I blitzed through the Georgia-Colorado game last night, and I think I finally know where the Bulldogs stand this year. They're firmly planted in the uncanny valley of football. From some angles they look human; from others they look robotic. The end result is a team with everything and nothing wrong at once.
I didn't see many obvious issues that you'd expect from a 1-4 team. The biggest problems on offense were twofold: 1) the offensive line lost its focus and ability to block from time to time, and 2) Carlton Thomas is not the answer at running back. There weren't a lot of dropped passes. Aaron Murray is more accurate and pocket aware than most freshmen. Caleb King, fumble aside, was fantastic.
But that's just it. King can't carry the ball 30 times a game. And then, once he going going the line (which had been reliably opening holes) would intermittently blow blocks and kill momentum. And then when Murray got the passing game going, he'd find himself sacked or overthrow receivers at bad times.
Without consistency, it makes it really tough for Mike Bobo to look better than he does right now. I'm not saying he's been great or anything, but every play he called worked at some point and didn't work at some point. At times he did set his offense up for failure, most notably on the drive after A.J. Green went down when he predictably went with a classic run-run-pass-punt sequence rather than running play action on a defense keyed up on the run. At others he had the defense completely flummoxed, as on Georgia's first scoring drive when he mixed run and pass perfectly.
The biggest issue on defense that I saw is that Todd Grantham hasn't coached in college since 1998. The biggest plays Colorado had largely came on plays where Tyler Hansen moved around and/or involved option pitches. When CU lined up in the I-formation, it got stuffed every time. I'll bet the UGA defense looks ten times better this weekend against Tennessee's pro style offense because that's what Grantham knows. He needs some remedial mobile quarterback study though, because he's going to see some a lot better than Hansen later this season (hint: rhymes with Bameron Dewton).
Or maybe I'm being too dismissive of the NFL (as I am wont to be). It's possible that the Bulldog D just had a bad day along its transition. After all, that defense gave up fewer points and yards to both South Carolina and Mississippi State, two teams that have quarterbacks that move. The source of the defense's main problem (Hansen going on the run) however remains unchanged.
I don't know exactly what Georgia needs to do. I didn't see the game in Starkville, but I closely watched UGA's other three losses. They all had a similar quality to them, as though they were from the same vineyard but of slightly different vintages. The South Carolina loss had the oaky taste of overly conservative offense, while the Colorado loss had the sharp bite of poorly timed breakdowns.
Everything Georgia has done so far has worked at some point. Almost nothing the Bulldogs do is a complete failure. Overhauling everything would accomplish nothing, because it would make the team even less consistent than it is now.
But, changing nothing is a path to more bottles of misery being uncorked. Mark Richt decided to have all practices this week be in pads with hitting for the first time in his head coaching career. Maybe that's the ticket. Maybe it's not. Perhaps all the team needs is just to get back to Athens, where it dominated UL-Lafayette and came within a minute of taking Arkansas to overtime.
Whatever it is, thank goodness it's not up to me to figure it out.