We knew it was going to be a tough game with AJ out of the lineup. At times the offense looked good, but only getting 6 points off three trips to the red zone killed us. But that's not the really story of this game.
Following the game, many people were quick to jump online and immediately blame the defense. Yes, the tackling was bad, but Lattimore is the real deal and sometimes, good players make good plays. Overall, I felt the defense actually played pretty well. Before you jump down my throat, let me explain.
On the legs of Lattimore, South Carolina moved the ball down the field fairly easy today. The defensive gameplan was pretty dead on, the execution was what killed us. It began in the first quarter with arguably the most important play in the entire game. Georgia forced Carolina into a 3rd and long, but a 21 yard draw by Lattimore kept the Gamecocks on the field. they would keep the ball for the first 8 minutes of the game and ended the drive with a touchdown. At that point, are defense was already beat down.
From that point on, the Georgia defense was able to hold its won pretty well. Yes, Carolina did score again, but if you were to tell me after the opening drive that Carolina would only score twice more the entire game, I would be pretty happy. the defense stood strong through much of the second half, holding Carolina to only a field goal. Justin Houston continued to be a beast, notching three sacks and forcing a fumble. What hurt the Georgia defense all day was not the scheme as much in the fact they were on the field for most of the game. The Georgia offense only had the ball 8 times in the game and four of those ended in three and outs. With a tired defense, that is just inexcusable.
Onto the offense, where I really have to question the lack of creativity in the play calling. I know we had a redshirt freshman making his first road start, but in my eyes Aaron Murray looked up to the challenge. He threw the ball well and did not make the mistakes he made in week 1. The problem was, we once again failed to force our wide receivers into action. With AJ out, clearly we don't have that great deep threat, but three passes beyond fifteen yards is not going to get the job done.
Ealey looked good running the ball, especially in the first half. I know Caleb was nursing an ankle injury, but I would have at least liked to see him on the field. He is a different type of runner than Ealey and maybe that change in style would have opened up the run game a little more. the Ealey fumble really killed the game for us. I felt we had the momentum swinging our way, but it just wasn't meant to be.
Overall, this was a bad game but there are a number of good things to take away. I think the defense will only to continue to improve. Coach Grantham's system was solid, now we just need to crank up the execution. Aaron Murray is going to be a great quarterback. He looked poised on the road and will only continue to get better. This is only one loss and at least it happened early. With a pass heavy Arkansas team coming to town, hopefully the defense can continue to get pressure and maybe force some bad throws from Mallet.
We've got ten games to go in the '10 season. Let's not panic. A 17-6 loss on the road to Carolina is bad, but we were still within a touchdown with the ball with about 7 minutes left in the game.
And hey, things could be worse. At least we lost to a talented team. Can't say the same for Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech.