Why I have hope.

Those of you who’ve given up on things improving can just skip this post, but I do think there are important things in play that will make a difference down the road.

I’ve likened running a football program to steering a battleship.  Once you get off course, it isn’t easy to turn things back in the right direction.  But it can be done.  It starts with a change in attitude.  Like this:

Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt said the defensive improvement is due to a strong work ethic that Pruitt and three other first-year defensive assistants — Tracy Rocker, Mike Ekeler and Kevin Sherrer — have instilled. Richt added that players who don’t practice well can get replaced, and Bulldogs defenders admit it wasn’t always easy during the first few months of the transition.

“The toughest thing for us was getting out of our old habits,” senior defensive tackle Mike Thornton said. “We are creatures of habit, and over the last four years we were taught to do things a certain way with the old coaches.”

Said senior inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera: “A lot of people didn’t trust one another last year, and people were trying to do other people’s jobs. There is trust now.”

There are a lot of crappy habits, built up over years, that have to be flushed out of the system.  That takes time.  And there have certainly been a fair share of missteps this season, as we all know.  And it’s cost them.

“It is our fault. We put ourselves in this situation, and now we’ve gotta deal with it,” Georgia receiver Chris Conley said Tuesday. “We have to live with it, and if it shakes out that way, then we’ve gotta move forward with it. But the only thing we can control at this point is what we do this weekend.”

Georgia needed only to beat Florida or South Carolina, a pair of SEC East also-rans, to render the whole thing moot.

The 38-20 loss to Florida looms the largest, with the Gators having a bad enough season that head coach Will Muschamp was dismissed a couple of weeks later. There is still plenty on the line Saturday when Georgia Tech (9-2) visits on Saturday. The Bulldogs are going for a 10-win season and their 13th win in 14 seasons over their in-state rivals.

“It’s still a great year,” Georgia senior linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. “We want to go there (to Atlanta), but if it doesn’t happen, it’s our fault.”

But you learn from experience.  You will yourself to get better.  And you respond to a coaching staff that won’t accept complacency.

The lesson continues today.

“It will be the first shot out of the cannon, so to speak, for this staff to go against the Georgia Tech offense,” Richt said. “I have done my best to explain the emotion of the game and how relentless Georgia Tech is in how they go about their business. You’ve got to be tough in this game, because the type of offense they run is one where they’re going to come after you down after down after down.

“You’ve got to be resilient. You’ve got to be good fundamentally, and you’ve got to be tough fundamentally, too.”

If that’s not all talk, you go out and execute.  You don’t feel sorry for yourselves.  You beat a team that you ought to beat.  Then you prepare for a bowl game.  And then you make yourselves better for next season.

51 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

51 responses to “Why I have hope.

  1. Turd Ferguson

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me annually, …

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    • I told you to skip it. 😉

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    • ** How I Quit Complaining and {Bitching!}**
      The story of a French woman and Dawg fan living amongst the Bulldog faithful in Georgia, who decided to go against her native culture and Quit Complaining and Bitching about the Florida game!
      This is how my “21 Day Challenge to Quit Complaining {and Bitching}!” about that game started!

      This journey gave birth to a French blog called “Sports and Tits” and a French Best-selling book called “J’arrête de râler!” ( more than 150 000 copies sold).

      Bon appetit!

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      • Macallanlover

        Great idea, it is a life long challenge as the temptation to feel sorry for one’s self is presented often. I don’t know a publisher to help you but I share with you the desire to look forward and enjoy something better.

        I hate losing to anyone, Florida always near the top, but I also learned from sports psychologist Bob Rotella’s spectacular book “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect”, you cannot affect what just happened, only what you do next. So just as the last golf shot you hit cannot be changed (as with the Florida loss) I have the opportunity to do something great in front of me. You are much more likely to achieve something better with that approach. Good luck to you.

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  2. PTC DAWG

    As usual, spot on.

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  3. @gatriguy

    Great post Senator. On the one hand I agree with you: I feel more optimistic about the direction of the program than I have in probably 7-9 years. But on the other hand, Richt has history working against him. Once a coach gets out of the business of winning SEC titles, he doesn’t get back into it 10 years later. No saying it can’t happen, but Richrt will be the first it does.

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    • Mayor

      1 guy has really made all the difference–Pruitt. Priority #1 has to be to keep him. Rocker, Ekeler and Sherrer have certainly contributed, but Pruitt is the man. I also feel better about the direction of the program but only if we can keep this staff intact, particularly with Pruitt at DC.

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    • Mike

      Where’s the back-up for this comment? Please don’t site something from 30-40 years ago. Richt has the team heading in the right direction with a great group of assistants. Best in his tenure.

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  4. Jim

    i had hope after the 2012 SECCG that we had finally turned the corner.

    i’m not sitting here calling for change now like i was in 2009 but anyone who doesn’t see the pattern has their head in the sand.

    of course whenever the kool-aid is passed around i take a big swig of it and it tastes good, but in the back of my mind “the pattern” creates doubt because, well, its a pattern.

    we’ve shown flashes of greatness this year. but the bottom line is we had a team capable of being undefeated right now despite the best player in the country missing half the season and didn’t get it done. nobody’s fault but our own. blame the phantom holding call against SC? We were still in position to win at the end and didn’t get it done. i don’t even know what kind of excuse to make up for florida

    not sure what the excuse will be next year – we lose a good bit of what has turned out to be a good OL, we draw alabama from the west, we’ll be breaking in a new QB, we lose some very good receivers.

    at some point we just need to suck it up and get it done and stop coming up with excuses.

    go dawgs!

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    • Jim

      So lets see what happens today. Do we show up and take care of business handily like we should? or do we play like we don’t want to be there and get embarrassed? i don’t think there is much in between today – and what we see today and the bowl game will tell me a lot of the mental make up and direction of this team and program.

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    • Rocket Dawg

      Did you honestly expect a team with a first year starter at QB, a brand new defensive staff and basically 4 new starters in the secondary to be undefeated?? Seriously?

      While I agree that we could be undefeated at this point, if you went into this season expecting to be undefeated you need your head examined.

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      • Merk

        Looking at what this team did and the teams we lost to, we should have been undefeated. It just happens for us that the 2 losses were against teams that were hungrier when we played them. SC was in a must win game against us and it showed. Same with UF, against SC we showed up, but the new D cost us. Against UF we did not show up and got steamrolled for it.

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      • Jim

        Seriously?

        Where did i say i expected to be undefeated at the beginning of the year?? Seriously. i didn’t say that.

        But here we are on Nov 29 and guess what – we could have been. if you aren’t disappointed by that YOU need YOUR head examined.

        I love justifying disappointing results through a lack of expectations. That is a formula for greatness. You’ll do well in middle management.

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        • frankly

          I don’t think its justifying disappointment but merely being realistic that we had some SERIOUS flaws coming into this season.

          Don’t let the fact this coaching staff has so successfully covered those flaws change your mindset to coulda, woulda, shoulda and we suck. With everything that has gone on with this team in the off season and during the season, they have OVERacheived PERIOD.

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          • Jim

            please don’t get me wrong. i agree 100%. But unfortunately it could have, and should have, been better.

            i don’t think we suck by any stretch. But among the SERIOUS flaws you make reference to above, is the maddening tendency to inexplicably come out looking lost every now and then. Every team does it, but we seem to do it more and seem to have a harder time somehow pulling victories out of those games at the same rate.

            don’t let the fact we lost two games we should have won change your mindset from “everything is great and we are heading in the right direction”.

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        • Pruitt is not middle management and neither is CMR. I’m pretty sure that given the remaining talent after the exodus from an already poorly performing secondary that Richt didn’t expect Pruitt to go from the bottom to the top in the secondary like he has. Pruitt had a lot of untangling to do and new coaches to get in gear and teach. So his performance exceeds expectations. That’s not an excuse for not winning the SECC. It’s reality. Pruitt has over achieved with a team that some expected to go 7-5 or 8-4. Or if we turned the D around 9-3 sounded great. Bad habits are hard to break and they showed up big in Jacksonville. Pruitt took responsibility for that. Perfect storm. O didn’t show up either. Fake FG and lost Anderson. Blah. .

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      • Gurkha Dawg

        How about Florida State last year? New starting quarterback, new defensive coordinator, replaced several starters on defense. If I remember right, they had a pretty good year. Not being snarky, just at some point we have to win these games if we want to call ourselves an elite program.

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      • hot12dog

        It’s fools like this guy that make up the loser element of the fan base!

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    • Rocket Dawg

      We lose Andrews off the line but don’t let the facts get in the way of a typical GTP whine session.

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  5. Merk

    On the upside, I cannot name a single Mizzou fan I know of, so wont have to hear crap about mizzou going to the Champ game. On the flip side, I hope the coaches rub it in the players face so much that it drives them for next year. We curb stomped good teams and got beat by shit teams.

    Also I wonder if Mizzou has the right idea about SEC scheduling. Going with 4 OoC games, then 8 SEC. At that point you know your team is ready when the games that matter start.

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  6. Lrgk9

    J’arrette de Raler – Indeed.

    That first year QB wet the bed in Columbia, SC and the SEC officials blew another call that day or we wouldn’t be here.
    The thing is as Coach Bryant said years ago – ‘You got to allow for that.”

    We have to allow for SEC officials to suck, we got to allow for the other team to dedicate themselves to whooping us.

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  7. Let’s examine this season, though. Take away 3 games; the 2 losses and the squeaker against UT, and this year’s Georgia team has looked every bit as dominant as Alabama. That’s with our best player out, an injury riddled receiving corps, a brand new secondary, and a brand new QB. The losses were terrible, yes, but there’s a high ceiling for this team and this staff. Pruitt is turning the defense around, and Bobo has really hit his stride as an OC.

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    • Jim

      Agree the ceiling is high – very high. Unfortunately your statement above could be applied to a whole bunch of seasons over the last 30 years. The ceiling generally hasn’t been the problem.

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  8. frankly

    I agree with this post. We are coaching and recruiting defensively at a higher level than ever before and it has changed the entire makeup of this program. The offensive side of the ball is much more deadly with a fundamentally sound defense. I expect to compete for championships in the next several year which is something I did not expect coming into this season.

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  9. Brandon (Version 1)

    I agree with you Senator. While there are always things that can be nitpicked year in and year out (and there always will be with any team just when you win there’s less nitpicking but the flaws are still there). the fundamental problem with Georgia’s program for years has been defense. Our defensive players were not well coached on defense from the time they stepped on campus until the time they left. On top of that Martinez was way too passive and once teams figured out that he was going to consistently play that way pretty much no matter what he was done. Grantham was not as passive and predictable so that at least caused opposing offensive coordinators some uncertainty and led to some improvement but he did nothing to improve the fundamentals of our players.

    I know I’ve sounded like a broken record on here on this point for years but when Van Gorder was DC and I’ll even say the same for Gary Gibbs, (Donnan’s last DC who only had one year but was a good DC but inherited another hot mess from Kevin Ramsey), our players were well coached from the time they got on campus from the time I left. You could tell that when our back ups got in the game, there was a bit of a talent and experience drop off but they played well together and were fundamentally sound. That was one of the first things I noticed started to unravel after Van Gorder left. When our back ups got in the game they didn’t play well together and weren’t fundamentally sound and gave up more garbage time yards and points. At that time the opposite issue from the one Pruitt is dealing with (i.e. getting players who have been coached badly out of bad habits) was working to our advantage. We had a lot of older players who had very good habits and our defense got worse and worse as those older players cycled out of the program the defense became worse and worse.

    The problems with Martinez’s coaching were evident in year 1. I am not totally ignorant on x’s and o’s but I don’t pretend to be an expert. With that said I do have an uncle who is retired now but was a great championship winning high school defensive coordinator. He had a shut down defense everywhere he went. I watched that 2005 Auburn game on television with him while I was in law school in Macon and he was disgusted, he does not criticize other coaches publically. He said our kids on defense were playing their hearts out in that game but Martinez was not putting them in a position to be successful in that game. Our kids were doing everything he was asking them to do and Kenny Irons was still getting the corner repeatedly. Eventually when players do everything their coaches tell them and still get worn out, players lose faith and start becoming individualists, that’s what happened on defense at Georgia and bad defense drug our whole team and program down over a period of years.

    I have never blamed Richt for anything other than keeping Martinez for way too long. Richt is an offensive coach, our offense has carried our team all during this time. People may thing we’ve had some bad records but our offense has been good enough to win the SEC championship every year since 2005 except for 2006 and 2010 when we were breaking in a freshman quarterback. People want to rag on Joe Cox and admittedly he wasn’t Greene, Shockley, Stafford, or Murray but we scored enough points that year and if Cox hadn’t been under such ridiculous pressure to score due to our horrible defense he probably would have made fewer mistakes also. I am hopeful that Pruitt is finally the answer at DC. I’ve seen some real improvement this year but as the Senator said bad habits are hard to break.

    If Georgia starts consistently playing championship defense again, Georgia will start winning championships again. When Van Gorder was coach no team ever score more than 30 points against Van Gorder other than LSU in 2003 who went on to win the national championship and were just that damn good. As a fun exercise, go back and look at our records from 2005 on, anytime a team scored thirty or more, make there score 29, with the exception that if we played an eventual national champion go ahead and give them whatever score they actually had. I haven’t done it in 3-4 years but when I did it before the post 2005 era looked a lot more like 2001-2005 and a couple of those years would have probably been MNC years. Georgia under Richt simply needs a strong DC since Richt is not a defensive guy if we have a strong DC and a strong defense there is not a limit to what we can do. If we don’t have a strong DC and a strong defense we’ll keep getting what we’ve had since 2005.

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  10. @gatriguy

    I’ve done the research. The longest gaps between a coaches titles was Dooley going 8 years in the 60-70s. Fell free to do your own research and prove me wrong. It’s entirely possible I missed something.

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    • RocketDawg

      Apples to oranges. In that era we played 6 conference games (most of the time we didn’t play Alabama, LSU, or Tennessee) and often tied for the SEC title with 2 or 3 other teams. The Sugar Bowl decided who to invite as the “SEC Champion”.

      The game changed in 1992 with conference expansion and the SECCG, college football became more of a nationally intertwined game instead of a regional sport with the occasional intersectional game.

      I am not trying to be snarky here but there are A LOT of teams in the SEC who would trade places with us right now:

      Tennessee hasn’t won one since 1998 and hasn’t played for one since 2007. Florida was the last SEC East team to win one in 2008, they haven’t played for one since 2009. South Carolina has been once and got blown out, Missouri is going for a second time this year but no one really gives them much of a chance against Alabama or Miss St. We have been twice in recent years, we were blown out in 2011 had our receivers held on to those TD’s in the first half that game might have turned out differently and of course we all know what happened in 2012 (which is still one of the best college football games I have ever seen). I firmly believe that had we not suffered the rash of injuries last year we would have been right back in the SECCG against the War Chickens.

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      • @gatriguy

        You’re kinda making my point: it’s not unusual for SCHOOLS to go through long spells, then break through again. But they always do it with a new coach. Once a coach’s window of winning conference titles closes, it doesn’t reopen. That’s not a criticism of Richt; that holds true for the history of this conference. There are a lot of reasons: competitors get better, message gets stale, entitlement sets in, institutional memory starts to slip, etc., etc.

        I think Richt can win another conference title, I’m simply saying it will be historic if he does.

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    • Brandon (Version 1)

      We’ve only had three coaches since 1940 who lasted 8 years, Butts, Dooley, and Richt. Butts went 11 years from 1948 to 1959 without an SEC championship.

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      • @gatriguy

        Ok, fair enough. I think that supports my point of how rare it is. We’re at 9 now. Richt’s next one will be pretty damn historic.

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  11. Ginny

    Provided we beat Tech today…if you had told me at the beginning of the season that Todd Gurley would be suspended for a third of the season, and then injured for the rest of the season, but that we’d still be looking at 10 wins and a BCS bowl to possibly go 11-2, I’d have thought you were crazy.

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  12. AusDawg85

    Steering a battleship when your citizenry makes demands / sets expectations like a North Korean dictator is also a challenge.

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  13. peacedogattack

    I’m with you Senator. I think there’s a lot of reason to hope. Yes, we cost ourselves Atlanta this year but it happens, and excepting the Florida game the team has responded to all the adversity it faced, before and after. There are things that can be improved and there’s reason to believe they will be.

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  14. Scooter

    Take your hope and stuff it in a squibb kick. Well, time to go recruit some D lineman, and move on. Tech was meant to win this game… Damn they tried to give it away and still won it.

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  15. Will Trane

    Dawgs piss away another win with poor defense and a short KO.
    Gave them field position right out of the gate.
    13 seconds. Put the ball in the end zone or deep and cover. Not that damn hard, except for CMR’s special teams. Another special team failure by CMR.
    Just like at Auburn last year.
    And the wine and cheese folks in the south stands walk out with 3 mins to go. Go figure.
    But once again Bobo does not come up wiht an offense. Most basic easy to defend offense in the SEC.
    Don’t think CMR is the answer to our team now. Can never keep a roster. So much for the Dream Team.

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  16. DawgByte

    I know Mark Richt if pressed will say he and the staff were worried about Tech running back a kick-off, so they decided to go for a pooch. Sure we left 21 points in the dirt, but that Special Teams call cost us the game in my opinion. A pooch kick is the right call with 13 seconds when you’re leading by 4 points or more, but giving them a short field to tie is not rational or logical. The correct call is to tell Morgan to kick it out of the end zone and make them go 50+ yards in 13 seconds to get in range.
    What is so troubling for me is this is the type of call should be scripted. You look at your play sheet that covers this scenario and go talk to the kicker. Done!
    End the final analysis from my arm chair – Tech wanted it more. They controlled both lines of scrimmage and their defensive players flew to the ball on every play. They showed heart and character.

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  17. hot12dog

    Finally after many years as the leaders the SEC east, the ACC has caught up and past us What happened?

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