Upon further review: Georgia-LSU

Usually when I watch the replay after I’ve been to the game live, I’m conscious of tempering my Saturday impressions.  I figure generally that I’m overly optimistic after a win and tend to overstate the bad after a loss.

Not so much this week, brother.  In fact, I think I owe Mike Bobo an apology for lumping his playcalling in the same category with the overall play and direction of the special teams (minus Drew Butler, of course).  I’m officially moving him from the land of the ugly to the merely bad, because special teams deserve to be in a category all their own.

Part of my frustration stems from the obvious:  the fundamentals of blocking are so clearly missing on kickoffs and kickoff returns.  Not that there were too many to evaluate, but on every kickoff return, LSU had players in position to tackle the ball carrier before he could get up much of a head of steam.  On the other side, Holiday had plenty of real estate to scoot through, especially, as I noted yesterday, on that second run back that set up the winning score.  It’s apparent to me that not enough time or attention is being given to making sure players on special teams know what they’re doing.

I’m not looking for Urban Meyer levels of self-promotion here (hey, look at how we make special teams special at Florida!), just a willingness to put the effort into making sure that players know their roles and purpose and execute them competently.  That we’re complaining about this for as extended a period as we have tells me that there’s a structural flaw here in Richt’s approach that he needs to address immediately.

But even more disappointing than the kickoff game is what Georgia did on punt returns (and there were plenty of those in the second half).  Four punts, zero return yardage.  There wasn’t even an attempt made to return one.  Georgia had Logan Gray fielding a punt on its own forty.  Nor did Georgia ever attempt to put any pressure on the punter, including the golden opportunity the defense gave the punt return team after the first defensive series of the second half when LSU had to punt from inside its own two yard line.

Richt’s explanation?

… the use of Logan Gray on punts is in large part because Georgia is using essentially its regular defensive unit to prevent a fake.

That is the essence of why Georgia came up on the short end of the stick Saturday.  This staff has grown fearful of being aggressive.  I don’t know if that’s because they’ve come to distrust their players’ instincts, or if it was some lame attempt to cut down on turnovers.  In any event, it’s not winning football.

LSU had 44 yards of punt returns.  Georgia had none.  On kickoff returns, Holiday’s average (44.5 yards) was almost equal to Georgia’s total (48 yards).  You can’t concede that kind of yardage in a tight game like the one we saw.  Besides that, what kind of message are you sending your players when you make tactical decisions like that?

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UPDATE: David Hale replays Georgia’s greatest hits… um, kicks… um, misses… oh, hell, you get the idea.

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UPDATE #2: Paul has another special teams concern.

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36 Comments

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36 responses to “Upon further review: Georgia-LSU

  1. I am absolutely looking for a Meyer-like attention to Special Teams from Richt. At this point, I have no reason to believe that anything short of that will fix the problem. No one hates Meyer more than me, but he understands game management and the importance of field position in a way Richt doesn’t. He will continue to pull Richt’s pants down until Richt decides special teams are actually important.

  2. GumpDawg

    Could not agree more, this was the exact point I made in my comment yesterday (the first of your 90+ to your post on the game).

    I believe we (fans) get trigger happy and I am usually an apologist for the coaches, but the lack of a rush (maybe one in ten?) on punts is pathetic, and this has been going on for years, we either go after it completely or not at all. Someone, or two, ought to try every time…everytime.

    Someone ought to be relieved of his responsiblities, let him concentrate on getting Houston a compliment.

    • Agreed. I know the “rusher” is now not a blocker, but have they not noticed that putting a rush on the punter decreases the chance for a good kick, effectively adding to “return” yardage??

      I mean, I HAVE, and I am a rank amateur who never played any football.

  3. Joe B.

    It is very sad to watch this happen.

    Has CMR always been the poor of a coach, and it was simply covered up by Greene/Pollack/Sean Jones, etc?

    Or has something changed? Is it all because of BVG leaving?

    What has happened to this program. How does a guy go from being so good to so mediocre?

    The really sad part now is the bristling that keeps coming from CMR when fans/media are demanding a quality product.

    He is battening down the hatches in a very similar fashion to what Tubberville and Fulmer were doing last year.

    I am proud the he gets the kids to fight every week, but he is doing them an injustice by so poorly preparing them for games.

    CMR is going to have to make some tough decisions this off-season. 2007 looks like the anomaly since Shock left.

    We will find out in January if Bobby Bowden really was right about CMR’s inability to lead a program. Just as Bobby held on to Jeff and Phil Fulmer held on to Randy Sanders, will CMR hold on to the inept Mike Bobo and mediocre Willie Martinez?

    This program is clearly running out of gas, and CMR needs to figure out how to refill it. The coaching has just been terrible since ’06.

    We look a lot more like a Jim Donnan team with each passing week.

    • JasonC

      I really think removing Fabris from special teams is should be the first personnel move. At least Bobo and Martinez have flashes of being good, but this crap on special teams, especially kickoffs is beyond acceptable.

    • JaxDawg

      Were Bowden’s comments something to the effect of “Mark is too nice to lead a program”?

      I don’t recall Bobby saying that he couldn’t lead a program, just that he might not become a big winner b/c of it. I recall Tom Osborne being the ultimate gentleman coach – nice to the fans, players, media, everyone – but his teams would beat the living snot outta yours every weekend.

      He proved that you can be polite and nice on the surface, while maintaining an extremely harsh sense of competitiveness within.

      Texas and OK fans used to joke that Osborne’s teams and fans would shake your hand before the game, beat you senseless during, and politely acknowledge your team’s effort after they won by 50.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Hey. Donnan averaged 9-3 his last 4 years.

  4. RP

    With 8:54 left in the third quarter I looked at the scoreboard. Georgia losing 0-6 and I laughed and turned to my seatmate and stated how funny it was that UGA had 1 penalty and zero turnovers….and something like 84 total yards. It seems in an effort to cut penalties and turnovers the entire team lost its fire to do anything. Of course, once we started committing penalties again, we started moving the ball.

    Figure that one out…..

  5. rbubp

    I just don’t get this. Richt used to care about field position; surely you all remember him using that to justify conservative play-calling when he was the OC just a few years ago. Remember the Sugar Bowl against Florida State, what was that, 2003? People used to talk about taking the air out of the ball.

    Well, the air is certainly in the ball now. Why have we gotten so tolerant of undisciplined sloppiness in so many areas of the game?

  6. keith

    I want someone to give me an explanation of why our 2nd team QB is on the KO team. Well, no, there is actually not an explanation for it. We had 3 walkons and Gray on that last KO and LSU and 1st and 2nd teamers on theirs. They covered theres to the tune of holding us for a less than a 10 yd return.

    And of course we all know how their return ended.

    There is no defense of our special teams fiasco anymore. From our Logan Gray fair catch extravaganza to our, scared they are going to fake it returns instead of blocking that punt from the 2 yd line crap. We have got to have answers.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a town hall type meeting with CMR? Where we show him facts like David Hales column or look him in the eye and ask, what are you going to do when our 2nd team QB gets hurt on KO team and we are one play away from Mettenburg or Murray.

    We as fans truly do deserve more than the BS we have been getting in these quotes from CMR after the games. Blaming the wind….my a**

    • I can’t agree with you more. I don’t no what CMR’s problem is, but, I suggest that he get a grip soon. I read in the Bible once, a quote from Jesus, saying “You can not serve two masters”. Is that what he’s(Richt) trying to do??? College football and his Ministry?

  7. D.N. Nation

    2007 looks like the anomaly since Shock left.

    Why?

    • Joe B.

      “If you really study the game, you’ll notice the team that had the wind to the back kicked it farther and and covered better,” Richt said. “The team that had the wind in their face had more issues.”

      1. Remember when CMR was castigated after his time management debacles against AU and BC in 2001? Remember his response to that criticism? He took full blame for what went wrong and vowed to fix it.

      2. LSU won the coin toss on Saturday and deferred. That means that our captains got to pick on which side of the field we would receive the ball in the 2nd half. We obviously chose to go against the wind in the 4th quarter.

      Fundamental, basic things.

  8. Turd Ferguson

    1. I still think we’re one of the most talented teams in the country. But those incredibly talented athletes are the victims of a nasty combination of (a) poor coaching and (b) bad luck. And one of those is — at least, in theory — fixable.

    2. I appreciate optimism and all, but what really is the point of saying, “Hey, we still control our own destiny in the SEC East”? Does anyone in their right mind think that we’re really the sort of team that could make it through the rest of our conference schedule undefeated (which is what we’ll have to do)? Surely not. So why say it?

    3. I’m not giving up completely on this season, but take a look at next year’s schedule. And now imagine who we’ll have on the field. A. J. Green. Tavarres King. Marlon Brown. Aaron Murray. Washaun Ealey. Orson Charles. Ben Jones. Branden Smith. Hopefully Sturdivant returns, Curran sticks around, etc., etc., etc. The only thing standing between us and a run at the BCS next season is … well, … (a) poor coaching and (b) bad luck. Dammit.

    • JaxDawg

      Turd,
      the entire OL returns except for Vance (I could be missing one other). We lose Geno, Owens, and Kade but could return nearly the entire secondary (sans Jones) and the entire LBing corp.

      We are extremely young and it shows week after week. I keep waiting for these pups to grow up – which they eventually will.

      All the above takes care of the bad luck. The bad coaching is an entirely other matter.

    • Will (the other one)

      About that #3, you’re leaving off one other possible issue:
      Other than TennTech game I don’t see this year’s team getting any blowout wins (maybe Vandy, as it appears they’ve regressed a bit)…and therefore no meaningful snaps for any QB other than Cox.

      If we concede that an SEC title is pretty much out of the question, we need to get some other QBs some snaps. Not the same as benching Cox, but we can’t afford to have a down year (even if it winds up 9-3) where we build depth everywhere but QB.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        I’m not conceding that an SEC title is out of the question for this team. The team is 3-2 and from where I sit just got ripped off from a big win against the #4 team in the country. If that asshole Mike Watson doesn’t play the “celebration penalty” game a bunch of LSU guys are writing on another blog about how their team is history for a conference title. Without the bogus “celebration penalty” you would all be writing about the brilliant drive engineered by Bobo to win the game and masterfully carried out by the Ginger Assassin Joe Cox. Is the team perfect? No. Was LSU perfect? No. LSU just got the “little help” they needed from the refs at the end of the game. That’s why they won. By the way, Okie State played “homer ref” on the Dawgs, too. So BOTH losses this season came because of officiating. It makes me sick.

  9. Christian

    +1 for everyone. These posts are accurate, not too extreme or rash and worthy of discussion.

    We need to regroup – sweep the state of TN – and get ready for the week off and the Gay-turds.

    Go Dawgs!

  10. PNWDawg

    If we’re not going to return punts why do we even have a deep man? Hell, at least that way we won’t muff the return and maybe, maybe we can get a block.

    Yeah, I’m a little tired of CMR’s ‘coach speak’ to the fans. You don’t have to be a coach to know pissing in the wind is a bad idea. And you don’t have to be a coach to know special teams contributed significantly to this loss.

  11. The Realist

    Georgia needs a special teams coach. Plain and simple. Cobbling together the special teams units has produced a disadvantage for this team for the past two years. Teams that win the special teams battle have a much greater chance of winning the game. They can mask their inadequacies and compensate for their shortcomings by generating big special teams plays and preventing the same from the competition.

    This seems like the easiest, and most blatant fix of all the problems that Georgia seems to have on a weekly basis. Richt even says that special teams are a problem… in fact, THE problem that makes the defense so malleable at times. (Is this his scapegoat because there isn’t a coach to be held accountable?) If special teams are such a disaster, then fix them. Fix them by having someone be held accountable for them. Hoping the problem fixes itself is just burying your head in the sand.

    What’s the problem with having your head in the sand? Nothing is stopping your opponent from kicking your ass over and over and over.

  12. Dog in Fla

    Global War on Lane (GWOL) Crisis of the Day (COD) Piece, 5 October 2009:

    Department of Fatherland Security briefing, President’s Mansion, Green Zone, Knoxville:

    Monte sips on his expresso venti Starbucks and reads the daily intel report that Chavis, the guy who was fired so Monte could escape from the Glazers, only allowed Richt & Company one first down in the first half but almost queered the deal in second half and probably would have except for a demoralizing bullsh!t call that had Georgia kicking off from the back of its own endzone after another usual miracle touchdown catch by AJ Green, who in addition to being one of the top receivers in the country, is widely known to be the one college player in entire freaking United States of America who would be the least likely player to ever taunt anyone in an endzone celebration.

    Monte is pleased to know that the SEC refs have their own ongoing jihad against Evil Richt because that ratchets down some of the pressure that his boy Lane might face. Monte has put in a special requisition to Slive to have the Georgia- LSU crew work Georgia-Tennessee. Slive thinks he is going to have the Penn Wagers crew work the game just to make double secret probation sure so it will be done right to Georgia again.

    Monte knows that The SEC refs have imposed a unilateral rule on Georgia that whenever a Georgia player scores a touchdown unless the Georgia player politely hands the ball to a ref, just as Hershel did way back when in the eighteenth century, it’s a by God unsportsman-like penalty call against Evil Richt. Unbeknownst to Georgia it will also be a five yard penalty even if they politely hand the ball back to the ref if they first don’t request and receive from the ref permission granted from the ref for the player to hand the ball to the ref.

    Lane still feeling amped after two straight moral victories asks his Dad whether Georgia is an offensive machine that is as potent as a Mahlzinied Auburn and Monte tells him don’t worry kid because even if they are, do you think The SEC will let Evil Richt win in Knoxville? Of course not! It’s all part of the master plan. It’s going the best the best noon game between two old-school powerhouses with a combined record of .500. Monte, being older and therefore getting up earlier, would not have had a problem with a 0830 kickoff but according to Slive the earliest they can go for now is 12:30. Monte feels good about the daylight because he knows it takes Georgia awhile to get warmed up in day games. Monte has set own personal goal of holding Georgia to no first downs in the first half.

    Lane asks Monte about the special teams issues that Georgia apparently has and Monte tells Lane not to worry because sometimes Georgia special teams show up and sometimes they don’t. Monte has a good feeling about this coming Saturday and tells Lane to take some time off and go to Dollywood and work on and revise that big Chinese menu-like chart Lane kept looking at on the sidelines during the Auburn game. Monte tells Lane that maybe that will help Tennessee receivers hold onto the ball when Crompton throws it to them and the ball hits them in the hands rather than them looking like they were trying to catch the ball with chopsticks. Monte’s just got a feeling that this Saturday is going to be a big day for Lane and Crompton just like Georgia was a big coming out day for Garcia and Mallett.

    Meanwhile, in Athens at the circling of the wagons and buzzards around the underground bunker at Butts Mehre, the Georgia coaching staff at the Maybe We Are Not So Blessed daily debriefing is still trying to figure out what it can make happen to beat not only the opposing team but The SEC refs, too, all while having to listen to four hours worth of Rocky Top music torture. Mark tells his assistants that he is bringing in an outside consultant to be on the Georgia sidelines in Neyland just to make sure that The SEC refs even out the calls just like they did in the LSU game and shows them a short video c.v.

  13. Turd Ferguson

    And not to be the guy that throws an obviously gifted coach under the bus, but … anyone remember how often last season we were all singing the praises of Stacy Searels? I mean, granted, it sucks to lose Sturdivant again. And yes, our RBs have been less than spectacular, to say the least. But what in the hell is going on with our offensive line?

    They opened up a great hole for Richard Samuel in Arkansas … and he took it 80 yards to the house. And they’ve done an okay job protecting Joe. But holy smokes. The offensive line was one of the only things about this team that I simply took for granted coming into this season … and they’ve pretty consistently under-performed.

    Did Searels use up all of his super-powers last season?

  14. D.N. Nation

    David Hale replays Georgia’s greatest hits… um, kicks… um, misses… oh, hell, you get the idea.

    Kick out of bounds, kick out of bounds, kick out of bounds, kick out of bounds. It’s not working. It won’t work. Stop playing passive-aggressive with the fans and admit error.

  15. BeerMoney

    This is starting to remind me of a kind of obscure early ’90s movie called “She’s Out of Control” with Tony Danza. In a nutshell, Danza is the DJ of a number one radio station in LA. His daughter is kind of a nerd who gets a makeover and becomes hot and the boys start showing up in droves. As this happens, Danza starts to worry more about her and goes to painstaking lengths to protect her while justifying his slippage in ratings at work. The infamous scenes that comes to mind are him saying “at least we’re number three” or “at least we’re number eight,” or “at least we’re number 16,” and then follow it up by saying “do you know how many stations would kill to be number 16?”

    Not really sure how the movie ends and maybe this is a ridiculous comparison, but it just came to mind the other day out of the blue. Point is his excuses and justifications are starting to sound like more like our coaching staff. At what point is “at least we’re ____” not good enough?

  16. kdogg

    Simple attitude adjustment by Richt yet will not diminish his spirituality …. off the field New Testament i.e. turn the other cheek, love thy enemy and help those in need etc…. on the field Old Testament … fire and brimstone, eye for an eye, destruction, plagues …….

  17. NRBQ

    Guess Pulpwood was wrong.

    They weren’t pussies.

  18. Texas_Dawg

    I am absolutely looking for a Meyer-like attention to Special Teams from Richt.

    You mean like all the walk-ons and back-ups he plays on his kick coverage team?

    Watch

    James Smith
    John Jones
    Cade Holliday
    Moses Jenkins
    Justin Williams…

    By the way, Florida averaged only 2 yards farther on their kickoffs last year. They directional kick just as much as we do.