Georgia vs. Vanderbilt: 10 Things We Learned from the Bulldogs' Loss
The Georgia Bulldogs' BCS title chances went up in flames with a loss to Missouri last week.
Now the argument might be made that their shot at a SEC title is gone with a loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday.
After being up by 13 after the third quarter, Vanderbilt scored 17 unanswered points for the win.
The Bulldogs offense could not make plays when needed, and the defense was put in bad spots all game long.
Thankfully, they have a bye week before facing Florida on November 2.
Here are 10 things we learned from the Bulldogs' loss to Missouri.
Aaron Murray Was Not the Problem
Aaron Murray did not play well, but all the blame can't be put on him.
Despite only throwing for 113 yards and no touchdowns, he did have two rushing touchdowns early in the game.
The Bulldogs wanted to establish the run, which is why Murray did not have a chance to lead the Bulldogs to a win. And when he was able to throw, the receivers would either drop the ball or get hit as he was in he process of throwing.
The Defense Needed Ray Drew
The Bulldogs could have used Ray Drew as Vanderbilt was making their comeback.
Drew was ejected from the game in the first half for targeting Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels.
Drew is the team's best pass-rusher, and while the Bulldogs did apply pressure on Carta-Samuels and backup Patton Robinette, having Drew would have given the Bulldogs a much-needed boost on defense.
Brendan Douglas Has to Protect the Ball
Brendan Douglas had another strong game, rushing for 84 yards on 17 carries.
But he had a costly fumble in the Bulldogs' next-to-last drive in the fourth quarter which iced the game for Vanderbilt.
But this is not the first time this has happened. Douglas had a costly fumble in the loss to Missouri near the end zone.
Douglas has been a valuable player in the run game. But if he can't hold on to the football, the coaching staff will have to give someone else a shot who is not turnover-prone.
Chris Conley Has to Elevate His Game
Chris Conley got injured at the end of the Vanderbilt game, and it's unknown if he will be ready for the Florida game in two weeks.
But if he is, he will have to step his game up. He did have five catches for 40 yards in the loss against Vanderbilt, but he had his share of dropped passes on third down as well as the red zone.
With the injuries to Malcolm Mitchell, Michael Bennett and Justin Scott-Wesley, Conley has been thrown into the role as No. 1 receiver. Murray loves to find different receivers to throw to, but he needs to have that one guy he can depend on to make a play.
That is where Conley needs to be more consistent.
Where Was Arthur Lynch?
And speaking of receivers, where was Arthur Lynch?
The senior tight end only had one catch for seven yards in the loss to the Commodores. He is a guy who can be a major player in the passing game if his number is called.
Lynch is considered, by many, as one of the best tight ends in the conference. But he has to get the ball consistently, especially when the wide receivers can't get the job done.
Special Teams Flaws Cost the Bulldogs This Time
I did not want to talk about the special teams, but I said it would cost them in a game in the future.
And it did when the Bulldogs fell to Vanderbilt.
From the fake field goal by the Commodores early on to the botched snapped punt by Damian Swann which set up the Commodores go ahead score, the flaws on special teams was in rare form, and it's something that needed to be addressed not at the start of this season, but two years ago when the issues came to light.
Damian Swann Needs to Be Better
And speaking of special teams, Swann was another key player in the Bulldogs' loss.
Not only did he muff the punt return late in the game, but he also gave up a big pass play which gave the Commodores three points in the fourth quarter.
The secondary has had major issues this season, but the way Swann is struggling is almost alarming. For some reason, he lost whatever he had that earned him the starting spot last year. Let's hope he can find it during the bye week.
Shaq Wiggins Is a Stud
While Swann is struggling at the cornerback spot, Shaq Wiggins is thriving at the other cornerback spot.
The true freshman intercepted a pass for a touchdown, and he also had a couple more pass breakups in the loss.
Wiggins is playing with no fear, and his confidence level is at a all-time high. He has been beat in coverage and will be beat in the future. But he fights back and learns from his mistakes. Wiggins has a chance to be a freshman All-American if he continues this trend.
The Bulldogs Were Way Too Conservative
The Bulldogs played this game like they did not want to lose. Out of the 63 total plays on offense, the Bulldogs called 35 run plays.
The Bulldogs wanted to established the run, and it's something they always wanted to do. But when a team has a quarterback like Murray, they have to play to his strengths which is finding different receivers all over the field which enables the offense to move the chains.
Mike Bobo has done a good job with Murray and the offense all season long. But this was not his best game in terms of calling plays.
The Season Is over
There is still a lot of football to be played, and the Bulldogs are not mathematically out of anything yet. But by the way the defense has looked, the way the special teams has looked and with the injuries on offense, it would be short of a miracle if the Bulldogs make it back to the Georgia Dome in December.
They have had a roller coaster of a season, and by the looks of things, it will continue until January.
Murray came back for his senior season because he wanted another shot at the SEC title. But he did not realize that his supporting cast would drop like flies on such a consistent basis.