The bottom line is that No. 6 University of Georgia defeated the Buffalo Bulls 45-23 at home today in Athens, Georgia. That score, however, doesn't tell the true story of how frustrating the first half was for many fans and for head coach Mark Richt. I'm going to present my game review by listing five reasons to love/hate what the Bulldogs did today.
Five Things To Hate
1) The Georgia defense really struggled mentally today for much of the game against Buffalo. At times they seemed outright confused. It culminated in a substitution infraction late in the second quarter that resulted in a 1st-and-goal for the Bulls (fortunately the defense held them to a field goal). That may be a result of the fact that the defense has five key guys standing on the sidelines instead of playing. Only one of those guys, starting cornerback Malcolm Mitchell, was not playing due to injury.
2) That brings us to the suspensions. Alec Ogletree (linebacker) and Bacardi Rambo (safety) were both suspended this past week because of team rules violations and it's not known right now just how many games these guys are going to miss. Both of these guys are projected to be potential first round picks in next year's NFL draft and this is a massive blow to this defense. In addition to those two, Sanders Commings (starting cornerback) and Chase Vasser (outside linebacker) missed today (and will miss next week) due to offseason arrests.
3) I really don't like the idea of throwing in a trick offensive play in the second quarter of a game you should easily win. For me, trick plays should be popped out in a crucial game at a time when you really need a change in momentum. In the second quarter when you're up 18 points and just had a drive where you scored a touchdown, is it really necessary? You already have the momentum and a big lead, why try it? When it failed, it seemed to kill the momentum that Georgia clearly had, and Buffalo then took the ball on the next drive and went for a long scoring drive to drop that lead to 11 points. Momentum gone, and suddenly things got a little tense. You also just showed every other contender in the SEC East that particular trick play. Great job, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo.
4) The physical play of the defense in the first half and in the fourth quarter was absolutely atrocious. Again, part of that was mental errors and having a lot of backups in starting positions today. Sure, it's just the first game of the season but this defense gave up several big plays (most running) as well as several long drives to a team that shouldn't be a contender in the MAC. In the end, they allowed 347 yards (199 on the ground). Honestly, that's terrible.
5) They only won by 22 points. That's not good enough for a team ranked No. 6 in the country facing a mid-level team from the MAC at home. They need to have a killer instinct against teams that they should dominate. It's a winner's mentality that the top national teams have, and Georgia needs to develop it.
Five Things To Love
1) Todd Gurley - This freshman running back had one heck of a debut. One hundred yards rushing with two touchdowns (including an awesome 45-yard score in the fourth quarter) was amazing enough, but the young man also gave the team a huge boost with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter after a Buffalo score. Lots of potential for this young man, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he performs as the season goes along.
2) Aaron Murray - The junior quarterback and Heisman hopeful missed on some of his longer passes early, but eventually settled in and had another solid outing. You can't really argue with a guy's performance when he is 15/26 for 258 yards and three touchdowns (except to say that it could easily have been more).
3) Special teams was overall very good and a bright spot today. One kickoff return for a touchdown and one blocked punt will make a difference in just about any game and one could argue that they might have made the difference in this game. Yes, they missed a 45-yard straight-away field goal, but kicker Michael Marshall came back and made a 35-yard one a little bit later at a much harder angle. Had he missed both I'd start getting scared about an area of Georgia football (field goal kicking) where they normally excel.
4) The overall running game of the Bulldogs was outstanding. Although they started off slowly in the first half, clearly the coaching staff made the running game a priority in the second half. By the end of the game, they had gained 227 yards on the ground. That's also a testament to the offensive line, which definitely seemed to get better as the game wore on.
5) It's only the first game and they picked an opponent that would be a decent challenge but not someone that could beat them no matter how bad the defense played. It was smart scheduling in a year in which this team could achieve quite a lot if they can avoid the early losses. However, clearly there is much work to be done (especially on defense), but a victory is still a victory.
Julie is a featured sports contributor and writes about Georgia football for the Yahoo Contributor Network. She's an avid football fan, grew up watching the Dawgs in Georgia, and graduated from the University of Georgia in 2000.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- University of Georgia