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Georgia Football

Upon Further Review... UGA Football Will Be Fine

September 19, 2023

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ATHENS - Like most – ok, all of you – I spent the first half of UGA Football’s contest against South Carolina frustrated. 

My somewhat muted profanity directed at the results of 30 minutes of gametime were echoed by 92,000 in attendance in Sanford Stadium and millions at home. I believed we were seeing our deepest fears come to light as the Dawgs went into the locker room down 14-3 at the half. While the second half was much better, as was the final result, I went home thinking Georgia had some serious problems to address. Having rewatched the game a couple of times, I changed my mind. 

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This 2023 squad is not without issues. But all of these issues can be and will be addressed. Some issues must be addressed quickly as injuries continue to pile up. Key starters will be replaced by less experienced players who must be able to perform at or near the same level. That’s a big ask, but that’s what you get when you come to Georgia. So, let’s look at a couple of areas of concern after the first quarter of the season is in the rear-view mirror.

UGA Football Concerns:

1. David Daniel Sisavanh had a rough day in place of Javon Bullard. For a player who has been in the program for three seasons, Saturday’s effort was, in a word, poor. Three of South Carolina’s biggest chunk plays were a result of DDS either losing his man in coverage or just being lost. Bullard’s injury will be a season-long trial, and DDS needs to be better. 

2. Offensive line play was inconsistent. Xavier Truss and Sedrick Van Pran both had key missed blocks that either caused a loss or sack. Truss specifically was bad while at guard as he was out over his toes frequently, enabling defensive linemen to get past him easily. Combination blocks weren’t executed, and only Daijun Edwards’ vision saved several tackles for loss. Only when Truss moved to right tackle in place of the injured Amarius Mims with Dylan Fairchild occupying left guard did the offensive line begin to assert themselves. Earnest Greene is still a work in progress, as his relative inability to get to the second level to cut off linebacker pursuit stood out over and over. I will say the line play got better as the game went on, but it’s still not what’s been expected.

3. Play calling was... interesting. South Carolina generally had 8 or 9 defenders within eight yards of the line of scrimmage in the first half, especially when Georgia lined up in bunch or tight formations. It’s really hard to run against that. It is also increasingly difficult to accurately throw short passes when lanes are full of opposing players. The wide receiver screens were generally effective against that defensive look, but once Georgia took a couple of shots in the third quarter the box loosened.

Look, Mike Bobo is running the same plays as Todd Monken did. It’s plain to see. My concern though is that all three of Georgia’s opponents so far have loaded the box. Inside zone runs against a stacked box rarely work. Sweeps and outside zone were effective all game. I’d like to see more of those…please. Further, there were no counter play action calls (moving the quarterback opposite of play flow) that we saw Carson Beck utilize effectively in the first game. More of those, please. And please, no more jet sweeps on third down. 

4. Special Teams – ugh. Saturday was a bad day for special teams. Two missed field goals along with a kickoff out of bounds and a kick return just prior to the half that should have been a touchback brought groans from the crowd. Points and yards are hard to come by. Leaving 6 points on the field and giving the opponent free yards will come back to bite you. Thankfully it didn’t Saturday. Peyton Woodring must get right. While scoring touchdowns is preferred, you must take points when you can get them. 

5. Tackling – Three missed tackles on the first South Carolina drive led to a touchdown. Poor angles left the middle of the field open. Jadon Dumas-Johnson missed three during the game that I counted. One enabled a long scramble by Spencer Rattler late in the second quarter that led to the second South Carolina touchdown. Tackle him there, and Georgia holds for a field goal. 

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Now, for the good stuff. And yes, there were good things that happened all game long:

1. Running back vision – having Edwards back cannot be understated. He’s the most reliable back on the team, and his vision and quickness were evident Saturday. Kendall Milton also ran well, but of course he’s injured again. And Dillon Bell – wow. He doesn’t touch the ball much, but he’s very effective when he does. Could he be this team’s Kenny McIntosh?

2. Defensive line pressure – Both Nazir Stackhouse and Warren Brinson stood out in pushing the pocket, especially in the second half. Mykel Williams was a menace. Georgia got pressure with 4 quite often and blitzes were generally effective. Rattler was a different quarterback in the second half, going 6-24 for 104 yards and two interceptions. Pressure made him uncomfortable.

3. Discipline and resilience – a team that is stressed will commit unforced errors. The Dawgs didn’t turn the ball over and only had 6 penalties. Two of those were delay penalties deliberately taken. The telltale signs of frustration weren’t there on the sidelines or on the field. Georgia knew they had to play better to win, and they did just that. 

The areas of concern are fixable. This isn’t a talent problem. It’s an execution problem. Georgia is young in some areas and has continued to lose talented players to injury so far. While most of the injured are expected back at some point this season, the dudes on the second team will have to step up and continue to improve or these concerns will cost Georgia a game at some point. 

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