Sunday, September 26, 2010

Richt: "We're not far off ... stay the course."

Mark Richt during today's teleconference, via Marc Weiszer's Twitter feed:
"We know what it takes to do it right, so we know we’re not far off. ... We know if we stay the course it’s going to be our best chance to get back on track in a positive way."

Me: Straight ahead, then. That should work.

Marilyn: What's he going to do? Be like, "Y'all suck. I'm going to go tell reporters."

The woman knows more about football than she lets on. I'll add that the last time Richt said something that seemed bad was the best chance to win, it probably was.

Also, Kris Durham is hurt.

Update: Check out the very bottom of EDSBS' not-really-funny-because-it's-true magazine cover this week:

It says "Proudly sponsored by the University of Georgia, where steering into the skid may save your life but won't save your football team."

Our enemies don't just know us. They know what we're going to do.

Wrong about so much

That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout?

Let me start with apologies to The Orlando Sentinel. While I stand by some of my complaints, it is clear that your decision to rank Georgia the 62nd best football team in the nation was not only reasonable, but impressively prescient.

And to Andrea Adelson, who I did not call by name here, but certainly called names in my head, I was wrong. Suddenly ESPN's decision to hire you from The Sentinel seems brilliant, and I'm beginning to doubt a great many things.

Is Lou Holtz a talented broadcaster? I just don't know anymore, because my world is broken.

Now, Coach Richt. Good grief, man.

You were hired to be Georgia's head football coach because we believed in you. But you were also hired to believe in yourself, and to do what you think is right. You need to quit this crisis of confidence shit and do what you need to do. Return to awesome. I think you can do it, but do you?

I have some thoughts on what's wrong, and words for individual players, coaches and staff members. But that's a long and futile list. But what really bothers me, more than play calling ever will, is that our team looks like a bunch of pansies.

That reflects the head man, the assistants, the strength and conditioning program and recruiting.

But most of all, it reflects the players in uniform. And I want to know why no one is standing up and saying "My name is _____ ____, and I'm not going to put up with this shit any more."
Joe: There is way too much fat to trim. I don't know how you run an operation like that.

Starnes: The strength problem is just so obvious now. If you can't kick ass on the offensive line ... maybe they shouldn't have taken a day off to go swimming.

Huff: On second, more sober thought, heads don't need to roll yet. But I'm still really pissed off.

This is how I feel about the last 3 years of Georgia football.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The good times, really over

Starnes: Cue Merle Haggard.

Me: It's getting hard to argue.

Welcome to Saratoga, Mississippi

Some battles, if you win them, the war's not over. But, if you lose them, well, there's not going to be much left when the French show up with reinforcements.
Me: Go to Starkville, determine your career. That has to be fun.

Starnes: Ten years and it all comes down to an away game vs. Mississippi State. Lose and you can start etching the tombstone. Win, and everything can still be fine.

Me: It's a game of inches.
Biggest Mississippi State game in my lifetime, I'm pretty sure.

And as I said earlier this week, the Dawgs should win, if only they will. But today would not be a good day to commit turnovers and penalties.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Man on Wire

Super bad ass.

Image: The documentary Man on Wire, which is 20 minutes too long, but amazing nonetheless.

Also available on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Arkansas: Right past our spike strip, and gone

I agree with others, who have said that was very much like last year's LSU game, without the bullshit call on A.J.

Sort of. It may have been exactly like that

After a while, you wonder why we keep getting out of the car.

The Dawgs showed significant improvement in Week 3 of the season. Unfortunately, they still blew it. I think they can beat Mississippi State, if only they will.
Me: That come back was like watching them grow up a good bit, but the defense seemed gassed at the end. Arkansas is a good team, they outplayed us.

Joe: We ought to rebound. At least we played like men. They showed improvement. They looked faster and more into it.

Me: I was hoping to have the 3-4 perfectly installed and executed by the second game of the first season. And I'd like to see some strength from the offensive line, and others, this week.
What else can you say? I think the reasonable among us can see that 2010 isn't in the record books yet, and that we needn't panic or rush to judgment any more than we need to buy SEC Championship tickets.

And while I'm comfortable with Greg McGarity's “I don’t really buy the notion that, boy, this is the make or break year,” Joe adds a caveat: Unless they go 6-6.

Company in the basement

I don't think we're going to stay here long. But, from The AJC:
Only Vanderbilt has fewer first downs than Georgia in the SEC.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ray Goff: Worthy of the Georgia Hall of Fame?

I've always considered Ray Goff a good Dawg that we treated poorly on his way out of Athens.

But ask yourself this: Does his one SEC title as a quarterback, 46-34-1 record as a head football coach and promise not to check your credit at any of his Aaron's Furniture stores merit inclusion in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame?

From The Macon Telegraph:
The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011 was selected Tuesday.

The next inductees will be football coach Robert Davis, football official Joe DeLany, basketball player Dale Ellis, football player and coach Ray Goff, golfer William Ploeger, tennis player Lisa Spain Short, and football player James “J.T.” Thomas.
Also, does Coach Goff's inclusion make you more likely to visit the sports hall of fame in Macon, which is currently subsidized to the tune of $412,000 in Georgia tax dollars a year?

A few years back there was some commotion over the hall of fame's makeup, and its similarity to the board that selected honorees. Namely, there were an awful lot of white UGA alumni involved in both instances.

From The Telegraph in 2002:
NBA great Dominique Wilkins, boxing world champion Sugar Ray Robinson, three-time Olympic gold medalist Katrina McClain and Negro League star Josh Gibson share a dubious distinction. They're world-class athletes with Georgia ties, but they're not in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
Wilkins was added in 2004, Robinson in 2006, McClain in 2005 and Gibson in 2003. They were beaten into the hall by well known Georgia sports heroes Joe Gerson, Pete Cox, Johnny Griffith, L.J. "Stan" Lomax and Loran Smith, all of whom happened to be on the selection board when they were inducted.

What am I saying? Congratulations, I guess, to Ray Goff. You are about to share an honor with 349 other Georgia sports figures, most of whom the average Georgian has never heard of.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I don't know why I'm surprised

I guess I hadn't been paying close attention. But the last few days have made it clear: Quite a few of you Georgia sports bloggers are idiots.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Calvin Johnson, city of Detroit, jobbed by refs

The Detroit Lions, minus an injured Matthew Stafford, were screwed as well as you can be screwed today by the refs.

From Fox Sports:

<a href="" target="_new" title="">Highlights: DET/CHI</a>

Joe: How can they get a replay wrong?

Me: It also would have been a touchdown in rugby.

Coach Grantham, please fix the tackling

I look at football a little differently than most, which is to say that my unrealistic expectations are different than the unrealistic expectations of many college football fans.

For example, I don't want Mike Bobo to overhaul his play-calling / be fired. I want Orson Charles to make that difficult catch on the 3 yard line during our first drive of the day, then fall forward for a touchdown. The guy's a stud, and studs make those catches, or else they should be playing outside linebacker.

I can't be mad at Coach Richt for not opening up the playbook for Aaron Murray, because I've wanted him to take it easy with the kid for the last six months. That's a hard thing to change in the second quarter in Columbia, though it probably would have cost us fewer time outs than whatever silliness we burned three on during the first 8 minutes of the third quarter.

And as good as Murray looked yesterday, and as exciting as that is for the rest of this season and beyond, you can't say the he didn't have chances to bring us back in the 4th quarter Saturday, specifically during a pair of drives that quickly ended with 3-and-outs.

I can't be mad about Washaun's fumble, because it was a real good strip, and a tough football play that just happened to come at a soul-crushing moment. I can wonder whether running into a parked car and missing the warm-up game is the best preparation for an SEC schedule.

For that matter, perhaps AJ Green should re-examine his decision-making matrix.

But I digress, because all of this isn't particularly relevant for me. You see, I like defense. I like safeties that make wide receivers wet themselves and defensive linemen with the thousand-yard crazy stare. I like referring to an opposing quarterback's mistake as "Touchdown, Georgia."

I like mashing people on special teams, running over personal protectors to block punts and guys named Brandon or Branden cracking the sound barrier on their way to endzones.

I like focus and performance in general, and that was lacking.

I think the more reasonable among us will agree that South Carolina has a better football team than Georgia. We probably have more speed, but we looked small yesterday. And I think we tricked ourselves into thinking Coach Grantham had a way to run the 3-4 with our current personnel without too many growing pains.

That hasn't happened, and clearly depth is a concern, because we did not substitute as expected. And for some reason we still can't tackle, which is disturbing despite an overall sense of optimism about this team. Like a rat gnawing on your subconscious, whispering "Maybe you didn't cut out all the cancer. Maybe it's growing again."

There is still a long season to go, and we've all seen a South Carolina loss end up as a missed opportunity in an otherwise very good season, as opposed to the first missed step that causes you to fall down the stairs and end up in the cellar.

But, boy, the way we lost that game Saturday.

Sure, we cleaned up the penalties, committing only four for 25 yards. That is progress. There are other things to be excited about, especially as Aaron Murray matures and throws on the money, instead of one step off it.

But the special teams were mediocre, and not because of directional kicking. And the defense. Good grief, the defense. Next Sunday it may be time to wonder whether we have the horses we need, particularly in the front seven other than Justin Houston, though the safeties didn't exactly acquit themselves well in Columbia.

Or we could just learn to tackle. Really, I don't care about anything else until we do that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Them not having Marcus Lattimore short

46-15-2 all time vs. South Carolina.

I think it's fair to say South Carolina kind of whipped our ass.

Your thoughts?

Where South Carolina = Sean Connery's Humvee.

I like this sentiment:
Look at that SEC schedule the Cocks are facing. They have to play AT Auburn, against #1 Alabama, AT Kentucky and Vandy, against #14 Arkansas, and AT Florida. That's ridiculous. I feel pretty confident that even if the Gamecocks are better this year, they will still lose 2 SEC games in that schedule ...

That means if UGA can handle business the rest of the way, they will be FINE. Yes, easier said than done, but it isn't the end of the season yet, and I saw some things to be optimistic about.
Of course, I also liked the idea that we'd learned how to tackle.

Bill King:

Ealey in the Wild Dawg or wildcat or whatever you want to call it is about three years behind the cutting edge.
Bill also has harsh words for Bacarri Rambo, and I doubt he's the only one. I guess we don't have Willie Martinez and Bryan Evans to kick around anymore, and still don't tackle.
Stuff of Legend sees some positives, and I think there are more of them from today than it's easy to feel now:
- Defensive scheme was not the issue...we had guys in the backfield all day at the point of attack, and just failed to make the tackle. Very disappointing.

We did have five sacks, and caused a big turnover, and appeared to be in the right place almost all the time. If we could have just made tackles when we got there, may have been a different game.

- Marcus Lattimore is the truth. Maybe not as good as we made him look today, but he is going to be a great one.

- I really don't have a problem with Mike Bobo in general...I question individual play calls at times, but that's going to be the case with every offensive coordinator.

One thing I do have a problem with, however...EVERY TIME we face 2nd and long, we run the ball. EVERY TIME.
And, finally tonight, Georgia Sports Blog offers perhaps the most complete, but succinct, analysis, short of the car chase scene from The Rock (where our defensive front 7 = innocent bystander cars):
  • Our offensive line is way overrated. Carolina has a good defensive front, but our running game was nonexistent after the first drive. Without a strong running game, our offense doesn't work. It's that simple. Searels has some work to do. Chapas's injury hurt, but our best second half rush was for five yards. We have to do better.
  • Bacarri Rambo. Ouch, buddy. Flush this whole game and get ready for Petrino's passing schemes.

    The season isn't necessarily over with regards to the SEC Championship, but it's now teetering. I expect both SC and Florida to lose at least one conference game. Both have to play Bama and they have to play each other. We can still get to Atlanta. After today's performance, though, it's just too difficult to really conceive of this team playing for a championship.
  • 9/11

    It's weird to glance at the time on your cellphone and think "Were they burning by now? Had they fallen?"

    And yet it's as normal as anything.

    New blog policy: Car chases in all commercials - a South Carolina preview

    Anyone telling you they've got a prediction for this game is full of it.

    Some commercial the other night made me think: "We should put a car chase in all commercials." And if it's good for a commercial ...

    Wasn't going to go with Bullitt. And then Steve McQueen "explained" it to me. Warning, though, the guy he's chasing doesn't even put his seat belt on til 3:14.
    Starnes: I have no idea if this is going to be the resurgence or the complete unraveling downfall. I mean, it could go either way the next three weeks. What if we lost two out of these next three games? Also, it wouldn't surprise me if we just come out and kick ass.

    Me: I don't know that it has to be either of those yet. It could be in the middle. I think I'm more excited than worried.
    Is it possible I forgot how much I like College Football? Because it's been story-line packed so far. I would have preferred not to see AJ Green in the wake of the NCAA getting awesome at catching people for violations just after catching USC.

    Makes you wonder: Who does the NCAA know in the south eastern United States? You know, some one who knows things about football programs in, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

    But the NCAA/AJ situation did shut people up about Boise State for a while. Joe told me he heard Brent Musberger and Paul Finebaum, early in the week on satellite radio, debating whether Boise State could succeed with an SEC schedule.

    "How do you think it went," Joe said.
    Does any one else want to hear Michael Adams, and some other people at the University of Georgia, take issue with the NCAA?
    Me: Is it me, or is it getting stupider out there this year?

    Joe: I don't know. Do you think Boise State should play for the National Title?
    It's one thing to say there's a difference between sportsblogging and sportswriting. It's another to see elements of their evolution toward one thing.
    Me: The two teams seem pretty evenly matched. But the problem is that Louisiana Lafayette and Southern Miss, I just don't know how to account for them. They're like unknown values in an equation, and I hope it adds up to Georgia beat down.

    Huff: That's some professional analysis.

    Me: If our line blocks, I feel good. We have speed on defense. We'll miss a few things, but we'll make plays, too. And from there, we just can't beat ourselves, and the talent will take over.
    From the Senator, last Friday:
    Easily the biggest surprise last night for me was seeing how much of the old swag Spurrier reclaimed. I’m not talking about his behavior. I’m talking about his playcalling. As vanilla as Johnson was, the OBC was anything but – tons of formations, a very nice reverse call, a little wildcat were all on display, along with the old staples. That’s the sign of a confident man who believes he’s got the weapons to play with again.
    Finally, there is this from the L.I. Athens Bureau, reporting from Columbia shortly after midnight:
    Consensus: Noon games for two top 25 teams are lame.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    A.J. snags 4-game suspension for having sex with the cleaning lady

    Good grief. From the NCAA:
    University of Georgia football student-athlete A.J. Green must miss four games as a condition of becoming eligible to play again, according to a decision today by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff.

    The university declared the student-athlete ineligible for violations of NCAA agent benefits rules. According to the facts of the case submitted by Georgia, the student-athlete sold his Independence Bowl game jersey to an individual who meets the NCAA definition of an agent. Green has repaid the $1,000 value of benefits to charity. According to NCAA rules, an agent is any individual who markets or promotes a student-athlete.
    The university can appeal, and I hope it will, because I'd rather A.J. Green not miss three SEC games. Certainly the NCAA showed with the Masoli case that they're willing to do an about face when nothing changes except 3 days pass.

    And while I have no expectation of consistency from the NCAA, there's a good argument that this suspension is much harsher than the one recently handed down at Alabama. Still, selling your jersey to an agent for $1,000 strikes me as the kind of thing that you should know you're going to get pinched for.

    Selling your jersey to anyone for $1,000 seems like the kind of thing you should know you're going to get pinched for.

    Costanza-esque: not a descriptor you should aim for.

    Instant analysis from the L.I. team:
    Dan: He sold a jersey to an agent for $1,000. He's lucky he's playing again. But it ain't a big deal. It's just going to be that much more awesome when Georgia wins the National Championship and A.J. wins the Heisman for 8 games.

    Joe: Who's the Moe in our version of The 3 Stooges? There's got to be someone in charge of poking eyes and breaking balls.

    What does AJ Green even need to be meeting with an agent for? Surprise, you're going in the first round. You can make me your agent.
    Update: A.J. says he's learned "a valuable lesson" from this. That's not quite saying "Was that wrong ... I gotta plead ignorance on this thing," but it's close.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Boise State v. Virginia Tech

    I agree with all of this:
    Yes, with all the lead changes, Boise State and Virginia Tech put on an entertaining show for us last night, but is there much doubt that Alabama would wipe the floor with either team?

    The Broncos offense lived up to its billing last night, but I wasn’t very impressed with the defense, which basically turned out to be a fundamentally sound, less than elite-skilled bunch that gambled all night long. A competent offensive coordinator with a few good weapons would have picked them apart.

    Fortunately for Boise State, Virginia Tech doesn’t have one.

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Who holds the NCAA accountable?

    The NCAA told the University of Georgia on July 21 that it had opened an inquiry involving A.J. Green. Have I just missed all the newspaper articles pushing the NCAA to publicly explain why it takes more than 47 days to complete that inquiry?

    I realize they probably won't comment, but if UGA beat reporters are going to ask Coach Richt every day whether he's got new information, doesn't it make sense to call the NCAA every day, too?

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    The L.I. Season Preview: Holding a growing optimism in check

    Joe: Who are your odds-on favorites to melt down and destroy themselves this year? What's LSU got brewing over there? It's gotta be chaos, right? And, then, in the east, it's us and South Carolina for that battle. But the only thing that's really changed, right, is Joe Cox. And Willie Martinez.

    Me: You have to think those are improvements.

    Last year's season preview was colored by too much of what lead blog analyst Joe Petersen calls "August optimism." And even though I'm predicting a good season this year, the voice in my head says I'm not being optimistic enough. I'm not going to listen to that voice, though, because it's not reasonable.

    The 2009 team was full of questions, most of which were answered poorly. This year, there are two very large questions, but perhaps only two.
    - How will the new defense do?
    - What about Aaron Murray?
    Murray is young, but what SEC quarterback isn't this year? Take away Alabama and Arkansas and everyone else has questions marks at quarterback. That is, unless you're sold on Stephen Garcia.
    Joe: Lot of intriguing story lines in the SEC. Bama's the clear favorite. Florida is No. 1 in the East, though surely they're not going to be as good as they have been the last two years. Charlie Strong is gone. Don't discount that. Tebow's gone. Their head coach had a heart attack or a stroke or something last December.

    Joe: Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, I know how those stories end. I can see the future on those. Ole Miss? Who cares? Tech? They lost some talent.

    Me: They still have Nesbitt. He's the key for them.
    We've got the best pair of kickers in the nation. I can see us winning a few of those 16-13 games, with Blair Walsh kicking a couple of 42-yard-pus field goals. I can see us using Drew Butler as a weapon, pinning teams on their two yard line and turning Justin Houston loose.

    Coach Richt has run that game before.

    Our return game should be dangerous. And with new philosophies taking hold on special teams, more capable.

    And if last year's team felt like the fastest Georgia squad I'd ever seen, doesn't that mean this year's team is faster? Athletically, you have to figure we're a head above everyone on our schedule, except Florida. We just look fast as hell in this probable 3rd quarter Sanford Stadium video, and there's not even much Orson Charles in it.
    Joe: Arkansas and South Carolina, they're early so it's scary. But we shouldn't lose to those two teams. Our 44 against their 44? Come on. I know you're not sold on Auburn.

    Me: Correct.

    Joe: I'm worried about Auburn. You can write that down.
    Schedule-wise we miss Alabama and LSU from the west. In fact the schedule opens up in just about every way we could ask, except it's as boring a home slate as I can remember. Even the South Carolina game, which is usually difficult and probably will be again this year, is bending our way more than usual, what with the problems they've had lately.

    We'll be without Munson again this year, though. That seems worth mentioning at least two years in a row.

    After the way things broke last year, it seems the No. 1 thing Aaron Murray cannot do this year is kill drives with poorly timed turnovers. He cannot take the wind out of our sails in the 3rd and 4th quarters.

    Murray's performance at G-Day and Mike Bobo's subsequent description of a "boneheaded" Murray interception during a recent scrimmage are enough to make me worry on this point. And let's not even think about what happens if Murray gets hurt, because the options are a.) emergence of one of the greatest heretofore unknown quarterback legends of all time leading us to the promised land, b.) massive train wreck and c.) slightly less than massive train wreck.
    Me: It comes down to the quarterback again. That didn't work out too well last year.

    Joe: Well, you don't need a guy to go out and put up Ryan Mallett numbers. So I think it's gonna be a get-back-to-your- roots kind of year. But he's gonna have opportunities to throw the ball. And he does have the greatest player in College Football to throw to. I don't know. Is it wrong to not be that concerned about Aaron Murray?

    Me: Is it wrong that I'm not that concerned about the transition to a new defense?

    Joe: Yeah, the defense. How bad was that last year? Worst case scenario, this year is better than that, right? Grantham's mantra is disrupt the quarterback. The secondary is strong — the national media doesn't know that yet, but you and I do. And surely the front 7 can put something together, so they're going to be disruptive. I just feel like — as crazy as it sounds — I just feel like there's less to worry about this year.
    So what do you figure for us this year? You have to mark the Florida game as a loss until proven otherwise. Auburn, Tech, South Carolina and Arkansas? Maybe we lose two of those, including at least one we shouldn't. And then the question is whether we come up short anywhere else, lose a close game on a bad turnover or a blown assignment in the secondary.

    Truthfully, those kind of dumb mistakes seem less likely this year. With a new defense and a redshirt freshman, you have to expect them. But when you compare that expectation to the actual results from last year, how can you expect worse?

    So 9-3. That's on the optimistic side of reasonable, which is where I like to live around this time of year.

    8-4 would be straight up realism. If you say 10-2, you might be kidding yourself. If you say 11-1, you're just flat out unreasonable ... but part of me thinks you're right.

    Branden Smith to return punts, and other news

    As Quinton once said, Branden Smith is a man who is "steadfastly attempting to break the sound barrier on the way to the end zone" every time he touches the ball.

    So I'm glad some of his other skills have developed to the point that Coach Richt has named him the primary punt returner.

    Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but as a guy worried that Richard Samuel just wasn't ready to play linebacker and would redshirt, I was interested to see this in The Albany Herald:
    Q: How’s the health of the team heading into the opener?

    A: Richard Samuel for us maybe would not be able to go, who would normally go. Chris Burnette, he’s iffy right now, but everybody else looks like they will be ready to play, which is great. Everybody is going to be able to practice this entire week who will probably play, so that’s good too.
    You'll be able to get fried Oreos and Twinkies at Sanford this year. Surely that's not a good thing. And this, as Groo points out, shows a lack of attention to detail that I find disturbing. Greg McGarity, here is your first simple fix.

    The NCAA can suck it. That ain't news, but it's worth re-iterating.

    Sturdivant to play on Saturday? Good luck and God speed, my friend.

    Finally, you have to like this from David Ching:
    This much is clear: Richt seems pleased with the team that will debut Saturday at Sanford Stadium.

    And if he's as happy as he seems, his status as one of the most consistent winners in college football leads me to believe that this just might be an exciting fall for those who follow Richt's team.