Reunited and it feels so good.

In the depths of my despair after the debacle that was the loss to Tennessee in 2009, I posted this:

But… but.  I’ve read Macon Dawg’s reasoned, thoughtful comments about how this isn’t the first time Georgia’s suffered a humiliating loss, and while I agree to a point with his reasoning, I think there’s more going on than that.  Mark Richt wakes up this morning as the captain of a very dysfunctional ship.  I doubt there’s anyone in the Dawgnation, including the head coach, who feels same way about the program today as I did in Jacksonville seven years ago.

If I had to put my finger on what’s wrong, I’d call it a crisis of faith.  I don’t mean that in a religious sense.  (By the way, of all the arguments I’ve seen about what’s wrong, blaming Coach Richt’s religious convictions for the slide has to rank as the dumbest.)  Rather, it’s a systemic doubt:  the coaches lack faith in the players to execute and the players lack faith in the coaches’ ability to deploy them efficiently and effectively.

It’s that last point that led me to doubt Mark Richt’s future in Athens.  And I’ll be honest with you – after watching Georgia’s disappointing play against Boise State to begin this season, I thought that all the changes that had been wrought by him since that UT game had amounted to nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  I’ve long subscribed to the battleship theory of running a college football program in that it’s impossible to turn either of those things around on a dime, especially when you appear to be rudderless.

But you don’t execute a near-perfect game against your oldest conference rival in a series that practically defines evenness without having everyone on board rowing together in the same direction (okay, I’m done flogging the naval analogies).  Yesterday I saw a team that was confident in every phase of the game, players who knew what was expected of them and coaches who knew where to put those players so they could excel.

I’m not stupid enough to start making crazy predictions, other than I don’t see how this team loses to Kentucky, so don’t expect to see grandiose visions of Georgia’s future coming from me.  But I do know this – this program wasn’t going anywhere without a sea change (sorry) in attitude from the top down.  I was skeptical that Mark Richt had it in him, but I’m ecstatic to say that it seems he did.  And I couldn’t be happier for him and everyone else who has a stake in Georgia football.

Boy, this is going to be a fun week.


Filed under Georgia Football

44 responses to “Reunited and it feels so good.

  1. TennesseeDawg

    Wholesale changes in our defensive staff accompanied by an AD who actually knows what the hell he is doing has made all the difference. Players are players and take their lead from the coaches. There is a huge difference between a talent team and a talented team with confidence.

    • X-Dawg

      +1 for the red panties

    • Brandon

      Yeah any changes by Richt that had not included firing Willy Martinez would have been just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. He is the coach that caused the crisis of faith, our players did what he said for several years and the result was they had fools made of them when we ran across a good offensive coordinator like Cutcliffe or some devastating offensive talent like WV in the 05 Sugar Bowl, slowly but surely they started giving up on him and the in 2009 the chickens came home to roost. The only thing I ever faulted Richt for was waiting too long to fire that guy, he let CWM burn up his good will to the point that he only had one chance to find the right DC, he is fine man and a good offensive mind, for his sake and ours I am glad he made good on that one chance and found Todd Grantham, he should never have let the defense deteriorate that bad but I think he’s learned his lesson, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Go Dawgs.

  2. gastr1

    I was pretty down after the SC game but I did see the same progress everyone else did other than lots of dumb mistakes. But while I was not always sure Richt could do it, one thing that I think has been apparent since he started here is that he is willing to change and he is self-reflective (but he is also loyal to others, hence the CWM conflict). To wit: Tubs’ comments in 2001; repeated clock-management issues; handing off to a barely-tested Bobo; changing to being “more of a manager” in 2006; loosening the reigns in 2007 and riding the motivational gimmicks he had never bothered with in the past; the long haul back to re-emphasizing discipline and commitment even if it meant running off folks who were not contributing.

    In fact, I would submit that in his own coaching (note: coaching, not personnel decisions) he has sometimes been a little too willing to change rather than stick to his guns.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      After Sakerlina I felt like going up the street and standing in front of Butts-Mehre and clapping on the lawn by myself. That was the game where I saw it turning around, simply because I saw a Bulldogs team that refused to quit…

  3. The Original Cynical in Athens

    It’s really unbelievable. I am excited as can be to eat crow. Yes, the schedule has been favorable, but UGA could not beat mediocre teams the last 2 years. I am shocked and happy that Coach Richt has managed to get it rolling again.

    The bigger picture is that this is SCU’s best season in their program’s history, but I think they take a step back next year. Ufk and UF are terrible, and have no coaches. This is UGA’s chance to grab the East by the throat and take it over for years, and damn if it doesn’t look like they are trying to do it.

    I have seen comments from most opponents that we have beaten about how young they are, but I look around and see mostly freshmen and sophomores making plays for the Dawgs. Finding replacements for Glenn and Boykin will be crucial going into next year, but the depth looks impressive everywhere else.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Not sure about scu taking a step back next year. They have nearly everyone coming back, and what looks to be a pretty good recruiting class. Perhaps Jeffery turns pro. We need to whip em in Columbia.

  4. Red Blackman

    No more schedule meme, please.

    Georgia’s SEC opponents record : 16 – 32

    The Gumps SEC opponents record : 17- 31

    LSWho’s SEC opponents record : 15 – 25

    Georgia is a vastly improved team both mentally and physically.

    Now let’s send it down to the sidelines…..Whatcha got, Turd?

    • Turd Ferguson

      As I’ve said since day 1, I’ll be as happy as anyone if Richt can return this program to consistent championship contention. But after the loss to SC, no one could have honestly seen this coming. Of course, a few of you will insist that you did. But that’s like the idiot who pushes all-in on a backdoor draw, hits runner-runner, and then declares, “I knew it!”

      Right now, I’m just happy to have beaten Auburn. And as long as we don’t pull one of our patented, inexplicable pants-wettings against Kentucky next weekend, I’ll be as proud and happy as anyone else that we found our way back to Atlanta. And if we do make it back to Atlanta this year, I think it’ll be our first real test of how far the program has indeed come.

      • Red Blackman

        Loren was never that long winded, Turd. Jus sayin……..

        • Cojones

          Come on Red. He’s being half-repentant and is half-terd back into the fold.And he isn’t going to take responsibility for being long-winded. He picked it up from this blog and I won’t call names because they know who they are.

          • Cojones

            That’s my snarky, sarcastic revelation post of the day.

            By the way, hope you didn’t miss Skeptic Dawg walking down front and repenting openly last night. He’s already searching for negative posters on here. Man, the new members/bus riders the Senator is pullin in this month with this Revival blog is over the top. Can I get a “Hallelujah! Amen!” ?

          • Turd Ferguson

            Find me something to repent *for*, and I’ll repent.

            I think the Senator sums up my thoughts in this post rather nicely. After the SC loss, only the dumbest and blindest of Disney Dawgs could’ve said with any confidence that we’d rattle off an 8-game win streak. We all hoped for it, of course. But anything beyond that would be wishful thinking, at best. And the Vandy game was a healthy reminder of that fact. Thankfully, we looked like a completely different team yesterday. Like many others, I still wonder exactly how much of it owes to the weak schedule, but, assuming we make it to Atlanta, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

            If you want me to repent for not engaging in your ridiculous, early-season wishful thinking, that ain’t gonna happen. Every semester, I teach my students to believe things on the basis of evidence and reason, and I intend to practice what I preach.

        • Turd Ferguson

          What you see as “dem’s too many words fer me 2 read,” I see as simply completing a thought. Just sayin’.

          • Red Blackman

            No need to get snarky, Turd.

            That’s why I’m in the booth and you’re on the sideline.

            Know your role, Dawg.

      • Sorry Turd, But I am on record as saying CMR is the best HC the Dawgs have had in my lifetime & I go back to Wally Butts. I also believed that the Dawgs had the best coaching staff top to bottom in the SEC. I picked USCe to win the East last year & the Dawgs to win it this year (before & after the loss to USCe. I now think that the Dawgs have a real chance to win in Atlamta. A return to quality football any way you look at it.

        • Turd Ferguson

          What are you apologizing for? I never said anything about Georgia’s coaching staff, etc. I only said that no one could have honestly seen an 8-game win streak coming. Not after that loss to SC. And if you mean to say that you *did* see an 8-game win streak coming, then, as the analogy goes, you are every bit as irrational as the person who claims to have known that they’d hit a backdoor draw. Did you know also know that our two strongest competitors in the East would both lose their most important players on offense, each for multiple games? If so, will you please pick my next lotto numbers?

          • First I thought the Dawgs were better than USCe. The better team does not always win. I also thought the Dawgs would still win the East & play in Atlanta because of their schedule & because they were the best team in the East, My preseason prediction was a 10 &2 or possiblyeven a 11& 1.record. Still working on the 10 & 2 prediction. It has been in the comments section all season.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      “whatcha got, Turd?”

  5. timphd

    I didn’t know at the time how important the Grantham hire was. Seemed to take forever to make the choice, but I have to say that he was the right guy, not just for the defense but for the team’s mentality overall. Danielson said it on the broadcast, he would want a D coordinator with a fire inside, and Richt got it in TG. I do like the more edgy side of Richt too, telling a reporter to stick it, and calling time outs yesterday at the end of the first half despite leading 35-7. While it didn’t work out, it was the “foot to the throat” that we haven’t seen in a long long time.

    Just don’t party all week and forget that Kentucky has scholarship athletes too. Don’t screw the pooch when you are this close.

    • Junkyard Dawg '00

      agreed timphd. This team really showed the killer instinct used by the really good teams. Don’t sleep on Kentucky and lets rip through the next few games and go into that Dome with a sky high confidence.
      Congrats to Mark Richt and staff and those men on the field giving it their all, like Damn Good Dawgs!

  6. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    As you write, since 2009 changes have occurred which reflect most of what a new coach would have come in and done. He replaced the defensive staff and switched to a new scheme, he’s had a good number of players who didn’t fit in leave the program and he was able to change up his offensive line coach.

    • H-Town Dawg

      Excellent point! It IS like having a new head coach, while at the same time enjoying the benefits of also having the dean of SEC coaches, for whom HS bluechippers (such as Keith Marshall) are anxious to play. And what’s most encouraging of all is that this season isn’t happening because we have a massive senior class that’s relying on tremendous experience to win games. This success is being generated with a cast of young, talented players who will be able to build on this going forward.

      I really see no reason why UGA can’t become the “new Florida” and be the flagship program of the East.

      GO DAWGS!

  7. section Z alum

    when you watch the replay, savor the two times when Ogletree called the defensive changes, looked at the QB, started whipping up the crowd, and the QB gave up and called time out. Viva Grantham.

  8. charlottedawg

    I know this is said with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight but when Willie stated over and over again that the scheme was fine the players just couldn’t execute I never understood how that was anything other than an admission of failure and ineptitude on part of the defensive coaching staff. I’ve mentioned this before but, a college coach evaluates, recruits, develops, and deploys his players. If most of your guys consistently cannot “get it” that means you are consistently failing as a coach somewhere in that process. Defensive coaching was always the root of the problem after Brian Van Gorder left.

  9. baltimore dawg

    just call him “coach lazarus.”

  10. Go Dawgs!

    I never count chickens before they hatch, but damned if these eggs aren’t loud when they start cracking!

    Also, after the third Auburn series, I started getting excited about watching the defense. First time since 2004 that I found myself hoping the other team was going to get one more possession so I could see them crushed.

    Note to Nick Fairley: You CAN break a quarterback’s will without hitting him late. Ask Clint Mosely.

  11. Lrgk9

    Collection of Descriptive words a phrases:

    Trifecta of Orange Victories
    Thought we were ready to play
    All phases of the game
    With intent
    Elite Defense
    Fire and Ice
    Use the Dagger
    Foot on the throat
    Keep the pedal down

    Ahh – victory is sweet..

    Who is Will Friend?

  12. Scorpio Jones, III

    All I will allow myself to think this morning is that we are a lot closer to where we want to be than we have been in a couple of years. When I say we, I am including Mark Richt and the coaching staff and the athletic administration, and, yes, the university administration.

    This may be the opportune time in the pantheon of college football for a coach, and, yes, an administration who are trying to do things the right way to set the agenda for the Penn State’s of the football world.

    and, Hey Coach?….thanks for putting up with us…we all want the same thing, most of us don’t have a clue about how to do it….sho am glad you did.

  13. HVL Dawg

    The enjoyable part of watching this team is we don’t look to one or two stars to win the game for us. Team.

    And how about that Oline coming together down the stretch?

  14. Marshall

    Well said, Senator. Same to the rest of you guys…

    The change in S & C is obviously paying huge dividends as well. But I think the crucial thing has been Grantham. We need to make sure we keep him around for a long, long time (think Erk’s tenure). His fire to Richt’s ice is the key to this ball club, I think. And Bobo called another superb game. Everything is looking pretty good. Just got to take care of the Cats.

    • OKDawg

      I APPLAUD Bobo!

      Can’t blame him for nothin’ this week but a good ole buttwhuppin’ of the Tigers. Well-called by the OC, well-executed by the players.

  15. Irishdawg

    I had faith that Richt could turn it around if he caught a few breaks. He did and he has, and that makes me as happy as Georgia’s resurgance. This week more than ever I’ve been glad that Richt is our HC; that we have a good coach that is also a class act and a man of integrity.

    I’m also really glad that our defense is initimidating again.

  16. Cojones

    I would appreciate if if all the Richt converts would come forward and take the antirecidivism pledge. Ain’t much to the little thin biscuits, but we will serve a full glass of wine disguised as coolaide. And brush your teeth so the recruits don’t smell your old potty mouth.

    • West Los Angeles Dawg

      Got a name for people like you, Hi. That name is called recidivism.
      Repeat o-fender.
      Not a pretty name, is it?
      No, sir, it sure ain’t. That’s one bonehead name. But that ain’t me no more.

  17. AusDawg85

    The Vampire year in review:

    BSU = Richt still a failure and S&C program must have been a joke.
    USCe = Bobo a failure, Richt instilled no discipline, CTG coming around but not there yet.
    Coastal C = Big deal. Who cares.
    Ole Miss = Big deal, who cares II.
    Missy St = The invention of Dawgpolled
    TN = Well, that Crowell kid ain’t so bad, but not tough. Murray stares at targets. Richt won’t bury anybody. I blame Bobo.
    Vandy = We so lucky. Soooooo lucky.
    Gators = About damn time. Even if they, you know, suck.
    NMSU = That was a high school scrimmage, right. Cupcake for Murray (who still stares at his receivers).

    Buffy will be visiting some of you at season’s end….

  18. Spike

    I have a man crush on Coach Joe T.