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October 5, 2010

Rays of Hope

I sincerely hope you had the opportunity last night to listen to Coach Richt's Bulldog Hotline Show.  I found it to be the most refreshing, honest and genuine conversation with Richt in a long time.  JimFromDuluth has a recap, but it's impossible to capture Richt's tone.  Here are some highlights from my recollection in addition to the full recap from Jim:

1.  Toughness -- Richt openly and candidly addressed the issue of toughness on the team. He talked about our need to be more physical at the point of attack on both sides of the ball and to tackle better.  To that end, he reshaped this week's practice schedule.  Typically, Monday is a day for lifting, reviewing Saturday's mistakes with the players and doing a shorts and pads walk-thru.  However, the team went full pads and full speed yesterday and did 1's vs. 1's work. 

It's extremely rare and incredibly frustrating / baffling to me why Richt does so little 1 vs. 1 work.  Typically, it's first teamers vs. second teamers or 1's vs. Scout teamers in practice.  So yesterday was uncommon.  He said the practice was incredibly spirited, and the guys had fun competing.  I also liked that the losers for all the drills had extra running.  He said the team got better, and that they'll be going the same speed today.  He also said that toughness and physicality are two of the biggest areas of emphasis for him right now. 

2.  Play Calling -- He addressed the play calling on 1st and Goal from the 4 yard line vs. Colorado.  He said in retrospect that we absolutely should've pounded those guys four times.  However, he said the real mistake was not telling Bobo when they got down there that he was going to go for it on 4th down.  If Bobo knew he had 3 whacks at it after they got to the 2 yard line following Chapas' run on first down, he felt the play calling would've been different.  He didn't address the idiocy of having AJ Green on the bench for the disastrous 3rd down pass, but he at least admitted that they completely bungled that possession.

He also said that as a result of that nonsense on the goal line much of Monday's 1 vs. 1 practice session was focused on a Goal Line Possession called "1st and Goal from the 4"...where the offense wasn't allowed to pass. 

3.  Vance Cuff's 3 Penalties -- He was basically asked how in the heck Cuff could get a third personal foul in that game without being benched.  Richt candidly said that he badly wanted to bench him.  But with Branden Smith out with a concussion, they didn't think that Cuff's back up was experienced enough to play better.  Richt would rather have pulled him, but didn't think it would work. can agree or disagree with that reasoning, but at least he had valid logic.  I've felt in the past that they screw up...and it's never even considered to pull them.  (No word on why Jakar Hamilton still sees the field, but that's a topic for another day)

4.  Visible Leadership -- A woman called last night and asked him about visible leadership. She said that Nick Saban and others lead their team out onto the field pregame, but Richt is the last one out of the tunnel.  She acknowledged that typically Richt has said he wants that moment to be about the players, but she wants to see him lead the program.  He said she had a valid point, and he will lead the team out this week.  Most of you won't care about this at all.  But it's been a source of annoyance for me and a few friends for years.  Same with the Dawg Walk.  His excuse about not doing the Dawg Walk but once a year has never made a lick of sense to me.  Is it why we're losing? No.  But it's part of a bigger issue about leadership.

5.  Being a Nice Guy -- Richt routinely gets calls on the show about being a nice guy and a good Christian man.  Last night, he said (paraphrased heavily) that he appreciates that praise.  He also recognizes that being a head coach is about more than wins and losses.  It's about developing young men, seeing them graduate, etc.  But he said the wins and losses are the biggest and most visible thing.  More importantly, we're no where near where we need to be, where he expects to be or where the fans wants to be in that regard.  We have to improve.  Again, that's heavily paraphrased, but his general tone (that I interpreted) was that he knows it's not enough to be a Nice Guy or Rev. Richt.  Which I appreciate.

You can read everything I wrote about last night, and not think any of it matters or will fix anything.  Maybe you are right, but I can tell you that I'm an extreme skeptic related to the rhetoric from our coaching staff.  I was incredibly encouraged.  Richt sounded passionate, and he sounded sincerely humble. 

For the first time this season including before the ULL game, my optimism and hope for the season is based on something other than a weak schedule and a belief that "Murray can't be worse than Cox / Grantham can't be worse than Martinez." 

Don't get me wrong...he still has to beat UT or we move into DEFCON 1 PANIC.  But for one night, I finally heard most of what I wanted him to say about the big picture stuff.  Get us tougher, and many other things will fix themselves.



Silver Britches said...

I tend to agree with everything here except the "losing to UT will induce DEFCON 1 PANIC." I've already moved past that and am firmly entrenched in DEFCON 0 NUMB.

peacedog said...

Paul, mind that link to Jim from Duluth's recap (you posted the link to the call in show twice).

Pl0we said...

Van Halanger still needs to go

JaxDawg said...

One night's call in show or one week's worth of physical practice and leadership development (whatever semantics you choose) does not and will not begin to cure the systemic issues we have seen for years now. I appreciate Richt's humble nature when it comes to taking his medicine - Lord knows Donnan was anything but - however it's one thing to say it and another to actually DO it. Richt can say all the right things and genuinely believe what he says, but the bottom line is that we continue to regress beyond any reasonable expectation of what Georgia Football is supposed to represent.

I'm glad Richt says he "get's it". Let's see if that translates to a turnaround.

As they say, "Money talks, bullsh*t walks".

Anonymous said...

Frank Franklin said...

Agree about CVH. At a minimum, he has to go. I'd like to hear how Richt feels about the S&C program, and our complete lack of physicality this year. We are getting manhandled in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Pretty apparent that area needs a complete overhaul.

But my guess is he would simply point to our lifting numbers, which are fantastic I'm sure. Just like our 40 times. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. And our pudding is a bowl of crap* right now.

I have never seen a program fall apart like ours has in the past two-plus seasons. Hard to comprehend.

*I would have liked to use another word for crap, but I refrained. I'm sure you can figure it out.

Chris said...

The Athletic Association should really make the call in show free to listen to online. We've got a crowd of Dawg fans in Colorado (and all across the world) that don't get to hear our coach without paying an arm and a leg. Does the UGA AA really make that much from the online content subscriptions?

Not You said...

Frank, if you have NEVER seen ANY Program fall apart like ours in the last 2+ seasons, then you just recently started watching college football.

While it may not be acceptable, and most knee-jerk reaction fans are screaming "Fire that dern Mark Rikt!", this happens. Look at USC and Texas this year. Look at Michigan and Notre Dame in the last 3-5 years. Look at my Miami in the latter part of the 2000's.

You cannot be great all the time. However, and I think you and I can agree with each other, you can also not sit idly by and watch the entire mess happen without trying to change it.

Of course Richt is taking steps to change it. Will it be enough? Time will tell. Grantham is stuck with players he didn't recruit, for a system he didn't plan, with players that weren't taught to tackle. The defense will get better.

Frank Franklin said...

Not You, I think you may have missed my point (and I may not have articulated it well), although I don't think your examples hold weight. Texas is in the midst of a rebuilding year and played for the national title last year. USC has a new coach, is feeling the effects of NCAA sanctions and went through a rather glorious stretch in the mid-2000s that is impossible to maintain forever. I'd also like to note that neither Texas nor USC has a 1-4 record this season. Miami is a decent comparison; however you can pinpoint the reason for their decline: Larry Coker taking over. No offense to him (and I know he almost won back-to-back nattys), but there was no way he was sustaining that level. Recruiting slipped dramatically under his watch. Michigan went through a coaching change and implemented a completely different system, and they are now starting to show positive results. Notre Dame has gone through numerous coaching changes in the past ten years (even if you don't count George O'Leary).

Georgia was preseason number 1 only two seasons ago and now sit at 1-4, having lost to Mississippi State and Colorado in consecutive weeks. Moreover, this decline happened over the course of just two-plus seasons with the same head coach and (relatively) same staff in place. Quite a precipitous fall, no?

But my point was not to compare the fall of Rome with the fall of Greece. Obviously every program is going to have some good years and some bad years. I was merely stating that Richt has been slow to acknowledge our S&C program's recent shortcomings. In fact, my concern over the state of the program, and I think most reasonable Georgia fans would agree, is that problems hampering our program now have festered for the past few seasons but Coach Richt and our staff let them linger. Perhaps it was out of stubbornness, denial, or loyalty. It also helped that our talent was good enough to overcome these problems most of the time so CMR and the staff could look away. But now these problems -- lack of discipline, penalties, turnovers, lack of accountability, poor play-calling, an apparent decline in the S&C program, and poor recruiting (just to name a few) -- have come to the forefront and the current state of our program is a direct consequence of these problems. Yet when these issues were raised to CMR in the past, whether through the media or by fans or evident when watching the game, he would get defensive almost immediately and generally ignore them. Now he is acknowledging those same issues as problems. All of these issues WERE fixable at one point in the past. But now I'm not so sure.

I hope Coach Richt and his staff can remedy the situation. And I hope that he's coaching us ten years from now. But, more importantly, I hope to see us win the East again and back as a Top Ten program sometime soon.

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