly after the 2018 LSU loss? It's still confusing. Years from now, when all parties (i.e. former O.C. Jim Chaney, players) are far removed from the radioactive topic, the truth will come out on how it all really went down. (2) I'll always wonder what was Fields thinking by signing with UGA in the first place after a freshman quarterback had just led the Bulldogs to an appearance in the national championship. Flash forward to now: There was never any doubt about Fields' elite talent. Given the chance at Ohio State this year, he rapidly developed into one of the nation's top overall players, recently being named as one of the four Heisman finalists. It's understandable that some UGA fans may still be upset at Fields for leaving, but it also must be pointed out that three of four playoff teams have transfers as starting quarterbacks. It's part of the game, and the Bulldogs have also benefitted from transfers (ie, JR Reed, etc.). Fields just wanted to play, and he felt like it wasn't in the cards at UGA, so he moved on. It's as simple as that. One final note: Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't ever seen Fields say anything negatively publicly about the Bulldogs or his time there. Clemson: For some UGA fans, this is the 'new Alabama' or the team to hate, especially after Tigers coach Dabo Swinney threw the Bulldogs under the bus with his comments a couple of weeks ago. Oklahoma: There's really no reason for UGA to be for or against Oklahoma, other than the fact that the Sooners took the final spot in the playoffs over the Bulldogs. In other words, if the Bulldogs had won the SEC Championship (or had avoided the South Carolina upset), they would've been the team in there with Clemson, LSU and Ohio State. Which team do you support and (more importantly) why, please post it below in the comments? Who do you want to win it all? Oklahoma Ohio State LSU Clemson 1 vote 1 answer Vote The post Which team should UGA fans be rooting for to win it all? appeared first on DawgNation.