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Boy! That Escalted Quickly. I Mean, That Really Got Out Of Hand Fast

You never know when you are going to be walking down the street with your buddies, and the next thing you know, you are in a gang fight and someone gets stabbed in the heart with a trident. 

In college football, things can escalate quickly, for a variety of reasons.  It could be NCAA investigations, it could be the loss of some great players at once earlier than expected, it could be a bad couple of recruiting classes (any of that sound familiar fellow Georgia fans?).  Here are some examples of teams that had a lot of success (or failure) in many seasons and then things changed quickly:

  • In 2005 and 2006, Notre Dame was “back”.  Brady Quinn was a good college QB and led the Irish to two BCS bowls in consecutive seasons (never mind the fact they got blown out both times).  In 2007, the Irish went from 10-3 to 3-9. 
  • Texas lost a total of 8 games in 4 seasons from 2006-2009, including one loss in 2008 and 2009.  Going back the previous nine years before 2010, Texas lost 16 total games in nine seasons.  In 2010, Texas went 5-7 a year from playing in the National Championship game.  
  • Florida had seven total losses from 2006-2009, including 2 MNC during that span.  Florida had 5 losses in 2010 and I’ll bet you money that Florida has at least 4 more in 2011.
  • Iowa and Kirk Ferentz had good success in the early part of the decade.  Remember how around 2003 and 2004, every time there was an NFL job open, Kirk Ferentz’s name was floated around?  He must have a great agent, because he has got a large contract extension due to his perceived worth.  In 2002-2004, Iowa went 11-2, 10-3, and 10-2 respectively.  Iowa struggled in 2005-2007.  Had an outstanding year in 2009 before going back to 8-5 last year.  
  • According to Phil Steele’s fine research, Penn State had 4 losing seasons from 2000-2004.  The Nittnay Lions went 4-7 in 2004 and rebounded to go 11-1 in 2005.  Penn State had a nice run from 2005-2009.    
  • Illinois football every year except 2007. 

And finally….

  • Georgia was one of the most consistent teams in the country from 2002-2008.  2 SEC Championships and 5 top 10 finishes, including finishing #2 and #3 in 2007 and 2002.  After falling short of lofty preseason expectations in 2008, our beloved Bulldogs have struggled to a 14-12 record the last two seasons.  Mark Richt was chest deep in water before he addressed the leaks in his ship, so now that it is nut cutting time, we’ll see if he is using a tea spoon or 5 gallon bucket to remove the water. 

This is a Georgia Football blog, so what does it mean for UGA?  Well it shows that other programs have struggled and have been able to turn it around.  Most schools that turn it around have brought in a new coach and some fresh blood has been infused to the program.  But established coaches can make changes also to change course.  Can Mark Richt do it?  We saw last season he was making some changes.  Will it be enough?  I don’t know.  I sure hope so.  I looked to last year as a rebuilding year.  UGA was starting out with a new defense, a new QB and a new approach.  That was year one in Part II of Mark Richt’s career.  Year two usually brings more success.

Georgia won’t be down for long, not with the talent that is on this team. If Mark Richt has made the right hiring decisions, we should see pretty quick if the program is getting the water out of the boat. If he hasn’t, then someone else will be roaming the sidelines in 2012 or 2013.

And while it doesn’t take long for success to disappear, it doesn’t necessarily take long for it to come back, either. 

With 3 more years of Aaron Murray, and young talent like Ray Drew, Malcolm Mitchell, Isaiah Crowell and Jim Jay Rome, Georgia won’t be down for long, regardless of who the coach is.  I think with this infusion of Dream Team talent, plus the stability of Aaron Murray, Georgia is about to go on a run similar to what we saw in the early 2000s.  I am not saying Georgia wins the SEC East this season, but it won’t be long at all.   

To quote Jimmy Buffett, “better days are in the cards.”

Corbindawg

I Hate To Say I Told You So, But I Told You So

We started blogging in 2009 and the last 4 years have not been the easiest time to be a blogger (well, maybe it  has on second thought, lots of things to discuss).  I am always a “glass half full” guy, and I am a big Mark Richt person.  I need one of those t-shirts that say “Coach Richt is my Dawg.”  I have had my faith tested, and I have had one foot in the water, but I have never been one on to advocate fully for a change at head football coach.

Even when others around me were fed up, I held my ground.  I always thought that after the 2010 season, despite having a losing record, I saw improvement from the awful team in 2009.  That 2009 team will go down for me as one of the worst football teams I’ve ever seen.

Going into the 2011 season, I wrote that the changes in the prorgam were going to be enough to get the ship turned around.  Well, here we are two years later.  The Dawgs are #5 in the country and are legitimate contenders for the SEC and BCS Championship again.  Here is what I said on August 24, 2011:

With 3 more years of Aaron Murray, and young talent like Ray Drew, Malcolm Mitchell, Isaiah Crowell and Jim Jay Rome, Georgia won’t be down for long, regardless of who the coach is.  I think with this infusion of Dream Team talent, plus the stability of Aaron Murray, Georgia is about to go on a run similar to what we saw in the early 2000s.  I am not saying Georgia wins the SEC East this season, but it won’t be long at all.  

If Georgia wins the SEC this year, it will be the first time a team has won their division three consecutive years in 17 years.

It feels good for the Dawgs to be back where they belong.

Corbindawg

 

Something Similar for UGA and South Carolina

I had a thought yesterday while thumbing through my Phil Steele.  For whatever reason, last year I didn’t crack mine open near as much, and that is something I have been trying to rectify so far this summer.

2011 was a big year for a couple of SEC programs-Georgia and South Carolina.  Prior to the 2011 season, I said that a program can fall down pretty quickly, but can also rebound and have success again.  You could argue that if either one of those teams didn’t have a big year of improvement, you could make the case that one-if not both-of these schools would be looking for a new head coach.

I had this conversation with someone not too long ago:  how long would South Carolina hang on to Spurrier?  Here is his win/loss record from 2005-2010:  7-5, 8-5, 6-6, 7-6, 7-6, 9-5.  You could give him a pass for a couple of years  coming into a mess of a program, but even in year 4 and 5 they were losing six games.  How many new head coaches, six years into their career at a school, would be allowed to stay on with a 6-6 record?  Shoot, Georgia fans were ready to send Mark Richt off for a couple of bad years.

Prior to 2011, South Carolina’s bowl record was staggeringly bad.  Carolina went 1-4 in bowl games in Spurrier’s first 6 seasons.  Didn’t even make a bowl in 2007 when at one point in the season they were #6 in the country (before losing to Vanderbilt without even scoring a TD).

Even in 2010 when Spurrier guided the Gamecocks to the SEC Championship Game, he did so under auspicious circumstances.  Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia were all very bad.  South Carolina won the SEC East with 3 losses-the first time in the Division’s history that has happened.  In 2010, two of Carolina’s three conference losses were losses to Kentucky by 3 and Arkansas by 21.

Now, Spurrier being Spurrier gave him a pass and he did inherit a mess.

Richt’s success from 2001-2007 is well documented, and just as well documented are the struggles from 2008-2010.  The low point for me was after the Boise State game in 2011.  I thought we were going to be much improved following the disaster that was 2010.  I actually had a sense of encouragement after the heartbreaker against South Carolina.  But losing two games in a row to non-SEC opponents was tough.   I really thought Georgia might go 4-8 that season.

And there was a mirage in 2009.   Going 8-5 is not great, but after losing Knowshon, Stafford and Massaquoi, well a step back is to be expected.  But in reality, that 2009 team was awful. AWFUL.  UGA Got extremely lucky to not have a losing record in 2009.  Just think if there were back to back losing seasons in 2009 and 2010-that is another post for another day.   The 2010 team was actually improved in just about every way-except the one that counts in W/L.

But all of this is water under the bridge now.  South Carolina is rolling along.  They have only lost 4 games the last two seasons.  Georgia has been the beneficiary of fortunate breaks in the schedule, but won the games they were supposed to and only have two conference losses the last two seasons (both the Carolina), have made the SEC Championship game in consecutive years, was a mere 5 yards shy of a National Championship, and is the preseason favorite to go back to Atlanta for the third year in a row (for the record, my early lean is on Carolina making it back to Atlanta).

Neither school had to make a tough decision for a coaching change following the 2011 season, as they were both able to get the ship turned around.  Both schools are poised for good 2013 seasons.  I’ve rambled on long enough, but the interesting question is a couple of years from now, both programs will be losing key talent, so will the success continue?  I think it is more likely for Georgia to continue to be good than Carolina.

But this season, Carolina’s schedule is very favorable.  The 2013 match-up will determine the SEC East winner, and if Carolina wins, should put them in the driver’s seat for a spot in the National Championship game.

Corbindawg

Setting Up For History To Repeat Itself??

 Let’s go back and review a few things.

Remember a season where:  Georgia’s quarterback threw an increased rate of interception and saw its running game disappear at times and its offensive line allowed the quarterback to be continuously sacked; Georgia didn’t beat a team of any significance and lost to the only good teams it played; Georgia relied heavily on its defense and its big time play makers on that side of the ball; Georgia won the SEC East and got hammered by LSU in the SEC Championship game? 

Remember when after this aforementioned season, its star freshman running back that emerged wouldn’t be available for the upcoming season?  Also, do you remember when two freshmen running backs were asked to carry the load, and when the defense saw its stars return to play on one of the most formidable defensive units in UGA history?

What two seasons am I talking about?

If you think I am talking about the 2011 and 2012 seasons, well you would be partially correct.  But full credit would go to those who answered 2003 and 2004. 

I watched the highlights of the 2004 LSU game night before last (a couple of observations about that game:  1. Georgia opened up a can of whoop ass 2.  Why can’t we dominate a team like that anymore? 3. Larry Munson was being pessimistic despite Georgia being up 31-10 in the third quarter). 

Something stuck out to me watching that game.  Danny Ware and Thomas Brown provided a good 1-2 punch that season and both were freshmen.  Kregg Lumpkin tore his ACL during fall camp, and was never quite the same afterwards.  But Georgia continued to run the ball effectively with the two freshmen and was able to withstand the crushing blow of being without the #2 ranked runningback out of HS. 

Also, that defense was sick.  Thomas Davis.  Odell Thurman.  David Pollack.  I could continue.  Demario Minter.  Greg Blue.  The players on that defense were elite, hard hitting all-time great Georgia players.

I have said many times that the 2003 and 2011 seasons eerily mirrored each other in many ways.  The ways I mentioned in the first paragraph.  I have also spent a considerable amount of time illustrating the interception problem of David Greene in 2003 was similar to Aaron Murray’s in 2011. Georgia didn’t really beat anyone either season; and when it played good teams (2003:  LSUx2,  2011:  all four losses) Georgia was defeated.  Georgia relied heavily both of these seasons on its defense (and the offense was better last season Bobo haters). 

Could 2012 mirror 2004? 

Our 2012 defensive unit is filled with playmakers and hard-hitting talent.  Names like Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings, John Jenkins, Kwame Geathers, Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington are comparable to the names I listed from 2004.  Can our freshmen tailbacks come in and make an impact like Ware and Brown did?

 There are concerns.  The offensive line scares the living hell out of me.  But we are returning a stellar defense.  We have a veteran quarterback who has started a lot of games in the SEC.  There is depth and talent in the offensive skill positions.  The pieces are there to be great again.

In some ways, I hope it is not a direct mirror image.  I think the 2004 season was, aside from the letdown in 2008 and the debacle in 2010, the most disappointing season under Coach Richt.  

In 2004, Georgia went 10-2 and beat Florida.  I know the expectation is to play in Atlanta again this season-and it damn well should be.  But honestly, if I told you right now that Georgia would go 10-2 and beat Florida, how many of you wouldn’t take that in a minute?

If this team goes 10-2, beats Florida but misses out on the SEC Championship game, we will all be disappointed and rightly so.  But wouldn’t that in itself be a great measure of where we have rebounded from?  If having by most standards a successful season means disappointment, not going 8-5 and playing in Shreveport, then haven’t the right steps been made to rectify our program?

Unless the Dawgs completely implode, the only team on our schedule that has the offensive fire power to give our defense fits in the first 12 games is South Carolina.  The talent combined with the favorable schedule makes everything shape up well for the Dawgs in 2012.   If Georgia cannot shoot itself in the foot and get out of its own way, this upcoming season would not be a disappointment like the 2004 campaign.   That 2004 team wet the bed against Tennessee and ran into a buzz saw against Auburn.   There is no team on the 2012 schedule that is near as good as the 2004 Auburn team.

2011 was a repeat of the 2003 season.  If 2012 is in many ways a repeat of 2004, then what I predicted almost exactly a year ago would ring true…

I think with this infusion of Dream Team talent, plus the stability of Aaron Murray, Georgia is about to go on a run similar to what we saw in the early 2000s. I am not saying Georgia wins the SEC East this season, but it won’t be long at all.

To quote Jimmy Buffett, “better days are in the cards.”

 …and we would be on the cusp of another great run in UGA history. 

Corbindawg


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