10 things a Bulldog fan hopes not to see

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, it’s not so much who will start at what position that concerns me, but whether Mark Richt and Co. can fix some of the recurring problems that nagged the Dawgs throughout the 2008 campaign and even before. The kind of problems that put you in a hole and give the other guy an advantage.

A lot of these problems speak to coaching, or a lack of it. They’re fixable. But I’m not convinced Richt’s staff has a handle on some of them; at least, they didn’t last year.

So here we go, in no particular order on things I’d love never to see again from the Dogs:

1. Those high, short directional kickoffs that either sail out of bounds or give the return team a head start, resulting in the opponent getting the ball at the 40-yard line or even near midfield. Richt has talked on both sides of this issue; at season’s end he was lamenting the need for a kicker who could boom it out of the end zone, while earlier in the season he defended the directional kicks, saying they were easier to defend than a returnable kick down the middle. The latter is a problem because Georgia doesn’t seem to be able to get rid of that big seam down the middle of its kick coverage, which generally is slow getting to the ball carrier. And those pooch kickoffs? Don’t get me started! 

2. Awful special teams play. No. 1 on this list is actually a subset of the bigger problem: special teams at UGA aren’t special. I know, I know, I’ve harped on this incessantly. But it’s the second longest-standing problem of Richt’s tenure, after clock management difficulties. Special teams coach Jon Fabris, who also handles the defensive ends, hasn’t gotten the job done and Richt doesn’t seem to put a whole lot of importance on special teams, unlike Urban Meyer, who coaches special teams himself and puts great emphasis on them. Meyer knows, like some other great coaches, that special teams win and lose games for you.

3. The Dogs offense suddenly going conservative in the red zone. We saw this time after time last year, including in the Florida game and even the bowl win over Michigan State. What is it with Mike Bobo and the red zone? Georgia came out looking great in its no-huddle offense and raced down the field against the Spartans, only to go away from the no-huddle and sputter once they were inside Michigan State’s 20. Why does Bobo depart from what’s working when Georgia gets within scoring territory? And why does Georgia so often go into a mid-game lull of predictable playcalling that leads to too many three-and-outs? Without Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno to rely on, we’re going to see whether Bobo is really capable of blossoming as an offensive coordinator. 

4. Penalties, penalties, penalties. The Dawgs’ ridiculous penchant for drawing flags played a big part in Alabama’s first two scoring drives and deprived Georgia of the fast start they needed against the Tide. Early in the season, Richt sent mixed signals on this, too, saying he wanted the team to stop putting themselves in a hole with needless penalties, but also saying they were the result of aggressive play and he didn’t want them to be less aggressive. The penalties were part of a larger problem last season that Richt does appear to be addressing already: a lack of team discipline. I don’t know if making them tuck in their shirts and shave their goatees will do the trick, but at least it shows he’s thinking about the problem. 

5. Penn Wagers and his inept officiating crew working another major Georgia game and blowing another call by not knowing what the rulebook says. I know UGA has no control over this, but it’s just gotten ridiculous over the past couple of seasons.  

6. Georgia showing up for a game looking unprepared and unfocused. Last season, this manifested itself in the team’s difficulty putting together two good halves of play, most noticeably in the Alabama game but really throughout the season. And that was still the case in the bowl game, where Georgia kept the Spartans in it through turnovers, penalties and poor special teams play in the first half. Again, this would appear to be a coaching problem. 

7. A Georgia opponent scoring more than 30 points. Or, worse, Georgia scoring 42 points and losing. This isn’t the Big 12 or Mountain West. You’ve got to play shut-down defense in the SEC. Georgia played four major games last season and had fatal meltdowns in three of them for losses. And even the LSU victory saw our defense hemorrhaging points. Same thing in the too-close-for-comfort victory over Kentucky. Yes, Georgia had some personnel deficiencies and didn’t get much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but that’s no excuse for the rampant poor tackling that was a hallmark of the D for most of the year. The defense looked much improved in the bowl game, but can that be sustained? Whether Richt is willing to acknowledge it or not, his pal Willie Martinez is definitely on the hot seat in the upcoming season. One way or another, things have to change.

8. Georgia just squeaking by teams that it should thrash and looking less than impressive even when it wins easily. Playing down to their opponents’ level is a longstanding problem with Richt teams and the one that made Georgia’s tenure as the nation’s No. 1 team so short last year. I know we’ve upgraded our schedule, especially compared with some other SEC powers, but the problem really seems to be a lack of killer instinct. The Dawgs need to develop it. And I don’t think Richt’s “Hey, a win is a win” attitude helps.

9. Another epidemic of pass-dropping. I know the G-Day game isn’t really indicative of what we can expect this fall (at least, I hope not), but wasting scoring opportunities because you can’t hold on to the ball is the worst way to lose. Remember the South Carolina game two years ago? 

10. The Dawgs wilting in the face of adversity. This one’s related to the earlier problem about not playing a complete game. Think back to the season before last. After Georgia’s opening score and end zone celebration, the resulting flags helped the Gators race back down the field for their own score. But Georgia didn’t flinch. That wasn’t the case in the 2008 season. Too often, the Dawgs played scared. Perhaps that was a result of the reported lack of on-field leadership. And maybe fiery redhead Joe Cox, known for rallying the troops in that long-ago win over Colorado, is part of the solution. We’ll see.

205 comments Add your comment

ACC>SEC

April 24th, 2009
10:58 am

“Or, worse, Georgia scoring 42 points and losing. You’ve got to play shut-down defense in the SEC.”

You forgot to mention more than shutdown defense against the ACC, because, please correct me if I’m wrong, this occurred against an ACC team!

Savannah Dawg

April 24th, 2009
11:22 am

The greatest thing about Tech fans is the fact they will forever hate Georgia more than they love Tech. AJC created a Tech site for a reason! Get lost!

Otto

April 24th, 2009
11:25 am

Its sad when an official is a household name. When will the SEC run this guy off the field?

Red zone offense and special teams play should rate higher than the problems on defense. I like the list.

murfdawg

April 24th, 2009
11:29 am

Bill,
How about the injuries? After last year, we shouln’t have any injuries for about 5 years.Now that our line has grown up another year,(still playing 3 so and 2 jr)maybe we can pound the ball like a real sec team when we get inside the red zone. I am still fuming about Bobo’s calls in 07 vs USC. That game cost us a chance at the sec championship game.

On the penalities, take a look at these stats. In the seven games before fl, UGA was penalized 43 time and their opponents penalized 45 times. After the fl game and embarrassing Penn Wagers, UGA was penalized 104 times in 11 games and their opponents 64 times. This is fact, not fiction, and not whining. Unfortunately, Penn Wagers is the SEC official for games on CBS. If we can get the game moved off CBS. we can play fl without PW. Fla was a better team last year as was Bama. But a couple of calls going the Dawgs way could have made a big difference in the score. Not necessarily the outcome.

La Jolla Dawg

April 24th, 2009
11:30 am

Great list Bill.

Are you the only one covering UGA for the AJC? I hope they are paying you!

AltamahaDawg

April 24th, 2009
11:38 am

11. Haggard grumbling and moan-fest in a sports blog.

murfdawg

April 24th, 2009
11:40 am

Bill,
My post on the qb issue was too late last night.
Greene–best because of # games won
Belue—best because of championship games won
Tarkenton–best vs AU
Cavan—best vs FlA
If I am down by six, 65 yards to go, 1:29 on the clock, I want Andy Johnson. Maybe not the best, but my favorite.

Preston

April 24th, 2009
11:44 am

No doubt murfdawg, it also cost us a national championship. Nobody was better than UGA at the end of 07′. Stupid early season play calling cost us.

jaxdawg

April 24th, 2009
12:02 pm

Gee Bill, I like your column and I love the dawgs, but it sounds like the whole UGA coaching staff is just inept!

TommyP

April 24th, 2009
12:13 pm

Give me a break….let’s see, Bill. Richt is pretty much inept in too many areas to count, Martinez needs to go, Fabris needs to go, Bobo is on your short leash… This is an embarrassing article.

With all that you see “wrong” with the program, we sure do seem to end up in the top 10 annually.

I’m a HUGE Bulldog supporter but I get so sick and tired of hearing the whining with a lot of Bulldog fans, including you, Bill.

jaxdawg

April 24th, 2009
12:18 pm

I guess 20 season ending injuries (or whatever it was) will make alot of coaching staffs look inept. Most teams would love to have 10 win seasons and New Years Day bowls.

Bill King

April 24th, 2009
12:39 pm

Are you happy with 10-win seasons, or would you like to see the program where Florida’s is?

DawginLex

April 24th, 2009
12:51 pm

Don’t take “10 win seasons” for granted. Just ask the UK folks up here where I live about UK basketball and the annointed savior Billy Clyde gillispie. The Tubby bashers are eating crow in a big way.

To the ACC nerd: Stay the heck off of the UGA blogs. You and your nerd herd friends gripe when I show up on a Tech blog so it goes both ways. same to Rambler, M and pi$$onadawg.

I believe the defense will be much better in 2009.
I believe the penalties will be reduced because of more consistency on the lines of scrimmage and more depth. Playing tired=penalties.
I believe the new kicker will remedy the need for the short kickoffs.
I believe Richt has dialed up the discipline and intensity meters after last year.

I see 10 wins or more with a break or two.

Doyouknowshon

April 24th, 2009
12:53 pm

Bill,
It is not all about winning national titles. I will take 10 win seasons and top 10 finishes every year if it means we can keep players off our team who use dead people’s credit cards and fire AK-47’s in the air as a form of intimidation. Richt is a good man who tries his best to get the right players to represent Georgia, even if that means missing out on a few here and there.

Eddie

April 24th, 2009
12:56 pm

Bill–whoever you are–I think you need to be wearing another hat. That was pathetic!!

keith l

April 24th, 2009
12:59 pm

sad to say, but an accurate and comprehensive list

BugKiller

April 24th, 2009
1:05 pm

Bill, here’s the REAL list of the top-10 things DawgNation hates seeing:

1) Willie Martinez

2) Willie Martinez

3) Willie Martinez

4) Willie Martinez

5) Willie Martinez

6) Willie Martinez

7) Willie Martinez

8) Willie Martinez

9) Willie Martinez

10) Willie Martinez

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Until Willie Martinez is fired, the great promise this program showed under the Richt-Van Gorder team will never again be reached.

dap01

April 24th, 2009
1:05 pm

Great article. I wish CMR and the whole staff and team would read it.

Tech fans are sad. They are the first to blog on another team’s blog.
But hey that 38,000 has got to stick together.

GW

April 24th, 2009
1:07 pm

I believe UGA could survive much of King’s 10 if they just did one more thing…toughen up. Mistakes and injuries happen to all teams but the tough staffs and players usually find a way to win. I too think it is foolish to complain about any victory over any team, no matter how it happens.

Ferndolin

April 24th, 2009
1:07 pm

Murfdawg, you are spot-on about Andy Johnson, Apple Juice (AJ) we used to call him. One of my memories of Andy is single handedly bringing home to Athens High School a share of the state championship with Valdosta in 1970, I believe, 26 – 26, played in Valdosta. Another memory is the death of his father while watching him quarterback the dawgs.

JB

April 24th, 2009
1:08 pm

Great Article…..Most of us don’t know we snore if our wifes don’t tell us………..10 wins with this many problems. if we can get over half of them…..just maybe…………….Injuries and suspect coach or two and waiting on two players to do something was last years hot problems……And Tech can forget about ever beating us again…………Johnson or no Johnson.

Mac

April 24th, 2009
1:09 pm

I hear Donnan and Goff are still around if y’all would rather have them. What undeserving jackals.

JB

April 24th, 2009
1:10 pm

Damn bugkiller…………..I agree.

David

April 24th, 2009
1:10 pm

This is a great list. It is funny how the coaches address things that fans have brought up when they should be proactive. These next 2-3 years will be very interesting because we could possibly have new QBs each of those years. I also think it is a critical time for WM. The defense needs to take a major step forward. Even as good as it was 2 years ago, they still got run by TN.

the real OLD GOLD

April 24th, 2009
1:11 pm

You know what Tech fans hate? Having a UGA graduate as their beat writer.. AJC sucks.

Ferndolin

April 24th, 2009
1:16 pm

You’re right, Bugkiller. There in lies the problem but nobody wants to talk about it anymore. It was obvious last year but now it’s not? Van Gorder to the rescue.

JB

April 24th, 2009
1:18 pm

Ga. fans hate Tech winning 1 of 8 by 3 and screaming “we’re back”

Eston

April 24th, 2009
1:18 pm

Bulldog fans, like their players, also hate seeing the inside of a classroom, seeing a repot card, seeing the gators hoisting their coach on their shoulders after yet another victory over the average dawgs

Cuz

April 24th, 2009
1:18 pm

As a season ticket holder during the Goff and Donnan years, I will take ten win seasons. And that is just what it is, my opinion.

elvis

April 24th, 2009
1:19 pm

Hmmm….I wonder if the slump in special teams ( other than kicking which is separate)
is related to UGA injury depleted team with very little overall depth as a result….hmm I wonder.

When our special teams were chaning games by blocking kicks and punts Boss Bailey, and even David Pollack were out there. Last year it was comprised of 90% walk ons….though Mr. Renner did his part, you can’t rely on walk ons to be GAME CHANGERS! I fully expect this year to be different for the specila teams- I hope that includes the kicking as well.

Herschel Talker

April 24th, 2009
1:20 pm

Sorry, but I’m as big a UGA fan as anyone, and I have to say that Bill King is a complete tool.

Herschel Talker

April 24th, 2009
1:20 pm

OLD GOLD likes men

Reebok

April 24th, 2009
1:22 pm

Not-so-sad Tech fan here…I read the UGA blog because I love college ball, I have a lot of friends who are UGA grads and fans, and I like to read the commentary. Now, who is this Penn Wagers guy? Is he personally responsible for coating UGA a game last year, or does he just ?

JB

April 24th, 2009
1:24 pm

Tech players putting the UGA-Tech score on their Chick-fi……err peach bowl rings rather than the LSU beat down score should be in the dictionary definition under NERDS…….LMAO

Jones

April 24th, 2009
1:26 pm

Who the heck is Bill King and why does he think his opinion on football counts?

Eston

April 24th, 2009
1:27 pm

JB & Herschel Talker, when Tebow drops another load on you and your wussy dawgs….take it like a man and grab your ankles….you can tkeep living off of 1980

elvis

April 24th, 2009
1:28 pm

Was Bobo’s redzone the reason why UGA was so amzingly successful in the redzone in 07 then? I guess he forgot what he did over the course of the year…or wait,maybe it was the decimated line not being physically brutish enough to knock anyone off the ball.

Being agile is great, but on the 3 yardline, you need to be able to flex. It’s not Bobo’s fault on most of those redzone results.

elvis

April 24th, 2009
1:36 pm

SO tired of the mentally challenged fans who fixate on Martinez as a quick fix/pancea to any Defensive woes.

FIRE MARTINEZ!?

Seriously, that is how simple it is? Well, why didn’t I think of that? I guess Richt must be more inept at running the prgram than even Bill Kind would indicate.

some sense

April 24th, 2009
1:38 pm

Ten things is a reach…many of them not really issues until we ran into a year w/ poor defensive end personnel and play. Lists like this just give the rednecks more reaction fodder. The guy who listed Coach Martinez ten times should be ashamed of himself.

Only one of these holds up over the long haul…the short, directional kickoffs. Excrutiating.

slimpickens

April 24th, 2009
1:42 pm

I remember alot of season’s I would have given anything for 10 wins! I don’t want to be a Gator under any circumstance, I am damn proud to be a Dawg! Do I want to win a National Championship, yes but sometimes things don’t go the way we all want them to. Let’s be a little less critical and try to understand team dynamics before we are ready to run the entire coaching staff off.

JB

April 24th, 2009
1:43 pm

Eston…..Why are Tech folks so obsessed with pulling pants down to ankles…..
also, about Florida, you hardly ever hear a Dawg fan on here saying we’re going to Jacksnville and kick Gator Butt…But you guys spew that 24/7 about playing us……..Real fans know the deal. You play the game…nerds just dribble and run their mouth about never losing to us again. you sir, will be in for some disappointing afternoons in that state of the art stadium of yours.

Eston

April 24th, 2009
1:49 pm

JB, of course dawgs fans dont speak of going to Florida to beat the Gators…because winning only 3 times in the last 13 years against us keeps you in your place….and even with stafford and notalent mareno you could only muster 10 points in last years game…..lay down little puppy and let the big gators rule

TommyP

April 24th, 2009
1:49 pm

some sense: You about summed it up as well as could be said. “Lists like this just give the rednecks more reaction fodder.”

Bill: I’ll take exactly what we have with our football program. You, like so many, appear overly fixated on national championships as the only indicator of success out there. Richt has put Georgia in the position to play for two national championships….he just didn’t get the luck that’s needed as well.

Let’s see, Bill. You probably would’ve asked for the ouster of Tom Osborne if you were a Nebraska fan years ago when he still hadn’t won a title. Took him 17 years, didn’t it? Of course, he wouldn’t have been there with your mentality.

Elvis summed it up with his statement about Bobo. Everybody LOVED him from midseason on two years ago. I guess he forgot how to coach.

Fabris sure seemed to have great special teams the first several years of the Richt era. Only the past couple have been subpar.

This is simply a redneck article.

And please take that picture down. :)

Voice of Reason

April 24th, 2009
1:52 pm

I would just like to remind everyone talking about “Tebow dropping another load on” us that the dawgs made him cry like a bit*h on the sidelines in 2007. Against UGA, tebow is only 50%

Eston

April 24th, 2009
1:57 pm

Voice of Reason…..last time I looked, he has National Championship jewelry….and you probably wear a shirt with your name on it…like most uga grads

Tom

April 24th, 2009
2:02 pm

Bill…..

Since there was an article in the AJC last month dedicated to Percy Harvin’s Wonderlic score of 12, should we now expect articles on Jarius Wynn’s 12 or Knowshon Moreno’s 13?

Adam

April 24th, 2009
2:08 pm

I think the Tech fans are jealous of the Dawgs! They last time they went to a BCS game was in 1967 and the have recently enjoyed going out to Boise or some where out west to play in the Emerald Nut Bowl. Sure they won a Co-National Championship in 1990 but no remembers that but them. GO DAWGS!!

Otto

April 24th, 2009
2:08 pm

Elvis, As other have pointed out Bobo’s play calling against S. Car. especially killed the ‘07 title chances. UT was not much better sticking with the run far to long. CMR was a far better play caller than Bobo.

Crazy4GT

April 24th, 2009
2:12 pm

As a GT fan, it doesn’t hurt me to see UGA lose. That said, I think you can sum up all of UGA’s issues with one word – INJURIES. Youth creates mistakes. I think even with the loss of 2 1st round picks, y’all are much deeper this year. I hope both UGA and GT are defeated come Thanksgiving!

Okay – done being nice THWG!

Eston

April 24th, 2009
2:13 pm

“but no remembers that”….Adam….you took your English classes at UGA didn’t you