Download this week’s writeup in pdf format here…download here: Week 3 (Arkansas) Writeup
Opponent: Arkansas Razorbacks
Kickoff: 12:00 PM
Well, that was an absolute blast. Misery, thy name is underachieving. If it wasn’t for so many of our rivals playing so poorly, this past weekend would’ve been a LOT harder to take. As it stands, we’ll just have to rally the troops and refocus because we might have an even tougher test coming into town this weekend.
About the SC game…
This was one of the more frustrating and disappointing games I can remember watching. It’s also one of the ones that’s really hard to figure out. So many things don’t make sense. On one hand I have to say that with our defense electing not to tackle it was shocking to see us only allow 17 points. Did we just bow up and I missed it? I can’t hardly recall a big stop by us other than the fumble.
The Good: Not much. Aaron Murray played far more poised than I expected frankly. It was disappointing after the fact to hear the coaches admit they shackled him. Let’s try out trying to win games from now on instead of trying not to lose them, OK?
The Bad: A lot…and frustratingly enough, so many of the bad things were things we had hoped would be strengths. Just a few…tackling, after the supposed rededication to fundamentals, I certainly didn’t expect a lot of forearm shivers that a true freshman was bouncing off of. As bad a tackling performance as we’ve put on in recent years. Running game play calling, how did we rip off yardage seemingly at well in the boundary on our opening drive and then essentially abandon it? Very frustrating. Orson Charles dropping passes, tough catches, yes, but potential all-conference TEs make the catches where the pass hits you in the hands.
The Interesting: Not a whole lot interesting as a UGA fan this weekend. I’ll never understand how we can come out in a new wildcat formation that we’ve never shown before with Ealey at QB in the ‘gun, call a timeout because things aren’t working, and then come out of the timeout in the exact same formation. I’m not positive, but whatever surprise factor we might have had was certainly diminished by the fact we showed the formation and then gave the opposition 5 minutes to figure out how to defend it.
- Bobby Petrino knows how to put together an offense. Add in a top flight pro QB prospect and you’ve got something. Last year’s Razorback squad was 10th in the country in passing, going for over 303 ypg through the air, enough to lead the SEC. Their 37 ppg led the SEC as well. The bulk of that unit is back this year to try and wreak havoc and frankly their prolific offense is the main reason they are ranked in the top 15 right now.
- At QB, Ryan Mallett is what makes the offense go. Possessed of a rocket for an arm, the kid is a prototype QB. At 6-7, 240 he can stand in the pocket and throw lasers all over the field. As good as he is, he struggled on the road last season in a big way, where his passing yards per game dropped from 327 (at home) to 223 on the road. 21 of his 30 TDs came at home last year as well. He’s a different animal than Garcia for sure. He’s not immobile but he’s not prone to tuck and run either. If they give him time, he’s got the arm and accuracy to fit it into tight spaces. He got banged up some last week after taking a shot late in that game to his ribs on his left side so keep an eye out for that.
- At RB, the Razorbacks lost Dennis Johnson for the week to an injury. So. Knile Davis will likely get the bulk of the carries and is a solid, fast back. Broderick Green and Ronnie Wingo, Jr. both have more size and will see playing time as well. As in the days of McFadden and Felix Jones, they liberally substitute at the RB spot.
- WR is deep for them. Joe Adams, Greg Childs, and Jarius Wright are all legit weapons. Adams struggles with consistency catching the ball but is good in space when he does. He’s got very good deep speed. Childs is a big, physical WR but at 6-3, 217, he’s still not nearly the size of those beasts we saw in Columbus last weekend. TE D.J. Williams is easily one of the best in the SEC. Phil Steel lists him as 1st team All-SEC and many others agree with him. Standing just 6-2, he’s an elite athlete that just has a knack for getting open.
- The Arkansas OL is huge, as it should be for a team with a hog for a mascot. They start 3 SRs and a pair of redshirt freshmen with all 5 starters weighing in excess of 300 pounds and the right side of the line tipping the scales at an average of over 325 per hog. Their entire 2-deep doesn’t feature one guy under 300 pounds and has 6 guys at 315 or more.
- Bottom Line: Bobby Petrino likes to throw the ball. With that group of receivers and Mallett at QB, you know he wants to throw it as much as he can, but after watching us struggle against the run last week and knowing he’s got a big, bruising OL that has to be licking their chops at the chance to run block, I wonder how much he’s going to be tempted to flip the script a bit and come out running. I would if I were him, but if I were him, I’d have a lot of trouble sleeping at night after that whole Falcons debacle…but that’s neither here nor there.
- Key Matchup to watch when they have the ball: Watch Justin Houston. At the end of the day Petrino knows his best chance of winning is to do what he does best with Mallett slinging it around and if that’s the case, we’ll need pressure and to date the only guy we’ve had that has shown the ability to consistently get pressure is Justin Houston. If we can rattle Mallett and reinforce his road woes, handling their potent offense gets a lot more doable.
- As much as we struggled on D last year, Arkansas struggled as much or more. They were especially bad against the pass, finishing 104th in passing yardage allowed. The Joe Cox led UGA offense contributed significantly to that as he threw for over 400 yards and 5 TDs in last year’s tilt. Looking back at last year’s numbers, they were really up and down, with the UGA game being the low point defensively. They did manage to hold Florida to 23 points in Gainesville. This year’s unit returns 7 starters and should be better than what we saw last year.
- The DL isn’t spectacular but it is big. The starters inside average over 315. Manning the two DE spots are a couple of 270-pound hosses. DE Jake Bequette is probably the top pass rushing threat.
- Jerry Franklin leads the bunch at LB At 6-1, 240 the bowling ball of a MLB can make plays and the ever-trustworthy Phil Steele has him as a 2nd team All-SEC LB. The diminutive Jerico Nelson (5-10, 214) is a playmaker too but at that size, you have to think he’s going to be a liability in coverage against our TEs. Anthony Leon moved down from safety to man the other OLB spot and will likely match up in coverage much better than the other two.
- The secondary that got torched last year returns largely intact. I never know if that’s a plus or minus for a team. S Rudell Crim has seen time at CB so he should be decent in coverage. Ramon Broadway is probably the bright spot at CB but he’s no Stephon Gilmore.
- Bottom Line: This was a bad D last year and we lit them up. I wouldn’t expect that again this year just because that was such a fluke performance for us offensively. Arkansas has probably seen enough tape of us dropping 50 on them in their house to have this game circled all summer. I expect them to load the box like we saw SC do last weekend and make Murray beat us. Last weekend the coaches admittedly didn’t really allow Murray to do too much but this weekend I’m thinking their hands are forced a bit on that front. They can’t afford another putrid outing offensively and will have to open things up with or without AJ. Being at home hopefully makes that decision a little easier.
- Key matchup to watch when we have the ball: Orson Charles and Aron White versus their LBs. We showed last week that even having a supposedly very good OL doesn’t just give you free reign to run the ball whenever you like, no matter the defensive front. We’re going to have to find some matchups to exploit in the passing game and until AJ gets back our best shot might be with our super athletic TEs versus their LBs. Both Charles and White had a TD in last year’s matchup and were able to stretch the D to the tune of 3 catches for over 80 yards so by all means let’s revisit that well.
The Ark Game Overall
Arkansas played 4 road games last year and 2 neutral site games. Of their 4 true road games they had exactly zero wins. They haven’t won a game in an opponent’s stadium since early October 2008 when they knocked off a then Tommy Tubberville-coached Auburn team 25-22. In fact, that was the only win by Petrino at Arkansas at an opponent’s field, a marked difference from Richt’s road record, which has taken a pounding in recent years but is still considerably better than 1-and-whatever.
After last weekend I need a good effort from the Dawgs this weekend. I need something I can hang my hat on. The offense was inept last weekend and it was so conservative that it points directly to coaching and I need an effort on the field against a top-15 team that can restore something of the faith I have in this staff. I get that AJ was out and he’s a big enough weapon to change a gameplan, but it’s not like we had no one else. Against an offense as explosive as Arkansas, we better be able to put more than 6 points on the board.
Look, I’ve gotten fooled by watching other teams play lesser opponents, but Arkansas played ULM last weekend and struggled to put them away, leading by only a 7-0 score at the half and only a 14-0 score going into the 4th quarter. Heck, Mallett was still in there slinging TDs with barely 3 minutes left in the game. This is a team that is still trying to answer some questions and convince itself it is legitimately “that” good and a win over a UGA team, even one that’s potentially reeling, would go a long way towards that goal. For UGA, a win over a top-15 ranked team at home would mean so much in terms of stabilizing the season it’s hard to really put into words. This game is HUGE for both teams. Hard to believe that this is the 2nd week I’ve said that and we’re only 3 weeks into the season.
- AJ come back…soon.
- For all the preseason hype, our OL wasn’t very good this past weekend in run blocking. We’ve got several guys in Strickland, Harmon, Burnette, etc. that need to be worked into the rotation to find out if they are gamers or not. Strickland played some Saturday and should see the field more this week now that he’s finally healthy for long enough to contribute. We could use the depth anyway with all of these early season noon kickoffs, we’ve got to get something going.
- The same is true on the other side of the ball where Tyson played every snap at NG until he got dinged and then Abry Jones came in. What happened to all the Bean and Geathers talk? It’s one thing to go with your top guy but when the other team is gashing you up the middle consistently, I’d at least consider trying someone else out.
- Bacarri Rambo has had better games and that’s all I’ll say about that.
- I’m excited about the potential of Aaron Murray. That kid didn’t get fazed by a hostile crowd that has seen guys like Greene and Stafford (not to mention one Quincy Carter) have some of their more miserable performances. In the cozy confines of Sanford, hopefully the coaches will give him a better opportunity to succeed this week.
- I suppose Caleb King is back this week but frankly I was shocked to see him out last weekend. Having another RB who can run up the back of his interior OLs on 2nd and 12 will surely result in an offensive explosion this week. I’m sorry, that was uncalled for.
- What is it that the ESPN2 noon crew has against showing replays that are in any way timely or helpful? I think they completely missed a booth review. Bob Davie talks way too much and when he stops I want Mark Jones to quit trying to force things in like “my credentials.” C’mon ESPN, no way the world-wide leader has that group as one of their top crews.
- As painful as our loss was, the UT loss was way more eye-opening. They were up 13-3 with 3 minutes left in the first half and everything going their way. Over the last 33 minutes of game clock they got outscored 45-0. I had thought it was going to be a tough year for the Vols but that was brutal.
- After last weekend I need UGA to play well. It just wasn’t an ideal weekend and frankly it messed up my day of football watching like I wasn’t prepared for. At least GT and UT losing meant I wasn’t bombarded with those particular folks giving me grief too. I’m fortunate enough to be mostly surrounded by UGA fans. Yes, Auburn fandom was quietly gloating, but the FSU folks ain’t saying a word and the Florida fans who watched their game are quietly (can they be quiet?) concerned. I know very few Bama fans and they seem to have cornered the market on all SEC obnoxiousness at the moment.
- Umm, Braves, don’t go completely into the tank. If this UGA season keeps going south, I’m going to need you guys to pull me out of my sports bad place.
- Does the NCAA just have one guy who does all these hearings for eligibility? Is that why it takes so long to get a response back? Now that word has come down that we won’t get a response until Friday I’m completely certain that AJ will be cleared to play but his snaps will be limited by our staff because they just didn’t have time to have him in the gameplan.
- I can’t wait to get to Athens for a great environment to see what aspect of the gameday experience they can mess up. The video board is always a safe bet, as is the audio, but I’m going to go with the game clock. I’m pretty sure that thing wasn’t put together by a bunch of Swiss engineers. It’s a miracle when it works. The refs should just buzz in to let us know when it’s actually functioning.
- In watching the NFL this weekend, was it just me or did it seem like there were a lot more concussion-type hits where the tackler got knocked silly from his head getting hit the wrong way? It just seemed like every game I watched had several of those instances in it where there was a guy on the ground with his arms stuck straight up after a play. Those used to happen pretty rarely it seemed. Maybe I just didn’t notice them back then, or maybe they used to just hop up and “brush it off.”
Have a safe weekend,