Sunday, September 25, 2011

About a QB Competition

I've already read one post today vehemently denying the need of a QB competition in Athens. The author cites statistics praising Aaron Murray and discounting the work that Hutson Mason has done. I have a problem with this. I have a problem with it only due to the fact that Richt has high praise for Mason, and says he has earned more playing time.

So why didn't he receive it against Ole Miss?

I understand the coaching ideal of keeping players in the game to get more practice, build up game stamina, etc. I understand the thought that you don't really play reserves until you have a "Comfortable" lead, and a 2-touchdown lead doesn't always qualify. Still, here's something I don't understand - why are you running your star TB with 2 minutes remaining in a 2-score game? Why do you need to have your starting QB handing him the ball?

Now, these snaps do not always mean a hell of a lot in terms of experience. But, it's another GP for Mason if he gets in there. It's another team's defense to which he's had exposure. It's another bit of confidence for a kid who, by all public accounts, is simply doing everything expected of him. The fact is, Richt, Bobo, and Murray all say the kid could run the offense in the event of Murray going down with injury. So, why not put him in, at least in the tail-end of a game we've dominated?

Here's the argument against - any mistake: a fumbled snap, handoff, audible into a pass becomes an interception,etc...any mistake like that could result in Ole Miss having a chance to win.

We played "preserve the win" football late in the fourth. I understand that, the team needs wins - both in the SEC and out. I'd like to think, though, that a Mason-Thomas or a Mason-Harton handoff would be just as effective at killing clock as a Murray-Crowell handoff. In fact, it may be even more so, as Crowell quite obviously was not trying to do much at the end of the game. Maybe he was told, "Just don't fumble." If so, he did that job admirably.

I don't know that Hutson Mason is actually in position to compete with Aaron Murray. If he were, I'd like to think Richt would give him opportunities. Why? Because Richt wants to win games - which means fielding your best 11. So, Murray must be a better option. We don't see practice - we only see Saturdays and read clippings. This is where for many people, being a fan is maddening. You have zero control over anything, and always glorify the unknown. The potential of a kid on the bench is, in the mind of the fanship, nearly always better than the performance of a starter who isn't wowing us. It's a dumb point of view, but it's one that many share.

Still, Gary Danielson said something during the Alabama-Arkansas game that stood out to me. It was a statement that very simply put in perspective just why Alabama is seemingly always in the mix for a title. He said, paraphrasing - 'There is a lot of competition all over the field for Alabama. If you don't play with intensity, you might not be there long, because there are kids on the bench who want your job just as much as you do.' Does this attitude exist at Georgia? Does it exist at the QB position? Competition can be healthy.

I'm not suggesting an open QB competition. But, putting Hutson in for a possession or two in the game, I think that could be good for Murray - if for no other reason than just to help him understand that he needs to stay on-point. We had what, 5 or 6 drives which resulted in no points? Surely one of those could have been a Hutson Mason drive and we wouldn't have suffered much worse of a fate. Just Sayin.

Go Dawgs.


Anonymous said...

I'm a UGA grad married to a Bama grad and we were at the Bama/Arkansas game yesterday. While I didn't hear Gary's quote about the way Bama plays it's certainly on target.

My inlaws & our Bama contingency watched the UGA/Ole Miss game at the tailgate before heading into Bryant-Denny and that same sentiment was expressed repeatedly. While I'm happy for the win, it's the way UGA plays that's so frustrating. The talent differences on the field between Bama & UGA are not that vast, but the Coaching talent is. As my husband commented yesterday, Saban knows how to get every last drop out of his players while Richt looks as if he just wants a good effort.

It's painful to be a life-long diehard UGA fan and watch Bama play in a way that I know UGA is capable.

Great posts Ben! Thank you for sharing your perspective & expertise. GO DAWGS!!

BirdDAWG said...

Great post and for once I have to agree with Gary as much as it pains me he is right. Talent wise there really isn't much difference between UGA and Bama, but coaching... That's a completely different story! CMR coaches not to lose a game and CNS coaches to dominate his opponent and it shows on the field and the record book.

Mr. Sanchez said...

But is that competition issue include a necessary evil that Richt and several Dawgs won't accept or allow?

Basically, is that "intense competition" from the fact that they know if they aren't pulling weight, Saban will cut their ship and they'll be a victim of "oversigning" and unsavory practices?

Reverend Whitewall said...

Very good question Sanchez, and I don't know a good answer. I do know that if a player knows there's a real chance he'll lose his scholarship, he's less likely to cut corners, skip voluntary workouts, etc. But the ethics of the situation can be debated all day long without a clear cut answer.

You kind of alluded to it, it just comes down to the value system of the individual coach. I don't mean that as a jab at Saban or praise for Richt (or vice versa), it's just what it is. A coach that values winning as their only priority is going to make a different decision than a coach who is interested in developing players to be better men and productive members of society. Not saying Saban doesn't want the latter too, but his priorities are clear.

My next door neighbor played college ball at Furman with Billy Napier, who coached at Clemson the past few years, and now is part of the support staff at Alabama. They were talking before the season, and my neighbor asked him how much better the athletes were at Bama than Clemson. Napier's answer was that believe it or not, there's not much noticeable difference in the quality of the athletes. What is different is that EVERY SINGLE THING that is done and EVERY SINGLE DECISION that is made at Alabama is for one purpose --- winning. He said the focus on winning at Alabama is unlike anywhere he has coached or even visited as a coach.

Richt has higher goals in life than just winning football games. His goals are admirable, no doubt. But it's also why he'll always be a good-but-not-great coach. He's not willing to make winning the one and only priority.

Again, I don't mean that as a criticism, or a "Fire Richt now" comment. It's just reality, and McGarity has to decide if that's what he wants in a coach.

Ben Dukes said...

My problem with what you say Rev, is that winning isn't the only goal that there should be. That's the difference in College Athletics and Pro Athletics. The NFL is all about winning. It's all about the Super Bowl. Why? That's your job, it's your occupation, it's how you make a living.

99 percent of the kids who play college ball will NEVER get paid to do so.

Yes, winning is important, and it's what we like to see...but it isn't the end-all, be-all of college athletics. There are all-americans who don't make practice squads in the NFL. So if their only focus for four years has been winning football games, THEN what do they do? If they haven't worked to better themselves as men, if they haven't learned other valuable lessons, but instead believe that winning football games is all they need to do in life...then where are they when it's all over.

I'll take Richt's philosophy any day. As an NFL coach, I don't care about building men. These men are built. Richt's job is to take 18 year-old boys and help direct them into being men, and to win football games along the way.

He's at 97 wins. I think he's done a pretty good job of that.

Tell me - what defines a "Great coach" in your mind? Is it the BCS title? Because Chizik has one, and so does Tressell. I don't call these guys "Great Coaches".

Reverend Whitewall said...

Ben, I'm actually more on your side of the argument on this. Like I said, Richt's goals and outlook on life are admirable. And as I said several times, I wasn't stating my thoughts as criticisms or praise of either style.

However, no I don't think Richt is a "great" coach, but I do think he's a good coach. "Great" is a pretty exclusive term though, there are very few of those around. And even great coaches have rough patches. However, in my opinion a great coach would have identified the issues within the program and turned things around much faster. I know it's easy to say it when you're just sitting behind a computer typing, but I honestly feel that all of the changes he's made (defensive staff, S&C staff, etc) were made at least 1 year too late. The issues were very identifiable much earlier in the process, but he didn't take the steps to fix them until he really had no other option.

I honestly think that if just those 2 decisions (defensive staff & revamping S&C) had been made 1 year earlier, the tune of the program and the fans would be totally different right now. However, I do think that once he made the changes, he did a good job with selecting the replacements.

I've said it a couple of times, but I am not screaming for Richt to be fired. I would love NOTHING more than for him to run the table this year, then continue the success and be our coach as long as he wants to be.

Ben Dukes said...

Rev -

If you're a long time reader, than you're familiar with my stance on why Richt wouldn't have made the decisions earlier. That shouldn't exclude him from being a great coach.

Just help me understand - what is the benchmark for being great?

If he wins another three SEC titles,if he wins a BCS title? What is it?

Was Dan Marino a great Quarterback? Just trying to figure out our reference points here.

Reverend Whitewall said...

Yep, I actually started reading your blog around the time you started addressing it. And you tend to defend the current coaches pretty strongly, which is actually why I read your blog. It's a different voice than the majority out there, including my own. It's a voice I disagree sometimes, but that's why I like it, I like to be challenged to see what holes are in my arguments and make sure I'm still confident in my own analysis.

You know the famous quote from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart regarding hard core pornography? I'm paraphrasing a bit, but he basically said "I can't exactly define it, but I know it when I see it".

I don't think there are specific benchmarks that make you a great coach, but most people recognize greatness when they see it. And you would be VERY hard pressed to find a significant number of UGA fans or college football fans in general who would say Richt is a "great" coach. You could probably find a number who would say he is really good, and even more who would say he is just good, but "great" would not be a word you would hear very often. Not that the majority opinion is always the right one, but it's pretty rare, especially in the sports world, for someone to be great and the majority of people not at least begrudgingly acknowledge so!

Ben Dukes said...

Yes, Rev...I'm sure that's true of many fans in 2011.

How many would have said the same in 2005?