Daily Archives: October 6, 2007

This one’s gonna leave a mark.

My first thought was how shockingly unprepared this team was to play today. Except it’s hardly a shock anymore, is it…

Kyle makes an excellent point when he writes

… This was Georgia’s 19th loss in Mark Richt’s six-and-a-half-year tenure with the Bulldogs. In his first 11 setbacks, the Red and Black D surrendered 14, 24, 24, 20, 20, 17, 16, 34, 19, 24, and 14 points, respectively. The only honest-to-goodness skunking suffered by the ‘Dawgs during that period came in the 2003 S.E.C. championship game against the eventual national champs.

Since the 2005 Cocktail Party, though, Mark Richt has lost eight games, in which the opposing team has scored 31, 38, 51, 24, 21, 24, 16, and 35 points in succession…

And keep in mind that even in the four games in the middle of that stretch where the other team scored less than 25 points in the game, there were key periods in each game where the defense was unable to stop the opponent at crunch time (although admittedly it’s tough to beat anyone when your offense only scores 12 points). There’s a general sense that the defense is not making the same contribution to the success of the program that it did earlier in Richt’s tenure.

Why the steady decline? I honestly do not believe Georgia is lacking in talent. Tennessee is not a substantively more talented team that the one that was soundly beaten today. Rather, I think talent has been a crutch for Georgia to get through some games where preparation, execution, scheme and/or focus have been lacking (see, for example, the recent Ole Miss game). The problem with that approach is reflected in the team’s recent losing streak against the SEC East – there aren’t that many truly deficient teams on the schedule any more.

Salvaging a season in the ditch, as occurred in ’06, is nice. And you can brush off the occasional slip, such as the S. Carolina loss earlier this year, if it’s an anomaly.

But it looks like that’s not the case anymore. It’s getting hard to remember the last time this team played four solid quarters on both sides of the ball in a meaningful conference game. And that’s not something you expect from a program that wants to hold itself out as one of the elites. That “king of the road” stuff the hack CBS announcers kept reciting over and over again is looking like nothing more than living in the past.

Complacency is a bitch. With this loss today, though, I don’t think Georgia has any laurels left to rest on. The shot at the East title is gone. There won’t be a top 25 ranking for this team for a while, if at all, this season. There isn’t a team left on Georgia’s schedule that the Dawgs can’t lose to. The program, in other words, is likely to be irrelevant to everyone except its fan base for the rest of this season. That’s not where anyone wants things to be, obviously.

Richt has to scrutinize what’s caused the fall off. The symptoms – lack of consistent playmaking on the part of the wide receivers, a linebacking corps that is frequently out of position, soft zone play on defense that often goes crucial periods without challenging a competent offense, erratic line play, inconsistent fundamentals, to name some – are obvious; the causes may not be so obvious. But something is clearly wrong. The $64,000 question is how quickly what’s wrong can be fixed.

Let’s hope that’s the only question that has to be answered.

********************************************************************

UPDATE:  Well, knock me over with a feather.  Georgia remains ranked in both the AP and coaches polls.

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Tradition

Some schools trot out throwback jerseys… Georgia’s taken things to a new level with a throwback game.

This looks like some of those mid-90′s games in Knoxville.

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Alex, I’ll take embarrassing efforts for $400.

What is 65-9?

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Thufferin’ thuccotash

Poster of the day seen in the College GameDay crowd on ESPN:

Separated at birth -

and

LMAO.

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Saturday strategery

A few thoughts before I retreat to my couch and lovingly caress the remote control for the rest of the day:

– Jim Donnan had his flaws as a head coach, but he knows his X’s and O’s.  Check out what he had to say yesterday about defending the spread option:

The spread offense caused defenses fits — until they started reacting to a mobile quarterback as they would a running play. We saw South Florida use a number of line stunts to create confusion. Because the defense was plugging up the running game like they would rushing the passer, there was little room for the back to get past the line of scrimmage. The added pressure forced West Virginia to turn the ball over six times (the Moutaineers (sic) recovered their own fumbles three times). Similarly, Auburn’s inside line put the skids on Florida’s offense.

Defenses are increasingly putting people in the A-gap, which is the guard-center gap, trying to penetrate up the field. The center feels that pressure and is in a hurry to reach him — but often the exchange between the quarterback and center is disrupted. When you don’t have routine exchanges on offense, it adds to your inability to move the ball — something we saw frequently in West Virginia-USF. When a defense causes indecision, it makes a quarterback work — both in the shotgun and under center — and often he makes mistakes. The same way secondaries disguise coverages to confuse passing reads, defensive fronts stunting in and out make the quarterback’s reads more challenging.

That’s good stuff.  If LSU is able to handle Florida’s offense the way I expect tonight, look for a lot of bandwagon jumping on the subject of the fitness of the spread option in the SEC.  That’s not entirely fair.  The Gators are playing the two defenses in the conference best suited to take them on in back to back games.  How many other schools in the SEC combine great defensive speed with the size and presence at defensive tackle to stuff the bread and butter run up the middle?  Not too many – and after watching the line play in the Ole Miss game, I’m not sure if Georgia is one of them right now.

–  The more I think about it, if I’m John Chavis, I’m bringing heavy pressure early and often today.  What does he have to lose?  It’s not like the Tennessee defense has been getting it done so far.  Besides, the less time he leaves those green defensive backs in coverage, the better.  And I suspect that Eric Berry, with his great speed, will make a helluva blitzer.  Run blitzing is an even bigger key for UT than pass blitzing.  If Chavis can’t get Georgia out of its running game, I think UT has a much smaller chance of winning.

– Vanderbilt and Auburn have one of those early starts that seem to cause problems for Auburn.  If I’m Vandy, I try to make things happen as early as possible, particularly in the turnover department.  Auburn’s lost 14 TOs so far this season;  Vandy has picked up 11 (10 interceptions!).   Sounds like pressuring Cox is the order of the day in that game.

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