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Great Weekend For Georgia Basketball

You won’t find much talk about Georgia basketball around here.  For years, living in Macon, I hardly went to games.  I think in six years living in Middle Georgia, I only made it to a couple of games.  I went to an Alabama game for my birthday a few years back, and I went to the Missouri game last year when I was in Athens for work.  Georgia wasn’t great, and I didn’t have internet at my house to watch the weeknight games on ESPN3, so I didn’t get to watch as many games.  The affiliates down there didn’t carry the SEC weeknight games very often.  I’d catch them on Saturdays when I could.

We’ve now abandoned cable and are exclusively Apple TV, so I can now watch them regularly, and living closer to Athens now, I’m planning on going to a couple of upcoming games.  I’ve always liked basketball and growing up it was my favorite sport to play. My basketball career ended in 8th grade when I stopped growing and was no longer the size of a power forward and became the size of a guard.

My short and sweet take on the state of Georgia basketball:  Tyler Dawgden and others post about it more regularly, but I’ve often felt it was hard for Georgia basketball.  One, the fan interest just isn’t there.  Most fans are more concerned with the recruiting rankings than Mark Fox’s unit’s RPI.  The facilities have improved drastically.  Stegemen looks great now.  But for so long, Georgia basketball was an afterthought to fans and administration, and when good players and momentum finally came, the Jim Harrick scandal rocked it to its core.  There were so many challenges facing Georgia, and without the program prestige or commitment, that while Atlanta is a hotbed for talent, the talent wasn’t coming to Athens when other schools like Kentucky, Florida, UNC and Duke can come in and get the great ones.

The biggest challenge facing Mark Fox is his lack of recruiting, thought recently it seems that has gotten better.  Mark Fox is, I belive, a very good ball coach.  But his recruiting leaves a lot to be desired.  Only one player he’s brought in-KCP-could really start at programs like Florida and Kentucky.  Maybe Kenny Gaines.

But I watched the game Saturday and felt so much pride for the program.  TV said Stegeman was sold out (thought it appeared there were seats available).  Georgia knocked off Florida.  The hated Gators!  Georgia is relevent in basketball.  They have entered SEC play poised to make a march to March, instead of playing spoiler or the underdog role.

It’s all about expectations. I don’t want to accept mediocrity, but I know what Georgia is and understand its challenges.   I’d love for more than anything for Georgia to be able to make a postseason run.  But realistically, Georgia is where I’ve always wanted them:  fun to watch, competitive, and relevant.

I’d like more, but I’m happy with what we have now.  What we have now hasn’t happened in a long while.

Corbindawg

 

Nick Saban is Full of Shit

About 7 months ago, UGA defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor was arrested for allegedly choking and hitting his girlfriend in a dorm.  Taylor, by the way, is 6’5, 330 lbs.  So, as Mark Richt always does when it comes to violent crimes, kicked Taylor off the team.

About 5 months ago, in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal, Alabama brings in a speaker about domestic violence. 

Way to go Coach Saban.  Trying to be proactive and help educate your players to be better men.  I’m sure the positive PR you program received didn’t come into consideration for this decision.

Fast forward to the present day.

Former UGA defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor was admitted to Alabama and will be eligible to play right away.

Is this decision based on giving a kid a second chance or trying to get a monster defensive lineman?

You really want to know when Georgia’s 2014 season went south?  When Taylor was dismissed.  I’m not saying that the already improved defense would’ve been leaps and bounds better with Taylor, and I’m not saying that Georgia wouldn’t have found a way to follow its formula to lose 3 games.  But I do think that Taylor could have been a difference maker on this team and his presence might have made a difference at some point this season.

I really like the policy Alabama has.  We are going to educate our players and tell them how bad domestic violence is….but….if a great big defensive lineman that can play nose guard for us can come in and help us out, then we’ll look past his troubled past.

Just how disingenuous can you be?  Just when I thought they couldn’t get any more full of shit over in T-Town, I’m proven wrong.

Corbindawg

First Thoughts on Brian Schottenheimer as OC

News broke yesterday of Brian Schottenheimer’s hiring to replace Mike Bobo as Georgia’s offensive coordinator.’
My response:

What?

I had thought that Georgia would land Mike Bloomgren from Stanford, or Kurt Roper. I had heard Schottenheimer’s name mentioned as a possible candidate, but I didn’t think that would transpire.

But it did, so we have to go from there.

I’m still not sure what to think. I don’t know anything about him, really. I know he has experience in the NFL, but to mixed results. I don’t think lack of success in the NFL is any indicator of what he could do in college. In the NFL, so much is dependent on a competent front office and elite quarterback play. A good coach can get fired because of poor front office decisions (see what just happened with the Falcons).

If he was as mediocre as his resume appears, he wouldn’t be an OC in the NFL for almost 10 years. As good a football coach as there is in Jeff Fisher wouldn’t hired him-nor retained him.

We’ll have to just wait and see.

A lot of people are pointing to his lack of recruiting experience as a reason to be somewhat skeptical, but I’m not all that concerned about that. First off, (presumably) John Lilly and Bryan McClendon are still on staff, and those guys are great recruiters. So not much of a drop off there. And for all of Todd Grantham’s faults, he was a good recruiter himself. Now I believe that recruiting (among other things) has improved under Jeremy Pruitt, but Grantham’s recruiting wasn’t bad. Tray Matthews, Josh Harvey Clemons, Jordan Jenkins, Damian Swann, Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins were all brought in under Grantham.

Sure, he won’t be as good a recruiter as Mike Bobo was, but few people could be.

My main question for Schott (I am tired of typing that long name) will be his scheme. Not the complexity of it, as the case was with Grantham. Quite the opposite: the simplicity.

I don’t watch a lot of the NFL. I watch it some, but not religiously like Georgia, SEC and College Football as a whole. But what I watch it is obvious that everyone does the same things. You could watch almost any two NFL teams (with a few exceptions), and take the jerseys off, and it would look identical. It would be difficult to discern who is who. Everything is done so similar.

Teams run the same offenses, same schemes, etc. It all looks the same.

Can a NFL mind have the capacity for abstract thought?

Look at Sony Michel as an example. He is a special back. I think Chubb is the man, but Michel is a special, unique talent. He is not the kind of back you want to run behind a fullback between the tackles every time he touches the ball. But he is a dangerous weapon. Bobo found ways to utilize his talents-giving him sweeps in motion, Wildcat runs, lining him up as the slot receiver and throwing him the ball, etc.

Will Schott know how to use guys that aren’t the cookie cutter ‘pro-style” guys he finds in the pros?

I like a pro-style offense and am glad that Georgia runs it. I’m not advocating to run some type of gimmicky offense.
But when our offense was really at its most dynamic and when Bobo really showed he was emerging as the elite offensive coordinator in the country, the offense was more than a vanilla pro-style attack. Think back to 2012 and the first part of 2013-the offense would come out in a spread look one series, then be in a power formation the next. Murray was a good enough QB to adapt to the change of pace, and Gurley was a good enough back to be versatile enough to run out of multiple formations.  It was hard to prepare for, since it could all change at any given moment.

I don’t know if that will be the case with Schott. Time will tell. But I saw enough of LSU play to know that an NFL offensive mind can have trouble changing things up to make the offense work. I kept waiting for Les Miles to pull another rabbit from his hat to help his struggling offense at times this season. It never really happened. Mark freaking Richt rolled the dice more than Les Miles this season.

I’m not hating on the hire. I’ve got some questions. We’ll see in about 8 months how it all shakes out.

Corbindawg

Adios Vaya Con Dios Mike Bobo

First off, Mike Bobo should be given hearty “Thank you” from every UGA fan for nearly a 20 year commitment to the University of Georgia.  Secondly, he should be congratulated for making the next step in his career, and nearly tripling his current salary.  I am disappointed he is leaving, but I understand.   You should, too.  If anyone offered any of us at our current position a promotion and triple whatever your salary is, you’d take it.

But it probably isn’t about the money.  I do think that if UGA had ponied up the cash to make Bobo’s pay equal to what he deserved, he’d probably stay.  Or at least stay until something bigger or closer than Colorado State came open.

Despite what any message board comments may say, the coaches are competitive people, starting with Coach Richt.  It is an ego filled, testosterone fueled business.  He is an ambitious, young coach.  He wants to be a head man.  There aren’t many Bud Fosters or John Chavises out there.  Bobo wanted his chance, and he took it.  Good for him and his family.

I had always said that whenever Coach Richt decides to leave, or the time comes for the University to ask him to leave (and it is not yet), I’d want Mike Bobo to be the head coach.  I think Bobo probably wants that, too.  Going away is the best way for him to come back when momma calls.

Some fans will say “good riddance”, and to them I say, shut up.  If that is your mindset today, you abso-freaking-lutely have no idea what in the hell you are talking about.

Let’s take a look at UGA’s point production during the Richt era of calling plays, and then the Bobo era in calling plays:

2002: 32.1
2003: 26.5
2004: 27.9
2005: 29.5
2006: 25.2
2007: 32.6
2008: 31.5
2009: 28.9
2010: 32.1
2011: 32.0
2012: 37.8
2013: 36.7
2014: 41.7

The Bobo years are highlighted in bold.   Sure, ignorant people will say the talent was better, but that doesn’t take into effect who brought the talent in, who is coaching the talent, and who puts the talent in position to make plays.

And 2014 might be his best year yet.  With the exception of Nick Chubb/Todd Gurley, I would say there probably isn’t one offensive player from last year you would replace with someone from say, 2002-2005, 2008, 2012.  His best deep threat receivers were hurt basically half the year, the running back position was shaky at best, and you had a quarterback who struggled throwing it more than 20 yards consistently.

Sure, people will point to a bad call here or there.  I know I did.   By my math, UGA ran about 812 offensive plays in 2014.  Most were very successful.  It is easy to focus on the few bad ones and ignore the good ones.

What do you want from a position coach and coordinator?  You want a good recruiter.  Check.  You want someone who can coach ‘em up.  Check.  For a coordinator, you want someone who puts the pieces in place to make the unit successful.  Check.  You also want the dreaded “L” word in the coaching business-loyalty.  Check.

I’m not going to speculate on what this means long-term for UGA.  It probably won’t be good.  Other coaches will leave, either with Bobo or because of the new guy, if they hire an outsider.  The other shoe will drop, and there will be time to speculate and worry about that later.

For now, I am just going to be like Bernie, and say I am happy for Bobo, but be sad for our program because we lost a good damn good one and a Damn Good Dawg.

Corbindawg

When Players Are Arrested This Offseason, Remember This

Every program, UGA unfortunately more than others, has a player or players get into some kind of trouble during the offseason.  College kids will be college kids.

So when it happens again at UGA as it inevitably will, please remember this.

Corbindawg

About That Squib Kick

I was thinking after Georgia got the ball back late in the 4th Quarter, the headlines and talk about the game would be about how Paul Johnson blew the game.  Afterall, after Georgia seemingly forgot how to field a kick off (again), Georgia Tech recovered essentially a 30 yard onside kick up 4 points with about 4 minutes left.  Our defense hadn’t had much success stopping the run, was dog tired, so Tech just needed to run it up the gut a few times to kill the clock.

What did Paul Johnson do?  He got cute (again).  He seemingly forgot his teams are built to run and had been doing that well all game.  Of course his quarterback fumbled the ball going back for a pass.

Well a Coach screwed up and cost his team the game, but it wasn’t Coach Johnson.

Mark Richt didn’t trust his players to make a play and decided to step in (again).

The squib kick was awful.  It was one of the dumbest decisions I have ever seen.  Georgia has not allowed a kick off return for a TD this season, and is only averaging 20 yards per return (4th best in the SEC).  Return coverage has been excellent, if you don’t kick it out the back of the end zone.

It’s not all that Richt made the bad call.  Look, we are all human.  We make mistakes.  He realized it and owned it.  A lot of times after losses, he gives long, rambling, and evasive answers or explanations.  Not this time.  He owned it and fell on the sword.  I appreciate that.  And Mark Richt is compensated well to make tough decisions in crunch time.  But all coaches make bad calls.

What bothers me is the repeated failure to put trust in the players to make plays, and also the moments of inconsistency with the approach to games.

It is no secret that Georgia plays better when they are playing with aggression and their hair on fire.  See, the Auburn game.  No question, Richt wanted that game.  Fake punts, going for it on 4th down, playing and coaching with aggression.  Think back to all the biggest wins or moments.  They all involve a team that is playing with their hair on fire and with nothing to lose.  We all say it; when a Richt coached team is down in the dumps or counted out, they come out swinging.  They are at their best as the underdog, when everyone counts them out.

When he gets bottled up and conservative, that is when things tend to go south.

The squib kick was a dumb decision.  But humans make mistakes.  Whatever.  It happens.  The decision is forgiveable; the mindset behind it is what is troubling and frustrating.

The decision I can’t fathom is settling for a field goal inside the 3 yard line after Richt made a ballsy call to fake a field goal.  That was one of the most unexpected things I have ever seen.  We NEVER fake field goals.  We might fake a occassional punt or try a surprise onside kick once a season.   Not only did we fake a field goal, we did the crazy backwards Les Miles pass thing.

Not going for it on 4th and 2 was just an example of the inconsistent decision making.  Sometimes, they play aggressive and put it all out there.  Other times, they decide to play conservative and not to lose, rather to play to win.

The old saying is a tiger can’t change its stripes.  Richt is who he is, for better and worse.  He has tried to change and evolve over the years, sometimes at a glacial pace.

Playing to win leaves you with no regrets, because at least, by God, you tried to win.

Playing not to lose leaves you wondering…what if?

Corbindawg

Remember This On Saturday

A couple of very important things to remember this Saturday:

This senior class might be one of the most important ones we’ve had, and if it isn’t extra special to Coach Richt, it should be.

It gets a little muddled with redshirts and what not, but most of this senior class was signed in 2011, the self-proclaimed “Dream Team”.

This class came in on faith. UGA had just gone out and posted a turd of a 6-7 record. Coach Richt’s job security was at its shakiest.  They also came in with a bunch of hype.  Sure, they haven’t brought a National Championshipr or even a SEC Championship.  The Dream Team class did come in and has 2 SEC East Titles and have been 15 feet from playing for (and winning) a National Championship. We will see on Friday if this class gets its 3rd East Title. Had it not been for cataclysmic injuries in 2013, I feel 100% confident in saying this class would have another Eastern Division banner under its belt.

Most importantly, this class has restored national credibility back to the Bulldogs. After a very mediocre season in 2009 and that turd in 2010, this class has helped restored the Bulldog brand back in the national conversation. Coaches Richt, Bobo and others deserve credit for this, but success-and failure-ultimately is on the players.

These seniors were Damn Good Dawgs and their legacy will be that of a group of guys that came in and restored the program. This senior class is undefeated against Tennessee, 3-1 against Auburn, 3-1 against Florida, and as of now, undefeated against Tech.

On this week of Thanksgiving we should be proud and thankful for this Senior Class.

Go Dawgs!

*********

Tech is having a very good year, no doubt. But this is a rarity. Since 2002, the beginning of the Chan Gailey era, Tech has only had two seasons where they didn’t have at least 5 losses. That occurred in 2008 (4) and 2009 (3). Each year since 2002, Tech has had at least 4 losses except that 2009 team, which did lose to Georgia, by the way.

Matter of fact, in the last 12 seasons, Tech has two 7 loss seasons, four 6 loss seasons, and four 5 loss seasons. 10 out 12 seasons they have lost 5 or more!!!

Their loss totals since winning the ACC Championship in 2009-7,5,7,6. Keep in mind 2009 was the last of Chan Gailey’s recruits.

To keep this very important streak alive, Tech will need to lose to Georgia Saturday, lose the ACC Championship, and again lose a bowl game. A very likely scenario. Forget the state bragging rights or the stupid Governor’s Cup. Helping Tech get to at least 5 losses in 11/13 seasons is something we should all be focused on!

Corbindawg


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