This turnovers madness has to stop.
Without the fumble and two interceptions against Arizona State, that wouldn’t have been a close game. Georgia was by far the more talented team.
And that’s really been the case in all four of the Dogs’ games so far. Mark Richt’s troops are squandering a tremendous talent advantage with their unfocused, sloppy play. Opponents have scored 54 points off the 12 turnovers by the Dogs, who rank 115th out of 120 teams in the country in that category.
On the other side, takeaways continue to elude the Georgia defense, and even when they get one, as with Bacarri Rambo’s interception Saturday, they’re not getting points out of them, with just six points off three recovered turnovers this season.
This is a week that trend needs to turn around, as LSU leads the SEC and is tied for fifth in the nation in turnover margin.
As the level of opposition rises, the chances of the Dogs overcoming multiple turnovers per game decrease severely.
So what’s the problem? Is this primarily players not taking care of fundamentals? You could certainly make that case about Saturday’s giveaways. Mark Richt said Caleb King’s fumble resulted from center Ben Jones’ pads bumping the ball. Obviously, King isn’t securing it properly. There was another notable example Saturday night when he was running down the sideline with the ball clearly in the wrong hand, as my brother Tim pointed out at the time and some blog commenters also have noted.
And while Joe Cox was hurried in his throw on his first interception, on the second he threw a ball he shouldn’t have while ignoring an open secondary receiver. Cox, considered one of the smarter players on the team, has been responsible for six turnovers, five of them interceptions.
So it’s player mistakes, yeah, but well-coached teams don’t turn the ball over repeatedly. As Richt put it to the Macon Telegraph, “I’d like to remove some of the drama if possible and just play a solid 60 minutes of football … but that’s coaching, too. I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys prepared. It’s not only what I might say before the game or at halftime. It’s what we demand of them throughout the week, and maybe we need to do a better job of that.”
Obviously, whatever Richt has been doing, from harping on the need for improvement to making players run the bleachers, hasn’t been working. As Georgiadogs.com quoted him: “We can’t do a whole lot more than what we’re doing in practice. We may add some more ball-security drills or get our scout team to strip the ball. You can’t simulate a guy getting blasted or whatever it might be when it comes out. And not all the fumbles have been by running backs; we had a punt mishap, one on a kickoff return and some interceptions. We hope the guys who have had issues won’t have them again.”
If they do, perhaps the answer is an automatic in-game stay on the bench. Turn the ball over and you sit for one entire series. Even Cox. (The way things are going, that’s about the only way backup Logan Gray will get any meaningful playing time at QB before the Tennessee Tech game.)
I know, some folks think punishments like that are akin to putting a kindergartner in the time-out corner. But, hey, it’s effective because kids don’t want to sit in time-out. Just like football players don’t want to sit on the bench.
Maybe everything Richt needs to know about solving this problem he learned in kindergarten.