Forty percent

I’ve read with interest plenty of discussion about the “three unranked seasons in the last five for Georgia” meme.  It’s accurate on its face, but I’m not sure it reflects the entire story.  Two of those three seasons are the ’09 and ’10 car wrecks – the lowest point of the Richt regime that left many of us seriously questioning his ability to return the program to relevancy.  The next two seasons showed that we were wrong and that he could.  So there’s an issue about momentum that’s not really addressed in the count.

Which brings us to 2013.  It’s a Rorschach test of a season, allowing each of us to see what we want.  For some, injuries robbed the team of its chance for a memorable year.  For others, injuries were merely an excuse for explaining away shoddy special teams and defensive play that would have doomed the team to a disappointing year no matter what.

Sounds like the perfect lead in for a reader poll to me.

Before you jump my case for framing the question as I have, remember it’s not my meme.  To the extent that the meme is being offered as an indictment of the program, it only seems fair to question the assumption that this past season isn’t an outlier, but more a case of certain chickens returning to roost.

Also, think about this:  if Georgia does recover in 2014 to post ten wins and get back to Atlanta, does the five-year meme survive or mutate?  My bet is the latter, at least if the Dawgs don’t wind up winning the conference and/or making the new playoffs.

I’d like to hear what you have to say about this.

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104 Comments

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104 responses to “Forty percent

  1. heyberto

    We don’t lose to Vandy, probably beat Auburn, may beat Missouri, win the bowl game. But I don’t see us playing for a national title with our young defense. To think our offense could have overcome our defensive shortcomings every game is just disingenuous.

    The problem I have with how people are saying that the onset of injuries happen in a vacuum. How the team’s psyche may have been affected by all the adversity is something that can’t be measured. But I believe play on the field was plagued by a lack of confidence in some of the players and the coaches too.

    Like it or not, Richt plays to keep us in games. He’s not aggressive when he’s not confident. It’s just the kind of coach he is. Without that patience, I’m not so sure we don’t get blown out in some of these games.

    • Hackerdog

      I think you’re exactly right. I would also put the Clemson game as a probable win with Mitchell and Gurley on the field the entire night. Healthy, we would have had a good chance to win the East and a fair chance to win the conference. We don’t go undefeated, but we probably slide a couple of those L’s over to W’s and end up ranked.

  2. macon dawg

    Here’s a couple more memes:

    8 straight seasons without winning the conference
    6 straight seasons without playing in a BCS bowl

    Of course everyone knows that these can be downplayed with some other memes:

    injuries
    bad luck
    refs out to get us
    SEC office treats us like dirt
    ESPN hates us
    other teams cheat
    out of conference schedule is too hard b/c Georgia Tech is a juggernaut

    • Irwin R Fletcher

      Well…this isn’t a meme, but it does down play your meme….calling out BCS bowl appearances is garbage. BCS bowl appearances aren’t earned. They are given out. In the history of the BCS, only two teams that lost the SEC championship got invitations to BCS bowls.

      Was Alabama’s season really better than Missouri’s this year?
      Was Florida’s season better than Georgia’s in 2012?

      If the goal is to win championships, then the answer is a resounding No. You don’t win championships by not making the championship game. (2011 Alabama notwithstanding) If you are that worried about BCS bowls, then stop complaining about coaching and start lobbying for Georgia to join the ACC.

      • macon dawg

        Relax. The BCS stat is simply an indicator. It’s not an end-all, be-all judgement of the program. But it certainly isn’t garbage. And if it really bothers you, just ignore it and focus on the 8 straight seasons without winning the conference.

        • BulldogBen

          Rich??

        • I rather concentrate on the 20 straight seasons without winning the conference before Richt. There are 12/14 SEC teams that have been trying to win the conference every year. A new coach is not the answer.

        • Irwin R Fletcher

          The 8 straight years without winning the conference is a valid criticism. The goal should be to win championships and going 8 years without one is a sizable drought. I certainly think there are mitigating factors, but those are for another discussion, I assume.

          So let’s focus on your actual criticism…that not winning the conference for 8 straight years is a sign that the program is in a perpetual state of non-championship contention. Over those 8 years, 4 schools have won SEC championships…LSU, Bama, Florida, and Auburn. 5 schools have made it to the championship game without winning it…UGA-2, Mizzou, Carolina, Arky, and Tennessee-1. So by your own measure, UGA is no worse than the 5th best program in the conference over the past 8 seasons. Just want to make sure I know what the floor is for your position on the program.

          Anyway, the BCS argument is garbage. Any measuring stick that rewards those for not playing in a championship game over those who do but suffer defeat is garbage by definition. It isn’t a valid criticism by itself.

          • Hackerdog

            Focusing on conference championships also ignores the quality of the conference over that time. Each of the teams to win the conference over the last 8 years have also won the MNC. So complaining about not winning the conference is akin to complaining about not winning the MNC.

            There are a lot of coaches who don’t have MNC’s on their resume. Even Malzahn has as many of those as Richt. And it’s very doubtful that we would be able to replace Richt with a coach who has one under his belt.

  3. Big Shock

    Without the injuries, I don’t think the dawgs lose any more than 2 game this season. As for next year, I don’t see UGA winning the conference with Mason at quarterback. I hope I’m wrong. I just can’t remember a UGA quarterback with less arm strength. Of course, I’m basing that on the Gator Bowl where it was raining. Otherwise, we’ve got a lot of talent returning. Let’s hope that Mason is our Tee Martin…and Murray has a Manning like career in the NFL.

    • Without the Injuries the Dawgs could have possibly gone undefeated.
      2013 was the year for me before the injuries. Not as confident about 2014.

  4. Bob

    The injuries were just part of it, a big part, but still a part. If we aren’t down nearly half the squad’s starters at certain points (Vandy), we find ways to overcome the poor special teams and defensive play and arguably win several more games.

    • So. IL Dawg

      With a healthy Gurley, Mitchell, and Scott-Wesley; Mason just has to manage the game. Defenses won’t be able to load the box or stop the vertical passing game. We’ll have NFL players at WR and RB; so defenses will have a hard time stopping both. If the UGA defense is just adequate and the special teams don’t give up TD’s, the Dawgs will be very good next year. A lot of if’s; but still excited about the future. CTG gets one more year!!

  5. charlottedawg

    If Georgia is healthy it wins 10 games and maybe goes to a BCS bowl. Aaron Murray is that special of a QB and we HAD that many play makers on offense. there aren’t a lot of offenses that can overcome that level of incompetence from the other 2 facets of the game but Georgia with a full deck of cards could. hell when the OL decided to show up we were unstoppable. However, injuries were no excuse for the continued lapses on special teams or the down right atrocious play on defense. the defense as a unit is as bad if not worse than the dark days of 2010 and 2009. these issues ultimately come down to coaching which Richt is responsible for.

    Georgia probably can win 10 games in 2014 because the schedule is much lighter assuming Mason isn’t coxian. But, I expect the defense to be perennially bad until we do a complete overhaul of the coaching staff on that side of the ball. Grantham can recruit better better and assemble more talent than Martinez could but as a defensive unit, there is no difference between the two regimes.

    I want Richt to win often and win big here at UGA and I truly believe he can do that. Our program is also nowhere near where we were in the dark days of 2009 and 2010 but he’s got to make some significant changes or the turnaround we saw from 2011-2012 will evaporate quickly.

    If UGA football were a property, I’d say it was a one that had the potential to be the trophy in the best section of town, you certainly would not want to tear it down and start from the ground up, but management needs to do some major renovations or the whole thing will cave in.

  6. Ben

    Here are my thoughts.

    Take away the injuries, and our game with Mizzou is much closer. We MIGHT still lose it because of that penalty on the punt defense and Herrera’s INEXPLICABLE roughing the passer call. However, I think the game’s much closer and a healthy O has no problems with Mizzou’s D. We beat Vandy at full strength; we screw around and struggle with UF, get out of there alive anyway. We go on and beat AU, too, because we see that their D-line wears down over time. (sound familiar?) With Marshall and Gurley going after them, they start sucking wind, and DBs come up in run support only to see Murray light up their secondary.

    If we get through UK and Tech with Murray (let’s just assume we do), we move on to Atlanta and take care of Alabama since they can’t stop the pass at all. We do what we couldn’t do last year, and we kill the giant with Auburn never even having a chance to get to the BCS title game.

    Some of you forget just how incredible our offense was in the Carolina and LSU games, and remember that our defense got some pretty key stops when they needed to. I’ll forever think this year would have gone much differently if Knoxville doesn’t happen.

    Things may not go great next year, but they rarely do with a first-year starter (he says two days after FSU wins the national title with a RSFr). I guess we’ll just have to wait and see and keep saying what we’ve been saying for 30+ years: “Wait until next year.”

    • Charles

      This. Great stuff.

    • Will (the other one)

      Yep. I’m not saying this team had MNC-winning skills when healthy (not with that D), but when the O was 90% (minus Malcom Mitchel) we dropped more points on SCar than anyone, and beat them but two scores. We also tore apart LSU’s D more than anyone (including conference-leading offenses from Auburn and TAMU).

      We’d at least earn a rematch with Bama were we healthy, and the “Gus Bus” would just be a nice story about how Aubbie went 9-3 after going 3-9.

  7. Fan frustration is causing people to lose what little ability they had to think.

    Not that there aren’t problems with the program. It could reasonably be argued that Richt doesn’t maximize our chances to succeed. But the barbarian hordes don’t do a good job making such arguments. They tend to froth and repeat “not ranked 3 out of the last 5 seasons” over and over. We can legitimately talk special teams and the continued employ of certain coaches, and this does fall on Richt, no question. But 2013 was nothing like 2009/2010.

    My personal favorite moment of schadenfreude was someone pining for the return of John Fabris because “he made our punt return unit so good, he would solve all of our special teams problems”. We are a people doomed to forget, truly.

  8. wnc dawg

    I think relatively healthy, of course we win more games. However, I don’t see us going 7-1/8-0 needed in conf to earn the trip to Atlanta- the defense was just too much to overcome. Bama losing probably would’ve knocked us out of a BCS game, so we’d of played in the Cap1 and finished with 11/12 wins and a great year (basically SC’s). Not a title, but as good as could be without one.

  9. W Cobb Dawg

    No doubt injuries hurt the record. But consider that 3 other sec east teams finished with better records – mizzou, scu and vandy. Color it any way you want but we’re right back where we were a couple years ago – sittin in the middle of the pack. This team should have found a way to win 2 more games, but we didn’t.

    • Todd

      Vandy and Auburn

      • James Stephenson

        GA won Auburn. Except for a stoke of crazy luck. And Ga kills Vandy if they are healthy. Even without a lot of starters and Bobo trying to get his footing with the new paradigm they scored enough to win. Now when GA was coming back on Mizzou, instead of the Freshmen RBs we have Gurley or Marshall carrying the ball, less of a chance for fumbles.

        GA did not get blown out of any game, if any of the multitude of players make one big play a game, and it could have been any of the them. GA has a chance to win them. Heck with Mitchell I think GA has a good shot of beating Clemson in the opener.

        • Will (the other one)

          Not sure about Mitchel, but if Gurley scores that TD without tweaking a hamstring and plays the entire game I think we win it.

        • McTyre

          UT beat us except for a stroke of crazy luck. Four of our wins were by a TD or less. Three of our five losses were to teams playing their backup QBs. So, when folks explain away our losses and don’t apply their logic to our opponents it looks less than objective.

          • James Stephenson

            UT did not almost beat us, their field did. GA went from starting their number 2 RB to having 2 freshmen being forced to play a most of the game. And then lost not 1 but 2 other contributing WRs for a good majority of the game. Otherwise GA blows that team out of the water.

            And yes Ga played in Close game, not really blowing anyone out and not getting blown out at all. A lot of that is having a 5th year senior QB.

  10. Mayor of Dawgtown

    The problem with this team was really the injuries and the poor ST and D play. The team relied on great O to over come the bad D and bad ST play. When key O players got hurt it could no longer do that. If UGA had terrific D and ST play, even with a disabled O the Dawgs could have won more, but when Gurley, Marshall and the receivers all went down about the same time………..

  11. Skeptic Dawg

    The issues of poor O-line, awful defense and UNspecial teams were evident game #1 in Clemson, but they were overshadowed by the offense. The injuries allowed everyone to see the major shortcomings of this program. It’s not like this team was undefeated prior to the injuries. So yes, this team still drops 5 games with everyone healthy.

    • It’s not like this team was undefeated prior to the injuries.

      Hunh? They lost Mitchell for the season in the Clemson game and Gurley was out for a quarter and a half.

      • Todd

        Corey Crawford picking Murray, the poor snap on FG, and the blown block against Beasley that made Murray fumble didn’t have crap to do with Mitchell or Gurley. The screen pass that Gurley would still be running on was batted down by Clemson. Georgia had their chances and didn’t do it. How do you blow that big of a lead to Vandy?

        • Did I make any comment about whether Georgia would have won the fucking game, Todd?

          I swear, be as negative as you want, but at least brush up on your reading comprehension skills. All I did was point out that he was factually erroneous. Disagree with that?

          • Todd

            Why you mad? Call it negative if you want, Gurley had to have his number called more by Bobo. He came back. Mitchell was hurt, it happens. The problems that happened in Clemson were problems throughout the year. Alot of those were not injuries

          • “Did I make any comment about whether Georgia would have won the fucking game, Todd?”

            Given the discussion above someone with reasonable reading comprehension skills could easily infer you were going that way. What’s in someone’s head isn’t always easily translated into writing even as brilliantly as you may think you did so.

            • I’m sorry… what part of the “discussion above” was I involved in before I asked SD my question?

              This isn’t about someone with reasonable reading comprehension skills. Or about me writing brilliantly. It’s about somebody who sees himself as a negative hammer and all other comments that don’t go along with his worldview as nails.

              • Christ, man! I’ll rephrase – given the question above…

                I guess there’s a history here that I’m missing.

                • There’s no history. Just like there was nothing else to my question.

                • Dog in Fla

                  This was beginning to remind me of the winning entry in the 15th annual Faux Faulkner parody contest, “As I Lay Kvetching,” David Sheffield’s answer to the literary question: What if William Faulkner had written a script for the Three Stooges? Now I know it’s nothing more than not walking into the middle of a firefight.

                  “As I Lay Kvetching, by William Faulkner — Stooges Episode .1632; Revisions by Mort Freberg, Abe Shineman, Paul DeMarco,Curtis Ney; Eighth Draft, August 12, 1941.”
                  By David Sheffield

                  FADE IN:

                  INTERIOR: THE COMPSON HOUSE — DAY
                  She (the old woman, Mrs. Compson) had spent the better part of the morning waiting for them (the workmen) to arrive, yet they had not come; and when at length they drew the wagon into the yard and tied the mules beneath the scattershot shade of the water oak and climbed down amid the dust and moiling dogs to survey the house, she perceived to her dismay that they were stooges: two of whom were brothers (Moe and Curly Howard) and a third (Larry Fine) who claimed no part of their lineage but who was nonetheless of their ilk; come to wait, slack-jawed and splayfooted, before the great stair which led to the room where she (the old woman, Mrs. Compson) had retired; come with paints and pots of glue and damask wallpaper to cover them (the walls) afresh, while she (the old woman, Mrs. Compson) could only pray that they (the stooges) could refurbish and thereby sanctify it (the foyer) which now suspired with the age-old effluvia of honor and sacrifice and obduracy, still redolent with the wretched sweet scent of inviolability which they (her father and her father’s brothers, whose boots these stooges were unworthy to suck even so much as the laces of) had impressed into the very grain of the cypress balustrade upon which he, Moe, the eldest, now knocks — not obeisantly, not malevolently either, but indolently. Hearing no response, they break into something resembling song:

                  MOE: Helloooo…
                  LARRY: Helloooo ….
                  CURLY: Hellooooo …
                  ALL THREE: Hello!

                  CURLY: Nobody’s home. Let’s break for lunch. Nyuh, nuyk, nyuk.
                  MOE: Ix-nay! Put that away, numbskull!

                  Then Moe, aiming his extended fore and middle fingers, thrusting them into Curly’s eye sockets, heedless of the pain or even the surcease of sight this might inflict.

                  LARRY: Hey! He didn’t do nothin’!

                  MOE: Oh, yeah? Sez who? (This is not for you to judge or even acknowledge, this grievance between Curly and me, but is an old blood enmity which only we Howards can comprehend, while you, being a Fine, cant begin to plumb the depths of it. That is it. We are Howards and you are only a Fine, and being a Fine, you are not fit to regard us with anything more than sullen trepidation.) Now get going, lame brain. We got work to do.

                  CURLY: La dee, la dah …

                  At last it is Curly who picks up the plank, rough hewn and smelling of sweet gum, and — feeling the weight and heft and fiber of it — swings it innocently (bending to retrieve the tool, the ball-peen hammer dropped casually on Larry’s toe) and feeling the awful force of the blow as it (the plank) catches Moe upside his head and hearing the dreadful thunk of wood against bone and sinew, a sound the like of which he has not heard since his uncle (Irving) took them (Curly and Moe) to the park where he (the uncle, Irving) slapped with the blade of an oar the rotting rind of an overripe musk melon.

                  MOE: Spread out!

                  With his pliers Moe grasps his brother’s nose, twisting his nostrils inside out.

                  CURLY: Woob, woob, woob, woob, woob.

                  FADE OUT

      • Skeptic Dawg

        I did forget about MM going down in that game. But 1 WR (one who is no AJ Green nor Calvin Johnson) did not kill the Dawgs. Gurley did return and ran hard. My point was simply that the issues we saw this season were present from week 1 thru week 12, injuries or no injuries.

        • Charles

          One WR… who happened to be our leading returning receiver???

          RECEIVING GP No. Yds Avg TD Long Avg/G

          Tavarres King 14 42 950 22.6 9 75 67.9
          Malcolm Mitchell 13 40 572 14.3 4 57 44.0
          Marlon Brown 8 27 469 17.4 4 66 58.6
          Arthur Lynch 14 24 431 18.0 3 49 30.8
          Michael Bennett 5 24 345 14.4 4 67 69.0
          Chris Conley 14 20 342 17.1 6 87 24.4
          Todd Gurley 14 16 117 7.3 0 23 8.4
          Rantavious Wooten 14 15 187 12.5 2 38 13.4
          Rhett McGowan 14 12 150 12.5 1 20 10.7
          Jay Rome 14 11 152 13.8 2 24 10.9
          Keith Marshall 14 11 91 8.3 1 24 6.5
          Justin Scott-Wesley 9 6 135 22.5 1 43 15.0
          Alexander Ogletree 8 4 25 6.2 0 10 3.1
          Sanders Commings 12 1 16 16.0 0 16 1.3
          Merritt Hall 12 1 9 9.0 0 9 0.8
          Total………. 14 254 3991 15.7 37 87 285.1
          Opponents…… 14 200 2459 12.3 13 69 175.6

    • Joe Schmoe

      The idea that this team loses 5 games with all (or most of its players) is ridiculous given the margins of loss.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        +1. The losses were all close games.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        In addition, how well would Auburn have done if it lost Mason for a comparable number of games to what Georgia lost Gurley (and when he came back wasn’t 100%) then lost Nick Marshall midway through the 1st half of the 11th game (Georgia) and for the remainder of the season?

        • Skeptic Dawg

          We could play the What If game all day. The Dawgs were an average team with an incredible offense prior to their injuries. However, as I said above, the offense masked the major issues of the O-line (a huge part of the Clemson loss), defense (you pick the game and/or situation that they screwed up. My watershed moment was the Mizzou game.), and ST’s (let me count their endless list of miscues). Bottom line is that the 2013 Dawgs were just as average as grits. As I think you would agree, a solid defense would have completely changed the course of this season, injuries or not. With the retention of Grantham, I now hold BOTH Richt and Grantham responsible for the success or failure on the defensive side of the ball.

  12. Irwin R Fletcher

    I have a question…do injuries/suspensions play at all into our problems on Defense when evaluating the season? I start thinking about Trey Matthews, Reggie Wilkerson…for the Clemson game Moore was hurt and JHC was suspended. Connor Norman is a DGD, but he had no business starting against Clemson. Taj Boyd ate him up.

    You can play the ‘what if’ game until you are blue in the face….and this certainly isn’t an excuse for some of the roster management issues that have been rightly discussed in other posts…but I believe we would have beaten Clemson if JHC or Moore had played…I think we are really close.

    • Todd

      Moore should have to buy a ticket, the kid is in way over his head. Not SEC material at all. What do you base Wilkerson and Matthews ability on? Matthews hasn’t shown anything. Wilkerson hasn’t played a down of college football.

      • Irwin R Fletcher

        Moore is better than Norman. And considering the 77 yard pass to Watkins was aided because Norman was out of position, stopped and watched the play and was too slow to track him down, the 31 yard wheel route to Brooks in the 3Q was because Norman couldn’t cover, and the 9 yard pass to Seckinger in the 4th was because Norman covered the wrong player…I sure do think it could have had a difference in a 3 point ball game to have a kid playing that has more physical ability and speed than Norman.

        Norman is a DGD….but they killed him all night. Would having JHC or Moore win us that game? I don’t know. Do I think it is wild speculation to think that it might have. No, I sure don’t.

        Wilkerson was ahead of Wiggins and Langley on the depth chart prior to his injury. He played well in both spring scrimmages. Again, would having him have won us the game? I don’t know. Do I think it is wild speculation that a guy who our coaches thought were better than the players who actually played would have helped in a 3 point game? No, I sure don’t.

    • uglydawg

      Irwin, I’ve said it several times…what happens of offense effects the defense very greatly. When opposing coaches know you’re offense is crippled up they take chances they wouldn’t normally take…like gambling on fourth down at mid-field….like not kicking the FG and playing for the touchdown…like faking punts or kicks.. on-side kicks….throwing more bombs….and keeping your defense on the field because your offense can’t sustain a drive and rest them…Yes..it is all tied together very tightly. If you’re offense sucks, your defense will pay. And as the game drags on and the defense becomes weary…the other team will dig in and take it to them….You need at least some simblance of competence on both sides of the ball and you need superior play on at least one side or the other to be a championship team. After the injuries, the Ga offense was less than superior (as it would have been) and the defense was pushed (by the above points) into a unit that became a little less than competent, or at best barely competent. Next year the offense should at least approach the superior level and the defense the competent level (at the very least).

  13. Charles

    Sample bias makes fools of even the wisest observers.

    The problem with this year’s team was the injuries (and, specifically, who suffered them). Keep those knees intact, and we tear through our schedule 11-1. The SEC Championship game – who knows the outcome of that. I imagine it would have been a slugfest a’la last year’s iteration – but with even less defense.

    By contrast, the problem with the program is the past five years of roster management decisions – driven by an ethical choice rooted in the best of intentions. This is where the vague references to our “talent” advantages apply, but not in the way that critics use them to buttress their arguments.

    All of the talk about the quality of our talent (an oftentimes vague and indecipherable measure) oftentimes glosses over the simple quantity of the bodies we bring in over the years (a quantifiable and easily verifiable measure). Paul Westerdawg over yonder at Georgia Sports Blog had an amazing post on this recently. He also had one a few years ago that illustrated how LSU, Bama, et al.’s roster management practices actually yield the equivalent of five recruiting classes over four years.

    This is important as a relative measure, because the programs that we compete with have more bodies over a period of time. That’s a hell of an advantage. In terms of quality, more bodies means, on the margin, more competition – which pushes a team’s distribution of talent a degree above those of other teams’ rosters. The sheer number advantage mitigates the risk of a.) inferior coaching; b.) injuries; c.) suspensions/disciplinary measures and d.) academic attrition.

    Apply this principle to our program, and it becomes apparent (to me at least) that the problem with special teams, for example, isn’t the lack of a dedicated coordinator. It’s the roster we have to pull from.

    Football is a brutal and complex sport – with a lot of competitive dynamics that play out both on and off the field. If you’re going to complain about Richt (and Butts-Mehre), roster management is the place to start. But, I believe that’s where the criticism ends. Richt has done a hell of a job. His numbers alone bear that out.

    • JAX

      I think this is a quality post since roster mgmt has been and continues to be an issue that Richt evidently has trouble mastering. I’m not necessarily a fan of Saban’s (and others) oversigning and grey-shirting, although I see how it yields distinct advantages that translate to wins. It’s an important edge to have, period. But the problems we’ve seen on defense adn special teams are inexcusable given the (here’s that word) talent that UGA has fielded over the past several seasons. If our defense would yield 20 ppg (and not 29) then we’re talking about more SEC titles and possibly National Championships. I’ll skip the ST comment since it’s been beaten to death, but to say that criticism of Richt ends with roster mgmt is simply wrong.

      • I believe special teams performance would have been better if roster management had been better.

        • Charles

          Agreed. It’s all hypothetical, but I’m damned certain of that.

          I think the o-line would have benefited as well. It’s amazing to consider an even more productive offense. It stands to reason that Grantham would have looked better, too. But, Bobo has been able to work with the numbers he’s been given over the years – with great results.

        • Jimmy

          The following came to mind as I read through the comment section detailing this season’s results. I believe the author is Athens-based, but I could not find the proper source to credit. The following is quality commentary worthy of sharing here, but it is not my work (although I agree with the points being made):

          The last item, for me, is the one that cost Georgia several losses (Nebraska, Clemson and Vanderbilt) – special teams. People say “Oh man, Georgia has terrible special teams – terrible.”

          No they don’t. That’s a simplified statement of ignorance or a statement with a lack of attention to detail.

          Georgia is a top-20 punt team – allowing only 4.3 yards per return on punt. Georgia missed two kicks all season – two. Marshall Morgan was the SEC’s leading place kicker. He led all kickers in points per game. He won the game at Tennessee on a 43-yarder. Georgia hit 90% of field goals attempted this season – impressive. He did not miss an extra point.

          Mark Richt said last off-season that he wanted to become an expert at all things kickers (something like that). He had become concerned about that aspect of the program. He was right. He did something about that, and it worked. Marshall Morgan’s attempts are no longer an adventure in which crossbar he will hit.

          But now Richt has something else to work on – Georgia is horrible at one thing: punt return.

          Horrible.

          Reggie Davis, truth be told, ended the season as the SEC’s 7th best punt returner by average with only 3.8 yards per return. Apparently returning punts is not what it used to be because only a couple of guys in the SEC are actually really good at it – Odell Beckham, Chris Davis and Christion Jones. Other than that everyone else is very average to what I would call bad. For all of the complaining from Georgia fans about Rhett McGowan fair catching everything – that seems to be what’s going on everywhere in the conference. The SEC’s punters must be pretty good right now – I don’t know. Teams are only averaging about 1.5 punt returns per game… not much. In fact, and this sounds wrong, but it’s not, only two teams in the SEC – Alabama and Auburn – returned more punts than Georgia… so there might be a misconception about punt returns in the SEC today.

          But that’s not the point here.

          The problem is not the return itself. The word “return” implies possession of the football – and that’s the real problem at Georgia right now… the football.

          Georgia doesn’t need a special teams coordinator… Georgia needs a posses-the-football coordinator.

          Georgia lost a fumble on a punt return three times – and all three directly led to a score for the opposition. Georgia lost two of those three games (Damien Swann at Vanderbilt; Reggie Davis vs. Kentucky, vs. Nebraska).

          Twice, as well, the Dawgs goofed up a snap-to-player situation – both times they lost the game (at Clemson; at Vanderbilt).

          In all of those situations the problem was not special teams – the problem was possession of the ball… or put simply the kids just messed up those situations. Critics would have you believe no action was taken… but that’s incorrect. There were ramifications from those mistakes.

          Nathan Theus had to re-win his starting snapping job mid-season… the snapping problems have been non-existent since. Punter Colin Barber wasn’t performing the way Richt and company wanted and some of the miscues on the punt team happened while he was punting (may not have all been his fault) – fumbled punt vs. South Carolina; dropped snap at Vanderbilt; blocked punt at Tennessee for touchdown; blocked kick vs. North Texas set up touchdown. But a punting competition broke out during the season.

          Even though Barber is the best punter on the team – statistically he’s the sixth best in the SEC – by the end of the year junior Adam Erickson had taken over the starting punt spot.

          The point? As Richt said in response to my question after the Gator Bowl – “field the ball.”

          You don’t need a coordinator for the punt team – you need guys to do the job or get replaced… and it probably has gone unnoticed, but that’s what happened this season. Still, basking in the glory of an 8-5 season will make folks only remember what they want to remember… that happens after 12-2, too.

          • RocketDawg

            This is an excellent post and echos what I have been saying about our ST play. The one phase of the game that we aren’t really that good at is fielding a punt, but guess what we aren’t the only ones. BOTH teams muffed a punt in the MNC game on Monday. Due to the new alignments that punting teams are using they are able to cover kicks quicker, combine that with better hang times (if you notice there are a lot of punters kicking nose down balls that float rather than the high hanging spiral of yesteryear) and suddenly a fair catch is a positive play. I also believe that there is a quote from Richt where he says that our FC strategy comes from the fact that our offense is so potent we just need to posses the ball to have a chance to score.

            On defense maybe I am just drinking the Kool-Aid but I have to believe that they will be better next year after one more year of offseason workouts and learning the playbook.

          • AusDawg85

            Sir, how dare you enter the discussion with rational information. Let the negative hammers have their way!

      • Charles

        I appreciate the smidgeon of common ground here. Many thanks.

        With that in mind, I could probably stand to be a bit more clear: if we agree that our approach to roster management is most likely the main factor holding us back, then I don’t think we should be surprised with the drop off in performance, IRRESPECTIVE OF QUALITY OF TALENT (particularly in years where certain units are green – take defense, for example). In my mind, it’s not about what’s (in)excusable, it’s about big picture decisions and tradeoffs.

        It begins and ends with what Richt is willing to accept, in terms of a leaner roster, in order to “do the right thing.”

        Another thing that just occurred to me – you could include the years of a subpar o-line in the discussion about roster management. But, we don’t bitch about that as often as we do about the defense/special teams because of the eyepopping numbers the offense has put up over the years.

        • gatorhater27

          Why the quotes around “do the right thing?”

          • Charles

            In re: the quotes, the roster management practices that we see around the SEC might be shady, but… like it or not they’re permissible. So, I can’t really fault other programs for taking advantage of it. And from what I’ve seen of 13 years of Mark Richt, I’m not surprised that he’s willing to forego those practices (even if it cripples us a bit). He’s confident he can still win while not treating his athletes like they’re disposable. And you know what… he’s right (for the most part).

            As we’ve seen, there are still tradeoffs though…

            • gatorhater27

              I’d much rather Richt take the high road when it comes to oversigning.

              • Charles

                You and me both, bud.

                FWIW, I went to grad school with a couple of guys from the team (in recent years). They talked about Richt a lot. The man is nothing short of incredible.

              • Why? Because it makes you feel better as an excuse for failure?

                There’s nothing unethical about oversigning and greyshirting. It is the rules of the game. This isn’t Gymboree.

    • stoopnagle

      I’ve always been under the impression that UGA’s approach to roster management is an institutional policy not left to the football coach’s discretion.

      But I could be wrong.

    • Will (the other one)

      I’d say it’s also been compounded by poor-to-middling OL recruiting/coaching over the past several seasons (and missing out on Tunsil really hurt us this season.)

  14. Otto

    I don’t see how anyone could think uGA doesn’t win more games with fewer injuries. I also don’t see how anyone can argue that few if any teams were hit with more injuries to their most productive offensive players.

    My question is more if UGA had say Bama’s S&C staff would UGA have had as ma I believe S&C has improved but is still behind.ny injuries. Yes Bama had injuries too, but again they did not ahve as many.

      • uglydawg

        Anything’s possible, Otto. But my feeling is that it was just uncanny luck…the perfect storm. But it really is uncanny…the numbers and mostly on one side of the ball.

    • AusDawg85

      Florida was decimated with injuries and we saw the results. But somehow that still makes Richt an inferior coach to some.

      • Dog in Fla

        Only because we don’t have the talent in our PR department to come up with something catchy like Jeremy did for Mr. Boom

  15. JB

    Didn’t we have a below average amount of injuries at the non-WR/RB* positions? Shouldn’t that be factored in when determining whether this team had a devastating amount of injuries?

    I didn’t include QB with WR & RB since we already had 4 losses when Murray got hurt.

    • WR & RB’s score almost all of your points (along with the QB). Hard for other units that aren’t hit by injuries to make up for that production when your WR & RB groups have been decimated.

      • JB

        If the offensive line has had fewer than normal injuries, they should be that much stronger than normal and able to pick up the slack. Same goes for the QB position. Same goes for TE. Same goes for the defense. Same goes for special teams.

  16. Pup

    Charles is right on!!

  17. Todd

    I believe Murray and Gurley are so damn good that they hide the other problems of this team.

    Grill me if you want, but when is the last time you felt like Mark Richt and his staff out coached a team that the same or more talent?

    Is there a team that has done less with more talent in the last few years than Georgia?

    Do you think Mark Richt is “rebuilding” or “building” a program that can legitimately compete for a MNC consistently? With not the crazy swings of good or bad on one side of the ball or the other. Or does the “stars have to be aligned” to make a run for a national championship.

    Did Mark Richt win the SEC east or did everybody else lose it? The east hasn’t been world beaters.with Florida and Tennessee being down.

    Everybody talks about “5 yards short”, but that was Georgia’s chance. They were up by 10 and blew it. Alabama seized the opportunity

    Has Mark Richt’s “play not to lose” mentality bled over and created a “soft” culture for the program?.

    Do you watch other teams and think “they just move different” or they “just look different”?

    Good teams get beat, but do they get blown out?

    What do you expect from next year’s defense, and what gave you the encouragement? If it is because of returning starters, then wouldn’t that logic lead to Georgia having a great Oline?

    Will next year’s excuse be, “we are breaking in a new qb”? There will be several teams doing that on Georgia’s schedule.

    Would any other SEC school hire Joe T to run the S&C?

    How often do you think Mark Richt has an outside entity evaluate tendencies? Is he to arrogant or hard headed to listen to them, or would he be ok if they were from “the arena”?

    What does it say about the program when John Theus is quoted as saying “yeah we came out kind of flat” when speaking about the Auburn game? Or Jordan Jenkins being quoted as saying, “yeah we started believing how good we were and probably didn’t work as hard as we should have”. What does that say about the respect or no fear of repercussion from the coaches?

    When was the last time you saw Georgia come out with intensity? Or does Georgia come out “flat” or “on fire” most of the time?

    Georgia’s 2014 schedule is about as good as it gets in the SEC. They are returning ….19 or 20 starters? Guys got alot of time playing because of injuries, so depth should be there. What do you expect Georgia to do next year?
    People will get mad at me for asking these questions, but the answers will give you the true identity and state of this program.

    • D.N. Nation

      “Grill me if you want, but when is the last time you felt like Mark Richt and his staff out coached a team that the same or more talent?”

      South Carolina, LSU, both in 2013.

      “Is there a team that has done less with more talent in the last few years than Georgia?”

      Since you don’t think injuries should be taken into account: Florida.

      “Or does the “stars have to be aligned” to make a run for a national championship.”

      That holds true for most anyone. Ask 2011 and 2012 Alabama.

      “Did Mark Richt win the SEC east or did everybody else lose it? The east hasn’t been world beaters.with Florida and Tennessee being down.”

      Did Urban Meyer win the SEC East, or did everybody else lose it? Did Nick Saban win the SEC West, or did everybody else lose it? (Note that when Auburn is good, the Tide has wilted in the West.)

      “Everybody talks about “5 yards short”, but that was Georgia’s chance. They were up by 10 and blew it. Alabama seized the opportunity”

      Alabama took the lead. Then we took it back. Then they took the lead again. Then we came close to taking it back. Close, no cigar, sure, but that’s championship-level.

      “Has Mark Richt’s “play not to lose” mentality bled over and created a “soft” culture for the program?.”

      This doesn’t mean anything.

      “Do you watch other teams and think “they just move different” or they “just look different”?”

      I watched Georgia, when healthy, play at a very high level earlier in the year. When they weren’t, they didn’t.

      “Good teams get beat, but do they get blown out?”

      Four of the five losses this year were by less than a score. The second happened with a true skeleton crew.

      “When was the last time you saw Georgia come out with intensity? Or does Georgia come out “flat” or “on fire” most of the time?”

      Meaningless. It’s a long game.

      But if you want to know, we came out pretty damn hot against USC and LSU.

      “People will get mad at me for asking these questions”

      Mad, no, but it’s the usual revolving door of unfalsifiable, self-justifying stuff. Why doesn’t Richt want to win? Why can’t we come out like we care? Why don’t we have the will to win? Blah blah blah.

      Georgia was title dark horse who did well against a tough, tough early slate. Then everyone got hurt. That’s what happened, IMO.

    • Dawgfan Will

      I believe Murray and Gurley’s ability did hide other problems of this team; however, short of Alabama, I don’t think there is a team in the country that doesn’t have problems that are masked by the talent of some of their players. Just as an example, the individual talent of Cam Newton and Nick Fairley overcame problems for Auburn in 2010.

      I feel like Richt outcoached Spurrier and Miles this year.

      Who has done less with more than Mark Richt? Mack Brown with Texas, Lane Kiffin with USC, Will Muschamp with Florida, Gene Chizik with Auburn in 2012, and I’m sure there are others.

      Yes, I do think he is rebuilding toward consistently competing again.

      Did Richt win the East or did everyone else lose it? I find this argument troubling. It is exceedingly rare in our conference for there to more than a couple of dominant teams in one division. For Tennessee and Florida to be dominant in the 90s, for instance, we had to suck as bad as they suck now. And SC has upped their game under Spurrier, so they are now a legitimate roadblock to winning the division.

      We’ll just have to agree to disagree about whether or not Georgia “blew it” against the best team in the country in the SEC championship last year.

      Perhaps there was a “soft” culture in the program before. I think the fight our team showed in every game, even losses, this year shows that it is no longer there.

      I do watch other teams. Sometimes I think they look better than us; sometimes I think they look worse than us.

      Good teams shouldn’t get blown out, but then, we haven’t been blown out since SC 2012.

      I don’t have a lot of hope for the defense other than returning starters. I’ll believe it’s better when I see it.

      Breaking in a new QB can affect how well your team performs.

      I don’t know if anyone else would hire JoeT for their S&C, but I don’t really see how S&C has been an issue this year. You can blame the ACLs on it, maybe, but that holds no more water than blaming them all on bad luck (or Tennessee’s shitty turf).

      I don’t really have the time or inclination to research it, but Richt has gone on record as having gone outside the program for things like clock management and other issues. The “in the arena” comment was a long time ago in a dark time, and I think it should be put to rest now.

      I think Theus and Jenkins’s comments are the kind of thing any player is going to say whenever they are less successful than they wanted to be. Lots of other players play to the best of their abilities. Do you give credit to the coaches for Murray and Gurley’s success? They have talent, but they were coached as well.

      When was the last time I saw Georgia come out with intensity? Clemson, SC, LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, GT; they were pretty intense in all of those games. They didn’t necessarily dominate in all of those games, but there is another team playing hard on the other side of the ball.

      We do have a very favorable schedule next year. If we win 10-12 games, the current lines between pro- and anti-Richt will be even stronger. If we win 13-14, it pretty much takes care of itself. If we have another season like this one (sans injuries), then there will probably be some serious soul-searching among fans about whether the current staff have really turned things around.

  18. gatorhater27

    but when is the last time you felt like Mark Richt and his staff out coached a team that the same or more talent?

    Two games in September of 2013 come to mind.

    • Dawgfan Will

      South Carolina and LSU. I agree.

    • Dog in Fla

      Good point but isn’t it a generally accepted proposition that South Carolina gets shit for being South Carolina and can therefore never have talent equal to or in excess of ours

  19. Cousin Eddie

    Would UGA won more games with less injuries, yes. Would they have won or even played in the MNC, probably not. Would they have been able to win the SEC, probably with everyone healthy.

    My observation is that sc and Mizzu are in the top 5 , vandy is ranked but UGA, ut and uf are not, 2-3 years ago who would have taken that bet?

  20. Gravidy

    Wow…this poll surely has elicited a lot of comments which don’t have much to do with the question. Or maybe I should say that it has elicited a lot of comments from people who are more interested in giving their opinions of the program than they are thoughtfully answering the question.

    The poll merely asks if the team would have been ranked if it had been healthier. Well, I believe they would have been ranked if they had won one more game. So, what is our definition of “healthier”? Incurring only half the injuries? Or maybe only a third? A quarter? In my opinion, any such meaningful reduction in injuries would have yielded at least one more win. To fervently argue otherwise is telling.

  21. ARDawg

    With the exception of the bowl game, the consensus among my circle of Dawg friends after each loss was “despite all the other injuries and problems with special teams and defense, we win that game if Gurley is 100%.” His injury seemed to unravel us. Because when he was seemingly healthy (eyeball test, I admit), our offense seemed capable of overcoming any other team deficits. He is just that valuable. So, yes, I think the complexion of the whole season is different even if only Gurley is healthy.

    • ARDawg

      Oh, and by the way, out here in Arkansas there are plenty of Pig fans who would take Petrino back in a minute over Bielema.

  22. Pup

    I heard FSU had 6 new coaches this year . Is that right? If so , that is a hell of a good job of picking and coaching!

  23. Rook

    Injuries had little to do with why we actually lost.

    Look at the 5 losses:
    Clemson -1 turnover margin
    Missouri -4
    Vandy -1
    Aub -1
    Neb -1
    In big games, if you win the turnover game, you win 75% of the games.

    • uglydawg

      and those turnovers had nothing to do with the injuries? sheesh!

      • Dawgfan Will

        Nah. Aaron can throw just as well to the 3rd stringers he doesn’t get as many reps with, and obviously our freshman backup RBs can carry with fumbling just as effectively as Gurley and Marshall can.

        • RandallPinkFloyd

          Not to mention, he doesn’t include the two ‘big’ games that we won in September. I’d argue that LSU and SCar were the two biggest games of the season given their place in the schedule and importance of winning SEC games. Although, who am I to argue with a guy that thinks things happen in a vacuum?

  24. Rook

    Superbowl has been won 21 of 22 times the team won the turnover game.

    It ain’t that hard to figure out Georgia in 2013 in big games.

  25. Mark

    I think the voting shows you’re dealing with a very vocal (and IMO, unreasonable) minority when it comes to this year being an overall bad year for the coaches. Most fans will agree there are issues on special teams and with the pass defense. But the defense showed improvement as the year progressed. And everyone seems to forget that pass defense was a strength the last couple of years.

    Next year sets up well. We have more depth on the D front 7 than we’ve had in a while. The O should be very good. Wake me up when the season starts! Go Dawgs!

  26. WW

    Injuries? Nobody blamed injuries for 2009, or 2010.

    Common link in 2009, 2010, 2013?
    Finished 7th, 10th, and 11th in rushing in the conference.

    Best 2 seasons lately 2007 & 2012 common link?
    Finished #4 in rushing in the conference both times.

  27. 92dawg

    Man up and stop the whining. Flush the 2013 season and move on. Everyone in the country, save the only-happy-when-I’m-miserable portion of our fan base, knows beyond a shadow of a doubt the 2013 Dawgs were a very good team derailed by ridiculous injuries. Great defense? No. But in the 2013 landscape lot of teams overcame suspect defense with gonzo offense, which we had in spades but for injury plagues.

  28. Chuck

    Well I am late to the party, and I don’t want to read 98 responses to see if this has been brought up, but what is magic about using 5 seasons as a benchmark? Why not his whole career? Well, except that if you can arbitrarily pick the last five seasons, you can rig your numbers to prove your point.