Georgia Bulldog News - The Blawg House
Remind me to send a thank you card to those VT kickers who were not in attendance for the Sugar Bowl last night. You know, I felt like that game was going to be close... just not that close. Regardless, we're 20-10... at 66%, that's not bad, but not good either. We need those numbers up, so here's the pick for tonight's Orange Bowl:
Discover Orange Bowl
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 - 8:30pm EST - ESPN
#23 West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3, 5-2 Big East) vs. #15 Clemson Tigers (10-3, 6-2 ACC)
Preview: One team deserves to be here, the other is here because, for some reason, their conference is affiliated with an automatic tie-in to the BCS. The fact that West Virginia is in a big time BCS game after a pretty terrible season in the very weak Big East is just another black eye on the BCS system. Regardless, this match-up does raise the interest of the casual college football observer. With Clemson's offense that ranks 23rd in points scored and a West Virginia's offense that ranks 20th in points scored, you can guarantee this is going to be an entertaining, high scoring contest.
Pick: I really thought West Virginia was a decent team - until that Syracuse game. West Virginia, in my opinion, just is not the West Virginia of old. Yes, Geno Smith is an entertaining football player, but, against Big East defenses, Buck Belue would have had more yards. Clemson's offense - though they were slowed a few times - is the real deal. This is the first time this team has made it to the Orange Bowl in 30 years, and you can guarantee they want this game more. Look for Sammy Davis to have a big day and for Boyd to lead Clemson to an Orange Bowl victory.
CLEM - 45 / WVU - 35
2011 is over and done. Therefore, 2012 is the focus for Dawg fans around the nation.
The Outback Bowl's missed field goals have been and will be a theme through the off-season. With Georgia's struggles on special teams, they will need someone to come in and provide some stability for the punting and field goal units.
Enter Georgia commit: Marshall Morgan
Morgan, a 6'3" 195lb 3-star kicker from Miami, is considered by many to be one of the top kicking prospects in the nation. In fact, Georgia ignored the kicker from Calhoun because they felt like Marshall was "their guy."
Just last night, in the Simper Fidelis All-American Game, Morgan kicked a 47-yard field goal that ended up being the difference in the game.
Marshall, as you can see in his video, is very talented in all areas of the kicking game. He puts his kicks in the endzone, he has great distance on field goals, and can punt just as well. Morgan has claimed that Georgia is giving him first shot to win the field goal and kickoff duties. If he can come in and be extremely productive, it will be a big boost the the hurting Georgia special teams.
If Marshall isn't the guy... at least in 2013 we've got another guy that can kick.
So, now that the bowl game has come and gone, I've started thinking more of the direction of the blog for the off season.
I've decided I want to be a lot more interactive with all of you that visit The Blawg House daily. We went over 100,000 unique visitors (THANK YOU) just before the New Year, and I'd love to hear more from you.
So, please, make comments in the comment section. You don't have to register or sign up, just comment, discuss, and leave your thoughts. The more view points, the better, in my opinion!
We've got to straighten up, don't we. 19-10 is definitely not good enough for bowl pook championships. We're 7-8 over the last few days, so, hopefully, we can finish strong to help you (and me) have a shot in our bowl pools.
So, here is my pick for tonight's Sugar Bowl:
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 - 12:00pm EST - ESPN
#13 Michigan Wolverines (10-2, 6-2 Big 10) vs. #11 Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2, 7-2 ACC)
Preview: Talk about a BCS game that shouldn't be. Michigan and Virginia Tech should not be in this game, but they are. Now, despite being blown out by Clemson (twice), Va Tech brings their balanced offense to New Orleans and will rely on a heavy load of David Wilson against Michigan's defense. On the other side, Michigan will try to cap off Brady Hoke's first season with a Sugar Bowl win behind Denard Robinson - the talented dual threat QB who has thrown for 2000+ and rushed for 1000+ this year.
Pick: I watched both of these teams this year a good bit, and, in my opinion, Michigan pulls this out late. Va Tech does have a really good RB and their QB is a big guy who can make some tough runs. However, I really like Denard Robinson. I think Brady Hoke will try and put an exclaimation point on a big turnaround season for Michigan.
UM - 41 / VT - 38
So, 2012 begins about the same was 2011 did - with a lot of questions about the Georgia program. Although the Outback Bowl was a great game filled with defense, offense, and special team plays, it leaves Georgia and its fans speechless.
Where did it go wrong? Was it the turnovers? Was it the missed field goals? Was it the play calling? The answer is simple, yes. All of those things led to Michigan State making a comeback from down 16-0 and defeating Georgia in triple overtime. But, it wasn't just the turnovers, missed field goals, and play calling - there were a lot of areas in which we fell short: depth at DL, inconsistencies in the running play, terrible offensive line play, conditioning late in the game, bad coaching decisions.
For a game that was so great as a football game - it was miserable as a Georgia fan.
You can't say enough good things about #2. I honestly think I would have given him a shot to kick the game winning field goal - hell, he did everything else. Boykin scored on defense (safety), on offense (13 yd TD reception), and on special teams (92 yard punt return). Boykin from game 1 has been the heart and soul of the defense and we will definitely miss seeing "BAM" in the red and black.
It was good that someone on offense came to play, because, honestly, if it had not been for T.K. we may have gotten blown out. His big time catches throughout the game gave Georgia hope and big scores when it needed it. He set the school record with 205 yards receiving. It was definitely a springboard game for the Junior WR.
You know, up 16-0 at the half, I felt like our defense was playing on of its best games of the year. However, a few injuries and lack of conditioning led to us being gased in the 4th when we really needed a stop. I will say this, after JJ6 got the pick, I felt like our D really stepped up, but to give up 85 yards in 1:15 it pretty terrible. We have to learn to finish.
1st Down Play Calling
Believe me, I am not in favor of calling out coaches for play calling - because I've been there and it sucks. But, wow... if we try to run the inside zone one more time on first down, I may vomit. I understand establishing the run is important, but the way they were loading the box on first down, we should have ran some screens to capitalize on the pressure.
Not Being Aggressive in OT
I understand the choice to kick on 3rd down. However, it was 1st and 2nd down that made me shake my head. A run with Thomas for no gain and a run with Murray to set up the FG that lost yardage, not really going for the kill, if you ask me. When a team throws a pick in OT to start, you take a few shots with the defense on it's heels to make it easier on your 60% field goal kicker. Had we been 10 yards closer, Blairs kick would have snuck inside the upright, not outside of it.
Or, lack there of. This has been a consistent theme throughout the year - who is going to step up and be the starting running back for the Georgia Bulldogs, Tailback U, the home of Garrison Hearst and Herschel Walker for crying out loud. We need help. We need talent. We need heart. The rushing attack was absolutely terrible this game and all year long.
Honestly, did anyone not see that coming in OT? Blair has been a 50-60% kicker this whole year, and to put the game on his shoulders is tough to swallow. We should have been more aggressive. We should have won it in regulation. I hate to see a kid trade in 3 years of excellence for 1 year of misery - but, that is exactly what happened.
Offensive Line Play
It finally happened. Our offensive line was completely exposed. Michigan State had way more than 10 tackles for loss - embarassing. Justin Anderson and Cordy Glenn were exposed for their lack of ability at OT. If they were at OG, and we had two true OT's, it may have been a different story. Coach Will Friend has his hands full to find a successful group for 2012.
So, where do we go from here? Back to the weight room. Back to the recruiting trail. Back to the practice fields and the film rooms. We did take a step in the right direction as a football program, however, these last two games showed Georgia is not where it needs to be to compete for a National Championship. Georgia needs a very solid recruiting class and a very, very good, tough off season in order to be ready to make a run in 2012.
Regardless of everything that happened in 2011, today, we start a new season. If Georgia wants to hold up a trophy in 2012, they better get to work today!
A year ago at this time, I was pondering the direction of the Georgia football program. Would there be major changes? What is going to happen to Mark Richt? How long until Georgia would be back to the level we had gotten used to under Coach Richt?
Well, a year later, we know those answers. In one season, Mark Richt went from being a coach on the hot seat to the coach on the sideline of the SEC Championship Game. Although Georgia will only be raising an SEC East banner next year, coming off a 6-7 season, it is pretty remarkable the job Coach Richt has done. However, one last hurdle stands in the way of Georgia having a good season and a great season - #17 Michigan State.
This season, I paid a ton of attention to the Spartans. For some reason, MSU's style of football was very appealing to me. They have a very, very tough defense. The Spartans have the #5 ranked defense in the nation, only gives up a little over 17 points a game, gives up barely over 100 rushing yards per game, and about 170 yards passing per game. Pretty salty if you ask me. That is exactly what Mark Richt had to say about Michigan State's defense:
Georgia's offense, which finished third in the SEC averaging 413.8 yards, may have a tough time regrouping against a Michigan State defense that finished fifth in the country allowing 272.7 yards per game.
The Spartans are led by first-team All-America defensive lineman Jerel Worthy -- Michigan State's first first-team All-American on the defensive line since the late Bubba Smith in 1966.
"They've got a couple of really big guys up front that can push the pocket into the quarterback's face," Richt said. "If you run the ball well, then you tend to have less third-and-long situations. If you play-action pass, you might get a linebacker out of position."
This game looks about as even of a match-up as you could ask for. Just look at the tale of the tape:
- Rushing Offense: Georgia - 41st / Michigan State - 77th
- Passing Offense: Georgia - 48th / Michigan State - 49th
- Total Offense: Georgia - 39th / Michigan State - 59th
- Points Scored: Georgia - 33rd / Michigan State - 37th
- Rushing Defense: Georgia - 11th / Michigan State - 12th
- Passing Defense: Georgia - 7th / Michigan State - 11th
- Total Defense: Georgia - 3rd / Michigan State - 5th
- Scoring Defense: Georgia - 16th / Michigan State - 9th
On both sides of the ball, Georgia and Michigan State have areas where they are better than the other. On one sideline, you've got a Georgia defense led by tons of future NFL talent and a Georgia offense led by Tampa natives, Aaron Murray and Orson Charles - on the other, you've got a Michigan State defense that is led by Jerel Worthy and an offense led by senior playmakers, QB Kirk Cousins and WR B.J. Cunningham.
What Georgia Needs to do to Win:
I see this game being tight through out. Both teams will try to establish the run and open up the passing game by making the defenses play 7 men in the box constantly. Georgia will absolutely need 100 yards or more from their running backs to have a successful day. Aaron Murray could find some holes in the MSU defense with Orson Charles being a big mismatch for the MSU secondary.
On defense, Georgia just needs to continue to play relentlessly and disciplined. Kirk Cousins and B.J. Cunningham are good players, but they are not great. This will not be the LSU team Georgia saw a while back, however, they will be a challenge. Georgia needs to create turnovers on defense to give Georgia's offense the short field to score on the stingy MSU defense.
How it Will Play Out:
MSU and Georgia are both coming off of tough losses in their conference championship game. Both are looking to prove something. Georgia wants to prove they belong and Michigan State wants to prove that the SEC is not as tough as it is perceived. In my opinion, I see this being a close game with turnovers and short field scores being the difference. Aaron Murray has gotten much better as of late - especially in the red zone. If Georgia's defense can force Kirk Cousins to through into some disguised coverage on 3rd or 2nd and long, they could get some turnovers in MSU territory that will lead to Georgia's victory.
Georgia - 27 / Michigan State - 13