First thoughts on Georgia-Georgia Tech

I’m not going to break down any keys for the game with this post.  I’ll save some of that for later in the week, when I’m trying to fight off a turkey-induced coma.

Instead, I’ve got a word I want to drop on you:  malaise.

Here’s something Realist posted at his blog yesterday.

Georgia’s fanbase seems to be rather scared, no… that’s not the word… I’m not sure there is a word… let’s try horrifraidypantywaistedaghastmentness’d, of Georgia Tech. This is a response that, quite frankly stuns me. It’s almost like losing to Tech would validate the feeling of it all slipping away…

Let me just say that I second that emotion.  Where did all this dread come from?

Look, I don’t ask this as a knock on what Tech’s accomplished so far this year.  And I’ve said all along that Paul Johnson was a home run as a hire on the Flats.  I’ll even grant that the Jackets and their coach are motivated to play this Saturday (although, as Paul asks, so what?).  I still don’t see where this attitude is coming from.

Sure, Tech walloped Miami last week.  That’s the Miami team ranked 90th in total offense in the country this year (not to be confused with the higher ranked Miami of Ohio offense, by the way).  The Miami team whose offensive coordinator is the same guy that couldn’t help Reggie Ball count to four in 2004.  Somehow, I expect Stafford and Bobo to perform a little more competently against the Jacket defense this Saturday.

As for those 472 rushing yards Tech picked up, Miami’s defense, ranked #57 nationally against the run, looked dazed and confused, no doubt.  As the game rolled on, the ‘Canes looked more and more like they didn’t like the weather and didn’t want to be out there.  As maligned as Georgia’s run defense has been of late, it’s still ranked fifteenth in the nation.  Tech’s run defense ranks 29th – where’s the concern about how the Jackets will handle Moreno?

None of this is offered as a prediction, just as context.

Then, there’s the concern over the team’s frame of mind.  As usual, Barnhart pulled out the “if Georgia doesn’t take them seriously” card yesterday.

Georgia Tech has a couple of big things going for them on Saturday against Georgia. No. 1, the Yellow Jackets are going to be very excited about playing this game. I could be wrong, but I just don’t get the sense that the Bulldogs are that jacked up about playing the state rival…

Based on what, Barnhart doesn’t say.  But I’ll say this right now – Mark Richt has proven himself to be a good student of the history of this program and I have no doubt at all that he recognizes the significance of a win this Saturday.  It’s a chance for the Dawgs to rewrite the record books.

In other words, this team has a chance to make some history for itself, to do something that no other Georgia squad has ever done before.  If that hasn’t been stressed to this bunch repeatedly over the two weeks of preparation and, more importantly, if that message can’t serve to motivate these kids more than the typical rivalry game already should, I’d be seriously disappointed.

Fortunately, I’m already seeing a hint that nobody in red and black is taking this game for granted.

Said Collins: “It is a little bit more challenging, but because it is Georgia Tech, I think the kids are buying in a little bit more.”

By the way, Vegas isn’t buying the weak-kneed stuff.  Sheridan has Georgia as an 8.5 point favorite. Considering that it’s a rivarly game between two ranked opponents with seventeen wins between them, that’s a pretty strong vote of confidence.

Have a little faith, folks.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “First thoughts on Georgia-Georgia Tech

  1. Bunch

    While I agree that Tech’s wins have been largely against flawed teams – read: offensively challenged – there is very good reason for Dawg fans to worry about this game. Watching the Dawg defense get dragged up and down the field in the 4th quarter by offenses with nary a passing threat – Reggie Cobb, Kody Burns and Jarrett Lee – is very good reason to fear a well oiled machine like Tech’s late season offense. Throw in our galactically poor special teams – missed FGs, poor coverage, blocked punts and KOs out of bounds and penchant for ill-timed personal fouls and you have a recipe for an arena league scoring fest. While our talent remains superior to that of Tech’s, this talent has gotten us two blowout losses and a string of sloppy wins against a down SEC – yes, an SEC with UT and Auburn missing bowls and LSU looking like a DiNardo vintage is the epitomy of down.

  2. baltimore dawg

    i’m surprised to hear you wonder “Where did all this dread come from?” since you’ve expressed on this blog the feeling that something is wrong with uga football this year, as have many others–and for good reason.

    i don’t think tech will win on saturday, but i also don’t wonder why some might dread playing tech. after all, tech will beat uga again one day, and the gap between the two teams, while still considerable, is a lot narrower now than i thought it would be at the beginning of the season.

  3. sUGArdaddy

    People “assume” that Tech will again beat us one day. If Kentucky can go 23 years without beating Tennessee, I see no reason why we can pull a similar feat against Tech. Our program is comparable or better than UT and their program is comparable to UK. After all, we’re a football school and they’re a basketeball…wait, that’s right, we’re the ones that won a conference tournament on their court. At least they’ve got that proud baseball program…wait, we’re the ones played in the CWS final. Oh well, they love that engineering stuff over there. Here’s to 23 in a row, baby!

    You’re completely right, Senator. Wake up, Dawg fans. We own these gnats. Let’s act like it.

    Wreck Tech!

  4. “As usual, Barnhart pulled out the “if Georgia doesn’t take them seriously” card yesterday.”

    You fail to understand that TROY ROLLED GEORGIA FOR 500 YARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. TimeForAFirin'

    Senator – I love the blog. Read it everyday. But please dont refer to a Vegas line on the dawgs. We havent covered in a spread in YEARS (or at least the last 7 weeks).

    Vegas cant get a good read on this team either.

  6. TimeForAFirin'

    *covered a spread

    dont know where that ‘in’ came from….

  7. Tech has two teams. The one that smoked Miami with a mostly healthy Nesbitt and Dwyer. And the one that eeked out a win against Gardner Webb 10-7 while nursing injuries. As a Navy grad, I have watched this offense for years. One regular feature of the offense is injured quarterbacks. Nesbitt has been banged up oftyen this year and got up slowly many times against Miami. If we hit him hard early and often he may not finish the game. Just GATA!

  8. i’m surprised to hear you wonder “Where did all this dread come from?” since you’ve expressed on this blog the feeling that something is wrong with uga football this year, as have many others–and for good reason.

    I’m not saying that Georgia couldn’t lose this Saturday – any given Saturday, yadda, yadda, yadda. And I’m also not saying that Georgia couldn’t up and disappear for a half again (after all, it’s done it against worse teams than Georgia Tech).

    But to fear Tech just because the Jackets played a good game against Miami? Or to assume that the Dawgs can’t get up for this game just because? Puhleeze…

  9. Richt-Flair

    Cut and paste whatever Barnhart said about a previous UGA-Tech game and that’s probably what he’s going to say about the current year. I already know what he’ll write about 09’s USC game because that’s what he’s written the last three years “The Ol’ Ball Coach has something up his sleeve…”

  10. baltimore dawg

    it’s possible that i’ve not been reading enough commentary recently, but i don’t think there are many uga fans who “fear” tech, as you say.

    i think that wariness about this game, though, has much less to do with who the jackets are as a team than with who the dawgs are as a team.

  11. But please dont refer to a Vegas line on the dawgs. We havent covered in a spread in YEARS (or at least the last 7 weeks).

    I believe Tech is 1-5-1 ATS during the seven game losing streak.

  12. brad

    Unfortunately, we aren’t much different AU in this regard: we seem to go out and play not to lose instead of play to win. Everybody is talking about what Tech is capable of doing. We are every bit as capable on offense and even more so with Staff.

    We need to change the mentality of this program. Watch the LSU/UGA highlights from 2004. That’s the mindset we need.

  13. The Realist

    Mindset, shmindset. It’s not the mentality of the players. It’s the players.

    David Pollack ain’t walkin’ through that door. Thomas Davis ain’t walkin’ through that door.
    Odell Thurman ain’t walkin’ through that door.

    Go back and look at that 2004 LSU game, and you’ll see a defense that is oozing game-changing, play-making talent. Look at the current iteration, and there is a serious lack of ooze.

    You give the 2008 Dawgs offense the 2004 Dawgs defense, and you’ve got a national title contender. If only we had milked and bottled that defense for future consumption.

  14. brad

    Realist, I respectfully disagree. Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer of all time because of his mind, not his game. Sergio Garcia is as good as Tiger on a pure talent level. He just doesn’t have the mindset of winning when the pressure is on. Sure, Tiger is amazingly talented. But he’s not the longest off the tee, he isn’t first in GIR’s, he isn’t statistically the best putter. But when the pressure is on, ain’t nobody better. We aren’t as talented as ’04, no doubt. But, look at the body language of the players during the game. Tentative at best most of the time.

  15. The Realist

    brad,

    I was using a dose of sarcasm mixed with an overused sports metaphor poured over chilled reality.

    The players may be as good as the ’04 edition, but the team is not as good. In 2008, the sum of the parts > the whole. This was not the case in ’04… which seems odd to use that as a benchmark season, given that it was a colossal disappointment re: preseason expectations… much like this year.

    Tiger is sharp, no doubt. But Tiger’s advantage comes from the other players. He is in their heads. He has an advantage because they give him one. (That, and he scrambles like no one else ever.) They all believe that he is better, and they let that thought compromise their focus and it impacts their own game. It’s sort of like us and Florida.

    I don’t disagree about the team’s mentality. I think this passiveness and tentativeness is actually rather deep-rooted and ingrained through our style of play. But, that’s not going to change because of a bye week.

  16. brad

    Realist, I agree totally, especially about UF. We snuck in and got them last year and then Meyer willed his team for 365 days to kill us…and they did. We need to start believing we are in the upper echelon and not settle for not being there. I believe that comes from coaching. CMR had a quote the other day where his feathers ruffled when asked about the two losses and the disappointment of the season. He basically said there are people in the world without clean drinking water, thus implying there are more important things to worry about. I agree there are more important things, but can’t we get a team ready to play AND provide clean drinking water where needed?

  17. Jim

    As much as I like MR, the coaches are the issue with motivation.

    Look at the quote of the day.

    Hold on, folks. We’ve got the most important game of the year right now. Let’s not forget.“ (Mark Richt, AJ-C, 11/21/08)

    If I am not mistaken, he said prior to both the Fla and Bama games that if you were not motivated to play in games like these you are not a real bulldog or something like that.

    Somehow the coaches have to look at themselves and figure out why this team acts this way. Attitude reflects leadership.

  18. Hobnail_Boot

    Tech sucks, Dawgs win by double digits.

    Bring on anOSU.

  19. Wolfman

    I don’t take that beating of Miami too seriously. Has anyone put money on any ACC game this year? You probably learned quickly not to do it again.

    Coaching will win or lose this game. For the first time in a long time, talent (which UGA has always had more of) will be much LESS of a factor. Why? The triple option.

    I saw in person the dangers of the triple option this past Saturday in Cal Poly’s near miss on Wisconsin. (Note Cal Poly’s 3 missed extra points — Wisc could never have even gotten to OT with even one more made.) The Badgers had clearly superior talent on defense, yet they were frequently fooled by the option. Fullbacks up the middle for 15 yards, QBs between T and G for 30+ yards, and playaction passes to perfection for 30+yards. First downs everywhere. The thing that stood out to me — besides the clear unpreparedness of the Badger defense — was the incredible time consumption of the triple option. I saw at least 2 drives over 10min; Cal Poly had a TOP just short of 40 minutes.

    I bring this example of simply to say this: I believe this contest will give us a clear indication of whether the sub-expectation defense is because of talent, or because of coaching. If Tech runs everywhere, I might begin to questions CWM (which I have refrained from doing so far). If not, it is likely the coaches have prepared well. Hopefully two weeks have given us enough time to gameplan.

    Thoughts aside, being Tech is better than beating anybody else, hands down. I am completely prepared to be thrilled on Saturday.

  20. The Concerned Yellow Jacket

    Dear sUGArdaddy,

    I do believe you’ve made a mistake! You forgot how U(sic)GA has more National Championships than… oh… right. Well, you still have that nice old gold uniform… wait… you said that was for sissies, so we changed to it and beat you. 7 times in a row later… And I do suppose we only have the highest score and winning margin of any game in history.

    Don’t get me wrong… I actually went to U(sic)GA before realizing I’m not a farmer… And then got the heck out of the cesspool of the South and on to bigger and better things. 18 years in Athens ruined by one at U(sic)GA. I mean jeez… Josh Nesbitt is bigger, stronger, faster AND smarter than you. Who’s faster, with a better arm, and who’s intelligent enough to run The Perfect Option? That’s right: Tech’s guys.

    Go ahead and throw out some comment about the Gardner-Webb game. It was only our third string offense, second defense and part of a first string spec. teams. I mean jeez. Sanford goes out and U(sic)GA has nothing backing it up. I’ll be at that game today. Make sure to wave to the louder band. Pretty hilarious that the school without a music program is louder, too. Jeez, what IS U(sic)GA good at?