It's no secret that the offense didn't exactly set the world on fire last Saturday night against Georgia, but let's break things down a bit further.
In the first half, things didn't go well at all for the offense. In the first quarter, we had only seven offensive plays, as Georgia controlled the ball for over twelve minutes.
On the first drive, we got a big gain on the opening play from Terry Grant, and that gave us first and ten with good field position (Alabama 44). From there we call a screen to Grant -- i.e. trying to get an elusive guy the ball in space with some blocking in front -- and we set it up perfectly. Unfortunately, Wilson can't complete a simple screen pass, second and ten. From there, we dump the ball off to Grant for a minimal gain, then another incomplete on third down forces the punt. On the second drive, Grant is stuffed on first and ten, and another inaccurate Wilson passes forces a third and long situation. From there, we run a draw play to Coffee, and it works quite well (seven yards), but nonetheless comes up a bit short. Punting time.
On the third drive we really started to move the football. We again got ourselves in a third and long situation -- Wilson threw a one-hopper to Hall on the out route on first down, and Grant was stuffed for no gain on second down -- but picked up the first down with a crossing route to McCoy (which, incidentally, is about the only throw Wilson has consistently made to this point). We moved the ball into Georgia territory, when Coffee came up just short on a third and four. From there, we decide against kicking a 47-yard field goal into the breeze, and opt for the fourth down conversion attempt. We run a play-fake, and unfortunately UGA is not fooled. We were looking for a big play and didn't get it. Hindsight 20/20 we would have kicked or ran the ball, but so be it. Usually in packages like this, the coaching staff has about three plays drawn up that they can run, and one is always a potential big play off of a play-fake, and that's what we went with. It didn't work, so be it, 3-0 Georgia.
Finally a couple of drives later in the closing seconds of the first half, we move the ball downfield -- thanks in large part to a Georgia facemask penalty -- and get a field goal before halftime to make it 10-3.
Reviewing the first half, we just couldn't do anything right. We only had 33 plays in the first half, and 22 of those plays were passes. That said, seven of those passes came on the final drive when we had to throw, so the run / pass ratio isn't that far skewed. At bottom, nothing really worked. We ran the ball 11 times, but of those 11, only four were successful runs, and one of those four successes -- Grant's long scamper on the opening play -- was a busted play where Georgia damn near took the hand-off in the backfield, ala 2004 Tennessee. At bottom, nothing worked. We couldn't consistently run the football with effectiveness, and Wilson was terrible in the passing game. He had some open receivers, but couldn't get the ball to them particularly well. He did okay on the final drive -- 4-7 for 26 yards -- but before that he was horrendous, starting out the game going 3-10. All told, Wilson went only 10-21 for 80 yards in the first half.
In the second half we started out slow, but really started to move the football well on down the stretch.
It wasn't Wilson that did it, either. To be sure, he looked better in the second half than he did in the first, but even so he never did particularly well. In the second half, he went 7-12 for 105 yards. Again, that's not particularly good -- several of those were dump-offs for minimal yardage, and many of the completions were nonetheless very ugly throws -- but at least he made three big completions (22 and 43 yarders to Brown, and a 21 yarder to Hall), and that helped.
The real difference was in the running game. The running attack couldn't get on track in the first half, but it really took over in the second half. All told, we ran the ball 18 times in the second half, and 13 of them were successes. That's an astonishing RB Success Rate of 72.22%. For comparison, even Arkansas' RB Success Rate in the second half last week was only in the mid-60's. Plus, we were averaging over five yards per carry, to boot.
So, with a passing game that was able to get us some big plays, combined with a productive attack -- not to mention a big interception by Rashad Johnson -- we were finally able to get some points on the board.
It all fell apart in overtime, unfortunately. Coffee was stopped for no gain, and Wilson threw two more incompletions after not seeing an uncovered Roy Upchurch split out at wide receiver. That was really the key to the overtime loss, Georgia had a big advantage over us once we had to settle for the field goal.
All in all, though, it was just not a very good performance from the offense. The defense played plenty well enough to get the win, but we lost, and the lack of production from the offense was why. All we needed was 21 points in regulation to get the victory, and the offense couldn't do that. That's just not acceptable.
We have to things back together next week against Florida State. We did a great job of protecting the football -- the Achilles heel in the Arkansas meltdown -- with zero turnovers, but we couldn't get much production. Against Arkansas, we had a ton of production but a lot of big turnovers. Against Georgia, we didn't have any turnovers, but we didn't have much production either. That has to improve if we want to go to Jacksonville and pull off a win over Florida State. We have to keep the turnovers non-existent, Wilson has to remember how to play quarterback, and we need the running game to be able to take over like it did in the second half against Georgia.
We came this close to knocking off Georgia last week, but offensively we've got a lot of improvement to make.