I had a mailbag written yesterday, but sadly, the computer gods decided they didn't approve. I do appreciate the recommendations from all of you on backing up my stuff a bit better. Hopefully that will be the last time I lose so much material.
Also, don't forget we're chatting live at 1 p.m. today at Macon.com/ugachat. You can head over there now, press the 'play' button and submit your question, or just join us live at 1.
In the meantime, here are a handful of other questions out of the mailbag I figured we could get to a bit early...
Greg writes: please tell me someone asked a tough question about the recurring KO disasters. Also- Can you ask him if he will re-evaluate how the staff handles special teams in the offseason?
David: I think we've all given up on that one. Richt was asked about it again on his radio show and gave the same stock excuse about the young players. The funny part about this, too, is that, when another reporter asked Richt a few weeks ago exactly which players work on the kickoff team, he said he didn't know.
I also spoke with Blair Walsh, who said that from Week 1 to Week 11, there have been no major shakeups of the kick coverage unit. With one or two exceptions, it's the same players now it was in Stillwater.
So the bottom line is this: The lack of experience makes for an easy explanation, and Richt isn't likely to provide anything more in depth than that no matter how many times we ask.
MT writes: What jumps out at me more is looking at that Murder's Row of teams we are in company with. The only program you could even remotely argue having any shred of a winning tradition is Washington, and that might be a bit of a stretch too. Besides Central Florida, the rest of these schools are in relative wastelands of recruiting talent too. With the stretch of top 10 classes we've had for quite some time, I think this more than anything else is an indictment of the serious undercoaching that has gone on this season.
David: I think this was the overwhelming reaction to the turnovers post I had yesterday. It's not so much that Georgia is really bad, but that the company the Dawgs are keeping on that list are all programs that don't come anywhere close to recruiting the same talent Georgia does. Georgia's second-string players are more talented than the first-teamers on any of those other squads. Which makes it all the more perplexing as to how Georgia can be this bad in the turnover department.
ArmyDawg writes: I don't know how you can ask the same question over and over (and I know you have asked) but why is that Kentucky can cover their kickoffs and blast our return guy at the 15 yard line? I know that our guys are just as talented as UK's players, their kicker is not any better than ours and our kick off team has had some pretty good returns this year but for some reason they can disrupt our return inside the 20 and we can't even get in the picture on my big screen TV until the Kentucky is running past the 30. Just baffles me (and for the record I'm as big a Richt fan as you can be) but these kickoffs are just rediculous.
David: This is another great point. Georgia couldn't cover a kick to save its life on Saturday. Kentucky not only covered the kick to open the second half well, but it got such a good hit on Branden Smith that he fumbled at a crucial time. I find it impossible to believe that Kentucky has more talent to use on special teams than Georgia.
jferg writes: Back through the early-mid 2000's, we didn't necessarily need turnovers because A)David Greene made few himself B) Our defense just stuffed teams and created tons of 3 and outs.
I'd bet if you compared opposing offensive plays run vs turnovers created, you'll see that is where this year's team is the epic fail. i'd bet those early-mid 2000 defenses played 20-30% LESS plays and therefore their "turnover per play ratio" is much better.
David: That's not too hard to look up, so here ya go….
|Year|| Off Plays||TOs||Play/TO||Def Play||TAs||Play/TA|
So what do we find?
Well, first, jferg's latter assumption doesn't hold water. Brian Van Gorder's D essentially allowed the same number of plays in a season as Willie's have.
Jferg's first point, however, is certainly correct. This year, Georgia creates a turnover just once every 89 plays -- which amounts to almost half as frequently as its next worst season, which just so happened to be last year.
But prior to the past two seasons, Georgia's turnover creation average has remained remarkably similar. In 2001 and 2004, the numbers skewed slightly, but overall that average has been right around one turnover per 30 plays every year from 2000 through 2007.
So what happened? We've discussed at length that Willie Martinez hasn't changed his scheme much. So why would there be so many fewer turnovers in the past two years?
If Georgia's defensive scheme has remained unchanged for the better part of 10 years, and the takeaway average also stayed the same for the first eight of them, logic dictates it wasn't the scheme that caused things to change in the past two. So perhaps a lot more fault belongs with the players than the coaches.
And while jferg didn't specifically ask, I provided the offensive numbers, too.
The interesting thing there is that, Georgia's two worst seasons under Mark Richt directly coincide with a big increase in the number of offensive turnovers. In 2006, Matthew Stafford was thrown to the fire as a true freshman, and the interceptions dropped as the year went on. This season, the turnovers haven't improved a lick, and the win-loss record has stayed dismal.
Again, maybe the coahces are less to blame, and more of the fault for the problems should fall to Joe Cox and the folks who keep fumbling the football.
(It's also probably worth noting that if Jim Donnan had a decent QB in 2000, he probably wouldn't have been canned.)
Will writes: David, is there any way you could bring up the point the Senator pointed out on his blog recently about Cox's footwork tipping off opponents to the coaches? I just don't know how else to get that to them. If we, as fans, can see this (and confirm it in numerous game film examples from this season) it can't have slipped past other defensive coordinators.
David: We all owe a big tip 'o the cap to The Dawgfather, who noticed this well before most people… including Mike Bobo apparently. But even Bobo now admits… it's true!
"We did go back and look at it and it was more so in the Kentucky game," Bobo said. "It was not every play of pass-run, but there was definitely more of a stagger this past week, and that's something we've got to work to correct."
My follow up: So you hand't seen this before the Kentucky game?
"No," Bobo said. "We usually have a stagger, and he had gotten a little more square on certain plays."
So congrats, Dawgfather. You noticed something nobody else seemed to, and you did it from the stands. The next time I'm playing that naked lady photo hunt game at 3 a.m. at some bar, I want you there with me.
Again, don't forget that I'll be taking the rest of your questions today at 1 p.m. at Macon.com/ugachat.