Saturday, January 1, 2011

Thank God we lost that game.

I don't know that I could have stomached us winning that game at the end. Don't get me wrong, I really wanted someone to come down with that ball. I was hoping that this time Marlon Brown might be able to snag a defelected ball, score the winning touchdown and bring us the most inconsequential bowl victory in ages. Still, I wouldn't have wanted to read all the punditry surrounding how UGA finally "pulled out the close one" and how this would "springboard" us into next year. Even if we had pulled that one out in the waning moments, it wouldn't have been an amazing story of overcoming adversity, it would have been a story of us finally getting out of our own way.

That's really all the Liberty Bowl was. Central Florida was giving the Dawgs their absolute best. You could see it on the face of their all-world DE Miller (who didn't garner a scholarship discussion at any SEC schools), and the dawgs were sleep-walking. When the dawgs were granted one final play, the camera was on Miller, and you could read his lips: "I think I've got one more in me." He was ready to collapse. The Dawgs didn't look so expended. Perhaps that's why Miller was able to fly through the line twice in the three plays near our own goalline, once disrupting a run, and the second time putting a huge hit and sack on Aaron Murray. Maybe our line was just "saving their energy" for something. Are the Georgia players better athletes? Yes. Yes they are. There's no other way to explain facing a 10-3 conference champion who gives you their absolute best shot, and still walking away with only a 6-10 defeat. Simply put, even half-assing a game, the Dawgs were in position to win that one.

Now, that shouldn't make me feel particularly good about the game in any way. Murray was just plain off. He was throwing passes he had absolutely no business throwing. He very nearly had a third on the drive where we settled for our second field goal of the day. He tried to hit Orson Charles over the middle, but failed to see the safety tracking the entire play. I don't know how he didn't see the safety....he didn't stray more than two yards from his pre-snap position, and was right in the middle of the field. On another play, he nearly threw it directly to a corner when trying to hit Charles (whose route carried him very close to Green - odd). Murray's first pick looked like a miscommunication with Logan Gray. The second pick was an obvious overthrow of Ealey. But how do you overthrow that ball? Then there was the one he threw into the dirt in front of Durham - and the wobbly duck on 4th down that Durham was able to pull down. Murray seemed very confused by whatever UCF was showing him, and was having trouble working through his progressions.

Our offensive line once again could not dominate an undersized defensive front.

AJ Green couldn't get open on a route longer than 15 yards.

I thought Ealey ran very hard - and was HOSED on that call where they called him "down by stopping forward progress" even though he was still running, and picked up 9 more yards. Carlton Thomas looked good - but it's obvious we aren't utilizing him like we should be.

The defense, by and large, looked very good. There was the minor issue of their big tailback Murray hitting big holes for decent gains...but there were also a number of plays when our DL penetrated and stopped him BTL. Their QB was slowed considerably after Cornelius Washington (NOT Abry Jones as mis-identified repeatedly by Bob Davie) put a big hit on him early in the game. Ogletree was making good reads, though he did get sucked in once on PlayAction but luckily the pass was overthrown. Rambo looked good, the linebackers looked pretty good...I mean hell, the Dawgs gave up 10 points. That's the kind of defense we want to see.

On offense, the production simply wasn't there. Murray's two interceptions killed first-half drives. He also took a huge sack on a Play-Action bootleg and Georgia couldn't recover on that drive. Now, I don't know what the blocking scheme is, but often on that kind of play (a Naked Bootleg), the QB is responsiblie for the last man on the line of scrimmage. If he comes, the QB has to make him miss. Murray didn't do that. As a result, we had 2nd and 23. I don't recall the playcalling on 2nd down - I do remember that it wasn't a medium-range pass to get us into a manageable third down. But, this isn't going to become a post about Bobo's playcalling. I've gone on record as saying I believe he's good at his job.

Then again, perhaps that's problem-at-large at UGA. It's completely possible to have people who are good at their jobs, and yet not be good ENOUGH. The level of competition in the SEC is the highest in college football. Coaches are CLAMORING to get into this conference. Charlie Weiss, a Superbowl Champion coach, is going to leave an NFL squad to be an OC at FL? That HAS to tell you something.

What it tells ME is that the level of coaching in the SEC in 2011 will be just as high if not higher than it was in 2010, and certainly higher than it was in 2002-2005 (the "glory days" of recent past for UGA). This is why I say THANK GOD we lost that game.

Without losing that game, our kids and our coaching staff might have gone into the offseason thinking they were on the right track again. They could have played the whole "we won 7 of our last 9 games" idea in the media and in the locker room. They would have clung to the whole "a play here or there and we're 10-3" nonsense. But, at 6-7, there's just no way to gild the lilly. In 2010, UGA just plain stunk. Richt made a move in Strength and Conditioning, and that's good...probably overdue. Apparently Thomas Brown will join the staff today. That's a good move - he definitely knows a thing or two about strength and about motivation.

Richt is now entering his "evaluation" time. This is where, as he's told us, he sits down and evaluates the team's performance, evaulates the coaches' performance, and decides what changes need to be made in the direction of the program. This is a very important time. I don't know that UGA has seen a more important January in over a decade. In the next month, UGA has to lock down a strong recruiting class, figure out where its problems lie in the X's and O's arena, and develop a strategy to completely reverse whatever it was that we saw on the field in 2010.

That bowl game was the ultimate statement about this season. In 2010, our beloved Dawgs were Losers. We'll have to live with that. They'll have to live with that. Coach Richt will have to live with that - and he'll have to find a way to change it. That bowl game left about as sour a taste in the mouths of those players and that coaching staff as it possibly could have. There is only one cure for that kind of sour taste - absolute obliteration of everyone on the schedule next fall. What comes between is the hard part. What comes between is the coaches and players taking hard looks at themselves and admitting that they weren't good enough - that they didn't work hard enough - that they didn't do the things they had to do....and that they WILL change that in 2011.

We lost the Liberty Bowl in 2010. We're undefeated in 2011.



William Neilson Jr. said...

It is the same ole, same ole with our team

We have seen our team sleepwalk in so many games the last several years that it is embarrassing how our coaches still have jobs

BuLLdawg said...

Ben Dukes,

You said loudly to me that this was "laughable" 1 month ago sir.

Last Five (5) Years :

55-9 Ohio State
55-12 Florida
60-5 Boise State
54-10 TCU
53-15 Oklahoma
52-15 Virginia Tech
51-14 Southern California
50-15 LSU
50-15 Texas
49-15 Wisconsin
49-16 West Virginia
49-15 BYU
49-16 Utah
48-16 Oregon
48-18 Missouri
48-18 Alabama on the field
47-17 Penn State
46-18 Auburn
46-22 Hawaii
45-20 Cincinnati
45-21 Boston College
44-20 Texas Tech
44-21 Georgia Mark Richt last entire 5 years

Sounds as if in this blog, you are apologizing to me, sir ?

Birmingham Todd said...

I can not believe Mcgarity is going to wait on firing Richt until another dreadful year?? Why? Someone please explain this to me?(it's not the buyout) If I ran a pop Warner team like this, they would fire me! Richt is a dead man walking...why oh why make a good man take all the booing next year? Damn it!

Ben Dukes said...

BuLLdawg -

I am certainly not apologizing to you. Your little list there isn't quite the same as what you posted before. No, you previously listed schools and coaches, giving credit to coaches who weren't at those schools. Also, I love selective statistics like this. Why don't you do the research and add up the last 10 years for all of these schools. I'm willing to bet you'll see some things changing.

I make no apologies for what I write. There are people who believe Richt should be fired. I am not one of them. Now, that is not to say I am happy with the state of affairs in Athens, but I know that this man has taken this team to Atlanta three times, and walked out twice with victory. I believe he can do so again.

The truth is, there isn't a one of us out here who can truly diagnose the ills of this team, because we lack contact with them. Richt got rid of Martinez and gang, and the defense has looked better. The results were marginal in the statbook, but watching the play of the players, they certainly looked better than they have in years.

Now, Richt has removed Van Hallanger and installed JTII and Thomas Brown. That's an interesting move. We'll all be watching to see what kind of impact it has.

BuLLdawg said...

So, tell me Ben,

Are you a Christian, sir ?

Ben Dukes said...

I am, and would love to hear the relevance.

BuLLdawg said...

Well, the "little list" you call it above Ben shows The Georgia Bulldogs' Football Program # 23 over the last 5 years in won/lost.

We've gone 13-12 vs SEC East these last 5 years.

We are # 2 in Fulmer Cup Standings for Arrests / Suspensions these same last 5 years.

We did not even put in the gameplan for the bowl game until after arriving in Memphis.

We have not lost 7 games in a season in 53 years, dating back to 1957 but accomplished that for only the third time in UGA 118-year history - finding us # 11 all-time in 1-A FBS wins.

We average 4.2 losses a year these same last 5 years.

We beat 1 Top 10 Final AP Poll team # 9 Auburn in these last 5 years and that was 5 years ago, a season 2006 in which we lost 4 games that year too.

We are # 3 in SEC Championships all-time and have not been to the game the last 5 years.

21 losses these last 5 years, is 2 more losses than Jim Donnan's 19 losses in his 5 years here.

21 losses these last 5 years matches Ray Goff's last 5 years loss total of 21.

this 6-Win season :

3-9 Louisiana Lafayette

6-7 Tennessee vols

6-7 Georgia tek

6-6 Kentucky played the # 91 Strength of Schedule

2-10 Vanderbilt

1-10 Idaho State

24-49 record of all the wins Mark Richt won all season long.


Herschel Walker says we have issues with recruiting in-state, discipline and losses.

So, yes, Ben, I think it is relevant why this is so laughable. Thank you for your comments Ben.

Ben Dukes said...

How is my being a Christian relevant? You said nothing about that.

Now, as for your list...I understand now. You're one of those people who seeks to crucify Richt for his last five years, while giving him no credit for the first five years. Like I said, take the man's entire tenure into account, and let me know what THAT list looks like.

I've said it numerous times - there are some things in Athens that STINK right now. But, I've also said that a logical analysis of performance isn't based only on wins and losses. People don't understand how quick turnarounds occur. Why did Auburn go from 7-5 to 13-0? Was it because Chizik and Malzahn suddenly became much better coaches? No. They found a player that fit their scheme perfectly, and they rolled with him. Look at Urban Meyer without Tebow. Not great.

You're one of the fans up in arms over a 6-7 record, and I can understand that, I really can. But, I also say that the team that was on the field this year was a better team than the one that was on the field last year. Watching them play, there were many less times where I felt like we were totally overmatched - in fact, I don't recall thinking that once this season.

There were definitely days when our boys were outplayed, but I don't feel like the team was so far off from having a much better season.

We lost too many games, yes. However, the losses will pay dividends.

I had hoped there would be a very quick turnaround from last year to this - there was not. But, there were definite strides.

I'll right more regarding that soon, and I'm sure you'll argue with the majority of it. You're one of the lot who thinks Richt sucks and needs to be fired. I am not. Such is life.

Ben Dukes said...

And yes, I know I wrote "right" instead of "write" in that last comment. I'm tired.

BuLLdawg said...

10 years ?

I cannot talk about 5 years ?

10 years, Mark Richt has beat 3 Top 10 Final AP Poll teams.

2001 he knocked the lid off the # 11 all-time win program beating # 4 vols. He lost 4 games.

2005 he beat # 6 LSU. He lost 3 games.

2006, five years ago, he beat # 9 Auburn. He lost 4 games.

That is it.

12 games in 10 years vs Top 10 Final AP Poll teams. Won 3. Those 3 years he won 1, he lost 4, 3, and 4 games.

3-9 vs Top 10 Final AP Poll teams over the entire 10 year Mark Richt Era.

17-24 vs Top 25 Final AP Poll teams the entire 10 year Mark Richt Era.

10 additional losses, such as the 5-7 Colorado this season, against not Top 25 opponents the entire 10 year Mark Richt Era.

# 2 Fulmer Cup Standings All-Time for Most Arrested / Suspended. This season, for example, 17 players were suspended for games. 17.

# 52 NCAA Total Offense average for all 10 years of the Mark Richt Era. This season, no difference again.

Georgia traditionally plays a tough schedule. This year was an exception. We played NCAA Strength of Schedule # 45 and have a losing record to show for it. We played 8 games this year against not Top 25 teams.

We don't have a fullback. We don't have a Tailback here at the University of Ground Attack. We don't have an OL. We don't have wide outs. We don't get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. We don't have a DL. We don't have a Secondary. We cannot return kick-offs. We are # 74 in the nation this season at even getting a 1st Down. We are # 49 in the country at converting 3rd Downs. We were 3 of 14 Friday, for example. We are # 48 Total Offense this season, for example.

The 2009 recruiting class is gone from our roster.

The 2010 recruiting class was one of the worst of the Mark Richt Era.

The 2011 recruiting class does not fill the holes we have, not close. It also features 2 more players who were kicked off their high school teams.

In 10 years, Mark Richt has beat no Top 10 Final AP Poll team in any bowl game, on the national stage in a big huge bowl win with everyone watching. TCU did this year, for example.

Mike Bobo threw Aaron Murray under the bus every interview since Friday.

Mark Richt threw Aaron Murray under the bus every interview since Friday, Ben.

Mark Richt said the players should have made a TD on 3rd down, not complain about him taking the field goal on 4th and inches at the goal line.

Aaron Murray is # 62 at being sacked this season nationally and therefore averages 2 yards per rushing attempt on 87 tries.

3 more were suspended for this last game, including Caleb Darnell King.

Only 3 other states have more high school players who go on to the NFL than this great state of Georgia. Have you interviewed the recruits Ben as to why they don't sign here, especially on Offense ?

2007 season we beat no one. We lost to 2 cupcakes. We beat no one.

2002 season we beat no one. We lost to a cupcake. We beat no one.

2001 season we beat # 4 vols. We lost 4 games.

2005 season we beat # 6 LSU. We lost 3 games.

2006 season we beat # 9 Auburn. We lost 4 games.

2008 season we lost the only 3 games we played; everyone arrested.

2009 season we went 7-5 regular season. Lackluster bowl.

2010 season we went 6-6 vs # 45 SOS. Lost lackluster bowl.

2003 and 2004 all our players were Jim Donnan recruits still.

2011 cannot be other than more of the same.

Mark Richt admitted half his hires for his coaching staff were not good, and fired them. The other half have not been rumored for any job anywhere.

I love Mark Richt. I just don't think he has any hope of doing well next season losing 14 seniors and the top juniors.

I really appreciate discussing the 10 year record of Mark Richt with you Ben, sir. Who has he beat ? And, when he did beat them, what else did he do that year ?

ThePetis said...

BuLLdawg -

At this point it seems futile to continue exchanging opinions with Dukes, we know where both of you stand.

So, let me point this conversation in a different direction. If we were to fire Mark Richt, who could we realistically replace him with and would that be any better than what we have now? I'd hate to make a change simply to make a change.

Todd said...

Well stated, Pete.

Shut the hell up, BuLLdawg. We all get it. You hate Richt and want him gone. It ain't gonna happen, so just live with it and continue crunching numbers in your parent's basement.