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Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Links (11/2)

Rex Robinson has a post saying what many of you have said since Saturday: What's wrong with this team when it needs gimmicks to get up for its biggest game of the season?

In fact, Rex doesn't really even need to say it, because Rennie Curran did before the game:

"There is no way you can't get pumped for the Florida game. If you're not pumped for this one, then you don't have a heart." -- Curran

That's the quote Senator Blutarsky had on his home page for the better part of a week prior to the Florida game. Hard not to make the connection that Rennie says a team that's not pumped for that game has no heart, and yet Mark Richt thought a uniform gimmick and dancing on the sideline was a necessary game plan.

In some ways, I get it. Coaches have a job, and among their top responsibilities is to motivate. That's not always an easy task.

Here's the thing you have to remember about athletes: Daily life is all about fooling yourself into thinking that what you're doing is the most important thing that's ever been done. It's about tricking yourself into believing anything you need to believe to motivate yourself. It's about pushing yourself beyond your limits by any means necessary.

Sometimes, the gimmicks help with that. No one was complaining when The Celebration was followed by a Georgia win or the original blackout preceded a dominant performance. Sometimes the gimmicks work.

But here's the difference between Georgia and Florida right now: The Gators needed motivation, too. They're still talking about that 2007 celebration. They still feel slighted.

They used The Celebration and, more importantly, the loss as their primary tool for motivation throughout the offseason last year. Players talked about doing one push-up for every point Georgia scored, one sit-up for every rushing yard Knowshon Moreno had. That's focus.

This offseason, Georgia talked about it, too, though not as loudly. There were, indeed, posters hanging up around the Butts-Mehre building showing Florida celebrating a win and Urban Meyer calling timeout, even if Richt downplayed it publicly.

The Gators had everything to lose Saturday and Georgia had nothing to lose except another opportunity to prove they were up to the challenge of beating Florida.

Pregame, the confidence and swagger of Florida's players was palpable. It just felt like a great team that knew it was great and never considered the fact that they might lose.

For Georgia, there was confidence, too. But it felt created, hollow. It felt like a gimmick. It felt like Georgia had convinced itself it could win, while Florida just knew.

That's all abstract opinionating on my part, but it's an opinion I shared with a few other writers before the game even kicked off.

There was a talent difference on the field, and anyone who watched Georgia's linebackers fruitlessly pursue Florida's speedy running backs could see it. There's a big difference between having Tim Tebow at quarterback accounting for four TDs and Joe Cox and Logan Gray, who accounted for four turnovers, too.

But what I'll remember from that game, what I think was the real difference between those two teams, was what I saw pregame. There's a culture of confidence, of motivated players, of focus and determination and, yes, even arrogance at Florida that Georgia just doesn't have. I don't know why that is, but I'm certain it started long before kickoff, long before any uniforms were hung in lockers and long before this season even began.

In that respect, the uniforms weren't remotely responsible for what happened Saturday. They're a symptom of the larger problem.

On to the links...

-- I have a story in today's Telegraph that, despite the failures, there hasn't been a splintering of Georgia's locker room. Personally though, I can't help but wonder what some of the younger backups start to think when, at 4-4, the struggling juniors and seniors continue to get the starts going forward. That will be interesting to watch if it happens.

-- Battle Hymn Notes has more complaints about the uniforms which, at best, were a bad PR move on Mark Richt's part. This in a season of really bad PR moves by these Georgia coaches.

-- Get the Picture has a post on the potential decisions that Damon Evans may have to make down the road, with some news that Mark Richt may not be too interested in firing one or both of his coordinators.

I'll say this:

1.) I don't know that Mike Bobo needs to be canned now. I had as many problems with his playcalling early in the season as anyone, but I thought he did, for the most part, a nice job in that dept. on Saturday. Moreover, with a limited QB, virtually nothing from the ground game and absolutely no depth at WR after A.J. Green, Bobo hasn't exactly had a full deck to play with. He hasn't done an A+ job for sure, but he hasn't been so bad he needs to be fired either. He's not the one throwing the picks or going down in the backfield on first contact.Moreover , he's been forced to play catchup in six of eight games, which makes it tough to execute the game plan you planned for all week.

2.) Richt may not be enthusiastic about making a change at defensive coordinator, but remember last year that he explicitly said he would not fire anyone. That hasn't happened this year, and he's even admitted that a change may be necessary (even if he hasn't endorsed the decision yet). And beyond what even Richt may want, I almost find it hard to believe that Willie Martinez would really want to stick around in Athens for another year of constant questions and backlash. Nobody wants to work in an environment like that. Perhaps the most likely outcome of all this is that Richt won't have a decision to make at all because Martinez will may it for him. That's just speculation on my part, but it stems from a distinct difference in tone from last year to this.

-- ESPN's Chris Low says Georgia is in decline, which stands in stark contrasts with Mark Richt's pronouncement postgame that the program was fine and only the season was bad.

-- For now, Richt is skirting the issues at QB.

-- Bulldog in Exile looks at Saturday's loss and sees plenty of problems, but wonders where the solutions will come from.

-- Bernie sees the same problem, but presents them in convenient bullet-point form.

-- Georgia Sports Blog isn't buying the notion that a severe talent deficiency is the cause of Georgia's headaches against the Gators.

-- Chip Towers writes that the talent gap shouldn't be that big.

-- Apparently Urban Meyer might have a talk with Brandon Spikes about his eye-gouging. But even better is this: Apparently Spikes went after Tim Tebow after the game against Mississippi State.

-- Every Day Should Be Saturday says that there was a bit of eye-related issues for Florida in Saturday's game, too, that weren't exactly caught on film.

-- Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. (And no, I'm not bitter about the Phillies.)

-- I love Pearl Jam's halloween costumes. My brother went to see them in Philly on Friday, which reminds me, I should bid a fond farewell to the old Spectrum. The Pearl Jam shows were the last for the once-great venue that was home to the Broad Street Bullies and Dr. J's Sixers. It becomes a parking lot now, which is sad. I saw my first concert there... and I'll give a dollar to whoever can guess who it was. (Clue: It was 1986.)

-- See, Harvard really is worth the money.

-- I swear, I would pay to watch Christopher Walken read the phone book. This, however, is even better.

-- I quit watching "Heroes" a long time ago, so I'm thinking this idea is a little past its time.

-- And finally, here's a great list of the best fake products from "The Simpsons." What, no Colonel Qwik-E-Mart's Kentucky Brand Bourbon?

10 comments:

rbubp said...

No sports hero was ever better nicknamed than Alex Rodriguez. Perhaps they could have called him "The Tool," but of course, that would have left out the possibility of being innocuous.

Anonymous said...

David, I heard a rumor (mainly a Florida fan from work talking trash) that Aaron Murray was talking about transferring to Florida. Any nugget of truth to this? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ratt?

David Hale said...

Anon 10:55 -- absolutely ZERO truth to that. None. And it would be a stupid move if it was true as Murray will be UGA's QB next year, while Brantley has the UF job locked down.

Anon 11:00 -- As much as I love "Round and Round" you're WAAAAAY off.

uga93 said...

Devo. . . . Brilliant. To purchase our album "is not like spending money; but rather, it is an investment in the future - a blow against the empire." Geniuses. . . . CMR needs to hire Mark Mothersbaugh as D-Coordinator for no reason other than I'd become a lot more convinced of his coolness. Somehow I don't think anyone else would like the move. . . .

Castleberry said...

Two things.

1. Tebow's eye was getting cleared after a helmet to helmet hit on a short yardage run. They showed the replay about five times in slow mo and didn't call out anything. I think EDSBS is reaching...

2. In regards to your opening comments, my friend Mitch summed up the issue with Florida better than I've ever heard yesterday - "Big Brother Syndrome". Did you ever have a friend that, even after he grew bigger and stronger than his older brother, could never whip his older brother? That's us. We certainly weren't bigger or stronger this year, but that same mental block is keeping us down against the Gators perpetually.

gene said...

That stuff about arod is sick. btw Dave, I got a guy that can get you in a nice liony, king of the jungly kind of portrait if you're interested.

David Hale said...

I'm listening, Gene... but one question, can he do an elephant trunk?

Bernie said...

R.E.M.

Anonymous said...

Debbie Gibson??