Halftime analysis: Seven thoughts

semerson@macon.comOctober 19, 2013 

Georgia Vanderbilt Football

Georgia running back Brendan Douglas (22) is stopped at the 1-yard line by Vanderbilt defenders Steven Clarke (12) and Andre Hal (23) in the first quarter.


Thoughts, observations and notes as No. 15 Georgia leads Vanderbilt 24-14 at halftime.

1. Shaq Wiggins has the play of the year for the Georgia defense, in my opinion. Vanderbilt got too cute, trying another trick play even though it was moving the ball, and Wiggins saw it coming. The freshman jumped in front of the pass, and returned it 39 yards for the touchdown. It was Georgia's first defensive touchdown of the year, and only the second interception, and only the fourth forced turnover. (The special teams has the other two for Georgia.) We'll see how this game turns out, but you can see that ending up being a season-turning play for the much-maligned defense. Perhaps Wiggins' pick-six will go down as the equivalent of Shawn Williams rant last year in terms of spurring a defensive turnaround.

2. Apparently the only people in the world who believed Ray Drew's targeting ejection should be upheld happened to be in the replay booth here. So it was upheld, and Georgia lost its leader in sacks. That call and the injury to Josh Harvey-Clemons happened within a few plays of each other, making it a pretty disastrous drive. On Drew's targeting call, I was pretty surprised it was upheld, even more surprised how short a time they took to review it. Georgia has a justifiable reason to be angry, but there's nothing it can do about it now. It has to play without Drew, who came into the game leading the team with five sacks. The good news for Georgia is it came in the first half, so he'll be eligible to play all of the Florida game. If the ejection had come in the second half, Drew would have had to miss the first half in Jacksonville.

3. Here's your turnover margin importance: Vanderbilt is actually outgaining Georgia at the half, 187-141. But Georgia is plus-1. So there you go.

4. Aaron Murray became the SEC's new career leader in total offensive yards, passing a guy named Tim Tebow. Otherwise it's been kind of an "eh" game so far for Murray, who only has 56 passing yards. Georgia just doesn't have much of a downfield passing game right now. Late in the half Murray started to discover the outside passes, hitting Chris Conley and Reggie Davis. That portends well for the second half, and you have to wonder when Mike Bobo is going to try for the deep ball. ... And by the way, Jonathan Rumph has yet to see the field. Some of you may be surprised by that, but Mark Richt said earlier in the week that he wasn't sure how much Rumph would play.

5. Remember when Brendan Douglas committed to Georgia, and some fans were actually angry that the team would "waste" a scholarship on a two-star small-school white tailback? Well, no one's saying that now. Douglas' running style is pretty unique: He gets real low, as if he's about to fall to the ground, but he doesn't and just barrels ahead. If there isn't a hole, he doesn't get much. But when there's a hole he goes for plenty, including runs of 12, 16 and 16 on Georiga's scoring drive to make it 10-7.

6. An example of Georgia's issues on defense: On a third-and-short on Vanderbilt's fourth drive, Vanderbilt spread it out, causing Amarlo Herrera to race to the far end of the fieldand line up on a receiver. And with Georgia's best tackler missing, Vanderbilt ran up the gut and easily got the first down. That said, Georgia finished the half well, infused with some confidence after Wiggins' big play. Todd Grantham's unit needs to stay aggressive in the second half.

7. Some personnel notes: John Theus has played the whole way at right tackle, with Kolton Houston not playing yet. Interestingly, Brandon Kublanow came in at left guard on the second drive, the earliest the freshman has ever played. Sheldon Dawson was getting his most extensive playing time of the season, subbing in for Shaq Wiggins. (But not on the key play.) When Harvey-Clemons got hurt, Connor Norman came in and played the slot, which at least makes the Bulldogs a better coverage team in the nickel.

Bonus thought: Overall, Georgia is sitting in pretty good position right now, especially after trailing 14-10 with its defense on its heels, two key players out. Wiggins' pick-six turned around this game. Now Georgia has a multi-possession lead, the ball to start the second half, Vanderbilt's quarterback is out, and Georgia can try to go about imposing its will in the second half. Then maybe the Bulldogs can actually play some subs in the fourth quarter - like Rumph.

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