Daily Archives: November 2, 2008

Observations from the cheap seats

Nothing profound, hopefully of some interest, though, here are a few things I saw from my vantage point in the end zone corner to the left of the band, about thirty rows up:

  • First of all, whatever else I have to say, congrats to the Gators and their fans.  Your guys showed up to play all four quarters and did so, while my team… not so much.
  • As bad as the third quarter was, that’s not when the game was lost.  Your offense can’t play all-world between the twenties and sputter in the red zone repeatedly against a team as good as Florida without paying a price, and Georgia certainly did.
  • I truly thought that Stafford had turned a corner against LSU.  That turned out to be a fantasy.  After the game, a friend compared Matt to Jeff George, and while I think that’s a bit extreme, he still remains frustratingly inconsistent.  Bad reads, mechanics that come and go, forced throws – they were all there, long before the game got totally out of hand.
  • I don’t know who gets the lion’s share of the blame for the playcalling in the first half – whether that goes to Bobo for the calls, or Stafford for the reads – but there were plenty of head scratchers.  As Mergz noted in the comments to my previous post, Strong gambled by playing eight in the box to stop Moreno.  Playing that many so close to the line also meant that screens, passes to the flats and that abominable zone read play where Stafford keeps were all going to be extremely well defended, too.  Yet, we saw all of it.  And it all got shut down.  In the meantime, that meant there were yawning gaps of real estate with no Gator defenders patrolling them in the middle of the field.  Crossing routes, slants, posts, throws to the tight end over the middle were all invited, and the few times that the Dawg offense took Strong up on his offer all resulted in resounding success.  But for some reason, Georgia was clearly reluctant to exploit this.  Why?  I have no idea.
  • Don’t know what’s going on with Blair Walsh, but it’s gotten ugly, as in Andy Bailey ugly.  And before I jump the coaching decision to onside kick, I’d be curious to know if Walsh gaffed the execution of that play as well.  Florida only had four men on the line for the kick;  Walsh simply kicked the ball directly to one of them.  I doubt that’s what Fabris had in mind for the play.
  • All things considered, I thought the defense played well.  It’s too much to expect it to hold up under the sheer onslaught of all the turnovers in the third quarter.  And don’t forget that the Dawgs came up with a stop on Florida’s first possession of the second half, before the bottom fell out.
  • It’s not worth getting too worked up over the officiating, since that’s not what cost Georgia the game.  But I’ve got to say that the spot of Tebow’s run that allegedly picked up the first down was an astonishingly bad call.  It was clear from where I sat on the opposite side of the field that he didn’t make it.  Again, though, that and five bucks will get me a latte at Starbucks.
  • I have to admit that I guessed wrong on Meyer’s grand gesture of retribution for the Celebration.  I thought he was going to take a run at setting the all time record for Gator points scored in a game against Georgia, but he called off the dogs in the end.  I found the time outs anti-climactic – when you’re on the receiving end of a 39-point ass whooping, something like that hardly matters.  I’m sure their fans ate it up; the irony is that I assume it was wasted on most of our fans who had either cleared out of the stadium or changed channels on the TV long before.


Filed under Georgia Football

The taste of ashes

This is merely a general observation I wanted to share.

As I walked out after that debacle of a game in Jacksonville, I could hear Georgia fans’ litany of complaints:  the refs, Blair Walsh, Matt Stafford, Mike Bobo, etc.  But that’s not what was on my mind then.  What I was thinking about was the 2003 SECCG – more specifically, what I felt like when I walked out of that game.

If you’ll recall, that was the first game that Georgia lost by more than two touchdowns under Richt.  I had seen Georgia lose games that Richt coached, some downright disappointing, but up to that point I had never seen Georgia unable to control a game, not always in terms of winning necessarily, but at least to keep it close by scratching and clawing and doing whatever it took.  That includes the 2001 Florida-Georgia game, where Florida was clearly the more talented and explosive team, but simply couldn’t shake the Dawgs off.

But that didn’t happen that night in Atlanta.  And I remembered feeling a sense of shock that a Georgia team could wind up being uncompetitive to that extent.

I’ve noticed a pattern emerge in the regular season, starting with the 2006 Tennessee game.  There comes a game or two every year where there’s a half in which Georgia simply disappears, where there’s no focus or discipline from the kids on the field, where the coaches don’t seem to have a game plan or any direction over the players.  You can point to those moments as easily as I can; the second half of the aforementioned Tennessee game, the Tennessee and Vandy first halves of 2007, this year’s first half against Alabama and the second half of Saturday’s game all come to mind.

The symptoms may vary somewhat from game to game, but the illness is the same.  And it’s recurring.  And I don’t know how a program that wants to consider itself among the elite can keep doing this consistently and yet feel it belongs.

Don’t get me wrong.  No program wins every game it plays.  And every school plays an incomprehensibly lousy game now and then.  But I’m truly hard pressed to think of another national power that completely disappears on an embarrassingly regular basis as this team seems to have gotten into the habit of doing as of late.  Maybe I’m wrong, or being unduly pessimistic, but that’s how I feel right now.

The worst thing about Saturday’s game wasn’t that Georgia crapped the bed because it was playing Florida (sorry, Gator fans, but that’s the truth).  It’s the simple realization that that’s what Georgia does these days.  And so, while I was unhappy and more than a little upset when I walked out after the game ended Saturday night, I noticed there was one feeling I was missing.  I wasn’t shocked.


Filed under Georgia Football