“Georgia has won. But it has not provided much entertainment.”

Will Leitch has written 5,000 words — five thousand!  I can go days without writing five thousand words — about Georgia’s 2019 season.  While I could criticize some of it as a mite unfair, particularly trying to compare the ebb and flow of this season with that of that wonderful 2017 one, I’ve got to admit this bit resonates with me:

What this has set up is a high-stakes gamble, one in which a fanbase—one that is not necessarily known for its cold, rational behavior—is asked to be happy with winning, and winning only. In which much of what we think of when we think of cheering for a sports team (exciting play, inspirational individual story, an underdog “we can do this, guys!” aesthetic) is shelved for an implicit understanding that the people in charge have no one and nothing to answer to other than the scoreboard. You have seen it in the reaction to the crowd’s boos at the Kentucky game, the idea that fans somehow were booing the players rather than the millionaire coaches, something the staff surely knew wasn’t true but promoted anyway. You have seen it in the stubbornness and resistance to acknowledge basic truths that might be inconvenient, like when Smart continued to deny that he changed defenses with a lead late against Auburn even though the formation switch was obvious to everyone watching. You have seen it in the insistence that the offense is fine, that Jake Fromm is fine, that critics are mere haters, or gripers who just don’t understand what football really is.

The bet is that if they win, they do not need to be cheerful or inspirational.

Or fan friendly… but I digress.

Don’t take this too far.  I certainly haven’t.  But years and years of close, but no seegar eventually got Mark Richt unceremoniously canned.  Kirby’s a better organized, ‘crootin-machine coach than Richt was, but when his raison d’être being sold to a fanbase expected to shell out its devotion and money in ever-increasing levels is winning is all the entertainment we need and should expect and he can’t quite make it to the summit, where do you go from there?

I don’t say that to be critical of Smart — I’m happy as hell with what he’s done these last three seasons — but only to ask the same question Leitch is getting at:  how soulless do we want Georgia football to be?  (No, I’m not going to ask the question that question begs, because the answer to that one is more depressing than I want to contemplate this morning.)

34 Comments

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34 responses to ““Georgia has won. But it has not provided much entertainment.”

  1. RangerRuss

    I can’t defend Kirby’s blowing smoke up our ass. But I do understand his reluctance to engage the passing game after seeing the initial drive against tech and what could’ve happened as did in the Iron Bowl. Bad throws leading to a pick six. Boring ass Manball got the Dawgs to the SECC Game. He’s going to have to take more passing risks than I believe he’s comfortable with or get beat.
    Again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dawg1

      So tough to say if we would have passed more, as we never trailed for a second in any of the 5 games in November 2019. For instance, Mullen said UF had to call their plays differently as they fell behind early.

      I rather enjoyed soullessly crushing those 5 teams. But, YMMV.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. dawgxian

    My problem is not manball but the way we fail at it sometimes. 1. Running the ball where the defense is concentrated instead of off tackle (especially when you have Swift, Thomas, and Wilson). 2. Incomplete passes that would have been caught the previous years.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beating Florida and Auburn and Notre Dame and Texas A&M were all entertaining. I mean UGA should have won those games comfortably but let the opponents stay in the game late just for our entertainment. I mean, how entertaining is it to be up three scores on everyone you play when you could scuffle around for a while knowing your magnificent defense will prevail? Losing to SC was not. Kentucky was not. Vandy was for a quarter and a half. Missouri… meh. Tennessee and Tech were fun beatdowns of downtrodden programs.

    I’ll take soulless if it comes with the SEC championship and a playoff spot. The offense can be fixed next season and juggernaut status, which is what we all really want, can still be attained in 2020. A soulless loss on Saturday followed by a soulless bowl loss to the Big 12 runner-up (after last year’s loss) would not be very entertaining, though.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. PTC DAWG

    I quite enjoy being 11-1 3 years in a row, playing in Atlanta for all the marbles..IF that doesn’t work for you, follow another schools football team.

    I hear you can get Outback BOWL tix cheap.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I want Georgia football to be fun (maybe that’s your definition of soulful). 2017 was fun … maybe because we didn’t expect it. Even though we didn’t win the last game, that team was fun to watch. They seemed to enjoy the ride.

    Before I write anything else, let me say this first. 11-1 is real and it’s spectacular. I’ll never forget the entire weekend of the Notre Dame game. I wasn’t at the 1976 Alabama game, but it seems that’s the only game in Athens to compare it to. The way the defense plays the game is fun to watch for this guy who loves defense. The offense for whatever reason has been difficult to watch since the South Carolina game. Even this past Saturday was a tale of what might have been.

    Maybe that’s the problem. From the outside, our expectations of this team were through the roof. We haven’t played to those expectations on offense … that’s made this year while successful not quite so fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The other Doug

    I get annoyed that Kirby is FOS when he talks to the press and therefore to me about the team. I understand that he can’t tell us everything, but he’s willing to completely lie and that sucks for a guy like me that enjoys reading and (gasp!) engaging with the team.

    So what happens when we don’t win a lot? What happens to all the eyeballs that are just there to see wins? This is an extension of how the University crapped on season ticket holder’s tailgating. Eventually they’ll miss those fans that were paying for more than a seat in a stadium.

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    • gastr1

      I agree. The blatant bullshitting combined with the hardheadedness re: offensive scheme, I struggle with that. I like 11-1 but I want to like our coaches too.

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    • CEPH

      For example, he has told so many lies about Cook since the spring game that it is unimaginable. I wish he would just shut the f—up about him..He talks so much about not making mistakes on offense that I think he has the O terrified and playing tight (especially Fromm) Instead of talking about creating havoc on defense why doesn’t he create havoc on offense same difference isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Bulldog Joe

    A 19-13 win this weekend is fine by me. Go Dawgs!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Hogbody Spradlin

    I’m inclined to think that Kirby isn’t intentionally reining in the offense, and for whatever reason it just isn’t as good as the past two years. I know that opinion isn’t unique, and many people who share that opinion think Kirby is trying to cover the deficiencies with baloney.
    No doubt there is baloney, but let’s also give Kirby credit for leadership. He’s being a good general, keeping everybody focused, not airing dirty laundry, presenting the message to the troops and the outside world, etc.
    We may be able to tell which opinion is right after the season, but maybe not even then.

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  9. bcdawg97

    My fear is that if Kirby doesn’t adjust some of his coaching philosophy (sitting on leads, playing not to lose, protecting the defense), he’s going to turn into Calipari – nice shiny recruiting classes and lots of title talk, but not much to show for it (Sidebar – yes, Cal has one title and I’d take that in a heartbeat at this point, but he’s also wasted an awful lot of talent too). So as with everyone, I’m thrilled with where we are at (and yes, compared to Richt it is better) but bottom line is Kirby was brought in to get us to the top of the mountain. He’s gonna have to make an LSU type change on offense to do it. Can he do it?

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    • He’s gonna have to make an LSU type change on offense to do it.

      That’s what I have struggled to understand about this season. I think if UGA had just played to the level of the 2018 offense, then much of our consternation would be moot. Instead, they have regressed quite a bit. In 2017, they averaged 6.70 ypp, but that was good enough for 12th nationally. In 2018, it was 7.05 ypp which was 7th nationally. In 2019, it is 6.29 ypp which is 31st nationally. Overall ypg shows the same: 2017 – 32nd, 2018 – 18th, 2019 – 55th. Scoring the same: 2017 – 20th (35.4 ppg), 2018 – 14th (37.9 ppg), 2019 – 40th (32.9 ppg). That is not at all the trajectory that you would expect with Fromm entering his third season and the OL returning four of five starters and a first-round talent at RB.

      I thought going into the season that the offense would hold serve and if they could improve marginally on red zone offense that they would waltz into the SECCG and probably the playoff. They still got to Atlanta, but it was not at all the way anyone expected. Perhaps it is losing all of those receivers. Perhaps in 2020, with the WRs being a year more experienced, the OL still mostly returning, and Cook and Zeus the 1-2 punch at RB the offense will return to its 2018 levels. If that happens, UGA is probably back in Atlanta for a fourth straight season. The question to be answered by Kirby is whether this season’s offensive nosedive was an anomaly that can be corrected or another season in a pattern of Coley-called offenses that generally are under-performing, mediocre squads.

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      • Biggus Rickus

        Connelly’s analysis holds that receiver turnover kills you passing game, and Georgia had that in spades. I poo-pooed it coming into the season, but it’s borne out in this case.

        Liked by 2 people

        • siskey

          So did I. I told at least 3 of my friends who are Georgia fans that the “QB makes the receiver” but it looks like if that is why the offense is worse then I am incorrect.

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      • I agree that a bit more execution on offense this year and we don’t hear as much grumbling from the fan base so saying a full scale change is painting a broad stroke. I don’t know whether it is the chicken or the egg (coaching vs execution), but I guess the main thing is that Kirby gets paid the big bucks to figure it out how to have a consistent, functioning offense, no matter what it looks like. I hope he is successful.

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  10. Joe Schmoe

    A couple of things:
    1) this team is extremely young (the youngest in the SEC I think I saw), so expecting everything to run like clock work is not realistic
    2) given that, this is really sort of a rebuild year. If this is what rebuild years look like with Kirby, sign me up
    3) I do think Kirby is not building a lot of margin with the fan base with this stubborn style of coaching and bullshitting us. That’s all fine as long as he keeps winning…

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Bright Idea

    Just think how entertaining Kirby’s “lies” would be if he were losing these close games. USCe X10. Whew!

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    • Biggus Rickus

      Nobody would care much if he was the most honest and straightforward guy in the world if he lost multiple games like that one. Fans may or may not be made happy by winning, but they will absolutely not be happy without it.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Charlottedawg

    I’d argue games like Auburn and A&M were TOO entertaining for my taste. I found most of the games in 2017 and 2018 (UT 17, UF 17, USC 2018, pretty much all sec east games those two years) to be incredibly boring and by extension awesome. I’ll take run after run where the opponent is hapless and we know from the first Georgia TD drive the outcome of the game. Oh how I long for those days gone by as opposed to now when a three and out is considered a success.

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  13. Biggus Rickus

    Meh. Smart’s the same Saban disciple he was when he took the job. If that’s “soulless”, then Georgia sold its soul as soon as the hire was made. As for the fan base being happy with winning and winning only, I don’t have a fucking clue what he’s talking about. There are plenty of perfectly fine stories on Georgia’s team if you want to focus on them. People could focus on the defense’s excellence if they were so inclined, too. What it all comes down to is people wanting the offense to be something it’s not this season. If that ruined the season for the fans (some of whom were most assuredly booing players against Kentucky), then that’s their own problem.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Athens Townie

    First of all, Richt was a little worse than “close but no seegar” during the twilight years. Remember 6-7? And he wasn’t beating many ranked teams. Annnd he was routinely losing the East to weak competition.

    Another bit improvement that is “entertaining” to me: better discipline off the field. Remember when we won the Fulmer Cup under Richt (and were in close contention other times)? That was comical but not really entertaining. And, on the field, Smart’s teams play a much tougher and disciplined brand of football than Richt’s teams. I find that enjoyable too.

    I’d like it if Kirby were more media friendly. I’d also like it if we were more dynamic on offense. But I enjoy 11-1 however we get there. And I appreciate that we can do it on a down year for the passing game (WR departures, WR injuries, OL injuries, new OC, etc etc).

    If this is manball, I’ll take a second helping. I just wanna EAT.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Mayor

    I like smash mouth football. But you have to mix in some finesse with it in order for smash mouth to work at its best. That’s all I’m saying.

    Like

  16. TN Dawg

    I can speak only for myself.

    My concern with CKS style ball actually has nothing whatsoever to do with how we are winning games stylistically.

    My concern is that the goal is a new NC hat and hoody at the mall (selfish Ricky Bobby thinking, yes, I know). My fear is that, faced with a scoreboard deficit and turmoil inter-game, we have not progressed enough in certain facets of the game to overcome things if Plan A goes sideways.

    It’s the angst of being a Georgia fan, I think. Cubs fans must have felt this way, always waiting for the other foot to fall. Always expecting Lucy to pull the football from Charlie Brown at the last minute. This feeling that if every possibility isn’t accounted for and a demonstrated plan of what we will do in every situation isn’t present, then we are doomed to fail again, and cruelly at that. Saban, more than anyone in the last 5 years, has made the feeling only worse.

    All that said, I trust CKS and I think he has played the critics against his players intentionally to put a chip on their shoulder. Just like Dabo says to his team “they don’t want you there, they don’t respect you”, CKS is in their ears saying “Even your own fans don’t think you can do it, it’s you guys against the world.”

    I believe we beat LSU. And I believe I get that new hoodie. It’s time. These guys will wind up like the legends of old in Georgia history.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. BuffaloSpringfield

    IDK Bright Idea, I just hope we are not going to hear that Saturday evening.

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  18. Bill Glennon

    What happens when the soullessness degrades recruiting because the recruits perceive the game like the fans?

    To be fair though, we’re really talking more about 2019, particularly the last half. 2017 gave us aethetics galore. In 2018 we had a dynamic team that was exciting to watch. 2019 is relatively less compelling because we have a no name defense, a glaring lack of wide receiver talent, an unwillingness to run Fromm because there is no depth behind him, meh tight ends and a first year OC. Besides Swift, the RB room has no player who has shown he is any more than a possession back. The placekicker is the most interesting personality on the team, mostly because of his eyeglasses.

    Maybe the lack of compelling narratives and coaching defensiveness reflects the fact this 5 star studded lineup has some busts and dissapointments, but the coaches just can’t come out and say that. I’m not saying the coaches are putting players in the best positions to win, but I have seen enough from Kirby over 4 years and from how the offense looked with Cager in it this year to give them the benefit of the doubt for 2019.

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  19. W

    Fans didn’t boo because Kirby/Coley were winning in a soulless way: they booed because K/C were playing a dickmash style that might lead to no win at all. The same damn style that burned them the week before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 123fakest

      Agree. I get so tired of people saying the fans were booing the players. It was directed toward the offensive coaches and Kirby, and every player knew that.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Macallanlover

    2019 hasn’t been satisfying, at least not anywhere close to 2017, and also most of 2018 (which would have been OK if not for taking a dive in the Sugar Bowl. Honestly, I think that team attitude carried over to 2019’s team issues.) I am not a MNC only guy, would love it because it would make so many happy and draw positive energy to our program, but I put the SEC title as my wish for every season. Anything after that is gravy, so winning on Saturday would make most all this frustration go away. What will linger is the cruddy fans it has exposed, and the crap we have been fed with less than half truths.

    I hate the booing, and the constant ripping of players. And I dislike the false statements made in press conferences. I want a guy that stands up and says yes, we/I screwed that up but we are going to learn from it and be improved going forward. I have no problem with Kirby not throwing the OC under the bus in mid-season, or protecting his players from public attacks, but just say that is not an appropriate area for discussion here but we do have to ways to improve and nothing will stand in my way to get us there.

    An SEC title on Saturday would go a long way to start the healing, and perhaps re-energize our team, fans, and recruits to take on 2020 with a new look. Right now I fear we are close to seeing some of the progress we have made begin to unravel, and much of that is self-inflicted. Some on Kirby for not really kicking all the tires last December in hiring new coordinators, much on the fans for being the whiny little bitches they have always been, and some of the team for the way they let off on January 1, and entered 2019 too entitled. I may be wrong about how close we are to being at a crossroads, but if we aren’t there, it is in the near future, imo. It can be a long time before you catch another wave to ride like the one we have been on, hate to squander any opportunity….especially at my age.

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  21. siskey

    I really enjoy Leitch’s podcast “Waiting Since Last Saturday” but I disagree with that the season has been boring or not as good as 2017 or insert any other year. I have been living and dying with the Bulldogs since I was in the 8th grade so I remember “fun” seasons like 1992 when we “almost” beat Tennessee and got to go to the Citrus Bowl (that was a big accomplishment then) or 1997 when I saw the Dawgs beat Florida 37-17 in Jacksonville and thought we can win the SEC until we played Auburn the next week.
    When Richt came in 2001 and then won the SEC in 2002 and the East again in 2003 I was definitely entertained but it would have been super cool to beat Florida either year. In 2005 I watched from afar as we had a great team until Shockley was injured and then we lost to Florida and Auburn again. I saw the 2006 team get better as the year progressed and the Peach Bowl was exciting. The next year was probably the most exciting season I have witnessed as a fan given the highs (Florida & Auburn) and the lows (USC, Tennessee, Kirk Herbstreit and not having the chance to play LSU).
    If losing one regular-season game a year and being in the mix for SEC championships is the norm then I will take it.

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  22. I just want this program to have a chance to win this Saturday and every Saturday. I want this program to fight and be in the game in the 4th quarter and I don’t believe that’s unreasonable. You have the talent and now you have to the resources.

    I also believe, much like the 2017 team, that this year’s team is ready to fight. It’s definitely a different team than the 2017 one but the fight is still the same, imo. Yes, they’ve had hiccups each year but it hasn’t cost them a chance at the ultimate goal. They seem to learn from their mistakes and show up when it matters most. They obviously need to so that now more than ever. I wring my hands over this and that but it’s hard to ask for much more than what we’ve mostly gotten. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to close it out, which is obviously tough.

    Like