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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fleeting Thoughts: Kentucky Edition

You'll excuse me if I miss a few points here. With as much abject failure as occurred in a 30-minute span, it's hard to fully grasp it in totality. Anyway, here goes...

-- I want to start by saying something on behalf of some of the seniors that you no doubt are not particularly thrilled with right now. Bryan Evans and Joe Cox both made some plays that significantly impacted the outcome of this game. But they're going to now live with those memories for the rest of their lives. Their last performance in front of the home crowd was probably the worst one of their careers, and they'll never live that down.

So I'm not saying you shouldn't be upset about the outcome, but keep in mind how much baggage these guys will already take with them after last night. They've been punished enough.

-- If you're making a list of people to blame for this loss, Willie Martinez's name is probably on the list, but it's nowhere near the top. The D was lights out in the first half (with the exception of the TD, which was as much about a nice screen by the ref as anything else). In the second half, only one of those scoring drives was for more than 50 yards and when the Dawgs absolutely needed a stop with two minutes to play, they got it.

-- And speaking of that defense, this play won't show up in the highlights because it ended up not mattering, but Rennie Curran's tackle of Randall Cobb at the 1-yard line on second down in the fourth quarter was perhaps the best defensive play made by Georgia all season. If anyone can find video of it I can link to, let me know.

-- Now, the Derrick Locke touchdown run, on the other hand, does not bode well for next week.

-- Kentucky's starting field position following kickoffs: Own 36, own 37, own 49, own 31, own 25, UGA49. Awful.

-- Here's what Richt had to say about the decision to squib kick following Georgia's lone second-half touchdown: "We actually kicked the ball extremely well last week -- high, where we wanted it placed -- and we still struggled. So we have a lot of respect for Auburn, but Kentucky's kick return team is the best in the SEC. They just do a superb job. So we were trying to create a little doubt, trying to get the ball where we could pop it up and maybe get it somewhere around the 30, 35. That's not anything to brag about, but we feel it's better than kicking it deep to this guy."

Allow me to address several points:

Kentucky is actually seventh in the SEC in kick returns, averaging just .36 yards per return more than Auburn.

If you can't cover a directional kick, what makes you assume you can cover a squib kick?

If you're happy with the potential of a drive starting at the 35, why not just purposefully kick it out of bounds and KNOW they'll be starting at the 40?

Or better yet, since you have the SEC's leader in touchbacks, why don't you roll the dice on that before you roll the dice on an absolutely horrendous move like squib kicking?

And how is it that a slow-footed tight end can field a kick and return it 20 yards before Georgia's apparently athletic coverage team can bring him down? This wasn't simply a matter of him breaking tackles either. Georgia's tacklers simply weren't anywhere near him.

So let me get this straight: You think you have to squib kick to avoid Derrick Locke and Alfonso Smith with a 14-point lead midway through the second half against Kentucky, but you didn't think that was a good idea when you were kicking to Trindon Holiday with the game on the line after getting a penalty that backed you up against LSU?

-- I think the Senator says it best: "It’s not just that they’re so bad (on special teams). It’s that they’re so bad with Walsh, Butler, Boykin and Miller. You really have to work at it."

Every coach that manages special teams for Georgia should have to take a short bus to Butts-Mehre this week.

-- The bottom line is this: Georgia's kick coverage team is the difference between the Dawgs being 6-5 and headed to Shreveport and 8-3 and headed to Orlando. A change MUST be made.

-- Funny side note about Saturday's games: LSU and Les Miles are being crucified for spiking it with 1 second left. Um, that's old hat for Georgia, folks. Been there, done that.

-- Wow, lots of bad stuff so far. How about a little touch of good news? Orson Charles, Rantavious Wooten, Caleb King, Branden Smith and Justin Houston all had very good games. There is going to be a ton of talent on this team next year. A ton.

-- OK, let's just get into it. The toss sweep.

My first thought was, Cox must have audibled into that play because there's no way the coaches called that.

But I was wrong.

Here's the story from each side:

Washaun: "I just put the ball on the ground. It hit my hands, I should have caught it. I’ve got to keep my head up. I was just trying to get in the end zone fast. Joe didn’t know I was that close to him when he pitched. I’m just trying to keep my head up."

Cox: "I couldn't tell if he thought it wasn't a pitch play, but he said he did. He was just real tight and normally isn't that close, and it just got on him quick. I really don't know what happened, and I don't think he really knew what happened either. I think he might have had his eyes up looking at the hole. I'm not real sure. To be that close and have that happen, it's not good. We had our opportunities and we blew it. It's something we run all the time. It's not a hard ball to catch, it's just the way that he ran it, it made it tougher. It was like he saw a hole and tried to cut up while I was pitching the ball to him and it got on him quick. I don't know. But it's definitely not something that was too tough for him to comprehend or to handle. We run that play all the time."

Bobo: "That's our bread-and-butter play, the toss sweep. Earlier we were on the goalline and they had kind of crammed everybody inside on a third-and-1 when we had to settle for the field goal, and we talked about next time in that situation we were going to run the toss sweep outside. It looked like he was a little tight."

Richt: "It's part of our offense. Toss sweep all year long. … I'd have to look at the film but the back certainly looked too close to the quarterback on the pitch. I don't know if it was by alignment or the track he took. It looked like he was downhill more than he should have. But the toss sweep is a pretty fundamental play. We've run it many times, so I'm not going to sit here and try to second guess that."

I think UGA needs to hire a coach who doesn't have a position, but simply has common sense. So every decision made has to be run through him first. It would have made a big difference on this play in particular.

My problems?

Well, one, you learned a lesson at the 1-yard line early that made you want to run the toss sweep, so why didn't you learn the lesson when the UK D lineman disrupted the toss earlier in the second half and caused Cox to fumble?

You get ideas throughout the game, but those ideas must also be dictated by the situation. With the game on the line and two plays to score from the 1, you have to play it safer than that. You have to.

Even if you're going to run the toss sweep, you have to have Caleb King in on that play. Washaun is a good runner and a good kid, but he's a true freshman. The odds of him making a mistake on that play have to be significantly higher than the odds of Caleb doing it. And now the coaches will blame Ealey for making the mistake, when in fact it's completely on them for putting him in the position to do it when they didn't have to.

Just a brutal, brutal play call.

-- One more reason the play call made no sense: The O line had been doing nothing in the second half. Here's how Cox describe the toss that ended up as a fumble: "We had one play where we had a pitch called and when I turned to pitch it, one of the defensive linemen had actually gotten through so fast that he grabbed my arm while I was trying to pitch the ball."

Again, how do you not learn from that?

-- The one thing Kentucky didn't want to do was put the game in Morgan Newton's hands. So why didn't Georgia force them to do just that? Newton had to throw just 17 passes in the game.

-- Three of those passes went for touchdowns. That's more than he had thrown in his career.

-- Going back to that list of reasons why Georgia lost, No. 1 might well be the work at the line of scrimmage. In the first half, Georgia rushed for 143 yards. In the second half -- 53. On the other side, Georgia had seven tackles for a loss in the first half, and just two in the second. Kentucky completely changed the game by changing who was winning the battles in the trenches.

-- The receivers had their moments, but A.J. Green was missed. Bobo said Kentucky stacked the box more than any defense they had faced this year without Green to help draw extra attention from the safety.

-- The fumbled kickoff by Branden Smith really swung the momentum, and he probably shouldn't have even been in there. Brandon Boykin was clearly healthy enough to play -- he was in on the next kick return -- but Georgia thought they could get by without him.

-- I'm not sure what to make of this quote from Smith: "It was hard. Everything was against our back. We were down. We just needed a touchdown to tie it up. I guess we just fell apart as a team. We weren't working together as a team. That's one thing with winning is you have to work together. I guess once we started getting down, all the mistakes started happening, everybody just let go."

-- There were plenty of bad flags, but Bryan Evans' pass interference call in the second half was a blessing. He was beaten badly in the end zone. And can someone please teach Georgia's DBs to turn around and make a play on the ball once in a while?

-- I have no doubt that there will be a lot of people calling for coaches' heads right now. Rightfully so. But again, it ain't gonna happen this week, so don't bother stressing yourselves out about it. And despite the season essentially being flushed down the toilet Saturday night, there's still much to play for this week. I, for one, am tired of St. Simons' posts on every AJC blog.

-- I hear Shreveport is lovely this time of year.

24 comments:

Left to Right said...

I'm not angry with Bryan Evans or Joe Cox or any of the other highly recruited players who have unperformed this year.

I'm angry with a coaching staff that either failed to coach them properly or failed to recognize the need to substitute in other players when it became clear the "starters" weren't getting the job done. And if there weren't any better players to sub in-well, that's on the coaching staff too.

jferg said...

The video I'd like to see is ealey's fumble. It looked to me as if he had his arms in the "receiving a handoff" position....not a pitch. I think he just ran the wrong play. It was a td if he gets it cleanly.
I think your "the list" has been demolished with this game's kickoff debacle. This game is a list unto itself.

I'm very concerned about next week. That aint good!

Anonymous said...

Great info David. This team seems identical to last year except Staff/KnoMo bailed them out more. The poor overall discipline on the team is striking. CMR has earned the chance to right the ship next year. But if they produce the same results...

rbubp said...

Kentucky is actually seventh in the SEC in kick returns, averaging just .36 yards per return more than Auburn.

"If you can't cover a directional kick, what makes you assume you can cover a squib kick?

If you're happy with the potential of a drive starting at the 35, why not just purposefully kick it out of bounds and KNOW they'll be starting at the 40?

Or better yet, since you have the SEC's leader in touchbacks, why don't you roll the dice on that before you roll the dice on an absolutely horrendous move like squib kicking?"

Yes, Yes, Yes, and YES!!!!!!! ENOUGH WITH THIS BULLSHIT ALREADY!

rbubp said...

Ok...Play calling.

1. The toss sweep is a BAD play at the goal line. Too much chance of getting blown up by an OLB or a safety playing close.

2. BOBO is the FOOL that called for a PASS from second and 1 at the 2 in the first quarter after we were running the ball quite well and had them on their heels. Said stupid pass was incomplete and resulted in the obvious choice to try to run on 3rd and 1 at the two. Blocking on the edge was predictably poor; they did not stuff it up the middle, they stuffed it from around the edge!!!! We kick a FG AND that sequence comes back to haunt us because we completely misread what happened and how we screwed it up...it forebodes the DIPSHIT toss sweep call.

Sorry for my language. This is as mad and frustrated as I have ever been after a UGA loss. Pathetic, pathetic game.

papadawg said...

"I think UGA needs to hire a coach who doesn't have a position, but simply has common sense. So every decision made has to be run through him first."

Isn't that supposed to be Richt's job?

Damn, this coaching staff is frustrating.

Anonymous said...

again for the nth time

mark richt is a nice fellow

but needs to be coaching high school ball not being paid 3 million dollars to embarass himself and georgia fans

the trustees of the athletic dept are the real dumbmies here

it was obvious for last two years something was wrong even when they won

mr richt please do the smart thing and resign

Anonymous said...

and before any of you give opinions on how to spell dumbmies

that is for effect

Anonymous said...

Your point about Evans not turning around, and all the other DB's not turning to find the ball - that's the way they're coached since there's no "face guarding" in college. It's dumb as hell - like our kickoffs last night, but it's what they're taught. Still another reason changes need to be made. It's like the saying goes: What's the definition of stupid? Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

cakeman said...

One good thing about this whole mess is that all the people who argue that we have to trust the coaches because they know what they're doing have been proven wrong. It is a comedy of errors watching this staff work, and any moron can see it. Now someone in authority needs to take the obvious next step and blow this thing up, start from scratch. If Richt can't do that then he will be risking his job next season.

Anonymous said...

I understand the defense of Willie in the blog post, but isn't this all his responsibility?

"The one thing Kentucky didn't want to do was put the game in Warren Newton's hands. So why didn't Georgia force them to do just that? Newton had to throw just 17 passes in the game."

I just hope he doesn't escape responsibility. Yes, last week was probably the best our D has played all season, but this week is on his shoulders (and Fabris) imo.

MikeInValdosta said...

No confidence in Walsh, all the confidence in Cox. That is our coaching staff's stance?

They didn't stop our run all night, only Bobo could stop the run.

Joe took a shot on his second QB sneak and like a ray of sunshine had fallen upon him, he was never the same outside of that one pass to T. King.

I am not blaming Cox, Bobo abandoned the run and it may be time to abandon Bobo. It really hurts me to say that because I am a Bobo fan.

Richt needs to quit defending his coaches and start defending his PROGRAM!

Carter said...

Joe Cox is the first man in the history of the arena to both literally and figuratively self-immolate.

PatinDC said...

I am not sure I would say the D played lights out the first half. KY did march down and score first. We always start behind the 8 ball.

rbubp said...

PatinDC, they "marched" by getting the ball near the 50 and then getting a personal foul penalty on BE to immediately put them at the 25.

UK had 60-some total yards in the first half, and only one score. That's pretty good defense against anyone.

But the defense in the second half was another story. There were nothing but TDS in the red zone, and then that awful screen pass...the D didn't play well at all in the second half.

Chase said...

Coming from somebody that lives in shreveport. It's not nice this time of year, its cold as shit, even for louisiana. I was at the independence bowl last year and left at half time. but hey the good thing is you should be able to get tickets free or close to it. Luckily for me though, I am stuck on a tropical island and dont have to watch the misery that will go down in independence stadium.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:57,
Nice recovery.

Anonymous said...

Well at this point I dont feel surprised about anything. I seriously thought I was watching a replay of the GT game from last year. Watching the O and D kill in the 1st half then tard it up in the second.


BTW is it just me or do yall fear that tech will put up 70 on Willie?

yall know they aint gonna stop scoring til the have to leave...they are gonna want to make up for 7 years of losses.

This season UGA was erased from the Record books and this week was icing on the cake...

Greene's record is gone, both of Walkers records are gone (Freshmen total yards and TD record), UGA died, Richt became the only coach in the East with 2 losses to Kentucky, we are looking at goin 0-2 vs Tech, 2-7 vs Fla, 1-3 vs Tenn since 06, and I'm sure there are more stats that I could list for days here.

This team has a cancer that is killing it and it needs to be removed...NOW!

Anonymous said...

Its time for Richt to hang it up. He has used up all his "tricks" in 2007 and now is simply embarrassing Georgia and himself. There is a rot in the program and it is starting to stink bad. Time for DE to clean house. Richt and his staff gots to go.

Anonymous said...

Are you a reporter or a columnist? I'm confused.

MORGAN Newton said...

My name is Morgan.

David Hale said...

Anon 4:28: Is that a question or a smart-ass comment? I'm confused.

Ubiquitous GA Alum said...

There is no way I'm going to Shreveport ... The team can go. The band can go and Michael Adams can go and run up a 30K bar bill again. Won't find me there.

Anonymous said...

I am not one that typically questions play calling because football is about execution......BUT.... Bobo should be fired for that 3rd down call at the goal line, that "toss sweep/dive play"(most people would laugh at that, or at least think it was an oxymoron), or whatever you want to call it is the stupiedest fing play in the world and please tell me one other team in the country that would run that play, or even has that in their repitoir? It is a play that is destined to fumble. Have a running back run full speed straight ahead and instead of having a direct hand off we will toss it to him? It sounds too stupid to even type, I would like to see the meeting of the minds sitting around thinking about different plays to run and that is what they come up with, anyone who has ever watched a football game would see the risk in tossing the football to a RB running straight downhill. Bobo is lying; I have seen that play run to many times before and know for a fact that it was not a "toss" sweep in the traditional sense, it was our famous "toss/dive" sweep which has resulted in fumbles numerous times over the last 3-4 years.