I've been a bit absent from the blogosphere for the past few weeks, dawgfans...and I apologize. But, I've been trying to get a handle on the Dawgs. I've always said that you can't really tell what you've got until you're about 4 weeks in...and well, I don't have great news.
We don't have a great team.
Now, I am a believer that a team is equal to the sum of its parts...players+coaches=team. A great team isn't the result of pristine weather or the right playing surfaces. A great team isn't the result of its competition. A great team is a result of players having talent and attitude, and the coaches coming up with the gameplan to put them in position to win, and the players executing that gameplan.
Right now, Georgia is NOT a great team.
I don't think we'll find anyone who disagrees with that. There are a host of 1-loss teams ahead of Georgia. And, if you look at some of the resume's of these teams, they aren't incredibly impressive. But, they had something Georgia didn't.....a high pre-season ranking. Georgia has, thus far, performed up to the preseason expectations. We were picked to be a mid-10 team, and we've looked like such. Actually, I don't agree with that. I think that we've performed like a sub-top-25 team. BUT, we've had the results of a mid-10's team. With one exception, we have won our games. Still, we are forced to look at the problems this team is having and attempt to diagnose them.
There is absolutely no doubt that we have talent that will stack up with the best in college football at many positions. At wideout, we have the best receiver in college football. And, we are finding more and more targets every week. Everytime the defense attempts to take away a receiver, another steps up (Michael Moore, then Tevarres King, then Rontavius Wooten). We have two corners with speed that rivals the Roadrunner. Our new Tight-ends are becoming weapons who draw double and triple coverage. We have 4 NFL Defensive Tackles right now. Justin Houston is emerging as a solid DE. Our linebackers are a very strong group.
We lack in the offensive backfield, and somehow our OLine hasn't been dominant.
Also, our team is riddled with penalties and turnovers.
People scream at coaching. But, there is very little you can do to coach against fumbling the football. There is little you can do to coach against false-start penalties. At some point, we have to hold players responsible. Coaches identify talent and coach that talent, and put that talent in position to perform. It is then the players' responsibility to perform up to their talent. The O-Line is currently not doing that. The runningbacks aren't doing that. Joe Cox has days where he does, and days where he doesn't.
On defense, the problem doesn't lie entirely with the players...but it also doesn't lie entirely with the coaching.
PLAYER: Bryan Evans - consistently out of position, gets burned, says he is sometimes "lacksidasical about getting into position" and at other times "doesn't know what he's supposed to be doing."
COACH: WHY IS BRYAN EVANS PLAYING????
In the game against ASU, Bacarri Rambo got much more playing time, and made some big plays, including UGA's only turnover. Out of the three turnovers (pathetically low) UGA has made this year, 2 have come by younger players. These talented younger guys will be the foundation of a stronger defense in coming years, and playing them more NOW will pay huge dividends. Martinez himself has gone on record as saying Rambo should've been playing more all along. I fully expect we'll see less and less of Bryan Evans as the year goes along, and that's fantastic. He's been getting beat up in pass coverage for years.
PROBLEM - Big Play vulerability
COACH - we're dedicated to stopping the run. This leaves us vulnerable to play-action, as the safeties get a little lead-footed in coverage.
PLAYERS - Need to read-and-react better.
COACH - lack of tight coverage leads to qb being able to make reads and fire the ball faster
PLAYERS - Need to show better route recognition and ball-attacking skills so that we won't rely as much on loose zones.
COACH - lack of pressure allows qb time to find open receivers. Blitz might help.
PLAYERS - need to convert to pass rush faster. Need to shed blocks faster. Four-man rush is effective if players execute.
Here's the fact.....4 games in, we're 3-1. Everyone is pointing to the next four games as being the serious "gauntlet" for UGA. We have LSU, TN, Vandy and FL. I don't know why this is a gauntlet. LSU is suffering from many of the same maladies as UGA. TN has shown me absolutely nothing other than a respectable defense. They live and die by the run, and UGA is very good against the run. Vandy doesn't have it this season. FL is very good. We'll see how they do in the coming month, with Tebow recovering from a concussion, and the passing game rather unimpressive thus far. Some seem to think that 2-2 would be good for us in this stretch. I'll be disappointed if we don't go 4-0. And that's said with realism. Vandy and TN shouldn't have a chance against us. LSU is very beatable by UGA's game. FL is the toss-up for me. I haven't seen evidence of them being the bohemoth they were last season, and much of that is probably because they haven't had a big test. They'll have a few before they get to us, and then we'll REALLY know who these gators are.
Finally, I'm tired of hearing "if we cut out the penalites and the turnovers..." and I'm even guilty of SAYING it. Here's the fact....we don't seem CAPABLE of cutting out the penalties and turnovers. What we have to do, is be better at weathering them. Yes, we've done well at keeping teams out of the endzone when they have a long field....but I believe they're getting into the endzone about 50 percent of the time after a turnover....twice on the turnover themselves. That's not good. Our D has to force field goals in those situations. Also, our D has to force MORE turnovers in order to equalize the playing field in that respect. It's very simple...the more possessions we have, the more opportunities to put points on the board. The more times we give the ball away, the better our opponents' chances of staying in the game when they shouldn't.
I don't have any answers, I'm saying alot of what you're reading everywhere else....If we stop turning the ball over, we can't be beat. But, we're going to turn the ball over.
So, this team, which was known at the beginning of the season, as one with no stars, who didn't have a real shot at anything, is now becoming known as the strong-willed and resilient team who is finding ways to win. I'll take that. I'll take 8 more games where we find a way to win. You don't have to be great to win a championship....you don't have to be the best team in your conference...you just have to play a better game each saturday.
We don't have to be better than Florida. We have to be better than florida on one day. We don't have to be better than Tennessee. We have to be better than Tennessee on one day. We don't have to be better than LSU. We have to better than LSU Saturday.
If we can consistently do that, we won't have to be the #1 team in the country. We'll have to be better than the #1 team on one day in January...then we'll Be Champions.
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