Halftime analysis: Seven thoughts

semerson@macon.comSeptember 21, 2013 

Some observations, notes and analysis as No. 9 Georgia leads North Texas, 21-14.

1. That wasn't the first half many hoped for and envisioned, and it means Hutson Mason and company will have to wait awhile to play. But I'm not sure it's too much cause for concern. North Texas had a 99-yard kickoff and Georgia had a pass picked off in the end zone. The total yardage (326-134) and overall style points are still heavily tilted in Georgia's favor. There are areas of concern, which I'll get to, but overall I see a Georgia team that's rusty off the bye week and didn't bring its A-game against an inferior opponent.

2. The coverage on the kick return was obviously abysmal, especially the tackling. But there's another factor here. Marshall Morgan's first two kickoffs were rather short. His third was returned for a 99-yard touchdown. Collin Barber had three touchbacks in his 12 kickoffs, and there wasn't much return on the other nine. I'm sure that in practice Morgan earned the chance to kick off, but perhaps that should be under review. The last kickoff returned for a TD against Georgia was also a 99-yarder, by Florida's Jeff Demps in 2011.

3. The Georgia coaching booth is two booths over from the press box, which is outdoor, so we're getting a reprisal of the angry Mike Bobo. Whether it's missed blocks on the outside (lots of them) or just general languid play, Bobo has been roaring. Things just generally haven't been smooth. Other than the interception (a glaring error obviously) Aaron Murray has played pretty well. The big problem is the lack of a good running game. Once again there just isn't much of a push at the line, no holes for Todd Gurley (who has 39 yards on nine carries) or Keith Marshall (zero yards on three carries), and the blocking on the edge has been pretty poor too. But when it comes to the front five, you can't help but point out that two weeks ago, when Kolton Houston was at left guard and John Theus at right tackle, there was a good push in the running game. This week they went back to the Clemson lineup, and there's no push again.

4. North Texas is having too much success through the air. Georgia's secondary continues to have issues, even for just one drive. North Texas got its touchdown on a 20-yard pass in which Damian Swann was beat down the right sideline. But it came one play after a long completion to the tight end, who got wide open in the middle of the field. Leonard Floyd has two sacks, and Jordan Jenkins has been close to a couple sacks, but otherwise North Texas QB Derek Thompson is getting a bit too much time to pass.

5. There were so many tidbits that emerged from that 98-yard touchdown pass, so let's see if we can fit them all in the same paragraph: It was the longest pass play in Georgia history, and by five yards, beating out a 93-yarder from Buck Belue to Lindsay Scott. It was the 100th career touchdown pass for Murray - and just the first for Davis. it lifted Murray to fifth on the SEC's all-time passing yards list, going past Florida's Danny Wuerffel. And it was the first career catch for Davis, who for a moment there had a career yards-per-catch of 98.

6. Some might call it burning a trick play against a weaker opponent, but I suspect this was Mike Bobo giving LSU something extra to think about: Receiver Rantavious Wooten got a lateral, then heaved it downfield to Arthur Lynch, who managed to hold onto the ball while juggling, being interfered with and hitting the ground. Of course, in the second half Bobo and the Bulldogs have to first worry about putting the game away.

7. Georgia gets the ball to start the second half. (Assuming no onside kick recovered by North Texas.) The Bulldogs need to re-establish the run, hit on a few more big passes, and have their defense and special teams play the way they did for most of the first half. The goal now is to have a stress-free fourth quarter in which Mason and company see their playing time. If that happens, the fact it was close for a half will be quickly forgotten.

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