Daily Archives: November 2, 2009

Nobody loves you when you’re down and out.

“The players and coaches are very close, even though we’re going through as much adversity as a program probably can,” he said. “But the world is a tough place and everybody is going through adversity right now. It’s through adversity that your character is tested, and I see a lot of character on this team.”

Sound familiar?  Maybe so, but it’s not Mark Richt.  It’s the head coach of the currently 2-6 Hawaii Warriors, Greg McMackin.

That’s what a disappointing season sounds like.  It’s a universal language.

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My Mumme Poll ballot, Week 9

With Oregon’s stunning win over USC, the Boise State-TCU debate heats up, but it’s not as big a deal with approval voting – at least for this voter.

TOP FIVE

  • Alabama
  • Cincinnati
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Texas

REST OF THE BEST

  • Boise State
  • Georgia Tech
  • LSU
  • Oregon
  • Penn State
  • Southern Cal
  • TCU

COMMENTS

  • In the end, I stood pat.  As hard as I thought about dropping Southern Cal out of the top twelve, I was hard pressed to come up with a substitute I liked better.  I’m not that enthralled with Pittsburgh and three of the other prominent two-loss teams – Cal, Ohio State and Notre Dame – have all lost to the Trojans.
  • That being said, I loved the way Oregon played in that game.  I seriously considered pushing Cinci out of the top five to make room for the Ducks.  I may still do so at some time in the future if they keep that up.
  • It took about 30 minutes to put this ballot together, with the vast majority of that time being spent on those two issues.

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Damon Evans’ business decision

I am not big on doing the “inside source” stuff at GTP.  For one thing, I don’t have much in the way of it.  And for another, what little I’ve got is well placed enough that were I to disclose much detail, it would be fairly apparent where it was coming from and I’m not interested in disclosing a source here.

That being said, I was told one thing that I’ll share in an oblique enough way that I don’t think it’ll get anyone in trouble.  As you can probably guess, Willie Martinez’ fate was a constant topic of conversation this past week.  And one sobering comment that I got from someone who certainly is in a position to know is that Mark Richt is described as being “fanatically loyal” to his coordinators.

Now that doesn’t mean that changes aren’t necessarily coming after the end of the season, or that Richt isn’t doing some soul-searching this week.  But I feel confident in saying that of the vast majority of people who follow the program and saw the Florida game as Martinez’ death knell, Mark Richt isn’t one of them.

On the other side of the equation, while fan support of the program is still good, there’s a palpable ebbing of enthusiasm that was painfully apparent this past weekend.  In a time of a weakened economy, that’s not a good thing for an athletic director to have to deal with.  I expect the turnout for the Tennessee Tech game to be lacking – noticeably lacking.  And if this team struggles to a 6-6 finish with another loss to Georgia Tech, it’s going to be Defcon Level 3 for Evans.  Georgia coaching careers with multiple stumbles against Tech don’t have particularly high survival rates.

To be fair, in my mind, Mike Bobo deserves as much heat as Martinez is getting these days.  After all, statistically speaking, Georgia’s offense is performing at a lower level than its defense.  But the majority of the anger and frustration I heard this past weekend before and after the game was directed in Martinez’ direction.  And it’s in his direction that I expect most of the speculation to continue to be directed in the next few months.

Where things go from here is hard for me to say, though.  I don’t think anyone in his or her right mind seriously believes Richt’s job is in jeopardy after this season, even if the program finishes with an unprecedented number of losses in the Richt era and even if Richt refuses to make any staffing changes in the wake of that result.  But I also don’t think that Evans lets Richt have more than one season to turn things around in a major way if Richt elects to stand pat.

Which means it’s Richt’s call in the short run and Evans’ call in the longer run.  And if it gets to the second stage, Evans has proven with Felton (who, don’t forget, was Evans’ first big hire) that he’s not one to dither if things stagnate.

Keep in mind a few things that will be part of the decision-making process for both men as they wrestle with the call (or calls, if you want to think that both coordinators’ jobs are at stake):

  • Don’t expect money to be much of an object, particularly if it’s clear that athletic department revenues are likely to suffer otherwise.
  • If you clicked on the link to the NCAA stats page, you saw that Georgia is ranked 97th nationally in total offense and 68th nationally in total defense.  Trust me when I say that there are plenty of coaches out there who are capable of improving those performances and who will be available for hire, if it comes to that.
  • Removing a coordinator is bigger than just that one person.  Should Richt elect to replace either man, keep in mind that anyone he chooses to bring in who has a high profile-type reputation is going to expect to be able to assemble his own staff.  Richt, should he decide to pull the trigger, isn’t likely to make the same mistake Tuberville did with the Tony Franklin hire.  So there will be position coaches who will lose jobs as well.
  • Along those same lines, expecting Martinez to accept a demotion in order to stay on is a stretch at best, if for no other reason than it’s highly unlikely that a new coordinator is going to be comfortable having the old coordinator on his staff.
  • Timing is going to be awkward.  If Georgia goes 6-6, it’ll be bowl eligible.  If Richt decides to make a change, does he do it during bowl preparation, when a new coordinator can come in, evaluate personnel and staff and even begin making changes, or does he wait until the offseason?
  • If Richt does stand pat, the firestorm from the fan base is going to be white-hot, to say the least.  I’ve got no idea how Evans sells that to the fans.  He’s going to have to be prepared to take a short-term hit.  But he’s still got to give Richt that chance, because Richt’s earned it.
  • That being said, remember that buyout clause that we’ve all pointed to for years as proof of Richt’s loyalty?  It looks kind of expensive now that the shoe may be on the other foot, doesn’t it?

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Florida-Georgia recap: at least the weather was good.

Some bullet points and a conclusion:

  • I posted last week before the game that Urban Meyer’s game plan for Georgia was an easy one – simply play it straight, don’t take unnecessary chances and let the Dawgs beat themselves.  And in essence, that’s what Florida did.  On offense, Tebow was efficient throwing the ball, he led the team in rushing and Hernandez and Cooper led the Gators in receiving.  On defense, Florida was patient and eventually took advantage of Georgia’s weakness in the passing game to turn the game for good with timely sacks and four interceptions.
  • After reading Martinez’ quotes in this post at David Hale’s blog last week, I pretty much knew that Willie was prepared to dish up another heaping helping of More of The Same and he didn’t disappoint with a soft zone that had to bring smiles to the faces of Tim Tebow and Steve Addazio.  Still, I don’t think anyone in the stadium was prepared for the ease with which Florida scored on its first two possessions.
  • Bryan Evans started and played on those first two possessions.  He got bailed out by Brandon James’ spectacular drop, but that was about it.  Bacarri Rambo came in for Florida’s third possession and the Gators were forced into a three-and-out.  Which of course meant that Martinez put Evans back out for the next series, resulting in another Florida score.  I gave up keeping track after that, because it obviously didn’t matter, but Evans caught my eye when he rushed at full speed past Tebow on his second touchdown run.  I’ve got no idea where he was going on that play.
  • That pick-six will go down as the easiest score of Brandon Spikes’ career.  And by “career” I don’t just mean college – throw in high school and the pros.  And if he played Pee Wee football, that, too.
  • Everyone no doubt has his or her key moment of the game.  Mine was Dunlap’s sack of Cox during that disastrous series late in the second quarter.  Joe’s stats before the sack:  6 of 9 passing for 101 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT.  Afterwards:  5 of 11 passing for 64 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs.
  • The dumbest play of the game was easily Mike Gilliard’s personal foul on the kickoff after Georgia had scored to narrow the game to 14-10.  But let’s not forget that it was set up by the ridiculous sideline celebration which got the juices flowing and Fabris’ inevitable decision to directionally kick (by the way, Walsh continues to lead the SEC in touchbacks, with 12).
  • All of the interceptions came off ill advised throws.  You can argue that the first was the result of a terrific effort by A.J. Jones, but you also have to admit that Florida should have had at least one more pick, but for Orson Charles’ fine effort to break up a pass thrown into triple coverage.
  • For a fifth-year senior, Joe Cox doesn’t play like a fifth-year senior.  He still stares down receivers and holds the ball too long.  The real killer on that Charles’ pass breakup was that Cox had A.J. Green wide open down the right sideline for a big gain.
  • Washaun Ealey had seventeen carries and is slowly evolving into the featured back.  He deserves it.  He’s better at hitting the hole than King and is able to shift downfield better than Samuel.
  • Blocking on kickoff returns was absolutely pathetic.  Boykin made something out of nothing on his 37-yarder, but there were always at least three or four Gator defenders that arrived without being slowed.
  • The saddest thing about the game was that the good work on the offensive line in the first half largely went for nought, undermined by a rash of untimely penalties in the first half and the plague of interceptions in the second half.  Georgia ran the ball effectively in the first and second quarters – something I wasn’t expecting – and it set up the play action game that made Bobo look smart and Cox look comfortable.  Amazing how that works.

Ultimately it was another game like so many others we’ve seen this year.  You look at some of the good things this team is capable of doing at times and you wonder how it struggles so much.  But then you step back and notice its inability to remain focused and composed for an entire game and wonder how Georgia has managed to win four games with that schedule.

With the four remaining games left on the slate – Tennessee Tech is a likely win, Kentucky (which lost at home to Mississippi State) is a probable one, Auburn is a tossup (turnovers will be the key factor and that doesn’t bode well for Georgia) and Georgia Tech is a likely loss (again, because turnovers won’t allow the Dawgs to keep up on the scoreboard with the Jackets) – it looks like Georgia will limp into a minor bowl game.  Somehow, I don’t think that’s what anyone had in mind at the beginning of the season.  There’s an awful lot of talent being wasted in Athens these days.

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