Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Everyone keeps talking about LSU and Alabama. They're obviously the two best teams, no one's touched LSU, and the only team that Bama lost to IS LSU. So many people believe LSU and AL should be national title game, whether or not LSU is able to win the SEC Title Game on Saturday.
But allow me to interject this...
What if, just WHAT IF...UGA BEATS LSU? I don't mean "what if" Georgia wins the game...I mean "what if" Georgia puts up 35 points, and LSU puts up 14? What happens if Georgia forces three turnovers, jumps out to a big lead, and holds on the whole way? What if Georgia is the team that the locker room believes it is, and they stomp LSU?
Then what happens?
Well, I think there are a number of possibilities. First off, I think that the College Football World will implode. Shortly after that, the AJC writers will begin to claim that Mark Richt has the team on the Steroid Bus and that is the only reason for the turnaround because, you know, the guy can't coach.
After all of THAT is over, the pollsters just might be tempted to admit that Georgia is certainly the best 2-loss team in the nation. As we discussed yesterday, the issue with Georgia is that we don't have a "quality" win on our schedule, margins of victory be damned. A win Saturday, however, would change that in a hot second. Georgia, by virtue of its own win alone, would leap to no worse than #8 in the country. Then, however, we have to really start to look at those one-loss teams. Personally, I couldn't rank a team who didn't win its conference higher than the team who won that conference, provided the Champion had proven itself to be a quality team. Case in point...even if UCLA wins the Pac-12 somehow, there is no way I could rank them higher than Stanford or Oregon. On the other hand, Georgia was slow to start, but with a win over LSU, will have won 11 games in a row - capped off with a victory over the team everyone has agreed is the hands-down best team in the country. That's quality.
If Georgia beats LSU, I have to rank LSU behind the Dawgs. So, that puts Georgia at no worse than 7th, with the Tigers being 8th (I don't see how the pollsters allow their Annointed to fall that far...so that could be good for us). Then, you look at Alabama. They've been pretty impressive, too - but their one loss was in an all-evens OT battle to LSU. Again, in our fantasy here, Georgia has just dominated LSU. As a result, Bama would have to be ranked below Georgia. That pushes Georgia to no worse than sixth (and there's just no way the pollsters can drop AL AND LSU that far can they?).
Stanford, I believe, would get leaped by any conference champions at the end of the season due to their lack of a title, and lack of quality wins (UGA moves to 5th). So now, you have Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Boise State and Houston.
If OSU and VaTech win their conferences, and UGA has stomped LSU, I wouldn't be shocked to see OSU and VT in the National Title game. However, should one of those teams lose, that team would end up BEHIND Georgia as UGA is definitely the best 2-loss team in the country as evidenced by the win over LSU. So, Georgia is no worse than fourth. Should BOTH OSU and VT lose (a very strong possibility), Georgia should sit at no worse than 3rd.
So, then you have to ask yourself - are the pollsters going to put Houston and Boise into the National Title game....or would they even be able to, based on the computers? I do not know what all the numbers are, nor how they will be impacted by a Georgia Whipping of LSU. Many people would say, "we can't rank Georgia over Boise when Boise beat Georgia" - but the season that Georgia has had FOLLOWING that loss is much stronger than what Boise has done since that game - especially when you add beating LSU to the list of accomplishments. Boise's final automatic-win game this weekend won't do much to pad the resume' either.
So, I could see how a combination of the pollsters and the computer rankings could slide UGA into the #2 spot for a shot at the title.
Yes, I know this is all ridiculous.
But, if this weekend is one of the craziest in College Football history; if Georgia dominates LSU; if the one-loss "would be" champs lose their final games; if the pollsters finally get over the fact that UGA dropped 2 games at the beginning of the season (don't they always say - if you're gonna lose, you gotta lose early?) - then you could quite possibly maybe see the 11-2 Georgia Bulldogs playing in the BCS Title Game.
I really need to stop getting drunk on Tuesday Morning.
Monday, November 28, 2011
I've been reading over some of the other blogs out there, and the guys are doing good work trying to disprove the meme that Georgia hasn't beaten anyone of significance. They're working feverishly to show that our schedule isn't that dissimilar from those of Alabama and LSU. The Dawg Bloggers are pushing the concept that UGA is an elite team and can compete with elite teams.
The problem is, the world ain't havin' none of that.
I've watched Georgia's ranking stay very stagnant over the recent weeks, and even I have to admit I'm a bit surprised at the national media's reluctance to move us up. They say that in the college football world today, you have to lose early. Well, Georgia did that. Georgia lost both of its games at the onset of the season, and hasn't been too well-challenged since. The two "top" teams (AU, GT) we've played since starting 0-2 were both full-bore blowouts. Still, because we lost to Boise, no one wants to give this Georgia team any credit.
And that's fine.
Look at yourself honestly and ask if Georgia DESERVES credit right now. We don't REALLY deserve more than we're getting, based on our record and opponents.
Being a two-loss team, the highest we could possibly be ranked this week would be #8, behind all the undefeated and 1-loss squads. This means we would have to be ranked above 2-loss Arkansas, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas State, South Carolina and Michigan State (And if you're a fan of the AP poll, USC). Now, I know that most Georgia fans out there believe that we're the best 2-loss team in the nation. And well, conventional wisdom would state that we lost our two games early and have only progressed, while many of the other 2-loss teams have had their troubles very recently and deserve to fall behind us.
However, when you start to break things down and compare, you find this:
Arkansas is 10-2, with losses only to the #1 and #2 teams. Both losses were absolute blowouts, but in Voters' minds, that doesn't matter. They beat 5 teams that we beat, and one that we didn't...and the box scores on those games look better than our box scores. So, they'll still be ahead of us.
Oregon is 10-2, with losses to the #1 team, and perennial media golden-shower recipient USC. They have also completely dominated the other 10 teams they've faced, including number 4, Stanford.
Oklahoma is 9-2 with a game to play and a "quality' win over 2-loss KSU. They also hold wins over Texas and FSU, who were preseason top-15 teams, but now have 8-4 records. I still don't understand the hype machine still pushing Oklahoma, especially after the first-ever loss to Baylor. Wow. That's like Tennessee losing to Kentucky (oops).
Kansas State is 9-2 with a game to play and holds losses to both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State (top 10 schools). Still, it took 4 OT periods to dispatch a 6-6 Texas A&M squad. This is another head-scratcher. They're getting love for love's sake.
South Carolina is 10-2 with losses to Ark and Auburn, but they hold a victory over us...so we really can't be THAT upset about them being ahead of us in the polls. Remember, most voters don't watch football games.
Michigan State is 10-2 with a loss to ND and a blowout loss to Nebraska. Sparty also holds victories over two top-16 programs in Wisconsin and Michigan. So, they get the edge over us.
To be real, you could make the argument that Oklahoma and Kansas State should be ranked behind Georgia and Michigan State, but that really only moves the Dawgs up two spots. All we've done since the third game of the season kicked off is win, that's true. But we don't have a single top-25 quality win to show for it. As a result, the voters aren't moving us anywhere. In their minds, we simply aren't the best 2-loss team in the country.
Unless, of course, we do what #2, #8, and #9 have failed to do - Beat LSU...
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Today, I visited the Grit Tree to learn about Corbindawgs "biggest fear" coming into this last stretch of season. What I read did not sit well with me, so I posted a comment stating as much. Some came to his defense, and Corbin himself asked me to expand on what I did not like. My response became a bit of a diatribe, so I decided to not only leave it on his board, but to repost it here. Basically, it touches on something that many of my readers know is a peeve of mine, and that is the Georgia Fanbase's steadfast desire to be cynical and negative. Below is the answer I left Corbindawg (with an edit-added question to kick it off)
[Whatever happened to fans believing their team would always win in the end?]
"I want to believe, but I've been let down in the past...so...so...PLEASE don't let me get let down again."
I don't get that. I don't understand your own line, "Being a Georgia fan has made me somewhat jaded?" For what purpose? The team is there to entertain you, and bring home wins. For the VAST MAJORITY of its existence, the University of Georgia football team has done just that. Do they win 'em all? No, they don't. But, for the past decade and a half, UGA has fielded good, competitive teams.
AND YES - I'M INCLUDING 2009 and 2010 in that.
Those were ugly seasons. But the teams involved were pretty good teams. Georgia made too many mistakes from which it couldn't recover last season, and the defense was one in transition. The mistakes became coaching points and the defense has solidified. This is what has resulted in higher wins this season.
Either way, what bothers me about this post, and about Georgia fans in general, is the overwhelming NEED to be negative so that you don't get your hopes up. It's like the entire mass of you was brainwashed by Vince Dooley and Larry Munson, and you can't enjoy success when you have it. Even in 2005, the most common thread I heard in talking to UGA fans was that it was a "good" year, but not a "great" one because we lost to Florida and missed out on a National Championship berth.
I'm glad I didn't grow up a Georgia Fan, because I'd have to wallow in that same mysery, apparently. No, I became a Georgia fan the first time I stepped on campus as a student, and I've never looked back. In that time, I've seen us go bowling every single year. I was a part of some great games, including a win over tennessee that ended an 8-year drought against the Vols, I've seen my own friends hoist SEC Championship trophies, I've seen the team climb to the peaks, suffer through the valleys, and now begin a climb again.
Is that anything to be scared of? Hell no. It's something to look forward to.
I received an email last night from a friend who is not "sold" on Mark Richt as our coach. Mind you, this friend is not someone who jumped on the Georgia bandwagon in '05 or '07. He's not even a fan who's been around just since my time donning the red and black and has thus seen a quick rise and fall in a coach. This is a man who attended college with Vince Dooley. He's seen ups, and downs. He's seen a coach who struggled and then found prominence. He's seen that at least twice, in fact. In his email, my friend stated proudly that he is not a passenger on the Mark Richt bandwagon which is "straining with the weight of fans jumping aboard." To quote:
"...when it comes to a Mark Richt coached team, I make haste slowly to climb aboard as I have not seen consistency yet. And once burned, twice shy."
Over 100 victories in 11 seasons, and there's no consistency. At the cusp of UGA's 4th SEC East title in 10 years, and no consistency. Series dominance over every rival outside of Florida, and there's no consistency. And this man calls ME delusional. (It's funny that "delusional" is nearly always used in conjunction with optimism, while the term for unbridled pessimism is "realistic")
He goes on to say,
"...keep in mind that people like me caused the famous "hot seat." And the hot seat caused Richt to get off his butt and coach after a semi-furlough of six years. For without me and my brethren, Richt would have stayed fast asleep and the downward tumble would have continued."Now THERE is someone desperately clinging to a need for importance. What's frightening about this point of view is that it is a shared one. There has been plenty of Anti-Richt sentiment over the past few years, and now that the team is good again, there is similarly a good deal of chest-thumping by those who "made obvious the fact that changes were necessary." Still, even the guys over at Sports And Grits don't go so far as to say the steaming piles of excrement spewed forth on their pages were the de facto cause of Richt righting his ship.
Of particular annoyance in all of this is the concept that Richt had no idea his teams were faring poorly. In calling Richt "asleep at the wheel", as my friend has done numerous times, he implies that Richt has been perfectly happy keeping things at a status quo, making no changes, making no moves, just praying for the best, and being ok with the worst.
What Mark Richt has he been watching?!?
All along, Richt has acknowledged the team's failures, and has maintained his position that the coaches, as a staff, were working to correct the problems. Some of those problems lay in the talent department - both in coaches and in players. In the past two years, there has been a very high amount of turnover in both areas. It appears that turnover has been for the best. I've been through the entire "Why Martinez lasted as long as he did" debate, so if you're hoping to make a point that Richt waited too long on that one, go elsewhere.
By suggesting that the "fan uproar" over the results in the past two years is what caused Richt to fire coaches, to release players, and to take a different outlook on how he prepares his team for games is a disservice to the man. In fact, it's blatantly disrespectful. Mark Richt knows how to win ballgames. Does our fanbase actually believe that in the face of NOT winning ballgames that he wouldn't sit down and diagnose what's going wrong? Do the other bloggers out there actually think that he scours the inter-webs hoping to find some kind of football rosetta stone that will explain these newfangled x's and o's that have so obviously passed him by? I for one loved it when Richt told that fan "I know what the Hell I'm doing." I can only imagine the frustration he must feel, when he's working hard to fix a problem, and still getting stuck in some areas, and then some Jack-Hole Know-It-All fan gets in his face with his opinion of the job Richt is doing.
When we were in the throws of loserdom, I told people to be cautious about abandoning Richt...if for no other reason than to save themselves the feelings of foolishness when they returned to his coattails. When you've seen as much football as I have, when you've been (oh crap, he's gonna say it) "In The Arena", you start to understand that the Ws and the Ls do not tell the whole story. Over a career, there will be many of both. You don't play football in a vacuum, and just as you change what you're doing, your opponents are going to be changing what THEY are doing as well. Your team may be great, and still lose four games due to bad bounces. Your team and coaching may be horrible, but get lucky enough through good bounces, or limited stellar personnel that you end up hoisting a crystal trophy. Over the long-run, though, you're gonna be what you're gonna be. With Richt leading the way, the Dawgs are going to be a solid program.
As it stands today, the Dawgs are poised for an SEC Title-game berth. They're ready to go 10/11 against GT. They're ready to fight for a BCS bowl. And no pessimist, no blogger, no "hotseat hothead" had one damn thing to do with it.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
A win Saturday gives UGA the outright Eastern Division title. That'll send us to Atlanta. It'll also be the fourth time in the past ten years (2002-2011) that Mark Richt has taken the Dawgs to the title game. Know what other coach has taken one team to the title game that many times in the past ten years?
If your answer is NOBODY, then you are correct!
Should LSU make the title game, it will be the Tigers' fourth appearance in the past decade. But, the first of those appearances was under Nick Saban.
Should Alabama make the title game, it will be Saban's fourth go....but only his third with Alabama.
Should Arkansas make the title game...well, there will likely be looting in Fayetteville.
Urban Meyer, Mark Richt and Nick Saban have all made the game three times, and won twice. Still, many consider Meyer and Saban to be far and away better coaches than Mark Richt, because they have also claimed BCS titles to go along with the SEC titles. Splitting hairs, I believe.
I'm still in awe that there were those who wanted him fired (and some who still do). Damn glad to have Coach Mark Richt guiding this program. Glad he took out the trash in the offseason. Glad he made the hires he needed to make. Glad he stopped taking guff from pundits who accused him of not knowing how to coach a game that had "passed him by."
Damn Good Dawg, that MR.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Though our team continues to win, and we continue to put up points, there are still many detractors out there who want to point at Mike Bobo as an inefficient playcaller. They do not believe he has what it takes to be an offensive coordinator at the level that UGA needs him to be. They believe his offense is too predictable, too easy to scheme against.
I think they should talk to Ted Roof about that. He said that they prepared all week against what we came out and did - they simply could not stop us. THAT, my friends, is what you want in an offensive football team. There is nothing more demoralizing to a defense than seeing exactly what you prepared all week to stop.....and having no ability to stop it. Now, to be fair, I've said all season that Auburn is pure garbage. In fact, I had an open facebook argument with a former High School teammate who played at Auburn while I was playing at UGA about that very fact. After their whooping at the hands of LSU, he told me that they aren't a bad team, but rather that LSU will make many teams LOOK bad this year. It was nice on Saturday to send him a message telling him not to worry, and that UGA is simply going to make a lot of teams LOOK bad this year.
Anyway, I've taken fire as of late for supporting Mike Bobo. I've been told we're only succeeding because of our schedule...that he wouldn't look good if we weren't playing crap teams. Sure, you can say that...you can also look at the combined W-L totals of AL and LSU's opponents, and say the same thing. So, I decided to do another quick look at the stats for this season. I looked at 9 of our games, excluding Coastal Carolina because they're not D-I. I used ONLY the offensive stats from those games, and compared them to each opponent's adjusted season average. When I say adjusted, I mean that I removed the effects of the UGA games on those averages so that I could get a good picture of what our opponents' defenses have given up against EVERYONE ELSE. Below is a table of my findings.
As you can see, Bobo's offense has been outperforming the average offense against our opponents in the vast majority of instances. Only twice have we failed to score as many points as the opponent surrenders on average - and those were both wins. Of particular note is the success our offense had against the defenses in the first two games. Yes, those were both losses. However, our offense scored 25 more points against South Carolina than they surrender on average. We were only a field-goal better than average against Boise, but better all the same.
Against the 9 opponents we've faced, our offense averages 70 more ypg and 9 more ppg than the defenses we face surrender. Exactly how is that bad?
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
A challenge was placed in front of me by someone who calls me a homer, insisting that I simply have a case of "Former Coach Love" for Mike Bobo. I guess I should first say that yeah, Mike was a grad assist while I was a player at UGA...but I don't know how that would create "Former Coach Love" from me. If anything, I should be dedicating this blog to Rodney Garner (my coach) and talking about what a wonderful job he's done putting guys into the NFL over the past decade.
Nah, I just look at the games.
Anyway, he challenged me to look at what Bobo's offenses have done in "Big Games"
UGA v VT, Bowl game...VT's Scoring defense ranked 1st in the nation. We scored 31 points...nearly 3 full touchdowns more than their average of 11.
Hard to really pick the "big games" in this one...I mean, we opened with OKSt, and put 35 on them...beat AL in overtime with 26 points, smacked AU to the tune of 45 (I think only 31 were by the offense) I'd say the Sugar Bowl was kind of a big game. 34 points in that one. (Admittedly, Hawaii wasn't a great defense). In hindsight, most people would call South Carolina and Tennessee the "biggest" games on the schedule, primarily because winning either of those games would have put us in the SEC title game. We did not perform well in either game.
Alabama was a pretty big game. We didn't win. We did score nearly 10 points more than the average surrendered by their defense. TN had a top-10 defense in 2008...and we bested their average surrendered by nearly 10 as well. We fell short in the FL game...and despite hanging 42 points on Georgia Tech, we lost that "big game" due to the inability of our defense to stop the option (or the inability of Reshad Jones to knock someone out of bounds - take your pick).
The 2009 offense could be called the "Awfulfense". Honestly, it was garbage. It is worth noting that we faced only one top-10 defense (FL), and we bettered their average points surrendered by 4.5 points. However, we also failed to do that four times (OSU-L, ASU-W, LSU-L, TN-L). I think many would agree, on the other hand, that when your Quarterback consistently makes bad decisions (as evidenced by 17 interceptions), it is tough for any system to be effective.
I do not have the data on all the defenses as I write this post, but I'll take a quick look at the games...We were definitely dogged out against South Carolina. Against Arkansas, we scored 24 and lost. Against Colorado, we scored 27 and lost. Against Florida, we scored 31 and lost. Against Auburn, we scored 31 and lost. Against Georgia Tech, a game we HAD to win in order to reach a bowl game, we scored 42 points.
Ok...which ones are we calling the "big" games this year? Surely Boise is a big game. We only scored 21. Their opponents are averaging 16.8. Exactly one opponent has scored more than us against them. South Carolina is a big game. We scored 42 points and lost because our players made too many mistakes. Want to hang that one on Bobo? I'd say the Florida game was a big one. We scored 24. They average giving up around 19.
So, I'd say that in retrospect, Bobo's offenses really haven't done that poorly in the big games.
But what do I know? I'm just a homer, with a bunch of data to support what I say.