Take away A.J. Green and you have a team that’s good only at finding a way to lose

Blair Walsh is getting the call way too many times inside the red zone. (Associated Press)

Blair Walsh is getting the call way too many times inside the red zone. (Associated Press)

The past few weeks amid all the plugs for the Hilltop Grille in Athens on the Georgia football radio network’s “Bulldog Brunch” Kevin Butler has been lamenting that this year’s Dogs, specifically the offense, have yet to find their identity.

Unfortunately, I think he’s wrong. They have found their identity; it’s just not one that the Bulldog Nation wants to acknowledge:

This is a team that in the face of impending victory will find a way to lose.

It used to be if a Mark Richt team was within a score of the lead and got the ball back with 3-plus minutes on the clock, everyone (including opponents) had a fairly certain feeling the Dogs would prevail.

This year, they get the opportunity to win a game and you find yourself sitting there thinking, “How are they going to screw this up?”

I hate that.

Where once there was hope, now there’s mostly resignation. And the way they’ve been playing, you’ve got to wonder if that doesn’t apply to the players as well as the fans.

Sorry, the residual supply of optimism that has always fueled my Bulldog fandom is running a bit low right now. Chances are by midweek I’ll have talked myself into thinking Georgia stands a good chance of beating Tennessee Saturday and getting back on track.

But the reality is that even if they do get back on track, at this point about the best we can expect is a mediocre season.

At a birthday brunch Sunday (coincidentally at that same Hilltop Grille) I asked the assembled family members for revised season record predictions. The consensus was Georgia probably is looking at a losing record or, under the most optimistic scenario even remotely based in reality, a 6-6 record and qualifying for a bottom-feeder bowl. And we’re all die-hard fans. It’s gotten that bad.

Watching the game against Colorado again on video Sunday morning, I could see some slivers of justification for thinking the Dogs still can turn things around (all of which involve A.J. Green and Aaron Murray), but much more evidence that this is a team that just plain doesn’t know how to win, from the coaches on down.

A few random observations in that regard …

What sort of muddle-headed pregame planning possibly could have resulted in the way Mike Bobo opened up the game offensively? Starting Carlton Thomas, our smallest back, and insisting on trying mostly in vain to run him up the middle? Not immediately getting the ball into the hands of Green, your best player? The result: An appalling 15 yards of offense in the first 15 minutes.

Even Richt seemed to be wondering what was up with that when he said at halftime, “I don’t know what took us so long to get him the ball.”

For the evening, on the first-quarter possessions when Green didn’t touch the ball and the third-quarter series when he wasn’t in, the Dogs accumulated minus-5 yards and one first down. Never in my memory has a Georgia offense seemed so dependent on one player. …

And what is it with Bobo and the red zone? First-and-goal at the 4 and having to settle for a field goal would be bad enough if this were the first time we’d seen that sort of offensive impotence. But it’s become Bobo’s trademark. I don’t know if Richt taking over the playcalling would make any difference, but something’s got to be done. …

Every week, one defensive player seems to be positioned as the sacrificial goat for brainless play. Saturday, it was Vance Cuff, who got burned badly on a 48-yard Colorado pass and then, when they had seemingly settled for 3 points, got called for roughing the kicker on his third personal foul penalty of the night and gave the Buffaloes another shot at the end zone, resulting in a touchdown and the eventual winning margin.

But, really, it’s time blame for the Dogs’ defensive woes was assigned higher up. Stupid mistakes like Cuff made happen in a game, but too many of the flaws in Georgia’s defense appear to be the result of insufficient coaching and preparation. Todd Grantham is getting paid big bucks to fix what Willie Martinez wrought, and yet we’ve seen practically no improvement over the past four weeks. Each week, the opposing offenses offer up some basic play that the Dogs act like they’ve never seen before. And stopping third- and fourth-down conversions appears to be a foreign concept to the folks in the defensive meeting room. …

It’s been a long time since the outlook for a Georgia team was this dismal.

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561 comments Add your comment

Georgia Football 101

October 3rd, 2010
4:13 pm

Enter your comments here

Luke

October 3rd, 2010
4:15 pm

It’s been brewing for some time. Dawgs should have lost 5 straight in 06. No more excuses. Save the ship. Toss the captain

chuck

October 3rd, 2010
4:19 pm

Nothing left to say, it is really bad all over.

Luke

October 3rd, 2010
4:23 pm

So if I’m UT, I run the wheel route, option, or a misdirection every play. Georgia can’t stop it

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
4:24 pm

Dogs are in total defense only giving up 7 yards more than Alabama. Wake up and appreciate the defense,

HOBNAIL BOOT

October 3rd, 2010
4:25 pm

Im standing behind you boys. Not jumping off yet. I even wore my GA tie behind pulpit this morning. Go DOGS

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
4:27 pm

Ealey & King are a powerful 1-2 punch when both are healthy.

Durham, Brown, and Green will be great at 6′ 5” when all 3 get on the field together.

Game’s opening up for the tight ends.

Scoring’s going way up for the offense. 27 points a lot better than 6 against Miss St.

Red Panties

October 3rd, 2010
4:27 pm

Wait till next year———–the endless prayer.

Believe-me-now

October 3rd, 2010
4:28 pm

Remember a few years ago when people were saying Richt should be signed to a lifetime contract? I told you then that you would want to get rid of him before he was ready to leave.

Irrelevant

October 3rd, 2010
4:28 pm

AJ this,,,AJ that. WOOF,,,WOOF,,,WOOF.

AJ and this team ain’t squat. Give up on that AJ crap and admit this team is a bunch of,,,,,

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSEEEEERRRRRS!!!!

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
4:28 pm

Saban went 7-6 his 1st year installing the 3-4 defense, I expect Georgia to do better than that at either 8-5 or 9-4.

DawginOH

October 3rd, 2010
4:30 pm

Agreed, Bill. And why can’t this team come out of the gate ready to play? Haven’t they given up a touchdown on the first drive of every loss so far this season? It’s almost as if the momentum is already lost 5-10 minutes into the game. Where’s the tenacity? Where’s the drive? It seems like the coaches have lost control of the team and no longer are able to motivate the players, which really bothers me for the future.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
4:30 pm

Georgia can still go 5-3 in the SEC. That could be enough to beat out Florida, if Florida loses 2 more SEC games, if 1 is to Georgia, then Georgia wins that tie-breaker. South Carolina would need to lose 4 SEC games, but that’s also very possible. It ain’t over yet, judge the team by where they end up, not where they start.

John, the real UGA fan

October 3rd, 2010
4:31 pm

All true Dawgs fans are frustrated. If we are, can you imagine the frustration felt by the team and coaches?????
I keep waiting for the spark to begin. maybe this week with Tenn.
Go, Dawgs!!!!!

Irrelevant

October 3rd, 2010
4:31 pm

FLA, AUB and GT are going to clean your clocks good,,,,AJ or not AJ. Take it the bank. And probably UT & KY too.

LMAO. 8-5 or 9-4,,,yea right. FUNNY!!!!

oakisland

October 3rd, 2010
4:32 pm

Please CMR–RESIGN

Red Panties

October 3rd, 2010
4:32 pm

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
4:24 pm
Dogs are in total defense only giving up 7 yards more than Alabama. Wake up and appreciate the defense,

Where did you take math or reading for that matter:

Total Defense

Bama 292.4 yards per game

Dawgs 324.4 yards per game

That looks real close to 32 yards———–nice try though

Do You Think

October 3rd, 2010
4:33 pm

Could it be the scout teams fault?

JRock

October 3rd, 2010
4:34 pm

didn’t get to see the game , blackout. So was it a basic play or was it a flea flicker ? I guess it doesn’t matter much seeing the O line should have been able to block no matter what play is called. But then it does matter if Bobo is that stupid to try to do some trickery when you’re already in field goal range.

SatillaDawg

October 3rd, 2010
4:35 pm

You nailed it, Bill.

Time to move on and clean house.

And that starts at the top.

What??

October 3rd, 2010
4:36 pm

This season is in the dumpster already. It is sad that Richt has lost control, but he has.

All being said about AJ, tell me, who steps in for him next year?? Who out of all of the players we have, will step up??

Bill from Athens

October 3rd, 2010
4:37 pm

It makes me genuinely sad to see Mark Richt in this position. He’s done some wonderful things for Georgia, but this pattern just seems to repeat itself again and again over the last three years: poor defense, penalties, and turnovers. I read about all the special practice they do to address the penalties and turnovers every spring. Then come fall there they are again, costing us.

Austin Jacket

October 3rd, 2010
4:38 pm

well, whatever happens with the rest of UGA’s season, you get to look forward to a victory against the Jackets after T-giving. We are not much better. Lot of the same problems — no defense, no preparation, coaching seems absent, and the players seem to be sleep walking through the game.

Difference is Tech can’t boast a stable full of 5 star talent, and year in, year out top recruiting classes. that’s what I can’t get about UGA. Isn’t just talking the field (w/ or w/o a game plan) advantage Dawgs on raw talent alone?

Whoa is me, folks, the state’s not very well represented by either school right now. Gonna be a long season for both teams. At least in that respect we have some common ground.

PS — flags are at half staff in Austin this weekend. These Texas fans have long due for a humbling, and it looks like they get it this year. Nebraska is going to kill them. At least they won’t have to play them twice this year.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
4:38 pm

SEC games to go:

Georgia needs to win all 5 against:
Tenn, Vandy, Kentucky, Auburn & Florida

SC needs to lose 3 of these:
Alabama (loss), Ark (loss), Florida, Kent, Vandy, Tenn

Fla needs to lose 2 of these:
LSU, Georgia, MSU, SC, Vandy

Georgia can still, realistically, win the SEC East.

Supes

October 3rd, 2010
4:40 pm

Well said Bill,

I wonder what kind of “spin damage” control will Buck be doing on 680thefan on Monday. At least Chuck tells it like it is on the Chuck/Chernoff show…you have to be able to judge Mark Richt the (man) and the (coach) apart…and the results speak for themselves. UGA is headed in the wrong direction in all phases of the program. 5 star recruiting be dammed. Where is our 3 star recruit like David Pollock who can come in and be a difference maker on the D-side of the ball??? Instead we get a bunch of 4 and 5 star (according to whom again???) who end up fraking up all over the field and don’t become team leaders.

New Leadership is needed in Athens…on the field and off it.

Lilburn Dawg

October 3rd, 2010
4:40 pm

Irrelevant………I think you are right. We might be able to beat Idaho State and Vandy. That puts us at 3-9 for the season. And no bowl. That would be my bet.

RxDawg

October 3rd, 2010
4:41 pm

This year, they get the opportunity to win a game and you find yourself sitting there thinking, “How are they going to screw this up?”

Haha, this is so right. I told my buddy at the top of the 4th quarter that maybe we should watch Bama kick UF’s but because I didn’t know if I could take watching UGA lose this game.

Sure enough, when King fumbled that ball I didn’t get upset like during the MSU, Arkansas, or USC game. Nope, instead I said that’s appropriate for UGA.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
4:42 pm

Richt finished #2 in 07, #10 in 08′. Yeah, real rough patch here.

Einsteindawg

October 3rd, 2010
4:43 pm

After watching these past four games, it’s obvious that the coaches have lost confidence in the players and vice versa…hence a coaching staff that has lost the team. I’m not sure Richt still has a passion for the game anymore. The solution is simply clean house.

dawgdownsouth

October 3rd, 2010
4:43 pm

Does anyone else find it strange that AJ has 4 week suspension & he get;s cramps during the game 4 weeks to get in shape & you can’t? this team needs a kick in the pants badly. i know everyone is yelling for Kirby Smart, but what about another ga grad on a top team …… Will Muschamp D-cordiantor for Texas? what about replacing Richt with him! i think richt has lost his desire to coach & his players respect.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
4:43 pm

You guys are so spoiled, Richt’s finished in the top 10, 6 times, so you think it’s easy to do that. It’s not. Nick Saban didn’t have 1 tp 10 finish in his 1st 9 seasons. It’s not easy to do, Richt’s just done it 6x more times than Saban did in his 1st 9 seasons.

PO'd

October 3rd, 2010
4:45 pm

Then what Anonymous, get embarrassed in the Dome in our own back yard. I think not. We’ve been there done that at home remember ? We will be lucky to beat Tenn. and they have no depth but still play better than we do. Might beat Vandy, if we get lucky and definitely lose to Kentucky, Florida, Auburn.

Believe-me-now

October 3rd, 2010
4:46 pm

Jacket fans, You look like bulldogs when you don’t know the difference between lose and loose, woe and whoa!

SKB

October 3rd, 2010
4:46 pm

Guys we can still win the sec, if we go 8-4 beating Florida, and if they lose one more, WE are in, hell we can even compete for the national championship, we just have to trust Richt, If we win sec east 8-4, then become lucky and beat Bama, our team will have confidence to win it all. Richt won 2 sec championships, the result speaks for itself.

Einsteindawg

October 3rd, 2010
4:47 pm

Supes,
I think you’re right, although Rodney Garner doesn’t seem to know the difference between a Rival’s 4 or 5 star and actually evaluating talent. The coaches have lost control and the inmates are running the asylum.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
4:48 pm

Got a solution for who to hand the ball off to in the red zone that don’t fumble in the red zone:

1- Chapas
2- Munz
3- Murray on QB draw
4- Hand to AJ
5- Logan Gray in wildcat

RxDawg

October 3rd, 2010
4:48 pm

Anonymous Blogger
October 3rd, 2010
4:30 pm

Bartender, I’ll have whatever he’s drinking STAT!

losing hope...

October 3rd, 2010
4:50 pm

These Dawgs play with no heart. They look as if they are going through the motions but there is no passion. Bobo has got to be one of the worst playing callers ever. I went to UGA when he was there and he was an arrogant punk so don’t expect him to admit he sucks and change. The defense looks dazed and confused on every play. Arm tackles & blown coverages are their MO. The blame is 100% on the coaches. I think Richt’s ho humm attitude has rubbed off to the point that there is not emotion or consiquences for mistakes. I hate to say it but it’s time to make a change. UGA can get a great coach who will own the state during recruiting and be in the thick of every conference race every single year. I expect more from UGA and everyone else should to. Go Dawgs!

Fred

October 3rd, 2010
4:52 pm

” Todd Grantham is getting paid big bucks to fix what Willie Martinez wrought, and yet we’ve seen practically no improvement…”

Where exactly has the improvement been? Martinez is getting the last laugh now!!!

Sad to say, but the Dawgs are mediocre.

Dirty Dawg

October 3rd, 2010
4:52 pm

These past four weeks have taught me a lesson….in order to not get so upset at things, I’ve decided that the best solution is to lower my expectations, realize that it’s just a bunch of student athletes playing a game and to keep plenty of beer in the cooler/fridge.

SKB

October 3rd, 2010
4:53 pm

Although I agree bobo is no good, we can’t throw him in the streets while he has 5 kids.

layinlow

October 3rd, 2010
4:53 pm

Bill King you have got to be the biggest Richt azz sniffer I have ever seen. Good god wake up and quit blaming the darn assistant coaches. UGA’s problems go so freakin far beyond Bobo’s play calling it’s not even funny. Of course Bobo is inept but who hired him and put him in the coordinator position? Besides Richt is supposed to be an offensive guru. This program is broken and that trail of ineptitude leads to the CEO pal. You’re refusal to be critical of the guy who is resposible for this sinking ship is mind boggling. Grow a pair and be objective like a true dawg and not some blind homer. Did Richt give you some kind of UGA souveneirs and call you his buddy? Quit blaming everyone accept the real source of UGA’s failure, MARK RICHT.

Anonymous Blogger

October 3rd, 2010
4:53 pm

The offense is getting in sync, very close to firing on all cylinders. Got 400 yards of offense, 225 pass, 188 rushing, good balance. Scored 27 points. Made a solid game ending drive for the win. Big runs, big pass plays.

Special teams getting better, punter looked better, kick return superb, punt return excellent, kicker only missed 1 field goal this season.

Defense needs to get better by playing 7-8 in the box to stop the run, then the 3-4 other guys reading deep first, short second. No more big plays. Use the Arkansas formula, except play deep first with secondary.

Ralph

October 3rd, 2010
4:53 pm

Even a one man team is not enough. Saying this is a “building year” doesn’t work if the one man team likely opts for the NFL next year.

We all know thUGA has good skilled athlete recruits, but they are individuals instead of a team. The only team mentality is dancing, prancing, helmut off showmanship interest in INDIVIDUAL (not team) statistics. Off the field they are more like a “team” in the form of gang members. Their low IQ’s and lack of character were not considered when recruited, and we now find those qualities are as important as skilled athleticism.

But this coaching staff can’t change what they have, or the type of players who aspire to join the gang.

Lance

October 3rd, 2010
4:54 pm

Bottom Line! UGA just sucks! Giving my 4 tickets to TN friends – at least their players have heart and play 4 full quarters.

dawgcrzy

October 3rd, 2010
4:55 pm

according to blogger we can still win the MNC. put down the pipe son

Fred

October 3rd, 2010
4:56 pm

I wish I had the optimism of Anonymous Blogger.

Middle Ga Dawgs

October 3rd, 2010
4:57 pm

Saint Richt needs more time to develop our coordinators. Keep the faith men. Still have time to turn this deal around. Our schedule is weak except for Fl and Aub and we usually give Auburn fits on the road. Good chance we could still end up 7-5 with a Gator Bowl appearance.

Einsteindawg

October 3rd, 2010
4:58 pm

SKB,
Let him get a real job commensurate with his talents. Five kids are not a birthright for offensive coordinator at a major university.

Torry11

October 3rd, 2010
4:59 pm

Are u people serious..you honestly think this team is going 8-4 or 7-5..this team will be lucky to win 3 more games…Mark Richt has lost control..Players arrested and the program spirraling out of control…time to find someone to bring some discipline to Dawg Nation!!