Lost puppies

If you really want to grasp the roots of where things went south this season, Paul Westerdawg has a pretty solid place to start:  the incredible shrinking class of 2010.

  • Demetre Baker (LB) – left school
  • Brent Benedict (OT) – left school
  • Michael Bennett (WR) – contributor
  • Brandon Burrows (LB) – injured
  • Marc Deas (DB) – non-factor defensively
  • Jalen Fields (DE) – never arrived
  • Kenarious Gates (OT) – contributor
  • Kolton Houston (OT) – contributor (finally)
  • Jakar Hamilton (DB) – left school
  • Ken Malcome (RB) – left school
  • Hutson Mason (QB) – contributor
  • Dextor Morant (DE) – left school
  • Alec Ogletree (LB) – contributor / NFL
  • Zander Ogletree (FB) – left school
  • Lonnie Outlaw (WR) – never enrolled
  • Derek Owens (DB) – left school
  • Garrison Smith (DL) – contributor
  • TJ Stripling (LB) – oft injured non-factor defensively
  • Mike Thornton (DT) – struggling to find consistent playing time

As Paul goes on to note, add to that Richt’s inexplicable willingness to undersign through several of the last classes, “… and you have a season where approximately 40 scholarship players had never played a snap before the season started.”  That’s how you get to the greenest secondary Georgia’s deployed in my memory, and, just as importantly, that’s how a team has trouble with injuries (granted, there were an obscene number of those this season) and in putting together competent special teams.

It seems to me that if you want to bitch about the coaching staff this offseason (and it’s a long offseason) the best place to begin is with roster management. Given the size of the last class, it may very well be that Richt has awakened to the problem he created, but the jury is still out on that, IMO.  Especially because the next phase we’re seeing in the recruiting wars – building up advisory staff for the purpose of managing high school contacts – isn’t really under Richt’s control.  At least not if B-M doesn’t want to play (i.e., spend money) that particular game.

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57 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

57 responses to “Lost puppies

  1. mg4life0331

    I just don’t see why people have to make the argument about the roster and injuries leading to what we have ended up with. I think its a blessing we did as well as we did. Yeah it sucks, and I hated this season, and the last few kind o lines sucked ass too. Are we trending up or down? I think up even though it hasn’t correlated in the win/loss column.

    • doofusdawg

      What will be a blessing is if Rome can stay healthy for three games in a row next season. Otherwise we will be starting an undersized redshirt freshman and a true freshman at tight end. Who could possibly see that coming.

  2. ScoutDawg

    Perfect storm of a shitty season. You have to think though, IMO, all this playing time for puppies pays off in the future. My personal Kool-aid anyway.

  3. TennesseeDawg

    Brent Benedict couldn’t get medical clearance from Georgia, goes to Virginia Tech and becomes their starting right tackle. That one stung considering out offensive tackle line play

    • James Stephenson

      Now that was funny. Matt always thinks he can fit that ball in there regardless of the coverage.

  4. dawgfan17

    The last sentence says it all. The people signing the checks aren’t willing to sign the needed extra guys. Forget a special teams coach, hire a guy or two or three to be consultants for that part of the game. Hire a staff of a half dozen to assist with recruiting. A few to hand write letters, a few to do nothing but watch film on every recruit in the country. Get a few on the cheap that are trying to get their foot in the door, a few more on the cheap that are older guys with tons of experience looking for a cushy job before retirement and throw out big dollars to get a few guys in their prime by putting them in charge of an aspect of off-field things by paying them big time dollars. Throw in a bigger S&C staff. Not that the on field coaching doesn’t have many issues it needs to fix on its own but they are fighting with a revolver when the biggest competition has a 15 shot clip.

  5. Bright Idea

    I just wonder if the staff too easily settles for the easy gets. So many big schools recruit in Georgia that we might be unwilling to go to war against them. Are our coaches too nice when kids seem to be leaning elsewhere?

  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    Notwithstanding that it’s Bleacher Report, the strength & conditioning guy at Stanford seems to be doing something significant. 87% reduction in lost time injuries in 6 years. Only 2 surgeries in 2012.
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1739903-how-to-build-a-bully-inside-the-stanford-football-strength-program

  7. the best place to begin is with roster management. Given the size of the last class, it may very well be that Richt has awakened to the problem he created, but the jury is still out on that, IMO.

    RM has been poor, IMO, no question about it. I’ve said it over and over for 4 years now .. If you’re going to protect your standards and ethics, which means always doing the right thing for the kid (and I’m for that), then efficient RM is crucial to stay competitive in the SEC.

    Every spot becomes valuable. Good evaluation becomes critical, as you can’t afford many misses. And so on. And this 2010 class is a good indication of how we were doing when Richt fired Martinez.

    When Richts’ rebuilding began in December, 2009, he did have to clean house a little bit, as the cancer was widespread by that time, and that accounts for much, if not most of the attrition and the lack of numbers several years ago (when we were 20 spots down or whatever).

    But the point is well taken, because there are other ways RM hasn’t been, and still isn’t, very good. I mean, replace your bottom 10 players with elite players and how much difference is that on the field? That may be an extreme example, but the point stands.

    So if you’re going to award scholarships to marginal players, walk-ons, and kickers – well OK. But it goes without saying you better be doggone efficient with the rest of your roster.

    And we haven’t been, IMHO.
    ~~~

    • Good points as usual, Ivey. We need to make sure we are recruiting guys who can succeed academically and athletically, so we aren’t sitting on used scholarships that we honor for 4 years. The lost class of ’10 really put us in a bind for quality depth.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      “…replace your bottom 10 players with elite players and how much difference is that on the field?” A Lot! That, in a nutshell, is what Saban did which completely turned the Bama program from an also ran in 2007 to SEC West Champions in 2008 and SEC Champions/BCS National Champions in 2009 and 2 more BCSNCs beyond that.

  8. Some of us have talked a lot about our evaluation over the years, or lack of. and this 2010 class is a good picture of where we were when Richt finally fired Martinez.

    This class was Martinez last, in terms of eval and targeting, even though Grantham closed the deal. So it’s interesting that he missed on 9 out of 11 targets. Only G.Smith and Ogletree contributed in any significant way.

    Since that class our overall eval has improved. On offense, it’s better across the board, except for OL. And one could argue the quality of the OL is a little better. But certainly not close to where it needs to be.

    Defensively, it’s sort of a mixed review. Certainly much better eval & targeting than Martinez. Overall it’s been pretty good, but not great, and not top-level, which it should be at a place like Georgia. DT, DE, OLB, and ILB (finally), have been pretty good. Not great.

    Secondary has been mediocre to poor, IMO. And FWIW, I suspect it’s no coincidence that the secondary is also the poorest-coached unit on the field.

    Times have changed, and it’s different in Georgia than it was even 10 years ago. Whoever Georgia’s coach is, there is no longer any reason to field anything less than top-level recruiting classes. The ability to evaluate talent is, or should be, one of the major qualifications for Georgia’s head coaching position, as well as both coordinators and their staffs.

    If there are no players in Georgia or within a 5 hour drive of Athens that pass eval standards AND are the type kids we want at Georgia, then we spread our wings and go get them. Simple as that.

    If there are no safeties in Georgia that meet the athletic, tackling, & ball skill requirements of the position, PLUS the intangible requirements you need in a safety, such as football instinct, nose for the ball, just being a PLAYER, etc., then you spread you wings and go find him, much like we do with QB’s.

    In fact, exactly like we do with QB’s. But for safeties and other positions, with the possible exception of OL, you shouldn’t have to go all that far, even if you have to go out of state. For the OL, to get the right guys you go to California if you have to, though that shouldn’t be necessary very often.

    High standards work. For example, setting those kind of standards, and sticking to them, prevents you from signing a good, or even fantastic athlete, who also happens to be a dumbass, to be your free safety.

    So recruiting, overall, is better than it was in 2010. But we need to raise the bar and take it to the top level, because Georgia has become a place where that is not only possible, but should be the norm.
    ~~~

    • MinnesotaDawg

      Good post. Like too many aspects of the Georgia program, simply “good enough” is not, in fact, good enough to produce a championship team. As a result, we’re too frequently in the position where we need everything to break our way (schedule, injuries, experience, (no) suspensions, officiating calls, luck, etc.) in order to realistically vie for a championship. When they don’t, as inevitably they don’t, the particular adversity simply becomes the latest excuse for why this just “wasn’t our year.”

      • Good post yourself. Better than good. I totally agree.
        ~~~

      • 79dawg

        This is ridiculous – the odds are pretty good that if “everything breaks your way”, you go to the MNC game, and if they don’t, you don’t; if the BCS era has taught us anything, it’s that luck/fate/catching breaks is basically a requirement to get to the game…. Even Saban has needed breaks, notwithstanding everyone pretends that he is the be-all and end-all….

        • MinnesotaDawg

          Ok, I’ll assume you’re not purposely missing the point or just being contrarian. So let me put it another way, there are a number of very good teams that can have tough luck in certain areas–a particular game, a particular call, a particularly weak position, a particularly bad play, what have you–and still be good enough to win that game, or in the bigger scheme, win or compete for a championship. Those teams seem to be able to overcome such adversities for a number of reasons–one of which is team depth (which is why my comment was relevant to this post).

          Since you bring up Saban, last year’s Alabama team suffered a number of season-ending injuries, had off games, and even lost a tough-luck game, but was still good enough to be in position for an SEC and National Championship. IMO, Georgia is unfortunately not one of these teams, and therefore needs to avoid their share of bad breaks/get good breaks more than some of those other, better equipped teams in order to have a great year, win a championship, or however you want to quantify having a great team.

          Obviously, “everything” wasn’t supposed to be taken literally. NO team ever has had “everything” go their way all year long. Not even 2013 Auburn, which may be the luckiest team of all time. And contrary to your suggestion, not every team that has things consistently go their way will go to a MNC. For example, if Kentucky had a great year when it came to schedule, good luck, good calls, breaks–would they be playing in the MNC? No, because they don’t have the players to win every game even with those breaks. Furthermore, I never suggested that MNC teams might not need some breaks along the way. Almost all teams get the occasional big break(s) throughout a season (even Georgia did this year–consider the end of the UT game), but those breaks are frequently overlooked because most of those teams aren’t championship calibre and will lose plenty of times, all on their own, with or without luck.

          • 79dawg

            As you may recall, we were “in a position for an SEC championship and an MNC” last year as well. If “one more break” goes our way, say Conley letting the ball hit the ground, maybe we get another shot and convert…
            Your original post comes across as “we should be good enough to overcome anything that is thrown our way” which, while perhaps being a good motivational tactic, is not realistic – there are some things that even the strongest people/organizations cannot overcome….

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      While I generally agree with what you say, this troubles me…”Times have changed, and it’s different in Georgia than it was even 10 years ago. Whoever Georgia’s coach is, there is no longer any reason to field anything less than top-level recruiting classes.”

      Of the big time schools which recruit Georgia heavily, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Clemson, South Carolina and FSU all target Georgia players successfully for reasons that are, sometimes, not so obvious.

      As long as The Great Punkin was at Tennessee, they were heavy competition, especially in Atlanta, and Butch Jones is at it again.

      While Georgia has built a strong following among high school players, the state is still open to Bama, Auburn, LSU etc, etc.

      The idea you can build a wall around the state is nonsensical, which means Georgia has to fight harder than ever before for the top in-state talent.

      If this is a misinterpretation of what you meant, apologies.

      • Yeah, no problem. What I said had nothing to do with the concept of building a wall around Georgia. In fact, the number of elite players has increased to the extent that isn’t necessary anymore.

        We just have to get our share (which we haven’t been doing lately), and that should be the biggest piece. There are other factors which make that true, not the least of which it is so much easier to land elite players from out of state.

        But I had no thought whatsoever about “building a wall around the state”. There was a time, a while back, when that seemed necessary. Not anymore, IMHO.
        ~~~

    • Skeptic Dawg

      Bingo! This staff has missed on a few players (which is not uncommon in the recruiting world), but the Dawgs pay double the price of missed recruits due to their constant undersigning. This one area has haunted Richt during his 13 year tenure at Georgia. At what point does he wake up and smell the coffee? We can only hope the time is now.

  9. ScoutDawg

    Jeebuz, Thomas Brown in the house.

  10. Russ

    I don’t understand why we would ever be more than 1-2 scholarship players away from our 85 man roster. Can someone explain the logic there? Seems to me that I would rather sign a 3 star rather than not sign one at all. More than a few of those can turn into big contributors.

  11. A10Penny

    Is this the full class? If so, only having 19 signees is a problem. With the new limits, we can have 85 (max 25 per year). We should be signing on average 21/year (assuming that early transfers & departures to the NFL are equivalent to the number of 5th year guys). We just plain under-signed here and there because we whiffed on some big names late. The good news is, we’re on the back-counting bandwagon like gangbusters.

    Now I’m curious if my assumption on early transfers/departures = 5th years is solid. Anyone crazy enough to take that on?

  12. Dboy

    Senator,

    I have never agreed more with one of your posts than this one. Particularly, this statement:

    “It seems to me that if you want to bitch about the coaching staff this offseason (and it’s a long offseason) the best place to begin is with roster management.”

  13. jeff

    Our staff was asleep at the wheel . . . again.

  14. W Cobb Dawg

    I hope nobody is surprised by the 2010 recruiting results. My worry is that unless we land a couple high profile late targets on D and OL, we might have a repeat of 2010 with this year’s class. Don’t seem to have problems landing RBs, TEs and QBs, but we need beef and DBs!

  15. darin smith

    I have started watching Utah state. I think I will be a happier fan.

  16. NoAxeToGrind

    You can BS about this and BS about that and hem and haw about every thing else; but the fact remains that Richt is the one in charge….the capstone of the program from whom all the energy flows. He sets the tone and makes the decisions. If, in your opinion, the program is headed in the wrong direction, then there is no one else to blame but Richt, and all this talk won’t do a damn bit of good. My apologies to any I have offended.

  17. DawgPhan

    Obviously the recruiting fell apart towards the end of 2009-2010.NO doubt about that. I also think that staff has been addressing it and a solid class this year gets us out of the woods.

    • A10Penny

      Is this class shaping up to shore up weak areas? Only 16 committed so far I think and I only see a couple DBs and OTs. I love having the depth at QB and RB, but we need it elsewhere…and another small class would waste an opportunity to build on last year’s success.

      • DawgPhan

        tons of time until signing day. However, there are 3 OL and 3 DBs committed in this class. 4 OL and 8 DBs in the last class, So I would think that 3-4 of each is probably where they want to be with this class.

  18. Scorpio Jones, III

    It seems generally acknowledged the offensive line is a area that needs work.

    And….of the three offensive linemen in the 2010 class, only Benedict did not work out (for Georgia). Obviously Kolton Houston was a weird case and he probably would have been more valuable had he been playing for the two years he was struggling to get eligible.

    So, if the criticism of recruiting is accurate, does this mean that the linemen we are recruiting are just not very good?

    And that, for instance, Auburn and Alabama are better at evaluating offensive linemen?

    Or, since many of the kids were recruited by Bama and Auburn, too, did Bama and Auburn get the better players and we were left with the also-rans?

    Somebody said we have not had good offensive lines since Vince retired, and while that may seem to be true, there would seem to be no SCHEMATIC reason why Mark Richt (and staff) would be less interested, or less capable of building road-grading offensive lines.

    Maybe three offensive line coaches in what? six years? is part of the problem…Vince, what do you think?

    • Joe Schmoe

      The big issue to me an the OL is the lack of true OTs that can handle the speed rush. I read somewhere the other day that there has been a change in defensive philosophy in recent years and a move to smaller, quicker DEs which requires OLs to have more athletic OTs. We seem to always be playing guys that are really guards and tackle which leaves us extremely vulnerable to the speed rush (Gates being the latest example; Houston fits into the category as well IMO).

      I watch recruiting a little and it seems like we have major (and highly publicized) misses at the OT position almost every year (Tunsil being the latest example). Two stud tackles would go a long way towards solving our issues on the OL.

  19. DawgPhan

    Someone also mention Chester Brown (?) during the bowl season as he was playing somewhere and I believe he was the kid with the immigration paper issue that didnt get into UGA.

    quick google…yep he started on the OL for UCF this season.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      That would have been an institutional decision. At least we gave it a shot.

      • DawgPhan

        It wasnt an institutional decision. It was a policy created by the board of regents in reaction to the Hispanic girl at Kennesaw State.

        • Scorpio Jones, III

          The Board of Regents IS the institution. A policy created by the Board of Regents for any reason is an institutional policy. Institutional decisions in the University of Georgia system may or may not be made in Athens.

  20. Irwin R. Fletcher

    Funny…I’m a Richt supporter…sometimes unabashedly…because I think he is a great football coach. However, this is something I brought up a while back…that 2011 was a sea change mostly because of the difference in recruiting. It takes talent to recruit the class they did coming off the 2010 year.
    Of course, I didn’t see the problems coming in 2014, but in all honesty, I think this is an area that (a) deserves criticism but (b) also deserves some recognition that from 2011 onward, we’ve seen a better approach. My criticism with recruiting currently is that we aren’t signing the top 10 guys (which isn’t easy…but it is somewhat necessary). If they can close on L. Carter, who is supposed to be a great person and player, it would be great.

    • DawgPhan

      the problem though is that I dont think I have talked to a UGA fan yet who actually thinks they will close on Carter. Every time I heard his name this season I always just assumed he was going somewhere else.

  21. Carolinadawg

    God does not approve of oversigning. The end.

  22. Irwin R. Fletcher

    By the way, I don’t really buy the premise that 2010 ruined our secondary. What ruined our secondary is that of the 6 Db’s signed in 2010-11, only 1 is really a solid contributor (Swann). Sanders and Marshall were kicked off the team. Moore and Deas aren’t that good. Jakar left…but he’d be a moot point this season anyway without only two years of eligibility.

    And to complain that they didn’t sign any DB’s in 2012 when (a) you had starters entrenched and (b) you signed 4 in 2011 and didn’t know there would be any playing time until Feb 4th seems to be a bit of revisionist history. It was a miracle they flipped Dawson like they did.

    I’m not saying it was good roster management, but our inexperience in the secondary has more to do with kids getting kicked out of school a week before signing day in 2012 than PWD’s article gives mention to.

    [Can someone explain how we undersigned by "10" in 2012? I know we had some open spots for JaQuay Williams and Avery Young that didn't get used, but 10 seems like a lot of players.]