October 3, 2010
Well...we've lost four games in a row for the first time since Ray Goff's 1990 team went 4-7 overall. If we lose to the Vols, it would be the first five game losing streak since the early 1950s when UGA was by far at it's absolute lowest historical point.
Given that you have to reflect back to Goff's tenure to find failure of this scope, it makes sense to look at some of Ray's good and bad moves in times of crisis.
Positive Lessons Learned from Goff:
An offensive turnaround can happen quickly. UGA lost 13 games from 1989 and 1990 on the strength of a dramatic collapse in the talent base and an offensive philosophy that was wildly out of date. Offensive Coordinator George Haffner's play calling was straight out of the stone age. Our QBs in 1990 were Greg Talley, Preston Jones and Joe Dupree, and the 1990 recruiting class which was ranked #1 in the nation with guys like Hearst and Hastings was still in diapers.
So how did Ray turn around the offense? He brought in Wayne McDuffie with an innovative wide open passing attack, and signed an elite QB in Zeier to run it. The improvement began immediately as the Dawgs went from 4-7 in '90 to 9-3 in '91 and 10-2 in '92.
Negative Lessons Learned from Goff:
Goff kept his "hunting" buddies on staff for far, far too long. His inability to hire a competent defensive coordinator to complement McDuffie on the other side of the ball created an imbalance he could never overcome. (that and being stupid and lazy...but that's another topic)
He also struggled with personnel utilization issues on both sides of the ball. Even McDuffie and his brilliance had issues here. Reflect back to the 1994 game at Alabama. The Tide went undefeated in the regular season, but the Dawgs were a whisker from beating them. Unfortunately, we had Hines Ward (Super Bowl MVP WR) at Running Back, Robert Edwards (Top 10 NFL Draft Pick RB) at defensive back, and Terrell Davis (Super Bowl MVP RB) on the bench.
Lastly, he let the strength and conditioning program fall behind the times. When Donnan came to UGA in 1996, he commented (paraphrase) that his Marshall offensive line was stronger than his UGA line when he arrived.
Where are we now?
Richt is shockingly making mistakes right out of Ray Goff's play book. He waited too long to replace Martinez. Our strength program may produce great "stats" but our guys up front are getting mangled at the point of attack.
We have a former WR coaching RBs who should've gotten his "big break" in Div I-AA. We have a RB coaching WRs who was a much better RB coach for us. Our offensive coordinator refuses to sit in the press box where he can have a complete view of the field.
Granted, Richt isn't watching soap operas in his office instead of game film unlike one of the really depressing Goff rumors. But holy hell the ox is clearly in the ditch.
This is STILL very fixable. There are innovative offensive minds all over college football who would KILL for a chance to coach Aaron Murray. They would kill to coach in the SEC. And it doesn't have to take forever to turn things around.
OR..Mike Bobo could prove that he's one of those people and this season has been a wacky mix-up of some variety. Which I'm fine with...but skeptical.
In the Shortest Term
At a minimum, Bobo should be back upstairs where he could see the entire field better...with instructions to get AJ Green the ball at least twice per offensive possession. We should make sure our best players are in the game -- like Kwame Geathers getting more snaps on defense. And Branden Smith should have more offensive touches than Carlton Thomas. Because...you know..that simply makes sense.
As for the defense...it takes time to implement a completely new system. However, it would probably be a shorter process if the playbook wasn't 12 inches thick. These are college kids with 20 hours to learn and absorb a scheme. Right now, it looks like the only team that's confused by our defense is our own. The brilliance of Bill Oliver, legendary defensive coordinator at Bama, wasn't his complexity or his aggressiveness...it was his ability to put guys in the right spot and tackle well. That's why he was the first defensive coordinator to handle Spurrier in the early 90s.
It's all still fixable. But...it's been fixable all season.