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January 3, 2014

The Gator Bowl: An extended metaphor of the 2013 season

I'm sure I'll take several gratuitous swipes at [pick one: oline play, dropsies, lack of defensive coaching ability, lack of punt fielding, qb decision making, play calling] over the next few months, but this article will be all I have to say about the Gator Bowl. 

I had decided to watch it again for a full game review. Then on the drive yesterday, I decided I would just erase it. Now, I'm going to keep it just in case. So unless I change my mind in the depths of March's despair over no football at all, I'll not rewatch it. For the proper antitoxin, I have Florida, South Carolina, LSU, and Tech recorded, too.

I'm glad I wasn't the only one that felt relief that the season was over. That was my over riding sense after I was over being upset for Artie that his career would end in a drop and what asshole fans would say about that. This season has been the toughest for me since Donnan's last year and it isn't close.

Strangely, this game represented a nearly full microcosm of the season. Even the officiating followed that (think the personal foul on Garrison for tackling the QB on an option play or the lack of a targeting call when a Georgia receiver gets lit up in the head). Since things fall into general areas, this seems easiest:

  1. Offensive line play. I mentioned it in the 3 questions. This group has had the most head-scratching season of the whole team. You can point to injuries or inexperience other places. There is none of that here. There are times through the season that the offensive line just total owned their opponents. Think both game ending drives against South Carolina and Florida, or the utter ownage of Georgia Tech in the overtime possessions. Then there are times when Georgia's backfield looks like the clowns coming out of a cop car bit with all of the opposing defensive players running wild in the backfield. The Gator Bowl was the same. Mason had his poor moments, no doubt, but how much of that was due to the pressure Nebraska got early (while only rushing 4 or 5) or because we got not push on red zone runs? And how much did Gurley get tagged at the line of scrimmage when blocks didn't move anyone? Then you look at other times when the line just owned Nebraska's front and Mason had plenty of time. A very mixed performance by the line, which is exactly what you could say for the season.
  2. Defensive stoppage. I got taken to task for laying any blame on the loss on the defense. I get what folks were saying, but I still stand by my assessment that the defense's stunning coming to be expected coverage breakdowns at the worst possible times played a roll in this loss. Giving credit where it is due, they held Nebraska to their third lowest offensive out put of the season and below their season YPP average. That was with a 99 yard play. But that play....That series was Georgia's entire defensive season in a three part satire. It wouldn't have been any more ridiculously played out if Robin Williams was doing blow on the sideline while calling the defensive sets. For more on this, read Bill Connelly's Gator Bowl preview. In the end, Georgia didn't have enough stops, which you need when you have...
  3. Punt return fail. As they say, the definition of insanity is when you keep doing the same dumb thing over and over expecting a different outcome. Welcome to Georgia's punt return philosophy. I get that we don't have to have a full time special teams coach. What about a Special Teams Consultant? Or Director of Non-Every Down Specialists? 4th Down Shaman? Our punt return philosophy has devolved from don't do anything to hurt field position to do the stupidest possible thing at the stupidest possible time. It is tough for any defense to get a stop, just to be sent back out to defend a short field that they had not part in. That was on glaring display in the Gator Bowl.
  4. Fullback impact. I don't know what Quayvon Hicks did, I implore him to fix it. Beg. Grovel. Work like life depends on it. I love Merritt Hall, but Hicks' ability to pound people running the ball, and his threat to catch it changes things. I'd mention his physicality blocking, but I suspect his blocking breakdowns are part of the reasons he hasn't played much. 
  5. Suspensions. This list can't be complete without this. Revisionist history aside, I would have loved to see JHC and Tray Matthews playing. Especially JHC on the 99 yard play. 
  6. Injuries and their impact. This game is total different with any one of the following: Gurley at full speed/strength, Murray playing, Marshall at full speed/strength, Mitchell playing, Justin-Scott Wesley playing. Any one of those changes the offensive game plan and allows the offense to do the things we do best. 
I'll get to coaching issues when I look at the season, but even coaching followed the season's trend. The injuries limiting what Bobo could call in the redzone. Player substitution on defense. Who we sent back for punt returns. Play calling. All of it.



Scott said...

The problem is that Arthur Lynch was the reason we were in the game and that blaming him for the loss is stupid. I point to the overall failure of the defense and scheme that allowed that 99-yard touchdown pass as the reason for the loss. If nothing else, Lynch should be given an award for probably having the best passing game of his career.

I wish Arthur Lynch much luck with his future and thank you for being a Damned Good Dawg!

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