I understand where Richt is coming from when he has this to say:
“People don’t get it. People think they know, but they don’t. I’d love to say that if people really knew football, they’d know we’d been blitzing, they’d know we’d been playing zone, playing cover one, playing robber, fire zone. If they really knew football, they wouldn’t be saying the things they say, but they don’t.”
He’s right about that. Besides, his team is in line for another ten-plus win season and a top ten finish. That’s not exactly chopped liver – most folks who were fans of the program in the mid-90’s would have willingly sacrificed an appendage for those kinds of consistent results.
Buuuuut… it’s hard to deny that some of the frustration is deserved. Read the player quotes after the UK game. There are a ton of comments about poor communication and bad execution. Ten games into the season, should that still be happening? And given that it is, why is it happening? And why are the coaches still seemingly trying to figure out why it’s happening?
So, when Richt goes on to say that “…We’ll always go back and look at things we’ve got to do better, whether it’s a coaching decision or player execution. That’s just how we handle it…”, that’s great as far as it goes. But looking at a problem and doing something effective to correct it aren’t the same things, sad to say.
I think it’s fair to say at this point that this team will go as far in ’08 as the offense can take it. Whatever is wrong on the defensive side of the ball seems to be so deeply ingrained that it’s very unlikely that it can be stopped and turned around in three games (although there will be some time to prepare for the bowl game).
Which leads me to the one intruiging quote from the teleconference:
“It’s the same basic defensive scheme we’ve had since we got here. It’s not like there’s some kind of philosophical issue. The philosophy of our defense hasn’t changed hardly at all in eight years. But we haven’t been in this spot in the past.” [Emphasis added.]
What spot is that? I will say it’s good that Richt thinks he’s at a point where there’s a big enough problem that it needs special consideration from the coaching staff, but I suspect for a lot of people the question in the back of their minds right now is what took you so long?
I also suspect that this is going to make for more of an interesting off season than we may have expected, even if much of it is kept out of the media.
UPDATE: Maybe this is what Richt means by “this spot”.
… Kentucky, Florida and LSU each tallied 38 or more points in the last three weeks.
You have to go back more than a century to find the last time that happened against Georgia. All the way back to 1900 in losses to Clemson, 39-5, North Carolina, 55-0, and Auburn, 44-0.
You can talk about youth. You can talk about injuries. You can talk about the schedule. But you have to figure that over the course of a century, none of those factors are exactly new to this year. In other words, that’s a pretty shocking stat. Put it this way: even Kevin Ramsey never managed that hat trick.
Now loyalty to staff and staff stability are commendable things in a football program. But Mark Richt isn’t a stupid man. I have to believe that he knows what happens to a head coach at Georgia whose teams can’t play defense.