Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Richt's Dawgs very much in the Hunt.

I'm sick and tired of hearing it!

For the past few days, since UGA was beaten soundly by a great Alabama team, I've actually heard people calling for Richt's head. They're saying that Mark Richt isn't the coach to get us to a national title game. I've heard this talk before, and it sickens me. Every year, when the Dawgs lose a game, fans start to talk about how "This should have been the year" and that "Richt can't win the big ones."

YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR FRIKKIN MIND. SHUT UP.

Are you telling me that in his 7 years at UGA, Richt hasn't won "The Big One?" Never? I guess the two SEC title games his teams won weren't "Big Ones"? The game in Auburn where Greene hit Johnson on a 4th and 15 for a 25 yard touchdown...not a big one? Neither Sugar Bowl victory was apparently a big one. Neither victory over FL was a big one. Six Straight against GT? Not big. 3 straight against TN (the first in the 4 game streak was Donnan's)? Tiny.

Honestly, people who are so quick to admonish Richt need to go back and take a look at history for a moment.

"But Dukes, in their second seasons, Urban Meyer and Les Miles won National Championships, Saban did it in his 3rd at LSU and is headed to another at AL." Great. Good for them. What do you want me to say? Oh....wait....did ANY of those teams go undefeated? No. In Richt's second season, his Dawgs went 13-1....and weren't in the title game because of undefeated Ohio State and Miami. Do you have any idea how ridiculous an undefeated season in the SEC is? Well...before the AU team in 2004, the last team to do it was the 1995 Florida Gators, who lost the National Title game. Last year, UGA had 2 SEC East losses, and ended up at #2. Also, last year, UGA was as low as #24 MID-SEASON....before vaulting up to that #2 spot. So, don't sit there and try to tell me all is lost.

People sit there and with the same mouth that they spew such anger and frustration about this year's team, they heap mountains of praise on last year's team for the 7-game run they had at the end of the year. How can you do that? After that TN loss, people were calling for Richt's head. After a scratch-by win at Vandy, the anger was building. Then, an absolute wolly-mocking of FL made everyone forget, and really start to see something special in those Dawgs of 2007. Now, here we are a year later, and people are saying the same things they did a year ago. And I'm just plain tired of it.

All you self-righteous fans calling for Richt's head need to take a little look into history and see if they see any similarities between Richt, and a more "Heralded" coach at UGA.

Dooley's first season...1964. His first SEC Title - 1966. His Second - 1968
Richt's first season....2001. His first SEC Title - 2002 His Second - 2005

Dooley then went 8 years before capturing another SEC title in 1976.

Dooley was head coach of UGA for 14 years before winning the 1980 National Championship.

I wonder if anyone, during Vince's 8-year SEC drought, thought Dooley "wasn't the coach" that would take UGA to a National Title.

Did you know this: If Richt can rally his dawgs to victories against TN, Vandy, FL and LSU (big if...but it can be done), then he will have won 80 out of his first 100 games? Did you know that? And you're telling me this guy isn't the right coach? Get over yourself. Mark Richt is coaching against the best coaches in college football, in the toughest conference, and he's doing pretty damned well.

"Dukes....win the next 4 games? Are you serious? After the way we played against AL, we'll probably lose 3 more."

Honestly, if that's your attitude, stop talking to me. Seriously. Don't read my blog anymore, don't write me emails. I have neither the desire nor the patience to listen to that drivel. That game was awful. I watched the same game you did, and was horrified by the first half. But for some reason, I see the second half with quite a bit more light than you do. All you can read is the final score, 41-30 and think we were destroyed for 4 quarters, and that simply isn't true. UGA DOMINATED the 2nd half. It just wasn't enough. They'd dug too deep a hole.

Now, let me rewind into this game.

AL's first drive, the 80-yard TD drive, and their longest of the night, was assisted by 2 big penalties. First...there was the pass-interference in the endzone. That one was necessary. If not for that penalty, they would have scored immediately. Seriously, some coaches actually tell players to do that if it's the last option. I don't know if Martinez does, but it's a smart play because it gives your team a chance to get a stop. Then, the personal foul penalty on the fumble recovery play. That hurt. It's an effort penalty...the guy just didn't get his hand in the right place. It was horribly unfortunate that it happened on the same play that we caused a turnover (second week in a row - Allen's INT wiped out b/c of a penalty at ASU). Then, they got the TD they were looking for. Most importantly on that drive, Wilson hit short passes for first downs. We didn't pressure him much...a little, but not much. We sent a corner blitz early, but it didn't get there, as AL rolled the pocket away from it. That was a lucky call for them, not so much for us.

Then, we got the ball. Stafford hit a few good short passes for first downs. Moreno hit a good 7 yard run. Then, we threw a screen that was blown up in the backfield and Stafford had to throw the ball away on 3rd down. Mimbs had a decent punt that was poorly covered.

Still, we had started something and weren't looking bad. We gave them two more cheap penalties in the second drive, but the defense bowed-up and held AL to a field goal...things were definitely looking good.

But, that's when the wheels really came off. After an ineffective drive, Brian Mimbs uncharacteristically punted for 19 yards. 19 yards. That's hardly the field-position changing foot we're used to. AL had a short field, and they knew what to do with it. And suddenly, the Dawgs were down 17.

Stafford sprang to life, hitting AJ Green for a 30 yard gain, but Green somehow just gave the ball up to a AL's Dont'a Hightower. WHAT?!?!?! UGA was stunned, and the damage was done. They scored twice more, and we were in a 31-0 hole.

Then, came halftime. Adjustments were made, and the game changed. UGA came out throwing, went right down the field after back-to-back 22-yard catches by Kris Durham, and scored on its opening possession. Then, UGA threw AL for a three and out. Our second drive stalled, but after another three and out by AL, UGA drove down and kicked a fieldgoal, bringing the score to 31-10...and people were starting to think the Dawgs might be in this thing. Another three and out by AL ended the quarter, and the fourth quarter would start on fourth down.

AL punted the ball back to UGA's Prince Miller on the 8 yard-line. All he could do was take it 92 yards for the 2nd-longest Punt Return for TD in UGA history (Jimmy Campagna - v Vandy 1952). 31-17...and this thing's starting to get good. Mark Richt's face at this point was full of determination, not concern. He knew that we could win that game, if we just continued to play ball the way we should. But we didn't. We gave up two big 2nd down passes and AL was able to kick a field goal with about 10 minutes to go. AL was up by 17. That's three scores...and tough...but played right, still winable. Unfortunately, it wasn't played right. AL knew that we had to score fast...and so were able to do two things. They turned up the heat, but still maintained good coverage. Stafford was hurried, he was sacked...he made some good throws, some bad throws. Things went downhill. That next possession was a big one, but it ended on a 4th and 28 after a huge holding penalty. Another long pass and some good runs, and AL had all but finished the Dawgs off.

UGA was able to score twice more in the waning minutes, and gave us a little hope with some onside-kick magic. But, after the second score, the second onside kick was knocked out-of-bounds by AL and that sealed it for good.


People have said that Stafford played terrible, and I take exception to that. He did throw deep into double coverage at times....but the balls weren't terribly thrown balls (save that one INT toss, which was plain ugly). Most of them were well thrown, giving his playmakers the chance to make plays....but AL's playmakers DID make the plays. He wasn't hanging around in the pocket and doing a bunch of check-downs because he didn't have 8 seconds to throw the ball. Now, that's not to say I'm down on the offensive line at all. Actually, in the face of what they were up against, I think they did pretty well. Ben Jones squared off against Terrence Cody alone a number of times, and did pretty well. Of course, it was a holding penalty against Jones that brought up the 4th and 28 I mentioned earlier.

On defense, well, it's obvious. When you don't get pressure, you get beat. AL has one of the most seasoned and probably THE BEST Offensive line we will face all year. TN has a stout one, but they've had troubles this season...mostly because Crompton isn't a great QB. Our DLine just isn't getting it done like they need to yet. We have 11 sacks, just like after 5 games last year...but we don't seem to be harassing QBs as well. That might have more to do with the abilities of the OLs we face...I dunno. SC and AL both have improved OL play...and our DL play is down a bit. That says alot about it right there.

Also, losing Dannel Ellerbee hurt us on Saturday. He's a pretty decent coverage linebacker...and not having him in there was definite cause for concern. In his absence, Rennie Curran led the team in tackles for the 3rd time this season...but I can't help but wonder if having Dannel would have prevented some of those 7 and 10 yard completions that hurt us so badly.

Look, all you people out there who don't think this team is positioned for any kind of success...I have to admonish you here. As someone who played football, I understand better than many of you, that sometimes, you just get beat. Even when you play right, you get beat. And when you make mistakes against a very good team, you're certain to get beat. Things went unexplainably, inexcusably bad on Saturday. Mimbs couldn't punt. We had dumb penalties. Mike Moore dropped a huge pass in the 4th. AJ Green lost his grip on a ball in the 2nd. Players went down with injuries. It was a bad game.

Bad Games happen.

But we have plenty to play for. Right now, we're second in the SEC East behind Vandy (yeah, I know...that brings forth GROANS...but there are lots of games to play). That means we control our own destiny. We have a week to heal and learn from this game, and then a week to prepare for TN. You generally learn more from a loss than you do from a win...and I think this loss will be a GREAT coaching tool. I fully expect us to come out and play VERY WELL against TN on the 11th. Then, we'll have Vandy. It's very possible we could be playing Vandy for a potential tie-breaker in the East. That's crazy, but it's possible. They have Auburn, then Miss State. It's very possible that a 5-1 UGA could be squaring off against a 6-0 Vandy team. I know you guys think I'm crazy for saying Vandy could beat Auburn...but Auburn still hasn't proven themselves on offense....and Vandy has some good playmakers. I've always had a softspot for the boys from Nashville...and I hope they DO beat Auburn...because I'd love for them to still be firmly in the top 20 when we get them.

Look, take this weekend off. Go fishing or something. Keep your mind off your worries about the current state of UGA football. The Dawgs had a bad game. It happens. 3 other undefeated top-10 teams lost. UGA was the only one who lost to another top-10 team. Things aren't nearly as bad as your mind is making them out to be. Your dream of a National Title is not dashed. I doubt that the Big 12 AND Big 10 will serve up an undefeated team. If they do, well, we may not have a shot. But, if they don't, a 12-1 Dawg team would have the inside track to the title game (Especially since 1 of those 12 would come against an SEC West champ who will likely be the #2 team at the time).

It's still there in front of us. Calm Down.

Go Dawgs.

3 comments:

Don said...

I like this site and I liked your comments. If I didn't love the DAWGS as I do, I wouldn't give s____ but I DO love the DAWGS and it therefore is painful for me to see us play so ineptly. There was something that I would take issue with but what is the point in trying to beat up everybody for this loss. The coaches have a lot of coaching. I still don't understand why our second string QB doesn't play and I have no idea how you coach kids not to have penalties, especially personal fouls. Again, we should beat Tenn easily but Vandy gives us fit most every year. I hope we're not back to looking like we never knew what an offensive game plan was. I do not, by the way, take back what I wrote you earlier. And, by the way, I have a right to my opinion even if you don't like it or think it is not formed by experienced and knowledge of the game (it isn't) but it is my opinion. And as you said, "get over it."

I enjoyed your comments very much and I want to know how I can a site like this. Let me know.

Keep on writin'. Authors get criticized all the time. It's a part of that game. One reason is that we, the fans, need someone to vent upon, and you, the author is the recipient of that.

Go DAWGS,

dj

Don said...

Blogger Don said...

I'm correcting what I wrote originally.

I like this site and I liked your comments. If I didn't love the DAWGS as I do, I wouldn't give a s____ but I DO love the DAWGS and it therefore is painful for me to see us play so ineptly. There was something that I would take issue with but what is the point in trying to beat up everybody for this loss?

The coaches have a lot of coaching to do. I still don't understand why our second string QB doesn't play and I have no idea how you coach kids not to commit penalties, especially personal fouls. Again, we should beat Tenn easily but Vandy gives us fits most every year. I hope we're not back to looking like we never knew what an offensive game plan was. I do not, by the way, take back what I wrote you earlier. And, by the way, I have a right to my opinion even if you don't like it or think it is not formed by experienced and knowledge of the game (it isn't) but it is my opinion. And as you said, "get over it."

I enjoyed your comments very much and I want to know how I can obtain a site like this. Let me know.

Keep on writin'. Authors get criticized all the time. It's a part of that game. One reason is that we, the fans, need someone to vent upon, and you, the author and a former player is the recipient of that.

Go DAWGS,

dj

Kelly and Brad said...

Don,
I think that as you continue to read Dukes' blog you will see that his writing style is to focus on the big picture and not to dwell on the small stuff, in other words he encourages us to "get over it."
It's not always sunshine and when things go bad Dukes always keeps it real. I think he just wants to make sure we don't blow this one performance out of proportion, not that I could speak for Dukes, I suck at blogging.