My apologies for the untimely posting. Frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to discuss it but mostly due to the fact that I no longer have access to the interwebs at home (I blame my cheap skate roommate for this one) and didn’t feel like going to Starbucks just to be angry. High level thoughts with some discussion to follow each:
(1) So much for the team is the star because that team had the exact same problems that doomed last year’s squad and this time didn’t have the Stafford/Moreno firepower to overcome it
I got my hopes up this year because I really thought that last year everyone just expected Stafford and Moreno to bail out their mistakes and didn’t take their inividual jobs seriously. All signs coming out of Athens indicated that these things were going to be different this year and the team would be focused. Well, except for the impressive defensive showing, nothing else has changed. Untimely turnovers, penalties, and poor special teams sank the boat for this team on Saturday and that’s not encouraging at all. The mark of a good team is one that gets better as the year progresses, but what about one that hasn’t changed what was so evidently bad from the prior year? One of my favorite sayings at work for why we don’t just recreate the audit work we did in the prior year on a client is because we’re a year smarter. I’m still waiting to see evidence that this Bulldog squad and coaching staff are a year smarter.
Update: I just read Rex Robinson’s most recent post and thought this line kinda summed up what I’ve been thinking, but am probably too afraid to admit it:
Stillwater was pretty clear. The Georgia Bulldogs have a lot of work to do. The Dawgs really did disappoint in their first game and I have waited to see if the water would clear up. After Saturday’s loss in Stillwater, all the questions supposedly answered during pre-season practice have been dredged back up again. Is Joe Cox the man to lead us at quarterback? Who is our running back? Can we cover kick-offs?
I don’t know, do you?
What I do know is that if it’s still a question mark at this point, it’s falls back on the coaching staff. Whatever your criticism of choice; play calling, conditioning, or choosing to directionally kick-off, it all comes back to the staff and particularly Coach Richt.
(2) Now we really know why Matthew Stafford played in front of Joe Cox for three years…
I realize that’s an unfair comparison considering that Stafford was the #1 overall draft pick and all, but just damn. That was one atrocious showing on offense, particularly at the QB position. Now I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt on things like dropped passes and lack of zip on the ball (dude was puking his guts out for 48 hours prior to the game). What was frustrating was to see that sideline sack and the tendency to hold on to the ball too long from a 5th year senior that is supposed to know this offense inside and out. I’m holding complete reservation of judgment against the guy until after South Carolina this weekend at home, but if things turn sour then I must echo the words of T. Kyle King:
I haven’t checked the game day open comment thread yet—I’m still in Oklahoma—so I don’t know whether my cousin has yet quoted my uncle, but, just in case he hasn’t, it needs to be said: don’t lose with seniors. Every available option needs to be considered at every position from which we did not receive an acceptable level of production on Saturday.
(3) Mike Bobo, man of balance???
I don’t normally condone questioning play calling because generally I think it’s a futile exercise by someone who fully doesn’t understand the intricacies of the job of offensive playcalling (i.e. me). I understand that a balanced offense is the optimal objective, but when you’ve got a QB that’s throwing with a noodle arm while running around on flu fumes and the running game is getting you 2-5 ypc despite Richard Samuel’s tendency to get tripped up by the grass gremlins, why go away from it? Look at what Alabama did Saturday night. They realize that they’re not going to come out and bomb away on you and that they’re a smash-mouth football team and that’s what they did to Virginia Tech. We were way too quick to go away from the run when it was working so well. He panicked after the Thomas fumble once he realized that he had no confidence in anyone behind Samuel. Paul Westerdawg sums it up best:
Beyond that, the best line I heard on the game came from my friend Mike who said, “Bobo committed the cardinal sin of play calling. Don’t stop doing what works until the other guy stops it.”
(4) Despite popular belief the refs didn’t lose this game for Georgia, but damn they didn’t help
The inability for the offense to do anything resembling a college offense the last 54 minutes of the game, the untimely turnovers, and the poor special teams play ultimately did the team in. The final line read as such; OSU – 15 penalties for 106 yards, UGA – 7 penalties for 58 yards. We can’t claim any Big 12 bias here, although I was surprised that Big 12 officials were used for the game. There’s no way the offense overcomes the Pokes no matter what, but the refs certainly put some back breakers up. The generous spot on the 4th and 1 that gave OSU its first TD was just horrible, but that one that sticks in my craw and pretty much ended the game was the personal foul called on Reshad Jones when he separated OSU’s TE from the ball in the 4th quarter. It not like it was just one rogue official on the field making that call either; every official threw the flag on that play. I understand trying to protect players and all but there was nothing wrong with that hit. Even the announcers made the comment that if they’re going to call a guy for putting his shoulder into a receiver’s chest who has the ball in his hand, we may as well be playing two-hand touch (On a side note: The big hits from the secondary and generally great play against the best receiver we’ll see all year has me excited about this secondary). The refs clearly made a make-up call later in the game when they called the same thing for a hit on a Georgia receiver. Attention, Big 12 officials; this ain’t baseball. You don’t make make-up calls.
Update #2: Orson Swindle puts it into words as only he can:
A horrible call on a clean hit that even Sean McDonough can say “Let ‘em play football” about. The intent of the rule is to keep all of us, the viewing public, from enjoying the enlightening but tragic sight of a football player leaving the field paralyzed or dead after a helmet-to-helmet hit. No one in their right mind thinks a helmet-to-helmet hit is something the game is going to miss: it’s sickening, and when it happens the crowd recoils in this kind of mass simian fear response.
Preventing a clean hit from the shoulder on a pass play is inexcusable, though, and only complicates the already complex set of rules referees are forced to process in real time during a game scenario. It’s a bit like dance class for the clumsy: you have the meringue down, but the instructor asks you to throw in a hand twirl, and suddenly you’re completely lost, and wondering how your wife talked you into this in the first place, and why can’t I just grind up on people at a formal dance? YOUR GRANDMOTHER LOVED IT LAST TIME.
So, yes: Rule sucks immensely, and is a damn un-British thing to do to the fine sport of rugby-what-go-boom. As a side note, UGA would have lost that game anyway, because Mike Bobo likes to confuse defenses with “plays that don’t work,” and because Dez Bryant is “beastly and uncoverable.”
(5) Is there a silver lining?
Well, the last time this Georgia team went -3 in the turnover margin they got KO’d by 39 points against the defending national champions last year. I guess in that respect, the defense hung tough and made the game closer than it should have been. Right now there are lot of question marks on this team without any obvious answers. To top it off, Sturdivant tears the same ACL that he tore last year. You gotta feel for the big fella no matter where your rooting interests lie. It’s way too early in the season to start declaring nuclear holocaust or anything like that, but things certainly look bleak right now. It’s up to Coach Richt and Co. to circle the wagons and get this team ready for its SEC opener this weekend in Athens against the Gamecocks. All I know is that if the offense continues to play like it did on Saturday against one of the worst defenses it will likely face this year, there are very few winnable games on the schedule this year. The boys get back to work today after an off-day on Monday and hopefully they’ll get things straightened out