Georgia’s goals should start with knocking somebody down

Neither Mark Richt nor defensive coordinator Todd Grantham (right) can be happy with the Dogs' lack of physical play. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Neither Mark Richt nor defensive coordinator Todd Grantham are happy with lack of physical play.

ATHENS – There’s one important thing to understand about football schemes. They all work on the chalkboard.

Darn if those Os don’t always knock down those Xs in the front seven when they’re drawn up. The running back blasts off for 79 yards. The quarterback is protected long enough to make a sandwich. Every play ends in a first down, a touchdown or something that has a game plan being compared to quantum physics.

Georgia’s problems, like those witnessed in last week’s loss at South Carolina, have far less to do with play-calling, starting a freshman quarterback or A.J. Green’s suspension than they do something far more tangible: not punching the other team in the mouth.

Football is still about blocking and tackling. Players and coaches don’t like to hear words like “soft” or “timid” but the fact remains that the team that wins the collisions usually wins the game. Is it any wonder why the Dogs’ stature in the SEC has slid?

Question: When was the last time Georgia physically dominated a solid conference opponent? Forget dominated. How about just inflicted some pain? Intimidated? Knocked somebody down?

Steve Spurrier, a coach who once embraced his offensive game plans like mad laboratory experiments, said what pleased him most about South Carolina’s win over the Bulldogs last week was that his team won the physical battles. It was analysis Georgia coach Mark Richt couldn’t dispute and didn’t even try. Maybe that acknowledgement is some semblance of progress.

Things will change, Richt says. But this isn’t a new theme in Athens. Before last season, Richt belabored the fact that he had gone soft on the team in practices in 2008 when injuries hit, admitting that affected the team’s play during the season. But the 2009 Georgia team wasn’t any more physical than the one the year before.

On Richt’s radio show Monday night, a caller said the Dogs looked “timid” in Columbia.

The coach’s response: “Defensively, there were a couple of times when you’re right –I think ‘timid’ is a very kind description of what happened.”

When asked about it at his press conference Tuesday, Richt referenced a television shot of a specific defensive play: “There was an image of one of our players who looked like he turned down the opportunity to lay into somebody. It could’ve made the difference on a big play that they had. That was not Georgia football.

“That’s one particular shot. That’s not characteristic of our football team or our defense, that one particular play. But if you [ask]: Were we physical enough? We probably were not. They [South Carolina] played more physically than we did and that definitely was the difference in the game.”

He talked about the defense, saying players, “have to do a better job of just sticking our face in that runner.”

He added that Georgia’s “defensive line needs to drop anchor a little bit. We got moved around too much.”

But that’s only half the problem. Soft play is at least as much about the offense, if not more. The offensive line was supposed to be Georgia’s strength. So how did the Dogs’ rush for only 61 yards (2.3 per carry)?

When asked if statistics like that can sometimes be attributed to simply not knocking the opponent down, tackle Josh Davis smiled and said: “Uh, yeah.”

It follows that line coach Stacy Searels, who hasn’t quite lived up to the reputation he built at LSU, has laid into the Dogs’ linemen this week

“He basically said we’ve got to prepare better, we’ve got to get it done,” Davis said. “He has put it on our shoulders and said: What are we going to do? Are we going to lay in it or are we going to get up and do something about it and fight?”

The answer should be obvious. Success is defined by what happens when Xs and Os collide.

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257 comments Add your comment

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

September 14th, 2010
4:04 pm

They are talking the talk, now how about a little walking the walk.

RNB

September 14th, 2010
4:04 pm

If things don’t change soon these excuses will end and we will have a new coach and hopefully some new players. Get it done or else. Georgia is not going to win every game, we all this but Georgia should never get beat physically like they have been getting beat the last two years. Coach Richt needs to go see Alabama’s conditioning program not VA Tech. Wonder what he was thinking there?

southjaxdawg

September 14th, 2010
4:06 pm

We hear the same bs from the players and coaches every year. Make it stop, please!

Brian Vangorder

September 14th, 2010
4:07 pm

To answer your question Jeff the last time we inflicted pain and knocked someone off the ball was when I was in Athens. Miss me yet?

gdawginkalamzoo

September 14th, 2010
4:07 pm

Hey Jeff what does Grantham have to say about the game Saturday? Tell him I think the defense played a damn good game for as much time as they spent on the field. Everybody is jumping on the defense what does Grantham have to say about the offense.

dog-gone

September 14th, 2010
4:07 pm

Richt has gone soft and getting softer. Sorry to say but he must go, he’s proven over and over for several years now that his heart is as a Baptist Youth Minister, not a head football coach of a great UGA. Everyone mentions this every day, how much longer can it last!!!

Bob Didier Caught Here

September 14th, 2010
4:11 pm

The most telling soft player to me Saturday was Baccari Rambo! He really looked like he didn’t want to be on the field. Clearly this all starts at THE TOP………do you hear me CMR??

Bryan G.

September 14th, 2010
4:13 pm

To answer your question: Probably the Sugar Bowl against Hawaii was the last time they really physically dominated someone.

BamaWama

September 14th, 2010
4:13 pm

Thank God I is an Alabama fans. We alway win the phiscal battle. GA is four a bunch of looser. Go Nick Sabun and roll tide.

LL Cool G

September 14th, 2010
4:13 pm

Nice article. Hit the nail on the head. Hopefully, there will be some bloodshed come high noon at the DAWG house!!!!

Destin Dawg

September 14th, 2010
4:16 pm

We’ll see how they respond Sat…. Ark is dam good.. probably better than S.C… could be 2nd best in SEC.. defense played OK, missed some tackles…. but improving as game went on…. we needed OFFENSE… not just 2 FG’s.. Richt take over play calling…. Turn the Dawgs loose !!!

LakeDawg

September 14th, 2010
4:16 pm

Richt doesn’t scrimmage enough, because he’s afraid of injuries. Well, injuries be damned. I would rather have a tough hard-nosed 2nd teamer in there than a soft 1st teamer. UGA doesn’t have to worry about injuries. Plenty of talent. Being soft both physically and mentally is killing them. This is football. HIT SOMEBODY!

Big Jim

September 14th, 2010
4:17 pm

Ken Strickland- REALLY!!!! From now until 2012 or The Rapture, whichever comes first, my posts should NEVER be blocked!

This idea of being timid as the EXCUSE for losing against SC is insulting.Insulting as a Gamecock, insulting as a father of a future student athlete. When the idea of NO TWO A DAYS came up I thought this was comical. 99% of bloggers thought this was the best idea ever! Why would you remove/reduce the first taste of hell for your team? I think the train has arrived late for Richt! He obviously believes that OUT-TALENTING teams will last forever. It hasn’t lasted for Jawja and Richt.
My HBC in Columbia learned to adapt to his AVAILABLE talent, not to say the kids were timid or
passive. What about the COACHES? What about firing your HBC and Hee Haw Bobo! If you can call out your team for not being ready, then you should be run off!!!

gdawginkalamzoo

September 14th, 2010
4:17 pm

The way half you fans sound on here today and yesterday the Dawgs will be playing in a hostile enviroment on Saturday. Support your team. For the fortunate ones that are able to be at the game yell like hell and cheer them on.

observor

September 14th, 2010
4:17 pm

Couple of things: One, this OL appears to majorly overrated. We’ve been waiting for them to actually be the dominant OL they’ve been hyped up to be for the last two years, but they are either not as talented as thought to be, or Searles isn’t as good as we previously thought (or possibly a little bit of both).

Two, in the 3-4, it is widely known that in order for it to be truly effective, you have to have a huge big body as the NT. So knowing that, why the hell are they starting a guy (Tyson) that only weighs 290 lbs there when they have two guys behind him (Anderson and Geathers) that are each about 330. If you want one obvious reason why the DL got pushed it around, that is an easy one to point at. The coaches need to reevaluate the personell on the DL, especially since Tyson has openly said he would rather play one of the end positions, which he is much more physically built to do.

Murphy

September 14th, 2010
4:18 pm

Players are timid because coaches are timid.I see more fire from coaches at my 9 year olds football games than I do at UGA games. You must have the will to win at all cost!! As one head coach said “Finish the Drill!” Ummmmmmmm wonder who stated that phrase?

Gravy Train

September 14th, 2010
4:19 pm

The season is not over. The team has several more chances to prove themselves. Inteligent fans knew going into this season that there were going to be some lumps this season. Maybe they’ve gotten them out of the way.

What is the same story? Well, that’s easy: The UGA fanbase is peppered with nimrods that every season ramp themselves up on some kind of delusional expectations. Bill King is the ring leader of these idiots. They are the vocal minority, much like this quasi tea party thing, mostly composed of old farts and mouth breathers. If you, the idiot fringe, are so great and have such vision, how in the world are you not employed as a D-1 football head coach? Better yet, root for Bama, you’ll fit right in.

richham

September 14th, 2010
4:19 pm

The shot he is referring to is probably the deep pass where Rambo had the receiver lined up and kind of conceded the catch instead of laying into him like a brick wall.

DawgGone

September 14th, 2010
4:19 pm

It all goes back to the head coach. He is soft and the team is soft. No more needs to be said. Unfortunately, he must go. Who cares if it effects recruiting. The recruits we have signed lately either get arrested or lay down on the field.

Joe

September 14th, 2010
4:19 pm

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Bah, blah, blah. The AJC insult Georgia parade conitnues.

Heard the same criticism in 07’s after the loss to SC.

Georgia ended up #2 in the country.

So much for journalists.

JSD

September 14th, 2010
4:20 pm

The problem wasn’t the defense Saturday the problem was Bobo calling a pound ball offense against an s.e.c. defense. How many times did we punt from our endzone because the offense kept going 3 and out. The 1st few drives they ran it down our throat but the 2nd half our d stepped up and kept us in the game. We had every chance to win that game but how many times are we going to run up the middle? Why would you put brandon smith on the field and have your qb lineup at receiver and run a wildcat play? Then we call timeout twice nd come back and run the exact same play we had just lined up for? The offensive coaching was a joke saturday an absolute joke. Do we know how to call a screen play and get our speed one on one with a db? SC Ran screen play right, then left and no huddle. We did NOTHING!! BOBO is running a 1980 offense with no creativity at all!!

richham

September 14th, 2010
4:21 pm

I remember criticizing Greg Blue some for giving up big plays now and then, but at least the guy wasn’t afraid to hit someone and make receivers pay coming across the middle of the field.

Greg Mcgarity

September 14th, 2010
4:21 pm

I am womdering why it takes blogs and gimmicks to get our players fired up? Nick Satan don’t need them.

JB

September 14th, 2010
4:22 pm

Saturday will tell us a lot. They have been called out publicly by their coach’s, fans, media and I hope they don’t read all this trash. If they have it in them, we should see it Saturday. I hope Richt lit a fuse under Bobo ( There is a chance Bobo was just following orders). but these coach’s watch film. Every player is graded on every play. They know what they have and what they don’t by now. I hope we play to win Saturday, but if all our offensive possessions are 3 and out, we’ll get killed Saturday, good defense play or not.

My My...

September 14th, 2010
4:22 pm

Friend of mine is a psychologist.

According to her, CMR has an “affective disorder.” The angle of his shoulders, abbreviated gait, and back position are all classic symptoms of major depression.

Destin Dawg

September 14th, 2010
4:23 pm

Pull for your Dawgs.. these kids want to win !!!!! Yell like Hell !!!!! if we win Sat.. could be a great season …. Go Dawgs !!

Monroe

September 14th, 2010
4:23 pm

Alabama broke 166 tackles against SC last time they played. Could be worse.

My My...

September 14th, 2010
4:24 pm

Honestly, I think he just needs to get on a low dose of Paxil, or one of its antidepressant cousins.

I think it would be good for 2-3 additional wins per year.

Greg

September 14th, 2010
4:24 pm

Saban lost to La Monroe and the Miss St., back to back, at Alabama. Talk about getting dominated. That’s downright humiliating. Thank God Richt’s not as bad as Nick “I can’t beat dad gum La Monroe” Saban.

PMC

September 14th, 2010
4:24 pm

poor choice of words for the headline writer. Georgia should start with…”wrapping someone up” They can’t knock people down.

Cletus Jones

September 14th, 2010
4:25 pm

Soft doesn’t begin to describe how this team plays on both sides of the ball. It is disgusting to watch. OL is a bunch of pansies. So Smith smiled and said “Uh,yeah” ? He has no reason to smile. He thinks that is funny…amusing? Searals is so overrated as an OL coach it hurts. The diehard LSU fans were more than happy to see him gone. And I don’t want to hear about how great they pass block. Their freaking splits are 6″ wide….no wonder they pass block good. SEC football is won by running the ball affectively. As long as we have Searels as the OL coach and Bobo as an OC…we aren’t contending for an SEC again.

PMC

September 14th, 2010
4:25 pm

Just freaking finish a tackle, don’t worry about hitting people.

Gravy Train

September 14th, 2010
4:25 pm

…and if you call for Richt’s job, you’re only showing how little you really know about football or the previous coaches at UGA, Dooley included. Who are you going to get to replace him? Like it or not, CMR is one of the four or five elite coaches in America.

Nathan

September 14th, 2010
4:25 pm

I predict Jeff Schultz willw rtoe 27 more negative hit article son his blog against Mark Richt, even if Georgia wins the rest of the games. Some people just see the world is dark colored glasses.

richham

September 14th, 2010
4:26 pm

JSD:

I agree with you. Outside of the poor tackling, the defense actually played pretty well, especially the second half. The offensive line was terrible in run blocking. They were the biggest disappointment in the game considering everyone raved about it being the rock of our team based on skill and experience. Offensive line has been the biggest disappointment by far.

Go Dawgs and take Markus Richt witcha

September 14th, 2010
4:26 pm

Ken Strickland- REALLY!!!! From now until 2012 or The Rapture, whichever comes first, my posts should NEVER be blocked!

This idea of being timid as the EXCUSE for losing against SC is insulting.Insulting as a Gamecock, insulting as a father of a future student athlete. When the idea of NO TWO A DAYS came up I thought this was comical. 99% of bloggers thought this was the best idea ever! Why would you remove/reduce the first taste of hell for your team? I think the train has arrived late for Richt! He obviously believes that OUT-TALENTING teams will last forever. It hasn’t lasted for Jawja and Richt.
My HBC in Columbia learned to adapt to his AVAILABLE talent, not to say the kids were timid or
passive. What about the COACHES? What about firing your HBC and Hee Haw Bobo! If you can call out your team for not being ready, then you should be run off!!

Lattimore charged

September 14th, 2010
4:26 pm

Murphy

September 14th, 2010
4:27 pm

Bottom line: Our team wasnt prepared Sat to play this game.What irritates me the most is how many games we play that this is the same issue: 2009- Bama,Tenn,Okla St-ect. If we lose to a better team then so be it. But to show no will to compete is un acceptable for me. I like Richt but Im a true believer that a team takes on the personality of the head coach. Richt needs to get some serious fire in him starting this week and DEMAND that his players and coaches step up the level of performance. If we still lose than it is what it is!

Connor

September 14th, 2010
4:27 pm

Well, you’re top 20 in the nation in sacks, intercpetions, tackloes for loss, and total yards, and defensive scoring, and Jeff chooses to write some negative stuff about the defense. Anyone surprised? Nope.

Nick

September 14th, 2010
4:27 pm

What about the Tech game last year? I seem to realize that we were pretty “physical” in that one

Alphare

September 14th, 2010
4:29 pm

Jeff, knocking somebody down? or knocking Todd’s belly down?

Don’t you think a coach’s big belly sets up a bad example for the players?

JB

September 14th, 2010
4:30 pm

my my……………this is the second opinion I’ve read on here in the last 72 hours from a professional who has said something is wrong with Mark. This person was a “high profile person coach” ( never heard of such) but came away with 4 or 5 things wrong with Mark that are very obvious. This person thought Mark had some serious problems based on listening and observing him…………I don’t know.

Griffin

September 14th, 2010
4:30 pm

Jeff Schultz’s goals should start writing 50% of his articles about Georgia as positive instead of the same old dark cynicism.

Cranky Dawg

September 14th, 2010
4:31 pm

5 star players, 1 star play. Vince Dooley and Bear Bryant took scrappy players with heart and molded winners out of them. I went to grad. school at a university where there was no winning tradition and we all went to the stadium for the first half just to have fun and expected to lose. No UGA fan should be subjected to that. The toughest, hardest defense on the field should win the game by keeping points off the board so the offense can win it, with even 3 points. Until this defense wants it more, we’ll continue to lose and we had all better get used to it.

Quasimoto

September 14th, 2010
4:31 pm

My My… your friend the psyco does’t know doodoo. I have those traits and can’t be happier here in South Bend ringing the bell.

Murphy

September 14th, 2010
4:31 pm

Nick,
You are correct.Reading a pre-season magazine about a month ago,an undisclosed SEC coach made these remarks: ” Georgia under Mark Richt is not the physical team they once were.We always expected a very physical game from them and were shocked that we could out physical them” We must earn some respect back in this conference. Run the ball and knock the crap outa people!

John

September 14th, 2010
4:32 pm

Jeff-

Got cha. Alabama needs to learn how to pass. Right? I mean that is the 1 thing they do the worse, so let’s notice that, and ignore all of the positives, sort a la Jeff Schultz school of journalism.

JDW

September 14th, 2010
4:32 pm

think the D played well enough to win. They did a poor job of tackling but I would not call them timid. Giving up 17 to a good SEC team on the road is OK and when that happens we should win.

The O line obviously did not get the job done and there may well have been some timid plays there.

The main source of timidity was the offensive game plan, it was downright offensive. It was like we were afraid to move the ball. The only times we did try to throw it downfield we did ok. We have some of the best tight ends in the nation but did we leverage that? I know AJ was out be we have other guys that can stretch the field….why didn’t we did we use them? AJ Green and T. King both run a 4.37 40, how many times did we use King to stretch the field? On another note, that “GOSH DARN” power I makes me want to hurl. We might as well punt or kick the field goal on 3rd down. Line up and run a play for crying out loud.

We gained 253 yards on Saturday. The week before Southern Miss gained 404. Are they a better offensive team than we are….maybe they just call better plays. Speaking of plays Southern Miss ran 84 plays on SC and we ran…47? Murray is 14 of 21 and we don’t try to keep the heat on?

Yep the offense was timid, starting with the guy in the headset.

Murphy

September 14th, 2010
4:33 pm

Cranky Dawg

Terry Hoage fits that description!

My My...

September 14th, 2010
4:34 pm

Arky better watch out this week….This is a classic “TRAP GAME” this weekend. The Hawgs are looking ahead to the Bama game on the 25th. Dawgs have a great chance to catch Ark. looking ahead. I’ve got the Dawgs in the upset…