Those who do not study history…

Sounds like these Dawgs have short memories.

… Still, the season-shaping halves were as much about Georgia’s self-destruction as about their opponents’ dominance.

Said receiver Mohamed Massaquoi: “Part of it was us turning the ball over. Part of it was us having penalties. Part of it was not being disciplined. And whenever you play teams of that caliber [Emphasis added} and you do things like that, those teams are going to make sure they capitalize on it.”

Except we’ve seen Georgia do the very same thing against teams not of “that caliber”.  And while nobody can put his finger on why, the head coach sees no reason to delve too deeply into it, either.

… Coach Mark Richt seems to have as much trouble as anyone else making sense of it.

And he doesn’t want to spend too much time pondering what might be an insolvable mystery.

“Well, you got to look at it and study it to see why, but you also can’t dwell on it,” Richt said. “When things don’t go well in a season or things don’t go well in your life, it’s not real healthy to dwell on those things too long.

“You want to study them enough to try to learn from it and not let it happen again, but the bottom line is if you dwell on it too long, it’s going to keep you from moving forward and progressing and trying to win the next game or trying to have your next experience in life be a positive one.

“There’s a fine line in there.”

I’m not sure where that fine line is exactly, but I feel fairly certain that Richt hasn’t brushed up against it yet.

Look, I don’t want to get into some sort of “the program is at a crossroads” diatribe here, because, frankly, I don’t think it is.  There are three winnable regular season games left to play – the last of which in particular has enough at stake to make it a point of pride to win – a bowl game to win and another eleven win season to chalk up.  Those are all important goals and right now that’s where the focus needs to be.

But over the long haul, I don’t see how the program’s collective psyche can continue to survive these one half blowouts every season without some permanent damage.  There’s one significant thing in common running through these last three seasons that have featured the Dawgs’ disappearing act:  no SECCG appearance.  Coincidence?  You tell me.

I have no insider connections to the team or the coaches, so I can’t speak as to what’s inside their heads.  I do note, though, that the reasons pointed to in the article for the problems aren’t new ones by any means.  Yes, I know the team is young and yes, I know the players have suffered significant injuries, but shouldn’t a program with the kind of stability in its coaching staff that Georgia boasts have this whole execution thing mastered to a much greater extent than it appears it does?

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Those who do not study history…

  1. Texas_Dawg

    You don’t win MNCs/SECCs with OLs like this. Georgia fans have become used to bad to average OL play, so many think of our current OL as average. It’s not. It’s awful. But that’s what a 3 frosh/2 soph with no depth OL should be. Awful. (And it really was never that good last year either. It just had amazing talent around it to make it look a lot better than it was.)

    It happens.

    You can point to other problems, and they exist, but when your OL is that bad, the red zone problems, inability to reverse momentum swings, etc. all come with it. Stafford/Moreno cannot be perfect every game. But that is what an OL like this requires when up against good Ds.

    Hopefully we’re finally through with this problem next year… hopefully Stafford comes back for at least one year with a real OL…

  2. You don’t win MNCs/SECCs with OLs like this.

    So how do you explain the 47-sack Georgia team’s appearance in the ’03 SECCG? I know it didn’t win, but at least it got there.

  3. TimeForABenchin'

    “but shouldn’t a program with the kind of stability in its coaching staff that Georgia boasts have this whole execution thing mastered to a much greater extent than it appears it does?” – YES.

  4. reipar

    “You don’t win MNCs/SECCs with OLs like this.”

    Senator, I think that was Tx Dawg’s point. He did not say you don’t get close….he said you don’t win. The ’03 team failed to win either as will the ’08 team.

  5. Derek

    Two points:

    1) I find it hard to blame coaches when a player plays great one week and stinks it up the next. You know he’s capable. You’ve seen him do it. Why does he make huge mistakes at inopportune times? Who the hell knows? Of course you try to correct it as best you can, but a coach can’t make the plays for the kids.

    2) If the complaint is why can’t the team stop the bleeding and respond when things start going wrong? I do think that this is a real concern. I think it could be a number of things including youth and a lack of leadership. The problem it seems to me is that we have nothing really to draw from. We have had 4 quarter fights and we’ve had blow outs both ways. What we haven’t done is get down 2 to 3 scores and rallied back. When we’ve gotten down, we’ve pretty much stayed down.

    In the end I think that we are a good football team, but not a great one. We are capable of beating anyone and capable of losing to any of the top 30 teams if we face a little adversity. The toughness that overcomes that adversity is acheived through experience and confidence, both of which are pretty lack right now.

    However, we are still winning a lot of games we will win 10 to 11 this year. CMR will hit 80 in 8 seasons Sat (I hope). We are clearly the 3rd best team in the SEC and we are very disapponted. Can you imagine that 10 years ago? One day, one season we’ll have everything come together for us.

    Think post-Tebow. The East will be ours with a little resistance except from the West. The future is very bright for UGA football.

  6. reipar – I understand Texas’ point. That’s why I qualified my comment.

    But his point wasn’t a direct response to my original point, either. With this season, Georgia will have gone three straight years without an SECCG appearance. That’s something that the ’03 team, with a crappier offensive line than this year’s team – and no dominant running back for that matter – was able to accomplish.

    And the worst regular season loss that year? 17-10 in Baton Rouge.

  7. Dawg 05

    That ’03 team had Van Gorder coaching Pollack, Thurman, and Davis. They had no one in the East to challenge them.

    This team has Martinez coaching some d-ends who couldn’t sniff Pollacks jock, decent linebackers but no one near as intimidating as Thurman, and safeties that make you say “meh.” They also have to compete with a competently coached Florida team.

    Both O-lines are atrocious, but in ’03 we had a defense that made opposing teams piss themselves. No one on this ’08 team scares an offensive coordinator. Curran is a tackle machine, but coaches have gameplanned for him and taken him out of games by getting olinemen on him. Reshad Jones may be good in the future, but he has been playing like Greg Blue w/o the big hits. Ellerbe has been a disappointment this year. The tackles have done well. Allen has been great at corner but the other guys have been toasty all season.

    The ’03 team had a scary D. The ’08 team doesn’t.

  8. HVL Dawg

    I’ve thought about this since your Tasting The Ashes post. CMR doesn’t give us teams that want to pulverize our opponets. We want to play with them and out skill them. Then a couple of breaks go against us and our teams don’t react well after we’ve been punched in the mouth. I think it IS a reflection of CMR’s personality.

    I think we’ll only have chances at championships when the rest of the league is weak. It is tough playing in the SEC and we just aren’t the toughest team.

    Having said that- I would not trade CMR for any other coach. But I would really appreciate it if he could develope himself in to a coach that gives us teams with a “refuse to lose” personality.

  9. JasonC

    RE: OL
    You all might be right about the OL, but I was thinking about this the other day. Toward the end of last year when the team was on a roll, the comment was made that the young pups on OL weren’t really like true freshmen anymore because they had played 7-8 games.
    Now, we have 2 guys, Davis & Bolling, who have almost 2 full season on the line. That’s as much as most juniors and some seniors. I know they have been shuffled around, but they should be pretty darn good by now.
    Come the start of next season, our line should be a strength, 2 guys with 2 full years of experience, 2 solid guys coming back from injury with a year’s experience and 3 sophomores with about a years experience and a few others with some playing time. If they can’t get it done next year, that will be very telling.

  10. Hobnail_Boot

    The insane thing about that ’03 team is that if just a couple plays go our way in Baton Rouge, we probably end up destroying Ole Miss in the SECCG.

    Talk about what-ifs.

  11. Coastal dawg

    Dawg 05’s point about the 03 defense is right on and I would add that Van Gorder’s personality was a good counter-balance to CMR.

    He and the players he coached had some blood lust. It continued a little while after he left because some of the players carried over from his tenure.

    I think he also stressed fundamentals – especailly tackling and pursuit angles – more tham WM does. Thomas Davis brought the wood often but made the tackle everytime. Not so much with Reshad Jones and Cj Bryd.

  12. Coastal dawg

    RE: O-line

    The lack of depth due to injuries on the o-line is playing a bigger role than just changing the staring line-up. I submit that it is making in-game substitutions much harder and less frequent.

    I remember several times last year when someone would mess up and be pulled right away. Coach Searles (sp) would get right in their ear, coach them up and send them right back out in the same series or the next. I haven’t seen that happen this year since the Central Michigan game.

    I also wonder if the o-line gets winded by the time we get to the red-zone in a long drive?

  13. sUGArdaddy

    Well, the season isn’t over, but this team has the possibility of having the exact same season as the ’03 team. We played the 3 big boys from the West that year. We lost to an elite Western team and to Florida. We got lucky because Florida lost 2 in the division. We were in a 3 way tie with UT and Florida and it went to the BCS standings. Florida would have gone to the SECCG but Rix hit a TD pass in the waning seconds and Fla. fell in the BCS rankings, sending us to Atlanta. The 2 teams are very similar. The D is the main difference, which is why we were in every game.

    Obviously, there is a mentality that seems different these last 3 years. Call it toughness or whatever. But, it’s so hard to figure. I thought we were at a crossroads coming home from Lexington 2 years ago, then Tra Battle and Tony Taylor decided to start playing and Matthew Stafford grew up. The margin for era these days is just so small with us and Florida. Both of us are elite programs. They think the same thing about ’07, how they blew chances in Jax to get back to the SECCG and destroy LSU and win back to back MNCs. Both teams are very good.

    Here’s a stat: since 2000, one the big six teams has won the conference, of course. Only Florida ’06 played all 5 of the other big six. They did not go undefeated, won a miracle over SC (can I say that?), and needed an 11th hour UCLA over USC victory to get into the MNC game. We’re all disappointed. But playing the other 5 of the big six, a 2,000 mile trip, injuries, and stupid penalties equal 7-2. Georgia Football is going to be hanging around the top for a long time. We had a bad season, went 9-4 and won the Chick-fil-a bowl. Auburn & UT had bad seasons and might not go bowling.

  14. RedCrake

    I can tell you what’s in their heads.

    I was next to a Georgia player (I’m not sure which one so he must be on down the depth chart) in the line to vote the other day.

    He was talking to his girlfriend and all he was talking about (literally) was how unfair it was that Florida and LSU got three different warm up outfits and Georgia only gets 1 (or two before the bowl game). I mean just incessant whining. I then got to enjoy his 15 minute dissertation on the need for shorter jersey’s (“Florida’s are custom fitted!”)

    I know they’re just college kids and they have to complain about something….but come on. How about you complain about the way Florida hosed us instead of the clothes they were wearing while they did it.

  15. Senator,

    As noted the ’03 team had a much better defense, but that team also went 6-2 with a loss to Florida. We just got a very good break in getting a 3-way tie where we won a convoluted tiebreaker.

    If a Bryant Hahnfeldt FG try is 1 foot more to the right… if Andre Woodson just finishes off a 1st and goal from the 5… we are playing Ryan Perrilloux in the Georgia Dome in the de facto MNC game last year.

    That close to a radical paradigm shift on all these Richt/UGA discussions forever.

    This year we are looking at 11-2 on a much tougher schedule with our losses being to two top 5 teams (as opposed to two unranked teams in last year’s 11-2 season).

    We just ended up with some killer injuries in the second year of this OL kidney stone we are having to pass through the system. It really sucks and is all the more frustrating because it came at a time where we had some phenomenal players show up elsewhere on the offense… but that’s life and CFB sometimes.

    Keep working, keep fighting, keep recruiting, etc., and eventually one year the schedule lines up (ask Texas ’05… weakest Big 12 since the conference’s founding), and UCLA knocks off USC in the last weekend for you (where Michigan couldn’t hang on to a 4Q lead for us against OSU in 2002)… etc, etc…

  16. sUGArdaddy

    You’re a smart man Texas Dawg. We’ve got a phenomenal Coach. I don’t think anyone is doubting that. Now the margin for error is so small. It’s hard for me to argue much against Coach Richt. We’ve been in the top 2-3 teams in the league at least 6 of his 8 years. In his tenure, 3 SEC teams have won MNCs, but not one coach has had a better season than he’s had. Really, the MNC isn’t the biggest deal. We’ve got one hump to get over: We’ve got to beat Florida when we have to. It’s the only thing we haven’t done. He will. He’s too smart and too good.

  17. “So how do you explain the 47-sack Georgia team’s appearance in the ‘03 SECCG? I know it didn’t win, but at least it got there.”

    1) The defense.
    2) The defense.
    3) The defense.
    4) David Greene.
    5) The defense.
    6) A generally favorable schedule. The road games were against LSU (who wasn’t playing great ball at the time), Tennessee (who Richt owned), Clemson (who sucked), and Georgia Tech (ditto). That’s the sort of looks-hard-but-actually-isn’t-impossible slate that the ’05 team benefited from.

  18. “We just got a very good break in getting a 3-way tie where we won a convoluted tiebreaker.”

    I wouldn’t necessarily call it a break. At the end of the year, that Georgia team was better than Florida and Tennessee. And 6-2 has been good enough to win the East a few times.

  19. Heh, more posts from me.

    “Florida would have gone to the SECCG but Rix hit a TD pass in the waning seconds and Fla. fell in the BCS rankings, sending us to Atlanta.”

    Nah. Florida wasn’t going to jump UT in the BCS just by beating a thoroughly meh FSU team at home.

  20. I hate to bring things back to the original point of my post, but it still seems to me that (1) recent history suggests that this team has developed a bad habit of disappearing randomly during the regular season; (2) such has resulted in some embarrassingly close calls/blowout losses, depending on the opposition; (3) no one has a handle on why that’s happened; and (4) no one associated with the program seems overly concerned about why that’s happened, at least publicly.

    My point about the ’03 team was that it had its own share of holes to climb out of, yet, easier schedule or not, still managed to be competitive in every regular season game it played that year. What’s changed?