All these questions!

I’m sure most of you have seen the roundtable discussion on Georgia that College Football Zealots hosted the other day.  It’s a fun read.  The most interesting question posed was the first one.  Here’s Groo’s take, which I think is the position most Georgia fans would pick:

1- Which game is more critical for Georgia to win: Boise State or South Carolina?

Clearly South Carolina. There will be the national spotlight and the whole tone-setting angle on the Boise game. Fine, I buy that. But it’s still not a conference game against one of the likely contenders for the divisional title. Put it this way – a loss to Boise still leaves the conference crown and a BCS bowl on the table (just look at Boise’s first victim last season). A loss to South Carolina after beating Boise not only takes away much of the momentum from a big season-opening win; it also puts the Dawgs in a big hole in the SEC East race just two weeks into the season.

Allow me to retort:  I’m not so sure it’s that clear.  I don’t read that question as being “if the Dawgs could only win one of their first two games of the 2011 season, which would you choose?”  (If it were, I’d pick the South Carolina game, too.)  It was which win would matter more.  And my feeling right now is that’s the win over Boise, precisely because of the reasons that Groo cites.

This team is coming off a lackluster season capped by a terrible bowl game performance.  It’s going to walk out on the field of the Georgia Dome needing to prove to a lot of people that it is a relevant program, but mainly it needs to prove that to itself.  If Georgia loses to Boise the way it lost most of its 2010 games – a combination of mistakes and bad timing along with poor conditioning and an inability to finish – I think it’s going to have a very hard time gaining traction for the rest of the year, including that South Carolina game.

Fortunately, I think Mark Richt knows how important the opener is to his program and his career.

Meanwhile, over at CFN, Russ Mitchell tangles with another question about the Bulldogs.

Russ Mitchell: On which team has the most riding on the OL position?

Georgia. The Bulldogs have had considerable talent the past five seasons, as evident by how well they have recruited and the number of players they have launched into the NFL.

And yet Georgia football has failed to live up to expectations in four of those seasons – capped by a disaster of a year in 2010 (6-7). If but one unit is to be singled out for these letdowns, it is the UGA offensive line.

In fact, we’ll take it one step further: no single unit in the SEC has underperformed expectations more this past half-decade than has the Georgia offensive line.

Ouch.  And Stacey Searels’ reputation takes another hit.  (It’ll take a bigger one if Friend manages to do a good job with the thin bunch he has to work with this season.)

I will say that the biggest challenge the Dawgs face with the OL isn’t going to come from the starters.  It’s all about the depth, which, sad to say, seems virtually nonexistent at present.  One or two members of the first unit get dinged up and things could get very scary.  Compared with that, my worries about other areas of perceived weakness (wide receivers and secondary) seem almost trivial.  So, yeah, I think Mitchell is right about what Georgia has riding on the o-line.

And CFN’s Brian Harbach has even more questions.  Here’s his hot seat one:

1) How many games does Mark Richt need to be back in 2012?
This one has a two-part answer because there are two scenarios for Richt to be back in Athens in 2012. The first scenario is to win the East, no one would argue that an Eastern Division title is not enough for Richt to keep his job. If you don’t think a trip to the SECCG is enough, there is no pleasing you as a fan and there is no coach who can please you either. The other option is to win double digit games, 9 wins or fewer makes things murky but a ten-win season you can sell pretty easily. BTW, Georgia is capable of both those two tasks which is why if they don’t meet either one of them Richt will be gone.

I think both those scenarios are right.  But I’m also of the belief that Richt can survive with a nine-win season (likely even eight) which doesn’t include a trip to Atlanta if the team shows real improvement… and beats Florida.

Agree?  Disagree?

33 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

33 responses to “All these questions!

  1. BC

    I think you are right in that Richt could survive and 8 or 9 win season because the powers-that-be wouldn’t be willing to make a change. However, I don’t think the fan base will continue the support the program as fervently -and yes I understand there are a number of “fire Richt” fans now. I would love to see him succeed but my gut tells me he will not.

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  2. back9k9

    I think all the mess with Tressel at Ohio St. plays to Richt’s favor. The threshold on required wins is now a little lower.

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    • Gern Blanski

      I would agree with you. Also, I am on record for comparing Mark Richt to John Cooper and urging the adminstration to go find us a “Jim Tressel.” Of course that would be a colossal mistake.

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  3. simpl_matter

    I agree with the Senator, especially if we suffer the loss of a key player(s) on the OL or DL. We absolutely cannot afford an ’08-type August. The table is set very nicely for a run this year but, if we show up with a stomach ulcer, how much can we be expected to eat? 8 wins is the bar for him to be back next year (though, that would probably also guarantee the McGarity’s wandering eye starts looking for attractive options).

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  4. baltimore dawg

    with the 2011 schedule being what it is and with the sec east being what it is right now, it really does comes down to a number of wins, i think. in a year when we play a tougher schedule, i think how the team performs relative to the last two years would loom pretty large in decision-making about richt’s future. but in 2011, there’s no reason that improved performance shouldn’t translate to 3-4 more wins. i’m not positive 8 wins (including one in j’ville) will be enough. but i really hope we don’t have to have that discussion come january.

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    • I think if either Florida or South Carolina shocks the world with a dominant season, Richt might get some slack for not making Atlanta – provided there was clear improvement from last year. And part of that, I think, would have to include a win in Jax.

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  5. The dividing line is nine wins with a loss to Florida. If that is the record, then Adams & McGarity have a very difficult decision to make. With a loss, Richt’s record against the Gators will be virtually the same as Goff/Donnan’s combined. A double-digit loss to UF probably makes him a “dead man walking,” and he’ll need clemency from the higher-ups. A close loss like last year likely gives him another year if we don’t look bad in the other two regular season losses.

    With a win against UF, nine wins will probably demonstrate that the program is heading in the right direction. He’s clearly safe with 10 wins even if one of the losses is to our Gator overlords.

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  6. Go Dawgs!

    8’s the number, as long as Florida isn’t one of the 4.

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  7. OKDawg

    I think you’re right – Richt’s job security really hinges on UF. A win against the Gators covers a multitude of sins…even an 8-win season. I’m not convinced 9 wins is enough with a Florida loss. If Muschamp eats Richt’s lunch in a HUGE transitional year for the Gators, then Richt better get double digits win and at least a tie for division crown.

    Per the first question, I agree that BSU is much more critical for our year. Psychologically, we need a great showing, not just a good one. We have to erase the memory of last year quickly and definitively. Secondly, we need our young players invested from day one, and that stage in the Dome will provide all the opportunity for serious game-tested experience (which they will need the following week).

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  8. hassan

    Traditionally, if you can beat 2 of the 3 orange teams plus tech, you can keep your job.

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  9. BCDawg97

    I agree that an 8 win season (with UF being a win) is probably enough. 9 wins and UF is a lock I’d say. But an 8 win season means 4 losses to the rest of that schedule. Boise and SC would be justifiable, but really – who else would you want/should we to “lose” to? Tech and Auburn are reasonable enough, but who wants to lose to them? Miss St (coaching) and UT (likely talented but low in numbers) are viable, but we are clearly more talented and shouldn’t lose to them. UK and Ole Miss Not even a question.

    It still seems to me that 10-2 should be the minimum given the schedule and our talent. The players have to buy in to the team and it is up to the coaches to put the pieces together.

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  10. McTyre

    Given our talent, state of the division (and Auburn exodus), and schedule, a W-L record of 8-5 or 9-4 won’t get it. Beating the Gators but losing 4 or 5 of the remaining 12 games would be inexcusable if not implausible. Two directionals plus Ole Miss, Vandy, and UK alone get you to 5 wins. Winning @UT and at home vs Auburn isn’t e exactly a fanciful notion.

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  11. Mike

    If a win against Florida is the most important barometer whether Richt will be fired, then that pegs the pucker factor off the charts. For the whole coaching staff, not just Richt

    As a Florida fan, I kinda like that.

    By the time the WLOCP rolls around, the UGA coaches will have a solid idea whether a win is necessary to keep from getting fired. If UGA is still in the SEC East hunt, the pucker factor will be less, because even if Florida wins that game, UGA probably still has a chance for a 9 or 10 win season. However, if the SEC East is not a possibility running up to the WLOCP, then watch out.

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    • If the SEC East crown isn’t a possibility going into Jax, I don’t think a Florida win would salvage Richt’s career in Athens.

      To me, that’s the real measuring stick on his viability going forward.

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    • D.N. Nation

      Just FWIW, the two years Richt has beaten Florida, he also lost the East to two incredibly flawed Tennessee teams.

      Richt as a dead man walking heading into JAX would be an interesting parallel to the just-got-fired Zook of ’04. I wonder if we’d clear out the playbook of quadruple-reverse silliness like that Florida team did.

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      • Mike

        Just don’t lose to MSU the week before. That was the straw that broke Zooker’s back..or at least his tenure as a Florida coach.

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  12. AthensHomerDawg

    I think we get to at least 9 wins and I don’t believe he gets fired with just one year remaining on his contract. Not prudent. He has been here a long while. I look at the Pumpkin King’s tenure at UT pre Mark Richt with nearly a 75% winning average and post Richt when it dropped to nearly 65%. Not saying Richt was the only reason he dropped, it just happened during this time frame. After his first losing season (’05/5-6) Fulmer went 9-4,10-4 before the final nail hit the coffin lid in the form of 5-7 record in 2008. As we all know, Fulmer was a long tenured SEC coach with a lot of 10 win seasons, SEC championships and a National title (h/t to Arkansas). A lot of his success could be attributed to his long term association with his assistants at UT. Something that obviously meant a lot to CMR. But Fulmer began reading his press clippings and his recruiting fell off. Mark Richt’s certainly hasn’t ! Another recruiting class like the last one within his last contract year may put us in line for that championship run talent wise. However, a 6-7 season anytime soon, in spite of couple of nice winning seasons would put CMR into the mission field sooner rather than later. I don’t think McGarity is going to be writing any contract extensions with 6 million dollar buyouts like UT did. If Coach Richt is in his final years I’d like to see him go out with style and not be forced out. He deserves a lot of thanks. But this is the SEC and we at Georgia want to win now and always. We are just as passionate about winning as Auburn or Alabama. I’d like to think we are a whole lot more classy about it!

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  13. WarD Eagle

    I didn’t read the article, but your quotes seem to imply there’s no relief given for losses on the OL.

    It seems that UGA lost an important lineman for the past umpteen years. Should Searels have been able to deal with it? Well yeah, that’s why he was paid the big bucks, but it is a very difficult thing to handle – even in the NFL.

    Losing an OL is a bigger problem than losing a DB – and putting a new DB into a scheme is big.

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  14. OKDawg

    I’m not sure any relief for losses on the OL is warranted. Last year’s OL under-performed so badly, that even with the losses this year’s OL should show improvement in comparison. Remember that last year’s OL unit garnered national preseason attention.

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    • WarD Eagle

      I think last year’s OL is a prime example.

      Didn’t they lose a superb tackle in the fall?

      You can usually lose a guard and get away with it, but losing a center or a tackle is tough to overcome.

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      • OKDawg

        Losing one superb tackle should not have crippled our OL so seriously IF the preseason accolades were warranted and the coaching was effective. My guess is both could be labeled “suspect.”

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  15. With the obvious caveat that I’d love to start 2-0 this year, I still think the South Carolina game is more critical, for two reasons.

    1) While I hate characterizing any game as one that Georgia can “afford” to lose, let’s keep in mind Boise’s going to be a top-10 team when we face them, maybe even top five. There’d be disappointment in losing, sure, but no shame. Boise’s going to be a very, very good team this year, and when I hear Dawg fans talking about how Georgia should only be a two- or three-point underdog to them int he Dome, much less a favorite, I wonder if they’re bothering to respect that.

    2) Like it or not, South Carolina’s clawed their way to a position of at least semi-respectability in the SEC East, and there’s potential for them to make a move at a time when Florida and Tennessee are in major transitional periods. If Georgia loses to the Gamecocks for a second straight year and allows them to kick off another division title run, the perception, at least, would be that they’re leapfrogging us, and we can’t allow that. They need to be put back in their place, if you’ll forgive an inelegant phrase, and to me that’s more critical than what happens in the Dome.

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  16. Jackson

    I must agree with you Senator. It isn’t an either or situation. CMR must find a way to win both games. There are several reasons why this is the case. The first game against a top 10 team represents an opportunity that UGA has struggled with in the last 2 years which is to beat a top 10 opponent. Having said that, preseason rankings don’t mean a thing but it would put to rest the notion that Richt can’t beat good teams. Beating SC is critical because it removes a lot of pressure from us in being able to compete in the east. Third, UGA under Richt has always gotten off to an extremely slow start to open the season. We typically don’t show up to play in what we look like until game 4. IF, we are able to win those two games it goes a long way into extending Richt’s tenure. We all hate losing to Florida, but we have had many opportunities. Unfortunately, the pressure to win the Florida game is forced onto the players… not by the coaches but by the fans. Remember the story about T. Edwards who dropped that sure touchdown catch… and had like 50 text messages “beating” him up about it? A Florida win will not have any bearing on Richt’s extending.
    What will bear are three things: 1. Off the field incidents — (shhh… we have a no-no going) 2. Basic fundamental football. 3. The risk/reward of a new coach. See Tennessee (Kiffen), Michigan(Rodriguez), Florida(Zook), SC (Holtz), Nebraska (Callahan)… the list goes on but it’s a hit or miss situation.

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  17. Slaw Dawg

    I agree with others that 8 regular season wins, if one is UF, is probably enough to keep Richt around. But I personally don’t think it’s a slam dunk. Say we beat UF, then lose badly to 2 of the last 3 (any combination of AU, UK and GT); surely there will still be a sour taste in the mouths of big bucks alums and Dawgfans generally. Even more so if the first 2 losses include, say, Miss St in a groaner and UT in another K’ville blow out (note: I went to the last 2 there so promise to keep my ass out of Neyland this time).

    The thing about Boise and SC is if we win both, then it certainly will seem to confirm to players and fans alike that the Dawgs are for real, but that will be ancient history in December if my scenario unfolds. Conversely, if we lose both of those games, then roll the rest of the year, we’re this year’s Va Tech (or maybe 2007’s UGA), as others have said. Upshot: losing either or both of those games can be overcome, even if difficult; winning both of them, though certainly preferable to losing, won’t necessarily save CMR if the losses are to the wrong teams. And, frankly, I’m not sure it should (and I love the guy and literally pray for more years and wins than even ol’ Vince had).

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  18. Mayor of Dawgtown

    I can’t believe what I am reading. You guys purport to be “supporters” of CMR and everyone is saying it’s going to take 9 wins or 8 wins plus a win over Florida for CMR to keep his job. I am not even a CMR supporter any more and even I think that is ridiculous. Firing a HC who has won 2 SEC Championships when he bounces back from a losing season with 8 wins would chill any coach with first class credentials from ever showing any interest in the job. Talk about crazy expectations. That is Bama bad. I hope CMR wins the BCSNC and then retires. All of you should be ashamed and banished to Ann Arbor for the duration of the football season. Bunch of ingrates.

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    • OKDawg

      No shame in being realistic and analytical. I am a BIG fan of Richt, but I can speak objectively about his job performance. Perhaps some are unable to do that.

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    • Woofer

      I’m a big fan of CMR, if it were up to me he could pretty much keep his job indefinitely. But I don’t think it would be about *one* eight win season, but rather three sub-par seasons in a row. And I’m not arguing that 8-5 is subpar for a college team in general, but when you have the talent, the funding, etc, to consistently field a 9 or 10 win team every single year, then eight wins *is* underperforming. Getting beaten by Central Florida If CMR has an eight win season next year, I think people will assume (probably correctly) that he’s gotten a little burned out. Last year was a little frustrating, because of all the tight games – we were in almost every one. However, there really is just no excuse for losing to Central Florida…ever.

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  19. 69Dawg

    Thanks for playing now just wait and see what the big money wants because unless you are one of them then what you think means zero.

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