Beat Writer Q-and-A

Seth Emerson does a fine job covering Georgia athletics for the Macon Telegraph:

Q: Why do you think Georgia has a tendency to look flat at times? I’m thinking specifically about the South Carolina and Kentucky games.

That’s a great question. The biggest concern I’d have right now if I were a Georgia fan would be why does it take some sort of extra motivation for my team to play at its best? The three best games the Bulldogs have had this year were at Missouri (when the “old man football” comments were made), vs. Vanderbilt (when last year’s postgame incident loomed) and vs. Florida (after the “playing soft” comments by not only Shawn Williams, but TV analysts.) The only explanation, and it’s the simplest one, is that not only is Mark Richt not a rah-rah, emotional type, but the team’s top two players – Aaron Murray and Jarvis Jones – also aren’t fiery guys. And a team tends to feed off its head coach and best players. That doesn’t make the even-keel approach wrong. After all, this team is still 7-1 and in the hunt for an SEC and perhaps BCS title.

Q: What does Georgia do defensively to help free up Jarvis Jones to make plays? Who has successfully, somewhat, schemed Jones to slow him down?

Jones was out for two games, and six of his 8.5 sacks came in two games (Missouri and Florida). It’s not that he’s been feast-or-famine. Opposing teams have done everything they can on him, whether it’s double-blocking or stunting him, or audibling to the other side. The main way it’s worked is when the other edge rushers haven’t been effective. But now freshman Jordan Jenkins, playing the other OLB spot, is really playing well, and senior DE-OLB Cornelius Washington, who had been quiet, is starting to assert himself more. If those guys require attention, then Jones is going to get the single-blocking matchups he desires.
Q: How productive has Georgia been at wide receiver? I know there was a key injury. How have the other guys elevated their play?

A: Georgia hasn’t had a go-to receiver, a la A.J. Green, which has actually been a good thing. Michael Bennett was the team’s leading receiver through five games, then tore his ACL the Tuesday before South Carolina. But his injury coincided with Malcolm Mitchell – the leading receiver last year, who started this season at cornerback – moving back full-time to offense. So it’s still a deep, dangerous unit. Mitchell ended up being the key guy down the stretch against Florida, and scored the decisive touchdown to make it 17-9. Mitchell is the top playmaker, but seniors Marlon Brown and Tavarres King are also effective, and junior Rantavious Wooten is capable of making plays in space. Simply put, if Aaron Murray has time to find an open receiver, someone’s going to be open, and Georgia is going to do well.

Q: From the Georgia perspective — team, fans, everyone — what is the thinking about an Ole Miss team that is playing better but is not that far removed from a 16-game SEC losing streak?

A: The fact that Ole Miss went in to Arkansas and won – as down as the Razorbacks are this year – certainly got people’s attention. Still, you can’t separate the Rebels from the team that struggled so much the past few years. So people still expect that Georgia, if it plays near to its best, should win this game. But they also know that Ole Miss is improved enough that if the Bulldogs have an emotional letdown, or stumble around, things could get very hairy.

Q: What has allowed the freshman running backs, specifically Gurley, to have so much early success?

A: They’ve been calling them “Gurshall” – combo of Gurley and Marshall, and rhyming with Herschel – but lately it’s really just Gurley. Either way, the pair have been a huge improvement over last year because a) they’ve stayed healthy and out of trouble, and b) they are capable of big plays. Isaiah Crowell was effective last year when he was healthy, but he didn’t have that breakaway ability, and since 2010 a run of 15 yards seemed like an explosion. Gurley and Marshall have changed that, showing the ability to not only get past the line, but to get that extra gear and take it a long way. Gurley has 10 touchdowns, and Marshall have five, which combined would tie Herschel Walker’s school record for touchdowns by a freshman.

 

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jimmyw.barbee Jimmy W Barbee

    rooting for both Gators and Rebels. A win for both will put the Gator into the SEC championship game with Alabama and a win for the Rebels will put them into a bowl game some where.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002721842858 Thomas Brown

      Interesting. I guess I had seen some analysts point out parenthetically that Florida is still in it; but, until I read your succinct post, I missed it. I realized your test against FSU is non-conference and I think that is part of it that I still count that a loss, too – although they are ACC and gracious Will Muschamp and Florida have big-time wins this season against teams like Florida’s win over # 8 now South Carolina and against teams like Florida’s win over # 5 LSU. But, you know that win you have in game 2 this season too, at Texas A and M – while impressive at the time because it certainly does seem that Texas A and M’s stadium is most assuredly SEC caliber – that win since has grown hairs for Florida, another great win for Will Muschamp and Florida 2012 over now a really impressive Texas A and M team who has a big-time chance today to make a big impression again as # 15 Mississippi State takes on # 16 Texas A and M.

      Still, Mississippi State’s and Texas A and M’s wins are all like Georgia’s wins all year too except for our defense shutting you guys out, while our offense came to life and punched in that early TD, a FG and that back-breaking 45-yard passing TD to Malcolm Mitchell with the downfield block by TE Artie Lynch. There is just no substance in those wins, and then you look at what Florida has done, and you know ? You’re right Jimmy W Barbee, you guys deserve great R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You are still in it, aren’t you ?

      With all Florida has done this season, now that Georgie exposed you as we do, you have no football game left until your bowl game – unless UGA loses today to Ole Miss.

      I can imagine you’ll be in there watching us at 3:30 pm, and quickly turn the set off, and try to ignore that you don’t have any football left in 2012 worth a damn.

      Sorry about that. Could happen to a better group of jort-wearing bragging fans who said all week we had no hope against you and that Aaron Murray would not get the job done, again, against you, and that Todd Grantham had not held a good team under 33 points, and that Todd Gurley would get nothing against your great defense, while your special teams ate us up.

      Oh, did I say thank you Florida fans ?

      Thank you thank you thank you for running that full-page ad in the Red and Black Student Newspaper here at UGA extolling the virtues and superiority PRE-GAME against us.

      That was REALLY SMART.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002721842858 Thomas Brown

      Interesting. I guess I had seen some analysts point out parenthetically that Florida is still in it; but, until I read your succinct post, I missed it. I realized your test against FSU is non-conference and I think that is part of it that I still count that a loss, too – although they are ACC and gracious Will Muschamp and Florida have big-time wins this season against teams like Florida’s win over # 8 now South Carolina and against teams like Florida’s win over # 5 LSU. But, you know that win you have in game 2 this season too, at Texas A and M – while impressive at the time because it certainly does seem that Texas A and M’s stadium is most assuredly SEC caliber – that win since has grown hairs for Florida, another great win for Will Muschamp and Florida 2012 over now a really impressive Texas A and M team who has a big-time chance today to make a big impression again as # 15 Mississippi State takes on # 16 Texas A and M.

      Still, Mississippi State’s and Texas A and M’s wins are all like Georgia’s wins all year too except for our defense shutting you guys out, while our offense came to life and punched in that early TD, a FG and that back-breaking 45-yard passing TD to Malcolm Mitchell with the downfield block by TE Artie Lynch. There is just no substance in those wins, and then you look at what Florida has done, and you know ? You’re right Jimmy W Barbee, you guys deserve great R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You are still in it, aren’t you ?

      With all Florida has done this season, now that Georgie exposed you as we do, you have no football game left until your bowl game – unless UGA loses today to Ole Miss.

      I can imagine you’ll be in there watching us at 3:30 pm, and quickly turn the set off, and try to ignore that you don’t have any football left in 2012 worth a damn.

      Sorry about that. Could happen to a better group of jort-wearing bragging fans who said all week we had no hope against you and that Aaron Murray would not get the job done, again, against you, and that Todd Grantham had not held a good team under 33 points, and that Todd Gurley would get nothing against your great defense, while your special teams ate us up.

      Oh, did I say thank you Florida fans ?

      Thank you thank you thank you for running that full-page ad in the Red and Black Student Newspaper here at UGA extolling the virtues and superiority PRE-GAME against us.

      That was REALLY SMART.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002721842858 Thomas Brown

      Interesting. I guess I had seen some analysts point out parenthetically that Florida is still in it; but, until I read your succinct post, I missed it. I realized your test against FSU is non-conference and I think that is part of it that I still count that a loss, too – although they are ACC and gracious Will Muschamp and Florida have big-time wins this season against teams like Florida’s win over # 8 now South Carolina and against teams like Florida’s win over # 5 LSU. But, you know that win you have in game 2 this season too, at Texas A and M – while impressive at the time because it certainly does seem that Texas A and M’s stadium is most assuredly SEC caliber – that win since has grown hairs for Florida, another great win for Will Muschamp and Florida 2012 over now a really impressive Texas A and M team who has a big-time chance today to make a big impression again as # 15 Mississippi State takes on # 16 Texas A and M.

      Still, Mississippi State’s and Texas A and M’s wins are all like Georgia’s wins all year too except for our defense shutting you guys out, while our offense came to life and punched in that early TD, a FG and that back-breaking 45-yard passing TD to Malcolm Mitchell with the downfield block by TE Artie Lynch. There is just no substance in those wins, and then you look at what Florida has done, and you know ? You’re right Jimmy W Barbee, you guys deserve great R-E-S-P-E-C-T. You are still in it, aren’t you ?

      With all Florida has done this season, now that Georgie exposed you as we do, you have no football game left until your bowl game – unless UGA loses today to Ole Miss.

      I can imagine you’ll be in there watching us at 3:30 pm, and quickly turn the set off, and try to ignore that you don’t have any football left in 2012 worth a damn.

      Sorry about that. Could happen to a better group of jort-wearing bragging fans who said all week we had no hope against you and that Aaron Murray would not get the job done, again, against you, and that Todd Grantham had not held a good team under 33 points, and that Todd Gurley would get nothing against your great defense, while your special teams ate us up.

      Oh, did I say thank you Florida fans ?

      Thank you thank you thank you for running that full-page ad in the Red and Black Student Newspaper here at UGA extolling the virtues and superiority PRE-GAME against us.

      That was REALLY SMART.

  • UGA 70

    While I’m a UGA alum, I also went to grad school at Ole Miss and therefore happy to see the Rebs doing better this year. But I’ve always bled red and black. As for this game, we’re always worried about which Dawgs will show up to play this year as well as in some previous years. However, I think the Dawgs understand what is at stake, if we want to make it back to ATL and the SECCG and they have played really well at home this year, so I think we’ll be fine. Go Dawgs.

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