A new year, a better place?

Here’s something I wrote last New Year’s Day in reaction to the turd Georgia laid in the Liberty Bowl:

I hope McGarity is able to drill it into Richt’s head that next season isn’t about a specific number of wins and losses.  It’s about making sure that he fields a team that is ready to play week in and week out.  It’s been five years since we’ve been able to see that.  One way or another, that’s gotta end.

As we await tomorrow’s Outback Bowl, I can’t say that Richt’s hit that target completely, but I certainly think he’s got the team pointed in the right direction.  And as the linked post indicates, I questioned whether the staff had it in them to do even that.

So they’re in a different place now.

“You had some really great seniors that year that really bought into the way we were doing it, and this group did the same thing,” Richt said. “There’s a few guys that certainly could’ve gone pro and said, I’m not gonna deal with this mess. But they stayed, and they believed. I thought that was a very positive sign when your Boykins and your (Cordy) Glenns and Ben Jones, the guys that ended up sticking around and believed and led.

“But we also decided as a staff that we were gonna take a big-time positive approach to the season, and we knew all the negativity that was swirling around, and we knew that we had to make our Butts-Mehre Building a place where they could show up and feel good. That was a big part of the approach, and I think it helped out a lot.”

Boykin, Glenn and Ben Jones are seniors who are leaving. But Boykin, in citing his optimism for the program he’s leaving behind, cited leadership and commitment behind the scenes.

“Us winning 10 games this year gave people in our program a lot of confidence that we could do it again,” Boykin said. “Especially with the schedule that we’ve got that people probably consider easy, for an SEC schedule not having to play some of the teams like Alabama, LSU. There’s a great chance for us to be able to go back to Atlanta and play for an SEC championship and maybe even a national championship.”

A year ago such talk would have either been dismissed or mocked.  Now with the schedule and the returning starters, it’s likely to be the standard Richt gets held to in the coming season.

27 Comments

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27 responses to “A new year, a better place?

  1. The Original Cynical in Athens

    Anything less than an undefeated regular season will be a disappointment next year. There is hardly anyone that is competitive in the SEC East, and Mizzou to open their SEC history might be the toughest game on the schedule.

    Scu loses Ellis Johnson, Antonio Allen, #6, Robertson, Whitlock and could lose Jeffrey, Taylor and Gilmore. Lattimore may not be 100% by next December.

    This is very similar to ’02-’03 when the Dawgs had a chance to put their foot on the throat of the SEC East and blew it by losing to a couple of mediocre UF teams. Hope that the burden of expectation does not cripple the off-season focus as it did in 2004 and 2008. Time to take another giant leap forward.

    • Dawgfan Will

      IF the teams we play again next year suck as bad as they did this year, then, yes, anything less than an undefeated regular season will be disappointing. That’s a mighty big “if,” though. Back in August, very few thought that Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi State, or Auburn were going to be as bad as they turned out to be. Don’t be surprised if some of them make a turnaround next year.

    • Russ

      Just undefeated, or do we need to win by a certain margin of victory?

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        +1. Right, Russ. The nutballs are already starting. There is no such thing as an “easy” SEC schedule. While the Dawgs at least get one tune-up game, starting with the second game of the season they get thrown into the deep end with games at Mizzou and USCe, back to back. Then they have to play their normal SEC East schedule. Florida will be improved as will UT. The Auburn team I saw in their bowl looked pretty good to me and also it looks like the WarPlainsmenTigers found a QB in the mold of Newton if not as polished. There were definite signs of life coming from Vandy and Kentucky at the end of last season, too. Undefeated? That’s the new baseline? How many undefeated seasons has UGA had in history? Some people are just crazy.

      • might be satisfied to only stump toes with a 1 or 2 loss team (or maybe more) next season. wwell it does not pay to look too far ahead, and from now til August or even April is looking too far ahead, I’d only say prepare and play hard..

    • charlottedawg

      If Georgia wants to think of themselves as a national power caliber program they need to go undefeated against this regular season schedule, this schedule is that easy. The only two teams on this schedule who have even an outside chance of finishing in the BCS top 10 are USC, maybe Florida, maybe.Yes, at least two teams will be significantly better than anticipated but that’s what championship teams do: they beat good teams and find a way to win, every week. This years LSU team is a perfect example of this principle, Georgia got blown out in the Dome not because we weren’t a good team but because LSU is just that good.

      On a seperate note, In my humble opinion, the biggest thing Georgia needs to do going forward is to start consistently winning games against SEC East teams. If you want to know the biggest reason Florida has won NCs the past 2 decades and we haven’t look at our record against the SEC East versus Florida’s record against the east. (Need a fact check but I believe UF has lost less than 20 games to the east the past 20 years meanwhile Richt has never gone undefeated in the East). Generally speaking (there are anomolies like this year for instance) the road to the BCSNC goes through Atlanta and the worst thing you can do to your chances of going to Atlanta are to lose within the division. Obviously this is easier said than done but it’s a factor I think does not recieve enough attention.

  2. Lrgk9

    It’s nice when your largest concerns are OL depth with talent coming in, A backup QB transferring, and whether your leading WR will play a little nickel.

  3. Hayduke

    I’ve been an unapologetic Richt basher critic for the last several seasons. This time last year, I really didn’t think he could pull this year off. He proved me wrong this year.
    While I’m not quite ready to send unicorns and day-glo bubbles his way just yet, I do feel that he has “pointed the team in the right direction”, and that’s a major improvement in my mind. Sure, the schedule was weak, but considering that we have a marquee freshman tailback, who has not adjusted to the physical abuse of playing in the SEC, and a couple of smurfs running the ball in an offense that revolves around the run and play action pass, we still managed to have a good year. Defensively, our secondary has taken a HUGE step forward, and I can’t really find any fault except for the failure to show up for the second half in the SECCG.
    I’ve still got a few quibbles, but most importantly, they have been reduced to quibbles, not outright deal breakers like in the last few seasons. Onward & Upward.
    As an aside… who else feels completely weirded out today with the lack of any college football bowls?

    • Jim

      This is well said. I am stunned we are where we are and had dire predictions for the tear. Could not be happier to have been wrong but there is still work to do if we are going to be GREAT. But the pieces seem to be there

  4. HVL Dawg

    New year’s day with no football on TV. What a crappy day.

  5. charlottedawg

    this year the team transformed into a good team with the potential and ingredients to be great, next year we will see if they can turn potential into reality. Georgia needs to embrace 2 truths in 2012: A) you haven’t accomplished anything yet, but B) you can can accomplish great things if you dedicate yourselves.

  6. Skeeter

    Sen., this “better place” you speak of, does it have Kool-Aide?

  7. BulldogBen

    I love how Mizzou seems to be a given win in much of the talk I’ve read after the schedules were released. They bring back 11 starters, a solid D, and their QB. An early season game against an unfamiliar opponent on the road. Not a situation where the Dawgs have shined.

    If we beat Sparty, I actually think the expectations will only increase.

  8. Cojones

    Ratcheting up the pressure before any game is horsemanure of the past. Ratcheting it up PREseason should be reason to have your butt kicked off the bandwagon. We’ve seen a year of these”fans” who know precisely that they are inserting doubt and season perfection in the same sentence.

    Boys and girls, that’s as old as it gets; as if we give a bug’s rat’s ass if you are disappointed. Go ahead. Dip your heads in a bucket of shit and throw piss in the air. Have fun. This next year, I swear I will revel in every hee-haw comment made against this team by those fair weather daisies. Well, if you don’t like the “L”s on your cheer list, go watch whereever you think there is a team that won’t get beaten.

    Some of you did your little “Git along- go along” routine at the last of the win streak to make it appear to the rest of us that you truly had the team at heart and you knew you had been mistaken about the staff and the team. Now, you are going to sit back with folded arms in judgement with a new beginning on the line. You can take that “fandom” and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

  9. Macallanlover

    So, any loss next year means UGA has “underachieved”? And you wonder how and why we have problems as a fanbase, and why the media pounces on us while giving others a pass. We bring it on ourselves, or in some cases we deliberately set it up so we will be seen as failures, while doing pretty damned well. It is this type of sophomoric thinking that makes UGA fans look as delusional as Tide and Cock fans. And it undermines the program by causing unfounded dissent, and negative press. Hot seat again, better not slip coach.

    We haven’t even found out who is returning yet, we don’t know who is eligible, we don’t know who will be injured, or when, nor do we know any of these things about our competitors. But now it has been decreed that 11-1 is falling short, and disappointing. Can you see how insane that is? CMR has won 10+ games 7 times in 11 seasons and yet has a reputation as a failure due to thinking like this. Our competitors use it against us in recruiting. Our so-called fans shoot us in the back from inside our own foxhole. It is why I say we have become one of the worst group of fans in the country, still some good ‘uns, but now being overtaken by a different breed.

    Easy cupcake schedule? You bet, heard it on the FineBomb Show, or read it on the SC blog where they are trying to figure out how they didn’t get their annual trip to the SECCG this year, you know it is in their bloodline as the Beast in the East, haven’t you heard? Or maybe it was on the hogs’ message boards, you know they now believe we are afraid of them. After all, they have beaten us once since they joined the SEC. Yep, someone started a story about UGA having an easy schedule, in the SEC no less, and the sheep bought it, hook, line, and sinker Fire anyone who dares lose at UGA! D,JD..

    Might we win every game in 2012? Possible, but anyone that wouldn’t take an 11-1 season next year with another shot at the winner of the West right now simply doesn’t know much about college football, and should find another passion for their free time.

    • From the linked CTFP article:

      Said Jones: “It’s a schedule that we should run the table with. We’ve got some pretty good teams in there, but we should definitely come out on top.”

      • Macallanlover

        I think, and hope, we come out on top as well. Never said we might not run the table, but to say we have disappointed with any thing less is a whole different attitude that leads to “UGA/Richt always falls short”. Just cannot buy in to that. I would love 12-0 as much as anyone, anyone. But I will not say at this point 11-1, 10-2, and a chance to play for an SEC would upset me, or means we are disappointing. Jones, and all of his 2012 teammates should shoot for perfection, one game at a time…..every year. That looks more achievable for 2012 than most years, but should not be the standard of success when we don’t even know the team make-up yet.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        You want players to expect to win every game. That said, how many times does that really happen? For any team? Florida has won 3 MNCs in the last 15 years and has NEVER had an undefeated team in school history. Players thinking positively is one thing. Fans expecting perfection is quite another.

  10. Cojones

    SIC’EM DAWGS!!

    If you lose, you still get a pat on the head. If you win, you get a treat!

    • Macallanlover

      You nailed it my friend. Jones’ comments aren’t inconsistent to my position. I want, and expect, us to go after perfection. I just differ from the posters and fans who say we would be a disappointment. No way 11-1 and headed to Atlanta will make them criticize them, or say SOG for underachieving again. Little wonder the hot seat talk is always waiting in the wings with UGA. More negative fodder for the media to feed off of.

  11. Skeeter

    Geez, can’t I just look forward to and enjoy this last GD game?! Go Dawgs!