Bowl Season

C-USA vs. SEC Memphis, Tenn.
Liberty Bowl
Dec. 31
3:30 p.m.
Thanks a lot to T. Kyle King of answered some questions about the Georgia Bulldogs.

BS: A 6-6 (3-5) season fell way short of expectations in Athens. However, despite a disastrous 1-4 start, the Dawgs were able to win 5 of their last 7. What changed for Georgia in the second half of the season?

Kyle King: I wish I could answer this question differently, but, honestly, the level of competition was the biggest difference. Georgia’s five late wins came against teams that ended the regular season with records at or below .500, and the Bulldogs’ two games against teams with winning records produced an 0-2 ledger, with the one outing against a squad with more than seven wins to its credit producing an 18-point setback. It’s been a long season for the Red and Black.

BS: The offense really got clicking in the second half, scoring more than 30 points in all of their final 7 games. Please comment on the offense including freshman QB Aaron Murphy, star receiver A.J. Green, and tailback Washaun Ealey.

Kyle King: An experienced Georgia offensive line has underperformed for much of the season, so the Red and Black have not been able to generate much in the way of a running game. Games lost to suspension and fumbles lost deep in enemy territory by both Washaun Ealey and Caleb King have compounded the problem. The Bulldogs’ stature as “Tailback U” has declined precipitously since the 1980s.

Fortunately, Georgia fields the best freshman quarterback in the conference and the best wide receiver in college football. Aaron Murray began the season as a question mark and has ended the autumn with an exclamation point. At this point, Murray doesn’t have Matthew Stafford’s arm, D.J. Shockley’s legs, or David Greene’s brain, but he’s only a half-step behind those former Bulldog quarterbacks in any of those categories, and Murray represents the best combination of all three characteristics to have donned the silver britches since Fran Tarkenton.

All you need to know about A.J. Green can be learned from looking at his highlight reel, the Bulldogs’ 1-4 record without him in the lineup on a full-time basis, and (unfortunately) next spring’s NFL draft.

BS: The defense has given up over 30 points in 4 of the last 5 games. What has been the reason for this and can they be stout enough to help the Bulldogs earn a bowl victory?

Kyle King:We in Bulldog Nation knew we were in for a frustrating season as the Red and Black adjusted to Todd Grantham’s new 3-4 scheme. Players have missed assignments and been out of position as they have struggled to adapt, but we expected the team to be farther along the learning curve in the second half of the autumn.

It hasn’t panned out that way, for two reasons. First of all, the last several years of Todd Grantham’s career prior to his arrival in Athens were spent in the NFL, where offenses follow such a familiar pattern that the wildcat is considered a groundbreaking innovation. Down the stretch, the Bulldogs had to face Urban Meyer’s, Gus Malzahn’s, and Paul Johnson’s offenses, which are utterly unlike anything defensive coaches see in the “No Fun League.” The new defensive coaching staff has had a learning curve, as well.

Secondly, most of Georgia’s players were not recruited to run the 3-4, and, while athletes like Justin Houston have performed exceptionally in the new scheme, there have been some square pegs placed in some round holes at other positions, most notably at nose guard, where the Bulldogs lack a monstrous run-stopper in the middle. Until the Red and Black have a Mount Cody or Refrigerator Perry to plug the hole, Coach Grantham’s scheme will struggle to fulfill its mission.

BS:If you had to pick one player to have a break out performance in the bowl game, who would it be?

Kyle King: I’m torn on this one. My head, which is focused on the future of the program, would prefer to see Aaron Murray torch the UCF secondary for five touchdowns, but my heart, which knows that this will be A.J. Green’s final game in a Georgia uniform, hopes A.J. goes out with a performance that leaves a lasting impression.

Thanks a lot to Kyle King. Check him out at , a blog about Georgia athletics.

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