How Much More Can They Take?

Even the most critical of Coach Richt can agree on one thing:  his best attribute might be the fact he is a master motivator when adversity strikes.

Just think about it.  How much adversity this team has faced over the past four or five years.  If the players didn’t believe in Mark Richt, and play their tails off for him, he’d be doing a show with Gene Chizik on the SEC Network now.

Remember back in 2011?  The Bulldawgs were coming off a losing season, then lost the first two games of 2011.  Everyone was saying the loser of the UGA/Ole Miss game would be fired.  His seat was scorching hot.  What happened?  The Dawgs went out and won 10 straight games and played tough against LSU in the SEC Championship.

In 2012, the Dawgs were coming off an ass whoppin’ for the ages in Columbia, then almost lost to Kentucky.  What happened?  Georgia beat Florida and then came 5 yards shy against Alabama.

Even last year.  All the highs (LSU and South Carolina) and lows (Vanderbilt loss).  With all that went wrong last season with defense and injuries, the players never quit.  If they had, we’d gotten beat by 40 against Auburn, and not overcome a 20 point hole against Tech.

When their backs are against the wall and adversity creeps in, Mark Richt is able to rally his guys and they still fight for him.

Don’t scoff at this.  If it were that easy, Mack Brown would probably still have a job and the Braves would be playoff bound.

We have heard the same song and verse after the loss in Columbia.  “We still have all of our goals in front of us.”

How much longer can this message be repeated?  I hope this isn’t the case, but gut wrenching loss after gut wrenching loss, how much more can the psyche take?

My biggest fear for the rest of the season isn’t we get beat again by a quality opponent.  I have no problem with losing to South Carolina.  You play a tough team on the road, and you lose by 3 points.  Like with Clemson a year ago, there is no shame in that.  Nothing to hang your head one.  Don’t miskate this for accepting defeats; I am simply being pragmatic.

But it is the way you lose that is so bad.  It is not that Georgia gets beat. It’s that they get beat in the worse possible ways.

My fear is that the players finally don’t say the hell with it and stop fighting hard for their head coach.

Richt has proven time and time again he can rally the guys and get them to play hard.

Can he do it again?



Why Not Give It To Gurley?

The decision to not hand it to Gurley while on the 4 yard line is one that certainly helped keep Georgia from winning Saturday, but it is hardly the only reason why Georgia lost.  I can’t believe after all this time folks are still complaining about Mike Bobo.

Look, Mike Bobo is an excellent recruiter and is a big reason for Georgia’s success in recent years.

I don’t blame him, or generally question his calls.  I’ve been a loud and proud defender of Mike Bobo for a long time. 

Not giving it to Todd Gurley with 1st and Goal on the 4 yard line was a bad, bad decision in an otherwise well-called game.  Anytime you score 35 points on the road, in the rain no less, you are doing something right.  And that play call, the play-action pass to the tight end, is a bread and butter play of ours that has worked a lot and scored a bunch of touchdowns for Georgia over the years, including earlier in the game.

I want to make it clear…we didn’t lose the game solely because of that bad call on the goal line. 

With all that said, I keep on going back to this:

Why not give the ball to Gurley?

I thought back to Florida when they had Tim Tebow.  In 2006, when Tebow would come in, you knew what he was going to do, and Florida by God did it.  From 2007-2009, in that situation, everyone in America knew Tebow was going to run up the middle in those situations.  Or do that stupid jump pass.  And it worked.  Every time.  When Auburn had Cam Newton, in that situation, what would happen?  We all know that Cam would have kept it.

You have the best tailback at your school in a generation.  You have the best player at that position in the entire country on your team.  Why would you not put the ball in his hand in that situation?  What is the point of having an All-American, Heisman trophy candidate in Todd Gurley if you aren’t going to put the ball in his hands in the most crucial of situations?  So what if everyone knew it was going to happen?

Spurrier saw a weakness in our defense and exploited it all night.  We knew what was going to happen, and we couldn’t stop it.  If it is working, and you have the talent, why not dare them to stop it?  Georgia  had 4 tries to get 4 yards with the best running back in America.

It harkened back to the South Carolina game in 2007.  In case you don’t remember, Georgia got the ball back down 7 with 6 minutes left in the game.  Knowshon had runs of 10 yards then 11 yards to get down to the South Carolina 11 yard line.  The next three plays were incomplete passes to Michael Moore, Tripp Chandler and Tony Wilson.  Trusting my memory here, either Massaquoi and Bailey, the two best receivers, were not even on the field.  You just had Knowshon gash the defense, and you went away from that.  Now, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and those are mistakes you can expect a coordinator to make in his 4th game calling plays.  Not from someone who is in their 8th year calling plays.

I think we panicked.  This game reminded me of many of the heartbreaking games in Jacksonville in the early 2000s, except with better offense and worse defense.  Costly (BS) penalties and having to settle for field goals was eerily similar.  But it goes back to confidence.  In all those games in Jacksonville, we had superior players, and during the Zook era superior coaching.  In Jacksonville, we never had the confidence.  For whatever reason Saturday night, we didn’t have the confidence in our best player to put the ball in his hand in a crucial situation.

Florida would with Tebow.  Auburn did with Cam.  Why didn’t Georgia with Gurley?


Post USC-East takes

Maybe it was the emotional exhaustion of another grindfest in SEC play…or maybe it had something to do with an eight-week old girl in the house, but I somehow drifted into an unexpected nap on Sunday afternoon.

So after all that, and some time to let everything from Saturday sink in, here are a few takes.

- Was the decision to not run Todd Gurley four times at the four-yard line a knuckleheaded call by Mike Bobo? Probably (Of course, it didn’t help that officials botched the intentional grounding call…more on that later). But I’m more than willing to give Bobo some slack. This offense has averaged more than 40 points or so the past three years. If you would have told me we’d roll up around 40 points the first two games this year with a hovering above average QB and ZERO deep threats at receiver, I’d gladly take it. This team has some shortcomings right now. Mike Bobo is not one of them.

- The defense showed how far of a hole it has to dig out of. When you have inexperience, you can have the greatest coaching in the world, but it cannot compensate with lack of experience. There is talent on defense, but that talent has to grow up in a hurry. A few players that did not want to do it ‘The Georgia Way,” who are not worth mentioning, may help this team long-term, but they put it in a tough spot short-term. This defense will get on the right track. Hopefully, it will be before it is too late. Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins were non-factors against South Carolina…but the Chickens going max-protect had a lot to do with that.

- Did the referees cost Georgia the game? Yes and no. It baffles me that as much revenue as the SEC pulls in that it has no problem that its officials continue to embarrass the conference. And this is not only a Georgia gripe. Ask Kentucky’s fans, as well. An awful holding penalty call cost Georgia a touchdown and Heisman-highlight clip from Todd Gurley, and the intentional grounding call was an awful miss too.  For whatever reason, the SEC does not think its important to have quality officials. It is laughing all the way to the bank. The league, its teams and fans deserve way better. At the end of the day, though, you have to assume in every game you are not going to get certain breaks and have to play well enough to over come them. Georgia did not do that. Which brings us to…

- Football is a funny and illogical game sometimes. How Marshall Morgan’s field goal streak ends with two misses in the second half baffles me. If he makes one of them, it’s a tie game. If he makes both, Georgia wins. On the road in this conference, you have to make your own breaks and take advantage. Georgia did not do that.

- Despite many comment section and Facebook postings after the game, this season is not over. It’s a tough pill to swallow to lose to the HBC, but this team still controls its own fate. USCe will lose at least once more this season. More often than not, you won’t run the table in this conference, it just won’t happen as much as you want it to.

- I’m avoiding the call-in shows on Monday.

- You can’t pin this loss on one facet. It was a team loss. There were breakdowns on offense, defense and special teams that contributed to the loss. This team has a week to get better and heal up against Troy and take on what will be a pesky Tennessee team.

- Can we replace Uncle Verne?

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Gurley sums it all up


Throw Back Thursday: Road Trippin’ To Columbia

Our friend Granite goes to nearly all the road games, and has been to every stadium in the SEC multiple times (minus Texas A&M, obviously).  He has a lot of travel experience going to these different towns and tailgating in enemy territory.

No need to reinvent the wheel here, just look at his post from two years ago if you are making the trip to Columbia this weekend.

Travel safe, and Go DAWGS!



South Carolina’s 2012 Gameplan Way to Beat Gamecocks

Though try as hard as we can to forget it, we all remember the 2012 South Carolina game.  There have been some clunker performances in the Richt era.  As far as ass whippings are concerned, that one is the worst, because we had a good team that just ran into the buzzsaw.  I remember watching that game on TV, and I just thought as South Carolina ran out, “Damn.”

Of course, the worst performance in the Richt era was the 2004 Tennessee game, but that is neither here nor there.

Doing some research for the post about Georgia’s unkind history in Columbia, I was reading through all the box scores.  What I remember about that 2012  game is that Connor Shaw destroyed us.  Though he was never confused with a Marcus Mariota type, his ability to extend plays and scramble was really something.  And he killed us that night.  As good as Marcus Lattimore was in his career and against Georgia, Shaw was the reason Georgia lost that game.  He had 162 yards passing on just 6 completions on 10 attempts.  That is 27 yards per completion.

Lattimore had a good day-109 yards on 24 carries.  Not his best performance against Georgia, but nothing to turn your nose at.   Shaw had 78 yards on 14 carries.  The threat of the two of them running the ball, combined with Shaw’s mobility and ability to throw on the run, caused the 27 yards per completions and big plays in the passing game.

I know that Coaches Bobo and Richt don’t need me to tell them how to game plan for South Carolina.  I-along with just about everyone else in Sanford Stadium, people watching on TV, Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge-questioned only giving it Gurley 4 times in the first half against Clemson.  That plan clearly worked.

I think the key to beating a motivated South Carolina team is the opposite of the Clemson plan.  Against Clemson, Georgia threw the ball just enough to keep Clemson honest and then pounded the rock.  I think to have success against South Carolina, we have got to run the ball early, often and effective.  Make South Carolina load the box.  This way, one of two things will happen.  Gurley will either break through and make a safety try to stop him, or it will create opportunity for Mason to find his receivers.  Hutson Mason will never be confused athletically with Connor Shaw, but as far as what he is asked to do in the passing game, he can be similar.  We don’t need to pass it a lot, but we can have the fear of running the ball set up big plays in the passing game.

Georgia won’t have Mitchell or Scott-Wesley, but Mason, Bennett and Conley showed against Tech that they can muster a good game together.

So for our running game to really be effective, ergo making the passing game work out, the defense has to do its part and not give up big plays and get us in a deep hole too early.

If Geogia can keep from getting in a deep hole, let Gurley and company run the ball and strike fear in the South Carolina defense, it will make Hutson Mason’s job easier and the passing game will have opportunities for big plays.  This will make the offense hard to stop.

It is a story we’ve unfortunately seen before.


Put Out Good Product To Put Butts In Seats

The big news in Atlanta sports today is the Hawks owner making comments about why the fan attendance is sparse.  The other big storyline in Atlanta right now is the with the Braves, and how 1) they suck and 2) are building a new stadium in Cobb County (where the season ticket holders are).

I have to admit I don’t follow the NBA all that closely, and I haven’t been to a Hawks game in a long, long time (it was at the Omni and Mookie Blaylock was point guard), and living in the middle Georgia I don’t get up to as many Braves games as I’d like.

But the thing these owners don’t get that if you put a good product on the field, fans will come.  Phillips has a good crowd when the Heat, Lakers or Celtics come to town.  I’ve been to Braves games when the Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs come in.  It is a packed house.

For all the talk about fan attendance at colleges, if you have a successful team, fans will show up.  Tennessee had their first sellout in many years the first weekend against Utah State.  Why?  because for years Tennessee was awful and this year there was some finally some fan excitement and hope for Tennessee.   If Georgia is 10-0 going into Charleston Southern, it will be a bigger crowd an Sanford than if Georgia is 5-3.   I traveled to the Auburn game in 2012.  Walking around campus, the Auburn fans were more interested in rooting against Alabama playing Texas A&M than they were about the Georgia game.  The attendance to that game was not at capacity, and most fans left at halftime when the game was starting to get out of hand.

I bet Auburn fans were showing up in droves last season.

If the Braves, Hawks, Falcons (or even Georgia) want fans to show up, don’t spend money on new stadiums in the suburbs.

Spend money on putting a quality product on the field.  This season, the Braves did absolutely nothing to improve their team at the trade deadline.  While a team like Oakland, who is in a smaller market and spends less money than the Braves, got Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija.  The Braves are never in the conversation for the big superstar free agent during the offseason.  Put an exciting lineup out there with superstar players that win games.

Win games, and the fans will come and spend money on food, souvenirs, etc.



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