Running out of chances at Second Chance U

The Duke has been escorted off the Gus Bus.

Auburn has dismissed receiver Duke Williams, coach Gus Malzahn announced Monday night.

“When individuals fail to meet the expectations of our program, there has to be consequences,” Malzahn said. “I gave D’haquille the chance to prove himself. I am disappointed that it did not work out.”

Word has it that this go ’round, Williams was involved in an incident at a nightclub.  You gotta love this assessment:

The senior already was on a zero-tolerance policy with coach Gus Malzahn after drawing a suspension late last season, which kept Williams out of the Outback Bowl, and a second suspension in early August following a preseason practice session.

Zero tolerance!

That would explain Williams’ struggle to regain his starting role after his August suspen… oh, wait.

This is your classic “we can suck just as much without you” move.  It might have helped the Dukester’s survival odds if he had more to show for Malzahn’s blind eye turning than a paltry 12 catches for 146 yards.  Not too surprisingly, it turns out there isn’t much of a need on the Plains for a mediocre pain in the ass.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

“Everything is not lost except Georgia’s pride and manhood.”

This is what you get when you lose badly.

I hope the coaches read some of that shit to the players… and then go back and read it to themselves.  Maybe a little shame will help reclaim some of the focus that was sadly lacking Saturday.


Filed under Georgia Football, PAWWWLLL!!!

Where have I heard this song before?

Willie Martinez gonna Willie Martinez.

He always has, right?


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

The advanced stats’ tale of the tape…

won’t tell you much you didn’t already know from watching the game – namely, Georgia’s run defense wasn’t bad and every thing else was putrid.

David does add one thing that’s a pretty good summary of this team’s structural flaw.

Georgia just seems to be out of sync with itself since winning the conference in 2005.  Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno, and A.J. Green made the offense great, but that coincided with a great defensive decline. Then came the Aaron Murray era, which was great and had an improving defense but only had 2012 as a pinnacle year thanks to 2013’s injury plague. The defense seems to be in good hands with Jeremy Pruitt, but as he works on it the best he can—the secondary is a bit young, and it showed on Saturday—the offense suddenly is out of playmakers at quarterback and receiver. UGA has had the whole package together at once twice in the last decade, in 2007 and 2012.

That is not excuse making for Mark Richt.  Quite the contrary, it’s a mild condemnation of his roster management practices before Pruitt’s arrival.  As good as the last recruiting class appears to be and as fast as they’re shoveling true freshmen into games, you don’t fix roster problems overnight.  Especially when you have quarterback issues.

I’ve mentioned the balancing act Richt is trying to pull off this season, between getting a ton of green players game experience while still trying to win the East.  It ain’t easy, as we’re seeing.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

It’s the journey, not the destination.

One of these is not like the others.

Ouchy ouch, Booch.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

Voting with our feet

Normally, I include something about the crowd in my “Observations” post if there’s something worth noting, but I thought what went on Saturday merited its own post.

Yeah, the weather sucked.  But despite that, the place was full up at kickoff and the crowd was into it early on.  Alabama’s second quarter onslaught took a lot of the wind out of our sails, but things perked up after Georgia’s defense got a three-and-out on the first series of the second half.

And then Ramsey’s pick-six happened.

There was some booing, but if I’m the coaches and the players, that’s not the reaction that would bother me.  This is:

I’ve been going to sporting events, and writing about sporting events, and thinking about sporting events, for almost 40 years now, and Saturday, midway through the third quarter of Georgia’s nightmarish 38-10 home loss to Alabama, I was a part of something I’ve never experienced before. After Crimson Tide quarterback Jake Coker ran it in from two yards out to give Alabama a 38-3 lead with 10:05 left in the third quarter, at least 50,000 people — more than half Sanford Stadium’s capacity — stood up and left. Together. At once. I had seen people leave games early. I had seen crowds of people leave games early. But I have never once seen roughly the population of Hot Springs, Ark., or Williamsport, Pa., all rise up, as if directed by some invisible collective remote control, heads folded downward, and silently head for the exits. Everyone decided, right as Coker crossed the goal line, that they could not watch this anymore. No one had to say a word. We all just walked out right then, like someone had just set a sacred religious amulet aflame at midfield and we just couldn’t bear to look at it anymore. I suppose that’s exactly what happened.

It was a stampede of dejection.

I’ve said it before.  Anger is one thing.  At least it means people give a damn.  A comfortable apathy, though, can be deadly.  There’s only so many times a fan base can listen to its head coach call for it to show up at a big game and be a contributing factor only to find out that the team hasn’t followed suit before tuning out.  It’s both a credit to Richt and to our devotion to the program that we’ve managed to be in as much as we have.

Maybe our passion is more bottomless than I suspect.  But I wonder how many more times Georgia can shit the bed before we get tired of providing first-class maid service.


Filed under Georgia Football

Observations from the 35, rainy day in Athens edition

Let’s get the easy part out of the way first:  in response to the question which sucked more, the weather or the game?, it’s a tie.  But let’s also get this out of the way, too:  Alabama played in the same conditions Georgia did.

  • There were so many early tells that indicated Saturday wasn’t going to go the Dawgs’ way, starting with the very first play from scrimmage.  If Lambert hits Mitchell in stride, there’s no telling how the game goes.
  • Next came the abortion of a series after the Henry fumble, when Georgia managed to fritter away early momentum by gaining a whopping total of four yards, and then punting from the Alabama 38.
  • But perhaps the topper of them all came on the Dawgs’ first scoring drive, when, after driving the field, Georgia was looking at a first-and-goal on the ‘Bama 9… and proceeded to be looking at a third-and-goal on the ‘Bama 35.
  • Add that all together, and you’re looking at Georgia leaving a lot of points on the field, only a few minutes into the second quarter.  For a team that’s built on offensive efficiency, that’s reason number one the day went south.
  • That sputtering drive appeared to wake up Alabama, which went on a tear with two scoring drives and that disastrous punt block to grab a three-touchdown lead that never shrunk.  Georgia went in the tank offensively for the rest of the quarter, never crossing mid-field.  And there’s reason number two for the bad day:  Georgia never had decent starting field position as Alabama expanded its lead.
  • Reason number three, of course, was that Georgia never controlled either line of scrimmage.  On defense, the Dawgs weren’t horrible defending the run, but were unable to generate any kind of pass rush without blitzing (and even then, it usually wasn’t much).  On offense, run blocking was poor, but pass protection, at least in the first half, wasn’t always consistent, but overall, wasn’t bad.
  • The secondary had an awful day.  For once, it wasn’t the opponent’s tight end who went nuts.  It was Calvin Ridley, who finished with almost as many receiving yards on the day as he had in Alabama’s previous four games combined.  (And, yes, he played in them all.)  Two completions that really stood out were the 45-yard touchdown pass when Ridley got past Aaron Davis, who was expecting safety help over the top and instead got something straight out of Willie Ball when the safety inexplicably took a path under Davis and another long completion on a play where it appeared that Alabama was in max-protect and only had two receivers running routes, one of whom managed to have four or five yards of space despite having five defenders in coverage.  That’s not easy to do.
  • Which led to another of the day’s reasons – a bend but not break defense designed to limit big plays didn’t limit big plays.  Aside from the aforementioned completions (and there were more), there was also Henry’s 30-yard touchdown run, in which it appeared he didn’t even push himself into top gear.
  • Disappointing games from Floyd and Jenkins, who were really needed.
  • It pains me to say it, but Kiffin had a good day.  He scrapped all the HUNH nonsense, and stuck with what we wished Georgia could have done, using the run to set up the play action passing game.  Yeah, there were a fair number of three-and-outs, but it was still enough to generate 379 yards… and more than enough points to win.
  • On offense, I don’t think it takes much expertise to say that quarterback play and the line’s inability to run block doomed the Dawgs’ chances.  Chubb and Michel gave all they had, but when the line can’t open holes (Alabama’s linebackers did a superb job of filling gaps), there’s only so much to be done.
  • Fullbacks didn’t do much to help, either.  Which is why Schottenheimer ran so much single-back set stuff.
  • I can’t get inside Lambert’s head, so I can’t tell you what he was thinking, but it was apparent all day that he was uncomfortable with the prospect of throwing the ball deep and that he’s only comfortable with one receiving option, Malcolm Mitchell.  So when Alabama closed down Georgia’s running game and contested the short, easy throws that Lambert was feasting on in the previous two games, that didn’t leave much to work with.  And that’s what I saw on more than one occasion, when Lambert had plenty of time in the pocket to make a throw, but wouldn’t.  I don’t know where the lack of confidence stems from, because he did manage to make a couple of terrific throws, like the sideline completion to Godwin – who made a helluva catch there, too – to salvage Georgia’s first scoring drive.  The problem is that Lambert’s lack of confidence is contagious, which is what led to…
  • Enter Brice Ramsey.  Ramsey doesn’t lack for confidence, that’s for sure.  Judgment, on the other hand, could be better.  A lot better.  The first interception, live, looked like a miscommunication between him and Godwin, but on the replay looked more like Ramsey simply didn’t see the defensive back in front of the receiver.  (Richt, however, said it was a miscommunication.)  The second pick was just a throw that never should have been made.  In any event, it’s getting easier to see why Ramsey never has been able to claim the starting job.
  • I’ve seen a good bit of chatter that Georgia’s receivers weren’t getting open.  That’s true, but only to an extent.  Alabama sold out on shutting down the slant passes and some of the other short stuff that had been Georgia’s bread-and-butter.  Saban and Smart also made sure that Mitchell got plenty of attention.  But there were shots to be taken downfield, particularly with Godwin, who I saw open several times.
  • The other big reason the day was a disaster was abominable special teams play.  Barber has mastered the art of kicking just the wrong kind of punt.  Coverage team play was shoddy.  Blocks were missed all over the field, and the punt block was something you could see coming as soon as the formations were set.  Davis used poor judgment on several returns, which contributed to Georgia’s field position problems.  And no touchbacks on kickoffs, of course.
  • Another sign that the Dawgs weren’t mentally prepared was the rash of stupid penalties.  (By the way, one small thing Alabama is really good at is working the refs on calls.)
  • Coaching? Obviously, it’s hard to be satisfied with that when your team is on the receiving end of a four-touchdown loss.  A lot of what went wrong on special teams has to be laid at the coaches’ feet, starting with why nobody at least screamed for a time out when they saw how the teams lined up before the fateful punt block.  On defense, it wasn’t a good day for Pruitt as a secondary coach, that’s for sure.  I know there’s some background talk about how Georgia still isn’t talented enough in the defensive backfield, but it’s hard to give that excuse much credence when you watch DBs out of position on so many plays.
  • Schottenheimer didn’t have a good day.  But I’m not sure who would have, when faced with a lack of support from the offensive line and a quarterback who had his shortcomings exposed the way Lambert did.  (Again, the first play call of the day said a lot about what the coordinator wanted to do and what his quarterback couldn’t do.)
  • As for the head guy, there’s little question who deserves the blame for Georgia’s annual face plant.  This wasn’t about a team coming out flat – although Ramsey’s pick-six took care of any emotion Georgia had left in the tank to start the second half – so much as it was about so many players appearing not to be mentally prepared to take on a talented, well-coached SEC opponent.  Richt had to know some of what Alabama threw at his team was expected, particularly from Smart, and yet after the initial pass attempt, there was little effort made to counter that.
  • There are plenty of decisions to nit-pick, but the one worth chewing over was the call to replace Lambert with Ramsey.  Richt claimed afterwards he was looking for a spark.  If that’s the case, that strikes me as a little bit of panic; it might have been better to settle things down by pounding away with Chubb in hopes that the offense might find some traction there.  But the scary thought about the move is that it’s possible it wasn’t so much about finding a spark as it was Richt coming to the conclusion that Lambert simply wasn’t capable of delivering.

What’s done is done.  Georgia is still in a position where it can deliver on its goal of getting back to Atlanta, although the margin for error on that front has slimmed.

The good news is that Richt knows how to coach a team from that perspective.  The bad news is that the quarterback position is flawed enough that the Dawgs have to compensate by playing well in so many other areas.  Off days against teams with competent defenses – and Alabama’s given every defensive coordinator a handy road map – are going to be a real struggle.

You can blame who you choose to blame, of course, but the message I got from Saturday was that Georgia will likely go as far as Greyson Lambert can take it.


Filed under Georgia Football