The whole five yards

There have been a few pieces this week on the topic of what might have been had Georgia managed to pull out the 2012 SECCG.  The one I found most interesting is by ESPN’s Alex Scarborough, for two reasons.

One, the story told of that play by some of the kids on the field:

The clock showed 16 seconds and no timeouts as Lynch fell to the turf on the Alabama 7-yard line. The offensive line hauled tail downfield. Guard Chris Burnette and center David Andrews looked at one another and realized they were making the same gesture to spike the football. But Murray wasn’t on the same page.

“He’s looking at the sideline,” Burnette recalled. “He’s not responding to me, to David, anybody. He just says, ‘Get lined up.’ He doesn’t call a play, doesn’t give us protection or anything. We get to the line, and we’re panicked. The ball gets snapped, and we’re rolling.”

The rest unfolded in slow motion. Murray took the ball and knew exactly where he wanted to go with it, turning to his right where Cris Conley had a step on his defender in the flat. But Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley broke into the backfield like a blur, leaped over the right tackle and got a hand on the pass, slowing it down just enough. The ball fluttered to Conley like a knuckleball, where he cradled it in his gut as he went down at the 5-yard line.

“When he fell, it became clear like, ‘Oh my gosh, the clock is going to keep running, he’s not going to score,'” Burnette said. “… We were just standing there looking at it. I remember it going from 0:03 to 0:02 and just dropping my head, and I remember seeing Arthur Lynch dropping his head and just walking off. It sunk in that quickly. It was all over.”

I know how he felt.  The funny thing is that, just like us, the players are split over whether Murray should have spiked the ball.

To this day, it’s all anyone wants to talk about from the 2012 season: Should Georgia have spiked it? Burnette says yes. Lynch says no. Linebacker Amarlo Herrera is somewhere in the middle.

“We should have spiked it, but I thought it was a great call,” Herrera said. “Everybody was sad because we knew they got away with one.”

The other part of Scarborough’s piece worth paying attention to is the realization, even by the players, that it was time for a change.

But for all the players Richt produced and all the games he won — he averaged 9.7 wins in 15 seasons — there was a missing ingredient. Fans grew restless from coming so close and never breaking through.

It hurt, Herrera said, to see Richt ultimately get let go.

“It wasn’t his fault,” he said. “People just weren’t excited, and you need that. I don’t think there was energy there anymore.”

Lynch saw it, too, and it wasn’t just people outside of the building.

“The cancer to life is complacency,” he said. “And I’m not saying we got complacent at Georgia, but some things were being done that were just good enough and we weren’t exceeding the expectations. And I’ll be the first to admit it because I was a part of it.

“Had we won in 2012 against Alabama and won the national championship, does Coach Richt get fired? Probably not. But once we didn’t win it, we kind of hit a little lull and people higher up wanted a new face of the program and new juice.”

That is some painful honesty right there.  And it gives this observation more credibility.

Lynch was skeptical at first. In fact, after Georgia lost to Florida last season, he got in some hot water when he tweeted that they might be looking for a new coach soon if they continued losing games like that.

Then he visited campus for a scrimmage this past summer and watched Smart up close — not the plays he called, necessarily, but how he dealt with players.

“It was a totally different take from the way Coach Richt coached,” Lynch said. “It was very hands on. It was super intense. It was attention to detail.

“It doesn’t surprise me that he could turn it around so quickly after seeing that scrimmage. Really seeing that kind of detail and the way he presents himself on and off the field, it screams a little bit Saban.”

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33 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

33 responses to “The whole five yards

  1. Hardcoredawg 93

    I was in the middle of the end zone Murray was running towards. I had eyes on him the whole time as he was making his way down field. He was looking over at the coaches making the spike motion 2 or 3 times and obviously got waved off by coaches.

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  2. Is it just me or does Burnette’s account of the last play indicate that the ball was snapped without a called play? First I’ve ever heard of that…

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  3. For me the biggest error was not throwing to TK on the wide side of the field.

    Throwing short side meant you were up against their best corner and the blitzing LB. If he throws it up left we either win their or get another play.

    As much as we were scrambling, they were too. By not spiking we knew we’d have zero coverage. You spike it there and maybe Kirby throws in a wrinkle. Zone coverage kills the fade. By going fast, Bama had to go with default: zero coverage and you have a chance to hit the fade.

    I was in the stands spiking it just like Aaron was. But, in hindsight, I don’t think that was the better idea all things considered.

    Just throw it left 11. “Haz a crayon” would say the same thing if he could but he’s not going to criticize Aaron even indirectly.

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    • gastr1

      I agree with you. The percentages there favor what we did–the fade is a TD or a harmless incompletion probably 99% of the time, and if the latter you have one more play. We just downright got really unlucky. But I’d have done the same, thing, personally.

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  4. Andy

    The article seems to indicate Murray was targeting Conley, but he was definitely throwing to the receiver running the out at the pylon. TK, I think? (I would look, but my heart still can’t take re-watching it.)

    I also remember reading that Mosley was out of position, and, but for that mistake, he’s not there to tip the pass.

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    • He was trying to throw to Malcolm on the fade. Although, from the trajectory, it looks like he was going back shoulder. The tip straight to Conley was perhaps the most unlucky play in football history. Lots of available green for that ball to land on.

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    • KornDawg

      I thought the same thing. He was going for Mitchell (I think it was Mitchell) but the ball was tipped because TG3 picked up his block late and that allowed the pass rusher to get close enough to get a hand on it. And it fell to Conley, who did what receivers do and caught it.

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    • Hal Welch

      Believe it was Mitchell in the end zone… Behind coverage. TD if it wasn’t tipped.

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  5. Greg

    The interesting thing is that is not mentioned, is that CJ Mosley blew his assignment…..he should have been dropping into coverage rather than rushing in. Saban admitted this after the game, you just never see it written or talked about…at least I don’t.

    Bama was lucky that day, but I guess “they rather be lucky than good”…..hopefully, we have some luck Monday night…..we’re due. good read.

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  6. Hobnail_Boot

    The only damn good thing about constantly rehashing this play is that we no longer talk about 4th and a mile from the ’05 Auburn game.

    If Murray really did get waved off by the sideline, then the responsible coach(es) shouldn’t have been allowed on the bus back to Athens.

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    • Walt

      I guess they were fired because of that play. If they’d beat Bama there’s a 99% chance they would have beaten a very overrated Notre Dame. If Richt had won a National Championship, he’d probably still the UGA’s head coach.

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  7. mark

    Great, or sad read. Revealing either way. Murray was doing the spike signal and asking the sideline all the way as he ran downfield. I’ve never blamed him. That was a coaching non call.

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  8. Chi-town Dawg

    Interesting read. I was sitting at the 15 yard line 20 rows up and saw everything unfold right in front of me. I remember the rush of emotion when the interception was overturned and then they hit the 2 big passes only to see everything come crashing down on that last play. The Rose Bowl win vanquished this game from my mind. I liked Mark Richt and felt his departure was handled poorly, but have no doubt it was time for a change. He started off shaky last year, but I’m real happy with Kirby and what he’s done transforming the program. My focus is on the road ahead and not the rear view mirror.

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  9. raintdog

    Somewhere there’s a clip of Spurrier saying something along the lines of “they should of spiked it, that’s football 101”. Anyone got a link?

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    • Mike Cooley

      The Spurrier anguish if we win Monday is going to be delicious. Hearing him try to minimize it and go through some sort of ex post facto “it don’t matter because Oklahoma should have beaten them and they should even been here so it’s like it really doesn’t even count” is going to be fun. This is killing him which is a nice bonus.

      Liked by 1 person

    • He’s an irrelevant shell of a football personality now. Pay him no mind.

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  10. Captain Obvious

    “Hope is not a course of action”……anymore

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  11. The other Doug

    Here is the last few plays

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  12. Dave

    I wanted us to spike it as I watched it. I wish we had in retrospect.

    However, it’s not like the play that was called never had a chance, and if it had fallen incomplete, we would have had another shot anyway.

    There’s also nothing saying that the exact same thing couldn’t have happened after stopping the clock. Time would have expired just the same.

    My main gripe, I think, is that it seemed like most guys were expecting us to clock it. I guess it’s tough to react to something like that as a coach given the situation, but if they would have paid attention to that, then they might have opted to clock it anyway, even if they were initially wanting to run a play.

    Just bad luck. But, while we likely would have had a NC in ’12, there’s a darn good chance we wouldn’t be waiting on playing for one in 2 days. Butterfly effect and all that, but glad we’re here now.

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  13. Russ

    Good read. I’m in the no spike camp and except for a unlucky tip, I think we win.

    But I’m really happy where we are right now.

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  14. Cosmic Dawg

    I have never understood why everyone was so convinced MM was wide open and if the ball had not been tipped it was some kind of automatic TD. This is the 50th time I have watched the last 60 secs and again Mitchell looks fairly well covered to me and it looks loke a jump ball at best. Maybe I am missing something.

    And I know this is really crazy, but I have always wondered what would have happened if they’d given it to Gurley…nobody was thinking run there. But CMR would have gotten run out of town if that gamble did not work, and Alabama was a fast team to try and get 7 yds in one play in the red zone.

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    • bulldogbry

      Feel the same way about MM in the EZ. It was not guaranteed.

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    • No, you ain’t crazy about that analysis. Upon a rewatch of that carnage, I am more convinced that Murray was getting near no support from the sidelines and after the completion to T.King the execution was an abomination. Hell, when the O is lining after the completion to King they burn 10 seconds which would have been quite valuable.

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  15. diving duck

    A remarkably unlucky play for the direction Mosley’s tip went. However, the story of that game was Alabama’s 350 rushing yards. Most of that was straight up the gut through 700 lbs of Geathers and Jenkins.

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  16. Bright Idea

    Forget discussing the nonspike. Were these players already recognizing complacency in the program? It sounds like it. What did the program have to be complacent about other than everybody’s hands being tied by Adams? Richt’s failure to scream loudly because he was the good soldier or didn’t want to get run off for insubordination ultimately cost him. That and undersigning.

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  17. Bourbon Dawgwalker

    I’m just glad I’ve finally watched a game that is better than the 2012 SEC Championship. I hated having to admit that used to be the best game I’d ever seen.

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  18. jt (the other one)

    So much in that story not said. Richt’s last few years was like watching a cancer patient regress only to find more cancer. I am/was a Richt supporter but the Florida game in 2015 led me to the conclusion that the program needed new blood and energy. I also know that the support he had been promised for years finally started to happen but it was a trickle. He was tired no doubt.

    The 2012 season/game? The best until this one IMO.

    That game…I wondered why we didn’t rotate our DL…something I believe isn’t lost on Kirby.

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