Archive Page 2

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?


Making sense of Saturday’s nonsensicals

- Georgia may have lost this game on a squib kick, but it was the game itself was lost well before that. Fact is, the better team won on Saturday, Georgia just came close to digging itself out of a big hole just in the nick of time. For the most part, this same team that overpowered Auburn and Clemson got manhandled by Tech. Basically, it was the Florida game all over again. If I’m playing Georgia, I run it, run it and run it. because as good as this defense is against the spread, its as lacking against power running games.

– Really a shame for Hutson Mason. He probably got more out of his ability than most players in the CMR era – but he’ll be remembered for a massively boneheaded play in the worst time to make it.

– I turned and made sure to exit Saturday and not see GT players taking pieces of our hedges. It sucks that it happens, but when you protect your house, it doesn’t happen. Then again, fair is fair – Ben Jones gave us one of the better post-game shots a few years ago with a chunk of yellow turf in his mouth, so it works both ways.

– You cannot, CANNOT get inside the five three times and score a combined three points. I said to myself at the half that Georgia would lose after the two first-half fumbles.

– Speaking of fumbles, Georgia got a gift on Swann’s return….but based on the screw jobs by refs on Georgia this year, we were due for once.

– Look, I like accountability as much as the next guy, but this after the fact business of, ‘yeah I messed up,’ is getting old and getting old fast. It doesn’t matter if you admit it was a bad decision, it was STILL a bad decision. The squib kick ranks up there with the 2001 goal line debacle against Auburn and opting to redshirt Knowshon Moreno. One of the biggest mistakes in TV series history was when Coy and Vance were in the Dukes of Hazzard. Every knows it was a bad mistake, but it does not change the fact that it took place.

– That said, I’m not on the “fire Richt” bandwagon. Bonehead things happen. Remember Saban in the Iron Bowl last year? That said, everyone on the staff should have their feed held to the fire after losing to Georgia’s two biggest rivals. That should not be unacceptable. The problem is that being ‘pretty good’ seems to be ok with the UGA administration.

– Please, for the love of Christmas, don’t make us play Nebraska again in a bowl.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

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!


Everything You Need to Know About Tech

This will be the only post I plan to do this week, so I am making it count. Here is something long to read while you await Turkey Day.

This year, I haven’t gotten to watch as much of Georgia Tech as it seems like I normally do, so I’m having to rely a lot on the stats on paper.

Don’t get me wrong…that isn’t a bad thing. I love watching other non-UGA teams play for just the pure enjoyment of the game. But the brand of football Tech plays is just not compelling to me. Maybe my grandparents, but not me.

That brand of football is going to run it, run it, and run it some more. I clearly don’t mind running the ball, but not like Tech does with that gimmick offense.  Much like Auburn, Tech is only going to throw the ball downfield as an element of surprise to get the big play. Not surprisingly, Georgia Tech has the fewest pass attempts of any team in the ACC…only 161. In Tech’s first two series of the game last year that resulted in touchdowns, Vad Lee completed passes of 68 and 43 yards to set up scores-both on 3rd down by the way.

Quarterback Justin Thomas has only completed 52% of his passes, but Tech as 2 passes for 70+ yards, 4 for 60+, 6 for 50+and 8 of 40+. They are going to take some shots, and they are going to hit a few.

What gets Tech in trouble is when Paul Johnson gets too cute and decides to throw it more than they should. Tech isn’t going to beat you exclusively throwing the ball, but they will hit a few shots downfield. It is going to happen.

One thing Tech and Justin Thomas have improved on this year is the TD/INT ratio. Last season, Vad Lee had 11 touchdowns and 10 picks. This year, Thomas has 15 TDs and only 4 passes thrown to the other team.

Defensively, Tech hasn’t improved much from a year ago, when they weren’t terrible but weren’t great, either. By Ted Roof standards, I’d say they are doing pretty damn good, actually.

Pass defense has improved slightly from last year, but Tech’s rushing defense has gotten worse from a year ago, 165 yards per game in 2014 compared to 115 last year.

Scoring defense is about the same.

Not only is Thomas showing improvement in the passing game, he is also the team’s leading rusher.

I think it is safe to say the play of Justin Thomas is the biggest reason that Georgia Tech has been having a better season.

Auburn runs a variation of the triple option, and does not like throwing the ball. Yet Auburn has thrown it more than 100 times more than Tech.

Unlike Auburn, who primarily will throw it on 2nd down, there is no rhyme or reason to when Tech throws it.

Of their 161 pass attempts, 55 have come on 1st down, 49 on 2nd down, 53 on 3rd down, and 4 on 4th down.

While previewing the Auburn game, I said the following:

Georgia needs to focus on Auburn’s running game and play disciplined, assignment football. Just like they do against Georgia Tech.

In the years Malzahn has been associated with Auburn-2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013-let’s take a look on how Georgia has also done against Tech.

2009-Auburn: 24 points; Tech: 24 points

2010-Auburn 49 points; Tech 34 points

2011: Auburn 7 points; Tech 17 points

2013: Auburn 43 points; Tech 34 points (2OT)

While different, the basic principles of what Auburn and Tech do are similar. The key is to play disciplined, assignment football. Georgia did so against Auburn, and held them to just 7 points this year. The same needs to hold true for Tech Saturday.

Two things that are a pause for concern:

  1. Stopping the dive play. That is going to be Tech’s bread and butter. Everything they do is predicated off that success. We can contain their outside attack, but we have got to stop the dive option. Georgia is weakest up the middle. Think the Florida game. Georgia has the speed and athleticism to contain the edge runs; they need to be strong up the middle to stop the dive.
  2. Jeremy Pruitt was familiar with Auburn from his time associated with Alabama and coaching against them in the National Championship game. Tech does present a unique scheme that isn’t seen often. When a coordinator goes against Tech the first time, there is some challenge, then improvement the following year. In 2008, Tech put up 45 points against Willie the first time; the next year they were held to 24. In 2010, Tech put up 34 against Grantham the first time, then were held to 17 the next game. FSU didn’t play Tech last year…what kind of challenge will Pruitt face in his first time against Tech?

The last three games, the margin of victory for Georgia was 17 points, 32 points and 7 points. However, after Tech got up 20 last year, Georgia outscored them 41-14 the rest of the way. A lot of last year can be attributed to gitters from Mason in his first start.

I thought before the season that Paul Johnson needed a good season to keep out of trouble with the Tech fans (sic).   After struggling early in the year to beat Georgia Southern and Virginia Tech, then losing two straight to Duke and UNC, they have rebounded to beat Pitt, Virginia, NC State and Clemson convincingly. Though they only play in the ACC, Tech and Paul Johnson deserve credit for a job well done this year. A nine or ten win season is something really good for Tech.   Georgia fans have bigger aspirations than just another 10-2 year.  I think GA Tech people would be estatic with that.

With that said, the only close games Georgia have been in were the loss to South Carolina and the win against Tennessee. All the other wins have been rather convincing, and even the Florida game was a convincing loss.

Georgia is just too good this year. Chubb, Michel, and efficient play by Mason will be too much for Tech to handle.

Georgia is 7-4 ATS this season. As a double digit favorite (counting Clemson -9.5 in this), Georgia is 4-2 ATS. That is exceptionally good for Georgia teams.

There is some concern that the outcome of Friday’s Missouri-Arkansas game might take the focus away from Tech. Mark Richt and the coaches know the importance of this game.

Two touchdown favorites rarely lose outright, and even less so at home. Georgia is going to win this game, and I think they are going to cover the -13.

Dawgs win and will win big. 45-17!


Pruitt Changing My Mind On Indoor Practice Facility

One of the topics that gets beaten worse than a dead horse is Georgia’s lack of an indoor practice facility.  Vanderbilt has one.  It hasn’t helped them with wins and losses.

Florida has been pretty successful over the last decade without one.

Georgia hasn’t not won a national championship because of lacking an IPF.

The recruiting hasn’t suffered much because of the lack of one.

Everyone just needs to get over it.

But…if Jeremy Pruitt wants one, then by George, build the man one.  Build him two.


The End Of The Muschamp Era

When some monumental event occurs in your life, you remember exactly where you were.

I remember where I was the day I heard that Will Muschamp was hired.

For several years after we got married, my wife and I got together with another married couple around Christmas.  We would go to their house and have a dinner and exhange small presents.  These friends lived in Athens, and we decided that we would take a trip to the Mall of Georgia and have dinner and do some Christmas shopping.  Having to fight the crowds was much more tolerable with friends than going it alone.

After a day of fighting the crowds, we decided to eat a nice dinner and forego the food court, though a good food court is hard to beat.  We were eating some Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish near the Mall of Georgia, and the 2010 Heisman Trophy Celebration was on the bar TV.  I was going to the bathroom and walked by the TV, and I saw the breaking news.  Then during dinner my phone started blowing up.

I thought, “Wow!  What a great hire by Florida.  This means trouble for UGA.”

My mindset at the time was Georgia was 6-6 with an embattled head coach.  Florida just hired probably the best assistant coach at the time.

I’m glad to be wrong.

I found out Muschamp was fired while driving home Sunday morning.  My wife as on Facebook and said, “Will Muschamp was fired this morning.”  My response?

“Oh, Ok.  What’s for lunch?”

Muschamp was a flop as a head coach, but was definitely the right hire at the time.  Like we say about our situation in Athens, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.  Sometimes the next big thing isn’t what it is all cracked up to be. Muschamp will be a defensive coordinator at a high-profile job soon…and he will become a head coach again at another BCS Power 5 Conference school.

When that day comes, he needs to evaluate what went wrong at Florida.

First, what went right.  He is a phenomenal defensive mind, and clearly can bring in high level defensive talent.  Florida’s SEC rank in total defense while Muschamp was at Florida:

2011: 5th

2012: 2nd

2013: 2nd

2014: 4th

But what went wrong.  Florida was consistently the most (or near the bottom) penalized team in the SEC during Muschamp’s tenure.  That is a reflection of their head coach.  The man is a maniac on the sidelines.  You can’t expect your players to play with discipline if your coach doesn’t have any.  And the offense was, well, offensive.  Here are SEC rankings for penalty YPG and scoring offense:

2011: 12th(out of 12); 60 ypg……..8th; 26 ppg

2012: 14th; 69 ypg………….10th; 27 ppg

2013: 14th; 59 ypg…………14th; 18 ppg

2014:  12th; 58 ypg……….9th; 29 ppg

Hey, give Boom credit for something.  The Florida offense actually had improved this year.

It will be interesting to see where Muschamp lands.  Since he is going to be getting paid big bucks, he can afford to  be picky.



Ending the Game Strong

Georgia got the ball on their own 2 yard line after Amarlo Herrera intercepted Nick Marshall’s pass on 4th down.

The clock said 11:25 in the 4th quarter as Georgia’s offense hit the field with a 20 point lead.

11 plays (10 runs) and 6:34 later, Nick Chubb walked in the end zone to ice the game and extend the lead to 34-7.

One thing this Georgia team can do, as it has shown the last couple of years, is end the game.

Think back to 2013…against South Carolina and Florida, Georgia got the ball back with about 8 minutes left in each of those games, and never gave it back.

The Auburn defense was tired.  It was a methodical drive. Gurley’s last great Georgia run was a 31 yard run on 3rd down that gave Georgia the ball near midfield.  Gurley got 5 carries on that drive;  Chubb got 5 carries as well.

Also, don’t forget about the Clemson game this season.  Georgia was holding on to a narrow 3 point lead going into the 4th quarter.  It scored 21 unanswered in the final frame.

This team knows how to close the deal.

Also, I want to get this out there, too.  For anyone who complains that Gurley shouldn’t have been in the ball game that late, you don’t know what you are talking about.  Sure, it is easy to second guess.  But Auburn has an explosive offense and a penchant for luck, so you didn’t want them to get momentum and score quickly.  Georgia did what they needed to do, and what we clamour for them to do more often: step on a team’s throat at the end of the game.  Don’t be ignorant, or stupid.




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