Seven thoughts, plus one bonus, as Georgia leads Appalachian State 14-6 at the half.
1. There seems no actual danger for Georgia, but this is still quite a lackluster showing thus far for the Bulldogs. Much of the blame goes to the pass defense (more on that in a second), but the offense hasn't really enforced its will on the game. It looked like it would after the first drive, but after that it's been a largely uninspired showing. The line isn't getting quite the push you'd expect against a team of this caliber, Todd Gurley hasn't shown explosivion yet, Aaron Murray was off on one critical pass ... Just kind of an "eh" game so far on that side of the ball.
2. But the pass defense is the real culprit here, and the defense in general took a step back in the first half. In the first quarter alone, Appalachian State had 145 passing yards, and was 4-for-6 on third downs. App State's opening drive took nearly the first eight minutes off the clock. There were two third down conversions. Entering this game, Appalachian State was averaging 414 yards a game, but that was all against fellow FCS teams. It's on pace for 388 in this game, and possessed the ball for 17:31, against what we thought was an improving Georgia defense. Not so much, as it turned out.
3. As the coaches indicated, Gurley's workload is normal, at least through one half. He touched the ball 11 times, including nine rush attempts. And so far his ankle and conditioning seem to be holding up. It does help that the offense hasn't had the ball that long. If Georgia can pull away in the second half you have to think he'll get pulled, especially since he's gotten in a good deal of work in the first half, at least enough to make the coaches feel good about his conditioning.
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4. Danny Wuerffel held the SEC's career touchdown passes mark for 17 years, but has now given way to Aaron Murray. The Georgia senior's second touchdown pass in the first half gave him 115, passing Wuerffel. Murray's career will not go down for any championships, unless Missouri trips up and opens the door again. But at least Murray has numbers, and he's worthy of them. Remember, this is still basically a pro-style offense, so to put up the numbers he has over four years is a testament to his abilities - as well as his durability.
5. Targeting strikes Georgia again: Safety Corey Moore, who was emerging as a playmaker in the secondary, was ejected in the second quarter after officials called him for a hit to the head of a defenseless receiver. Moore was ejected, but since this happened in the first half, he can start at Auburn. So was it a proper call? I'd have to look at it more, but it was much closer to actual targeting than either of the hits at Vanderilt.
6. How about the Georgia special teams actually doing something positive, and I don't just mean not screwing up. Jordan Jenkins was credited with blocking App State's third field goal attempt, preserving a 7-6 lead. That's been the thing with Georgia's special teams: Not only has it committed a plethora of critical errors, it hasn't made up for it with big impact plays, other than a couple fake punts. No real long punt or kick returns, or any blocked kicks this season, until this game. The last Georgia blocked field goal was in last year's SEC championship, the one leading to Alec Ogletree's touchdown return. It was the 14th blocked field goal of Mark Richt's tenure.
7. Ramik Wilon has gotten a lot better. He's been racking up the tackles all year, but the first half of the season it was mostly padding numbers on good offensive plays. Now he's making plays, such as on the opening drive, when he ran the tailback down from behind for a loss on second down.
Bonus: Everyone now seems to be pulling this move, but damnit, it's still cool: During the timeout between quarters, the mother of a serviceman was brought out to be introduced to the crowd. Her son, specialist Robert Owens of the Georgia National Guard, has been serving in Afghanistan. But unbeknownst to the mom, he was in the stadium, and appeared on the field. She burst out in tears and they embraced, and the crowd roared. Yeah, I teared up a little bit too.