Monthly Archives: November 2014

My Mumme Poll ballot, Week 14

Sorry, I got a little behind today, as life intruded.  Here’s my latest ballot.

  • Alabama
  • Baylor
  • FSU
  • Michigan State
  • Mississippi
  • Mississippi State
  • Oregon
  • TCU

Also considered:  Kansas State, Ohio State

I dinged Georgia because Georgia deserves to be dinged.  Ohio State didn’t look dominant against a mediocre Michigan at home and they’re running out of quarterbacks.

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Tell it like it is.

Ugh, I see I’m the subject of a few choice comments in the usual quarters about supposedly having a Mark Richt mancrush.  Sorry to disappoint, but I’m emotionally detached from his fate and have been that way for several years.  He’s a good man deserving of credit for reinventing himself and the program after the crash and burn of 2009 – and may be on the verge of doing it again – but pulling that off is something to admire and respect, not blindly worship.  If he goes, so be it.  I’ve been a Georgia fan long before Richt got here, and would expect to stay one after his departure.  Nor am I stupid enough to deny that there aren’t some coaching candidates who couldn’t improve on the foundation Richt has laid in his 14-year term.

That being said, I will admit to having reservations about canning the man.  Which leads me to run a little exercise with all you FIRE RICHT NOW! proponents.

Let’s say you got your wish and Mark Richt is shown the door after the bowl game.  In your mind, what are the top three priorities McGarity, Morehead and those they answer to will have in searching for a successor?  Mind you, I’m not asking what your priorities would be for the new hire – unless you’re one of the aforementioned decision makers, your priorities don’t mean shit – I want to know what you think will guide B-M to a choice who could lead Dawgnation out of the wilderness.  (Hint:  if you don’t include being a relative Boy Scout and not negatively affecting the financial bottom line on your list, you’re not being honest.)

So let’s hear your answers.  I’m genuinely curious.  After that, you can get back to insulting me.

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Another expletive deleted kind of day

You guys know I like to post some kind of pithy observation on the blog as I’m leaving a game.  Usually that means I’m composing a header and a sentence or two as the game winds to its conclusion.

Yesterday, I went through that exercise four times.  I’d put together something in my head and then mentally tear it up as the complexion of the game changed.  It was the strangest end to a Georgia game since last year’s Auburn debacle.

I feel bad for Hutson Mason, who deserved a better fate.  He finally had a game put on his back and came through, only to see his moment of glory unravel.  And then wound up being the guy who put the final nail in the coffin.

Two plays later, Mason took a snap that would ultimately be the final one of his regular-season career. The play call was a run-pass option. Mason read the weak-side linebacker, who bit inside on the run, so Mason did what he has done in that situation many times before: He slung it to the slant route.

“Right before the snap, I was thinking, if Malcolm wins here, this might be a touchdown,” Mason said.

He didn’t.

Instead, Georgia Tech defensive back D.J. White beat Mitchell for position, and Mason — who, barring bowl game results, might become Georgia’s most efficient single-season passer in program history — ended with a rare inefficiency, an interception and a 30-24 overtime loss to Georgia Tech.

“I don’t know if the guy made a good play, but I was just trusting that Malcolm was going to be in there. I let it rip, and the guy obviously made a play,” Mason said. “I bet when I go back and watch it that it was probably one of those balls that I could’ve played to live another down.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo might agree. While he didn’t meet with media after the game, he walked out of the press box where he calls plays from the coaches’ box. He caught a glimpse of a television showing the replay of the final play of the game. Bobo froze to watch it transpire again. He then offered an unsatisfied reaction.

“Hand the ball off,” he said, adding some colorful language, suggesting Mason should’ve utilized the play’s run option.

Hell of an epitaph there.

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My, those nachos look tasty.

As I noted last night, that was one weird Iron Bowl.  Auburn was en fuego in the second quarter and to start the third and looked like it might run Alabama out of its own stadium.  Things seemed to be at their worst for the Tide faithful when Sims threw his third interception of the night.

Except for this guy, who was caught on national TV in a zen-like state of bliss over his food.

No worries, mon.  Them belly full.

Turned out Nacho Man was right to keep his cool.  Alabama righted the ship and took control of the game shortly afterwards.

The post game eats were probably delicious, too.

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Eighteen seconds and an empty gun

Richt said giving “them enough field position, enough opportunity to get in position to get the kick,” was “not a good decision.

“I should have let them go kick it deep and go cover the thing and then see what happened from there,” he said.

I suppose I could add a “no shit, Sherlock” and call it a post.  But there’s a deeper point to probe here, I think.

Somehow, I’ve managed to see all three of Georgia’s losses this season in person. Each one’s been more inexplicable than the one that preceded it.  South Carolina looks bad in retrospect, but remember at the time, the ‘Cocks still had the cachet of being a ranked SEC opponent in a tough road game.  Florida was simply a matter of a team taking its biggest rival for granted, an inexcusable mindset, even for a subpar Gator team.

Georgia Tech was neither of those.  The Jackets came in with nine wins.  Even in the ACC, that’s the mark of a team that’s at least competent.  And I didn’t see the same attitude that plagued the Dawgs in Jacksonville.  What I did see were screwups, and plenty of them.  A Nick Chubb fumble inside the Tech five.  A Sony Michel fumble inside the Tech five.  An offensive line that suddenly had no clue how to block Ted Roof’s predictable run blitzes.  A defensive line that acted like the B-back dive play was a totally new concept they’d never seen before.  (Wilson and Herrera wound up making nineteen tackles.  Each.)  The Quayvon Hicks Pooch Kick Shuffle.  A blocked field goal.  As I’ve said before, it was a game in which Georgia kept shooting itself in the foot until it ran out of bullets.

Yet, in the end, none of that should have mattered.  Because, maybe even a little improbably, with eighteen seconds left in the game, somehow Georgia willed itself into a 24-21 lead.

And then Mark Richt happened.  Or, more specifically, Mark Richt’s worst instinct happened.  He decided to play not to lose, or, as we like to refer to it around here, he contracted a case of Logan Gray-itis.

There’s a difference between coaching conservatively and coaching scared.  What happened on the ensuing kickoff reminded me so much of what happened in the overtime loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl after the 2011 season. Georgia ran out to an early lead, blew it, took the game into overtime and was on the verge of pulling out the win after a Rambo interception.  The conservative thing to do then was check Blair Walsh’s stats on the season, realize that he was money on kicks of 40 yards or less, a bad check on anything longer, and pound the ball three straight plays to improve the odds of his making a winning kick. Richt instead chose to run Aaron Murray around on second down for a loss, taking Walsh out of his comfort zone, and kick on third down.  The end result:  a miss and a loss.

That’s what yesterday felt like.  My group had a big discussion, like so many others, after the game.  The general consensus was that Morgan should have kicked the ball into the end zone for a touchback.  Me?  The more I’ve thought about it, the more I would have preferred a deep kick that Tech would have had to return.  Even if the Jackets had busted the return out to the 43, where the squib kick was taken, it would have burned at least another five seconds off the clock to get to the same spot than the short kick did.  And in that situation, time, not field position, was the game’s most precious commodity.  Five less seconds meant that Thomas would have had to throw the ball in order for the Jackets to have a shot at a tie.  But Richt was more scared than calculating there and it cost him big time.  (Plus, it turned out there was one more bullet in the gun to fire in overtime.  Ouchy ouch.)

Now I feel certain that call has left a mark.  Richt will no doubt stew over it for a while – and learn from it.  He’s had a change of heart on his punt return philosophy, and he handled the next similar overtime situation (Tennessee last season) differently than he did in the bowl game.  So I’ll hardly be surprised if he takes a different approach the next time he sees something similar.

But that just leaves us to wait for the next new situation.  Because a leopard never changes his spots.  And Richt is always going to fall back on what’s most comfortable to him.  Which is why I think this post of mine after the Outback Bowl snafu still rings true.

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Mark Bradley haz a stiffy.

Really, plenty of blame to go around today. And neither head coach exactly covered himself in glory.

But you can’t come away with only three points in three trips inside the Tech five and expect to win.

Oy. This team.

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Game day thoughts on Clean Old-Fashioned Hate

I’ll be heading out soon, so I just wanted to get a few things in before I go.

This game matters.  A lot.  Not because it has any bearing on the SEC or the playoff picture.  But because this team needs to show itself and us that it’s heading in the right direction.

That all starts by being ready to play.  Taking Georgia Tech seriously.  We all mock the Jackets’ fan base, as well as Paul Johnson’s personality (or, perhaps more accurately, lack of one), but as tempting as it is to dismiss the triple option as a high school offense, the reality is that it’s effective.  And if Georgia’s defense doesn’t come in ready to play sixty minutes of assignment football, it’s going to get run on.

I expect to see the same base defense we’ve seen since Auburn, and why not?  It’s been largely successful with containment.  That, plus limiting what Tech’s B-back does on the dive play, should keep things under control.

I don’t think Tech’s defense is going to have any better success stopping Georgia’s offense than any other team outside of Florida has this year.  The front seven is small and the secondary is the weakest area of the team.  That’s not a good combination.  Let’s not forget, though, that Ted Roof has one solution for any problem, and that’s more blitzing.

Again, Georgia is all about controlling field position and winning turnover margin.  If that happens today, Georgia covers easily.  If not, it’ll be a fight.

It’s Senior Day and there are some kids who deserve our support.  I’ll be there to give it.

Feel free to add your observations, praise and/or grousing in the comments.

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