As the Kentucky track meet begins to recede in our memories and the Auburn game starts to loom larger – and some of those Tigers are still having issues with “Crank That”, it seems – it still feels like things are in a weird no-man’s land. I mean, Georgia’s currently 8-2 with the distinct probability of running the remaining table of games to finish 11-2 and in the top ten, yet it’s hard to deny that fan dissatisfaction with the state of the program is near an all time high in the Richt era. Strange times, indeed.
Along those lines, here are a few things to ponder.
Start with these quotes from David Hale’s blog (by the way, as a complete aside, David deserves serious praise for the superlative job he’s done at his blog, as Mr. Ching left some rather big shoes to fill).
“We really weren’t having fun out there this weekend,” Irvin said. “That’s why we’re going to set everything else aside all the BCS and all the other stuff we’re just going to play football this week. Georgia’s main goal is to just get our swagger back and have fun. We’ve got to punish, man. We’ve got to punish. That’s it.”
“We need to practice everything like it’s in the game, really,” Curran said. “It’s something we’ve been not doing too well. That game tempo just flowing sometimes during the game, the offense will up their tempo, go to the hurry-up offense, and we won’t be ready with that. We’ll get caught out of position or not aligned properly.”
“We just had little mental errors and little mental mistakes out on the field players not really executing exactly what coach had planned for us,” safety Reshad Jones said. “A linebacker might go to the pitch player when he was supposed to have been on the quarterback just different little things, mental errors we had out on the field.”
“Injuries, lack of leadership, the defense is just not motivated,” Irvin said. “But like I said, we’ll have a whole different swagger this week.”
“… but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what scheme he runs or what call he makes, if we’re not executing, it’s not going to make much of a difference. He can call the best defense out there, he can change everything around and put us in the best position, but if we’re not running to the ball and playing assignment football, it’s not going to make any difference.”
Anybody notice a pattern here? Again, it’s great that the players recognize the problems, but to have these kinds of issues ten games into the season? It’s hard to understand, honestly.
And here’s one indication that the defense simply isn’t playing aggressively enough: a defensive end is second on the team in interceptions. Even more, he’s only one pick away from the team lead.
On another front, Paul Westerdawg makes an excellent point about the disappointing special teams play in this post.
… Much has been made about directional kicking. At this point, it’s not where the kick lands that’s driving me nuts. It’s the actual coverage. Georgia’s kickoff coverage unit looks nothing like you see in Florida, LSU or Bama. We have three walk-ons and a third team quarterback covering kicks. Those other schools put their fastest young talent across the line.
The other thing that drove me nuts about special teams play against UK was the passivity in the punt return game. Florida blocked UK’s punter twice in the first quarter; Georgia never even made the effort. And it’s not like the Dawgs were rewarded for their patience with a big return, either.
Turning to Auburn, if you think that Georgia has an advantage because the Tigers are having a down year, history might suggest that you temper your enthusiasm.
… On Saturday, Georgia will play … [an Auburn team] with a non-winning record for the first time since 1999 when Tommy Tuberville’s first Tigers team came to Athens with a 4-5 record and left with a 38-21 win.
Ugh. Don’t remind me of that one. On the second thought, maybe Richt should be reminding his charges about that one.
Then again, Jerry over at The Joe Cribbs Car Wash thinks the luster is definitely off for this game. That may be nothing more than the cobwebs in Auburn’s eyes as it faces another morning kickoff, though.
UPDATE: Groo has some other quotes and some other thoughts worth a read.