Clemson 38 UGA 35 – Unforced Errors Doom the Dawgs

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Rather than posting a drawn out diatribe filled with armchair hindsight, frustration, and silver linings, it is best to take a direct look at the negatives and positives coming out of last night’s loss to Clemson.

The Negatives
UGA’s Inability to Protect Aaron Murray

For a Georgia offensive line that came into the first game as a veteran group, the Dawgs struggled to keep quarterback Aaron Murray upright.  Murray was sacked four times, a number that easily could have gone up had he not used his mobility to extend plays. The poor blocking had a direct impact on UGA’s struggle to convert on third down. The Bulldogs only converted four out of 14 third downs last night.

The Georgia Defense Missed Critical Tackles
Following a flawlessly executed 75 yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley, the Bulldogs seemed ready to take back momentum from the Tigers.  With the game tied at seven, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd hit wide receiver Sammy Watkins on a pass over the middle.  Damian Swann’s laughable effort to tackle Watkins failed, and Clemson found themselves up 14-7 in a matter of seconds. In the third quarter, safety Tray Matthews failed to make the tackle on a crucial fourth down and one play that would have swung the momentum back in favor of the Georgia Bulldogs.

Unforced Errors
Georgia was penalized nine times for 84 yards. Infractions such as blocking below the waist, along with holding penalties, put Georgia behind the eight ball too often.  Quarterback Aaron Murray had a few turnovers, but UGA likely would have been able to overcome them if they had not insisted on shooting themselves in the paw.

The Dawgs’ biggest mistake came in the third period when Georgia was unable to put the ball in the end zone after driving to first and goal at the Clemson five yard-line.  At that point, UGA was down by three and they decided to kick a 21 yard field goal to tie the game. To the horror of Bulldog Nation, the kicker’s foot would never touch the football because the snap was too high to handle.  Georgia trailed for the remainder of the game.

The Positives
Gurshall
Todd Gurley was even better than advertised. He had an incredible showing and his struggle with an injury may have been the biggest turning point of the contest.  Keith Marshall did all he could to carry the load during Gurley’s absence, but the offensive line was too inconsistent for Marshall to flourish.

Justin Scott-Wesley appears to be another viable weapon as a receiver in Georgia’s loaded offense. Michael Bennett made a couple of phenomenal catches in his return from a torn ACL. Quavyon Hicks was a spark plug at the fullback position.  The Bulldog offense can never have too many options, and Hicks showed an ability to make big plays in important situations.

Georgia Gave a Valiant Effort, Clemson Deserved to Win
Georgia has nothing to be ashamed of, they fought to keep the game close and answered Clemson at almost every turn on the road. The Tigers were balanced, they (mostly) avoided catastrophic errors, and Tajh Boyd was absolutely masterful in the fourth quarter as Clemson put UGA away.  The Tigers forced Georgia to play from behind for nearly the entire game, which proved to be too much for the young defense to handle.

Georgia Versus Clemson – Ten Days Away

georgia_clemsonYou Can Cut the Tension With a Knife
With kickoff a mere ten days away, anticipation is building for Georgia’s 2013 season opener against the Clemson Tigers, and concern is starting to creep in between the hedges.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution continues to report on the Bulldogs depleted defensive backfield.  A game that I previously believed would be an opportunity for Georgia to make a bold statement is now a contest that I hope the Dawgs can find a way to win.

Expect a Shootout in Death Valley
Clemson starting quarterback Tajh Boyd led the Atlantic Coast Conference in touchdown passes in 2012, with 36 touchdowns.  In all likelihood, the Tigers will look to strike Georgia’s secondary early and often, as Boyd also led the ACC in yards per attempt.  The Dawgs must put a lot of pressure on the Clemson signal caller to relieve the aerial assault.

UGA quarterback Aaron Murray had 36 touchdown tosses of his own last year. As he continues to rewrite the Georgia passing record books, the final chapters will be penned beginning on August 31. Murray will be behind a very experienced offensive line that is capable of protecting him and giving him the time he needs to make good decisions with the football.

Unease in Athens
The reality is even if the expected starters are able to make a full recovery by game day, they are still very inexperienced.  Clemson’s offense is nothing if not high powered, and the Tigers have proven that they can score very quickly.  Defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Todd Grantham will play a big role in the outcome of game one.

Georgia and Clemson each have questions to answer in the defensive secondary.  As a result, it is a fairly safe bet that they are going to combine to score 70-80 points before the final whistle blows.  Hell, Clemson gave up 70 points to West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl.

The match-up between the Dawgs and the Tigers will end in favor of the team that can win the turnover battle.  According to College Football Statistics, Clemson had a total of 21 giveaways in 2012.  By comparison, Georgia turned the ball over 19 times. With UGA’s young defense, the Bulldogs absolutely have to avoid beating themselves.  Bulldog Nation is eager to take a bite out of Howard’s Rock.

Jadeveon Clowney: Aaron Murray is Scared

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Clowney is one of the most explosive players in college football.

Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Gamecock?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that South Carolina defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney, thinks Georgia starting quarterback Aaron Murray is scared of him. Clowney also included Clemson starting quarterback Tajh Boyd, as well as former Arkansas signal caller Tyler Wilson on the list of quarterbacks he claims share the same fear. Aaron Murray is a decorated fifth-year senior who has faced tough competition in the Southeastern Conference throughout his time in Athens.  It is hard to believe that a college athlete as accomplished as Aaron Murray would be afraid of any opponent.

Jadeveon Clowney has Earned the Respect of the Opposition
Jadeveon Clowney is roundly regarded as a top five pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, assuming he decides to turn pro, of course. Clownery has put together a highlight reel of hitting the opposition, and he possesses an extraordinary ability to shift the momentum of a game with one snap of the football. Minimizing this dangerous defensive ends’ effectiveness at getting to the quarterback will be crucial to Georgia’s success against the South Carolina Gamecocks this season.

Numbers Never Lie
Jadeveon Clowney has faced the Bulldogs twice in his South Carolina Gamecock career. He has sacked Aaron Murray three times in those two games, including twice in 2011. Clowney’s presence has wreaked havoc on the Dawgs, who have not been able to avoid critical errors against the Steve Spurrier led squad, leading to three straight signature losses against a bitter SEC rival.



Georgia is The Team to Beat in the SEC East
Despite one Gamecock crowing about Aaron Murray being scared, Georgia is looking to win the SEC East for the third straight season. Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution believes that the Bulldogs will accomplish that goal.

Closing With an Observation From the Head Rooster
The Ole’ Ball Coach seems to get his jollies from using his quick wit to insult the opposing team.  However, sometimes his verbal jabs may leave even his own players wondering about how strongly their head football coach believes in them.  After soundly defeating the Clemson Tigers by a final score of 34-13 in 2011, Steve Spurrier quipped, “We aren’t LSU, and we aren’t Alabama. But we sure ain’t Clemson.”