After last week's disappointing showing by the Offense I think we were all in fear of a repeat of the offensively challenged Auburn v Miss St game of last season that ended 3-2. Neither team looked particularly good in Week 1 and the Dawg offense looked down right bad. It has always been said that the biggest improvement that a team makes is between Week 1 and Week 2 so that coupled with a well Joe Cox gave me some optimism for Saturday's game. I never in my wildest dreams thought that we would put up 41 points on a very good defense (heck as bad as the offense looked agaist OK State I wouldn't bet that they could score 41 points against air.) so to say that our offensive outburst was a pleasant surprise would be an understatement. Let's look at each unit and see where the improvements happened and where we can continue to get better.Quarterback
-All summer long we have been hearing about how Joe Cox may not have Matthew Stafford's arm strength but he was "very accurate" and the offense wouldn't miss a beat. Last week Joe looked terrible plain and simple. I don't know if it was the flu, or first game jitters, or a OKST defense that played out of their minds (or a combination of the 3) that caused the bad game. Combine that with reports coming out of Athens that he has a bum shoulder and the prospects for improvement did not look all that good not to mention the reports of Logan Gray becoming the starter coming out of Athens on Thursday. Everyone was anxious about what was going to happen against USC.
For the most part Joe played a solid game on Saturday completeing 17/24 passes (70%) for 201 yards and 2 TD/1 INT. He made a couple of nice throws to AJ Green and to Orson Charles, conversely he made a couple of really bad decisions with the ball one of which resulted in a pick-six by LB Eric Norwood. The worst part of the INT is that he said he saw Norwood there but decided to throw it anyway. Joe did fumble once, but I won't blame that one on him since he was flattened on the blind side (more on that play in the O line review). Logan Gray got all of one snap so I can't really offer too much of an opinion his play. Overall not a bad game from the QB position.GRADE: BRunning Backs-
Richard Samuel is a beast! Why we keep getting away from the running game is beyond me. The guy seems to get stronger and run harder as the game progresses, yet he virtually disappeared from the game for the better part of 2 quarters. Samuel had a solid game rushing 15 times for 65 yards and snagging 3 passes for 32 yards. Considering he is not considered the "pass catching" back I thought he did a nice job in that area. Carlton Thomas is just not panning out to be the "change of pace" back that he was billed to be in the preseason. 6 rushes for 22 yards is just not going to cut it, I do have to give him credit for being heads up and recovering the fumble when Cox was leveled. Branden Smith added 65 rushing yards to the total but 61 of those came on a reverse for a TD. The backs also did not give up a sack due to poor pass protection or missed blitz pick up and did not fumble. Overall a good but not great day for the running backs. We really need Coach Bobo to give Samuel a chance to rush for 100 yards and take some of the pressure off of Joe and the passing game. Getting Caleb King back for Arkansas will be huge.Grade: B+Wide Receivers/Tight Ends-
This continues to be the AJ Green show and a couple of other guys that can catch the football every now and again. Tavarres King had a good game and showed signs of being the guy to step up and take some of the pressure (not to mention the double coverage) off of AJ. Micheal Moore had another TD catch, but for the most part was a non factor in the passing game. Orson Charles is going to be a great TE once he learns the entire game plan and puts on a few pounds. He had a couple of very nice grabs over the middle on Saturday night. AJ is just AJ, the guy is a freak and can take over a game if he wants to do so. He makes the impossible look routine on a regular basis. I was glad to see that Bobo made it a point to get him the ball and get him involved early. We finally got to see Marlon Brown and Rantavious Wooten briefly in the 4th Quarter, neither were thrown to so no official stats there. Branden Smith was lined up at WR several times during the game and while I realize that he is part cheetah (as evidenced by the 61 yard reverse for a TD), I wonder why our coaching staff considers him the 4th WR over Izzy Troupe and ahead of Wooten and Brown.Overall Grade: BOffensive Line-
For all the criticism that the O line weathered last year (and even last week for that matter) they finally turned in a dominating performance Saturday night with one (BIG) exception. Clint Boling was the SEC Offensive Lineman of the week after grading out at 94 against S. Carolina and for the most part the line was opening holes, picking up blitzes and protecting Joe Cox all night. It looked like on the sack that Vance was just beaten around the corner by the USC DE and that gave him a clean shot at an unsuspecting Cox. Other than that it was as solid an effort as I have seen from a UGA O line in a few years.Overall Grade: A-
As a whole I thought that the Offense was leaps and bounds better than last week against OKST. Putting up 41 points against what is largely regarded as one of the better Defenses in the SEC is nothing to sneeze at either. Now I don't think that all of our Offensive woes are fixed and we are just as likely to come out next week and have a clunker as we are to score 40 points again. The main thing is that we seem to be on the right track in getting the ball in our playmakers hands and having our starting QB healthy. I would like to see us stick with the run a little more and the addition of Caleb King to the RB rotation should definitely improve our ability to do so in the future.
Tomorrow we critique the defense.