I don’t know about his legs, but there’s nothing wrong with his hands. (h/t)
Category Archives: Georgia Football
My last post got me to thinking (“Oh, Gawd,” you’re saying, “what now?”) about some of the ongoing debates we’ve had in the comments section – okay, the debate we’ve had in the comments section – and I can’t help but believe most people are missing the bigger picture surrounding the football program at present.
It strikes me that what the pessimists get correct is Mark Richt’s failings as a game manager. It’s not his strong suit, to be sure. We’ve all seen (or recited) the litany of games where there’s either been a head scratcher of a decision at a key moment, or a game where the team came out unprepared, mentally or emotionally, to play at the level expected. It’s a reality and it’s probably not going away. If that’s not something you’re prepared to concede, you, friend, are a blind optimist.
That being said, it ain’t necessarily the end of the world. If it were, I’d expect to hear a lot of similar comments about the dire straits Alabama is headed towards. After all, consider how the Tide’s last two seasons have ended – in 2013, a loss to Auburn on a play that Saban’s team looked totally unprepared to handle that knocked them out of the SEC and national title hunt, followed by a listless performance against Big Game Bob (!) and then last season’s smoking at the hands of Ohio State, a team Kirby Smart admitted Alabama took lightly because it was starting a third-string quarterback. Gee, where have I heard that before?
But that’s not really the point I’m trying to make here. Instead, my main point is directed toward those who’ve wanted a coaching change. Well, in essence, I’d say you already have that coaching change.
Consider the following:
- Assistant staff. With Tony Ball’s departure, there
is only oneare only two assistant coaches on the staff left from 2013, and one of them, Brian McClendon, is not at the same position he occupied a mere two seasons ago. You’d expect to have a similar amount of turnover if Georgia had replaced Richt, wouldn’t you?
- Recruiting. As I said in my earlier post today, to go from the days of voluntarily running a roster with less than 70 scholarship players on it to the aggressive signing of a legit recruit four+ months after national signing day is a 180 degree turn of events. When you consider that was Georgia’s second such signing of an offensive lineman it plucked from another major program in this class (Madden) and what Georgia did to secure Roquan Smith’s commitment, recruiting is clearly in a different and better place than the one it occupied just a few seasons ago.
- Special teams. If serial undersigning has been Richt’s biggest sin over the last six years or so, the second biggest has been how he let special teams deteriorate. Georgia went from having return games that were weapons to a fair catch specialist. Inexcusable. I’m not saying the Dawgs are out of the woods completely, but anyone who watched special teams play last season has to concede that things are moving in the proper direction. That only happens when a head coach wakes up and realizes what he’s done wrong. (Or the new guy corrects the predecessor’s glaring mistake.)
- Infrastructure. You may not think an IPF is all that necessary, but one is still in the works. There’s been a robust increase in the size of the support staff for the program. The recruiting budget has been seriously jacked up. All of this is stuff that a new head coach at a program like Georgia would likely demand as a condition for taking the job. Which leads to…
- Administrative support. We’ve come a long way from Greg McGarity’s interview with Mark Bradley and the weirdness surrounding the post game Belk Bowl. And again, there’s no way somebody comes in after Richt without making demands that B-M quit working at cross-purposes with the football staff.
You wanted wholesale change; you got it, brother. The only thing you didn’t get was a different name at the top. And maybe that spoils the whole thing for you. You’d call yourself a realist for that. I’d argue, instead, that it makes you a blind pessimist.
I have no idea if all these changes are going to pay off. (Then, again, I’d have no idea if a new head coach would pay off, either.) But there’s enough happening to intrigue me sufficiently to want to see what Richt can do with this over the next two or three seasons.
If Richt’s greatest flaw has been loyalty to a fault – really, that explains Martinez overstaying his welcome as defensive coordinator and Richt’s reluctance to put himself in a position where he might potentially screw over a kid who committed to Georgia – his greatest strength has been his willingness to look at himself in the mirror, see his strategic mistakes and take concrete steps to correct them. There are a lot of head coaches at programs inferior to Georgia who could never remake themselves.
And Richt, to his credit, has done that once already. Tell me – after the debacles of the ’09 and ’10 seasons, how many of you anticipated Georgia would reel off back-to-back SECCG appearances and come within a whisker of playing for a national title in the next two seasons? I know I thought Richt’s departure was a more likely outcome than that.
I’m not saying this because I’m a Richt apologist or because I’m satisfied with Georgia football failing to win a championship of any sort for a decade. I’m saying this because it’s hard to think of any other major program that’s remade itself to the extent ours has in such a short period without a change at head coach. And that’s a big enough deal for me to want to see how the story plays out.
It’s a helluva lot more interesting a story than the bullshit the national media spins out about Richt and his program these days, that’s for sure. Maybe you should stick around for the ride, too. With your eyes open.
By now, I assume most of you have heard that Georgia has made a late addition to the recruiting class of 2015. And it’s not some obscure two-star recruit nobody’s ever heard of before, either. (Not that that hasn’t paid off for Georgia before.)
Nope, Georgia managed to grab three-star Mirko Jurkovic, an offensive lineman who originally was a Ohio State commit, was then chased by Notre Dame when that fell through and wound up committing to Athens when the Irish couldn’t make room.
Former Ohio State football signee Mirko Jurkovic told the AJC that it was a phone conversation with Mark Richt on Monday evening that made him commit on the spot.
The offensive lineman from Florida’s IMG Academy picked UGA over Notre Dame and Florida after not being able to enroll at Ohio State due to an academic issue.
What exactly did Richt say to Jurkovic?
“I talked to Coach Richt about 20 minutes ago,” Jurkovic told the AJC. “He told me that I would be admitted, so then I told him that I was coming to Georgia.”
The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder went ahead and committed, despite the fact that he’s never stepped foot on UGA’s campus. He’ll take an official visit with the Bulldogs on July 13-14.
“It’s just that I know I’m going to love Georgia … that’s why I committed so quickly,” Jurkovic said. “I talked to so many people about it. I talked to my uncle about Georgia, and he told me to finish it as soon as possible. I’m going to enjoy Georgia. I just know it.”
Think about how quickly this broke in Georgia’s favor. The news on DeVondre Seymour leaving the program barely had time to sink in before the staff was moving upon learning that Jurkovic was in play. And they managed to grab a kid who’s obviously not a stiff without even getting him on campus first because they had an open slot on the offensive line that needed filling. Quite the nimble sales job there.
For a staff whose chronic undersigning was the most serious structural flaw of the second half of Richt’s tenure, that is a remarkable turn of events.
I was wandering around Phil Steele’s site, looked at his Georgia page, and suddenly this set of stats connected in my brain:
- Hutson Mason, average yards per pass attempt: 7.8
- Nick Chubb, average yards per carry: 7.1
- Todd Gurley, average yards per carry: 7.4
- Sony Michel, average yards per carry: 6.4
Okay, so how much would you have run it?
Seth Emerson may have changed employers, but he still gives us his preseason series of Georgia’s most important (as opposed to best) players. Number four is Trent Thompson, who is yet to take a snap in anger dressed in red and black. Before you raise an eyebrow over that choice, let Seth explain.
Georgia’s defensive line has been solid the last few years, but just that. There hasn’t been a star there sinceJohn Jenkins, and even he didn’t end up an All-SEC type performer. Enter Thompson, who 247Sports tabbed as the nation’s best overall prospect. He joins a line that has several solid veterans (Sterling Bailey, Chris Mayes, James DeLoach, Josh Dawson) and other promising newcomers (Jonathan Ledbetter, Michael Barnett). The top departures from last year are Mike Thornton and Ray Drew, who were … yes, solid.
That’s the recurring theme with Georgia’s line. It’s lacked the difference-maker who other teams had to scheme around, the kind of guy who could get into the backfield a half-dozen times a game.
As a team last year Georgia averaged 5.46 tackles-for-loss, ranking 78th nationally. The year before, Georgia averaged 6.23, ranking 45th. But look at the numbers in 2012 and 2011, when Jenkins, Kwame Geathers and company were around: 6.5 TFLs-per-game in 2012 (ranked 19th in the nation), and 7.14 per game in 2011 (ranked ninth nationally.) Yes, Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree accounted for a lot of those. But some of that was the defensive line swallowing blocks and forcing the play outside. Thompson could do that, and rack up some big plays of his own.
For once, stats back up perception.
Seth goes on to describe a best case scenario for Thompson this season, where he finishes with somewhere between 7-10 sacks and 15-20 TFLs. If Pruitt gets that kind of production out of him, look out world. I’ll just say I’d be satisfied if Thompson can fill the lesser bill of stuffing the middle of the line and forcing plays into the hands of Georgia’s outside linebackers. I know the secondary is still a work in progress, but Georgia’s got to find a way of defending the run that’s an improvement over what we saw in the second half of 2014 if it’s going to excel this season.
Quick now – no fair looking it up – what’s Georgia’s record over its last thirteen home conference games?
Into 2015, the Bulldogs are 12-1 in SEC HGs incl 4 straight wins (loss to Mizzou in ’13).
How many of you got that one right?
Stop me if you’ve heard this before:
HC Mark Richt has never finished lower than 3rd in his division in his 14 years here and no other SEC team has done that.
Of course, here’s comes the “but”.
UGA has never won a National Title under Richt and many fans believe he has underachieved because he raised expectations so high.
Mark Richt has lost control of fans’ expectations, damn it. But that’s not all he’s lost.
Georgia has been favored in all but 1 game (at Auburn 2013) the last 2 years but have been upset 7 times.
None of which is to say that Steele doesn’t pick Georgia to win the East this season. He does, and, citing talent and a schedule with only three conference road games, goes on to call the Dawgs “a legitimate SEC and National Title contender”.
All in all, I’d say Steele has a pretty good handle on the state of things. What about you?