Dec 14, 2010

Does UGA have to win the East next year to keep Richt?

The AJC's Mark Bradley seems to think so. 

I seem to think he's wrong.

There are plenty possibilities for how the 2011 season could end up, but I can think of a few scenarios that wouldn't involve Georgia winning the SEC East, yet Mark Richt still easily staying as head coach.  So here's a list of some possible outcomes and my predicted results.

1. Georgia goes 14-0 (8-0 SEC).  Obviously, this is what we sort of want here.  Mark Richt could buy himself as long as he wants in Athens with a national championship.

2. Georgia loses 1 game (13-1) Of course if UGA wins the SEC, it would buy Richt a lot more time (years).  But even if Georgia doesn't win the championship game (but gets there) Richt will no longer be on the "hot seat."

3. Georgia loses 1 game (12-1) This would require Georgia's 1 loss to somehow prevent it from winning the SEC East.  Only way this could happen is if Florida, South Carolina, or another East team beats Georgia and goes undefeated, winning the East.  This is extremely unlikely, but it could happen, and it's one scenario where Georgia not winning the East will certainly NOT get Richt kicked out of Athens.

4. Georgia loses 2 games (10-2 regular season).  Once again, even if Georgia doesn't make it to the SEC Championship but only has 2 losses, Richt should be fine.  A 10 win season, no matter how you slice it, can't be bad enough to oust a coach.  Any coach.

5. Georgia loses 3 games (9-3 regular season).  This is where things start to get tricky.  Georgia could win the East with 3 losses, in which case Richt would be fine.  But if not, I still think 9-3 should be enough for Richt, but the only way it could be really, really bad is if Georgia has:
A. 3 losses to rivals (Florida, Tech, Tennessee/Auburn) and gets blown out in these games
B. An embarrassing loss to a cupcake (Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State)

If those things happen, his future could be questionable.

6. Georgia loses 4 games (8-4 regular season).  This is pretty much the tipping point.  With 4 losses, Georgia COULD win the SEC East and go to the championship game, where a win would be a huge success for Richt at UGA (even with 4 losses).  However, if Georgia wins the East but loses the SEC with 4 losses, things could still look bad for Richt.  8-4 with no SEC East title probably won't cut it, and it could be the end of the Richt era, UNLESS things go a very specific way:
A. Georgia beats Florida, but loses very close games to good teams in 2011.  I think it's possible that this could save Richt for another year, but it's very unlikely.

7. Georgia loses 5+ games (7-5, 6-6, and below).  Richt will not be safe with any record with 5+ losses, UNLESS Georgia miraculously wins the SEC with that record (which still is technically possible).

So there you have it.  There are plenty of scenarios where UGA could not win the SEC East but still have a good season.  I think it would be hard to get rid of Coach Richt if he brings a 3+ win improvement from this year (9 wins or more).

Nov 26, 2010

Happy Day Before Tech Game!

Nov 18, 2010

Video Compilation of Auburn's Dirty Plays vs. UGA

More than just Fairley in here.  Also, see the comments on the video for some funny reactions from Auburn fans.

Nov 15, 2010

Nick Fairley: A Portrait of Thuggery

Now that I've discussed the game itself, I'm going to get to that other part.  The part everyone is talking about.  Since it's been talked about so much, I'm just going to post some video links so they're all in one place to see.

Nov 14, 2010

A Quick Opinion on the Auburn Game

I'm not going to get into anything about a grinning Cam Newton looking coked out while blowing kisses to our defense, or Chizik and Trooper Taylor thumping their chests on the sideline and screaming while up 20 points, or of course the blatant assaults by Fairley on Murray (I may get to those later), but I will give a quick opinion on this game.

I love having Mark Richt as a head coach, but I feel the blame needs to be put on him for this one.

Our other losses of the season have been due to a compendium of reasons.

1. Turnovers at the worst possible times (Ealey fumbling at the end zone against South Carolina, Ealey fumbling in the end zone against Miss. State, King fumbling as we were about to kick a game-winning field goal at Colorado, and Murray's fumble/interceptions against Florida).

2. Offensive play calling (mostly apparent early in the season in the South Carolina and Arkansas games, as we refused to open the playbook for Murray, no shotgun passes, only play-action).

3. General poor play (the defense in general, the turnovers by the RBs, Murray's first half against Florida)

But most of those cases I wouldn't necessarily blame on the head coach.

We know that turnovers were a HUGE focus of our team in the off season.  The coaches stressed that many times when we did interviews in the spring.  I don't see any reason to believe they were lying, and ignored this huge problem.  But in football, sometimes you turn the ball over no matter how much you practice against it.

The defensive play may be cause for concern, but the numbers tell a more optimistic story.  Georgia has improved in nearly every defensive statistical category from 2009.  But there's no doubt that the defense was shredded throughout most of the second half in last night's game.

And offensive play calling, which is the head coach's responsibility, really has seemed to greatly improve over the season to this point.  Our offense looked aggressive and dangerous against Auburn, and against every team since the Colorado game.  Part of that may be due to AJ Green's return, but what the national media hasn't noticed are the changes in play calling.

But I honestly think last night's loss didn't have much to do with why we lost our other 5 games this season.  The offense looked great and we didn't turn the ball over once.  The defense looked very poor, but no one expected them to stop Auburn's offense.

This is why I put the blame on Coach Richt for this one.

Running out the Clock at the Half

Everyone in the media was talking about this game being a shoot out, a back and forth, high scoring affair where the team who had the ball the most times would win.  And from the beginning, it definitely looked like that would be the case.

Georgia got up to a 21-7 lead, and our offense stalled on the next 2 drives.  But it was OK, because Auburn's had been stifled by our defense as well.  But when Auburn tied the game at 21, we needed to keep our momentum going and score to keep the lead in the shootout.

But Coach Richt did what, unfortunately we all knew he would do, and with 1 timeout, a minute on the clock, and the ball in our offense's hands, we decided to run out the clock and go to half.

His thinking was obvious: we deferred to the 2nd half, and we didn't want to make any mistakes in our own territory.  It's a classic conservative approach, and usually, not a terrible decision.

But this, like I mentioned, was a SHOOTOUT, a game where we knew we needed to keep scoring to win.  In games like that, you don't take ANY possession for granted, including 2nd half kickoffs.  That's exactly what we did.  We ran the clock, went to the half, and Auburn's onside kick to start the 3rd quarter was them placing the nail in the coffin.

They scored on that possession and took away the shootout momentum, forcing us to come from behind.

We took the possession for granted and wasted it away.  Essentially, that possession to end the half and the onside kick at the start of the 3rd were like 2 turnovers for Georgia.  A loss of 2 possessions in a shootout will pretty much guarantee you a loss.

Kicking a Field Goal

And the second decision that the head coach is responsible for was to go for a field goal late in the game rather than the touchdown.

I can't complain as much about this one, because many more people will tell you to take the points when you can get them.  But once again, in a shootout game, you can't settle for field goals, especially when behind.  We KNEW that our defense couldn't stop Auburn.  Our best chance was to hope for some turnovers or maybe we could execute an onside kick or 2 to get back in it.

With the field goal, we were down 4, and then soon down 11 as Auburn scored a TD.  That put us down two touchdowns to catch up.

With a touchdown, we would have been tied, and then down 7 when Auburn scored their TD.

If we had tried for a touchdown and failed, we would have been down 14.  Still two touchdowns, so the same as if we had gotten the field goal.

I know it isn't quite that simple, but we were playing at that point to catch up to Auburn and make the shootout even again.  Field goals just simply wouldn't get it done, especially when we knew that Auburn would keep scoring.

Kicking that field goal completed the loss, and that was when Georgia did Auburn a favor by driving that nail into the coffin.

Nov 12, 2010

Auburn sings "Lean on Me" as Program Goes Down in Flames

There is something poetic about the Auburn football team and fans singing "Lean on Me" together as their program could be crumbling to pieces around them.

Oct 20, 2010

The Beard Prohibition Has Ended!

Although it's slightly old news by now, I just saw today's AJC article about how facial hair is now allowed on the football team, as long as they continue to win the turnover battle.

Funny to see this article now, since it's been a year and a half since I posted a blogpost on here about Coach Richt banning facial hair in spring 2009.

According to the article, apparently the beard allowance was the same last year (but secretive), because the team had almost the worst turnover ratio in the country, so the men remained boys.  Maybe the manliness and strength that only a beard can portray is needed on this team to finish out the season strong.  

Oh, and Aaron Murray's quote in the article does sound pretty bad, but you know he was just joking.  Tim Tucker could have thrown in "Murray said, smiling" or something like that for the kid, but instead left him to be berated for his understandable desire to receive good gifts from mommy on his birthday.

Oct 9, 2010

Biggest Win For Dawgs (Point-wise) Since...

Just looking at some past scores from Georgia's schedule over the years, and found some interesting stats that I haven't seen anyone mention.

UGA's win over Tennessee today (41-14) by 27 points was their biggest win over any SEC team (or any Big Six Conference team at all) since the 2007 win by 28 over Ole Miss (W 45-17).

Even more interesting fact: Georgia hasn't beaten Tennessee that badly since 2003, when the Dawgs beat the Vols in Knoxville by... 27.  The score?  41 to 14.

Dawgs Win?.... Really?

And a good win indeed.  I don't care how much Tennessee sucks, but any day Georgia beats Tennessee, it's a very good day.  Also, need I remind you that LSU needed a miracle to beat this UT, and Florida and soon to be #2 Oregon struggled early with the Vols?  Yeah, well Georgia went up 17-0 pretty quickly, and didn't look back.

This Georgia team has the ability, and that's what's been infuriating about this season.  I strongly believe that play-calling and very unfortunate fumbles were responsible for the 4 game losing streak Georgia endured.  Otherwise this could be a very different looking season.  

I realize many Dawg fans out there have been so ticked off that they will cautiously celebrate this win, but still will proclaim that this team "sucks" or will be lucky to win any more games.  But I have to disagree.  We know this team should perform better.  And today's game was finally a performance that Georgia fans deserved.  

And honestly, I still think Georgia could win the rest of the games on this schedule (and Auburn is looking more and more like the biggest roadblock to that achievement).  But we can only get there if we do more of what we did today, and even better.  No more game-changing fumbles, and more smart play calling.  Smart play-calling is usually this: do what works best.

Sep 20, 2010

The Offensive Line Problem: Partially Explained?

One more quick note about yesterday's post.  

I've seen plenty of fans, and the Georgia coaches as well, lamenting the failures of our experienced offensive line.  No, the blocking hasn't been great, but it should be noted that the offensive play-calling mentioned before could be partially to blame.  

I wrote yesterday about how Georgia attempted 10 play-action passes in the 1st half, to the point where everyone, EVERYONE (including the Arkansas defense) knew what we were about to do.  This led to 5 sacks on Murray.  

Turns out I understated the ridiculous amount of play-action plays that were called.  I showed that there were 12 total in the game, but I didn't count the 5 sacks and the few times that Murray ran after a play-action fake.  So there was more like 20 (maybe a couple more) play-action plays called in that game, and at least 13 in the first half.  13.

I'm no expert, but it's got to be more difficult to block on a play where the defense knows exactly what you're doing.  

Once again, this doesn't excuse poor execution, but it does make me wonder how the O-line would hold up with a better variety of plays being called.

Sep 19, 2010

What Went Wrong? In-Depth Offensive Analysis

Before we get started into the next work-week, I figured I'd quickly take a look at yesterday's offensive gameplan and see, specifically, why it was so unfortunately bad.  

Buck Belue insisted today that it was "ignorant" to blame Mike Bobo's play calls for Georgia's last-minute loss to Arkansas, and that Bobo "mixed it up" and was aggressive.  Well, I'm going to have to disagree with Buck there, and I do wonder if he really got to watch most of the game while doing the Braves Pre-Game show.  

I sacrificed my Sunday afternoon to fast-forward through the DVR recording of the game and check out every offensive play, to see exactly what happened.  Those details are below.

But first I will mention this: Anyone who has ever played a football video game could have questioned the play calling in the 1st half of the game yesterday.  In the third quarter, I was dumbfounded as to why we were ONLY running play-action passes, and had almost ZERO plays out of the shotgun (something we even used frequently with an immobile Joe Cox at QB) or standard drop from center passes.  The play calls reeked of trying to be creative and "mix it up" without actually doing the most basic and simple things to actually accomplish that goal.  And guess what?  At some point in the late 3rd quarter, those changes finally started happening, and the Dawgs scored 17 points from then on out.

So what happened, exactly?

The First Drive:
Things started out well and with some pretty good variation.  The first drive featured a mix of 3 up-the-gut power rushing plays, 2 play-action passes, 2 Wild Dawg runs, and Murray's touchdown scamper.  The theme of this drive was that the running game worked so well, we could afford those 2 play-action passes, and it all worked to perfection.

The Second Drive:
Bobo decides to try the shotgun for maximum protection as Georgia is backed up by the end zone.  A shotgun handoff doesn't work, so then 2 shotgun passes in a row, and we're punting.  We were stuck in a bad spot and couldn't get out.  It happens.  

The Third Drive: 
The shotgun formation didn't work so well on the last drive, so we decide to do something a bit strange: 4 play-action passes in 6 plays.  A bit of play-action overload there, don't you think?  And what happens when the defense is starting to catch on to your continual PA attack?  Murray gets sacked on the last one.

From here we'll skip forward, because it's much of the same for a while.  Play-action passes and running plays that don't work too well.  Until the 3rd drive of  the 3rd quarter, when Bobo decides to bring the shotgun back, and Georgia manages a field goal.  

After that, the offense is ignited, the offensive plays are actually well-mixed, and two more touchdowns are scored.  

So as for that variation in the 1st half?

10 Play-action Passing Plays
3 Shotgun Formation Plays (2 were designed passes)
1 Standard, Under-Center Pass

Wayyyyy too many play-action passes.  Everyone knows that you need to run the ball well to make the play-action a viable option.  You've got to fake the defense into playing the run, and that way you buy time for protection and chuck it downfield.  But when the run isn't working so well and yet you keep running play-action passes?  You get sacked.

There were 6 sacks on Murray in the game.  FIVE of these were on play-action passes.  ONE was from shotgun formation, and that was that fateful 3rd and 4 that basically lost us the game.  We'll get to that in a minute.

The shotgun formation, on the other hand, keeps things in front of the quarterback.  They don't have to turn their back to the defense, and they have an extra few yards buffer between them and defenders.  For a rattled QB, it gives them much more vision of the field and an ability to make a better passing decision (and better ability to scramble and avoid a sack).  The shotgun is a favorite of offenses featuring mobile QBs, like young Aaron Murray. BUT WE ONLY SAW 2 SHOTGUN PASSES IN THE FIRST HALF.  Also notice the complete lack of normal, 3-5 step drop passes.  Only 3 in the entire game, 1 in the first half.

Play-action Passes: 6/12 for 97 yards and 1 Interception
Shotgun passes: 7/12 for 143 yards and 1 Touchdown
Standard Drop Passes: 2/3 for 13 yards

Georgia didn't start it's comeback until the shotgun formation was put back into the game.  Bobo strangely abandoned it after one drive where it didn't work out, and didn't bring it back until almost too late.  

1st: 2 PA passes
2nd: 3 PA, 2 shotgun, 1 standard
3rd: 1 PA, 3 shotgun, 1 standard
4th: 2 PA, 1 shotgun

And finally, for the play that defined the game.  It was 3rd and 4, and Georgia needed only about 20 more yards to kick a field goal and win the game.  We run a shotgun pass play, and Murray gets sacked, forcing us to punt.  The commentators mentioned that every receiver was running deep downfield, giving Murray no chance.  They were wrong, but not completely.

After re-watching the play, a few things become clear.  

1. Yes, Ealey missed a key block which led to the sack.  
2. Three receivers were, in fact, running deep down field.  In slow-motion, you can see that none of these guys had even looked back by the time Murray was getting hit.  He didn't even have a chance to pass to them.
3. One receiver from the slot (Marlon Brown, I think) did run a short route and crossed in the middle, but he was well covered and had only just looked back when Murray was sacked.

Any way you slice it, it was a bad play call.  With over a minute left and 2 timeouts, Georgia had the luxury of trying for a first down there.  We didn't need the homerun ball.  But the play-call seemed to want that.  Yes, the shotgun formation should have given Murray enough protection to make a play, and Ealey's mistake destroyed that.  But to only have ONE short route on such a crucial play is asking for disaster.  And that's what we got.  

So there you have it.  

I'm not going to say that the play-calling was the only thing that lost us the game.  The defense, while playing great for most of the time, didn't cut it at key moments.  And of course the offensive players didn't always execute, and as noted, Murray did hold on to the ball too long in some situations.  

But player error is to be expected.  They will make mistakes in every game.  But coaches are supposed to be the consistent, stable part of the equation that you can count on to hold things together.  And the offensive coaching was atrocious.  

I'm not calling for anyone to be fired.  But I hope that they see they same things I (and many others) did, and that they will now plan to make adjustments and NOT make the same mistakes again.  Because if the play-calls and coaching in the 4th quarter had been figured out by the 1st instead, Georgia would have won that game handily.  Hopefully they will figure that out, and good things can still happen this season.  

Tomorrow I'll bring some optimism back here.

Sep 12, 2010


So many have pointed out by now that it looks like Aaron Murray was being controlled too much by the coaches yesterday.  After he went all scramble-crazy and took over the offense last week against Louisiana-Lafayette, Mark Richt and Mike Bobo likely gave him a friendly reminder that he needs to stop being a hero and protect himself.  After all, that was Coach Richt's mantra during the pre-season.  The idea has been to keep the offense simple and ease Murray into the gameplan.  Judging by last week's game, Murray doesn't want to play it that way.  He wants to run at it headfirst.  

Richt acknowledged the leash on Murray after the game yesterday:

“Even in the second half we were inclined to just call whatever the heck we thought we needed to call. I think early on you’re trying to, let’s make sure we can run the ball, be his best friend, all that kind of stuff. And call things that maybe don’t’ take an awful lot of thinking as far as progressions and that kind of thing. And try to get him off on a good note. But he’s handled everything very well and I think he’s prepared to just run the system as we have it.”

This offense will continue to struggle if Aaron Murray remains caged and treated like any normal freshman quarterback.  But he isn't a normal freshman QB, as we've seen from his play.  He has the potential to be great, starting now.  It is time... to do what must be done.  It is time.... to....

Sep 11, 2010

I Return for some Post-Loss Perspective

It was an ugly game all around, but I'm not going to be too upset about this one.  Maybe it's from being desensitized by losing 5 games last year (many in a frustrating way), but I just have to look at this from a "what does it mean in the long run?" viewpoint.

So here's the breakdown.

First, take a look at Georgia's schedule this year.

Sat, Sept 41-0 (0-0)
Sat, Sept 111-1 (0-1)
Sat, Sept 1812:00 PM ETTickets
Sat, Sept 25TBDTickets
Sat, Oct 24:30 PM ETTickets
Sat, Oct 9TBDTickets
Sat, Oct 16TBDTickets
Sat, Oct 23TBDTickets
Sat, Oct 303:30 PM ETTickets
Sat, Nov 6TBDTickets
Sat, Nov 13TBDTickets
Sat, Nov 27TBDTickets

If you had to pick which one or two games Georgia would lose this season, which would you pick?

Obviously not Louisiana or Idaho State.  Miss State, Vandy and Kentucky are usually SEC bottom feeders and not a huge concern.  Colorado is a bad Big 12 team.  Tennessee is down big time.  Usually Georgia fans expect to beat Georgia Tech (and Tech also lost to a terrible Kansas team today, a team which lost last week 6-3 to an FCS team).  

That leaves Florida, Auburn, Arkansas, and South Carolina.  Those are probably our 4 toughest games, and everyone knew it before the season.  The South Carolina game is our first tough game, away from home, and with a new QB, new defense, and no A.J. Green.  Knowing all of that information before the game, that would make a really good case to predict, IF Georgia only has 1 loss this year, that it could very well be to South Carolina.

So we really have 3 "tough" games left, and Florida is looking very down this season.  

In other words, if we were going to lose a game, it isn't surprising that this is the one.  Yes, Georgia usually beats South Carolina, but you can't win every game.

Second, look at the SEC situation now.  Our goal is to win the East, and it's looking like a race between South Carolina, Florida, and hopefully UGA.  If there was one East team to lose to, it might be good that it was the Gamecocks.  Take a look at their schedule.

Thu, Sept 21-0 (0-0)
Sat, Sept 112-0 (1-0)
Sat, Sept 187:00 PM ET ESPN3.comTickets
Sat, Sept 25TBDTickets
Sat, Oct 9TBDTickets
Sat, Oct 16TBDTickets
Sat, Oct 23TBDTickets
Sat, Oct 30TBDTickets
Sat, Nov 6TBDTickets
Sat, Nov 13TBDTickets
Sat, Nov 20TBDTickets
Sat, Nov 27TBDTickets

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.  Maybe even 3 or 4.

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.

Murray looks like a great QB for a freshman, the offense has playmakers and soon (hopefully) will have the best receiver in the country back, and the defense looked much better in the 2nd half (held the Cocks to 3 points and got  about five sacks).  

Plus, I think our new D's pass rush will work much better against Arkansas' defense.  Let's hope so.  

But still, the message is the same: Yes, it sucks to lose, but it's one game, and this season is FAR from over.  If we lose to Arkansas next week, I will be very worried, but for now, everything is still on the table.