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Monday, November 19, 2012
Film study: Georgia vs. Georgia Southern

By David Ching

ATHENS, Ga. -- Let’s take a look at three key plays from Georgia’s 45-14 win against Georgia Southern on Saturday -- and what they mean moving forward for the Bulldogs.

Fourth-down stop

Radi Nabulsi/
UGA DLs Kwame Geathers (99) and John Jenkins (6) fought off cut blocks for a fourth-down stop.

The score: Georgia leads 7-0

The situation: Georgia Southern was trying to establish itself on its first drive, electing to go for it on fourth-and-3 at the Georgia 34-yard line with 7:31 left in the first quarter.

Why it worked: The Bulldogs’ defensive linemen all fought off blocks to stuff a fullback dive for a 1-yard gain and a turnover on downs.

The breakdown: Right defensive end Garrison Smith darted inside of GSU tackle Garrett Frye almost immediately and was waiting for Eagles fullback Dominique Swope at the 35 just as he took a handoff from quarterback Jerick McKinnon. Smith grabbed Swope with his left arm and, although Swope broke away, turned him inside toward nose guard Kwame Geathers and left defensive end John Jenkins.

The key here was that both Geathers and Jenkins fought off cut-block attempts and were still on their feet to gang up on Swope just as he escaped Smith’s grasp. The two massive defensive linemen converged on Swope at the 34 and got help from linebacker Christian Robinson to stop Swope short at the 33.

What it means: The encouraging aspect of this play for the Bulldogs is that both Jenkins and Geathers were able to fight through cut blocks to stay on their feet and stop a short-yardage play. Rest assured that they will face several similar situations when they face Georgia Tech and its option rushing attack next Saturday, and such short-yardage stops will be immensely valuable.

Mitchell’s touchdown

Radi Nabulsi/
Saturday's TD pass to Malcolm Mitchell gave UGA another halftime-buzzer-beating score. Watch Video

The score: Georgia leads 10-7

The situation: The Bulldogs faced third-and-10 at the Georgia Southern 24-yard line with 9 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Why it worked: After a pair of incomplete passes into the end zone just before halftime, quarterback Aaron Murray floated a perfect pass to Malcolm Mitchell for a 24-yard touchdown with 4 seconds left in the half.

The breakdown: Georgia Southern brought a blitz, but Georgia’s offensive line and tailback Todd Gurley picked up everyone long enough for Mitchell to streak down the left sideline against single coverage from Lavelle Westbrooks.

The Eagles played single coverage on Tavarres King and Chris Conley, too, but Murray locked in on Mitchell from the start. The Bulldogs wideout was crossing the 15 and breaking free from Westbrooks just as Murray released the ball. He had two steps on the defender by the time he caught the ball over his right shoulder a yard deep into the end zone.

What it means: The play continued Georgia’s success executing its one-minute offense just before halftime. With key games on the horizon against Georgia Tech and the SEC West champion -- most likely Alabama -- in the conference championship game, Georgia very well might need another such drive to carry valuable momentum into the locker room at halftime.

Gurley’s third-down run

Radi Nabulsi/
Todd Gurley's 18-yard, third-down-converting run was the longest of the day for UGA.

The score: Georgia leads 17-7

The situation: The Bulldogs came out of a timeout facing third-and-15 at the Georgia Southern 36 with 9:49 left in the third quarter.

Why it worked: Georgia’s coaching staff recognized a defensive vulnerability and changed the call at the line of scrimmage. The Bulldogs’ offensive linemen created a huge seam for Gurley to not only run for the first down, but cover the first 12 yards without a single defender touching him.

The breakdown: Georgia ran an inside handoff to Gurley out of the shotgun. Left guard Kenarious Gates pulled and picked off Eagles linebacker Patrick Flowe in a wide hole between center and right guard. Right tackle John Theus and right guard Dallas Lee double-teamed linebacker Antwione Williams at the 32, picking off the only remaining potential tackler anywhere near the hole as Gurley broke loose.

The freshman back rocketed up the seam and remained untouched until he reached the 24-yard line, and he broke one tackle before Darius Eubanks and J.J. Wilcox knocked him down at the GSU 17 -- after an 18-yard gain that kept the Bulldogs’ drive alive.

The Bulldogs would score on a 13-yard pass from Murray to Conley two plays later, extending their lead to 24-7.

What it means: The 18-yard gain was Georgia’s longest run of the day. While the Bulldogs’ trademark big-play running game did not appear on Saturday, this play was a reminder of the damage Gurley can do when the offensive line helps him break into the secondary.