Archive for the 'Coaching' Category

Jacksonvilling, A Georgia Tradition

38-20.

The winning team with more than 400 rushing yards.

The losing team’s fans taking to social media to rip the losing coach to shreds, some calling for his firing.

On paper, and if you asked anyone outside the Georgia fan base the past week, they’ve have surmised that it would have been Georgia with the 38 points and gaudy rushing yards, and Florida with the loss and possibly placing the red tag in Will Muschamp’s locker.

Then again, none of those fans know that us Georgia fans know all too well. There’s a little thing called Jacksonville, and for whatever reason, Georgia’s more underwhelming performances happen at Everbank Field. It may not be a true neutral site, but that can’t be an excuse to let down after let down. Go back in Mark Richt’s tenure and better Georgia teams have either struggled to beat, or lose to inferior Florida teams.

But Saturday? It took it to another level. In terms of losses under Mark Richt, it, to me is among the top three most shameful, in the same breath as the 2006 Sugar Bowl and 2008 against Georgia Tech.

It’s unconscionable that a team that rolls over Mizzou and Arkansas, on the road, to be blunt, just seemed uninterested in being there on Saturday. More baffling? This team’s worst performances this year have come off open dates. I mean, if this coaching staff has problems keeping players sharp, why the heck not scrimmage someone like Buford High on open weekends?

The officials Saturday? They were bad, as usual. Was Gurley missed? Yes, but it wouldn’t have meant much with the way Georgia was beaten up front.

But it’s funny, in a way. Saturday may have been the final laugh for Georgia toward the Muschamp era at Florida. Instead, it is one that Florida fans will always remember, and remind Georgia fans with infamy – very similar to Georgia’s 1985 win over top-ranked Florida. And, depending on what happens the rest of the year, could be the turning point for Richt’s turnaround during the past three seasons. Sure, it’s post-game gut reactions, but all I know is a lot of Richt apologists last night appeared to be tired of defending Richt, and may be finally resolving that maybe their loyalty needs to be reevaluated.

At the end of the day, the problem is this. Georgia fans are asking themselves why this team has put together another underwhelming showing in a game it had no business losing going in. And it happens season after season.

Saturday was a chance to continue moving this program forward. Instead, it took multiple steps back, and it may need a win over Auburn in two weeks to get back on track.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Not giving up on Mason…yet

When Rick Pitino was head coach of the Boston Celtics, he once famously exclaimed the the likes of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish are ‘not walking through that door.”

That, to me, is the realization that is more real than ever for Georgia football when it comes to Hutson Mason.

Mason is the best option under center for this team right now. He won’t be Aaron Murray, no one else will be, and Mason is in the unenviable position of replacing one of the top signal-callers in Georgia history.

Fortunately for Mason, he has a healthy Todd Gurley in the backfield. This team has gone from being carried by Aaron Murray a year ago with patchwork running backs at times to Gurley carrying this team’s offense with a limitation at quarterback.

The good news for Mason is that I’m not sure we’ve seen all that he can do. Not even going back to last season against Georgia Tech and Nebraska, Hutson Mason did not have the full arsenal of receivers to throw to.

As frustrating as it may be to not see Mason stretch the field, he can only take those shots if the chances are there. This team has had one true deep threat the past four games in Chris Conley. So when defenses key on him, it’s easy to stack 10 in the box.

But if you get even a somewhat healthy Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell on the field, it gives defense something to at least think about – and more receivers that can stand a better chance of getting open.

It’s an adjustment not having a QB who can chuck it deep. And not an easy one to get used to. But having more to work with will at least give Hutson Mason a fighting chance.

As odd as it sounds, the Vanderbilt game will be highly important for this team. It’ll show if it has any chance to have any sort of passing attack or if its hopes will hinge on Todd Gurley staying healthy.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

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

Last week was nice, but…

From the moment that Georgia’s 2014 schedule was released, one positive that jumped out was this week’s open date. The schedule-makers slotted Georgia with an open date between two brusing matchups – last week against Clemson and next week’s road trip to South Carolina.

While the Gamecocks will go up against a pesky East Carolina team, Georgia can rest up and guys such as Malcolm Mitchell and John Theus can get closer to being healthy.

Still, the open week could be a bad thing.

The Bulldogs are coming off of an impressive win last week against Clemson. Georgia has risen in the rankings, and very, very early talk of National Title hopes and a Heisman Trophy contention for Todd Gurley has been kicked into high gear.

Georgia’s fans have an extra week to reflect on how impressive the Dawgs looked last week – and the players have more time to hear about how good they looked.

Georgia’s season may be defined in how well it handles the open date. If it lapses this week, the Bulldogs could leave Columbia next Saturday 0-1 in SEC play, and the Clemson win would be little more than a nice win over an old rival.

It’s great to win, but that win cannot define a season.

Anyone remember 2004. Georgia whipped LSU in a much-anticipated rematch. The next week, a lackluster performance against Tennessee cost Georgia the game as well as the SEC Eastern Division title. Or as Georgia head coach Mark Richt said, “we lost the wrong game.”

Last week was nice for Georgia. But it’ll pale in comparison if the Bulldogs don’t come out with a win following this weekend’s open date.

Lugnut Dawg 

Bobo being taken for granted?

Let’s throw it out there. Mike Bobo is a massive lightning rod when it comes to the UGA football program. Mention his name and you’ll either have fans talk about how great he or how he needs to lose his job (which I still fail to understand, for what it’s worth).

Georgia, however, is running a high risk of neglecting Bobo. There was recent news that Bobo received a contract extension, but a pay raise was not included.

Look, I get the fact that the defensive staff has to be offered more to lure them in, and I have no issue with that. If Pruitt and Company produce, they are worth every penny.

But when you have a coach such as Mike Bobo, whose offense is the only reason that this team was a national title contender two years ago and made itself a factor for Atlanta again this year, you have to, as they say, “Pay the man.”

And then there is the fact that Georgia’s upswing in South Georgia recruiting has a lot to do with Bobo.

Bobo is a loyal guy to both Georgia and Mark Richt. But when you underappreciate someone long enough, the end result is that person making an easy decision to leave.

Let’s hope it never comes to that.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Gator Bowl Review: A Crummy Commercial

Be Sure to drink your Ovaltine.  Ovaltine?  A crummy commercial?  Son of a bitch!
-Ralphie

I have a few thoughts about the Gator Bowl yesterday, but before I jumped in the specifics, I wanted to touch on some big picture thoughts.

I hate when the Dawgs lose.  I hate it so bad.  I want, and most years expect, Georgia to win every game.  I have as unrealistically high expectations on where I want the football program to be as anyone.  I was devastated after the Auburn loss, and in the past, I have been devastated by losses in bowl games.

But not anymore.  I saw a lot of venom and angst yesterday on Twitter, but I simply don’t care that Georgia lost yesterday.  If Georgia had won, I would have felt good, but not have the same feeling of happiness I have when we beat South Carolina, LSU, came back against Tennessee and Tech, and beat Florida for the 3rd year in a row.

Don’t be confused; I am not one to hate on the Bowls.  I love watching these games.  I stayed up to 12:30 in the morning last night watching UCF beat Baylor.  I was glued to Texas A&M and Duke.  These are fun games.  But in the end, they are just glorified commercials for the sponsors, ways for local towns to fill up hotel rooms, and ESPN to have content and sell advertising space.  That is all.  The bowls have no merit other than that.  Except the National Championship.  And I’ll even say the bigger bowls have luster.  Living in the South and having the tradition, you want to say you won the Sugar Bowl.  The Rose Bowl is important to the Big 10 and Pac 10/12.

But these mediocre bowls are just exhibition games and fun games to watch.  How many times yesterday did they talk about the bad playing conditions on the field, yet they let Junior drive his car out on the field and hand over the coin?  It was done for pomp and circumstance, and to let Tax Slayer have their spokesmen get TV coverage.  I’m sure if this was game in Sanford Stadium, there would be no way in hell a car would be driven on the field, espeically in those conditions.

I saw stats yesterday that UGA is 1-3 in Bowls the last 4 years, or they’ve lost X number of games the last five years and this and that.  I hate these stats, because they are intellectually dishonest.  If we had won yesterday, UGA would be 2-2 in their last four bowls.  Just like with the beating ranked team argument, those stats are only thrown up after a loss. If we had won, no one would say “Hey, Mark Richt is 47-21 his last five years.”  But since they lost, it was “Mark Richt is 46-22 his last five years.”

Previously, a bowl win might help you in the polls for next season.  But now with the playoff selection committee, the polls are completely irrelevant.  And Auburn and Baylor showed that if you start the season unranked, you can still climb up in the hearts and minds of America if you just win the games.

I am not just saying this as a defense mechanism because the Dawgs lost or having sour grapes.  It was nice to get a win last year, but did it matter?  I mean, it was nice to close out on a win, but last year I was still hung over from the Alabama game.  Losing to UCF didn’t keep the Dawgs from signing the Dream Team or winning the SEC East in 2011.  Losing to Michigan State didn’t keep Georgia from signing the “Ring Team” or winning the East in 2012.  Beating Nebraska last year didn’t do anything to help us for 2012 against Clemson or keep anyone from getting injured this season.

I opened with a quote from one of my favorite movies.  I’ll throw in another 80s movie franchise example.  In the Rocky movies, what bout was more important-Rocky beating Apollo Creed for the title in Rocky II or beating Ivan Drago in Rocky IV?  Clearly, beating Creed was more important.  It was for the belt.  Did Rocky’s fight against Thunderlips in Rocky III matter?  No, it was a charity exhibition.

Like with Ralphie and his Little Orphan Annie Decoder that was thought to be something more than it was, these bowls are just a crummy commercial.  Any more or less emotional investment in them is just a waste of time.

The actions in the game certainly frustrated me.  Same old, same old.

-I want to get into special teams more in detail later, but how we can’t be competent in the punt return game is maddening.  As I was watching UCF last night, every time they received a punt there was no drama.  Remember when we had Damien Gary, Thomas Flowers, Mikey Henderson, and Brandon Boykin would could actually make plays?  We can’t even field the punts anymore.  Man, I long for the days of Logan Gray.

-I think the defense quietly played its best game of the year yesterday, with one glaring mistake.  Of course, the glaring mistake was a big one.  For all intents and purposes, a 100 yard touchdown pass is not something you see often, especially from Nebraska.  And what sucked so bad is as soon as he let it rip, you just knew it was going to the house.

-Gurley was hobbled, it was clear he wasn’t 100% still.  But he still had a very good game.  I think that if he was 100%, he would have scored on the 3rd and 10 draw play in the closing minutes.

-It seems like Lynch has had some big drops and other miscues this season, but Lynch is still a good player and will be sorely missed.  I wish him nothing but the best in his NFL or other future endeavors.

-Not having Matthews or JHC at safety was evident.  I hope JHC can get his act together, because I am not sure his leash is going to be incredibly long going forward.  He is reminding me an awful lot like Ealey and King.

-Mason did well statistically, but 182 out of his 320 yards (57%) came on little dump offs to Gurley and Douglas, and the one long pass to Bennett.  I get the weather didn’t help any, and the O-line protection was shaky, but it seemed he was a little off, hesitant, and held on the ball for way too long.  Like I said last week, hopefully he was able to learn something.

I don’t know if I have ever said this, but I am glad this season is over.  I love watching the Dawgs play. I pine for it all year.  I talk about it all year with friends.  Hell, I take the time to blog about it.  Football season is fun, even if the team is not doing well.  It is even more fun when they are.  But this year was an up and down roller coaster of emotions and I’m glad it is came to an end.  I’ll be jacked up for the 2014 campaign soon, but right now, I am just glad this year is over and behind us.

Corbindawg

Bobo’s Future Sign of UGA Success

It is being floated around that Bobo is going to talk with Georgia Southern after the Gator Bowl.  Bobo won’t go to Southern.  That would absolutely dumb for a few reasons:  One, Southern sucks.  Two, with the move up to FBS this year, GSU is going to get their brains beat in for a few years.  It is going to take time for the Eagles to have success in the Sunbelt.  He’d be setting himself up to fail.  Finally, GSU runs the triple option.  Not going to have players to run his scheme.

Look, I know folks out there give Bobo a hard time.  But let me just shoot it straight with you:  if you seriously think Bobo draws plays with a crayon, or think he is a terrible OC, or think that UGA should dump him, or think that just now in 2013 he FINALLY proved himself  to you , then you are an idiot.  An absolute freaking idiot.

In fact, Mike Bobo’s offense is the best thing about this football team, and it has been for quite sometime.   Not only his playcalling abilities, but also throw in his recruiting and his QB development.  The man knows what the hell he is doing, and has proved to be very good at it.  As Bernie pointed out in this quote-Bobo blistered several coordinators who make more than he does including scoring at least 35 points on: LSU’s John Chavis (44 points; $1.1 million), Georgia Tech’s Ted Roof (41 points; $600,000), South Carolina’s Lorenzo Ward (41 points; $650,000), Auburn’s Ellis Johnson (38 points; $800,000) and Clemson’s Brent Venables (35 points, $800,000)-Bobo’s success isn’t just against the also rans.  The job he did in 2013 is especially commendable with all the injuries, and 247Sports recognized that.

Greg McGarity is going to have to dig in to pay Bobo what he deserves.  I know Mike Bobo will leave UGA at some point.  He is young, ambitious and successful. But Georgia shouldn’t let him leave for just any job.  He won’t go to Southern.  Coaches’ salaries have gotten really big, even at smaller schools.  If Bobo leaves for a Sun Belt job or C-USA job for a million bucks, it will be awful.  I can live with him going to a big school for big money.  But there is no reason at all he should leave for a small school for “not much money” when Georgia not only can pony up and pay him, but should pony up and pay him.

Georgia has got to make Mike Bobo the highest paid coordinator not only on staff, but in the SEC.  He is a former player, the longest tenured coach on the staff, and has proven himself.  Name me one coordinator in the SEC who has been in their current position as long as Bobo and who has done as good a job over a 7+ season tenure.   I can think of three:  Kirby Smart, Ellis Johnson, and John Chavis (though the last two have not been at their current school for that long).

Alabama has kept Kirby Smart.  Texas kept Muschamp around for a while.  Clemson is stepping up to pay Chad Morris and Brent Venables.

If Georgia lets Bobo leave for financial reasons, then rage and anger on the message boards, in the stands on Saturdays, and on the Bill Shanks show should be directed at the UGA administation.  People always ask, “Do you think Alabama and Nick Saban would do X?”  I’ll have another question: Do you think the University of Alabama would not properly pay Kirby Smart?  Would they let Kirby Smart leave over money?  And to Richt’s credit, remember he went out of pocket to pay his guys becuase UGA wouldn’t.

People want to constantly point fingers at Richt as to why Georgia isn’t winning a National Championship.  Though a Richt guy, I can see room for criticism.   Critics say all issues start at the top, meaning Richt.  He has to be the one who is ultimately accountable.   Remember that Richt has people over him.  If UGA wants to be successful like Alabama, then it does start at the top.

And I don’t mean Richt.

Corbindawg

(I also think Richt is under paid, based on what the market is demanding.  Look at the other SEC head coaches.  Regardless of what you think of Richt, for him to be paid middle of the pack and the same as Hugh Freeze doesn’t make sense.  But that is another post for another day)



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