Dogs only need to be a little better to top last year

Aaron Murray's play will be a key to whether the Dogs improve their turnover ratio. (Bob Andres / AJC)

Aaron Murray's play will be a key to whether the Dogs improve their turnover ratio. (Bob Andres / AJC)

Games often turn on a play or two. Seasons can turn on a game or two.

Fletcher Page of Dawg Post brought that to mind in a chat with the Chapel Bell blog when he noted: “To me, last year was a last minute (and disgraceful call) loss to LSU, and a flop on senior night against Kentucky away from a 10-win season. Despite a poor defense, turnover prone quarterback, and sketchy playcalling, that’s the truth.”

Well, sort of. The Dogs did pretty well give the Kentucky game away in the second half with turnovers. But it wasn’t just the bad flag on A.J. Green that allowed LSU to come back and win that game. Terrible kickoff coverage and lousy tackling on the 33-yard winning touchdown run had something to do with it, too.

And these close calls work both ways. Had Rennie Curran not broken up that fourth-day pass at the goal line with 22 seconds remaining, Georgia might not have come away with a win over South Carolina. What if Bacarri Rambo hadn’t made that play at the goal line in the Auburn game and the Tigers had tied it up? And if a wide open Bay-Bay Thomas hadn’t dropped that fourth-down pass in the Tech game …

So, yes, Georgia came thisclose to 10 wins last year, but the Dogs also easily could have had eight losses.

Page’s basic point is worth remembering, though. Georgia managed an eight-win season, including a bowl game, despite having nearly the worst turnover ratio in the country, terrible kick coverage, an inconsistent defense and a quarterback who threw way too many interceptions.

Looking ahead, this is the time of year when the fan base is at its most optimistic, but if we temper our expectations a bit, what is the minimum improvement that we can expect?

The turnover situation has to get better, and mathematically the odds are that will be the case.  If there’s dramatic improvement in that aspect of the game, it’ll be big.

Tied in with that will be the play of Aaron Murray. True, he’s an inexperienced quarterback, but he’s surrounded by 10 returning starters, so he really only has to be adequate until he gets a few games under his belt and avoid turning the ball over. That’s why Mark Richt keeps telling him he doesn’t have to be the hero.

And Mike Bobo has to strike a balance between easing his QB into the full offensive package and not playing it too conservatively, while balancing the running and passing games.

The revamped defense is probably going to go through some growing pains, but seems poised to at least be a lot more aggressive, especially at going after the quarterback. But if the fundamentals of tackling are sound, which they too often weren’t the past couple of seasons, Georgia at least shouldn’t be any worse off.

On special teams, Georgia has a couple of the best kickers in the country, but that was the case last year. What hurt in too many games was the extremely poor planning and execution of kickoff coverage. We have different folks in charge of that this year, so there’s hope for improvement.

Basically, all the 2010 Dogs need to be better than last year’s team is moderate improvement in a few key areas.

Still, in the end there will be games that come down to a batted pass here or a missed tackle there. Or even a penalty flag.

And without that element of uncertainty, college football wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

114 comments Add your comment

08fx4

June 17th, 2010
11:58 am

Please Gawd !

08fx4

June 17th, 2010
11:58 am

Redblood

June 17th, 2010
11:59 am

Redblood

June 17th, 2010
12:00 pm

Damn that was stupid. i apologize

BurningRedBleedingBlack

June 17th, 2010
12:04 pm

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!! GATA!!!!!!

LouisianaDawg

June 17th, 2010
12:20 pm

Nothing new in this article. Heres looking forward to August. I guess no news is good news….no one locked up lately. Knock on wood.

Dawg 39

June 17th, 2010
12:23 pm

This optimist thinks that if the REFS give us an even break , Then the Dawg’s O will benefit from practicing against a 3-4 defense all season when we play ALA. for the SECC.
It all comes down to the OL which is definitely 2 deep. The dawgs are 2 deep at every O position (except QB?).Check out the 3 deep roster for the entire team.
There is every reason to think that this team will be the best team the Dawgs have put on the field during the CMR, CMB era. IF not, what am I missing?.

PDawg

June 17th, 2010
12:25 pm

Yeah but….we probably won one or two that could have gone the other way. It was what it was.

Gonna be hard to win 10 this year I think. Too many unknowns, new players, new coaches.

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tbake

June 17th, 2010
12:31 pm

You can say this about almost any team in the nation, regardless of record. There are almost always a handful of games that come down to a few plays.

guy

June 17th, 2010
12:34 pm

holy crap. did bill actually just take a fair view of uga and acknowledge that the “we were this close to a win…” argument cuts both ways and applies to losses too? color me impressed.

Hmmmm

June 17th, 2010
12:54 pm

How2fish

June 17th, 2010
12:54 pm

Dawg 39 there are some good signs about this years team but it will come down to 1) can they stay healthy 2) can they fix the turnover/penalty problem that has bit them the last couple of years..and 3) how well will the team jell with this group of vets on the O you would think they would quickly come together however assumption is the mother of all screwups..will be interesting to watch the first 3 games to see.

Dawg House

June 17th, 2010
1:04 pm

HATE ON HATERS!!!!

Tech, you should be scared s***less that you are last on our schedule. All cylindars will be churning by then.

79 Days!!! GO DAWGS!!!!

DawginLex

June 17th, 2010
1:05 pm

It is this way every year. Go back to 2002. What if Pollack doesn’t strip the ball in the end zone at SC?

2006-Florida-Blocks late fg vs SC to avoid losing

2009-Bama-blocked fg vs UT on last play of the game
LSU interception not called by refs allowing Bama to keep ball

There are 5-8 plays every year in the SEC that can make or break your season.

DawginLex

June 17th, 2010
1:07 pm

Did y’all know that we only gave up 12 sacks in 13 games last year?
Did y’all know that we averaged 243 yards rushing the last 6 games?

That is how bad Joe Cox was. Dam I drank that kool aid.

Aaron Murray son, I’m hoping you can throw fewer than 10 int’s and can hand the ball off without falling down.

SSIgator

June 17th, 2010
1:10 pm

“Tied in with that will be the play of Aaron Murray. True, he’s an inexperienced quarterback, but he’s surrounded by 10 returning starters, so he really only has to be adequate until he gets a few games under his belt and avoid turning the ball over.”

Wasn’t that the way it was supposed to be with Joe Cox at the wheel?

Richt's Butt Cut

June 17th, 2010
1:10 pm

Put Aaron Murray in a Bubble until Sept 4th… If he goes down….well it will be ugly.

DawginLex

June 17th, 2010
1:12 pm

No SSI, we had no clue who our running backs would be a year ago.

Samuel was the starter and he is now a linebacker
Thomas is too small
king was hurt
Ealey was a true freshman

Now Ealey is the 2nd leading returning rusher in the SEC and King is proven also.

Pretend to know something before you type.

DawginLex

June 17th, 2010
1:13 pm

Plus we had sweet willie ruining it for everyone involved

SSIgator

June 17th, 2010
1:25 pm

DawginLex -

“No SSI, we had no clue who our running backs would be a year ago.”

Actually your whole post could have be better said if it read “We had no clue a year ago.”

knoxdawg

June 17th, 2010
1:28 pm

Every team has optimism this time of year along with unknowns as well. What I want to see is improvement made in turnover ratio, penalties and tackling. If we do those things alone I think we will have a better year. I also want to see improvement on a weekly basis where the team looks like it is starting to jell and become consistent. Last year the only things we were consistent in was turnovers, penalties and poor tackling.

Way Down South Dawg

June 17th, 2010
1:31 pm

You can feel the tension—Man whar a ride!
Go Dawgs!

how2fish

June 17th, 2010
1:36 pm

SSIgator son you sure have been “twitchy” lately..borrow some of CUM’s meds and calm down and enjoy the summer..we have all fall to enchange barbs.

Big Jax Dawg

June 17th, 2010
1:39 pm

Belin will make the tackling better, I’m pretty darned sure of that.

Murray won’t turn the ball over like last year, hopefully Garner,Grantham,Searls,Bobo
Richt,and the good lord can slow the penalties down, other than that, who knows?

Hopefully, Murray will be up to par by the time we get to Jacksonville.

There is reason to be optimistic. Why not? Go Dawgs!

freelemur

June 17th, 2010
1:47 pm

Brilliant analysis. They only need to be a little bit better to be better than last year.

Natureboy809

June 17th, 2010
1:54 pm

Just say what we’re all thinking- addition by subtraction. No Joe Cox; No Willie Martinez

gator32301

June 17th, 2010
1:55 pm

i wonder if they are just a little worse than they will be worse than last year…talk about a mind boggler….

70 Dawg

June 17th, 2010
1:56 pm

What if Tenn kicked the FG at the end of the Bama game?

Bulldog59

June 17th, 2010
2:10 pm

Bill, you are too kind. “Inconsistent defense”?

In 8 SEC games we yielded 252 points, worst in the SEC. “Inconsistent” is a drastic understatement. SEC Champion Alabama gave up 85, Eastern Conference Champion Florida surrendered 96.

Our D needed a major overhaul which CMR, to his credit, is doing. Coach Grantham will need some time, but big improvements should be on the way!

On offense, we scored a league leading 234 points. Yes FIRST in the SEC. Fix a few things with Bobo, subtract Joe “INT” Cox, and the O looks good for 2010.

Natureboy809 sums it up nicely, his two minuses make a huge plus for us in 2010.

DIGGITYDAWG

June 17th, 2010
2:11 pm

I think its even money on a 9-3 year. Easier schedule, should show at least minor improvement. But if Bobo/CMR show a commitment to the running game and we catch a few breaks, a spot in the SEC championship game could happen.

Bulldog59

June 17th, 2010
2:20 pm

I still don’t get the UF guys spending all their time reading about/slamming on UGA.

Florida will be good next season, no question. But if I lost Percy Harvin and OC Dan Mullen one year, followed the next year with the losses of DC Charlie Strong and Tim Tebow (probably the second greatest NCAA football player at least in my lifetime, maybe ever)I’d pay pretty close attention to my own team.

UF could still win the East, but they have a really tough SEC schedule, and lots of unprovens in 2010. (just like UGA.)

D-Dawg

June 17th, 2010
2:40 pm

32302… You six fingered Gates got git git outta here now.. Stay out da blog

freelemur

June 17th, 2010
2:51 pm

Dont make me rough talk ya 32302!

freelemur

June 17th, 2010
2:51 pm

We’re doing good 59, thanks for asking!

freelemur

June 17th, 2010
2:58 pm

Oh and we spend time reading about/slamming on uga because its fun and your misery/delusion makes us laugh. Feel free to visit us at thegatorboard.com where we routinely post “the blawg” and laugh at the contents and the posters. I hope this helps, take care now!

Spike

June 17th, 2010
2:59 pm

Meh, I will not be impressed until we beat the Gators. Enough of this pre season hype. Less talk. More action.

Adam Badheart

June 17th, 2010
3:03 pm

You Gate morons should be less worried about the Dawgs and more worried about your own Ufelons!

Dale

June 17th, 2010
3:14 pm

10 wins and we’d have the same DC

Panadawg

June 17th, 2010
3:17 pm

At least we aren’t selling ourselves out with tacky statues of our Heisman winners like the Gaytors are!

Dale

June 17th, 2010
3:25 pm

“Feel free to visit us at thegatorboard.com where we routinely post “the blawg” and laugh at the contents and the posters”

A tiger pays no attention to monkeys barking in their trees.

RxDawg

June 17th, 2010
3:27 pm

I know the turnovers are big. But honestly, IMO if we cut out the dumb we will be a MUCH better team. For the past 2, maybe 3 years, we have played bad football. We had a penalty at the worst time, we had a turnover here, a dropped pass there (to kill a drive mind you). If there was a way to mess it up, we could find it. Do I blame the coaches? Not too much, it’s basicly the same pack that have been there all decade. Instead I chalk it up to a batch of bad chemistry and luck. Now will it be fixed next year? Don’t we hope so.

Go DAWGS!

Has Beens

June 17th, 2010
3:28 pm

This is why Georgia fans know 2010 will not be a good year.

Here is where Georgia ranks out of 120 teams in the NCAA:
#118 in Turnover Margin
#117 Kick off return opp team
#120 Fumbles recovered
#118 takeaways per game
#111 Penalties
#100 Interceptions thrown per game
#59 Scoring Margin

Add to this the ongoing problems with injuries at OL/WR, Richt can’t fix that either.

He needs to fix 8 problems in 1 year.

Has Beens

June 17th, 2010
3:34 pm

Also, 4 of Richt’s wins were by 7 points or less.

SC- won by 4, SC missed 2 easy scoring opportunities with dropped passes
Az St. won by 3, ASU missed easy field goals
Auburn- won by 7, defense held of 4th and 1 on the 14 yard line
Ga Tech- won by 76, GT had 4 shots at the end, and barely missed on each, and last pass was dropped, guy7 was wide open

Richt could have EASILY gone 4 wins, and 8 losses.

The scoring margin in 2009 was only +1, compared to Florida’s at +20 and Bama’s at +19.

With a low scoring margin, if anything goes wrong, you can lose.

When scoring margin has been 13+ to +17, Richt has best year (see 2002, 2005 & 20007).

Defense gave up too many points, offensed scored too few.

4-8, just needed to a little worse.

Has Beens

June 17th, 2010
3:40 pm

The deal is, IF Richt COULD have fixed ANY of those 8 problems mentioned above, he WOULD have. But he didn’t.

Richt doesn’t learn fast, he doesn’t adjust fast, he doesn’t fix errors/mistakes fast, he doesn’t do much of anything fast enough. His timing is usually 2-5 years TOO SLOW.

Like firing Willie. Timing was off by 2 years. 2 years too late.

Richt has terrible timing.

He needs to be dominant in the 1st 3 games, and in the 1st half. Whoever wins the 1st quarter wins the Florida game 8 out of 9 of the last seasons.

Richt peaks at the WRONG TIME.

TIMING.

ItalianDawg

June 17th, 2010
3:42 pm

You go anda tell the stupido gators, Dale! They isa the monkeys for definite! Remind me of the saying that mi zio say…”it be the rare events when the marmot assumes to know the time of day before he who is in judge by the eyes of the lord”…i thinka that and gators are at mind, no? lol

Opa!

RxDawg

June 17th, 2010
3:50 pm

That was a really good interview you linked Bill. Very personal. It’s funny to think of a man with such respect and stature as Richt to be scrubbing toliets all night. I guess we’ve all (mostly) been there and just shows you need to pay your dues and work hard to gain something in life. Unfortunately thats a lesson not being taught to a lot of people these days.

Has Beens

June 17th, 2010
3:53 pm

Bill-

With all due respect, if you consider where Georgia ranked last year, I think it’s hard to see how Georgia just needs to get a “a little better”.

Here is where Georgia ranks out of 120 teams in the NCAA:
#118 in Turnover Margin
#117 Kick off return opp team
#120 Fumbles recovered
#118 takeaways per game
#111 Penalties
#100 Interceptions thrown per game
#59 Scoring Margin

Georgia needs to get a LOT better. Fast.

And, Georgia could have EASILY lost any of those 4 games they won by less than 7 points.

So Georgia could have EASILY been 4-8, by being just a little worse.

destin dawg

June 17th, 2010
3:53 pm

We had a bad year ..( still won a bowl game !! ) tough schedule.. lax defense…injuries… too many penalties.. 2010 will be a good year.. here’s why… Todd Gratham, Warren Belin, Scott Lagotos wil cause turnovers, with an aggressive DDDDefence & will correct penalties ( no more late hits )…. healthy OL & TB’s & TE’s.. QB has to be better than Cox… re dedicated Mark Richt ( a Great offensive coach )

Has Beens

June 17th, 2010
3:57 pm

Why has AJ Green had a different QB 3 years in a row?

Because Richt reacts TOO SLOW.

This problem should have been solved 2 years ago by getting Cox & Murray plenty of experience.

Again, Richt responds TOO SLOW.

Timing is OFF.