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October 3, 2010

Lessons from Ray Goff's Tenure

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1989 and 1990 on the strength of a dramatic collapse in the talent base and an offensive philosophy that was wildly out of date.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.

Where Next?
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. know..that simply makes sense.

As for the 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 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.'s been fixable all season.



JJBA said...

Bobo is not the biggest problem but he is in no way part of the solution. Anybody could have success when A.J., Stafford, and Moreno are the ones touching the ball. None of those guys will be on the team next year and therefore neither should Bobo.

The Strength and Conditioning is a joke just like those times we recorded in the summer.

Reverend Whitewall said...

I don't know if any of you watch Survivor (yeah, this comparison is way out of left field, bear with me), but the season that Rupert first was on the show, it was him on one team, and the other team had this guy who was young, muscles popping out everywhere, no body fat, looked like the definition of "strength". If you put the 2 of them in a weight room, I guarantee you that the younger guy would have outperformed Rupert hands down, and would have put up incredibly impressive numbers. But in all the competitions that involved strength on the show, Rupert whipped that guy. He had "real" or "core" strength, rather than just strength involved in executing specific exercises.

That's the feeling I get whenever I read all the stats every year that come out of our S&C program. Every year, the stats get better and better, and you think "Wow, our guys are REALLY gonna be ready to play!" But in reality, our guys have just gotten better at executing those specific exercises. When it comes to real strength.......moving a big, burly guy across the line from you instead of just executing specific exercises.......our guys are totally lacking. It seems that our S&C does not build "core" strength like it should. Core strength doesn't show up in specific exercises, but it is the most important strength you can have, at least along the lines of scrimmage.

Once upon a time DVH was the gold standard. But times have changed, research has revealed new things, and yet we seem to be doing the same old things. Of course, that could be said for a number of areas of our football program, not just S&C.

Anonymous said...

Want to know what is wrong with UGA? We start a 5'7 midget behind an offensive line that can't block for starters.

Consider this possession. 1st down screen pass to said midget. He drops it. 2nd down. Handout to midget right side. He gets 6 yards. 3rd and 4. We run the midget up the middle for a 2 yard loss. Punt.

There. That's the season and program in a nutshell. That's the reason I have no confidence in anything the coaching staff does. There is no sense of urgency so whatever is fixable won't be fixed. We are going to "go back to work and stay together".

RC said...

Wouldn't life be grand if we could lure Friedgen down here after Maryland gives him his walking papers shortly after this season's final game? Could you even imagine what he could do with a QB like Murray?

Carter said...

The fish rots from the head down.

Anonymous said...

The culture of weakness cannot be overcome by any of the fixes which you have suggested.

Bobby Bowden turned out to be correct about CMR after all.

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

If you think the players only spend 20hrs on football, you are very naive.

Lots of flashes unfortunately too many mega-lapses as well.

Maybe this team just is not as talented as people (me included) thought.

Maybe the D line just is not physically ready for the 3-4. I remember comments that UGA did not need a mount Cody because it is a different form of 3-4 than Bama runs. Well, I think I would like to see a body that size (preferably with close to that talent).

What is also scary is that so many players make mistakes.

I see 2 more wins this season. Maybe this will be 1979?

Dorsey Hill said...

Of course it's fixable. If I thought it was Georgia's lot in life to suck forever and ever, I'd find better uses for my fall Saturdays.

The question is what instruments do we use to do the fixing -- scalpel or dynamite?

I tried imagining two scenarios:
1. Richt is retained, but Bobo, Van Halanger and maybe a few others on offense are let go.
2. Richt is fired and we unload 5 mil on a Saban-type hire.

I hate typing this, but #1 likely delays the inevitable (#2, obviously). None of our problems are new. What's new is that they're happening all at once at a time when there's little organizational memory of what it takes to win titles.

If Richt couldn't snuff these fires out earlier over five years, I have little confidence that he can solve them all in one year now that he has no choice. And, frankly, I like him too much to want to see play the dead man walking role in 2011. What must be done eventually may as well be done immediately (or at the end of the season).

JasonC said...

I may be wrong, but I think Davis might have been injured during the 94 Bama game. I know he struggled with injuries once he got his chance.

Michael said...

Great post.

It continues to annoy the crap out of me that Bobo thinks his gimmick of coaching on the sidelines has to be kept.

Get up in the box like every other OC in pro and college ball.

JaxDawg said...

Point of post taken, but it's alarming and just plain sad that anyone is comparing Richt's current situation to that of Ray Goof. Not that the comparisons aren't without merit, but that we have fallen so far as to have to revisit the horrible Goff years.

And btw, any other coach in American would have won the NC with that '92 team. Arguably the most balanced and talented we have EVER had.

Your point about wasting talent is spot on though. UGA has become the poster child program for absolutely wasting talent. It's almost as if our staff has to TRY to waste this much talent.


Hunkering Hank said...

Having lived through the Goff years - and when I say lived, I mean, survived - I can say the team has sort of the same feeling right now. We're just ALL OVER THE PLACE. One minute we can't do anything right at any level - the next minute AJ Green's raw talent pulls us out of the ditch, only to be frustrated by a seemingly inevitable ridiculous failure. Then, every humiliating defeat is followed by some "circle the wagons" talk by the head coach.

AMEN anon 5:36 p.m. - I can not believe we started Carlton Thomas at tailback. WHY? What the hell was wrong with King? For UGA's sake, put a fullback in instead. Just ask my wife, I harped on that stupidity all night long. Who the hell thinks running a 5'7", 170 lb "tailback" up the middle is going to work? Particularly when your offensive line splits are two inches and no one run all. We're not in a spread offense where the guy is going to have some lanes. Tailbacks that run out of the I formation have to break a tackle sometimes. Carlton Thomas is not that dude. He needs to get the ball in space - if at all.

I am totally frustrated.

Having said all that, I'm a DAWG through and through, and this team, with these players and these coaches can salvage what remains of the season.

Martin Van Dawgin said...

I think you're spot on with the observations of the "x's and o's". The things that are happening on the field are fixable, as they are mostly issues pertaining to execution or lack thereof(tackling, blocking, defensive alignment, offensive philosophy, etc.).
What isn't fixable is Richt's approach and the level of respect that the team has for itself. After reading some comments that Mark Fox made last week in an article by Andy Katz, the reason his players have come so far is because they are "now functioning like successful people". When I watch the game (or read the police blotter) I don't get the impression that the footballers have the same mindset. I can't remember I time over the past five years that I KNEW we would be successful if we faced adversity during the game. If you'll remember, Ben Watson was ALWAYS going to make a big play or the defense was going to make a big play when it needed to. I never have that feeling any more. I don't expect success, and when I don't it's hard for me to imagine the guys with the G's on their helmets do. I just think we've lost that "swagger" if you will.

Anonymous said...

The Dawgs need a guy like Scott Cochran, Bama's S&C coach. he is pyscho. Dave is an idiot

Michael said...

Are you sure that 92 team was better than our 2007 or 2008 team?

The 2007 team had 3 first round draft picks at QB, RB, and WR, and a quality NFL starter at the other WR position (MoMass).

It also had a monster defense full of NFL starters.

And yet we found a way to choke to SC and Tenn.

ColumbiaDawg said...

I think for every game that Georgia loses, it goes beyond fixing. Georgia could easily go 3-9 this year, with the Vandy game probably being the only SEC win. Even then, that's not a sure thing.

This has been brewing since 2006. If it weren't for that hot streak the second half of the 2007 season, Richt might have been gone by now. And the way this season is going, Richt could be gone by the 2011 season.

The Realist said...

"The ox is clearly in the ditch."

This put a smile on my face... something Georgia football hasn't done in over a month.

Anonymous said...

I think an OC belong in the box too, but isn't Gus Malzahn on the field for Auburn? Bobo's not the only one on the field, but for some reason the offense worked better with him on the field last year.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we're looking at too many trees and missing the forest.
1. Brand new defense with a totally new philosophy (as i have heard others more objective than me say: switching from the 4-3 to the 3-4, you essentially have 11 new starters. Remember what Bama did in year 1 of Saban's 3-4?); and 2. Redshirt freshman quarterback (with ENORMOUS promise, i might add). Those of you who are on Bobo: have you thought about how many checks Murray made at the line Saturday? Have you thought about the fact that maybe he made some poor calls (because he is a redshirt freshman) and made some mistakes here and there?
Make no mistake: I have grave concerns about O-line and strength and conditioning. The O-line is just difficult to comprehend. But, I just want to make sure we dont make a "baby, bath-water" kind of mistake.
Aaron Murray is the kind of QB D1 coaches dream about: supremely talented but not the NFL prototype (thus, we may get him for 4 years). I sure would hate to waste 2 of those years in a "transition" to a new regime. Get an OC (or have Richt take the role back) and a new strength coach if you must, but blow up the whole program? I'm just not so sure...

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice that Richt was smiling away when the Colorado fans stormed the field after the game was over?

Anonymous said...

This is easily fixed.UGA needs to employ the nuclear option. problem solved

Anonymous said...

I can only laugh at the suggestion of moving BoBo to the booth. If you remember BoBo was pulled out of the booth because he wasn't getting it done.

The truth is he can't get it done -
the best place for BoBo is outside looking in.

Name one team in the top 50 (hell top 100) that would hire BoBo to run their offense.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that our strength and conditioning isnt like this....

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

Yeah, I am sure getting Bobo into the box is going to fix everything. Naive, over-simplistic.

He had the same play calling tendencies when he was up high.

There are several HC's who call plays and they all call them from the sidelines. I think all these call their own plays

Chip Kelly
Kelly (ND)

Does RichRod call his own plays?

Mike Leach did.

"I'm a man" does.

All of those offenses do just fine.

Richt called plays from the sidelines (of course he had a lot of OC experience already).

So just who would UGA throw $5million/year at this "Saban-like coach"? You can get Smart and/or Muschamp for way less. In fact, it would irresponsible to pay one of those guys more than Richt is being paid now.

The only current head coaches that might be worth that kind of money (in terms of success) that are available and that you would want are probably Harbaugh, Peterson and Patterson. Before folks "poo-poo" a non-AQ coach remember where Urban Meyer was before he went to UF.

Back to Saban, is there a Saban coaching tree? What assistants of his have gone on to be successful head coaches? I seriously have no idea. The only former Saban that I know is Dooley. (Jury is still out on him IMHO). Regardless of the answer above, I am leery of hiring a guy just because you think that he learned everything from the HC. There are tons of things a HC has to know that cannot always be conveyed.

UGA made a great hire in Richt, but he is the lone Bowden disciple that really had success on a large scale. The Bowden sons had some success.

Friedgen? Seriously? Maybe as OC, but how often does hiring a fired HC work to go back to his old position work? Again, it might work a lot and I am just missing it.

CSA said...

Our strength and conditioning is pathetic, I have been told so by two different walk-on Georgia players.

Dawgnoxious said...

The last two seasons have reminded me of a refrain from classic cinema.

The Coach: Look, nothing is f*cked, here, man.
The Big Fanski: Nothing is f*cked?
The g*dd*mn plane has crashed into the mountain!

One of our (many) problems is a soft, conservative mentality. Case in point, deep in the fourth quarter we're driving for the win. We get a first down, and I turn to Bulldog in Exile and say "We're going to run it up the middle three times and kick a field goal." Which, we did, except we didn't execute and we lost.

Why are we playing conservative? Why are we playing not to lose? What do we even have to lose? PLAY TO WIN! Take a shot at the endzone with the best receiver in football!

Somewhere, ice is clinking in a rocks glass, and Pat Dye is smiling because he's been proven correct.

Anonymous said...

Great to see you blogging during a losing season. Not used to see your posts after losses. You should be feeling better after next week. Nothing better than beating the Vols to make you feel better, which will happen unless the Dawgs turn the ball over 5 times.

Aviator4 said...

I think (and have thought this for quite a while) we should move Bobo to the bridge...without a headset.

Our S&C program is and has been a laughingstock for quite a while. Its well known throughout the SEC. This is precisely the reason why you never hire friends/family members for important positions, as CMR simply can't bring himself to remove his good friend from his S&C role.

RC said...

Sam- yes, Friedgen as OC, obviously.

RC said...

Sam- yes, my suggestion was for Friedgen as OC, obviously.

Anonymous said...

Richt used to call the plays himself from 2001 to 2005......he was dreadful. We threw a friggin party when he finally gave up playcalling. Do you not remember "Field Goal U", "Field Goal Jesus", "Fun N Punt"????

We friggin played for the field goal with CMR calling the plays. When Bobo was promoted our scoring went up significantly and has stayed that way until this season. Not saying the criticism isn't warranted or that Bobo shouldn't be replaced but any of you who think that having CMR return to the OC duties is the answer to the offensive struggles seem to have forgotten how bad our offense was under his direction. If it wasn't for Brian VanGorder Mark Richt would be the Offensive Coordinator at Miami right now.

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