Lord, what an awful, awful game. While it remains to be seen if last night’s debacle joins the ranks of the epic, career-changing Vanderbilt ’94 and Georgia Tech ’00 home games, it can’t be good that this sort of question was on the minds of many before they even turned out the lights at Sanford Stadium.
There were times in the second half when it felt as if we were watching a controlled experiment – you know, what would it be like if you combined the craven mindset Georgia often has when it plays Florida with a lack of focus against a clearly inferior opponent? Well, four turnovers later, you get a staggering 34-27 loss despite outgaining the other team by a mere 227 yards.
I’m being a little unfair to Kentucky with this. There’s a clear talent gap between the ‘Cats and the Dawgs – Georgia’s coaches aren’t as good as Kentucky’s at getting their charges prepared to play hard for sixty minutes.
Ah, hell. I was going to do my usual post game write-up, but then I made the mistake of reading Hale’s blog this morning, where I found this quote from Mark Richt:
Here’s what Richt had to say about the decision to squib kick following Georgia’s lone second-half touchdown: “We actually kicked the ball extremely well last week — high, where we wanted it placed — and we still struggled. So we have a lot of respect for Auburn, but Kentucky’s kick return team is the best in the SEC. They just do a superb job. So we were trying to create a little doubt, trying to get the ball where we could pop it up and maybe get it somewhere around the 30, 35. That’s not anything to brag about, but we feel it’s better than kicking it deep to this guy.”
That, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with the Georgia program today. Forget about the fact that Kentucky’s return game isn’t the best in the conference (it’s a mediocre seventh). Why is Georgia timid about anything Kentucky does?
These coaches are so worried about preventing the worst case scenario from happening that it’s affected their ability to get their players to perform up to the level of their talent. It’s why we saw Kentucky return men catching the ball with no Georgia players within ten or fifteen yards of them. It’s why Mike Bobo runs the ball on second and ten, over and over again, even in the face of a defense like last night’s that’s committed to stacking the box to stuff the run. It’s why Martinez plays a soft zone, even if that means leaving the middle of the field open as a standing invitation to a quarterback.
What are they accumulating all this recruiting talent for, if they’re not going to deploy it properly?