Coaching Points: Dawgs Little Bit Off, Gurley On

True freshman running back Todd Gurley tied an NCAA record held by multiple players with his 100-yard touchdown return for a kickoff – on his first career return. UGA great Brandon Boykin, Georgia’s returner from last season, is notably the only player in NCAA history to return two for 100 yards in a career.

Check this out: Gurley had the most prolific per touch debut in college football history. He added 100 yards on eight carries, with two more touchdowns. SEC Freshman of the Year Isaiah Crowell had only one 100-yard game in the second half of last season and is already not missed Between the Hedges. I quote excitable Georgia alum Johnny Vance: “Gurley, the 2012 edition of the next Herschel Walker.”

Gurley may have had more totes had he not suffered cramps or badly whiffed on a pass protection block which will surely be reviewed in the coaches’ notes. Enter the speedy genius – early spring enrollee Keith Marshall is the only player in high school history to have a higher grade point average than forty-yard dash time. Ranked the number one runner in the nation by several top recruiting services, he committed to UGA early then helped recruit his co-North Carolinian to attend Georgia with him. Marshall played admirably if not dynamically, as both frosh got good carries with sophomore starter Malcome knocked out to a hand injury early in the competitive contest.

That’s right: It was a contest! The game Buffalo Bulls had all the resiliency of the four-time repeat Super Bowl loser Buffalo Bills. The highly-regarded Georgia D was shredded on the ground. Buffalo had a running back go for over 100 yards rushing. Georgia was unable to defend the quarterback run, which is particularly troubling considering our next opponent is a Missouri team featuring the top dual threat QB in the nation, James Franklin. He rushed for more yards than Crowell last year, while throwing for over 2,000 yards. The Mizzou faithful are extremely excited to be joining SEC action at home on Saturday night.

Many Dream Teamers got starts, but the top player from the Dream Team, two-way stud Malcolm Mitchell was held out with a late fall camp ankle sprain. Loads of evidence that Coach Garner has recruited well the past two years. This season’s top O-line recruit John Theus went down with an injury, as did one of Georgia’s few experienced linemen, Chris Burnette, though Burnette returned to play later.

Murray appeared too charged up early, overthrowing often as he did in his first appearance in the World’s Largest Cocktail Party (a heartbreaking overtime Georgia loss in Jacksonville). He had nearly as many incompletions as completions, though he settled down well and had three touchdown passes with no turnovers. Playing cold in spells has cost Georgia games, and we were fortunate to play a lesser program.

Murray’s nice TD passes were spread to three players, including upperclassman dark horse offensive threat Rantavious Wooten. Sophomore Michael Bennett is as fundamentally solid as any player currently donning the Red and Black. Tavarres King had six grabs for 116 yards coming off setting the single game school record for receiving yardage in a tough overtime bowl loss and looks to be truly dominant as a senior. To think Caleb King was once the more known “King” on the team. Like Mitchell, senior Marlon Brown was injured in preseason and did not play.

Jarvis Jones had two sacks. He has been a starter for one year, an All-American for one year. I look for him to somehow outproduce over last year and be the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, at least. He is far and away our best football player.

New kicker went 1-2 with a horrible Walshian shank on his first attempt, and our return coverage did not look nearly as shored up as we had hoped it to be, considering our marked team talent advantage.

The Dawgs actually played poorly enough to lose an SEC game and did not at all miss Boise State or Okie State as a season opener. Georgia will need to play to its talent level to get back to ATL…and beyond. Entering his twelfth season of conference play, Coach Mark Richt has his work cut out. It was a nice game call by offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, while Angry Grantham resurfaced to attempt to ignite the defense. The suspension list was long and full of wasted talent. Missing suspended physical players Ogletree, Commings and Rambo from what is essentially the same area of the defensive field clearly affected our full field coverage and ability to tackle aggressively, leaving gaping holes. Grantham won’t stand for this, but is the talent currently eligible and in the lineup to overcome?

Multiple. Talented. Good. Georgia is already good and could be great, but many coaching points abound, especially on a shuffled defense. Georgia has the potential. Potential will just get you beat, though, unless you focus and execute. Georgia simply must play better to win big this season. A night game at “The Zou” against the newest member of what looks to be a tough SEC East will be a stiff test this weekend.