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

papadawg

October 4th, 2010
12:49 pm

What has me still upbeat about this team is every loss was close enough to win and we haven’t been blown out, Yet. Could have easily been 5-0 or 4-1.

GaSou_Is_Back

October 4th, 2010
12:53 pm

papadawg,

At least your team doesn’t beat an undefeated top 15 Auburn team, then get blown out by the worst Duke team in history in the same season (reference: Chan Gailey, every year at GT). I’d rather lose every game close than have Jekyll & Hyde back at the helm.

CG Dawg

October 4th, 2010
12:56 pm

Actually AJ Green is irrelevant and so is GA football. Face reality: we are 1 and 4, and we haven’t even hit the heart of the schedule. Problem is, the players are becoming too much like the coach: wanting to delegate everything (like tackling) to someone else. We have no strength in the defensive line or linebacker positions (or post-secondary for that matter). So while we get a new coach, we might want to get some new players too.

DeathToDisneydawgs

October 4th, 2010
12:58 pm

All you knuckle dragging Disney dawgs need to suck a tailpipe. This program is dying and the only thing that will save it is to clean house, Richt has no desire to coach, and his players do not respect, and more importantly, do not fear him. Seriously, some of you still think going to Atlanta could happen? Have you been watching the games? Stop putting a couple of functional retards above the PROGRAM, you morons.

GaSou_Is_Back

October 4th, 2010
1:00 pm

DeathToDisneydawgs ,

Is it CMR’s fault if his players don’t go out and execute what he has called? How happy would you be with him if they had gone out and executed perfectly, like an Alabama team, and were 4-1, 5-0? Maybe it isn’t the coach who needs evaluating….

Just maybe, it’s the type of player’s UGA is recruiting…

CG Dawg

October 4th, 2010
1:03 pm

And may I add one more thing? Using a pro set for offense and defense is not necessarily appropriate for college even at the SEC. Especially when none of the players are pro caliber (except maybe Green). So quit kidding yourself and run some more option plays and put some more meat in the middle.

GaSou_Is_Back

October 4th, 2010
1:06 pm

CG Dawg,

Take a quick visit to Rivals.com and look up the current starters for UGA. Tell me how they are NOT pro caliber. Individually, most all Georgia players have pro potential. I went to high school with most of the 912 crew, so I already know you are confused. If Demaryius Thomas (3-star West Laurens product from a TRIPLE OPTION OFFENSE) went first round, there is NO reason why every player on UGA’s team couldn’t play in the NFL.

DeathToDisneydawgs

October 4th, 2010
1:07 pm

Trust me, GaSou, it’s the coach. The coach recruits the players, he coaches the players, he installs the schemes. It’s the coach. Changing out coordinators won;t make a difference. The head man doesn’t want the job anymore. he is stealing money from the university at this point. Time to resign and be a full time soul saver in Honduras.

5150 P.O.A.D

October 4th, 2010
1:23 pm

Send those letters of support about richt to Zack Mettenburger’s mom the the UGA athletic department. I am sure she will make sure the right person will get them.

GaSou_Is_Back

October 4th, 2010
1:25 pm

5150 P.O.A.D,

Still drowning your sorrows about the road loss in Colorado, eh? lol

how2fish

October 4th, 2010
1:25 pm

DeathToDisneydawgs do me a favor For just a minute ask yourself why would a Bull dog fan trust you..hell I wouldn’t walk across the street to pee on you if you were on fire..let us worry about our program and just troll on little fella troll on.

CG Dawg

October 4th, 2010
1:27 pm

Yo Yo Yo GaSou, You can create all of the fancy plays and defensive schemes you want, but every game I watch GA play, the boys on the line are getting blown off the ball. They wind up with their backs on the ground and their feet in the air and boot-prints on their chests. I pitty the pro team that drafts any of them.

DeathToDisneydawgs

October 4th, 2010
1:29 pm

That’s cute fish. Tell me now how much of a good Christian man Richt is and how lucky Georgia is to have him.

5150 P.O.A.D

October 4th, 2010
1:33 pm

GaSou_is_Back I am no UGA fan. P(iss) O(n) A D(awg). I blew-up my channel changing button Between the Tech game and laughing at the UGA game.

how2fish

October 4th, 2010
1:50 pm

DeathToDisneydawgs I think we are lucky to have him and not have you for a fan..now what zippy little comment you throwing out now?

Let the young men play

October 4th, 2010
1:52 pm

I am amazed how top recruits keep getting suckered in to going to UGA ( aka Plantation U ) The experience leaves a stain on them that takes a life time to remove. They become reflections of their fan base. Men addicted to low morals and misguided values. If you guys worried about graduation rates as much as wins and losses the squad may learn how to win the right way.

FLA DAWG

October 4th, 2010
1:53 pm

SANDY,

Thanks for giving us the address where we can send all of our mail TO FIRE RICHT.

CG Dawg

October 4th, 2010
2:08 pm

Its Bush’s fault

GaSou_Is_Back

October 4th, 2010
2:09 pm

Let the young men play,

I’ve been beating around that all day on this blog… (see “Just maybe, its the type of players they recruit…”) Way to put it in black and white lol

GaSou_Is_Back

October 4th, 2010
2:10 pm

lol @ CG Dawg

If you can’t pinpoint whats wrong, blame it on Bush… Hey, it got our current president a job, it just might work in Athens too!

Billy Ryckman

October 4th, 2010
2:58 pm

Word is out. Richt has one more year to turn it around regardless of how this year turns out. Lets all take a collective sigh and get off the fire Richt bandwagon. It is a waste of energy that could be used to support our team now that the decision to keep Richt has been made.

Billy

October 4th, 2010
2:59 pm

Word is out. Richt has one more year to turn it around regardless of how this year turns out. Lets all take a collective sigh and get off the fire Richt bandwagon. It is a waste of energy that could be used to support our team now that the decision to keep Richt has been made.

TXDawg3

October 4th, 2010
3:19 pm

I remember back in the late ’70s when the sofa coaches were crying and jeering in their infinate wisdom for UGA to “Dump Dooley” only to have the Dawgs turn it around and became the “Wonder Dawgs.” A couple of years later…National Champs. We were in the National picture for the following years as well.

UGA has a great coach! Everyone goes through touch times…life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond. There are going to be storms and tough times in everyone’s life. CMR will respond and the TEAM will prosper. He is the same coach that has been a winner before and since arriving at UGA. He hasn’t forgot how to coach and on his worst day is better than any and all of his critics put together.

Why don’t you whiners take a realilty check and continue your critical remarks only if you truely believe that you could do better. You might want to consider that pride comes before the fall and that there are times when an opinion needs to be kept to oneself.

The Dawgs need to turn it around for sure, because this doesn’t reflect the tradition at UGA, but it is time for its fans to be supportive. It’s rally time for UGA. Get on board…be supportive!

If you really want to talk about CMR, why don’t you simply pray for him?

edumacated

October 4th, 2010
3:20 pm

The word is out? Yeah, right

GaSou_Is_Back

October 4th, 2010
3:20 pm

Billy, link your reference please

edumacated

October 4th, 2010
3:22 pm

It’s been tough times for years now. When do we get the good times back? Next year, not likely.

GaSou_Is_Back

October 4th, 2010
3:25 pm

edumacated,

tough times are at Duke. not UGA. You’ve got a bowl streak going. You can’t spell “bowl streak” with “tough times”

embarrassing dawgs

October 4th, 2010
3:38 pm

FIRE MARK RICHT,REPLACE ARRON MURRY WITH HUTSON MASON ,HE IS TALLER 6′ 3″ AND A BETTER PASSER. ARRON MURRY IS THE WORST QUARTERBACK , WHO PLAY FOR MARK RICHT. I HOPE HE IS NOT THE NO.1 QUARTERBACK NEXT YEAR.

01HAWK

October 4th, 2010
3:51 pm

LES MILES of LSU……………………….What a bumbling coach he is. He is lucky SABAN left him stocked with major players when he left.

The bone headed move against TENN. this year and the bone headed move last year against OLE MISS.

They are saying in BATON ROUGE that he has to be the luckiest coach alive. Even with a 5-0 record most of the fans want him gone because he has no clock management. He is so lucky that TENN screwed up or he would 2-3 loses away from being gone.

Lets see how he does with 4 of the next 5 games against Florida, Auburn, Alabama, and OLE MISS.

01HAWK

October 4th, 2010
3:53 pm

DUKE and VANDY should give up FOOTBALL. What a disgrace they are to the SEC and ACC

DUKE players look like a high school team.

UGA Insider

October 4th, 2010
4:09 pm

I have read most all of the blogs and articles concerning my beloved bulldogs, I have also talked to major contributors who say the UT game could be the final nail of the CMR era if we lose. Especially if we come out flat and get blown out like we did last season. I just can’t see CMR turning this around, I think it may be best to part ways for both parties involved and CMR can still get a good job at an ACC school probably….. but he must leave sometime before Jan.1 in order to give himself a shot at the players he is recruiting at UGA. I predict a new UGA coach by this time next week because I think UT is a better team and our fanbase is totally deflated. The noon start is just another slap in the face to fans who spend countless dollars at these games.

beanuga

October 4th, 2010
4:21 pm

Anybody blaming Garner? Why is he still here? Pay him to recruit! not to coach.

82Dawg

October 4th, 2010
4:21 pm

UGA Insider ….you are to funny…there is no way Richt would be or will be fired in a middle of the season. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. You and your “major contributors” really are smoking some good stuff.

JoeMac

October 4th, 2010
4:56 pm

Hey hawk, LSU is probably the 3d best team in the SEC behind Bama and Auburn. Lucky?, yeah, you could say that, but, with all the talent they have, they SHOULD be 5-0, regardless of the coach. They are looking at a record of no worse than 9-3 this season, and the Capital One or Outback Bowl. Their defense is possibly the best in the league after Bama, and might be their equal.If they get any kind of offense, they are capable of winning them all, but I am sure they will slip up a couple of times. Miles is not the best coach they could have, but with the kind of talent they have, you don’t need a great coach, only a good one who can manage the game, which is his weak point. The team is winning IN SPITE of their coach, NOT BECAUSE OF THEIR COACH.

RED GATOR

October 4th, 2010
4:58 pm

HAHAHA! Georgia has always had an over inflated opinion of their program.

BUNCH OF LOSERS!!

JoeMac

October 4th, 2010
5:07 pm

You are so right RED GATOR. UGA is and has long been a good regional team, but they have not been revelent on the national scene in at least 25 years. A team that is revelent (think a Florida, Alabama, Ohio St., Sou. Cal., Texas, Oklahoma or LSU) that is preseason ranked #1 would not not win their first game and drop to #2, then win their 2nd game and drop to #3. Nationally, UGA is nothing.

bjohndawg

October 4th, 2010
5:21 pm

amazing…post a blog at 407 and in less than an hour you more than 500 comments on this Georgia blog.
Post one on the Tech blog and it takes 5 days to get 10 people to comment.

But seriously back to a school that means something even when it is losing:

The identity of this team is clear this year:

1)OUTCOACHED
2) An offense that racks up fumbles and penalties instead of yards and touchdowns
3) An offense that that is experience and should be the strength of the team: is a weak link and gets shoved around like a bunch of Shirley Temples.
4)Pathetic play calling.
5) A head coach who appears in a purple haze.

Reggie Ball

October 4th, 2010
6:17 pm

If you guys need any advise, I’m available for a small consulting fee.

D Pollack

October 4th, 2010
6:19 pm

1 and 4!!!???!!! Are you KIDDING ME???!!!

Observer

October 4th, 2010
6:20 pm

AJ Green this and AJ Green that.
Didn’t Oklahoma State lose their top receiver last year (Dez Bryant) for the ENTIRE year? They still found a way to squeak by Colorado, go 9 and 4, and went bowling…
Oh, also squeaked past UGA.
Dependence on 1 player has killed other teams… better diversify.
Looks like a long year.

Bubba

October 4th, 2010
6:23 pm

Remind me again, who runs this state? Maybe we ought to run for Sheriff so we can keep our players outta jail and on the field. Wasn’t there some movie…..uh…..Longest something or other……where they let the convicts play football while they was in jail. I wonder if Clarke Co would let us do that with our players?

Ramguy

October 4th, 2010
6:58 pm

Like so many people, I myself have not be happy about this season. That being said I still support them and expect them to beat the hound out of Dooley and Tenn.

Kavin

October 4th, 2010
7:15 pm

If Zach Mettenberger never got in trouble with underage drinking, this offense would’ve been more explosive. For some reason, I didn’t think UGA would do well with Aaron Murray. Then again with all the other players being suspended and being ousted from the team made it worse. I still think NCAA cheated on us with A.J. Green’s suspension.

R U Kidding Me

October 4th, 2010
7:19 pm

LMAO….I’ve never seen so many UGA fans in denial. Stats don’t mean much…it’s your record that counts and you’re 1-4. You couldn’t beat Colorado…a team that got smashed by California. Keep dreaming about those stats, because you have nothing else going for you.

DamntheButcher

October 4th, 2010
7:25 pm

FIRE MARK RICHT…FIRE MARK RICHT NOW

DamntheButcher

October 4th, 2010
7:27 pm

Some of you idiots still think GA will finish 8-4

Tide Roll

October 4th, 2010
7:38 pm

Take away Cam Newton Uga Fans, and you get AU ranked 8th. The kid went to Atlanta Westlake for gosh sakes. What a bunch of yo – yos. Only at Uga! You think you’re above us all. You’re a laughingstock, and you refuse to acknowledge it. What a bunch of screwballs! Richt’s laughing all the way to the bank while you rednecks pretend you’ve got class. It’s hilarious. Everybody gets it but you morons!

PT

October 4th, 2010
8:09 pm

Roll Tide – Unfortunately I must admit your right. UGA has won 2 SEC Championships in 28 years and the fans think the dawgs are one of the elite programs in the country.

doggy style

October 4th, 2010
8:42 pm

Anyone see that GA is 11 to 12 pt favs over TN? I am a diehard fan… but TN wins straight up (even though they suck too)…. I’m headed to Vegas now to bet the farm.

Browndog

October 4th, 2010
8:52 pm

Who was the radio announcer before Larry? His first name was Ed.