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September 15, 2010

Random Thoughts from SC

I've finally passed my cooling off period, and I can post this without being a full bore rant.

Preseason, I thought this team would go 9-3 or 10-2. I also felt that the South Carolina game was one of the biggest hurdles on the schedule due to timing, and I still feel like it's a 9 or 10 win team.

What bothers me isn't the loss. Realistically, the quality of the tackling doesn't bother me that much either because I didn't think that would be totally fixed yet anyway. What bothers me is the cause of the loss. We didn't drop this one because a freshman QB nutted up in a hostile place.

We lost because we didn't want it as badly as they did. Richt can say there wasn't an effort issue on Saturday. I disagree. However, it sounds like we do agree (as do several of UGA's players) that there was an issue with intensity, timidity, toughness, and GATA-itude. And I can't comprehend that.

How do you come out flat for a game this important? There were a variety of players who genuinely looked as if they had zero interest being in the stadium, playing football or wearing a G on their helmet. I don't get it, and it's not the first time.

Grantham was billed as the injection of whoop ass into the program that would bring the violence, tempo and expectations back to our pre-2005 levels. What's so frustrating to me is that the defense was just a pancake flat (or more so) than the rest of the team. In fact, I sincerely believe that had we brought the intensity (on both sides of the ball) of the ULL game to Columbia, we wouldn't won.

Having said all of that, it's not all bad news. Some broader thoughts:

The Bad:
-- Defensive GATA-itude. Already discussed.

-- The Offensive Game Plan. I am a card carrying registered Mike Bobo Apologist(TM). The guy takes entirely too much heat, but I can't back him on Saturday. I challenge anyone to watch what we did and articulate the plan. I talked to a buddy who said he believes the plan was the same as the Georgia Tech 2009 plan. The flaw being that SC's defense isn't as craptacular as Tech's. Maybe.

-- The complete unwillingness for leaders to step up. At some point, you have to say "This is bullshit." You can't watch what's happening around you and let things continue to slide. And you can't just TALK about leadership or making plays. You actually have to step up and make the plays. Several of our offensive players basically spit the bit on Saturday. Their number was called, and they wanted no part of putting the program on their back. That has to be resolved against Arkansas.

-- The Belly Button Rule(TM). If you have a skill player who can comfortably hide in your biggest lineman's navel, you shouldn't run him up the middle unless he has Olympic Speed (See Demps, J.). Additionally, if the player wears green shoes, make delicous buttery cookies and lives in a tree, you shouldn't run him up the middle. Get those guys the ball on the edge...not up the gut.

-- The Run Defense. As I mentioned earlier before ULL, having Ben Jones and Cordy Glenn miss almost the entire fall camp with injuries and illness would hurt the unit's cohesion and conditioning. However, at some point having more combined starts than probably any other OL in the country should matter. This group is wildly under performing.

-- Trusting Your Talent. Blutarsky has been pounding this theme for a few years, and he's dead on. You have to trust your talent. There's no reason on earth to send a 5 star alpha-QB with two full spring practices under his belt into his second game armed with the Joe Tereshinski Florida '05 Plan of Fail(TM). You can either play or you can't. Plan accordingly.

The Good:
-- We lost 4 or 5 players to the NFL draft from last year's defense while the Gamecocks returned virtually everyone offensively and added a workhorse elite running back. Yet, the D allowed 20 fewer points this year. That's progress. We can b*tch about a lot of things from Saturday, but that is unmistakeably better production.

-- The defense was in the right place to make a tackle more often than not. Approximately 140 of Lattimore's 180+ yards rushing came after contact. The players were in a position to make the play. Think back to 2009 in Neyland. Our guys were absolutely baffled against Kiffin's Vols. This is a more correctable situation than that.

-- Pass Blocking. Murray had enough time to make some plays.

-- Pass Defense/Pass Rush. Our guys looked dramatically better than last year.

-- Richt has said the right things in the aftermath. He spent much of the past several years in public denial. He has admitted the timidity issue, and he acknowledged the need to bench players who are under performing. We'll see if that actually happens, but that was NOT the case last year as we saw with Bryan Evans. If we're bringing a meritocracy back to Athens, it will do wonders for turning the program around. That and taking the training wheels off our talent.

It's not as bleak as it looks:
From UT '06 to UT '07, the Bulldogs lost 6 straight games to SEC East opponents. It took a near miracle stop in Nashville to avoid a seventh loss in a row. bad as things looked after that Vandy win (and it was looking very bleak), we still went to Jacksonville and beat the Gators senseless. Things are never as good or bad as they look.

Most of our issues are fixable. Obviously it shouldn't be a recurring theme that we need to GATA more. But it is. If we Get After Their Ass (GATA) against the Hawgs, we'll be fine. And...well..getting AJ back wouldn't hurt either.



Bernie said...

We can b*tch about a lot of things from Saturday, but that is unmistakeably better production.


(and +1 for the "Belly Button Rule".)

79Dawg said...

The fundamental issue with our team (as it has been for the past several years) is an overall lack of intensity on both sides of the ball. As been much discussed, aside from a few games - think Tech (09) or Florida (07) - our team seems to come out flat and in many instances appears to be "just going through the motions". While we have one our share of games notwithstanding, this consistently pedestrian "attitude" is one of the most troubling, frustrating and common themes from our losses.

This was South Carolina's Super Bowl (as anyone who was at the game, read their message boards/websites beforehand or is around these people can attest to), and they have been preparing for this game for 9 months. Our guys, on the other hand, seemed to be very uninterested. As a result of South Carolina's intensity, they were able to seize the momentum on the first drive and essentially held on to it throughout the game; the only time the momentum or intensity felt to be in our favor was the fleeting drive between Garcia and Ealey's fumbles.

80DAWG said...

Thanks, as usual,for bringing me back from the brink! But, damn, I am a 52 year old woman who loves Jesus and my country and I can bring a can a whoop ass. I think it is because as an athlete and a student I was average, but my work ethic and just don't piss me off attitude got me thru UGA and finally a doctorate at Emory. Could someone fire these boys up?

Crane said...

You've certainly used the time off to register the appropriate Trademarks...

If you look at our Oline stats from last year, we're continuing the trend....

We kick ass protecting the passer but are mediocre pushing people of the line.

Scott said...

I am not a Bobo apologist. I am not an apologist for anyone. I want results and the results from Bobo's play calling stinks! Forget that Ealey fumbled. He was stopped short of the goal line on that play... a call for a run right into the strength of the SC defense. Bad call results in a bad outcome.

Bobo does not stick with what's working especially if it is a pass. Murray was 4-for-4 marching down the field. Why not keep going and making SC stop you before running the ball? Because Bobo has this notion that there is a game plan and an order to doing things. Sorry... coordinators must adjust with what the defense is giving you and Bobo does not know how to adjust on the fly.

Martin Van Dawgin said...

What is concerning about Saturday, and the past several years, is the carelessness and lack of pride our players have expressed. For some reason they walk into the doors in Athens and think the world is theirs. It shows with the brazen and apathetic attitude on and off the field. I know kids will be kids, but I can't fathom why they have no pride or respect for the G they wear. For some odd reason, when our players sniff the NFL they're gone (Charles Johnson, Asher Allen, almost Reshad, etc.), yet Florida somehow gets two future first rounders to return. To me, that's an issue of school pride, not just money.
I won't leave CMB out of this either, as our offensive philosophy lately has been "Well let's throw some stuff at the wall and see what sticks." The wildcat package w/Ealey was almost a white flag to Spurrier. I saw Bobo's thought bubble- "We've thrown everything at them we know, so lets just kick this out there. Who knows maybe it'll fool 'em."
You know Spurrier absolutely loved when he saw that package from the other sideline.

todd said...

I've been a huge Richt apologist. I love the person he is and I have so much respect for the job that he and his staff did from 2001-2005 and for parts of 2006 and 2007. But I never really know where we stand anymore. I have no idea from week to week what we're going to see from the players. It's not 100% effort 100% of the time.

Lack of leadership is a recurring problem. We've had guys that have claimed to be leaders on this team, but I don't think we've had credible leadership on the field for a whole year since D.J. Shockley. There's no one to step up and make a speech on the sideline or the lockeroom like Jon Stinchcomb did in Auburn back in 2002. When things go wrong, on the field or in off the field incidents (arrests) I don't get the impression that anyone holds anyone else accountable. There's too much patting the guys on the back and telling them its going to be okay.

Well, I guess they are right. It's okay. Because that's about the best that I can say about our team the last few years. "You're okay." But we don't recruit okay players. And we don't pay the coaches on okay salary to get the job done.

This is starting to feel like Hugh Durham post 1990 SEC basketball title. The attitude that we should just be grateful for the good times we've had and live off of that success...........No thanks. I at least want to be able to say that we give our all in each and every game, but we don't.

We coach scared. We plan scared. And then we play scared.

I'm starting to look around at who else is where. And I think that Coach Richt needs to become a football coach once again, or perhaps its time that he retire from coaching and look to inspire young men in other ways in a different profession.

Richt is a great man. Right now, I'm not convinced he's a great coach. Never thought I would say that about a 91-28 guy. But there it is.......

Augusta said...

What a great analysis of the situation, I had a good chuckle about your trademarked Belly Button Rule (TM) Leadership has got to do a better job in getting these guys psyched up before the game.

mdhenshaw said...

This game on Saturday is one of the biggest in Richt's tenure at UGA. I was optimistic despite the loss at USC, but another loss and the wheels might start coming.

The Dawg faithful will come unglued with a loss to the Hogs.

It's crazy but this weekend we're playing a 13th ranked opponent and we're favorite. Why do we have rankings this early in the season?

Souletrain said...

A win on Saturday is a cure-all. A win on Saturday and we will be favored in every game till Florida. A win on Saturday and we are a (under the radar) type team that could possibly roll into Jacksonville 8-1 and ranked in the top 10. Last Saturday was bad. But compare it to when we played bad the past few years. Think Vandy 06', Tennessee 07', Florida 08', Tennessee 09'. If this is the low point of our season, we are going to be ok...

AthensHomerDawg said...

Well we thought we'd split the first two SEC contests. I want to win as bad as the next fan. But I don't want to get anywhere near that Firing-Hiring-Circus-Merry-Go-Round-Atmosphere(TM)
.......... that has become Tennessee football. If someone has to fire a head coach... I want to know who they got in mind to replace him with. And I want that guy vetted!

Anonymous said...

Being whipped on both sides of the line of scrimmage is disconcerting. I don't think it is a "lack of intensity." That is easy to say when you get your ass beat by someone. I don't think Georgia was flat, they just didn't make any plays. We get on here and all we talk about are the coaches. What about the players? People that want Richt or Bobo gone need to look back to the 1990s. Were you watching Georgia play then? Careful what you wish for...

Otto said...

I agree with Todd.

I'm not defending anyone nowa and was a big CMR fan. The offense has not shown in up in atleast 1 big game a year and lately more. The S Car remind me of the GT game plan, it rememinded me me of UK last yr with the fumble, it reminded me of UT '07 where Bobo stuck with run far to long, It reminded me of UF '06 playing tight.

Creativity and leadership were missing this past Saturday. UGA has 2 dangerous weapons in Smith and Thomas but they are not useed. Why?

Why is Thomas used the same as the other 2 RBs and for that matter like Moreno, Brown, Lump etc. Thomas is not as powerful as the other UGA RBs. It would be interesting to see what he could in space in a Percy type roll or even a Pistol formation. He blocks decent but is dangerous getting a dump pass just outside of the pocket, blocking or slipping out of the pocket the defense has to account for him.

What I saw Saturday reminds me of far to many games over the past 4 years, the trend needs to be broken. I don't want to see loyal Dawgs fired but at the same time the time for learning has passed. I don't expect a win every every game this year but to end the season vastly improved.

Cousin Pat said...

I think Crane and 79Dawg have some very good points. This South Carolina game, admittedly against Spurrier's best team there and a world class tailback, is a poignant reminder of O-line weaknesses and game-time intensity.

The O-line does seem much better at protecting the passer than opening up holes for the runner. You look at Georgia's most successful years (2002, 2005, 2007) and you see David Greene's precision passing, DJ Shockley's improvisation, and Knowshon Moreno's incredible talent.

What you don't see is any consistent year-to-year running capability. Back then, it seemed like Auburn or Tennessee used to reload 1500+ yard rushers every year, and now Alabama is starting to do the same (and it looks like Carolina will begin terrorizing the SEC East with this philosophy).

The other point is the intensity 79Dawg mentions. In recent years, it seems the players for Georgia are always taking the field without coffee, while the other team is already jacked up on triple espressos.

Sometimes this team, loaded with talent, survives the initial onslaught from the opponent and rages back in the 2nd half, and sometimes it isn't enough.

Kevin said...

I also agree with todd's sentiment that "i have no idea who's gonna show up week to week... that we dont give 100% 100% of the time"

I'll even add, that i watch the games scared. Not sure when that started. Some time the season after our WVU beatdown in the first quarter of the Sugar bowl i think. But i no longer have unabashed courage and faith like i used to.

Like that 2004 LSU game. We had something to prove. We were amped. I KNEW we were gonna win that game. just take it and own it. We had been beating by them the year before... twice! and still, everyone knew what this game meant to us and that we would take it.. that same game played in 2010? we lose, and probably lose big... because we don't play like we did back then.

cant quite put my finger on it, but something is gone and for that i cant even watch a game with 100% confidence

jeromefromdecatur said...

Well done Paul.

Good to have you back.

Otto said...

Searles was proven at LSU, UGA was #6 in the country in sacks allowed last yr, so pass coverage is very good. Bobo is the coach that does not have a long track record of winning big games. If the Defense has a good idea of whats coming chances are the OL is going to look bad in the SEC especially with Ellis Johnson stacking the box with a solid S.Car D.

Wu Mao Dawg said...

With Martinez and Bobo, Richt tried to manage his coaches like Georgia football was the Allman Brothers Band.

Always hire someone your willing to fire.

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