Paul’s got a post up about the South Carolina game in which he expresses his disappointment in the team’s lack of emotional readiness for its first SEC contest.
… We lost because we didn’t want it as badly as they did. Richt can say there wasn’t an effort issue on Saturday. I disagree. However, it sounds like we do agree (as do several of UGA’s players) that there was an issue with intensity, timidity, toughness, and GATA-itude. And I can’t comprehend that.
How do you come out flat for a game this important? There were a variety of players who genuinely looked as if they had zero interest being in the stadium, playing football or wearing a G on their helmet. I don’t get it, and it’s not the first time…
Hard to argue with that, but I’ve got two observations in response. The first is that in those prior games when the emotional focus was lacking, they looked much, much worse than they did on Saturday. I’m not one for moral victories, but a flat team kept it a one-score game until late in the fourth quarter. Compare that with what we saw in Knoxville last season.
The second is at least a partial explanation for why Georgia came out that way: the Green suspension took something out of this team. It’s one thing to play your first game with the uncertainty of the NCAA process hanging over your head; it’s quite another to find out less than 48 hours before your first big test of the season that your best player did something stupid enough to shut him down for the first third of the year.
Richt thinks the hangover should dissipate this week because the team has gotten the time to get acclimated to the situation,
“It’s not as big of an issue this week, because we basically prepared that he wasn’t going to be in the game,” Richt said. “For the other two, we were really hopeful, but we weren’t really sure what was going to happen. This week we just started on the premise that he would not play, and if turns out he can play, we certainly can use him.”
… but when I read quotes like this one from Vance Cuff, I’m not so sure.
Green’s return would “definitely be a plus,” cornerback Vance Cuff said. “About five pluses to tell you the truth.”
One thing the coaches have done this week is raise the level of intensity in practice. Richt is obviously concerned about a lack of physicality in the defense, judging from the praise he handed out to two true freshmen.
… Freshman safety Alec Ogletree said he practiced more on defense this week. Richt said he hopes to play him not only on special teams, but on defense. “He’s practicing well,” Richt said. “He’s one guy that will strike you. He loves to hit.”
… Richt praised freshman Demtre Baker’s play thus far on the scout team.
“He’s shown signs of being able to strike,” Richt said. “You watch him and say, that guy is going to be able to play.”
The downside, of course – and you know what’s coming next – is that players stand a greater chance of getting banged up when practice gets more physical.
… Georgia could be without cornerback and punt returner Branden Smith on Saturday against Arkansas after he sustained concussion-like symptoms in practice on Tuesday while getting knocked out of bounds.
Rumor is that Ogletree supplied the hit, so I suppose you could call that one of those good news, bad news situations.
If you’re looking for something to get excited about, keep in mind that Coach Grantham believes that Justin Houston is still climbing the learning curve at his position.
“I think the guy’s really trying to buy into what we’re doing,” Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “I think he’s trying to do the things from a leadership standpoint that we want. This is a new position for him. Basically he’s played two games at that position. I think he can be a very talented outside linebacker. I think this is going to be a good move for him as we move forward.”
Considering that he’s among the conference leaders in sacks, tackles and tackles for loss already, that’s not too shabby.
More thoughts tomorrow…