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

DeathToDisneydawgs

October 4th, 2010
9:30 pm

Ok, fish, please tell everyone why Georgia lucky to have Mark Richt.

UT FAN

October 4th, 2010
9:32 pm

We can’t wait to play against your sorry offensive line & defensive line.We will run that simple zone read play up the middle all day long & produce about 250yards and when we are not running that play I’m sure your defense will make our QB look like a star when he passes for about 250 yards & we make it 5 in row for you guys.

On defense we can’t wait to get a whole of your OVERRATED OFFENSIVE LINE & your running backs who are best known for fumbling in the RED ZONE.

UT 31 pups 10

PS: PLEASE KEEP BOBO–US & EVERY OTHER TEAM IN SEC LOVES HIM–HE SEEMS TO MAKE THING EASY FOR DEFENSES BECAUSE HE IS SO PREDICTABLE

GO VOLS

Billy

October 4th, 2010
9:57 pm

Foolish comment about Richt being fired next week. Ain’t gonna happen. Richt has at least one more year to turn it around. That is the fact now please move on to focusing on the positives. Great young QB is a good start. He is going to be fantastic. Thanks Coach RIcht for hanging tough in difficult times. Most of the fans support you. All of your former players support you.

jojo

October 4th, 2010
11:19 pm

To parlay from Alice Restaurant: To the doctor I want to kill and take all the coaches with all the players they are just a bunch of worthless human beings do away with them all send them to the gulag. Richt is worthless kill kill kill.
Hire someone to come in and win 12 games a year wait a minute 13 still the fan base would not be satisfied gave up too many points kill them too.
Bring in Attila the Hun and who better to introduce him than Bill King. Have Attila kill a player that makes a mistake. KILL KILL KILL

Ga. Southern War Eagle

October 4th, 2010
11:20 pm

Just the facts;

CMR does not relate well with his players; how can someone do so little with so much.

He never does get his best players together and working as a team until the season is over.

He got more out the players he inherited than he has ever gotten from the ones he recruited

He has never worked any harder than he did at his lowest salary level

He is not a good recruiter has settled for scrubs out of Fl. that UF didn’t even offer and try beat them with these guy’s.

He cannot determine an opponent’s strengths and weakness’s and scheme an acceptable response whether it is during the game or even five days before

If UGA was able to recruit the best players in our state we would win the SEC title every year, history has proven this fact CMR didn’t need to bring a new formula for success there has always been one available for him to follow, but because he didn’t think of it he can’t use it. Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, all enjoy success
with our players some he made nominal recruiting efforts for others he didn’t even offer.
Personally I’m tired of being beaten by our boys on someone else’s team.

Having M. Bloblo as a OC is a joke, people all over the country are laughing their a*s’s off at us. Let’s see having your 165 lb. RB start the game, and watching him get run while faking a pass block.

There comes a time in every man’s life that come make a decision in life, that just are forced to make that decision, I just can’t do this anymore and you move eventually with the rest of your life. Hey, I know it’s hard, but you live through it. But a narcissistic ypersonality might not. Right now you look like someone playing us for that $8,000,000 buy out in your contract. So be a man and resign after the Tennessee game, you’ve made enough money off of the taxpayers in this state, leave with whatever dignity you have left and we’ll see you in church on Sunday’s and remember only the good time’s one day.

BoWeevil

October 5th, 2010
2:11 am

Bill King,

“don’t know if Richt taking over the playcalling would make any difference, but something’s got to be done”

What do you expect anyone to do ? Aaron Murray’s passes are batted down at the line and he has 34 carries for 39 yards in the last 4 games, all losses. AJ Green made 0 difference in the outcome of the game, exactly as I told you prior to kick-off that he would not; any way both AJ Green and Aaron Murray have both seen a huge amount or rust and lack of play to be prepared to make a difference.

Jeff

October 5th, 2010
10:54 am

let’s see…Take away Bill King and the “I am the best ever- I am the expert on everything” Kevin Butler and we would be alot better off. I ask you again Billy…..are you a fan only when we win? get off the bashing of these guys and be a real fan….

Jeremy Wallace

October 5th, 2010
11:10 am

FIRE MIKE BOBO.YESTER-F*%*IN-DAY!!! If not,fire ‘em all!!!! I’m ashamed to talk about my team(except AJ’s actual playing, but his self-control?).I’m a sick and tired California Dawg.

AceDawg

October 5th, 2010
1:11 pm

ouch – i liked the grantham hire, but the jury is certainly out on him too. bobo has been a lost cause for nearly as long as martinez was. richt just doesn’t seem to have the urgent edge to bring the team’s talent to bear on opponents. by now, the offense should be sitting in shotgun and airing it our or letting murray scramble. thomas actually looks talented but should be used for outside pitches. any other team with murray throwing to our receiving core would make things happen. it’s sad, and to expect a change in direction that would equate to long term optimism seems as likely as uga winning the sec this year.

sportsfansam

October 9th, 2010
1:17 pm

AJ Green is an absolute stud. He is now #1 in my Receiver rankings. Check out my write-up of him
http://sportsfansam.blogspot.com/2010/10/offensive-prospect-of-week-aj-green-wr.html