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DAWGTIME’s Halftime Tidbits

GEORGIA 10, Kentucky 3 

OFFENSE

  • Georgia entered the game having gone an FBS-leading 28 consecutive offensive possessions without scoring a touchdown, but scored a touchdown on its second possession of the game. Kentucky kept the Bulldogs’ offense out of the end zone for their final five possessions of the half.
  • Freshman receiver Terry Godwin, who entered the game having no carries on the season, rushed four times for 26 yards in the first half, including running for the game’s lone touchdown thus far.
  • After recovering just one opposing fumble in their first six SEC games this season, the Wildcats recovered two Georgia fumbles in the first half.

DEFENSE

  • After completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for the season for an average of nearly 240 passing yards per game, Kentucky standout quarterback Patrick Towles was limited in the first half to 3-of-13 passing for 38 yards, and a interception.
  • Entering the game, the Wildcats were averaging nearly 13 points per game in the first half of games this season, but have been held to only a field goal in the first half—one which resulted after the Bulldogs lost a fumble on their own 20-yard line.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Brice Ramsey, who became the first Georgia player to see significant action at quarterback and punter in the same game since Kirby Moore in 1967, has now punted 8 times for an impressive 45-yard average this season.

Evidently, Still A Lot to Play For

Coach Richt and his players are confident they can turnaround a 2015 season which is seemingly spiraling out of control.

Athens, Ga.—As a Georgia fan asked me in Jacksonville last Saturday during the Bulldogs’ discouraging loss to Florida, “After what has happened the last month to this team, what is really left for them to play for?”

It was a great question.

After four consecutive wins in September to start the 2015 season, climbing as high as sixth in the national rankings, the Bulldogs plummeted in October, losing three of four games. Dreams of a spot in the College Football Playoff have been transformed to the realization that even a conference divisional title is not possible at this point.

But, more so than the fact most of Georgia’s games the last month have ended in defeat is rather how the Bulldogs played in those games. Their lone victory—against Missouri at home—was a narrow 9-to-6 decision after entering the game as more than a two-touchdown favorite. At Tennessee, Georgia held a 24-3 lead at one point before losing 38-31, marking the second-worst blown lead (21 points) in the program’s history. And, as far as the setbacks to Alabama and Florida by a combined 65-to-13 score, those games were over by halftime.

The month of October has led to Mark Richt sitting on the proverbial hot seat—and, for the head coach, it’s hotter than ever before. Still, for the head Bulldog of them all, he appears optimistic about the rest of the 2015 campaign, recently mentioning 2011—a season Georgia started 0-2 before winning 10 consecutive games—as an example of when his Bulldogs had an instant turnaround.

“You need to really focus on what you can control—that’s your job,” Richt replied last night when asked about turning around this season. “Our players and our coaches need to keep from dwelling on anything other than what do [we] do on this play, what do [we] do on this day, and what do [we] do as far as preparation…”

Still, the only way Georgia possibly even comes close to reaching its preseason expectations is to win the rest of its regular-season contests—Kentucky, Auburn, Georgia Southern, and Georgia Tech—plus, capture a victory in a bowl game. At this point, although such expectations are seemingly a very tall, likely insurmountable order, there are some who believe they’re quite obtainable.

“I’m optimistic about what we can do in the remaining games we have,” senior John Theus said this week. “It’s up to us to come to work every day, put ourselves in the best position, and take the game plan and execute it.”

Theus, a starting offensive tackle, is an integral part of a Georgia offense which enters Saturday having not scored a touchdown in 28 consecutive possessions—a current streak which ranks as the second-highest in the FBS. Theus is also part of a likely major shakeup on offense. After the same five linemen have started at the same five positions the entire year, it appears for the Kentucky game, Theus could move from left tackle to right tackle, Kolton Houston from right tackle to left guard, Isaiah Wynn from left guard to left tackle, and Dyshon Sims could replace Greg Pyke as the starting right guard.

Whether for Kentucky, or any of the remaining four, hopefully five games this season, the question arises how the Bulldogs can possibly be motivated after enduring one of the worst months for Georgia football in recent memory?

“Each and every game is something special; you only get so many a year,” tight end Jeb Blazevich said. “Whether you win or you lose [beforehand], every [player] has ‘that thing’—why they play.” Blazevich added “that thing” is what gets each player motivated for the upcoming game, and not the team’s success, or failure, in previous games.

After Georgia’s tight ends made 31 receptions last season, even more production was expected from Blazevich and company in 2015, especially considering first-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s supposed fondness of using the tight end in the passing game. However, as the offense under Schottenheimer has sputtered, the Bulldogs’ tight ends have become more so blockers, and what was considered perhaps the nation’s best tight-end corps in the preseason has been limited to 15 catches this year.

Defensively, although Georgia’s young defenders performed adequately last month, there has been disappointing individual play from a couple of those who figured to be standouts. Yet, despite any individual disappointments, there are those defenders who have been pleasant surprises this season, including during the gloomy month of October, like Jake Ganus.

Ganus, who transferred from UAB with only one year left of eligibility, entered fall camp as Georgia’s second-string Will linebacker. Nonetheless, starting all eight games, Ganus has recorded a team-high 55 tackles, a team-tying two interceptions, and is arguably the Bulldogs’ defensive MVP at this point.

“Win them all, starting with Kentucky this Saturday,” declared a confident Ganus when asked for his personal goal for the remainder of this season. “We got some big games left…we can still do some good things [this season]. There’s a lot still left on the table. We just have to keep fighting.”

Indeed, the Bulldogs will have to keep fighting, and then some, for them to go on a winning streak following a forgettable four-game stretch. But, it’s happened before under Richt, and during besides the aforementioned 2011 season. I’m reminded of 2001 and the head coach’s first season when, like this year, after losing three of its first eight games, Georgia won the remainder of its regular-season games, including two as underdogs against ranked teams. In 2006, a Bulldogs’ squad which had lost four of its first 10 games won their final three games of the season—all against ranked teams. And, three years later in 2009, after suffering one of the worst home losses of the Richt era against Kentucky, Georgia upset seventh-ranked Georgia Tech, and then won its bowl game.

In order to turn around this season, as was the case in previous seasons under Richt, the first step is to believe there still is a lot to play for. But, what comes after that?

“You got to stay positive, and you have to stay united,” Richt said. “We’ve always been able to do that. And, I have a lot of faith we’ll be able to do it again.”

Freshmen Patrick and Rivers Arrested (from UGA)

Natrez Patrick (L) and Chauncey Rivers (R)

ATHENS–University of Georgia freshman football players Natrez Patrick and Chauncey Rivers were arrested on misdemeanor possession of marijuana charges early Wednesday morning. The two have been suspended for Saturday¹s game against Kentucky according to UGA head coach Mark Richt.

“They made a very poor decision and I’m extremely disappointed,” said Richt. “They will be disciplined in an appropriate manner and hopefully have learned a valuable life lesson that will benefit them moving forward.”

Richt Answers Tough Questions During Kentucky Week

RICHT FROM TUESDAY PRESS CONFERENCE:

On how he rationalizes this season…
“Well, it’s not over yet, number one. At this point — we didn’t make it to the Eastern Division championship. That’s all I can say right now. It’s been up and down, but we’re battling. We’re battling.”

On changes to the offense…
“Here’s the deal, everybody. Y’all can pay attention to this. We’re Georgia. We’re a team. We work together. We’re going to fight. We’re going to fight together, and we’ll do the things we think we need to do to get better as we go, but the Georgia people can count on us fighting our tails off and doing it in a way that everybody would be proud of the effort of our young men and everybody’s efforts to get better. So that’s where we’re at right now.”

On if he has told his players to get off social media this week…
“Well, what I tell our players is to — good or bad, this is policy, period, but we try — we call it noise. We say ignore the noise, and it’s — when they’re bragging about you or they’re saying not-so-nice things about you, and just focus on what’s being said in this room by our coaches and by each other. That’s the thing you’ve got to really focus on.

You know, I can’t control what people write, and I can’t control what people read, but I can control certain things, and that’s what I focus on. That’s what our staff is focusing on, and I think that’s what our players are focusing on. But you’ve got young people that — they’ve got to walk to campus every day, go to class, and they’re around people all the time, and I think they just kind of grew up on social media all the time, so I don’t think it’s stay off of it quite frankly. It’s kind of up to them to decide what they look at.

But the biggest thing is to focus on the people that really know and understand the game, number one, know and understand this team, number two, and be mostly concerned with what it’s going to take to have success moving forward.

You know, what we’ve done to this point really doesn’t define us as much as what we do from here on, and that’s how you’ve got to handle adversity in a season and that’s how you’ve got to handle adversity in life in my opinion. You have to decide what are you going to do now. What we’re going to do now is we’re going to focus on our jobs, we’re going to fight like mad, and we’re going to do it together. That’s what we’re going to do.”

On criticism…
“It’s the nature of the business. It’s the nature of leadership. Leaders make decisions. Decisions aren’t always popular. There’s rarely a decision that’s made that everybody thinks is a great one. You know, even within our own building. But somewhere along the line we’ve got to say, okay, we’ve all agreed this is what we’re going to do and this is how we’re going to do it. But there’s definitely — anybody who’s been in a leadership position knows that there’s going to be criticism. That’s just all there is to it. Now, some jobs you might have a bad day at the office and maybe three people know, you know? We have a bad day at the office in our line of work and millions of people know and millions of people have an opinion, and a lot of people know football. A lot of people think they know football, you know, so there’s a little bit of everything.

There’s actually some pretty good constructive criticism out there, but it’s kind of obvious, I mean, we know it, too. But I’ve said for years that I’ve always wanted to be at a school where the people care. I’ve always wanted to be at a school where there’s tremendous support, where people are going to get in the stands and get excited and have passion, and you can’t just decide to have passion one way. People have opinions, and when things don’t go well, I don’t blame people for getting mad or upset or whatever. But I do want everybody in the Bulldog Nation to support our players. I think that’s the most important thing, support these guys. These guys, they’re — I mean, it’s unbelievable the amount of workload they have when you take football and school, and it’s a lot. And those guys, they need us as coaches, just to help them navigate life in general, and certainly learn how to navigate tough times.

I think there’s some great lessons that can be learned in football, but there’s some great lessons that can be learned in life for these guys, as well, because sooner or later, like I was talking to the seniors, within weeks you’re out on your own. You’re pretty much an independent adult making a lot of life decisions, and you’re getting married probably, probably have some kids, probably have issues at job or family or whatever it is, and it’s going to be tough times, and you’ve got to decide how are you going to handle the tough times. Well, you know, ignore the negativity. Negativity brings people down. No one likes negativity. So ignore that. I’ve had the ability to listen to comments that may be directed in a negative way, but if it makes sense, I’m still open-minded to listen to the idea, even though I don’t like the delivery of the idea at times. But then, you know, also begin to focus on the positive, and then focus on standing up, manning up, taking care of business, and do it hopefully in a unified manner. You know, families blow up because somebody decided it was too tough and they decided to run. You know, don’t do that. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that guy. So that’s what we’re trying to teach them.”

On if he has decided on the starting quarterback this week…
“It would be nice to get more stability at that position, but it just hasn’t played out that way. We’re basically competing this week at a lot of positions, especially on offense, just making sure the guys aren’t too comfortable. I guess the bottom line is we want to get the best 11 on the field for whatever situation it calls. It’s not going to be just 11 guys. We know we sub. We know we have different personnel groups and things of that nature, but the bottom line is to get the best people in the game and help them execute.”

On the response of the players since last Saturday’s loss…
“I think our players appreciate how we’re handling our business as coaches and how we’re moving forward. I had a meeting with our leadership followed by a meeting with our team, kind of set the course of how we’re going to go from here. One of the things I mentioned to the team is sometimes when adversity strikes, you don’t know how to act. You’re like, how am I supposed to — you know how you feel, but how are you supposed to act, and I just wanted to help them understand how to act and how we were going to go about our business as coaches and how I was going to go about my business as head coach. So hopefully, and I think everybody took it in a real positive light and I think everybody is like, let’s go. Let’s go to work. We had a very good practice yesterday.”

On using QB Faton Bauta’s mobility…
“Well, we had — and I mentioned this on the call. Somebody asked that last night. I mean, there’s a lot of read plays that — zone read being the most popular one, and if you don’t really know for sure what a zone read is, if you took two receivers and spread them out and you’ve got two defenders on them, that’s four. Two and two is four. You’ve got a safety deep, that’s five. That leaves six defenders. So you’ve got five linemen, a quarterback and a back, so you’ve got five linemen who are going to block, okay, six guys. So there’s one guy left over. When every zone block is left, you’ve got your back sitting over here, and the quarterback will stick the ball in his belly and he’ll watch that end man on the line and he’s not being blocked, so when he’s riding that ball into that blocking scheme, if that defensive end decides he’s going to go come and make the play, that’s when the QB pulls it out and he runs. That’s a zone read as simply as I can state it.

And I imagine everybody knows, but if you didn’t know, that might be helpful. Then there’s other blocking schemes. You might have a power play where you’re reading a defender, or you might decide to block the end man on the line and read

a linebacker, and if the linebacker pursues it, people pull the ball out and throw the ball. But if you’re going to do QB run, a lot of QB run is predicated on what that unblocked guy does. And the other thing is what happens with unblocked guys, if our five don’t block their five good enough, there’s no reason to add this extra guy, if you know what I’m saying.

So for the most part we were getting whipped at the point, so they didn’t really need to add a sixth guy to start chasing down the back or feel the need to go do that where the quarterback could have pulled the ball and run with it a little bit. Now, you can run QB draw and QB sweeps and things of that nature, but we had called enough plays where he could have ran the ball, but because of how the defense had played it, he didn’t run it as much.

But, to answer your question, we would have QB run available if he’s in the game.”

On any disharmony on the coaching staff…
“Not really. You know, everything — there’s always things that happen in the heat of the battle and all that in every game. I think if you put a microphone on every — if you’ve got a play caller upstairs and you’re calling a game and every word was recorded, you know, there would be like people get hot about this, that or the other, but it’s just typical game-day type stuff. But we’ve had no issue there.”

Dogs’ Halloween Performance Downright Scary in 27-3 Defeat

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—With junior Faton Bauta making his first collegiate start under center, Georgia’s offense was rather stagnant today in a 27-3 setback to Florida at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field. In committing five turnovers, the Bulldogs were held out of the end zone for the second straight game. Furthermore, in its last four contests, Georgia has scored just three offensive touchdowns.

“We played hard, but we have to be more productive obviously,” head coach Mark Richt said following the loss. “Offensively, we have to get first downs and we have to get points on the board. We struggled in that area.”

While Georgia’s running game struggled, gaining 69 yards on 22 carries, Bauta could only muster a 15-of-33 passing performance for 154 yards. He was intercepted four times—the second-most by a Georgia quarterback making his initial start for the Bulldogs in the modern era.

“Not good,” Bauta replied when asked about his performance. “We lost, and all that counts are wins and losses. It’s not a good feeling. It is something you wish you never have to experience.”

The “experience” came early for Georgia as the Gators jumped on top 20-0 before intermission. They scored first when a muffed punt by Reggie Davis was recovered by the Gator unit in the end zone late in the first quarter. After extending its lead to 13-0 on a 66-yard pass from Treon Harris to Antonio Callaway, Florida punched in a third touchdown with a short run at the goal line, set up by an interception returned to the Georgia 5.

The defense held Florida off the board for much of the second half, allowing a touchdown at the 7:10 mark of the game’s final quarter. The final scoring drive came after the Bulldog offense appeared to gain some momentum, marching into Florida’s red zone before an interception kept Georgia from scoring.

Georgia’s lone scoring drive came after a forced fumble by Davin Bellamy, who had a strong game on the defensive side of the ball with a team-high seven tackles. Six plays later, Marshall Morgan split the uprights from 27 yards out to trim the deficit to 20-3.

Having lost three of their last four games, the Bulldogs return to Sanford Stadium next week, where they will take on the Kentucky Wildcats.

“We just have to stick to our guns, come back tomorrow and get ready to work,” Richt said. “We have a lot of big games coming up, so we have to be ready.”

DAWGTIME’s Halftime Tidbits

Florida 20, GEORGIA 0

–With his first career start under center, FATON BAUTA becomes the 53rd different Georgia starting quarterback of the modern era (beginning in 1945), and just the second to make his initial start against Florida.
–After not occurring for 34 seasons (1970), Georgia is appearing in its second game in a year (vs. Florida this season and last) where both teams are wearing their colored home jerseys.
–After punting just once in his entire Bulldog career, BRICE RAMSEY appears to be the Bulldogs’ full-time punter.
–Georgia’s offense has scored just 3 touchdowns in the last three-and-a-half games.

Georgia Undergoes Final Practice Before Trekking to Jacksonville (from UGA)

ATHENS——The Georgia Bulldogs conducted a two-hour practice in full pads here Wednesday as they prepare for 11th-ranked Florida.

“It was really good for us to be outside on the FieldTurf today; it was warmer for us and we needed that,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said after the workout. “The weather was close to what we’ll play in Saturday so that’s good. I’d also like to say thanks to the (Atlanta) Falcons for allowing us to practice at their place Tuesday and that we appreciate everybody that helped make that happen. We appreciate all the help to get that done, for example with our academics because it changes schedules around. We’ve got one more day to work, and we’re on track with our preparation.”

When asked about tweaking starting lineups during an open date, Richt added that there’s competition for playing time at every position each week.

“Everybody’s job is up for grabs; we rep more than one guy with the ones, and we’ll continue to do that,” Richt said.

Also after Wednesday’s practice, Bulldog defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt visited with the media and was asked about the familiarity that both teams’ coaches have with each other after several spent time at the University of Alabama from 2007-13. Pruitt, Rob Sale and Kevin Sherrer at one point worked with current Florida head coach Jim McElwain and assistants Geoff Collins, Doug Nussmeier and Chris Rumph while they were with the Crimson Tide.

“We’ve got too much information, and we were chasing a lot of ghosts the last couple of weeks,” Pruitt said.

When talk turned to last year’s result in Jacksonville, Pruitt said all losses stay with coaches, and he brought up an example of Georgia’s overtime win over Alabama in 2007.

“We were reviewing a play this week from practice where we didn’t do what we were supposed to and I mentioned the result was like the Mikey Henderson catch for a touchdown, so we as coaches don’t forget, they all linger with you,” Pruitt added.

The Bulldogs (5-2, 3-2 SEC) face the Gators (6-1, 4-1 SEC) Saturday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, and the game will kick off at 3:39 p.m. CBS will televise it nationally, featuring the broadcast team of Verne Lundquist (play-by-play), Gary Danielson (analyst) and Allie LaForce (sidelines).

Dawgs Practice for Final Time of Bye (from UGA)

ATHENS——The Georgia football team held its final practice of the week Thursday afternoon, working out for approximately two hours in full pads at the Woodruff Practice Fields.

The Bulldogs also hosted a group of representatives from Extra Special People for a meet and greet following practice.

“We had a visit from ESP, and they visit us at least once a year,” head coach Mark Richt said. “It was a perfect day. They provided crowd noise for our one-minute drill. It was a pretty neat way to finish this open date practice. We had a pretty good day. We got after it pretty good and I think we improved.”

Georgia (4-2, 3-2 SEC) will take on Florida (6-1, 4-1) in the annual game in Jacksonville on Saturday, Oct. 31. The game will be televised by CBS.

“The last couple of days we’ve been studying film and started to implement the game plan,” Richt said. “We’re ahead of the game and Sunday we’ll be a little further along. Plus next week won’t have to be devoted to the game prior. It’s pretty typical how we’re going about (the bye week).”

Georgia enters the open date coming off a 9-6 victory over Missouri last Saturday. The Bulldogs play three consecutive SEC contests to close the conference slate beginning with Florida next week.

“Where it is in the season, you’re hoping it’s a huge game for the race to Atlanta,” Richt said. “You know it’s going to be a big game no matter what. It’s going to be a big game when Georgia plays Florida. Both teams know how important it is.”

Richt also noted after practice that the Georgia team will depart Athens for the game on Thursday, Oct. 29. UGA will observe fall break on Oct. 30. Kickoff between the Bulldogs and Gators is slated for 3:30 p.m. at EverBank Field.

FULL STORY on the upcoming “Passing of the Collar”

Uga IX (“Russ”) To Retire; “Que” to Assume Title of Uga X Mascot at Georgia Southern Game

ATHENS  – Uga IX, affectionately known as “Russ,” is officially retiring as Georgia’s bulldog mascot at age 11, after working 25 games as an interim mascot from 2009-12, then another 38 games as Uga IX from 2012-14.

 

The University of Georgia will formally introduce his successor, Uga X—heretofore known as “Que”—at the Georgia-Georgia Southern football game on Saturday, Nov. 21.

 

”Uga is cherished by University of Georgia fans worldwide,” said President Jere W. Morehead. ”We are grateful for Russ’s dedicated service, and we look forward to welcoming Que as our new mascot.”

 

The half-brother of Uga VII, Russ compiled an overall record of 44-19. He served as an interim Bulldog mascot for a total of 25 games, working nine games during the 2009 and 2010 seasons after Uga VII and VIII passed away. Russ roamed the sidelines at all 14 games during the 2011 season. He then served for two wins at the beginning of the 2012 season before being promoted as Uga IX prior to the Florida Atlantic game on Sept. 15, 2012.

 

Que will assume his new title after a successful three-month audition in the role as UGA’s mascot.  He made appearances at the Countdown to Kickoff event in July, as well as Picture Day in August, before presiding over all seven of Georgia’s 2015 football games thus far.

 

“We are thrilled to have Que join our long line of mascots and he has already proven to be up to the task of serving as our official mascot,” said J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity.  ”We tip our cap to Russ, who served admirably as UGA IX and has been a great mentor to Que, UGA X.

 

”We also thank the remarkable Seiler family for their continued support of our program in such a special way.”

 

The continuous line of Georgia Bulldog mascots has been owned by the Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler family of Savannah, Ga., since 1956.

Marshall Morgan Named SEC Special Teams Player Of The Week (from UGA)

ATHENS, Ga. — For the second consecutive week, a Bulldog has earned the Southeastern Conference Special Teams Player of the Week award following the announcement of senior Marshall Morgan winning the honor on Monday.

Last week, junior Reggie Davis was named the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week following his performance at Tennessee.

This marks the fifth SEC weekly award for the Bulldogs this season, including sophomore Isaiah McKenzie also earning the Special Teams Player of the Week following the win at Vanderbilt.  Morgan earned the award three times before during the 2013 season.

Morgan, a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., connected on three field goals and for the first time since 1995, Georgia won without scoring a touchdown as it posted a 9-6 victory over Missouri.

Morgan made a game-winning 34-yarder with 1:44 left and this marked his second career game winner to go with a 42-yarder to win at Tennessee in overtime in 2013.  Morgan, who owns the SEC record for the most made PATs at 206, is tied with Tennessee’s Jeff Hall for fourth on the SEC all-time scoring list with 371 career points.

Following an open week, Georgia (5-2, 2-2 SEC) plays No. 13 Florida (6-1, 4-1) in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, October 31.  CBS will televise the matchup at 3:30 p.m.  This will be the Bulldogs’ fourth appearance on CBS this year.