Richt and Georgia have a chance to alter perceptions

Mark Richt is only 2-8 in his last 10 games against ranked teams. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt is only 2-8 in his past 10 games against ranked teams. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – It wasn’t Mark Richt’s intention to contrast the recent state of two college football programs Tuesday when he praised Boise State. But the words just sort of tumbled out that way.

“They know what they’re doing, they believe in what they’re doing,” the Georgia coach said Tuesday. “Teams with a habit of winning are hard to beat.”

When the Bulldogs face Boise State on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome, it will be an opener like no other Richt has had. That’s not merely because most believe this season will determine his future. It’s just that nobody can be sure what to make of the Georgia program right now.

We know athletes still flock to the program because recruiting services tell us so. We know they can still sell tickets and romance donors and build wonderful facilities. But are they still a player where it counts most? Richt went 48-18 (.727) in 66 SEC games beginning in 2002 but is only 5-9 (.357) since. The Bulldogs went 24-11 against ranked opponents from 2002 through mid-2008 but are 2-8 since.

Boise State begins this season ranked fifth. The last time Georgia defeated an opponent that highly ranked was in 2006 (37-15 over Auburn). Since then, the Dogs have lost four consecutive to top 5 opponents by 39, 7, 24 and 18 points.

Georgia has had a number of habits in the past two seasons, but winning is not one of them. Losing Saturday won’t necessarily stamp this season as a lost cause any more than winning the game would ensure success. But perceptions swing heavily this week, and they should. If you choose to embrace the endless blather about how an SEC team should beat a bunch of spud boys from Idaho who play home games on blue turf and in a weak conference, fine. But what exactly has Georgia done of late, other than lose to Colorado and Central Florida?

“I don’t personally think the season’s riding on the one game,” Richt said Tuesday. “It’s really not. But it’s a game we absolutely want to win. It’s a game that we expect to win. It has no bearing on the Southeastern Conference race. But what I do think it will do is give us a pretty good feel for what we’re made of. It will give us a pretty good idea what it’s going to take down the road.”

Richt knows. His players, his program and his fan base are in no position to mock diminish Boise State’s accomplishments. Or mock anybody. They finished 6-7 last season and did not beat a team last season that finished with a winning record. Two years ago, Richt fired several assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Willie Martinez. This year, he demoted strength coach Dave Van Halanger and promoted Joe Tereshinski.

He is running out of scapegoats.

Nobody questions Georgia’s talent. For Georgia to defeat Boise State or South Carolina next week, it will need to excel in areas that it simply hasn’t of late. Playing smart. Playing tough. Blocking and tackling. Showing some semblance of resolve.

Tight end Orson Charles said the first two games “will make or break our season. We’ll definitely know where we stand.”

Quarterback Aaron Murray said, “We want to be the kind of team that’s beating these top teams. We need to go out and prove it.”

Richt struggled to answer why Georgia fizzled in so many games last season.

“Is it because of the physical nature?” he said. “Is it because a guy couldn’t make a play or the ball bounced the wrong way? That may be. But we just need to get beyond that.”

After a while, the wrong things can become habitual. They begin to define a program. If Georgia wants to alter perceptions, it needs to start this week.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

281 comments Add your comment

Dawgfan93

August 30th, 2011
3:47 pm

Adam

August 30th, 2011
3:48 pm

Dawgfan93

August 30th, 2011
3:48 pm

Now, no one else can jump in with the “1st” comment junk….

Top Dawg

August 30th, 2011
3:49 pm

WIN BABY WIN

Top Dawg

August 30th, 2011
3:50 pm

dawgfan93, u just did

Adam

August 30th, 2011
3:50 pm

Dang! Had to read the article, didn’t I???

While this game isn’t make or break for the season, it is for the conference. We UGA fans and really most fans from the big conferences have criticized BSU as having a weak schedule. To have this kind of pressure is what makes or breaks the rest of the season. If UGA comes in and has a repeat performance from 2005, the mindset will hopefully be set for the remainder of the season…

Dawgfan93

August 30th, 2011
3:51 pm

touche’ Dawg….my bad ;-)

Top Dawg

August 30th, 2011
3:54 pm

I want to see how the players that skimped through practices in August with all the so called minor injuries react Saturday.
A lot of players didn’t seem to practice, but we’re being told they’re all going to be good enough to play….I hope that’s true, but I also hope it’s not a sign of lousy work ethic during season.

IRAQI DAWG

August 30th, 2011
3:57 pm

WELL..WELL..WELL…GA FANS!!!….It is time for the party to get started!!! Another season is upon us and my HATE for FLORIDA (Oct 29th is already circled on my calendar!) is just as strong as ever!!!!!.. Time to get after the crystal football in New Orleans in Jan 2012!!!!!…..LSU ate…Auburn ate..Alabama..ate…..Why cant we get a plate?? We are hungry!!!!…ITS OUR TIME!!!!!!! GO DAWGS!!!!

THE BIG R

August 30th, 2011
3:58 pm

AFTER BOISE GAME, HOW CAN YOU LOSE MORE THAN 2 CONFERENCE GAMES? SAID IT BEFORE 9-3.

Top Dawg

August 30th, 2011
3:58 pm

In particular, John Jenkins…Ken Malcolme (groin since spring?!) come on man, keep it in your pants and should be healed by now…he’s not helping with depth.
Branden Smith, don’t come back to early, you’ve done well.

Top Dawg

August 30th, 2011
3:59 pm

Bamards are going down, just like the lizards

Hank Williams Jr

August 30th, 2011
4:00 pm

Are you ready for some football?

Joe

August 30th, 2011
4:02 pm

Hope CMR makes Boykin available to the media after the game…see how much smack talk he does then…….I am a die hard uga fan but I am so sick and tired of this teams crap year in and year out. You dont hear championship calabre teams talking smack….but then again- being 6-7 last year doesnt make us much of anything except losers. I bet the coach kicks to him in the dome and I bet Boise makes him think twice about smack talking anymore…..a team that cant score a TD on CENTRAL Florida has no room to talk about anything.

Top Dawg

August 30th, 2011
4:04 pm

Is it odd that there are no more practices in full pads after Monday on game week?
Is this just a 1st week deal after August camp?
Anyone else remember Bloody Tuesdays practices with Coach Dooley. Those boys killed each other on Tuesday and destroyed competition on Saturdays.
Is this another wimpification of players today?

The better prepared we are...

August 30th, 2011
4:05 pm

…the luckier we will be regarding the ball bounces our way…this ain’t rocket science…

GO DAWGS…

Jerry

August 30th, 2011
4:06 pm

Well having a returning starter at QB will help UGA and it will be interesting to see who steps up this year. Bad news is Boise lost some big names but still has Moore and 14 returning starters to UGA’s 11.

http://coachesbythenumbers.com/do-returning-starters-translate-to-more-wins/

Herschel Talker

August 30th, 2011
4:08 pm

Schultzie:

If Richt loses this game, his death spiral is on.

HT

Hey, Top Dawg......

August 30th, 2011
4:08 pm

…”bloody Tuesday” starts during the regular season, AFTER the first game…and, NOBODY practices in pads on Monday’s (unless they really get hammered by someone on Saturday) – Tuesday and Wednesdays are for pads, then slack off on Thursday and Friday…

Hit REAL Hard

August 30th, 2011
4:09 pm

Alter that 6-7 perception.

82Dawg

August 30th, 2011
4:13 pm

Herschie: If he wins this game does it mean your death spiral is on??

82Dawg

Top Dawg

August 30th, 2011
4:14 pm

I figured it was just this week.
I don’t really think Richt has what Erk or Vince would call a Bloody Tuesday.

Hank Williams Jr. ( Old Bocephus)

August 30th, 2011
4:14 pm

A Saturday Night Party!!!!

Inlet Dawg

August 30th, 2011
4:16 pm

What Boise St has that we don’t,is a coaching staff that knows how to use their talent to the best of their ability.

Top Dawg

August 30th, 2011
4:16 pm

Shultzie, you got a big sack thinking we can’t sack schultz!

Top Dawg

August 30th, 2011
4:17 pm

What we have that Boise doesn’t have is DEPTH

Top Dawg

August 30th, 2011
4:20 pm

4th quarter is ours this year!!!!——> “”

Herschel Talker

August 30th, 2011
4:30 pm

82Dawg:

If he wins 10 games and the SEC East, then my death spiral is on. Nothing less.

HT

Carlton

August 30th, 2011
4:31 pm

You know what’s funny..everyone’s questioning whether Richt and Co. got more “soft” this year through practice, etc..and as Top Dawg asserts:
“I want to see how the players that skimped through practices in August with all the so called minor injuries react Saturday. A lot of players didn’t seem to practice, but we’re being told they’re all going to be good enough to play…”

Guess what? The same people who have been naysayers of Richt in the past seem to not eat their crow when it comes to the “traditional” practice of taking the players to the pool for diving sessions. Did anyone hear about him doing that this year? No, didn’t happen. Richt is back to his old form by realizing he is in a “hot seat” position and better start “studying the game of college football” or his job is gone. SO he made changes, and here’s the results (at least, of the Strength and conditioning program being changed up)..

http://blogs.ajc.com/uga-sports-blog/2011/08/23/15-of-georgias-25-rookies-likely-to-play-in-first-game/ Yeah..Crowell’s looking pretty ripped as only a freshman. Just look at the arms..

And the other photo I couldn’t find again. It was a photo of Boykin standing next to Richt and his arms were just completely ripped. Veins and all…but Richt’s getting it turned around, and as the past naysayers have mentioned..it started by not going to the pool anymore..

GO DAWGS!! 2011

Dawgatron

August 30th, 2011
4:31 pm

Hercshie you’re such a tool!

Whopper Dawg

August 30th, 2011
4:33 pm

“Is it because of the physical nature?” he said. “Is it because a guy couldn’t make a play or the ball bounced the wrong way? That may be. But we just need to get beyond that.”

Sounds like he is lost.

Jacket Fever

August 30th, 2011
4:34 pm

Hope Boise State isn’t your “Kansas”….

Instant Dawgma

August 30th, 2011
4:38 pm

Wonder what happened to the time when if you didn’t practice, you didn’t play.
Where are all the adults in this country anymore?……

lanier

August 30th, 2011
4:38 pm

well said jeff

darren

August 30th, 2011
4:42 pm

I hope we beat the brakes off this team. We have far better players and coaches with the exception of Bobo, which I am not sure about. I think Georgia needs to win or make the move now with Gratham as interm coach. I like Richt as a person and think he does a good job with helping these men grow up but I am tired of his excuses. The problem is that He allowed BVG to leave and could have stepped up with more money and kept him. Also he hired friends instead of coaches and waited to long to get rid of them. I think if Georgia beats BS they make a run and get back into SEC elite. If not lets find the best coach in College Football and get him.

Herschel Talker

August 30th, 2011
4:44 pm

Dawgatron:

Your spelling is an embarrassment to our university. You are a disgrace.

HT

Mad Dog One

August 30th, 2011
4:46 pm

OH MY GOD JEFF will Ga. Ever win another game, will CMR ever learn how to coach, will the players ever be in shape, will anyone go to see the DOGS play, will you ever give it a rest. GO DOGS

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 30th, 2011
4:48 pm

Hope Western Carolina isn’t CPJ Waterloo.

Joe

August 30th, 2011
4:53 pm

Not only are we Florida’s b…..now Central Florida owns us………TWEET THAT BOYKIN…..

Delbert D.

August 30th, 2011
4:55 pm

LowCountry – First, he would have to be fired, then return in glory later and then fired again. Not likely to happen.

Dawgatron

August 30th, 2011
4:56 pm

HT You’re literature is a disgrace, as well as your name.

Dawgatron

August 30th, 2011
4:58 pm

Your* hahahahahahahahahaha

Joey

August 30th, 2011
4:59 pm

I gonna be optimistic unless Richt proves me wrong this season. I take him at his word that he started studying cutting-edge football in January. We’ll know Saturday night if he did.

I thinks the D is gonna be nasty. Bobo may not need many points . . .

Go Dawgs.

i see veins.....

August 30th, 2011
4:59 pm

wow, carlton. what an astute observation. “i can see veins in their arms plus, no diving in ramsey center must equal a better football team.”

problem with the dogs…it aint in the arms, it aint in their legs, its in their hearts and heads.
i see a huge vein of heartless, lazy play, lead by a man who would rather be leading the cannibals to jesus than develop men to play football.

And, you know what? I aint got a problem with that……

Thank god we have a proper AD b/c I would hate to think what our record would be if we were still chasing the red panties….richt put his feet up on the desk when he got his last big contract and started planning his missionary journeys….and then last year….”rut ro, raggy!!!”

time for him to get ‘er done or get out.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

August 30th, 2011
5:01 pm

True Delbert, just the first thing I thought of. Not my best effort.

Mike

August 30th, 2011
5:03 pm

Perception? Richt is a phenomenal coach.

http://coachesbythenumbers.com/coach-rankings/

He is ranked 7th by the numbers. He’s fallen a bit, granted, let’s not Phillip Fulmer him and make the same stupid decision UT did.

Worm

August 30th, 2011
5:09 pm

This will be a good measuring stick, but the sum of the first two games will complete the equation..2-0 great, 1-1,OK, 0-2 will be deflating and take some serious motivation to rally the troops.

GTT

August 30th, 2011
5:10 pm

Bear Bryant went through a four-year stretch where Bama lost 15 games, with two ties, lost 11 conference games and went 0-3-1 in low level bowls. Today he would have been canned … before he had a chance to win 33 games the next three seasons.

Me, I think the Dawgs turn it around this season.

" HOT " seat

August 30th, 2011
5:12 pm

Truly study the game of football, the trends, and what’s going on ….

…. and hit REAL hard.

Shooter McGavin

August 30th, 2011
5:13 pm

I’m just worried about the secondary…