Archive for the 'Coaching' Category

Win or lose, it’s all moving ahead

It just seems like an alternative universe these days on the recruiting trail.

Even a year ago, the hope for this Georgia program was to maybe, if it was lucky, snag one or two four or five-star guys. Now, especially on the heels of Andrew Thomas signing on, getting the high-caliber guys is expected and not a shock.

Maybe it’s the reveling in the energy that Kirby Smart has brought that has trickled down all over the far reaches of the program, from coaches to the fans.

Perhaps it’s an energy we didn’t see out of Butts Mehre since pre-2005.

Sure, part of it is novelty. But the bottom line is that Georgia is getting more and more high-caliber guys than I can even remember. I’m not a recruiting fanatic – I try not to get hung up in star ratings.

But when you are beating the Alabamas of the world instead of the USC Jr.’s for players, that speaks MAJOR volumes.

Bottom line – this team could be scary good – which is why if this team goes 8-4 this year I won’t be too bummed.

That’s a far cry from the previous regime.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

 

Three Make or Break Games

There are a lot of games this fall to raise the needle up as far as anticipation.

There’s Kirby Smart’s debut. A pivotal game for the division against UTK. Jacksonville. A chance to exact more mastery against Malzahn. The bugs. And others along the way.

Here are, at least in my mind, three games that can make or break the season.

  1. North Carolina: This one is big for oh so many reasons. First – the Bulldog Nation has some demons of the Georgia Dome to rid itself of. And then there’s the whole Kirby Smart’s first chance to prove himself as head coach against and pretty good quality opponent. Losing won’t detonate the whole season, but it’ll certainly get things off to a good start, and also avoid detractors that are bigger fans of The University of Mark Richt than UGA from foaming at the mouth.
  2. Tennessee: If Georgia takes care of business, this one could be big, and even may still be if a loss to Ole Miss happens. Win this and the season, as usual, hinges on the WLOCP. Plus, you can stunt the upward path of a Tennessee program that just may be better than the ’72 Dolphins if you ask their fan base.
  3. Florida: First of all, Kirby knows what this game means as a South Georgian and former player. Remember – he grew up partially in a time where Georgia did not lose often in Jax. If there are any doubters about CKS – they’ll be greatly silenced by doing something Richt struggled to do for the most part – beat Florida.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

 

Is a big helping of patience in order?

I’m a big fan of winning. It’s better than losing.

Of course, the UGA Athletic Board has the same line of thinking by and large – that’s why Mark Richt is in Coral Gables and Kirby Smart was called to come home to Athens.

In a perfect world, the Smart regime would surpass anything Richt has ever done. But there’s an old saying I once heard – that you cannot make chicken salad without the chicken.

The steal a phrase from Smart’s old boss, ‘it’s a process.’

Georgia may not appear in the mold of how Kirby wants it in September. But will it be toward what he’s envisioning in a three-year plan by the time Auburn comes to town? I’d say odds are good.

There are depth issues at places like running back and inside linebacker. Yes, there’s young talent, but even when you’re in the fire of competition, it’s a learning curve, regardless of the ability.

And make no mistake – if Georgia has a similar record to the end of the Richt era (when Georgia was blessed with an easier schedule than it will face this year), the fans of The University of Mark Richt will be loud boisterous.

But there’s a reason why Georgia pulled the trigger to bring Kirby to Athens.

My prediction is this: It may not show with the record – but Smart will have this program headed in the right direction by November.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

 

 

 

On Georgia Southern

For the record, I think Georgia wins. But in possibly an indictment of how uneasy things are amongst the fan base, I could also see Georgia losing as well.

Living in Middle Georgia, you live among a good mix of fans, and with its proximity, that includes Georgia Southern fans. To me, GSU has always been a rural version of the Georgia Tech fan base. Georgia should not lose to them on the gridiron – and when it happens, it is MAJOR deal.

And don’t discount the dislike for the Bulldog Nation either. Asking people on campus not to wear red all week because they are playing UGA? That’s North Avenue Trade School inferiority complex stuff. Heck, you can almost argue that a Georgia loss would devastate UGA’s fan base more than any other group.

We’ve talked in this space before about Georgia enabling programs to get a signature win. You think winning at the The Swamp was big a few years back? That’s absolutely nothing compared to what it’ll be if the Eagles pull off the win. It’d be more revered than any of Georgia Southern’s 1-AA titles. A state of Willie Fritz would be commissioned within three days.

Georgia has talked big in recent years about ‘running the state.’

A loss to Georgia Southern means taking a back seat going forward to GSU. Georgia, and Mark Richt cannot allow that to happen.

Bottom line – if Georgia has multiple three and outs and relies on defense and special teams on Saturday, it’s a recipe for disaster and one of the most infamous home games in Sanford Stadium history.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

One group to be very happy for

Sure, Saturday night’s game was probably only fun to watch for people with a football appreciate like Gene Stallings, and Georgia very likely set offensive back to the stone ages, but there was a very important group within the program to be extremely happy for.

The defense.

I don’t care who you play. Any time that you hold an opposing offense an entire game without a score – especially when they START a drive at your one-yard line? That’s a heck of a night.

As much as this team’s offense has been maligned as of late, the defense has bore a heavy load of it as well. Except in their case, they were supposed to be a cornerstone of this team along with its now-injured potential Heisman Trophy Candidate.

It hasn’t been fun for this defense the past two weeks – and two pretty good offenses exposed some weak spots during that time. And yes, I know Mizzou’s offense is not on the same level. But a game without a TD is a game without a TD.

Going into an off week, momentum is everything. This group has it on defense.

I’m not guaranteeing they will slow Florida down…but they’ll at least head to Duval with a strong wind at their back.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Waterloo

The rift is easy to find. Just mention among a group of Georgia fans, even amongst family, and the opinions will land on both sides of the aisle when the question…that question…is raised: “Should Mark Richt be fired?”

I’m not what you’d call a “Disney Dawg,” but I didn’t want to set a torch to everything, either. I’m a proud alumnus of UGA, but I also believe that you can support something even if you don’t back those in charge.

For me, and probably for others, the time of crossover came Saturday afternoon.

I’m not naive. Firing a coach and/or his coaching staff isn’t exactly cut and dry. And its much, much more touchy because of the fact that due to Richt’s persona, a lot of people in this state think highly of Mark Richt due to his faith and off-field approach – it’s not too different from why so many fall over themselves to insist Tim Tebow deserves to play in the NFL.

Richt likely won’t be fired at the end of this year or before that. And that call will come be determined by how much more Georgia’s Athletic Board wants to live with 9-3-type seasons.

But Georgia didn’t just lose a game..or an incredible player to injury on Saturday. It lost a significant part of its fan base.

The crowd that defended Richt? There’s one less leg to stand on now. Yes, coaches don’t control players fumbling or dropping passes…but Saturday’s loss happened due to a lack of focus, and that falls squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. Is it fair? No. But that’s the nature of sports. The head coach gets the good and bad.

You can only hold out hope for so long that ‘next year’s recruits’ will get things to another level. Since when did a single player become larger than the program?

And as for ‘but who will you get?’ to replace Richt? Yes, there’s a risk. But it’s worked out ok for Clemson and Florida so far.

Richt may not load up the moving trucks at the end of this year. But when that time comes, Oct. 10 2015 will be marked as the beginning of the end.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

And we still don’t know

On Saturday, before everything hit the bed, myself and few of my other tailgating comrades in arms were mushing over so many aspects of what we thought may or may not happen on the field at a sloshy Sanford Stadium.

One comment that was said still sticks out…”we don’t know how good we are.”

Honestly, I’m still not sure how good…or bad this team is.

This team isn’t as good as it looked against South Carolina. As we’ve seen, bad teams make other teams look great, and Spurrier’s bunch are a very bad football team that may not win four games. One concern that I had Saturday was, ‘what if Lambert looked good because USC’s defense is that bad?’ That turned out to be right, in a way.

At the same time, this team isn’t as bad as it looked on Saturday. A very motivated Alabama team had something to do with that. Bama came out of the corner swinging desperate punches like its life depending on it, and it showed. Why Georgia didn’t show that desperation? That’s another post for another time. Alabama found some holes in Georgia’s defense and exposed them (vulnerability to covering the tight end finally caught up), and Lambert’s first look at a top of the line defense exposed how to easily rattle him.

Still, there is something to be said about how much field position and Georgia having to go away from its running game turned things on Saturday.

It’s a broken record, and I tire of saying it, but despite the loss, all things are still in reach for this team. Is Georgia as good as it looked against USC? No. But it’s not as bad as it looked on Saturday as well.

Lugnut Dawg


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