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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fleeting Thoughts: Florida Edition

If you haven't read it yet, CLICK HERE to check out my game story from Saturday's debacle in Jacksonville.

I don't know how much is even worth saying at this point. I think we know the problems. I think we know that few will be resolved before the season is over. All that's left now is the post-mortem. Four games, of which Georgia must win at least two, and probably won't be favored in more than that. Four games to figure out how to right the ship for next year.

I don't know the answers. I can't gauge the atmosphere in the locker room. But I do know the answers won't come easily. And maybe more importantly at this point, I wonder how many of the people in charge are even asking the right questions.

Anyway, some thoughts...

-- Like last year, it's not hard to say that if a few things had gone differently, the game could have belonged to Georgia. Saying that, however, does no good for the future. If the mistakes had been an aberration, then sure, write it off as bad luck, bad decisions, bad breaks. Instead, this has been what we've gotten from the Dawgs for the better part of two years, and this with an extra week to prepare. If Mark Richt wants to do his team a favor, he won't spend the rest of this season sugarcoating the loss.

-- Here's something you'll no doubt hear at some point from someone: Two of Cox's interceptions and Gray's pick led to Florida points -- 17 of them in fact. So maybe Willie Martinez can't be blamed as much, given that the D only "really" allowed 24 points.

But you know what? I can't believe Cox throws that second pick if Georgia isn't so far behind. It was third down. It was midfield. They were trailing by 14. Cox had to make a play. A punt would have effectively signaled the end of a comeback, too. And his third INT? It was a bad throw, but it was made amid a furious and utterly fruitless attempt to keep the Dawgs in the game. And Gray's pick? Well, if the D had played better, maybe Gray isn't even in the game.

So this week, the defense gets cut no slack. I'm going to say the D was responsible for the offense turning the ball over so much. If the D had done its job in the first half, the situation in the second half is completely different. No excuses for Willie this week.

-- Remember, the Dawgs had that "all important" bye week. What were the defensive coaches doing during that time? Other than planning the Dawgs' wardrobe, I mean.

-- The defense did get better as the game progressed, but with an extra week to prepare, how could things start off so badly? Florida scored on an 80-yard drive and a 92-yard drive and only faced one third down.

On numerous plays, Tim Tebow never even needed to read the defense. Before the ball was snapped, he knew exactly where the holes in the zone would be.

On the running plays, Georgia showed virtually no ability to keep pace laterally with the speedy Gators.

And even when the defense supposedly adjusted, Florida scored every single time it needed to. It was like the Alabama game last year. People say it was close in the second half. It wasn't. Every time Georgia got close, the Dawgs' D gave up a score.

-- I don't want to ignore Brandon James' drop on the second drive. That's as open as I've ever seen a receiver on a play in which the defender didn't fall down. He bobbled the ball six times and still didn't have a UGA defender near him.

-- And Florida was 7-of-13 on third down.

-- Give some credit to Mike Bobo. There were times where Georgia's offense -- when it wasn't shooting itself in the foot with turnovers and flags -- looked as good as anyone has looked against that Gators' D all season.

-- It seems silly to say much about it in retrospect, but Caleb Sturgis' 56-yard field goal really changed the tone of the game. That was big.

-- If you're searching for silver linings, I think the combo of Washaun Ealey and Caleb King can be effective and potentially very good moving forward.

-- Clint Boling and A.J. Green both got hurt, and while Richt said he doesn't think either is serious, there's a possibility, from the sounds of it, that both could miss next week. If you take Boling and Green off this team, is anyone considering Tennessee Tech an easy win?

-- After the game, Richt wasn't anywhere near as angry as he was against Tennessee, but he certainly wasn't glossing over the problems either. I think it was more a sense of the sudden realization that he was resigned to his fate for this season. There are no more opportunities for miracles. It's done. This is officially a bad team.

-- Several times this week I mentioned that while Georgia had hardly evened its rivalry with Florida under Richt, the gap had clearly been closed. But that's hard to say now. I think T Kyle King puts it best:

"During Steve Spurrier’s tenure in Gainesville, Georgia simply was outclassed by Florida, and the results showed up in the record book: 38-7, 45-13, 52-14, 52-17, 47-7, 38-7. Between 2002 and 2007, though, the ‘Dawgs claimed a pair of victories in Jacksonville and never lost to the Sunshine State Saurians by more than a touchdown. There was reason to believe the two programs were on more or less equal footing.

"After back-to-back blowouts by 49-10 and 41-17 scores, though, no such cause for confidence exists. Every gain the Georgia program has made since 2001 has been lost. We are now where we were in the 1990s. The glory run is over and we are back to square one."

-- Orson Charles has a ton of talent and will eventually be a very good player, but Saturday showed us that he is also still very much a freshman. Having said that, I enjoyed hearing him called "Omar Charles" and "Orson Welles." At least the Welles one seemed appropriate for how frightening that performance was by Georgia.

-- No, Georgia didn't get any help from the referees.

-- Georgia didn't deserve any help from the referees either.

-- Joe Cox should not be the starting quarterback anymore. The problem, however, is that there is no one else on the roster who should be starting either.

-- I'd be fine with starting Aaron Murray this week. LSU probably gained some ground by burning Jordan Jefferson's redshirt late last year. And Tennessee Tech is probably the best time to get Murray's feet wet. But I still doubt Georgia does it.

-- Brandon Spikes is a dirty player. Washaun Ealey may be wearing an eye patch today.

-- I really see no need to comment on the uniforms, but I'll add two quick thoughts: 1.) Email from Davis, who summed them up perfectly: "They look like XFL uniforms." 2.) The first step in the right direction for Richt should be deciding that Georgia is too good to need gimmicks.

-- One more thing on the uniforms, courtesy of Lee: "The black helmet/pants thing was a stroke of genius! This way, when someone is flipping through ESPN Classic 9 ten years from now, maybe they won't recognize that it's Georgia getting embarrassed against Florida again."

That comment was black-jersey worthy. Genius.

-- Georgia is not bowl eligible. Temple is. Yikes.

-- Tennessee over South Carolina. Mississippi State over Kentucky. The SEC East is a disaster. The fact that Georgia could either miss a bowl or finish second in the East, and either is distinctly possible, is absolutely insane.

-- Florida is not the best team in the nation. Luckily they play in the SEC East.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

fire ritch now

Anonymous said...

I can't defend the defense eiher (no pun intended) but I will say that I think Bobo's decision to pass the ball on the 3rd and one at midfield was the wrong call. We had been running the ball pretty well, and a power run play should have picked up one yard.

And Brandon James is a thug and a jackass.

Anonymous said...

David - I posted this elsewhere but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this subject and the questions raised at the end....

UGA’s administration (Adams, Evans, Richt) need to decide whether they want to invest in a proven coaching staff. When Richt arrived, he had the luxury of putting together the staff that he wanted. I don’t think any of us can complain about those initial coaching decisions. The problems seemed to arrive when Richt had to make replacements.

When he replaced himself as O.C., did he look for a proven commodity? No – let’s give Bobo a shot. He played QB here and he’s a good kid. Let’s see if he can get it done. The result: an offense that relies solely on playmaking ability due to a predictable and uninspired scheme. The competition: when having to replace his O.C., Nick Saban brings in an innovative and experienced coach from Fresno State who transforms a second rate QB (JPW) into a division champ and national championship contender.

When he replaced Van Gorder as D.C., did he hire an experienced, proven coordinator. No – let’s give Willie a chance. I’ve known him since high school. We get along real well and he’s done a nice job with the secondary. The result: a meandering, clueless effort on defense that leads to top-notch athletes performing at the bottom of their conference. The competition: after a one-year poor effort by the internally promoted crew who replaced Bo Pelini, Les Miles hires John Chavis to lead LSU’s defense.

“Promote from within” is a mentality at some institutions (athletic and otherwise). In a large organization with multiple tiers, that can work out fine as people have an opportunity to feel their way along and learn from others. But it doesn’t work so well on a small coaching staff. Rather than hiring and paying people to do what they’re good at, UGA seems in the rut of hiring people and hoping they become good at it. And that includes silly promotions to justify pay increases like Jancek to Co-DC and Searles to “running game coordinator”.

I have a couple questions about Richt and this administration:
- Will UGA spend the money necessary to hire proven coordinators and coaches?
- Is Richt capable of effectively hiring and inspiring a seasoned assistant coaching staff? Or is he a coordinator in the head coach’s office?

Anonymous said...

I am not ready to throw myself off of the ledge quite yet. Things are never as bad or as good as they seem. I thought that the team played a decent (not great) game. And we all knew going in it was going to take a great game to win. Lots of young players, lots of stupid mental mistakes, and poor execution are what did us in.

We still need to get rid of Willie, but other than that the next few years look good from a talent standpoint.

Anonymous said...

Like you said, considering they're the number 1 d in the nation, we looked pretty damn good. Of course the penalties negate any superlatives that might be awarded. F'in rediculous. I went in expected a loss and was no let down but georgia football is not about expecting a loss.

Anonymous said...

David,

Is there any explanation whatsoever by the coaches for not playing Aaron Murray at all this season?

Would you please ask them if Murray is going to play this week, and for the rest of the season?

You simply cannot lose with a SR. QB. Cox is a nice kid but he has made two of the most boneheaded throws I have ever seen by a college QB. He is not a D1 QB, and he is not giving us a chance to win. Why continue to lose with him?

But putting Logan Gray in at the 10 yard line was absolute chicken sh*t. What were they thinking?

Anonymous said...

DH,
Is CMR going to say anything about the dirty play of B. Spikes? It was shown on national TV for everyone to see. It is something that shouldn't go unpunished or ignored.

Anonymous said...

David,
Can Spikes be suspended after the officals review him gouging Ealey's eyes? I thought E. Berry was the dirtiest player in the SEC but I guess I was wrong.

Blog Goliard said...

I know things look bad. I know there are obvious problems within the organization. But there's one thing everyone needs to get straight right now.

Firing Martinez, or Bobo, or Richt, or anyone else will not solve a single solitary thing.

It would help if one or more coaches were replaced with someone else who was: smarter, harder-working, more experienced, a better judge of talent, a better teacher of the game...and who also worked together at least as well with the rest of the staff.

That is not the same thing as simply firing someone--though there's a whole lot of people right now acting like it is. Like it's simply inevitable that if we fire, say, Willie Martinez that someone better will wind up replacing him.

Step One: Fire everybody!
Step Two: ?????
Step Three: PROFIT!

And even if you get the new hire you dream of, he still very well might not work out. How many national and conference championships worth of coaching has South Carolina hired in recent years, for instance? How many of those titles did those fabulous new coaches wind up bringing to Columbia? (Yeah, I know some folks are still waiting for the Spurrier magic to kick in. Others of us never believed that he or anyone else was magic enough to make it happen all by himself anyway.)

I also guarantee you that between Chizik and Kiffin, at least one will fall on his face--even more so than we've already seen, that is--leaving disgruntled fans to complain about the school having been so stupid as to fire a championship coach and leave them with this instead. (The firing having been in part at their prompting...but shhhhh, don't mention that, the fans are never wrong. It's only ADs and coaches and school presidents who are ever incorrigible boneheads.)

I promise you, if we aren't careful to fully assess all aspects of the situation before making a move, it is entirely possible that we could wind up three years down the road cursing the name of our new defensive coordinator every Saturday, while reading in Sunday paper about Willie Martinez' successes in his new job. If you're absolutely sure this can't happen, you haven't been paying attention to the college football world, or haven't learned from what you've seen.

Finally, I renew my call to everyone to take a step back from coacholatry. Gregg Easterbrook on ESPN.com recently renewed his argument that coaching in general, and playcalling in particular, are usually marginal factors in the success or failure of a football team. He believes that a really good coach can make a team about 10% more effective; a bad coach, about 10% less effective; and that's it. After all, most coaches do most of the same things most all the time. And they're not always as good as people presume, even at their core functions--for instance, Easterbrook points out that many coaches have a poor understanding of human psychology and are wildly overrated as motivators.

Now granted, Easterbrook is talking mainly about the NFL, where the coaching staff has far less responsibility for assembling and developing the players--the talent level and character of which are by far the most important factor in winning football games. But I think his point is still very applicable to college football. I like and respect Vince Dooley, really I do, but I also believe that given a similar amount of talent and luck, at least three-quarters of the coaches then active in college football would have won at least one national championship over that quarter century at Georgia. (I also seriously doubt whether there was anyone then active who would have been likely to lead Georgia to more than one or two. Maybe, just maybe, Bear Bryant.)

Blog Goliard said...

So, to sum up: We don't have the talent, we don't have the discipline, we don't have the smarts and savvy and confidence out there on the field that we feel we ought to. And so we're all frustrated and upset. But at the end of the day, I don't really know what needs to be done to fix any of that, and neither do any of you. All I know for sure is that: a) the mere act of firing somebody cannot and will not, on its own, accomplish anything, and b) neither Mark Richt nor Mike Bobo nor Willie Martinez have played a single down this season, or last season, or the season before that.

gnhenson said...

I'm like some of you, about as depressed as a Dawg as I've been since CMR showed up. However I'm also like some of you others, not ready to start for the cliff yet. The only way we beat the gayturds is if we catch them playing bad. They played like a top 5 team(not my #1) and we played like, well, my Mama always said...you get the picture. Clearly we are in a down period with key positions. I love Joe Cox as a Dawg but bless his heart he's not a UGA starting QB. We have no other choices at this point that won't be far worse or someone else would be out there-I firmly believe this. We have to address CWM. Sorry, he's just not getting it done. We all can see the Dawg defense is not in the same reality with what is usual for UGA. Aside from this we would be ok, probably in a down year still, not challenging for the NC, but we would be top 10 easy. QB and Defense must change dramatically before next year and I believe Coach Richt will do so.
But I'll say something else: I am so proud to be a Dawg I can hardly stand myself. Good or bad, "GO DAWGS!!!!!!"

Anonymous said...

Not sure who you're talking about with So Carolina, Goliard, but I'd damn sure take Shane Beamer and Ellis Johnson off of their staff right now.

Paul said...

We have talent. What we don't have is a team. Turning talented individuals into a team is what coaches get paid to do.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am as tormented as a dog with ticks, but have no clue why our Bulldogs are so bad. I see other SEC teams with better play schemes, far better defenses, playing well and without penalties.
Our lads seem talented enough, but without discipline, focus or coaching.
How can a team have two weeks to prepare for Florida and come into Jacksonville without any new schemes except wardrobe? I hope someone can give us answers - and victories.