Halftime analysis: Seven thoughts

semerson@macon.comOctober 6, 2012 

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Here are seven things I think at halftime as Georgia trails South Carolina, 21-0, after a stunning first-quarter beat-down.

1. Aaron Murray, unfortunately for the junior quarterback, is reinforcing the idea he can't win a big game. There are some things out of his control, such as the fact he has to face the best defensive end in football. But Murray has missed on some throws, including the third-down pass to Marlon Brown near the end of the second quarter. The first-quarter interception, on Georgia's first drive, was also a poor decision, trying to force it into Arthur Lynch.

2. Todd Grantham has talked many times this season about halftime adjustments, whether it be Buffalo, Missouri or Tennessee. Well, at some point you've gotta get it right from the start or else it will cost you the game. That looks to be what's happening here. South Carolina had 177 total yards in the first half, and made it look easy. The Bulldogs stiffened up once the second quarter started ... but it may prove to be way too late.

3. Many will debate Mark Richt's decision to go for it from the 2, rather than take the chip-shot field goal. You could call it a panic move. But I get it. You're down three scores, and if you kick a field goal there, you're still down three scores. The problem there was the execution. Aaron Murray had to make sure his receiver was in the end zone, and he passed too quickly, undoubtedly worried about the oncoming rush.

4. Obviously Grantham made stopping Lattimore the priority. That's worked. But he waited too long to make Jarvis Jones - or anyone - be the spy on Shaw, and that's the difference. Shaw had four rushes for 45 yards in the first quarter, each run seemingly for a first down.

5. Mike Bobo is trying hard to maintain the run-pass balance, but you have to pick your spots. He ran on first down several times. This offense succeeded the first five games by using the pass to set up the run.

6. Georgia's downfield passing game and breakaway runs were key to the 5-0 start. Neither is happening much now. "Gurshall" being stopped may not be much of a surprise - although it is notable that Gurley seems much easier to be taken down, and Marshall isn't getting the ball in space. The passing game is a mix of good coverage, bad throws by Murray and the pass rush. The latter is the biggest reason, from what I can tell.

7. This game isn't out of reach for the Bulldogs. They get the ball to start the second half, and perhaps the defense has really figured it out. But we haven't seen anything to show the Bulldogs are good enough to come back on a team like the Gamecocks. This isn't Missouri, and the deficit is worse. Bottom line, the Bulldogs will need some help: A turnover or two or three, a big special teams play, something.

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