If you're being honest, you also have to accept that the roster that was ranked #1 preseason never really materialized due to injuries.
It isn't easy to scheme around some of Georgia’s defensive talent/injury problems. The lack of play makers at defensive end is particularly problematic. When you can't get to the QB with a four man rush, it puts stress on your linebackers and defensive backs. The result is a cascading problem. Sort of like a rolling blackout where breakdowns in coverage and scheme happen in different spots.
All of that said. UGA did NOT lose to Georgia Tech on Saturday because of talent problems on the defense. UGA lost because:
- You have to wrap up when you tackle.
- You have to approach the ball carrier with bad intentions.
- You can't shoulder nudge your way to victory.
- You have to play assignment football against the option.
- You can’t take a record number of bad angles in pursuit of the runner.
You want to know why I haven't blogged much the past few weeks? What's to say? From mid 2005-2008, the song has remained mostly the same. We got a 6 game reprieve from our problems in late 2007, but it's been the same problems for most of that period. It gets redundant saying the same things over and over. “If we tackle well, don’t get lots of penalties and score points in the redzone, blah, blah, blah.” It gets old talking about that every week.
Bad tackling, bad angles and a lack of violence have been eroding the play of the defense. I've bent over backwards to excuse the problems away to talent and injuries. But that wasn't the problem on Saturday.
It's one thing to get your ass handed to you by the #1 and #2 teams in America. It sucks, but it's part of football. The Gators and Tide are most certainly more talented than Georgia. Georgia Tech most certainly is not more talented. Our players should not be giving up 45 points to a program with Tech's personnel. Ever.
In my opinion, the underlying problem appears to be that the Georgia Bulldog coaching staff is clearly settling for this level of play. That starts with Mark Richt.
He has settled for the penalty situation. He has settled for our keystone cops kickoff coverage. He has settled for the off field discipline issues. He has settled for the erosion of quality in the defense. He had settled for half-assed offensive line recruiting until UAB mercifully took our problem in that area out of town.
You get what you settle for in life. And Richt’s problem with apparently settling for this level of play is bigger than Brian Van Gorder versus Willie Martinez. Why? Because it’s a problem across the board.
The defense is broken. I have no idea how to fix it, but I’m not paid $2-3 million a year to figure that out. If it were as simple as firing Willie Martinez, I’d say “do that.” But the bigger issue is Mark Richt needs to decide that playing this style of football is as much fun, personally rewarding, or successful as playing the style of football that he initial brought to Athens. The style of football we all fell in love with.
In early 2006, I posted a note about Why I Believe in Mark Richt Football (link fixed). Unfortunately, Georgia didn’t play with the violence, mental toughness or aggression in 2008 that I described back then.
The problem is bigger than just the defense. Heaven knows the special teams are a wreck and penalties are killing us. But it’s the defense where our problems showcase every wart of the program.
It’s up to Richt. Is he going to settle for this? Because this isn’t about Wins and Losses. This is about an erosion of a style of play that will be his undoing over time if he doesn’t reel it in now.
This off season will be interesting to watch.
-- Georgia's Loss Falls on Coaching - Mark Bradley
-- Recipe for a lost off season - Get the Picture
-- Bulldog post-game notes - David Hale
-- Post-game thoughts - DawgSports