Halftime analysis: Seven thoughts

semerson@macon.comNovember 16, 2013 

Georgia Auburn Football

Georgia head coach Mark Richt yells instructions to his team during the first half.


Seven thoughts from Jordan-Hare Stadium as No. 7 Auburn has a 27-10 lead on No. 25 Georgia:

1. This is utter domination. Georgia's defense needed to contain Nick Marshall and company. They haven't. Georgia's offense needed to put up lots of points and give its defense rest. It hasn't. The total yardage tells the story: Auburn 327-174. The first quarter was worse: Auburn 149 yards, Georgia 4. That's awful. It wasn't unexpected that Georgia's defense would struggle, and while it has had some good moments, particularly in the red zone, it needed to do better overall. But Georgia's offensive struggles, other than the third drive, are the shocker. And they're the reason this game is close to out of reach.

2. Aaron Murray's interception was a huge swing. Despite it all, Georgia had a chance to drive down and get within 20-14, or even just 20-10, and with the ball to start the second half. Instead he sailed a ball down the middle into triple coverage, and it was easily picked off. Murray rushed the pass with pressure coming from the right, but it was still a bad decision. Auburn went down and scored.

3. Mark Richt's unsportsmanlike penalty is about the most unusual thing you'll see. Richt had to be restrained by an assistant, and when he wheeled around to yell at the other official he got flagged. Richt was hot over the fumble recovery ruling, sure that his team should have been awarded the ball. The replays were less conclusive. I'm guessing here a lot of it was frustration over the way the game was going, and Georgia's history with referee Penn Wagers didn't help. Richt has also spent a lot of time complaining to officials about what he perceived as late hits on Murray. I'm looking forward to Richt's postgame presser.

4. Those hoping to go another week without a key special teams mistake are disappointed. John Taylor's leaping penalty negated a three-and-out on Auburn's third drive. The question there is whether there was much use sending someone after the punt. Just take the punt and get out of there. Of course it's easy to say now. But still.

5. Todd Gurley hasn't had enough of an impact on the game, not that it's his fault. Yes, he basically willed Georgia to its only touchdown, but otherwise he's been contained. He had 23 yards on the two big carries of the third drive, but otherwise his 11 touches have resulted in 48 yards, including five rushes for nine yards. Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is focusing on him, especially on first and second downs. In the second half, Georgia needs to really open it up - which it did the touchdown drive, and by necessity the final drive of the half. More passing on first down, hit it downfield, have the pass set up the run.

6. The offensive line is having one of its bad games, a big reason the offense has struggled. The right tackle spot has been an issue : Theus was beat twice on the first drive. Kolton Houston came in later and had two false starts.

7. So does Georgia have any prayer, or is this game over? Well, Georgia gets the ball to start the second half, and if its offense reverts to form, and Auburn's defense does as well, it will put up 17 points or more. The question is whether Todd Grantham's defense can come up with any answer. The chances don't seem great. The Bulldogs also need a turnover or two or three, and perhaps for Wagers and his crew to feel bad. It's a lot that has to happen.

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