Even Independence Bowl can tell us something about Georgia

Mark Richt entertained the horde of media (slight exaggeration) in Shreveport this week.

Mark Richt entertained the horde of media (slight exaggeration) in Shreveport this week.

Let’s start with two facts. 1) Seven SEC teams landed in better bowl games than Georgia: Alabama (BCS), Florida (Sugar), LSU (Capital One), Mississippi (Cotton), Tennessee (Chick-fil-A), Auburn (Outback), Kentucky (Music City); 2) Only 6,800 of the Bulldogs’ 12,000-ticket allotment to the Independence Bowl was sold, which of course leads to the obvious question: How did they find 6,800 people to go to Shreveport?

So it’s safe to assume that most of you are not thrilled with the fact that the final memory of the 2009 season will be the Dec. 28, 5 p.m. time slot tonight on ESPN 2. (Programming note: The Independence Bowl follows the Premier League soccer game between Wolverhampton and Manchester City.)

But I’m here to tell you that tonight’s game does mean something for Georgia’s season. Besides, it’s worth watching if for no other reason than more updates from the minds of Urban Meyer.

This is what a win over Texas A&M tonight accomplishes. It leaves Georgia at 8-5, which aesthetically is a more pleasing than 7-6. It also means the Bulldogs will have gone 4-1 in their final five games after the Florida loss, including the win over Georgia Tech.  (The lone defeat came to Kentucky, a development so stunning that even Rich Brooks is going to retire.) A win keeps recruits who are on the fence about Georgia at least still on that fence, or maybe even pushes them over it. A loss possibly tips them in the wrong direction.

The biggest problem with tonight’s game is it doesn’t give Georgia fans a true preview of next season. Next season’s quarterback won’t be playing, which stems from coach Mark Richt’s decision not to take the redshirt off of freshmen Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger. In a sense, next season’s defense also won’t be playing because Richt hasn’t hired a defensive coordinator yet (nor at least two other assistants).

But what you can take from tonight’s game is seeing what underclassmen are making plays tonight. Who looks like they are treating the game as a bonus and not a booby prize?

We can also find out something about Richt. This will be the first game he has coached since he fired Willie Martinez. Given the pressures and time constraints stemming from the job search, as well as recruiting, I want to see where the man’s level of energy and enthusiasm is at coaching a football game.

It’s not the game you wanted. It’s not the day or time slot you wanted. But it’s not a game devoid of meaning.

395 comments Add your comment

UA Alum92

December 28th, 2009
1:30 pm

UA Alum92

December 28th, 2009
1:31 pm

Yahoo!!! Where do I pick up my free subscription, JS?

PMC

December 28th, 2009
1:37 pm

Honestly though Jeff, I’m almost more excited to see what the A&M offense looks like vs the defense they are currently running at GA.

Not a scheme thing so much, but to see what rest and hopefully focus means to the way the young guys play on defense.

I’m interested to see if the OL blocks well even against a powder puff A&M defense and whether or not the receivers play well.

Mark really needs the offense at the very least to play a crisp well executed game..whether the score is Arkansasesque or not.

PMC

December 28th, 2009
1:39 pm

I want to see special teams players not turning the ball over and I want to see if Branden Smith’s pass coverage ability has progressed to the positive.

Dostoyevskiy

December 28th, 2009
1:43 pm

A&M and UGa rushing to be first to Shreveporta John.

CatsFly

December 28th, 2009
1:45 pm

Pick-ups and travel trailers clog up Shreveporta John.

athensdawg

December 28th, 2009
1:45 pm

the problem this year has been that 1. we couldn’t run the ball. 2. willie’s defense sucked.
had #1 been working, #2 wouldn’t have been so bad.

so…same scenario. can we run the ball? if we can, we will win. if not, hang onto your hats.

lanier

December 28th, 2009
1:45 pm

i want to see if the grad asst. outcoaches wille. wille would have given up over 40 to the aggies

"But it’s not a game devoid of meaning".

December 28th, 2009
1:45 pm

As Col. Sherman T. Potter would say “HORSEHOCKEY!”

Jeff Schultz

December 28th, 2009
1:46 pm

PMC — The scheme will be ultra simplified, for obvious reasons. I think it actually will be an interesting game to watch.

Jeff Schultz

December 28th, 2009
1:46 pm

UA Alum 92 — Certificate’s in the mail. Use to be a check, but then they started bouncing.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

December 28th, 2009
1:51 pm

Not much to gain or lose in this game, hopefully it will at least be a hard hitting, interesting game. Good night Willie Martinez where ever you are

Bryan G.

December 28th, 2009
1:52 pm

I think you’re right, Jeff. How the team plays and how Richt coaches will say a lot about this program and where it is headed. If they go out and lay an egg, that will speak volumes about Richt’s ability to motivate.

The main thing is that this trip has to be used as motivation in 2010. Next time UGA is stinking it up at the half of a game, all Richt has to say is “men, do we want to play our butts off or do you want to do Christmas in Shreveport again??”

Chris

December 28th, 2009
1:54 pm

Jeff – did the AJC not feel like footing the bill for you to report the game in person?

SD Dawg

December 28th, 2009
1:55 pm

Certainly disappointed to be here. Certainly deserved it. Jeff, you are right though. It’s not a game devoid of meaning and I do not expect the team will phone this in. You make an interesting point about the last 5 games. Unfortunately, I think the UK loss was needed as I do not think the necessary changes would have been made had that not happened.

I like the fact we got another four weeks to practice and get better as a team. However, we are long way away from turning the ship. The good news is that the SEC East is a little muddled next year. The last time we ran a red-shirt freshman out there as QB, we won 8 games and played pretty well (Green in 2001) so it’s possible. I choose to be optimistic that things will be better. Nine months of the alternative is not the way I plan on spending the off season.

Paul Johnson

December 28th, 2009
1:56 pm

I’m still trying to figure out how Willie Martinez outcoached me this year. Sure, we won the ACC and go to the Urange Bowl*, but we lost to the worst Ga. team in 20 years. Just damn!

*Urange Bowl features ACC Champion which lost to Ga (again).

SEC SEC SEC

December 28th, 2009
1:57 pm

Man, did you see that whoppin our SEC counterparts put on that weak @ss ACC conference team last night. Kentucky ran all over them and Clemson looked like they didn’t even have a clue. I wish Clemson was in the SEC so it would be a guaranteed win for all the teams in our superior conference. SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC

Dude

December 28th, 2009
1:58 pm

The game is at 5:00????? WTF!! I guess I will get to catch the second half. So you’re telling me the game is competing with re-runs of The King of Queens and Seinfeld? If it’s “The Contest” episode, I might have to think real hard before switching over to the Ocho.

Either a tard or your joking

December 28th, 2009
2:02 pm

SEC SEC SEC ,

Are you sure you watched the same game as everyone else did?? If I am not mistaken Clemson took Kentucky to the woodshed. But, if you’re joking, HAHA..

11-2 GEORGIA TECH in ORANGE BOWL

December 28th, 2009
2:05 pm

An Orange Bowl victory leaves Georgia Tech at 12-2, which aesthetically is more pleasing than 11-2.

Please enter your Shreveport 7-5 comments here:

SOUTHGADAWG88

December 28th, 2009
2:06 pm

I expect to see Ealy and King continue to dominate as a rushing duo.On Defense?Well the coaches have been fired,the seniors and draft thinking juniors will be playing their last game at UGA…what’s more important to them…winning the game or not getting hurt?How motivated will any of them be?Our offensive guys have a lot to play for same could be said for the A&M offense..how bad would it look to be shutdown by a team that doesn’t have a defensive staff together..so I expect some offensive fireworks 38-35 somewhere along those lines.

ACC Rules

December 28th, 2009
2:07 pm

Uhh, 21-13 isn’t exactly being taken to the woodshed. However, if that does classify as a woodshed beatin’ then 30-24 and gaining over 300 yards on the ground against a 10-1 team would be the same if not worse.

ACC Rules

December 28th, 2009
2:08 pm

Uhhh, 21-13 isn’t exactly a woodshed whoopin’. However, if it is, then 30-24 and gaining over 300 yards against the eventual conference champs would classify the same. Thanks for clarifying!

11-2 GEORGIA TECH in ORANGE BOWL

December 28th, 2009
2:09 pm

An Independence Bowl loss leaves Georgia at 7-6 which is very disturbing.

acc=weakersister

December 28th, 2009
2:09 pm

All you ACC fans need to shut up. Your SECOND place team beat the 5th or 6th best out of the SEC by a touchdown. Really? How do you think your RUNNER-UP would do against OUR runner-up (Florida). Chew on that and then be happy for your BCS bid that is undeserved.

Spurrier

December 28th, 2009
2:12 pm

This is so sad.

SOUTHGADAWG88

December 28th, 2009
2:12 pm

Folks keep talking about the Kentucky game as some sort of spur for change…I think Wille and crew were gone regardless.Watch the game again…WM had nothing to do with losing that game.We still fumbled at the 1yd line…that’s why we lost

The Lone Trumpeter

December 28th, 2009
2:15 pm

Jeff is right. This game means a lot to our recruiting and to our pride. We need to go out there and show what SEC football is all about. I really don’t think our defense will be affected by the absence of Martinez. He never blitzed and ran a base defense 80 percent of the time. I think our fill ins will probably do about the same. Can’t wait to see the new d next year.

SD Dawg

December 28th, 2009
2:16 pm

SOUTHGADAWG, totally agree that defense didn’t lose the UK game, but I promise you that if we had won that game and went to the Outback and won and finished 9-4, there would have been very little change in this staff, if at all. The loss to UK only further put pressure on Richt to make changes.

I am just glad the changes were made. We’ll be better for it….I hope! Or we’ll be hiring a new coach come this time next year.

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 28th, 2009
2:17 pm

Jeff, I’m starting to believe you and Mark are really the same person.

When was the last time you were seen together , huh?

Welcome back, I’ll save the welcome home when you get there.

Dumb argument

December 28th, 2009
2:17 pm

There’s no way of knowing how the ACC’s runner up would do against the SEC’s runner up because they are never going to play each other. So comparing conferences is just stupid and it would be nice if everyone would stop trying to do so. Since that is never going to happen, I would guess Florida would beat Clemson like that have been beating UGA for the past decade and a half. However, we will never know since they never play each other so STFU ACC and SEC fans!

GIVE ME A BREAK

December 28th, 2009
2:17 pm

How fitting at Christmas for Willie to pay for Bobo’s mistakes.

alpharettadawg

December 28th, 2009
2:18 pm

This bowl game is a waste. Let’s hope these underclassman remember this feeling for the rest of their stay at UGA and it motivates them to play in BCS bowls. I’d rather they use this 3 hr time slot for Richt to announce his DC, and talk about his plan for 2010. At least the 2010 schedule resembles the schedule Alabama played this year.

UA Alum92

December 28th, 2009
2:19 pm

Independece Bowl predictions? What about the Vikes and the Bears?

Barnacle Bill Bavasi

December 28th, 2009
2:22 pm

So, can the Falcons please sign Brandon Coutu now? Geez.

The Lone Trumpeter

December 28th, 2009
2:22 pm

Martinez was gone no matter what after the Tenn game. Richt just had to wait till the right time.

FartsALotDawg

December 28th, 2009
2:22 pm

Time to tail gait.

Monticello Dawg

December 28th, 2009
2:23 pm

Dude, I would definitely recommend you watch the second half. It is the last chance in 09 to watch the STATE CHAMPION Georgia Bulldogs.

Basketball fans, after the game is over, you can switch to Comcast Sports and see the last part of the UNDEFEATED, TOP TEN RANKED, and yes, STATE CHAMPION Lady Bulldogs of Coach Andy Landers as they take on Clemson.

SD Dawg

December 28th, 2009
2:24 pm

UA- Hard to predict what Dawgs team will show up. But if the A&M defense is as bad as they say, I would say 28-27 (pick a team) because we will run the ball and limit possessions. I don’t think A&M will hit the 40 point mark like some are predicting. I think our best defense will be to grind out the clock and just simply limit possessions.

Like the Vikes now that the Saints have opened the door for home field.

Snorkel (the forgotten Split)

December 28th, 2009
2:27 pm

This is a major crossroads for Richt and the GA program. The VA. Tech AD stopped what would have been the best Christmas possible for all who wear the Red and Black… and the clock is still ticking. There needs to be a D Coordinator before signing day. Remember what happened to Tuberville when he started firing coordinators? I hear Larry in my head voicing all kinds of anxiety:

Larry: “My God man! Can these guys possibly stop the other guys without a coach.. we got a couple of Grad students trying stick fingers in the Dyke? Can they possibly stop this flood?”

Lorne: “Well Larry, Docta Adams just set up a motor scooter drivin safety program for the bulldawgs and …”

Larry: “Shut up Lorne… just shut up. We are in danger of losing to a 6 and 6 team that trots a high school defense onto the field and you are telling me about some freaking detail that has nothing to do with anything!”

Lorne: ” Well Larry, I remember in 1979 when coach Dooley lost to Wake Forest at home and they got new red and black socks for the seniors and…”

Larry; “I knew I should have stayed retired.”

heartofdarkness

December 28th, 2009
2:29 pm

Who is favored in the Wolverhampton match?

Drunk in Shreveport

December 28th, 2009
2:31 pm

Woo hoo! Just made out with a toothless local yokel at the Waffle House

Gooooooooooooooooo dawgs! 8-5 baby

SD Dawg

December 28th, 2009
2:32 pm

I like Manchester City in this one. They have a smothering defense and are just too fast on the edges. ;-)

Paul's Johnson

December 28th, 2009
2:33 pm

Coach Suntan’s teams are completely unpredictable. They win when they shouldn’t—except against Florida—-and lose unexpectedly, sometimes in blowout fashion. About the only think we definitely say about this game is that Mutts should come out in their normal colored pet sweaters

Lindsey

December 28th, 2009
2:34 pm

GO DAWGS!!!!!

acc=weakersister

December 28th, 2009
2:35 pm

I think it would be a great marketing idea to have a SEC-ACC challenge every season in early September or late August to parallel the ACC-Big 10 matchup in basketball. Pit the teams against each other based on their finish from the previous year. It would give a solid out of conference game and fans would eat it up. Granted, certain parameters would have to be set (no UGA-GT, UF-FSU, or Clem-USC matchups), but it would be a great marketing tool. Thoughts? I’ll hang up and listen.

SOUTHGADAWG88

December 28th, 2009
2:36 pm

It’s a thin line between winning and losing SD Dawg.Think about it this way…if King and Ealy were ready to go in game 1 I don’t think we are sitting on 7-5…I say 9-3 at the least.My major complaint against the defensive staff had been 3 or 4 years of suspect recruiting outside of DT’s.Seems like that group got the message 1 year too late.As for the future…the offense is going to be loaded next year….this has to be the best collection of talent Richt has ever had at UGA including 08..Defense….a lot like this year’s offense…a lot of unknowns but some youngsters with potential.

SD Dawg

December 28th, 2009
2:36 pm

However, there is one game where “Coach Suntan” is pretty predictable. Happens just after Thanksgiving every year.

Mike Bobo

December 28th, 2009
2:39 pm

Looks like we will be returning here for many more years……
If we could only beat Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, LSU, Alabama….

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

December 28th, 2009
2:40 pm

Well, it’s closer to game time and Coach Richt has some really nice sunglasses on. We think maybe he has a sunglasses contract sort of like a shoe contract only for sunglasses. Anyway, he’s always been nice to me and I’m just a temp. How’s the state running about now?