Bulldogs’ ‘NFL talent’ have their heads somewhere else

South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore has been among those who've dented Georgia's defense. (Gerry Melendez/The State)

South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore is among those who've dented Georgia's defense. (The State photo)

ATHENS – Ten months ago, Mark Richt stood in front of a room in Butts-Mehre Hall and pronounced, “Today is a great day for Georgia.”

Notwithstanding that those words came at an orchestrated media event — two weeks after a bowl loss to Michigan State (please forget) and two weeks before national signing day (please come) – nobody could dispute the sentiment. In the room with Richt were 15 players who announced they were bypassing the NFL draft to return for another season. Nine played on defense. Another returnee was Jarvis Jones, who was attending a football camp that day.

Expectations were high for Georgia this season primarily for one reason: defense. There were nine returning starters. There were nine upperclassmen. There were four players projected to go as high as the first round in the next draft. There was a defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham, lauded to such a great degree after the last season that he was given a contract extension, a raise and the title of associate head coach.

So how many games has the Georgia defense shown up for this season?

One: Vanderbilt.

Cornerback Sanders Commings said when he looked around the room at that January photo, “I was thinking national championship.”

Now the Dogs need help just to get out of their division. They’ll beat Kentucky Saturday. This game is more about trying to show that preseason expectations won’t amount to more empty Georgia promises — because otherwise, forget about the Florida game in two weeks.

The defensive rankings scream mediocrity. Expected to be among the top five units nationally, they’re not even top five in the SEC. They’re giving up more yards per games than Ole Miss and Missouri. They have fewer sacks than Kentucky.

With so much projected NFL talent on the roster, it’s not unfair to pose the question: Are players thinking more about the next level than the next game?

It’s not uncommon for agents — excuse me: “family advisers” — to get inside players’ heads about what pro scouts might be looking for, clouding more pressing matters like that week’s game plan.

“Not at all,” Richt said when asked if players might have lost focus because of their pro prospects. “Everybody wants to win. A lot of guys have an NFL future, but they know the better we play as a team, the better everybody looks. Even when we had that press conference in this room, I didn’t tell them what to say. As a matter of fact, I  was trying to find out why they wanted to stay, and a big part was because they wanted to have a great season.”

He has alluded to “communication problems.” That seems unusual for a defense with so many returning starters and seniors.

“I don’t want to get into making excuses about anything,” Richt said. “The bottom line is we should be doing better.”

Better than this: eighth in scoring defense in the SEC, ninth in total defense, 10th against the run, ninth against the pass, 10th in interceptions, ninth in takeaways, ninth in third-down defense, 11th in sacks.

Jarvis Jones (ankle, groin) hasn’t been healthy. Suspensions to four starters (Commings, Bacarri Rambo, Alec Ogletree, Chase Vasser) prevented the starting unit from being together until the fifth game.

But that doesn’t explain allowing 199 rushing yards to Buffalo. Or seeing Missouri connect for early touchdown passes of 41 and 69 yards. Or Florida Atlantic driving to two TDs on its first four possessions, with a likely third scoring drive ending with a fumble. Or Tennessee totaling 478 yards and 44 points (even if half that was set up by Georgia turnovers). Or South Carolina driving for touchdowns on its first two possessions and rushing for 230 yards.

Ask what the problem is, you’ll hear general vague responses: mental mistakes, missed assignments, overaggressiveness.

“Sometimes when you have a lot of veteran guys back, you’re all hungry and anxious to make plays,” Commings said. “Sometimes you just have to let plays come to you. I think we realize that.”

Defense was supposed to carry them. Somebody didn’t get the memo.

By Jeff Schultz

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Weekend Predictions: No sacrifices, but Falcons, LSU win

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Al Groh’s problems at Georgia Tech weren’t pure ‘fantasy’

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Spurrier should take a lesson from Richt on handling criticism

367 comments Add your comment

avalanche in Aruba

October 16th, 2012
9:38 pm

Did they intentionally choose morons to ask these debate questions?

Kevin

October 16th, 2012
9:39 pm

Georgia’s been turned down by MUCH WORSE THAN JOHN GRUDEN. Didn’t GLEN MASON of Kansas turn Georgia down before Donnan took the job?

Phil

October 16th, 2012
9:40 pm

Nothing wrong with Gruden saying no. Go ahead and ask. While you’re at it, ask Saban too! If Georgia has the money, then offer Saban more than he’s making at Bama.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
9:53 pm

Beast from the East
October 16th, 2012
9:36 pm

DawgNole,
I’m up in Atlanta now. Have been for the past 10 years. UF does try to get teams to let us do the return trip at a later date than the next year, but most won’t do it. We open at Miami next year which is a return trip from their last visit to the Swamp in 2008.
______________________

Then let’s alternate it between ATL and JAX, although I’d still prefer to see it on the two campuses–and to hell with the 50-50 ticket split.

Glad to see Miami back on your schedule–even if only for a year. That was a series that never should’ve ended, in my opinion, especially when they were worth a damn.

avalanche in Aruba

October 16th, 2012
9:55 pm

Is it just me, or does anyone else think Saban is a cyborg? The guy is relentless in all areas of his job. There is not another Saban out there. Kelly at Notre Dame might come close.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
9:56 pm

Kevin
October 16th, 2012
9:37 pm

What’s wrong with giving Gruden the chance to say no? Wow!
_____________________

Not sure I’d want a coach who was axed at his last coaching job.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
9:59 pm

Kevin
October 16th, 2012
9:39 pm

Georgia’s been turned down by MUCH WORSE THAN JOHN GRUDEN. Didn’t GLEN MASON of Kansas turn Georgia down before Donnan took the job?
____________________

Sure did.

I remember at his (Donnan’s) first UGA press conference that he said (with that deadpan expression of his) that he and Mason had been friends, but that he didn’t realize Mason was THAT good a friend.

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

October 16th, 2012
10:00 pm

Right. Now, who is the coach of this football team who has Lost 16 of the Current 18 Games who made the Top 25 ?

Who is the coach of this football team who has Lost 14 of his 17 Games all 12 years against teams who made the Top 10 ?

The Defense did Nothing last season, either, against any of the Top 10 or Top 25 Opponents. So, what is different this season about that ? Nothing.

In fact, Mark Richt has not beat a single SEC team who put up a Winning SEC Record starting with the Kentucky game way back in 2007 which was 6 seasons’ ago and covers 10 Straight Consecutive Losses in a Row.

In fact, Mark Richt has beat 2 teams out of now 18 games since who made the Top 25 after the Georgie tek game in that forgettable horrible 2009 season which was 4 seasons’ ago.

In fact Mark Richt has not beat a single team who made the Top 10 after # 9 Auburn way back in 2006 which was 7 seasons’ ago and covers 8 Consecutive Losses in a Row.

_________________________
The problem ain’t the defense -
_________________________

It’s the Defense, the Offense, the Special Teams, the recruiting or lack thereof, the lack of discipline followed by harsh punishment, the “coaching staff” and the personality of the coach since Kathryn Richt was diagnosed with Cancer May 2, 2006 – he Obviously Does Not Care About Football Anymore.

Tampa Gator

October 16th, 2012
10:04 pm

Dawgnole…..

I will take that deal…JAX and ATL. Tons and tons of Gators living in THE ATL. Still would be 50-50 there………and is a much more faster field for the Gator D. Plus…..Georgia loses yearly recruiting in JAX and Florida gains semi-annual recruiting in THE ATL. Sounds good to me.

P.S. Maybe the Noles could beat NC State if they played them in JAX.

Beast from the East

October 16th, 2012
10:04 pm

DawgNole,
The city of Jacksonville will NEVER allow it leave for another neutral site. That game generates too much money for them and the communities along the coast. They also pay both schools handsomely.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:05 pm

Hey, TB, you still predicting that fla will “lose four or five games in 2012″?

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:06 pm

Beast from the East
October 16th, 2012
10:04 pm

DawgNole,
The city of Jacksonville will NEVER allow it leave for another neutral site. That game generates too much money for them and the communities along the coast. They also pay both schools handsomely.
_____________________

I know. Basically it’s just wishful thinking on my part.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:10 pm

Tampa Gator
October 16th, 2012
10:04 pm

Dawgnole…..
I will take that deal…JAX and ATL. Tons and tons of Gators living in THE ATL. Still would be 50-50 there………and is a much more faster field for the Gator D. Plus…..Georgia loses yearly recruiting in JAX and Florida gains semi-annual recruiting in THE ATL. Sounds good to me.

P.S. Maybe the Noles could beat NC State if they played them in JAX.
______________________

Now, here Beast and I were having a civil discourse and you gotta bring up NCST.

I don’t WANT ATL & JAX; I’d prefer Athens & g’ville–and no 50-50 split. I just threw out ATL-JAX as a potential alternate. But as Beast points out, it’s not likely to happen.

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

October 16th, 2012
10:16 pm

_________________________________________________________________

DawgNole September 3rd, 2012 6:33 pm

“If you go out to College Station and don’t win, then you’re likely in for another long season. Same with UGA at Mizzou. A win in that environment means the Dawgs have legitimate hopes for a solid year. A loss and it’s SOS (beat the pansies, lose to the others).

_________________________________________________________________

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

October 16th, 2012
10:18 pm

Yes, I think Florida loses Saturday and Saturday week, and to FSU and it’s bowl game.

Now, what was it you said, dimwit ? The same thing. Didn’t you ?

You also said you’re a HUGE GEORGIE TEK FAN and that you PULL FOR GEORGIE TEK, DawgNole.

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

October 16th, 2012
10:19 pm

You also said that Mizzou was some great team, and I told you they would lose 6 games or more.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:22 pm

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
October 16th, 2012
10:18 pm

Yes, I think Florida loses Saturday and Saturday week, and to FSU and it’s bowl game.

Now, what was it you said, dimwit ? The same thing. Didn’t you ?

You also said you’re a HUGE GEORGIE TEK FAN and that you PULL FOR GEORGIE TEK, DawgNole.
______________________

Is that 5 losses? Liar.

And I do pull for G Tech–in all but two games (UGA & FSU), as I’ve said more than a few times. You have a problem with it? Crawl back in your hole, sissy boy.

Mountain Dawg

October 16th, 2012
10:24 pm

Grantham has pulled the $CAM of the century on the Dawgs.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:26 pm

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
October 16th, 2012
10:16 pm
_________________________________________________________________

DawgNole September 3rd, 2012 6:33 pm

“If you go out to College Station and don’t win, then you’re likely in for another long season. Same with UGA at Mizzou. A win in that environment means the Dawgs have legitimate hopes for a solid year. A loss and it’s SOS (beat the pansies, lose to the others).
_____________________

I stand by that statement. fla went to A&M and WON, so no long season. Dawgs WON at Mizzou–and still have legitimate hopes for a solid year–if they can beat fla, which you’ve labeled as unworthy.

You continue to further degrade yourself (if that’s possible) with each imbecile post.

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

October 16th, 2012
10:26 pm

Now, do you want to make this about me, or about Mark Richt and what you said too on Mark Richt ?

_____________________________
“beat the pansies, lose to the others”
_____________________________

That’s what you said. Oh, yours doesn’t stink to high heaven. Let’s not talk about the ISSUE of this blog. Let’s talk about Thomas Brown.

Forget that dimwit when you told Florida posters that when they went out to Texas A & M and LOST that they’d be in for a LONG SEASON AGAIN. Oh, do I offer up 4 Losses for a lousy Florida team 2012 ? You bet. Now, what did you say on that ? Oh, no. Let’s not talk about what YOU said to the Florida fans. Right ?

Or, how you measure UGA 2012 by whether we can beat the pansies and lose the others – such as you offer up Mizzou 2012.

Excuse me, Mizzou 2012 is 1 of the pansies as I told you, aren’t they ?

WHERE IS THAT SINGLE-DIGIT IQ BRAINIAC ?

Still in hiding ?

Beast from the East

October 16th, 2012
10:26 pm

Heck, I pull for Tech, too. Just so happens it doesn’t really matter how much support they have this year. They still suck!

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:27 pm

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
October 16th, 2012
10:19 pm

You also said that Mizzou was some great team, and I told you they would lose 6 games or more.
________________________

Where did I say Mizzou was “some great team”? LIAR. I said the environment would be hostile, and it was.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:29 pm

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
October 16th, 2012
10:26 pm

Now, do you want to make this about me, or about Mark Richt and what you said too on Mark Richt ?
______________________

Like I said, be VERY thankful I can’t reach through your keyboard. You lying coward.

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

October 16th, 2012
10:29 pm

DawgNole October 16th, 2012 10:26 pm
_______________________________________________________

“And I do pull for G Tech as I’ve said more than a few times. You have a problem with it? Crawl back in your hole, sissy boy.”
_______________________________________________________
DawgNole October 16th, 2012 10:26 pm

Yeah, I’ve got a problem with that DawgNole October 16th, 2012 10:26 pm

Beast from the East

October 16th, 2012
10:30 pm

Thomas Brown,
To be fair, most of us Gators predicted us to go about 8-4 this year. Tampa Gator had much higher expectations than I did and he looks to correct. Muschamp and his staff have done an OUTSTANDING job so far this year.

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

October 16th, 2012
10:31 pm

I’m lying ?

Huh DawgNole ?

_____________________________
“beat the pansies, lose to the others”
_____________________________

You didn’t say that ?

You didn’t say that Mark Richt same ole sh beats the pansies and lose to the others ?

Yeah, you did you flipping LIAR.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:32 pm

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
October 16th, 2012
10:26 pm

Oh, do I offer up 4 Losses for a lousy Florida team 2012 ? You bet. Now, what did you say on that ? Oh, no. Let’s not talk about what YOU said to the Florida fans. Right ?
_________________________

You offered up “four or five losses,” you weasel. And now you want to pretend you didn’t. Dirtbag.

DawgNole says Mark Richt beats the pansies, loses to the others

October 16th, 2012
10:32 pm

_____________________________
“beat the pansies, lose to the others”
_____________________________

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:33 pm

Beast from the East
October 16th, 2012
10:30 pm

Thomas Brown,
To be fair, most of us Gators predicted us to go about 8-4 this year. Tampa Gator had much higher expectations than I did and he looks to correct. Muschamp and his staff have done an OUTSTANDING job so far this year.
_____________________

Thomas the spineless one would beg (on his knees, licking your boots, no doubt) to disagree with you.

avalanche in Aruba

October 16th, 2012
10:34 pm

OT: Everything the President has said he’s had 4 years to do…time for a change…Romney won debate #2…

Beast from the East

October 16th, 2012
10:36 pm

avalanche,
Wrong forum.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:38 pm

Thomas Brown 5 yrs of losing every ranked team 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
October 16th, 2012
10:31 pm

I’m lying ?
Huh DawgNole ?
_____________________________
“beat the pansies, lose to the others”
_____________________________

You didn’t say that ?
_____________________

Yes, you’re lying! Every one of your lame posts is a lie.

And don’t distort what I said, liar. I said if UGA didn’t beat Missouri it likely would be another year of beating the pansies and losing to the others. Halfway through the season, we’ve beaten the pansies and lost to one of thetwo others.

You’re out of your league here, jerk. Go to bed–and behave yourself back there.

DawgNole says "And I do pull for G Tech"

October 16th, 2012
10:39 pm

DawgNole September 3rd, 2012 6:33 pm

“If you go out to College Station and don’t win, then you’re likely in for another long season. Same with UGA at Mizzou. A win in that environment means the Dawgs have legitimate hopes for a solid year. A loss and it’s SOS (beat the pansies, lose to the others).
_____________________

Beast, his predictions on Florida this season are NO DIFFERENT FROM MY OWN. The difference is now he is singing a different tune on Florida today, while I still maintain FLORIDA SUCKS 2012 including especially today. I have specifically listed 4 losses for Florida : South Carolina Saturday, Georgia Saturday week, FSU to end the season and that falls yes sir into my 4 or 5 losses. According to his sh doesn’t stink to high heaven PULLING FOR GEORGIE TEK – which is why he doesn’t like me – Florida was to have a LONG SEASON 2012 after a LOSS to Texas A and M. He also stated the SAME MEASURE FOR UGA 2012 is whether we can beat Mizzou. Excuse me, Florida plays Mizzou right after South Carolina and Georgia. Why if he has become a Florida fan too now, as you are saying about him, is he not calling for the same measure as for UGA that if we beat Mizzou we’re great ?

Because he is fos.

avalanche in Aruba

October 16th, 2012
10:40 pm

Thomas, have you ever considered visiting elementary and middle schools to speak about the dangers or riding a bike without a helmet?

Lonnie

October 16th, 2012
10:40 pm

This is the issue! Stats are the driving force. Early in the year Arbry Jones was concerned and spoke out concerning his sacrifices for team. A great defense has to be a team that trusts each other. Sacks and interceptions are glamour and cause contracts to be higher but clogging running lanes, communicating and staying home when necessary is paramount to having a great defense!!! What the guys have to understand is that playing as a team all these years have UGA with the most pros of any university because of the performance as a team! Arbry has been and is a great dawg! The defense needs to do some soul searching and understand that when one looks good we all look good!!!!!

DawgNole says "And I do pull for G Tech"

October 16th, 2012
10:41 pm

I also said Florida loses its bowl game.

DawgNole

October 16th, 2012
10:41 pm

Good evening, Beast. Sorry to have to break off your entertainment from my end. Thomas the creepy one will no doubt stay in it for the long haul. He has nothing better to do.

Beast from the East

October 16th, 2012
10:43 pm

I don’t think DawgNole is a Gator fan by any stretch of the imagination. His predictions may still come true if UGA can manage to beat us. While the Gators are light years better than last year, they certainly have their flaws. UF cannot afford to take anyone lightly.

Beast from the East

October 16th, 2012
10:44 pm

Yeah, I’m out, too.

DawgNole says "And I do pull for G Tech"

October 16th, 2012
10:45 pm

___________________________________
DawgNole October 16th, 2012 10:38 pm
___________________________________
DawgNole October 16th, 2012 10:38 pm

“I said if UGA didn’t beat Missouri it likely would be another year of beating the pansies and losing to the others. Halfway through the season, we’ve beaten the pansies and lost to one of thetwo others.”

___________________________________
DawgNole October 16th, 2012 10:38 pm
___________________________________
DawgNole October 16th, 2012 10:38 pm

What you have said MANY TIMES ABOUT MARK RICHT DawgNole, son, is that he “beats the pansies and loses to the others.”

Apostle

October 16th, 2012
10:46 pm

As a longtime Dawgs fan I have come to realize the problem is Richt.He must go.

DawgNole says Mark Richt beats the pansies, loses to the others

October 16th, 2012
10:46 pm

___________________________________
DawgNole October 16th, 2012 10:38 pm
___________________________________

“Mark Richt beats the pansies and loses to the others.”

___________________________________
DawgNole October 16th, 2012 10:38 pm
___________________________________

DawgNole says Mark Richt beats the pansies, loses to the others

October 16th, 2012
10:49 pm

avalanche in Aruba

October 16th, 2012
10:34 pm

OT: Everything the President has said he’s had 4 years to do…time for a change…Romney won debate #2…

You got that right.

DawgNole says Mark Richt beats the pansies, loses to the others

October 16th, 2012
10:51 pm

________________________________________________
Mountain Dawg October 16th, 2012 10:24 pm

“Grantham has pulled the $CAM of the century on the Dawgs.”
_________________________________________________

And, whom was it who hired Todd Grantham when I told him to hire Chief, John Chavis in 2008 when Phillip Fulmer was fired ?

Paul in NH

October 16th, 2012
10:57 pm

“I have specifically listed 4 losses for Florida : South Carolina Saturday, Georgia Saturday week, FSU to end the season and that falls yes sir into my 4 or 5 losses”

Thomas Brown appears to use an original form of counting beyond the reaches of normal mortals.

Dr. PHILL

October 16th, 2012
11:01 pm

Too many cats lookin ‘ in the mirror.

avalanche in Aruba

October 16th, 2012
11:04 pm

John Chavis is making himself and Les Miles alot of $$$$$$$$…

avalanche in Aruba

October 16th, 2012
11:06 pm

Chavis also has stated that Miles is the best gameday coach he has ever seen…results say the same thing…

DawgNole says Mark Richt beats the pansies, loses to the others

October 16th, 2012
11:09 pm

Paul,

Why did you leave out that I said and Florida loses its bowl game ?

DawgNole says Mark Richt beats the pansies, loses to the others

October 16th, 2012
11:12 pm

avalanche in Aruba, yes on both of those posts by you too sir.