Mitchell: Georgia's False Start
Georgia's Mark Richt
Georgia's Mark Richt
Posted Sep 1, 2012

The final outcome may never have been in doubt, but there were only a few moments where you felt Georgia was really doing anything right, in any facet of the game, let alone playing like the #6 team in the nation.

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me @russmitchellcfb

Here come the parade of euphemisms and excuses.

Georgia managed Buffalo. UGA sweated this game out. The Dawgs were short-handed on defense.

All are just polite ways of speaking the truth: Georgia looked far from good, let alone polished, in its first game of 2012.

It's one thing to be handed a top ten preseason ranking like a present...quite another to earn it on the field. After watching Georgia struggle with themselves as much as with Buffalo on a warm, muggy Athens afternoon, the Dawgs may have some Thank You cards to mail out.

The score was never really an issue. As inconsistently as UGA played Saturday, there was never a point where you felt they were going to lose this game. However, there were only a few moments where you felt Georgia was really doing anything right, in any facet of the game, let alone playing like the #6 team in the nation.


A star was born between the hedges Saturday. True freshman Todd Gurley ran for 100 yards on eight carries with three touchdowns, one of them a 100 yard kickoff return for a Georgia school record (shared with Brandon Boykin, 2010).

After struggling through a spotty first half, quarterback Aaron Murray had a much better showing after the break – especially after Buffalo's thin secondary ran out of gas. Murray ended the day 15-of-26 for 258 yards with 3 touchdown and no interceptions.

After allowing the Bulls to outgain them in the first half 243 total yards to 188, including being outrushed 147 to 51, Georgia's defense held Buffalo to just 104 yards and five first down in the second half – with 75% of that coming on Buffalo's final drive with the game long since decided.


...and you better get a chair. Georgia was more often than not out of sync. They looked about as comfortable as a dentist's office, and outside of Gurley, scooted along for much of the game like a four cylinder engine in need of a tune-up.

The offensive line struggled to put together good blocking sets. There were illegal substitution penalties by both the offense and defense. False starts by freshman and seniors alike stalled drives. In the first half, Murray was 6/13 for 137 yards and 1 TD...but half of that came on one grossly under-thrown pass to Tavarres King against an over-matched secondary that should have been victimized for 60 minutes.

Perhaps most concerning of all – Todd Grantham's defense allowed Buffalo to rush for 200 yards, nearly 5 yards per carry, and control the line of scrimmage for far too much of this game. Not to mention control the clock – Buffalo had more than a four minute time of possession advantage. Nearly nine minutes in the first half alone.

"That's because we score so quickly," the UGA apologists will clamor. No it's not – it's because your defense couldn't stop a mid-grade MAC offense with an inexperienced quarterback under center.

Georgia's best excuse might be that it was running vanilla schemes so as not to show too much to Missouri, its opponent next week. For the Dawgs' sake, we hope that's the case. But it still doesn't explain Saturday.

This is a team searching for an identity. Is it a running offense? Passing? A pressure defense? Bend but don't break? Who are its leaders?

Saturday was only game one and there's no reason to panic. But these inflated preseason expectations have once again helped nobody in Athens.

We expect nearly all of the suspended players to dress next week for the Tigers, and that will certainly help. However, after this performance, and with ankle injuries to cornerback Malcolm Mitchell and true freshman right tackle John Theus likely adding to Georgia's problems, that contest in Columbia now looks a whole lot more challenging.

After the game, head coach Mark Richt said he wasn't thrilled with his team's performance, and that it would have to be much better to win at Mizzou.

Raise your hand, UGA fan, if you thought that was the case six weeks ago.

Russ Mitchell is CFN's lead SEC Columnist. Follow Russ for SEC and CFB analysis @russmitchellcfb

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