Grading the Dawgs: room for major improvement after loss to Florida

Every weekend, UGASports.com teams up with 11Alive.com to hand out grades to Georgia’s position groups. Here is the report card from a 24-10 loss to Florida.

Quarterback: D
After a 346-yard performance against Vanderbilt, Jacob Eason threw for just 143 yards against a very stout Florida secondary. Eason never looked comfortable in the pocket and was extremely hesitant when he was making his throws. Granted, the Bulldog wide receivers did not help Eason’s case, but the freshman quarterback had quite a few bad throws that were his own fault, as well. The secondary that the Gators had on the field more than likely has multiple NFL draft picks roaming around, thus making this probably the hardest game for Eason to date. But, even with that being said, Eason did not look confident and completed only 45 percent of his pass attempts.

Running Backs: F
45. That is the number of rushing yards that a backfield comprised of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel put up in Jacksonville. Chubb’s longest rush was a seven-yard carry, while Michel ended the game with .7 yards per carry. The rushing statistics were hideous, there is no denying that, but the rushing lanes were clogged by extra defenders. One of the reasons, if not the main reason, why the Bulldogs’ offense never got going was because the rushing attack was not working in the early downs leaving long third downs for Eason to try and piece something together. The entire rushing attack needs to be revamped before Kentucky, or else the offense is going to continue to stay stagnant.

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Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: D
The bright spot of the offense was wide receiver Terry Godwin. Godwin hauled in five passes for 57 yards and looked to finally be in sync with Eason for one of the first times this season. Other than Godwin, tight end Isaac Nauta was the only other wide receiver or tight end that caught more than one pass, with Nauta catching two passes for 8 yards. Eason did get nine different receivers involved, which was nice, but a few of the wideouts had some very big drops. One of the big mysteries of the game was the fact that Isaiah McKenzie did not touch the ball all game on offense, especially since McKenzie is the leading receiver this season.

Offensive Line: F
The offensive line never got going against Florida and the final score showed just that. The run blocking for Chubb and Michel was non-existent and Eason had to run for his life at times to try and stay upright. This has to be fixed, but seeing how the problem has not been fixed up until this point, it now seems very unlikely that the line will dramatically improve before the Kentucky game. One of the many problems for the offensive line was when Greg Pyke was called for a false start when the Bulldogs were on the 2-yard line early in the first quarter. Instead of the Bulldogs being able to put a touchdown on the board and steal momentum, they had to settle for a field goal instead. That said, the offensive line only has so many hats and when Florida sent two or even three more defenders than Georgia had blockers, there was little the linemen could do.

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Overall Offense: F
The rushing attack never got going, Eason was constantly scrambling, and the wide receivers were dropping passes which stalled drives. The offensive line was not able to keep the Gators’ defensive line out of the backfield and the entire offense only put up 164 yards of total offense. Needless to say, the offense will have to add some type of wrinkle against Kentucky in order to get going and move the ball downfield.

Defensive Line: A-
The defensive line held the Gators to only 100 rushing yards on 48 attempts, which equates to a pedestrian 2.1 yards per carry. Freshman Julian Rochester continues to show that he is now a solid fixture on the defensive line, as he finished with seven tackles to lead all linemen. Daquan Hawkins-Muckle had six tackles and was a major key in stopping the run. Sophomore Jonathan Ledbetter and Trenton Thompson both were in the backfield numerous times and Ledbetter even had a half tackle for loss. This group is really starting to mesh and all the freshmen are beginning to make the impact well ahead of schedule.

Linebackers: B+
Middle linebacker Roquan Smith tallied nine tackles and did a good job of flying to the ball. Outside linebackers Davin Bellamy and Lorenzo Carter did a great job of setting the edge on run plays, but did not get much pressure on the quarterback. Just like the defensive line, the linebackers did a stellar job of keeping the Gators offense in check and helping limit the big plays that have haunted the Bulldogs in previous games. Also, like the defensive line, this group is really starting to come together and with Natrez Patrick and Smith only being sophomores, this will be one bright spot for Georgia fans moving forward into the last part of the season.

Secondary: A+
Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio only threw for 131 yards and was sacked three times by defensive backs. Deandre Baker was called for pass interference in the second quarter but the Gators squandered the opportunity by missing a field goal later in the drive. Other than the penalty, Baker played an excellent game. He led the team in tackles with ten, had a pass breakup and also had a sack. Dominick Sanders had an interception on the first drive of the game, but was later hurt and did not return. Maurice Smith and Malkom Parrish both had a sack and both played well in pass coverage. Statistically, this was the best overall game from the secondary all season, and their play on the field in pass coverage was one of their best performances, as well.

Overall Defense: A-
The defensive performance was not the reason that Georgia lost this game. They did a great job of limiting the Gators, especially since the Gators were getting such great field position due to the offense’s inability to move the ball and the punting unit not being able to flip the field. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker should look at the film and be very pleased with the performance that his players were able to give against a decent Florida offense.

Special Teams: F
The special teams unit just does not seem to be coming together and by the way it played against Florida, it does not look like it will be happening anytime soon. Freshman Marshall Long started out the day as the punter, but due to his poor punting, backup Brice Ramsey was brought in to help. Both combined for eight punts for a measly 32-yard average each, with none of the punts getting downed inside the Gators 20-yard line. Rodrigo Blankenship did make his only field goal attempt, a 25-yard try in the first quarter, but other than that, the special teams unit did not help the Bulldogs out in any form. The kickoff coverage again allowed a big return on a short kick, setting up a Florida score. With the offense stalling on most drives and the defense having to be on the field for two-thirds of the game, it was imperative that the special teams unit help flip the field and manufacture yards, but they did the exact opposite.

Paul Maharry is a contributor for UGAInsider.com.

(© 2017 WXIA)


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