The morning after: The unchanged narrative of Georgia's season

semerson@macon.comNovember 3, 2013 

UGA_v_FL

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. left, and offensive tackle John Theus applaud the Florida defense after a personal foul handed Georgia a first down on the last, clock draining drive of Georgia's win Saturday.

GRANT BLANKENSHIP/THE TELEGRAPH — gblankenship@macon.com

A few finishing thoughts as we get prepared to leave the beach and head home to Athens:

- This was a game that didn't move the needle much on Georgia's season. A loss would have been disastrous, so the Bulldogs at least avoided that. But at 23-3 at halftime, Georgia was on the verge of a convincing blowout that reminded everyone how good this team was with its star tailback and dependable receiver. But when the Bulldogs let the Gators back into it and barely held on, that made it an unimpressive win. Yes, a win over Florida was unimpressive.

- Florida, by the way, is just a very mediocre team. The Gators are undisciplined, anemic on offense and more leaky on defense than their stats would attest. Of course, a lot of that is due to Gurley and Georgia's offense.

- Speaking of which, Aaron Murray's performance should not be glossed over. In his final game against his homestate team, Murray passed for 258 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions, and that was with what remains a depleted receiving corps, and against what was the SEC's top-ranked pass defense entering the day. (After facing Murray, the Gators fell to second.) Yes, Gurley's 73-yard catch-and-run constituted a lot of that. But Murray did a good job managing the game.

- Remember the hullabaloo over Georgia not trying any downfield passes against Vanderbilt? Well, the Bulldogs didn't really try it against Florida either, and it didn't inhibit the offense. Gurley's presence was one reason, but so was that of Michael Bennett, making key catches over the middle and on third down. But you can tell that Murray is still feeling his way through basically a new receiving corps. He tried one back-shoulder medium-deep pass to Reggie Davis, but it appeared the freshman receiver's timing wasn't right. They didn't try it again. If Chris Conley can return soon, perhaps for the Auburn game, that should help. While Conley and Bennett don't specialize in deep threats, both being on the field could open things up downfield for Davis and Rantavious Wooten.

- Mike Bobo also wasn't really conservative in the third quarter; if anything he took some chances and it backfired: The backwards pass (not designed that way) to Arthur Lynch, and the play-action pass near the goal-line on first down, resulting in a safety.

- The chippiness at the end of the game was rather remarkable, especially when you consider how many personal fouls were called, and that one of them was on the happy-go-lucky Murray. That was unexpected. The picture that goes with this story shows Murray and some teammates sarcastically applauding Florida's defense for providing the personal foul that iced the game. On some level, this was just typical competitive fire between rivals. But you could also tell it was two frustrated teams venting. Florida vented more, to its detriment.

- Marshall Morgan deserves a lot of credit for this win, and his performance was overlooked because of the way the second half went. Morgan went 3-for-3 on field goals, including a 50-yarder. Florida missed two short field goals. Georgia won by three. So there you go. It's been quite a sophomore season for Morgan, who is now 13-for-15 on the season. He's having an all-SEC type season, though missing the first two games will make it hard to get the postseason awards.

- Garrison Smith's 2.5-sack performance also got overlooked. The senior only had 1.5 this season entering Saturday. Georgia's ability to pressure the quarterback still isn't that consistent, but the overall production is one of the surprises of the season: Georgia now has 23 sacks, which ranks second in the SEC, and is ahead of the pace for last year's defense, which had 32.

- But here's where Georgia's defense continues to struggle: It forced zero turnovers, a disappointment against a bad offense that would seem ripe for the picking. Georgia now ranks dead last in the SEC in turnovers gained, with just seven. Its overall turnover margin is minus-6, which is second-to-last in the SEC.

- Corey Moore's sack was huge, obviously. But otherwise the Bulldogs still don't have a defensive player that is going to step up and make a big play when needed most. That's a reason that when the Georgia defense gets on its heels, reeling, it almost always tends to give up points. There's no Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, Bacarri Rambo, etc. Maybe someday Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tray Matthews, or Leonard Floyd will be that guy. Jordan Jenkins was supposed to but he hasn't been able to assert himself as much as hoped this season.

- Hey, Georgia's special teams didn't commit any huge mistakes. That deserves mention.

- Final thought: Georgia now gets Appalachian State, a game it should use to continue getting healthy, and get Gurley back in good enough condition to carry a workload. Because the trip to Auburn the following week now looms large. It's not looking like Georgia will get enough help from Missouri, but it could still happen. Either way, if Georgia can go into Auburn and pull off the upset - yes, it would now be an upset - it would be a huge validation for its season. The Florida game wasn't quite that, but there's still some season left.

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