Tuesday, November 27, 2018

But can you beat them... TWICE

Greetings, Dawgfans.

I will not discuss my multi-year absence today for there are greater topics to ponder than precisely what preoccupations have pulled me from penning more prolifically, particularly pertaining to last season’s postseason partytime.  No, I want to focus on something else.


Ala Damn Bama.

I’ve been reading a number of articles and blogs over the past few days concerning the upcoming SEC Title Tilt, and most seem to have the same basic conclusion: Yes, Georgia can beat Bama.  I tend to agree with that sentiment, though I’m not exactly sure why.  When we boil it down to the eyeball test, AL is a cut above every competition they face, and any we’ve faced.  I’ve seen it.  I was in the stadium when we lost the National Title Game last season.

I was there, sitting with my mother, on her 70th birthday.  It was my first National Title Game, my first time watching the Dawgs play for it all.. and I had flown from California to Georgia for the express purpose of taking my mother to that game for her birthday.  A friend, a BAMA fan no less, had secured tickets for me.  I got a good deal on plane tickets.  I found a hotel with decent rates, and parking directly across the street from the stadium on a horribly rainy day.  It was as if everything was all coming together perfectly - and then everything came apart.  We had no answer for Tua.  Our offense couldn’t get out of the mud.  Saban’s second half was a clinic on how it’s damn done.

I remember the elation after that sack... and I remember the deflation at the touchdown.  And I remember thinking, in that moment.. “Damn.  We were just THAT close to everything... but we just couldn’t beat BAMA.”

Many fan bases and many teams have felt the sting of that same realization, and I know it has been sitting with this fan base and this team for nearly a year.  And I know that often times Revenge Games work out very well for the team that has the chip on its shoulder... and I have read the reasoning behind thinking UGA has a shot to pull off the upset this weekend.

We’re Peaking at the right time.
Our Yards Per Play is high.
Our Offensive success rate is high.
Our Passing Efficiency is high.
Our Defense has improved immensely.

Etc etc etc.

And all of that may be true - but I feel as though I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this one simple fact.  It’s not the SEC Championship that this fan base and this team feels starved for.  It is the National Championship - the marker that has eluded UGA since that 1980 season.  13-1 wasn’t good enough in 2002.  10-2 wasn’t good enough for a #2 spot and a BCS berth in 2007.  Bama knocked us out in 2012 and 2017.

Good ol’ Bama.  Ever since Matt Stafford put them away in one play of OT (2007), we haven’t been able to get over that hump.  0-4 since, twice in season, twice in post-season.

Now, in order to get that elusive National Championship, UGA will have to beat BAMA... and most likely, we’ll have to do it twice.  We’ll need to twice beat a tea that has lost 2 games since late September of 2015.

Maybe Kirby and Company can put it all together on December 1st.  Perhaps the statistical trends continue (though no one we have played since LSU has an even close to comparable defense) and we pull off that victory.  Let’s assume for a moment that we can actually get that done.  There’s no telling what the Playoff Committee will come up with after the championship games are all played, but I suspect it will be UGA at 3 and AL at 4... setting up a potential rematch in the Natty.

That would be UGAvAL III and this time, THEY would be the team looking for revenge.  THEY would be the team with the chip on their shoulder.  THEY would be the team seeking redemption in the form of hardware, and we would be the team again defending the SEC and again looking to unseat the All-Time Title Holders as this year’s Champion.

Given all that, do you think we could beat Bama.... twice?

Well hell, why not?  We beat both Florida AND Kentucky twice this year.  Might as well make it a hat-trick.


Friday, September 9, 2016

The Games That Don't Matter

Nicholls State, or Nicholls, as they apparently prefer to be called (and who am I to argue?) comes knocking tomorrow morning.  I will climb out of bed somewhere in the neighborhood of 7am, walk my dogs, maybe even have a little pre-game warmup (read: Whiskey)... and then head over to the local bar to take in what should be, in no uncertain terms, a cake walk.  No one is expecting much out of Nicholls, even Nicholls.  They are coming to the slaughterhouse, and leaving with a nice big check.

Eason will start.  He gets his first start at home, with a very friendly crowd.  Unlike in recent years, this will probably be a full stadium (at least by the start of the 2nd quarter, when the hair-of-the-dawg students shake off the cobwebs and roll in).  With the size and skill match-ups heavily favoring the Dawgs, it is likely that he will have a barn-burner of a day.

The new offensive line will get another game to gel.

The defense will face an offensive "attack" which struggled mightily to score points last season.

I heard we may be auditioning cheerleaders at kicker.

This is one of those games that doesn't matter.

But it does.

This game matters to a great many in that stadium.  It's Kirby Smart's first home game in Athens since 1999.  That matters.  It's the first start for Jacob Eason, possibly the season's first appearance of Sony Michel.  That matters.   It's an undefeated team's next challenge.  That matters.

But, much of the enthusiasm for those storylines will wane before the second-half kickoff.  For certain people in the stadium, though, that will be when the game begins to heat up.  There are players on that team, and parents in the stands, and people watching at home... who are LIVING for the second half of UGA-Nicholls.  There are freshmen who weren't among the most highly-touted recruits, but who have worked right alongside them through the spring and summer... they'll only see that field if the DAWGS show up to play ball.  There are seniors who have pushed themselves for four and five years to work up to this moment.  There are parents who have never been to a big-time college football game before who will be so swallowed up in the atmosphere, they may almost miss the moment their boy runs out of the tunnel for the first time.

And, if there are any parents like those who birthed this writer, there will be an aging man sitting on a couch in a lakehouse, watching the game in air conditioned comfort, who leaps from his seated position when the camera catches a glimpse of his boy running onto the field for his first action.  You see, that boy isn't supposed to play at UGA.  He's undersized.  He's less than spectacularly talented.  He's just happy to wear the G on his helmet, and be in the presence of it all.

These games, though - these are the games when that boy - that young man - that football player - gets a few shining moments to live out a dream.  These are the games when all the two-a-days, all the 4am workouts, all the sprints, all the mat-drills, all the pain that comes with wearing the red and black just falls away, and the player gets to be a kid again.  He'll get to go out on that field and compete, and he'll do so with a confidence that Jacob Eason and Nick Chubb and Dominick Sanders will never feel - because he'll know that no matter what happens, no matter what HE does... there is absolutely NO WAY that he can cause UGA to lose this game... because we'll be waaaaay too far ahead by the time he gets in.

People often laugh about these games.  The only way these games matter, they believe, is if we somehow lose, or if some superstar gets hurt.  But there are over 100 kids on that team.. and for some, this may be the only game they play all season.  Even for the starters, it's only 1 of 15 (max).  Think for a moment if the thing you love most to do in the world, you're only able to do 15 times in a year.  Wouldn't that matter?

Everyone has chalked up a win for UGA.  We're ranked in the top 10.  (And, let me pause here for a second.  We're ranked in the top 10 now.  The Top 10.  We come back to defeat a basketball school in a game played in our own state, and we jump into the Top Freaking 10.  No, we don't jump into the top 10... we do some kind of Olympic Decathlete Sprinting Long Jump into the sandy pit at the top of the collegiate football landscape.  Seriously, I almost wrote a completely separate blog about the fact that one win somehow vaulted us 9 positions in the polls - a sign that either, despite what was a less than stellar overall performance, we're drastically better than anyone could have foreseen - or just further proof that preseason polls are absolute horseshit.  But, I digress.)  We're going to win, and we should win big.  This game will look more like Mark Richt's debut at Miami than it will any home opener we can remember in quite some time.  But, I implore you not to turn your TV off or get involved in a drunken, heated, Trump-Clinton debate in the second half.  Watch the game.  It matters.

Go Dawgs.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

New Beginnings...

This morning, a good many UGA fans woke up with a fantastic feeling in their collective gut.  There is a feeling of hope, and of pride.  There is a sense of change and a "return to glory."  I get that.  I was wrapping up my Senior Season at UGA when Jim Donnan was fired.  I remember very well Mark Richt coming into UGA.  That first season was a turbulent one.  8-4 was not a stellar record (it was what got the last guy fired)... but it featured a landmark victory at Tennessee.  When the Hobnail Boot went down, the UGA Faithful stood up and dared to believe that the change that had come would usher in a new era.

It did.

I moved to Los Angeles in early 2002, and for an entire football season, drove 90 minutes or so in some of the worst traffic I'd ever seen to sit in a bar full of Dawgs and watch our first SEC Title Season in 20 years come down the pipes.  I remember the magic, the chest-thumping, the breath-stealing moments of that season.  I remember women swooning over Mark Richt each time the cameras caught the Head Man on the sidelines.  I remember an undue sense of pride in the accomplishments of a team that (though I had been a part of it only 2 years prior, and though many of my friends still were on the field) I was simply watching.  It dawned on me then what my new role was.

I was a supporter, and that was all.

For 15 seasons I supported Mark Richt's Bulldogs, and the Head Man himself.  I was no blind-follower, though.  I questioned decisions.  I critiqued.  I would not give in too quickly to undue hype, though I did commonly predict undefeated seasons.  I was ever faithful that these teams would deliver, and often understanding when games didn't quite go our way.  I held on until the end.

The End came.

I stayed away from the blogosphere for the offseason - I didn't pay much attention to our signees.  I didn't watch the G-Day game.  I didn't read what was happening at summer camp.  I went on with my life.  And so, I rode into yesterday curious.  There were some known factors.. our O-Line would be a question mark.  Chubb would hopefully be back to form.  Glambert would be Glambert.  And Kirby Smart... a man under whose coaching eye (GradAssist at the time) I spent a single season as a football player, would be taking the first steps in his journey as a Head Coach at the same school.

Sitting here the morning after, I look back on the new beginnings we saw yesterday, and I am pleased.

Nick Chubb begins again - yes, we all knew what he COULD do.  We all knew the beast he WAS... but that was a season ago, before his knee was bent in directions usually reserved for Russian Circus Performers.  He ripped off 222 yards and 2 TDs, with his final run being the biggest.  That 55-yard burst was what we had been waiting for since October.  He looked good earlier in the game, breaking a few tackles, but perhaps protecting his knee in some moments where previously he wouldn't have given it a second thought.  But on that play, he took the toss, he hit the hole, and he ratcheted up another gear to beat EVERYONE to the end zone.  Nick Chubb was back, and the next chapter of his career at UGA has begun.  He was a Freshman Phenom, then the Heir-Apparent... and now he truly is a Comeback Kid.

Brian Herrien begins with a bang.  Kirby was apparently near tears when Herrien's first carry went for an 18-yard score.  This is a quality kid.  He received no offers because no college thought he'd be able to qualify, and in today's climate, coaches don't take chances on kids they don't think can show up and help them win in the fall.  But, this kid wanted to come to UGA BADLY.  So he worked his tail off, got his grades up, and got his offer.  All the talk had been about Holyfield... but an injury prevented him from going.  So when Chubb needed a rest, (and Douglas was no longer the best option due to his fumble), the staff sent Herrien in.  Sometimes people say the championship attitude comes down to "Want To."  This kid has Want To oozing out of his ears.

Jacob Eason begins as a hero.  Sure, he split snaps with Lambert.  Sure, the majority of the fanbase has already anointed him as the future of UGA football.  Sure, he would have had to have come out and been outright awful for the base to turn on him.  But still... an 18-year old kid stepping off the bench to lead the offense to a victory over a Top-25 opponent in a foreign stadium in his very first appearance?  Tossing the longest pass since Gurley hit a 50-yard bomb in '14?  That's the kind of thing that births mythology.  I'm not sitting here saying Eason should start every game from here on in - because I don't believe that.  I believe that he should do what the coaches plan for him to do.  What we saw out there wasn't Eason defying odds.  It was Eason following his coaching, and a very carefully scripted package of plays.  His role will expand, and it will come along as it is directed by the coaching staff... but this was a fitting beginning for The Future.

The Special Teams Unit begins as a pumpkin.  Maybe they'll be the ride we want to show up to the dance in someday, but we're gonna need more magic than we got yesterday if they're gonna take Cinderella to the Crystal Ball.  Ham's kicks were the stuff nightmares are made of, and that kick-6, well... isn't that exactly the thing that a Special Teams Coordinator was supposed to be able to prevent?

Mo Smith begins as a Harbinger of Tomorrow.  He left Alabama because he couldn't get playing time, and became a starter at UGA after only a few weeks of practice.  What does that say?  It says that UGA's depth chart needs work, and Mo is the kind of player we want to see.  Kirby Smart came to UGA as a brilliant recruiter from AL, and if he can close a living room anywhere close to how Saban does at Bama, the talent in Athens should be on an upswing.  That's not to say we haven't had great classes in recent years... we have.  But, even though you're top 15 in the nation, if you're only #5 or #6 in the SEC, it's easy to see why division and conference titles are tough to come by.  Mo has things on which he needs to improve, that was obvious - he has to be stronger in setting the edge, his play recognition can still use some brushing up... but his mid-play recovery is excellent, and that's something we'll need when we face teams like Auburn and Tech who love deception.

The Defense begins as a WiP.  Overall, our defense allowed 17 points.  You can't hate that.  Yes, 24 on the scoreboard due to the Great Pumpkin, but the actual Scrimmage Defense allowed 17 points to a (as judged by no merit, but preseason hype only) top 25 team.  The D-Line HAS to improve.  The Front 7 overall HAS to improve.  I sat in a bar watching the game, and on a nearby TV was USC-BAMA.  There is a marked difference between UGA and the gold standard of SEC football.  Those guys play with their hair on fire and a swagger usually reserved for the only post-pubescent kid in the junior high locker room.  The Georgia Front-7 ain't there yet.  We have the talent to get there... and in games when the Big10 officiating crew isn't ignoring o-line holding like a mother ignores her child's obvious flaws, we may actually find a pass rush.  Still, there needs to be a bigger sense of urgency.  Again, something that (according to our fanbase) plagued Richt's teams seems to still be an issue.  If we find a Pass-Rush and spend a little more time wrapping up big backs, this defense could be very solid.  

Finally, Kirby Smart, who played for the same Head Coach as me at UGA, who coached (Grad Assist) me at UGA, has returned to UGA and is 1-0 in his first season as a Head Coach.  The first one is under his belt, and I'm certain he'll never forget it.  He inherited a good team, and it is now his job to make it a great one.  He's definitely started off on the right foot.

Maybe I'll get to support HIM for 15 years.  One can only hope.

To new beginnings.

Go Dawgs.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

How good was Pruitt...really...?

This post was originally going to be a feel good piece about why there's plenty of reason to look forward to next season.  I was going to heap heavy praise on Jeremy Pruitt for his work with the defense over the past two seasons, and I was going to talk about how 2015 would become another blip on the radar for Mark Richt's historical career.

That's all over now.  

And to be honest, maybe that's a good thing.  I'll admit I'm a bit lost today.  I'm not happy at all about what happened with Mark Richt, but I will support the next coach whomever he may be (even if he happens to be a former graduate assistant for whom I have no personal love).  

With pained eyes, I did a little research into Pruitt's 2015 season.  I'll admit I didn't dig deeply into 2014 or how the numbers stacked up against Grantham.  Maybe I would have done that if I were trying to glean excitement for next season.  But, since I don't know who the head coach is going to be (though I think 99% of Dawg fans have an idea), and since I don't know who that coach will select as DC (though I have little reason to believe it will be Pruitt, since he was pulled from the recruiting trail), I won't bring that kind of enthusiasm.  I'll just lay out the raw Data, and talk a little about what I found: 

In the sheet above, what you'll find is our opponents' average offensive performance for the season as well as how they performed against UGA.  The green that you see is where Pruitt's defense did a markedly better job at stopping the opposing offense.  Yellow is where you see a marginal difference (either positive or negative).  Red is where the UGA defense performed markedly worse than the field against our opponents.  

As you might expect, in our three losses, we surrendered more points than the field against our opponents.

I found it interesting, though, that there only three games in which our Defense performed drastically better than the field in all three categories.  By our raw statistics, we are a "top 10" defense... but the eyeball test didn't really give us that against the true competitors on our schedule, and this quick look doesn't give me that feeling either.  It's fair to think ULM would have done a little more damage to these stats if the game had gone the distance.  Vanderbilt and Tennessee both did a good job lighting up our passing defense.  I dare say Alabama didn't get more yardage...simply because they didn't have to.  

Part of me wants to believe that Pruitt really had our boys moving in the right direction - that we were coaching them up well, and that we were on the cusp of being where we needed to be in as much as a Championship Defense is concerned.  

But in our three losses, the eyeball and the statistical test gives me problems with that thinking.  Yes, I know that against AL and TN there were breakdowns on offense and ST that are included in the Score numbers - but they aren't included in the other numbers (rushing/passing).   Not only that, but if you're going to be Championship Defense, your defense shouldn't hope to be "doing what the field does" against opposing offenses.  Your Defense had better be stifling the opposing offense... because if your defense is "just as good as the average" you ain't gonna win a title.  

If Pruitt was truly just aided by a better schedule, then perhaps the writing was already on the wall for Richt.  Since the beginning of his career as an HC, Coordinator hires have been where he's caught the most flack.  Martinez, Grantham, Bobo (great OC, but maligned by the fanbase), Schotty... that's not a great track record - if Pruitt was simply gilded and not solid gold, then perhaps it's best we're starting anew - because we weren't headed where we wanted to go anyway. 


Or perhaps it was only the second season for Pruitt...and his (very young) boys were learning... and holding Kentucky, Auburn, GSU and Tech FAR below their season averages shows just where the D was headed.  

I guess the question shouldn't have been "How bad were the offenses we faced in November" but rather "How much WORSE did we make them look?"

Kentucky, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech, on average, scored 3 TDs more against the field than they did against UGA.  Auburn, on average, scored 2 TDs more.  That's the kind of performance you expect out of a Championship Defense.  

Either way, it's this Dawgfan's belief that the point is moot.  Pruitt is likely gone.  If the last month of the season is any indication, though, the cupboard is stocked with guys who can shut offenses down.  The question will be - can the new guy coach 'em up?  Pruitt could.

Go Dawgs.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

It could get much, much worse before it gets better ...

I'm furiously refreshing my feed to see if Schotty has been fired.  I don't think it will happen.  I could be wrong.  I'm just a Georgia fan sitting in Los Angeles typing into a computer and have absolutely no barometer for what happens inside the walls of Butts-Mehre.  But, I don't want you to believe this is a post about our much-maligned Offensive Coordinator.  It is not.

Many UGA Faithful today are looking forward to January...not because our Beloved Dawgs will be playing in a major bowl, but because Jacob Eason will be enrolling at UGA.  Now, there are many detractors who would say it doesn't matter.  They would say that there is no way that Richt and Co would start a true freshman when there's a 5th-year senior who won 9 (possibly 10) games and protected the ball well on the roster.  They would say that Eason won't be able to learn the offense quickly enough to unseat him.

I disagree.  First, four weeks was apparently long enough for Lambert to learn the offense and surpass all existing UGA QBs on the roster.  Second, starting a true freshman phenom is something Richt loves to do.  Plus, he is beyond the "redshirt a kid just to redshirt him" phase of his career.  If Eason redshirts, it will likely be because he isn't good enough to beat out Lambert (or Bauta)... and if he isn't good enough to beat those guys out, then UGA is in serious trouble, as is Richt.

So, I fully expect Jacob Eason to start for UGA next season.

That could be trouble.

In 2006, the season after our last SEC title, we welcomed Matt Stafford to campus.  Our season was a 9-4 affair (including a bowl win), with early wins against garbage teams, and then a 3-win streak against ranked opponents to close the season.  It took Stafford a while to truly take hold of what Richt and Bobo were teaching him, and we didn't see him lock in on the starting job until later in the season (Joe Cox and Joe Tereshinski also started at QB that year).

In 2010, Aaron Murray burst onto the scene, and went 6-6 before dropping the bowl game to the UCF Golden Knights.  UCF.  Seriously.  Now, it happens that 2010 was an 11-3 season for UCF, seated between a couple of stinkers, but still...  2010 was a particularly troubling year in UGA history, as we went 0-5 against ranked teams.

The past two seasons, UGA hasn't had spectacular QB play.  Now, that's not to discount what Mason did in 2014.  He held a 4-1 mark against Top 25 teams, a high completion percentage, high efficiency, etc.  He did what he had to do to win in most cases ... just not in ENOUGH cases to get us to Atlanta.

This year, our QB play has been nothing outside of sad.  I'm not talking about completion percentages (which is actually in the mid-60's and serviceable).  I'm not talking about turnovers, as Lambert has only 2 INTs all season.  I'm talking about truly PLAYING the position of QB.  Too often, Lambert has proven to not be a clutch QB.  He consistently checks-down to underneath receivers when we need long gains.  He misses open receivers on deep balls, and sometimes doesn't see them altogether.  Now, perhaps that checking down has enabled us to scratch out some wins because he has protected the ball.  It's hard to say, because you can't play the "what if" game.  Still, there's a spark that Lambert is missing, and many are hoping that it rests in the body of Jacob Eason.

Still, hoping that Jacob Eason will solve all the ills of a UGA offense that can't get out of its own way is folly.  It is unlikely that Eason will come in and lead UGA to Atlanta.  I won't call it impossible, because I'm not an imbecile.  It is unlikely.  We will still have Chubb, Michel, Blazevich, Godwin, Mackenzie, Chigbu, etc.  We will still have a defense that has improved its numbers over those of the squad that went 4-1 against top 25 teams last season.  Of course, they've faced only 2 top-25 teams this season, and gave up over 50 points to them.

Eason will have the job of "Hey man, don't screw it up."  His first priority will be to protect the ball.  His second priority will be to distribute it to playmakers.  The offense will probably look very vanilla as he gets his feet under him.  The fans will call for Schotty's (or insert name of whatever OC follows, because you know...it's definitely going to be HIS fault) head.  The defense will have to carry us.

It's quite possible that games against North Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech will be very scary.  Going 4-2 against those squads would be a blessing.  Going 3-3 is more likely, and going 1-5 is quite possible.

It could get worse, folks.  It could get much much worse.

But hope springs eternal, and I predict Eason leads the Dawgs to a 15-0 season and a National Title...because screw reality.  This is football, and conjecture is far more entertaining.

Go Dawgs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Curious Case of Mark Richt

Here we go again.

"Fire Mark Richt - he can't win."
"Fire Mark Richt - he can't beat top opponents."
"Fire Mark Richt - my wife thinks he's sexier than hell, and he makes 4 million a year, and I feel like my penis is smaller everytime I see him on TV."

(Try to pretend that last one isn't the case for just a FEW of the commenters on the Run)

Some people just plain don't like Mark Richt.  They think he's too placid.  They say he can't beat Top competition.  They say the game has passed him by.

"He was only good with Donnan's recruits" (except for that whole 2005,2007,2011,2012 thing)
"He can't hire a good coach" (then there's that whole Bobo thing... hated by our fanbase, just kept beating his own records)
"He can't coach players to their potential" (Somehow seemingly every other year there's some walk-on kid who comes out of nowhere and then ends up being an NFL player)
"He doesn't care about winning." (I'm guessing these people have never seen a presser after a loss)

Mark Richt's Accomplishments:

141-50 record in 14.5 seasons.
2 SEC Titles
5 Appearances in the SEC Championship Game
2 Sugar Bowl Victories
9-5 Overall Bowl Record

Mark Richt's Deficiencies

0 National Titles

No seriously, that's it.

And that's why people hate him.  They hate Mark Richt because he hasn't won a national title, and they believe that there's no way in hell he ever could.  I mean, he can't even beat top-25 teams, right?

Of course, as recently as 2014 (that's Two Thousand and FRIKKIN FOURTEEN), his team went 4-1 against teams that finished in the top 25.  But that doesn't matter, because it doesn't match narrative.  CMR's team lost a game it shouldn't have (South Carolina) and then got trounced in Jax, and missed the SEC Title Game.  So, an indictment on Richt, then.

I mean, it's probably the most Mark Richt thing ever... to have your best year against the top-25 since 2007... and then fail to reach the SEC Title Game because you lost to South Carolina.  The weirdest part?  When UGA beat top-25 teams last year, they straight murdered them.  Average margin of victory over top 25 opponents was 25.5 points.  Yet somehow, we lost to Florida by 18.

And that one game is why people will say Richt is a bad coach.  They'll say that he didn't have the boys prepared.  They'll say he didn't impart on them the importance of the game.  They'll try to come up with any excuse to explain away a game in which we were absolutely curb-stomped.  Can't be on the kids...gotta be on the Head Coach.

People still, after so many years of living in the SEC, just don't understand that this is life in the SEC.  The unexplainable happens.

In 2011, Richt's Dawgs went 0-4 against teams finishing in the top 25 (actually, all 4 finished in the top 10).  Two games were lost by 3 points each.  That's right.  3 points.  Those Dawgs were a score away from being 2-2 against Top 10 competition, and a likely top 10 finish themselves.  They held LSU (#2 finish) without a first down in the first half of the SECCG...and then got their doors blown off in the second half.

How do the "Richt can't coach" folks explain that one?  Did he suddenly forget how to coach at halftime?

And then how do they explain a 3-2 mark against top 25 the very next season, including a 4-pt loss to eventual National Champion Alabama in the SECCG?

In 2013, an injury-riddled Dawgs team went 2-4 against Top 25 finishers, with "The Miracle on the Plains" and "The Music City Disaster" as two of the four.  Richt's boys lost to #7 finisher Clemson by 3, and #2 finisher Auburn by 5.  Again, a score away from beating 2 top-ten teams.  A play away....yet somehow, this is all representative of the fact that Mark Richt is a bad football coach.

Mark Richt is not a bad football coach.
He's not an average football coach.
Mark Richt is a Good football coach.
He lacks one accomplishment that will make him Great, and I hope to God he gets it.

As 2015 unfolds, we'll hold our breaths to see what becomes of it.  Richt is 0-1 against teams that will finish in the Top 25.  After this weekend, we'll find out if he's able to level that record.  If he does, he'll probably get 2 more shots at Top 25 teams... the SECCG, and our Bowl.  3-1 this year would put Richt at 7-2 over the past two years against the Top 25.

Guess he'd officially "lose control" of that Meme as well.

But hey, all of that is conjecture and this blog is fairly pointless.

Then again, so is screaming "Fire Mark Richt!"

 Go Dawgs

Sunday, September 13, 2015

"You can't win if your QB Can't Complete Passes."

The overriding theme of the Georgia "Faithful" following yesterday's 17-point SEC Road-Win is that the Dawgs are not going to continue to succeed with Greyson Lambert at quarterback.

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Sitting behind the more experienced (in college, albeit not at UGA) starter is a prized recruit whom the fanbase believes is the rightful heir to the Signal Caller's Throne.  He has shown flashes of brilliance that far outweigh obvious shortcomings, and UGA will be all the better if his era starts in earnest immediately.  We know this, because the guy currently in the driver's seat just isn't getting it done.


But he is.


(pause added for you to continue cursing me out)

Look, Lambert is by no means "lighting it up" right now.  Some of his throws were just out and out awful.  In the first half, the kid looked like a straight up dumpster fire.  But, he did deliver some very nice throws at timely moments.  Sometimes, that's what it takes.

Lambert was an unconvincing 11/21 with 0 Touchdowns yesterday.  But, he had 0 INTs as well.  Yes, he should have had 1 INT, save for the worst pair of hands I've seen on a DB since Bryan Evans. Still, the ball fell harmlessly to the turf.  Through 2 games at UGA, the guy has not turned the ball over, and has "done enough" to maintain his position.  Now, that's not an overwhelming endorsement of him, but based on what we've seen of Ramsey, it's not a reason to shuffle him to the back of the deck either.

Lambert's 52% completion rating yesterday was better than Murray's 44% in a win over FL in 2011. (incidentally, that same year Murray had only a 57% completion rate in Nashville).  We went to the SEC title game in 2011.  In 2009, Joe Cox had a 51.6% completion rating in a win in Nashville.  In 2013, we Lost in Nashville, and Murray's completion rating was again 57.  Stafford's was 51.6 in 2007.  In '05, Shockley was 15/30..50%.  Maybe there's just something in Nashville that affects our QBs, because they haven't played well there in over a decade.



That's probably true.  I'd think that over the course of a game, you'll need to complete a pass.  Hell, just ask Buck Belue.  He completed exactly ONE pass against Notre Dame in 1981.  He had missed 11 straight before completing his first and only pass with just over two minutes to go in the game.  We got lucky in that one, sure... but with a QB so awful, there's no way that 1980 team could have been any good, right?


(this pause is for the combined effect of some of you thinking "hmm, maybe I'm overreacting" and others of you thinking "Greyson Lambert is no Buck Belue!!!  This team ain't the 1980 team, because Hershel").

All of this being said, Schotty and CMR make the calls, and if they're sticking with Lambert you just have to have FAITH that it's the best move for the team.  The coaches have no moral responsibility to give him the starting nod or the lion's share of playing time just for transferring in and "helping with competition."  They didn't bring him to Georgia to "light a fire under Ramsey."  They brought him to Georgia because Ramsey wasn't getting it done and they needed a guy who could start and win football games.

So far, the guy's 2-0, and hasn't put us in bad positions.  We'll learn more as the Defenses get better (and this week's defense was far better than last week's).  But the fact remains... as the QB at UGA, your job is not really to WIN the football game as much as it is NOT TO LOSE it.  That's been true for a long, long time.

Do you need to be able to complete a pass to win football games?  Probably.

Luckily, Lambert's completed 19 so far.

Oh, and BTW ... Aaron Murray never started a season without a pick in his first two games.

Go Dawgs.