Kickoff 2014 – Dawgs Maul Tigers: UGA 45, Clemson 21

keith_marshall_todd_gurley_ugaGeorgia Pummels Clemson in the Second Half
Georgia versus Clemson was a tale of two halves.   The first act was altogether unimpressive.  UGA gave up 254 yards on defense, resulting in the game being tied at 21 as the teams headed to the locker room.  During the final two frames, Georgia not only tamed the tigers, they slayed the tigers.  Bulldog Nation pitched a shutout in the second half while outscoring the Tigers 24-0 in the last 30 minutes of the game.

Dawgs Run Wild Between The Hedges
Having options at running back is nice, but Todd Gurley is clearly the big Dawg in Sanford Stadium.  His production on Saturday night, including 293 all-purpose yards, proves the Dawgs carry a championship level bite when #3 is able to shoulder the loud.  TGIII finished the opening contest with 198 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

Wearing #27, Nick Chubb had a 47 yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to break the will of the Clemson defense.

jeremy_pruitt_mark_richtA Damn Good Dawg Debut
On the other side of the ball, Jeremy Pruitt’s defense settled down nicely after giving up 13 first downs in the opening quarter quarter and turned in an impressive performance against Clemson.  If the starters can stay healthy, coach Pruitt should expect to continue his meteoric rise through the coaching ranks.

The Bulldogs came out even on the turnover ratio in week one. The fumble charged against Georgia was questionable, as what was originally ruled an incompletion to Michael Bennett turned out to be a fumble upon further review.  Thankfully, the mistake turned out to be nothing more than a blip on the radar.

Will Georgia’s Bite Be Worse Than Their Bark?
There is reason to be excited in Athens.  Georgia possesses a seemingly endless stable of running backs, led by a fifth-year senior signal caller.  As long as Hutson Mason is able to make big throws when the running game opens up the throwing lanes, the sky is the limit for the UGA offense.

Defensively, linebacker Leonard Floyd is poised to continue wreaking havoc on the Southeastern Conference.  Selected as a preseason All-American by ESPN, Floyd is the face of coach Pruitt’s defensive unit.  Pressuring the quarterback will be the key to the Bulldogs’ season.

What A Difference One Game Makes
UGA issued a resounding statement on opening night and the Dawgs now find themselves in the championship conversation.  Following a bye-week, Georgia will look to build on their success in a pivotal Southeastern Conference contest against a wounded Gamecock squad that laid an egg against the Aggies in week one.  Steve Spurrier has been a constant thorn in the Dawgs’ paw, but this year’s South Carolina squad found out that the hard way that it takes a lot more than a mouthy head coach to win a title.

Tray Matthews Dismissed from UGA

Dawgs Putting Discipline Back in Defense
According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, UGA head coach Mark Richt dismissed Tray Matthews from the team earlier this week.  Matthews started six games at safety for Georgia, however his off the field problems left the Bulldogs with no alternative but to remove him from the program.

During what the AJC termed an exclusive interview, Tray Matthews stated that his unruly classroom behavior was the final straw in his dismissal.

richt_saban

Hopefully Nick Saban is giving our beloved coach a discipline tip. Or two.

Fret not, Bulldog Nation, for Tray Matthews says he was planning to leave anyway.  Apparently, he had been waiting for the right time to inform the media.  Matthews clearly has some growing up to do, and here’s hoping a change of scenery helps facilitate that.

As far as what is next for the troubled sophomore, Tray Matthews has expressed a desire to continue his college career at either Auburn or Louisville.

Task Getting Tougher for Jeremy Pruitt
Tray Matthews was not a difference maker on defense during his time in Athens.  Still, there is no substitute for experience.  UGA possesses the talent level to compete with any team in the country, but a lack of depth on defense is going to make a quick turnaround very difficult.

Georgia Sending a Message to Student Athletes
In the midst of another turbulent offseason for the Georgia Bulldogs, Mark Richt says the football team “is trying to make room for guys who want to do things right.”  Tray Matthews is the third player who played a significant role in 2013 that has left the program this offseason.  Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has his work cut out for him preparing for his first season between the hedges.

Discipline issues are a fact of life in big time college football.  The key to success is whether or not a team establishes a no nonsense standard of handling and overcoming issues, while working together to be successful on and off of the gridiron to breed success in all facets of college.

Games Cannot be won in June (Though they can Certainly be Lost)
June is a fairly absurd time to make big predictions about the upcoming season.  Even so, 2014 promises to be a pivotal year for Bulldog Nation.  It has been nearly a decade since Georgia won the Southeastern Conference, and expectations will be high for a lot of new faces to make a championship level first impression.

Transfer Trouble for UGA Football?

jeremy_pruitt_bcsTransfers May Cause Depth Issues on Defense
Bulldog Nation has plenty of reason to be excited about new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.  A proven winner, Pruitt has the experience needed to put the bark back into the bite of the Georgia defense.

Still, a coach is only as good as the talent he is instructing.  With the recent news that UGA defensive back Shaq Wiggins decided to transfer, only one member of the Bulldogs secondary has started more than a single game.

Wiggins’ decision to continue his college experience elsewhere is unfortunate.  With that said, Bulldog Nation wishes him the best of luck.  The Dawgs have no use for an athlete who lacks the desire to play between the hedges.

Jeremy Pruitt Rebuilding UGA, Not Reloading
Jeremy Pruitt’s ability to coach up a defense will be tested this fall.  Coach Pruitt certainly has the championship experience to warrant his new position, but, as Pruitt recently told the Macon Telegraph, his defense is getting back to basics. “There’s some good, there’s some bad, but all of it we control”.  He also stressed the importance of lining up correctly, knowing what to look for, and having proper technique.

CBS Sports notes the Bulldog defense finished number 11 in the Southeastern Conference in defensive pass efficiency.  Shaq Wiggins led the team in interceptions in 2013.  Wiggins’ team leading total of two picks speaks volumes about the team struggling to create turnovers as opposed to his individual ability.

Give Bulldog Nation a Reason to Bark Again
Winning cures everything.  It is unreasonable to expect a team to compete for a national championship every year, but five losses did not set well with anyone in Bulldog Nation.  The Dawgs’ new defensive coaches are tasked with bringing consistency back to a Georgia defense that appeared lost by the end of Todd Grantham’s tenure.

Upon his introduction as Georgia’s defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt revealed that he had been hoping for the chance to work with Mark Richt at UGA for more than a decade.  Now that his wish has come true, coach Pruitt must make the most of it.

Georgia’s New Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt – Thoughts

jeremy_pruitt_ugaJeremy Pruitt Brings Instant Credibility
Dating back to 2012, Jeremy Pruitt has been a member of the national championship winning coaching staff for three-straight seasons.  Among the challenges facing Georgia’s new defensive coordinator is fixing a UGA secondary that gave up a lot of yards in 2013. Pruitt’s experience as the defensive backs coach at Alabama and Florida State should serve Bulldog Nation well.

The Hire of Jeremy Pruitt Helps Boost Morale
While there were probably not many tears shed when Todd Grantham decided to head to Louisville, his departure left Georgia with a hole to fill.  Jeremy Pruitt’s past success indicates he can improve the young Georgia defense in a hurry.  In 2013, Pruitt’s FSU defense held the Clemson Tigers to 14 points in “Death Valley”.

Georgia has Some Pieces in Place
One of the most appealing aspects of the Pruitt hire is his experience in a 3-4 defensive scheme very similar to UGA’s previous defensive coordinator.  Georgia’s defense is far from broken.  Rather, the Dawgs have areas which require a tune-up.   Linebacker Amarlo Herrera is probably the most consistent player in the unit, and he will continue to get better.

Leonard Floyd was a difference maker rushing the passer from the linebacker position last season, and Jordan Jenkins continues to show flashes of brilliance playing outside linebacker. The Dawgs are ready to go up front, but the defensive backfield has lingering questions.

Dawgs Reloading, not Rebuilding
The excitement surrounding the hire of Jeremy Pruitt is refreshing, though it will be up to the players to execute on the field.   UGA last won the Southeastern Conference in 2005, but the Dawgs are consistent contenders for the SEC title.  The University of Georgia is among the winningest football programs in the country, so it is nice to see Mark Richt and Greg McGarity reloading as opposed to picking up pieces.

Farewell to Todd Grantham
It is impossible for me to root for a football team coached by Bobby Petrino.  Even so, best wishes to Todd Grantham in his efforts at the University of Louisville.  He spent every offseason in Athens job hunting, so I hope he is happy in his new home.  Bulldog Nation is certainly pleased with his replacement.   Does anybody know if Todd Grantham likes motorcycles?