Mark Richt knows a big game when he sees one coming

Mark Richt wants some help Saturday from the normally laid-back Sanford Stadium crowd. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt wants some help Saturday from the normally laid-back Sanford Stadium crowd. (Associated Press)

Some college football observers, including ESPN’s Chris Low, see Saturday’s game against Arkansas as approaching “must-win” status for Georgia. “Football seasons aren’t made to be over by the third week,” Low says. “But if Georgia can’t hold serve at home Saturday against Arkansas, the Bulldogs are looking at the grim likelihood that the 2010 season is over before it ever had a chance to begin.”

Nothing like a bit of “sky is falling” talk in the third week of the season. But I frankly don’t think that’s the case because I believe both South Carolina and Florida will be beatable more than once within conference play this season.

Still, Mark Richt recognizes the magnitude of the game. And then some.

In his Tuesday press conference, Richt put it like this:

“We have a very big game this week. I don’t know how big a game can get, but this is big. We know that and our coaches know it, our players know it, I think the Bulldog nation knows it. It’s big.”

Aside from reminding me of one of Don Knotts’ Barney Fife bits, it was clear Richt appreciates the task that awaits his team this week.

His assessment of the Razorbacks offense is pretty much on the money: “They have a lot of returning starters on both sides of the ball. They are a very, very dangerous offensive football team, it’s very obvious that they are that. They have probably the No. 1 pro prospect at quarterback of anybody in the nation in Ryan Mallett. They have three great receivers coming back. They were all sophomores last year, and I thought they were fantastic last year. They have four returning offensive linemen who are seniors. They are doing that running back by committee right now. Their tight end, D.J. Williams, is a fantastic player, a senior who is very versatile. That is going to be a challenge.”

And he was diplomatic by noting that Arkansas’ defense currently is highly ranked nationally without mentioning that they haven’t really played anybody yet. Closer to the mark was this comment: “They have a bunch of young men who have something to prove, I’m sure, in a Southeastern Conference game.”

Of course, the same applies to Georgia’s defense after what happened in Columbia.

Richt’s bottom line on Saturday: “They are a team that believes they can challenge for the Western Division title, and have very good reason to believe that. It’s going to be a heck of a ballgame. Our fans, we need you if you’re listening. We need you at this game. We need you to be extremely loud when they have the ball, because if we could just get one offensive lineman to jump offsides one time, that might be the difference in a drive continuing or it being stopped. We need all the help we can get in that regard, and it’s going to take everybody to beat this team. They are a really fine team.”

I’d like to believe Richt’s call to arms for the Bulldog fans at Sanford Stadium will produce a wall of sound, but I’m not sure it really will. The students will be loud, but beyond that? This is Arkansas, after all, not one of the traditional rivals that gets the alums’ blood boiling, and other than roaring on key third downs Sanford crowds tend to be a bit laid-back. Still, one can hope.

A couple of other Tuesday comments by Richt caught my eye.

On the development of Aaron Murray as a quarterback: “Coach [Mike] Bobo and I are kind of double-teaming him. We watch everything he does, and he knows that. We’ve tried to not strangle him and not let him do anything. We just basically want him to create some habits that will carry him throughout his entire career, the ball handling, the footwork. … Watching his demeanor and watching him operate and listening to him talk in between series about what did you see and what didn’t you see, he’s very sharp. He’s very aware of what’s going on around him and I think he’s handled it well. It gives us more confidence to allow him to have more plays where the onus is on him to make a play or make a good decision and make a good throw. We’re gaining confidence in Aaron Murray’s ability to really function well in this type of game.”

Does that mean the wraps come off this week?

“I didn’t know if it would be week three or not. If you give a guy too much too soon and then if he fails miserably in his own mind even, if he makes a mistake that costs you the game, sometimes for a brand new guy that’s hard to overcome, the pressure of that. … It’s hard to lose the confidence and then build it back up. It’s better to kind of take it slow and gradually get to the point where you can handle it. Is he ready for everything that can come down the pipe? Probably not. And will he make mistakes as we go? There is no doubt that he will. But I think he’ll be able to handle the fact that, ‘Hey I made a mistake. I’m going to be able to shake it off and let’s go play and do better.’ I think that’s really kind of where we are at with Aaron.”

I also thought it was notable that while Richt agreed the offense had too many three-out-outs last Saturday, he said the defense didn’t cause enough of them for the Gamecocks.

“Some people say the offense has to do more to get the defense off the field and there is some truth to that, but the defense always has the right to stop them on third down if they want to get off the field. It’s everybody’s responsibility to rest the defense. Get a three-and-out and you can rest all you want. If the offense gets three-and-out, you can get another three-and-out. The last thing I’m going to do is start trying to say, this side of the ball has to do better because of that side of the ball. That’s a bunch of junk. What’s important is we are a team and we believe in each other and we know no matter what the situation is, we have to do enough to win the ball game.”

On the tackling problem, he didn’t mince words: “We have got to do a better job of just sticking our face on that runner and wrapping him up and running our feet. In our perimeter, our defensive backs, in my opinion, were not doing that. They were deciding to try to go low on the guy or they were trying to knock the guy down and not really face that issue and get right down the middle of him and wrap him up. You watch games, there are a lot of DBs that are doing the very same thing. We have to have the confidence to go face him up. Once a defender begins to wrap up a guy, then the other guys can come along and strip the ball or join the posse and knock him back or whatever it is.”

As for some of Georgia’s players saying they thought maybe there was a lack of effort against South Carolina, Richt said: “I think they don’t know what to say. They have to think of something. I don’t know if they really know what to say. They just know we didn’t do a very good job and that we have to get better. They are frustrated. … I don’t think there was a lack of effort. If anything, a guy might have gotten tired from the heat and maybe not subbing as freely as we wanted to or should have in a couple of instances, but nothing real flagrant in that area. We got knocked back. That was the biggest problem, we got knocked back.”

Overall, Richt said, “There were a lot of things that we have to do better. Everything is correctable, and I think our guys will be very anxious to play again and do a better job.”

Saturday would be a good time to do that. Because, in case you haven’t heard, this game with Arkansas? It’s big!

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390 comments Add your comment

question

September 15th, 2010
1:13 pm

what is the dog record in the sec the past two years?

Vick=Dog killing thug

September 15th, 2010
1:15 pm

Anyone who supports BoBo raise your hand? Anyone ???

slow down young pups

September 15th, 2010
1:17 pm

The AJ thing is killing us. Strategy wise and chemistry wise.

I think mentally we can’t get down against Petrino’s R backs or we really start to spiral.

Need something positive to happen. Like the O Line blocking for a running play or the D making a tackle. Those would help some of the teams confidence.

The sky seems to be falling on this blog…..

Go DAWGS!

DawginLex

September 15th, 2010
1:18 pm

ga gator,

Neither team has anything to brag about regarding player conduct, however, I would hate to be the next UGA player that does anything. Richt has had it. I have been told by more than one person that he had the “come to Jesus” meeting with his team and told them straight up, the next one will be the scapegoat and will be gone.

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
1:18 pm

abcd1996

Disagree, agree, disagree

Sweeping changes offense and defense would have been a critical mistake on the part of MR. I applaud that he did not. The hemmoraging was on the defensive side and thus should have gone first. If there is no improvement on the offense, look for changes at seasons end.

I agree. Spurrier beat us with simplicity. Run it until they can stop it. We couldn’t and he still has no confidence in Garcia

Bobo does have a clue. He is not an ignorant fool. He is IMO, way too conservative and predictable. I can literally call the plays he runs, when he runs them. There is something wrong with that. However, firing him with Martinez was not the thing to do

bdawge71

September 15th, 2010
1:18 pm

DO ANY OF YOU PEOPLE REALIZE IF YOU LOSE 1 GAME THATS IT PERIOD, START NEXT SEASON NOW. UNLESS YOU ARE UNDEFEATED YOU ARE A LOSER COME JANUARY. NOW LET US JUST TRY TO ENJOY EACH GAME AS IT COMES THEN WATCH THE BCS GAME LATER. ALL TEAMS IN THE SEC WILL LOSE THIS YEAR PERIOD, SO ALL OF YOU GET READY TO EXPLAIN HOW THAT HAPPENED. LISTEN GOING UNDEFEATED IN THE SEC NOW IS UNHEARD OF, SO GET YOUR HEARTS READY TO BREAK, ALL OF YOU. IT IS TEXAS VS OHIO ST. WHY? BECAUSE THEY DO NOT PLAY IN THE SEC. 10-4.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 15th, 2010
1:21 pm

I think Bobo is offensively a clone of CMR. CMR was hailed as an offensive genious while at FSU running a Pro Style attack, but the College game has evolved with the advent of the Spread. You have OC like Gus at AU, Mullen while at UF essentially re-inventing the way offenses attack. The offensive game paln may have grown a little stale now and it may be time at some point if this does not get corrected for CMR to go get a coach from a Spread school and bring him into Athens.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 15th, 2010
1:23 pm

Dang my last sentence was really long.

Billo

September 15th, 2010
1:24 pm

@ Half Century Dawg fan…fair weather fan.

Drudge Report

September 15th, 2010
1:25 pm

I don’t think Saturday will determine Mark’s job, but I do think the body of work this season, which will be bumpy, will set the Tone or Agenda for 2011. McGarity has no choice but give him a big vote of confidence, we have a hell of a recruiting class working.

WonderDawg

September 15th, 2010
1:25 pm

I support Bobo being demoted!!

Ghost of Blackout Past

September 15th, 2010
1:26 pm

Time to break out the BLACK to serve as a source of redemption!

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
1:27 pm

LowCountry

I agree. But I am not about to say go all in on a spread attack. I am still a HUGE fan of the smash mouth run it up your rectum type game. When the spread was new, it was a novelty and DCs everywhere were scrambling to figure out a way to defend against. The novelty has gone and coaches see the benefit of having it available while brusing with a run attack

JB

September 15th, 2010
1:29 pm

Only way we win Saturday is to have a great day running the ball ( 300+ yards) and keep Mallet on the bench all day. If we stink up the place with 3 and outs, we lose by 2-3 TD’s.

acdc1996

September 15th, 2010
1:29 pm

ARdawg

Richt will not survive breaking in another coordinator next year. He will be on the hot seat during and at the end of this year. No grace will be extended because of BOBO. If he had a knew staff, then people would say, “We have a new staff.”

I know a lot of people wanted Willie gone, me included, but the problems last year were just about as much to do with turnovers, offensive penalties, 3 and outs and play calling as they had to do with defense. Remember our kick coverage last year? Willie’s Defense was constantly playing in a hole.

How many times did the defense inherit a short field last year?
How many times did our offense win the time of possession?
How many three and outs did we have?
How many times did we have a high 3rd Conversion?

All critical areas that we have failed miserably the past 2 and a half years.

Ask yourself, “Why can’t we run the ball with a veteran offensive line?” Why? It does not make sense.

It has to do with play calling and establishing a tempo.

WonderDawg

September 15th, 2010
1:30 pm

ARDawg, applaud all you you want. Bobo’s offense is pathetic, predictable, and is shut down by even the SCs, UTs, and KYs of the conference now.

College Football Troll MadLib

September 15th, 2010
1:30 pm

Mark it down. I have an inside source at (insert favorite team’s athletic center) that claims (insert acronym for team’s coach) will pull (insert fastest red-shirted freshman)’s red-shirt and use him on some offensive packages including a Wild(insert play on word for team name) package.

I’m not worried about (best injured/suspended player), as WE still have (insert back up’s name), (insert backup backups name), and (insert backup backup backups name). This might be the most talented (insert player’s position) core WE’ve ever had. Not to mention my cousin goes to high school with (top recruit in the nation at that position) and all signs point he will sign with US.

(Insert current week’s opponent) is irrelevant to the rest of football and their fans are delusional. Expect the (insert favorite teams mascot) to hang at least 50 on them…the writing is on the wall. Just take a look over OUR dominance in this series.

(Insert overall series record)
(Insert score from 1938 game)
(Insert YPC stat with low wind and slight chance of rain)
(Insert overall record for the decade that looks the best)

The proof is in the pudding, IMHO…
(Insert Moniker)

(Insert unofficial number of national titles)
(Insert unofficial number of conference titles)
(Insert favorite team’s fan-tag-line)
(insert acronym to dis your rival)

tired ? ?

September 15th, 2010
1:31 pm

Okay Coach Richt you mean the dawgs were tired on South Carolina’s first drive of the football game when they drove down the dawgs throat? What did our players do when they stepped off the bus to get so tired beforehand?

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
1:31 pm

Lowcountry Bulldawg, being a long time Gator I have watched CMR from afar for years. I was actually afraid when UGA hired him because of his offensive genious at FSU. One thing he was more of at FSU was, more versatile; he ran a pro offense and a spread. When Charlie Ward was QB, he ran about 50% of the plays from shotgun and spread. I believe (but hope he doesnt for UF’s sake) he needs to go back to that offensive philosophy.

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
1:32 pm

I think Richt can still and quite assuredly pull out another 10 win season. This is literally the weakest schedule I have seen for Georgia in a very long time

John, the real UGA fan

September 15th, 2010
1:33 pm

How many teams have had to face two tough teams back to back????????????
Go Dawgs!!!!!!!!!

acdc1996

September 15th, 2010
1:33 pm

Excuse me, …new, not knew.

WonderDawg

September 15th, 2010
1:33 pm

Well, JB, you are talking about the master of the 3-and-outs. Even last year, in the second half against Tech, those 3-and-outs let the Jackets back into the game.

It’s sickening to see what our offense has become.

A Real DAWG Fan

September 15th, 2010
1:34 pm

I’ll tell you this much… reading the comments on this blog makes me want to immediately turn in my BBA and pick another school that isn’t criticized by a bunch of ‘necks who never even went to school there…let alone play a single down of football in their entire life. God help us if anyone of importance or influence reads any of your comments, and may God have mercy on your souls.

Signed,
A Real DAWG fan (and graduate)

Gary

September 15th, 2010
1:34 pm

Really, cause from my point fo view he keeps missing them! Was last week not a big game, because they were not ready for that one. Maybe an SEC win against South Carolina doesn’t mean as much as beating Ark. Maybe Florida is not a big game every year. I think Georgia will beat Ark because they are overated and their Defense stinks. They are the same team we beat last year. No better. That being said I can come here and complain about Richt until he fixes the problems. Team dicipline. Play calling. Conditioning. Fire Bobo. He needed to go with the D last year. 4 games more to loose until we can talk about next season.

JB

September 15th, 2010
1:35 pm

No one EVER is pursued off this staff at the end of every year except Garner, and that’s for recruiting. I’m proud of Mark finally firing Martinez and company ( although he had some help with that ), but Bobo is a bigger problem than anybody knows.

how2fish

September 15th, 2010
1:35 pm

Hey everyone take a deep breath on kicking that kid of the Gator squad..you have to wait to get the facts…that is fair and right I for one have no doubt CUM will take the correct action once the facts are known. Now back to football and the ’sky is falling ” part of the program.

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
1:36 pm

Wonderdawg
I shall, thanks for your support!

If you think this season would be any better at this point with a new OC along with a new defense, you are fooling yourself. I am tired of that BS too. If I can read the offense I know any opposing coach can. But it is what it is. It isn’t reason for you to kick the Dawgs in the teeth because they lost a game

acdc1996

September 15th, 2010
1:36 pm

ARdawg. I agree. He can still salvage a 10 win season which makes this game, the point of the article, a must.

beatdowns galore

September 15th, 2010
1:38 pm

Dawgs aint gonna win 10 games. Book it !

acdc1996

September 15th, 2010
1:39 pm

ARdawg…I did not say that we would be better off, I am saying that the grace given to Richt will be very, very short because of the fact he kept Bobo.

M Lattimore, I RUN YOUR DEFENSE

September 15th, 2010
1:39 pm

Kisses to your new DC * kiss* *kiss*

doug dawg

September 15th, 2010
1:40 pm

there is no hope in athens this weekend. mallet will pass for 350 and their rb’s will add 200. this is the poorest, worst coached team we have seen in at least 5 or 6 years. there is a ‘give up’ attitude; a ‘let;s play it out and go home’ mentality. so, i say, ok; let’s get this season over with and let mcgarrity toss the axe to richt on down. clean house, suck up the losses, and rebuild. a new day is, hopefully, coming to sanford stadium. and 93000 will cheer again, believe me.

acdc1996

September 15th, 2010
1:41 pm

A real dawg fan…For those who pay taxes in the great state of GA and support a large portion of the tuition for UGA grads like your self to make it one of the most inexpensive colleges in the US…UP YOURS!!!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 15th, 2010
1:41 pm

Ga Gator,

That was the one season I was thinking of when typing that comment about how fluid his offense was with Ward. Great point.

Also AR, your point is dead on. The downfall of the spread as we see it now is on short yardage 3rd conversions. We though have to somehow infuse new life into it apparently.

acdc1996

September 15th, 2010
1:42 pm

I did not need a degree to be a success in life, but it does not change my family’s traditions that are rooted deep in UGA.

I thought last week was a big un

September 15th, 2010
1:42 pm

Really ? CMR Knows a big game is coming this week ?

JB

September 15th, 2010
1:43 pm

McGarity, Mark’s Boss, Has sat next to the Florida AD in Jacksonville for the last 17 years and heard every snicker, every cheer, every joke and every Go Gator chant there is. Trust me. He is more in tune with this coach, this team, than ANYBODY. He wants to win. He wants to win with Coach Richt. But he will win ,one way or the other.

W Ealey, I HIT AND run

September 15th, 2010
1:44 pm

Drew Carey dropped 80 pounds

September 15th, 2010
1:44 pm

The only thing Mark Richt has done over the summer is put on 20 pounds……….

What the Huck.

September 15th, 2010
1:44 pm

Enter your comments here

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
1:45 pm

abcd1996

I agree with you whole-heartedly there. And damn well should be. I agree Richt is accountable for every facet of this team. If the offense is unproductive this year Richt will have some decisions to make or, I expect some will be made for him. But listen, do you give any thought that this may be a tad bit early to be predicting what this offense or Bobo is going to do? Two games isn’t a whole season. It isn’t even close. I’ll add this as well, most teams do not even begin to jell and show improvement until well into the 3-4th games. Can’t we leave the gullotine put away for a few more games until we actually have something to grade?

What the Huck.

September 15th, 2010
1:46 pm

Absolute must win. South Carolina will lose 2 cinference games. They will not lose 3. If we are out of contention for the conference by Sept. 18 at 3:30 p.m. the season is a wash. Most Georgia fans are getting really tired of waiting for next year.

We run a vanilla offense

September 15th, 2010
1:49 pm

Fire BOO BOO the DOO DOO and Stacy Searles TOO !

A Real DAWG Fan

September 15th, 2010
1:51 pm

acdc…If you want to complain about where your taxes are going, call for the politicians heads, not a coach and mentor for college kids. IMHO paying taxes does not merit such high demands of a football program as winning the BCSNC every year. Paying taxes to a school is far less than paying tuition or paying for season tickets. If you would like to contribute that much, then maybe you can call for Richt’s head or make other asinine comments that make recruits reading these blogs not want to step foot at UGA. Sorry… I’m just speaking what the rest of us are thinking.

Dino Gort

September 15th, 2010
1:51 pm

Nice guys finish last.

ten starters back on offense

September 15th, 2010
1:52 pm

The problems are in the trenches. Had a lineman not moved on the previous play Washaun would have been 3 yds deep in the endzone before he let it outta there. NO Big blocking for the run game. No deep threat w/o AJ Green. All in all We held S.C. to 21 but couldnt come near that number with TEN starters back this year on offense. Then three of those were suspended. The coaching is going downhill. The play calling leaves a whole lot to be desired…. Now The fullback is out, Ch. Robinson is hurt, Caleb is banged up, Ealeys pride is hurt. Bobo wants to run it up the middle and call the one q.b. draw on the worst down possible in that sequence. Richt wants to play for field goals so Bobo calls some conservative crap. Pretty pitiful state rt now and that comes from a true Dawg since 76…

WonderDawg

September 15th, 2010
1:52 pm

Buddy, I’m not kicking the Dawgs in the teeth. I’m saying Mike Bobo’s offense and play-calling has cost UGA several games the last 2.5 years.

And adding some plays and formations would not be as difficult to learn for the players as compared to a totally new defense, where players have to learn new positions and responsibilities.

ARdawg

September 15th, 2010
1:53 pm

A Real DAWG

Were you inferring that those of us who didn’t have an opportunity to attend UGA are somehow less of a DAWG fan?

ga gator

September 15th, 2010
1:53 pm

How’s it going how2fish, havent talked for awhile?