Category Archives: Punched in the stomach

Post-mortem/Time to move on

I don’t want to beat a dead horse (no pun intended) as this thing has been covered pretty much everywhere in the Dawg-o-sphere. I’m not here to break down the multiple failures. We all know what we saw on Saturday night and it wasn’t pretty. Despite all the happy talk of changes in S&C, cancers being rooted out of the team, and a head coach that was now fully devoted to the game of football after the AD took a lot of responsibilities of his shoulders, we saw a team that displayed all the bad habits that have been so prevalent in the last two years in Athens that looked like nothing had changed from the awfulness that was 2010.

At this point, I’m not screaming for anybody’s heads to roll or anything like that, but I’ve finally been pushed to the point that I don’t have the faith anymore in the current regime in Athens to succeed and that this boat of bad habits is just too dang big for them to turn around. They very may well surprise me and go on a run this year that we all hoped for, but for the first time since Mark Richt was announced as the head coach at Georgia in December of 2000 I don’t have any confidence that it will happen.

With all that said, we’ve got a huge game coming up this Saturday that will go a long ways to determining whether last week was merely a blip on the radar and Boise is truly a buzzsaw that we were unfortunate to run into or if it was truly the beginning of the last season in the Mark Richt era. Despite the negativity I’ve displayed openly and internally the past week, I will be in Sanford Stadium on Saturday wearing my red and black and screaming my head off for the young men that represent my alma mater out there. No matter how bad it’s been or will get, that will never change.

Now, for five things I liked and disliked about the game last week:

I liked

  1. Malcolm Mitchell – That kid is a talent.  I hope we figure out a way to get him the ball more.
  2. I-formation – Only successful drive of the night was run from this formation and we looked comfortable in it.
  3. Orson Charles – Same comment as Mitchell above.  Have got to figure out a way to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.
  4. Run defense – Good job by Grantham to scheme to effectively shut down Boise’s running game.  We’re going to need that this weekend.
  5. Bradon Boykin – Most explosive guy in the open field at UGA since Fred Gibson.

What I didn’t like

  1. O-line – Looked like they were on roller skates all night.  Not sure if there’s going to be a quick fix to this thing outside of developing and recruiting some young talent or scouring the JUCO ranks for some ready to play guys.
  2. Lack of offensive identity – I’m not even sure how to begin on this one.  It just looks like Bobo tries too hard to outsmart everybody else and all that he ends up doing in the end is outsmarting himself and his players.  If we want any chance for success he’s going to have to be able to recognize early on in games what is and isn’t working and make sure to focus on the former.  Whether I think he’s capable of doing that is  a half hour conversation that would only make me mad.
  3. Fans booing and blasting players in social media – All the Georgia fans that booed and then got behind their computers to blast players on Twitter and Facebook can go fornicate themselves with a rusty nail.  We don’t want or need you in our fanbase.
  4. Crossing patterns – For the health of my heart, I’d really appreciate it if the UGA defense would defend the middle of the field this weekend.  It’s a strategy that has not been seen in Athens since sometime mid-2005.
  5. ‘Tree going down – ILB and OL are the two areas we could least afford an injury and we got hit hard by losing Alec Ogletree for half the season.

More to come on the South Carolina game later today and tomorrow.

The Intertubes is the devil

So…. anyone hear any good rumors today?

All joking aside, it was a slight letdown to hear that Kirby Smart passed on being the next defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia, but it’s not the complete meltdown some are making it out to be.  Some of the message boards are truly pissed at Smart and claiming that he doesn’t have a home anymore which is just silly to me.  The guy is in a great situation and had to make a choice about what was best for his future as a coach.  He never led on UGA or anything like that and I think he handled this tough decision with as much class as anyone can ask a person to do.  I’m sure turning the alma mater down (especially when the alma mater drops a Brinks truck on your front lawn) was difficult, but I’m certain he made the best choice for himself.

So now Mark Richt must move onto the next candidate and hopefully whoever ultimately ends up walking the sidelines in Red & Black next fall will be a knockout hire.  I think we’d all agree that it probably couldn’t get any worse than it was the last two years, right?  I never expected Smart to leave Alabama, but it certainly would be nice.  Personally, I don’t care about the big hire as much as I do hiring a guy that will teach good tackling and coverage fundamentals.  I assure you that if at this time next season Georgia has wrapped up a 10-win season and a New Year’s Day bowl game where the defense averaged less than 20 ppg, we won’t be worrying too much about missing out on Smart.  Personally, I’d take a guy that was coaching middle school ball right now if he could assure me that we’d be the best tackling team and best coverage team in the SEC.

Florida Gators – 41, Team wearing Grambling unis – 17

My title for this post is pretty much how I feel about this Georgia team this year.  This isn’t the Georgia team that I’ve come to know under Mark Richt so they may have well as been Grambling on Saturday.  Seeing as how it’s Monday, I don’t know what I can add to the discussion that hasn’t already been said by other Georgia or Florida bloggers.  However, leave it to T. Kyle King to perfectly sum up the current state of affairs a lot better than I did a few weeks ago:

During Steve Spurrier’s tenure in Gainesville, Georgia simply was outclassed by Florida, and the results showed up in the record book: 38-7, 45-13, 52-14, 52-17, 47-7, 38-7. Between 2002 and 2007, though, the ‘Dawgs claimed a pair of victories in Jacksonville and never lost to the Sunshine State Saurians by more than a touchdown. There was reason to believe the two programs were on more or less equal footing.

 After back-to-back blowouts by 49-10 and 41-17 scores, though, no such cause for confidence exists. Every gain the Georgia program has made since 2001 has been lost. We are now where we were in the 1990s. The glory run is over and we are back to square one.

It hurts, but that is the harsh reality of the disparity between the Gators and the Dawgs respective programs right now.  I don’t get this coaching staff anymore.  I realize that motivation is a huge part of the job as a college coach, but maybe we can motivate ourselves during the two weeks by studying Florida film and convincing ourselves that we have a solid defensive plan to stop them rather than making wardrobe decisions.  Paul Westerdawg puts it perfectly in perspective with this quote:

Therefore my question is simply this….

If the entire defensive coaching staff had gone to Bermuda for two weeks and simply met the team at the stadium, what would have been different about our game plan or execution? Seriously.

I can’t argue with his logic.

I don’t know what has to be done to right this ship or even give myself hope for the foreseeable future.  All I know is that Georgia has now been outcoached in every game it’s played this season.  I don’t think that could be made any clearer than by this quote from Florida LB Brandon Spikes (more on him in a post to come):

Having said that, here’s what Brandon Spikes had to say about his fourth-quarter interception that effectively ended the game: “I knew what that play was before the ball was snapped, so I was able to make the play. The coaching staff put us in great position to make plays, so I was able to step in front of the ball.”

Vanderbilt only got ugly because of the talent disparity.  I’m frankly starting to believe that this current coaching staff is Jim Tressel of the South.  He basically dominates the Big 10 because only Michigan and Penn State typically have comparable talent.  However, when he gets on the big stage against other schools with similar talent he is being outcoached.

Obviously, there are changes that are likely to happen this year.  It does no good to make a fire sale right now.  I know many people want Willie Martinez’s head on a stick, but what good does firing him now?  It’s not like the defense is going to turn into a bunch of world-beaters overnight.  I do believe that this prediction made by some guy is going to turn out very untrue now:

Willie Martinez will still be the defensive coordinator come opening day in 2010 .

One disturbing thought has crossed my mind about this today.  I fear that if that prediction does come true, it may be time to make another prediction:

Mark Richt will not be the head coach at the University of Georgia come opening day in 2011.

I want Mark Richt to be the head coach at the University of Georgia for as long as he wants to be there.  I want Mark Richt to be the man to lead us to the promised land.  I want  Mark Richt’s grandchildren to grow up in Athens and for him and the water girl to remain staples of the Athens community like Vince and Barbara Dooley.  Right now this program is at a crossroads without any easy answers.  Richt has announced today that Joe Cox will remain the starter because the overwhelming consensus on the coaching staff is that he gives the Dawgs the best chance to win.  What if it’s the current coaching staff that gives the Dawgs the best chance to lose, though?  But hey, what do I know?  I’ve never been in the arena.

This makes it more bearable

Anyone that knows me personally knows that I have a slightly unhealthy love for the Simpsons.  Last night after work Idecided to unwind by watching a few episodes from one of the DVDs I own.  I was half paying attention while working on some stuff for today and I heard Marge make the quote “It’s moments like this where all you can do is laugh”.  She then faints a laugh and makes her famous groan.

I’d say that summed up pretty well how I’m feeling about the Bulldogs right now.  I’m trying to just laugh about it, but it’s hard to find anything funny.  Thanks to the Simpsons for putting it all in perspective for me.

Well, that’s certainly no good

Joe Schad is reporting that Logan Gray will get the start on Saturday over Joe Cox due to a shoulder problem.  Over at sportsbetting.com, the over/under on the Georgia/South Carolina game is currently at 38.  I’m thinking the under is a very safe bet right now (and my opinion about that over/under was before the reported injury).

Update:  And the storyline gets more interesting.  Let’s see what Coach Richt has to say later this afternoon that will hopefully put this story to bed.

Everyone else had their say so here’s mine…

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

    UGA 42 Kentucky 38; Initial kneejerk reaction with no thought put into it

    Georgia wins today in Lexington. After last week, this game did not provide the soul soothing blowout that Georgia fans were looking for. The Dawgs have serious, serious problems on the defensive side of the ball. There’s absolutely no reason an injury-depleted, freshman-laden Kentucky team should put up 38 points on the scoreboard. I’ve been a Willie Martinez apologist for a few years now, but this game was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. FIRE. WILLIE. MARTINEZ NOW. Not tomorrow, not at the end of the season, not in 30 minutes, I mean now! Special teams looked lackluster at best. The offense turned the ball over at untimely moments that allowed short field for Kentucky to work with. Sound familiar??? On the bright side, Mo Mass made up for two fumbles with a huge 77 yard reception to set up the final score. The defense did bail out Mo Mass’s fumbles with two 3 and outs. Matt Stafford didn’t turnover the ball once and looked like a Big 12 QB out there throwing for 376 yards with 3 TD’s. Knowshon broke 100 and rushed for 3 TD’s. I guess in the end, a win is a win, but I’m not inspired at all by this team’s play. Many have said, but I’m now convinced that SEC referees are out to get UGA. I mean, how many momentum changing penalties can be called on one team?? I suppose it could be worse. You could be these guys. More on this game tomorrow. I’m too emotionally worn down for anything else.

    Georgia vs. Kentucky, 11/8/2008

    UGA at Kentucky, 12:30 PM, Raycom Sports; Lexington , KY

    It’s been a long week for the Bulldog nation following the hangover from last weekend, but it’s time for us to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and get ready for Kentucky. Hopefully, nobody’s forgotten what happened the last time we visited Lexington. It was at this point that the team hit the proverbial rock bottom. This was also the the most horrific game of Matt Stafford’s career, last week not withstanding. I essentially see this game as the defining game of this team’s season. It’s time for us to take charge and send our seniors out the right way (by beating Auburn 3 out of 4 times, never losing to Tech, and going 3 of 4 in bowl games). On the note of seniors; we are going to really miss MoMass next year. The guy has been a warrior and he really stepped it up his senior year. I hope the rest of our young guys will grow into their roles as well as he has over the last few years. We’re going to find out how they handle the adversity of having their goals absolutely demolished last weekend in Jacksonville. We’re going to find out about the senior leadership, if any, on this team this weekend. At this point, the team can still win 10 games and go to a bowl in Florida to take on the second or third best team in the Big 10. Certainly, not the bowl game we originally wanted to attend in Florida, but 10 wins is nothing to sneeze at. It’s certainly encouraging as a fan base to see the disappointment and hurt coming from the Bulldog nation. We now expect to contend for SEC and national championships on a yearly basis. That is a far cry from when I came of age as a fan during the early to mid 90’s when we were just happy to win 6 or 7 games and have the occasional upset.

    Here are some of my keys to the game:

    -Short memory: The Dawgs need to forget what happened last week and move on. No doubt last week was an utter disappointment, but they need to make sure the same team doesn’t beat them two weeks in a row. This team’s playing for pride right now.

    -Contain Randall Cobb: If you haven’t heard of him, you will on Saturday. He’s a freshman currently rotating with Mike Hartline at the QB position. He’s also fifth on the team in rushing, active leader in receiving yards after the injured Dicky Lyons, and second on the team in punt returns. This guy can do it all. The defense has got to keep him from using his athleticism to beat them.

    -Ball Control: Kentucky has a pretty atrocious offense up to this point in the season. If Georgia can hold the ball with healthy doses of Knowshon and Caleb King, they can keep the Kentucky defense (which is its strength??) and not give them a chance to ever get in this game.

    -Turnovers!!?!?!: I only have one request for the Dawgs this weekend. Please hold onto the ball and throw it only to your teammates. Anyone that watched the game last week realizes that Florida was the better team out there. Were they 39 points better? I don’t think so. You can win by 39 points if the team gives you the ball inside their 20 twice though. Turnovers at inopportune times have been the Dawgs Achilles heel this year. They’ve got to shore up the turnover/takeaway ratio or we could be in for a long game.

    -I’m tired of repeating this, but will one more time for emphasis: Quit kicking field goals and turning the ball over in the red zone!! This has been painful to watch. It’s been a combination of miscommunication, poor execution, predictable play calling, and a young offensive line all rolled into one. For whatever reason, the Dawgs can’t seem to put it together once they get inside the 20. This has got to change as we need to put Kentucky away early and often.

    What I think will really happen:
    I’d like to be wrong, but I really think last week destroyed this team’s will. They have nothing of major significance left to play for except to beat an average team in an average bowl. Sure, GA Tech is still a big game, but only for bragging rights. With all the expectations heaped on this team this year, anything short of the ultimate goal was going to be deemed a disappointment. I don’t think Georgia will blow out this Kentucky team as many fans want to see. It will probably be a sloppy game that Georgia wins ultimately due to talent. Since the game’s in Kentucky, Macondawg has provided a nice concoction for those so inclined. I suggest drinking it because this one is going to be ugly. I don’t see Georgia going down in an upset, but I don’t see them covering the 11 points either.

    My prediction: Dawgs 21, Kentucky 17

    Hit it on the head exactly

    From Kyle’s page over at Dawg Sports, this post summed up my feelings after the game this weekend perfectly.