Is the relative decline of Mark Richt’s program in the past couple of seasons a matter of bad coaching or is it more a case of the talent not being up to the level it was during his first few years in Athens?
Quarterback-turned-broadcaster Buck Belue has been making the case for the latter scenario this week. Summing up the loss to Tennessee earlier this week, he said: “They recruited the wrong guys 4 years ago and they are paying for it right now.”
And talking about embattled defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, Belue says: “Again, to me it’s more about personnel than about his coaching. …I keep going back to this: In 2007, the Dogs’ defense was at the top of the SEC. Georgia was #3 in scoring defense: 20.2 per game. Dogs were #3 in rush defense. They forced 26 turnovers and sacked the QB 42 times … tops in the SEC. Did he forget how to coach? Think not. It’s the personnel.”
Another former UGA player, Rex Robinson, is having similar thoughts, inspired in part by hearing Paul Johnson say that the difficulty in stopping Georgia “depends on what Indians are flinging the arrows.”
Robinson goes back and looks at the roster of the 2002 team, which went 13-1 and finished No. 3 in the nation, and highlights some of the more notable players, especially on defense. Then-coordinator Brian Van Gorder “had more bullets in his gun” than Martinez does now, he concludes.
What do you think, is Georgia’s talent level down, or are the current coaches just not getting as much out of those highly touted recruiting classes?