Posts Tagged ‘Mark Richt’

Georgia has chance to alter perceptions with one win

Mark Richt and Georgia hope to take control of SEC East with win over Will Muschamp and Florida.

Mark Richt and Georgia hope to take control of SEC East with win over Will Muschamp and Florida.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are those rare games that can unify a fan base. This is one of them.

Just for a moment, put aside that Georgia’s defense has underachieved and may have a level of dysfunctionality in the locker room. Put aside that the Bulldogs, in a week where they should’ve been focused and in assault mode, made Kentucky look relevant. Put aside whatever it was that happened in Columbia.

One game changes everything.

Georgia isn’t just playing Florida on Saturday in Jacksonville. It’s playing for a chance to change its season and obliterate perceptions about “big game” performances. That doesn’t mean the Bulldogs haven’t won big games under coach Mark Richt, but the results in recent seasons certainly aren’t something that any coach wants slapped on his resume: 3-11 against Top 25 teams since 2009, 1-9 against top 10 teams since 2008.

One win over Florida, the No. 2 …

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Pessimism reigns by Georgia fans about Florida game (video added)

Mark Richt and Dogs beat Florida last season but they're underdogs this year. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Mark Richt and Dogs beat Florida last season but they're underdogs this year. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Remember how high optimism was about Georgia football before this season? Well, that seems to have eroded.

The recent loss to South Carolina, several unimpressive victories – including the latest win at Kentucky — and a perceived talent-loaded defense that hasn’t nearly lived up to expectations has led to many Georgia fans expecting the worst when the Bulldogs face Florida in Jacksonville next Saturday.

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How do I know this? Because when I relayed via Twitter that Florida was anywhere from a 3½ to 4½ point favorite at most sportsbooks, the responses could all be reduced down to these three words: “Is that all?”

In fact, as I type this, I have yet to find a reader who would take that bet (Georgia plus the points).

Georgia is 3-8 against Florida under Mark Richt, including …

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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 …

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Spurrier should take lesson from Richt on handling criticism

For two coaches of top ranked programs, Steve Spurrier and Mark Richt seem at opposite ends in terms of perspective and dealings with media. (Phil Skinner/AJC)

For two coaches of top-ranked programs, Steve Spurrier and Mark Richt seem to reside at opposite ends in perspective and their respective dealings with the media. (Phil Skinner/AJC)

Over the past few seasons, Mark Richt has had no shortage of reasons to put his fist through a wall, terrorize secretaries and assistant coaches or erupt in a news conference, as if Athens’ own little Mt. Vesuvius.

He has suspended players for poor academics, poor driving habits and poor choice of herbal supplements (in or outside of brownies). Several prize recruits have been excommunicated for assorted acts of dumbness. His job security has come into question. He works in a conference where five other schools have won BCS titles. And, on a lesser note, his athletic director was fired for drunk driving.

But notice something about Mark Richt? He seldom seems stressed. He isn’t storming out of news conferences when he sees a columnist he doesn’t like (really?), or blathering on the radio about …

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Georgia has uncomfortable mix of highlights, slapstick

The Bulldogs celebrated their fifth win but know they have to play much better. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

The Bulldogs celebrated their win but know they have to play much better. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS — Georgia arrived at 5-0 at the most unexpected place: Smack at the intersection of the Sun Belt Conference and a Marx Brothers movie.

This is where it’s important to point out that it’s only September, and style points don’t yet matter, and it’s not like Georgia did not do some pretty spectacular things Saturday (two freshmen running backs, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, combining for 294 yards and five touchdowns), and this is the SEC, and a win is a win, and (add whatever cliché that comforts you).

But there was a point in Saturday’s game against Tennessee when you found yourself thinking, “OK, who’s going to pull out the seltzer bottle?”

When two teams combine for 95 points, 13 touchdowns, 46 first downs, 1,038 yards, three fumbles, four interceptions, two botched extra points, one blocked extra point, one blocked punt and one dropped kickoff return out …

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SHORT TAKES: Georgia shows its talent and its ugly side

Todd Gurley takes off for 51-yard TD run, one of his three scores in first half. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Todd Gurley takes off for 51-yard TD run, one of his three first-half scores. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

(I’ll be back with the column off today’s Georgia game soon. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes” on today’s game against Tennessee.)

1. Hold off on “great defense” declarations: Yes, Georgia has that potential. But on a day when the Bulldogs got two of their better players, safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree, back from suspensions, the defense had its worst game of the season. Granted, turnovers led to three Tennessee touchdowns (20 points). But the Dogs gave up far too many big plays, and few would’ve predicted the Volunteers would have 477 yards in offense.

2. Hey Herschel, look at the freshmen! We’ve addressed before that replacing Isaiah Crowell might be a concern. If that concern hadn’t been completely obliterated after the first four games, it certainly was against Tennessee. With former Georgia great Herschel Walker in attendance, Todd …

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LIVE BLOG: Georgia tries to avoid ‘trap’ against Tennessee

Bulldogs safety Bacarri Rambo goes through warmups before the Tennessee game. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Bulldogs safety Bacarri Rambo goes through warmups at Sanford Stadium. (Brant Sanderlin)

ATHENS – So is this affirmation week or trap week?

Georgia plays Tennessee today. Honestly, I was a little surprised when the Glantz-Culver line (adopted by the AJC and Weekend Predictions, Inc. as the official point spread ) opened with the Bulldogs as a 15-point favorite and it immediately dropped to 13½ (though it has inched back up to 14).

The Dogs are ranked No. 5, and look like legitimate

Alec Olgetree, along with Bacarri Rambo, returns from a four-game suspension. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Alec Olgetree, along with Bacarri Rambo, returns from a four-game suspension. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

title contenders. Other than some first-half hiccups in the SEC opener at Missouri, they have looked strong defensively and leveled Vanderbilt 48-3 last week. Tennessee isn’t as bad as some people think – Derek Dooley inherited a mess and really isn’t doing a bad job – but for the Volunteers’ defense to give up 555 yards at home in a 37-20 loss to Florida speaks to where the program …

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Georgia starts slow, then writes winning script (UPDATED)

If Georgia's comeback to make a big enough statement, this message did. (AP photo)

If Dogs' comeback wasn't big enough statement, this was.

(UPDATED: 1:15 a.m.)

COLUMBIA, Mo. — By the time this night was over, Georgia had to be more than just somebody else’s memory.

Decades from now, there couldn’t be any warm-and-fuzzy storylines about how some newbie won its first SEC game, because the flip side to that would be that the Bulldogs had lost it. There couldn’t be the tale of how a long-standing program (Georgia)  had stumbled in its conference opener for the third straight season, this time falling to a program (Missouri) that some questioned was even worthy of this leap.

But by the time the evening ended, Georgia didn’t have to worry about that. The Dogs had several early hiccups Saturday. They turned the ball over. They committed penalties. They trailed as late as 20-17 with less than three minutes left in the third quarter. Then they changed the script.

The Dogs scored the final 24 points of the game. They scored 38 in the final 30:30 of the game after …

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Georgia needs to avoid playing catch-up in SEC again

Was Todd Gurley's impressive debut foreshadowing for a special year in SEC? (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Was Todd Gurley's impressive debut foreshadowing for a big year in SEC? (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

COLUMBIA, Mo. – There probably remains some disagreement as to exactly what Georgia’s post-0-2 run last season means for the immediate future of the program and its stature in the SEC. But we’re about to find out.

The Bulldogs played in the SEC Championship game in three of Mark Richt’s first five seasons in Athens. They failed to reach the game in any of the next five. Then came last season’s flop out of the gate, including a second consecutive conference-opening loss to South Carolina. The Bulldogs played catch-up for the rest of the season, won 10 straight and ultimately made it back to the Georgia Dome (albeit, losing to LSU).

“We don’t want to have to look at somebody else’s schedule again,” Georgia wide receiver Tavarres King said. “It wasn’t fun at all last year, having to worry about what South Carolina was doing. I want to relax after a game. I don’t …

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Has Georgia duped us again, or was this just a hiccup?

Mark Richt wasn't pleased with his team's first game, and justifiably so. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt wasn't pleased with his team's opener, and justifiably so. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – Teams like Georgia don’t put teams like Buffalo on the schedule to build character. Teams like Buffalo are put on the schedule because they’re perceived as safe, possibly even a punchline. Georgia was willing to pay the opponent $975,000 because that’s how much it takes now to find a school willing to suffer public humiliation and say, “Fine, hit me with that two-by-four. Just make sure our hotel has decent pillows.”

Something went wrong Saturday. Georgia paid for the entertainment, maybe a little exercise, but the expected embarrassment was closer to home. That might seem harsh given the Sanford Stadium scoreboard had a distinct tilt at the end: 45-23. But it shouldn’t be considered nearly satisfying, not for a program that went into the day with a preseason No. 6 ranking and aspires to something greater than just outlasting South Carolina in the SEC East …

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